Monday, September 19, 2011

Corn and Cashew Nut Curry

It's hard to believe that the summer is already coming to an end. This year, like every other, I try and savor all the beach days, the cold beers on sticky evenings, the smell of sunscreen and just plain being out in the sun.

Thought it's still in the upper 80s here in Okinawa, I know that October will soon be upon us and, after that, the zooming by of holidays in one fell swoop.

So, in an attempt to hold on, just a little bit, to summer, but still welcome the fall, I'm sharing this recipe (from my India's Best cookbook) for Corn and Cashew Nut Curry. I recommend serving this over a bed of jasmine or basmati rice.

Ingredients:

  • 2 kaffir lime leaves (*I can't get them out here so I go without.)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • scant 1 C cashew nuts (*or an abudant cup-and-a-half if you're like me)
  • 1 tsp Thai red curry paste
  • 14 oz. potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, finely chopped
  • 7 oz. can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 C boiling water
  • generous 1 C drained canned whole kernel corn
  • 4 celery sticks, sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp palm sugar or light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Thai fish sauce (*I omit. ::shivers::)
  • 4 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • a small bunch of fresh basil, chopped
Directions:
  1. Remove the central rib from the kaffir lime leaves. Roll the leaves into tight cylinders and, using a sharp knife, slice through the cylinders to give thin strips.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan or wok. Add the shallots and stir-fry over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add the cashew nuts and stir-fry for a few minutes until golden.
  3. Stir in the red curry paste. Stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the potatoes, lemon grass, tomatoes and boiling water.
  4. Bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
  5. Stir the corn, celery, lime leaves, tomato ketchup, soy sauce, sugar and fish sauce into the pan or work. Simmer for a further 5 minutes, until heated through, then spoon into warmed serving bowls. Sprinkle with the sliced spring onions and chopped basil, and serve.
Et voila!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Speaking of THAI Chicken Pizza ...

I guess this would be an opportune time to shout from the rooftoops mention that I'll be hanging the apron up and heading to ... Thailand! I can't wait for the adventure that lies ahead. We'll get our big-city fix in "The City of Angels" (Bangkok) and then head down south for a little piece of sandy paradise, and if, I play my cards right, maybe even a little elephant playtime. :)


<3 <3


Thai Chicken Pizza

As you can imagine, I miss certain things that I don't have access to here in Okinawa. Obviously my friends and family are what I miss the most, but next in line (in no particular order, but probably something close to reality) are: Ross, Starbucks Gingerbread Lattes (they do offer Pumpkin Spice out here, though!), AC Moore/Michael's, driving through the Virginia mountains in early fall, wineries, and just being able to share those things with my closest family/friends.

I was reminiscing the other day about my trip back in March/April to Hawaii with my dear friend Kara. We were so blissfully happy the day we found a Ross, even if it was in a rough-and-tumble, we're-gonna-see-Dog-the-Bounty-Hunter-for-sure area. Almost as exciting was the night we had California Pizza Kitchen after a hot, but fun at the Honolulu Zoo. It reminded me so much of my cherished Mom/Daughter Dates I used to share with my mom. We used to go C.P.K. and order two personal Thai-Chicken Pizzas and, wouldn't you know, it's one of the few things in this world than can slow down any of our conversations because it's just that good. In honor of kinda-sorta missing home as well as kinda-sorta being really proud of myself for adjusting so well to living on the other side of the world/being a better cook, I'm sharing this Thai Chicken Pizza recipe from Pillsbury - a dead-ringer for a taste of "home."



Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6


Ingredients/Directions for Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/4 C honey
  • 1/4 C smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp crunch peanut butter (optional)
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger root (*Substitute a heaping tsp of ground ginger if you need to.)
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy!)
Combine and stir all the ingredients in a small bowl. (Try not to taste-test too much ... you won't be able to stop!)

Ingredients for Pizza:
  • (1) 11 oz. can Pillsbury refrigerated pizza crust
  • 1/2 C Thai peanut sauce (Use what you made above if you're not using store bought.)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 C chopped cooked chicken
  • 1/2 C julienne (matchstick-cut) carrots
  • 1/4 C sliced green onions (4 medium)
  • 1/4 C chopped salted peanuts
  • 1 1/2 C (6 oz.) finely shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Directions for Pizza:
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray or grease 15x10" or larger dark or nonstick cookie sheet. Unroll dough onto cookie sheet; starting at center, press dough into 15x10" rectangle (filling the entire sheet).
  2. In a small bowl, mix peanut sauce and ground ginger; spread to within 1/2" of edges of dough.

