Amaya’s Tigertastic 2s

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Life seems to be steaming right along.  August was a blur of celebration, grief, love, tears and just being.  Life is so precious that even in the day-to-day happenings we can get carried away with the difficulties or choose to see the joy that is around us and within us.

One of the most joyful days this year was little Amaya’s 2nd birthday party. She is in love with Daniel Tiger, from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS, and with temperatures well over 100 degrees in the valley, we decided to take the party back indoors to one of her favorite places, We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym. Last year we celebrated there too, but with children, they always find something new and exciting to explore.

We had a kid-friendly menu that I prepared for our family and friends.  Each dish had a Neighborhood friend theme and my sister put together crafty little accents to make this 2-year-old’s birthday quite a memorable one. Here is the menu!

I can’t believe it’s already the end of September, but life has its own way of quickly moving along. I am so glad we were able to celebrate this little Leo’s love, compassion, courage and curiosity. Happy birthday, Amaya, Auntie loves you!

Daniel Tiger’s Tasty Treats!

Snacks

Daniel Tiger’s Tigey Tails Cheese Curls

Katerina Kitty Kats mini swimmy colorful fish

Prince Wednesdays Popcorn

O the Owls whooo berries

Ms Elainas Sweet, Sweet potatoes

Dishes

Trolly’s Tasty Turkey Sliders

Turkey Burger on Kings’ Hawaiian bread with BBQ sauce and Lettuce

Neighborhood Crispy Crunchy Chicken Tenders

honey-mustard and ketchup

Grrrrific Bacon Burger slider

Ground Beef, Bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheese and red onion with Thousand island dressing

Sides

Baby Margaret’s Macaroni Salad

Ugga-mugga Potato Salad

You Gotta Try New Foods Because They Might Taste Good!

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Happy 3rd Birthday Maleeya from a month ago

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April flew by (actually, May is flying by too…the whole year). I can’t believe it, but it was a really great month full of really fun and exciting happenings for our family. Maleeya turned 3 on April 8th and we had a really fun birthday party for her at the park. About 50 people attended and I made probably the closest amount of food for the size party, without there being a week’s worth of leftovers. We had a really sweet Minnie Mouse theme and Maleeya dressed the part in her Minnie Mouse dress and awesome party hat and crafts made by my sister. We are really getting into this birthday party hosting with all the crafts, food and fun. To my surprise—well, not really—I did some kids’ entertainment: yoga, freeze dance, three-legged races, jump rope hopping, parachute and giant balloons. The kids had a great time and so did everyone else.  We are so blessed and I couldn’t be more grateful for another amazing birthday celebration! Happy 3rd birthday Maleeya, Auntie loves you!
Menu
Kale Salad with Raisins, Cranberries and Walnuts

Macaroni Salad with Mixed Vegetables and Red Wine Vinaigrette

Potato Salad with Diced Egg, Celery, Green Onion and Pickles

Roasted Turkey or Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

Vegan Vegetable Sandwiches with Roasted Red Peppers, Zucchini, Cucumber, and Herb and Garlic Olive Oil

Italian Cold Cut Sandwiches: Capicola, Mortadella, Salami, Ham, Provolone Cheese, Red Peppers, and Pepperoncini

Minnie Mouse Mixed Fruit Platters

Veggie Platter and Dip

Meat and Cheese Platters

 

Cheers,

Unrivaledkitch

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Sweetsalt Toluca Lake, CA

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I like a great lunch. I think lunch can be overlooked and underwhelming a lot of the time because we don’t put much effort into it. I can understand that because I do it myself.  My normal lunch is probably some leftover something that I made for dinner the night before, so on this particular occasion I felt like having a nice lunch on a beautiful summer afternoon with my boyfriend, Brandon. Normally we debate where we should go and if we’re out by me, I usually have to pick because he’s not too familiar with the area (though I must admit that he’s getting much better).  I remembered my brother mentioning that Sweetsalt was good so we decided to check it out. We went in around 11:30 for lunch, which is early to beat the crowds, because that place seems to pack them in.

