Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pineapple Iced Tea

Pineapples and Tea


Safeway had a sale on pineapples the other day. Believe it or not, sometimes the pineapples they sell at our grocery store are not grown in Hawaii. Fortunately, on the day of this particular sale, the pineapples were grown not only in Hawaii but were Maui Gold! Maui Gold pineapples are small and super sweet!


Picture source

I had to let the pineapples finish ripening a few days after I brought them home. We could tell they were ripe by the lovely smell of pineapple in the kitchen. I cut the pineapple up for eating. This is the best way to eat fresh pineapple...it if sweet. As is my custom which I learned from my mother, I saved the outer shell and core for making pineapple water and the top for planting in the garden.

Pineapple water:  Boil the outer shell and core in 3 cups of water for about one hour on low heat.  Discard the boiled down pineapple parts and cool the pineapple water.

The pineapple top has new growth on top.
Pineapple Iced Tea

Ingredients:

2 bags of tea (such as Lipton)
8 oz of water
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 pitcher full of water
Juice from one large lemon or lime
Pineapple water

I usually microwave the two tea bags in the 8 oz of water for two minutes. Cool for 10 minutes or so. You can boil water on the stove for the tea instead if you prefer.

Add the sugar and lemon juice to the 1/2 pitcher full of water. Then add the tea and the pineapple water. Stir well and refrigerate until cold.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Weekly Bread Baking

Kneading the dough

In the supermarket I was buying whole wheat bread that we really did not like, for almost 5.00 a loaf. Then I started buying bread at the local farmer's market. I would buy one loaf of either sourdough or whole wheat for 4.00 a loaf and French baguette for 2.00. This was 6.00 a week for bread that usually ran out before the week was over.

I used to make bread at home but I thought it was too much work and I really did not like the white bread too much.

I went to Down to Earth, a local natural store that sells organic and vegetarian products. I bought what I call flaky wheat germ but is really raw wheat germ (not the hard one the supermarket sells..toasted wheat germ) and decided it would be good for bread. And it was very good. I think this recipe is a hit with my family, including me, who really isn't much of a bread fan.

Waiting for the second rising

Ingredients:

Approximately 4 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup raw wheat germ
1 3/4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Finished baking

Combine two cups of the flour with the yeast.

In a small saucepan, heat the water, oil, brown sugar and salt until warm. It should feel warm to the touch, but not too hot or cold. You then add this mixture to the flour and yeast and mix with a large spoon. You can use an electric mixer but I prefer to use a spoon and my clean hands. Add the wheat germ and some more of the flour. Add the flour gradually and mix with your hands until you can form a ball that will hold its shape but not be too sticky. Continue kneading until you have a moderately stiff dough. The dough should be smooth and elastic-y. Grease another large bowl or spray with PAM. Form the dough into a bowl, roll the dough ball once in the greased bowl. Cover and place in an oven and until it rises. This should take approximately an hour or so.

Bread cooling on rack

Once the dough has risen, punch down. Divide the ball in half and place on a floured surface. Cover and let rest for approximately 10 minutes.  Lightly grease your bread pans. I use two different shaped Pyrex baking dishes.  Place your dough in each one, cover and let it rise again for another  hour or so.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes.  The bread will sound hollow when thumped with your fingers, when done. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Alton Brown- Making noodles by hand



Amazing!

H/T to The Anchoress

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

My husband needed a little cheering up the other day so I thought I would bake a Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  I never made this cake before.  It went over well with my husband though and I am happy about that.  As you will see from the photo, I used the recipe from the Good Housekeeping Illustrated cookbook.  One of my favorite cookbooks.

The Recipe

The Yellow Cake Batter

Ready for the Oven

Baking in the Oven

Pineapple Upside Down Cake right out of the oven

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chocolate Ice Cream

Preparing the chocolate for ice cream
One of my family's favorite treats is homemade ice cream. Although vanilla ice cream is easier to make, the extra effort in making chocolate ice cream is well-worth the trouble. I use the recipe that came with the Cuisinart ice cream maker but I have modified it to fit my family's tastes. We do not like our ice cream so rich and creamy. I therefore use half-n-half and 2 percent milk instead of heavy cream.

