Monday Night Tacos!
Today was the first rain of the season. Time to transition to soup/oven weather. Three of this week's meals are good 'stock-up' meals. Eat 1. Freeze 1. Here's what's cooking for the shorter days.MondayTacos with no seasoning packets
. Here is what is in one of those spice packets: yellow corn flour, salt, maltodextrin, paprika, spices, modified cornstarch, sugar, garlic powder, citric acid, autolyzed yeast extract, natural flavor, Caramel Color (sulfites). JUST SAY NO
to those sodium-saturated (430mg) spice packets. Go with fresh onion, cumin, chili powder, bay leaves, cayenne peper and fresh garlic.
TuesdayNumber 1 Udon
. Char siu was on sale at Marukai, and bok choy is coming into season now that it's cooler.WednesdayJapanese Chicken Curry.
A double-batch for dinner and freezer.Thursday
Double down on Chili
and a fresh Quinoa Salad
, the go-to option for the choir potluck.FridayCorn Chowder
. This was major comfort food when the weather got 'cold' In Hawaii, meaning the low 70s. Trying a new version based on Tyler Florence
and the Barefoot Contessa
, two of my favorite cooking references. Trying to say no to canned cream corn.SaturdayQuiche
. Make two save one for later!Reminder
Feeding My Ohana's Virtual Food Drive to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank will start November 1st, and we will again be matching donations
Eat Well. Be Well.
As much I as love summer vacation, I believe that the world ultimately works by the academic calendar. Full-time onsite employees with kids typically takes weeks of summer off, and in Europe and parts of Asia, companies definitely slow down in August. And while I almost look forward to the faster M-F cadence that the household shifts to once, school starts, it's always important to keep your inner aloha. With that, we end summer with "eat outside" food.
Teriyaki Chicken--our go-to comfort dinner.
and Quinoa Salad
, using dressing from Spinach Salad,
but using honey instead of sugar. This worked really well as a change-up
. I was out of Newman's Balsamic Vinaigrette and the Caesar or the Miso-Goma dressing in-house just wouldn't do.Tuesday
Simple summer panini
with fresh heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella and choice of pesto or tapenade. No roasted tomatoes needed in the summer! Plus fresh cantaloupe and watermelon.
Kalua pig, we have missed you!
WednesdayCrock Pot Kalua Pig
. Everyone seems to like this and here is the most recent no-joke request for it. When I was in New England, someone left a sort-of-frantic-and-quasi-anonymous voice mail asking for the recipe. I had to figure out who it was by their voice and area code. This week, I'm serving it in a very down-home "Hawaii" way with cabbage, a fried egg and rice.ThursdaySweet and Sour Chicken
. This now takes more than an hour since the kids eat so many, so I'm making it while I still have time in the afternoon.Friday
Kalua pig taco cups with Li-hing pineapple. Since we missed going home to Hawaii this summer, I'm going back to some Hawaii cookbooks. This sounds like a good way to use those orphaned gyoza sheets one inevitably ends up with.
Enjoy every last bit of summer. Eat Well. Be Well.
Several members of my New England ohana maintain gluten-free diets. This means wheat, oats, malt, rye and barley are off limits. No bread, pasta, panko, beer or beef barley soup. Rice, quinoa, corn, tamales and mochi are all OK. Spam also appears to be gluten-free.
I'm thankful to have learned so much about gluten-free cooking in such a short time. Wheat products, and wheat flour in particular, show up in unexpected items. For example, shoyu (soy sauce), oyster sauce, and cream of chicken soup all contain wheat flour and therefore, are not gluten-free. I suspect it may be used as a thickener for oyster sauce and cream of chicken soup, but I'm not exactly sure why wheat flour is even required for shoyu!
Coming back to my own pantry, Bulldog katsu sauce, mustard and Worcestershire sauce are gluten-free. I also found a host of gluten-free products, even organic, gluten-free shoyu stocked at Safeway.
This week menu is gluten-free in honor of my New England ohana. I picked these specifically because I think they are gluten-free as is. Last week's lobster in melted butter is also most certainly gluten-free!
MondayMediterranean Lamb Stir Fry
. The one questionable item was the store-bought chicken broth. It contains yeast extract, but this is gluten-free.TuesdayTaco Meat--No Mix
with corn tortillas, Laurie's Guacamole
and Tropical Fruit Salsa
. If it's difficult to get mangoes in New England, fresh peaches will work for the salsa too.WednesdayClam and Cannellini Bean Soup.
Perfect for the land of cherrystones, quahogs, steamers and littlenecks. It's supposed to be a little cooler in New England this week, so a nice light bowl of soup is in order. Eaten outside, of course!ThursdaySalt and Pepper Shrimp
, green beans and rice. The crisp on the shrimp is from constarch and not flour. In case you were wondering, the 5 spices in Chinese Five-Spice powder are cinnamon, anise, star anise, cloves
. All gluten-free.
