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Sunday, September 27, 2015

UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII WAHINE VOLLEYBALL TEAM DINNER

WAHINE VOLLEYBALL TEAM DINNER
STAN SHERIFF CENTER, UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII

We love hosting the Team Dinner for the University of Hawaii Wahine Volleyball Team.  It is especially nice when the team comes off a three game sweep over Cal Poly and is now 12-1.  We were wanting the girls to come off the court hungry because we had prepared quite a bit of food for them.  What do you cook for the entire team of players from diverse backgrounds and coaches who have traveled the world?  For past dinners we used caterers so we did not have to worry about cooking or transferring the food to the Stan Sheriff Center and then making sure it was warm when served.  Many of the girls are picky eaters with some not liking fish, fried foods or Asian foods so it is tough to please everyone.  We decided to keep our menu fresh, homemade and pretty healthy and basically went with some of our favorite dishes that we cook at home.  You will find all of these dishes on my blog.  Prepping for this meal started the day before with a shopping run to Costco, Sams and the local grocery store.  We picked up the Salmon the day of the dinner so it would be fresh.  Literally took all day Saturday before the match to get everything prepared and cooked.  So much goes through your mind when you are cooking for thirty plus people.  My main concern was how to keep the Tuscan Chicken Breasts from drying out and becoming rubber when we had to have them at the game two hours before the end of the game.  The other thing you cannot determine when preparing a fresh team meal is the timing of when the meal will be served.  If the games go fast as was the case this night you can be serving dinner 90 minutes from the start time.  If they go to four or five games you can be out two hours or more.  We decided to miss the game and cook at home until the match started.  Our plan was to leave our house by 7:30 pm and arrive at the game by 8:00.  This allowed us to cook the chicken breasts at the last minute and take them to the game warm.  I had to cook around 16 chicken breasts and only could fit three in the pan at one time.  Since it takes 14 minutes to cook each batch this meant that cooking the chicken would take around two hours.  After cooking the first batch of chicken, I cut the chicken into pieces and it was so juicy and cooked perfectly.  Decided not to cut any of the other breasts until we got to the arena so the juices would stay inside.  This turned out to be key.  If I would have cut them all two hours before serving they would have dried out for sure.  Cutting them right before serving kept them moist.  We prepared a Caesar Salad with fresh tomatoes and Parmesan Cheese.  Used Gerard's Caesar Dressing which is a winner.  Next up was Penne Pasta with Meat Sauce.  We cooked the sauce early in the morning so it had hours to cook.  The sauce contained ground beef, Italian sausage, carrots, celery, basil, oregano and onions along with our secret Tomato Sauce.  I was tasting the sauce all day and it was really good.  Served with fresh basil and Parmesan Cheese along with Garlic Bread with Parmesan.  We cooked the Penne Pasta a little Al Dente so that it would not get mushy.  Figured it would continue cooking in the warmers when served.  To transport the Pasta, we coated it lightly with olive oil so it would not stick together.  This worked perfectly.  When we arrived at the arena we mixed the pasta with the sauce and topped with grated Parmesan and fresh Basil.  Next up was Baked Salmon with Hollandaise Sauce.  This is an all time favorite family dish but we were not sure how the players and coaches who like it.  The dish is so simple to prepare and is so delicious when served with white rice. We baked the Salmon and transported it in dishes where we layered the hollandaise sauce on the bottom and then put the fish on top.  Before serving we added a bit of Hollandaise on top of the fish and topped with fresh Dill and a little bit of Paprika.  To our surprise the players and coaches seemed to like the Salmon dish.  Several people came up afterwards and said they loved it.  The star dish of the night was Chocolate Covered Strawberries.  Every single one was eaten up by the players.  
This was a lot of work but well worth it to be able to feed the team a quality home cooked meal.
Below are recipes for the dishes served to the team;
Tom's Tuscan Chicken
Salmon with Hollandaise Sauce
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

PREPPING THE SALMON AT HOME BEFORE THE GAME
FRESH ROMAINE FOR THE CAESAR SALAD IS READY TO GO
CUT UP LOTS OF FRESH FRUIT
COOKED THREE TRAYS OF PENNE PASTA
HAD TO MAKE RICE - THIS IS HAWAII
PREPPING TOM'S TUSCAN CHICKEN
COOKED 7 MINUTES ON EACH SIDE AND THEN KEPT WARM 
LOADED UP THE SUV AND HEADED FOR THE STAN SHERIFF CENTER
CAESAR SALAD
RICE AND GARLIC/PARMESAN BREAD
PENNE PASTA WITH MEAT SAUCE
TOM'S TUSCAN CHICKEN
SALMON WITH HOLLANDAISE SAUCE AND FRESH DILL
BUFFET LINE FOR THE RAINBOW WAHINE VOLLEYBALL TEAM
CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRIES AND BROWNIES
THE TEAM DIGS IN
PLAYERS LOVED THE SWEETS
BACK AGAIN FOR SECONDS - LOVE IT!