Mixing the chocolate base with the cream

Ingredients:
1 cup whole milk (I use one cup half-n-half)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (broken into 1/2 inch pieces) (I use good quality chocolate chips)
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled (I used 1 cup 2 percent milk and 1 cup half-n-half)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract



Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt - Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker

Heat the whole milk until it is just bubbling around the edges (this may be done on the stovetop or in a microwave). In a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse to process the sugar with the chocolate until the chocolate is very finely chopped. Add the hot milk, process until well blended and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and let the chocolate mixture cool completely. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla to taste. Chill for 30 minutes or longer.

Chocolate Ice Cream

Turn the machine ON, pour chilled mixture into freezer bowl** through ingredient spout and let mix until thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Getting ready to store in freezer

**I found that the freezer bowl should be in the freezer a minimum of 2 full days in order to be cold enough to freeze the ice cream.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Catholics Can Abstain from Abstaining from Meat Tomorrow

Picture source

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Annunciation. It is a solemnity. You can read more about it at Aggie Catholics. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Something I Want to Do: Growing Potatoes in a Barrel


4 Simple Steps to Grow a Hundred Pounds of Potatoes in a Barrel

I would be happy with 10 potatoes. I really will try to do this.

H/T Living on a Dime.

Our St. Patrick's Day Dinner with the New and Improved Irish Soda Bread

St. Patrick Day prayers and New Irish Soda Bread
I really shouldn't be posting about meat during a Friday in Lent, but that is what happens when St. Patrick's Day falls on a Thursday.

We had the usual Corned Beef and Cabbage prepared the usual way and served with the usual condiment, yellow mustard.  Would you believe I got the corned beef for .79 a pound!  Our local market Foodland, offered this deal because we racked up points.  Cabbage was only .15 a lb.  I think Hawaii had better deals than some supermarkets in New Jersey.


I cooked the corned beef on the stove.  I have tried slow cooking it but I get busy and forget about it and before you know it, the corned beef is too over cooked for my taste.  This time, I actually watched the pot carefully.  Once the corned beef was cooked, I removed it and then added the cabbage, fresh potatoes from the local farmer's market (what a difference fresh produce makes, right?) and carrots.  The farmer's market did not have the multi colored carrots with the tops this week so I settled for the big ones they had.  The ones I wanted were small carrots.
Flavorful potatoes from the Farmer's market

But I think what made this year's dinner special was a new Irish Soda Bread recipe I tried.  Well-known Catholic blogger The Anchoress shared her Italian mother in law's recipe on her blog Another well known blogger and friend of the Anchoress' Deacon Greg had to say this about that bread "Best Soda Bread, Ever"


I was a little cautious that this version of Irish Soda Bread could be that good so I only made half the amount. Frankly, once we eat a little of the usual Irish Soda Bread hot from the oven, I usually end up throwing the rest of the uneaten portion away. Shame isn't it?


Let's just say today, there is no more Irish Soda Bread. Now I wish I had made the entire amount called for in the recipe. Sigh...it was so good. It is moist like the deacon noted but I wouldn't necessary go as far as to say it was like a cake. It was more like a quick bread. I used both dried cranberries and raisins and we liked it!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Grandma's Baked Beef Macaroni Casserole

Bolognese Sauce
One of my husband's fond memories was his mother's baked macaroni.  I wanted to recreate this dish for my husband to make him happy.  Unfortunately, his mother passed away a long time ago.  Without telling my husband what I was planning on doing, I had him recall what he remembered of the recipe.  Finally, I told him what I was planning.  It made him so happy, I was afraid my version was going to disappoint.  Right before I placed the dish in the oven to bake he called and told me he remembered that his mother may have added a "little milk" to the tomato sauce.  That made me think his mother actually made a Bolognese sauce to mix with the pasta.

