Mango Dome Entremet – I Remember 11

Mango Dome Entremet – I Remember 11


My oldest son is turning 11.  That is the first age that I remember ever being.  I don’t remember before then but I remember talking to a friend and saying that I was 11 (while playing barbies by the pool).  I feel like 11 was so much younger in 1990.  I can’t imagine my middle school students still playing with Barbies.

Anyways, back to my sweet honey boy.  He’s so great.  I feel so honored to be his Mama.  He fills me with such immense joy.  Every time I walk down the stairs in the morning, and he is already awake and downstairs, he’ll stop what he’s doing and run up and kiss me.  Even at 11.  Throughout the day I’ll hear him sing a little tune that goes something like ‘I love my Mama, she’s so pretty….’ of course it usually ends with ‘May I play Fortnite?’  I don’t mind.  I’ll take it.  So now that I am on Summer break from teaching, I decided to tackle a big job.  I have the time!  Nothing but leisure for me these days.  And also, my son deserves nothing but the best.  His favorite food is mangos and I just so happen to find a dessert fit for a king.  I thought I would tackle a baking job like no other.  Nothing like a challenge (I have vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce in the waiting just in case).  I discovered Chef Iso while perusing for pastries that are beyond what I have ever done.  And I found it.  I’ve decided to attempt the Mango Dome Entremet and have acquired all of the crazy supplies (thanks to my Mama who surprised me with buying everything off my Amazon wish list).   An entremet is a French dessert that has different elements in it such as crunchy, spongy, creamy, wobbly, etc.  This one will have a spongy (almond dacquoise), a creamy (Bavarian mousse), and a wobbly (mango compote).

So I’m the home baker that likes to eye-ball things and use basic measuring tools such as cups and spoons.  Today I am officially a hardcore home baker as I will be using a scale.


I covered my scale with plastic wrap because it’s not always clean livin’

I am writing this post as I go.  This dessert has 4 components: mango compote, Bavarian mousse,  almond dacquoise and a mirror glaze.  I will be making this as written by Chef Iso, with no variations due to high altitude.  I think I am most excited about the mirror glaze.  I have always wanted to try one.  Here is how it went:

Making the mango compote was easy.  Again, I did measure all of my ingredients on a scale.  I am noticing that the ‘~ about such and such measurement’ is not accurate to the grams it is asking you to provide.  So I cannot stress enough to measure on a scale.  I have plenty of mango compote leftover which I will freeze for later use, probably on a tropical ice-cream sundae (picture some mango compote coupled with toasted coconut and maybe some white chocolate shavings over some vanilla ice cream!?  Yes please….).




Now it is time to start the almond dacquoise, although hold on!  Major baking/cooking tip ahead:

Make sure to wash dishes that were used, clean the work station and re-organize ingredients after each step and before moving on.

This is key in helping me stay focused and to continually enjoy what I am doing.  This is fun and the last thing I need is to feel overwhelmed with a pile of dishes at the end of this endeavor.  Plus, I do not have endless supplies so I need to wash bowls to reuse for the next step.

For the almond dacquoise, I have used the mesh strainer to sift my already super-fine almond flour and set aside.  My egg whites were measuring a little less than 5 eggs (keep those egg yokes for the mousse!).  Up here in this high altitude it is hard to get a truly stiff meringue, so mine is a little less.  Regardless, it kept its shape as I folded the sifted almond flour in.




Here is my lull.  I will not start the Bavarian mousse until my dacquoise is cooled and my compote frozen.  So after my dishes are done, work station wiped down and ingredients prepped for the next step, I will allow myself the pleasure of sitting – with a hot cup of coffee and a good book (I am currently reading The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson – it’s so good so far!).

My compote has officially frozen!  So before cutting out the cooled dacquoise I made sure my round cookie-cutter was the right size to my dome pan.  Since I am making only 6 of these domes – I appear to have a lot of leftovers.  I will cut the rest of the dacquoise up and freeze it as well.  Maybe adding a round cutout to each of the tropical ice-cream sundaes I’m apparently going to be making.  Up next: Bavarian Mousse.




