Thanksgiving 2016


I hope everyone enjoyed a very wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and weekend. I am so grateful that I was able to spend so much time with my family and cook this very special meal for everyone.

We have so much to be thankful for with my third niece Adelyn’s first Thanksgiving! My brother had to work but we were able to celebrate with him this weekend for his 30th birthday. There have been so many wonderful celebrations happening that its been so important for me to pause and be grateful for these special opportunities to connect and spread loving kindness with the ones I love and beyond.

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I have so much to be grateful for and I know that gratitude helps me so much in my life to be happy where I am and accepting of what is, while looking towards the changes and strides I want to make going forward. This year cooking was wonderful as always, this is my 7th year of Thanksgiving traditions on Unrivaledkitch and I am so grateful to continue this culinary adventure on my blog. I hope to continue for many years to come and also to continue the holiday season food updates.

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Here is the Thanksgiving menu for 2016.

Honey glazed Ham
Citrus herb brined turkey and turkey breast
Roasted turkey gravy
Mashed potatoes
Marshmallow yams with brown sugar caramel and marshmallow
Sweet lemon cranberry relish
Smashed Yam casserole with cinnamon spice crumble
Beet carpaccio with roasted almonds, arugula, blue cheese, lemon zest and cracked pepper
Roasted mushroom and sausage cornbread kale stuffing
Beef and pork Zucchini, celery and black olive stuffing
Green bean casserole
Roasted Cauliflower and broccoli
Mac N Cheese




Thanksgiving 2015

I have 6 years of Thanksgiving blogs on Unrivaledkitch, which to me, shows my commitment to being there for my family and I am truly grateful that I have been able to take on this tradition for the ones I love and to share these awesome moments with the people who mean so much to me. Thanksgiving, as I’ve said before, is one of my favorite meals to cook. This year I was pretty ahead of schedule with cooking and cleaning, so big thumbs up for me, because, of course, that can be a challenge with an overly ambitious menu. Our Thanksgiving meal has some staples that we always enjoy and then the rest is open to my interpretation, which is the fun part for me.

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Brandon joined us for Thanksgiving this year and I asked him to sit out for the cooking. He cooks all year long and sometimes someone else cooking for you is just the thing you need. I know, when I was cooking, that’s how I felt. My mom and grandma brought a bunch of snacks and sweets and we all made a beautiful meal together. I am so grateful for my family and all the sacrifices and success we have had, and to our extended family, friends and beyond, we hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving with the ones you love! And here is what we ended up with this year:

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Brined Turkey with Roasted Aromatics, Rosemary, Thyme, Sage
Roasted Turkey Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Hassleback Red Rose Potatoes
Bacon, Leeks, Sausage and Roasted Wild Mushroom Cornbread Dressing
Zucchini, Celery, Scallions and Black Olive Stuffing   
Roasted Cream Corn with Turmeric and Bacon
Creamed Spinach, Broccoli and Green Beans
Roasted Yams with Brown Sugar, Marshmallows and Cinnamon
Sweet Potato Casserole with Agave, Granola, Brown Sugar and Pumpkin Pie Spice Marshmallows
Pomegranate & Guava Cranberry Sauce
Green Bean Casserole
Steamed Corn
Roasted Green Beans and Brussels Sprouts with Garlic
Honey Baked Ham
Bachan Jello
Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie
Rice Krispies Treats
Spinach Dip
Pimento Cheese
Deviled Eggs

Thanksgiving Gratitude 2014

Better Late than never….



I love Thanksgiving! It is truly my favorite meal to make of the year, not because we have the same traditional things, but because it’s tradition to be together with my family. I am so glad we get to keep this tradition alive and thriving with my nieces. This Thanksgiving was also my brother’s birthday, so it was an extra-special occasion.


My sister and I braved the grocery stores on Wednesday morning so I could get all the ingredients for a meal that pretty much fed us for what seemed like a week, but that’s the best part of Thanksgiving–cook for a day or two and then either just reheat and eat or think of something else to do with the rest. I’m glad my sister came with me to the grocery store because I really dislike having a cart and having to maneuver one when the stores are super crowded, so she took care of that for me, which was a great help! Thanks, Keek.


So after a few stops and various places with enough groceries to just pack the fridge almost to explosion, I had a good idea of what we were going to enjoy. I’m not the type of person to ponder the menu a month or even a week in advance, I just looked at the ingredients and made things, which is my favorite way to cook. I’m grateful I have a family that pretty much let’s me have full reign over what we eat for Thanksgiving, trusting and knowing I’ll make those traditional dishes that they like each year while incorporating some new ones.


So here it is, Thanksgiving 2014 from Unrivaledkitch. I hope your families and friends feasted over great food, good company and tons of togetherness and gratitude. I’m grateful for all of you who take a gander at my food musings, for all the support, and I wish you a very happy holiday season.


Here are the past 4 years of Thanksgivings documented on I love that these memories are here for me to look back on.