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The décor is antique and rustic with larger communal tables at the back to seat larger parties and smaller seats in the very small café-style restaurant. Sweetsalt is an order-at-the-counter style restaurant and they bring the food out to your corresponding number. We looked over the very fresh and trendy salad and sandwich choices, which all looked interesting and delicious. We picked the pear and pomegranate salad with chicken and the short rib brioche sandwich with a side of truffle potatoes and an iced soy latte. The pear and pomegranate salad was really refreshing and lite. The chicken was chopped and tossed into the salad and nicely complimented the sweet dressing that allowed the bitterness of the arugula to disappear a bit. Our sandwich was delectable; the short rib was tender and juicy. The meat had a very pronounced bourbon or whiskey flavor and was a little heavy on the black pepper, but the buttery brioche bun helped to mellow those flavors. They put a little side salad of mixed greens lightly dressed, which added freshness to the sandwich. Our truffle potatoes were again a bit on the heavy black pepper side, but cooked well. The café is really a very sweet and dainty place to have a bite to eat, enjoy coffee or pastries, and friendly company.

cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

Granny’s 80th Birthday Celebration and Catering

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My grandma is a very special woman. She’s such a loving, kind, strong and wonderful person and we were very happy to host her 80th birthday celebration for all of her friends and family. Granny has always been the talk of the town and never met someone she couldn’t charm or take a photograph of. Her personality is best displayed when she played Choco, the adorable little bear mascot for Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Her dancing and friendly waves along with blowing kisses to all the children, led her to be requested put on the suit well into her late 70s.

My sister, my brother and I spent countless hours with grandma when we were little. We’d get picked up and taken all the way out to Huntington Beach to stay with grandma for the weekend; some of my fondest memories as a little kid are feeding the ducks at the park, eating toast and tea for breakfast and having French bread and string cheese for snacks. I associate a lot of joyful activities with food as you can see. Grandma was never short on hugs and kisses or presents and spoiling and she’s passed down the fun to my little niece Maleeya. Grandma has the biggest heart and the attitude of someone half her age. Believe it or not, she still cruises out to Vegas in her Corolla on a whim and vacations whenever she can, all between traveling back and forth to come to visit all of us (over 100 miles away roundtrip).

Brandon and I put on a very special catering for all the guests and we were very happy with the outcome. Brandon was in charge of pastries and I helped him assemble some of them, while I took on the savory options, which he lent a big hand in helping with as well. My mom was assigned the snacks department and made our family’s favorite macaroni and potato salad, homemade beans for the chili and mini lemon cupcakes. My sister made the beautiful flower arrangements, all the gorgeous decorations and photo collages. My dad, brother, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and everyone else helped out so much to make this a beautiful, delicious, smooth event for everyone involved. I’m so glad I have this amazing family to call my own. I want to thank everyone who came, who helped, and who made this amazing event happen.
Happy 80th Birthday, Granny! We all love you so much!
Ruthie’s 80th Birthday Party Menu

Appetizers
Fruit Platter
Vegetable Platter
Chips and Dip

Salads
Macaroni Salad
Potato Salad
Baby Mixed Greens with Shredded Cucumber, Mozzarella Cheese, Diced Tomatoes, Pickled Red Onions and Blue Cheese Dressing

Entrées: Served Family-Style
Roasted Pulled Pork
Country Spiced Fried Chicken
Homemade Chili Beans

Sides
Mashed Potatoes and Chicken Gravy
Peanut Coleslaw with Red and Green Cabbage, Shredded Carrots, Green Onions and Asian Dressing
Roasted Corn on the Cob
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Orange Honey Glaze and Marshmallows

Bread Basket
Corn Bread Muffins
Rolls

Dessert Bar
Lemon Meringue Pie
Banana Cream Pudding
Lemon Cupcakes
Cream Puffs

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unrivaledkitch

Mother’s Day 2013

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58533_508187062549974_173216920_nI’m so grateful to take time out to acknowledge some really amazing women in my life. Mother’s day is always a special occasion, especially now that my sister is a mother too. I was lucky enough to help make Mother’s Day cards for all of Maleeya’s grandmas (Grandma, Granny, Bachan and Bubbe). They all received homemade cards, with probably more glue on them than stickers, but for a 2 year-old, they were pretty awesome. It’s so much fun to do little crafts like these for a special treat on Mother’s Day— we made a very special one for her mommy as well.

