Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Crunchy Granola

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My family and I are addicted to this granola recipe. You can customize it to your taste using whatever nuts, seeds and dried fruit you desire. I can find all of these ingredients at a Trader Joe's store.

1/4 cup coconut oil
4 T unsalted butter
3/4 cup agave syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 T kosher salt
1 T vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
5 cups rolled oats
1-1/2 cups sliced blanched almonds
1 cup unsweetened coconut strips
3/4 cups pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 shelled pistachios
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries

In a glass or ceramic bowl, combine coconut oil, butter, agave syrup, brown sugar and salt. Microwave for 1+ minute until the oil becomes liquid and brown sugar dissolves. Mix in the vanilla, cinnamon and ginger. In a large bowl, combine the oatmeal, nuts and seeds Add the oil/sugar mixture and stir together. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and spread the granola on it. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes, stirring once while baking.  Let cool on baking sheet. Add the dried fruit. Store in an airtight container up to a month.

Corinne's Chocolate Cake

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My amazing long-time friend from 7th grade has done it again.  This is Corinne's ultimate chocolate cake, silky, moist and rich in flavor.  She is pictured above with her talented daughter and chef, Sydne, who was visiting her from Brooklyn, NY during the holidays. While I was visiting Corinne, Sydne made me the most awesome breakfast sandwich with her homemade sausage and gluten free English muffins. Joy and happiness!

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

2 cups sugar + 2 cups water
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
6 T unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

Set oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour two 8" round cake pans. Line the pans with waxed paper. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.  In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar and 2 cups water to a boil.  Pour into a large bowl and add the chocolate and butter, let sit until melted. Add the vanilla. Beat the eggs into the chocolate mixture until combined. Add the dry ingredients all at once and blend until smooth. Pour into prepared pans. Bake 25 min. Cool in the pans for 25 min., then invert onto racks to cool completely. Frost with chocolate frosting.

Chocolate Frosting:
1-1/3 cups heavy cream
1-1/2 cups sugar
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 stick plus 2 T unsalted butter
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

In a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring the cream and sugar to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer about 6 min.  Pour into a medium bowl, add the chocolate, butter, vanilla and salt. Let the mixture sit until the chocolate and butter melts.  Set the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water. Using a hand-held mixer, beat the frosting on medium speed, until thick and glossy.  This may take 5 minutes or longer as the frosting must cool thoroughly before it gets thick.

Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Soup

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Here's an easy soup recipe that is so flavorful.  I've seen versions of this recipe for Weight Watchers and Paleo diet with and without rice added.  It has most of the ingredients found in traditional stuffed cabbage rolls with a shorter prep time.  I will definitely make this one again.

1 to 2 lbs. lean ground turkey or beef
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small cabbage, chopped
2 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt

Saute the ground meat and onion in olive oil until meat is browned and onion is tender.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.  Add the cabbage, tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, pepper and salt. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until cabbage is tender.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

California Donburi

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While we were vacationing in Ko'Olina, Oahu, we tasted this dish at a local restaurant. It was so good that we decided to re-create it.  Just take the ingredients found in a California sushi roll, and layer it on a platter of sushi rice -- colorful and easy to make.

Sushi rice:
3 cups of Calrose medium grain rice
1/3 cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup -1 cup imitation crab (flake style) or fresh crab
1/4 lb. baby shrimp, optional
2-3 T mayonnaise, to taste

1-2 Persian cucumbers, diced (leave skins on)
2 avocadoes, diced
Furikake, any kind
Seasoned seaweed, cut in tiny strips

Make the rice according to package directions.  Microwave the vinegar, sugar and salt for 1 minute until the sugar is dissolved.  When the rice has cooled to warm, add the vinegar mixture to the rice. Place the rice mixture on a large platter.  If using imitation crab, break up the individual pieces so they are flakey. Mix the crab, shrimp and mayonnaise together. Layer the crab, cucumbers and avocadoes. Top with furikake and seasoned seaweed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Stephen and Megan's Chocolate Pavlova

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What a treat!  On Christmas eve, Stephen and Megan baked this delicious double chocolate pavlova. It has become my favorite dessert, a light, airy chocolate meringue covered with mascarpone whipped cream. To die for!

6 egg whites
pinch of salt
1-3/4 cup superfine sugar
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup (8oz) mascarpone cheese, chilled
1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

1-1/2 cup fresh raspberries
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, grated

Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Draw a 9" circle on the parchment paper.  Turn the parchment paper over so the drawn part is underneath.  Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt until foamy soft peaks form, about one minute.  Increase the speed to medium-high and slowly add the sugar, beating for another 8-9 minutes until stiff peaks form.  The whites will look glossy.  Next, using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the cocoa powder, vinegar and chopped chocolate.  Mound the mixture onto the parchment paper inside the circle and spread to fill the circle.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until it looks puffy and crispy all over.  After baking, leave the meringue in the oven to cool with the oven turned off and door propped open for 30 minutes. Separate the meringue from the parchment paper and place on a large platter.  

