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Red, White and Blue Potato Salad

Not your Mama’s potato salad, not my mama’s and that’s the point! It also won’t take you half the day to make.

Not your Mama's potato salad, not my mama's and that's the point! It also wont take you half the day to make.

I don’t think there is a bigger debate within families of who’s mom or grandma has the best potato salad. My Mother In Law won’t even eat potato salad if it’s not her’s. But to me, my grandma’s potato salad is the best although this is not my grandma’s potato salad, not at all. The only downside with my grandma’s potato salad is that it takes half a day to make and I don’t always have everything on hand to make it. Even my Mother In Law spends most of the day just to make her potato salad. With twin boys running around I don’t have time to spend hours making a side dish. One afternoon, I forgot I needed to bring a potato salad to a pot luck that I had promised to make. There was no way that I was going to be able to make my grandma’s in the time I had. I boiled some potatoes and winged it.

Basically added my favorite flavors and my favorite (and underrated) herb and got this recipe that turned out to be a hit! It wasn’t like anyone’s grandma’s potato salad so there wasn’t that comparison and disappointment that it wasn’t. Not only was it a hit it also took next to no time. To save even more time, once I boil the potatoes I lay them on a cookie sheet and stick them in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Since it’s the 4th of July, I tweaked my normal recipe by changing out the potatoes. I usually use only red potatoes, but to make it more festive, I added Yukon gold potatoes and purple potatoes. I love that I can find purple potatoes at the store now, the only way we were able to get purple potatoes were if you grew them. If you want potato salad but don’t want to spend forever making one, or you want a crowd pleaser to try this one!

Yield: 8 servings

Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

Not your Mama's potato salad, not my mama's and that's the point! It also wont take you half the day to make.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Red Potatoes
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 1 pound Purple Potatoes
  • 1/2 Shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh Dill, minced or 2T dried Dill
  • 2 cup Mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon White Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Granulated Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Granulated Onion

Instructions

  1. Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Salt the water generously. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook the potatoes until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Purple potatoes cook a little faster than the other two so maybe cook them separately. Drain and put the potatoes, allow to cool completely. If you want to speed up the cooling place on a sheet tray in an even layer and place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add everything but the potatoes to a big bowl, mix and check seasoning.
  3. Fold in potatoes until just mixed. Careful not to over mix so not to smash the potatoes.
  4. Let the salad sit in the fridge for at least an hour to fully cool and let the flavors marry.

Extra Fancy Cranberry Sauce

The only cranberry sauce recipe you’ll need to please everybody. Even the people who hate cranberry sauce.

Open that shit upside down, it helps allow the goop to slide out of that can all nice and easy.

Oh cranberry sauce, that tart, sugary, gelatinous, can shaped necessary evil thing. Just sitting there in the center of the Thanksgiving table all glisony, taunting me, and guilting me to eat it, but there is nothing you can do to convince me that shit is any good. Every year like clock work some good-kind-hearted family member decides they’re going to make cranberry sauce from scratch because “the reason you (I) don’t like cranberry sauce is because you haven’t had a good one yet”. Then I have to have a bite of their well meaning cranberry sauce while they watch with excitement to see if their cranberry sauce is the key to unlocking my love of all things cranberry, while I smile try not to gag and say “It’s not as bad as I thought it’d be” watch them smile turn to celebrate with others that their’s was “The One” that turned me while I politely spit it into my napkin. Why am I this way you ask? I’m not sure but maybe if I grew up not feeling like force feed foie gras goose I could have grown out of my dislike of cranberries.

If your a regular follower of this blog then you’re probably expecting a recipe card at the end of this post, but this recipe is so special that I’m going to do it a little different. No recipe card just my detailed step by step instruction that must be followed exactly if you want the perfect cranberry sauce.

Step One: Go to the store and buy the cheapest can of cranberry sauce. No specific brand is better for this recipe than another.

Step Two: Flip that can upside down to open because for some reason it helps slide the goop out of the can.

Step Three: Slowly allow it to slowly fall out of the can to insure the perfect cylindrical shape. Just like I did in the video.

Step Four: Slice that thing as thin as you can. Try your best to cut along the lines of the can, this step is important.

Step Five: Arrange any poorly sliced pieces on the bottom to hide the fact you (I) can’t slice for shit, and arrange the “nice” slices on top to fake that you can do things right.

