Sunday, April 25, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Avocado Caeser Salad

Summer is around the corner and my favorite season brings some of my favorite things: sun, warm weather, long days, and grilling!

It also brings swimsuit season, which means it is time to slim down, shed the winter insulation and eat better. This is one of Kyle's favorite salad dressings I make. One of my best friends, Amy, started to learn to cook last year and I gave her this dressing along with one other recipe. Her fiance loved it so much, they made it for a week straight!


  • 1 Head of Romaine Lettuce

  • 1 loaf of ciabatta bread

  • Garlic salt

  • olive oil


  • 1 ripe avocado

  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

  • 1 tbs anchovy paste

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • a dash of Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar

  • 2 tbs lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Cut romaine lettuce in half and put on grill or grill pan. This will give it a smokey flavor and give beautiful grill lines. Set to side until dressing and croutons are ready.


Chop bread into bite size pieces and add to hot pan, sprinkling with olive oil and garlic salt. Toss until toasted and put to side.


Blend all ingredients except olive oil in blender (I personally love my Bella Cucina small blender because it is an easy clean-up and a perfect size for salad dressings...also for smoothies!). When blended to a chunky consistency, add oil and blend until smooth. Top on romaine and add croutons.

Happy Eating,


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Birthday Dinner #3: The Guy's Party

So every year since kindergarten I've thrown a birthday party for my friends and myself. "Thrown" is the key word, since I usually plan everything out and host all of the festivities. I'm definitely ridiculous with my parties since this has been going on for almost 26 years, but my friends probably love my birthday even more than I do. One of them even flies back from out of state for it. Basically I plan out a bunch of random games and competitions throughout the night and the party usually includes a lot of drinking and eating. Also did I mention it's a sleepover? Anyhow enough about my childish games and back to the purpose of this blog and the post, the food.
When I was younger we would BBQ hot dogs and hamburgers at my parents house. I can still remember all of the boys giggling about burning our hot dogs in the fire or catching our marshmellows on fire for late night s'mores. Honestly things haven't changed much over the past few decades, however this year the food was a little different than in the past.

