I am taking a break on baby/newborn postings for a bit to showcase some Halloween fun! If you know me, you know that I’m a Halloween fan. What’s not to love about creative foods, crafting costumes, and using your noggin for fun ideas! When I first met my husband, he said it was weird for people to decorate for Halloween. Clearly he didn’t know me at all, because THAT’S WHAT I DO! Now that we’ve been married for 4.5 years, he appreciates this “holiday” a bit more. Goal complete.
We hosted a Halloween party last night on Hallow’s Eve for friends. A baby doesn’t change the fact that this holiday must call for a gathering. Crafted Halloween decor. Themed pot luck foods. Mandatory costumes. Success!
Just take a look at these amazing pictures. And of course, I have some new food ideas to share with you.
First the family costumes:
Snow White themed
Right above my TV, I added floating candles this year! Here’s a great tutorial from Consumer Crafts. Instead of toilet paper rolls, I rolled up craft paper.
DIY floating candles
Now for the food ideas!
Back and front end!
Rib of dead man and pot pie intestines
And how about these delicious mummy potatoes!
Twice Baked Mummies
The dessert table
And you cannot forget:
Sangria – duh
My favorite new item that I made this year was the jar of eyeballs. So much fun and easy to do. Here’s the tutorial:
What you need: Jar, Can of Lychee, and Boba
You can purchase a can of lychee at any Asian grocery store. With the Boba, you can buy a milk tea and just use the starch balls. Huge bonus, you get to drink the milk tea!
Drain the can of lychee into the glass jar
Take out each lychee and stuff with boba
Place the “eyeball” into the glass jar
Fill the remaining jar up with water
Create a label, display, and eat!
Jar of eyebals
Easy and fun right? Now tell me, what are you doing this Halloween?
MG and I recently went on a trip to Oahu Hawaii. It was our first trip together as a couple since our honeymoon (almost 3 years ago!) so a trip to ourselves was overdue.
I was lucky enough to have my parents take me when I was in high school but it had been a while. MG has always lived in the Bay Area and had never been to Hawaii. First let me start out by saying that he’s not a “beach” guy. I KNOW… How is that so?!? His dream vacation has to do with snow and skiing in the Swiss Alps, and I’m definitely a sand and ocean type of girl. My explanation is that he’s only grown up around beaches in the Bay Area, and it’s always so cold here that you can’t get into the water. I accepted this challenge to make him love beaches, especially after a trip to Hawaii, where ocean waters are warm and sand is soft.
I’m happy to say that he’s slowly converting. There’s a small part in his heart to love beaches now. One day, I’ll let him have his snow vacay. One day…
We stayed at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, right across from the beach. It’s so convenient to get around because you’re in the heart of downtown Waikiki. Additionally, the hotel is extremely accommodating to their guests. They have lunch box where you can pack breakfast to go for the beach, and they also rent out beach towels, chairs, and mats. I highly recommend staying here!
Look at our amazing view
Instead of walking through day by day, I’m going to simply list out our favorite sight seeing places and favorite places to eat. Hopefully this list will come in handy if you ever plan a trip to Oahu!
Favorite Things To Do:
5. Beach Hopping
All day, every day. Just go from beach to beach and explore the various beaches. The water and sea life is different. Also the sand varies from place to place. If you’re not the strongest swimming, I would suggest Waikiki because there walls to break the waves. For those that are stronger swimmers, definitely go to North Beach because it’s less packed with people and currents are strong.
4. Polynesian Cultural Center Luau
We obviously had to check out some dinner/show since it was MG’s first time. We came across one that was recommended by friends at the Polynesian Cultural Center. It’s kinda like a theme park, where you can visit villages that make up Hawaii. In the evening, there’s a buffet and then a show. We got lucky and booked tickets on the night of the World Champion Fire Knife Competition, which happens only once a year. Now that’s something you don’t see every day!
