Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  In addition to spending quality time with my family and loved ones, I also look forward to the delicious array of food that will be presented at the dinner table - or in my case, tables.

Growing up, the aroma of turkey roasting in the oven would wake me in the wee hours of the morning.  My mom always makes a Thanksgiving feast for lunch.  From her perfectly roasted turkey to her sweet and savory pineapple baked ham, scrumptious pancit (Filipino Noodles), Filipino veggie dishes, mashed potatoes and an assortment of desserts. 

Then, several hours later…off to my aunt’s for another gluttonous meal, which includes, as you guessed, more turkey, honey baked ham, cranberries, string beans, and stuffing. Of course, since we are Filipino, dinner would not be complete without a huge display of Filipino food – lechon, lumpia, pinkabet, arroz caldo, just to name a few.  As well as other ethnic food from Guatmelan, to Mexican, Hawaiian and any other dishes our family feels like bringing. 

Ahhh yes, our Thanksgiving is a melting pot of cuisine from all around the world.  It is the absolute best.  And I haven’t even touched on the desserts.

Speaking of desserts, people often say that a Thanksgiving feast is not complete without pumpkin pie.  But, hello!?!  What about Sweet Potato Pie?  It's just as easy to make, and also oh so very good for you. Just search the internet for the benefits of sweet potato (aka yams) and you'll know what I'm talking about.  So, let’s give Sweet Potatoes some love this Thanksgiving. 

Sweet Potato Pie with Whip Cream

Sweet Potato Pie with Whip Cream

The recipe I have is so simple. I am all about quick and easy, especially during the holidays when there is a long list of things to do. So this is one of my go to desserts. 

When I first made this, I realized I did not have enough ingredients needed to make the classic crust (which usually requires butter, ice cold water and a lot of kneading, folding and rolling) and I was too lazy to go to the market and grab a ready made crust.  So, good ol’ internet, I found a recipe that did not use butter OR a rolling pin - just a fork and your hands.  Surprisingly, it came out really good. It was so light and flaky.  This has now become my go to recipe for simple pie crusts. 

Here's the recipe...

Pie Filling:

¾ cup white sugar

2 cups of sweet potato yams (usually around two big pieces)

½ cup softened butter

½ cup almond milk

2 eggs

1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Wash the sweet potatoes and boil them in a pot of water for about an hour.  You can poke them around with a fork to see if they are cooked or not.  Also, the skin on the yams will start to peel off. 

While boiling the sweet potatoes, you can prepare the Pie Crust. 

Sweet Potato aka Sweet Yams

Sweet Potato aka Sweet Yams

Pie Crust:

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons white sugar

½ cup of vegetable oil

2 tablespoons almond milk

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together in either your pie pan or in a bowl.  Mix around with a fork. I used a fork first and then "massaged" with my hands and then spread the pie crust on to the pie pan.

Back to the Pie Filling:

Once the sweet potatoes are boiled and peeled, place them in a bowl with the butter and mix with a mixer.  Add the rest of the Pie Filling ingredients. Continue to mix with mixer until smooth. 

Sweet Potato Pie Filling

Sweet Potato Pie Filling

Pour the pie filling into the unbaked pie crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 1hour.  You can insert a knife, toothpick or fork into the pie to see if it comes out clean.

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Enjoy!

Would love to hear your thoughts after making this dessert.  Please don’t forget to leave your comments and pics. 

GARLIC SHRIMP SCAMPI

This past week, I’ve been on a seafood kick. Maybe it’s because we just got back from an extremely short trip to Seattle where all we ate was seafood. And I felt like the three days…(well, one full day and 2 half days, which really totals to 2 days) just wasn’t enough. I wanted more…more Pike Place, more ferry rides, and yes…more seafood.

So, what’s a girl to do?  Make it herself. 

Here’s my quick and easy way to whipping up a Garlic Shrimp Scampi atop some pasta, with a side of French Toast….carbs anyone?

