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Archive for November, 2009

Anthropologie has long been a favorite store of mine (online mostly since we don’t have one in Hawaii); full of creative and unique items I could spend a fortune collecting if allowed.  And as the holidays roll around and I am frantically searching for something different to give, I invariably turn to their site for help.  This year is no exception.  I spent lunch today perusing the Kitchen portion of their website and found more than a few things that made me swoon.  From measuring cups shaped like flowers (L.O.V.E), some of the top cookbooks out there right now, to whimsical aprons and so much more, you are sure to find the perfect something for your favorite cook.

And of course, how could I forget?  Half the fun of cooking is having fun dishes to serve all of your yummy creations on!

Here are a few of my favorites:

 

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I flew home last Wednesday to spend Thanksgiving on Kauai with my family and friends.  Work and what not have been crazy lately, and I was looking for a few days of lavishing in good food, quality family time, long naps, beautiful Kauai, and all the other wonderful things that come with being at home.  My weekend was all of that and more, and I could not be more thankful for all of the wonderful things, people, places etc. in my life.  Here is a sneak peak into my weekend via a few photos…..enjoy!

The morning of Thanksgiving day my mom, auntie and I walked pu'u road...and what started out as what we thought would be a perfect day weather wise, turned into us braving a torrential rain and wind storm. We were SOAKED to the bone by the time we got home...

My great-aunt Ginny came over that morning to teach me how to make my Great Grandma G's famous stuffing - it was a very cool and special thing to share with her.

My mom making her delicious minted iced tea as the onions and celery for the stuffing simmer away.

Prepping the turkey and watching the dog show (with a whole lot of commentary I might add)...a natural combination if you ask me 🙂

Half of the gang! Grandpa, Jeanne and Tom Blagg, Dad

Mom, Grandma and Auntie finishing up the prep in the kitchen before we sat down to dinner. How good does that turkey look?!?

Mmmm brussels sprouts!

Can't forget the gravy! Along with the stuffing, this is definitely Auntie's specialty!

Kara supervising Dad carving the turkey.

Yummmmm!!!!!

Pua hoping that Grandpa shares some of his pumpkin pie...he illegally gave her his leftovers afterward!

 

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving weekend as well!

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Mashed potatoes covered in gravy, mixed with a whole bunch of stuffing and turkey makes for pure Thanksgiving perfection in my book.  This year my mom added a slight twist to her otherwise delicious but straightforward mashed potatoes – crispy shallots on the top!  The shallots added a perfect amount of flavor and texture…definitely a dish to try for any occasion.

 

Ingredients

  1. 6 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered (see Note)
  2. 4 peeled garlic cloves
  3. 2 cups canola oil
  4. 6 large shallots, thinly sliced (1 1/2 cups)
  5. 1 cup half-and-half
  6. 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  7. Kosher salt

Directions

  1. In a large pot, cover the quartered potatoes and garlic cloves with cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the canola oil until shimmering. Add the shallots in a single layer and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until they are golden, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to paper towels to drain.
  3. Drain the potatoes and garlic in a colander, shaking out the excess water. Add the half-and-half and butter to the pot and heat until melted. Remove from the heat. Press the potatoes and garlic through a ricer into the pot and season with salt. Stir and cook over moderate heat until very hot. Transfer the mashed potatoes to a bowl. Just before serving, sprinkle the shallots with salt and garnish the potatoes with the shallots.

Make Ahead

    The mashed potatoes can be made earlier in the day and kept at room temperature; warm over moderate heat, stirring constantly. The fried shallots can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days; reheat in the oven if desired.

Notes

    Yukon Gold potatoes have yellow flesh and a naturally creamy texture, which makes them ideal for mashed potatoes. They’re available at most supermarkets.

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When my mom said she was making brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving, I was more than a little underwhelmed.  However, she pointed out to me that I have in fact never actually eaten a brussels sprout, and furthermore, that they were just like little cabbages; which I’m not gonna lie, intrigued me a little.

As we sat down to dinner I have to admit they looked rather tasty but as they were passed around the table I learned that I was not the only one a bit hesitant about them.  Truth be told they were amazing, and I even ate them for leftovers the day after.  Who knew these little veggies with such a bad reputation could be so yummy!

Here is how my mom prepared them:

Trim, wash and cut in half. Saute in olive oil 7-9 minutes, adding salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Add 1/3 cup of water and let cook until water is evaporated. Turn into a bowl and squeeze fresh lemon juice on top.