3. Pearl Harbor Museum, along with Bowfin, Missouri, and Aviation Museum
Wow. There’s a solemn feel to this place, but in a good way. The exhibits were informative, and there are many first hand videos on the day that Pearl Harbor was attacked. You learn to appreciate America’s involvement in the war, and truly respect those that were courageous enough to fight for our country.
The Arizona is a sight to see. This specific exhibit is free, but you can’t also pay a fee to go to the other museums – Bowfin submarine, USS Missouri, and the aviation museum. I must say, all exhibits were well worth the money! We spent most of our day here.
Go pick up snorkeling gear before you come here or else you have to rent it for $20. And YES, you definitely need gear. Because there is an abundance of sea life in these waters. Hanauma Bay is a state park with small entrance fee, but it’s totally worth it because you’ll see many little marine creatures, all kinds, sizes, and colors! Stick your face into the water, and I guarantee that you’ll immediately see marine life.
This was our absolute favorite part of the trip. Turtles like to rest on this beach, and there’s always a volunteer that ropes off the area where turtles lay on the sand. It’s a law that you cannot touch the turtles, hence why there’s someone to keep watch.
But there’s an opportunity to get closer. Grab your snorkel gear and get into the water. We were so lucky that during our time here, we saw at least 8 turtles just swimming near us. They weren’t afraid of anyone swimming and some swam less than a foot away. It’s almost scary to be so close because these creatures are huge (some older turtles can grow to be 6ft in length). Most of the time you’ll be swimming, assuming there’s a boulder, but you realize it’s getting closer and closer. Yup, just a sea turtle! It’s an experience of a lifetime.
Oh how I really wish I had a Go-Pro…
Now for you foodies! Here’s a list of our must-eats (in no particular order)!
Rainbow Drive-In – It’s a triple D (Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives) hot spot. Think greasy comfort Hawaiian food. Loco moco heaven!
Hi Steak– Don’t laugh, but this place is located in a cafeteria and the steak is amazing… Get the garlic butter!
Ramen Nakamura – two words, oxtail ramen. It’s a small shop with very few tables but worth the wait. This place seems quite authentic in taste and environment. I’m not Japanese but there’s a lot of them in here enjoying the food, so you can’t go wrong with that!
Musubi Cafe Iyasume– Get yummy snacks here. Lots of different kinds of musubi (bacon, avocado, eggs, and combinations galore!). It’s fun to look at all the different spam gadgets here.
Ono Seafood– OMG poke! The fish is so tender and soft; no stringy pieces in the meat. It’s more of a take-out restaurant, with a few patio seats outside.
Sushi Izakaya Gaku– The seafood is extremely fresh and so sweet. Sit at the sushi bar and ask the chef what’s fresh for the day. He’ll give recommendations. Definitely get the Negihama (yellowtail) tartar! But look at that amazing sashimi!
Marukame Udon– This was our all time favorite meal. I had my doubts because udon is just noodles. But WOW! These are hand pulled udon noodles with a bar of all you can choose sides. Go down the aisle and add in your ingredients, like a tempura soft serve egg. Whaa?!? Yup.
Just some other things worth mentioning:
Pali Lookout – It’s a windward cliff off the mountain with a scenic view, known for it’s strong winds.
Dole Plantation because dole whips and pineapple gummy bears.
^^^ Look at the cute little pineapple!
I wish I could go back to sunny skies, clean beaches and clear waters, large sea turtles, and delicious local foods. I just love the feeling of laying out on the sand without a care in the world. MG is already asking if we can go back! Does this mean Hawaii has won his heart over?
Have you ever been to Oahu? What are some of your musts?
Guys, this is THE post to get you excited for the day of sweat pants and food. You know, Thanksgiving! Let’s be honest. Pulling on your comfy pants to eat a magnitude of 5 meals in one evening is one of the best holidays of the year.
Being Asian means it’s also a blend of cultures, mixing Chinese food with American food to overfill your belly with yumminess. Next to the large turkey is roasted duck. Next to the green bean casserole, there’s the bok choy. Rice goes along with everything. And Chinese people, you know that fruit/veggie salad mixed in Mayo. Am I the only one that loves to eat it but also finds the ingredients strangely disgusting? It really is good though!