Beat the whipping cream, mascarpone cheese and vanilla until combined. Add the powdered sugar and beat until soft peaks form.  Spread the whipped cream on top of the meringue. Top with fresh raspberries and grated chocolate.

New Year's Day 2016 at the Obatake's

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We were so fortunate to attend another delicious New Year's Day feast at Hide and Reiko Obatake's house.  Our holiday trip to Seattle would not be complete without it.  It was truly a feast for the eyes and palate.  Hide is a talented, gifted and extraordinary chef.  Every dish was perfectly crafted, looked beautiful and tasted delicious.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Eggplant and Tomato Stacks

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Here's a way to serve eggplant as a salad, stacked with pesto, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella.  You bake the eggplant first, then stack it with the other ingredients.  It is so colorful and makes an attractive first course.

1-2 eggplants, medium size, sliced 
1-2 large tomatoes, sliced
Mozzarella cheese (the soft kind), cut in rounds
Fresh basil, chopped fine
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic syrup

Cut the eggplant into 1/2" round slices.  Baste with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.  Spray a baking sheet with PAM, and roast the eggplant in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, turning once at 10 min. Set aside to cool.  On an serving plate, drizzle some balsamic syrup first, then layer the eggplant, pesto, tomato slice, mozzarella and eggplant. Sprinkle basil on top. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Jan's Pimento Cheese Sandwich

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For a taste of the south, try this pimento cheese sandwich recipe which comes from my Jazzercise buddy, Jan Roberts.  It was her mother's most requested dish at church potlucks.  You can mix the ingredients in a food processor or mix it with a spoon.  The sandwich tastes good at room temperature, refrigerated or grilled as a toasted cheese sandwich.  It is the perfect little sandwich for afternoon tea.

1 cup of cheddar, shredded
3 T of mayonnaise (Hellman's/Best Foods)
2 oz (small jar) of diced pimentos

Mix the ingredients together. Spread on your favorite bread. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sharon's Spicy Cucumber

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Cousin Sharon took me to Din Tai Fung restaurant at South Coast Plaza Mall on my recent trip to Southern California. As we were eating the spicy cucumber salad, Sharon shared her recipe for them. Of course, I had to make them when I returned home. They are so flavorful with just the right amount of heat in them. Thanks, Sharon for sharing!

4-5 Persian cucumbers
Kosher salt
1 T sugar
1 T Japanese vinegar
1 T chili oil
Sesame oil

Cut the Persian cucumbers in 3/4' to 1" chunks (as pictured above). Sprinkle a generous amount of kosher salt on the cucumbers, and set aside for 20 minutes. Rinse the cucumbers in cold water, drain and pat dry with paper towels.  In a small glass bowl, mix the vinegar and sugar and microwave for 20 seconds until the sugar is dissolved.  When it has cooled down, pour it over the cucumbers. Refrigerate for 2 hours. When ready to serve, place the cucumbers in a serving dish. Heat the chili oil in the microwave for 15-20 seconds until hot, and pour over the cucumbers. Drizzle sesame oil on top.

If you cannot find the chili oil at the grocery store, you can substitute it with 1 tablespoon of peanut oil mixed with 2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce (the one with the rooster label).

Friday, August 7, 2015

Robin's Heavenly Halibut

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So delicious!  This recipe can be found all over internet and was referred to me by Alaskan friend, Robin Forsi. It has a rich, cheesy topping that complements the fish perfectly.  You will want to scoop up the baked sauce remaining in the pan with a piece of crusty bread.

2 lbs skinless halibut fillets
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 T mayonnaise
2 T lemon juice
3 T chopped green onions
1/4 tsp salt
1 dash Tabasco sauce

Lightly grease a baking dish. Mix the parmesan, butter, mayonnaise, lemon juice, green onions, salt and Tabasco together.  Put a thick layer of the sauce on the fish fillets.  Bake at 425 degrees for 12-14 min. depending on thickness of the fish.
Pictured here are the Forsi's, Powell's and Denny in Alaska.

Jennifer's Asian Grilled Salmon or Halibut

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I got this fish marinade recipe from my buddy, Jennifer Powell, while she was in Alaska.  It's an Ina Garten recipe that she has modified with the addition of grated ginger.  I chose a different method of cooking it, by baking it in the oven, adding reserved marinade for extra flavor. We will definitely make this one again!

