Tag Archives: family recipes

Kitchen Games and Giant Shredded Pancakes

For anyone who has watched an episode of Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals, you know that she likes to play this little game with herself where she tries to collect all of the ingredients she needs for the meal out of her pantry in one swoop.  Sometimes her pile gets going pretty high and it looks like she might drop everything.  When she does that, she says she can always hear her mom in her head telling her to be careful or she might drop something.

Well I like to play a little game in the kitchen too called “How many dishes can you possibly stack in the dish drainer before everything comes tumbling down…. or gets broken?”  And every time I play this game with myself I can hear my mom in my head telling me to be careful before I break or drop something.  Sometimes I actually get to hear my mom’s commentary on how I do the dishes because I often do my dishes while I’m Skyping with my parents (nothing like a little multi-tasking!).  One time she interrupted what I was saying to tell me that the cup I had just stacked at the top of my pile wasn’t going to dry properly because of the way I stacked it.  Thanks, Mom :).

Judging by the large number (lets just say it’s in the double digits!) of wine glasses I’ve broken because of the way I stack my dishes, I don’t think I’m ever going to learn.  It’s way more fun to play my game than to be cautious!

Today I think I did a pretty awesome job at this little game.  Would you like to see?  We had so many dishes that there is not one, but two piles, which means my game was extra challenging/fun.

Can you see both piles?

Stacking game #1. I'm not sure the picture does it justice. I think it'd be more impressive if you could see everything that's under here!

Stacking game #2

You might think we’re slobs judging by the amount of dishes we have here, but let me try to explain.  First of all, I think these are just three days worth of dishes—that’s a lot of dishes for just two people in three days (my husband swears I also like to play this game called, “How many dishes can I dirty in the process of cooking dinner?”).  Second of all, how can I make all of these yummy treats to post on the blog if I don’t dirty pretty much every dish we have ;)?

And last but not least, I used to be slightly OCD about cleaning the dishes immediately after we ate dinner.  I would get stressed out if they weren’t done and couldn’t relax until the kitchen was spotless.  Well, in an effort to tone down the OCD, my husband has taught me the valuable lesson that nothing will happen if I don’t do the dishes right now—or even tomorrow.  He always tells me I need to just sit down and relax because the dishes aren’t going anywhere.  It took me a long time to learn this lesson, but now I think I may have learned it a little too well because I even amaze myself sometimes at how long I can go without doing the dishes.  Three days is practically a record for me!

Oh and we don’t have a dishwasher.  Man do I miss having a dishwasher.  And a garbage disposal.

Anyway, enough rambling about the dishes and on to a recipe.  Today’s recipe is for another sweet treat.  You may be wondering why there are so many sweet treats on a blog that is supposed to be about mindful eating, and that is a great point.  To us, mindful does not mean depriving yourself or eliminating certain food groups altogether.  Mindful eating to us means to eat a balanced diet—mostly healthy stuff, but we think it’s good to eat a little bit of everything, even the sweets.  It means eating real foods, not packaged foods or foods that have ingredients that you can’t pronounce or have never heard of.  It means eating wholesome, natural, and unprocessed foods to the best of our ability.  But we also know that it’s impossible to do that all the time so we just do our best and don’t sweat the small stuff :).

With that said, since I started the no processed sugar challenge this summer, I have really tried to limit the amount of sweets I eat.  That way when I do have something sweet, I can enjoy it without feeling guilty or overdoing it.  Any sweets that I have consumed this summer have all been ‘made over’ so they only include natural sweeteners.

Today I am going to share with you the recipe for Kaiserschmaarn.  Do you remember I posted a picture of it as a teaser in Saturday’s post?  Kaiserschmaarn is one of our favorite treats to have for breakfast on the weekends.  I just found out today when Googling the meaning of “kaiserschmaarn” that 1) it literally translates to “Emperor’s Nonsense”, 2) it is actually a really popular dessert (not breakfast!) in Austria, and 3) it can be made a variety of ways with many different toppings.