Mother’s Day wouldn’t be complete without a special Mother’s Day dinner. I taught yoga in the afternoon and then, even though it was over 100 degrees out here in southern California, we had a delicious Mother’s Day surf and turf bbq. My dad brought over some delicious seafood that I simply barbequed over a charcoal grill. We all had more food than would fit on our plates and a simple strawberry banana pie for dessert. I’m so grateful for all the strong, wonderful, sweet and loving women in my life who have shown how to love unconditionally. I hope all you mothers out there had a beautiful time celebrating with the people you love.

Menu

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Grilled Lobster Tails

Pan-Seared Scallops

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Barbequed Shrimp

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Sake and Soy Sauce Grilled Chicken with Garlic and Green Onion

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Baked Potatoes with Sour Cream, Butter and Green Onions

Pan-Roasted Green Beans with Button Mushrooms, Onions and Garlic

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Green Onion, Broccoli, Cabbage and Carrot Coleslaw with Raisins and Red Wine Vinaigrette

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Cucumber, Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes and Blue Cheese Salad

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Grilled White Corn

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Mozzarella Garlic Bread

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Strawberry Banana Cream Pie

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Cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

March’s Delicious Offerings And It’s Already The End of April…

I wrote this a while ago and realized it hadn’t been posted, their such beautiful memories I didn’t want them to stay on my computer. Enjoy!

I haven’t blogged in quite a while, but I’ve been writing a lot in notebooks and mental scratch paper because my words have been spent teaching and quieting down to prepare to teach. I’m loving the whole process, but sometimes I just need to make a fantastic meal and everything else falls into place. I’ve been quite busy—life’s comings and goings and all the other crazy business that comes with cooking and teaching yoga in Los Angeles, but I couldn’t be happier. My niece will be celebrating her 2nd birthday at the beginning of April so the thoughts for menu and preparations are working in my mind.

I had the great privilege of catering a sweet friend of mine’s (Lizzi) baby shower for her sweet new daughter Audrey, who is on the way. Her wonderful family and friends came together in a beautiful home in Lake Sherwood over food, drinks and anticipation of the families’ grandchild. Love definitely filled the whole occasion from the gorgeous photos to the intricate details of months of planning, it was a beautiful event and I’m so grateful Unrivaledkitch was able to partake in the festivities. Here are a couple of phone photos I was able to take from the event.

arranchini baby shower lizzi chicken baby shower crab cakes egg salad

My sister celebrated her 30th birthday on 3/12. We had the family over for a huge lasagna party. And I’m not joking about “huge.” I spent about 5 hours making the perfect bolognese sauce with just the right amount of everything. A mental recipe that I’ve spent years crafting, but it makes it out for special occasions such as birthdays. I also made a very special creamy bechamel sauce with a hint of nutmeg and Parmesan cheese and layers of luscious meat and cheese sauce, over slowly baked pasta sheets and a touch of ricotta and mozzarella for an added richness. We had plenty left over and I think I probably had lasagna for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next couple of days, which was perfectly fine for me. We also had an antipasto salad and finished the meal off with my sister’s favorite, pistachio pie, made by my mom from years of birthday tradition. It was so nice to have everyone around the table to share such a special day with my sister!

 

Last week I had the great pleasure of sharing my cooking with a fellow yoga teacher. She contacted me after a bit of a scare taking on a 70-person baby shower—for anyone, it is a bit of a shocker. I prepared a delicious roasted vegetable salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette for 70 people and she graciously picked it up from the yoga studio. I’m so grateful to be able to help take some of the pressure off of such a loving event.

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I’m so appreciative of the opportunity to bring my food to my friends and family as well as extended acquaintances. I hope everyone is having a wonderful March! Though the time seems to be flying by, thanks for taking a moment with me to reflect on these special culinary events.
Cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

Happy Birthday Andy!

