Thank you!

I notice that some time in the night I went over 3000 followers on tumblr.  Thank you to each and every one of you.  I hope that I can keep it interesting and helpful!

Best of luck to all!

This is my youngest son enjoying one of his favorite veggies.  Though when I asked him last night what his favorite vegetable was, he said, “Salmon!”

A subtle touch

Sometimes a simple addition can change the whole dish.  I’ve already posted how salmon is one of my go-to dishes for dinner.  The kids love it and will eat it in almost any way I’ve prepared it.  But, this simple addition of Matcha salt, a powdery green tea infused sea salt, on top of the finished pan roasted salmon, makes it that more delicious and the kids greedily gobbled up.  My husband brought home a small sample of Matcha after he’d cooked a Japanese themed dinner at the restaurant alongside some real Japanese trained chefs.

It’s really amazing how subtle the Matcha salt is but how it transforms the dish in an almost indescribable way: slightly salty, slightly sweet.   If you can get your hands on some, you’ll see what I mean.  Just add a sprinkle on top of some grilled fish or shrimp and the subtle difference will convert you.


My middle son exclaimed when he saw me cutting the salmon into portions to cook, “I don’t want salmon! …Well, unless you have that green stuff on it.”  I told him that was exactly what I’d planned and he happily left me to continue cooking dinner without complaint.

Pan Roasted Salmon with Matcha Green Tea Salt

Fresh wild caught salmon (about 1 lb)

1 Tbsp olive oil

Matcha to taste (about 1 tsp)

optional fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut the salmon into 2-3 inch width slices and with a sharp knife score the skin (shallow crisscross cuts).  Heat olive oil in sauté pan with oven-proof handle.  Place salmon pieces into oil skin side up.  Cook for about 5 minutes (you see the color change up the sides from dark to light) and turn over.  Place in oven for another 5-8 minutes (depending on thickness of your salmon).  Remove from oven (Remember the handle is hot.  I place an oven mitt on it, so I don’t grab it.) and sprinkle the Matcha salt over the salmon tops. Serve with rice, vegetables and/or salad. 

Watch everyone devour it!

It’s also such a quick dinner.  After play dates and homework help there wasn’t much time and I didn’t have any fresh vegetables in the house.  Still had a wonderful, healthful meal.

My eldest ate his so quickly that my middle son was nice enough to share some of his with his older brother.

More Birthday Week Treats

So for my son’s dinner at home with sitter I made cupcakes, then dinner with friends and his party at Chuck E Cheese’s (hate the place- torture for parents, bliss for kids) cakes with the vanilla cake recipe and meringue frosting with variations. I only made 12 cupcakes so I halved the recipe.  For the birthday party cake I made one layer chocolate and a middle layer of vanilla ice cream with crushed Twix bars.  If you read my post from my youngest’s birthday party in November my attempts at making an ice cream layer cake was a disaster.  This time I got it right.  Everyone seemed to like it though the cake itself was much harder than the ice cream.  Not sure how to remedy that.

Traditional Vanilla Birthday Cake  (Adapted from Magnolia Bakery)

2 sticks butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs, room temp

2¾ cups flour

1½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease 2 round cake pans and line bottom with parchment paper. Sift flour, salt and baking powder together twice and set aside.  Mix milk and vanilla and set aside.  Using electric mixer cream the butter until smooth and gradually add sugar.  Beat until fluffy then add eggs one at a time, continuing to beat well.  Add flour and milk alternating each in 4 parts, beating well after each addition.  Divide batter among the two pans.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and cake springs back when pressed slightly or toothpick comes out clean.   Let cool on rack before removing from pans.  Frost when completely cool.

  • If using ice cream as layer, put cakes in freezer for at least an hour after cooling. Soften ice cream until spreadable and store in freezer until nearly ready to serve. 
  • I added half a pack of chocolate pudding mix to my finished batter once I poured half in one cake pan so one layer was chocolate.
  • For cupcakes, just divide among lined muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes. I used naturally colored sprinkles I found at Whole Foods.
  • For friends’ visit cake I made a chocolate cream layer by whipping cream, adding 1 tsp gelatin dissolved over cold water, and ½ package of melted chocolate chips. I used up the leftover frosting from the cupcakes, which only half covered the cake.  It didn’t look as pretty, but was still pretty delicious!

Magnolia Bakery’s Meringue Frosting (“Fluff” frosting)  

3 egg whites

1½ tsp vanilla

½ cup cold water

1½ cups sugar

just over ¼ tsp cream of tartar

Combine egg whites and vanilla in mixing bowl and set aside. In saucepan over high heat combine the water, sugar and cream of tartar.  Bring to a boil stirring once, then let boil for 2-3 minutes and remove immediately.  On medium high speed of electric mixer, beat the egg whites and vanilla with whisk attachment for about one minute until foamy.  Without turning off mixer, pour sugar syrup into egg whites in a thin, steady stream. Continue to beat for about 5 minutes until stiff peaks form.  For stickier frosting(more marshmallowy consistency) continue to beat longer.

