Month: January 2016

Top Chef: Eyes, then Hands

You eat with your eyes first, right?  The Quickfire Challenge from this week’s Top Chef was all about #foodporn!  Yes, with the hashtag.  It’s a plating challenge.  The twist?  It’s junk food that they’re plating.  The other twist?  Instagram likes will decide the winner of immunity.

Here’s what the chefs create:


L to R, top to bottom: Phillip, Carl, Chad, Jeremy, Marjorie, Karen, Kwame, Amar, Isaac

While the Quickfire was all about eating with your eyes, the elimination challenge was all about eating with your hands!  Neal Fraser introduces the concept of beefsteak– a traditional event in which there are no utensils, and no napkins.  Three teams are three are to make a meat dish, a fish dish, and two sides each.

The red team is basically all of my favorites– it’s Kwame and my Boston people, Karen & Carl.  The blue team is Marjorie, Isaac, and Chad.  The green team is Jeremy, Amar, and Phillip.

Here’s what they make:

It was pretty hilarious to see everyone in black tie and eating with their hands.  The best part, however, was that Hugh Acheson (heart-eyes emoji) was there to judge!  He also flung a piece of lamb that Padma had nibbled and hit some guests for the charity event.  Miss you every episode, Hugh!

Karen is announced as the winner of the instagram Quickfire securing herself immunity.

Most of the plates suffered from being too dainty and missing the point of the challenge.  Ultimately, the green team won for being the closest to hitting the mark, and Phillip claims his first win for his on-the-bone lamb.

The blue team ends up being the least favorite.  Luckily for Marjorie, my favorite member of this trio, Tom announces her the best baker Top Chef has seen– seriously, my mouth is watering for that milk bread!  Chad is sent to pack his knives.  Sadly, his instagram was my favorite, but he had trouble switching gears.

Which ‘gram is your favorite?  Seriously, how pretty are they?!

Amazon Book Haul

Okay, this is from just after Christmas… I may have been a little slow on the editing… just to clear up any confusion about why my Christmas tree is up.  Hey, at least I got it up before January is over!

I just recorded What I Read in January, so stay tuned for that!

MasterChef Junior: Rise to the Occasion

Can you believe this was the semi-final of MasterChef Junior?!  That means the final showdown is THIS WEEK.  And the news is even better than that… well, we’ll get to that as we recap last week’s episode.

Addison, Amaya, Avery, and Zac are the final four.  Gordon, Graham, and Christina present a table with four cloches under which the find the heads of their parents!  (No, don’t worry, their bodies are under the table.)  Amaya’s mom, Avery’s dad, Zac’s mom, and Addison’s dad each offer them some advice and present them with a gift box of their flavor ingredient for the upcoming challenge: soufflés!  Amaya will make a dark chocolate soufflé, Avery will make strawberry, Zac will make milk chocolate, and Addison will make blackberry.  Gordon makes a little pun about them “rising to the occasion,” and they really do!


Addison’s impressive rise literally made Christina gasp, and the judges agree that she is the winner of the challenge!  She gets the advantage in the finale Elimination Test.

Addison is presented with 4 cuts of pork and it’s her job to assign them.  She keeps ribs for herself, gives Amaya the loin, assigns Avery pork belly, and gives the tricky pig’s ears to Zac.

Here’s what they make:


Addison’s fall-off the bone ribs impress, but the plating and presentation don’t impress.  Zac’s pig’s ear salad looks amazing, but the cook in not right on the ears.  Avery’s braised pork belly is the clear winner, cooked to perfection and possibly Christina’s favorite dish she’s eaten in the MasterChef kitchen.  We knew poor Amaya was in trouble when she sliced her pork loin and saw the raw center.  She is able to bring the temperature up with a second cook, but it wasn’t enough.

Avery is awarded the first spot in the finale, and Addison the second!  These are my favorite two little cooks left and I can honestly not wait to see what they do in the finale!  AND HECK YES FOR A GIRL FINALLY WINNING THIS COMPETITION.

Who do you think will take the title?!  Who are you cheering for?!

Top Chef: 10 Years Later

Get ready for a lot of 10’s!  There are 10 chefs left on Top Chef in this week’s episode, and the challenges are appropriately themed.  It has also been 10 years since the very first season of Top Chef premiered.

So, for the Quickfire, the 10 chefs can only use the same 10 ingredients.  Each chef has 20 seconds to pick one, they don’t have to use all 10, but they can use nothing else.

  • Phillip grabs beef
  • Isaac gets chicken
  • Chad picks jalapeño
  • Jeremy adds salt
  • Marjorie selects vinegar
  • Karen grabs olive oil
  • Kwame picks garlic
  • Amar gets mushrooms
  • Carl selects tomato
  • Jason chooses celery

Top Chef Alumna Antonia Lofaso is here to judge the Quickfire with Padma.  She selects Isaac and Karen as having made her least favorite dishes, and Jeremy and Amar as having made her favorites.  Jeremy wins and receives immunity!

