Category: Budget

Totoro Musubis

Totoro Spam MusubiSpam is a local staple in Hawaii, and musubis (quick rice balls or snacks) are the ideal vehicle for this versatile mystery meat. It’s something I kind of grew up knowing and eating as a kid, despite not being born and raised here, and in its prevalence and simplicity, it has quickly become a go-to, comfort food.

I could’ve left it in its “natural” form (just the spam over rice with some nori), but I couldn’t resist. The kid in me still likes to play with my food. And, this was way too cute to keep to myself.

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Strawberry-Chipotle Turkey Sandwich with Spinach

I hate to break it to you, guys, but I get rather idle come summer time. Granted, the weather has been much less than perfect lately, but nevertheless, it is still summer and I live in Hawaii (yup, there I go again, rubbing it in). And it’s sunny out (for the most part), it’s too hot inside without AC, and I sure as hell don’t feel like turning on the stove. Seriously. Unless, it’s to toast up these babies. Because these babies are, simply-put, amazing.
I truly kid you not. These glorified simple sandwiches are the perfect balance between sweet and savory, light and decadent. It’s the easiest (but more importantly, tastiest) on-the-go sandwich to avoid being cooped up in a hot kitchen on a sunny summer day.
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Spice-Rubbed Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw & Chipotle Cream

 

I wasn’t planning on even mentioning this dish. I have no expertise in the realm of authentic Latina cooking and typically leave it up to others that actually know what they’re talking about. I mostly just do the eating. Since, well, that happens to be my expertise.
But it makes no difference because these impromptu tacos and those close to the HungrytoHappy kitchen were at something of a standstill. They were dinner last Tuesday. They were lunch on Wednesday. They were a snack on Thursday. And if that isn’t a good indication of how good they were, let me tell you. They were awesome.
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My Funny Valentine

I have a little confession to make. My name is Haein and I am a hopeless romantic.
I know, I know. Once upon a time (over Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes with White Chocolate Mint Cream, maybe) I wrote off Valentine’s Day as a “commercial holiday disguised as a single-day celebration of ‘love,’ as defined by Hallmark,” or, you know, something like that. Being the so-called “serial monogamist” that I am, I viewed February 14th simply as yet another excuse to get dolled up and correspondingly wined and dined by the presumably ever-so-charming BF (whoever that may be). But, more importantly, as a girl who loves to bake and cook, I simply viewed the day as one to breathe, think, make, then give everything that is chocolate. To, well, everyone.
Surprisingly, this year, there was no “everyone.” There was most certainly chocolate. But, only a silky and decadent old-fashioned chocolate pudding for two.
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Buttermilk Creams with Strawberries

It is no secret that summer has finally arrived. (Well, it never really is in Hawaii, now is it?) The sun is blazing making it impossible to look directly at, azure skies are smeared ever so delicately with wispy clouds, lithe (and not-so-lithe) bodies glisten on planes of white sand in nothing but stringy bikinis and man-thongs (more often than not, to my utter disgust and dismay), and best of all: school is out, meaning I get to bask in all the world’s pleasures (except for when I am planted behind a desk and a laptop to do work or to provide you with other worldly (specifically gustatory) pleasures, like so.
Now, if the aforementioned characteristics of summer are not so readily available to you as it is to me causing you to now loathe my guts with burning envy, hate not! I bring a peace offering in the form of bright, sweet, and zesty strawberries over a soft, supple, and surprisingly light buttermilk cream; the purest flavors of summer and heaven. Love me now? If not yet, you will.

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Kimchi Quesadillas & sesame-gochujang sour cream

Under the never-ending list of Things I Absolutely Have to Make (or have already made) and (need to) Blog About (including my favorite go-to Korean staple, kimchi jjigae/stew, which has been requested by several & is soon to come), there is the kimchi quesadilla, which I have finally gotten around to making. It may sound a little strange initially, but trust me, the pairing of kimchi with cheese is nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, growing up in Korea, this was a prevalent and beloved conjunction of contrasting flavors and textures: tart, spicy, briny, and crunchy with buttery, nutty, oozy, and melted; a serious match made in culinary heaven.
However, it wasn’t until last summer when I visited L.A. amidst the Kogi Truck craze, that I had the opportunity to try one of these insanely good, savory treats. I was immediately blown away at first bite. As I’ve experienced re-creating this quesadilla with my own artistic flare, I’ve consistently found myself wondering: why has this concept not been popularized sooner? I mean, everybody loves quick and easy finger-food, especially when it goes hand-in-hand with an ice-cold Corona and lime, right?
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Spicy Daikon Pancakes

One of the greatest perks of a new job, besides having something ‘fresh’ to talk about, is access. If knowledge is power, I think I’ve just scored myself a key. It’s been less than a month and I’ve already accumulated more information and experience than I can even fathom. Recently, the most jolting lesson came from a business “field trip” to Otsuji Farms in Hawaii Kai. With gas and food prices persistently climbing, it is more than about time to start re-evaluating our priorities for a sustainable economy. Particularly for Hawaii, we’re only 15% food secure at best. That obviously isn’t very “secure” given the fact that we live in the middle of an ocean and if our outsourced food supply were to be cut off at any given time, our on-hand supply would deplete in a matter of days. Thus, inevitably leading to a limpid (& highly simplified) conclusion: no food for me, no happiness for you!

The unfortunate aspect of this dilemma is that farmers in Hawaii pay a high price to produce food and do not have economies of scale to equally compete with the nominal prices of imported produce and food. Therefore, in order for these humble farms to remain viable in this noxious economy, there needs to be a change in the seemingly immutable industry in addition to our personal daily lives. Talk about food for thought. Continue reading

A Spud-ful.


I’m back and let’s just say it’s been a very long week – a very animated one, at that. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this previously, but I attended a private international school in Korea for middle and most of high school. Now besides entitling its students to a sense of worldly knowledge and ignorant arrogance (no offense), the school truly formed an elite sort of family that has members all over the world. That being said, I can comfortably find at least one or two Seoul Foreign School students that I know in just about any state or even continent I go.  Lucky for me, living in Hawaii and all, I get a lot of friendly and familiar visitors from my old school. However, the past week has been the first time that I’ve reunited with five of them at once on this not-so-stranded island. And boy, I tell you, us Koreans, we party hard.

Hence, with everything my jobs, friends, and parties entailed, I was once again forced to commit the crime of negligence to my kitchen. So, although this may not be a meal or dish worthy of any sort  of remote self-aggrandizing, it’s still something you can snack on until my next (not nearly as overdue) delicious post. Continue reading

Two Loaves of Meat.

Returning to my own kitchen, I still have to say that I feel as though I always marvel at my ability to bake anything. Sure, it may not be baking loaves of bread, but baking loaves of meat still feels like a truly magical accomplishment. I’m serious! Just the other week, I tried to bake a cake, which I haven’t tried doing in a very long time. Only because I remember thinking for years up to this point that I could not bake cakes to save my dear life, but I decided to try again feeling confident with all this kitchen experience under my belt. Psh, amateur.

That turned out to be a huge disaster, a complete and total fiasco. So, instead of flour and sugar, I decided to practice baking using ground beef and vegetables. That endeavor turned out to be much less disappointing. It actually turned out perfectly fine for an all-American kind of meal. I never tasted meatloaf until my late teen years and I remember being astonished at the name and the flavor. It wasn’t until even more recently that I realized how simple and inexpensive it could be to make. Oh, the wonderful simplicities in life.

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