  3. Top with chicken, carrot, onions and peanuts; sprinkle with cheese.

  4. Bake 14 to 17 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with cilantro.
Et voila!
(I recommend this with a nice, cold glass of Chardonnay - mmmm!)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Zucchini Bread

As some of you know, I teach English to Japanese adults here on Okinawa. I sort of found the job by accident online (I have a degree in Communication/Event Management), but it's been so rewarding getting to meet people from the local community and learning about Okinawan traditions and Japanese pop culture.

Just the other day, I was teaching some of students at the local spa. (Let me just say that I *really* adore them. They're fun and quick to laugh - mostly at me, but I'll take it.) Anywho. We've been talking about food (hussah!) the last few weeks and I asked them to share some of their favorite go-to recipes.  (The answers included pan-seared vegetable and meat rolls and quick miso soup - yum!) When the girls asked me what my favorite is, I knew I'd never be able to pick just one so I offered a new favorite instead - zucchini bread!

Would you know, they had no idea you could make bread with zucchini! They were totally floored when I said it and were hanging on every word as I explained how to make it. In all fairness, I had never actually made zucchini bread until the week before we discussed it (hides face in hands). I promised to bring them a couple loaves when I returned for work the next time. I did (leaving the two loaves for them to try in private so they could honestly react to it with each other) and wouldn't you know, in typical Japanese fashion, the next time I returned, they had baked me Okinawan donuts (called "sata andagi") in return to say thank you. I'm still not sure who got the better end of that deal ... ;)

This recipe comes from AllRecipes, has been saved by over 100,000 members, and has a five-star rating.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Yields: 2 loaves


Ingredients:

  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 C white sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 C grated zucchini
  • 1 C chopped walnuts
Directions:
  1. Grease and flour two 8x4" pans. Preheat oven to 325. 
  2. Sift flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon together in a bowl. 
  3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and walnuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pans, and cool completely. 
Et voila!
(Ok, I don't have a photo of the finished product, but how 'bout a photo of an equally delicious berries 'n' cream tart from Jyo-gi Patisserie in Naha?)

 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Aebelskiv...(huh?!) and Typhoon Muifa

I'm writing this as hubby, puppy and I ride out the last half of Typhoon Muifa. She's been sluggish and moody! It's been wildly windy and the rain has been pelting the house (and sneaking under the front door!) for almost 24 hours now. No worries, though, as I have not only great company but also a fun new birthday present to try out (thanks Momma G!).

I present to you ... aebelskivers. They're delightful little pancake-y puffs that are often served on holidays in Denmark. I first learned about them while thumbing through the latest Williams-Sonoma catalog (::sigh::). I was so excited not only to receive a large box from my mother-in-law (Momma G) on my birthday, but to open it up and find my very own ("Norpro") Aebelskiver pan!

The cast iron pan is small, but extremely efficient. It heats up quickly, retains the heat and distributes it really evenly. I recommend looking into them for your own kitchen if you think you might use it often enough.

This recipe is the one that came with the pan (I figured it was probably pretty trustworthy and a good place to start). We made these yesterday for breakfast, but also snacked on them for dessert. Hubby has convinced me to try a dinner version of these -- maybe little hamburgers? We'll see.

Yields: about 40 Aebelskivers
Ingredients:

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 C buttermilk (*Like I mentioned, we're in a mandatory lockdown while the typhoon rips through so going to the commissary wasn't an option. I don't keep buttermilk on hand and I never end up using more than, oh, a quarter of it. I Googled [yes, that's a verb] "buttermilk substitute" and found this recipe. You'll need to make two batches, but it was quick and worked great!)
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • *Optional: Apple slices or other fruit for filling. (*We used applesauce, apricot preserves, and chocolate pieces.)

The set up.
(Note the giant punch bowl: I was testing an iced coffee recipe I can't wait to share with you! Oh, and one of my favorite mugs from back home: "When the going gets tough, tell me I'm beautiful!")

Directions:
  1. Sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Add buttermilk and egg yolks. Beat egg whites until light and fluffy, forming soft peaks. Gently fold egg whites into batter.
  2. Heat Aebelskiver pan on medium heat. Grease each cup (with a little butter or oil, or spray vegetable oil) and fill 2/3 full.


  3. Cook for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 minutes (per side) until golden brown. Flip using skewers. When both sides are done, serve with a sprinkle of confectioner's sugar. (Best when served warm.)
  4. Optional: Fill each cup only 1/3 full with batter. Place a small amount of fruit in each cup and cover with an additional 1/3 batter.
Et voila!

