Friday, December 16, 2011

Last Christmas

I have spent every single Christmas morning of my life in this very living room! Since I moved to Hawaii in 2008, I've been insistent and have made it home for Christmas each year.

It has always been just Mom, Dad, and I, and this year we'll have our first ever addition since I joined in in 1986 - Bryce is coming! He came to Pittsburgh with me two years ago around Christmastime but went back to California for the big day. Last year he stayed in Hawaii and I went to Pgh. This year was one of lots of trips, finished off with Thanksgiving in California and now Christmas in Pittsburgh together! We're stopping in San Fran on the way home to visit friends & watch the Steelers play the 49ers, then stopping in Boston on the way back to visit our friends and brand new parents John & Brooke & baby Sam! 

That said, I'm so excited for this trip and all the visiting and eating we'll do! To get me in the mood I've unbuttoned the top button of my pants and pulled together some pictures from Christmas at home last year.

Mom & I made biscotti together! Biscotti is freaking-hard to make and I'll never do it alone, sorry Mom.

Some of the desserts on Christmas Eve at our house - 7 layer cookies (my favorite and Mom's specialty!) among many others.

Kiss cookies, pizelles, and more 7 layers - or were they 8 layers?

Mom was really into the 3-layered displays last year! Here's a little bit of healthy food for ya'. Oops, celery stuffed with cream cheese isn't healthy??

My cousin Eric & I took a trip to Pittsburgh's Strip District where we found this handsome guy!

Spencer and Cooper joined us and weren't phased by the gross-ness of pig's feet.

I'm always so happy to be welcomed home by all of the Italian food in Pittsburgh! Pap would have loved all these olives.

So much pasta! I could live on pasta, but it's Bryce's one and only complaint about my cooking - too much pasta! As I'm typing this now it dawned on me that we currently have pasta leftovers in the fridge and I just ate some for lunch :) Maybe he's got a point.

We fly out tonight and I can't wait! I've been promised a sourdough bread bowl tomorrow (in San Fran), tons of homemade food (in Pittsburgh), and a foodie tour (in Boston) and look forward to sharing all of my travelin' food with you.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pintresting Food

When something is super trendy, I try to ignore it. 

Sometimes it works - I've only seen half of an episode of the Kardashians and have never watched Anchorman. 

Other Most times I resist the urge to jump on the trendy band wagon - only to hop on late, become totally obsessed, and LOVE the trend far past its trendy expiration date. A few examples: I still quote Mean Girls on a daily basis, wear a "poof" in my hair regularly, and just recently joined Pinterest.

I really didn't know what the heck it was at first, but everyone said it was addicting. Yes, that's right - I had 100 pins in 2 days and many of them were food related! Pinterest is basically a smorgasbord of ideas, crafts, home projects, fashion, quotes, and inspiration. You "pin" things you like and put them into categories.  It was equally shocking and exciting to find that it would benefit my cooking adventures. Prying yourself away from Pinterest's page is the hard part. I narrowly escaped the computer chair and took the first great idea I'd found into the kitchen. 

Pinteresting Food #1: hash browns in the waffle iron!

Hash Browns in the Waffle Iron

4 medium to large potatoes
Cooking spray
Salt & pepper

Waffle iron
Box grater
Grate the taters using a box grater. Squeeze the water out of the grated potatoes using your hands, either over the sink or the trash can. Season them with pepper and mix to combine.

Plug in your waffle iron and set it to medium. We put ours on level 3 (of 5). Spray the top and bottom with cooking spray.

Add about 1 cup of potatoes to the iron and sprinkle salt on the top before closing the lid. The hash browns were perfectly cooked about 10 - 11 minutes later. Feel free to ignore the little light on your waffle iron - green, red, green, red! When they were finished they easily came off the iron in one piece. You need not spray the iron after each one. 4 potatoes made 4 hash browns.

Before & after


My fear was that they'd fall apart, but they were crispy and intact when they were finished.

