Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Make-ahead Mashed Potatoes

5 lbs potatoes, peeled and quartered
6 oz reduced fat cream cheese
1 cup light sour cream
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 egg whites, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon margarine or butter

Boil potatoes until tender. Mash well to remove all lumps. Add cream cheese, sour cream, onion powder, salt, pepper, and egg whites; blend well. Cool slightly, cover and refrigerate.

Reheat in slow cooker about 1 hour before serving.

Grandma Lavon's Cranberry Sauce

4 cups cranberries
3 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp gr. cloves
pinch of ginger

Bring sugar, water, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger to a boil. Add cranberries and bring to a boil, keep boiling for ten minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for one hour. Remove from heat and chill.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Chicken Biryani

I could watch this guy all day -- his eyes are so smily, almost maniacally so.

More recipes from

Monday, June 8, 2009

Shrimp with Crab

I made this last night. I don't have a picture but it was so good I wanted to share it anyway. I love seafood and I love french food so this combines both. It's more of a special occasion meal because it has so much butter but hey, that's why it's good. I developed the recipe from a deviled crab recipe I had and through experimenting with various french sauces before hitting on this one. I hope you enjoy.

Crab Stuffed Shrimp with Angel Hair Pasta and Orange-Caper Beurre Blanc

1 lb large shrimp
½ lb crab
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
¼ cup dry Italian bread crumbs
1 egg - beaten
Lemon juice - about a half a lemon in the stuffing and the reminder in the butter
Emeril’s Bayou Blast or any Cajun seasoning – about a teaspoon or to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Peel, devein and butterfly shrimp, leaving tails on if you want. Spray two 13x9x2 dishes with cooking spray. Place shrimp in dishes pressing lightly to open. Sprinkle lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Sauté the shallots in butter – about a tablespoon – until softened and remove from heat. Inspect crab and remove any shell or cartilage. Add to pan along with remaining ingredients. Spoon about a tablespoon full onto each butter flied shrimp. When all shrimp are stuffed, melt about ¼ cup of butter, add some paprika for color along with the juice of the other half of the lemon. Drizzle evenly over the shrimp. Bake the shrimp for about 15 minutes until shrimp is fully cooked. Serve over angel hair and top with Orange Caper Beurre Blanc.

Orange Caper Beurre-Blanc
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup white wine
1 stick unsalted butter – must be ice cold - using warm butter will cause the sauce to break and become just melted butter
1 tablespoon or so heavy cream
1 tablespoon capers, drained

Bring juice and wine to a simmer over low heat and reduce until it’s about 2 tablespoons of liquid. Let cool slightly. Cut stick of butter into 12 pieces. Whisk in butter one piece at a time until sauce thickens. Whisk in cream and taste for seasoning. Add salt as needed. Stir in capers and serve over shrimp.

Next time I make it I will take a picture.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Grilled Orange Ginger Salmon

This is a favorite of ours. We often grill it outdoors but the Foreman Grill offers pretty good results too. The salmon pictured was cooked on the Foreman.

1/4 cup OJ

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup dijon mustard - I have also used Divinely Original mustard by the Benedictine nuns with great results; it has more of a kick

1/4 cup sherry

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespo0ns fresh grated ginger or 2 tsp. dry

4 6 oz. salmon filets, about 1/2 inch thick

Combine all ingredients except salmon in a large ziploc bag, shaking to combine well. Add salmon and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat either your outside grill or Foreman. Remove salmon from the marinade and empty the marinade into a small saucepan. Grill the salmon for 5 minutes on each side on your outside grill or for 3 minutes on your Foreman. While fish is grilling, bring the marinade to a boil and simmer until reduced by half. I serve the salmon over brown rice with the reduced marinade drizzled over the top. Very light and healthy meal.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Rules to live by

(From the restroom of an Indian restaurant in Jackson Heights, Queens, NY.)