Step Six: Arguably the most important step…

Throw that shit away!!

No one needs it, secretly you know it’s the worst thing on the Thanksgiving table. No one has ever said “I can’t wait to stuff my face with a years worth of cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving!”. I know there are people who are going to disagree with me on my anti cranberry stance, and for those all I can say is, we can all disagree and still be friends.

Thanksgiving Side Dish Guide and Shopping List

Almost every you need to go on your table this Thanksgiving.

2020 has been hard enough let me help you this Thanksgiving with easy to follow side dish recipes and a grocery list.

Oyster Dressing

Oysters, bacon, mushrooms, and bread, what could be better? But if you’re not a fan or like me are allergic to shellfish you can easily subbed out for a good mild sausage.

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

The most perfect, smooth, buttery, garlic packed, mashed potatoes, but with a slight tang of sour cream.

Perfect Turkey Gravy

What is Thanksgiving without covering your entire plate with gravy? Traditionally gravy is made with the drippings from roasting the turkey all day, but what if you’re like our family and deep fry the bird? With no drippings no gravy right? Wrong, although there is a little more prep to get it right, it is something that can be made a day or so ahead of time. All you need are some turkey necks, yup necks.

Braised Brussel Sprouts

Move over green beans there’s a new favorite side dish for Turkey.

Brown Sugar Sriracha Squash

Sweet heat for your thanksgiving table.

Thanksgiving Leftover Pot Pie

Easy and delicious way to use all those Thanksgiving leftovers, and if you’re not ready for anymore turkey after the day this freezes well.

Brown Sugar Whiskey Bacon Jam

Dad’s everywhere really only wants one this for Father’s Day…bacon. Make the dads in your life happy with this sweet and savory bacon jam that can go on just about everything from an amazing burger to pizza topping, on a peanut butter sandwich, or just on a spoon. The best part is that it’s so easy to make that even a kid can make it, and it last for weeks in the fridge to enjoy well past Father’s Day. 

Yield: 4 servings

Brown Sugar Whiskey Bacon Jam

Brown Sugar Whiskey Bacon Jam

Make the dads in your life happy with this sweet and savory bacon jam that can go on just about everything from an amazing burger to pizza topping, on a peanut butter sandwich, or just on a spoon.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 large shallot
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine
  • 1/4 cup whiskey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme

Instructions

    1. In a large heavy-bottomed pot (preferably cast-iron Dutch oven)  add bacon and cook until the bacon is extra crisp remove from pan.  Remove about half of the bacon fat. 
    2. In a food processor add the onion, shallot, then pulse until about a small dice size. 
    3. Place the onion and shallot mixture into the pan and cook on medium until onion is shallots are a dark mahogany color and caramelized. 
    4. When the onions are cooking add the bacon into the food processor and pulse a few times until the bacon is chopped up as fine as a bacon topping. 
    5. Add the garlic and thyme then sauté until fragrant. 
    6. Once the onions are caramelized deglaze the pan with red wine, making sure to scrape up any fond at the bottom of the pot. Once the smell of alcohol burns off add the whiskey and cook until the smell of alcohol burns off again. 
    7. Add in the brown sugar, syrup (or honey), and vinegar cook for a minute to allow the water out of the maple syrup a little bit then add the bacon back and make sure it is all well combined. Keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. 

Coconut French Toast

Who doesn’t love those Hawaiian sweet rolls? But did you know they have full loaves? This Portuguese eggy sweet bread similar to brioche (that let’s be honest was perfected in Hawaii) is my absolute favorite bread to make french toast with. But making french toast with Hawaiian bread came to me like most of my recipes, which is me being starving and looking around my house to see what I can make so I don’t have to put real pants on to go to the store. We had leftover rolls that were kind of stale, so I thought “french toast” at the time we were out of cream and milk but we did have a leftover can of coconut milk in the fridge fried it up and topped it with a banana and some coconut. For one of my “struggle meals”, it was pretty damn good, but not perfect.

The next time I made these was for a family brunch this time I made more of a traditional custard with heavy cream and extra eggs, added a lot more fruit to the topping. We had this breakfast because Colby and just so happened to just be home from a trip to the big island of Hawaii. There was a breakfast place that we had just eaten at that had the best macadamia nut pancakes and this house-made coconut syrup, that I needed to know how to make. It was a perfect storm of elevating the struggle meal I had made with an excuse to figure out a new recipe and the outcome was such a crowd-pleaser that I keep making it.

