Spam Musubi

The first time i made spam musubi was in high school. i was part of a social/service club and we would make these and sell them around school and the community to raise money.  Other than it being a great bonding experience with all the girls, spam musubis are soooo yummy.  i know spam isnt the greatest health experience ever, but once in a while spam hits the spot.  

all you need to make these musubis are spam, a spam musubi maker (yes, they make em. basically a square acrylic cube that forms rice into, well, a cube), 6 cups of cooked short grain rice, nori (seaweed, one package cut in half, the same width as a slice of spam), soy sauce and a lil' bit of sugar.

slice the spam longwise like a quarter inch thick, you can get about 8 slices out of one can.  pan fry them on medium high heat in a saucepan (you dont have to add oil, cause spam has lots of it ... unfortunately) and drip a little bit of soy sauce onto the spam. sprinkle a little sugar on each slice and flip them over after 2 minutes.  add some soy sauce and sugar to the new side and leave them for about two minutes.  dont overcook the spam, just until its browned and the sugar is carmelized.

after the spam has cooked, you're ready to roll (pun intended, ha).  Place a piece of nori on your working space then the musubi maker on top.  place a slice of spam in the cube.

scoop some rice into the box on top of the spam, and here comes the fun part: use the press part of the musubi maker to squash down to rice to a perfect rectangle then lift up the box and peel off the press and you get this:

Now you're really ready to roll.  Roll the front part backward until the nori ends and secure the loose end with a little bit of water.  just dip your finger in water and dot the edges and let them sit on the edge side so it holds together.

yum yum yummmmm

(oh and i got my spam musubi maker from Mitsuwa for $5, but im sure you can find them online.)


Pineapple Mango Upside-Down Cake

This is Martha's recipe from her Baking Handbook, the picture was so gorgeous and sunny i just had to make it over the weekend.  It was a great learning experience because there were so many steps in this cake and it was pretty time consuming, used mostly on cutting up a whole pineapple.  If you don't know how to cut one up i suggest looking on YouTube for videos or going to  Seriously.

Anyways, since the directions were kind of a lot to take in, i'll try to break it down in Carmen steps.  
  1. Cut up 1 pineapple and remove the divots using the sharp end of a peeler. (this takes alot of time because you should be prepared to literally take out every single divot)
  2. Slice 4 good 1/4-inch-thick slices and cut out the core with either a small cookie cutter or gently with a knife (what i did)
  3. Peel and cut 1 mango and cut 4 circles from the flesh to fit into the hole that you just cut in the pineapple
  4. Finely chop up all of the remaining flesh from the pineapple and mango and put it in a sieve or a cheesecloth so all the juices drain from the fruit. You want it as dry as possible.
  5. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 8x8 square cake pan. butter all around and sides. Beat 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of butter in a electric mixer for about 2-3 minutes.  When its done lay the brown sugar mixture on top of the parchment. Make sure its flat and even along the pan.  (while i was doing this i had no idea what this was for, but when it was done i realized it created a glaze on top of the pineapple rings.)
  6. Lay the pineapple rings and mango holes on top of the brown sugar

  7. Spread the chopped and drained fruit mixture on top of the rings

  8. Sift together 1.5 cups of flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp baking soda.
  9. Make the cake batter: Beat one stick butter with 1 cup sugar until creamy (2-3 minutes); Add 2 eggs (one at a time); Add 1 tsp pure vanilla extract; Add half of flour mixture (step 8); beat until combined; Add 1/4 cup sour cream; Add the rest of the flour mixture; Beat until everything is well combined.
  10. Spread the cake batter on top of the chopped fruit

  11. Bake for about 50 minutes, rotating halfway through and making sure a toothpick comes out clean when its done.
  12. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes.  Then flip it over on a cake stand or a plate and remove the pan.
  13. TA-DAAAA!! 
DONE!!! i was SO surprised to see it come out the way it did because i was convinced i was doing things wrong while i was making it.  but it was super yummy and moist. it tastes awesome with vanilla ice cream!  a must try (if you have about 2 hours to spare).