This year to keep the party going I decided to plan a multi course meal so that everyone could eat throughout the night. Also in years past we would usually stuff ourseleves full of hamburgers, hot dogs, and steak and then would be full and lethargic for the rest of the night. So I figured food throughout the night would keep everyone from crashing too early. Hey it was the end of a long work week and we're all old working men now not hyper little grade schoolers!
Everyone was welcomed with our charcuterie platter of prosciutto, brie, aged cheddar, crackers, marcona almonds (my favorite snack to pair with a cocktail), pistacious, some olives, and Muscat grapes. Muscat grapes seem to be pretty popular right now. You can find them at all of the local grocery stores. They are the grapes used in Muscat wine which is a very sweet wine, so the grapes have a high sugar content.
Since it was a competition, everyone had to wear a jersey, so that's why I was sporting my B. Roy jersey. Anyhow we paired all of the appetizers with Maker's Mark cocktails. I made some Old Fashioned's and also a hard iced tea. The tea was 2 parts pre-brewed and refridgerated mango tea (unsweetened), mixed with 2 parts low sugar lemonade, 1 part soda water, and 1 part Maker's. It turned out to be a refreshing cocktail that went well with the food that wasn't also too sweet or overpowering.
This dish was one of the highlights of the meal. Emi made crostinis and I made the ricotta spread. The spread was creamy with a fresh thyme flavor and saltiness that brought all of the flavors together when spread on the crostini. I definitely ate way too much of this dish. To make it,all you need to do is buy a tub of fresh ricotta cheese, drain out the liquid and dump it in a food processor. Then add a splash of milk and puree until smooth. Pour into a bowl, add some fresh thyme, layer with sea salt, and olive oil and serve. It was so good, I made it again last night just for Emi and me.
After snacking and drinking a few drinks, we started some of the games and also ate some truffle popcorn which is a new favorite snack of mine. All you do is make a bag of instant microwaveable popcorn and then open up the bag and add a couple pinches of truffle salt, a little bit goes a long way, and then reseal, shake, and serve. It's a great way to turn some simple popcorn into a very memorable snack.
Emi joined in on this year's festivities, which was a first because usually it's a "guy's only" party. She helped keep the food coming and made her famous Spring Salad. It's a simple romaine salad with strawberries, kiwi, mangoes, and slivered, candied almonds with a sweet dressing.
Our first course was a slow roasted leg of lamb that I prepared for the party. Since Easter was that weekend, lamb was pretty cheap. I rubbed the lamb with salt and pepper and then browned it in olive oil. Then I wrapped it in aluminum foil, rubbed more salt and pepper on it along with 3-4 cloves of diced garlic and also poured in 1-2 cups of white wine. I also added in a few more whole cloves of garlic for extra flavor, sealed it up and slow cooked it at 250 degrees in the oven for about 6-7 hours. This is the aftermath, which turned out really good. The flavor was great and the lamb was succulent and tender.
Later in the night we had bacon cheeseburger sliders. I premade the sliders by first premixing the 3 lbs of ground beef in a bowl with salt, pepper, MSG (you don't know what you're missing if you don't eat MSG), and garlic powder. Then I spread out the mixture of seasoned ground beef in a baking sheet with a 1/4 inch raised edge. It should fit in like one giant cookie. Then I sprinkled truffle salt all over the meat and baked it at 350-400 degrees for about 10 minutes. It cooks pretty quickly and easily in the sheet, then you can pull it out and drain the fat. I then added on multiple slices of Tillamook cheddar to cover the meat and let it melt and stay warm in the oven. Then we hand prepped all of the sliders with mayo, mustard, ketchup, etc and I cut up the meat in the pan into 12 patties. Emi fried up some bacon and onions to go with these perfect sliders. They were amazing as a later night meal.
We paired the sliders with sweet potato and yam oven baked french fries which we drizzled with olive oil and sea salt. One of the few "healthy" options of the night, but a fun change of pace instead of normal french fries to eat with the sliders.
Besides snacking on chips, salsa, and my homemade guacamole we also were hungry later on in the night for some pizza. Emi made us two pizzas one was a margarita pizza with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. The other one had Italian sausage, cherry tomatoes, and more fresh mozzarella.
To end it all we had to save room for my annual Baskin and Robins ice cream birthday cake. I've been eating this bad boy since I came out the womb. They probably want to remove this cake from the B&R ice cream catalogue, but for some reason it is their most consistent selling cake with over two decades of yearly sales. It's always the exact same cake no matter what. A good way to ruin my birthday would be to order me a different cake. White cake, white frosting, five balloons, "Happy Birthday Kyle", and the best rainbow sherbet known to man. The perfect ice cream cake for a five year old and still the perfect ice cream cake for a 26 year old man. Ask anyone who has tried this cake, everything goes together surprisingly well. And what's great about ice cream cake is that it makes amazing leftovers. Think about it, after you have a cake you usually throw it out, maybe eat a little the next day, but this cake freezes! So I can enjoy it a month later, not that I save it that long...
Emi also made some homemade ice cream to go with my ice cream cake. She made a delicious Thin Mint Cookies and Cream Ice Cream, strawberry ice cream, and also some chocolate covered strawberries.
The next morning in what is even more famous than the cake are my Mom's strawberry waffles with whipped cream and sausage. We usually drive over to my parent's in the morning for the waffles. Most of my friends look forward to this more than anything else we do at the party. Needless to say we usually gain a few pounds over a short 12-16 hour period and then pass out for the rest of the weekend.
Thanks again to all of my friends for making it a fun weekend, to Emi and Mollie for helping with the food, and to my Mom for the always great breakfast.
This year was a lot of work, so I'm rethinking my strategy moving forward. Also I've come to realize there isn't anything wrong with eating all at once and being stuffed. So I may be changing things up again next year. We'll have to wait and see.
- Kyle

Monday, April 19, 2010

Birthday Dinner #2: Family Bday Party

My mom's friend, Dusanee, is like my adopted Thai aunt. She is an amazing cook and this year added a fun element to my yearly family birthday party by cooking up a few Thai dishes. Instead of eating the same things over and over again I thought it would be nice to change things up a little. The food was amazing and I am now taking applications for a nice Korean, Vietnamese, and/or Italian aunt. Let me know if you know anyone.