Okay several things…. I just finished and my domes are in the freezer.  First of all, I was unable to take pictures while making the creme anglaise (the first step in the mousse).  The creme anglaise takes both hands, I did not want to scramble the egg yokes.  I have made ice cream many a’times so I was well versed in tempering.  I whisk briskly while adding a few tablespoons at a time of the warmed cream/milk mixture.  I then add the tempered egg yokes to the pan with the cream/milk and get it to 170 degrees F on my candy thermometer.  I melt the white chocolate… making sure to not over heat.  It will ruin the whole batch of chocolate if over heated.

HUGE catastrophe!  My immersion blender has died!  Officially died while I was trying to blend the chocolate to the creme anglaise.  Detrimental – but I finished the creme with a hand-held blender and it was fine. Folding the whipped cream into the creme anglaise is a beautiful thing…



The assembly was surprisingly easy.  I added about 3T of the Bavarian mousse to each mold before adding a frozen mold of compote, topping it off with a piece of almond dacquoise that has been generously swept with the simple syrup (that happens to be housing my mango slices to which I will be garnishing the tops of my entremets).




Finishing my domes, I realized that I could have made a 1/4 of the Bavarian mousse recipe.  There is a HUGE bowl of Bavarian mousse left over!  I decided to add some orange zest and juice and will make it into a French-Orange Bavarian Mousse. Nothing like oranges and cream!  I happen to have one navel orange in the fridge – I just hope one is enough.  No time to head to the market since there is gelatin involved….I divided the mousse into ramekins and put them in the fridge.




Now back to my immersion blender catastrophe.  I am stressing out.  This will ruin the mirror glaze.  If there are air bubbles in this glaze, it defeats the whole purpose.  Chef Iso does mention that I may strain the glaze in a sieve and maybe that will take out any air bubbles.  I’m going to have to use a hand-held blender because I live on top of a mountain and do not have the convenience of hopping over to a Bed Bath & Beyond to pick up a new immersion blender.  Dang it… wish me luck…




So I made the glaze and the sieve idea worked quite well!  Above you’ll see the glaze after I used my hand-held mixer and then after pouring it through the sieve (middle picture) it got rid of most the bubbles.  I still strongly suggest an immersion blender.  The glaze was quite easy to make.  No eggs to temper or boiling to certain temperature.  It came together quite quick.




And by the way, my son requested chicken enchiladas, roasted broccoli and refried beans for dinner…..  Needless to say, I’m tired.

But look at this face…. worth it ALL!


We have 6 to eat and a ton of French-Orange Bavarian Mousse in the fridge!


I guess I’ll have to save the hot fudge and vanilla ice cream for a different time.  This worked.  I hope you try this.  It was super fun.  Thank you Chef Iso!  Happy birthday Aiden!

Traveling Solo to the Green Isle (not to be confused with the one in Minnesota)


I have quite the adventure brewing.  In less than a month I will be taking an international trip to London, with a side – solo – trip to Ireland.  I keep thinking how I should be feeling anxious and/or frightened to be all alone in a country I’ve only read about for 48 hours ~ yet all I feel is elated.  I love my friends and husband but I tend to fall under the category of a ‘people pleaser’ and I have come to terms that I am unable to go to museums with anyone because I tend to feel rushed even though my companions are all too nice and patient with my pace.  I don’t like having anyone wait on or for me.  Especially if these are places of history with plaques and pictures and artifacts awaiting my appraisal.

Back to Dublin…

I am now hoping you can see why I am atingle with the idea that I can go and peruse the Trinity Library in such a leisurely manner that will only suit me.  That I will venture through the National Museum and Gallery of Ireland at such a snail pace I might, myself, be mistaken for a modern sculpture.

Where do you want to eat?

I don’t know.

Well what kind of food do you feel like?

Let’s ask around.

But I’m hungry now.

Okay, let’s look in our travel book real quick.

Okay, but I only want to eat….

No.  None of that.

I plan to dine at a fine establishment such as Bear or The Chop House where I will order an obscenely expensive and obnoxious meal such as a porterhouse or something I’ve never had before like lambs belly with sweet breads.  I will retire to a lovely hotel near Temple Bar and listen to the nightlife as I fall fast asleep, dreaming only of castles, dragons and strong, handsome celtic warriors.

