Monday, April 23, 2012

baked potato barrrr

i promise, this will be the last blog post of today.  i decided to break them up so that you didn't have to read one super long one! 

here's koda checking me out as i sit flogging...what a pup!!  it is absolutely gorgeous today and i am LOVING this sunny weather!  this past weekend has been soo full of fun activities and good people.  on friday, my family took family portarits together!  we used to do them all the time when my sister and i were younger, but the last one i remember taking was back in middle school, so getting to take one again was really fun!  since everyone in my family has now graduated or is going to the university of washington, my mom thought it would be cool to all dress in husky gear!  it actually turned out pretty cool!  i'm excited to see them!!

on saturday i was lucky enough to help out with a fundraiser for a program i've been apart of every since i started going to uw, the dream project!  it is a student-initiated college-access and retention program that partners UW students with first-generation and low-income students in Seattle area high schools to assist in the college admissions process (including SAT prep, applications, writing essays, applying for financial aid, and finding scholarships).  i would argue joining this amazing program was one of the single best decisions i've made being at the uw.  just the people i've met and the experience i've been able to share with these people have been life changing.  really this program has helped me in so many more ways that just working with high school students.  anyways, the dream project held their first ever fundraising event and it was quite an experience!  it's times and events like these that remind me why i'm passionate about the work i'm doing with them. everyone worked so hard to make this a special evening and it paid off when they raised $77,000!  congrats dream project!  :]  i also got to enjoy a sunny day at a mariners game!  it was the perfect weekend and i'm glad that this weather has been soo nice...let's just say...I'M READY FOR SUMMER!!!

earlier this week i was able to get together with some of my friends for a baked potato bar!  my roommates theresa and kelly and i have a whiteboard in our kitchen that we keep a list of things we want to do this quarter on.  here's what we wanted to do this winter/spring quarter:
well this past wednesday we were able to check off at least one thing on the board...baked potato bar!!!!  we invited everyone over on wednesday night and told them to bring a baked potato topping to share.  i made an awesome jacket potato mushroom and bacon sauce

jacket potato with mushroom, onion, and bacon sauce
  • 12 oz bacon, chopped
  • 4 medium-sized russet or other baking potatoes, well scrubbed
  • 8 oz sliced button mushrooms
  • 1/2 an onion, diced 
  • 1 cup cream 
  • salt and pepper 
1. preheat oven to 375°
2. prick potatoes with a fork and bake until soft - about 1 hour
3. Saute bacon, add onions and saute, add button mushrooms and cook until golden brown.
4.  Stir in the cream and heat through, without boiling. Salt and pepper to taste.
 this sauce is soooo good!! honestly i could eat this like's that good!  seriously if you ever need a bomb sauce...this is it.  when i open my only breakfast restaurant, this sauce is about to be on gravy and is going to be on EVERYTHING!!!

the baked potato bar was soo much fun!  we baked a ton of potatoes and at the end of the night there was only one left! 
the bar with all the toppings
becca's potato
my potato
theresa's potato
josh's potatoes

ariel and alan came later, but i forgot to take some pics of their potatoes.  it was such a fun night, just catching up and playing bananagrams and appletters!!!  (side note: i LOVE banangrams and appletters has just become another favorite!  they are amazing party games and have become a mark family game - whenever my dad's side of the family gets together we end up playing bananagrams and it's great because both the young and the old get involved!) having a baked potato bar is a great idea for anyone that wants to host a bunch of friends - potatoes are super cheap (theresa and i got a 10 lbs bag for $2.99!!!!) and all you have to do is wash them and poke them with a fork and then let them bake for an hour. SO EASY!  and seriously...who doesn't love a good baked potato?!?!?

baked ziti

so my cousin marissa and her husband nate just welcomed home their second baby, halleck!!! they already have one adorable child, eli who has been growing up sooo fast!  i took this opportunity to make some baked ziti and bring it over to them!  i learned my lesson before, when i made spencer his chipotle mac and cheese that if i'm making something for someone else, i better make a batch for myself. 

baked ziti
  • 12 oz rigatoni pasta - i used penne
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 lb of spicy italian sausage - you could also just use 3 sausage links without the casing
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 1/2 cups marinara*
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 parmesan cheese, grated 
  • salt and pepper to taste 
*i used store-bought marinara, added, garlic, garlic powder, basil, parsely, oregano, and red pepper flakes, and heated it before pouring into the pasta