Some delicious authentic pad see ewe, thick rice noodles, pork, and mixed vegetables, cooked up in an egg and an awesome Thai sauce.

Eggplant and tofu. I love the sweet, tender smaller Asian eggplants and it went perfectly with this dish. The tofu also soaked up all of the great sauce.

My mom made steamed fish

Every year my Mom marinates pounds and pounds of short ribs in her kalbi marinade and my Dad spends an hour or so bbq'in them up for the party. This is probably the highlight of the yearly feast.

Gail and Steve bought duck in Chinatown and also brought over steamed buns to eat them in.

We wrapped the duck in the steamed buns with some hoison and plum sauce with fresh Sumida Farm watercress straight from Hawaii

My mom made a red velvet cake for my birthday. With the boom in fancy cupcakes over the past few years, red velvet has become one of my favorite decadent flavors and this cake didn't disappoint.

The red velvet cake with Emi's homemade raspberry cheesecake ice cream with graham crackers

Another fun family event and birthday party revolving around food. Next up is a recap of the last birthday party of the year and the one I probably look the most forward to. The "guy's party".

- Kyle

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Recipe of the week: MVM (most valuable marinade)

The recipe I am about to share with you is my most valuable marinade and probably my most prized recipe of all time. I learned this marinade back when I was going to school down in Southern California and was just learning how to cook. One of my friends down there was a pretty good cook and BBQ'd steak for us one day and it was absolutely amazing. It wasn't like anything I had ever eaten before, it was so flavorful, every bite of the steak just gushed juice and an amazing garlic flavor. It also had a great little spicy kick to it. As soon as I took my first bite I knew I had to have the recipe. It was so good, I was skeptical he would share it with me, but alas he did and I've seriously been using it probably at least 5 times a year for the last 6+ years.

This recipe is basically fool proof, really easy to make, and consistently really, really, really good. I've shared this marinade numerous times from my closest friends to strangers at Husky tailgate BBQ's who just had to have the recipe. However the time has come to share it with the world. I know I've built it up a lot, but I think you'll enjoy it just as much as I have.

What's great about this recipe is that it is very versatile. I usually make this with 3-5 lbs of tri tip steak, but I've also done pork tenderloin, chicken thighs and drumsticks, and flank steak. Basically any hearty dark meat will work well.

Dan's Steak Marinade (Named after the genius who shared this recipe with me)

In a blender add the following:
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 T A1 steaksauce
  • 2 T worcheshire sauce
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • few dashes of cayenne pepper depends on how spicy you like it
  • KEY INGREDIENT: One whole head of garlic, remove the skin from each clove and put the cloves in the blender
Blend everything to a smoother consistency and pour over your meat into a gallon sized ziplock bag. If you need to use two bags do that.

Now this takes a little bit of planning, but marinate for two days if possible and rotate the meat a few times a day. Also if you have more than one fridge, I would recommend you store the marinade in the one you use the least because this stuff is overpowering.

After you are done marinating the steak, heat up the grill and let the fire do the rest of the work. Of course I only recommend grilling with charcoal (no lighter fluid, use a chimney or propane starter) or propane grill if you have to. This will ensure the best flavor. Also keep an eye on the meat because the marinade can cause the BBQ to flame up and you don't want your meat to get burnt. Depending on what your cooking, cook it for a few minutes on each side and when rare to medium rare, pull it and let it sit on a cutting board for about 10 minutes. Then slice it up and serve. I like to throw a few tortillas on the hot grill for a few seconds each side to serve with the steak. It also goes really well with guacamole. I'll have to share that recipe later.

Anyhow hard to mess this one up, unless you don't give it enough time. If you are short on time, try poking holes in your meat with a fork and hopefully that will help.

Good luck and let me know if you ever try out this recipe!

- Kyle

Monday, April 12, 2010

Birthday Dinner #1: Waterfront Seafood Grill

There are a few yearly events that I look forward to every year, for example: the day of my fantasy basketball draft, Christmas and the holidays, Husky Football Season, when the weather in Seattle finally turns nice for the summer, and of course my anniversary. However the event or month of events that trumps them all is March. March is great for a number of reasons from March Madness to the beginning of the M's Spring Training. Most importantly March is my birthday month.

