Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How to Make Sushi at Home




Sushi Rolls are a lot easier to make at home than you'd think. And they're A LOT CHEAPER than going to a restaurant, too.

When my brother James and I were in college we had a ritual every Sunday. It was called Sunday Sushi Sake Cinema night. He had learned how to make his own Sushi after having visited Japan on deployment in the Navy and since he had become vegetarian, we made some really amazing veggie sushi together. Who needs fish when you have ingredients like jalapeno, avocado, red pepper and cream cheese? Though this recipe is easily alterable if you want to add crab or salmon. Best when served with warm Sake, great company and a good movie.

Here are some essential ingredients that you can pick up at your local Asian Market:

1)      Calrose Rice

2)      Nori (get at least ten up to twenty sheets)

3)      Wasabi

4)      Rice Vinegar

5)      Sriracha Sauce if you like it spicy

6)      Soy Sauce

7)      Sushi Mat Roller. I’m sure this has a technical name. I don’t know what it is.


At the grocery store, get lost of yummy veggies. My favorites are:

·        Avocado (this is a must)

·        Jalapeno

·        Cucumber

·        A colorful Bell pepper

·        Sprouts

·        Marinated tofu

·        To make it non vegetarian, you could also get crab or sushi grade salmon or tuna

·        Cream Cheese
 
Directions

1)      Cook at least four cups of Calrose Rice. When fluffy, add a generous drizzle of Rice Vinegar and mix. Let rice cool a bit.
 
2)   While Rice is cooking, slice your ingredients thinly.

3)      Lay a sheet of Nori shiniest side down on the sushi roller. Spread rice evenly on Nori, leaving about an inch uncovered at the base of the roll.

4)      Spread with cream cheese (if you’d like) and top with yummy veggies. Add Sriracha sauce in a line if you want it spicy.

5)      Roll starting at the base of the veggies and tightly push down with your thumbs as you get closer to the end.

6)      Place on a cutting board and slice in one-inch pieces with a serrated knife. If knife gets gunky, dip it in a glass filled with hot water which will help it slice through the sushi better.

7)      Serve with dipping plates filled with Soy Sauce and use wasabi to your liking.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hashbrown Casserole (For Easter Brunch!)

Whether you're having Easter brunch or dinner, this hashbrown casserole will work for either one. And it makes a TON. I served it as a side dish for my St. Paddy's potluck and had half a pan left to take to a small potluck the next night too. I love this stuff! I love the panko crust versus the cornflakes version. And the bonus is you can fry it up the next morning to make hashbrown patties for breakfast....



Hashbrown Casserole
Thank you, JustAPinch.com

2 lb frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/2 c  plus 1 tbsp. (1 stick) butter, melted
1 can (10.5 oz.) cream of chicken or cream of celery soup
1 pt (16 oz.) sour cream
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 c panko bread crumbs

1. Chop onion, green pepper and garlic

2. Melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions, pepper and garlic in butter until the onions are transparent.

3. In a large bowl, combine the sauteed vegetables with the thawed hash browns. Add 6 Tbsp. of the remaining butter, soup, sour cream, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper.

4. Place mixture into a greased 11x14-inch casserole dish. Mix the remaining 1 Tbsp. melted butter with panko bread crumbs and sprinkle over the casserole.

5. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes, or until casserole is bubbly and the panko crumbs are golden brown.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Homemade Croutons


 
This recipe is for you if you a) hate store-bought croutons and think they taste like cardboard and b) like easy recipes and c) love salad.

This is dedicated to you Missy, who, in a recent spaghetti and salad post, confessed your dire hatred for pre-packaged croutons. And it's totally your style because it’s frickin’ e-a-s-y!

All you need is some good bread. French bread, sour dough, crusty wheat, whatever. This is the perfect thing to do with day or two old bread. Cut it into 1 inch cubes and throw them in a plastic baggie. Shake the bread cubes with a generous drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano or parsley. Spread them on a baking sheet and bake on 350 until golden brown. (the only hard part is you can't get busy and forget to watch them like I did, below. Good thing I had extra bread!) Pull them out and let them cool and harden. These last for at least a week stored in a sealed plastic bag so you can use them all week in your salads.

 
Cut...
 
Toss...
 
Burn... oops. Don't be like me. Let's try that again.
 