"Make your Indian co-workers jealous" lentil recipe

The secret to these lentils is in the sauce, and in not watering it down too much. Substitute your favorite Indian curry paste if you can't find Patak's (pictured below).

2 cups water
1/2 cup lentils
3-4 cloves garlic
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 14-oz can of diced tomatoes
2 heaping tablespoons of hot indian curry paste
fresh cilantro

1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add garlic.
2. Rinse 1/2 cup of lentils.
3. Add lentils to boiling water and cook over low-medium heat for about half an hour, or until most of the water is absorbed and the lentils are getting nice and soft.
4. Meanwhile, fry 1 chopped onion in olive oil.
5. Add 2 heaping tablespoons of curry paste and stir.
6. Immediately add 1 14-oz can of diced tomatoes and stir together
7. Let the tomatoes, onion, and curry paste simmer for a little while.
8. When lentils are beginning to burst, add tomato mixture to the pot and stir. Let sit for a few minutes so the lentils can absorb the awesome curry flavor
9. Top with fresh cilantro and serve with basmati rice, and/or naan.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Chickpea Curry (Chana Masala)

This is my signature chickpea curry, which I found in perfect form from - a great site for Indian recipes with fabulous pictures. I've tried lots of types, but this one is perfect. The ginger and tomato give it a little something different than other recipes. This is great as a side dish, or even a main dish.

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 medium-sized onion , finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp light cooking oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • water, as needed
  • fresh chopped cilantro, as garnish
  • lemon wedges, as garnish

SAUTE cumin seeds in hot oil till they start to sizzle and pop. Add onions and green chillies, and fry till tender.

ADD in tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste, tomato paste, salt and spices, and cook till tomatoes pulp and starts to give out oil from the sides.

STIR in about a cup of water, allow it to come to a boil, and then add chickpeas. Let simmer covered for a few minutes till chickpeas are soft and tender to the touch.

GARNISH with fresh coriander and a sprinkle of lemon juice.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Do you strave easily? I do.

Hawaii 1964: Liane (9), Lisa (4), Mom, Melanie (11)

Anyone who knew my mom (aka Grandma Lavon) was aware of her obsession with reading. The house could be burning down, but Mom would be engrossed in her mystery novel as the firemen carried her out. I'll never forget the day I told her I was leaving home for good and never coming back. She barely looked up from her book and said, "That's nice, dear." Of course the next day she freaked out but I was already gone.

I have in my possession a note that my little sister gave my mom in Japan in 1968, when she was 8 years old. Apparently Lisa had been begging Mom to put down her book and make dinner, but Mom kept saying, "In a minute! I'm at a really good part." In desperation, Lisa wrote this note:

Dear Mrs. Mama,

Will you please cook dinner?

I'm straving, and I strave easily.


Mom says she cracked up when she got the note and got up to make dinner.

Now whenever someone in our family is very hungry (which is often), they let it be known that they are “straving”. (Direct translation: "Get cookin', Ma!")

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Steamed Fish with Ginger and Shitakes

I love fish! I'm always looking for new ways to prepare it. This is adapted from a recipe I found in a magazine.

4 – 6 filets Tilapia (or other white fish)
Sea salt
Cayenne pepper
¼ cup fresh ginger, cut into thin strips
1 cups finely sliced shiitakes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 chopped green onions
2 tablespoons sesame oil
½ cup soy sauce

Bring water to a boil under a metal or bamboo steamer. Sprinkle fish with salt and cayenne pepper; place on top of parchment paper inside steamer. Top with ginger and shiitakes; cover and steam for 15 minutes.

Remove fish and place on serving plate. Sprinkle cilantro and green onions on fish; drizzle with juices from parchment. In a small sauté pan, heat the sesame oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until smoking. Pour some oil over each fillet to wilt the cilantro and green onions. Drizzle again with soy sauce.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cowboy Caviar

This is an easy recipe that is suprisingly yummy.