Upon awakening I look forward to a delightful legendary Irish breakfast at Slattery’s where I will dutifully try black pudding with my eggs and sausage.  I will then walk on over to a bookstore that only harbors rare and first editions, Cathach Books, where I will lose myself completely for who knows how long.  Fingers crossed I will find a rare and/or first edition book in my price range.  I will follow this up with a jaunt through the Dublin Castle and make my way to Malahide where I will wait in a pub on the rocky coast of Ireland – for my husband to arrive.  He’ll drink a Guinness (or two or three) and then we’ll make our way to the Malahide Castle and then fly promptly to Manchester where we will get to partake in a wedding celebration for a dear, dear friend.

I can change my mind on any of this.  After all, it’s only me I need to please…

Happy travels friends.

China: Episode 1 ~ Pan-Seared Tiger Skin Pepper

IMG_2501As I got off the plane in Beijing, having never traveled internationally before, I was over the moon giddy.

Although I must admit, it was a little nerve wracking watching that video from the Chinese government stating that if anyone seems sick that they will be reported to health officials and automatically quarantined and given a shot of something from an overly happy, smiley nurse with an overly ginormous needle.

So naturally as the video ended I started stating to the person beside me (in possibly – maybe a little louder voice than normal) that my continuous sneezing and nose blowing is purely allergies from the plane of course!  Oh gosh no, I don’t have a cold or sinus infection.  I couldn’t be more healthy!

I quickly take the pile of used crumbled tissue balls and stuff them into my bag, making sure to hide the tylenol cold medicine under my book. As the plane descended into a smoggy abyss I refresh myself with a good teeth cleaning, hair brushing and mascara applying.  I feel ready to embark into China.

Slightly anxious that I will be quarantined and given shots.

Customs was miraculously a breeze.  Hardly any lines.  The Chinese really do have it down to a science.  Very easy to maneuver around.  My smile was undoubtedly bigger than usually as I was going through the process of getting approved to enter the country.

No I am not bringing any diseases into your country (sniffle).

No I did not download a VPN so that I may use Instagram (they don’t really ask that).

WeChat?  Never heard of it (truly they couldn’t care less)…




I had always pictured myself walking onto a new land, setting my bags down and inhaling a big breath of this distant lands air.  After all I had been dreaming about going to China since I realized it existed…

No.  No no no no.  In fact try not to breath at all.  At first I thought, oh man – so much exhaust.  But then soon realized that the smog content of the air was unlike anything I had ever experienced.  It was almost tangible.  Like literal grit in the air.

I was parched and that’s when I realized I was not in Kansas anymore.  Nobody, I mean nobody spoke a lick of English.  Not even at the help desk (that had an English sign that said ‘Help Desk’).  So I show the sweet, young lady behind the desk a yuan and tried desperately to make the water sign which was basically me pointing to my mouth and looking as thirsty as possible.  She takes my yuan and goes to, what I believe is a vending machine and points to a large bottle of clear liquid and I nod. I don’t care what it is-I need to drink something.  She inserts the money and voila!  Water.  That is the first of so many experiences I had with the Chinese peoples.  They are nothing but kind, helpful, happy beings.  What a privilege it was to meet so many lovely new friends.

Back to reality which was standing in the middle of Terminal 2 at the Beijing International Airport.  The extent of my Mandarin is “Do you speak English,” “Thank you” and “I speak a little Mandarin.”  My friend made it clear that I am to stay put.  She will find me.  So when my long distance on my phone was not yet warmed up, I did as I was told.  She knew my airline, the time of arrival and flight number.  I tried to stay out of the way.  I felt invisible.  People rushing by me.  It was like a blur as I stood there.  I was in China.  I knew no one.  Didn’t know where to go and if my friend would ever find me.

Forty-five minutes later I see her.  She is like a glorious angel calling my name.  She is twice as tall as anyone there so I couldn’t miss her.  I started yelling back.





It was like a romantic novel ~ two people running toward each other with such vigor and passion.  I don’t remember a time I was so happy to see anybody in my whole life.

And then we get on the road with her driver and I experience Beijing driving and suddenly ~ growing up in Southern California with all of it’s amusement parks and tourist driving – makes all the sense in the world.

Stay tuned for China: Episode 2…

While in China, and while my friend was working I decided to take some cooking classes in an old-style housing called a Hutong.  It was beautiful and a blog in of itself.  While there I made many delicious, simple recipes.  Here is one of them.  If you can’t find a green pointed (tiger) pepper I feel that an Anaheim chili would be a great substitution.  But I encourage you to go to your nearest Asian Market.  They are so much fun.