Perfect.
 
Clearly the Croutons are the star of this Caesar Salad.
 
 
 
To make the semi-homeade Caesar salad above, slice some romaine lettuce, roast some garlic (wrap a head of garlic in tinfoil and bake at 350 for 45 min, cool, then peel), add some grilled chicken, homemade croutons, a slice of lemon and toss with your favorite Caesar dressing.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spaghetti Bake and Salad Discoveries

I love me some meatloaf but it's one of the few foods I don't really love to have leftover. Like who really wants meatloaf two nights in a row? Or fish? Or probably a lot of things if I really think about it now that I'm thinking about it...

In our house, leftover meatloaf always becomes the meat in the spaghetti meat sauce for night two. And last night it happened again, but in a more spaghetti bake casserole type of way. It was delicious!

Meatloaf Spaghetti Bake

1/2 lb. spaghetti, uncooked
Leftover meatloaf, cut into chunks
1 jar  (14 oz.) spaghetti sauce
1  egg, beaten
1-1/2 cups shredded cheese, divided
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 375°F.

Cook spaghetti as directed on package, omitting salt.

Drain spaghetti; place in large bowl. Add egg, 1 cup mozzarella and Parmesan; toss to coat. Place in 8-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; top with meat, spaghetti sauce and remaining mozzarella. Dash with more Parm.

Bake 15 min. or until heated through. Let stand 5 min. before cutting to serve.


Salad: Keepin' it Crunchy

I don't really think my salad findings deserve their own post, but because we do have a simple green salad just about every night with dinner, I've found a few simple ways to keep it interesting. I've been going thru my pantry to find anything other than croutons for that added crunch. I don't even like croutons that much -- unless they're on some super gourmet salad from some super gourmet restaurant. If anyone has a lead on good croutons you can buy in a store that don't taste like cardboard, I'd love to know... So far, my favorite salad toppings include chia seeds (for the health nut), french fried onions (for the anti-health nut), slivered almonds or nuts of any kind, and my new favorite: boxed seasoned stuffing mix! And even though the stuffing mix is kind of like a bunch of smaller cheap croutons that I should hate, it totally works because they're tiny croutons that give you a crunch without that big bite of cardboard. 

And that's my salad rant. The end.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Apple Oatmeal Coffee Cake Muffins




I used to not be much of a baker. Something about measuring things precisely always intimidated me; I much preferred the creativity in cooking. But lately something has shifted. Somehow, I’ve found myself really enjoying following directions and always (almost) getting perfect results. Maybe I’m finally growing up.

The boys have started enjoying it too. They wake up on Saturday or Sunday mornings and ask me to make muffins, waffles, or banana bread. Ansen’s favorite was Amish Friendship Bread and I was really good about keeping a starter going for a while and then I finally failed at keeping it alive. So one morning when he woke up and asked for Friendship Bread, I had to break the news. No more friendship bread. But it got me looking through my Betty Crocker Cookbook for something Ansen would accept in its place and I found this amaze-ball recipe. I’ve made it several time since and I’m proud to say it has now taken the place of the Friendship Bread. And there’s no starter to babysit and keep cool but not too cool and massage/squash every day.

Apple Oatmeal Coffee Cake Muffins
(recipe from Betty Crocker)
Prep: 25 min; Bake: 20-25 Min for Muffins, 55 Min. for Cake

Ingredients
Oat-Streusel Topping (below)
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup old-fashioned oats
½ cup stick butter, softened
1 cup buttermilk
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 large egg
1 ½ cups chopped apples (2 small)

Directions

1.      Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of two muffin tins (or for cake 9 x 9 x 2 inches)

2.      Prepare Oat-Streusel Topping; set aside

3.      Beat remaining ingredients except apples in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in apples. Pour batter in muffin tins (3/4 full) or in pan. Sprinkle with topping.

4.      Bake 20-25 minutes for muffins or 55 minutes for cake until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm.