I’ve been cooking non-stop for the last couple of weeks. Not that I mind at all, it’s really second nature to me and I’m very fortunate to have lots of family and friends to be cooking for during the holidays. It’s probably one of my favorite gifts to give. The day after Christmas is Brandon’s stepdad’s birthday and we planned to have a big feast to celebrate his 50th birthday with family and friends. So after the great Christmas feasts that we had with my family, we were lucky enough to enjoy making dinner for Brandon’s mom and stepdad and some of their friends. The menu featured some of the food that I made for Christmas, including pozole and using some leftover meat that I had made for the tamales transformed into taquitos and flautas with some creamy salsa verde, spicy salsa roja with yogurt, and guacamole for appetizers. Having two chefs in the family is a pretty big advantage. I think both our families are grateful for that!

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Happy Birthday Andy!

Menu

Appetizers
Cheese Board with Fig Butter and Crostini
Pozole
Chipotle BBQ Shrimp with Honey Chipotle Aioli
Beef and Cheese Taquitos and Flautas with Creamy Salsa Verde, Spicy Salsa Roja with Yogurt and Guacamole

 

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Salads

Antipasto Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Roasted Red Beet Salad with Feta Cheese, Mixed greens and Shallot Red Wine Vinaigrette

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Entree

Herb Roasted Spicy Dijon and Horseradish Roasted Prime Rib
Roasted Carrots, Peas and Brussels Sprouts
Twice Roasted Potatoes with Sour Cream and Green Onions

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Dessert

Chocolate, Vanilla Wafers and Banana Cream Pie

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Cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

Maleeya’s First Birthday Celebration and Catering

My niece, Maleeya, just recently turned one on Easter, which was April 8th, so we decided that it would be a good idea to celebrate Easter with our family, including a small birthday celebration for her and then, the following Sunday, have her huge birthday celebration at the park. First birthdays, and birthdays in general, are a huge deal for the Fujitaki family, so we knew it was going to be a big production to get everything together; naturally, I was in charge of the food. As the number of guests grew and grew as we approached the party date, I knew that I was in for a good weekend full of catering and cooking, which felt nice because I haven’t done a large event in a while, but boy did my body feel it after cooking for 14 hours, not to mention the countless hours in preparation, shopping, organizing and sourcing. Needless to say, I slept a lot the next day and took a completely necessary yoga class to get my aching back and feet back to normal. 
I didn’t have time to make the cakes but these are pretty darn cute!
The final count for Sunday was about 65 people and I think there seemed to be even more people than that. I have no problem making a lot of food for a lot of people, but with space limitations, refrigeration limitations and my new time limitations (aka Yoga Teacher Training), I found myself planning a different sort of menu.  One person cooking for 65 people in a residential kitchen can be a tricky thing, but with a little patience, a lot of intuition, and a calm demeanor, anything can happen.  I want to thank my sister, my parents and our friend Valinda for helping me put the last minute touches on everything and hauling it over to the park. The whole party was such a success with everyone’s help and I’m so grateful to be a part of such an amazing family and extended family and friends. It’s such a beautiful feeling to see how much love is surrounding this amazing little girl and how it shapes and molds her lovely little soul. Happy Birthday Maleeya! Auntie loves you so much.
Menu

Roasted Chicken, Sundried Tomato, Mozzarella and Spinach Basil Pesto Sandwich on Rosemary Garlic Bread
Chinese Spiced Pork Tenderloin (Char Siu) Sandwich on Toasted French Roll with Spicy Asian Mayo, Cucumbers, Pea Shoots and Carrots
Roasted Salmon Lettuce Wraps with Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, and Quinoa
Sliced Turkey Pinwheels with Hearts of Romaine and CheeseScallion, Black olive and Celery Potato Salad
Rainbow Pasta Salad with Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes, Red Onion and Colby Jack Tossed in Red Wine Vinaigrette
Orzo Salad with Stripped Beets, Broccoli, Cranberries and Fresh Spinach Tossed in Sherry Vinegar Dressing
Purple Cabbage Coleslaw with Honey, Peanuts, Carrots and Granny Smith Apples
Vegetable Platter And Fruit Platter










Cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

A New Now: Living in Our Loves

I love food. It’s something that always makes me happy, challenges me, enlightens my senses, creates a sense of joy, and never ceases to carry my interest for more. And as you can see, I’m happily immersed in it most of the time. Lately, my time has shifted—I’ve taken on other ideas, other relationships, and opened myself up to a ton of new possibilities. I’m in my second week of Intensive Yoga Immersion at Rising Lotus Yoga to become a Yoga Teacher, but I find myself a student of more than I could possibly have imagined. I’m open to the experience and I don’t know what will come, so all I can do is keep an open mind, be honest, and show myself a little compassion along the way. I hope everyone can approach life with this sort of childish delight. I feel similarly like I did when I enrolled in culinary school; it’s a whole new world and one I know will be life changing. Balancing yoga, life, family, love, cooking, friends and everything else is still something I’m getting used to and will always be adjusting and learning from. Recently, I’ve learned it’s not easy realigning almost 27 years of thoughts, habits and patterns I never even knew I had. As I write here, I want to share of some of the actions I’ve taken in my own cooking and when cooking with others, to keep myself aligned in my own way.

 

Whole Chicken two ways Left Pomelo and Garlic Grilled Chicken Right Butter, Herbs and Bacon Oven Roasted Chicken center Creamed Spinach and Roasted Herb Potatoes with a Herb Brandy Cream Sauce

Shrimp and Broccolini Yaki Soba

Mixed Vegetable Stir Fry with Sliced Rib Eye Steak

Baby Mixed Greens with Fire Roasted Red Peppers, Tangerine Segments and Crumbled Bacon with White Balsamic Dressing

Grilled Crostini, Roasted Pearl Onions, Grilled Asparagus and Roasted Mushrooms

Sometimes living deliciously in devilish decadence is just necessary.

Cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

Eastern Sierra Eats: Bar B-Q Bill’s

When it’s time to head home, we have our rituals as well: we pack up the condo, have a breakfast of whatever is left in the fridge that can’t travel back with us, and make our way into Bishop for a couple of shopping bits and pieces. We always stop at Schat’s Bakkery to get delicious bread and pastries, which I’ve written about here, as well as Mahogany Smoked Meats for some of the best beef jerky I’ve ever had, also written about here. But a place we don’t always get to stop at is Bar-B-Q Bill’s. Bill’s is a wonderfully strange place, with crazy decor and barbecue sandwiches that are mouth-watering. We don’t normally get eat here because Bill’s is closed on Sundays and when we take a trip to Mammoth, that’s normally the day we leave, before everyone has to get back to work on Monday. But since this time we took a mid week trip, we were able to stop in and have lunch, after our busy morning of sledding in the snow.

Bill’s is set up in a cafeteria style setting. You start at one end, where you look up at the menu to see what you’d like. I decided on a barbecue beef sandwich on a french roll, with meat that is shaved to order and placed on your sandwich bun as you make your way down the line. Then it’s topped with house-made barbecue sauce and you are able to choose a couple of sides as you make your way towards the end of the line. My brother always has the prime rib sandwich with au jus for his choice tasty treat. The meat is served about medium to medium rare and juice is pouring on to the bun by the time the sandwich is devoured. We had side salads and I ordered delightful slow-cooked baked beans. As we talked about our trip and made new plans for the next time we’d be able to come up to the mountains, lunch seemed to go by too quickly. Soon after, we were back home in Los Angeles looking at smog smudged skies and I immediately went to a yoga class to stretch my body after the long drive.

I’m so grateful for these amazing adventures with family and friends. The snow was breathtaking and a wonderful new experience for me. To take in the glory of the mountains, sledding in the fresh powder, cooking for everyone and just relaxing five hours away from home, in a place that’s like my second home, was and is always a wonderful way to make me realize just how lucky I am.
haha I love this picture… Love you little bro!
Awesome group shot courtesy of my sister in law Viet Linh :)
Cheers
-Unrivaledkitch