Ready for the oven

Turns out my husband rated my version as 9 out of 10 as coming close to the taste memory he had of his mother's original.  BTW, my son loved it!
Right out of the hot oven

Ingredients:
Bolognese Sauce*  I used approximately 3 to 4 cups cooked sauce.
1 box whole wheat elbow macaroni (or use the regular kind), cooked al dente and drained
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a large baking dish (I used the largest Pyrex baking dish I had).  I used PAM.  Add the cooked pasta and the sauce.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese, cover with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 1 hour or until cheese and sauce are bubbling.

Serve with a green salad.

Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese Sauce
My mother's Peruvian version of this classic Italian sauce is to brown a large beef roast in hot oil until nicely brown all over before adding the tomato sauce, etc.  After simmering for a long time until the meat is fork tender, she removes the meat and shreds it before adding it back to the sauce to serve.  It is a very delicious pasta sauce which can also be served with polenta.

I have modified this one to use with ground beef instead.

Ingredients:
1 lb. freshly ground beef (make sure the beef cuts has some fat on it otherwise the ground beef will not be so tender).  The Cuisinart works well for grinding up the meat.
1 large onion, diced finely
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot shredded
1 large celery finely sliced
1 large can of good canned tomato sauce or canned whole tomatoes if you prefer
1/4 to 1/2 cup half and half (or milk)
Fresh basil and oregano (or dried)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil

Heat a large saucepan, add the ground beef and brown thoroughly.  When you hear the oil sizzling and the meat is brown, add the garlic and onions.  Fry for a few minutes together with the meat and then add the celery, carrots, basil leaves and oregano.  Add the tomato sauce and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil then lower heat to medium low to low.  (The electric stove I use needs to be on low).  Simmer for approximately an hour or so.  Then stir in the half-n-half or milk. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shrimp Fra Diavlo

Marinara sauce ingredients in the saucepan
This is my version of Shrimp Fra Diavlo.  This brings back fond memories of my husband and I going out to eat in New Jersey.  We would go to two really good Italian restaurants that served Lobster Fra Diavlo.  You can just imagine how delicious that was!

Even though this is a meatless meal, I am reluctant to say it's a recipe for Lent because:
Cleaned shrimp on paper towel

1.  We are using Shrimp (although these were bought on sale and a very good price).

2.  Fra Diavlo translates to "Brother Devil" :-)
Shrimp Fra Diavlo

Ingredients:
Homemade marinara sauce. You can use the recipe I previously posted here
1/2 lb. to 1 lb. shrimp (after all we are still in Lent). Shelled and deveined.
Red Pepper Flakes or cayenne pepper
Cooked 1 lb. spaghetti or linguine
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Place the raw shrimp on paper towel to absorb moisture. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Cayenne Pepper or red pepper flakes. Set aside.
Your sauce should be simmering at this point. If your taste preference is spicy, you can add a little red pepper to the sauce while it is simmering. In the meantime, heat a skillet, add approximately 2 or 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Place shrimp in skillet but do not crowd. Fry until lightly brown.

To serve. Ladle marinara sauce on top of cooked pasta and place the fried shrimp on top. Serve with green salad and garlic bread.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Meatless Meals from the Diocese of Honolulu

You can check out their slideshow and even follow the link to the recipes here.

"How To Be a Budget Organic"

Picture source
One of my friends shared this article on Facebook.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Homemade Yogurt

Milk heating in saucepan
I only learned how to make yogurt at home. I had no idea how to begin. With a little help from a book and the internet, I have been quite successful in making yogurt.  The following is the simple way I do it.

Sanitized Mason jars

Ingredients and Tools Needed:

2 Pints Milk (The less fat the thinner the yogurt.  Do not use ultra-pasturized milk such as organic milk.  I use 2 percent milk from a Hawaii dairy.
2 tablespoons live yogurt culture at room temperature (I save some of the previous homemade yogurt for this).
Live yogurt culture at room temperature

1 small saucepan
Approximately 3 sanitized Mason jars (2 medium sized and one small one)
1 Candy thermometer
1 heating pan
1 microfiber cloth or a kitchen towel
1 Kitchen towel
Heating pad covered with kitchen microfiber cloth

Heat milk in saucepan to 180 degrees.  Remove from heat and cool to 110 degrees.