I'll admit it, growing up as an only child I was pretty spoiled, but I do appreciate everything my friends and family have done for me over the years. A big part of my "birthday month" included numerous celebrations and they always revolved around food. This year was no different and I wanted to document some of those great meals I enjoyed.

Before Emi and I left for Hawaii my parents wanted to treat me and Emi to a nice dinner to celebrate my birthday. We weren't really sure where to go until we remembered that both Emi and my parents had a Passport Unlimited card. Those unfamiliar with the Passport Unlimited card, it gets you a 2 for 1 entree deal at a number of amazing Seattle restaurants.

We decided on the Waterfront Seafood Grill, which is one of the nicer restaurants in all of Seattle. Again this is a must for either a fancy meal for two or a great place to take out of town guests who want a true Seattle seafood experience.

Emi got the Stuffed Wild Baja Prawns - dungeness crab, shrimp, basil, green onion, piquillo pepper coulis. Emi said they were really good, unfortunately I'll have to take her word for it since the crab made this dish off limits for me. She probably ordered it because she knew I wouldn't mooch off her.
Grilled Local Halibut - sauteed spinach, capers, toasted almonds, lemon butter sauce. This was my main course. I love me some fresh, flaky, tender, juicy halibut and this was a great meal because it was somewhat healthy too. That is until we added in our side dishes....
Thai Seafood Stew - fresh fish, shellfish, jasmine rice, red thai curry, coconut ginger broth
Now on to one of the highlights of the meal, the Macaroni and Cheese shareable dish with black truffle and parmigiano reggiano. What an amazing side dish. This is one of those dishes you have to savor, chew it slowly and breathe it in, eat it to fast and you haven't taken the time to truly appreciate this dish.
Our waiter "Asian Matt Damon", who says he hears that a lot, recommended the Sweet Roasted Yellow Corn with chipotle lime butter. He said it was "life changing". I won't mislead you like A.M.D., but this wasn't really a life changing dish. Decent, but not great.
Probably the most decadent item on the menu, the Emerald City Volcano - baked Alaska, double chocolate and bordeaux cherry, ice cream, vanilla genoise, flamed tableside after sunset. AMD made a whole show out of flaming up the alcohol for us before pouring it over the baked Alaska volcano. The four of us shared the small dessert which was meant for two people and it ended up being the perfect size. A word of warning the small is $25 and the large is $45!
The four of us after an amazing meal.
I tried to upload the video of AMD flaming up our Emerald City Volcano, but was having problems posting it. So keep an eye out for it in a future post.
- Kyle

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Recipe of the Week: The Fall Diet

I have discovered a new passion: the library. My friends and I have a book club, which truth be told, is more like a wine club, but we feel much more cultured and sophisticated calling it a book club. A couple of the girls have been going to the library and have been telling me what a great money saver it is to borrow each month's book vs. spending up to $20/month to buy a book you may or may not love. Also, Kyle's Auntie Cheri (our family's Martha Stewart) often borrows cookbooks from the library. Kyle and I spend a lot of money on cookbooks and most of the time we only use a couple recipes. So I finally decided there might be some logic behind going to the library.

I showed up to our teensy-weensy Richmond Beach library a month ago and was so overwhelmed and excited to find that I could borrow up to 100 books at a time that I ended up leaving an hour and a half later with just about that amount of books on CD for my long drives for work, home improvement books, our book of the month, and...cookbooks! I was perusing the shelves and noticed a book by Cheryl Fall. One of my best friends mom's name is Cheryl Fall, and I thought "...hmmm what a coincidence". I flipped through the pages and was in aw when I discovered that the author WAS my friend's mom!

Her book is Two at the Table: Cooking for Couples Now that the Kids are Gone (I have linked the title to so you can order a copy!). She has wonderful recipes, including many healthy/healthful recipes like the creamy kale and turkey kielbasa soup that is shown below. Becca and her sister are both skinny, so Kyle and I decided this book must hold the secrets to the diet they grew up on that made them so lean! Hence, the title of this blog post.