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GARLIC SHRIMP SCAMPI RECIPE

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

4-5 garlic cloves, chopped or minced (I love garlic so I used about 6 cloves)

1 cup of dry white wine. (I used sauvignon blanc)

Salt to taste

Red pepper flakes to taste

Ground black pepper to taste

1 ½ pounds of large shrimp (I used headless and deveined which was more convenient and less time consuming. All I had to do was peel).

½ cup of fresh chopped parsley

Half of a freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pasta of your choice (I used spaghetti)

DIRECTIONS:

In a hot pan, place butter and olive oil. 

Once butter is melted, add the chopped garlic and sautee for about a minute or two. 

Next, add your white wine, salt, pepper flakes, black pepper and let simmer for about 3-5 minutes; depending on how thin/thick you like your sauce. 

Then add the shrimp and cook for about 3-4 minutes.  Add your lemon juice and parsley and mix around in the pot.

Once the shrimp are pink they are done.  Do not overcook.  I cooked mine at exactly 3 minutes, turned off the stove and kept it in the pot for no longer than two minutes.   

Immediately serve on top of your pasta and a side of French bread. Enjoy!

Sidenote: If you’re still not happy with the consistency of your sauce, take the shrimp out of the pan and let the sauce simmer a little more.  Also, do this if you think the sauce is too tart.  This has happened to me before.

Lastly, let me know if you make this dish and please send pics.  

The American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Los Angeles Event & Kickoff

This past weekend, I emceed the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Los Angeles Event and Kickoff which was held at the Gene Autry Museum.  I've attended their kickoff event for the past several years and to be an emcee this year, was a a huge honor. It was a little more casual, this time around, since it was held outdoors at the museum, and the theme was cowboy/western...fitting for the venue - and of course, to wear pink.

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As always, it was a morning filled with honoring inspiring women who have battled, been diagnosed, or are fighting breast cancer To hear their amazing stories was bittersweet.  Listening to their stories of survival was beautiful, touching, and heartwarming.  But the fact that they had to fight this nasty disease made me so angry, at the same time.  I hope that we will find a cure to fight breast cancer.  This is exactly what part of the kickoff event was all about - to support the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk which is happening on October 21st.  To be a team leader, start your own team or group, and to help raise money.  

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There is so much that the American Cancer Society is doing in terms of research, support and patient programs.  But they can't do it without us.  For more information, on the American Cancer Society, you can head to:

https://www.cancer.org/about-us/local/california.html

Fore more information on the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk happening on October 21st, the website is:

http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/MakingStridesAgainstBreastCancer/MSABCCY17CA?pg=entry&fr_id=84622

Linkin Park - RIP Chester Bennington

I can't believe how long it's been since my last blog.  As I sit here and see what my previous entry was, I am heartbroken.  For those of you who know me, I am a Linkin Park fan and have been for several years. I've seen them many times in concert and have watched them perform more than any other band out there.  I was drawn to their music.  They just had a special and beautiful way of expressing how I was feeling.  Growing up, they would sing about things that I would oftentimes be too afraid to verbalize and explain things in a way no one else could. It's difficult for me to expound and for once in my life, I am at a loss for words.  

A couple of weeks ago, my sister (who first introduced me to the band's music) and I made our way to a couple of memorials for Chester Bennington. I was just going through those pictures, so I've decided to share them with you as well.

at the back alley of the Seventh Letter Art Gallery - 346 N. Fairfax Ave in Los Angeles

at the back alley of the Seventh Letter Art Gallery - 346 N. Fairfax Ave in Los Angeles

Artist Owen Dippie adding the finishing touches - www.owendippie.com

Artist Owen Dippie adding the finishing touches - www.owendippie.com

by Artists Jonas Never, Kryst, and Mr Kub at the Rock'n Pies Pizza in Sherman Oaks - 12920 Riverside Drive

by Artists Jonas Never, Kryst, and Mr Kub at the Rock'n Pies Pizza in Sherman Oaks - 12920 Riverside Drive

at Warner Bros Records in Burbank

at Warner Bros Records in Burbank

RIP Chester.  Prayers go out to you and your loved ones.