Happy woking friends!


2 large green pointed peppers (or Anaheims)

1 spring onion (or green onion), white part only – finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp oyster sauce

1 tsp light soy sauce

2 Tbsp water


  1. IMG_2464

    The pressing of the peppers to the wok is very important.  Here is the chef showing us technique.

    Cut tops (stem-side) of the peppers off.  Remove seeds by tapping on the pepper and having the seeds fall out.

  2. Heat wok over medium heat and add 1 tsp oil.  Swirl oil around the wok.  Reduce the heat to low and add peppers, skin-side down.  Keep pressing the peppers in the work.  Pan fry until the pepper skins become golden in places and peppers all become tender.  This may take several minutes.
  3. Place peppers onto the sides of the wok.  Add another teaspoon of oil.  Add garlic and onion.  Cook until fragrant.  Push peppers back to the middle of the wok and mix well.
  4. Service hot.

Simple Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter – My Ode to Snow

I'm too sure what this sign says.

I’m not too sure what this sign says.

Being a native California girl I am amazed, still, that I live in the mountains where snow is imminent.  I love it.  I love seasonal changes and the thrill of actually living in a place where temperatures change more than a few degrees.

Here is my ode to snow.  Just some thankful observations/tips for the newbies…

  • I appreciate how snow accentuates slopes and hills.  If you didn’t know a hill was there, wait until a sheet of ice covers it.
  • Never had I ever changed gears on my automatic car.  Bring it to the snow and all of a sudden I am switching from the third gear, to second…back to drive (depending on how high the hill is I am coming down or sharp the turn is).  Picture 007 in a crazy car chase, that is me and snow.  But I own it.  And kick its ass.
  • Bed head covered with beanie - CHECK; cute new knitted hand warmers - CHECK.  See...adorableness.

    Bed head covered with a beanie – CHECK; cute new knitted hand warmers – CHECK; colorful scarf – CHECK; puffy jacket hiding my late night buttered popcorn craving – CHECK! See…adorableness.

    Bed head!?  Too lazy or late to get it together before school drop off?  Freakin’ beanies are in season!  Booya!

  • No need to feel embarrassed that your boots are making that shameful ‘breaking wind’ – ahem, I mean squeaking noise in the market, because EVERYONE’S is – no misunderstandings here.
  • Remember seeing all those people knitting in the airport, grocery store line, school pick up, etc?  Now is their time to shine and show off what they have been making all year.  I have never seen so many intricate beanies, hand warmers, leg warmers, scarves, and sweaters.
  • Adding a colorful scarf to a bland, everyday outfit – instant fashionista.
  • I no longer feel alarmed when I see a car moving forward and the wheels are not spinning.
  • Although I do feel alarmed when their wheels are not spinning yet they are going sideways.
  • Remember those California rolls at stop signs?  Well, we can just call them Colorado Snow Rolls because…if you have to stop you may not be able to go again…
  • We all become creative with where the driving lanes are under the matted ice/snow.  So we all just drive, and then once we see that a concrete middle divider is directly in front of us, we all just veer right.
  • Leggings all day everyday.
  • Boots.
  • Big puffy jackets to hide the extra dessert of the night prior.
  • Braking isn’t always your friend.
  • Snow gives me free weight training and cardio.  It took me over an hour to clear my deck!  My arms are killing me and my abs make me want to puke.  Thank you snow.
  • Dogs. in. sweaters.
  • Black ice is not a myth or legend anymore.  Welcome to the dark side…

With all of that insight, let me just reiterate how much I love snow.  There is nothing like the first snow fall.  It is magical.  I get chills (not from the freezing cold).  I get a glow (not because there is a fire going).  I am giddy.  This time of year is my favorite.  Hot coffee, tea or cocoa?  Good books by the fire.  Cozy blankets.  The best part is driving in it and listening to my beloved Hawaiian music.  There is something very naughty about it.  Almost cheating like.  I can’t help it though.  I see snow, BOOM! Israel Kamakawiwo’ole is instantly crooning.  I’m just cruising along, watching swear words leave a homeowners mouth as she shovels her front porch, or seeing the car to the side of me sliding into the ditch and here I am just singing…

Haina mai ka puana, kou le ‘ale ‘a paha,
He mea ma ‘a ia, for you and I

An ode I will never be making is to wind.

I loathe you wind.