The elimination challenge is also 10 themed.  Padma can barely make it through her giggles to the list of things that were happening 10 years ago– that Myspace was the most popular website (oof) and Tom Cruise married Katie Holmes.  The chefs need to put themselves 10 years ago on a plate and serve it to a table of (surprise!) 10.

It’s really fun to hear the stories of where these chefs were (and who these chefs were!) 10 years ago, but for one, it’s not a happy memory.  Kwame can’t get out of his own head during this one.  Michael Voltaggio (heart-eyes emoji) comes around with Tom to taste, as he’s one of the four Top Chef Alumni attending the dinner (the others being Antonia, Blaise, and last year’s winner Mei Lin!).  Phillip makes a literal fool out of himself explaining how he can’t cook to the judges’ tastes.  Tom tries to explain the concept of simply cooking good food correctly, but it’s not sinking in.

Here’s what they make:


Gail makes a comment to Tom while they enjoy that she sat down next to him 10 years ago and here they still are!  Too cute.  The two of them plus Padma, Blaise, and Michael Voltaggio sit at the judges table to give the good news– their favorite dishes belonged to Marjorie, Chad, and Carl.  Marjorie gets her second win!

Now for the bad news– Jeremy’s immunity saved him this week, but Kwame got in his own head and ended up on the bottom, as did Phillip and Jason.  Jason is eliminated, he’s seemed a bit off-beat for a while.  He packs his knives, but something tells me Phillip could be right behind him… enough excuses, just cook well!


Friday Favorites: Yamada-Kun and the 7 Witches

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Friday Favorites, but I like to.  It lets me me talk about something unrelated to the usual cycle of things I have going on here; it lets me talk about what’s on my mind right now.

Lately, I’ve been on an anime kick– you’ll know this if you watched my latest weekend vlog.  I’ve been revisiting an old favorite, Cardcaptor Sakura, and diving into a couple of new ones, one of which being Yamada-Kun and the 7 Witches.

It started with a commercial on Crunchyroll and an interest in all things magical.  The title spells out pretty clearly that this anime is about a boy named Yamada and the 7 witches he encounters in his high school.  It all starts when he meets Shiraishi.


Bookish and lonely, Shiraishi is the first witch the rough-around-the-edges Yamada meets.  He accidentally swaps bodies with her when the fall down the stairs.  Shiraishi figures out that they can swap back with a kiss.  Yamada finds that he can kiss and swap with others too.  Soon, it is revealed that Shiraishi is actually the body swapper and Yamada’s power is to copy other witches’ powers.

There are 7 witches and a sinister student council at this school and Yamada encounters powers such as telepathy, invisibility, and the ability to see the future.

What surprised me is this show is less about the witches and more of a love story.


Meet all of the 7 witches and watch Yamada soften in these 12 episodes.  It’s such a cute love story, and the title sequence is irresistible– I took these caps way before I decided to write about it!

Any anime recommendations highly recommended!  I love: Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Inuyasha, The Big O, and now Yamada-Kun and the 7 Witches!


Pokémon 20


The fact that we haven’t talked about the Pokémon 20th Anniversary yet is a travesty, people; I’m so sorry!  I’ve been a little… scattered, this week especially, but nothing pulls me out of moodiness the way this news can.

2016 marks the 20th anniversary of my favorite game franchise, Pokémon.  To celebrate, Nintendo and the Pokémon Company have lots of presents for us.

Let’s start with the Pokémon 20th Anniversary Edition New Nintendo 3DS bundle that almost makes me upset that I already own a New Nintendo 3DS.  The system comes with both Pokémon Red & Blue installed and two covers– one featuring Charizard and one Blastoise.  Do I need a second New Nintendo 3DS?  This is a serious question I’m asking myself.  This bundle is available February 27th.

On the off chance (aka responsible decision) that I don’t need another New 3DS, Pokémon Red, Pokémon Blue, and Pokémon Yellow are all available for download in the Nintendo e-shop, in all of their original glory.  I still own these games in their original Gameboy cartridge formats, but I’d say this is more convenient than loading AA batteries into my Gameboy color.  Add this to my to-do list for February 27th!

Perhaps the most exciting thing is the year of Mythical Pokémon distributions!  I’ve been marking my calendar to snag each of these:

  • Mew is available in February
  • Celebi is available in March
  • Jirachi is available in April
  • Darkrai is available in May
  • Manaphy is available in June
  • Shamim is available in July
  • Arceus is available in August
  • Victini is available in September
  • Keldeo is available in October
  • Genesect is available in November
  • Meloetta is available in December


There are also tons of products, including new TCG cards and rereleases of the movies, available to rent or own through iTunes, Amazon Video, and Google Play as of yesterday!