The bright colors of the fruit remind me of Easter and spring. It is currently is that one day in March where the weather feels like it starts to turn and you think about yard work that needs to be done before you can have those backyard parties, but it’s only that one day. Tomorrow and into St. Patrick’s Day weekend we’re supposed to get anywhere between 2-7 inches of snow! Anything that reminds me that winter is on its way out is a good thing. Plus anything that reminds me of Hawaii is also great, which is why sometimes I’ll add li hing mui (dried salted plum that makes all fruit taste 1000% better) to the salad, and of course no Hawaiian breakfast can really be complete without SPAM.

Find this recipe in Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living Magazine

Yield: 6-8 servings

Coconut French Toast

Coconut French Toast
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

Coconut Syrup

  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 14oz can Coconut Milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

Fruit Topping

  • 1/2 Mango, small diced
  • 1 Kiwi, small diced
  • 1 Banana, small diced
  • 1/2 cup Pineapple, small diced
  • 2-3 Strawberries, small diced
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Flakes

Custard and Toast

  • 1 loaf Hawaiian Sweet Bread
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 cup Heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup Coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2-3 tablespoons Butter

Instructions

Coconut Syrup

  1. In a large (larger than you think you'll need) bring the water and sugar to a simmer, don't scrape the sides of the pan or anything just let it warm up and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes stirring to make sure it doesn't burn or carmelize.
  2. Once the water has evaporated about 1/2 way and is syrup-like, add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer then remove from the heat.
  3. With the syrup off the heat add in the baking soda, it will bubble up (hence the bigger pan) allow it to settle then remove the foamy top and serve warm. It can be kept in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Fruit Topping

  1. Mix all the fruit and coconut in a bowl.

Custard and Toast

  1. Slice the loaf of bread into 1 inch thick slices I suggest doing this the night before and allowing the bread to dry out a little, but not fully necessary.
  2. In a large casserole dish mix together the eggs, heavy cream, coconut milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla.
  3. On medium heat warm a large frypan with enough butter to cover the bottom of the pan. Dip the bread covering the entire slice with the custard place in the frypan and cook until golden brown on both sides. About 3 minutes each side, continue until all the bread is cooked.

Severing


I like to serve this family-style with fruit on top and syrup on the side served warm.

Annie’s Green Goddess Crab Cakes

If you ask me what my favorite season is don’t be surprised when I say “Crabbing”. My summers were spent catching, cooking and eating crab at my grandparent’s house on the banks of Holmes Harbor, not to brag but I can meat out a Dungeness crab in three minutes flat with nothing more than my hands. Which is a talent that I had to learn because with a big extended family all fighting for one of the three crab crackers if I waited, I’d starve. We’d catch so much crab that we didn’t know what to do with it all, so I’d start experimenting in the kitchen. Once I started culinary school those experiments only escalated because I was learning and playing with flavors, I didn’t grow up with my mom cooking. Like tarragon, the slightly bitter slightly sweet anise flavor in a bearnaise is fantastic, now put that on crab it is bliss. 

Tarragon is the perfect herb for seafood and one of the main ingredients in Annie’s Green Goddess dressing. I have no shame admitting I was a little late to the green goddess dressing, we’ve always been a ranch family. I really started appreciating the magic that is green goddess dressing at a local lobster roll place where I fell in love with their lobster salad, so when feedfeed reached out* to see if I had ideas on how to use Annie’s dressings I immediately thought about that salad. But how basic is it so make a salad for a salad dressing? I still loved the idea of the flavors of that salad and thought back to my days making anything and everything I could with crab. There was this time Colby and I made crab cake benedict with bearnaise, so I thought why not put all the flavors of said salad into a crab cake? 