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Photo credit: Food & Wine

Much to my chagrin, my mom stole my Food & Wine Thanksgiving issue with the intent to try out a few new recipes for this years dinner.  I am a strict traditionalist when it comes to holiday meals, and further, I am not a fan of cranberry sauce in the least – so I was less than pleased when I heard her plans and found said recipes taped all over her kitchen cabinets.  However, I will relent on this one and admit that this cranberry sauce was quite delish and much better than what most people are used to.  I have a feeling this one may stick around a while…

 

Ingredients

  1. One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
  2. 1 large Fuji apple, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 3/4 cup water

 

Directions

  1. Line an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap and spray the plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries with the apple, sugar and water. Bring to a boil and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently until the cranberries are completely broken down and the sauce is very thick, about 15 minutes. Scrape the cranberry sauce into the prepared pan and refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. Invert the jelly onto a serving plate and remove the plastic wrap. Garnish with fresh cranberries and rosemary sprigs. Slice with a serrated knife before serving.

 

Make Ahead

    The cranberry sauce can be covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Serve chilled.

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Photo credit: Sunset.com

This weekend, before a perfect morning of sun, beach, and volleyball with my dad down at Kalapaki, we stopped at my grandparents house for some breakfast.  We arrived to portuguese sausage cooking away on the stove and my grandmother mixing up the pancake batter.  I have a tendency to hover and watch when people are cooking (which must be super annoying), and as I did just that, she added the bisquick, eggs, and to my complete and utter surprise, soda water instead of milk to the bowl.  I asked her what she was doing and she said “this is how you make them super fluffy!”  And can I tell you that they were indeed, the fluffiest pancakes I have ever had.  Delish!  A bit of warmed syrup and a cup of coffee later I was officially a happy girl.

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One of the best things about pancakes is that they are a totally blank canvass with which you can literally add anything to create some super delicious breakfast goodness.  Personally, I could just about die for banana and chocolate chip pancakes (which I am known to eat for breakfast lunch and dinner if allowed)… Looking for a more creative version?  Check out some of these recipes from Sunset.com for a bit of inspiration.

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Happy 1st Birthday….to US!

Polka dot First Birthday Cake Ladybug

I could not think of a more appropriate day than Thanksgiving to mark the first birthday of my and Zoe’s blog.  What a year it has been.  What began as an easier way for two old friends to share their passion for cooking has become so much more than I ever could have imagined. Despite new jobs, layoffs, going back to school, culinary triumph and disasters, and all of the other happenings in our lives, in 365 days we have accumulated 348 posts (2/3 of which were contributed by Zoe I might add, because she is that amazing!), and have an average of 1,768 visitors each month…not too shabby for two girls who just love to cook.

According to our Blog Stats, the following are the top five most viewed recipes from this past year.

Now, tis’ the season of giving thanks, and in that spirit I would like to thank, first and foremost, my dear friend Zoe, for all of the time and energy she has put into this with me – it has been so fun to create and nurture something together and I am so grateful for how close we have become again along the way.  For anyone who knew us when we were kids, we were always planning, creating new projects and businesses, cooking of course, and all the rest, so I guess it really was a matter of time before we got back into our groove as adults.  Love you zo!

I would also like to mahalo Ryan Ozawa, or @hawaii, my coworker who was the one who planted the seed of inspiration for this blog even before I knew what it was going to be about.  And of course, for his coaching, endless question answering, and saving the day when things got a bit hairy at times.  He is truly a talented web-guru and a great friend.

Literally on the other side of the continent, we also owe a huge mahalo to Uncle David, Zoe’s dad, who was also an amazing and important help in getting EZ Home Cooking together at the beginning as well as sustaining it throughout.  The author of the wonderful Cell to Soul: A Humane Health Care Blog, he was a never ending source of fantastic ideas, suggestions, comments, feedback, and recipe contributions; I don’t know what we would have done without him.

And last but certainly not least, thank you thank you thank you to all of our friends, families, and followers who have been so loving and supportive of our pet project.  I think I speak for both of us when I say that it has been an absolute joy to watch our numbers of followers grow, see their comments, experience their excitement over our posts, and all of the amazing contributions, feedback and encouragement we have received along the way from everyone.

Thank you to our families especially, for putting up with all of our picture taking, requests for favorite recipes from the past, and everything else you have done to help make this blog such a success.  All of our projects and adventures have always seemed to be entire family affairs for all of us, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  How  blessed we all are to have such amazing friends/extended family in our lives.

As I write this the preparation for our Thanksgiving feast is in full swing (my mother is prepping the turkey and watching the dog show lol).  Be sure to look out in the next few days for recipes we will be sharing from a whole slew of T-day menus (I personally am crossing my fingers that Mike’s mom gives Zoe permission to share her cinnamon bun recipe!). With that, we send the very best of wishes to everyone for the happiest and healthiest of Thanksgivings.  May we all take the time each and every day to be grateful for all of the wonderful things in our lives.

With love,

E&Z

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