Turkey Roll

plateHere’s an idea I saw in a magazine and decided to give it a try for Thanksgiving. It was not hard to do and the best part is that I did 2 rolls and it took only an hour in the oven. I bought a whole turkey breast which still had the bone in the middle. There are 2 halves. Cut along the bone on both sides to get 2 breasts. I removed the skin and then filleted the starting on one half of the breast going one way and other half going the other way so the fillet is around 3/4″ thick.

Make sure the grain is going across left to right so when the roll is cut, you will be cutting across the grain.

I made the stuffing by sautéing a chopped chicken/pesto sausage and onions with celery, dried cranberries with olive oil. Then I added the seasoned bread crumbs with sage, pepper and a little salt. Add broth and drizzle olive oil to moisten the breadcrumbs. I kept in on the dryer side since I figured it would absorb some of the juices from the turkey while cooking.

Here is a photo of the fillet with layer of stuffing on top just before rolling:



1 diced chicken/pesto sausage
1 diced small onion
1 stalk diced celery
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup olive oil – use 1/8 cup to sauté then the rest to drizzle over bread crumbs
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 t dried sage
pepper/salt to taste
broth to moisten bread crumbs

Leave a space along the edges so the stuffing does not fall out. Stuff back in if it does. Roll the turkey up using firm pressure but not too tight.



baconThen wrap bacon around overlapping the edges. Tie with oven string to keep it together. Bake 30min at 375 degrees then reduce to 350 for another 30 minutes or until an inserted thermometer reads 165 degrees.

When done, remove from oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes. This way it stays firm while slicing.



Mottainai Ramen

Mottainai Ramen is a fairly new restaurant in the Pacific Square Shopping Center in Gardena off Redondo Beach Blvd. In the same complex as Pacific Market.

I had the Monttainai Ramen which is the Yokohama style – a heavy and rich pork broth with big slices of roasted pork, spinach, green onions and nori. Alana had the Shoyu ramen that had roasted pork, bamboo shoots, green onions and nori. For a shoyu broth, it was still very rich and tasty. The noodles were a thicker style and perfect al-dente. We just had the small bowls but for 1.50 more you can have a large size. You can also add other toppings on request. They also have appetizers, rice bowls, curry, beer and sake. They also have a Sapporo style (miso) and one called Gardena style (spicy miso) and these flavor “bombs” you can order to add in the ramen. We will be returning to try other items for sure. The ambiance is also very nice and the staff very friendly with great service.

The Pacific Square is also a great destination since they have Book Off (used manga and Japanese books/videos), the supermarket to stock up on Japanese food, bakery and boba shop. Don’t forget Beard Papa (the best cream puffs anywhere!) inside the supermarket.

The Counter

The Counter’s slogan is Custom-Built Burgers. They give you a menu on a clipboard when you sit down. You choose from beef, chicken, turkey or even veggie burger in 1/3, 2/3, or 1 lb. sizes. Then from a selection of cheeses like blue, feta, gruyere, goat, cheddar, etc. The toppings selections are hard to choose from since they have so many and you can come up with all sorts of variations which makes this fun! Alana got lettuce, red onion, grilled onion, (yes, she likes onions) and pineapple. I got tomato, mixed greens, grilled onions, and roasted green chiles. Among other selections are olives, cranberries, salsa, eggs, guacamole, chili, bacon, etc.  Also you get a choice of bun like regular, multigrain, onion (yes, she got the onion bun), or bun-less in a bowl for those watching carbs. Then you also choose a sauce from steak sauce, barbecue, and caesar to gourmet ones like chipotle aioli, pesto, tzatziki, etc. Each section of choices also has something called Market Selection which features something that is “local” from the area of the restaurant. Did not find out what those were featured. If you have a hard time deciding, they also have their signature burger selections and sandwiches which look very tempting. We also split a “50/50” sweet potato and regular fries order which were a lot between us.

If you like wine and beer, they serve that too. Burgers start at $8.95 and the fries were $4.25. The one we went to was on Pier Ave. in Hermosa Beach but it is a chain and you can find them all over So. Cal and a few locations popping up elsewhere. Go to thecounterburger.com to find locations.


Pho PCH probably has the best tasting pho we’ve had. We actually went back a second time after visiting a few other pho places inbetween and confirmed our first impressions! Alana had the pho tai and I had the combination. First thing I always do is taste the broth without adding anything. It was full-flavored but not heavy. I do not like dark, heavy broth but appreciate the hints of the many spices and rich base. I really notice the rich, complex flavors in this light broth. Then I add in the basil, sprouts and peppers – nothing else needed. Noodles were perfect. Quality of the meats are also first rate. Will also have to go back to try the spring rolls, Vietnamese sandwiches, etc. Only other comment is that this place only has around 8 tables with a waiting list board posted outside. So I recommend coming mid-afternoon to avoid the crowd.