This is the way that my mom taught me how to make it and the way I’ve been eating it since I was a little girl.  It’s a little tricky to flip the pancake over, but it’s okay if it breaks because it’s going to get shredded anyway!  My mom always served it with applesauce and cinnamon, but my husband likes to eat it with maple syrup.


*Serves 2-4 depending on how hungry you are.  I make the whole recipe for the two of us :).

Kaiserschmaarn with applesauce and cinnamon


4 eggs
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup milk
1½ cups flour (also good using 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 white flour)
pinch of salt
a couple of tbsp butter
raisins (optional)


Beat eggs, honey, milk, and flour until well combined. (It should look like pancake batter.)

Melt butter in large pan over medium-low heat. Pour in batter and cover.

About 5-10 minutes in (once a crust has formed on the bottom, but top is still runny) add raisins.

After you add the raisins, make sure to cover them up with batter.

Let cook, covered, for approximately 30 minutes until cooked almost all the way through. Flip giant pancake and cook for another 2-3 minutes until cooked all the way through.

Ready to be flipped. You can even flip it a little earlier than this when it's still slightly runny in the middle....it's just messier.

Using two forks, shred pancake by using two spoons or forks to pull apart into small pieces.

Shredding the pancake!

Serve with applesauce and cinnamon, maple syrup, or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Question: Do you have any kitchen games you like to play?  Do you clean the kitchen right away after eating or do you leave the dishes like I’ve learned to do?


Filed under Breakfast, Ethnic Foods

Naturally Sweet and Utterly Delectable Strawberry Pie

**Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for Tuesdays with Tommy. He has a five-part mini-series that starts tomorrow and trust me, you don’t want to miss it!**

Do you remember in the post about arepas that I said we made the arepas for Mother’s Day and promised that the recipe for my mom would be coming soon? Well folks, here it is—strawberry pie that is to die for!

Choosing a recipe to honor my mom on Mother’s Day was really hard because she has so many amazing recipes. Her most famous one is for her hot fudge sauce. I swear that stuff has crack in it because it is so so so addicting! I can’t even begin to imagine how many gallons of my mom’s hot fudge I have consumed in my lifetime. Her hot fudge is so good that I don’t even bother to eat any other kind of hot fudge because I know it won’t compare to my mom’s (it’s not worth the disappointment). But making hot fudge for her on Mother’s Day was 1) the easy choice and 2) impossible because it’s the only recipe she doesn’t share in hopes that someday you’ll see “Gramma Judy’s Hot Fudge Sauce” on the shelf in your local grocery store :).

Anyway, back to Mother’s Day. I thought about it for a while and finally settled on strawberry pie. First of all, I love fresh strawberries and when Amanda was here it happened to be strawberry season in Okinawa. And second of all, strawberry pie makes me think of summer and thinking of summer brings back so many wonderful memories from my childhood, including spending the whole summer at our lake house.

My not so red strawberries. I couldn't find any local ones so I had to settle for strawberries from the commissary.

From the time that I was four until I was a freshman in high school, we had a lake house that was just thirty minutes from our ‘regular’ house. It was close enough for my dad to commute to and from work everyday so we stayed out there for the whole summer. Man did I love that place! We didn’t have a TV so I spent all day everyday playing outside with the neighbors’ grandchildren. I spent so much time in the water during those summers that you would think I would have turned into a fish ☺. My mom had this big triangle (the musical instrument) hanging by our front door and when it was time to eat lunch or dinner she would ring the triangle and I would come running home!

We did a lot of entertaining during those summers at the lake house, both for out of town guests and friends from our hometown. Our lake house wasn’t fancy by any means. The best way to describe the décor is kitschy. When my parents bought the house, it was fully furnished. It looked like the previous owners just woke up one day and decided to leave because all of their stuff was still in the house—I’m talking books, dishes, linens, even some clothes! I can remember one of the first times we were at the house and I was looking through the dresser in my room. To my horror, I found a woman’s bra! I could not believe it and was mortified. Hahaha.

