Moda Flame 50 Wall Mounted Electric Fireplace

Buying a Fireplace For My Tropical Home

A fireplace adds a certain incomparable charm to a room. It makes a house look and feel cozy and warm.

And most modern style homes could definitely use a little more “cozy and warm”. Even if they’re in a tropical clime, like mine.

In my opinion, a traditional fireplace just doesn’t work in a tropical home. To start with, wood-burning fireplaces require chimneys and mantles which don’t always fit in a modern-style home.

When we finally decided to add a fireplace, we needed another way.

Luckily, installing a fireplace in a modern home is easier than ever, thanks to electric fireplace inserts.

An electric fireplace insert is a type of electric fireplace that you can install flush into your wall or existing fireplace opening. It uses electricity, instead of wood or gas, to provide heat and/or light to a room. You can learn more about the different styles and types of electric fireplace inserts on

This means it doesn’t need a chimney or a mantle, which makes it perfect for installing underneath a large painting or big-screen flat TV (like ours).


BBQ Chicken

Guinness BBQ Chicken

My husband and I love to throw football game parties for our friends and family.

The excitement of the game and shouts of encouragement make game day special.

Last weekend, I decided to prepare my recipe for Guinness beer BBQ chicken. I made them using chicken wings, which is more appropriate for a football game. It makes for succulent tasty chicken wing that makes it impossible to eat just one wing.

Beer BBQ Chicken recipe
I love this particular Guinness Beer BBQ chicken recipe because it has Asian influence.

You can vary it by changing the pieces of chicken or adding other ingredients such as extra brown sugar or herbs. Some variations that I have found tasty are adding a touch of curry,  chili powder, or cayenne pepper if you want it spicier. Try to vary it by adding molasses or more unique Asian spices. Or you can add chopped tomatoes or cheeses to the mix if you wanted it less spicy. (more…)

mango chiffon cake

Mango Chiffon Cake

I just ran across a really nice recipe for Mango Chiffon Cake

I substituted a few ingredients and turned it into a cake that easier to make but just as good. The ingredient list is nice and short on my version, too – it’s easy to find everything you need.


  • 2 cups Cake Flour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup + 3/4 cup White Granulated Sugar, divided
  • 1 tbsp Baking Powder
  • 7 large Egg Whites
  • 1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 7 large Egg Yolks
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable or Canola Oil
  • 3/4 cup Mango Puree



mango margarita

Isla Sangria Frozen Margaritas

Recently, my husband and I had a rare chance to spend some time together away from the kids – we flew down to Cabo, San Lucas, for the weekend. The resort we stayed at was all inclusive, and there was a lot of alcohol available. A lot of it was Sangria – but I find the traditional Sangria drink is too tart for my taste.

When I was down there, I missed the richer, fruitier taste of my favorite Hawaiian-style drinks.  So after I came home, I decided to give the basic Isla Sangria an upgrade. My version uses white wine, fresh mango, lime juice, nectarines, calamansi fruit – plus a shot of tequila to give it that authentic margarita kick.

The Isla Sangria is a refreshing alcoholic drink that is easy to prepare. This is a very tropical drink that needs to be served ice cold or the flavors will clash a bit.

This one is really special because it’s made with the juice of the calamansi fruit, a delectable treat that most Americans don’t know much about. The calamansi is from Asia and the Philippines, and it’s sort of a cross between a lime and an orange. Very unique flavor. (more…)

ahi poke with ogo seaweed

Ahi Poke With Ogo Seaweed

Ahi Poke is a common sight at Hawaiian family get togethers and outdoor activities.

In Hawaiian, Ahi is another name for raw tuna (preferably yellow fin) and Poke means to “mix up”. So, mixed-up raw tuna. 

The tradition of ahi poke goes back many years.  Real Hawaiians eat their poke with their fingers. It is not unusual to see this still done today at luaus.

I like to serve my poke with tropical fruits on the side – mangoes are a great addition when cubed and chilled. Sprinkled with coconut shavings and diced pinapple, mangos go well with any fresh ahi or sashimi dish.

Ahi poke can be served chunky or mashed into a paste. If served as a paste, most native Hawaiians will add it to a leaf of lettuce. This way, they can take it with them on picnics and hikes. Sometimes, poke is served layered with sheets of ogo seaweed for contrast. This layering adds a real beauty to the dish.

Ahi poke is a great go-to meal on a hot summers day. It is cold and refreshing, with bites of cold cucumber or lemon along with the diced raw (sashimi) ahi. It can be fixed in several different ways. Sometimes, people like to add sesame seeds, macadamia nuts and diced green onions. Recipes for ahi poke are as varied as the people that make it.  (more…)

lemon bars with coconut crust

Mango Lemon Bars With Coconut Crust

The weekend was so much fun! but here it is, Monday again.

