Aloha Rise & Grind

Life is a journey. Enjoy the scenery.

Do you remember that song by the Dixie Chicks? It was the album post-Natalie Maine’s statement about President Bush. “The Long Way Around”

But I’ve always found my way somehow
By takin’ the long way

In the past, I felt like I was reinventing myself or trying to find a better version of myself to present to the world. I am an artist. No wait, I’m an ultramarathoner. Defining myself was half my problem. I choose not to limit myself to identify as one thing. I am a culmination of I ams. I have come to realize that in that quest, I have discovered that I am who I need to be and exactly where I need to be at this precise moment. No regrets. I am the sum of my experiences and they have made me who I am. I guess you can say, I’m feeling better in my own skin. It took not running to get me here, but I wouldn’t trade any of those miles for anything.

I am slowly learning how to put myself out there as a writer. For the most part, I have lived apart from social media. I walk on my treadmill for exactly 45 minutes every day. I no longer have the temptation to post what shoes I’m wearing or what I’m eating for breakfast, even it looks aesthetically pleasing. I don’t post every day nor do I fill my mornings or evenings with endless scrolling to see what other people are doing or eating. I am no longer seeking approval from people I hardly know or had known in a past version of myself. For now, I am happy in just being. Thanks for dropping by.

Last year we acquired an air fryer from an acquaintance, never used. If someone was going to give it away, I was definitely going to give it a try. Well, it sat on a shelf for months in my garage. I brought it in and set it on another shelf in my kitchen with the intention to use it, once again sitting for another few months. One thing I have learned with kitchen appliances is that just because you see if every day, it won’t make you use it any sooner…that is until you realize that you don’t have any chips in the pantry, but you do have a bag of yellow potatoes and an air fryer.

I didn’t start using it until the past couple of weeks, so after trying frozen foods, I ventured into the land of Pinterest and found a recipe to create my own potato chips and it has now blossomed into me trying out new recipes weekly, if not daily. Although it is a healthier alternative than using a deep fryer, it’s important to remember that all things are good in moderation. It seems like a no-brainer from lightly tossing your foods in olive oil rather than soaking it in a vat of oil, right? I have made plenty of fried goodies for the family, but why not try a healthier version? Here are some ideas if you have an air fryer that’s collecting dust on a forgotten shelf.

  1. Frozen French Fries – use your favorite seasoning on your fries. I like seasoning salt or even popcorn seasoning. My family likes the nacho cheese seasoning with a side of Taco Bell nacho cheese.

2. Frozen Chicken Nuggets

3. Potato Chips – This is another recipe we like to use popcorn seasoning on. Sea salt will work just as well. Depending on the capacity of your air fryer, you may be standing watch for a couple hours to generate a fair amount of chips to share with the family. It does make you more mindful of how many chips you munch on and for myself it was a considerable amount less than if I had a bag of chips at the ready.

4. Fried Chicken – this was a great recipe and reheating any leftovers was a cinch. Don’t leave out the buttermilk (it keeps your chicken juicy) and if you don’t have buttermilk on hand substitute every cup with one cup of milk and one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar. Leftovers take just 4 minutes to reheat at 375.

5. Potato Wedges – Have you tried the potato wedges from Wendy’s? These ones are a very close match.

I have come to the realization that I’m not much of a food blogger. This week I tried another recipe called chicken and dumplings, but popular vote required me to change the recipe a tad by not adding the dumplings. I ended up baking the biscuits instead, so here we have creamy chicken soup with a side of biscuits. It still turned out great with plenty of flavor from all the herbs and seasoning. I even brought a soup mug of it for my husband while we watched our daughter during soccer practice.