And in case you're wondering what it looks like here outside Cafe Groenhout:
It may be hard to decorate, but I'm thankful for my very sturdy little concrete bunker!

And how my little chef (Banks) is handling it:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mango, Macadamia & Goat Cheese Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

One of my favorite things to do on an early summer evenings is to eat outside with my hunny, puppy, and a cold beer. While the view isn't perfect (read: there is a massive, netted trampoline in the neighbor's touching backyard), it's relaxing to watch the sun go down, see the palm trees in the other neighbors' yards, and to just live on island time. The Bud Light Limes really help with all that, too.

This recipe comes from The Bride and Groom First & Forever cookbook we received from a catering company we were interviewing for our wedding. The macadamias give it the perfect crunch, the goat cheese gives it the perfect earthiness, and the mango (canned peaches work great, too) just brings it on home. Please do yourself a favor and try this as soon as you can ... outside!

Mighty Mint Vinaigrette
Makes: 1 C


Ingredients:

  • 3/4 C EVOO
  • 1/2 C firmly packed fresh mint leaves (*Even if you don't have fresh mint leaves, this vinaigrette is perfect with the salad!)
  • 1/4  Cwhite wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
Directions:
  1. Combine the olive oil and mint in a blender and blend until pureed, about 15 seconds. 
  2. Add the vinegar, mustard, honey, kosher salt, and pepper to taste and blend until just incorporated, about 5 seconds. Do not overblend or the vinaigrette will be too thick. The vinaigrette will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.
Butter Lettuce with Mango, Goat Cheese, and Vinaigrette
Serves: 2

Ingredients:
  • 4 C lightly packed torn butter lettuce leaves
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 C roughly chopped mango (*Again, canned peaches are great, too!)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 C macadamia nuts, roasted and salted, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp crumbled goat cheese (*We use a LOT more. Do it "to taste.")
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped green onions, both white and green parts
  • 3 tbsp mighty mint vinaigrette, or as needed
Directions:
  1. Put the lettuce in a large bowl and season lightly with kosher salt and pepper to taste. 
  2. Add the mango, macadamia nuts, goat cheese, and green onions and toss with enough vinaigrette to coat.
  3. Serve immediately.
Et voila!
(P.S. Check out my new everyday salad gear I purchased at the Marine Gift Shop!)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Balsamic-Grilled Summer Veggies with Basil-Quinoa Salad

I've mentioned our unofficial "Scrounge Nights" around here when we basically hunt through the cabinets and try to make a meal out of whatever we can piece together. Here's a delicious summer recipe that doesn't require a trip to the grocery (well, if you keep fresh produce on hand)! Even if you don't stay well-stocked, this recipe is definitely worth the trip to the store.

This recipe comes from VeggieBelly. I've mentioned it here before and want to do so again. Sala, the chef/blogger/photographer behind it all, is really a girl after my own heart! She loves bright colors, fresh foods, hunger-inducing food photography, and popcorn (::swoon::).

Serves: 2 hungry adults


Ingredients for Balsamic Dressing:

  • 1/4 C balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp EVOO
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper
Ingredients for Main Dish:
  • 1 small Italian eggplant (about 2 C when cut into big cubes)
  • 1 small zucchini (about 2 C when cut into big cubes)
  • 1/2 small red onion (1/4 of a large one)
  • 3/4 C cherry tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped (*As always, you can use dried thyme if that's all that you have. Just a dash ought to be sufficient.)
Ingredients for Basil-Quinoa Salad:
  • 2 C water
  • 1 C quinoa (*We didn't have quinoa in the cabinets, so we substituted with couscous and it came out great!)
  • 1/4 C basil leaves, loosely packed, chopped
Other Ingredients:
  • 1/2 C pearlini mozzarella balls, or bocconcini mozzarella balls, tossed in a little salt and pepper (substitute with pan-fried tofu or toasted pine nuts or walnuts for a vegan dish)
Directions:
  1. Whisk together all the balsamic dressing ingredients and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, boil water for the quinoa salad. Add quinoa and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer covered, til all the water has been completely absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  3. While quinoa is cooking, cut the eggplant and zucchini into 1 1/2" cubes. Cut the red onion into rings. Place cubed eggplant, zucchini, red onion, tomatoes and thyme leaves in a bowl. Pour half the balsamic dressing over the vegetables and toss well.
  4. Brush grill grates (indoor or outdoor) with EVOO or non-stick spray. Heat grill to medium-high. Grill the vegetables about 3 minutes on one side or until grill marks appear. Flip them over and grill the other side until vegetables are tender but still a bit firm. Tomatoes will cook quicker, remove them from the grill as soon as they start to blister.
  5. *If you don't have a grill, broil the vegetables on the top rack of the oven until one side is golden. Flip and broil the other side.
  6. Reserve the balsamic dressing that remains in the bowl, to serve with the meal.
  7. When the quinoa finishes cooking, toss it with the second half of the dressing. Stir in chopped basil, salt and pepper.
  8. Spread quinoa on a platter or bowl. Arrange the grilled summer vegetables and mozzarella around quiona. 
  9. Serve warm with reserved balsamic dressing on the side.

