Thursday, September 29, 2011

Baby Turtles and Humboldt Squid

We're happy to announce 3 new additions to our family! Baby box turtles! We found them in the backyard.

That's "Sherman Tank 2" and "Sherman Tank 3." We found this pair the same day.

"Sherman Tank 1" dug himself into the dirt and hasn't come up yet. We found him the day before. We hope he's okay down there.

Sherman 2 is bigger than Sherman 3.

He is very brave and sociable. Went right into the little log shade we bought for them.

Sherman 3 is a little shy. When he gets scared, he just goes into his little shell and pretends that no one can see him... Like in the first picture.

These little guys and their ancestors have been living in the Wheatley backyard for over 40 years. Over the years, some had babies and some died. It's a miracle that two male and female adults still live today to have babies. We decided to take care of them, get them through the winter so that they grow big and strong enough to live on their own in the yard. In the past, unknowing gardeners have run over many a baby turtles with the lawn mower. Sad.

We also went squid hunting last Saturday night, at least tried to. Rick's buddy at work told him that he saw squid coming up on shore the night before. When we got to the Newport Beach pier, there were already a lot of people there, waiting. Rick said, "I bet I'm in the only white person here." Yep. There were Asians everywhere. My kind mostly. I really don't know what it is with Vietnamese people and fishing. 

We stood in the tide with our flashlights and buckets, straining our eyes for any sign of movement.


Still have not seen anything.

Then we saw one guy down the beach pull a big red Humboldt squid out of the water. It was so cool! But... he was about the only person that saw anything that night.

At the end of the day, all we came home with was a boot full of water and sand. Still, it was fun to get out and do something totally random and last minute.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Nachos Cazadores

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Don't worry. There's no pig's feet in this recipe. We just put it there to freak you out, and because Rick likes them ("Aahh...heaven. Schmack! Schmack! Schmack!"). Here's another one of Rick's Mexican creations: hunters' nachos. He and his sister used to make nachos during their single days at home a lot. He still thinks about it till this day. Well, this is the hunter's version, and it's kicked up a notch and a half. This is the perfect appetizer for lots of hungry, meat-eating, cheese-loving people. :-)

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
- 12 corn tortillas
- 6-8 ounces venison roast
- 2 large yellow chili peppers, seeded and quartered
- 1/4 cup brown onion, chopped
- 1/8 cup cilantro, chopped
- 16 ounce can of re-fried beans, or for our homemade recipe click here.
- vegetable oil
- 4 ounces shredded monterey jack cheese
- 4 ounces shredded mild cheddar cheese
- kosher salt

1. Remove all silver skin and fat from venison. Cut into small pieces. Set aside.

This is what yellow chili peppers look like. Funny that there isn't really a name for them.

Don't worry, they're not really spicy. 

2. Seed and quarter yellow chili peppers, like so. Chop onions, and set aside.

3. Stack 12 tortillas together, and cut into 6ths like a pizza pie.

4. Heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in a large wok or pan over medium-high heat. Test if the oil is hot enough by carefully dipping the tip of a tortilla in it. If it sizzles and bubbles, it's ready.

Fry tortillas chips in single layer batches. Take them out when they just start to turn golden. Drain on paper towels.

5. Sprinkle kosher salt over each batch of tortillas chips. 

Kosher salt is great. You don't have to worry about over salting because the bigger grains allow for better control when sprinkling. Kosher salt also provides a more delicate flavor rather than the bitterness of table salt. When you bite into a chip, you'll experience tiny, little bursts of salty goodness.
 Aren't they purdy?

6. In the same oil, carefully place the yellow chili peppers and onions. Remove onions first, when they barely start to turn brown at the edges.

Chili peppers will take a little while longer. Take them out when they start to turn brown. 

Drain on paper towels.

7. In the same oil, VERY CAREFULLY fry venison for 30-45 seconds. It will splatter a lot, so duck.

Don't overcook the venison. The oil is hot so it won't take long to get there.

Drain on paper towels and pat dry.
8. Heat up re-fried beans in a small sauce pan to make it easier to work with. Chop cooked yellow chili peppers. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. 

