This weekend we sampled some amazing Korean Ramen at KUKAI. Now this isn’t your 99-cent ramen from the store this is the real honest to goodness stuff. We had passed by this local eatery almost everyday and hadn’t found the time to do it. So we beat the heat that has settled in the Seattle area, which by the way Seattle people love the sun, I’m not sure why because a rare few of them actually have air conditioning. And every year they get so excited when the sun comes out. I dread it as I begin to melt in the humid, hot abyss that is our house, everyday I pray for the rain to return and the sun to GO AWAY!!! Anyway so we escaped the sweat box and went to dinner. First us with Octopus! Little fried octopus in little dumpling balls, which was very tasty. My Mr. indulged his spicy craving and got spicy pork while I played it safe with the chicken. I won’t brag but yes mine was better!! We sat in the pack restaurant again the only white people in the place, which we always take as a good sign of amazing food! We finished up and headed out, with the whole staff saying goodbye in Korean, which I though was so lovely! Delicious food and great environment, we will be going back!
Who doesn’t love cheesecake? Who also doesn’t love the strawberries that go all over cheesecake? I mean really you need a berry for each bite, right?! So I decided to give this delicious strawberry goodness a try to ensure that I literally get a strawberry in every bite.
I used my cool little strawberry corer, which works really well! Making a perfect little hole in the center of my strawberry. Then I made a cream cheese powdered sugar concoction and whipped it up in my kitchen aide until is was nice and smooth. Filled a pastry bag with the creamy concoction and squeezed it in making sure to fill it up fully. Topped it with a cute little swirl and added it to the pile! They were so yummy and I’m telling you this is a great way to change up your cheesecake cravings!
After our ward auction night we won a Cioppino meal from one of our ward members. He told us to dress nice and make it a night out for ourselves. So we arrived dressed in skirt, shirt and tie. We were greeted at the door by out host. Our coats were taken and we were lead to our table. The table was decorated with all things Seattle with fish and lobsters, a lighthouse as the centerpiece. Our host also acted as our waiter and filled our glasses with sparkling peach drink, which was amazing! First we were served our bread and lobster butter on our individual plates. An olive oil and vinegar bath imported from Italy was also provided. Salads came next which were a concoction of fresh veggies and vinaigrette dressing. Finally came the Cioppino! A red tomato based soup with scallops, clams, local dungeness crab, shrimp, salmon, and lobster. I had never had this before but the smell coming from the kitchen was fantastic. I put on my bib, which our waiter said we would need and boy we did! I dug in with my spoon and fork, eventually I gave in and grabbed the crab leg with my hands. The flavor was so good and the seafood was fresh and prefect! The conversation dwindled down to “Yums” and “OH MY GOSHES!” I was stuffed to the brim half way through but just couldn’t stop! We finished our bowls, feeling like we might have to be rolled out the door. Then came the crème brûlée. 3 different flavors; the original, chocolate, and a lavender. Again we were amazed the flavors were so good. The meal was so delish, perfect in pretty much every way! We can’t thank Doc and Elaine enough for making all that for us!
We got together with some college friends to reminisce and eat a traditional college meal. Now this meal is made with the cheapest ingredients, which is why as college students this was well a perfect meal. Though I’m not sure that I would call it a well-balanced meal. But it’s college so you know how that goes. Anyway they are called Tongan Pancakes. The name comes from our friend, Aaron who introduced it to us. He while on his LDS mission had Tongan roommates who would make these, so that is what he called them. Anyway, you take ramen, lunchmeat, an egg, and bread. Now since Aaron was My Mr.s friend and this traditional meal was introduced to Spencer during B.C. (Before Cheryl) I will turn this post over to him to give you a detailed recipe and exact cooking directions so if you ever want to try this yummy, odd meal out for your self you can.
The Tongan Pancake
1 package of ramen noodles (the square, brick kind. Pick the package that is the most solid. You want one solid piece of ramen, not a bunch of crumbs).
3-4 thin slices of deli ham
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 slices of bread
1 egg, beaten, in a shallow dish
Sauce of choice – I prefer barbecue sauce, but ranch works very well also.
Bring a small pot of water (that old pot you typically cook your ramen in) to a rolling boil and add the seasoning packed from your ramen noodles. Feel free to snack on the dry ramen crumbs in the bottom of the package; you only want the main, solid ramen piece for the sandwich.
Put a large frying pan on the stove on medium heat, grease the bottom with 1 Tbsp butter or a spritz of non-stick cooking spray.
Make your assembly line: Dry ramen -> Boiling water -> Egg plate -> Skillet/Fry pan -> toaster -> plate
Read through these directions before starting. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!
Place the ramen in the boiling, seasoned water. Just drop it in, and leave it. Do not submerge, do not stir. Count to eight. Yes. Eight seconds. No more. No less. (Unless you’re an experienced Tongan pancake maker, then you may develop a different preference here). Flip the ramen, and count to eight again.
Pull the ramen out _carefully_ with two forks and let it drain above the water, then drop in into the egg in the shallow dish. Your almost soft, thirsty ramen will soak up about 1/3 of the egg. Now flip it over and repeat on the back side.
Pull the ramen out of the egg and place it in your hot fry pan to cook. Now the surgery begins. Using a pancake spatula (or similar), find the seam in the ramen. (If you didn’t know, that brick of ramen is actually a long, thin brick folded in half lengthwise.) Slide the spatula into the seam and pull the ramen open lengthwise so you have a long, thinner strip of ramen. Pour the remaining egg dredge onto the now exposed ramen insides.
Flip the ramen to cook the other side. Once the other side is finished, add your grated cheese on top of the ramen, and cover that with your now hot cold cuts.
Use the spatula to cut the ramen in half so you can place on half on top of the other. You should now have a nice sandwich shape, ramen with egg, cheese, meat, ramen with egg. Keep that in the frying pan until your toast is done. You remembered to put it in when I told you, right?
Place the ramen sandwich inside the two pieces of bread, and either add sauce liberally to the top of the ramen before topping it with the bread, or leave the sauce on the side as a dip, which is what Cheryl does.
Consume. And wonder how you ever did without this recipe before.
We didn’t forget May the 4th. Nope westill celebrated Star Wars Day with style and made some delicious themed sugar cookies. I got this sugar cookie recipe from a friend (thanks Rose) and it has become our new favorite, it’s good even without frosting. If you want to try it let me know and I’ll share it! Some of the ingredients for these were sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese. Whatever the case the mixture is really yummy and we can’t get enough. With the dough made we rolled it out and began stamping with our Star Wars cookie cutters, which I think I need to get more of in different shapes (add it to the wish list). Our cookie cutters of Yoda, Vader, Boba Fett and a Storm Trooper we were set with our characters, though if they have Han, Leia and Luke stamper somewhere out there I would be thrilled to get those. Anyway we baked, cooled and sat down to watch Return of the Jedi. Perfectly celebrated May the 4th I think. Gonna have to throw a party next year! May the 4th Be With You!
While visiting the tulips we stopped by a little dive diner called Mr. T’s. I walked in and instantly thought I was on a movie set for one of those down home cooking places with mismatched furniture and 1960’s look. To top it off our waitress was sassy commenting when a regular customer who arrived after us “Oh Romeos here!” Seriously she was so lovable! The ambiance was palpable. We ordered from our sassy waitress 2 traditional meals with eggs hash browns, bacon and toast. Along with My Mr’s kielbasa sausage he was served a biscuit the size of a softball, no kidding! We sipped on orange juice and listened as Saturday regulars walked in and the volume increased. Though it was a grimly little place and the food was probably your entire caloric intake for the day it was a fun experience! Another memory made with My Mr.
Last week the gals all got together to celebrate my birthday and the birthday of Carolyn, which also happens to be on the same day! It was fun to get to share the party with her, as she and I are both low key. We went to our favorite birthday dining spot, The Cheesecake Factory! We got there in the evening to find the restaurant PACKED, this had never happened before on our weekday evening trips. The wait was an hour a lone for our size of group and with the late hour that wasn’t sounding so good. We opted to buy individual slices from the counter and take them to the balcony mall seating to sit and enjoy! A friend went to the mall starbucks and got enough waters for the group and we sat down to eat out delish desserts and just talk. We caught up on what the happenings were and who was up to what. We shared experiences and news. It was great! Girls night is always something that we look forward to. The gals with kids take the night and leave the kids with the spouses and just get to go out and talk. I learned early in my marriage that I loved being with My Mr. he is my everything. But there is nothing that can replace the perspective and confidence of a girlfriend. I feel blessed to have moved to this new place and found a wonderful group of girls who I can rely on. And who know how to throw a party, even if there is an hour wait!
Have you seen these little babies? Oh my goodness they are awesome! Individual serving/ snack pack size guacamole! Wholly Guacamole has had larger containers for a while, but the issue with the big containers is you really have to have a party where you have enough people to eat a whole container since avocado goes bad so quickly. These little babies fix all that! You can open one or two and add to your dinner while not wasting a whole tub. My Mr and I found these at Costco, but now they are gone so we are having to get them in smaller quantities at QFC or Albertsons. We will be buying them in bulk and freezing them again if they ever show up in Costco! For all you guac lovers out there these are just the thing for you!