We had an impromptu breakfast-for-dinner of these hash browns, scrambled eggs, fruit cups, and milk! This photo was taken before I assaulted the hash browns and eggs with loads of ketchup.

They were so easy and quick to make and tasted delicious - thank you Pinterest! I love that I can get more use out of the waffle iron, too. Next time I'll add some onions for a more authentic hash brown taste.

Pinteresting Food #2: Tooth Cupcakes

Brennan, a good friend of ours, has been applying and interviewing to get into dental school. His girlfriend Molly was planning to throw him a party upon his acceptance. I saw these tooth cupcakes and had to send them to her right away. Brennan got accepted and Molly made the cupcakes perfectly - congratulations Brennan and great job Molly!


Brennan with his cupcakes, sister Taea, and girlfriend Molly. 

Pinteresting food #3: Watermelon Jell-O Shots

Molly's birthday was this weekend and she made these adorable watermelon Jell-O shots, complete with chocolate chip "seeds"! She found them on the same website as the cupcakes. So.Much.Fun.

Happy Birthday Molly, and great job with the Pinteresting food!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cinnamon Blondies and the Yelp Cookie Swap

Hawaii can be so funny, sometimes. Earlier this year I was selected for jury duty and I was the only white person or haole as we're called in Hawaii. Everyone else was "local" which tends to mean either Hawaiian or Asian.

During our lunch break one day, some of the ladies started talking about haole brownies. I thought to myself "What the hell is a haole brownie?! It must be either a white brownie or a brownie made by a white person." I sat and listened quietly. These haole brownies seemed to be hugely popular, well known in the Kamehameha Schools community (the school system here in Hawaii just for native Hawaiians), and extremely delicious! Ok, so maybe they like these haole brownies and aren't making fun of white people, I thought. If they were, they wouldn't say it in front of me, right? I've done a little asking around and googling since then, and it seems that these mysterious haole brownies are actually blondies!    

One long story later, I'll get to the point - this haole girl was invited to a Yelp Holiday Cookie Swap! I decided to make a delicious recipe I'd tried out a few months ago for cinnamon blondies. They were easy to make and incredibly addicting so they'd be great for sharing. I also found it quite funny that the haole girl would bring haole brownies!

I made them exactly as the original instructed, only I doubled the recipe and used regular-old-cinnamon. I don't have 2 square pans of the same style - one is an 8" x 8" metal and the other a 9" x 9" Pampered Chef stone baker.

Cinnamon Blondies
(makes 2 batches)

2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
3 cups of light brown sugar
3 teaspoons of vanilla
2 sticks of butter
   (there are 3 sticks in the photo, although you only need 2)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
4 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
   (again, 6 eggs in the photo but you only need 4)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Melissa's Baby BASHower

Originally, 2011 was the year of weddings. Bryce and I were invited to 8 just this year! Little did we know it would also become the year of babies. My best friend Jamie and her husband Nick (who have been together since we were sophomores in high school!) had Brody in June, and now I have 4 other friends who are expecting! So technically 2012 will be the year they're all born but whatever...

I'm completely overjoyed by all of the giant life changes and extreme happiness that our friends are encountering this year, and enjoying being a part of it all... and the food! Plus, by the time I'm married and ready to create an offspring, said baby will have so many friends and I'll have so many experienced parent-friends!

Just a few weeks ago I threw a baby shower for Christine, and as soon as that was over I got this adorable invitation for a shower for another friend - Melissa! She and 2 of her friends started an event planning company called BASH events and this shower was as fabulous and over-the-top as one would expect from a group of event planners.

I'd only been to Morimoto once before with the Bitches Who Brunch, and Melissa was with me! When we arrived on Sunday morning we basically had the whole (gorgeous) restaurant to ourselves.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Easy Paprika Chicken

So now we're home from vacation and back to real life - which also means an empty fridge & pantry. I managed to scrounge dinner together with the following items: 2 frozen chicken breasts, a can of green beans, and some egg noodles (leftover from the Potato and Egg Casserole). 