Unless you are a magical, romantic Santa Ana

or a gloriously refreshing trade wind on an island –

go away.

You made the days temperature of 35

feel like-35 and

the 40 mph was just mean-spirited.

So to add a recipe to this fine post I decided on a season-friendly item that is spectacular for gifts.  Think teachers, mail service people, trash peeps and others…  Add a loaf of homemade bread or some artisan loaves from the local bakery.  I made this pumpkin butter for a baby shower party favor.  I did not have the time to seal them properly so that they could be kept in the pantry for eons, instead I just noted that these need to stay refrigerated and will keep for several weeks.  The baby shower was one of my best parties I’ve ever thrown.  I may just need to do a post solely on that.  Regardless if that post ever makes it or not – this pumpkin butter is so easy.  It uses the crock pot, it’s gluten-free and you don’t even need to roast a pumpkin (just open a few cans!).

Enjoy friends.  Stay cool.


  • How adorable are these party favors!?

    How adorable are these party favors!?

    4 cups pumpkin puree or 2 – 15oz cans

  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • a generous pinch of sea salt


  1. Add all of the ingredients to your slow cooker. Stir very well to combine.
  2. Cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until thick (this time may vary based on your slow cooker).  Stir it several times throughout the cooking process, especially if it sticks.
  3. Let cool and then fill up your jars!

High Altitude Adjustment

  • None


  • Lemon trimmings


  • Pumpkin puree cans/lids


  • Pumpkin butter till the end!

I overachieved with my baby shower decor and food just to overcompensate for the fact that my house is under a major remodel. In other words, disregard the sub-floors.

Chocolate Chunk-Pumpkin Seed Cookies ~ BOO! (there’s paprika in them)

IMG_2289Yes, paprika.  Smoked at that.  As soon as I saw that ingredient I knew I needed to try this recipe.  Thank goodness I did.

I had made this cookie to fill my cookie jar for when my dad visited and he could not get enough of them!  He loved them so much that my beautiful step mother left with the recipe in her suitcase.  So then I make them for my friend who is in her last trimester and they are officially her favorite cookie now.  It’s a different cookie.  Very tasty.  Very chocolate-y.  The fact that roasted pepitas are in them – just makes them that more festive for this time of year ~ where pumpkin reins king of all gourds.

Which brings us to present day, every Wednesday I go to my son’s school and volunteer in his class for an hour, then we walk hand-in-hand to the cafeteria where we enjoy lunch with all of his friends (I love my job).  Today was no different, only these cookies had just come out of the oven about 15 minutes prior to my arriving at his school.  Needless to say we left the cafeteria with chocolate on our faces.  A perfect lunch.

Thank you Bon Appetit Magazine, this one is a keeper.

Happy baking friends.


  •  cups raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  •  cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika
  •  cups (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  •  cups bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips
  • Flaky sea salt


Look at this amazing dough!

Look at this amazing dough!

  1. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Toast pumpkin seeds on a large rimmed baking sheet on upper rack, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk flour, cocoa powder, kosher salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and paprika in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing until well blended after each. Fold in chocolate and pumpkin seeds.
  3. Portion dough into 18 balls (about ¼ cup each) and divide between 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 3″ apart. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake cookies, rotating pans halfway through, until edges are slightly browned and firm but centers are still soft, 18–20 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool.

High Altitude Adjustment

  • Increase flour to 3 cups
  • Decrease baking soda to a full 1/4 teaspoon.


  • Egg shells


  • Butter wrappers
  • Bittersweet chocolate wrapping


  • Roast some extra pepitas and add to your morning granola.  Yum.
Here's my youngest.  I'm in his class on Mondays and not for lunch :( But no worries...he'll have a fantastic after school snack today.

Here’s my youngest. I’m in his class on Mondays and not for lunch 😦 But no worries…he’ll have a fantastic after school snack today.

I Wanted To Be a World Traveler, So Then I Was ~ Plus Some Delicious Honey-Orange Chicken

IMG_2730I have always, really, wanted to travel the world.  The furthest I had gone was Hawaii and of course Tijuana when I was 18.

This yearning, all of a sudden caught up with me.  The yearning was more of a gnawing in my gut and the only way to get rid of it was a ticket to China.  But first I needed a passport.

Yes I am 36 and just got my first passport.