Review: Pizzeria Mozza - Los Angeles

Jason got us reservations at Pizzeria Mozza on Friday night and i was totally stoked because this place takes advance reservations and its rare that you can get a table the day of, but we lucked out cause someone cancelled. yay!  Created by Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton, Pizzeria Mozza is a more casual version of their adjacent Osteria Mozza.  With almost 20 different gourmet pizzas, its hard to choose just one or two while you have equally enticing antipasti as well.  We ended up with ...

Mozza Caprese ($12)

sooooooooo good. 
the mozzerella was fresh and silky and the tomatoes were the sweetest tomatoes i have ever tasted. they're still on the vine! the pesto on the mozzarella was light which i loved because it didnt have an overpowering "pesto" taste.

Fried Potatoes, Ceci & Herbs ($8)

i dig potatoes. any kind, any way. these are probably my favorite on earth surpassing Mcdonald's French Fries (a toughie to beat).  Roasted perfectly on a bed of fried Ceci (garbanzo beans), amazing.

Prosciutto di Parma, Rucola, Tomato and Mozzarella Pizza ($15)

This is why Pizzeria Mozza is the BEST place for gourmet pizza in LA. 
This is why their advance reservations can reach up to one month. 
This is why Mario Batali is amazing!

i obviously couldn't resist a fine heap of prosciutto and when it tops fresh mozzarella and the best pizza crust i've ever had, it is pure perfection on a plate. we also ordered an equally amazing Panini with Mortadella, Prosciutto di Parma, Finnochino & Aged Provolone ($14) which i didnt get a decent photo of because it was devoured so quickly.

i also have to note that the bartenders here are amazing with wine pairings as i have overheard a couple of conversations around the bar that centered around the wine.  with a huge wall full of whites and reds, its hard to resist. for some odd reason, i actually resisted and ordered a special prosecco with grapefruit and lemon peel. it has a bellini kind of feel, but fresher and more tart. delicious.

i am counting the days until my next Pizzeria Mozza experience and i should probably make reservations. like now.


Lime Shortbread Cookies with White Chocolate and Almonds

i just love having all the ingredients in my pantry ready to rock on a recipe and then when i get everything all settled out and i realize that i dont have the appliance.  a cuisinart food processor is something that i've always wanted but never felt like i needed it because not too many recipes call for it.  except for this one.  so i hauled over to my parents restaurant and stole it (um, i am by no means advising stealing) while preheating my oven (again, not advisable to leave the house while a oven is on). im glad i did all that because these shortbreads are awesome!  first of all a food processor is necessary here because it cuts all the butter into the flour and sugar perfectly. 

make sure to flatten the dough in the pan as evenly as possible without being too tough.  the edges are going to be a little on the thin so its also important to note not to overcook these shortbreads because they will get dry. While those are heating melt the white chocolate and chop up the almonds. i like to toss my chopped almonds on a pan and toss them around for a couple minutes so they get toasty.

these are totally yum. the white chocolate drizzle adds creaminess and the almonds add the crunch. jason loved them, my parents loved them. ooh!  maybe if i make them enough times it will convince them to get me my very own cuisinart food processor. Orrr  i hold their old one hostage.  Orrr when they realize their old one is missing they will get a new one and i will make the swap. Orrr ....


Pan-Seared Steak with Pizzaiola

In the new issue of bon appetit there are some great recipes that i couldnt wait to try out. Mostly cause i wanted to venture out of my usual Martha and Giada recipes.  This one stuck out to me in particular cause it was a rib-eye (my fave cut) and some sort of tomato sauce, i thought it was interesting so i gave it a go.  SUUPER easy to make! i loved it mostly cause there was no marinating time, just a cook and eat type of meal.

The sauce and steaks are cooked simultaneously and when the steaks are done (6 mins for medium rare, 4 minutes for rare) take them out and pour the pizzaiola sauce into the pan that was grilling the steaks to soak up the steak juice and browned bits.  i felt top chef-esque doing that cause the pan sizzled up like no other, which meant i was doing it right. yay. recipe

meat & potatoes.


Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Prosciutto & Simple Meatball Spaghetti

who knew martha had sold food at costco?  she has a whole line of pre-made food like desserts and spreads and even meatballs.  i got these meatballs originally thinking i was going to make some kind of skewer or appetizer but decided to throw them in our last minute meal instead.  it worked out great cause they are pre-cooked and they have a lemony taste to them which was good with the simple trader joes marinara that i used.  instead of garlic bread i decided on grilled cheese with yummy prosciutto.  i sliced up some tillamook sharp cheddar and put it on orowheat buttermilk bread and layed down the prosciutto.  

my dad gave me this square grill pan and i never knew what it was for until the grilled cheese .. it was perfect despite the fact that it got real hot real fast and burned up my 'wiches :(

i was surprised this meal turned out so yum cause it was the first time i didnt follow a recipe and i actually enjoyed the art of cooking. and by art i mean throwing things together and heating it up. heh heh heh


Review: Katsuya - Glendale

love love LOVE sushi. its absolutely my faaaave food and i would eat it three times a day, seven times a week for a whole month if i had the chance (or the funds).  and the funny thing is im not even a sushi snob.  i'll eat those assorted ones in a box that you can get at Mitsuwa, i'll try out a 4-5 star place that people love on Yelp and i'll even get takeout from Kabuki to savor all by myself for lunch (not something im proud of, but it makes me happy).  

When Jase and i feel like classying it up, we head to Katsuya. i know there are many people that dont really like Katsuya, but for some weird reason their Special Katsuya Roll ($15) has got me hooked. I really really love cucumber and this one has it all over my fave cuts of fish. i poke out the avocado cause i. hate. it. dont ask me why, and no im not weird.

Jason usually orders Shishito Peppers ($7) as an appetizer and he says Katsuya has the best ones. Im not much or a pepper fan but these are good compared to all the other places we've had them at, so yay for the peppers. i have no idea how they prepare them, to me it looks like someone went a little crazy with the torch that is used for creme brulee. but i could be wrong, they're probably just roasted.

MMmmm, the Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice ($13). Yum. Love. but 4 is not enough ...

this is the Sushi Lunch ($22) which comes with a green salad and miso soup. i think its a good idea cause you never know what youre gonna get its just random pieces of sushi and its a good add on cause you dont have to keep on ordering roll after roll.  this time we got cali rolls (which i poked the avocado out of) and last time we got tuna cut rolls which were awesome.

So it was a great sunday lunch. I just feel like i have to spread a lil love to Katsuya cause it gets such a bad rap and sometimes i feel like the people judging it so much and so hard aren't really enjoying the experience.  I mean, it is a designer restaurant - the decor, the ambiance, the location all come into play.  We all know that the sushi is never going to be as good as Sushi Gen in Little Tokyo or everyone's best kept secret sushi place, but it is what it is: LA Style. and Katsuya does LA style well. 


Mini Black and White Cookies

ah ... New York, NY. Whats not to love about NYC?  You've got Magnolia Bakery, SoHO, the Bumble and Bumble Salon (love), the feeling that Times Square gives you, Hot Dog Carts, 5th Ave, Ice skating in Rockefeller Center, Dylans Candy Bar, Christmas window displays and last but def not least: Carrie Bradshaw. The episode of  Sex and the City where she's walking down the street shopping and gnawing on one of those HUGE black and white cookies added so mch nostalgia to the show and honored one of the tastiest icons of NYC. Every bakery will probably have a version of these cookies but i've never seen baby ones like these that Martha has in her Cookies book. I had to make them, especially because i had two of my closest girlfriends coming over for wine and dinner.  The hardest part of these cookies were icing them, being careful with the center line.  I used a small spatula from Williams-Sonoma, like these.

Make sure to flip the cookie over and frost the flat side cause it will roll off the round side if you dont.  Also, lay some parchment paper under the cookie rack after you frost them so cleanup is easy if they drizzle off. 

In the wise words of Carrie Bradshaw: "In a city as cynical as New York, is it still possible to believe in love at first sight?"  If the love is food, then YES!