Oddly enough, that sounds like the typical dinner of my childhood! My (skinny and very healthy) parents eat chicken, green beans, and a potato/pasta on a regular basis. Healthy but BOR-ING.

One of my most favorite food bloggers - Erika of In Erika's Kitchen - posted this recipe for Paprika Chicken a while back and I made it shortly after. It was another night like tonight where I was low on ingredients and/or pressed for time and the paprika chicken totally rocked my socks off! I knew the next time this scrumptious recipe graced my kitchen I'd have to share it.

Tonight I made a smaller batch using chicken breasts and used just "Paprika" vs Smoked Paprika. Is there a difference?

Easy Paprika Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 teaspoons garlic salt
6 teaspoons paprika
  Use a 2:3 ratio of garlic salt to paprika, as needed, I happened to have a clean teaspoon nearby!

Preheat your broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with foil. Since we only had 2 pieces of chicken I used the pan from the toaster oven and it was perfect! 

For our 3 year anniversary back in August, Bryce bought me the Le Creuset mortar & pestle! I didn't and still don't know exactly what to use it for, sadly. I used it tonight to mush up and mix the garlic salt & paprika. Can anyone help with that one, too?

Cover the chicken completely with the mixture. Pop that funky chicken into the broiler for 7 minutes on each side.


You'll know it's finished when the chicken gets a nice crusty exterior, yum!

I served it with aforementioned green beans and noodles, such a quick and healthy dinner!

Thanks for the great recipe, Erika. This will be my go-to meal for dinner in a hurry or an empty kitchen from now on!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving in California

Bryce and I just returned from a 5-day trip to California where we spent Thanksgiving with his family. It was a fun-filled, jam packed vacation with entirely too much food!

Our first Thanksgiving dinner was with Bryce's Dad and his side of the family in Visalia, CA.

11 month old Hunter really enjoyed his mashed potatoes!

We had turkey and ham, plus all the fixin's!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Potato and Egg Casserole

Happy Sunday! 

This morning I woke up early and, since the Steelers have a bye-week, was delighted to stay home and make breakfast. We're going away (to California for Thanksgiving) on Wednesday so using up the food in the house was a must. We had plenty of potatoes and eggs but no bacon or sausage.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My 22nd Birthday

Today I stumbled across these pictures of my 22nd birthday. I had just begun getting into cooking and my parents bought me all kitchen-and-food-related gifts. I was a senior in college and actually thinner than I am now! My hair was much longer and darker, too.

In addition to the nostalgia these photos stir up, there are 2 other major things they bring to mind:
  1.  About a month after this birthday I decided I'd move to Hawaii! If my current (2011) self could jump into this picture and tell me then "Hey Ang, your 22nd year will be one of the very best of your life. You'll move to Hawaii, land your first REAL job, meet a fantastic guy, and successfuly make the transition to surviving on your own, all before you turn 23!" there's no way I would have believed my older and wiser self! Doesn't life always seem to be more interesting and unpredictable than you ever imagined? 
  2. Dear Old (Penn) State will never be the same as it was back then. The uncovering of the scandal and following events that have occurred in recent weeks have shaken up the University, its leadership, students, athletics, and alumni. I am so sickened by what that MONSTER did to those poor children. They will continue to be in my thoughts and Prayers. As for everyone else involved, including JoePa (who I LOVE), if they did anything that allowed Sandusky to continue on his path of destruction I believe they should be held accountable. I wish the authorities had given a little more consideration to firing JoePa the way they did but I'm sure hoping they're doing what's right. This whole thing has consumed my life for the past 2 weeks and I'm emotionally drained from it all. It's incredible how one person has ruined so many lives. Oh - did I forget to say allegedly? Sorry, I hope he gets what he deserves - either in prison or after he passes through the LARGER gates.
We are so much more than this scandal and our football program. WE ARE... PENN STATE!