Oat-Streusel Topping

Ingredients 2 tablespoons butter, firm
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup old-fashioned oats

Directions

1.      Cut margarine into flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl, using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives until crumbly. Stir in oats.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thirsty Thursday: Skinny Chai Tea Latte

Spoiler Alert:  This post is not about alcohol

Sorry about that - are you still with me?  Recently, I decided to make a concentrated effort to cut refined sugar out of my diet.  No fun right?  In my job,  I am currently faced with this on a day to day basis:


Yep ladies and gentleman, in the world of yachting we always have a candy drawer.  Guess who gets to stock it?  This girl.   I know that you all believe that I live a glamourous life but when I have worked 18 hours for a few days in a row, my ability to resist the allure of this is tough.

I really have tried to cut foods like this out and when I lived a "normal" life I did not buy this kind of junk food.  I much prefer to splurge on  "amazing" dessert.  I like to stock something like dark chocolate almonds and some fantastic gelato.  I feel like I live a very "healthy" lifestyle in general but when you really start looking at sugar hidden in food it really gets you.  I could dedicate an entire blog on our ability as Americans to allow our food companies to blatantly lie to us about healthy foods and what our food contains but I will skip the lecture and get to the point!   It is crazy when you realize that things like cereals, breads, and even certain "healthy" foods have so much sugar.  Before I lose you and you get depressed like I just made myself by writing this I am here to give you a Thirsty Thursday afternoon pick up!   Yeah!

I spend lots of time shopping and as many of you know Target & Starbucks joined forces to lead you into temptation.  I walk into Target and I want something to sip on for a little pick me up while I stroll down the aisles.   Unfortunately, you realize you are only supposed to take in 25 grams of sugar a day (this is not talking about naturally occurring sugar from fruit & veggies - I also include sugar in Red wine as naturally occuring).  You will be shocked to learn shaken ice tea/ lemonade has 33 grams and a Chai Tea Latte has a whopping 42 Grams of sugar.  It is enough to make this girl throw herself in the ocean (I know how to swim).

Here it is FINALLY!  I am getting to the point I promise.  I know we all like a little sweet pick me up in the afternoons and maybe even a tiny bit of caffeine.  I have stumbled on the answer (cue music).  A Skinny Chai Tea Latte without that fake sugar crap.  Yes!!!  


I stumbled on this beauty at the grocery store the other day.  I have already been a huge fan of Green Tea Blueberry Slim Life but this is the new addition.   I brew this tea bag, add honey (which has been getting rave reviews about weight loss), and put in a splash of unsweetened Almond Milk (I am sure skim milk would work the same) and then I pour it on ice.  Delish!


This drink was approved by my resident Sugar Addict on the boat (amazing I know) but he wants me to put a nice Spiced Rum in it for happy hour one day.   I realize this defeats the purpose of the drink and the cutting out of sugar that I just blabbed on about for way too long.  But one of these days I will need that kind of afternoon pick me up too…….

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How to make Big-Ass Belgian Waffles



My husband is a huge fan of Belgian Waffles. I never thought I could make them because we had a ‘normal’ sized waffle maker. So he asked for a legitimate Belgian Waffle maker for Christmas. His parents bought us a really nice one so I got to cooking one Saturday morning. While the bacon sizzled I looked up my usual waffle recipe in my Betty Crocker Cookbook and made waffles. Poor Andy wondered why they tasted the same as my regular waffles, only thicker and harder. Then he asked the question, “Aren’t Belgian Waffles made with like, different batter or something?” Doh.
Yes, my friends. They are. Turns out there’s more to a Belgian Waffle than a big-ass waffle maker.

The Belgian Waffle is formally called the Brussels Waffle, based on its origins from Brussels, Belgium. It was introduced at the World’s Fair in Seattle in 1962 but the Seattleites didn’t somehow know what or where Brussels was so they named it the Belgian Waffle instead. Its soft, crispy melty-in-your-mouthness has been taking North America by storm ever since.
So, after a lot of tries I found a great recipe that I then modified just a little bit to make it easier (this one doesn't require yeast) and healthier (really, two whole sticks of butter?) than some of the others. We think it tastes really delicious and authentic so I think you should try it and let me know what you think.

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs,
separated
1 ½ cups milk
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sliced fresh strawberries or syrup


Directions
In a bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking powder. In another bowl, lightly beat egg yolks. Add milk, butter and vanilla; mix well. Sit into dry ingredients just until combined. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form (this is the hard part. If you figure out a genius way to do this without making your forearm feel like falling off please let me know) fold into batter. Bake in preheated big-ass waffle iron until golden brown