Linkin Park & Plan Check

My sister is a HUGE Linkin Park fan and first introduced me to their music. So when she told me about the Linkin Park Meal Pack that Plan Check Restaurant was having, I thought….hmmmm…. food and LP?  It was a no brainer.

Plan Check describe their restaurants as “serving modern American comfort food in a small plate format.”  However, if there’s one thing I know about this place, they are far from serving small plates.  Their portions are pretty big and can be shared.  Just take their fried chicken and waffles, for example.

Fried Chicken and Waffles

Fried Chicken and Waffles

Plan Check founder, Terry Heller and LP go way back.  Heller started his career in the music industry, producing and directing music videos for The Black Eyed Peas, Sean Combs and Linkin Park, among many other artists.

Heller’s latest promotion The Linkin Park Meal Pack is inspired by the band’s latest album, “One More Light” which was released on May 19, and includes a 3-course meal with dishes that include heavy Japanese and Korean influences; thanks to LP members Joe Hahn and Mike Shinoda.  

First up on the plan is the Ahi Tuna Tostada appetizer.

Ahi Tuna topped with thinly sliced radish, avocado, cucumber and a Jalapeno Ponzu Sauce

Ahi Tuna topped with thinly sliced radish, avocado, cucumber and a Jalapeno Ponzu Sauce

The main dish titled, “The Heavy”, is a Korean BBQ grilled cheese sandwich, named after the Grammy winning band’s first single on their “One More Light” album and is inspired by Joe Hahn’s Korean ancestry.  The dish features Gochujang braised pork belly, house made pickles, Americanized dashi cheese with parmesan crusted sourdough bread.  The pork was a lot sweeter than I expected and I somehow started craving rice to go with it.  (yes, the Asian in me).  Because the pork was not shredded but rather chopped in tiny squares, it easily fell out of the sandwich and I definitely made a mess in the process.  Needless to say, it was finger licking good.

"The Heavy"

"The Heavy"

Served with the sandwich were fries, topped with pulverized Kimchi seasoning.  I could barely taste the seasoning and it was not spicy at all. I was secretly hoping for a little more kick. 

And last, but definitely not least was DESSERT.  They take their Crullers to a whole new level with their OML (One More Light) Cruller which was smothered with coconut glaze, yuzu air, caramelized pineapple chunks and decorated with an LP chocolate disk. It sounds like sweetness overload, but TRUST ME…. It is far from it.  The combination of the crunchy cruller, airy and light yuzu, and coconut glaze complemented each other nicely and was the perfect amount of sweet. Excuse me sir....may i have another?

the OML (One More Light) Cruller

the OML (One More Light) Cruller

Almost forgot, in addition to the dishes above, the meal also came with a Black Cherry Soda

Black Cherry Soda....half full because I could not wait to drink it, I completely forgot to take a picture beforehand.   

Black Cherry Soda....half full because I could not wait to drink it, I completely forgot to take a picture beforehand.   

As if the 3-course meal wasn’t enough, the plan included a Limited edition Linkin Park T shirt

The Linkin Park Meal Plan costs $39 and is only available for the month of May at all Plan Check locations – Sawtelle, Fairfax, Santa Monica and Los Angeles, which means if you want to take advantage of this deal, it’s time to rush out to a restaurant ASAP. 

For more info on Plan Check, you can head to their website at 

www.plancheck.com

Burnt Crumbs

Burnt.... isn’t exactly the word you’d want to describe your food or restaurant. But that didn’t stop childhood friends and business partners Paul Cao and Minh Pham.  The two co-own restaurants, Burnt Crumbs, Burntzilla, and a food truck called, Burnt Truck, among many of their other food vendors. 

Burnt Truck

Burnt Truck

In 2010, Paul and Minh started their luck in the food truck industry with Burnt Truck and Dogzilla. A few years later, they opened their first brick and mortar restaurant, Burntzilla. This past year, with all the success from their various businesses, they opened Burnt Crumbs in Huntington Beach, at Pacific City in Lot 579 as well as in Irvine at the Los Olivos Center. 