Our lake house may not have been fancy, but it was so cozy. One thing that we all loved the best was the enclosed screen porch. We ate all of our meals out on that porch, usually surrounded by lots of family and friends. There are certain foods that make me think of meals on the porch at our lake house—sourdough waffles, corn on the cob, and strawberry pie. And that is why I wanted to make it for my mom on Mother’s Day.

Since I promised you I would share the recipe, I thought it was a great excuse to make it again for us—just so I could take pictures of course ;).

While I was reading the recipe for the piecrust, I saw an option of making individual pies using an inverted muffin tin. I had never tried this before, but thought it sounded like a great idea so I gave it a go and they turned out really well. The piecrust was PERFECT—so flaky with an excellent butter flavor.

I tweaked the original pie recipe a bit to make it naturally sweet, but I don’t think it compromised the flavor at all. My husband and I both loved it—so much that we ate it two nights in a row. (I’m actually eating some as I blog about it right now….that’s how good it is!) Tonight I also topped our pies with some homemade whipped cream—delicious!!

Naturally Sweet Strawberry Pie
*I’m not sure where this recipe comes from other than my mom’s recipe binder 🙂

For the Pie Crust
*Recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 + 1/8 tsp salt
7 1/2 tbsp butter, chilled
3 tbsp + 1/2 tbsp water, divided

To make a good piecrust, it is very important that the butter and ice water stay chilled until right before you use them. Letting them warm up too much will produce a crust that is not flaky. To really ensure a flaky crust, I recommend wrapping it in plastic wrap and letting it chill for 10-15 minutes before you are going to use it.

Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until incorporated. Add butter evenly over the dry ingredients and pulse a couple of times until most of the butter is the size of peas. Remove the lid and pour the 3 tbsp ice water over the butter and flour. Pulse until there are no more dry spots.

Remove the lid again and see if you can pinch the dough together with your fingers. If it won’t stick together, add a little more water and pulse again. Do not allow the dough to gather in a ball. Once you can pinch it between your fingers, take it out and shape it into a ball yourself. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 10-15 minutes.

To make a large pie, roll out the dough and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Prick the dough with a fork (to prevent bubbling), line it with foil, and weight it down with beans or metal pie weights. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, remove the weights and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until golden.

To make individual pies, roll out the dough and cut into 4 or 5-inch rounds (I used a large ramekin for this). Fit rounds of dough over inverted muffin cups (that have been greased) and prick with a fork. (Side note: I forgot to prick mine until half-way through the baking process and they still turned out okay.) Cover with a large piece of foil and bake at 425 degrees for 11-12 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 4 minutes, or until golden.

Let piecrust cool completely before filling.

For the Strawberry Pie

*I made half the filling for the individual pies

6 cups strawberries, washed and stems removed
3/4 cup agave syrup
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 package cream cheese, softened

**My strawberries were not super sweet (since I couldn’t find any local ones and had to buy some from the commissary that were shipped in from the States…boo). I drizzled a little honey over the cut up strawberries to bring out their sweetness, but this isn’t necessary if your strawberries are already really sweet.

Mash (I used the food processor) enough strawberries to measure 1 cup. Place agave in a small saucepan. Blend water and cornstarch together and add to agave. Stir in crushed berries and cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Once mixture boils, cook for 1 minute (stirring constantly). Cool.

Beat cream cheese until smooth and spread evenly over the baked pie shell. I probably used about a tablespoon per pie.

Fill shell with remaining berries. My mom usually leaves the berries whole and places them tops-down in the pie pan. I was worried they wouldn’t fit so well like that in the mini pies so I cut up the strawberries.

Pour cooked berry mixture over the top and refrigerate for several hours or until set.

For the Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp agave syrup
splash of maple syrup
splash of vanilla extract

Whip heavy cream on high speed until it starts to thicken. Add sweeteners (these are just approximations—add them to your taste preference) and vanilla. Beat until peaks form and pipe over individual pies.