Okay, I do have something to admit. Sometimes we don’t even eat turkey. When I celebrate with my family or MG’s family, it’s too much food to cook an entire bird. Instead we cook a huge slab of prime rib and call it Thanksgiving! It may not be the traditional American meal, but it satisfies everyone and we leave with happy bellies. Isn’t that what the holiday is really about anyway – being grateful and enjoying the day with your family?
So today’s post features my infamous prime rib roast. Oh yeahhh!
Ribeye steak is one of the most flavorful, if not the most flavorful, cut of meat. It’s marbled (in other words fatty, yum), and juicy. If you love bone-in ribeye, then you’ll love the standing rib roast. Standing rib roast is the same cut as a ribeye, but not cut into sections, with the bone still intact. A rib roast is without the bone; still the same cut of meat. All delicious.
Prime Rib Roast Recipe
Rib roast (~14 pounds)
12 cloves of garlic
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 large onion
Emeril’s Creole Seasoning Essence (see below)
Emeril’s Creole Seasoning Essence – mix all the ingredients together
2.5 tablespoons of paprika
2 tablespoons of salt
2 tablespoons of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of onion powder
1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Pre-heat the oven to 450°F.
Blend the garlic, thyme, and onion together (I usually use a Magic Bullet).
Pull the fat cap back and rub the roast with the essence seasoning. Now rub the blended mix onto the roast, and slather it onto the roast generously.
Lay the fat cap back on and secure the cap by tying the two together with twine.
Place the roast with the rib side down on a wire rack, into the center of the oven. Place a drip pan to collect drippings.
Roast for 15 minutes at 450°F. Then lower the temperature to 325°F. Estimate 17-20 minutes per pound. A meat thermometer is recommended as you’ll get the best results. Make sure you push the thermometer into the middle of the roast, making sure the tip is not touching fat or bone. You want the internal temperature at 130°F for medium rare or 140°F for medium.
When finished roasting, take the roast out and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. This is important so that the juices gets absorbed back into the meat.
Cut off the twine, carve, and serve with drippings and horseradish on the side.
We’ve made this recipe multiple times now, and it never fails. As I type up this post, my stomach is rumbling with hunger.
This essence is great with all cuts of beef! I store it in an air-tight container and place it into my spice cabinet.
Mmmm fat cap!
Ready for roasting!
Hardest part – let the meat sit after roasting.
Posting this picture again, because isn’t it mouth watering? It’s the best when you’re named as carver. You get to snack on the little chunky pieces while cutting!
Okay, I have something else to admit (apparently this post is all about being honest). I’ve never actually roasted a turkey before. One day, I’ll muster up the courage to make one for the family. And perhaps you’ll see the recipe on here. But for now, I’ll have prime rib for Thanksgiving, and I’m perfectly happy with that!
What kinds of foods do you have for Thanksgiving that isn’t based on the “traditional” foods? Will prime rib be a part of that this year?
Today in the Bay Area, it finally feels like Fall. Gloomy weather, a little bit of rain, and colder temperatures. It’s one of those days where it’s hard to get out of bed.
But one thing that does help is heating up the oven to warm up the house and making some freshly baked goods. I purchased buttermilk to make cake last week, but since then, I’ve just had buttermilk sitting in the fridge. I hate when things go to waste, so I decided to make some delicious buttermilk biscuits! To make it even yummier, I added garlic flavoring and freshly grated cheddar.
I’ve been told they taste like the ones from Red Lobster (I have to admit, I’ve only been there once, a long time ago, so I don’t actually know!). But I know people love the biscuits there, so I take it as a compliment! I’ve even been asked from a few people for the recipe so here it is!
Ingredients: 12 biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
6 tablespoons of cold, unsalted butter, cubed
6 ounces of freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup of buttermilk, cold (can be substituted with whole milk)
3 tablespoons of melted butter (for brushing on)
Dried parsley (for sprinkling)
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, garlic salt. Using your hands, mix the cubed butter the flour mixture until flour is able to form crumbs. Mix in the cheese. Add the buttermilk. Combine thoroughly.