Dogzilla Truck

Dogzilla Truck

Burnt Crumbs @ Pacific City, Lot 579 in Huntington Beach, CA

Burnt Crumbs @ Pacific City, Lot 579 in Huntington Beach, CA

Burnt Crumbs is their latest venture where they specialize in gourmet and handcrafted sandwiches that are all, pretty much made from scratch. This includes their vast selection of breads, from rye, sourdough, ciabatta, biscuits, to their meats, hand cut fries and potato chips, and all down to their special mayos and sauces. Also, let’s not forget their special garlic aioli sauce which I’ve begged both Cao and Pham to sell in a jar…yes, it’s THAT GOOD.  If I could, I would spread and dip that aioli on EVERYTHING!  

Crispy Pork Sandwich

Crispy Pork Sandwich

Let’s start with the Crispy Pork Sandwich served on their house ciabatta bread.  The pork shoulder is perfectly cooked, chopped up and mixed into their own version of salsa verde sauce. They definitely stack up the sandwich with plenty of crispy pork and the chili lime mayo they lightly slather on the sandwich adds a nice and refreshing kick to the meal.  The cracklings, or what I call, chicharon (which is also made in-house) tops the sandwich.  I love chicharon so that didn’t last.  I went straight to eating those crispy little things.  They didn’t stand a chance.

11 day Pastrami Sandwich

11 day Pastrami Sandwich

The Pastrami sandwich was one of the best pastramis I’ve tasted in quite some time.  Very moist and tender.  It just melted in my mouth.  I only got a chance to snag a half a sandwich because it turns out, everyone loved it as much as I did.  And we were all racing to grab a piece of it. 

Southern Fried Chicken

Southern Fried Chicken

The Southern Fried Chicken.  Who doesn’t love Fried Chicken? And Gravy?  Burnt Crumbs do not skimp on their ingredients.  They give you a huge piece of Fried Chicken.  It is like a dinner instead of a lunch portion. Their house biscuits are made from scratch and you can tell by how fresh it taste and how soft it feels.  This ALSO melts in your mouth.  That Sriracha Honey sauce is tasty and not too spicy so that it doesn’t override the rest of the flavors in the sandwich.

Spaghetti Grilled Cheese

Spaghetti Grilled Cheese

Spaghetti Grilled Cheese.  First off, the picture does not do this meal justice.  This sandwich is what they’re pretty much known for.  Google or youtube Burnt Crumbs and the first thing that comes up is this sandwich.  It looks and smells amazing! I was so excited to taste it.  I did get an order of the sandwich.  However, after eating the previous 3 meals (and their hand cut fries and hand cut chips) I was completely full!  I was planning on taking it home.  But, one of my other friends beat me to it and walked out with it. Not cool! I’m not even going to complain.  I was going to do the same thing.

Without getting a bite in, what I CAN tell you is that it smelled amazing!  And if the smell means anything, then it’s definitely a must try! The aroma of the garlic, marinara and mozzarella just filled me up.  I was watching others eat it and the cheese just spreads and is oh so gooey.  That’s the sandwich most people seemed to order while I was there. Just writing about it now, my mouth is watering.  Looks like I’m going to have to head back to Burnt Crumbs sooner than I thought.

For those that prefer a lighter, and not so meaty meal, they do have other choices including the PBJ which is a homemade pretzel peanut butter, blueberry jam, and sliced banana sandwich.  They also offer a variety of avocado toasts, salads including a kale, wedge and Caesar.  They also regularly add new items to their menu.  For more info and to check out their latest meals, you can head to their website at www.burntcrumbs.com

In the meantime, check out my visit to Burnt Crumbs below:

 

 

2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

The 33rd annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival kicked off on April 27th with the screening of Justin Lin’s film, “Better Luck Tomorrow”. It’s hard to believe that it was 15 years ago when I first saw this movie.  So much has happened since then, and it’s at the same time, interesting to see that not much has changed.  We can still relate to the characters of the film as well as their storylines.