Go make this strawberry pie—I promise you’ll love it! It’s just the perfect amount of sweetness, and utterly delectable!

Question: What summer foods bring back special childhood memories for you?


Filed under Baking Tips, Desserts

Venezuelan Arepas

Did I ever tell you that I was a super picky eater when I was younger?  I pretty much only ate Kraft Mac and Cheese and sugar on top of more sugar (but not necessarily together).  My mom made all of these amazing gourmet meals—that I now want all of the recipes for—and I would turn my nose up at them and tell her I just wanted mac and cheese.  My parents always made me try everything and kept telling me that someday I would like all of these foods, but in the meantime, they let me be picky.

My mom always bought crunchy peanut butter—because that’s what my dad likes—and whole wheat bread, but bratty little me told her I would only eat creamy peanut butter and white bread.  I later admitted to my mom that I really did like all of those things, I just told her I didn’t because at Amanda’s house they ate creamy peanut butter and white bread—and I wanted to do everything Amanda did.  What a little brat I was!

Luckily I grew out of those habits and now love all of those gourmet meals my mom makes—well, most of them.  I still don’t like salmon and I’m sorry to say Mom and Dad, but I don’t know if I’ll ever like salmon.  Thanks for making me try all of those other ‘weird’ things though because I now consider myself to be quite a good eater.

Many of the things that I used to classify as ‘weird’ were foods from other countries.  My dad owned a stained glass studio for 40 years and during that time we had many artists come and stay with us.  During my childhood, there were always people living with us, which meant that we always had people cooking all sorts of foods I had never heard of.  On top of that, both of my parents have done a lot of traveling and both have lived abroad, so we were always trying foods from other countries.

While we were growing up, Amanda’s family had many foreign exchange students.  These students often made us some of their favorite foods from their home countries.  Some of the foods we loved and others we weren’t so crazy about, but Venezuelan arepas (pronounced ah-ray-pas) are one thing that we have really grown to love and continue making to this day.  Amanda and I even made them for Mother’s Day when we each picked something to make to honor our moms J.  Amanda chose arepas because her mom lived in Venezuela when she was in high school.

Making arepas for Mother's Day

Showing off our arepas and strawberry pie (recipe coming soon!!)

Arepas are made out of white corn meal.  We use the brand called P.A.N.  I have found it in the ethnic food aisle at Safeway in both DC and CA.  I’m sure they carry it at Hispanic Food Markets too.  (I’m sorry to say Oki friends, but I’ve never seen this at the commissary.  If you want to try them though, you’re more than welcome to come to my house and I’ll make them for you!)

Arepas can be baked, fried, or grilled.  We usually brown them in a pan on the stove and them bake them the rest of the way.  Amanda said they are excellent when grilled so I’m going to try that next time.  They can be eaten open-face or as a sandwich as you’ll see in the pictures below.  We always top them with ham, cheese, and perico (scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions), but the possibilities are endless.  Amanda and I like them with cream cheese and I had some avocado on hand so we used those this time too.  Amanda’s dad loved to eat them with peanut butter (to her mom’s dismay)!

I know they might sound kind of strange, but they are so tasty—crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  The white corn flavor provides such a nice background for the ham, cheese, and perico.  They are also really easy to make so don’t be afraid to go out and try them!

Venezuelan Arepas with Perico

*Recipe from the back of the P.A.N. bag

The spread (plus some roasted veggies on the side)


2 1/2 cups lukewarm water

2 cups PAN corn meal

1 tsp salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pour the water in a bowl, add the salt and slowly add the corn meal.  Knead the dough a bit until smooth.  Set aside for about 10 minutes.

Form the dough into round patties.  Saute the arepas in pan until golden on both sides.  Transfer to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes (**This will vary depending on the size and thickness of your arepas.  When the arepas are done they should sound hollow when you tap them.)