Tart-style Rat-pa-tooty. Summer veggies are in season!
Peak-season tomatoes, zukes, and red peppers are good for all.IMPORTANT NOTE
I am by no means an expert on gluten-free eating. So please make sure to check your own versions/brands of the ingredients listed to make sure they are gluten-free.
Like going vegetarian, going gluten-free is not as daunting as it seems. One family member even made a kid-friendly gluten-free cookbook to prove it. The food is simple and yummy.
It would be much more difficult to go potato-chip or ice-cream free. What other gluten-free recipes and resources do you have out there?
Send 'em in or post 'em.
Who stole the fog?
Today it's 90 degrees
, which officially starts on Thursday, has its work cut out. I'm craving some Japanese Chicken Curry
, but that will have to wait until that famed San Francisco fog/natural air conditioning returns to the coast.
In the meantime, we're having minimal-cooking meals, the last of the garden veggies and lots of sun tea
!Monday: Costco chicken
. Prepared by driving in my air-conditioned car with a detour through the vegetable cooler inside Costco.
: Tofu Tuna Salad
, which requires only heating the sauce (and you can skip this if it's just too hot!) and barely any cutting.Wednesday: Mauna Lani Leftover Chicken Pasta Salad
, using the meticulously prepared and previously chauffeured Costco chicken from Monday.Thursday: Quinoa Salad
, using the rice cooker. The can opener will not cause me to break a sweat.
OK, it's supposed to cool down. Panini
using Roasted Tomatoes
and Greek Salad
. Aloha to the last of our tomatoes and cukes.Bonus Saturday: My Daddy's Killer Fried Rice
Even with the late-summer heat, every season has something to celebrate. Before you know it, we'll be bemoaning winter tomatoes and craving beach weather. Eat Well. Be Well.
We had a great weekend BBQ and learned a few things. Notes to self:
1) Low or indirect grilling is a must
for proper Huli Huli Chicken
. Direct heat pretty much incinerates the chicken. It ain't pretty. (See below) No matter how hungry you may be, start early and go the indirect method.
2) 20 full chicken legs for 16 people is a little much. Especially when some of the people are under age 13.
2a) The vegetable corollary: The same applies for 8 full ears plus 3 scrawny home-grown ears of corn.
3) Magical Self-Separating Finger Jello
never fails to amaze. It is now a science experiment for one of my daughter's friends. Something about relative densities?!
Needless to say, this week is about using leftover cooked-but-not-carbonized chicken and corn.Monday: Chicken Kelaguen
. A good summer meal and as a bonus, uses the bag of shredded carrots in my fridge. A few more chicken legs used.Tuesday: Omi's Shoyu Fish
. In the hopes of having more precise measurements.
Wednesday: Leftovers' Roulette Chicken Tacos
--shredded (leftover) chicken with fresh (leftover) corn salsa, shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream (also leftover from last week's strawberry muffins
Something new: pork/mushroom/kimchee stir-fry. And rice.Friday: Quinoa Salad
with the rest of the corn and the last of our fresh cucumbers. It's starting to feel like Fall.Bonus Saturday
: If you are in Mountain View CA, consider attending Hui Ilima's 52nd Annual Luau
. Traditional, homemade Hawaiian food.Eat Well. Be Well.
What do a stomach virus, a Friday-night date and warmer-than-expected weather and have in common? They threw off last week's dinner plans, although, really it doesn't take much to toss menu plans around in this house.
(yes, this was yesterday)--"Make Your Own Wraps", aka "Cleaning out the Leftovers". Leftover NY steak
from Alexander's (the previously mentioned date) got sliced up and voila--carne asada
. Salmon and spinach
wraps got a facelift with guacamole and salsa
. And Superbowl pork chili verde
I did make fresh guacaomole and Jalapeno cheese dip that we didn't get around to having for our Superbowl party. 15 minutes of work to empty 3 Tupperwares, and use 2 leftover avocados, an errant lime and 7 slices of Jalapeno cheese. All before they turn into biological hazards.Tuesday
--Hot and Sour Soup
. Stomach virus and 73 degree weather in February put the ix-nay on this last week. All are healthy and it's suddenly February-cold again. I have a piece of pork and am ready to go today.Wednesday
. That carton of grape tomatoes that look like a good candidate for roasting, plus two red peppers and an orphan zucchini. And I need an eggplant.
--Korean Chicken Soup
. (with thanks to my FB-Liker Lisa G :) ) Bean sprouts and bok choy were beau-ti-ful this week. All I need is to buy a new jar of kim chee.Friday
--Maybe Techie Gnocchi
, or something with okinawan sweet potatoes, or the kabocha I have in the pantry. Also making Quinoa Salad
for my daughter's potluck, so hopefully I'll finally get a good snapshot of that.
