Los Angeles Trip

Los Angeles Trip

This weekend my sister Jennifer and I took a whirlwind trip (leaving Friday morning, and returning Sunday afternoon) to Los Angeles to visit our other sister, our nephew, and his wonderful girlfriend.

Friday evening after we arrived we ate dinner at a really delicious local restaurant in Northridge called Lum-ka-naad Noodle and Thai Cuisines.

We all shared a very delicious and ever so slightly spicy coconut soup called Tom-Kah-Kai.

coconut soup

And I ate half of a large plate of very delicious Pad Thai that I later finished as a late midnight snack on Saturday.

pad thai

After dinner we shared a second Christmas at my nephew’s home (we didn’t get to visit with them in December) and had some tequila shots out of small bowls as they didn’t have any shot-glasses.
Clearly this was the fanciest way to shoot tequila.



Saturday was a very long day, but we started it off the right way by getting brunch together at a well known and popular spot Myke’s Cafe in Pacoima.

The food was as delicious as the art on the walls was interesting.

I got really tasty plate of french toast with raspberries and lemon curd and a side of sausage. I consumed it all and it kept me fueled for the rest of the day.

french toast

They took us to the Getty Museum which was beautiful beyond belief, and very busy because it was a family activity day.


We spent hours with the European paintings, antique and opulent furniture, and walking the garden.


We spent that evening at the El Capitan Theater watching the new live action Cinderella experience (eating theater food for dinner), and then walking Hollywood Boulevard taking in the sights.

We headed back for the bay area shortly after waking the next day, but the family and food and whole trip was just wonderful.

What delicious spots have you eaten at on your travels recently?

Fast & Easy “Thai” Chicken Pasta


This is totally a cheater recipe – best for days where you’re craving something peanuty and kind of sweet, but are super rushed and not to be bothered with things like “authenticity.”

I made this last week in a last ditch effort to get something in my belly before passing out from sheer exhaustion and it totally hit the spot.

Be warned – it really is an extremely simplified version of Thai peanut sauce – so if you’ve got a specific flavor/texture in mind, you’ll want to pass this up. BUT, if you just crave something Thai peanut sauce-esque and are desperate for your fix RIGHT NOW, this is a pretty yummy substitute.


Hope you enjoy!

Fast & Easy "Thai" Chicken Pasta
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Serves: 4 servings
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1½ Tablespoons minced Ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon Sriracha
  • 2 Tablespoons warm water
  • 2 cooked & shredded chicken breasts
  • 1 box pasta of your choice (flat noodles work great, but I used penne here)
  • Cilantro (optional)
  • Sliced green onions (optional)
  • Lime juice (optional)
  1. Whisk together hoisin, peanut butter, ginger, Sriracha, and water until well combined. (If sauce is too thick for your liking, whisk in more warm water OR a little heavy cream if you're feeling adventurous).
  2. Toss with pasta and chicken.
  3. Garnish with cilantro & green onions.
  4. Add a little squirt of fresh lime juice.
  5. Enjoy!


Easy Coconut Chicken Curry

Easy Coconut Chicken Curry

[Think you’re seeing double? Yes, Cat did a slow cooker chicken curry back in September, but this one is a little different. It takes less planning ahead and fewer ingredients (good for those of you on a budget) PLUS I wrote it. The flavor profile is slightly different – so why not try both and tell us what you like best? Or share a link to your own chicken curry recipe in the comments!]

Curry is a new love of mine, but it’s a bright and fiery passion that I don’t expect to die out anytime soon.


Honestly, what inspired me to try my hand at curry the first time was this Yogscast series in which Duncan makes a simple curry using a machete and and a camp fire.

I guess it sounded good, and seemed so easy, that I figured I could do something much better myself.


I’ve made it a few times since then, have settled on a basic formula, and I’ve found that it is indeed super simple and easy.


It’s crazy delicious and also really fantastic to make in larger batches because the leftovers are really great.


There are lots and lots of ways to do a curry, and I have no idea whether what I make has any authenticity, but this is the one that makes me happy.

Easy Coconut Chicken Curry
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Cuisine: Indian/American
Serves: 3
  • 1 lb chicken thighs (boneless skinless), cubed
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 14 ounces coconut milk, full fat
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups jasmine rice, cooked
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet on medium high heat and saute the garlic and onion until the onion is starting to become translucent.
  2. Add the cubed chicken and brown the outside but do not cook thoroughly.
  3. While the chicken is browning, melt the butter in a separate large skillet on medium heat and stir in the curry until dissolved and then stir in the coconut milk.
  4. Once the chicken is browned, transfer the chicken onion garlic mixture into the curry milk, stir in the diced potato, and turn the heat up to high, bringing to a boil.
  5. Once it is boiling, turn the heat down to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Serve hot over freshly cooked jasmine rice!
I like to mix in a little sour cream or cream cheese because the curry can sometimes be a little too spicy. I recommend you try it.

And here’s a curious neighbor kitty inspecting the delicious chicken as I tried to catch some late evening light.



[Think you’re seeing double? Yes, Cat did a slow cooker chicken curry  back in September, but this one is a little different. It takes less planning ahead and fewer ingredients (good for those of you on a budget) PLUS I wrote it. The flavor profile is slightly different – so why not try both and tell us what you like best? Or share a link to your own chicken curry recipe in the comments!]