Pho PCH is in Redondo Beach next to Albertson’s – 623 N Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

Pear, Macadamia, Cranberry Stuffing

Here is a vegetarian stuffing that is also low fat using olive oil and vegetable broth instead of butter or margarine. Here are the ingredients:

1 medium onion chopped

2 stalks celery chopped

1 bosc pear cut into 3/8″ cubes

1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup olive oil

vegetable broth

6 oz. bag seasoned corn bread stuffing

1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. garlic powder

1/2 t. dried sage

black pepper to taste

Saute onions in some of the olive oil until transluscent. Add in celery then continue to saute until softened. Add in nuts, pear, cranberries and seasonings and continue to saute for a couple more minutes. Turn off heat. Stir in cornbread stuffing and drizzle the oil over and mix thoroughly. Add in broth as needed to moisten stuffing – more or less depending on how moist you want it. Mix in parsley. Transfer to oven-proof casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Fluff before serving and enjoy!



Stacked is a new restaurant concept that is fantastic! Each table has an iPad mounted for you to view the menu and order. This is so convenient and fun – you order exactly what you want in an entertaining way! After the hostess seats you slide in a credit card to get started. Next  just jump on the iPad and order drinks. Everything is listed by category so very easy to find – it is really fun to scroll through the selections on the iPad. There is a good list of softdrinks/juices/teas as well as a nice selection of beer and wine. After you make your selections, just click the button to send the order to the kitchen. Then you can go to the food categories as your drinks arrive.

Their specialties are the burgers, hence the name Stacked. You use the iPad to select  burgers and sandwiches like a Pepper Stack, Kung Fusion, or Gobbler… but we’re here to Stack Your Own Burger. Here you drag items from the right to build your burger on the left. So you can select a type of bun from brioche, pretzel, whole wheat,  gluten free, or lettuce wrap. Then select a patty from, angus beef, turkey burger, grilled chicken breast, salmon burger, veggie burger, or pulled pork. Then selections of cheeses, lettuces and this is where it gets interesting is the list of toppings from tomato, bacon, grilled onions, peppers, fried egg, etc. Then there are sauces to choose from like garlic aioli, chipotle mayo, teriyaki, etc., as well as from a list of condiments like grey poupon, a-1 sauce, sriracha sauce, etc. The selections list also give you great ideas for combinations like the Upstream that features a brioche bun, salmon burger, pickled ginger, slaw, cilantro, and dijon horseradish dill sauce… sounds good to me!

Alana built a turkey burger with caramelized onions, pickles and lettuce and I build a pulled pork with tomatoes, grilled onions, jalapenos, with soy ginger sauce. There is a base price for the food and as you add items you can see the price build depending on what you put on. Alana’s came out to around $6.97 and mine came out to $7.95. They also have a section called Sides that has french fries, sweet potato fries, onion strings, homemade potato chips, cheese fries, chile cheese fries, coleslaw, and chicken bytes. You can also choose sauces for these.

There are sections for Pizza, Salads, and Sausages that all feature selections and Stack your own options. Then there are Soups and a Kid’s menu. The list is so long that I won’t even start to describe what’s offered in these categories.

The only “problem” is that while you are eating you will find yourself scrolling through the menu… then the Desserts section grabs your attention for Cookie Sandwiches and Shakes of which there are many tempting selections as well as Stack your own options. They also have an Ice Cream only option or Cookies only option. Two scoops of ice cream is only $1.00!

When you are done, just click the button checkout and it itemizes everything and you can add a percentage for automatic tip calculation. You can elect put it on the card you used at the beginning or pay cash.

Because of all the possible selections and combinations, I don’t see getting tired of the menu any time soon… BTW, the service was very fast and the food was very good! Big screen tvs keep the atmosphere lively.

Stacked is in the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance next to the theaters on the ground level under Lucky Strike. There is also a location in San Diego and one in Cerritos. www.stacked.com




Here we are in mom and dad’s kitchen where I learned how to cook. They are working together making tempura – a Japanese way to fry vegetables, shrimp, or fish. You can use all kinds of vegetables like string beans, zucchini, sweet potato, ocra, etc. This time they are frying sliced eggplant.




It is easier just to get a tempura batter mix. Follow the instructions for preparation. Dip the eggplant slices in this batter on both sides.








The next ingredient is panko or Japanese style bread crumbs. It give a crunch to the tempura.







Just put into a plate and take the dipped eggplant and coat with the panko on both sides.