1. preheat oven to 350°
2. fill a large pot of water and bring to a boil.  add a small handful of salt and the pasta to the water and stir.  boil pasta for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until pasta is al dente. 
3. pour 1 tbs of olive oil into a large saute pan and place over medium-high heat.  add sausage and break apart with a spoon.  cook sausage for about 5 minutes or until even browned.  drain and add to pasta.
4. discard grease and add remaining oil to pan.  add onion and garlic to pan and satute for 3-4 minutes.  season with salt and pepper.  pour onion mixture over sausage and pasta mixture and toss together. 
5. add marinara, 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan and gently fold together until fully incorporated.
6. pour mixture into a lightly greased 8" X 8" baking dish and top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan
7. bake for 20-25 minutes or until cheese bubbles and browns
8. allow ziti to cool for 5-7 minutes before serving
 this is one of the best ziti recipes i've ever had!!! just delicious!  i totally recommend this to anyone who loves ziti, red sauce, or just pasta in general!

when i dropped this off to my cousin and her family, i got to see the new baby!  halleck is too cute and adorable!  and eli was being such a silly!  i hope they enjoyed this as much as i enjoyed making it for them!  :]

breakfast, asparagus, and some croissants

first off, it has been quite a while since i posted bad  :[  but i'm back and with LOTS of things to post about!!!  last weekend i got to go to one of my favorite places for breakfast - sunflour bakery and cafe, located on 65th and 33rd in the bryant neighborhood.  it is absolutely amazing!!!!  i literally cannot say enough good things about this place!  i usually go to sunflour's at least once a month, if not more and i always get the same thing - eggs benedict.  last weekend i got to go with a few friends - ben, jessica, and koje.  we met up for a little weekend brunch and sunflour's did not fail!  i know that ben and i share a love for breakfast food and he agreed that sunflour's was definitely up there!  ben and jessica both got the marionberry/peach french toast and koje got the buckwheat pancakes.
sunfour menu
marionberry/peach french toast
eggs benedict
everything was always!! bahahaha!  they have the best homefries and their hollindaise sauce is spectacular!  i even got a little taste of the french toast and it was killer!  the bread was warm and thick cute and the berries really added something special! mmmm!  and the inside of sunflours is super looks like you're in a little house, eating in their living room.  it's a very homey comforting place to eat!  if you're ever in the area or just love a good breakfast....COME TO SUNFLOURS!!!

earlier this month i got some fresh asparagus and had to do something with them!  back at home with my parents, one of my favorite things to eat was grilled asparagus.  i never used to be a huge asparagus fan...i only ate the heads and left the stalks (my parents did not like this), but then at my cousin marissa's wedding they had this amazing grilled asparagus and i could not stop eating them...i literally described them as "candy to my lips".  after that my parents made grilled asparagus and i ate the whole thing, stalk and all!  so in honor of my love of grilled asparagus, i tried my hand at roasted asparagus.

roasted asparagus 
  • 1 lb of asparagus
  • 1-2 tbs of olive oil 
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper
1. preheat oven to 400°
2. clean asparagus and cut off ends
 3. spread asparagus out on a cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil on them.  roll them around to make sure their coated then sprinkle garlic powder, salt, and pepper over and roll to make sure they're covered. 
4. place in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes depending on how thick the stalks are. 
 5. remove and serve! 
it's a pretty solid recipe!  i mean it's not exactly grilled but still a good second! 

also this month, i happened to find some extra pillsbury croissant rolls in my refrigerator!  i decided to make some sweet and some savory rolls. 

nutella chocolate croissant
  • pillsbury or any other refrigerator croissant rolls 
  •  nutella
  • chocolate chips
  • heath candy pieces 
1. preheat oven to 350°
2. open croissant rolls and lay out on cooking sheet
3. spread a thin layer of nutella on the croissant dough
4. sprinkle chocolate chips  and heath pieces on top of nutella and roll up
5. bake for 12 -17 minutes

cheesy onion croissant 
  • pillsbury or any other refrigerator croissant rolls
  • half an onion 
  • 1 cup shredded cheese - cheddar, gruyere, whatever you prefer
  • butter 
1. preheat oven to 350°
2. mince onion into tiny pieces and caramelize with butter
3. open croissant rolls and lay out on cooking sheet
4. once onions are done caramelizing, spread a decent amount of onions on croissant rolls
5. top with cheese and roll up
6. bake for 12-17 minutes 

 i made only a couple of the nutella ones and the majority was the cheesy onion ones.  they were super delicious and it was like eating two completely different meals with only a few changes in ingredients. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

bayyy areaaaaa

last sunday i came home from one of the best trips i've ever been on!  i went down to the bay area with some of the best people i know! i am now officially in love with the bay area and if there is ever a time i'm not living in seattle, then i'll probably be down there! it was an amazing trip filled with good friends, good food, and too many laughs!

