Saturday, March 26, 2011

Salad Rolls

These little tidbits are so fresh and delicious! I think they would make an excellent light summer lunch. This recipe is from my friend Betsy (but was given to me by my friend Lori). I didn’t have all the ingredients, but I think you can be pretty creative with this one. We decided some little salad shrimp with the the perfect addition!

The sauce is also very light and a bit spicy, just what it needs!

spring rolls 01

3 oz rice noodles, boil for 2 minutes and then rinse in cold water and drain well

2 cups bean sprouts (I didn’t have any and used finely shredded cabbage, but I think a combo of the two would be really good)

1 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup cilantro leaves

2 tsp fresh ginger

4 cloves finely minced garlic

spinach or lettuce leaves

rice wrappers


Whisk together

1/4 cup water

1 Tablespoon sugar

2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon chili sauce

dash ginger

Combine first six salad roll ingredients in a bowl and let sit for about a half hour to let the flavors marry a bit.

spring rolls 02

Soak rice wrappers in hot water until soft.

spring rolls 03Yes, it is in there. You just can’t see it! :o)

Roll 1/4 cup filling into the wrapper. Top filling with lettuce or spinach leaves. (I used a little too much filling in mine, but I was in a hurry…)

spring rolls 04spring rolls 05spring rolls 06spring rolls 07Cover prepared salad rolls with a damp towel until serving.

Serve with dipping sauce.

spring rolls 08

Friday, March 25, 2011

Red Bean Mochi

I LOVE mochi! Mochi is a sweet rice cake made from sweet rice flour. To be more exact, I actually made daifuku “a soft round mochi stuffed with sweet filling, such as sweetened red bean paste”. 

I picked up everything I would need to make a batch back in January in Seattle. When I went back to my Google Reader and looked at the recipe on Just Jenn, I was a little hesitant… She made it sound awful, in fact she advised you just go and buy it instead! :o(  When I read the recipe, it just didn’t sound that difficult.

Thank goodness my sister Theresa made it first and blogged about it. She seemed to even enjoy making them, so I gave it a go…

The one thing both mentioned was the stirring… Apparently you have to stir hard and fast and it ain’t easy! No problem, I have three strapping young teenage sons. I just posed it as a, “I need to stir this but you have to be really strong to do it and I’m not sure I can” and I had an enthusiastic volunteer to do it for me. In hindsight I’m pretty sure I could have done it myself but it was fun to have some help. Thanks Andy!

So, here’s all you need to do to make your very own mochi…

3 1/2 cups water

1 cup sugar

1/4 tsp food coloring

1 box Mochiko (sweet rice flour)

1 bag of red bean paste (An)

potato starch

mochi 01First dust your cutting board generously with potato starch. Mochi is like glue, you’re going to need lots of potato starch. Then pre-form your red bean paste into little blobs. This will save you a lot of time later. Make bigger blobs if you’re making bigger mochi or small blobs for bite-sized mochi. (I did some of each)

mochi 03Then put the water into a large saucepan with the sugar and bring to a boil.

mochi 02Add the food coloring and remove from heat.

Immediately stir in the entire box of Mochiko. This is the part where you stir. Stir hard and fast! It will get really hard to stir but keep stirring… Stir until it is smooth and sticky. This part is kind of like a funky science experiment. I’m pretty sure you’ve never made anything this texture before. :o)

mochi 04mochi 05mochi 06Quickly dump the mochi onto the dusted cutting board.

mochi 07mochi 08Dust the top of the pile of mochi with more potato starch.

mochi 09

Scrape the pot as well as you can and then start it soaking in the sink right away!

Cut off piece of mochi with well potato-starched hands.

mochi 10       Shape it into a flat piece.

mochi 11Place the red bean paste in the middle of the mochi and wrap it around the bottom.

mochi 12mochi 13Shape into a ball.

mochi 14This recipe makes a lot of mochi! So just keep making them… (I made 50)

mochi 15mochi 16mochi 17Store them in the freezer. Take them out to thaw before eating.      

Monday, March 21, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese

I admit it, I HATE mac & cheese! And no, it doesn’t matter if it is boxed or homemade… Actually none of us will eat the stuff!

Now that you have gotten over the shock and horror of this confession, you will notice that this a recipe for mac & cheese. We do however really like buffalo wings, a LOT! So when I saw this at Sweet Anna’s blog I decided to give it a shot. After all, I’ve always felt like I SHOULD like mac & cheese. It’s the ultimate comfort food! What’s not to like???

Thanks to the buffalo sauce kick (yup, it’s pretty spicy) and the fact that I discovered I can make a gorgeous cheese sauce (who would have guessed???), we really did enjoy it! It was perfect with celery sticks dipped in blue cheese dressing!

Like always, I made a couple of minor changes to the original recipe. Being on a tight budget and really not liking super rich cream sauces (I know, I know…), I cut back on a few things. So if you’d like the unadulterated (and I am sure much richer and yummier) version, check it out HERE. :o) Otherwise, here it is…

1 cube butter, divided

1 pound of rotini pasta, cooked and drained

1/4 cup chopped onion

1-2 stalks of celery, finely chopped

2 cups of cooked chicken meat, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 cloves of minced garlic

1 cup of Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce (watch out, this stuff is spicy!)

2 Tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

3 cups shredded pepper jack cheese

2/3 cup sour cream

1 cup panko bread crumbs

Butter a 9x13 glass baking dish and layer one half of the pasta into the bottom of the casserole dish.

buffalo mac 03

Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Saute onion and celery until tender. Add garlic and continue to saute until tender. Stir in chicken and 3/4 cup Buffalo sauce. Let simmer until slightly reduced.

buffalo mac 01 Make a cheese sauce by melting 2 Tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. After butter is melted, stir in flour and mustard until smooth. Add milk and cream all at once and whisk until smooth. Whisk in remaining 1/4 cup of Buffalo sauce. Continue to whisk until thick. Remove from heat and whisk in cheeses and sour cream until smooth.