*Note: This recipe originally calls for peas and carrots, but my family isn’t a fan, so if you like more veggies, go ahead and add them in. I think next time I’ll throw in some broccoli. I didn’t allow my carrots to cook long enough (some were tender and others added a crunch factor my family didn’t vibe with), so keep that in mind before adding the milk and flour.

creamy chicken soup

Creamy Chicken Soup

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 4 Cups water
  • 4 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 lbs uncooked chicken breasts, boneless skinless cubed
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Cup carrots
  • 4 Cups milk
  • 1 Cup all-purpose flour

Instructions
 

  • In a large stockpot, mix water with bouillon cubes, and seasoning. Bring to a boil.
  • Add in cubed chicken and carrots. Simmer until carrots are tender.
  • Combine milk and flour and slowly stir in. Once soup has thickened, it's ready to serve.
Keyword chicken, comfort food, soup

Hello Everyone! I’m sure you have probably noticed that I have slowed down on my posts. To be honest, I began this blog so that I would have the guts to start putting my writing out there again. I didn’t know what type of blog to create because in all reality the blog prior to this one was about my single obsession with running. For now, I’ll still continue to add more recipes that I have had great success with my family as well as my thoughts about whatever I have on my mind. One day I will put my memoir about my love affair with running, but I’m not quite ready to share that part of me. I have to a certain extent, but there is a lot I have held back. I need more time to pass before I’m ready.

I have turned my attention away from blog posts in an effort to work on my novel. It’s been in the works for a while now, but I can finally say that I’m slowly nearing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. It’s NANOWRIMO (National November Writing Month) and coincidentally last month I starting listening to the Write- Minded Podcast, from the creator of NANOWRIMO. There was one podcast, in particular, that gave me the push I needed. One writer said, “Don’t stop writing until the end.” I’m happy to say that I reached the end of the novel. I’ve been pushing along with edits, so hopefully, I’ll have it completed by the beginning of the new year. This is the first time I have actually said this out loud other than to my family. It’s a hard thing to come out of one’s shell, but it has to be done.

I can say that I have had to overcome several roadblocks that kept me from writing a story. There’s that nagging self-doubt that what I have to say is not worth reading, but then there’s also that other feeling that I can’t escape and that’s the desire to write. What’s the worst that can happen, right? People will love it or they won’t, but at least I had the courage to get it out there.

creamy potato soup

So, as I try to make this more of a reader friendly post, I’m realizing that simplifying my post is much more effective than writing some long drawn out one. To be honest, when I’m looking for a recipe on the internet which takes me to somebody’s blog, I’m the one who clicks on the “Jump to Recipe” button. To save you the trouble, all you have to do is finish reading this paragraph and you’re there. The overall family consensus was that they loved my take on the creamy potato soup and were sad when there wasn’t enough to go around the next day. Take heed and make more.

If you’d like more soup ideas. Click here.

creamy potato soup

Creamy Potato Soup

Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Cup butter
  • 3/4 Cup all purpose flour
  • 9 Cups milk
  • 1 Cup half and half
  • 1 1/4 Teaspoons salt
  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 5 potatoes peeled and chopped
  • 2 Cups cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/3 Cup sour cream
  • 1 pound bacon cooked, crumbled

Instructions
 

  • Melt butter and stir in flour until smooth. Then slowly pour milk and half and half while continuously stirring.
  • Mix in bouillon cubes and salt. Add potatoes. Keep on medium heat until potatoes are tender.
  • Add in cheese, sour cream and bacon. Ready to serve.
Keyword potatosoup, soup, tour de soup

It has taken a long time to find a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. This is by far my favorite recipe to date. Cookies I have made in the past have had too much flour or too little. I have also found a happy medium where chocolate chips are concerned. I always thought my kids loved the chocolate chips only to find out 17 years later that she’s not a fan. My common sense solution is to set aside a dozen pre-scooped portions for my non-chocolate chip lover.

A couple of tools I have found useful in my cookie making process over the years has been my medium sized cookie dough scoop and parchment paper (easy cleanup) so you don’t have to bother scrubbing your cookie sheet afterwards.