Once that was accomplished I needed to apply for a tourist visa to China.  $100 later…I am purchasing tickets to Beijing.  Oh my god.  That was thrilling.  The whole experience was thrilling.  I had never taken an international flight before.  Nor experienced the cattle-like process of customs upon returning.  It was all worth it.  Every last moment.

Plus I’m really good at disassociating.

The Great Wall of China you ask?  As magical as you can possibly imagine.  Taking the toboggan back down?  Fucking unreal!

The whole experience made me realize that, as corny as it sounds, the world is, in fact, my oyster.  It is just waiting to be experienced by me.  As my best friend and I were going our separate ways at the Beijing Internal Airport, she turned and asked me,

Well, where to next?


I believe Switzerland

is in the running for our 40th.

Back home I am wondering how to get to England and Iceland in February.  It’s one of my oldest and dearest friends’ wedding.  He’s in Manchester.  We met when I was 16 and he and his brother were years younger.  We were both in Kauai, stuck (haha, is anyone stuck in Hawaii?? No.) on the North Shore and so we spent the summer hitchhiking to Bubba’s burgers, laying on the beach, eating at my Dad’s restaurant and basically laughing the whole damn time.  It was epic.  We spent the summer laughing.  I had found the little brothers I was missing in my life.  From that summer on they would visit me in California periodically and we stayed in touch and now….19 years later…. I just bought tickets for my husband and I to fly to London to see my friend get married.

Just so happens we are flying Iceland Air so we get a ‘free’ stopover in Iceland.  Naturally, I made sure to book 3 nights in Reykjavik.

I am a world jet setter.  That is me.  How you ask?  Well, I simply decided it so.

The following New Years will be spent in the Dominican Republic.

After that…well.  I’ll wait to feel it out.  Maybe the oyster will whisper a sweet something in my ear…

To celebrate, let’s dig our teeth into this most delectable, savory chicken recipe.  Good news it’s all done in the crock pot.  All you do is mix and dump.  I believe my husband ate 10 drumsticks that night and my kids ate several (anymore than 1 is a miracle).

Thank you to Eating Well Magazine.  This is their recipe from the May/June 2014 edition.  I did change the recipe slightly.  I will post the recipe as it is in the magazine.  But here are my changes: after cooking in the crock pot for the said amount of time I put the drumsticks on a baking sheet and kept them warm in the oven (at about a 250 degree oven temp).  I then poured the sauce into a saucepan and simmered until the sauce was reduced by half (or more).  Once the sauce had reduced, I took the chicken out of the oven, topped with sauce, sesame seeds and cilantro.  Yum!  Serve with white rice (or I made smashed potatoes) and grilled asparagus.

Enjoy friends.  Happy travels.

Me and the Great Wall of China

Me and the Great Wall of China


  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 12 medium chicken drumsticks (3-3 1/2 pounds), skin removed (see Tip)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds


  1. Combine honey, orange zest, orange juice, soy sauce (or tamari), garlic, ginger, vinegar and crushed red pepper in a small bowl.
  2. Coat a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Add drumsticks, pour in the sauce and mix to coat. Cover and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 165°F when inserted into the thickest part of the meat without touching bone, 2 to 3 hours on High or 4 hours on Low.
  3. Transfer the drumsticks to a bowl. Very carefully pour the liquid from the slow cooker into a medium skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until reduced and syrupy, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour the sauce over the drumsticks and stir to coat. Serve sprinkled with cilantro and sesame seeds.


  • To remove the skin from chicken drumsticks, grip the skin from the meaty end of the drumstick with a paper towel and pull down toward the exposed bone until it comes off completely.

High Altitude Adjustment

  • Nada


  • Used and abused orange
  • Garlic, ginger and cilantro trimmings


  • Any empty containers


  • None

Basil-Chip Ice Cream ~ So Much to Write About, So I Won’t

IMG_2658It’s kind of like those stacks of magazines.  Once you miss one, you know you’re going to get to it very soon!  Then the next month, another arrives so you put it on top of the other unread one.

A month later….

Then another…

All of a sudden you have 7 Real Simple magazines stacked and you’re like…oh never mind.  They look cute in that basket in the living room.  I’ll just let guests read them (which of course never happens either).

You see, so many insightful, life-learning events have transpired!  So much good food has been made ~ recipes invented!  So after each astute marvel and exceptional recipe ~ I say

I’m going to blog this for sure!

