September 25, 2017

Takoraisu (Okinawan Taco Rice)

2 lbs ground beef
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried onion
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3/4 cup water

to serve:
freshly cooked, hot Japanese rice (may be labeled sushi rice)
shredded iceberg lettuce
shredded quesadilla or cheddar cheese
1-pint cherry tomatoes, halved

In a large skillet, saute the onion and garlic in a small amount of oil until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the ground beef, soy sauce and spices. Saute, breaking up any chunks of meat with a spoon, until nearly fully cooked. Add the water and simmer until the water has evaporated.

Serve over rice, topped with salsa, lettuce, tomato, and cheese.

Note: Feel free to use my homemade taco seasoning mix in this recipe.
My thoughts:
I came across Japanese taco rice in something I was reading recently and was intrigued. I love unexpected fusion foods like this so I knew I had to make it. The US military has a strong presence in Okinawa thanks to our military base there for decades. With that comes a lot of military personnel who want a taste of home in Japan. A number of restaurants popped up catering to this, even a taco restaurant back in the 1950s but it wasn't until the 1980s a chef thought to put it on rice. It is basically a Tex-Mex donburi and is super satisfying. Think of the American style tacos of your childhood mixed with Japanese-style comfort food. It is the perfect dish for a rainy day.

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September 23, 2017

Homemade Taco Seasoning


2 tablespoons hot Mexican-style chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon ground chipotle
1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1/2 tablespoon dehydrated onion
1/2 tablespoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ground jalapeno
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch salt

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Store in an air-tight container.

Use 2 tablespoons mix to equal one packet prepared mix.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

My thoughts:
I've been making a few Tex-Mex taco type things lately (recipes to come!) and came up with this mix so I don't have to measure out a bunch of spices each day. It is on the spicy side but you can make it milder by using mild chili powder and slightly less of the other ground chiles if you'd prefer.

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September 22, 2017

Sambal Eggplant with Oyster Mushrooms and Spinach

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
5 baby eggplants, cut into 1 1/2-inch planks
1 1/2 lbs oyster mushrooms, stem removed and separated into small pieces
1 lb baby spinach
1 1/2 tablespoons sambal oelek


Saute the garlic, onion, and eggplant in a small amount of oil in a large skillet until the onion softens. Add the remaining ingredients. Saute 2-4 minutes. Cover for 5 minutes to allow the spinach to wilt. Uncover and saute until everything is fully cooked. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
We bought 3 lbs of oyster mushrooms at the mushroom festival this year. This was the first year we've seen them offered in such a large quantity so we couldn't resist. They spoil a bit more quickly than the portobellos we normally buy at the festival so we had a couple of days that were very mushroom filled. I love oyster mushrooms because they are meaty and flavorful and add a lot of body and texture to the dish. We picked up some lovely eggplant at a farm store on our way back from Pennsylvania so I made this quick side dish. It was so good! I can't wait to make it again.  If you want a meatless meal (vegan even!) serve this over rice rather than as a side dish, it is totally hardy enough to be an entree.

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September 20, 2017

Honeycrisp Apple Honey Blondies

1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/3 cup honey*
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Honeycrisp apple
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350. Spray with baking spray or grease and flour an 8x8 inch pan. Set aside.

In a small pan, melt together the honey and apple.

Meanwhile, grate the apple. Squeeze out excess juice. Measure to equal 1/2 cup grated apple. Place the apple, sugar, egg, flour, vanilla and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer or medium mixing bowl. Mix using the stand mixer using a hand mixer until the mixture is smooth. Slowly stream in the melted butter and honey. Mix until a batter forms. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes or until the edges are browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out with just one or two moist crumbs. Cool on wire rack. Slice and serve.

* I used raw Manuka honey but any flavorful, full-bodied honey should work.

My thoughts:
It has been ages since I've made a special dish for Rosh Hashanah! We normally eat apples dipped in honey (while on the phone with Matt's mom) for a sweet New Year but not being religious in the least, that is the extent of what we do. This year we are invited to a dinner for Rosh Hashanah and while I am not bringing these (they keep kosher) the holiday was on my mind. Matt loves honey and when I saw the first Honeycrisps of the season at the store, I thought it would be fun to make a little treat. These are really good, lots of honey flavor and oddly not as sweet as you would think. It tastes sort of like a bar cookie crossed with a honey caramel apple. Matt thinks they would be even better with some honey drizzled on top so if you are a honey fiend, try that!

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September 18, 2017

Mochiko Chicken

1/4 cup chopped scallion
1/4 cup mochiko flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon mixed black and white sesame seeds
2 egg, beaten
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (trimmed of excess fat if desired)

WARNING: This must be done the day before you want to make the chicken.

Place all ingredients in a resealable bag. Seal and squish around until the ingredients are evenly distributed and the chicken is well coated. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, preferably 16-24.

Heat about 1-inch canola oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan. Fry, turning once, until the chicken is cooked through and golden brown. Drain on paper towel-lined plates. Serve with rice and mac salad.