(I couldn't pick just one photo now that I'm lusting to make it again so you can enjoy both photos, too.)
Et voila!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Crepes

My best friend here on Okinawa (Kara!) recently had a great friend from back home in the States visit. I'm so glad Kara was able to spend a whole month with her and really show her how wonderful Okinawa really is. Like me, both of these girls are adventuresome and have the travel bug which led us to many conversations about travel in general.

Naturally, Paris came up since that's where hubby and I honeymooned two years ago. I've said it before and will say it again (in my best attempt at a French accent): j'adore Paris! It will forever hold a special place in my heart. And so will crepes. (Yeah, I said it.)

Walking the streets of Paris was sensory overload (in a good way). I could just lose myself in the sounds, sights, smells ... ahhh, the smells ... fresh coffee and crepes. It was outside the Louvre that I enjoyed my very first one. A nutella and banana crepe, to be specific. I'm bummed there are no photos of us devouring them, but it's probably best since I'm sure I had it enthusiastically shmeared across my happy face.



It took a full two years before I tried making them at home, and I am happy to report that it was a complete success! Try your hand at these and picture yourself relaxing at some open-air bistro with a giant mug of frothy cafe au lait. ::le sigh::

(Recipe from AllRecipes)
Makes 12
Prep Time: 5 mins. / Cook Time: 30 mins. / Ready In: 35 mins.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 C milk
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
Directions:
  1. Sift together flour, sugar and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs and milk together with an electric mixer. Beat in flour mixture until smooth; stir in melted butter. 
  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 2 tbsp for each crepe. (*I recommend using a soup laddle.) Tip and rotate pan to spread batter as thinly as possible. Brown on both sides and serve hot. 
  3. (*These buttery flaps of heaven are delicious as-is, but if you're looking for the fully Monty, I highly recommend topping with powdered sugar, apricot jam, nutella and/or fresh fruit.)

Et voila!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ring the Dinner Bell!

I'm ringing the metaphorical dinner bell here, y'all! I know it's been a long time coming, but I promise I'm back and will share what I've been up to (and cooking up) by tomorrow night.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Curry Noodles in Coconut Milk Broth (or Khao Soi)

One of the greatest benefits of living in Okinawa is that it is a gateway to a plethora of other wonderful places to visit. I haven't yet made my way to any other countries, but certainly intend to. Hubby and I were hoping to get to Tokyo (no, it's not a different country, but it's different enough) for our anniversary, but our plans were nixed by the military who decided it needed him. (No surprise.) So, it's back to the drawing boards for our next vacation. 

It's great fun, though, hearing about our friends' adventures. From Hong Kong to Thailand, Australia to Cambodia, we're often living vicariously through others. 

This dish is kind of like listening to your friends' vacation stories - a way to experience another culture without having to ever get on a plane. I found this recipe over at VeggieBelly and tested it out on hubs. We both loved it and I imagine you will, too. If anything, pop by her website for some truly fabulous food (and travel) photos. 

Serves: 2 - 3

Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 C chopped shiitake mushrooms (*You know me. These did NOT make it in!)
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 C chopped baby corn
  • 1 tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 tsp curry powder or according to taste
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 C coconut milk
  • 1 C water
  • 2 C  fresh Chinese wheat-based noodles or about 3 oz. dried thin wheat-based noodles 
  • 1 C bean sprouts

    Toppings and Garnishes
  • 1 C store-bought crispy noodles (*Like VeggieBelly, I too used LaChoy!)
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1/4 C chopped pickled mustard greens (*Couldn't find these, so I omitted them.)
  • 3-4 lime wedges
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped green onion
Directions:
  1. Heat a large wok with oil. Add shiitake mushrooms, zucchini, baby corn and carrot and cook on high for about 2 minutes. Then add curry paste and curry powder. Toss to coat the vegetables. Add light soy sauce and cook about 30 seconds so the vegetables absorb the liquid. Then add dark soy sauce, brown sugar, and coconut milk. Let the curry simmer for about 2 minutes. 
  2. Then pour in water and bring back to a simmer. Taste curry and adjust soy sauce, add sugar to taste.
  3. Bring a large pot full of water to boil noodles. If using dried noodles, cook in boiling water til noodles are very al dente. If using fresh noodles, boil for about 1 minute. No matter what noodles you use, make sure not to overcook them. Drain well.