I headed over to the newly opened Natural Grocers not only because it’s brand new and shiny but it really is one of my favorite stores here in Spokane. The fact that I can get sustainably certified seafood at a reasonable price is one of the many reasons I go there. I grabbed a couple of crabs, a bottle of Annie’s Green Goddess, and everything else I needed. The tangy vinegar and garlic really added something special to my go-to crab cake recipe, and because I just couldn’t get my mind off of that salad I also grabbed some microgreens and I was lucky enough to get some pea shoots and red cabbage, some brown sugar bacon and blue cheese. Blue Cheese with crab? Hear me out the microgreens, the bacon, and crab are all sweet so the addition of the funky creamy tang of blue cheese really balances everything.  These crab cakes really can be anything you want them to be, they’re great as an appetizer with some Annie’s Green Goddess for dipping, side dish for a surf and turf dinner, or in a crab cake benedict, however you do it don’t forget the Annie’s.

*this is a sponsored post with feedfeed for Annie’s and Natural Grocers

Yield: 15 crab cakes

Annie's Green Goddess Crab Cakes

Annie's Green Goddess Crab Cakes

The tangy tarragon, vinegar, and garlic in Annie's Green Goddess really added something special to my go-to crab cake recipe. With sweet microgreens, salad topped with brown sugared bacon and blue cheese elevates these cakes to a perfect appetizer or side dish for a surf and turf dinner.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

Crab Cakes

  • 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Annie's Green Goddess Dressing
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Mustard
  • 1/2 cup Red Bell Pepper
  • 3 Green Onions, sliced thin
  • 1 pound Crab Meat
  • 1/3 cup Buttery Crackers
  • Flour for dusting
  • Oil for frying

Microgreen Salad

Instructions

Crab Cake

  1. In a large bowl mix together the mayonnaise, green goddess dressing, beaten egg, Worcestershire, Old Bay seasoning, dried mustard, bell pepper, and green onions.
  2. Fold in the crab meat then crackers trying not to break up the crab too much.
  3. I use a 2oz scoop to portion the cakes with, then with flour flattening the cake into a patty and dusting the outside of the cake with flour.
  4. In a large frying pan (or griddle) add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan once the oil is hot lay the patty in the oil and fry until golden brown (about 3 minutes) flip then fry the other side until golden brown.

Microgreen Salad

  1. In a small pot add bacon, enough water to cover the bacon and brown sugar. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat and simmer until all the water has completely evaporated. Then brown the bacon until crisp. Remove from pot and cool.
  2. Toss microgreens with Annie's Green Goddess dressing.
  3. Garnish with cool bacon and blue cheese, serve with crab cakes, and more dressing for dipping.

Hunker Down Easy Dinners

Be honest, did you think this virus was going to escalate to the level it is now? I didn’t. It wasn’t until this past weekend that we finally decided that we should probably go to the store and stock up on some things. We also just so happened to need toilet paper. I really wish that we would not have waited so long because the shelves were almost bare and the pickins were slim for a lot of our pantry staples. There was a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables still available. But if you’re going to not leave the house for a couple of weeks than canned fruit and frozen vegetables are the way to go. Of course, there are also those vegetables that are hardy enough to last the apocalypse like potatoes and root veggies. But some vegetables really are better from the freezer like peas and spinach, and some are really great in a can like corn and (don’t judge me) mushrooms. If you were to go to the store right now, I’m sure the shelves are more bare than usual but a lot of what is actually missing is processed/premade packaged dinners. 

Thankfully not all hope is lost, you just have to think outside of the box. Maybe use grains like quinoa, or farro, or different varieties of rice like jasmine or basmati. There are frozen bread loaves and rolls that are so good, I can pass them off as homemade. Or if you’re needing a project because your kiddos are on an “extended Spring Break” consider starting a sourdough starter and learn how to bake bread. I’ve asked my fellow food bloggers to help us all out by sharing their favorite recipes for dishes that contain items you can still find on the shelves. You’ll be surprised with how you can get so much flavor out of so little.

One example of an easy recipe that you can make with ingredients that are probably already in your pantry is Chicken Satay. All you need is chicken (thighs are our favorite), peanut butter (chunky or creamy), water (or stock), 1 can of coconut milk and a couple of spices, that’s it! Steam some broccoli (either frozen or fresh) or spinach and make a pot of rice. Boom! You’ve got yourself a budget-friendly, very filling, family dinner. One thing that my local store is not short on (yet) is wine. We’ll make it through this one way or another!