Drop the dough into 1/4 cup portions and bake for 16-18 minutes, until golden brown.
Take the biscuits out of the oven, brush on the melted butter, and sprinkle the parsley. Serve these little delights warm.
These treats take less than 30 minutes to whip up. Your home will smell deliciously of biscuits! Your belly will be filled with warm garlicky goodness! Promise you won’t be able to eat just one. Flakey. Crisp on the outside. Fluffy in on the inside.
If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, put them in the fridge and heat them up for 10 seconds in the microwave. It’s just as tasty!
What do you think? Is this something you can make?
How was your Halloween? I’d love to hear some of your costume ideas and what you did on this special occasion!
For my Friday, I hosted a Halloween Potluck at my house. I’m not usually a fan of potlucks, but for Halloween, I make an exception. I love to encourage people to use their noodle to come up with something creative, in this case, imagination with food.
Everyone had to bring a Halloween-themed food to the party. In the end, we had a lot of good food, and some too creepy to eat. Take a look!
Here are the amazing appetizers:
And the delicious main courses:
^^^ Pumpkin fried in salty egg yolk (It’s a Chinese dish)
And no meal is complete without dessert, and we had plenty!
^^^ Jello ^^^
^^^ It’s red bean paste from Japan
^^^ My favorite item of the night because how cute are they!?!
After we filled our bellies, we watched Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (oh, that’s how the Emancipation Proclamation came to be) and Hocus Pocus (classic). As you can tell, we weren’t scary movie people at all, rephrase, just the girls, including me. Best part, I have some leftovers in my fridge that I’m still eating. Yay!
What are some of the potluck items that catch your eye? What are some other food ideas I can use for next year?
Now it’s November, and I’m already thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas. I love this season!
Remember that Progressive Dinner Activity I mentioned in my previous post (if not, here it is)? It’s a fun activity for a group of people 10+.
I’m in a fellowship group for my church. There are at least 5 groups in the East Bay, some with catered to families with kids. Occasionally, we’ll meet with other groups to get to know them a bit better, but it’s always hard to find an activity that we all enjoy (usually our activity will consist of food). This past Friday, we hosted something called a Progressive Dinner.
Here is how it works – You have homes host an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert. The host will cook the meals (preferably prior so they can join in on the fun), and the other groups will travel from home to home for each course. 3 Locations for 3 different courses, and everyone gets to travel to visit homes and enjoy food.
Our dinner was a bit more complicated since we had over 30+ people. Our variation was the 3 homes hosted all three courses, while the travelers would go from home to home. Different groups of people so that we could get to know everyone a bit better.
My group got fancy – we made menus for the table so that people could see what courses we were making. We also gave little goodie bags to everyone who came over (yup, overachievers!).
Our appetizer – Fresh crab cakes on a toasted Hawaiian bun with a dressed arugula salad
^^^ Mounds and mounds of crab cakes!
Main course – Miso salmon on a bed of wasabi infused mashed potatoes and a side of seasoned green beans
^^^ Look at that glaze!
Dessert – Cast iron s’mores (so easy and so fun)
^^^ Mmm… Mmm… Mmm… Those crispy tops!
Then we gave out these cutie little goodie bags
These treats were simple to put together – 1 graham cracker broken in half, half a Hershey’s bar, and 2 marshmallows, put together in a sandwich bag, and tied with twine and a tag. Want to recreate this? Just download and print my tag here!
What do you think about this activity? Is this something you can do? What are some other fun activities that big groups can partake in? Please give me some ideas because we need some fresh thinking!
Perhaps you’ve been to my house. So then perhaps you know I love snacks. That perhaps leads to you knowing what I do on my free time, hoard snacks. I’ve done this for as long as I can remember. There’s sooooo many snacks lying around my house, but I promise you I don’t snack often. I have more of a mentality of trying a snack, maybe eating a few pieces, and then it just sits in my house until visitors eat them.