Coconut Jasmine Rice With Mangoes, Strawberries & Honey

Coconut Jasmine Rice With Mangoes, Strawberries & Honey

I was having trouble thinking up what to serve alongside the Thai Steak Salad last Friday. Luckily, I realized I could continue with the mango flavor and pair it with coconut rice. coconutricewithfruit2 The dessert ended up being perfect. A nice, creamy coconut flavor, fragrant rice, and *just* enough sweetness from a drizzle of honey. coconutricewithfruit Mango is the traditional pairing for coconut rice, but then again, most people usually make this with sticky rice. I guess I’m not terribly great at being traditional. 🙂 coconutricewithfruit3 If you’re out of strawberries and/or mango, consider ripe pears or even just forgoing the fruit entirely. The rice (and a touch of honey) is such a lovely, light, subtle dessert. I could eat mountains of it. And really, I, along with the rest of the Qwerty crew, did. I am so grateful that our group is open to new flavor combinations, and mango and strawberry seemed to be a hit. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Coconut Jasmine Rice With Mangoes, Strawberries & Honey
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Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6-8
  • 3 cups jasmine rice
  • 2 15 oz cans of thick (not light!) coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Honey, for drizzling
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 mango, peeled & cubed
  1. Rinse rice well and drain.
  2. Place in a large pot and add coconut milk, salt, and 2 cups water.
  3. Turn heat up to medium high and wait for it to come to a boil.
  4. Immediately after it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 20 minutes.
  5. After twenty minutes, turn off heat and allow to sit, covered, for an additional 15 minutes.
  6. Fluff with fork and serve with fruit and generous drizzle of honey.
  7. Enjoy!



Thai Steak Salad

Thai Steak Salad

Back when I lived in Los Angeles, Mark and I used to go to restaurant called Houston’s. It was perfect for special-but-low-key occasions – like when family came out to visit or Valentine’s Days where we didn’t want to deal with another night of having our car accidentally locked away in a Hertz Rental Car lot because the swanky/upscale Italian place didn’t have their valet on duty when we tried to figure out parking. Grumble. Anyway. The main draw of Houston’s, for me, was their Thai Steak salad.


I finally decided to try and attempt it myself for one of our Qwerty nights. This recipe features a whole array of different flavors that, on paper, sound a little scary (Brie was admittedly a little worried, but says she ended up loving the result). It was all complicated by the fact that one of our crew is allergic to mango, others hate cilantro, and others still hate bell pepper.


I ended up combining cabbage, avocado, romaine, and freshly chopped mint (OH GOLLY did that smell good!) in a large bowl, and then served the mango, strawberry, cilantro, marinated and grilled steak strips, bell pepper, and peanut dressing all in their own separate bowls, assembly line style.  I realize that strawberries aren’t part of a traditional Thai Steak Salad, but it ended up being the perfect substitution for our Mango-allergic Qwertyer while also adding a nice element for the rest of us.


It turned out really lovely. Admittedly, there was a lot of chopping and prepping all the fruits and veggies, but Mark is a pretty wonderful sous chef. 🙂

This makes for a really wonderful special occasion meal that’s definitely lighter than our usual Qwerty fare. Hope you enjoy it!

Thai Steak Salad
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A multitude of flavors combine for a light, fresh, and delicious salad that works nicely as a main dish.
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Thai Fusion
Serves: 6-8
  • 2 mangoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 avocados, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • ½ cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 4 cups cabbage, shredded
  • 6 cups romaine, shredded
  • 4 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • Juice of four limes
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 pounds of sliced flank steak
  • 1 additional Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons squeeze-bottle ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons squeeze-bottle garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • Cooking spray
  1. Combine 1 Tablespoon sugar, ginger, garlic, hoisin, and soy sauce in a large plastic bag. Add in steak and massage bag until well combined. Refrigerate/marinate for at least one hour.
  2. Whisk together peanut butter, 4 teaspoons sugar, olive oil, sesame oil, lime juice, pepper flakes, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside (or refrigerate until it is time to serve).
  3. Once the steak is done marinating, coat a pan with cooking spray and cook the steak to preferred doneness (we tend to like it medium, but the flavor sticks around even if you like it well done).
  4. Combine mangoes, avocados, strawberries, bell pepper, green onions, mint, cilantro, cabbage, and romaine in a large bowl.
  5. Separate out equally onto desired number of plates, then distribute steak evenly and drizzle well with dressing.
  6. Serve & enjoy!


Thai Iced Coffee

Thai Iced Coffee

Rich, creamy, and totally diet-busting, this icy beverage is one of my favorite things to order while eating out. Thankfully, it is blissfully easy (and cheeeeap!) to make at home.


And yes, I totally took these pictures outside because the light showed off the coffee better. Pretend you don’t notice that, kay?


If you don’t count the optional ice cubes, it only requires three ingredients: coffee, sweetened and condensed milk, and heavy cream.


You don’t have to serve it over ice (though it is prettier that way), but do make sure it is very, very cold. Add a bendy straw for extra fun!

Thai Iced Coffee
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So creamy! So tasty!
Recipe type: Beverage
Serves: 4-8
  • 8 cups of homebrewed coffee
  • 1 can of sweetened and condensed milk
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  1. Pour coffee, sweetened and condensed milk, and heavy cream into a large beverage container.
  2. Whisk until well combined.
  3. Refrigerate until very cold, at least 4 hours (overnight is better).
  4. Serve and enjoy!