1 can corn - drained

2 cans black beans - drained & rinsed (some recipes say 1 can black beans and 1 can black-eyed peas)

Chopped tomatoes - 1 large- or you can use a can of chopped tomatoes - drained

red onion - chopped
cilantro to taste - finely chopped (I use a mini food processor to do this)

fresh jalapeno or serranos to taste - finely chopped (ditto)

1 cup italian salad dressing - make your own or use your favorite bottled
avocados - 1 or 2 depending on size

Combine first 7 ingredients and refrigerate overnight. This step is important to allow the flavors to marry. Just before serving dice the avocado and add to the salsa. Serve with tortilla chips.

Makes a boatload of salsa so be prepared to share.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cheater's Key Lime Pie

How many times have you been inspired about the lovely dinner you're making and suddenly realize, 'Crap! I need a dessert!" This recipe is one of my old stand-by's. Best of all, the kids love it.


1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice (fresh is best but I'll admit it's a pain to squeeze all those key limes)
1 container of Cool Whip (about 2 cups)
Lime zest
Green food coloring (This is optional. Traditional Key Lime Pie is not green, but the kids get a kick out of green. Just add a dash for fun.)

1 store-bought graham cracker crust
Some more cool whip for the top
A lime, cut up fancy if you wish

Mix the first 5 ingredients together and pour into the crust. Cover and stick in the freezer for as long as you can. When it's time to serve, spread the top with more cool whip and decorate with some lime if you have it. (Once I sprinkled on toasted sweetened flaked coconut which was a hit.)

NOTE: This recipe can be made without fresh ingredients which makes it real handy in a pinch. The Cool Whip and pie crust can be kept in the freezer, and of course the sweetened condensed milk is in a can. I always have this juice on hand which I keep in the fridge:
Nellie & Joe's Key West Lime Juice*

*Goes very well with gin (the juice, not the pie)

Piggies in Blankets

I know these look corny and old-fashioned (right out of one of those awful Sixties' cookbooks), but they are a hit every time I make them. Folks just can't seem to resist them, especially with the hot mustard sauce!


Package of Lil' Smokies or other cocktail wienies
1 package of refrigerator Crescent Rolls
1 cup of sour cream
Hot mustard (1/4 - 1/2 cup, according to your taste)

Take out one triangle of refrigerator Crescent Rolls and cut into four pieces. I do it like this:



Then roll up a wienie in the dough

Ta da!

You should get 32 piggies from one package of refrigerator dough. No doubt you've been eating some of the raw wienies while rolling, but you may have some left over. They are delicious cooked and I just stick them in the oven along with the "blanketed" ones.

Bake the little guys in a 375 oven for 15 minutes or so till they are nice and brown.

While they are baking, mix the sour cream with the hot mustard sauce. I used to get this little jar of "Hot English Mustard" that I just loved but lately I haven't been able to find it. Now I use this:

"Beaver" Sweet Hot Mustard

I always add 1/2 cup to the sour cream because I love the mustard sauce spicy. BTW, this sauce is also delicious with ham or corned beef. Enjoy!

Linda's Frijoles Borrachos

This is a simple yet delicious bean soup. The name means "drunken beans", since half a beer is added towards the end for flavor and to soften the beans. They are also called frijoles charros in some areas of Mexico.
1 pound of pinto beans
1 large pot of water
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1/2lb - 1 lb of bacon, coarsely chopped
2 bunches of fresh cilantro
1-3 chiles serranos or jalapeños
1/2 can or bottle of a smooth Mexican beer (feel free to drink the other half if your religious and/or dietary restrictions permit)
4-5 cloves of garlic (optional)
pinch of salt
  1. Bring the pot of water to a rolling boil while...
  2. Rinsing the beans, picking out any rocks or other rubbish. (Consider soaking them for several hours or overnight, rinsing again before boiling)
  3. Add the beans, onions, and bacon, and reduce heat to medium.
  4. Cook for several hours until the liquid begins to turn thick and brown from the ruptured beans, stirring occasionally and adding a few cilantro leaves throughout the cooking time. Add more water if needed. (Note that the beans in the picture are nowhere close to being done).
  5. Add the chilies toward the end because they will lose their kick if cooked for too long.
  6. About 20 minutes before finishing, add the beer. Avoid any beers with strong or bitter flavors. I used a whole bottle of Pilsner Urquell once with disappointing results.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Thai Curry