Remove from oven and fill with toppings of your choice.  (They should definitely be served warm, but can be reheated the next day in the microwave or oven.)

Perico (serves 2-4)

1 medium to large tomato, chopped

1/2 medium onions, diced small

4 eggs

Melt butter or oil over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the onions and tomatoes and cook until the onions are soft.  Add eggs and scramble until no longer runny.

**I promise you that these are very easy to make and are a fun alternative to the norm!

Question: What is your favorite food from another country?


Filed under Vegetarian

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad for My Mom’s Birthday

Happy Birthday Mom!  I want to dedicate this post to my mom for her birthday (which was yesterday, but I didn’t want you to miss Tuesdays with Tommy) because without her, I would not be who I am today.  She has taught me so many wonderful things throughout my life and I only hope to be able to do the same for my kids someday.

My mom and I sporting our awesome hardhats at the site of their new house.

My Dad with his two Peruvian ladies 🙂

Trying to stay warm after the hot springs.

At Yosemite

It is from my mom that I learned to love food—not just eating food, but preparing it too.  From a young age I can remember being in the kitchen with my mom.  Sometimes I would help (or try to help), and other times I would sit in awe as I watched her do her thing.  She glows when she is cooking and baking and I am convinced that the reason her food always tastes so good is because she enjoys making it so much.

So many of my best memories from childhood revolve around food.  In elementary school my mom would make sugar cookies for every birthday and holiday party.  They weren’t just any sugar cookies—they were always shapes (turkeys for Thanksgiving, santas for Christmas, hearts for Valentine’s Day….you get the point), decorated with her famous homemade frosting, and personalized so each kid got their own cookie with their name on it.  As you can imagine, I quickly became one of the most popular kids at school and everyone wanted to be in my class year after year :).  In middle school I began playing sports and that’s when my mom became famous for her spaghetti dinners and amazing chocolate chip cookies.  I’m pretty sure my entire ski team survived the winter because of the extra layer of fat we all grew from eating my mom’s chocolate chip cookies :).

Sugar cookies just like my mom taught me to make 🙂

Much bigger than my mom makes them, but you get the point.

With my Gramma 🙂

Then I went off to college and really, really missed my mom’s cooking.  I had never really cooked on my own before and found myself nervous to cook without my mom’s guidance.  My mom assured me that I would be fine because, after all, at two years old I was already making scrambled eggs by myself!  I started with ‘easy’ dishes, but over the years the dishes I made grew more and more complicated.  Even though my mom and I don’t get to cook together very often anymore, I still call her with all of my cooking questions.  Lucky for me, my mom is a night owl so I can call her at 1 am her time to ask how I can tell if my cheesecake is done or not—now that’s love :).

I'm teaching my mom how to pose 🙂

So on my mom’s birthday, I wanted to share with you all a recipe from my mom.  With so many recipes, it was very hard to decide.  Over time I know I’ll share many of them with you, but for now, I decided to share a recipe that she just gave me recently—Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad.  The reason I chose this recipe is because it is one that we made together when I was home visiting last fall.  We were all gathered at my aunt’s house to celebrate my and my cousin’s birthday and we made this salad for lunch.  I have fond memories of standing in the kitchen together as my mom, my aunt, my cousin, and I prepared things inside and my dad grilled the food outside.  Every time I eat this salad, I can remember sitting around the table together, laughing, and enjoying this meal that we all helped prepare.

How cute are my parents?!

So to my mom I say, thank you for being you.  Thank you for teaching me how to put love into my cooking and baking.  And thank you for always making me laugh, especially when you say things like, “It warms the cockles of my heart to know that”.  I had never heard that expression until you said that today, and now I will smile every time I think about it because it makes me think of you.  You are the best, Mom!

Always making us laugh! Here is she showing off the 'goods' she won in the White Elephant game.

And to everyone else, I hope you enjoy this salad as much as we do!