In college I did the same thing. I even had an intervention. Once a roommate ask me why I don’t finish my snacks before purchasing more. What a strange habit right? I had to promise my husband that I wouldn’t hoard snacks when we got married. I was doing so well up until recently. I discovered the chip aisle again (muahaha!).
To add to my hoarding woes, I stumbled upon this brilliant Indian site for snacks. There is everything I could ever ask for, right here on 24chakra. My snack hoarding habit has not known more joy!
I’m sharing two of my most recent finds with you. Snacks that I like so much, I’m actually eating the entire thing!
First thing’s first. Lay’s is hosting their “Do Us A Flavor” campaign again. Users submit flavors and the top voted ones get put into the stores. Then you vote on which one will stay.
OMG the wasabi ginger chips are amazing!!! Honestly, it’s sushi on a chip. Once you get over the texture, basically it’s a crispy piece of sushi in your mouth, the flavor is fricken awesome. Obviously you need to like sushi in order to enjoy this flavor. It’s a good combination of wasabi and ginger, not one overpowering the other. I literally have to put my chips on a plate in order to control my portions!
I haven’t tried the other flavors yet (Mango Salsa, Cappuccino, and Bacon Mac n Cheese). Have you? If so, which ones do you recommend? I’m kinda interesting in trying cappuccino!
And now drumroll please! I’ve discovered Cookie Butter Ice Cream from Trader Joe’s. Have you ever had cookie butter before? It’s a brand of speculoos, which is basically a creamy spread of gingerbread cookies. Think peanut butter but with gingerbread. OMG – I die! So good to the point I can’t even describe it. I typically buy speculoos for crepes or just eating a spoonful for dessert. But Cookie Butter ice cream? That’s beyond me! Who’s the genius that came up with this… I want to shake his/her hand.
Look at those amazing specks of cookie butter!
Seriously, these snacks are probably not helping with my training for my half marathon. But that’s okay! Running means I’m losing calories, which means I can have a higher calorie intake now. That’s my motivation for running… tehehe!
What are some of your favorite snacks? This is a bad question because I’ll probably try your recos and then I’m back at snack hoarding!
It’s been one year since my very first post. I can’t believe I kept up with posting on this blog for a full year, posting 3 times a week, scheduling posts to go live at midnight. I first started this blog when I was still a housewife, beginning to find new hobbies. This was one of them, and this one actually stuck. Sometimes posting was a pain. I would remember that I needed to write a new post around 11:45pm with only 25 minutes to go live. Those were some of the nights I had to stay up late in order have posts for readers the following day. It was more about my own self-discipline and trying to keep myself on a tight schedule. I knew if I was too lenient, I would continue to let myself slip. But I stuck with it! I’m really proud.
Today deserves a celebration. Happy one year to my little blog!
In lieu of today, I’m featuring some of my proudest posts. I love to look back and see what kinds of projects I’ve completed, recipes I’ve created, and reminisce at trips that I took. I hope you enjoy this walk down memory lane!
And then there’s the many, many different trips I took this past year. Each and every one of them were so memorable. If you’re going to any of these places, check out my posts for ideas of what to do and eat!
I’m a Texas girl at heart. I love meat, and I love BBQs. That’s how you can win me over. Easy!
Now that I’m in the Bay Area, I reminisce those days I ate at Rudy’s, and Salt Lick, and Franklin’s. I definitely took it for granted when I lived in Austin because BBQ was so easy to come by. It’s just not the same here.
But when I crave those things, I usually make something at home to satisfy. For instance, this week, I’m having a dinner party for friends, and I know the perfect thing to cook. Ribs! Who doesn’t love lip-smacking, juicy, fall off the bone, BBQ ribs?
At Costco, you can purchase 3 racks of ribs for about $25 dollars. Perfect for a dinner part of 6-8 people! With a few sides, like a salad, cornbread, potatoes, and corn, that’s the perfect Southern meal.
