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Archive for January, 2009

This week’s recipe feature comes from my mom, Martha. Erin and I are so lucky to have such wonderful moms who love to share their many recipes with us!

base_mediaThis elegant and light variation on a cheesecake has always been a family favorite – often taking the place of a birthday cake. The refreshing lemony taste lends itself to a springtime celebration, an Easter brunch or as an exclamation to end a dinner party. The recipe comes from the first “Taste of Aloha” Cookbook.

 Ingredients:

  • 1 – 9 inch graham cracker crust [store bought or any recipe – use packaged graham cracker crumbs]
  •  12 ounces cream cheese, softenedimages_53
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • Grated peel and juice of 1/2 lemon

Topping:

  • 1 cup sour creamimages_54
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • grated peel and juice of 1/2 lemon

 Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth with electric mixer.
  3. Add eggs, sugar, grated peel and juice of 1/2 the lemon.
  4. Beat until ingredients are well blended.images_55
  5. Pour into crust and bake for 35 minutes. Cool.
  6. Combine sour cream, sugar and the other grated peel and juice of the other 1/2 of the lemon.
  7. Spread topping over pie.
  8. Bake an additional 5 minutes.

Let cool and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

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My mom and dad at one of their favorite restaurants- Plantation Gardens on Kauai.


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images_44It seems like absolutely everyone that I know right now, no matter what size they are, is either on a diet or watching their weight. This is great, because we should all be eating healthy in addition to exercising a few times a week, since those are the two things that helps you stay fit! Erin and I try to offer “mostly” healthy recipes on EZ Home Cooking, with the exception of some of of our sweets and desserts, but everything in moderation, right? We all know that it’s important to eat several small meals during the day, since this keeps your metabolism going. Everyone also knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but not everyone knows that its important to snack too! By having a small snack in between each meal, you won’t feel the need to completely indulge and pig out when it’s time for lunch or dinner. Here are my top 10 favorite inexpensive snack ideas that you can keep with you at home or at work so that you are not tempted by the doughnuts, cookies, or whatever is in the office kitchen or in your fridge or cupboard at home.

1. Nutri-grain bars- I like Raspberry, Blackberry, and Cherry flavors. These only have 130-140 calories in each bar.images_42

2. Jello Pudding- My favorites are Tapioca and Dulce de Leche. Yum! I always feel like I am eating dessert when I’m eating these puddings. They have between 60-100 calories in the light flavors and some come in sugar free. They have lots of chocolate flavors to chose from too.

3. String Cheese- There are a multitude of flavors to choose from- mozzarella, cheddar, etc- pick your favorite!

images_434. Vegetables with Hummus- My favorite veggie to dip in hummus in carrots. My trick is to pre-bag the carrots into individual serving sizes so you can grab them quickly instead of “not having time” to eat something healthy.

5. Any kind of fruit- apples, bananas, pears, peaches, grapes, etc! I like to eat whatever is in season- this makes it more of a treat since its not always available. 

images_3_56. Yogurt- there are so many different kinds, you could never get sick of them! I like Yoplait Light in Strawberry, Peach, Blueberry, Key Lime Pie, Cherry, etc. The light flavors have 100 calories and no fat!

7. Nuts- Almonds, Walnuts, Peanuts, Cashews, Mixed Nuts… Nuts are full of fiber and will keep you full. One serving size of nuts is about 1/4 cup.

8. Skim Milk mixed with Carnation Instant Breakfast- this is one of my all time favorites. It’s super filling and the milk has tons of calcium. The instant breakfast has so many vitamins and nutrients and there you can choose from chocolate, vanilla, or a variety pack which comes with those two flavors and a few other ones.

images_2_2_2_2_2_29. Trail mix- make your own! Mix together your favorite nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, even some chocolate chips if you want, but not too many! 🙂

10. Cereal- A small bowl of low-calorie cereal with milk is a great snack. My favorites are Honey Nut Cheerios, Quaker Oat Squares, Honey Nut Chex, and Honey Bunches of Oats.

Click here to learn more about the important benefits of snacking.

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Today, January 26th 2009 marks the Chinese New Year, Year of the Ox. chinese-new-year-goodies4
Because of the large Chinese population we have here in Hawaii there have been celebrations in Chinatown all weekend with tons of activities, great food and fun parties!  One of our co-workers brought in a few Chinese goodies to share with the office and they are SO yummy!  In case you aren’t in a place that celebrates this holiday, here is some background about the Chinese New Year: 

Chinese New Year is the most important of Chinese holidays and falls on a different day each year, dependent upon the ancient Chinese calendar.  It is also called the Spring Festival, marking the period after the fall harvest and before the spring planting season.  Here is a bit about the Chinese New Year myth, according to Wikipedia.

“According to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian or “Year” in Chinese. Nian would come on the first day of New Year to devour livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people. One time, people saw that the Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the color red. Hence, every time when the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian. From then on, the Nian never came to the village again. The Nian was eventually captured by Hongjun Laozu, an ancient Taoist monk. The Nian became Hongjun Laozu‘s mount.”

