Cookbook Excerpt: I Love You Meals

Cookbook Excerpt: I Love You Meals

The following is an excerpt from Food With My Friends, the debut cookbook by Chris Kohatsu, now available in eBook, iBook and printed versions.  Photographs by Stephanie Cameron.  All rights reserved.

Special Occasions, Date Nights & I Love You Meals

I can’t help but giggle as I write this. I’ve never been lucky in love. I’ve dated a lot, and I’ve certainly had my fair share of short-term relationships, but when it comes to true love I always strike out as if I were up against the best baseball pitcher in the world.

A few years ago, I was fortunate to start a wonderful relationship with Ron, and while we are no longer romantically involved, we remain good friends. He and I have shared more dishes than I can count. When I told him I was writing a cookbook, he quickly rattled off his favorites from all of the foods I’ve made for him over the years. I narrowed his choices down to four meals that I happily share with you here.

A romantic meal has to be genuine and full of thought, with elements of fun. I like to keep it casual, unique and somewhat light. You’ll need your energy for other activities during the night (and a reason to have a good breakfast in the morning)!

The following meals have been portioned for two people, but can easily be adjusted to accommodate a double date or larger family gathering. I’ve also included steps to ensure that all of the elements come together perfectly, as timing is everything.

If you are lucky enough to be in the kitchen with a special someone, these meals will practically make themselves in no time. If you want to impress someone, you can easily make any of these on your own.

Alternatively, if you’re like me and love to wish and hope and pray for a magical moment—practice, practice, practice these recipes. You just never know when you’ll need to have an “I Love You” meal at the ready!

Balsamic Marinated Steak with Spinach & Strawberry Salad

Serves 2

For the Marinade:
⅔ cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, smashed

For the Steaks:
2 New York strip steaks
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Salad:

Follow Raspberry Vinaigrette recipe, substitute strawberry jam
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
4 small or 2 large fresh strawberries
¼ cup sliced almonds

1. Start the Marinade
In a non-reactive dish or re-sealable plastic bag, mix the vinegar, brown sugar and garlic cloves.

With a fork, prick the steaks all over. Place the steaks in the marinade and refrigerate for one hour. Thirty minutes prior to grilling, remove from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

2. Light the Grill
Heat the grill to high heat. Brush and oil the grill as needed.

Remove steaks from marinade and allow excess marinade to run off. Salt and pepper the steaks then place on grill. A thin-cut steak should be turned after 1-2 minutes. Thicker cut steaks will need 3-4 minutes per side.

Once steaks are finished, remove from grill and tent with foil. Allow steaks to rest for five minutes.

3. Make the Dressing
In a glass jar or leak proof container, shake the ingredients to make the vinaigrette. Refrigerate or set aside. Can be made 1 day in advance.

On plate, assemble a handful of spinach. Slice 1 large or 2 medium strawberries on top of spinach. Drizzle with vinaigrette then sprinkle with almonds.

4. Slice and Serve
Slice steak into strips, holding your knife at an angle and slicing across the grain. Serve steak and salad and enjoy immediately.

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Comfort Me in Macaroni and Cheese

Comfort Me in Macaroni and Cheese

There are certain things that will instantly make me happy:

  • spending hours in comfortable pajamas

    Bacon and Peas Macaroni and Cheese!

  • chewing on sour patch kids
  • drinking margaritas on the rocks
  • petting a happy dog
  • going on a long, scenic walk
  • diving into a delicious plate of macaroni and cheese
I did all of these things last week, as I went through a very shitty experience.  Yeah, I said it, and yes, it’s crude, but that’s the best word to describe what I went through. I did all of the above and did it with my friends.  And now, I’m in a much happier place!
Previously, I posted two of my favorite mac ‘n cheese recipes, and now, I’m pleased to share my Bacon and Peas Macaroni and Cheese.  Hee, hee, hee….. just saying it makes me happy.
When tackling this recipe, take your time and play happy music.  Use the microwave for an easy way to crisp the bacon.  You can choose to blanche the peas or you can just throw them in the casserole.  Shred your own cheese if you choose, or simply open a bag of pre-grated.  Who cares?   I make this recipe whenever I need to get out of a funk.  It makes me happy, and I hope it does the same for you.
I owe a world of thanks to all of my backers, but especially to the friends who encouraged me to get up and keep going — Korey, Jen, Michelle, Liza, Jason, Ray, Jeremiah and Stevens — big hugs to each of you.  The pity party is over, thanks for the drinks!
Bacon and Peas Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 5 people (4 normal people and 1 person down in the dumps)
3 cups small sea shell pasta (or elbow macaroni)
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup frozen peas
5 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
4 ounces sharp white cheddar, grated
4 ounces sharp yellow cheddar, grated
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tablespoon grated nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cook the noodles in boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain but do not rinse. Return noodles to the pot and add the butter.  Mix until butter is melted and all the noodles are coated.  Set aside.
  3. Butter a 8×8 square baking dish or use vegetable spray.
  4. Beat the eggs with the two milks.
  5. Pour a layer of noodles into the baking dish.  Top with a layer of crumbled bacon, and a handful of the peas.  Add a handful of the two types of cheeses and pour half of the milk mixture over the noodles.  Repeat this process until you reach the top of the dish.  You may or may not use all of the milk mixture.  I usually have about 4 ounces remaining (sorry, but it’s true).
  6. Sprinkle the top layer with nutmeg, cracked black pepper and salt if desired.  Bake for 30 minutes until cheese is browned and bubbling.  Allow to stand for 10 minutes, then serve.  Enjoy with friends immediately.

A small square of happiness!

My Cookbook: A Sneak Peek!

My Cookbook: A Sneak Peek!

Did you like what you saw?

Yesterday, I released a few pics from my upcoming cookbook through my Facebook page.  The support, enthusiasm and encouragement have been overwhelming.  You guys are the best!

The idea for a sneak peek came during a conference call with my book team.  As previously mentioned, the photography for my book is provided by Stephanie Cameron.  If you like what you’ve seen so far, just wait for the food shots…  they are scrumptious!  The other person on the team is my editor, Larry Closs.  Larry is a fascinating, fun, intelligent and just all around wonderful person (and he’s releasing his first novel very soon).  Together, the three of us are quite the force to be reckoned with. 

My passion for food is matched uniquely with Stephanie’s background in fine arts.  Together we create beautiful images of the recipes featured in my cookbook.  Larry’s mastery of communication (a graduate degree in Journalism and undergraduate in English) along with his extensive work in publishing helps me to communicate my true intent along with refinement of my voice.

The incredibly talented, Larry Closs

It’s a fantastic feeling to work with a team of people who are as committed to a project as you are.  There’s a level of energy present that I haven’t felt for awhile.  To know that I have the dedication, talents and commitment of both Steph and Larry is an amazing gift that makes me entirely grateful and extremely humbled. 

And then to have you, my friends and faithful readers, cheering this project on…. it’s nothing short of amazing.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I think I’ll leave you with one more sneak peek….. this time, a food shot.  Enjoy.