While the milk is warming, prepare the heating pad and cover with a clean microfiber cloth or kitchen towel.

When the milk is cooled to 110 degrees, stir in the room temperature live yogurt culture, fill the sanitized jars and cover tightly.

Place on the heating pad. Set the heating pad to warm.  If you are using the heating pad that shuts off automatically, be sure to reset it after two hours.  Once the jars are placed on heating pad, cover with a kitchen towel and do not disturb.  After 3 or 4 hours, check the jars to see if the yogurt has thickened.  (It may take as long as 8 hours. ) If you are using 2 percent milk like I did, the yogurt will be a slightly less thicker than if using whole milk and a little watery. 
Homemade yogurt about to be refrigerated

Refrigerate immediately.  I use this yogurt to make yogurt parfaits for my son and I use it in place of sour cream for all my recipes.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ensalada Rusa Peruana - Peruvian Russian Salad


This salad is very hearty and my mom usually served it as a side dish with Seco de Cordero (Peruvian lamb stew).  During Lent, you can serve it as a meatless meal.  Just make sure to make extra.

Usually my mom's recipe called for fresh boiled beets. When fresh beets are hard to find, canned beets will do. I have been fortunate to find fresh beets weekly at a local farmer's market. My recipe is similar to the traditional Peruvian recipes but I have modified it to fit my family's tastes.

BTW, this is not a Russian recipe. I think Peruvians gave it that name because of the pinkish color from the beets.

Ingredients:

4 large salad potatoes (Red, White or Yukon Gold)
2 large carrots
3 medium sized Roasted beets Recipe NOTE: We need these beets for the salad but just try the roasted beets next time with a drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar. You won't believe the wonderful taste!!

1 Celery stalk, sliced thinly
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas (thawed)
1 small onion, minced
2 - 3 tablespoons of a good quality mayonnaise
Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes and carrots until tender. You can boil both together with the carrots on top of the potatoes. Just remember to check on the carrots for tenderness as they cook up faster than the potatoes.

Dice the cooled potatoes, carrots and beets. Add all the ingredients and blend well. As you can see from the above photo, I was in a rush to take the photo that I did not blend the salad as well as I should have.

Roasted Beets


Roasted beets are incredibly delicious and easy to make. Remove the tops of the beets and use them in a stir fry. Do not throw away all those vitamins! Scrub the beets and quarter them. Place in a baking dish drizzle approximately 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast at 350 degrees for approximately 3/4 of an hour to an hour...or until the beets are tender.

Serve with a drizzling of Balsamic vinegar.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

For Lent: Spicy Tilapia with Tomatoes


Tilapia is a very versatile fish. I even make Peruvian ceviche with Tilapia. The following recipe is something I made the other day because I thought my family was tired of pan-fried Tilapia.

Ingredients:

4 Tilapia fillets (pat dry with paper towel)
Cayenne Pepper approximately 1/4 tsp.
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium sized can of fire-roasted tomatoes
2 tablespoons or more of extra-virgin olive oil

Sprinkle the fish fillets with salt and pepper to taste along with the Cayenne pepper on one side. Heat a heavy skillet. Add the olive oil. Add the fish fillet and brown the bottom without turning the fish over. It will take approximately 2 or 3 minutes at medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the can of tomatoes and cover the skillet. Lower heat to medium low and continue to cook for approximately 15 minutes.

Serve with rice.  Serves 4.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

FOR LENT: Tilapia with Salted Black Beans and Green Onions



This fish dish can be steamed but I baked this one in the oven.

Ingredients:

4 large Tilapia fillets
2 large green onions sliced diagonally approx. 1/2 inches in length
1 large piece of fresh ginger julienned (preferably young ginger with the paper thin skin).  I understand you don't have to peel ginger to use.  It is hard to peel.  If you aren't going to peel, be sure you scrub the peel before cutting.
2 tablespoons of Chinese Tausi (salted black beans) Soak in warm water and drain. You can crush them with the back of a spoon for more flavor.
Salt and White Pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a baking dish.  Place the fish fillets in the greased baking dish.  Season lightly with salt and white pepper.  Cover the fish with the sliced green onions, ginger and Tausi. Drizzle with oil. Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until fish is flaky.