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

This is not your typical Caesar salad.  It is not just grilled chicken atop a regular salad—in this recipe EVERYTHING is grilled!  Don’t knock it ‘til you try it—it’s awesome! 

(Recycled photo from Christmas)



3 cloves garlic

½ cup olive oil, plus more for brushing

2-4 anchovy fillets, chopped (I use just a little bit of anchovy paste-it definitely enhances the flavor)

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper

1 pound chicken breasts

4 – ½ inch thick slices focaccia or whole-wheat Italian bread

4 romaine lettuce hearts, halved lengthwise

¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium high.

Make the dressing: Chop 2 garlic cloves and puree with ½ cup olive oil, the anchovies and lemon juice in a blender until smooth; season with salt and pepper.

Pound the chicken with a mallet or heavy skillet until about ⅛ inch thick.  Season with salt and pepper and toss with 1 tbsp of the Caesar dressing.  Grill the chicken until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Brush the bread with olive oil on both sides and grill, turning until toasted, about 2 minutes. Rub with the remaining garlic clove. Brush the romaine lettuce with 1 to 2 tbsp of the dressing and grill until marked, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Chop the lettuce and transfer to a bowl.

Cut the bread and chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the bowl. Toss with the remaining dressing, the Parmesan, and pepper to taste.

Question: What is the strangest thing you have ever grilled?


Filed under Salads

Tuesdays with Tommy–Steamed Little Neck Clams with Beer and Coconut Panna Cotta with Mango Sticky Rice

As promised, today’s post features a guest blogger who will be writing for Mind Your Bees and Trees every Tuesday.  I couldn’t be more excited for our new weekly series because it features a good friend of ours, and an amazing cook.  So without further ado, drum roll please……MYBT is proud to introduce Tuesdays with Tommy. 

Before I met Tommy, I heard about him.  My husband came home from work one day and told me someone had made lunch for everyone at work that day and it was amazing.  My husband does not usually get that excited about food so I knew it must have been good—I also knew I had to meet this guy.  I met Tommy a couple of weeks later at a BBQ where I got to taste some of his delicious creations and I too was hooked.   

Tommy is not only a wonderful cook, but a great guy too.  Everything that I have ever had that Tommy made was absolutely phenomenal.  He has that unique ability to make the most amazing thing you’ve ever tasted without using any recipes!  I really admire him not only for his amazing cooking skills, but also for the fact that everything he makes is made from the heart.  I love Tommy’s philosophy on food and cooking, but I’ll let him tell you all about it J.

I am honored that Tommy asked to be a part of this blog.  I hope you enjoy this series as much as I know I will!

And now I’ll turn it over to Tommy.

So let me preface this post with…here goes nothing.

First of all, the job I work in (we’ll just say US Air Force for now) has given my family and me many chances to make new friends worldwide. While in Okinawa, Japan, I met two guys that I think so highly of I’d like to adopt one of them and make them my little brother.  Chris and Giff.  For this post’s sake, let’s just say that Giff Bloom is the winner (sorry Chris).  So how does this have anything to do with food you ask? Well through my friend I was also able to meet his lovely wife Kristen.  We immediately had one driving interest in common….Our love for food.  So there is the connection I was hoping to make with my lengthy lead in statement.

Now here is a little about myself as it relates to food in hopes to give some sort of credit to myself so that Kristen’s blog indeed gets taken seriously.  I grew up in a family dominated by food.  I would actually go as far as to say that I can easily describe what my family stands for in 3 words…Italian, loud, and food—not necessarily in that order.  We do indeed cook and eat more than any other family I’ve ever met though.

My mother is my true inspiration. In the city of Colorado Springs, CO, she is a well renowned chef.  And although she had no formal training and never held the official title of chef (which I think is a crock by the way, I am more impressed with her being self taught and all) she still found herself working in a catering company that was a feeder for the most luxurious resort in Colorado.   So, since the age of, let’s just call it very young, I was always in the kitchen, by her side learning what I could whether I wanted to or not.  By the time I was in high school, I began cooking for events—even my own homecoming and prom as I remember!  But since then, I have lent my services to friends, family and occasionally the Air Force (even though that gig pays terrible…well actually nothing).