Fresh salmon or halibut fillets
2 T Dijon mustard
3 T soy sauce
6 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
1/2 - 1" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

Mix the marinade ingredients together.  Reserve 1/4 of the marinade for later use.  Marinate the fish for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator in a large Ziploc bag.  Place the salmon on a lightly greased baking pan.  Baste the rest of the marinade onto the fish.  Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 min. depending on thickness of the fish.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

Lidwin's Eggplant Salad

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This salad recipe comes from my Jazzercise friend, Lidwin Serpanchy. It is truly refreshing and delicious.  You fry the eggplant cubes first, drain it on paper towels to remove the excess oil, then mix it with the other ingredients, lemon juice and salt and pepper. In the one pictured above, I used crisp Persian cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes which were in season.  Lidwin arranges her tomatoes which have been sliced, rather than chopped, around the perimeter of the bowl with the rest of the dressed ingredients in the middle, so that the tomatoes don't get soggy from the salt.

1 medium eggplant, cut in cubes
Canola oil
1 cucumber, cut in cubes
1-2 tomatoes, cut in cubes or slices
Red onion, cut in rings
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1/2-1 lemon, juiced

Saute the eggplant in canola oil for several minutes until the eggplant is cooked.  Since the eggplant absorbs a lot of the oil, drain the eggplant on paper towels to remove some of the oil.  Set eggplant aside to cool to room temperature.  In a large bowl, mix the eggplant, cucumber, tomatoes, red onions and cilantro.  Squeeze lemon juice over all. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Lasagna Soup

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This recipe for lasagna soup came from a Penzeys Spices catalog, given to me by my friend, Jan Roberts, along with a cool assortment of Penzeys spices to try. The soup is a meal in itself, very filling and satisfying. You can adjust the seasonings as I did to fit your tastes and add whatever type of noodles you want.

1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey
1 medium onion, diced
1 green or red bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups chicken broth (3 cups water with 2 tsp chicken soup base)
1, 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes
1, 15-oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp Italian herb mix (I used Herbs de Provence)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp basil
1 cup broken lasagna noodles (or any small noodle)
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1-1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

In a large pot, brown the meat with the onion, green pepper and garlic for about 10 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasonings. Bring to boil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Add the noodles and cook for 15 minutes more. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Serve immediately.

Pictured here is Jan in the living room of her former residence, a beautiful 1916 Craftsman.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Coq Au Vin

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I have tried different versions of this recipe, but this one is my favorite.  Be sure to use a good quality wine as it will influence the taste of the sauce.

2 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 chicken thighs
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 cup dry red wine (cabernet or burgundy)
Salt, pepper
1 T flour

Using a large ovenproof casserole pot (like a LeCreuset), saute the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from the pan and set aside. Saute the onion, carrots and garlic in the same pot for a few minutes. Then remove from pan and set aside. Saute the mushrooms with a little butter for a few minutes, then remove from pan and set aside. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then saute the chicken until browned. Now add all the sauteed veggies. Mix a little of the wine with the flour to blend, then add that and the rest of the wine to the pot.  Cover the casserole pot, and place in a 350 degree oven for 1-1/2 hours. Serve with fresh green beans and wild rice -- a delicious French feast for the family.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


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Here's a yummy frozen chocolate dessert that reminiscent of the old days. It is easy to make and tastes delicious. It is the perfect treat for a hot summer day or when you need that chocolate fix.

1/2 cup sugar
2 T cornstarch
2 T cocoa powder
2-1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 T butter

In a saucepan, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder and milk. Cook over medium heat until slightly thick and smooth. Add the vanilla and butter. Cool and pour into popsicle molds. Freeze overnight.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Hawaiian Hurricane Popcorn

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Simply addicting. We had this popcorn in Hawaii and could not stop eating it.  It is easy to make -- just add some furikake and Japanese rice crackers to your home-popped popcorn and enjoy. In Hawaii you can buy the hurricane popcorn packaged seasoning mix (the one Bea is holding) at Hawaiian grocery stores. On the mainland, you can find furikake, a Japanese rice seasoning of salt, sugar, sesame seeds and roasted seaweed, at Japanese markets or in the Asian food aisle at some Safeway stores.
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels 
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cup furikake
Arare or Japanese rice crackers (small size, any shape)

In a large covered pot, heat the oil on high heat and add the popcorn. When the kernels begin to pop, reduce the heat to medium until all the kernels have popped. After popping, quickly remove the lid so the popcorn does not steam. Mix the soy sauce with the butter. Add the melted butter mixture to the popcorn, then sprinkle furikake.  Add the rice crackers last.  You can also use an air-popper, if you wish, omitting the canola oil.