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. 

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 rice vinegar (unseasoned)
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

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.  

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.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Fat-Free FrozenYogurt

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For those of you with an ice cream maker, this is an easy dessert to make that is virtually fat-free and delicious. You can use any fresh fruit in season.  In the one pictured here, I used fresh strawberries which were pureed first.

2 cups fat free Greek yogurt
2 cups pureed strawberries
1 can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 cup fat-free milk
3 tsp vanilla

Puree the fruit using your food processor or hand blender.  Mix the yogurt, pureed fruit, sweetened condensed milk, non-fat milk and vanilla until blended. Pour it into your ice cream maker, and process according to manufacturer's directions. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Lemon Garlic Shrimp

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This shrimp is so good, you will want to soak up its butter-garlic-lemon sauce with French bread. It is sometimes called Louisiana style barbecued shrimp although it is not cooked on a barbeque but in a skillet instead.  You can buy shrimp with its head on or off, whichever way you prefer. I like using Costco's jumbo prawns which are fresh and firm.

1 lb large shrimp, peeled
1 stick unsalted butter, cut up
1 T garlic, minced
1 T fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1/3 cup lemon juice (2 lemons) - Save the rinds
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
Pepper, freshly ground to taste

After squeezing the lemons, cut the rinds into round slices.  Heat a large skillet using medium-high heat. Melt the butter, then add the garlic, rosemary, Worcestershire, Tabasco, lemon juice and lemon rind slices. Season the shrimp with Kosher salt and pepper, then add to the skillet and cook for 3-4 min. Serve with crusty French bread or baguette.

Pickled Maui Onions

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Here's another pickled Maui onion recipe that is easy to make.  It resembles rakkyo, Japanese pickled scallions, in taste.  Be sure to use Maui or a mild white onion which is less pungent and sweeter in flavor. You can serve this alongside fish, hamburger, steak or as an appetizer, just by itself.

2 medium Maui onions, sliced
1-1/2 cups water
3/4 cups distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Dried hot red chilies, to taste
1 T salt

Place the sliced onions in a wide-mouth 1-quart (or larger) jar.  Boil the water, vinegar, sugar, garlic, chilies and salt in a saucepan.  Pour over onions and let cool.  Chill 3 days or up to a month.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Jennifer's Caprese Bread Skewers

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Jennifer made these scrumptious caprese skewers when we visited their beautiful Alaskan house on the Kenai River last summer.  The skewers are so colorful and simple to make. 

Cherry tomatoes
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh mozzarella balls
Artisan bread, cut in cubes
Balsamic vinegar or balsamic syrup
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cut the bread into 1-2" cubes.  Place a cherry tomato on the skewer, followed by a basil leaf, mozzarella ball and bread cube.  Repeat until the skewer is full.  Right before serving, sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  

Pictures from our trip to Denny and Jennifer's in Alaska...

Cauliflower Salad

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Here's a colorful cauliflower salad that can be assembled quickly.  You can use bottled French dressing or a homemade version used in the one pictured above.

1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into small flowerets
3T green or red onions chopped 
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, cut in small cubes
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup salted sunflower seeds, shelled
Catalina French dressing
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix everything together right before serving.  You can adjust any of these proportions to your liking.

French Dressing:
2/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 splashes of Worcestershire sauce

Mix together until well-blended.  Refrigerate.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Edamame Hummus

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This recipe reminds me of Trader Joe's edamame hummus. The hummus will thicken overnight, so you may need to add more water or olive oil the second day. Tastes great with pita bread cut in small triangular wedges, pita chips or fresh cut veggies.

16 oz bag of frozen shelled edamame
1 large lemon, juiced
2 T tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper or paprika
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Boil the edamame in water for 5 min, then rinse with cold water and drain.  In a food processor, add the cooked edamame, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, salt, paprika, water and blend until pureed. Stream in the olive oil at the end.

Girls' day at the movies with Michelle, Madeline and Cinderella.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Asparagus Orzo Salad

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Here's a lemony asparagus salad that is refreshing and a great side dish for your next barbeque meal. You can make it ahead of time, and add the remaining dressing right before serving.

1 bunch thin asparagus, cut in 1" pieces
5 oz. orzo
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2/3 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 T sour cream or plain yogurt
1-1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Blanche asparagus in boiling water for 2 min., rinse in cold water and drain. Cook orzo in boiling water for 8-9 min., then rinse in cold water and drain. Mix the lemon zest, lemon juice, yogurt, sugar, salt, pepper and olive oil. Reserve 1/4 cup of the dressing for later use. In a large bowl, mix the orzo, feta, parsley, asparagus and dressing. Refrigerate until serving time. Add the remaining dressing and gently toss ingredients.

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'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.