Top the pasta with the chicken mixture. Cover with remaining pasta. Pour cheese sauce evenly over the top.

buffalo mac 04 buffalo mac 05buffalo mac 06buffalo mac 07

Melt the last 2 Tablespoons of butter in a small saute pan. Add the bread crumbs, stirring until panko has absorbed the butter. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta.

buffalo mac 08

Bake at 350 about 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly and the top is golden brown.

buffalo mac 09 buffalo mac 10

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Cream

I love Irish Cream! I love it in hot cocoa or coffee! I even love it on ice! But it is really expensive… I only have it about once a year at Christmas or St. Patrick’s Day.

But now it is also really easy to make. Just make sure you buy good quality Irish or Canadian whiskey. I’ll probably still only get it once a year though… :o)

1 cup heavy cream

1 can condensed milk

1 2/3 cup whiskey

1 teaspoon instant coffee

2 tablespoons chocolate syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

irish cream 01Mix in blender on high for 30 seconds.

irish cream 02

Store in fridge. Shake well before serving.

irish cream 03

Pancake Rainbow

This year I broke tradition and made something new for St. Patrick’s Day breakfast….

A rainbow of pancakes!

rainbow cakes 01 All you do is add food coloring to your pancake batter! But it does mean making a whole lotta little batches of pancake batter…

I think this would also be good for a meal if you were studying Noah’s ark or if you have a little girl that loves rainbows and unicorns… (I was one of those little girls 30 years ago) :o)

Friday, March 11, 2011


My friend Kate made this for their church youth group’s fundraiser dinner and we got to be her guinea pigs. It was so good that I just had to make it for our Mardi Gras dinner this year. One change I made was that I threw in some shrimp… I love shrimp in my jambalaya! I would also omit the pepper sauce if you don’t like things extra spicy (I added it and it was PLENTY hot!).

The last change was to bake it covered for the first half and uncovered the second half. But you can do it however you like…

Enjoy! It’s perfect with some peaches, a lettuce salad, crusty French bread and bread pudding for dessert!

1 Tbs Unsalted Butter
1 cup Andouille Sausage, Diced
1/2 cup Onion, Diced
1/2 cup Bell Pepper, Diced
1/2 cup Celery, Diced
2 Tbs Garlic, Minced
1/2 cup Tomatoes, Diced
1/4 cup Tomato Sauce
3/4 cup Enriched Long grain Rice
1 3/4 cup Chicken Stock
1 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbs Hot Sauce (optional)
1 cup Boneless Chicken Thigh, Diced
(Seasoning Mix: 1/2 tsp Cayenne, 3/4 tsp White Pep-per, 1 tsp Kosher Salt, 1/2 tsp Dried Thyme, 1/2 tsp Rubbed Sage, 3 Bay Leaves)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt the butter, saute the Andouille until slightly browned. Add 1/2 of the trinity (onion, bell pepper, celery) saute until tender.

jambalaya 01 jambalaya 03

Add the Tomato and cook for about one minute, then add the Tomato Sauce, cook 1 minute more. Add the Rice, cook 1 minute.

jambalaya 04

Add the Stock, Worcestershire, Hot Sauce, Garlic, Seasoning Mix, Bay Leaves, the other half of the Trinity, and Raw Chicken.

jambalaya 02

Stir well and bake uncovered for about 30-40 minutes, or until the rice is cooked, but still has a little bite.

jambalaya 05

Top with chopped Parsley, and sliced Green Onions.

jambalaya 06

**NOTE** You could substitute shrimp or other seafood for the chicken, and seafood stock for the chicken stock. You could also substitute ham, tasso, kielbasa, chorizo, etc, etc… for the Andouille. This dish is great for using up leftovers, its origins are all about stretching ingredients. As long as you keep the liquid/rice ratio you can use whatever you choose.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Caramel Chocolate Pretzels

These little gems were inspired by our trip to Disneyland and a delicious treat from the candy store on Main Street.  Thankfully they are easy to make and MUCH less expensive than on Main Street…

First make a batch of Easy Caramels.

Let it cool a little bit before dipping the pretzel rods into the caramel. Lay the dipped pretzels on a parchment-lined tray and let cool in fridge.

caramel pretzels 01

Melt 1 cup chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon shortening together. Then dip caramel dipped pretzels into the chocolate. Place back on parchment and into the fridge.

caramel pretzels 02Drizzle with melted white chocolate for a decorative accent.

caramel pretzels 03Store the dipped pretzels in the fridge.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Vanilla Sugar

I procured some vanilla beans from my friend Kate and decided to whip up some vanilla sugar. I have seen it at the German deli and always thought it would be so fun to bake with! I made it, baked with it and I was right… :o)

Here’s all you do:

Pour 3-4 cups of granulated sugar into a quart sized canning jar (wide mouth is easier).

vanilla sugar 02

Split and scrape 3 vanilla beans and place the beans and the scrapings into the jar with the sugar.

vanilla sugar 03

Stir to combine.

vanilla sugar 04

Place lid on jar and put in a cool dry place for 2-3 weeks. Shake every week or so.

Pour sugar through a sieve to remove as much vanilla bean as possible and pour back into canning jar to store.

vanilla sugar 05I used my sugar to make a batch of cookie stamp cookies. Rolling them in the vanilla sugar gave them a very light and delicate flavor! Yummy!

vanilla sugar 01