Anyways, this week's Recipe of the Week's recipe won't be posted because I think everyone should go out and get this cookbook--it's a keeper! Or, you could check out your local library and if they aren't esteemed enough to have a copy on hand, they could order it for you from a different location.

I've never cooked with kale before, but started to get interested in trying it after my friend Carol posted about its health benefits on her blog. This soup was soul-warmingly delicious and filled us up quickly with all of the yummy veggies and hearty sausage. Look at the color of the soup!

Happy Eating,

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hawaiian Eats 4: Wedding Food

One final post on our trip to Hawaii. After our wedding, the wedding party traveled to Hawaii with us for the "after party" luau we held for my relatives in Hawaii. We stayed at the Ala Moana hotel and on the first night we arrived, we spent a good hour or more walking up and down Waikiki searching for a fun, non-chain restaurant to eat at. We found Doraku, a swanky sushi bar on the third floor of the Royal Hawaiian Village and kicked off our evening with tons of sushi and sake bombs.

Kyle and I stumbled upon the restaurant again after a morning at the beach and decided to see whether it was the company or the food that made the restaurant so memorable the first time. Turns out, it was a combination of both.

This toro avocado tartar dish was simply amazing. Menu describes it as "scraped fatty tuna mixed with tobiko eggs and takuan over mashed avocado served with sweet spicy chili soy sauce." I loved it so much that I tried to recreate it at home and came close...still need to perfect it!

Kyle ordered salmon chazuke in addition to his chicken dish. This is one of his favorite "comfort foods" and is actually really healthy (minus the fact that the main part is white rice). It is rice with green tea and some nori and salmon to add flavor. He said it would have been perfect without the cilantro stems.

These are the garlic teri seared edamame: soybeans tossed in the wok with teriyaki sauce and grated garlic. Although it made us stink like garlic the rest of the day, it was a yummy treat! We also ordered lobster tempura (which as decadent as it sounds, was not actually delicious enough to be worthy of a blog photo), and karage chicken (basically, fried chicken). If you find yourself in the heart of Waikiki and need to venture away from the Cheesecake factories and other chains that overtake the neighborhood, try this place out!

After stuffing ourselves, we hurried back to our room to get ready for the main reason we went to Hawaii: my cousin Dawn's wedding! The wedding was absolutely beautiful and the food, like all weddings in Hawaii, was delicious. Only problem was that we were so hungry and excited about the food, we didn't even stop to take many photos. Here are the few we did take:

A never ending salad bar! I filled a whole plate of just salad--from fresh poke, to edamame , to a delicious watermelon salad, it was a perfect way to highlight all the wonderful local fruits and vegetables that Hawaii has to offer!

One of the other highlights was the ice cream bar which had my favorite, lychee sherbet! There were also an endless array of toppings including some local treats like macadamia nuts and mango.

Caught in mid-topping...Kyle was nice enough to get me some ice cream on the way back from a bathroom break. However, he got me chocolate ice cream with oreos and chocolate sauce...and I also had my eyes on the lychee ice cream with lilikoi topping. So I went back for seconds as seen in this photo. It all paid off when I won the center piece of three beautiful candle holders for being the person at the table who ate the most scoops of ice cream!

Congrats to my amazing cousins Dawn and Harry and thanks for a great meal!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hawaiian Eats 3: Ethel's Grill

By the end of the week and the tail end of our Hawaiian excursion we stopped taking photos of ourseleves on the beach and focused more on the food. By that point all the hard work we've put in the gym was starting to wear off from all the shaved ice and plate lunches, but also because we had a couple other amazing meals we had to document.

Our best meal of the trip was at Ethel's Grill, a local favorite frequented late at night by local chefs who want a great, filling late night meal after they get off work.

We probably should have gone after the beach instead of before the beach. We both had little pot bellies after this meal or maybe just I did because Emi never has a pot belly :)

Emi's Dad thought this was hilarious and wanted me to take a picture of it. Luckily my back was to this while I was eating.

Seriously the best salad dressing ever. It was like a creamy, sweet avocado salad dressing. They wouldn't tell us what was in it, but I'm sure Emi will try to recreate it soon enough.