 

I have been a huge supporter of the LAAPFF for several years and am always thrilled to see which movies will be screening.  The films being showcased are always some of the best and do a wonderful job in representing the talented filmmakers, directors, writers, and actors in our APA community. This year was no different.  

One example of this was Justin Chon’s movie, and Sundance Audience Award winner “Gook” which takes place during the 1992 LA Riots. “Gook” has received numerous positive reviews, including a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.7 rating on IMDB. Samuel Goldwyn also picked up the North American rights for the film, which is scheduled to be released sometime in August. “Gook” is screening at the LAAPFF Orange County on Wednesday, May 10th.

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Justin Chon throughout the years - from his “Twilight” roles to “Seoul Searching” and his other directorial debut movie, “Man Up.”   It’s such a thrill to see him go from talented actor, to director and writer. I cant wait to see what else Justin has in store for us.

I had the opportunity to be a juror for the Shorts Documentary competition; which was also the first time this category was created.  What an honor!  Each of the short documentaries in the competition was told in their own beautiful way. The other jurors and I had a difficult time reaching a decision. 

In the end, The Grand Jury Prize was awarded to Alisa Yang for her documentary, “Please Come Again” which centered on her story and the history of the love hotels in Japan.  After watching the short, I was completely speechless.  “Please Come Again” incorporated only text and visuals of the love hotels and the different meanings each room has held throughout the years.  It was not only a documentary on Alisa’s life, but also used the love hotels as a metaphor for the female body.

The Best Cinematography award was presented to “Forever, Chinatown”.  “Forever, Chinatown” follows the life of 81 year old artist, Frank Wong, who, for the past 40 years has recreated memories of his childhood, living in San Francisco’s Chinatown, through miniature models.  The cinematography for the short captured every intricate detail of the film, including Wong’s touching, nostalgic and some times bittersweet memories, the miniature models he created and was able to lucidly encapsulate the tone of the documentary. 

 

Jennifer Zheng won for Best Director for her documentary “Tough”.  Zheng’s choice in creating an animated documentary was an interesting but well told one.  “Tough” tells the story of a Chinese mother and British born daughter who openly talk as adults for the first time and honestly discuss growing up in their respective backgrounds and the cultural issues they struggled with.

Congratulations to all of the winners.

The Orange County portion of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is still going on until May 11th.  For more information and for tickets on the movies currently screening, you can head to www.vconline.org

 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month - American Cancer Society, Weight Watchers, POPSUGAR Event

I have known one too many family members and friends who have been diagnosed and/or passed away from cancer. Words cannot express how much this angers, frustrates and hurts me -  to see so many people fighting this deadly disease. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and earlier this year, Weight Watchers, along with the American Cancer Society joined together to launch Project LIFT - Live Inspired. Fight Together.  Several days ago, Weight Watchers, in collaboration with POPSUGAR showed their support of the American Cancer Society and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, by organizing a Survivor Dinner in both New York City and Los Angeles.  I felt honored when I was asked to emcee their Los Angeles gala which served to recognize and celebrate Breast Cancer Survivors and also inform the invited guests of Project LIFT.  Project LIFT's goal is to inspire, inform and guide breast cancer survivors to live a healthy life.  

More than 30 years of research has shown that weight gain is a common and persistent problem among breast cancer survivors.  Through Project LIFT, Weight Watchers has been hosting survivors and their friends and family throughout the United States to gather together and tell their stories of support and survival.  In addition, Weight Watchers has created free content that covers recommended nutritional advice, as well as producing Project LIFT merchandise with all profits from the sale benefitting American Cancer Society (to help save lives from breast cancer).  

One of the most touching moments of the night was when Emmy and Golden Globe winner Camryn Manheim, a longtime supporter of Cancer research, shared her story, publicly for the first time, of finding out when she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  There was not a dry eye in the house.  

That night, I met so many women who shared their stories of survivorship.  It was such a beautiful event; filled with so many empowering, uplifting and strong individuals.  It was an honor to be surrounded by them.

If you or someone you know would like more information or help, please head to the following websites:

www.cancer.org

www.weightwatchers.com