we left on thursday evening, my friends vesna, lisa, fredolyn, jessa and ozan, and took a plane down to oakland.  once there, our first stop was the car rental place where we got a sickkkk minivan.  this mini van - a chrysler town and country - was nothing like the ancient dodge minivan i had growing up.  there was a dvd player and back windows that rolled down!  it was amazing and i am convinced that i need to get one...for my nonexistent future family.  once we were all loaded up and thoroughly impressed by our ride, we headed to in-and-out.  almost everyone i've talked to has raved about in-and-out and has also compared it to dicks.  personally i'm not really a fan of either, but i like in-and-out a little more than dicks...for the sole purpose that you can special order at in-and-out.  (side note - if you don't know already, i am the biggest NON fan of condiments.  i do not eat ketchup, mustard, mayo, or any other things that most people enjoy on their burgers/sandwiches/hot dogs.  i feel that if the meat and accompanying elements should be enjoyed for their simplicity and do not need other things to make it taste good.  i know a lot of people would disagree with me, but this is just the way i feel bahahah) after waiting in the LONGEST drive thru line i have ever been in, we finally got our food and feasted!!
my plain cheeseburger with grilled onions
jessa, lisa, vesna, and fredolyn
after our "dinner" we headed to berkeley to pick up our friend brukab (aka boo boo bear).  it was soo great getting to see him!  he is currently going to grad school at berkeley and it had been a while since we had all seen him.

the next morning we had brunch at bette's oceanview diner!  bette's has been featured on diners, drive-ins, and dives on the food network and i was SOOO excited to be going there!  everyone got different stuff and it was all so delicious!
bette's menu
philadelphia breakfast - scrapple, poached eggs, grilled tomatoes, and a cranberry orange scone
california breakfast - toast, ham, poached eggs with a lemon herb sauce, grilled tomatoes and roasted potatoes
fredolyn's souffle pancake with strawberries
jessa's pancake souffle - chocolate swirl
everything was absolutely delicious!  i had never had scrapple before and it was pretty good.  and the scone was to die for!!!  definitly check this place out if you're ever in the area!  after our filling brunch we went to a look out on the berkeley hills.  it was absolutely beautiful!  you could see all of berkeley and part of oakland and in the distance a little bit of san fransisco!  just breathtaking!

after our drive to the viewpoint we were hungry again, so we headed to a little place that brukab has pointed out earlier - the brazillian cafe.  it was this super cute little shack that was brightly colored walls and some pretty delicious food!  i've never had brazillian food before and i was excited to try it!  lisa and i shared a tri tip rice bowl and a mango smoothie!
tri tip rice bowl
mango smoothie
vesna's tri tip sandwich

all of us in front of brazillian cafe
our snack totally hit the spot, so we decided to walk down telegraph street.  if you're from uw or the seattle area, telegraph street is like brekeley's version of the ave.  it's full of cute little shops and restaurants.  there's tons of berkeley apparel stores and a few bookstores too.  i'd almost argue it's a little better than the ave.  there are also a ton of vendors on the sidewalks selling homemade jewelry or tie dyed clothes.  it's pretty awesome!  after walking a little ways we found the best ice cream shop.  it's actually an ice cream sandwich shop called c.r.e.a.m. (cookies rule everything around me).  you get to pick a type of cookie and then a type of ice cream and then they make an ice cream sandwich...IT'S AMAZING!!! and only for $2!  WHAT A STEAL!!! again, if this whole job situation doesn't work out, i'm about to open a mini cupcake/ice cream sandwich shop!  cream had one of the best ice cream sandwiches i've ever had!  vesna and i shared a sandwich with chocolate chip cookies and a caramel swirl ice cream.  just perfect!!!!