Wednesday, September 23, 2015

HEALTHY SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN

HEALTHY SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN
DINNER AT HOME

I have been craving Sweet and Sour Pork or Chicken but did not want to make a recipe that had a batter or fried breading on the meat.  Surfed the web for recipes and pulled this together based on several different recipes.  Kind of made it up with what we had in the refrigerator.  Started with two Chicken Breasts and one Chicken Thigh.  Cut them in pieces and sautéed in a bit of Olive Oil until cooked through.  Added diced Yellow, Green and Red Bell Pepper, Onion and Carrots.  Cooked but left them a bit crunchy then added the Pineapple Chunks and a Sweet and Sour sauce that contained Chili Sauce, Ketchup, Rice Vinegar and  Pineapple Juice.  Added mixture of one tablespoon Corn Starch and Water to thicken.  I poured in the leftover liquid from the Pineapple Chunks which added more moisture so the sauce did not thicken too much.  Also added one teaspoon of Sesame Oil and the end.  Topped the dish with fresh cut green onion.  Overall this was pretty darn good. 

CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES MAKE THIS A HEALTHY DISH
PINEAPPLE CHUNKS, SESAME OIL, MIXED VEGETABLES, CHICKEN, WATER/CORNSTARCH
AND SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE
SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE
DICED FRESH VEGETABLES MAKE THE DISH 
COOKED THE CHICKEN IN ABOUT A TABLESPOON OF OLIVE OIL
COOKED UNTIL DONE AND ADDED A BIT OF SALT AND PEPPER
ADDED THE VEGETABLES
ADDED THE PINEAPPLE CHUNKS 
POURED IN THE PINEAPPLE CHUNKS AND WHATEVER LIQUID THAT WAS LEFT IN CAN.
POURED IN THE WATER/CORNSTARCH MIXTURE
HEALTHY SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN


Sunday, September 20, 2015

BOGART'S CAFE

BOGART'S CAFE
3045 MONSARRAT AVE
HONOLULU, HI
808-739-0999
HOURS:  Monday thru Friday 6:00 AM - 6:30 PM
                 Saturday and Sunday 6:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Japanese tourists and locals flock to Bogart's Cafe in large numbers.  This award winning Cafe is known for their Breakfast and Acai Bowls.  There are very few tables in the restaurant and no air conditioning.  The two tables outside in front are probably the best seats in the house if you can get them.  Parking is very limited so you may have to get creative and walk a bit.  The Japanese tourists seem to know the place and they b-line it in from Waikiki by foot.  We tried the Daily Special Loco Moco with Rib Eye Steak ($14.60).  Thinly sliced Rib Eye with Mushrooms, Onions and Port Wine Reduction Sauce.  Served with Two Eggs and Two Scoops Rice.  The Eggs were cooked to perfection and over easy as requested.  My Wife liked the flavor of the meat but said that there was not much of it for $15.  I tasted the sauce and it was pretty darn good.  The Crab and Avocado Sandwich ($14.60) was delicious.  Nice Crab Cake and fresh Avocado on a toasted bun.  No complaints but I thought the price as a little high.  My Daughter went for the Penne Pasta Pesto with Chicken ($11.70).  This was a nice portion of pasta smothered in Pesto Sauce.  I tasted it and it was good but pretty basic.  Sitting inside Bogart's was unbearable on a 90 degree afternoon.  We were lucky to get a table in the corner but after twenty minutes I had to get outside for some fresh air.  Enjoyed the people watching at Bogart's.  Non stop people going in and out.  Even ran into people I know having a cup of coffee.  They are regulars at Bogart's and say it is the best place in Honolulu for breakfast.

