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Archive for September, 2009

This past weekend I went to the Big Island to visit my friend Megan, who recently moved there with her fiance.  They don’t lie, Hawaii Island is BIG, and as, I should probably specify that I was in Waimea/Kona/Hawi for the most part.  Either way we managed to eat quite well all weekend in between all the fun we were having.

Flowers and produce at the farmers market...I wish I could have taken it all home with me!

Flowers and produce at the farmers market...I wish I could have taken it all home with me!

Megs and I started our rounds on Friday with a late lunch/happy hour at Merrimans Market Cafe where we had the Tomato Mozzarella (they make their own mozzarella in the restaurant!), the Hamakua mushroom pizza (with truffle oil, fontina and white sauce), and the Grilled Fish Sandwich on a baguette topped with their homemade garlic aioli, fresh cilantro, and accompanied with fries that came with their own homemade ketchup and mustard….all of it was TO DIE FOR!  We washed it all down with fresh basil vodka mojitos….It was about 3 p.m. and after a full day of running around that we finally sat down to eat, so it wasn’t until we had almost licked the plates clean that I thought “shoots, I should have taken a picture!”  Oh well…go yourself and you won’t have to wonder 🙂  Merrimans has both Market Cafe’s (more casual and affordable) and fine dining restaurants on Maui, Big Island and soon on Kauai.  For more info and locations go HERE.

Our second notable stop was at the Waimea Farmers Market where we both opted for fresh, filled to the brim crepes, and picked up a super yummy pork teri plate for Catlin.  Given the crepes took about three days for him to make but they were soooo worth it in the end.  We were in a hurry to head to Hawi and so we ate them in the car on the way home (it was the most silent car ride of the weekend), and ended up with bits and pieces all over ourselves by the time we had gotten home.  SO good!

Packed full with mozzarella, feta, basil, tomatoes, and olives and some mystery cream sauce that was divine!

Packed full with mozzarella, feta, basil, tomatoes, and olives and some mystery cream sauce that was divine!

Last but not least was Cafe Pesto.  Mmmmm Cafe Pesto 🙂  Just thinking about it makes me smile…but also a little bit upset because they are only on the Big Island 😦  Either way, we sort of ended up there accidentally, after running into some of Megan’s friends at sunset/beach-front drinks at the Mauna Kea hotel, who were heading there before going to Hawi for salsa dancing (thats a whole other story).  We started this meal out with the Fresh Rosemary Gorgonzola Focaccia Pizza, and then dove into the bliss that was Sesame-Crusted Big Island Goat Cheese (with broiled eggplant, vine-ripened organic tomatoes, spinach and a reduced balsamic-citrus vinaigrette), Wild Greens Salads with their homemade Creamy Pesto (I MUST learn how to make this) dressing, and a bit of their super yumm Greek Pizza which I stole from the boys.

Basically the entire trip (food, fun and all) left me wondering the following: 1) when am I going back and 2) maybe I should just pack up and move there!  Hmm…who knows…Waimea does seem to be in need of a fantastic bakery/pastry shop!

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This is a longtime back to school favorite treat that my mom has been making for as long as I can remember. I think it may even originate from Auntie Joan or one of the Kauai aunties, but I am not 100% sure. If anyone knows, please feel free to correct me! I enjoyed these healthy and tasty treats throughout elementary and high school and when I was in college, my mom  would mail them to me! I love the combination of the peanut butter and the raisins and the soft and chewy consistency of the bars. These are perfect to make for a large group or for a bake sale.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups quick quaker oats
  • 6 cups rice crispies
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup crunchy or smooth peanut butter
  • 20 oz package of mini-marshmallows
  • 1 cup raisins

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. On a large cookie sheet or in a large casserole dish, combine quick oats and rice crispies. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to make sure everything is toasted evenly. After the 15 minutes is done, take out of the oven and let cool. 
  3. In a large saucepan, melt one stick of butter, one cup of peanut butter, and marshmallows together on a low heat. Be careful to not burn this.
  4. Add toasted oats and rice crispies to the melted butter/pb/marshmallow mixture and stir in.
  5. Add raisins and mix in well.
  6. Press down (with plastic wrap or wax paper) the total mixture into a large 9×13 casserole dish. 
  7. Let cool and then cut into pieces to eat!

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Responsible Consumption

Newsweek recently rated ConAgra foods #4(1 being the worst) on their list of worst companies for the planet (the only consumer product company to rate other than energy companies…a bit of an eye opener really).  First dogged for their environmentally bad behavior in 2006 by CERES, ConAgra has apparently not done much if anything to do better in years since.  If you check out their website you will see that there are TONS of foods on here that I am sure have graced your kitchen at one time or another.  While it could be hard to steer clear of everything they make, in my humble opinion, it’s at least worth a try.  Besides, when you can opt for fresh over processed (which is all they do) there really is no contest.