  4. Add cooked noodles and bean sprouts to the curry broth. 
  5. Serve in individual bowls, topped with crispy noodles. If you don't have store bought crispy noodles, increase the fresh or dry wheat noodles quantity in this recipe by 1/2 C. If using dried noodles -- deep fry this extra half cup of boiled, drained noodles in oil, til golden. If using fresh noodles, deep fry them as is. Then top Khao Soi with the fried noodles.
  6. Serve with chopped shallots, pickled mustard greens, lime wedges, and cilantro on the side.

    Et voila!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Szechuan Tofu and Green Bean Stir-Fry

I'm always on the hunt for new vegetarian recipes that will fill my hungry tummy and be tasty at the same time. This recipes comes from Eating Well  and was such a hit, I made it twice in three weeks -- something I really try to avoid doing. To make it heartier, I serve this over a bed of brown rice.

Serves: 4
Total time: 30 minutes


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C water, divided
  • 1/4 C reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp Chinkiang vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tsp plus 2 tbsp cornstarch, divided
  • 1 - 14 oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tbsp canola oil, divded
  • 4 C green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger (*Don't have fresh ginger? Try a few shakes of ground ginger instead.)
  • *I throw in some sliced red pepper to up my daily veggie intake and highly recommend you do, too!
Directions:
  1. Whisk 1/4 C water, soy sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, crushed red pepper to taste and 1 tsp cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside. Cut tofu into 1/2 - 3/4" cubes and pat dry. Toss the tofu in a bowl with the remaining 2 tbsp cornstarch to coat.


  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and spread out across the surface of the pan. Let cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. Gently turn and stir. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil to the pan. Add green beans, (*peppers if you're using them), garlic, and ginger; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the remaining 1/4 C water, cover and cook until the beans are crisp-tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir the reserved soy sauce mixture and pour it over the green beans. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 1 minute. Add the tofu and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute more. 
Et voila!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Strawberry and Feta Salad

It's another sunny day in Okinawa - yay! - and while I've recovered from a nasty bout of bronchitis, I still feel like I need some extra fresh, healthy options to keep my energy and immunity up.  This salad (from AllRecipes) is perfect! It's also incredibly simple to throw together so it's a great salad recipe when you're trying to come up with a quick dinner or side.

Prepped and ready in: 15 minutes


Ingredients:

  • 1 C slivered almonds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 C raspberry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 C vegetable oil
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, torn (*For the sake of time, I use bagged salad.)
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1 C crumbled feta cheese
Directions:
  1. In a skillet over medium-high heat, toast the almonds, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, prepare the dressing by whisking together the garlic, honey, mustard, raspberry vinegar, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the toasted almonds, romaine lettuce, strawberries, and feta cheese. Cover with dressing mixture and toss to serve. 
Et voila!

(Forgive my lack of lovely serveware. I'm still on the hunt for the perfect everyday salad bowl and tongs.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sesame Noodles

It's another sunny day in Okinawa (hooray!) and I just returned from a nice, quiet walk with Banks. He, naturally, wore himself out. (Sniffing, rubbing himself in the bushes, and rolling around in the cool grass are some of his favorite things to do!)

Now that it's almost lunch time, I'm ready for a light, preferably chilled lunch and this recipe (from Rachael Ray) came to mind.

Cook time: 8 minutes
Serves: 1


Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • t tsp toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1/3 lb thin spaghetti, cooked to al dente, drained and cooled
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 scallion, chopped
Directions:
  1. Whisk peanut butter, soy sauce, cayenne, oil and sesame oil in small bowl.
  2. Add cooked noodles and toss to coat.
  3. Sprinkle noodles with sesame seeds and scallion to garnish.
Et voila!

Or, perhaps this dish is too light for your growling belly. Try topping it with stir-fried veggies. 
Short on time? Nuke a frozen bag of 'em and then add to the noodles.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Pumpkin-Toffee Cheesecake

Being away from the blog while on vacation only made me miss it more. Here's another attempt at giving you some of the recipes long-ago promised! (This one comes from AllRecipes.)