 after our amazing ice cream sandwiches we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep before the nights festivities.  for dinner we went to a little jamacian restaurant.  it was located in berkeley and during the day it's a cute little cafe, but at night it turns into an awesome jamacian restaurant called kingston cuisine 11.  we ordered the last of their jerk chicken, the oxtail stew, and a vegetable curry and shared everything. 
jerk chicken
vegetable curry
almost all our food goneee
boo boo and his birthday cake
everything was just delicious!  i've never had jamacian food before and for my first time  it was amazing!!! i don't now if any place will compare to just how mouthwatering everything at the table was.  i was surprised by how much i liked the oxtail stew.  i was a little hesitant in trying it first, but then i took a little bite and i was hooked!!! i had to try to not look like a pig by eating it all bahahah! after eating so much i was stuffed!  the restaurant owner, who was, styling in his fedora hat, even gave us a complementary piece of this amazing caramel nut cake with strawberries!! just delicious!

on saturday we woke up early-ish to hit this legendary fried chicken sandwich spot - bakesale betty.  we got there right when it opened and ordered a box full of sandwiches - 8 to be exact and some lemonades.  unfortunately i was too hungry to take a picture first, but it was mini loaf of bread with a perfectly fried piece of chicken and a nice slaw to go with it!  i'm not sure what the dressing was on the salad, but it was perfect and had a little bit of heat for THE PERFECT BITE every time!  we sat in the car and devoured our sandwiches before heading into san fransisco!

since we were pretty full from our fried chicken sandwich breakfast we did a bit of site seeing first.  we drove through golden gate park, stopped off at the beach, went to see the golden gate bridge, and eventually found our way to the waterfront.  fisherman's wharf has to be one of my favorite places in san fransisco.  it's totally a tourist spot, but it's always just so fun down there!  there's always something to see or some food to try!  after we walked down the waterfront a little bit, we started to get hungry.  all the food vendors on the side with their delicious looking seafood were pulling us in!  we all ended up getting a little snack to munch on. 
 clam chowder

fresh crab
lisa and i shared some awesome chowder and amazing fresh crab!  it totally hit the spot! here's my thing about chowder, it can either be really good or really bad....i've had some amazing chowders before and some not so great ones.  but when you get a really good's real good!  i'm a huge clam chowder fan and i will always have a soft spot for ivar's clam chowder.  that stuff is like liquid cocaine to me...sooo delicious and addicting!  mmmmm.  anyways this chowder was pretty up there!  the seafood was fresh and the broth was just the right thickness!  and the crab...oh the crab was so sweet and delicious!  it almost melted in your mouth!  no butter needed!

after our snack we walked around a little more, checking in on the seals and seeing them lounge around.   then we headed towards the mission district.  our tummies were grumbling a little by the time we arrived and it was a beautiful day so ice cream was needed!  we headed to the bi-rite creamery.  there was a line out the door and around the corner, so we knew it had to be good!

 the ice cream definitely lived up to the hype and was absolutely perfect for the sunny day!  i got almond fudge swirl and ricanelas (cinnamon with snickerdoodles).  soooo delicious!!  we all took our ice cream and went to this beautiful park across the street!!!  it couldn't have been a more perfect treat!
after finishing our ice cream, we met up with one of jessa and ozan's friends, kyle.  he gave us a mural tour around mission.  it was really cool, we got to see a ton of murals and we even went to this alleyway with tons of murals lining the sides.  it was beautiful!   here is one of my favorite murals that we saw.  a lot of them had to do with struggles and things going on in their own lives.  it was really cool getting to see this side of the city rather than just the touristy side of things.  all the walking had got us hungry too so we stopped off and got some tacos to hold us over till dinner. 

for dinner we met up with one of boo boo's friends down here, alex, who is actually a friend of mine too (he used to live right by me in seattle).  alex, and a couple of his friends met us at sushi bistro for dinner.  unfortunately, i was so hungry again that i didn't get to snap any pics of my sushi.  but i got the rock n' roll which had baked spicy scallops served on top of a california roll.  it was delicious!  i love sushi and this totally hit the spot!  everyone's food looked great too!  it was a really cool place and i totally recommend it to anyone who is in the area and has a liking for sushi.  there were a ton of unique rolls and everything i read literally made my mouth water!  after dinner we went to a few bars/clubs and i was lucky to meet up with two friends who mine who live in san fransisco, laura and derek!  it was great getting to see them and catch up!  

sunday was our last day in the bay area and we still had so many places to eat at on our to do list, i might take this opportunity to add that our "to do" list was more of a "must eat" list!  we started our day off with dim sum at the great eastern restaurant in china town!  I LOVE DIM SUM!!!  let me first state that...i love everything about dim sum!  it just reminds me of my grandparents and family gatherings and cousins and just the food is unlike anything else.  if you haven't tried dim sum yet, you really need to.  it's literally a life experience everyone needs to have!  anyways since the wait was a little longer than expected, we made a side trip to a little bakery.  i got some custards and sweet buns  (sadly no pics either), and they were delicious!  by the time we got to dim sum everyone was starving! 