If you’re still unsure on what to stock up on I made a grocery list

Yield: 4 servings

Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay

Quick and easy chicken skewers with a savory peanut sauce for dipping.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marination Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 Chicken Breast, sliced into inch thick strips
  • 1 14oz can Coconut Milk, split
  • 1 tablespoon Curry Powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Peanut Butter, smooth or crunchy
  • 1/2 cup Water, stock, or water and bouillon mixed
  • 2 teaspoons Soy Sauce
  • pinch (or so) Chili Flakes
  • Skewers, soaked in water

Instructions

  1. In a dish mix together 1/2 of the can of coconut milk, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Skewer one strip of chicken per skewer pushing the chicken onto the middle of the skewer leaving space on both sides of the chicken.
  3. In a casserole dish place, a piece of foil at the bottom of the dish then lay the chicken over the dish. The skewer lays on the sides of the dish and the chicken hovers over the foil.
  4. Place in a 425˚ oven on one of the top racks. Cook until the interior temp is 160˚ (the chicken will continue to cook to 165˚) turning 1/2 way through.
  5. While the chicken is in the oven, in a medium saucepan add a touch of oil and add the peanut butter, and cook until smooth and warm but the oil has not separated.
  6. Add the coconut milk and whisk until smooth add water (or stock) until the sauce is the same consistency of yogurt. Season with chili pepper, soy sauce, pepper, then taste for the salt level.

Notes

Once the chicken is cooked you can garnish with sesame seeds and green onion, and serve the peanut sauce on the side for an appetizer, steam some broccoli serve with rice to make it a meal or toss the chicken in the peanut sauce served over a bed of spinach.

More Great Ideas

Some of my own “Struggle Meals”

Stay safe, wash your hands, and keep a bit of distance from other people.

Irish Macaroni and Cheese

Growing up every St. Patrick’s Day was a day in our house usually celebrated with a big chunk of corned beef and cabbage that had been cooking all day. I could smell it once I started down the driveway walking home from school. I was home alone after school and it took everything in me to wait for dinner. When I moved out the tradition of corned beef and cabbage followed me to my new home Colby and I would pile our plates with beef, root vegetables, cabbage, and spicy mustard to dip everything in. Colby also grew up having corned beef every St. Patrick’s Day, but it was a bit more than that since his mom is mostly Irish. You’d think with Irish blood, and family traditions Colby and I’d kids would be just as excited about corned beef and cabbage as we were growing up. Well, you’d be wrong. 

That’s right our kids just aren’t the biggest fans. They’re 12 now and they have grown a tolerance for corned beef, we have failed as parents. Now I wouldn’t call the boys picky eaters but I did have to hide a lot of they’re vegetables in mac and cheese for them to eat it. Why not also hide their Irish heritage in mac and cheese too? I got the inspiration for this recipe from a couple of Irish dishes like potato and leek soup, Irish beer cheese, and colcannon, which is similar to mashed potatoes with kale and lots of cream and butter. Add some noodles a touch of bacon, and boom, happy kids.

Find this recipe in the March 2020 Issue of Spokane CDA Living Magazine

Yield: 4 servings

Irish Macaroni and Cheese

Irish Macaroni and Cheese

I got the inspiration for this recipe from a couple of Irish dishes like potato and leek soup, Irish beer cheese, and colcannon, which is similar to mashed potatoes with kale and lots of cream and butter. Add some noodles a touch of bacon, and boom, happy kids.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 thick sliced Bacon
  • 1 medium Leek, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 head small Cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 Baking Potatoes
  • 2 tablespoon Butter
  • 1 tablespoon Bacon Fat
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 16oz Irish Beer, if a sip or two is missing it's ok
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 2 cups Irish Cheddar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1 pound Macaroni
  • 1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chives, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. In a big pot slowly bring salted water and potatoes to a boil and cook until fork-tender and set potatoes aside to cool. Boil the noodles in the same pot once the potatoes are out, before draining the water keep about 2 cups and set aside. Drain and allow noodles to cool.
  2. Cut the bacon into small pieces, cook until brown and crisp in a medium-sized pot, set aside and save the rendered fat for later.
  3. In the pot, the bacon was cooked in add back a couple of teaspoons of bacon fat, the leeks, the cabbage, and half the beer (remember to scrape the brown bits off the bottom) place a lid on the pot and allow to braise until the tender, remove the lid and cook away any liquid that maybe there and remove from pot.
  4. Make a bechamel, in the pot, the cabbage came out of, add in butter and bacon fat and flour the roux should look like wet sand, cook for 5 minutes so the raw flour test is cooked out but not browned add the remaining beer and cook until the smell of beer has cooked away.
  5. While the roux is cooking in another pot warm (but don't boil) milk and nutmeg. Slowly add the milk a ladle at a time whisking into the roux until all the milk is added.
  6. Whisk 1/2 the cheese to the sauce until melted then add the cabbage mixture to the sauce.
  7. In a large bowl (or the pot you used to boil potatoes and noodles in) fold the cheese sauce into the noodles. If the sauce is too thick to cover the noodles thin it out with the reserved water.
  8. Place the macaroni and cheese into either buttered individual soup bowls or a casserole dish. Top the noodles with the bacon, then cheese, in a small bowl mix toss bread crumbs with either a couple of teaspoons of remaining bacon fat (or oil) then sprinkle on top of the cheese.
  9. Place the macaroni and cheese under the broiler until the cheese is melty and the bread crumbs are browned. Garnish with chives and serve.