Just another reason to rethink the way we eat…

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This is one of my all-time favorite meals. I love the combination of all of the different veggies and wish I could go home more often so my mom could make it for me. Thankfully I have the recipe so now I can make it on my own. While I feel like mine will never be as good as mom’s, I can sure try! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant, cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 28 oz can pear tomatoes (sliced up a bit)
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 8 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • 2 lb container ricotta cheese
  • 2 8 oz packages of sliced of grated mozzarella
  • 6 oz parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Basil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sauté eggplant, onions, garlic, and zucchini in 3-4 tbsp olive oil until soft. Cover and stir often and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes (remember to chop them up a bit), paste, sauce, salt, pepper, and basil. Mix well. Simmer for 10 minutes or so (stirring often).
  4. While simmering the above, cook lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling water with a splash of olive oil. Drain and place half of the noodles in the bottle of a large casserole dish. Cover with half of the ricotta, 1/2 of the mozzarella, 1/2 of the sauce and veggie mixture, and half of the parmesan cheese.
  5. Repeat each layer one more time.
  6. Place in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until lasagna is bubbling.

Serve with garlic bread and salad!


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Here ya go.  I promise, once you make this once, you will absolutely, without a doubt fall in love…

 

Serves 8-10

Oven temp: 350 degrees

Prep time: 15 minutes

Bake time: 30 minutes

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • One 1lb loaf of sweetbread
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 35o degrees.  Grease a 9×13 inch pan.  Tear bread into 2-inch pieces and place in the pan.  In a medium saucepan, saute apples in 3 tablespoons butter and lemon juice over medium heat for approx 5 minutes.  Add brown sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon and cook until the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and spread apple mixture evenly over the bread pieces.  sprinkle raisins evenly over the top (I don’t particularly like raisins in desserts, so I often leave these out – feel free to do whatever pleases you!). 

Combine milk and half cup butter and stir until melted.  Add in the sugar, stir until melted, and allow mixture to sit over the heat until it almost boils.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool for a few moments.

In a small bowl, combine eggs, vanilla and 1 tsp cinnamon and whisk together thoroughly.  Add this to the milk mixture and whisk together, and then quickly pour the combination evenly over the bread, apples, etc.  Bake for 30 minutes and serve either warm or chilled.

Side Note:

*Personally, I like to serve the bread pudding warm, without any sides.  However, I have had it on occasion with vanilla ice cream, and a vanilla cream sauce, both of which are delicious.  This is a perfect addition to any meal, and great to bring to a party as well.  Last week I made this for a BBQ and to make serving easier, I let it sit for about a half hour after baking, then cut it up into smaller pieces and put them in cupcake cups.

I have always wondered what it would be like with a different fruit on top, and last week I found myself without apples but with a few nectarines, so I substituted them.  It was delicious of course, but I do think it is worth mentioning that there is a definite difference in acidity between apples and nectarines, and so, if you try it with the later, I would recommend using only 1 tsp of lemon juice instead of the usual 2.  Also, if you use something such as bananas, I would recommend leaving the lemon juice out entirely, or adding just a small amount if anything.  If you try any winning combinations please be sure to share them!

This recipe is out of the cookbook “Another Taste of Aloha” in the dessert section.

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Totally Unacceptable

My sincerest apologies.  I just went on our blog to find the sweetbread bread pudding that I make (recipe is out of the original Taste of Aloha cookbook) and I just realized that I’ve never ever put it on here…either that or I did a long time ago and it is now nowhere to be found.  Either way, this is a travesty to say the very, very least.  This is one of my fail-safe, go-to recipes for dessert because it is super easy, relatively quick, and always a crowd pleaser.  I am actually quite shocked that I’ve never posted it seeing as though I make it ALL the time (twice this past week infact!).  I promise that I will post this later today or this weekend so that you can give it a shot!

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Want to spice up your tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad? Add prosciutto! This was actually my boyfriend’s idea while we were grocery shopping tonight and I have to hand it to him, it was so yummy! I don’t think we will be able to have the regular tomato, basil, and mozzarella salads anymore! Prosciutto is a dry-cured ham that is sliced thinly and served uncooked. What I did was place the mozzarella on the bottom, then the prosciutto, then the tomato, and then the basil on top. I drizzled a bit of olive oil on top and then sprinkled it with salt and pepper. The result was absolute perfection! I would definitely recommend serving this as an appetizer for a special occasion or at a dinner party.

Note: Not sure where to find prosciutto? It’s located in the specialty section of your grocery store and can be sold pre-packaged or fresh at the deli.

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