Use a light high-temp oil like grapeseed oil. Make sure it is hot enough by putting a drop of batter in first to make sure it frys well. If not hot enough it will get greasy. If it starts to smoke then it is too hot. Brown on both sides. Here you can see a production where the newly dipped pieces get dropped in on one side and the browned ones come out on the other. When done, put onto paper napkins to soak up excess oil.






You can also get a prepared tempura dipping sauce. Eat while hot and enjoy!


Every region in Italy is known its culinary specialties. Genoa is known for pesto. While living in Italy, I would go there and order it every time. Our friend Marco, is from that area and makes pesto from scratch.





While visiting my mom and dad in Hawaii, I saw some big patches of beautiful basil growing in dad’s garden so decided to make some pesto.




Here are the ingredients:

  • 3 cups basil leaves (packed down)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Put basil, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil into a blender or food processor and blend or pulse until smooth but still a bit chunky. Add parmesan cheese and blend lightly to mix in. Add more olive oil if needed to blend smoothly.

Cook some pasta (farfalle used in this picture above) al dente. Drain and put into a bowl. Spoon some pesto over and mix, well coating the pasta. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Unused pesto can be put into a jar with a little olive oil on top to cover. If not used within 10 days or so, you can freeze it for future use.

Some pestos use walnuts instead of pine nuts. The quality and type of parmesan (parmagiano reggiano) will make a good pesto as well as using pecorino cheese. The best pesto genovese I ever had came in a jar from Italy and it was the type of cheese used that made it really good and memorable.

Li Hing Pineapple

This is probably the easiest recipe to do. You just have to find a fresh pineapple and li hing powder. Li Hing Mui came over with the Chinese immigrants to Hawaii and has been a popular snack item for generations.

The powder can be found in some asian supermarkets, especially if they have a Chinese or Hawaiian section. If you go to Hawaii you can even find the powder in Walmart. You can also mail order it by looking online. Li Hing Mui is a sweet and salty, licorice flavored dried plum. The powder is made of the plum, sugar, salt and licorice. Something about the salt that makes the tartness of the pineapple go away. As a kid, we used to take a half lemon, stick a li hing mui seed into it and suck the whole thing!

Cut the top and bottom off the pineapple. Then slice the rind away top to bottom thick enough to cut the little node things away too.

Cut in half lengthways then again into a quarter. If the core is tough, then slice the core part away. Then slice into about 3/8″ thick slices and put into a bowl. After done, sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the powder over the pineapple while mixing. Add more or less to your taste and amount of pineapple.

Let sit for a while (30 mins or more) to let the flavors sink in. Also refrigerate if left to sit longer. You can also use the powder on mangoes and other fruit. Google it and people use it on everything… We just got back from a shaved ice stand in Hawaii and they have the li hing powder to sprinkle on top of the flavored ice!

Phyllo Caramel Fruit Cups

At first when I wanted to make these, I searched all the markets for pre-made phyllo (fillo) dough cups. Luckily, I couldn’t find any so it forced me to make them myself using phyllo dough sheets you can find everywhere! I’m glad that happened because I found out how easy it is to make them and save a lot of money also! Saving money is always good! Also, once you make these cups, you can make other desserts, and appetizers which I’ll do in a future recipe…


Here are the ingredients to make 24 cups:

• 12 sheets phyllo dough (follow defrosting instructions)

• 2 T melted butter or margarine

Take one sheet and lay on a cookie sheet and lightly brush the butter on one half. Then fold in half and press flat. I find that folding one sheet in half is easier to work with and the sheets won’t tear. Then brush that side and lay another sheet on top so that when you fold it in half it layers up together. Continue with the third sheet. You could use cooking spray (which is faster and easier) but I did not like the taste of it (canola).

So when you are done, you’ll have 6 layers total.

Transfer to a cutting board and cut into 6 equal pieces (half lengthwise and then into thirds)

Take each piece and press into a mini-cupcake pan, letting the corners sort of flair upward. I have a 24 piece pan which works nicely.

Bake the phyllo for around 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven – until golden brown.

Lift out of the pan and transfer to a cookie sheet to cool.

While it is cooling you can now make the filling with these ingredients:

• 4 oz. cream cheese

• 2 T caramel syrup

• 2 T sour cream

• 1 T milk

Put the ingredients into a bowl and blend at medium speed until smooth and creamy. I then spoon the mixture into a plastic baggie and snip a corner to pipe the cream into the cups. This makes it go really fast and is a lot easier and neater.

Squeeze a little caramel over the cream for a little more sweetness. Then you can add whatever fruit you want. I sliced some strawberries and added blueberries with a leaf of chocolate mint.

These are really fun to make and using your creativity, you can come up with all sorts of combinations. I’ve seen yogurt, whipped cream and even ice cream used as the filling with all kinds of fruits – kiwi, mango, pineapple, and all kinds of berries… Try it and let us know what you come up with!