everything we ordered was delicious!  i think my favorite thing though was the pork balls or the eggplant stuffed with shrimp.  mmmm just looking at this picture is making me want to go back and get some more dim sum or make my parents take me to some here!  bahahahahah (readers, i hope your mouth is literally watering as much as mine)!

after lunch we walked around chinatown a little more and then headed to our last lookout.  the bay area gave us some awesome weather while we were there, minus like 20 minutes on saturday when it "misted" (i'll save my umbrella rant for another day).  sunday was the sunniest most beautiful day we had had yet!  blue skies and pretty warm, it was sad it was our last day.  we made our way to the twin peaks, and it was just breathtaking!  the views were amazing!!!  
sooo beautiful!!
 we had a blast up there, enjoying the sun, taking pictures, and just being silly!  it was a great way to spend our day!  we had a few more hours until we had to drop off boo boo and head back to the airport so we decided to get ice cream....of course!! we tried going to triple peaks ice cream, but sadly found out it had burned in a fire.  fortunately there was another little place near selling their ice cream, so we headed to chile pies!  when we finally reached it, there was a pretty long line!  they sold all sorts of pies and ice cream.  everything looked delicious!  the decor inside was soo cute with tons of mason jars everywhere (i have a thing for mason jars).  i got a scoop of cookies and cream ice cream.  delicious and totally hit the spot!  YUMMM!!

 after our ice cream snack it was time to start heading back to berkeley.  loni had mentioned a sandwich shop that was really close to where we were - ike's place.  the line was out the door when we got there!  they have massive sandwiches and have been featured on amazing eats (side note: i was actually watching amazing eats on wednesday and ike's place was the feature...i started freaking out and telling all my roommates that's where i had eaten!  i was pretty excited!!)  i got the spiffy tiffy, but without avocados, mushrooms, lettuce and tomato.  i know sounds pretty bad, but it was delicious!!!  i just enjoy really concentrated flavors! bahahah! 
my little ike's sandwich
lisa eating her sandwich
after going to ike's it was time to drop boo boo off and head back home.  it was a fantastic weekend!!! i'll never forget the food we ate, the laughs we shared, and the amazing times i had with extraordinary people!  thanks for an unforgettable weekend guys!  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

my favorite mac and cheese

one of my all time favorite foods has to be mac and cheese!!! growing up on kraft as a kid, there's just something about mac and cheese that makes it so irresistible and one of my favorite comfort foods.  i remember in high school my friend nicole and i would have debates over which mac and cheese was the best - krafts or valveeta....we never had a definitive winner...but i knew which one everyone liked more bahahah!  so now that i'm older, i've tried to eat more mac and cheese that would be a slight upgrade from kraft (as much as i still love it), oh i might also add that annie's white cheddar shells are awesome as well, but back to a more grown up version of mac and cheese, i've found the most amazing recipe - chiptole mac and cheese!  i have made this on several occasions and every time it's been a winner!  i've done several variations on it and it's worked out every time - adding sun dried tomatoes or bacon - even more amazing!  so monday was my friend spencer's birthday and he asked for this mac and cheese as part of his present.  i made it last night and it looked amazing...i had to hold back from eating it myself.

chipotle mac and cheese
  • 1 box of medium sized pasta shells
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 3/4 tsp chipotle seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 package (8 0z) shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1 package (8 oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 lb bacon (optional)
  • 1 cup sun dried tomatoes (optional)
1. preheat oven to 350°
2. coat 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking sheet with cooking spray
3. cook pasta shells in lightly salted boiling water for 10-12 minutes, following directions on the package. drain

4. cut bacon into 1/2" strips and cook

5. in a large heavy bottomed saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
6. stir in flour until well blended.  cook for 1 minute making a rue
7. whisk in 1 cup of half-and-half, whisking continuously until very smooth.  whisk in remianing 1 cup of half-and-half and continue to cook, whisking until thickened and smooth - about 6 minutes
8. remove from heat and stir in chipotle seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic powder, 1 cup of jack cheese and 1 cup of cheddar cheese until smooth
9. stir in bacon or sun dried tomatoes and cheese sauce into pasta.  spoon into prepared dish and top with remaining cheeses
10. bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and lightly golden on top.  remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving