Best of March - April

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I just salted some eggplant for a pasta sauce, and since I have time to spare, I thought it might be a good idea to recap Spring. May has quickly slipped on by, and I've done little blogging. But, the last few months have been fun and busy, full of good food, short hikes and gardening.
Whittier Hills.
Simplicity, calamari steaks and roasted squash.
Veggie and shrimp stir fry.
Reading in the backyard, and getting some color.
Salad time is here. Two salads a night!
With the addition of Roku to our household, we've been indulging in coffee table dinners. Here we have steak and potatoes.
Planting season is here.
Tuna salad tacos with my mom's beet salad.
Black bean and chard quesadillas.
This is how I eat quesadillas, with lots of attitude. 
Birthday wine flights.
And finally, we received our much awaited Christmas present from our friends -- Florida hot sauce.


Asian Slaw

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Today the husband asked if I was "ever gonna blog again". So, here it goes -- 1, 2, 3 blogging!

Have you ever had shake 'n bake? I did a few months ago. For the very first time. Our friend invited us for dinner and we asked him to make us his signature dish. We ended up with shake 'n bake pork chops, a wild rice mix and some zucchini sauteed in olive oil. This was my first experience with shake 'n bake, and even though I still don't understand it, I'm glad I've finally had some and don't have to ever eat it again.

So, how do you repay a shake 'n bake dinner? You can't. But I made an effort with an Asian themed meal. I cooked up a Thai green chicken and vegetable curry, prepared Japanese pot stickers, and put together this delicious Vietnamese slaw.

Even though it wasn't shake 'n bake, the dinner was a success and the slaw was my favorite. It was a nice blend of flavors and textures -- crisp, sweet and a bit spicy. Can't wait to make this again and enjoy it with grilled meats.
Asian Slaw
4 servings

1/2 teaspoon hot chili sauce (sriracha)
1 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 to taste black pepper
8 ounces shredded cabbage
1 shredded carrots
3 tablespoons fresh mint, coarsely chopped

1) Combine the first nine ingredients in small bowl and set aside for at least 30 minutes.
2) Combine your cabbage and carrots, and pour the dressing on top. Mix well, adjust salt and pepper and garnish with mint.


Hawaii Part Two: Kauai

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The sky in Kauai is different. I'm not sure if it's because the island is farthest north, or because it's pretty much always raining somewhere on it, but the colors of the sky, even after the sun has set are bright and picturesque.

Out of the two islands we've visited so far, this one is our favorite. It's a small, lush island with dramatic views all around you. Green peaks, pretty bays and various shades of clear waters. The place spoils you. I'm not sure how I could swim at another Southern California beach again.
Tide pools at sunset. 
Friendly goat. 
 Na Pali Coast hike. One of us is a happy hiker. 
Crazy rock beach at the end of the first part of the hike. 
The white sangria at Bar Acuda, that's pitcher one.
 Rum tasting. We couldn't help ourselves in the gift shop and bought rum cake for the plane ride home.
Two types of poke by the sea.
Vacation happiness. So where to next? I'm pretty sure I've accrued like .25 vacation days!

Hawaii Escape: Maui

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I learned a new professional trick recently, take a vacation two weeks after starting a new job. You might think, you don't need a vacation so soon, but my first two weeks were hard. I met hundreds of people whose names I couldn't remember as they walked away, attended too many database trainings, lunched almost daily at the fancy clubhouse on campus and ate tacos at a party. Grueling. 

So in two weeks, I was ready for some R&R, in Hawaii. Our first trip to Maui and Kauai, five years ago, was less relaxing. We were eager to see, do, absorb. This time, we ate, drank and relaxed, with no expectations, and despite my efforts to have an itinerary, we only had two restaurant reservations and no other agenda.

It is nearly impossible to have a bad time on the Islands. You have to try really hard put yourself in a bad mood, because the weather, water and people are all working together to ensure your days are filled with sunshine and cocktails. 
 Airport to Aloha Mixed Plate, where we started the trip off right with passion fruit margaritas.
 Pork belly steamed buns at Star Noodle.
 A hearty breakfast before spending the day in the mountains and driving roads not allowed by Hertz.

 Short hike (my favorite kind!) and nature lunch.
Tasting pineapple wines at Maui Winery. Five tastes later, the husband thinks he's a super model.
 The forbidden road!
 Shaved ice with a view.
 Blowhole danger. The husband's not afraid.
 Banyan trees fascinate and scare me.
 Beach and beer day.
 Best sushi on the island at Koiso.
Pre-Kauai meal at Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop -- spicy tuna salad sandwich, carnitas hand pie and chocolate macadamia cream pie.