Monday, December 1, 2014

Keeper Project: Easy Smashed Potatoes

I had a HUGE mashed potatoes failure about ten years ago - so bad that we had no mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving one year, so when mashed potatoes were assigned this year, I got a little panicky.

Luckily, for my family, this less ambitious recipe got thumbs up, especially from boy 3.

  • 3 pounds medium red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2 tsp. course sea salt, plus more for salting the water
  • 3/4 - 1 cup heavy cream (just check texture)
  • 4 T. butter
  • black pepper
  • 4-6 stalks green onion, including whites, finely chopped
  1. Put the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water seasoned with salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan until hot, not scalding.
  3. Drain potatoes and with a potato masher, rough smash the potatoes while adding the hot liquid. 
  4. Stir in half the green onions, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. The rest of the green onions can go on top before serving.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Note to Self: the right pumpkin filling

My mother-in-law used to always do Thanksgiving. She cooked everything and we would take care of the sides, but as she gets older, more and more of the Thanksgiving dishes have moved to us. This year has been a change year for her. She stopped driving and that has been the start of stopping other things until this Thanksgiving, the whole thing was given over to us. The pies, which were always her thing went to me without any recipe so I have to battle memory of taste as well as my procrastination that comes with not having a plan.

The verdict on my very first pumpkin pie (seriously, I have been married for 27 years and I have never made a pumpkin pie because my mother in law has ALWAYS made it):
Thumbs up on the filling - work on the crust. My mom took the leftover pie home.

Note to self for next year: if I don't want to use store bought pie crust, mix the crust ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator. Also, practice before the "show."

The filling was a keeper, so I just need to work on crust.

From: Suzanne's Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie (original recipe here)

  • 2 cups canned pumpkin puree (the original recipe talks about making fresh sugar pumpkin pulp, but in my small town in the middle of the Pacific, it is not something locally available)
  • 1 12oz. can evaporated milk (or 1 1/2 cup heavy cream)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs plus one yolk
  • 3 1/2 - 4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I make my own)
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
You also need a good deep dish crust, which I don't have yet. But when I do, I will link it here.

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 
  2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Mix in the sugars, salt, spices and lemon zest. Mix in the pumpkin puree. Stir in the cream and beat together until everything is mixed. (I like the dark color of the filling, probably from the brown sugar, but I really despise lemony orange colored pumpkin pies.)
  3. Pour the filling into an uncooked pie shell.* Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. **After the 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 45 - 55 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  4. Let the pie rest for about 2 hours and serve with whipped cream (traditional, but my family does not like whipped cream so I cannot rely on the whipped cream to hide any flaws)
* I had much more filling than my one 9" deep dish pie crust would hold, but not enough to make another pie, so I put it in an oven ramekin and baked it alongside my pie so I could try a crustless pie. Next time, I am going to put it in smaller ramekins, put it in a water bath and see if I can make it more brulee custard ish.

** After 15 minutes (I think my oven is running hot), I had to already put foil on my crust because it was at the right color.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Giving Thanks Together Invites

I was wandering through my Pinterest board after work and saw some fabulous ideas for outdoor Thanksgiving table setting ideas.  Beautiful and way over my league, but I saw this card that gave me an idea to create a postcard invitation (above) to send to our guests (really it's just our usual Sunday dinner family, but they are still guests)

But since it is a postcard, I figured instead of the usual you're invited, I would choose a grateful poem and give each person a part of the poem. I chose "Invocation" by Jeanne Lohmann as a way to share a piece and enjoy some choral reading. 

I hope they like it. Here's the back of the postcard ( I took the addresses off)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kaiso Seaweed Salad

The weather has been so muggy in Hawaii, perfect for a cold kaiso hijiki salad. Look for this package of dehydrated assortment of seaweeds in the Asian aisle. It's a mix of seaweeds, hijiki, agar agar, etc. If the weather is cold, you can also drop a handful of this mix into your miso soup.

For the summer salad:

I used the whole bag (3 oz) but adjust as necessary. 
Directions - 
3 oz.  dried seaweed (kaiso salad) mix

Put the seaweed in a bowl, cover with cold water and soak (5-8 minutes)
Drain, squeeze out as much water as possible and put it back in a bowl. 


3 1/2 T. rice vinegar
3 T. shoyu
3 T. toasted sesame oil
3 T. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. grated ginger and juice
green onion for topping
toasted sesame seeds for topping

Whisk everything but the green onion and sesame seeds to create a vinaigrette. Toss through the seaweed and top with green onion and sesame seeds before serving.

Refrigerate if serving later. I'm putting it on our lunch salads (lettuce, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, seasoned kaiso salad and some lemon slices for extra acid.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower and Carrot with Shoyu/Lemon Walnuts

I had a partial head of cauliflower and a couple handfuls of baby carrots so I put them together so I would at least have a full pan of veggies to roast.

The walnuts were going to go on with just some lemon zest and olive oil but I was craving a little more savory flavor so I added some shoyu and lemon juice to taste and it just adds that extra oomph.


Cauliflower, cut into florets
Carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally
Extra virgin olive oil to lightly coat veggies
Hawaiian salt ( I used my mom's Rocking H dry rub)
Black pepper
Lemon zest (about 1/2 tsp)
Lemon juice to taste
Shoyu to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

In the last couple minutes of oven preheat, I put the walnuts in a pan and toasted them. You could dry pan toast it on the stove. 

Toss the carrots and cauliflower with a little olive oil. I started with 2 T., tossed in a bowl to coat veggies then added maybe 1/2 T. more. Salt and pepper the veggies and lay it out on a roasting pan. 

Roast until the veggies are tender and lightly browned (about 25 minutes). Taste and season more if necessary (or just get it right the first time). 

While the veggies are roasting, I put the walnuts in a nut grinder or coarse chop them, add lemon zest, about 1 T. olive oil and shoyu and lemon to taste.

When the veggies are done, plate it, add the walnuts and enjoy. I put the extra walnuts in a container to add to salad later in the week. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

No Nut Pesto

This summer has been a good one for basil, tomatoes and green onions  but I hate using so much oil in pesto so I tried this Chef AJ version with no nuts and no oil. I made my usual Moosewood Cookbook version too and the No Nut held up pretty well. Use it first. Without the oil, it doesn't hold onto the basil taste as long as the original.

1 can   cannellini beans, drained
1 oz. basil
2-3 cloves garlic
1 T. miso
1/4 cup lemon juice

Blend it in the food processor. If I put it in the Vitamix, would it make a difference? I need to buy more beans and then I will try it again.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Book Review: Meatless All Day

Author: Dina Cheney

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Taunton Press (March 2014)

About the book:

Meatless all day is a sumptuous book that looks at vegetarian and vegan meals not as quick and easy or even healthy, but as fine dining experiences using the freshest seasonal ingredients and worldly spices and herbs. 

I am used to vegan or vegetarian cookbooks that spend the introduction explaining and defining vegetarian and vegan food in order to highlight the oddity of this type of cooking, but I like that Cheney's book instead goes into some specific tips on cooking. I especially liked the section on tips for golden brown, crispy exteriors. With vegetarian and vegan food, sometimes focusing on textures makes it more palatable for non veg heads. Saw another tip from "The Kitchen" about salting home fried potatoes after and not before cooking for that golden brown color. 

Another plus for this book is that the pictures are fabulous. This is not a book to read when you're hungry or even right before dinner. This is a plan ahead for the week Sunday morning read.

I definitely loved the vegan dishes like the "tabbouleh with dates and pomegranate vinaigrette." The spices of cumin, coriander, sumac, cayenne created a vibrant palate of flavors. I lucked out that my health food store had sumac which I think makes a difference.

I also enjoyed going out of my usual comfort zone of Indian/Asian/Mediterranean flavors and made the Mexican chopped salad with cornbread croutons. I don't use lime zest enough and I need to start doing that. I didn't use the cheese cubes because I am more vegan than vegetarian, but I don't think it made a difference. 

What I want to try and I'm waiting for the right time is the Greek salad with roasted chickpeas and watermelon. Perhaps fourth of July. Also fall would be great for the veggie chili with butternut squash.

There are just so many intriguing recipes in here that it will take a year to try everything and with so many different ethnic flavors, going meatless all day will not be a boring journey.