Here I'm demonstrating my EVOO dispenser's usefulness. "When you come home from the bars at 2 am, do this before you put the pierogies in the pan!"

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Let me have some wine... Paulie, more wine!

Me: Hi. My name is Angela, and I'm addicted to the Godfather movies and all things Italian.

Group in unison: Hi Angela!

There's plenty of Italian (Italian-American, really) culture in Pittsburgh, where I grew up. Moving to Hawaii was a big change for me in many ways. It's the only U.S. state with minority majority and haoles (white people) are the minority! The mainstream culture and foods here are strongly influenced by the Hawaiian and various Asian cultures. You can find spam, bok choy, Japanese cucumbers, fishcake, and so on at most grocery stores here, but cannoli shells are only sold at one!

I was shocked and excited to discover and join the Friends of Italy Society of Hawaii a few years ago. I've since become board member/the group's treasurer. Finding this group was a jackpot, it's so much fun!

This weekend we enjoyed a night of wine bottling.

Here's a clip from the Godfather that shares my feeling about wine: bring. me. more. In a plastic pitcher on the dance floor, if at all possible.

I have no rights to this clip or anything at all, just sharing!

If you've watched the movie (Part 1) or even just the video in my Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli post, you know how it ends with Paulie and Clemenza!

Wine bottling was so much fun! It sounded intimidating but was actually quite easy.

First, you fill the bottle with wine. There's a little button on the spout to start and stop the flow of the wine. Could I be a little more excited?

Once the bottle is filled with wine, you put it into this torture-chamber-like contraption and put the cork into the top. Pull that lever down and you're done - the wine is corked! Notice we have a glass of wine next to us at all times :)

Now, carefully add the stickers to the front and back of the bottle.


Bryce demonstrates how to meticulously shrink wrap the bottle's top with the hair dryer... errrrr - I mean - heat gun!

That's it! All that's left to do is enjoy a little bit of wine. Aaaaaaaaand more wine!

Bryce and I are both blessed (read: cursed) with what I like to call the "Gift of Gab", which is just a nice way to say that we both talk an extreme amount. At events like this it's not uncommon for Bryce to go missing for extended periods of time. When this happens I know he's made a new friend and is probably talking their ear off somewhere! When I didn't see him for quite some time I searched and quickly found him in the back room talking to the owner. (Told you!) I also found ALL THE WINE! How much fun is that?!

The night was all about wine, but try to find a group of Italians gathered in one place without food. We had 3 incredible antipasti trays. Unfortunately, those marinated mozzarella balls were gone by the time I got to that tray.

Look at all that CHEESE!

Roast beef, ham, turkey, salami & peppers!

What a great evening. Now, I just need to find a good excuse to go back there! Oh yeah - I should probably drink the 2 bottles we brought home first!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday Funday Discoveries

Sunday Funday takes on a whole new meaning in Hawaii, especially for NFL fans. 

1 pm kickoffs on the East Cost take place at 7 or 8 am here, depending on Daylight Savings Time. Up until last weekend most of the Steelers games started at 7 am, which means getting up around 6 am (in the dark!), donning your Steelers shirt/jersey and terrible towel, and driving to the bar to watch the game with other black & gold fans! It's not much better at 8 am, although the sun is up on the drive!

Needless to say, the Sunday Fun can get started far too early in the day and gets out of control from time to time. Watching an entire football game, spending $40+ on breakfast and drinks, getting tipsy, taking a nap, and waking up all before noon is an odd feeling!