I got a new for-pay contracting job. And like all marketing consultant/wife/mom/tutor/chauffeur/cooks, time is is limited and tasks are many. On the plus side, marketing consulting does pay to feed my ohana, it's very interesting work for a large "techie" company. I've just finished a communication programs for a new product and helped launch a new website. However, all that time spent there takes away from my real passion of feeding my ohana, literally and otherwise...
So I've focused this blog on dinners that you can do Easily. Swiftly. When you are Kind of Tired, Rushed or A Little Bit Grouchy. Easy to make. Good eating. And we all know that a good meal always makes you happy.
Here's the work week of PDQ dinners.
1) Spaghetti with Simple Tomato Sauce
. My friend Lana swears I stole this from her, but I solemnly swear that I did not. It is descended from Cooking Light. Garlic, olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes and a can of whole tomatoes. We use two cans because we love it so much. Basil if you have it. You can have spaghetti sauce faster than you can boil the water for the spaghetti. (Meatballs not required!)
2) Costco Rotisserie Chicken
. Yes, you have to buy this one, but it's so worth it. One complete (hot!) meal, and the leftovers lead to....
3) Chicken Divan
Use the leftover chicken. Cut broccoli or buy a bag of pre-cut broccoli. Prep time = 10 minutes, and that's if you buy uncut broccoli. Bake time 30 minutes, the same amount of time it will take to make the rice to go with this.
4) Banish the Bottle Teriyaki Chicken
. This is THE go-to dinner. Not to sweet, not too salty. Pour everything into a pan and let it cook. Again, in the time it takes to make rice, the chicken is done. Open a bag of salad for a fully balanced meal.
5) Quinoa Salad
. The handy-dandy rice cooker to the rescue again--this time to make the quinoa. If you can open two cans and cut up a cucumber, you are done. And a vegetarian option to boot!
6) Fish sandwiches with marinated tomato salad--Brand New
Buy a carton of grape or mixed tomatoes, buns and your favorite fish. Have mayo, salt, pepper, lemon, sesame oil, shoyu, olive oil and balsamic vinegar at home.
Split the tomatoes and toss a little Hawaiian salt and olive oil over them. While that sits, bake your favorite fish (I had mahi mahi ) at 350 for about 20 minutes.
While that bakes, make a shoyu-sesame oil-mayonaise and green onions sauce for the sandwiches. When the fish is done, drizzle balsamic vinegar over the tomatoes. Spread the mayo/sesame oil/shoyu over the bread and eat.
I'm planning some more updates to the site, and more quickly than this past month! Thanks much for sticking with me. Eat well. Be well.
Once a week, I ask my family this, and usually the answer is, "uh, I dunno?" So every week, I aim to have 4-5 meals with a few basic rules. They are:
1) No Spam, bacon or sausage in the same week. As much as we love cured meats, moderation wins out.
2) Try to have one multi-dish meal.
3) Try for fish or vegetarian once a week.
4) Try to use all veggies over the course of the week.
A menu comes together like this:
1) Fish Tacos (done first because I buy fresh fish) with fresh guacamole, cabbage, tomatoes, spiced yogurt and salsa
2) Multi-dish meal = Orange-Salsa Pork Chops, green beans, Okinawan sweet potatoes and jasmine rice. Uses salsa from Fish Tacos. The colors and flavors all play off each other. Spicy Orange-Salsa Pork Chops, simple fresh green beans and sweet and creamy Okinawan purple potatoes and the light, fragrant white jasmine rice all play nicely together.
3) Nakayoshi Gakko Somen Salad--Uses leftover lettuce and tomatoes, adds a cuke, kamaboko and scrambled eggs. Meatless, and for home lunches.
4) Quinoa Salad--Use the rest of the cuke, and finish up the leftover fish or pork chops. Use whole cans of corn and black beans. Also good for lunch boxes.
5) Okonomiyaki (right)--This is a kind of Japanese dinner pancake/pizza. Uses eggs, the rest of the cabbage, kamaboko and any green beans
The actual shopping list is pretty efficient:
Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Small red onion (1)
Jalapeno peppers (1)
Lettuce (1 bag or 1 head)
Kamaboko (Japanese fish cake, the pretty pink kind)
Canned Black Beans
Okonomiyaki Mix (from Safeway or Japanese grocery store, such as Nijiya, Marukai or Don Quijote)
Pantry Items You Probably Already Have In-House (add what you don't have to your shopping list)
White Sesame Seeds
Newman's Own Balasmic Vinegar Salad Dressing
Bulldog Tonkatsu Sauce (Safeway or Japanese grocery store, such as Nijiya, Marukai or Don Quijote)
At the end of the week, you end up with about 3/4 of a red onion, some cilantro, and perhaps some leftover corn tortillas. So next week, you can think about gyros to use the red onion, and chicken tortilla soup for the rest. It doesn't always work out this neatly, but this is what I aim for. Let me know what works for you!