Monday, April 10, 2017

Mexican Street Corn Salad

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Here's a colorful salad to serve with enchiladas or other Mexican entrees. We had this salad at Megan's bridal shower.  She is pictured here with my grand-daughter Madeline. You can make this salad the night before, and add the dressing right before serving.

3 cups corn (4 fresh ears or frozen corn kernels)
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup black beans, rinsed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, stems removed
1/2 cup feta or cotija crumbled

1 bunch of cilantro
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 packet Hidden Valley ranch seasoning mix

In a blender, purée the cilantro leaves with the olive oil.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well-blended.  If it is too thick in consistency, add more olive oil.  Chill until serving time

If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off of the corn cob.  If using frozen corn, defrost overnight, and next day, pat down excess moisture with paper towels.  Toss with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven on a foil lined baking sheet at 450 degrees for 5 min., stir and roast for 5 min. longer.  Fresh corn may take longer to roast, so adjust cooking time accordingly.  Let cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, gently mix the salad ingredients together.  You can add some of the dressing to mix in or serve the dressing on the side.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Spinach Strata

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I first tasted this dish at the Blue Dot Cafe in Alameda and was able to locate a similar recipe on the Once Upon a Chef blog, one of my favorite places to hunt for recipes.  It is like a savory bread pudding with gruyere and parmesan cheeses, spinach and bread cubes. Simply delicious as a side dish or by itself!

1-lb frozen spinach, thawed and lightly squeezed
3 T butter
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
12-oz bread, cut in cubes (sourdough or French bread)
1-1/2 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
2/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
9 eggs
2-3/4 cup half anf half (can substitute milk)
2 T dijon mustard
1-3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper

Saute the onions and garlic until tender. Add the spinach for just a minute or two.  Cut the bread into 1" cubes.  Mix the eggs, half and half, mustard, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.  In a buttered 9x12" casserole dish, layer the bread, spinach mixture, cheeses, repeat bread, spinach, cheeses. Pour egg mixture over all. Wait one hour or refrigerate overnight. Bake at 325 degrees for 70-75 min. (if refrigerated).  Adjust timing 10-15 min. less if not refrigerated. This recipe can be halved and made in a 10" square pan for a smaller quantity.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Mountain Bar Candy

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I located this recipe on Dorothy Kern's Crazy for Crust blog. You can only buy Mountain Bars in the northwest, so for those of us who enjoy them and who live out of the area, you can now make your own with Dorothy's recipe.  Kudos to Dorothy for re-inventing them and for posting the recipe on internet.

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (from a 14-oz can)
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 bag chocolate melts or almond bars (12 oz)
1/2 cups finely chopped peanuts

Beat the butter, vanilla, salt and milk in a large bowl. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar. Drop tablespoon sized balls (rolled) onto wax paper lined cookie sheet.  Chill 30 min.  Line a new cookie sheet with wax paper. Melt chocolate according to package directions. Place 1 tsp of chocolate evenly spaced on the cookie sheet, one for each ball of candy you made. Spread it slightly. Place a rolled ball of filling on each chocolate circle. Mix the chopped nuts into the remaining melted chocolate. Cover each ball of filling with 1-2 tsp of the nutty chocolate. Use a spoon to spread it so that the chocolate covers the filling completely. Chill to harden.

New Year's Day 2017 at the Obatake's

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We are so fortunate to be invited to Hide and Reiko Obatake's New Year's Day Feast in Renton,Washington, an annual event for us and the highlight of our holiday trip to Seattle.  Each year surpasses the year before in the assortment and variety of traditional Japanese osechi. Hide is such a talented chef, and we cannot wait to see what he chooses for his menu each year. His food is a pleasing balance of color and taste with vegetables in designs of seasonal shapes.  Many food items represent prosperity, good fortune and health, the perfect meal to start the new year.

Cabbage Casserole

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A family favorite!  It is a rich, cabbage-bread-cheese casserole that is filling and a meal in itself.


5 slices buttered sourdough bread, quartered

3 cups cabbage, sliced and roughly chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 T pimentos, chopped
1 T instant onion flakes
1 tsp regular mustard

1-1\2 cups each Jack and Swiss cheeses, shredded

2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
5 T Chardonnay white wine (dry)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Butter 5 slices of bread and cut in quarters.  Set aside.  Mix the cabbage, mayonnaise, pimentos, instant onion flakes and mustard.  In a small bowl, mix the eggs, milk, wine, salt and pepper. Place the ingredients in a buttered casserole dish in layers -- half of the bread, half of the cabbage-mayonnaise mixture, half of the cheeses.  Repeat. Pour egg mixture over all.

Bake 45  min at 375 degrees.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Mapo Tofu

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Denny really enjoyed this version of mapo tofu which has a Japanese twist...the addition of red miso. There are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, but each ingredient contributes nicely to the overall flavor.

1 T canola oil
2 shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped 
1 T garlic, minced
1 T ginger, minced
1 T green onion/scallion, finely chopped 
1 T celery stalk, chopped
12-oz. ground turkey, ground beef or ground pork
1 cup chicken broth
1 T red miso
1 T Chinese garlic chili sauce or garlic black bean sauce
1 T sugar
1 T soy sauce
2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 T water
1 block of tofu, cut in small cubes
1/2 cup peas, optional

Sauté in the oil, the garlic, ginger, shiitake, scallions and celery.  Add the ground meat and cook for a few minutes until no longer pink. Add the broth, miso, garlic chili sauce, sugar and soy sauce. Thicken the meat sauce with the cornstarch dissolved in water.  Add the tofu and peas last and mix until heated thoroughly.  Garnish with chopped green onions, if desired. Serve over hot rice.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Sharon Brooks' Miso Lemon Salmon

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This recipe comes from cousin Sharon pictured above with her daughter, Mollie. She "poaches" her salmon in a toaster oven. It's really simple and no mess. You can add dill, parsley or furikake to this recipe. 

1 salmon filet or salmon steak
2 T miso
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix the miso and lemon juice together.  I added a little olive oil to thin it down a bit. Place the salmon on a piece of foil. Add salt and pepper to the fish. Baste the salmon with the miso sauce. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Wrap up the salmon in the foil, sealing it completely, but like a little tent. Bake for 15-20 min. So yummy!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Oven Steamed Rock Cod

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Here's a great recipe for Chinese-style steamed fish. It is so delicious, turns out moist and is easy to make. It is going to be my go-to recipe for steamed fish. Just wrap it in foil, and steam it in the oven. I used a rock cod, but this recipe would work for red snapper or tilapia.

1 whole rock cod, approximately 2 lbs.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 T sesame oil
3-4 T finely chopped fresh ginger
Green onions, chopped, as garnish
Cilantro, chopped, as garnish

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Rinse off the fish, and pat it dry with paper towels. Place it on a large piece of foil on a cookie sheet. Cut three diagonal slits on each side of the fish. Mix the soy sauce, peanut oil, sesame oil and ginger, and pour over the fish. Carefully wrap the fish and sauce in the foil, sealing the foil packet tightly.  Place it in the oven for 25 minutes. Top with cilantro and green onions before serving.

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 (use jumbo or extra-large size eggs)
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.