This is my basic recipe for a Thai Curry. You can use pretty much any curry paste you want although Green Curry and Massuman Curry use additional ingredients. I use this recipe for Red Curry, although this time I used Panang curry paste and it tasted quite similar. Yellow Curry paste is also similar. Feel free to substitute ingredients where you see fit, but you must keep the coconut milk, fish sauce, and curry paste. Anything else will yield very different results. If you use fish, just float the filets on top and cover. It will cook in about 5 minutes and then you can break it up with a spoon.

I used a combination of 1 box tofu and 1 fish filet.

Joe also excels at Thai curries, especially when fish is involved, so he is welcome to post his version(s).

1 medium onion, halved and sliced
1 bell pepper sliced into short strips
1 zucchini, quartered and diced
1 Tbsp garlic-ginger paste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup mushrooms
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced (or approx. 1 lb of chicken)
2 tbsps red curry paste (or yellow curry paste)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 can coconut milk (you can use lite coconut milk but you should reduce the chicken broth to ½ cup)
1-2 cups chicken broth (depending on how many veggies you are using or how thick you like your curry)

Sauté your onion, bell pepper, garlic, and ginger in vegetable oil until onion is tender or translucent. Add curry paste and mix.
Add chicken pieces and cook in onion mixture just until chicken turns white on the outside.
Add coconut milk, chicken broth, and fish sauce.
Bring to a boil on high and then reduce heat to medium.
Add vegetables and simmer for 15 minutes. You can increase the heat or simmer longer to reduce the sauce if you like.

Serve with Jasmine rice, garnish with Thai basil or cilantro if you have it on hand, and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pico de gallo

This is a very basic, simple, easy-to-make fresh accompaniment to traditional mexican food. It is not, strictly speaking, a salsa, since salsa means sauce and this is not a liquid. It makes an excellent topping for simple authentic tacos (no iceberg lettuce or sour cream), goes great with high-quality corn tortilla chips, and you can stir some into a bowl of crushed avocadoes for an authentic guacamole. Note that if served with chips, this will disappear quickly, so set some aside for the main course if necessary. Other ideas: mix with canned tuna or pre-cooked shrimp for what I call poor-man's seviche, or mixed with canned or pre-cooked beans for a delicious cold bean salad.

Ingredients: (adjust proportions according to your taste)

4-6 tomatoes (preferably roma or plum tomatoes)

1 bunch of fresh cilantro

3-4 fresh green onions (freshness is very important here. Use half a white or yellow onion if the green onions at the store don't look fresh enough)

1-2 chiles serranos (these look like skinny jalapeños; jalapeños can also be used)

juice of 1-2 limes

pinch of salt

drizzling of olive oil (optional)

Finely chop all the ingredients, stir together in a large bowl and serve. I recommend chopping the onions, then the chiles (very finely), then squeezing the limes on top of these to mellow the flavor of the onions and let the lime juice take on the heat of the chilies. This will help spread the flavors and heat evenly throughout every bite.

There are five ingredients (aside from the salt), and I find this makes it easy to remember to pick up all of them when shopping. (Hint: there are most likely five fingers on your hand, which can be used for counting purposes)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Clam Chowder

This was delicious but a little thinner than clam chowder I had in New Hampshire. I added 2 Tbsp cornstarch to thicken, but other options would be to double the potatoes, or drain two of the cans of minced clams, or add 1/4 cup flour to the onion and bacon mixture when it is done cooking. You can use 4 cups fresh shucked clams instead of the canned.