Most importantly though (and if Kristen lets me post again after this rant) I would like to drive home the most important aspect of my cooking and what it stands for.  Even after my mother worked all day in a kitchen, we had dinner together, prepared by her, as a family.  I am not just talking about 2-3 times a week.  I mean Sunday night through Thursday night we had to be at the table at 6:00 for dinner.  I thought it was a drag back then when all my friends were going to McDonalds and we were stuck at home with Mom and Dad.  That quickly changed however when my house became one of the most popular places to hang out because of its food.

So now that I have a family of my own…most beautiful wife Jamie, rambunctious son Sam and full of attitude daughter Jessie, I have kept up that tradition. And this statement is not to brag but it is something I am very proud of—in the 6 years we have been married, I have made dinner every night I was home and able.  I know that someday my kids will also appreciate what I had…or so I only hope.

Ok so a recipe…Finally! Little food gems are tucked away in every community.  In Okinawa, the obvious is seafood.  Although I do love sushi, I tend to enjoy bringing out the more progressive American style with this ingredient.  So today the fam and I went down to Awase fish market and scored some Japanese little neck clams.  With them I prepared steamed little neck clams in beer, ginger, cilantro and lime and for dessert we made a coconut panna cotta with mango sticky rice and papaya coulees.

If anybody does read this novel, I hope you do one thing…Get out, buy some fresh food, make it with your family, sit down together to eat, drink, listen to some Frank Sinatra, and enjoy life together…ok then, until the next post (my wife just informed me I have written too much).

Steamed Little Neck Clams with Beer, Ginger, Cilantro and Lime

*Prep Time 1 hr 30 min


1 pound Little Neck Clams

1 Shallot

3 cloves Garlic

1 piece Ginger

1 Cup Chopped Cilantro

1 cup all purpose flour

Dark Amber Beer

2 Limes


Red Chili Flakes


1st scrub and wash clams in fresh water.  Then put clams in a bowl of cold water (completely covered), and mix in 1 cup of flour.  Stir several times then place in fridge for 1 hour.  Remove and rinse before use.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté shallot in medium size pot on med/high heat.  Add ginger (peeled and cut into matchstick size pieces) and garlic that has been minced.  Then add clams, one bottle of beer (dark amber preferred).  Cover and steam until all clams are open (6-10 min).  Remove from heat, squeeze two limes over the clams, add cilantro and red chili flakes to taste.  Stir thoroughly, and seve in a large bowl with French bread.

Best paired with a Sauvignon Blanc (I like Nobilo or Starborough) or Dark Amber Beer. (Side Note from Kristen—I love that Tommy includes suggestions for wine pairings!)

Coconut Panna Cotta with Mango Sticky Rice and Papaya Coulis


1 tablespoon powdered gelatin

1 (15-ounce) can coconut cream (recommended: Coco Loco)

1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk

2 cups chilled heavy cream

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Assorted tropical fruits, such as: kiwi, mango, and papaya, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice, for garnish (about 1 1/2 cups total)


Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over 3 tablespoons of cool water in a small bowl. Set aside to soften.

In a medium saucepan, heat the coconut cream and coconut milk over medium heat until the sides begin to bubble. Lower the heat and whisk in the softened gelatin, stirring to make sure it is completely dissolved.

Fill a large bowl with cold water. Strain the coconut mixture into a bowl that will fit easily into the bowl of water. Set into the bowl of water to cool, stirring every few minutes with a rubber spatula until the mixture starts to thicken. If the mixture starts to set, remove it immediately.

Remove the bowl of coconut mixture from the bowl of water. Empty out the water and wipe the bowl dry. In the dry bowl, stir the cream and confectioners’ sugar together until the sugar is dissolved. Stir into the coconut mixture. Divide the coconut mixture evenly among 6 (7 to 8-ounce) custard cups or ramekins. Chill until firm, at least 4 hours.

