Made in Japan

So today is Mother’s Day. It’s the one day off the year dedicated to the moms on this planet. I think it’s a great holiday because mothers need to be appreciated, not just on this day of course. I think having a special day to appreciate them makes our mothers feel good. Also, they like getting gifts and spending the day with their families and doing stuff they want to do. Every Mother’s Day, my mom gets to pick a restaurant that she wants to go eat dinner. This year she picked Osaka Japanese Steakhouse. She has been wanting to go there for a while now and she finally got the chance. When I reminded her about where we were going for dinner later in the day she told me that she was so excited to go. I was excited too because they have very good food. It’s also one of those places where you sit around a Hibachi grill and the chef cooks your food right in front of you. The chefs are always entertaining. I like when they throw food to you and you have to catch it in your mouth. I’m no good at catching things in my mouth so it’s always embarrassing when my turn comes around. I like watching other people though. I’m always impressed by the people that can catch the food and I always laugh at those you can’t. I know that seems ironic but, hey, they laugh at me too when I can’t catch my food so we’re even. When you go to Osaka you are given a ton of food. First you are served soup. It’s a salty broth with green onions and mushrooms. I don’t eat the mushrooms but the broth has a nice simple taste. Next, you are served salad with your choice of dressing: Yum Yum or Ginger Sauce. I prefer the Yum Yum. It’s kind of like a Thousand Island dressing. The chef comes out next and twirls his cooking utensils, showing off his skills. He spins and tosses eggs and finally breaks them open to be cooked for the fried rice. He then prepares the vegetables and then the different types of meat that everyone ordered. Finally, he fries some bananas to act as our dessert. In addition to all that food, my family ordered Monster Rolls. They are a type of sushi. I don’t know how to explain them except that they are mighty tasty. It’s always a good time when my family and I go to Osaka. The food and the atmosphere are enjoyable. There is always something that gets you laughing whether it’s the  chef playing some sort of trick on you or the piece of food that hits you in the face as it completely misses your mouth.

S’mores Graham Krispie Treats

Okay so I’m pretty sure everyone loves s’mores and rice krispie treats. If you don’t than there is something wrong with you and it might be time to call the doctor and schedule an appointment. You must not be human if you do not like either of those tasty treats. If you are human and like s’mores and rice krispie treats then these treats are perfect for you. They are a cross between s’mores and rice krispie treats. They are two in one! And they are super easy to make! Just follow the recipe provided below that I found courtesy of Country Cleaver. You have to make these! I mean….the picture says it all right? Yum!

Ingredients:

1 bag of mini marshmallows (10 oz.)

1 cup of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips + 1 for topping

1 box of Golden Grahams cereal (12 oz.)

6 Tbsp. of butter

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract  (I forgot to add the vanilla when I was making these treats but they still tasted great)

Non-stick cooking spray

Directions:

1. Spray a 9×9 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and set it aside.

2. In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the marshmallows and stir the mixture until the marshmallows have melted and you are left with a creamy mixture. Next, stir in the vanilla extract.

3. Pour the Golden Grahams into the mixture and stir until the cereal is evenly coated with the marshmallow mixture. Mix in the chocolate chips.

4. Spread the mixture in you prepared pan and press it down evenly. Add chocolate chips to the top and press them down so they will stick.

5. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to cool then take them out and enjoy!

These treats are great for parties or to take to work or school events because they don’t take long to prepare and won’t take very much time out of your busy schedule. I like these because they remind me of camping which I love to do. The Golden Graham give a good graham cracker taste that I was not really expecting. My treats did not turn out like the picture from above. The chocolate chips that were added to the marshmallow and cereal mixture started to melt in the pot so there are not whole chocolate chips in side the treats but the ones that I added to the top stayed whole. I can’t wait to have lunch so I can have one for dessert! They just smell so divine. Maybe I’ll sneak one before……

