Sunny San Diego and a Smoked Salmon Sushi Bowl With Crispy Kale

salmonsushi Vacations are a glorious thing.  Instead of worrying about bills or what to make for dinner every day, I spend more time worrying about what shoes to wear each day.  Sunny San Diego was beautiful – as it usually is.  We were there to pet sit for Mister’s sister but we took advantage and turned it into a vacation for the two of us.  It was a balmy 68 degrees during the day and cooled off to a mild 64 degrees at night.  Perfection.


We stayed in a neighborhood within walking distance to beach.  The sights and smells of the ocean were therapeutic to say the least.  Mountainous Colorado is a wonderful place to live but it lacks numerous large bodies of water.  I have missed the water so.  I could have walked along the beach – soaking in the sun, picking up seashells, digging my toes into the sand – all vacation long (believe me, we did plenty of that!), but there were loads of other sights and sounds to enjoy too.

We attended a BBQ on the beach with family and friends and took a scenic bike ride around Mission Bay.  We visited local shops and indulged in some local brews too.  We also ate so much delicious food!!  I can’t believe we ate so much in the short time we were there.  Have you ever heard of a California Burrito?


The name is a bit deceiving because I haven’t seen a California Burrito outside of San Diego.  Anywho, it’s a burrito filled with carne asada, cheese and pico de gallo.  Your typical burrito… except that it features crispy french fries inside of the tortilla as well!  It sounds too good to be true, right?  It almost is.  I DREAM of California Burritos outside of San Diego constantly.

We also attended a poke festival with a few of the coolest Filipinos I know.  We stuffed our faces full of fresh ahi poke, yellowtail poke, salmon poke and (fill in the blank) poke.


When our stomachs were bursting, we walked until we made room, then filled the spaces with more Hawaiian-themed treats like spam musubi, loco moco, shaved ice, kona coffee and mango pastries.  Yum, yum and yum!


It was great to spend time with family and meet new friends but it is also nice to be home.  There is just something completely comforting about sleeping in your own bed.  After so much delicious food in California, we were due for a light meal.  This smoked salmon sushi bowl hit the spot.  You can easily make this vegetarian by omitting the salmon.  It will still be light and flavorful and you wont be able to stop eating it.


Smoked Salmon Sushi Bowl With Crispy Kale

Smoked Salmon Sushi Bowl With Crispy Kale


  • 2-3 kale leaves
  • olive oil
  • cooked brown rice (3/4 cup, or so, per bowl)
  • rice vinegar
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt & pepper
  • toppings of your choice (avocado slices, edamame, pickled ginger, toasted sesame seeds, chopped nori, smoked salmon)
  • soy sauce mixed with a bit of rice vinegar and sesame oil, for serving


  1. Toss kale with olive oil and salt and bake in a 400 degree oven until crispy but not completely charred (6-7 minutes or so, check often, you may need to rotate it halfway). Chop and set aside.
  2. Toss rice with just a bit of rice vineger and a pinch of sugar. Place the rice in bowls and assemble your toppings.
  3. Mix soy sauce with a bit of rice vinegar and sesame oil and serve in little bowls on the side

Recipe adapted from Love and Lemons.

Crispy Tofu with Beans and Edamame {Vegan}

crispy tofu green beans edamame

You’ve seen tofu at restaurants.  You may have already eaten tofu yourself.  Tofu is just about everywhere these days.  Tofu is a soy product that is one of the easiest and healthiest food to cook.  It’s packed with protein and has such a mild flavor that you can influence it’s flavor profile however you want.  If you want to make restaurant-quality (a.k.a. really tasty) crispy tofu at home, there are a few steps you need to take.

1.  Purchase extra-firm tofu

Slice open the package and cut the tofu into thick rectangles or cubes.  Lay each piece on a dish towel or layers of paper towels, then place another dish towel or paper towels on top of the tofu.  Set a cookie sheet on top to squeeze some of the moisture out.  You shouldn’t have to go to extremes here, because you purchased extra-firm tofu.

2.  Make the surface of your tofu as dry as possible

Like anything you cook in hot oil, you want to make sure you’re not adding any unwanted moisture to the pan.  Dry, dry, dry your tofu.  Wipe it dry, or better yet toss your tofu in corn starch.  I’ve cooked tofu both ways and to me the only difference between the two are that adding corn starch to your tofu prevents dangerous and unpleasant sputtering.

3.  Use a cast-iron skillet to pan fry your tofu

If you want crispy tofu, you really need a pan that has an evenly heated surface area.  For me, that is my seasoned cast-iron skillet.  Add a layer of oil, heat it up, and gently drop your tofu in.  Fry all sides of the tofu until golden brown and crispy.

crispy tofu green beans edamame

Boom!  Extra crispy tofu.  Just remember, if you plan to use your tofu in a stir-fry or with something saucy, set the tofu aside first.  Then cook all of the remaining ingredients and add the tofu back in at the last minute so it remains crispy as long as possible.

Crispy Tofu with Beans and Edamame

Crispy Tofu with Beans and Edamame


  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste or ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon Sri Racha (or to taste)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons red chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
  • salt, to taste
  • Green onions, garnish (optional)


  1. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch thick rectangles and pat dry with a kitchen towel or paper towel. Toss the tofu in cornstarch until coated. Heat oil in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat, until the oil is just shimmering. Carefully place the tofu pieces into the oil. Lightly fry the tofu until golden brown on one side, then flip with a slotted spatula. Once golden brown on both sides, drain the tofu on a paper towel and set aside. Lower the heat of the pan to low and wait a few minutes.
  2. In the same oil, add the onions. Fry lightly until the onions turn soft and transparent. Take care not to burn them by maintaining the heat at low to medium-low. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring to prevent burning.
  3. Add the turmeric, coriander, chilli, salt, and tamarind paste and fry for about a minute. Then add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, sri racha (if using), beans and edamame and cook until the tomatoes break down and the oil separates from the sauce, about 5 minutes. Taste the beans, the beans should be more than half cooked at this stage. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning as needed.
  4. Finally add the fried tofu and mix well. Simmer for a minute to reheat the tofu, remove from the heat, garnish wtih green onions and serve warm with rice or rice noodles.

Recipe adapted from Cooking and Me.

Tortellini Vegetable Soup {Vegetarian}

cheese tortellini vegetable soup

Wow, it is snowing here AGAIN in Colorado today!  It’s supposed to keep snowing for the next three days.  Usually I would be ready for Spring to arrive weeks ago, but because Colorado has been so prone to wildfires the last two summers, I am thrilled that we are getting some late minute precipitation before thunderstorm season.  This probably isn’t enough snow to really help that cause, but I can hope!

Because it has been so snowy lately, I made this vegetable soup to warm us up.  This soup is packed with vegetables and reminds me that Spring is right around the corner.  I can’t wait to pick out fresh produce from our local Farmer’s Market.  It’s one of my favorite things to do on Saturdays when it’s sunny and warm outside.

Anywho, I added some cheese tortellini to our soup pot because we love tortellini in soup (plus it makes this soup that much more filling).  If you are trying to keep this Vegan, simply use Vegan tortellini or noodles to add a bit more body to this soup or omit the noodles completely.  Your choice!

Stay warm and safe everybody!

Tortellini Vegetable Soup


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 chopped chives
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas or shelled edamame
  • 1/3 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cups cheese tortellini


  1. In a dutch oven or soup pot, saute the carrots in the olive oil over medium heat. After a couple minutes or so, add the onions and celery. Cook for another 2 minutes and add the garlic, stirring for a minute until fragrant.
  2. Add the broth, thyme, basil, poultry seasoning, chives, salt and pepper, and red pepper if using. Add the corn, peas or edamame and spinach. Bring the soup to a boil then lower the heat. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, or until the carrots are softened.
  3. In the mean time, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Salt the water then cook your tortellini according to the package directions (boiling for 2-5 minutes).
  4. Add the can of tomatoes to the soup and the cooked tortellini. Gently combine, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary and serve hot, preferably with freshly baked bread for dipping.

Ginger-Chili Edamame

I often order edamame at sushi bars.  A bowl of edamame is an invitation to play with your food.  Pick it up with your fingers, suck out the delicious seeds that live inside of that tough, outer-shell, and lick your fingers clean.  The only thing that can make edamame better is a delicious sauce that you toss the edamame in.  This is my humble opinion of course.

This sauce takes seconds to whip up and for this American-Asian, these are ingredients that are typically lying around in my fridge and pantry.

Ginger-Chili Edamame

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yields: About 12 servings

Serving Size: 2 tablespoons edamame, 1 teaspoon sauce

Calories per serving: 46

Fat per serving: 2g

Ginger-Chili Edamame


  • 1 (12-ounce) bag frozen unshelled edamame
  • 3 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons Thai chile sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons SriRacha hot sauce, optional


  1. Prepare edamame according to package directions. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together remaining 6 ingredients; serve with edamame.

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