I didn’t hop on the cupcake bandwagon. Paying a couple dollars for a cupcake we all have to admit is a little nuts! I mean we made them as kids for parties and bake sales. They weren’t something that entire bakeries were dedicated to. Well the times are a changin as we know and cupcake stores abound. So while out on a recent errand run I decided to pop in to one of these cupcake stores and pick up a treat to take to My Mr. This fun store is New York Cupcakes with it’s retro decor and colorful interior. The selection of cupcakes were insane, with flavors like; An Affair to Remember, 5th Ave, Un Birthday Cake, Salted Caramel, Chunky monkey, Cookie Dough delight, Going to Graceland, Grand Central S’mores, Neapolitan, and the list goes on.( you can see the full list here) I was overwhelmed by the selection stood with darting eyes as I tried to pick out a few. I finally got some help from the employee for the bestsellers and made my selection. They sell other assorted candies, cake plates, and other baking goodies. Along with the original sized cupcakes they sell cupcake mini’s for those who just want a taste. To my other surprise I found, what the young women in my ward call frosting shots, plastic containers of just the frosting sold separately for those who just can’t get enough of that soft, whipped, goodness. I took a pass on these as I could feel my family history of diabetes staring me in the eye as I looked at them. I made my purchase and hit the road. Now one of the cupcakes I purchase that day is called “Neapolitan” you all know the famous ice cream flavor of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry together (cupcake photo shown). Well this is that but in a cupcake form. I was intrigued by the half chocolate half vanilla cupcake with the strawberry frosting topped with a maraschino cherry, ok it just look cute and I’m a sucker for cute. I didn’t think I would love this cupcake as much as I did and now I crave it weekly as a result of this one purchase! It is so yummy, I have made a request to My Mr for a couple of these for my birthday. Oh and their cupcakes don’t require refrigeration overnight, they will stay moist for a couple of days all on their own. Oh dear I think I just got sucked in by the cupcake craze.
My Mr. is quite adventurous in the kitchen, much more than me. So a year or two ago he figured out how to make His own yogurt without buying a yogurt machine. It is quite a process, from cooking, letting it sit at the perfect thermometer monitored (say that 3 times fast) heat environment (for several hours), to the straining of the excess whey through a fine filter of cheesecloth. It is a process! In the end you leave it straining for as thick as you want it, the more time the thicker the yogurt. My Mr. likes a thick Greek style yogurt so 4 hrs for our taste. Now naked, plain yogurt isn’t my favorite, though the tanginess is not bad and good for other recipes. We add a little of our homemade Raspberry jam for delicious flavor and its tasty perfection. This can be done if your milk is getting close to its expiration date and you won’t drink it in time or just for a cheap way to make a lot of yogurt or heck if you just want to try a cooking experiment. It maybe a process but we love making our own homemade yogurt!
With chicken being on sale for a fantastic deal at our local grocery store we bought a bunch froze it, stored it and prepped for one of my favorite recipes. Chicken Dinner Rolls! You make them by filleting the chicken breasts, pounding them out to get them nice and thin and flat. Then you take some cheese of your choice, Swiss for in our case we had on hand shredded Colby jack. Typically having it in slices would be better for this but our shredded worked fine. So with you layers of cheese you then can add a layer of ham for a little cordon blue’ish style, or go straight with the veggies, chopped broccoli. If adding the ham add another layer of your cheese and then the veggies. Then roll up the chicken and use tooth picks to hold it together. Make the breading of your choice; we used breadcrumbs, crumbled Ritz crackers and the key ingredient ranch dressing mix. Mix those dry ingredients together and place on a plate of bowl. Bathe the chicken breasts in a whipped egg and a little milk to get it moist and coated. Then place in your breading mix, you can spoon this at first or just roll your chicken rolls whatever you prefer. Just be sure to get them coated. Preheat oven to 350 and bake them for 30-35 min. We made a nice little assemble line for this process. These little rolls are a meal unto themselves; we added some potatoes and salad to round out the meal. They were decent enough sized that we split one between the 2 of us and save one for the next day, which was just as tasty! So there’s a fun recipe for you to try for a dinner of your own! It won’t disappoint!
We hit up Bellevues local pizza joint, Mod. Which we learn stood for something, go figure. Made On Demand. They have 2 sizes of pizzas, personal 6 inch and 12inch. I was delighted with that since the personal pizza size is perfect, and cheap! You can select from some of their delish pizza combos, or make you own which is what a typically do. They make it right there in front of you then they side it right into their brick pizza oven. Then without question they show you exactly where to pay, indicated by the “pay up” painted on the floor. My Mr and I took in the atmosphere of the restaurant, which I would say reminds me of an old mechanic shop with the slide up doors! Next thing we knew our pizzas were ready! They even had an extra pizza and offer it to us, sweeeet! So with our personal pizzas ready, a milkshake to share and our extra pizza we ate til we were stuffed!