Garlic Monkey Bread

 I was so excited when I found this recipe! I love regular Monkey Bread a lot so I was happy to find this recipe. I also love love love garlic bread so these are a double whammy. The thing that made finding this recipe even better was the fact that my mom went to the grocery store before making spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and she forgot to buy the bread. I was surfing through Pinterest while she was cooking when I found these bad boys on Eat Cake For Dinner. I wasn’t even looking in the food section of Pinterest. I was in the DIY section. This had to have been divine intervention. There is no other explanation. Well maybe there is but let me believe what I want okay? We looked in the refrigerator and had enough biscuits so we made them and had them with our spaghetti. It was a good save on my part that happened totally by accident. I’m so glad I found them in time. Our dinner would not have been complete. These muffins were great for spaghetti and were so easy to make. I definitely recommend them. In my family we usually have spaghetti on busy nights because it’s a quick and easy meal to prepare. These muffins won’t slow us down one bit! They are a great addition to the Busy Night Dinner Team.

Ingredients:

2 cans of buttermilk biscuits

6 Tbsp. of butter, melted

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. of dried parsley flakes

1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese + some to sprinkle on top

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the biscuits into 4  pieces and place them in a bowl. Combine all remaining ingredients and pour the mixture over the biscuit pieces. Gently toss them to coat them evenly. Use a greased 12 cup muffin tin and place 6-7 pieces in each tin (I put 7 in each). It should make 12 muffins. Sprinkle cheese over the top and place in them in the oven for 12-14 minutes. Serve them warm.

Just call me Bobby Flay (Baked Potato Grilled Cheese)

Just kidding. Don’t really call me that. I’m nowhere near as good of a chef as Bobby Flay. Heck, I’m not even close to being a chef. My cooking skills are amateur at best. I mostly bake but my mom has been asking me when I’m going to start making dinner for the family. She had to make dinner all the time when she young. I always tell her that I don’t have time to cook. I’m always busy with school stuff. I think I surprised my mom when I told her that I was going to make dinner. She likes to cook but not all the time. She gets tired of doing it and is always glad when someone else prepares the food. I decided to make Baked Potato Grilled Cheese. I’m one of those people who is always okay with eating grilled cheese. Whenever it is suggested, I always agree to eating it because I always enjoy it. Well, I enjoy it when my mom makes it. Her grilled cheese is the best. It’s cooked to perfection and tastes great dipped in tomato soup. My grilled cheese on the other hand is not so good. Something is always off. It’s something I need to work on. Anyway, back to the Baked Potato Grilled Cheese. I found the recipe while I was surfing the web and instantly knew that I needed to try it.

I got the recipe and picture from bsinthekitchen. It’s a must try. These sandwiches were awesome. I’m a grilled cheese lover so this was a great meal for me. I used sour dough bread for my sandwich and it was a good choice. It was perfect because it got crispy but was still soft and it was sturdy enough to hold all the insides of the sandwich. My mom made her sandwich with rye bread which tasted good too but I didn’t like it as much as the sour dough. Then again, I don’t really like rye bread. I didn’t use green onions because I didn’t have any but I’m sure they would taste just fine with them. Instead of cheddar cheese, I used American cheese, and instead of 2 slices of cheese for each sandwich, I used 3 (one and a half slices on each slice of bread). I didn’t both crumbling the bacon. There was no need for that. Strips worked just fine. I definitely recommend these sandwiches. They are pretty easy to prepare and they taste great!

Women in the workforce

According to an article posted on americanpress.org, 47% of the workforce is made up of women. This number has risen from 29.6% in 1950. As more and more women are going to college and getting degrees, more and more women have been able to get jobs. This leap in percentage is drastic for such a small amount of time. I recently read Hanna Rosin’s book The End of Men and she provides evidence that women are rising fast and becoming the dominant gender. I think she is indeed right that more and more women are going up in the world but I am not so sure that making the claim that women are surpassing men is necessarily right. Men have been working for a much longer time span than women. They have always been the one to work the farms and go to the office to earn money for their family. Women were always the ones who stayed home and cooked and cleaned and took care of the children. The percentage of women working before 1950 was very small. They had a lot of room to climb. men on the other hand have always been working so their percentage has always been relatively high. Because women had more room to grow, the percentage increase since 1950 could be more drastic than the percentage increase of men working since 1950. This room for improvement gives the sense that the percentage of women is growing rapidly and that they are on their way to becoming the dominant gender because the percentage of men is not growing as quickly as men. Since men already had a high percentage of people working in the workforce, any percentage of growth is significant. Women have had more room to grow and thus gave them the appearance of increasing rapidly and already taking over the world. I think that Rosin is a little too early with her ideas. If we give it a few more years I think that it is possible to see women becoming the dominant gender.

Every heart beats true….

…..for the red, white, and blue! Lately I have notice that there a lot of clothing items and accessories with the American Flag on them. Frankly, I like it a lot. The American Flag is a symbol of the United States and I think that people wearing it on their clothing shows pride. I think pride is something that many Americans need, especially after what happened in Boston last week. We need to take pride in our wonderful country and let others know how proud we are to be citizens of the U.S. and that we are not ashamed. Wearing red, white, and blue is just a small step you can take to say, “Hey. I love America.” And you know what? You will look great doing it!!

Pecan Chicken with Honey Mustard Sauce

Pecan Chicken

I always like to find new foods and desserts to try. I don’t like to eat the same meals over and over and over again. Pinterest is a great website to use to find food ideas. That’s where I get a majority of the recipes I want to try. I found the recipe for the Pecan Chicken while I was scrolling through the many pages of pictures. I saw the image of the chicken, which is provided right there on the left, and I knew that I wanted to try it. The things that I cook are usually desserts. I just have a really large sweet tooth. Because of this I don’t really have any experience cooking “real food” so today I tried something new and attempted to make this dish. I had a little bit of help from my mom, mainly consulting, but I did most of it on my own.

The recipe is from this website so I encourage you to check out what else they have to offer.

Ingredients:

  • 4 6-ounce skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (corn, peanut, or olive oil)
  • chopped parsley for garnish

Honey Mustard Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup stone ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon sweet rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Directions:

For honey mustard sauce, place all ingredients for the sauce in a cold saucepan in order, stirring to combine. Heat to medium; do not boil, or sauce will separate. When warm, about 150 degrees, remove from heat.

Trim chicken breasts. Place in a thick plastic bag and pound out lightly to an even thickness, skin side down at first.

Combine panko and pecans in an 8-inch square baking pan or a pie plate and mix together well. In a separate pie plate or bowl, whisk egg and milk together to make an egg wash. Place flour in a separate medium bowl.

Dredge chicken in the flour first, then dip thoroughly in the egg wash, and finish with the panko-pecan coating. Press chicken down on both sides to cover completely.

Heat oil to medium in a large (12 inch) frying pan. When oil is at 160 degrees (water drops should pop), add prepared chicken and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until coating is mahogany brown.

Comments:

I really liked the breading on the chicken. I think it added a nice flavor. I think the sauce was too strong so I suggest leaving out the vinegar. I think the mustard is enough to give the sauce its taste. I didn’t think there would be enough sauce so I made a double batch but it turned out that I didn’t need to do that after all. My family didn’t use that much sauce because it was so strong. I served mashed sweet potatoes and asperagus with the chicken which provided a good variety of flavors. I recommend them, especially the sweet potatoes.

Life and Death

We have all heard the phrase “Live life to the fullest.” It’s kind of a tired saying but it still has a relevant meaning. This past week’s events have brought this saying to the front of my mind. The Boston Marathon bombing is one example. Those people were running a marathon. They were doing something that they enjoyed and were working toward a goal. Going into the marathon, the runners weren’t in fear of losing their life because of a bomb being placed at the finish line. To their surprise, and to many other people around the world, a bomb was placed at the finish line that killed a few people and injured many more. This event is truly a tragedy. Why did those people have to die? Why did this have to happen? I don’t know the answer to those questions but I can’t help but think that those people died doing something that they loved. If you had the choice would you want to die when you are happy or when you are sad? I’m definitely not saying that it was okay for those people to die. I’m just saying at least they were happy when they died.