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Ready in: 4 hours, 45 minutes


Ingredients for Crust:

  • 1 3/4 C shortbread cookies, crushed (*I use graham cracker crumbles.)
  • 1 tbsp butter or margarine, melted
Ingredients for Cheesecake:
  • 3 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 C packed brown sugar
  • 1 - 15 oz. can Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin 
  • 2/3 C Nestle Carnation Evaporated Milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 C crushed toffee candies (Read: Heath bar!)
Ingredients for Topping:
  • 1 - 8 oz. container sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. For crust: Combine cookie crumbs and butter in small bowl. Press onto bottom and 1" up side of 9" springform pan. 
  3. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes (do not allow to brown). Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.
  4. For cheesecake: Beat cream cheese and brown sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, cornstarch and cinnamon; beat well. Pour into crust. 
  5. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until edge is set but center still moves slightly. Remove from oven; top with toffee candy pieces.


  6. For topping: Combine sour cream, granulated sugar and vanilla extract in a small bowl; mix well. Spread over warm cheesecake.
  7. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Remove side of springform pan. Drizzle with caramel topping before serving. 

Creamy Lamb Korma with Fiery Hot Yogurt and Chilli Sauce

I'm back from my misadventure in Hawaii/Guam. As my adventurer-in-crime Kara would agree, we never got leiied, we only got screwed. (There's a whole, long, unbelievably ridiculous story behind it but I'm not even sure where I would begin!) Anywho, I'm back and sickly. I've been diseased by airplane air, I'm sure. The pressure from taking off/landing has left me with some hearing loss on top of the coughing I can't seem to control.

What better to loosen up phlegm (eww) than a hot, spicy Indian dish? Creamy Lamb Korma with Fiery Hot Yogurt and Chilli Sauce (from India's 500 Best Recipes) does the trick. Add a side of "Loev Aaj Kal" and you have yourself a recuperative little night in!

Creamy Lamb Korma (served over basmati rice)
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients for Korma:
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp white poppy seeds
  • 1/2 C blanched almonds
  • 2 fresh green chilies, seeded
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2" piece fresh root ginger, sliced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 2" piece cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 lb lean lamb, boned and cubed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 1/4 C double cream mixed with 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • salt
  • roasted sesame seeds, to garnish
Directions for Korma:
  1. Preheat a karahi, wok or large pan over medium heat without any fat, and add the first seven ingredients. Stir until they begin to change color. They should go just a shade darker.


  2. Leave the mixture to cool, then grind to a fine paste using a pestle and mortar or in a food processor. Heat the ghee or oil in the pan over a low heat.
  3. Fry the cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves until the cloves swell. Add the lamb, ground cumin and coriander and the prepared paste, and season with salt to taste. Increase the heat to medium and stir well. Reduce the heat to low, then cover the pan and cook until the lamb is almost done.
  4. Remove from the heat, leave to cool a little and gradually fold in the cream, reserving 1 tsp to garnish.
  5. When ready to serve, gently reheat the lamb, uncovered. Spoon into a dish and garnish with the sesame seeds and the reserved cream.


Fiery Hot Yogurt and Chilli Sauce (*Note: The book has this listed as a soup but it was so thick and creamy that we used it as a sauce instead!)
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients for Sauce:
  • scant 2 C plain low-fat yogurt, beaten
  • 4 tbsp gram flour
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 fresh green chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 whole dried red chillies
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 or 4 curry leaves (*I substitute with ground curry.)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2" piece fresh root ginger, crushed
  • salt
  • fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped, to garnish
Directions for Sauce:
  1. Mix the yogurt, gram flour, chilli powder, turmeric and salt to taste in a bowl. Press the mixture through a strainer into a pan.


  2. Add the green chillies and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy pan and fry the remaining spices, crushed garlic and fresh ginger until the dried chillies turn black. 
  4. Pour the oil and the spices over the yogurt sauce, cover the pan and leave to rest for 5 minutes off the heat. Mix well and gently reheat for a further 5 minutes.


  5. Ladle over korma. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Aloha from Hawaii!

Just wanted to send my love from the little island of Oahu.

The beaches are hot, the drinks are cold and while this mini girlcation has turned out completely different than I had planned, I am still loving every minute of it.

Hoping to get to Guam tonight... will keep you posted on what's cooking.

Mahalo!






Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What's Cookin'?

I apologize if the cafe seems a little slow these days. The past few weeks have been crazy, to say the least. As you are well aware, the people of Japan have suffered greatly at the hands of Mother Nature. Here on Okinawa, we have remained safe, but have certainly been affected in other ways. Many servicemembers have been deployed to mainland to help provide aid. Very, very thankfully, I am happy to say that hubby was able to stay here on island with me. We would both gladly provide any help we could, but it is a relief to not have to worry about radiation exposure while trying to do a good thing.