It’s 4 am and the alarm goes off, waking my 2 sleepy kids and my husband (who has a trip to take). Looking outside, I can see a drizzle of rain. My shoulders slump.

What could possibly help my Monday morning blues?

And then, I remembered:  the mango lemon bars we made yesterday! Just thinking about them made my mouth immediately pucker up with anticipation. That flaky coconut crust, the lemon zest and the vanilla bean tempted me. Oh, how they tempted.

Luckily, we had about a dozen left in the fridge from our weekend family get together, so my entire family got to kick our crappy week off with a sweet treat for breakfast. Changes your attitude right away, let me tell you. Especially the kids.

The mango lemon bar recipe below brings back images of my completely tropical life in Hawaii, growing up. Mangos, lemons and coconut have just the right amount of tartness and sweetness to make these bars a special treat any day. When I was a kid, we used to eat them on rainy days, too. (more…)

mangos and sticky rice

How to Make Mango Sticky Rice from Scratch

When I grew up in Hawaii, we ate sticky rice pretty much every day for lunch or breakfast.

Every once in a while, though, my mom knew how to turn that boring starch into a Thai dessert magic – by adding mangos, of course.

Seriously, mango sticky rice is to die for. But in truth, it is not really made with regular sticky rice – to make this dish, you need sweet rice.

Sweet rice is sometimes called glutinous rice, and you can find it in most Asian groceries and on some Asian food shelves at your local market.

Because this dessert was such a delight during my childhood, I decided to share the recipe with you, especially since it is so simple. As long as you have a couple of products bought from your local Asian food market, your sticky rice will undoubtedly turn out great – and I am honestly warning you that you will fall in love with it. (more…)

mango butter cream frosting icing

Mango Butter Cream Icing

Being creative in the kitchen with my kids is something I love to do.

Its not always easy to find the time, but I try. 

When I cook with my kids, I like to use tropical ingredients such as mango or coconut or pineapple, because they remind me of home in Hawaii. When I make meals with these ingredients, my kids learn to appreciate my heritage AND enjoy a treat. 

I like to remember that cooking with my kids is not about perfection. Its about creativity and having fun together. This is family time to expand their world and letting them try new foods. I love baking with my kids and seeing their eyes sparkle with delight when they help. When I get out the mixer and the bowls, I often hear the clatter of running feet and see bright smiling faces pop up to help. It’s our special time together.

Mango butter cream frosting is one of my all-time favorite icings. It makes even plain vanilla cupcakes taste wonderful. 

I like to take a few simple ingredients and turn it into a luscious cake or cupcakes with this sweet mango frosting. I am always being asked to bake something for a school function and this frosting gets noticed. Mango frosting is sweet and yet fruity. Its not used so much that it is the same old, same old. At school functions, I get the odd, “Oh those cupcakes look good – what flavor are they?”. (more…)

Homemade Blueberry Sherbet

Homemade Blueberry Sherbet

Being a mother is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, but sometimes, the everyday challenges that come with it can really get to me!

As a mom, I always have to make choices for my kids, be it nutrition-related choices or other choices.

One of the top guilty indulgences of my kids would have to be ice-cream. My kids love ice-cream, in fact I think if given a choice, they would love to have this for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Nevertheless, I can’t allow that to happen. Ice-cream is full of processed fats, artificial flavors, sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. Therefore, I restrict and does not really approve of ice-cream for my kids.

Of course, begrudging the kids their favorite food is definitely heartbreaking but sometimes what must be done must be done!

However, this doesn’t mean that I am a bad mum, because I don’t just stop at restricting my kids from eating store-bought ice-cream, instead I strive to make them homemade alternatives are healthy and do not compromise on the taste factor.

The weather in Hawaii can get brutal – especially in the summer, when the temperature rises well beyond the comfortable zone. During such times, homemade ice cream is a welcome treat. With this all-nAtural recipe, you won’t have to worry about your kids gorging on an extra helping of the ice-cream.

One of my favorite homemade ice-cream recipes is the following blueberry sherbet recipe. (more…)

Beer & Bacon Waffles

bacon waffles

Many years back, I went out to brunch with a pal at one of the places that has a wide-ranging menu of pages and pages of information.

I normally loathe this, as I don’t possess the sharpest decision making abilities. In a special small carton, I saw Bacon Waffle through my sleep-addled gaze and was intrigued.

Over the next 30 minutes, I came back to that page over and over again until my friend told me to purchase the darn thing. So I did and it absolutely was divine – buttery crispy batter with bacon bits throughout.

I promptly told the chefs on duty when I went to work the following day. The truth is, I couldn’t shut up concerning bacon waffles!. I told everyone who came to work that day and likely everyone in a 5 mile radius the entire week. Those things rock! (more…)