Other things this week have shown me the same reoccurring theme of living life to the fullest. My best friend’s grandma died this week and I attended the wake. My teacher told us a story about how his son could have been born without a brain and upon being delivered would have died. These things tugged at my heart-strings because life is precious. It can end or it can not even start in the first place. I’ve been reminded to do things that I want, to smile, and to laugh. People should live their life surrounded by people they love. They should do things that make them happy and take breaks from their everyday lives.

Unexpected things happen every day at the most unexpected times and places. People get hurt, people die, but people also feel happiness. Unexpected things can be good or bad. It’s your choice how you view things. Maybe you always look on the bright side or maybe you take a more negative view on situations. Either way, these unexpected events happen everyday and they are a part of everyone’s lives. Our lives are shaped by these unexpected events in some way. It’s important to be thankful for what you have because it can always be worse. You have to move on from bad things and live your life. You have to appreciate the little things because they could be gone in an unexpected instant. Go about your life with a smile on your face and let people know how much you appreciate them. Life can end at the most unexpected times but your life can begin whenever you choose to take action. Make your life a great one so when it is time for you to leave this earth, you won’t have any regrets.

It’s Too Late to Apologize. Or is it?

We’ve all heard the song “Apologize” by One Republic. The song is talking about a back and forth relationship where the girl always does stuff that she needs to apologize for. The guy is tired of her apologies and says it’s too late to apologize. It seems pretty logical to feel this way, but I think apologies are never too late to give. The guy might not appreciate the apology until a lot later in life but an apology is an apology. Now, if she was going around doing this and that every week and giving all these apologies, then I would never forgive her because I wouldn’t believe that her apologies were sincere. But still, apologies are always welcome in my book. I might not believe it but at least you tried right? Well the other day I got an apology. I was not expecting it at all because we were in the middle of class. He said something to me, I turned around and looked at him, and then there it was. He only said a few words but somehow it made me feel a lot better. I knew that he was being sincere. I could see it on his face and hear it in his voice. It was just a short apology, nothing longwinded, but it made the difference. I think the thing that made it even better was the fact that I wasn’t waiting for him to apologize. I didn’t lie in bed at night and think about how he hasn’t apologized and when he would finally do it. The apologogy was unexpected and sincere. I think those are two key things that make an apology easy to accept.

A word of advice for all of you out there: apologize to someone that you’ve been meaning to apologize to but haven’t because you thought it was too late. I’m telling you, they will most likely appreciate it. If they don’t then that’s their problem. You did your best to fix it and chances are, you will feel a lot better.

Oh. It’s you again.

What is it about April that makes everyone feel the need to cram everything into one month? I mean seriously. There are other months in the year besides April. This time of year is always extremely busy for me. Since it’s the Spring, I have tennis. Don’t get me wrong. I love tennis. It’s the thing I look forward to at the end of the day but it does take up a bunch of time and makes my nights even shorter. This week alone I have three tennis meets. Then there is the ACT which is this weekend. I’ve never taken it before so I’m a little nervous, but I realize that I can take it more than once. I know that it’s only a one day thing but it’s just another thing that I have to worry about and just another thing that takes up time. Then there is orchestra. I had a music contest the other day and I have some upcoming performances I’m preparing for and have to remember the dates to. Also I take lessons and that takes up time and tennis takes away from my practice time so it’s hard to be adequately prepared for my lessons each week. It’s a lot to handle all this stuff on top of school and my weekly church duties. I do my best to stay on top of things and still get enough sleep but I could always use more of that. It’s April and that means that I’ll be busy for a while but then it reminds me that June is just around the corner and I will be free to do as I please when summer finally rolls around. I can’t wait. Relaxation here I come.