Ethel's Famous Tataki Sashimi - a side dish of fresh tuna lightly seared served on a bed of bean sprouts and drizzled with sesame oil and Ethel's Garlic-Shoyu Sauce. This tataki was both sweet and salty with a great sesame oil and garlic essence. I also love the texture of seared ahi; lightly cooked on the outside and raw on the inside.

Emi ordered the Garlic Pork Chops - deep fried pork chops smothered in their special Sweet-Garlic Sauce. Emi loved the flavor of this dish which was very unique. We guessed the sweetness came from maple syrup!

My tender sweet and sour spare ribs - extra tender - sweet and tangy was how it was described. Definitely super tender and not too sweet. A great comfort meal, however Steve's (Emi's Dad's) sweet and sour is better.

Steve's Pig's Feet Soup with Saimin. Look at that thing the bowl is bigger than his head! It was humongous! Steve was excited for some pig's feet soup after having oxtail soup earlier in the week. Pig's feet are gelatinous, fatty pieces of meat. It tasted better than my description.

Gail's Mochiko Chicken - crispy mochiko fried chicken served with Ethel's Ginger-Ponzu dipping sauce. Mochiko chicken is usually marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, ginger, etc and then dipped in mochiko which is rice flour and deep fried. The Ginger-Ponzu sauce was both sweet and tart.

Andagi - wikipedia says: sweet deep fried buns of dough similar to donuts, native to Okinawa, but also popular in Hawaii. Made by mixing flour, sugar, and eggs into a ball and then they are deep fried. They fried these up fresh for us. The outside was crispy and hot while the inside was steaming and soft. They aren't as sweet as a donut, but have just enough sugar to serve as a dessert to end our meal.

We highly recommend Ethel's Grill for anyone making any future trips to Honolulu. Just make sure to show up early because you'll probably have to wait in line to get in. It's pretty small so if you go hopefully your group isn't too big. If you're interested in going it's located on 232 Kalihi St. in Honolulu.
- Kyle

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hawaiian Eats 2: Baldwin's Shaved Ice

Growing up, I used to have a journal that was home to all my deep 5-year-old thoughts and dreams. One of the classic entries that my mom always talks about is not a written entry; it is a simple picture of a girl (more like a large circle with stick arms and legs coming out and a mess of scribbles that represented hair) in front of a square that has been darkened by more scribbles. There were blobs coming out of the girl's eyes that represented tears. I drew this picture after I tried to go to my favorite shave ice shop, Baldwin's, in Hawaii, only to find that it was closed.

For those of you who don't know what shave ice is, think snow cone, but instead of chunky, teeth breaking ice pebbles, it is a fine, almost silky, consistency that gives just enough crunch to make sure you have to eat it--not drink it. Now that I think about the name more, Hawaii's version should be called "snow cone", and the mainland version should be called "shaved ice". Oh, well.

Matsumoto's is the most well-known shave ice shop in Hawaii, but Baldwin's is definitely the king and local favorite. Located in the Wailmalu shopping center, about 1 1/2 miles from my family farm, it is a hole-in-the-wall shop that is also filled with candies and Hawaii goodies like li hing gummy bears, chocolate covered arare (Japanese crackers), ika (dried squid), and more. I've tried to convince the family to open a shop in Seattle, but they have yet to take the bait.

I like my shave ice like I like my men, pure and simple (haha, I am kidding, I don't even know if this makes sense, it just sounded right). Above is my favorite, lychee.

Kyle always gets his with ice cream. Above is pina colada, lychee and watermelon. My mom always gets hers with azuki beans (Japanese red beans) and ice cream. Most recently, Baldwin's added mochi balls to their "toppings" you can put in the shave ice. We tried it and it was yummy--added a nice sweetness and texture without being overwhelming like tapioca balls in bubble tea are (in my opinion).

Kyle showing off his delicious after-beach snack! As a side note, Baldwin's is able to make the shave ice "to-go" so we always order an extra one on our last stop before we go home and stick it in the freezer until we head to the airport. Then, we gorge on one last sweet treat before we get on the plane. Of course, with security at the airport no longer allowing liquids past the first check, we are "forced" to eat it before we go to our gate (which can mean a nice breakfast treat depending on the time we fly out!).

Happy Eating,