The outpouring of support has been awesome, both here on island and from afar. Schools here had hallways lined with goods to send. Back home (in the states), people were organizing bake sales. I was so proud to hear that one of my favorite bands, Pink Martini, held a benefit concert that was so popular, they ended up offering a second show the very same day. 

Because of the emergency up north, flights have been a mess. I mentioned forever ago (here) that the girls I met during hubby's TBS days were truly blessings. We agreed back then that we'd have reunions every year to bridge the gap of time apart. This year, we're supposed to meet in California. And it's supposed to begin tomorrow. 

I've been trying for a week to get out there and am getting antsy about the fact that the girls will only be in CA for a few more days. So, please forgive me for being a little "slow in the kitchen," but know that things are definitely still cookin'. :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bon Appetit - for cheap! ($4!)

I have GOT to share this with y'all!

I mentioned a while back that my sister-in-law and her husband gifted a one-year Bon Appetit subscription to hubby and me. I had never even so much as flipped through one on a newsrack, but was thrilled when we finally had them coming to the house. They're loaded with great info - recipes, photos, stories, buzz about new gadgets/restaurants. (I especially love the step-by-step "how-to technique" section in the back.)

I also love couponing/saving money. If you haven't checked out The Krazy Coupon Lady yet - please - do it now. I can't boast enough about how great those ladies are. (Their coupon binder template completely changed the way I shop!)

They have a daily email that goes out with current deals and today I hit the jack pot!

Bon Appetit one-year subscription retails for: $54
Automatic 55% discount (-$30.01): $23.99
Enter coupon code FOOD for (-$20):
$3.99 
(That's almost 93% off the original subscription price!)

Click HERE and and then click buy. Enter your information and, when prompted, enter coupon code FOOD.

(I imagine this offer won't last long, but I encourage you to take advantage of it while you can!)

P.S. I received nothing for this post. Bon Appetit probably doesn't even know my name.
I just happen to think they're really great. :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pet Silhouette

The sun is out and the birds are chirping .... it's a true spring morning on Okinawa!

I feel like I've earned it, though, after nearly three weeks of rain during January. During that time, hubby was gone for training and I was home alone with my dog and a box of a craft supplies. You do the math.

So! I'm sharing this great DIY tutorial to add a sweet personal touch to your home.

Things You'll Need:

  • scissors or exacto knife and pad (or cardboard - something thick that won't butcher your table)
  • pencil
  • double-sided tape
  • digital camera
  • printer (B&W is fine)
  • photo frame (with mat) - (*Frames don't have to be expensive! Check the local bargain stores. Also, for a more eclectic look, try different styles of frames.)
  • one piece of black construction paper or cardstock
  • one piece of fun, patterned paper
Directions:
Step 1: Take a side (profile) photo of your (willing) subject. 


Step 2: Upload it to your computer and print it on normal computer paper. (*I recommend using the "QuickPrint" option on your printer to save ink. You're just using what you print as a tracing guide so quality doesn't matter.)


Step 3: Create your silhouette. Here, you have two options:
  • Option 1: You can use the double-sided tape to affix your printed image to the piece of black paper. Then (carefully!) cut them both out at the same time. (*Only use this process if you're sure the two pieces of paper won't move.)
  • Option 2: You can cut out the printed image and then affix the printed image to the black paper. Use a pencil to trace the image onto the black paper. Then, cut it out.

Reminder: You're creating a silhouette so just cut around the perimeter. Also, the personalization/fun part is in the details. For me, it was Banks' neck roll and nose wrinkles. Make sure to include the little things: fly-away hairs, eyelashes, etc.

Step 4: Cut down the patterned paper to fit the frame opening. Do NOT cut it so that it just fits the opening. Make sure to leave a little extra on all sides so you can tape it to the mat.


Step 5: Use the double-sided tape to affix your (black) silhouette onto your fun paper. Make sure it's centered and remember that you may need to tilt the photo a little to make the straighten it out.



Step 6: Pop your artwork into your frame.

Et voila!

(You could also try this in reverse - black background with a fun, patterned silhouette!)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

This is How We Roll: Homemade Sushi!

I was repeatedly surprised when people asked me if I was afraid to move to Okinawa. Maybe they thought I would be since I had lived in Virginia my entire life. Maybe they thought they couldn't do it - so how would I? No matter how you cut it, my answer was always the same, "No way. I'm so excited; I just want to get there!"

