Sunday, April 5, 2015

Rice Porridge (Jook or Congee)

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This is my favorite comfort food for when I am feeling sick. It is sometimes called Chinese jook or congee. My mom used to make a Japanese version called okayu with umeboshi pickles in it. You can add whatever ingredients you have on hand using leftover meat or keep it vegetarian.

1 cup uncooked Calrose rice
4 cups chicken broth
1 cups water
1/4 cup fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 block of tofu, cut in small cubes
Spinach, nappa or bok choy, chopped
Leftover roast pork, beef, duck or rotisserie chicken, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sesame oil (optional), to taste
Green onions and cilantro (optional), chopped, as garnish

In a Dutch oven, add the rice, broth, water and ginger. Bring to a boil, then simmer for one hour. Add the leftover meat, tofu, spinach, and cook for 30 minutes more. If the mixture isn't thick, you can turn the stove off, and let it sit covered for another 30 minutes. It should be the consistency of porridge. Drizzle sesame oil, and mix it in at the end.  Garnish with cilantro and green onions.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Layered Bean Dip

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Here's my version of a retro layered bean dip.  It's easy to make as there is no cooking involved.  You can substitute the jalapenos with canned chopped green chilies or replace the cut avocados with guacamole.  It will taste just as good.  This is a family favorite recipe for Super Bowl parties.

1-lb can of refried beans
Salsa (thick)
Jalapeno slices (from a jar) or chopped green chilies
Black olives, slices
Cheddar cheese, shredded
Avocados, chopped or guacamole
Sour cream
Chives or green onions, chopped

Layer the ingredients on a platter in the order listed, and serve with tortilla chips.

Here are Kate, Madeline, Jack and Seanie at our last Super Bowl party.

Brad Olschefski's Baked Beans

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Brad and Liz made these beans for us while we were in Palm Springs, and this dish was the hit of the party. They are sweet and addictive. It is the perfect side dish for your baked ham. Tastes great as leftovers too.

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 T prepared mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1-lb can and a 15-oz can of pork and beans
15-oz can red kidney beans
1 can Campbell's condensed bean and bacon soup

Fry the bacon bits in a skillet. Discard the excess fat that is rendered. Saute the onions, then add the mustard, ketchup, brown sugar and molasses. Cook until bubbly. Mix the beans and bacon with the sauce, and bake in a lightly oiled 2-quart baking dish at 350 degrees for 45 min.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Val's White Chicken Chili

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We first tasted this recipe at Laurie and Val's house in Oceanside and could not stop eating it.  It is perfect for a cold, chilly night and is quick to make.  The recipe originally comes from Sam the Cooking Guy, a San Diego celebrity chef.  You can use cooked rotisserie chicken from Safeway in this recipe.

1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cans Great Northern white beans, drained
4 oz. can diced green chilies
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 cups chicken broth
2 tsp cumin
1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp oregano
Salt, to taste

Rinse the beans and drain them.  Saute the onion and garlic in 2 T olive oil for a few minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes.  Top with chopped parsley (optional).

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Artichoke Rice Salad

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Here's a recipe for a salad that I recently made for my grand-daughter's birthday party.  It has Rice-a-Roni in it, which you can make in the microwave to speed up the preparation.  This was one of my favorite salads from years ago.

2 pkgs. chicken flavored Rice-A-Roni
2 green onions, chopped finely
12-15 green olives with pimentoes, sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
2 small roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. curry
2 jars of marinated artichoke hearts, drained
2-3 T balsamic vinegar
Salt, pepper (to taste)

Microwave the Rice-A-Roni according to the directions on the package. Prepare the rest of the ingredients. Mix everything together. Adjust seasoning accordingly. Refrigerate until serving time. This recipe can be made a day in advance.

Here's my sweet grand-daughter, Madeline, and her birthday cake.

Tuna Poke (Albacore or Ahi)

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This is by far the best poke recipe I have tasted.  The albacore was caught off of the Oregon coast by Denny, so it is the freshest we have ever eaten.  You can use any type of tuna like albacore, bluefin or ahi. Simply delicious!

1 lb. tuna steaks (albacore, ahi, bluefin)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup sweet Maui onions or red onions (rinsed in water)
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
Red chili pepper flakes (to taste)
Kosher salt (to taste)

Cut the tuna into bite-sized cubes.  Mix the rest of the ingredients together with the tuna.  Refrigerate for 30 min.  Serve cold.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Tsukemono (Japanese pickled cabbage)

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Tsukemono is Japanese vegetables that have been preserved in salt, brine or rice bran (nuka). It tastes best as an accompaniment or garnish to Japanese meals and is especially good with Japanese rice. There are many varieties and flavors. This one is a pickled cabbage.