Review: Gyu-Kaku - Pasadena

i. am. so. full.  we went out for a sunday dinner and im so full that i cant think about anything else other than the fact that i am FULL. Gyu-kaku is japanese style grilling and its a lot of fun because you grill everything yourself.  We ordered our staples: the Harami Skirt Steak Miso, Garlic Butter Shrimp, Filet Mignon, Bacon wrapped Scallops and Assorted Vegetables (totally have to get because of the corn, love corn, and sweet onion to eat with your beef).  but boo, they sold out of my favorite thing ever: Japanese Sweet Potato :( We also tried the new stuff that they have like the Kalbi Soup (i thought it was ok, jason killed it so im assuming he loved it) and the Spicy Tuna on Cripy Pancakes, which i LOVED because it reminded me of the Spicy Tuna on Cripy Rice from Katsuya.  love Katsuya. ah. another meal, another day.

The great thing about Gyu-kaku is you get to sample a lot of different cuts of meat and seafood because they serve 3-4oz portions of each order. The servers are all very nice and knowledgeable about the menu and grilling times and how much you should order.  For first timers they also have set menus so you can try their specialties from appetizers to desserts without having to over think it.  For the two of us it was about $65 :) Yummy times indeed.

White Cake with Strawberries and Fresh Whipped Cream

I literally googled "best white cake ever" and got this recipe cause jase wanted a simple white cake for a lazy sunday afternoon.  Soooo good!! it tastes like a lighter version of a Sara Lee pound cake.  it was super easy to make even though i've never made a cake before.  the only thing was i only had one 9-inch spring form cake pan when the recipe made two cakes. i eyeballed the proportions and baked them one at a time and it worked out, but the baking time for me was different from the instructions which were 26 minutes and my cake was done at about 30. i kept testing it every minute until a toothpick came out dry.  I decided to forgo the chocolate icing and make a strawberry shortcake kind of dessert instead.  it turned out AMAZing.  To sweeten the strawberries use about 1/4 cup sugar and mix it up until it gets syrupy and for the whipped cream definitely put your mixing bowl and the whisk in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to help the cream form faster.  Sweeten the whipped cream with a little confectioners sugar (i use Trader Joe's Organic Powdered Sugar) and a couple drops vanilla. Voila!


With eating comes excersising ...

so ... im totally not athletic. i love watching sports cause its a great excuse to make food for the boys like wings, dips, cookies and drinks but when it comes to actually moving around i dont do it. it was always cause ugh, come on, going to the gym soooo doesnt beat going to the mall. but when i started cooking for myself (and jason) i realized theres all this good food to cook! and eat! and if i wanted to keep up my culinary exploration im gonna have to move it to lose it.  Not that i cook terribly fatty foods or anything but a simple white chocolate & butterscotch cookie will do the trick if you're trying to ruin your diet.  i love food so i choose exercise and surprise, im totally not hating it.  Im feeling real good about doing 30 minutes on the elliptical and these are the tunes that i jam to:

  1. Stronger - Kanye West
  2. Circus - Britney Spears
  3. Nasty Girl -Notorious BIG, Diddy, Nelly
  4. Shake it like a Salt Shaker - Ying Yang Twins
  5. Facedown - Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
  6. Yeah! - Usher, Lil' Jon
  7. Misery Business - Paramore
  8. Hot in Heere - Nelly
  9. Spiderwebs - No Doubt
  10. Bleed it Out - Linkin Park
  11. Hot N Cold - Katy Perry
  12. Touch the Sky - Kanye West
  13. Stronger - Britney Spears
  14. Burnin' Up - Jonas Brothers (hahhaha shut up)
  15. Green Light - John Legend
  16. All for You - Janet Jackson
  17. Where's the Party At - Jagged Edge
  18. Basketcase - Green Day
  19. Low - Flo' rida
  20. Pokerface - Lady Gaga
  21. Damaged - Danity Kane
  22. Me against the Music - Britney Spears
  23. The Rock Show - Blink-182
  24. Hey Mama - Black Eyed Peas
  25. Big Pimpin'/Papercut - Jay-Z, Linkin Park
oh yeeeaah. sounds like a party !


Disneyland Cuties!

O.M.G. I am a crazy fan of candied apples, i love them all! the original candied red ones from the fair, old school peanut and caramel, apple pie, snickers ... i could go on forever! but these babies are by far the cutest most creative candy apples ever! i could not resist them, even though they were about $8 apiece so you just smile and say "It's disneyland" and continue on with the happiest place on earth.
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