Moving to the other side of the world - to Asia, specifically, as I had and continue to have little knowledge of its culture/customs/history - has been an awesome adventure so far. A couple weeks ago, hubby and I celebrated being here for six months. Neither of us can believe how quickly the time is flying.

Six months has allowed us some time to get to know a few of the local restaurants, including a handful of sushi houses. Our first experience with Japanese sushi was what is referred to as a "sushi-go-'round," a restaurant that has a revolving conveyor belt of sushi that snakes throughout the restaurant so that customers at tables/the bar can grab whatever plate of sushi they want. Chefs in the middle of the restaurant also prepare custom orders. It's quick. It's delicious. And it's cheap -- er.

If you know me, you know I'm cost-conscious. I coupon. I love a good sale. And I hate buying something that I know I can make/do myself. While sitting in a hole-in-the-wall sushi joint with hubby Saturday night, we both came to the conclusion that we could "totally do it. Yeah. We can do this. We could make breakfast sushi. I bet we could do dessert sushi!" (You know, the same way crazy-genius and crazy-awful ideas develop.)

Enough of the lifestory - on with the lesson/recipe!

After much research, I selected a handful of tutorials/web videos/websites to guide me through the at-home sushi-making process.

Step 1: I used THIS video to make sushi rice. You'll need:

  • 1 1/2 C good-quality, short-grain rice 
  • 1 1/2 C water
  • 3 tbsp of rice vinegar (*Don't let this scare you. It's super easy to find in the "international" section of your grocery store, often near the soy sauce.)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp salt
Step 2: Make sure you have your tools laid out. You'll need:
  • 1 bamboo mat, wrapped in saran wrap (*For my Okinawans, check the 100-yen shop or the grocery store for cheap ones.)
  • a few sheets of nori (seaweed wrap)
  • a bowl of water and small towel, for dipping your fingers and knife
Step 3: Prepare your fixin's. Some ideas:
  • 1 avocado, finely sliced
  • 1 cucumber, finely sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely sliced
  • cream cheese (*We recently discovered Philadelphia cream cheese minis and they're perfectly portioned for sushi night!)
  • fresh fish (*We love tuna.)
  • sesame seeds
  • shichimi (Japanese spice mixture)
    • Wanna make it yourself? It's got ground red chili pepper, ground Sichuan pepper, roasted orange peel, black and white sesame seeds, hemp seed and ground ginger.
Step 4: Here we go!
  • This video was what I used to make an inside-out spicy tuna roll. (DE-LISH!)
    • To make a spicy sauce, I used this super simple, perfectly spicy recipe. (*Heads up: It calls for Sriracha. This is the Thai "screaming rooster" hot sauce you may often see on tables at Asian restaurants. I highly recommend getting some!)
  • Here is another great video I used to make a nori roll (seaweed on the outside). 
Here's how mine turned out:

(Spicy Tuna Roll)


Tuna, Cucumber & Avocado Roll


Et voila!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pasta with Shrimp and Cilantro-Lime Pesto

Today, a couple of my friends and I drove down to Naha (the capital of Okinawa) to check out the Food and Flower Festival. It was packed with unusual foods and tons of reasonably-priced, beautiful flowers for purchase. We had a yummy little lunch in a shady spot away from the vendors where we chatted and watched the locals enjoy the day, too.


Two silly melons - Kara and Me!

What better way to end the day than with, brace yourself, a:
Cafe au Lait Milk with Tapioca and Soft Serve.

If I was cooking a little more (I've been on a slight hiatus since hubby left), I would have left with armfuls of fresh food, especially cilantro. This is a great recipe (from Bon Appetit, July 2010) for using that fresh cilantro!

Serves 4


Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 C (packed) fresh cilantro leaves plus 1/4 C chopped
  • 1/4 C (scant) chopped green onions
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 tbsp chopped, seeded jalapeno chile
  • 1/2 C plus 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 lb linguine
  • 1 lb uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 tbsp tequila
  • 1/4 C crumbled Cotija cheese or feta cheese 
Directions:
  1. Blend 1 1/4 C cilantro leaves and next four ingredients in food processor until coarse puree forms. With machine running, gradually add 1/2 C EVOO. Season generously with salt. Cover and chill. (Pesto can be made one day ahead.)


  2. Cook linguine in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tbsp EVOO in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook until almost opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; add tequila. Return skillet to heat and stir until sauce is syrupy, about 30 seconds. Add pesto; stir to coat. Remove from heat.
  4. Add pasta to sauce in skillet; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta and shrimp among 4 plates. Sprinkle Cotija cheese and chopped cilantro over and serve.

    Et voila!