Only kids without sweet-tooths would not like these!  And, there are no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives so you can let them have a treat and not worry as much.

Birthday Week

My eldest son just turned 9 two days ago.  9!  As my friend’s daughter reminded us they’re now in their last single digit year.  So bittersweet.  Well, time for all the sweets to overcome any bitterness.  For my son’s school celebration I made a Sticky Toffee Banana Pudding per his request. And for his at home celebration, for which I wasn’t there because I had an event at Whole Foods an hour away,  I made vanilla cup cakes with meringue frosting (very similar to Fluff) and naturally colored sprinkles.  We had friends over the following night and I figured I should use up the remaining merignue frosting and made a vanilla layer cake with chocolate cream center.  It was the first time in years that I’ve successfully baked a layer cake.

I found the Sticky  Toffee Banana Pudding recipe on Bon Appétit’s website.  I had made it the week before but found the cake part too similar to banana bread, so this time around I cut down on the flour.  It was less bready but still needs tweaking.  It is so delicious— bananas and toffee, how can it not be good!  My son’s class loved it!  My youngest son was off from school and was also able to join in the celebration. A couple of kids said they had to lick their plates it was so good.  (Now that’s a compliment!)  I served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

Sticky Toffee Banana Pudding (adapted from original by Lauren Chattman)

Banana Cake:

1 ½ cups flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened

3 Tbsp brown sugar

2 large eggs, room temp

3 very ripe bananas, mashed

2 tsp dark rum

2 tsp vanilla

Toffee sauce:

⅓ cup cream

¾ cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

½ stick butter

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and line with parchment an 8×8 square baking pan.

Sift together twice the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.  Using an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar.  Beat in one egg at a time.  Add bananas, rum and vanilla.  (Looks curdled).  Add flour mixture in 4 parts, beating after each addition.  Spread batter into pan and bake for about 35 minutes until toothpick or skewer inserted into center  comes out clean.  Spread half the toffee sauce over cake and return to oven for 6 minutes.  Cool on rack for at least 20 minutes.  Serve with remaining toffee sauce and whipped cream or ice cream.

I will post the cupcake and birthday cake recipes soon.

Taco Night

My sons love tacos!  But they prefer the way I do them.  When my eldest got tacos at school one day he told me how they weren’t very good because they didn’t have all the “things” we have on tacos at home- “No vegetables! Not even lettuce! It was just meat and cheese.”  Ugh, school lunches…another topic for another time

I set up a taco bar on our island in the kitchen.  The offerings at the bar can change according to what’s in the fridge or cabinet.  Mostly on the bar are bowls with shredded lettuce, black beans, rice, shredded cheese, chopped avocado and/or avocado salsa, tomato salsa, tomatoes, chopped cilantro, cabbage if we’re having fish tacos,  most often I serve beef but sometimes other meats or fish.  I give them hard and soft tacos- corn shells and flour tortillas.

Last night’s was organic beef (no hormones, antibiotics, etc) made with shallots, garlic and tomatoes and a pre-packaged spice mix from Trader Joe’s (careful— I used only 1/2 the packet and it was very spicy for the kids), but you can mix chili powder, cumin, garlic, oregano, paprika and black pepper to get a good taco seasoning.  I also put out the left over swordfish and my eldest jumped at the chance to have in a hard corn tortilla.  I used up the black rice too.  If the kids don’t want all the stuff in the tacos I serve some things on the side.

It really doesn’t take long to prepare, mostly time spent chopping, and they get a well-rounded meal that they absolutely love!

FYI- you can get organic corn tortillas.  I don’t like to buy conventional corn as most corn in the US is genetically modified. 

© 2010


This gallery contains 2 photos.

Tailgating tonight… turned left overs into a delicious salad.  I used pan roasted King Salmon, Brown Rice, Broccoli, Edamame, Capers, Kalamata and Nicoise Olives, chopped CSA mixed greens (lettuces, arugula, tatsoi, mustard greens), parsley, mint, sea salt, pepper and a champagne … Continue reading


Tonight I came down to the kitchen, having fallen asleep reading to my sons hours before, to the dishes and pans piled up from tonight’s dinner.  Ugh.  Last thing I felt like doing was dishes.  The dishwasher was full of clean things I put on this afternoon and the pots and pans still needed to be washed.  The funny thing about my love of cooking is that I am anything but a domestic goddess; I hate cleaning the house and doing laundry.  I am constantly battling piles of papers that I need to weed through.  But that never stops me from cooking, especially for others.  I remember at university I’d rather cook a spectacular Indian/Japanese meal for my 7 flat mates (it was really 5 but we had one live-in girlfriend and an exchange student staying with us for several months), than go to my lectures.  Messed up priorities.