Want to learn more? Just click HERE

 
 

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imgp1447Since I have had pasta every day for pretty much the last few weeks, I decided it was time to make something different! Stir-fries are always easy to make and to make it even easier, I had a bag of mixed frozen vegetables that I had bought recently at the store that I couldn’t wait to use- in it are about 10 different types of vegetables. I definitely recommend using a mix like this since it saves a lot of time chopping vegetables!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 2 large chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 bag assorted frozen vegetables, thawed (My mixture was called “The Ultimate Stir-Fry”)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp soy sauce (this is depending on your preference)

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Directions:

  1. Cook rice in a rice cooker (combine 2 cups of rice, 4 cups of water, turn on, and let cook) for about 45-50 minutes. If you don’t have a rice cooker, cook rice according to package directions.
  2. Cut chicken into small cubes and cook in a large frying pan with 1 tbsp olive oil. This will take about 35-40 minutes.
  3. When chicken is cooked through, add in thawed veggies. Add 2 more tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp soy sauce once the veggies start to cook. Cover and continue to let chicken and veggies cook.
  4. When rice is finished, add it into the frying pan. I have a large deep frying pan- if you don’t, you may want to use a big pot so that you don’t spill when mixing everything together. Add 1-2 tsp more soy sauce and mix everything together well.
  5. That’s it! You can’t get a much easier meal than that. 
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imgp1420I’ve been wanting to make muffins for awhile and finally had some extra time in the morning, so I made these delicious raspberry muffins. They have the perfect amount of sweetness in them, and the whole wheat flour makes them a little bit healthier. The best part about this recipe is that you can swap out the raspberries for just about any other kind of fruit that you like- blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, you name it!

Prep time: 15-20 minutes

Bake time: 25 minutes

Oven temp: 400 degrees

Makes: 12 large muffins

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour (white or whole wheat- I like whole wheat)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 package frozen raspberries, thawed (about 2 cups)

Optional:

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (for the sweet tooth!)

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prepare muffin tins by placing paper cups in them.
  3. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix together.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients (this includes raspberries) and then add this mixture into dry ingredients. Mix together by hand or using an electric or hand mixer.
  5. Pour prepared muffin mix into a large Pyrex glass measuring cup. (this makes transferring the muffin mix into the paper cups easier).
  6. Carefully fill muffin cups 2/3 full. I like my muffins big, so I fill them almost to the top!
  7. For added yumminess, sprinkle a bit of white sugar over the muffins before putting them in the oven.
  8. Place muffin pans in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, until cooked through, testing with a toothpick.
  9. Let muffins cool for a few minutes before tasting them- this was extremely difficult for me.  Spread with butter and enjoy!
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Yummy!

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imgp1404In terms of comfort food, this is pure deliciousness. I’ve always been a little hesitant of Tuna Casserole – and I’m not sure why! However, I know I love cheese, tuna, pasta, and veggies, so why would I not love it all mixed together? Tonight I decided to put together a bunch of my favorite ingredients and try it out. Not to mention that for some reason we have about 10 cans of tuna in the cupboard… This is an easy recipe that I think many people would enjoy. My boyfriend, who came home  and said he wasn’t hungry had 2 bowls! I just used one can of tuna since I didn’t want the flavor to be too overpowering. If you and the people you are eating with love tuna, by all means use two cans, but if you are unsure, use one to be safe. Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 16 oz package macaroni noodles
  • 1 small can of tuna, flaked
  • 1 8 oz package grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper
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Cooked Macaroni

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All ingredients mixed together

 

 

 

 

 

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  3. While pasta is cooking, prepare veggies. Thaw peas in water and chop onion, celery, and mushrooms.  Put veggies in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Add cream of mushroom soup into veggie mixture and mix well.
  5. Drain tuna and flake it apart in a small bowl. Add to tuna to veggies and cream of mushroom soup and mix in.
  6. At this time, pasta should be finished cooking.  Drain and place in the large mixing bowl with everything else. Stir in well.
  7. Add cheese and mix in evenly. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
  8. Carefully pour pasta, cheese, and veggie mixture into a large casserole dish.
  9. Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Serve with bread and/or a salad. 

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Today’s recipe again comes from my mom Martha in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Her recipe for “In Sickness and in Health Custard” is sure to be enjoyed by all- under the weather or completely healthy!

mail_3_2I like to call this “In Sickness and in Health Custard” because believe it or not, this familiar phrase not only applies to traditional wedding vows, but extends to family and friends especially when they are under the weather! In the past few days I have had two dear friends succumb to a bad flu, unable to tolerate or to entertain the thought of food. Wanting to help out in some way, I made them each a nutritious and tasty baked custard that has been a cure all in my family for over 50 years, since I was very young. The familiar ingredients are almost always on hand and the no nonsense preparation make it a fast and easy way to deliver first aid on the double! The delicate taste and silky,smooth consistency immediately promote the feeling of returning strength and well being. 

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of 2% or whole milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract [or almond extract]
  • Nutmeg to sprinkle on top

 Directions:

  1. To make this, you will need: 1 round quart size baking dish about 3 – 4 inches deep and 1 large pan or square casserole for the custard dish to sit in while baking
  2. Break the eggs into a medium mixing bowl and whisk together well.
  3. In a one quart saucepan, heat the milk,sugar and salt until hot, mixing well. Do not boil or burn.
  4. Pour milk mixture into eggs and mix well.
  5. Add vanilla.
  6. Pour into baking dish.
  7. Sprinkle nutmeg on top if desired.
  8.  Carefully place baking dish in larger baking pan or dish and fill with an inch or more of water. This is called a water bath.
  9. Carefully place everything in oven and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Custard is cooked when a knife inserted into custard comes out clean. Another 5 minutes or so may be needed.
  10. Remove custard carefully from hot water bath using pot holders and let cool on rack or stove top.
  11. Chill in refrigerator until ready to eat.

To make a more festive dessert, use 1 teaspoon of almond extract instead of vanilla and top with fresh fruit – blueberries or raspberries are good as well as mandarin oranges.


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