Here’s my easy peasy rib recipe. I’m not lying when I say simple.
Jay’s Baked Rib Recipe (3 ingredients only)
Dry pork rub (Find one at the grocery store. It need not be expensive)
Your favorite BBQ sauce
1. Preheat your oven to 300° F.
2. Peel off the membrane that covers the boney side of the ribs. The hardest part is finding an edge to start peeling, but once you do that, it should come off fairly easily. Look at corners for a piece to grip and peel. Otherwise, I like to cut the membrane with a knife between two bones and start to peel from the middle.
3. Now apply the rub on the front and back of the ribs. Be generous with the rub and coat evenly.
4. Lay the ribs on foil, meaty side down, and shiny foil out. Add another layer of foil on top and bottom and crimp the edges together.
5. Place the ribs onto a baking sheet and bake for 2-2.5 hours.
6. Remove from the oven, and put oven on broiler on high.
7. Cut ribs into serving sizes and brush on the BBQ sauce on every side of the ribs. Be super generous!
8. Place the ribs into the broiler, meaty side up and broil for 5 minutes, or until the ribs are charred to your liking.
9. Enjoy! And lick those fingers clean!
Seriously so delicious! It really falls right off the bone.
Another option for this recipe is to grill the ribs instead of broiling. Gives it that yummy grilled taste. To keep things simple, because after smelling cooking ribs for 2.5 hours, I just use the broiler so it can get into my mouth quicker!
Craving ribs now? What are some of your favorite BBQ places to eat? Any recommendations for BBQ in the Bay Area?
You can’t go wrong with a hearty bowl of soup. A warm and full belly after a perfect bowl of soup is one of my happy places!
I always keep raw chicken breast in my freezer. It’s such a universal meat that you can eat with just about anything, sandwiches, pasta, soup, grilled, stuffed, stir-fry; choices are endless!
This is one of those recipes that calls for chicken. It’s also one of those recipes that’s perfect for when you need to clean out the fridge. Lots of veggies leftover that are going back, just throw them into the soup.
By the way, this recipe gets better. It’s a one pot dinner, made in prepared and cooked in under 30 minutes. Best. Decision. Ever.
When I’m making this recipe for dinner, it gives me motivation to get through the day, something to look forward to when I get home. No judgement. You know you do the same thing. When there’s a tasty meal at home, you’re ready to finish work and get on home! Food is my motivation!
I dedicate this dear recipe to my friend, Judy Lu. She made this yummy dish for dinner, and I emailed her the day after for the recipe. Honestly, so delicious!
4 pieces of bacon
2 pieces of skinless chicken breast, cubed into bit size pieces
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
12 oz. frozen artichoke
2 cans of chicken stock
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 packed cup of fresh, chopped basil leaves (or 2 tablespoons of dried basil)
2 teaspoons of dried thyme
2 dried bay leaves
1.5 cup of elbow macaroni
Olive oil for cooking
Salt & pepper for seasoning
1. Cook the bacon until crispy. Set bacon aside to cool and then break into small pieces. This will be used to garnish.
2. Add some olive oil to the bacon grease, and then add the veggies (onions, garlic, carrots and celery) and 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. This is where you can add your extra, leftover veggies while you’re at it. Cook until the onions are translucent.
3. Add the chicken stock, basil, thyme, bay leaves, and tomato paste. Stir until combined.
4. Add the cubed chicken pieces and make sure it’s submerged into the stock. Let it boil, and then reduce to medium heat.
5. Add the frozen artichokes and the elbow macaroni. Simmer for 20 minutes until pasta is the way you like it. Be sure to check that the chicken stock does not completely evaporate. Add more stock if needed.
6. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the spezzatino into bowls and garnish with pieces of bacon.
^^^ I threw in some zucchini too!
I love that dinner can be this easy. Getting home at 6:30 and dinner on the table by 7:30pm. It doesn’t get easier unless you buy Panda, right?
What do you think? What are some of your favorite on pot recipes?