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Thanksgiving 2014 Menu


Celery Root Soup with Spicy Sausage, Crispy Pancetta and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Herb and Citrus Brined Turkey with Roasted Vegetable Turkey Gravy

Celery, Scallion, Olive, and Zucchini Turkey Stuffing

Mashed Potatoes

Candied Yams with Bruleed Marshmallow

Green Bean Casserole with Fried Onions

Roasted Asparagus

Roasted Mushroom Medley with Fresh Thyme and Garlic

Red Potato Gratin with Button Mushrooms, Roasted Leeks, Kale and Parmesan Mozzarella Bechamel

Granny Smith Apple,Green Anjou Pear and Melted Date Cranberry Sauce

Crookneck Yellow Zucchini, White Zucchini and Green Bean Casserole with Celery Root Cream and Sausage

Hot Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Raisins and Granny Smith Apples with Brown Sugar Caramel Cream Sauce, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Whipped Cream


Mom, Dad and Grandma’s Contributions

Honey Baked Spiral Ham

Deviled Eggs

Spinach Dip, Pimento Cheese, Green Onion Dip and Vegetable Platter and Crackers

Bachan Jello

Pumpkin Pie

Carrot and Banana Muffins
What a delicious feast! Thank you everyone for sharing in this gratitude filled holiday.



Happy 3rd Birthday Maleeya from a month ago



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!
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




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Baby Sister’s Baby Sprinkle!

My sister and brother-in-law are having another baby girl! News to some, but not to others and low and behold she’ll be joining us maybe this month. My sister’s due date is August 27th and secretly, I think my sister is going to try and hold out til September 1st, because we already have so many August birthdays. I don’t really think that I, my mom and my dad would mind sharing our birthday month with baby sister…well, not too much! But whenever she gets here, she’ll be greeted with the most love and anticipation. Last weekend we had a small last-minute gathering in Huntington Beach, about 50 miles away from where we live, but cooler (which is a must for a pregnant woman) and also where my grandma lives. Seeing as the valley can get temperatures over 100 degrees, I don’t think my sister wanted to risk having the sprinkle out here.

I’m so grateful to my mom, dad and grandma for helping me put this little event together to share our love and celebrate our soon to be newest member of the family. I’m a second born daughter, so I know what it’s like to be a baby sister and I’m so excited for her to come out and drive us all crazy! I cooked for the event and we had a Pan-Asian inspired Hawaiian-themed little Luau for baby sister. Thanks to everyone who made this day special, stress-free and all about my little niece number two.  Maleeya is going to be such an amazing big sister I can’t wait to see how they get along. If it’s anything like me and my sister, they’ll love each other and sometimes want to kill each other at the same time–the way all sisterly relationships should be. I love my sister so much and I’m so glad that my nieces will be able to have the kind of relationship, friendship, and love that we have for each other.


Coconut Cilantro Green Curry with Button Mushroom, Bean Sprouts and Potatoes


Braised Pineapple Soy Sauce Chicken Legs


Spam Musubi


Chicken Katsu with Japanese Curry


Beef Teriyaki with Ginger and Garlic

Pickled Cucumbers071

Tangerine, Mirin and Dijon Skewered Vegetables


Assorted Fruit and Macaroni Potato Salad


Veggie Fried Rice with Snap Peas


Chinese Chicken Salad with Crispy Wontons, Red Peppers, Scallions and Mandarin Oranges

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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!



Happy Birthday Andy!


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






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




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




Chocolate, Vanilla Wafers and Banana Cream Pie




Food, Friends and Robins BBQ…Now That’s a Celebration

One afternoon this month, a bunch of friends gathered together to share some food and fun for Jabari’s birthday. Jabari is the author of and has been a family friend for ages. I’m so happy and honored to know someone with as much passion for what they do as Jabari. Thanks for contributing to the family in more ways then you know.

So we all gathered in Pasadena at Robins BBQ for some large plates of deliciousness.

My sister and I decided to take on a couple of pretty intense sandwiches. We shared the Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich with baked beans and the Bodacious “que” Stacker with macaroni and cheese.  The Carolina pulled pork was succulent and smokey with the flavors of mustard and the combination of sweet vinegar coleslaw, which made this an over-the-top BBQ favorite. The bodacious “que” stacker is a combination of tri tip, pulled pork, and a smoked hot link all combined into one massive sandwich.  It’s topped with pepper jack cheese, spicy bbq sauce and spicy pickle chips. The whole sandwich was just out of control–one of those fun things you eat and think, “wow did I really eat that”, but it was so good that it doesn’t matter. All the flavors melded well together, the smoky flavors with the gooey pepper jack and all that richness was cut by the intensely spicy sweet pickles.  I really loved the bbq sauces and the prominent flavors of smoke in the meats.


Everyone ordered an array of ribs and tri tip and everything else on the menu and no one had any complaints. We were attended to a little haphazardly because of the section we were sitting in, which was probably our only complaint. Valinda, Jabari’s girlfriend, said that you really do have to try the blueberry corn bread. Overall, we had an amazing time together with lots of laughs and good food. I’d recommend stopping in if you’re ever in the area.