It's assembly time!

9. Spray a large oven-safe platter or dish with non-stick spray. Lay down one layer of tortilla chips.

10. Spread beans over the top and then sprinkle some venison, onion, chili peppers and LOTS of cheese. Add another layer of chips and repeat.

We alternated between monterey and cheddar at each layer.

El Nacho Mountain.

Bake in a 300 degree oven until the cheese melts, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle fresh cilantro on top and serve immediately.

(Enjoying it with pickled pig's feet is completely optional.)

Your hunter friends will love you if you make this for them. :-)

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Side: Lard et Haricot Verts

Gotta love Babel Fish. If you don't know what it is, Google it. It's the bee's knees.

- French green beans
- Bacon, chopped into small pieces   

Instructions: Boil green beans in salted water until tender. Drain. Cook the chopped bacon (as much as you want!) in a separate pan. Remove excess bacon fat, but leave enough to toss the green beans with. Add salt to taste. You can add butter too, but I don't think you need it...

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Side: Perfect Corn On the Cob

Why do most people like to cook the day lights out of their corn? You lose the natural crispiness and the sweetness of the corn that way. Here is a way to make PERFECT corn every time. It's super easy. Rick LOOOVES it.

- corn cobs
- butter
- Lawry's Season Salt 

Instructions: Put your corn cobs in a pot big enough to fit them. Fill the pot with water. The water doesn't have to cover the corn completely. Turn on high heat and bring to a boil. Once water boils, turn off the heat. Cover the pot with a lid and let it sit for 5 minutes. Drain, slather with a good helping of butter and sprinkle with Lawry's Season Salt. So easy and delicious...

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Side: Alice's Picnic Potato Salad

Rick's mom makes the best potato salad. I don't like potato salad, but I will eat this.
- 3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 3 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
- 3 green onions, chopped (white and light green parts)
- 1- 2.25 oz can sliced olives
- 1.5 cups mayonnaise, NOT salad dressing
- Lawry's season salt, to taste
- 1 tsp. yellow French's mustard

Instructions: Boil peeled and cubed potatoes until tender (when you can easily pierce with a fork). Combine all ingredients and chill.

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Side: Brussels Sprouts

Apparently they're not very popular, but we like them. They look like cute little cabbages. So if you should like them too, here's an easy way to cook them!

- Brussels sprouts, fresh or frozen
- Chicken stock 
- Chopped/sliced onion
- Cracked black pepper

Instructions: If you're using fresh brussels sprouts, cut off the stems at the bottom. Peel off any discolored or damaged leaves. Score an X into the bottom with a paring knife for more even and faster cooking. Lay the sprouts in one layer in a pan big enough to fit them. Pour chicken stock into the pan, covering the sprouts half way. Toss in chopped/sliced onion and cracked black pepper to taste. Cook covered for 8-10 minutes or until tender crispy. Drain and enjoy.

For frozen brussels sprouts, follow the same steps, but note the packaging for cooking time.  

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Side: Zucchini

Zucchini. I always thought that word was odd. 

- zucchinis
- olive oil
- Italian seasoning


Instructions: Cut zucchinis in half, length-wise, and brush all sides with olive oil. Sprinkle Italian seasoning on the inside. Grill face down first (presentation side first) over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, then flip over and grill the green side for another five minutes, or until tender to your liking.  

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Side: Rick's Nutty Yams

Servings: 2
- 2 large yams (sweet potatoes)
- 3 tbs. butter, softened
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- Chopped pecans, for sprinkling
- 1 tsp. butter, melted


Instructions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. With a fork, poke your yams a few times to release steam. Place yams on a baking dish and bake for 1 hour. Toss the pecans in 1 tsp. of softened or melted butter and heat them up in the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown, along with the yams. (We baked the nuts on a piece of aluminum foil). 

