Bacon Roses

For Valentine’s Day, I made bacon roses for that special someone.

I bought 12 strips of thick-cut bacon from the butcher on the corner. (I love the fact that there’s a butcher shop in my neighborhood.)

Then I just rubbed brown sugar on each side of the bacon strip, rolled them up, stuck two toothpicks crosswise at the bottom (fatty side down), and sat them over the holes in a muffin tin.

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Then, just pop these babies in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. The bacon grease will drip down in the holes, so the bacon doesn’t cook in them and will get all crispy on the outside.

I bought fake flowers, pulled off the flower buds and kept the stems. Then you just wait for the bacon to cool and stick them on the stems.

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Surprise your guy with this bouquet, and the look on his face is like Christmas morning. Plus, you get to enjoy the delicious bacon too because who can eat all 12 anyway?

Recipe: Chicken and Mini Penne with a Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce

As requested, here’s the recipe for the pasta last night. When I make new things, I like to look at a few different recipes and take my favorite parts from each one and combine it to make my own. I also tend to add a dash of this and that, you know, whatever just feels right at the moment.

Ingredients
Penne pasta (mini or regular size)
Couple of chicken breasts
2-3 cloves of garlic
2-3 shallots (or an onion)
a cup of heavy cream (heavy whipping cream is the same)
a cup of vodka
a can of tomato puree (14 ounces)
butter
salt
pepper
red pepper flakes
parmesan cheese
fresh basil leaves

For the garlic bread -
Slice up a french baguette, and drizzle with extra virgin with olive oil. Mince up some garlic, mix it up with some melted butter and brush it on the slices. Pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. When you take it out of the oven, sprinkle some parsley on top.

Now to the good stuff -
Mince up the garlic and shallots.

Cut the chicken breasts in slices (against the grain, which means your knife is perpendicular to the lines on the chicken). Salt, pepper, and drizzle the chicken slices with olive oil. Grill on the side until fully cooked. Set aside.

Boil some water for pasta. Cook according to the instructions on box, but do a minute shy of al dente.

In a sauce pan, put an appropriate amount of butter. I’ll leave that up to you. Sautee the garlic and shallots/onion for a few minutes until they’re nicely brown and smells up your kitchen wonderfully. Pour in the vodka, and let it simmer on medium for a few minutes. Then add the tomato puree and mix it up. Let it simmer for a few more minutes. Turn the heat down to low, and add the heavy cream, season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you want it.)

Add in the chicken strips, and let this simmer for about 10 minutes or so until the sauce is reduced and is more of a creamy thicker consistency. Toss in the pasta for a minute or so. Top with parmesan cheese and the basil leaves. And it’s beautiful.

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Rainy Weekend

The bay area has been in a drought this season, but we finally got some much-needed rain recently. Alas, it does make for a rainy weekend.

A weekend in means feeling ok with laying around in bed all day, having taco night with wine and Cards Against Humanity, finally getting around to scrubbing the kitchen floor, and making creamy wholesome comfort food like this chicken and mini penne with a vodka tomato cream sauce. A sweet french baguette from the small bakery on the corner drizzled in olive oil, butter, minced garlic, and a dash of parsley completes it all.

vodka tomato cream chicken penne

Roka Akor

SF has Restaurant Week twice in a year – January 15-31 and June 1-15. Another point to SF.

I got to experience Roka Akor, which is usually $$$$ but with the Dine About Town menu, it made for a great deal and meal. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

butterfish tataki

Butterfish Tataki with White Asparagus and Yuzu

Soft and buttery with a crunchy surprise in the middle.

prime beef

Prime Beef Filet with Chili Ginger Sauce

Juicy, tender, and perfectly seasoned, I could eat this all day. Every day.

berry pavlova

Yuzu and Fresh Berry Pavlova

Can’t go wrong with fresh berries, especially if you find something similar to a giant macaroon underneath all of that. I love macaroons.

I would totally go back on a regular night and try everything else on their menu. And that’s exactly why you participate in Restaurant Week.

Roka Akor
801 Montgomery St.

Muir Woods

One of the best things about San Francisco is that it’s surrounded by national parks and beaches in every direction. So if you’re longing for some greenery and fresh air, all you gotta do is just jump in a car and drive north or south for about 45 minutes.

One Saturday, we rented a car and headed north to Muir Woods. It was a bit rainy that day, but it just added to the ruggedness of being outdoors, trekking through the mud, battling against the elements and bears.

Ok, no bears, and it was more like a drizzle. But it was still magical.

Muir Woods

Redwood trees that go on for ages.

Gaku Yakitori

So this happened.

Then we ate it.

Raw Octopus

We saw the episode of Bizarre Foods where Andrew Zimmern does the Bay Area. One of the places was an izakaya place in San Jose where he tries raw octopus (TAKOWASA). My Asian self seriously loves to eat all things cephalopod-y, so we just had to drive the hour south to try it ourselves. I’m all for eating raw octopus as long as it can’t fight back.

Izakaya is the Japanese version of bar food and beer. When you get off work and go to happy hour for a beer, you want fried salty finger foods to go with – fries, tots, wings, chicken tenders, you get the idea. Except izakayas usually serve more exotic meats on a stick, and there are more seafood options. Japan is an island after all.

We had chicken hearts, livers, and gizzards, oh my.  No worries though, this stuff was cooked – skewered and basted in sauces and grilled to perfection. The liver was probably my favorite, all savory and melts-in-your-mouth. We did have tamer stuff like pork belly, wings, and fried squid. I was so looking forward to beef tongue though, which I haven’t had since my trip to Japan, but they were out. Oh well, the search continues.

My iPhone didn’t take particularly appetizing pictures in the darkened restaurant, so I’ll leave it up to your imagination. Or you could just go and branch out a little past your usual wings. (See what I did there?)

Gaku
5152 Moorpark Ave, Ste 40
San Jose, CA

Life in 2014

To see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to, to draw closer, to see and be amazed.

The Life Magazine motto in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is inspirational. And it happened as part of my first-time experience at a drive-in movie theatre. Chairs that can fully recline and you can control the volume on the radio! (No, seriously, why is this not a thing anymore?)

2013 was more like the awkward and shy phase of getting to know the city. Does it like me? Does it like me not?

In this new year, I plan to explore more of San Francisco and California. Take an online course and learn to code. Focus on my career. Try more new restaurants. Blog more. Train for a marathon. (but really) Run a 10k. Volunteer more. Snap Reunion 2014. Vandy Girls Reunion 2014.  Travel to a different country. Have more first-time experiences. Make good life choices. Dream big.

So far? 2014 is off to a great start.