Building the Burger Umami Burger Thousand Oaks

On a lovely evening, after shopping for some cooking gadgets and finding some great deals on my favorite large white platters, Brandon and I decided to get a bite to eat at the new Umami Burger in Thousand Oaks. I’m not really a big fan of going somewhere when it first opens, and partially this place and the way things were handled here, is part of the reason. Opening a new restaurant is never what you think it’s going to be.  You can plan your whole life and still, there are going to be some things that are just beyond your control to handle.

I’ve been to Umami Burger in Studio City with my sister-in-law Linh, and we had a pretty amazing time, and Brandon had been to Umami in Los Feliz, so we were familiar with the set-up, the way the menu was and all that other jazz. But at first glance, you could tell that overexpansion is probably going to be the downfall of this delicious burger. The Thousand Oaks location is less than lackluster. Its design and decoration is minimal and rushed. The intricate details of the Studio City location’s design and development of flashy red chairs and contrasting black and white accents, are completely overlooked here and it’s a very open-space place, which wasn’t very crowded, aside from the amazing amount of overstaffed workers, just standing around talking to one another.

Now I understand the idea of overstaffing, but if you’re going to do it when you first open, at least work it so that people are getting service, instead of one person having a huge section with no one else helping him, as he’s desperately running around, sweating and getting trampled on by numerous requests. Cue our server. The poor fellow was getting the runaround from everyone. We sat at our table for at least 10 minutes before anyone said anything to us or even made an attempt at helping us.  This is a common mistake that ill equipped management makes when hiring 16 year-old hostesses and showing them a map that they don’t know how to read. It’s not your fault, it’s your manager’s. Fortunately, our waiter was doing as much as he could, with the little means of help he was getting.

We were finally able to order and Brandon got the Truffle Burger and I ordered the Port and Stilton Burger. We ordered tempura fried onion rings and sweet potato fries, and chose the garlic aioli and Umami ketchup to compliment them. I also ordered a market salad. The salad came first and was the most salty, over-seasoned, little salad I’d ever had.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get anyone to take my salad back for at least 10 more minutes and had to flag down a hostess before anyone came by. After I had them re-make the salad with the dressing on the side, the salad wasn’t served first, but later accompanied the rest of our food.

Over salted salad and Condiments Umami Ketchup and Garlic Aioli

Undressed market salad

Tempura fried onion rings and sweet potato fries

Port and Stilton Burger

Truffle Burger

Whenever I go anywhere to have a burger, I almost always have to build it my own way. I love lettuce in my hamburgers and since I don’t often indulge in them, I like them to be memorable. This burger, on its own, was well made medium-rare and the beef has plenty of flavor. The onions were a bit on the light side, for being called port caramelized onions. The stilton was a sharp and delicious cheese that went well with the meat. The bun was fresh and soft, a perfect complement to the meat. So with my side salad, I decided to put about half of it inside the burger along with a tempura onion ring and the flavor combination was awesome. I enjoyed the whole thing, after it was built to my liking. Brandon’s truffle burger was well made, but the truffle was not very pronounced for us. We enjoyed both the onion rings and the sweet potato fries. Overall, our food was warm and delicious, with just a few preferential taste issues for our own palates.

Additions to Port and Stilton burger

We understand that opening a restaurant is never easy and there are going to be hiccups along the way. Our waiter was nice enough to address us with as much attention as he possibly could, but with ¾ of the restaurant empty, the managers should have been able to give this poor guy a hand. He would probably have made better tips. I like Umami, but if they keep popping up like McDonalds, they’re going to have more experiences not worth devouring.




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.



What We Ate on Thanksgiving

Here we are, giving thanks for this extreme bounty of food and great times. I’m so lucky to have so much love in my heart. This is the menu I prepared for Thanksgiving day. I hope you enjoy the photos and had a magnificent feast yourselves.

Seasons Greetings :)

Menu prepared by yours truly

Roasted lemon and herb sweet brine turkey
Roasted zucchini, scallion and olive pork stuffing
Braised sausage with red Swiss chard and kale potato gratin
Roasted asparagus with garlic, red pepper flakes and crispy pancetta
Green bean casserole with soaked “buttermilk” fried onion strings
Beef and tart apple dressing with roasted carrot shreds
Homemade cranberry jelly
Roasted shallot cream corn
Bacon and gorgonzola shrimp
Mashed potatoes
Fall aromatics and roasted giblet gravy
Garlic bread sticks
Basil, spinach and green olive tapenade
Arugula and spinach salad with roasted spicy baby bellas, feta cheese, tomatoes and avocado in honey balsamic dressing
Brown sugar and marshmallow candied yams

Additions brought by family members and friends included dips, snacks, pumpkin pie, cheesecake, carrot cupcakes and ham. Some of my dishes weren’t photographed.

Over indulgence to the max. I could probably do with running a hundred miles, but I won’t.

Time to finish my menu for my brother’s 25th birthday party. I hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend.