Monday, December 17, 2012

Meatless Monday: Spaghetti Squash "Spaghetti"

I love fall and all of the different types of winter squash that are available.  My favorite is delicata squash and acorn squash.  However, spaghetti squash is close behind.  Yum!

I love pasta.  There's no doubt about it!  During the fall and winter though, it's nice to be able to swap out the pasta for spaghetti squash.  Have you tried this stuff?  Not only does it look like noodles when it's done, but it tastes yummy!  I love trading it out on occasion.  It makes a great Meatless Monday meal.  If you're doubtful, consider the increased nutritional content of spaghetti squash and the calories saved by the substitution.

1 c. cooked spaghetti squash                                  1 c. cooked pasta
42 calories                                                              221 calories
10 grams carbohydrates                                          42 grams carbohydrates
2.2 grams fiber                                                        2.5 grams fiber
additional nutrients such as beta carotene 

To cook the spaghetti squash, cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the inside seeds.  Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.  Place your squash halves on a foil lined baking sheet, cut side up.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes.  Remove your squash from the oven and allow to cool.  When the squash is cool, take a fork and run it through the squash to create spaghetti strands.   
Here, I served it with frozen homemade marinara sauce from my garden tomatoes and Parmesan cheese for a quick and easy Meatless Monday meal!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

If you've ever been to Hawaii, you know that we love our macaroni salad.  If you order a plate lunch in Hawaii, chances are that you'll get it with a side of macaroni salad.  I was tasked with making the said macaroni salad for my niece's birthday party.  There's not really a recipe for macaroni salad.  Everyone adds their favorite ingredients.  You just want to make sure everything is well seasoned with salt.  You also want to make sure your macaroni salad isn't too dry (add mayonnaise) but I also don't like macaroni salads that have too much mayonnaise.  I feel that this salad tastes best with Best Foods brand mayonnaise but to each their own.  Personally, I don't like chomping into raw onions so I grate my onions just to get the onion flavor and liquid.  Feel free to dice your onions if you like.  I sometimes switch things up by adding imitation crab or thinly sliced cucumbers too.  This recipe make a lot of macaroni salad (but it's soooo good!).  Enjoy!

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
8 eggs
5 large potatoes, peeled & cut in half lengthwise
1 lb elbow macaroni
1/2 large onion, grated
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 pkg. frozen peas
Best Food mayonnaise
salt and pepper
paprika (optional)

1)  Bring a medium to large pot of water to a rapid boil.  Add peeled & halved potatoes to the water.  Cook until the potatoes are soft and cooked through (about 10-20 minutes).  Drain and cool potatoes.  Dice potatoes into small cubes and add to a large mixing bowl.  

2) Using the same medium to large pot, bring salted water to a rapid boil (for macaroni).  At the same time, add eggs to a medium pot (with a lid) and fill with water until just covering the eggs.  Place on a medium-high heat and bring to a rolling bowl.  Once the water with eggs in it is boiling, cover the pot with the lid and turn off heat.  Allow the eggs to sit in the hot water for about 10-15 minutes.  Once done, drain water and allow eggs to cool.  Once eggs are cool, peel and dice into small pieces and add to the large mixing bowl with the potatoes. 

3) Once the larger pot's water has come to a boil, add the elbow macaroni to the well salted water.  Cook macaroni according to package directions (at least 8-9 minutes) plus a few extra minutes.  True Hawaiian macaroni salad uses pasta that has been cooked past al dente (it's usually well cooked-soft and fat).  But use your own judgement and taste.  Drain pasta and cool.  Transfer pasta to the large mixing bowl with the potatoes and eggs.  

4) Place the half package of frozen peas in a microwave safe bowl.  Add about 3 Tbsp. water and cook on high for about 3-4 minutes.  Stir.  If peas are not cooked through and hot, repeat.  Drain peas and when cool, add to the mixing bowl.

5) Add the grated onions and grated carrots to the mixing bowl.  Add about 1 cup of mayonnaise.  Salt and pepper your salad and mix well.  Continue to add mayonnaise 1 Tbsp at a time until you salad is as to your liking.  Continue to season with salt as needed.  Cover the salad and place in the refrigerator for a few hours to allow the noodles to absorb the mayonnaise and flavor.  

6) Once you're ready to serve the salad, you may find you will need to add more mayonnaise.  If you like, sprinkle the top of the macaroni salad with paprika.    

Witch's Brew

I made this punch for my niece's birthday party.  She picked the Disney movie, Brave, as her party theme.  If you watched the movie, you'll know there was a witch in it.  I found this recipe online and adapted it by adding only 1/2 of the amount of sugar the recipe called for.  I can't imagine adding the full amount.  It would be way too sweet!!  

Witch's Brew
Adapted from Southern Living, October 1998
1 c. sugar
2 quarts (8 cups) water
2 (0.13 oz) envelopes lime flavored drink mix (I used Kool Aid)
1 (46 oz) can pineapple juice
1 qt. ginger ale

1) Stir sugar and 2 quarts of water until the sugar is dissolved.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Chill.

**For a scary presentation, place the punch bowl into a larger bowl that contains dry ice.  Add water to the dry ice to create the "foggy" effect**

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cute Handmade Macrame Bracelets

Back in October while I was visiting the Las Vegas family, I made these bracelets for my two older nieces.  Cute eh?  It's pretty simple and cute.  I love how fun and colorful they are!  And aren't my hand models just lovely??  

It was a dark and stormy night...

and sometime you just feel like a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup!

I dug out this tomato soup out of the freezer.  I had made it this summer using fresh heirloom tomatoes from the garden (*sigh* I miss my summer garden).  It was enough to take the chill out of the night.  It's supposed to be a precursor to Creamy Heirloom Tomato Soup and you're supposed to add cream but I didn't have any on hand.  I just had it as is.  It sure hit the spot!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Meatless Monday: Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake)

Okonomiyaki is one of my favorite Japanese street foods.  It's referred to as a Japanese pancake or pizza.  To me, it's neither.  It is, however, damn good!  There is no real set of ingredients.  In Japanese, okonomiyaki translates to "what you like" (okonomi) and "grilled or cooked" (yaki).  You can really add whatever you want to it.  I made a seafood okonomiyaki with baby shrimp and cooked octopus.  I added napa cabbage and green onions for my vegetables. 
Other ingredients you'll need to make your okonomiyaki can be found in most Asian markets.  I used actual okonomiyaki flour but there are recipes out there using plain all-purpose flour.  The flavor won't be the same but you can use it if you don't have access to the okonomiyaki flour.
I made my okonomiyaki in a small omelet skillet.  My first attempt failed as I was unable to flip the okonomiyaki well.  My second attempt went better.  I made my okonomiyaki smaller and found 3 servings per recipe to work well.  

Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake)
Serves 2-3 (depending on size of your pancakes)
1 c. okonomiyaki flour
2/3 c. water
2 eggs
3-4 c. Napa cabbage, sliced very thinly
2 stalks green onions, thinly sliced diagonally

Suggested fillings:
1/4 c. tenkasu (tempura bits)
1/2 c. cooked shrimp
1 oz. beni shoga (red pickled ginger)
1/2 c. cooked octopus

Kewpie mayonnaise
Okonomiyagi sauce
Nori Goma Furikake (seaweed and sesame seed flavored)
Katsuobushi (bonito flakes)

1) In a large bowl, whisk the okonomiyaki flour and water until a smooth batter forms.  

2) Add eggs, napa cabbage, green onions and other filling ingredients to the bowl.  Mix until just incorporated.  Do not overmix the batter.

3) Oil a griddle to 400 degrees F or use an oiled pan over medium-high heat.  Add batter to the pan.  Using a spatula, flatten and form pancakes until they are about 3/4 inches thick.  

4) After about 3-4 minutes, flip the okonomiyaki and cook for an additional 4 minutes or until firm and well browned.  
5) Remove your okonomiyaki to a plate.  Use a pastry brush to brush the top of your okonomiyaki with okonomiyaki sauce.  Drizzle Kewpie mayonnaise on top of okonomiyaki sauce.  Sprinkle furikake and katsuobushi on top of the pancake and serve.  

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Back in October when I was in Las Vegas visiting my brother and his family, my oldest niece requested shrimp tempura for dinner (she always asks for it!).  My sister in law had wanted to try sukiyaki.  

Although I order it once in a while at the Japanese restaurant and my mom and grandma used to make it all the time growing up, I have personally never sukiyaki.  How odd!  It has some of my favorite ingredients-tofu, beef, noodles, napa cabbage.  It is also easy to make (hot pot) and is a true Japanese comfort food.  Traditionally, sukiyaki is served table side as a hot pot.  Guests add ingredients and cook the ingredients to order.  I made mine on the stove and cooked all of the ingredients at once to serve family style.   

I made it one night to go with the shrimp tempura.  It turned out really good.  I love the sauce and was concerned the recipe I was following wouldn't have enough so I doubled the sauce portion of the recipe.  The recipe that follows is the original portions for the sauce.  Just double it if you want more.  I would probably leave it as is for next time.  I didn't have pre-made dashi for this recipe.  Instead, I used 1/2 a packet of powdered dashi diluted in 1 cup of water.  Adjust to taste.  We served the sukiyaki over rice with the shrimp tempura on the side.  Yum!!    

Adapted from: Saga Wagyu Sukiyaki recipe by Masaharu Morimoto at 
Serves: 4-6

about 1 lb. thinly sliced beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
oil (for cooking beef)
1 package shirataki noodles (yam noodles) or cellophane noodles (bean noodles)
1/2 c. mirin
1/2 c. sake
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. sugar
1 c. dashi
8 oz. firm tofu, sliced into 1 inch cubes
2 c. napa cabbage (about 1/2 a small head), cut into 1 inch lengths
1 small daikon, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2-3 stalks green onions, sliced into 1 and 1/2 inch pieces
12 oz. fresh shitake mushrooms, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 package enoki mushrooms, trimmed 

1)  Cook noodles according to directions on the package.  Most noodles follow this simple technique: Boil water.  Place dry noodles in a large heat proof bowl.  Pour boiling water over the noodles and allow to sit until they are cooked.  Drain.