Since all ovens are different I tend to go with the least amount of cook time and go from there. I have found that 10 minutes in the oven yield the perfect bake time. Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!

chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 3 dozen

Equipment

  • medium-sized cookie scoop
  • cookie sheets
  • parchment paper

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Cup butter softened
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 Cup brown sugar unpacked
  • 2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions
 

  • In mixing bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until creamy in texture.
  • Add in flour, salt, baking powder, and chocolate chips.
  • Chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Scoop cookie dough on to sheets and bake for 10 minutes.
Keyword baking, chocolate chip cookies, cookies

habits: discipline vs. motivation

Habits

Every day we are given choices and a lot of these choices influence our habits for good or bad. Habits provide us with the things that we can control i.e., our attitude, what we eat, read, wear, listen to etc… For the past few weeks, I have been consumed with forming good habits in one specific area: writing.

With writing I am constantly battling my inner negativity monster and a slew of self doubts. I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to establish a regular writing routine. I don’t know if any of you writers out there feel the same way, but for myself I used to give into my moods. If I wasn’t feeling particularly good or too busy or too tired on any given day I wouldn’t write. I’d give in to the excuse that I can’t be creative when I feel _____. I have learned that it takes at least a month to form a good habit. In 2016 I purchased a journal called {21 Days} Make or Break a Habit. I think I fell off the wagon seven days in. Four years later, I still use the journal, mostly to take notes and write.

Discipline or Motivation?

When I’m struggling I find myself giving me a pep talk that goes along the lines of something like this, “Enough with the excuses already!” I can name a few at any given moment as I’m sure many of you can. I mentally go back the quote below when I’m feeling an “But I don’t want to” percolating inside.

You will never always be motivated, so you must learn to be disciplined.

I used to believe that motivation was enough to get things done, but the truth is motivation fades just as quickly as a feeling. If you want something bad enough, you will do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal, right? And that’s where discipline takes over.

Consistency

I have included a downloadable workbook that you can use on your own journey to good habits. Always remember that consistency is what will make or break your habit. I encourage you to spend a moment each day to write about your habit and your main reason for establishing it. One sentence will suffice. Reminding yourself daily will further assist you to instill it in your life for good.

Click the download button to start your good habit now!

easy clam chowder
Jump to Recipe

Which do you prefer? New England Clam Chowder or the San Francisco version? The first time I was introduced to clam chowder was by way of Progresso Soup. It’s watered down, tastes like the can it comes from and the clams are uber chewy. Definitely not the best first impression. This brings me to a brief walk down memory lane.

The next time I was introduced to clam chowder was while visiting San Francisco with my parents when I was a teen. Here’s some backstory, my stepdad worked in refrigeration in San Francisco. He loved that city. He had a small apartment right off of Geary Street and would spend three weeks in the city and then drive home to Hinckley, Utah to stay for a week. For some odd reason, he enjoyed it and I didn’t mind it myself, since we didn’t really get along. Thinking back on it, it was strange that our family lived like this for years. My mother worked at the Delta Middle School and I attended Delta High School.

In the summers, I would go out to San Francisco to spend some time with my parents, so they could share with me all the different foods they felt I was missing out on. I can tell you that my first-generation Asian American self was not accustomed to the diverse foods San Francisco offered. As a teen, I spent most of my time at my friends’ homes where they served American fare. I didn’t enjoy these food excursions in San Fran because it meant that I would be eating a lot of foods I didn’t like. Tripe was high on my dislike list and to this day, I’m still not a fan. I have grown accustomed to eel since then, but I don’t have much of an Asian palette. Sometimes I think my kids are more Asian than me. My third child, Isabel loves octopus and even my 1-year-old will eat sardines and rice in the morning.

Anyways, back to the story. One day my parents took me to an American restaurant, I truly never thought I’d see the day. I had the clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl and it made a memorable impression. The likes I have not seen until I made this recipe. I did find out that the primary difference between the New England Clam Chowder and the San Francisco version is that the latter is served with sourdough bread. Can you believe that’s the only difference?!

My husband loved it so much that he had three bowls of it. Unfortunately, sourdough bread in the rounds is hard to come by out and I haven’t gotten around to baking it. Sourdough in slices isn’t nearly as satisfying, so I ended up making the Red Lobster cheddar biscuits from a box. I hope you’ll give this recipe a try!