This Sunday I watched the Steelers game with my cousin Darren and our good friend and fellow Steelers fan Ben at Ben's apartment. Ben and Darren have been friends for years and Ben actually accompanied Darren on a visit to Pittsburgh where he met my whole family including my parents! I was still in college at the time and didn't come home for Darren's visit so I didn't meet Ben. Years later, when I moved to Hawaii, Ben was the bartender at my favorite after work happy hour bar. He saw on my PA license that I was from Pittsburgh, we discovered our mutual love for the Steelers, and he began giving me free drinks often! It took us quite a bit of time to realize that his friend Darren was also my cousin, and that Darren's "Aunt Carol and Uncle Andy" are my parents! What a small world island, right?! 

Ben posted a few weeks ago that he'd added bacon to a bloody Mary - BRILLIANT! As soon as he extended the invite to his house for the game, I kindly requested bacon bloody Marys. Life will never be the same!

I also highly recommend the Belvedere Bloody Mary Vodka!

Here it is!

This lovely combo will most certainly be happening again in my near future. Next time I'll make the BM mix myself and add pickle, celery, olives, and a cheese stick!

Much, much later in the day I took a visit to Whole Foods. I discovered 3 particularly interesting things:

Brussels sprouts still connected to the branch. I had no idea they grew like that, nor did I ever think about it!

They remind me of a caveman's club!

Chicken feet. Gross! Dare I ask if anyone has ever cooked or eaten them and how they were prepared?

Buffalo hot dogs. My Dad would love these! He's a big fan of hot dogs and especially loves the ones that come in the Omaha Steaks variety pack. Yes... his favorite part are the hot dogs! I'll have to remember to get these for his next visit to Hawaii, or pick some up at the Whole Foods in Pittsburgh for him. Wouldn't that be funny if I put them in his Christmas stocking?!

Yesterday was a Sunday Funday filled with new discoveries! Some of which I'll be trying again and others I'll leave up to the imagination (coughcoughchickenfeet).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Baby Shower 101

This weekend I threw my first ever baby shower! My dear friends Christine and Steve are expecting their first child, a boy, in January. With the help of Oh Sook, who planned the whole shower with me, and the guests who all brought a dish to share, the party went off without a hitch! 

Since my blog's first birthday party (which was a disaster from my perspective, although the guests seemed to have fun) I've learned many ways to make a party enjoyable for the host and the guests! Here's what I can tell you, although I'm clearly NO expert...


Use recipes that you've made before. I made mini red velvet cupcakes (this time with homemade frosting) and turned my favorite broccoli chicken cheddar braid into "cups". This made the recipe even easier since you don't have to "braid" the dough, cut it to serve, or dirty any utensils. Score!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas

Last week, my cousin Dan and his wife Nancy enjoyed a vacation here in Hawaii. They've both traveled all around the world and are very open to new food experiences, hooray! Well...Nancy is a micro biologist and won't eat ketchup in a restaurant (I'm also against it and you probably should be too!) or anything raw, like sushi. Those were our only restrictions :)

Bryce and I went with Dan and Nancy for dinner/appetizers at a great restaurant on Waikiki beach. We then did a double-dessert stop! First to Leonards for malasadas, then to Bubbies for mochi ice cream. Dan's holding the pumpkin, I have the chocolate espresso, and Nancy's got the chocolate peanut butter. YUM!

A few days later, once Darren (the other cousin who lives in Hawaii) arrived back on Oahu, we all went out for dinner at Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas. Dan and Nancy researched and chose the restaurant in advance and they did a great job! Hiroshi describes its food as Modern Asian Inspired Tapas and Innovative Cuisine. Sounds good to me!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Halloween has come and gone again. This year I went to 2 Halloween parties dressed as Lil Wayne (a homemade costume, might I add), visited a Haunted House, and ate both pumpkin ice cream and pumpkin mochi ice cream = success! 

I also managed to go fall-food insane in the kitchen! There were cupcakes made with candy corn and a BIG can of pumpkin that became soup, then cheesecake bars (which I've yet to blog about), and finally pumpkin snickerdoodles. Snickerdoodles have always been one of my favorites and, since they were the first cookie I ever made from scratch, have become my go-to cookie. Adding pumpkin is a smashing idea!