Notes

You could make this ahead of time or freeze for later. To reheat instead of broiling bake the macaroni and cheese until the center is warmed, and the top is bubbly and browned.

Caprese Chicken

balsamicchicken2

If you follow my blog you may notice this is pretty similar to my balsamic chicken post. You would not be wrong, in fact, it was while I was making balsamic chicken for dinner and staring at the freshly picked tomatoes from the garden that the idea for this recipe came to me. Before we moved to Spokane I was really into gardening, my motto was “if I’m watering you you’re feeding me”. My garden was 30ft x 35ft with double raised garden beds, we grew almost everything, the backyard favorites like green beans, peas, zucchini, of course, tomatoes but we also had oddball things like kiwi and winter wheat.

balsamicchicken1

Soon that huge garden wasn’t big enough so every year I would take more and more of the back yard, our herb garden itself was 4ft x 6ft with sage plants that came up to my hips. In the flower beds around the yard, there were strawberries, barley (for the chickens), corn, and winter squash. Then one year the backyard wasn’t enough so I did a total overhaul of the front yard and started planting rows of root veggies among the edible flowers and more herbs. I went little nuts, I was even asking my neighbors if I could plant veggies in their unused flower beds I was even thinking of starting a CSA box because I was producing so much. The boys one year even had a fresh vegetable stand instead of a lemonade stand.

Caprese Chicken (1 of 2)
Caprese Chicken pairs perfect with some Everyday Parmesan Risotto

I managed to get a lot of produce out of my little 1/3rd of an acre, especially with the short growing season in the PNW. Tomatoes were always the hardest for me to grow, the season would be too short to grow big beef steaks (like I used in this recipe) so I’d only grow those for my fried green tomatoes, but small and medium tomatoes did really well. But there are only so many salads you can eat, so I needed to be more creative with how is use cherry tomatoes which is what I originally developed this recipe with. My kids are obsessed with Caprese salad with a drizzle of good balsamic and lots of basil, so one time when I was making my balsamic chicken for dinner they were bugging me for Caprese salad saying that’s all they’ll eat because it was one of those “good parenting days” so if they were only going to eat Caprese salad I’ll show you little butts and put the Caprese on the chicken. And “hey Mikey I think he likes it” they ate the whole plate. 

Yield: 4 servings

Caprese Chicken

Caprese Chicken

You may notice this is pretty similar to my balsamic chicken post. You would not be wrong, but what else goes really well with a rich balsamic than a good Caprese salad.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Oven Time 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 lb Chicken thighs, bone-in skin-on
  • 2 large Onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup Balsamic Chicken
  • 1 cup Chicken Stock
  • 3 medium-sized Tomatoes, sliced
  • 8 oz Mozzarella Cheese, fresh but dried
  • 1/4 cup Basil, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