Then time passes and I swear I’m going to…

Blog this sensational recipe!  Hot damn!

Freakin’ nothing peeps.

Ugh.  So here I am with a fabulous, out-of-this-world crazy-ass ice cream recipe that blew everyone’s panties off and my friends are begging me for the recipe and I am overwhelmed with so much to say.

A wonderful insight about yours truly….when I feel overwhelmed, I freeze and do absolutely nothing.

Yes, a character trait to be admired, I know.

Look, this ice cream is out of this world.  A beautiful part is that it only makes 4.5 cups so you can’t go too nuts at midnight.  I made it for my nearest and dearest and all was right in the world.

Kuddos to Bon Appetit magazine (August 2015) ~ I didn’t change a daaaaamn thing!



  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  •  cups whole milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  •  cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate


  1. Set a large metal bowl inside another large bowl filled with ice water. Lightly beat egg yolks in a medium bowl. Bring cream, whole milk, and sugar to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Whisking constantly, gradually stream half of cream mixture into yolks. Return egg mixture to saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture coats spoon, 2–3 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into prepared bowl. Stir in condensed milk and salt. Let cool, stirring occasionally, 20–30 minutes, then stir in buttermilk.
  2. Using an immersion blender, mix base until smooth and silky. Add basil; mix until finely chopped. Cover and chill 2 days.
  3. Blend base with immersion blender; strain into an ice cream maker. Process according to manufacturer’s directions.
  4. Meanwhile, grate chocolate on the large holes of a box grater into a large bowl. Add ice cream and fold to evenly incorporate chocolate. Transfer to an airtight container. Cover and freeze at least 2 hours before scooping.

High Altitude Adjustment

  • Nada


  • Basil stems, egg shells


  • Cream, milk, buttermilk containers
  • Condensed milk can/lid


  • Sweetened condense milk is in a plethora of recipes.  Just google it 😉

Asian Noodle Soup ~ My Obsession is Real

IMG_1819First step is admitting it.  I admit it.  I’m an Asian soup nut.  Maybe it’s the fact that I may be going to China in September, or the fact that ever since I was able to read, I read about Asia and all of the different places, cultures, languages….food.  My best friend in elementary school was a Korean girl.  We would always swap my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for her seaweed and rice rolls.  I would buy rolls of nori (before salted/roasted nori came pre-packaged) and have her mom hand roast and salt the the nori.  When she’d return them to me – there would be dozens of sheets of the most delectable nori.  I was in third grade heaven.

I would be invited to go with her family down to LA to Korea Town.  We would shop at the most authentic markets and then lunch at the most tasty restaurants.  The BBQ’s were built right into the table!  It was magical.

I thrive on culture.

Learning about your culture.

His culture.

Her culture.

Their culture.

My current favorite television show is Luke Nguyen on The Cooking Channel.  Not only because he seems to be the most genuine, sweet guy but because he cooks on the back of a rickshaw, in the middle of a fish market, on the river bank….  And these dishes are so simple, made with the freshest ingredients and ultimately mind-blowing.  I really want his Vietnam cooking books but alas, they’re so expensive!  (hint hint).  He just toured Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and I am enamored.  It is absolutely thrilling to think that I could one day travel to those places.

And I will.

So back to this soup.  I am trying to perfect the base.  I have had many misses and I feel that I have finally found a hit.  I have tried to make it easy with both technique and ingredients.  So here’s what I did…


The secret ingredient…shhhhhhhh….

Soup Base Ingredients

2 tablespoons sesame oil

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 inches of ginger, chopped

1 Thai chili, chopped

1 teaspoon: fennel seed, coriander seed, and white peppercorns

1 tablespoon garlic chili paste (optional)

1/3 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

32 ounces chicken stock

Several splashes of Maggi Seasoning

Topping Suggestions (the world is your oyster)


Snow peas, sliced

Green onion, cut in thirds

Carrots, julienned

Radishes, cut into medallions

Cilantro sprigs

Shredded chicken or beef


Fried (over-easy) egg

Udon noodles



Add only if you need to add some extra spice to your life.

Add only if you need to add some extra spice to your life.