BOGART'S IS IN A STRIP MALL A FEW BLOCKS FROM WAIKIKI BEACH
GET IN LINE AND ORDER AT THE COUNTER
SEATING IS LIMITED AT BOGART'S AND THE AIR CONDITIONING WAS NOT WORKING
THE LINE MOVES PRETTY FAST - ORDER AT THE COUNTER AND THEY WILL CALL YOUR NAME
WHEN THE FOOD IS READY
BOGART'S MENU
DAILY SPECIAL - LOCO MOCO WITH RIB EYE STEAK, MUSHROOMS AND PORT WINE SAUCE
CRAB AND AVOCADO SANDWICH
CRAB, AVOCADO, TOMATO AND LETTUCE
NICE CRAB CAKE THAT WAS SWEET AND DELICIOUS
PENNE PASTA PESTO WITH CHICKEN

DIANA ROSS LIVE IN CONCERT HAWAII

DIANA ROSS LIVE IN CONCERT
HONOLULU, HAWAII

Diana Ross was a joy to watch and listen to at this concert in Honolulu.  Her voice as beautiful as ever.  













CHRISTOPHER CROSS AND LITTLE RIVER BAND LIVE IN CONCERT

CHRISTOPHER CROSS AND LITTLE RIVER BAND
LIVE IN CONCERT AT THE WAIKIKI SHELL

Seeing and listening to Christopher Cross and The Little River Band brought back so many memories from my youth.  This was a night of nostalgia and really good music.  Christopher Cross still sounds amazing.  Enjoy the videos and music.








Saturday, September 19, 2015

BRITTANY SPEARS LIVE IN CONCERT - PLANET HOLLYWOOD, LAS VEGAS

BRITTANY SPEARS IN CONCERT
PLANET HOLLYWOOD, LAS VEGAS

Thought my Wife and Daughter would enjoy seeing Brittany Spears in Las Vegas.  I was wrong - we all did not like this show.  Did however love seeing Kelly Clarkson who more than made up for this concert.  Here are some video clips before I literally feel asleep.
Click link below to view videos of Kelly Clarkson Concert in Las Vegas;




KELLY CLARKSON LIVE IN LAS VEGAS

KELLY CLARKSON
LIVE IN LAS VEGAS

Totally enjoyed seeing Kelly Clarkson in concert at the Mandalay Bay Center in Las Vegas.  Kelly has a great voice and really connects with the audience.  Had a better time than I could have ever imagined.  View a few of the highlights below.




ARIA SKY SUITES

ARIA SKY SUITES
ARIA RESORT AND CASINO
3730 LAS VEGAS BLVD
LAS VEGAS, NV  89158
866-359-7111

I love the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.  It is my go to place to stay in Sin City.  Now I have a new favorite place and it is within the Aria.  The Aria Sky Suites is a hotel within a hotel with its own entrance, front desk and elevator system.  Once you stay in the Sky Suites you may not want to go back to the standard Aria.  The Sky Suite experience is pretty special with limo service to and from the airport, a private lounge that serves a Continental Breakfast in the morning and Beer, Wine and Cheese in the evenings.  24 hour security stand guard at the entrance to the Sky Suites and the elevators are far away from the main casino and crowds overflowing the main elevators.  Great experience especially when you get a invitation from the hotel for a few comp nights and some food credits thrown in.
Click link below for another post on Aria Sky Suites;  

PRIVATE ENTRANCE FROM THE BACK OF THE ARIA RESORT AND CASINO
SKY SUITES LOUNGE PROVIDES COMPLIMENTARY DRINKS AND SNACKS 
STOP BY FOR AN EVENING GLASS OF WINE 
PRIVATE FRONT DESK ENTRANCE
CHECK IN FAR AWAY FROM THE CROWDS AT THE ARIA
SKY SUITES STANDARD DOUBLE ROOM
LARGE COMFORTABLE BEDS
WORK AREA
REFRIGERATOR STOCKED FULL OF BEVERAGES AND SNACKS AT A PRICE
GREAT VIEWS




GUESTS OF SKY SUITES ENJOY THEIR PRIVATE SKY POOL
PAMPERED AT THE ARIA
VERY CALM POOL SCENE
NICE PLACE TO HANG OUT ON A 100 DEGREE DAY
COMPLIMENTARY LITTLE DRINK GIVEN POOLSIDE
A STAY AT THE ARIA SKY SUITES INCLUDES LIMO SERVICE TO AIRPORT