Once baked, cut the top of yams length-wise down the middle. Scoop out the insides with a spoon and transfer to a bowl. Add 3 tbs. of softened butter,  the brown sugar and fluff the yam mixture with a fork. For presentation purposes, you can place the yam mixture back in their skins and top with walnuts.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Side: Mexican Rice

- 1 cup uncooked white rice
-  1 tbs. oil
- 2 green onions, white parts chopped
- 2 cups water
- 1 - 8 oz. can tomato sauce
- salt, to taste
- chopped cilantro

Instructions: Heat oil in a medium sized pan over medium heat. Cook chopped onion until it's just about to turn golden. Add rice, and toast for about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and water. Turn the heat to low, and simmer covered until the liquid is evaporated, about 20 minutes. Take it off the heat, and fluff cilantro into the rice. Add salt, to taste.

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Side: Mexican Re-fried Beans

- 1 lb. pinto beans
- 3/4 cup + 1 tbs. lard/manteca
- 3 stalks green onions, sliced lengthwise
- 1 white or yellow chili pepper, quartered and seeded
- salt, to taste
- shredded cheese, optional

1. Cover pinto beans with water in a heavy pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 2-3 hours, or until softened. Once beans are cooked, add 1 tbs. of lard to a separate heavy frying pan. 
2. Fry green onions and yellow chili peppers. When onions brown, remove from pan, leaving chili to fry longer. I like to crush the chili with my spoon to release more of its flavors into the oil. After a couple minutes, remove the chili pieces. 
3. Add the beans into the frying pan, a couple of cups at a time. NO LIQUID. Mash beans to desired consistency. During this time, add remaining lard and stir to mix thoroughly. Mince the cooked chili pieces and add to the beans. Add salt, to taste. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top (optional).

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Side: Mashed Cauliflower Taters

Ok. Ok. There are no potatoes in this recipe. Sacrilege? Why, no! Low in carbohydrates and high in nutrients, cauliflower makes an excellent substitute for potatoes. It's also delicious!

- water
- cauliflower
- butter/margarine
- Lawry's Season Salt
- grated Parmesan cheese   
- parsley, chopped

Instructions: Trim leaves off cauliflower and cut cauliflower into equal sized pieces. Place in a large pot and add enough water to cover. Add a few sprinkles of salt to water and boil until cauliflower is tender. Drain completely. With a potato masher, or blender, blend until smooth. Return to pot. Mix in margarine/butter, season salt, chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese, to taste.

TIP: If mashed cauliflower is too watery, turn on low heat until enough moisture evaporates. Make sure to stir frequently to keep the cauliflower and cheese from burning. 

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Side: Simple Asparagus

"As quick as cooking asparagus" is an old Roman saying meaning something accomplished rapidly. Roman emperors loved the vegetable so much they they kept an Asparagus Fleet just to go fetch it
- Asparagus
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt
- Cracked pepper

TIP: When buying asparagus, try to find a bunch with the skinniest and greenest spears. This means that the asparagus is young and tender. Bigger spears are hard and woody.Use as soon as you can. Asparagus does not keep well. 

Instructions: Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Cut off the woody bottom party of the asparagus. Lightly toss in olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Place on a baking sheet, baking dish-- whatever you have, and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until tender-crispy. Don't overcook. It'll get mushy and lose its nice flavor. 

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011


To make things easier for everyone, we are going to get rid of the "Sides" page. From now on, sides will be posted on the main "Recipes" page as individual posts. Existing sides will be moved to main page in the next few days. We hope this will make our recipes more viewer friendly.

To replace "Sides," an "Index" page will be added to the top. From there, you can view all our recipes (main dishes + sides)  on one single page.

Thanks to the lady who let us take a picture of her dog at the rodeo. We thought he was the cutest thing!

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Grilled Wahoo (Ono) in Tomato

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Before I had wahoo, I never knew fish could be so meaty. Also known as "Ono" in Hawaii, wahoo is a hearty, white fish that can stand up to intense grilling. This tomato topping turned out fantastic, borrowed from Food Network's grill master Bobby Flay. We thought of doing a kind of mayo to spread over the wahoo, but decided to try something different. The tomato topper smelled heavenly in the kitchen as it simmered away with capers, olives, fresh parsley, oregano and garlic. 

A special thanks to our friend Ray from the stables who gave us these nice wahoo filets. Ray is an avid fisherman who goes out for weeks at a time. We love to hear his stories and marvel at his pictures whenever he comes back from his trips. 

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 15 min 
- 2 wahoo steaks, enough to feed you
- 2 tbs. canola oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 anchovies packed in oil, patted dry and chopped
- 12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tbs. capers, drained
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 tsp. dried oregano, or 2 tsp. fresh
- 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1. Prepare grill to high heat. 

2. Filet the skin off the wahoo steaks. Trim off dark colored meat (because it's fishy tasting). Pat dry with paper towels.

Coat wahoo steaks with canola oil.

3. Liberally salt and pepper the steaks on both sides and pat into the meat. 

4. Lay steaks onto grill and grill until slightly charred and almost cooked through, about 3-4 minutes each side. (Fish will continue to cook in tomato sauce).

* Since we were only cooking for two people, we decided to cook the fish over the stove top. If you're going to do this, cook at medium heat.

5. While the fish is grilling, heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Cook tomatoes, anchovies and garlic until tomatoes soften, about 4 minutes. 
6. Add capers, olives, parsley, lemon juice, zest and oregano and cook for 30 seconds. 

7. Transfer fish to the sauce and cook for 1 minute. 

Spoon tomato topping over fish and serve immediately. It goes great with pasta.

Enjoy with some ice cold beer, or any odd sodas you happen to find...

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Dinner In L.A.

Yesterday, Rick and I drove up to LA to help me move into my new apartment (for school). Afterwards, we hit the streets of Westwood to enjoy some city night life.

City of Angels? Been living here three years, and I'm pretty sure I have seen no angels. It kind of cracks me up when people say they that "love" LA. I'd ask them why, and they'd say "Because there are TONS of things to do!" Yeah? What do you do? "We go out to eat. Clubbing. Eat. Dancing. Eat... Eat..." Wow. That's like 6 things! I guess that's considered a lot of things, if you're interested into that sort of thing. As for me, I wouldn't know because I only sleep and read here. I spend most of my life avoiding crowds.

Despite all the smog, the traffic, the noise and all the weird people, LA does have tons of interesting places to eat. I have to give the city that. I think that's all people do here, really. 

Picture courtesy of

Although Rick and I will never consider living in such a big city, we both still enjoy it when we are there. It's different from what we usually do. I took him to one of my favorite places to eat in Westwood: sushi at Yamato Restaurant.

(I know sushi isn't as popular in other parts of the country/world, but if you get the chance, I encourage you to try it. Dishes with salmon and tuna are easy to eat, especially for those who are on the fence. Just stick to the kind of fish you know you already like, and then go from there. And for the love of God, please DON'T overdo the wasabi. I hate wasabi. Rick loves it. You can have sushi with or without it. But I always make a point to try new things, at least once. If you don't like it, then you don't. But at least you know you tried.) 

** Photos below are not ours. We didn't bring a camera, and kind of feel awkward taking photographs of our food in restaurants. So we will steal from others who don't mind. :-)

The crunchy roll is always safe. There's nothing raw in it. The sweet, salty and crunchy textures provide great contrast. The sticky rice wrapped around fresh tempura shrimp is both warm and cool to the palate. Crunchy rolls never disappoint. Sushi is all about texture and balance. It wasn't till later that I began to appreciate sushi for what it is.

Our taste buds were doing flips and somersaults all night!

But perhaps my favorite dish of all at Yamato is the orange dragon roll, which is filled with crab and topped with fresh salmon and eel sauce. The salmon just melts in your mouth. Mmmm....

Rick told me about when he went out fishing once. The chef on the boat made sushi right after the catch, then and there on the boat. It was the freshest sushi he ever had, he said. And that's how sushi should be. Fresh.

I dream of going fishing in Alaska one day...

Then the rainbow roll, which was almost too pretty to eat. It was topped with fresh salmon, shrimp, tuna, albacore, yellowtail, white fish and avocado. 

We also ordered Panko fried oysters, which we thought were good, but a little on the greasy side. 

Green Tea Creme Brulee

  And perhaps the star of the night was the green tea creme brulee. It was different, but delicious. We could definitely taste the green tea, but it wasn't overpowering at all. The caramelized sugar on top was yummy, of course. It tasted amazing with the strawberries. 

Since Yamato is located in a college town, they decided to make it student friendly. Sushi here is half the price of higher end sushi restaurants. In my opinion, those other, more expensive places don't taste THAT much better. If you're ever in Westwood, we suggest you come try the sushi and green tea creme brulee.

Afterwards, we checked out the Halloween superstore across the street. Seems like they've been popping up everywhere, on every street corner. 

Then we went to a new soda/candy shop called Rocket Fizz that just opened on Westwood Blvd., where I found this: 

And this... Japanese Kit-Kat balls...
We bought a 4-pack of sodas we've never even heard of, some Mexican candy, 2 apple-caramel lollipops and a package of Claey's Horehound drops. 

I was a happy camper.

Visited Trader Joe's on our way back to the truck and became disgusted at how expensive lamb has gotten. Like, why? If we had some land, we will surely be raising some sheep.

Traffic was smooth sailing on the 405. We were glad to get out of Westwood before the crowds came in. The streets were closed by the Fox Theater for the premier of Contagion. Hadn't heard of the movie till last night.

Still have some wahoo steaks in the freezer. Still thinking of what to do with them tomorrow... stay tuned!

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Peter Rabbit Pot Pie

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I thought the rabbit was REALLY cute. So sue me. (As Rick rolls his eyes.) 

If I had it my way, I'd make every Marie Callender's in the United States serve Rabbit Pot Pie. And instead of using potatoes, we decided to substitute with cauliflower. It's something different and works quite well. Not to mention, rabbit pot pie is A LOT healthier than chicken pot pie. There was barely any fat on our little cottontail. (I once made the mistake of looking at the calorie count brochure at Marie's.)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: about 2 hrs and 20 minutes 
Servings: 3 individual ramekins
- 1 rabbit
- 1 tbs. oil
- water
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 4-5 tbs. flour
- half an onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 1/2 cups of cauliflower, cut into small pieces
- frozen peas
- pre-made puff pastry/pie crust/biscuit
- 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
- 1 chicken bouillon cube (optional)
- 1 egg yoke

1. Trim as much meat as you can off the rabbit. Cut the meat into small pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Discard any dark/bruised parts from shot. It's not good eats.

Keep bones for broth.

2. In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat oil and quickly brown rabbit (plus bones) on both sides (1-2 minutes).

3. Add water, just enough to cover the rabbit. I'd say we put in about 3 cups of water. Add 1 bay leaf. Cover and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender. 

Skim off any foam that float to the surface. You want the broth to be clear. 

4. Discard the bones. Use a fork to scrape off any meat left on the bones.
 5. Add in carrots, onion, cauliflower, thyme and rosemary. Add extra water if you need to, enough to cover all the rabbit and all the veggies.

Cover and simmer for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.

When veggies soften, discard bay leaf. We added 1 chicken bouillon cube for extra flavor. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
6. Make a slurry to thicken the filling: in a bowl, combine 4 tbs. flour and 1 cup (or so) of  hot broth or water. Whisk well. 

Slowly pour it into the dutch oven and whisk well, to prevent lumps. Let it simmer for a couple minutes, then check if you like the consistency. If not, add more slurry.

7. Mix in frozen peas. Rick hates peas.

Turn off heat.

8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray ramekins with cooking spray and scoop in filling. 

9. Shape puff pastry/pie crust/biscuit to fit the top of ramekins. Cut a slit through the top for venting. 

Brush egg wash over top: whisk together 1 egg yoke and 1 tsp. of water. This will give your crust a nice golden, shiny color. 
Rick playing with extra dough... he made a carrot shape. 

10. Bake in 375 degree oven until the crust turns golden brown, about 20 minutes. 

If your oven doesn't heat evenly (as ours does not), rotate the ramekins halfway through.


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