My thoughts:
Another Hawaiian favorite! Mochiko flour, a variety of sweet rice flour, is made from super starchy sticky rice (glutenous rice) and is great for thickening so it is the perfect coating for chicken. Sweet rice flour is also used to make mochi. For this chicken it creates the perfect batter, light, crisp and it really sticks to the chicken. The rest of the marinade is a familiar mix of soy sauce, ginger, sugar and garlic to give that sweet-salty flavor that is in so many Hawaiian dishes. It is so good! I am normally not a sweets for main dish type of person but this is really tasty, not too sweet--sort of like a light teriyaki type flavor but much fresher. I like adding sesame seeds for a bit of flavor and crunch but they can be left off, I know sesame seeds can be expensive and if you don't have them it isn't worth buying some just for this. 

When I've made it before I  cut into bite-sized chunks before marinating. That is how I've seen it served most frequently but this time I left the pieces whole so it was easier to divide the chicken among people for dinner and to pack for the next day's lunches. It cooked just as fast, too!

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September 14, 2017

Squash Succotash


2 ears' worth of corn kernels
1-pint fresh lima beans, shucked
2 yellow squash, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cubanelle pepper, chopped
1 1/2-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon thyme

freshly ground black pepper

Heat some butter  in a large pan. Add the squash, onion, and pepper and saute until the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme and apple cider vinegar. Add in the corn and lima beans and cook until just heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Stir, serve. Garnish with parsley if desired.

My thoughts:
The end of summer is upon us. As it seems like we do every year, we stopped at one of our favorite farm stands on the way back from the mushroom festival and picked up some fresh lima beans and corn, two of my favorite late summer vegetables. Corn and lima beans are the key ingredients in succotash so what to make to serve with tonight's haddock seemed clear. I already had some yellow squash so I thought it would make a nice, if slightly non-traditional, addition to the succotash. I'm glad I did, it made it much more filling, hardy side dish. I broke out my fancy apple cider vinegar for this one that I bought ages ago at some shop and hoard as I haven't seen it again. I hide it behind my other vinegar so I am not tempted to use it often but when I do, it adds quite a bright yet not sour or overly tart flavor to everything. Regular, unfiltered apple cider vinegar would work well too.

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September 12, 2017

Iced Chocolate Malted Brownies


For the brownies:
5.3 oz bar (70%) semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup cocoa
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup malted milk powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

To decorate:
1 16-oz Pillsbury Filled Pastry Bag (Cream Cheese)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray with baking spray or grease and flour one 8x8 inch baking pan. Set aside

In a saucepan, melt the butter, cocoa, and chocolate together over low heat. Stir occasionally, and when the chocolate is nearly melted, remove from heat. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt, malted milk powder and baking powder. Set aside

In a separate bowl, beat together the brown sugar, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Slowly stream the chocolate mixture into the eggs and mix to combine. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is thick and glossy. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with one or two crumbs. Cool completely in pan, on a wire rack. Make "star" shapes with the Pastry Bag holding the bag vertically with the tip about 1/4 inch above the brownies. Squeeze the bag to form stars.

Pull tip straight up. Repeat in rows until brownies are covered in stars.

Slice into squares and serve. Store leftovers up to 3 days in an air-tight container.

My thoughts:

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Pillsbury™. The opinions and text are all mine.

I was excited when Pillsbury™ approached me to develop a homemade treat to showcase their new Pillsbury Filled Pastry Bag. Despite taking a cake decorating class some years back and blogging here since 2004, I am pretty hopeless when it comes to using a pastry bag and piping anything! I'd had an idea to make some iced chocolate malted brownies, but I wanted them to look cute so I kept putting it off. When this opportunity came up, I thought it was the perfect time to finally make these brownies! I found Pillsbury Filled Pastry Bag right at my local Giant near the icing and cake decorating supplies.

The pastry bag was super easy to use with the built-in star tip (even my husband tried it out and he has zero cake decorating experience) and the results were great. It’s so fun to use with the whole family and it was a great way to jazz up a homemade brownie! Bonus, there was no mess trying to fill a pastry bag with sticky frosting myself, something I’ve always had trouble doing.

The brownies themselves are moist and delicious. They really taste like a chocolate malted milkshake! The creamy, cream cheese frosting really adds to the effect, sort of like the whipped cream on top of a milkshake. The pastry bags also come in flavors like vanilla and chocolate fudge! The slight tang from the cream cheese frosting kept the brownie from being overly sweet. I also used chocolate with a high cocoa content for an extra rich, chocolate flavor.

I like a big square of brownie so I sliced this 8x8 inch pan into nine brownies but feel free to make them smaller if you are serving a crowd or are dainty eaters! You can also double the recipe to make a 9x13 inch pan of brownies. There is enough frosting in the pastry bag to pipe on the icing on a larger batch. I iced my brownies in the pan because I served them directly from pan but if you are slicing and arranging them on a platter for an event, you can also ice each individual brownie for cleaner lines and no frosting smears. It is up to you!

Right now, if you shop at Giant, Stop & Shop, or Martins you can get a coupon for Pillsbury Filled Pastry Bags! Check it out here!

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