Serve with steamed white rice and Baby Bok Choy with Garlic. See recipe below:

Baby Bok Choy with Garlic

2 cups (or more) baby bok choy or any other greens such as spinach, Swiss chard or other tender Chinese cabbage. Washed and dried. You do not have to cut the baby bok choy but you can cut the other greens if you prefer.
3 minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon oil

Heat a wok or heavy skillet. Add the oil and garlic and brown. Note: CAREFUL NOT TO BURN THE GARLIC. Add the greens to the browned garlic. Stirfry one minute and cover the skillet and lower the heat to low. After one or two minutes, uncover and pour the soy sauce over the greens.

Serves 4.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Yeast Donuts

I was going to make malassadas for Mardi Gras tomorrow. Instead, my family and I had a hankering for homemade donuts yesterday. After eating our fill and then some, I don't think we will be in the mood for anymore sugary, fried dough any time soon. I used the Better Homes and Garden cookbook yeast donuts recipe.

Rolling out the dough

Cutting the donuts out and waiting for them to rise

 I don't have a donut cutter so I make do with a salmon can and the top of my whistling teapot.  As you can see, it does the job.

I used my old Frybaby.  But I had to fry the donuts one at a time.  Next time, I think I will use a cast iron skillet.  My friend gave me the above cookie sheet/rack which also has a cover for it.  Very convenient when making cookies and donuts.

Sugar donuts
The recipe called for a powered sugar icing.  My husband preferred sugar donuts so sugar donuts it was.  I used one cup sugar in a brown paper bag to cook 20 donuts and donut holes.

New Site Added to Sidebar - Kitchen Gardeners

Kitchen Gardeners


MISSION
Kitchen Gardeners International is a 501c3 nonprofit community of over 20,000 people from 100 countries who are growing some of their own food and helping others to do the same, both near and far. Our mission is to empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve greater levels of food self-reliance through the promotion of kitchen gardening, home-cooking, and sustainable local food systems. In doing so, KGI seeks to connect, serve, and expand the global community of people who grow some of their own food.

Nine Reasons You Should Eat More Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato plant grown in container

1. Sweet potatoes are high in antioxidants, which work in the body to prevent inflammatory problems like asthma, arthritis, gout, and many more.

2. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of carbohydrates for those with blood sugar problems. These fibrous root vegetables can help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent conditions like insulin resistance.

3. Sweet potatoes are healthy for the digestive tract. Being rich in digestive fiber, especially when the skin is also consumed, it helps to relieve constipation and may prevent colon cancer.

Learn more: here.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Salads

One of my favorite things to eat is salad. I probably could live on soup and salads.

Here are a few that I make for my family.
Radish and Romaine Lettuce Salad

This Radish and Romaine Lettuce dressing is super simple and goes well with either an oil and vinegar dressing or the Lemon-Olive Oil dressing (see below).
Slice red radishes very thinly and mix with hearts of Romaine Lettuce for best flavor.

Greek Salad with Boiled Egg
This is my version of a Greek Salad.  Most of the produce is fresh from the local farmers' market.  This salad contains slices of ripe red tomatoes, Japanese cucumbers, romaine lettuce, sliced sweet onions such as Ewa or Maui onions, Kalamata olives, Feta Cheese and for added protein, a boiled egg for each person.  The dressing is the Lemon-Olive Oil dressing below.
Salad with Toasted Macadamia Nuts and Dried Cranberries
Here again is another salad using Romaine lettuce, ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet onions and egg.  But for added flavor and texture, I added toasted macadamia nuts and dried cranberries.  A vinaigrette dressing or Lemon-Olive Oil dressing goes well with this salad.
Lemon-Olive Oil Dressing
This salad dressing is very simple to make.  With a wisk, blend the juice of one lemon, (Meyer Lemon if you can get it is wonderful!) 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil to start (you may need to add a little more, depending on how tart you like your dressing) and salt and pepper to taste.