  1. Heat oil in wok or large saucepan.  Add garlic, ginger and chile.  Sauté until fragrant and soft, about 7 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the fennel, coriander and pepper in a small saucepan until fragrant.  About 1 minute.  Continue to move the seeds around so as not to burn.  Once toasted, crush in a pestle and mortar and crush until coarse, not fine.  Add to soup base.IMG_1796-2
  3. Add soy sauce, vinegar and Maggi Seasoning to soup base.
  4. Slowly add chicken stock and 4 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes.
  5. Prepare all of your toppings and assemble your soup.  This is what I had in the fridge that I needed to use or they would have turned:

    Fresh cilantro, green onion, snow peas and radishes. I also shredded a rotisserie chicken breast and fried an egg.

    I also added some shredded cooked chicken to the empty soup bowls and just ladled the broth over it.  I added some udon noodles to the broth about 10 minutes before serving.  I made the fried egg similar to how The Pioneer Woman makes it.  Comes out perfect.

Bon appetit.

Bon appetite. (here’s hoping you have better quality beer to go with it)

High Altitude Adjustment

  • None


  • Vegetable trimmings
  • Egg shell


  • Noodle packaging
  • Chicken stock packaging
  • Any empty bottles…


  • n/a

Impromptu? A Trifle to the Rescue…

IMG_1778Did you get a last-minute invite to a potluck?  Are there last-minute guests coming over?  Is it a holiday?  Weekday?  Need to feed a crowd?  Impress an in-law?  Girls night?

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered for the best dessert in a jiffy!

A trifle, my friends.

It will be your new best friend.

You can make it red, white and blue like I have shown here for the 4th celebration.

You can make it with chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, whipped cream and crumble heath bars on the top and call it Better-Than-__-Trifle.

You can make it Easter-friendly by dying a white cake pink and adding chopped chocolate Easter eggs or even those yummy marshmallow Peeps around the edges.

The best part other than the absolute deliciousness of this dessert?  It’s a make-ahead deal.  Make it the day before and it is better than if you made it the day of.

This miracle of a dessert is only limited by you, so think outside the cake-mix box!

All you need:

  • A box of cake mix, prepared in a 9×13 and cooled
  • A box of pudding, prepared and set
  • 2 tubs of frozen whipping cream, thawed


  • Candies
  • Fruit

The world is your oyster…


  1. Crumble half of cake on bottom of trifle dish, top with half the pudding, top with one tub of whipping cream..
  2. Here is where you add your candy or fruit…
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2.
  4. Keep refrigerated until served.

Happy assembling friends!

High Altitude Adjustment

  • Add a few tablespoons of flour to cake mix.


  • Egg shells from cake mix preparation
  • Any fruit trimmings


  • Cake mix box
  • Pudding mix box
  • Whipped cream tubs
  • Candy boxes
  • Plastic fruit containers


  • Any extra candies, eat them.

Searching for the Pockets of Reprieve

tumblr_m709o5h5Ga1rr54nlo1_500She turns in for the night.  Her usual one leg under the covers, the other out…she is caught between the coolness of reality and the warm dreams that await.  A place where her heart speaks.

The thoughts are seemingly like a long-tailed mermaid.  The tail full of words, sentences, paragraphs with no punctuation  She swims in a tight swirling motion reminiscent of a tornado about to break free.  She swirls and twirls with thoughts and feelings and emotions.  She is happy.  As she succumbs to sleep, she watches this mermaid break free.  The words..



as she speeds up, higher.

The words no longer make sense as they are all jumbled in one heap down below.  

Unknowingly, the darkness of sleep has enveloped her and she is calm.



She awakens to the all-consuming day.  Extraordinarily bright.  The busy-ness is overwhelming.  The hustle and bustle of everyone’s step is earth-shattering.

She tries her best to maneuver around energies.  Trying hard to say the right things.  Make the right faces.  Stand correctly.

Sometimes it is too bright to know for sure just how she is doing.

The thought both absorbs and drains her.

So she tries her best.

To find those quiet pockets of reprieve to recharge.

Those are often laborious in of itself.

So she learns to become pliant.

She often floats by in a sea of fog searching for an anchor.

Wishing for the mermaid to whirl by.

She comes in the form of friends.  

Some old.  Some new.  Some close, some far.

Regardless, she reaches out her vulnerable hand.  Hopeful and hesitant.

They take her hand.  

She takes a breathe as she allows herself to drift.

Nightfall is next.

She has persevered through another day.