1 (8 oz.) bottle clam juice
2 med. baker's potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 thick strips bacon, chopped finely
1 med. onion, diced
4 cans minced clams
1 cup half and half cream

In a medium saucepan, bring clam juice and potatoes to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until tender.

Meanwhile, in a pot, cook bacon on medium heat then add onions and cook until tender. Add canned clams and potato mixture and heat to boiling, then simmer.

In a small saucepan, warm half and half (you could do this in the microwave too) then add to pot, stirring slowly. Heat through but do not boil or this will cause the cream to separate.

Makes about 4 servings.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Anna's Spaghetti Sauce

I have always been a fan of spaghetti (exhibit A below). But I first decided to make my own spaghetti sauce when I was inspired by watching the Godfather. The recipe I used originally came from the Betty Crocker cookbook, but I've adapted it on multiple people's advice.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground sausage, turkey, or beef (I used to use beef, then I used hot pork sausage which was amazing, now I use turkey, because pork is not so good for you)
2 (15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 Tbsp dried basil
1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 or 2 dashes Worcestershire (optional: if you are using turkey, this gives it a more meaty flavor)
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt to taste

Saute onions and bell pepper in olive oil over medium heat until tender. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add meat and brown and crumble. Drain as best as you can. Return to heat. Add diced tomatoes with liquid, tomato paste, and spices. If it is too thick, add 4 to 6 oz. water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for at least 15-30 minutes. Suits most types of pasta.

Basic Miso Soup

Many grocery stores carry miso paste nowadays, but you may have to venture to Cost Plus or your nearest asian grocery to find dashi granules. I used Hon-Dashi.

4 cups water
1-2 tsp dashi granules (start on the low side and go up as you like)
2-3 Tbsp miso paste (I used mellow white, but the brown kind is ideal)
1 block tofu (10-12 oz.), in small 1/2 inch cubes
A couple handfuls of fresh spinach (optional)
2 green onions, chopped (optional)

Bring water to a boil in medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium. Add dashi granules, tofu, spinach, and green onions. Cook until spinach is soft and bright green. Remove from heat. Add miso paste and stir until blended.

Makes 2-4 servings

Note: You don't want to boil the miso as many people believes this kills off the good bacteria in the miso.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Aunt Lisa's Black-Eyed Peas and Turnip Greens

From Aunt Lisa:

"I saw on the dining blog that Anna was talking about black-eyed peas as a New Year tradition, particularly in the South, and I wanted to add a comment. The southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas and collard greens is that the peas you eat represent coins you will get in the coming year and the greens represent paper money. The recipes below are the traditional method of preparing these dishes. Collard greens are really hard on the system for me so I always do turnip greens.

Black Eyed Peas

-1 lb. Dried Black Eyed Peas
-1 large meaty hambone or ham hocks (I use the bone from the Honey Baked Ham we have at Christmas – throw it in the freezer until New Years)
-1 large onion, chopped, preferably Vidalia
-Red Pepper Flakes

Sort and rinse peas and then soak overnight. Drain peas. Add hambone or hocks to large pot with 6 cups water. Add onions and peas. Add a tablespoon of salt (more or less to taste) along with pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 2 hours or until peas are tender. Add water as needed.

Turnip Greens with Smoked Turkey

-1 lb Turnip Greens or other greens of your choice
-Smoked Turkey Wing
-salt to taste
-1 tsp sugar – essential to counteract bitterness
-Black pepper
-Cayenne Pepper

Serve with Hot Pepper Vinegar – I use Glory Foods brand

Brings 6 cups of water to a boil an add turkey wing. Boil wing for 10 minutes and then add greens, salt, sugar and peppers. Cook on low for an hour or so until greens have softened to your taste. Serve in a bowl with lots buttered cornbread to soak up the pot liquor. Pass the pepper vinegar so everyone can add as they like.

Oh and I forgot, after the peas or greens are done, remove the ham bone or the turkey wing, chop up all of the meat and add back to the pot.

Also if you don't use the meat in the greens you could start out with stock instead, either vegetable or chicken."