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
makes 36 cookies

2 sticks of butter
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of light brown sugar
3/4 cup of pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 3/4 cup of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

for rolling the cookies in:
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of allspice
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mini Triple-Treat Cupcakes

Happy Halloween! I found a recipe for Mini Triple-Treat Cupcakes in the October 2011 Everyday Food Magazine. Leave it up to Martha to create a dessert using leftover candy! These clever and addictive cupcakes were my contribution to our Halloween pre-party this weekend. I will be making them year-round with different seasonal toppers. These are so, so yummy and the best part is that you don't have to frost them!

Mini Triple-Treat Cupcakes 


1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of fine salt
1/2 cup of crunchy peanut butter
6 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
1/2 cup of packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup buttermilk (I faked it with 1 tablespoon white vinegar and the remaining 1/4 cup of milk)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mini Reese's Cups
Candy Corn

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Popping Bottles

In anticipation of Halloween weekend I asked Bryce to get apple cider at the store. For the second year in a row he's purchased sparkling cider - you know, the kind in the champagne bottle. I had the big plastic jug of cider in mind. I don't know what his deal is with that but sparkling cider is still festive and delicious and I'll take it!

So, I took said sparkling cider and put it in the freezer with the other "fun" drinks (vodka and Bailey's) and went on with my day. HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! You can't do that, Ang.

The next day I opened my freezer to this:

It gives "popping bottles" a whole new meaning!

Thankfully it was frozen and fairly easy to clean up. What was I thinking?!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Brunch at the Plumeria Beach House

The "Bitches Who Bunch" got together again for a morning at the Plumeria Beach House in the Kahala Resort. We had a relaxing meal and enjoyed each others company and the fantastic view. 

Before we talk food, take a look at some of the perks of the Kahala.
Here's the outdoor portion of the Plumeria Beach House, just one of the restaurants.

The real dolphins!

Finally, the incredible lobby.

It's gorgeous and over the top, I love it!

Brunch started with the menus that were so unique and perfectly themed with wooden plumeria flowers on the back.

For the first time, Danielle the healthy-food-fanatic joined us! She got this acai bowl that she immediately declared was "so refreshing"! It included bananas, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, granola, and lehua honey. I'm sure it was great but I was ready to indulge!

 The smoked salmon Benedict was very popular. I spy a Bloody Mary in need a of a refill!

Malia opted for the corned beef hash. She swapped the poached a scrambled egg. Please don't let me pretend like I noticed that tiny detail while we were there, I snapped the photos in a hurry and we DUG IN as soon as I gave the green light! Thanks for cooperating ladies. 

There were a couple of omelets, this one partnered with hash browns. I love the individual servings of ketchup!

Another omelet with home fries. 

Anytime we do brunch as a group like this there's always a favorite. Drum roll please... the favorite dish of the Bitches Who Brunch was the "Surf and Turf" Benedict! That's Hawaiian salt grilled beef tenderloin, Alaskan king crab meat, poached egg, and Bearnaise sauce on a toasted English muffin. Maybe they should call it the non-continental states Benedict: Hawaiian Turf and Alaskan Surf! Remember, you heard it here first!

I was one of the kids drinking the Kool-Aid who ordered the most popular dish and I was very happy with my selection. The crab meat was the most delectable touch on the hearty, savory, and creamy dish. My favorite part is when you puncture the yolk of the egg and all hell breaks loose. If they'd cooked the meat just a few seconds less it would have been perfect.

The reason I began this blog is because food gives us such a sense of comfort and a way to enjoy special occasions together. I can't express how WONDERFUL these brunches with our successful, ambitious, loving, and beautiful friends are! It's truly a (loud) chat-fest over (delicious) brunch and (many) drinks.

Honestly, how gorgeous are these women, the outfits, anddddd the view?

For the first time - someone thought ahead and we picked the next date for BWB at the table! We'll see how many we can get together when we plan 7 weeks out.