1 head of cabbage, cut into 8 wedges
4 cups water
1/3 cup white vinegar
4 T sugar
3 T kosher salt
1 small dried red chili pepper, seeded

Cut the cabbage into 8 wedges. Boil the water, vinegar, sugar, salt and chili pepper together for a few minutes. In a large glass or ceramic container, pour the hot mixture over the cabbage. Cover with plastic wrap and the container's top. Let sit on the counter for a half a day. Then refrigerate for 3-4 days. When ready to serve, squeeze the excess liquid out of the cabbage wedge. Cut into strips. Delicious!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Corinne's World's Best Cookies

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Another great recipe from my buddy, Corinne. She cooks, she bakes, she knits, she sails, she builds kayaks and she makes shoes .. there isn't anything Corinne can't do. The name of the cookie says it all -- they are the World's Best Cookies...buttery, crispy and crunchy.  We could not stop eating them.

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup salad oil
1 cup regular rolled oats
1 cup crushed cornflakes
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
3-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add egg, mix well, then salad oil. Add oats, cornflakes, coconut and nuts, stirring well.  Then add flour, soda and salt.  Form into balls the size of small walnuts and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Flatten with a fork dipped in water.  Bake for 12 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet before removing.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Jennifer's Peach Prosciutto Crostini

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Here's an appetizer that will surely please your guests.  Jennifer and I took these to a dinner party, and the entire platter of crostini was devoured by all.

1 baguette, cut in 1/2" slices
Extra virgin olive oil
3 peaches or nectarines, thinly sliced
1-2 pkgs of prosciutto, each piece cut crosswise in 4 strips
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
Grated lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
1 T shallot, minced
Fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Mix the cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, lemon zest, shallots and a little basil together. Drizzle olive oil onto the baguette slices, and broil for 2 min. a side until golden brown. Spread a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture onto the baguette. Wrap a strip of prosciutto around a peach slice, and place it on top of the cream cheese layer. Sprinkle basil on top.  Serve immediately.

On the way to Denny and Jennifer's house in beautiful Alaska:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Smashed Peas with Mint

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Here's an alternative way to serve green peas or shelled edamame. The mint was steamed along with the peas, then mashed.  It becomes a colorful side dish for any meat.

Frozen peas or frozen shelled edamame
2 T butter
Fresh mint, one torn handful
2 T fresh lemon juice
Salt, pepper to taste

Steam the peas and mint for 8 minutes. Mash the peas with a potato masher or hand held blender until you get the desired consistency. The one pictured above has a chunky consistency. Then add the butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Savory Palmiers

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These were so easy to make! They are a delicate flaky puff pastry with a savory filling of pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese and pine nuts. You can make these appetizers the day before, and bake them right before your guests arrive.

1 package Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1/4 cup pesto
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts

Unroll the defrosted puff pastry. Using a rolling pin, roll it to a 9-1/2" x 11" rectangle. Spread half the pesto, then sprinkle half the sun-dried tomatoes, half the feta and half the pine nuts.  Roll up the long side to the middle, fold at half way, and press together lightly.  Cover the roll with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 45 minutes or overnight.  Repeat using the second puff pastry and remaining ingredients.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the roll into 1/2" slices.  Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet about 2" apart.  Bake for 14-15 min. until golden brown. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Jennifer's Muesli

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This has to be one of my favorite breakfast recipes from my San Diego/Alaskan friend, Jennifer Powell.  You can add whatever flavor yogurt and fruit you like.  I like the consistency, which turns out to be firm, if you use the old-fashioned rolled oats.  Pictured above are Jennifer, Denny and daughter, Katie.

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup milk
1 T honey

Mix these ingredients the night before.  In the morning, add the following:

1 cup any flavor yogurt (I used vanilla, Greek yogurt)
Apples, chopped - or any fruit
Walnuts, halved or chopped

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hot Buttered Rum

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On a recent trip to Lake Tahoe with the Olschefski's, we made Hot Buttered Rum Drinks, perfect for a chilly night in the mountains.  You mix the ingredients together, then add rum and hot water.  You can add a cinnamon stick as garnish, if you wish.

1 stick butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Hot water

Mix the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg together to form a paste.  Combine 2 T spiced butter with 3 T rum in each mug.  Add 3/4 cup boiling water and mix.

Beautiful Lake Tahoe

and Liz's latest creations!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pesto Pizza

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My daughter makes the best pizza!  It is so good with all kinds of fresh veggies on top of a crispy pizza crust.  You can add whatever ingredients you prefer.

1 bag of Trader Joe's fresh pizza dough (comes in a baggie in the refrigerated section)
Trader Joe's basil pesto
Fresh tomato slices or sun-dried tomatoes
Goat cheese, in small chunks
Sliced olives
Sliced mushrooms, sauteed in a little olive oil

Bring the pizza dough to room temperature for about 1/2 hour.  Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.  Place dough on a pizza stone or lightly oiled baking sheet.  (Bed Bath & Beyond pizza pan with holes works great.)  Bake the crust for about 10-12 minutes.  Then spread the pesto on top;  add tomatoes, goat cheese, olives and mushrooms. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes.  Remove from oven and add the fresh arugula.   Serve immediately.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hide and Reiko's New Year's Day Feast

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Hide and Reiko Obatake's New Year's Day feast is the highlight of our holiday trip to Seattle.  Each year, their meal is a work of art featuring traditional Japanese osechi-ryori.  Everything is delicious, so colorful and pleasing to the eye and palate.  We are truly luck to be invited to their house each year.