    1. As Julia Child says, dry your meat. We want good color and you can't get that with wet meat.
    2. Season your chicken with salt and pepper and in a medium-high heated pan add a little oil and brown the chicken skin side down until golden brown. If the chicken sticks to the pan it's not that you didn't use enough oil it's that it's not ready to flip. Brown both sides and remove from pan.
    3. Either remove or add oil to the pan depending on how much fat was rendered from the chicken, should be about a tablespoon. Add all the onions, seasoning with salt and stirring while the liquid in the onions is being released and scrapping up the fawn (browned bits of chicken). If there is a milky liquid around the onions and all the fawn is has released, cover the pan stirring every few minutes until the onions are tender. Once they are extremely tender remove lid and let whatever liquid is there cook away. Once the liquid is gone add 1/2 the butter, sugar and cook stirring until onions are a deep caramel color.
    4. Once the onions are caramelized turn on your fan (you'll thank me for this!)  add the balsamic vinegar. cook down the balsamic until it has reduced to about 1/2 the volume and add the chicken stock and nestle the chicken skin side up back to the pan. Cover and let cook until the chicken is cooked through. Flipping the chicken once about 2/3rds of the way cooked.
    5. Remove chicken from the sauce taste for salt and finish with butter. This will make the sauce come together and have a velvety consistency.
    6. Place the chicken back into the pan top if tomatoes, and cheese and place under the broiler watching closely. DON'T LEAVE THE KITCHEN. Once the cheese is golden brown and bubbly (maybe 5 minutes) remove from the oven and top with the basil. I serve this with risotto and plenty of the balsamic sauce covering everything.

Notes

If you have a bunch of cherry tomatoes you'd like to use instead of a beefsteak, I'd add a pint of cherry tomatoes to the sauce in step 6. and let them warm up for a second before adding the chicken back in. I wouldn't cook them so long that they start to pop and release their juices into the sauce.

Not your grandma’s Pancit, my grandma’s Pancit

If you have read my adobo chicken wings blog from a few weeks ago then you have already had a crash course in how my family immigrated to the States from the Philippines. If you have go ahead a start skimming, if not you should and if you’re here for Filipino recipes you really should. In a nutshell both of my grandparents immigrated to Hawaii when they were very young (in their teens) in doing so they moved away from all their family. When my grandmother was 15 years old when she became a wife and moved away from her family, to a new country with her new husband. She had to learn quickly how to live on her own and run a household. Imagine that for a second, this is the reason I would never call my Filipino food traditional.What is traditional is having pancit for your birthday, sometimes it’s even just called birthday noodles. There’s a touch of food lore with pancit passed down from the Chinese where noodles represent long life and good health, so they must not be cut, or your luck and or life may depend on it.  

I don’t know anyone else who make pancit the way my grandma did, she would always use at least 3 different kinds of noodles, and a lot of ginger. Which I didn’t know until recently is not the norm. I’ve asked my grandma for a recipe a million times, the closest I ever got from her was quote “I open the fridge, see what I have, then put it in a pan with noodles.” end quote. As it happens that is her recipe for almost everything I’ve asked her. She never wrote anything down everything was just to taste. Which is I cook so when she passed there was nothing I could make that was her’s, it’s all guessing and tasting from memory. 

Now I know there are a lot of different kinds of pancit this is her take on bihon pancit, which is like a stir fry or a Filipino chow mein, probably because the Chinese introduced a similar dish to the islands. Usually, it’s made with only rice noodles, I on the other hand open my pantry and look at what random noodles I have, especially if I only have a bit of noodle left I’ll use that up first. Bihon pancit is a delicious balance of soy and citrus, with some sort of meat and vegetables, usually chicken and cabbage. Me, on the other hand, I love pork, porky pork pork, so clearly use chicken kidding I use pork, cabbage, carrot, onion, and the very untraditional french cut frozen green beans. One bowl of this and I’m 8 again visiting my grandma in Hawaii and that’s always a feeling I’ll miss now that she’s gone. 