I mean, I love in the summer that we often grill, just so that clean up is easier.  Or in the winter a crock pot meal is perfect for the ease of cleaning and also that the prep time is not during the kids’ witching hour.  Marinating a food for grilling later can also cut your stress when you’ve planned that day’s dinner beforehand.  Even if we are pressed for time, I usually  make sure my kids have healthy meals.  I will take short cuts but won’t skimp on vegetables.

Today, I was reading a Parent & Child magazine my son brought home from school and saw a recipe for chicken satay.  I love satay, and though I haven’t made it before, thought my kids would love it too.  I had time this morning so I made the recipe. But I thought about the satay that was made in a restaurant I worked at during senior year of high school and thought they made it without the peanut butter in the marinade, so I adapted it in another marinade as well. 


Annabel Karmel’s Satay Marinade:

  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce (I use tamari)
  • 1 Tbsp honey (try to buy local)
  • 1Tspn peanut butter (I use Trader Joe’s Organic salted- just peanuts and salt)

My version had above without the peanut butter and I added a Tbsp of OJ. I pretty sure the restaurant I worked at used pineapple juice but I didn’t have any.  

Annabel Karmel’s Peanut sauce

  • 1/3 cup chunky peanut butter (I only had smooth, but it was ok)
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup water  
  • 1 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp lime juice

I cut the chicken breasts into strips and marinated them in two different containers in the

fridge for 8-9 hours.

So, this evening, after I started the grill, I made my vegetables and grains.  I used the Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains.  It’s a mixture of Israeli Couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans and red quinoa. It takes 10 minutes to cook, very easy.  My eldest loves it so much, we always make enough for leftovers so he can take it to school for a snack. 

We had baby spinach from our CSA and broccoli.   Those are probably our go-to vegetables.  All three of my kids love them and I can store it more than a couple of days if need be.  If you’ve read my other posts, I did my usual preparation— steam, shock, reheat with little butter, sea salt and pepper.  Tonight I added a little garlic powder to the spinach. 

My kids loved the satay but didn’t care too much for the peanut sauce because they supposedly don’t like coconut at the moment.  News to me.   But they cleaned their plates of all their vegetables and most of the grains. 

Now, I have dishes to do.  I washed up the pots and pans, rinsed the food off the plates and cutlery, and will unload/reload in the morning.  Now it’s time for bed.  Priorities.

© 2010

She Serves Seared Sea Scallops

Dry Sea Scallops (Day Boat Scallops) are large, sweet flavorful scallops that have no water (or other liquids) injected into them.  You can tell when you cook them because they won’t release any water.  My family loves the sweetness of the scallops when they’re seared, which also retains the soft juiciness.  

Blanch or steam your vegetables first.  Prepare rice, grains or potatoes.   When they’re done or 5 minutes away from finished you can cook the scallops.


Heat pan then add one Tbsp of grapeseed oil (doesn’t impart contradicting flavors and has a high burning point -won’t smoke and turn brown at higher temps) until hot.  Put the scallops (can season with salt and pepper if you wish but be careful if using salty sauce) in the pan starting with largest ones first (lay out on plate first to see the sizes).  Flip over once nice and brown (like above).  Once second side is browned and they look whiter, less translucent, they should be ready to serve.   It only takes a few minutes.  You can always cut into one to check for doneness if you’re unsure.  You don’t want to overcook as they’ll get tough and rubbery.  

We served ours with a Ponzu (citrus soy) sauce my husband made (but you can find a decent bottled one from Trader Joe’s).  Usually made with yuzu juice, which is hard to find, you can substitute oj, lemon and lime juices with the tamari soy sauce, bonito flakes and rice wine vinegar.  Careful though as a little goes a long way!  If you’d like the measurements just ask me.

We also served rice, avocado salsa, spinach, cucumber salad and corn— in a method many friends have adopted.  It’s kind of like lazy lobster but with corn.  Boil the corn until done then shock in cold water.  Cut the corn kernels off the cob (just don’t go too far into the cob center or you’ll get the harder parts that hold the kernels onto the cob) and put in a pan with a pat or two of butter, sea salt and pepper.   Everyone loves the taste and kids who are loosing their front teeth can still eat one of their favorite vegetables!

If there are any recipes or methods you’d like to know, just ask me!

© 2010