There’s more.  So much more.  We haven’t even talked about Pokken Tournament OR Pokémon Go.  I can’t even contain my excitement, so I’m going to sign off here.

What are you most excited about for 2016, the 20th Anniversary of Pokémon?!


Weekend vlog #27 for my 27th birthday:

Did you guys take advantage of this killer Victoria’s Secret deal.  It’s going on until tomorrow!  Buy a sports bra, get yoga pants for free!

Also, my birthday present pearl bracelet is from Kiel James Patrick – go check it out!

And yes, I’m on an anime kick!  Any suggestion like Yamada-Kun and the 7 Witches would be much appreciated, plus– where can I watch more Pretty Cure?!

MasterChef Junior: Ramsayville


Last week’s MasterChef Junior featured the top 6 home cooks preparing food for a Micheline star-studded group of guests.  The teams were catering a Gordon Ramsay party at his house!  We got to see beautiful views, his adorable dog, and a lot of normal Gordon Ramsay life activities, like the above.

Addison and Amaya, as the top two from the previous weeks, were team captains.  Amaya calls the coin toss and gets to add to her red team first– she chooses Zac and Avery.  Addison snags Kya and JJ for her blue team.

Both teams have trouble.  Amaya’s lack of leadership experience shows and Zac really ends up taking the lead on the team.  Amaya burns cabbage, has trouble with the venison temperatures, and both Gordon and Christina have to ask her if she’s okay.  It’s not pretty.  Likewise, the blue team is frazzled.  Kya burns some things too.  Worse, they are actually a portion short on their appetizers and Gordon takes that plate so not to embarrass himself in front of his guests.  The main course doesn’t go much better, as JJ spills a boiling pan of venison (straight out of the oven) directly on to Gordon Ramsay’s foot.  Maybe Gordon deserves that big ‘ol mansion to put up with these shenanigans.  He is actually a super great sport about it, running around in one shoe to help the kids finish and telling JJ it’s okay, but to get two more portions of venison going… which JJ promptly forgets.  Addison rallies her team which does finish strong.  It’s not enough, though.

Back in the MasterChef kitchen, the red team is declared the winner and Amaya, Zac, and Avery are saved from elimination.  As for the blue team, Gordon, Graham, and Christina have one person to save.  They choose Addison and break my heart by sending Kya home.  JJ is out too, but Kya hit me hart.  She was so cute about it, though, saying she can’t imagine what she’ll be doing at 18!  Truth, girl; you are so talented!

I honestly thought Kya was going all the way, guys!  My support is going to Avery now!  Who are you cheering on?!

Top Chef: Banannaise

The chefs find themselves in beautiful, oceanside San Diego!  They meet Baja chef Javier Plascencia who, along with Padma, introduces the Quickfire Challenge: the fish taco.  It sounds great until Padma lets them know this is another  Sudden Deal Quickfire– 20 minutes and a lost lobster later, tacos have been achieved.

Karen, Chad, and Kwame find themselves in the top of the Quickfire.  Chad wins immunity for himself in his hometown!

Angelina forgot to plate on the plate.  That’s a first, I believe.  This makes her automatically up for elimination.  She chooses Wesley to face off against and fight for her spot in the competition.  “All hail, Caesar,” says Padma.  The Sudden Death challenge it to create a dish with only the ingredients Javier puts in his Caesar salad.  Wesley comes up with an egg dish, and Angelina makes a crostini dish.  Wesley wins, and Padma asks Angelina to please pack her knives.

To bring up the mood a little, Tom, Emeril, and Blaise walk on over with some beer.  Everyone takes a drink and Padma introduces the elimination challenge.  Each chef must create a dish that pairs with the beer in their hand.

Each of these beers is a collaboration with Stone Brewing Company and one of the judges:

  • Chad & Amar have the yellow label, Padma’s golden ale with jalapeño, ginger, and tamarind
  • Wesley, Karen, and Jeremy have red label, Richard’s stout with beets,  ras el honout spice blend, and chocolate
  • Marjorie, Carl, and Phillip have the green label, Emeril’s beer with coffee, cayanne, and tangerine
  • Kwame, Jason, and Isaac have blue label is Tom’s wheat beer with lemon, coriander, and banana

Emeril pays the chefs a visit later, wine literally lining his pockets.  I love Emeril so much.

The next day, the chefs cook at Richard’s restaurant: Junipter & Ivy.

Here’s what they make:

Amar, Karen, and Kwame made the judges’ favorite dishes.  Karen takes the win!  ‘Atta girl, Boston!

Jason, Isaac, and Wesley serves the judges’ least favorite dishes.  Wesley is eliminated, and will again face Angelina in Last Chance Kitchen.