2)  Pour a little oil into a large pot over medium-high.  Add beef and sear them lightly.  If the beef slices are thicker, you may consider cooking it through.  Removed beef from the pot and reserve to a plate.

3)  Add mirin, sake, soy sauce, sugar and dashi to the pot on medium-high heat.  Mix and heat until the sugar is dissolved.

4)  Add the tofu, napa cabbage, daikon, green onions and shitake mushrooms.  Bring the pot contents to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the daikon is soft.  Add the enoki mushrooms and cook for an additional few minutes.  

5)  If you like, you can add more dashi or water to make more sauce.  You can either add noodles to the pot and heat through or add noodles to your bowl and spoon sukiyaki and sauce over the noodles.  Serve hot.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Chia Cherry-Lime Fresca

I recently have been on a chia seed kick recently.  You can read my reasons for including chia seeds in your diet in this post.  I recently purchased a drink a Whole Foods that I loved.  It was from a company called Mamma Chia and it was their Cherry Lime drink with chia seeds.  I liked the drink but really?  I could make this at home.  It's easy and tasty!  Note that you will need unsweetened cherry juice for this recipe.  I bought this brand, L&A.  I made some in Las Vegas for my brother and he bought a tart cherry juice.  Not the same!!  Too tarty!!  Adjust the portions to the size of your pitcher or container.  

Chia Cherry-Lime Fresca

2 c. water
1 c. unsweetened cherry juice (I liked the L&A brand)
2 Tbsp. agave 
5 Tbsp. chia seeds
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)

Mix all ingredients in a container and refrigerate overnight.  Serve cold.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pot Luck - Hawaii Style

I have tons to post but such little time.  I do feel a little guilty though after several family members commented to me that they visit my blog often only to find the same posts.  *Blush* 

Okay, a few easy posts first....

Last month, one of my coworkers left us for another job.  WAAAAHHH!!!  I was lucky enough to get to work with him on his last day.  He enjoys food from Hawaii so for his last day of work, we had a small pot luck for him.  I told him I would make him one of Hawaii's specialty....Spam musubi.  

I know if you're not familiar with our weird foods, you're probably totally grossing out right now.  Yes, we eat spam.  I don't indulge very often but when I do, it's a spam musubi! 
I make mine teriyaki style with a sprinkle of furikake.  Delicious!  He loved it!

I also made him some Korean chicken to go along with the rice.  Fried chicken is dipped in a spicy teriyaki sauce.  Yummo!  

It was sad to see him leave but I wish him all the best!  For a going away present, I gave him an assortment of Hawaii goodies including a can of spam, a spam musubi maker mold, some nori and furikake.  Hopefully he can make his own spam musubi whenever he wants!

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I've been MIA for a while.  When I finally decide to come back to post I ran into a hiccup.  My Picasa storage reached it's limit and I now have to pay for storage.  Grrr!!!  

Here's an easy side dish for the cool season.  I love roasted Brussels sprouts!  I bought these from Trader Joe's attached to the stalk.  Talk about fresh!!  I usually roast these with olive oil and garlic.  This time I added some balsamic vinegar.  It gave it a nice glaze.  Yummo!

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 - 1 and 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
freshly ground pepper

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2) Clean up your Brussels sprouts if needed.  Peel the outer brown layers and trim the ends.  Cut the Brussels sprouts in half and rinse in a colander with cold water.  Drain.   

3) Place Brussels sprouts in a bowl.  Toss with garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  

4) Line a baking sheet with foil.  Spread Brussels sprouts out on the baking sheet in a single layer.  

5) Roast the Brussels sprouts for 30 minutes.  Stir twice to prevent burning.  

6) Remove from oven and serve.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Happy 6th Birthday Arianna!!

I back posted this entry to December 1st.  My oldest niece turned 6 today.  She had her birthday party on the same day.  She decided on the Disney movie Brave as the theme for her birthday party.  

My brother made a stunning birthday cake for her.  Cute!!
My sister-in-law made bear paw brownies for the party.  They were tasty!
She also made cake pops for Arianna to take to school.  
Most of the party food was taken care of.  Aunty Holly was volunteered to make a macaroni salad (recipe to follow).  I also volunteered to make a cool looking Witch's Brew to go along with the Brave party theme (recipe also to follow).  

The decorations were simple, just aqua, purple and blue balloons in the Brave color scheme.  I made little wisps to hang from the ceiling.  They were made with tissue paper cover blue mini glowsticks.  They looked cool with the lights turned down.  I didn't get a good picture of them.  This was it.

Happy 6th Birthday Arianna!  Aunty loves you!