Yield: 8 servings

Not your grandma's Pancit, my grandma's Pancit

Not your grandma's Pancit, my grandma's Pancit

I don't know anyone else who make pancit the way my grandma did, she would always use at least 3 different kinds of noodles, pork, cabbage, frenched green beans and a lot of ginger.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground Pork
  • 1 medium Onion, sliced thin
  • 2 Carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 cups Cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup frenched frozen Green Beans
  • 1-inch knob of Ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Chicken Stock
  • 1/2 a Lime, juiced (the other half cut for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 1 bunch Green Onions, thinly sliced divided by white and green part 
  • 1 bunch of Vermicelli Rice Noodles
  • 1/2 a bag of Cellophane Noodles
  • 1 bunch of Ramen Noodles
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Prep noodles, in a large bowl place all the noodles then cover with boiling water and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes until the noodles are soft but not fully cooked, drain and set aside. You'll want them to finish cooking in the pan.
  2. In a large skillet add about 1 teaspoon of a neutral oil add the pork, salt, and pepper break up the pork with a spatula but after that don't touch it so it can brown. Once the pork is cooked remove any excess of oil depending on how fatty the pork was you want a couple of teaspoons of fat in the pan.
  3. Add the onions (and a pinch of salt) to the pork then cook until soft and translucent.
  4. Add the cabbage and carrots (and a pinch of salt) cook until soft then add the green beans. You don't need to thaw before adding but you also can, either way, won't affect the end.
  5. While the vegetables are cooking in a small bowl (or measuring cup) mix together chicken stock, lime juice, soy sauce, pepper, and the white parts of the green onion.
  6. Once the vegetables are cooked make a well in the center of the pan add a touch of oil and cook the ginger and garlic until fragrant and soft then add the chicken stock mixture and the noodles. Toss all together coating the noodles in the sauce.
  7. Cook until the liquid has absorbed into the noodles, taste at this point for seasoning, add more salt pepper or soy sauce if needed.
  8. Serve hot garnish with the remaining green parts of the green onions and lime wedges.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

I love my husband, but no one is perfect. His biggest flaw is that he hates chocolate! He prefers fruit in his dessert which still is not chocolate. If we’re eating out and on the off chance we need dessert we usually share a dessert. The problem again is I want chocolate and he does not. So we end up agreeing on a fruit cheesecake. Which is fine really, but for someone who used to make wedding cakes, I really like cake. This is the underlying reason I make these cupcakes, they have the flavors of strawberry cheesecake but in a cupcake form.

This recipe for these vanilla bean cupcakes is my go-to recipe for any white cupcake I make. You really can do so many different combinations of this recipe, if you don’t like strawberries use blueberries, or whatever your heart wants. If you put this frosting on a brick that will be the best brick you’ll ever have. Like I hinted at I use to make wedding cakes as a side hustle when I was staying home with my babies, I put this cream cheese frosting on almost every cake I’d make. It’s 100% better than buttercream and much easier to decorate with. Especially a  vanilla bean cupcake with a strawberry jam center, topped with cream cheese frosting and graham cracker crumble, it’s the best of both worlds right here, but it’s still not chocolate.

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

Everything you love about strawberry cheesecake but in a cupcake.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 42 minutes

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 stick unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Vanilla Bean, split and seeded
  • 2/3 cup Buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Strawberry Filling

  • 1 cup Strawberries, fresh
  • 2 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • The scrapped pod of the vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons Water

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 1 lb Powdered Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Graham Crackers, crumbled 

Instructions

Cupcakes

    1. Preheat oven to 325°. Lay cupcake liners in a cupcake pan.
    2. In a mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and, salt together and set aside.  In a stand mixer, add butter and sugar. Whip until the butter is fluffy and light in color.
    3. Add the eggs one at a time, mix each until well incorporated. Add in the scraped insides of the vanilla bean pod and vanilla extract.
    4. Alternate adding the flour mix and the buttermilk starting with the flour and ending with the flour. Once the flour is in don't over mix the batter. Just mix it until its combined.
    5. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners and bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.
    6. Cool completely before frosting.

    Filling

      1. Set aside 12 pretty and small strawberries for garnish. Remove the steam and chop 1 cup of strawberries for the filling.
      2. Place all the chopped strawberries into a small saucepan, add sugar, the scraped vanilla bean pod, and water then bring the mixture to a boil. Let simmer for about 10 minutes or until the strawberries are breaking down and becoming syrup-like.
      3. In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water. Mix well and slowly drizzle the mixture into the simmering strawberries. The finished mixture should have the constancy of jam or jelly.
      4. Let cool completely in the fridge.

      Frosting

        1. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until the mixture is light and fluffy.
        2.  Add the sugar a spoonful or two at a time until all the sugar is added.

        Assembly

          1. Hollow out the center of the cupcake, a melon baller works best (but a small knife will work well) making sure not to go too deep.
          2. Fill the hollowed cupcake with the filling and frost the cupcake using a piping bag. I used a #2 tip for these but use whatever you think looks pretty.
          3. Sprinkle the edges of the cupcakes with the graham cracker and top with a fresh strawberry.



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