To serve, run a knife around the inside edge of the molds and invert each panna cotta onto a serving plate. Spoon some of the diced fruit over each, allowing the fruit to spill onto the plate.

Mango Sticky Rice and Papaya Coulis

The mango sticky rice is very easy—just make normal sushi style rice, add diced mango (1-2 Mangos) and 3 tablespoons honey.

The papaya coulis is 2 papayas and 1 cup Asti Spumanti champagne blended together.


Question: Where did you learn how to cook?  Who or what is your cooking inspiration?


Filed under Desserts, Main Courses, Tuesdays with Tommy

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

On any given weekday, you can usually bet that I’m either having oatmeal or a smoothie for breakfast.  Once in a while I’ll have cereal or yogurt with fresh fruit and granola.  If fresh fruit were cheaper/fresher/more available here, then I’d be eating it everyday for breakfast—like I did last year when I was home visiting my parents.

Fresh Peaches, Raspberries, and Bananas.....I think I'm in heaven!

But on the weekends, I like to make big breakfasts.  It’s probably because when I was a kid my mom used to make awesome weekend breakfasts.  Her specialties were Kaiserschmarn, Orange Juice French Toast, and pancakes.  Kaiserschmarn is like a big giant pancake that you break into pieces and eat with applesauce.  I will work on making it with natural sweeteners and then I promise to post it because it’s definitely one of our favorite weekend breakfasts.  OJ French toast aka Pain Perdu (which roughly translates as ‘Forgotten Bread’) might sound weird, but trust me when I tell you it’s one of the best French toast recipes I’ve ever tried.  I promise to post that recipe too at some point.

Anyway, back to the pancakes.  When I was younger, my mom wouldn’t just make me ordinary pancakes, she would make pancakes in all sorts of shapes.  She would pour the batter into a pitcher and then use the spout to make Mickey Mouse, hearts, a school bus (on the first day of school of course), spell out my name, etc.  I loved this—and so did all of my friends.  She would make anything we requested.  Her pancakes were always the best and slightly underdone—just how we always requested :).

I still love pancakes, but I never make them.  I’m not sure why—maybe it’s because they aren’t the same when they aren’t made by my mom.  In my family we have another favorite pancake recipe though and this one comes from my Aunt Gwen.  It’s for cottage cheese pancakes.  Have you ever tried them?  We frequently request them—even for dinner—when we go to her house because they are sooooo good!  I hadn’t had them in a long time so I recently asked her to send me the recipes.  They were just as delicious as I remembered and I thought you might like them too.

Aunt Gwen’s Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

A note from Aunt Gwen: The cottage cheese pancakes are SO easy…and so economical.    And they’re very forgiving…..eggs or eggbeaters…..whole milk, 2% or skim milk….. 4%, 2% or 0% cottage cheese.   Of course, real eggs, whole milk and 4% cottage cheese are best, but anything works.  Also, I make a couple of receipes and keep the left-over batter in the fridge [covered] for up to a week IF YOU’VE CHECKED THE ‘USE BY’ DATE on the ingredients.  Great for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert…..with sweet stuff or creamed chicken or, or, or!

Basic recipe:

1 cup cottage cheese

3 eggs

2 tbsp flour    (I used coconut flour—YUM!)

2 tbsp oil

2 tbsp milk

Blend in blender!

Use 1/4 cup batter for large pancakes.  [Larger pancakes than this will break in two because they’re so thin and tender.]  Use 1 Tbsp. batter for dollar size pancakes.

**The pancakes turn out more like crepes than regular pancakes because they are so thin and tender.  I love to top mine with yogurt, fresh fruit, and a little real maple syrup….YUM!

Question: Do you like to have big breakfasts on the weekends?  What are some of your favorite breakfast recipes?


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Filed under Breakfast