Happy new year! I know it’s already third week into the new year, but I’ve been having great difficulties scrambling and getting back to the routine prior to the holidays. Two weeks off was pure relaxation, but I jumped right back into a crazy work week, no chance to even ease into it. Oh how I yearn for a nice mug of hot chocolate at 2pm, curl up on the couch to catch up on all the dvr’ed shows, or just take a nice long afternoon nap! I’m getting very antsy lately because I’ve spent very little time in the kitchen and haven’t had a proper home-cooked meal in a while. Okay, okay, enough whining. Here’s to hoping to get back in the kitchen to whip something hearty up ASAP! In the mean time, enjoy some pictures (of FOOD, of course!) from my time off!
|Below| Left: Christmas Tree decoration on our console table, made out of gingerbread cookies! | Right: An interesting find at Cost Plus’s beer aisle – Rogue and Voodoo Doughnut‘s Chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana Ale.
|BELOW| at my favorite fish tacos joint in San Jose. Dia De Pesca. Crab and shrimp flautas and breaded halibut and tilapia tacos.
|BELOW| No more buying bread rolls in the supermarket. I used this easy recipe for Rapid Rolls from Kelsey Nixon, and made some really tasty dinner rolls. Also made that addictive Parmigiano spread we had at Bottega. Perfect match!
|BELOW| Left: Crab bisque with avocado and corn relish, made this for a holiday party. Bisque recipe here, and Relish recipe here. Right: Newest obsession at a local coffee roaster – the Voodoo, has coconut milk in it!
|BELOW| My friend Brandon hosted an “end of the world” party on 12/21. Well, mostly we celebrated being alive and survived the apocalypse. To hilariously go with theme, I decided to use up the Spam we obviously didn’t need anymore, and made some Spam flautas served with guacamole. Super tasty if you asked me! I julienned some spam, pineapple, and Swiss cheese. Lined them up in a tortilla, add a couple spoonful of tomato salsa. Roll the tortilla up and shallow fry them.
|BELOW| My first and second attempt at a Bûche de Noël. A lot easier than I thought! It is basically a jelly roll/Swiss roll cake. The picture on top is a chocolate cake with white chocolate and peppermint filling + frosting. Recipe from King Arthur Flour – Chocolate and Peppermint Yule Log Cake. I found the frosting to be too sweet and needed to be adjusted. For Christmas Eve/my brother’s birthday dinner, I used the same recipe for the chocolate cake, but used creme de marron (chestnut cream) for filling and frosting instead. You can purchase canned chestnut puree in supermarkets, then simply whip up some heavy cream (3/4 cup) with some powdered sugar (3 Tbsp) until soft peak, add in the puree (1/3 cup) and whip until firm peaks. I made my own chestnut puree using Martha Stewart’s recipe.
I used the leftover puree and made some delicious and moist chestnut cupcakes! I ate them plain without frosting.
|BELOW| Christmas Eve at my parents’ house. My dad even used the fireplace (the last time we used it was probably 10 years ago)! As usual, we had way too much food- Salad with lobster and potatoes, French onion soup, mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, crab cakes with herb aioli, lamb chops, pan seared duck breast, homemade bread with Parmigiano spread (I told you I would make this all the time), Stollen bread with Marzipan, and the chocolate and chestnut yule log. What a feast!!!
|BELOW| After Christmas, we went down to Palm Springs for a few days. We were hoping to escape the cold but we were so wrong. And towards the end we all caught a terrible cold but we enjoyed the trip while we could. Left: Fish tacos and gumbo at Fisherman’s Market & Grill. Their calamari strips and fish sliders were also killer. Right: Giant margaritas at Maracas, and had a great dinner there.
|BELOW| Left: We had a fantastic time riding these babies in the desert and canyon. Randy at Quad Squad was an awesome guide. Right: 8500 feet above, 9 inches of snow. Brrrrrr! The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway offered impressive view of the valley, just gorgeous! The wait was awful though.
|BELOW| Finally got the famous date shake from Shield’s Date Garden. It was so warm and sunny that day, we actually got to sit outside and dined al fresco. Triple date – Stuffed dates, burger with bleu cheese and dates, and a date shake. And I loved all the lit up palm trees everywhere. We stayed at the Westin Mission Hills, what a gorgeous ground.
|BELOW| After Palm Springs, and a quick day to recover from our cold (we slept through NYE countdown and new year’s day), we headed up to South Lake Tahoe and spent 4 days with my family. Our rental cabin opened up to the entrance to a park/forest. We spent our days playing in the snow, making snow angels with my baby nieces, and paving tracks for the sleds. It was the four most relaxing days ever, I think we only left the cabin to buy some groceries but we didn’t eat out once. My mom and my sister cooked most of the meals (while Joe and I were still slowly recovering from the cold). They made delicious home-cooked meals like Vietnamese beef pho soup, Japanese Chankonabe stew and Okonomiyaki pancakes, sweet red bean soup, and of course the endless pancakes, sausages, and spiked peppermint hot chocolate.
|BELOW| Returned from Tahoe, thus marked the last day of my vacation before work started up again. Also marked the first day of my 30s. My husband and my friends planned a day of surprises for me. Basically, I got to be pampered, looked pretty and ate a lot of great food! Left: High tea at Lisa’s Tea Treasures. Right: birthday cake! I mentioned that I was craving for chocolate and banana cake and people remembered!
|BELOW| Left: I wore a birthday button and tiara all day, and was blind-folded en route to every surprise destination. Right: Dinner at The Table. The restaurant made a customized dinner menu for me and 19 friends, we shared food family-style.
|BELOW| Left: roasted pork belly. Tender and not overly fatty. Right: Coke farms baby beets salad. YUM!
|BELOW| Left: I get an Old-Fashioned everywhere I go. The Table’s version has dried cherries in it instead of Maraschino cherries. Right: Sauteed kale with tahini, pine nuts, and cumin. I’m happy to see kale making it big these last couple of years!
I hope you all had a great holiday! I’m very excited for the adventures 2013 will bring.