Clam Chowder

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 3 – 10 ounce cans baby clams undrained
  • 16 ounces clam juice
  • 3 Cups chicken broth
  • 2 large potatoes peeled, diced
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Thyme
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 Tablespoons corn starch
  • 4 Cups heavy whipping cream

Instructions
 

  • In a large stockpot, combine, clam juice, undrained clams, chicken broth and potatoes. Place on medium heat for 15 minutes.
  • Mix cornstarch with heavy whipping cream and pour into stockpot. Cook for an additional 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Keyword chowder, clam chowder, simple recipe

This week I decided to use ingredients that were readily available in my pantry and freezer. What better soup to make than the Chicken Tortilla Soup! Most soup bases require either chicken or beef stock, so when I’m out of chicken stock, I usually have chicken bouillon cubes at the ready. They also pack in a lot more flavor. 90% of the time I have a package of chicken boneless, skinless chicken breasts on standby. I love how quickly you can make dinner with one package of chicken. Another thing I usually keep in my pantry is a big can of diced tomatoes. I have listened to my mother’s suggestion on this item. She has always said to buy canned tomatoes so you don’t have to worry about the rotting factor. I have thrown out a lot of tomatoes because I get to them too late. The only time I buy fresh tomatoes is when I’m making ceviche, a recipe I’ll share another time. I don’t know why, but we usually have tortilla chips in our pantry. We don’t eat them on a regular basis, but they are great to have when you want to add a little bit of crunch in a Mexican dish. For this particular recipe, I used a cup of crushed Doritos and then garnished it with cantina-style chips. They gave it the perfect crunch factor.

Chicken Tortilla Soup is a great one-pot meal and I’m all about those kinds of dinners. I use more pots and pans making spaghetti! Truth be told, I didn’t want to go to the grocery store, just to get ingredients for one recipe. You can spruce this soup up with fresh cilantro and avocadoes, but again I usually shy away from both of those ingredients unless I’m making ceviche.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Cook Time 30 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 3 Teaspoons garlic minced
  • 14.5 ounces can diced tomatoes
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 Tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 Cups water
  • 4 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 2 carrots shredded
  • 1 Cup crushed tortilla chips
  • 8 ounces shredded cheese

Instructions
 

  • In large stockpot heat olive oil and saute onions and garlic until translucent.
  • Add-in chicken breasts, seasonings and carrots while on medium heat. Bring to a boil
  • Reduce heat back to medium and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.
  • Pull out chicken breasts and cut into cubes. Return chicken to soup, add tortilla chips and cheese.
  • Top indnividual bowlswith additional chips, cheese and sour cream.
Keyword chicken tortilla, easy, recipe, simple recipe
Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

You guys, Fall is literally around the corner and it begins the day after my birthday! I’m not thrilled about celebrating my birthday, but I am anxious for some cooler weather. If you’re a Floridian like myself, it’s hard to tell when our eternal summer is going to end. In other states there are tell tale signs that autumn is approaching, but here it feels like each day is just as hot as the next, am I right?

Those of you not living in the Sunshine State, here’s a comfort food that your family is sure to love as the temperature drops. My second oldest, Lexy, and foodie in her own right, says it almost tastes like the kind of soup you get from Panera Bread. She packed it up for lunch the following day and a classmate of hers thought it came for Panera. I’ll take the “almost” as a win.

broccoli cheddar soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 8 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion diced
  • 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 Cups water
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 Large chicken bouillon cubes
  • 2 Teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ Teaspoon paprika
  • 2 Heads broccoli florets cut in small pieces
  • 2 Large carrots grated
  • 2 Cups half and half
  • 2 Cups milk
  • 8 Ounces cheese

Instructions
 

  • In an 8 quart Dutch Oven pot, melt butter and saute onions until translucent.
  • Stir in flour. Pour in water and mix in bouillon cubes until dissolved.
  • Mix in the garlic powder, salt and paprika and put in broccoli florets and carrots. Place on medium heat until vegetables are tender.
  • Pour in half and half, milk and grated cheese.
  • Ready to serve.
Keyword broccoli and cheddar soup, comfortfoods, soup, tour de soup
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