I forgot to take a picture of the ozone soup!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Siu Mai - Steamed Pork Dumplings

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This is Denny's favorite dim sum called siu mai or pork dumplings. I steamed them in two, 12" bamboo steamers which I bought at Ranch 99 Market. The steamers fit my large wok perfectly. You can serve them with a dipping sauce of equal portions of garlic chili paste mixed with soy sauce. They can be frozen individually on a cookie sheet, then transferred to a freezer container.  

1/2 lb. won ton skin (round)

1 lb. ground pork, finely chopped
1/2 lb. fresh shrimp, shelled, deveined and finely chopped
1/4 cup water chestnuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 T soy sauce
2 stalks green onions finely chopped
4 Chinese mushrooms, soaked and finely chopped
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Mix all filling ingredients together. Spoon heaping tablespoon in center of skin. Gather the sides of the wrapper around the filling and squeeze center to form a pouch. Place in a steamer and steam for 30 minutes. Makes 36 dumplings.

Michelle's Breakfast Casserole

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A Christmas morning treat -- breakfast at Tim and Michelle's.  Here's a delicious sausage, egg, sun-dried tomato and mozzarella breakfast casserole.  It is very rich, creamy and melts in your mouth.  Your guests will surely ask for seconds as we did.

1 lb. Italian sweet sausage, casings removed
1/2 cup chopped shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
4 T chopped fresh parsley
5 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 cup half and half
1 cup whipping cream (can substitute with half and half)
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp salt

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a 13x9x2" glass baking dish. Saute the sausage over medium heat for about 10 minutes until browned, breaking it up into small pieces. Add shallots and garlic and cook for 3 minutes more. Add sun-dried tomatoes and 2 T parsley and cook for one minute.

Whisk together the eggs, yolks, half and half, cream, cheese and salt. Gently mix in the sausage mixture. Pour into the prepared pan. Top with 1/2 cup cheese and 2 T parsley. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown, and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


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One of my favorite Japanese pickles is fukujinzuke.  Its salty, sweet, crunchiness brings back good memories of eating ochazuke with my mom.  It is often served alongside Japanese curry, can be a filling for onigiris and is a perfect accompaniment to a bowl of Japanese rice.  It takes four days to make, but is well worth the effort.

5 c. chopped daikon
4 c. chopped cucumbers
1 c. chopped carrots
5-6 shiso leaves, finely chopped
1 T finely chopped ginger
1/2 cup salt

1-1/2 c. soy sauce
2 c. sugar
3 T white vinegar

Combine vegetables, ginger and salt in a large bowl, and refrigerate overnight.  Next day, rinse the vegetables thoroughly with water and drain.  Bring the sauce ingredients to a boil for 1-2 minutes, and pour over the vegetables.  Leave overnight in the refrigerator in a covered container.  Next day, drain the liquid, boil the sauce again, and pour over vegetables.  Repeat this process one more day.  Put fukujinzuke in small covered jars and refrigerate (I used six, 8 oz. canning jars).

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mini Hot Dog Appetizer

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These little guys are perfect for your next game day party.  With just two ingredients, cocktail-size franks and puff pastry, you have a tray full of mini-pigs-in-a-blanket.  Serve with mustard and ketchup, and watch them disappear quickly.
12 oz. cocktail-size franks  (I used Kinder's Chicken Mini-Sausages from Costco)
One 8 oz. sheet of puff pastry
Defrost the puff pastry by setting it on your counter for 20 min.  Unroll the puff pastry to form a rectangle.  Cut it into 1/2" x 3" strips.  Take a strip and wrap it around the middle of the frank overlapping the edges.  Spray a cookie sheet lightly with PAM, and place the franks on the cookie sheet.  Freeze for 15 min.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees, then bake for 15-20 min. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Stephen's Coconut Mojito

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Very refreshing!  My son, Steve, made these for a family dinner, and they were a bit hit.  They have a tropical taste, are slightly sweet from the coconut milk and have the consistency of a frozen marguerita.  This recipe makes 2 servings. 

4 cups ice cubes
2-1/2 limes, rind removed
7 oz sweetened cream of coconut (I used coconut milk)
2-1/2 jiggers Bacardi white rum (a jigger = 1.5 fluid ounce)
5 sprigs fresh mint leaves
Additional mint leaves and lime wedges for garnish (optional)

Remove the rind from the limes.  Blend the ice, limes, coconut milk, rum and mint leaves in a blender until smooth.  Pour into two glasses, garnish with mint sprig and lime wedge if desired.

This drink was made especially for cousin Patti, pictured here with her husband Cliff, who were visiting from Seattle.