Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts


Our Favorite Fried Rice

A few years ago I posted a recipe for Fried Rice Omelets. It was, and still is, one of our family faves.
Last week, when I visited my mom in Washington, she had a bowl of fried rice waiting for me. This is always the case when I take a trip home.
Every time she comes to visit, my kids ask her to make fried rice.
The best fried rice in our family is always at Grandma's house. When we can't have Grandma make it for us, we use her recipe to make our own.
Here are a few pics of our weekend together…

The second ship is the USS Kitty Hawk, which is the ship my dad was on when I was born.
Fun to see this resting at PSNS when we pulled in town.

Cute missionary studying.  I could see him from my mom's home every morning. Same place, same time. 

After days of rain, the sun makes an appearance!

These were one of my childhood favorites.
Mountain bars. Made in the PNW, by Brown & Haley.

A bit of outlet shopping. 

Hey Santa, We found Rudolph. He's in La Conner, WA
The beautiful little town of La Conner, WA
What's a trip to the PNW without a ferry ride. Or two. Or three...

Had to try a few Top Pot Hand Forged Doughnuts…
They supply Starbucks with treats. 1.3 million doughnuts. Per week.

Looking for the tulips at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Mt. Vernon, WA
Saw these crazy birds (geese?)  while looking for tulips. Have you ever seen that movie THE BIRDS?  Creepy.

Yellow tulips?

Daffodils. Not tulips, but still beautiful :)
Next time, we will have to plan the tulip trek in mid to late April. 

Enjoying a little bento and ramen with mom.

Mom's Fried Rice
print recipe

7  cups cooked sticky Japanese (pearl) rice, cooled completely (see tips below)
1/2 cup chopped onion (yellow or white)
1/2 lb chopped ham (about 1 1/2 cups or two thick deli slices)
2 cups cabbage, sliced thin
4 tablespoons butter, separated
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
soy sauce
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped white and green parts

Using a large non stick pan, cook each of the vegetables, separately*, in a small amount of oil and butter. I use about 1 teaspoon for each vegetable/meat. Salt and pepper each vegetable.
Transfer to a bowl or plate. It's OK to let the vegetables and meat inter-mingle at this point :)
After cooking all of the vegetables and meat, add about 2 tablespoons of butter to the Teflon pan. Over medium heat, add the cooked and cooled rice a little at a time, breaking apart clumps with two wooden spoons until the rice is evenly distributed in the pan, and the butter is mixed in well.
Add all of the vegetables and meat to the rice. Toss lightly in pan.  Season again with fresh ground pepper.
Add the soy sauce, a little at a time.  We don't like to drown the rice in soy sauce, so I only use about 2-3 tablespoons to 7 cups of rice. Taste, add salt and more pepper, if desired. After heated through, add fresh chopped green onions. Turn the heat off. If you continue to leave the heat on, your beautiful fried rice will end up as gummy rice.

-Make sure the rice is cooked and cooled completely before starting to make fried rice. It is best to make the rice the day before. If you use hot rice when making fried rice, your dish will turn out to be a sticky, gluey mess.
-Make sure to use Japanese, or pearl rice, which is short and plump, not a long grain rice.
-*It is important to cook the vegetables separately. I used to cook them all at once and then add to the rice. My fried rice was never as good as my mom's. This is one of her tried and true methods.
-When "mixing" the rice and other ingredients together, do not stir this like it's a cake batter- toss the ingredients, like you would a salad. 


Cracker Barrel Biscuits (copycat recipe)

You know how I love a good biscuit.
This recipe is a Southern classic. It's rumored to be the Cracker Barrel recipe.  It calls for ingredients all self-respecting Southern cooks have in their kitchen: self rising flour, shortening, and buttermilk. If you're a Yankee, (like me) you probably don't have self rising flour on hand at all times. No worries. You can make your own in a minute with three simple ingredients.

Oh, one more tip, My dear friend Miss Mary (what the kids love to call her) was visiting from Mississippi a few weeks ago. I made a big batch of biscuits for breakfast one morning, and we ended up having quite a few left over. I'm kind of a biscuit snob, so I'm not one to eat a leftover biscuit. I was about to throw them away when she told me the secret to re-heating leftover biscuits.  Listen up. Split them in half. Butter both of the insides. Lay them on a cookie sheet and broil just until lightly browned and heated through. Careful not to burn. They taste fresh and almost better than the first baking. We ate up every last crumb.
The rumor about these being the Cracker Barrel recipe? I've eaten a Cracker Barrel biscuit and I can tell you this.  This recipe makes a biscuit that's tender and flaky, like CB's. A bit of crunch from being baked at 450, a bit salty, which is perfect with the jam you're going to put inside. If we're comparing, I have to say no restaurant I've ever dined in serves a biscuit this good. It's hard to beat a home made biscuit.
Get baking.

Cracker Barrel Biscuits
adapted from found on Pinterest
print recipe

2 cups self rising flour (or  you may make your own, recipe below)
1/3 cup solid shortening, I prefer Crisco
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, shaken
melted butter

Pre heat oven to 450 degrees, and set rack in middle of oven.
Place the self rising flour into a medium size bowl. Cut the shortening in , using a pastry cutter, or two knives. Add the buttermilk all at once. Gently fold the buttermilk into the flour and shortening, until the
dough gathers together, and the flour is mixed in. I use a large wood spoon for this.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat gently into a disc about one inch thick. Do not over handle the biscuits, this will make them tough, and not tender.
Gently cut the biscuits, using a biscuit cutter or glass. Place onto a cookie sheet.
Make sure the oven is completely pre heated  and up to 450 when the biscuits are placed in to bake.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top and bottom.
Makes 9- 2 1/2 inch biscuits. Biscuit yield will depend on size of cutter.

Self Rising Flour :
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix together in a bowl with a fork. Store in a container or Ziploc bag until ready to use.
I double this for the Cracker Barrel recipe, and have a little leftover for the next time I make biscuits.
Measure out 2 cups for the recipe above.


Everyone's Favorite Shrimp and Avocado Salsa

I just returned from spending a few days in the Pacific Northwest, one of my favorite places in the world. Bremerton was my childhood home, a ferry ride away from Seattle. I grew up among these beautiful sights but never really appreciated them until I moved away! A few days with family is always treasured time :)

I was also able to attend the International Food Blogger's Conference in Seattle! Yes, a conference just for FOOD bloggers. Since I haven't been to a blogger conference (ever) I was wondering what to expect? I was pleasantly surprised. It was: food food food, gifts gifts gifts, fun fun fun. Who wouldn't love that? Seriously, three days of 300 women, (and a few men) talking about food blogging, taking classes, collecting an IN-sane amount of gifts from vendors, eating from morn until night, and taking pictures of food. Want to hear the funniest part of the conference?  Before eating, people were almost reverent about allowing the food to be photographed. If someone showed up after the initial photos were taken, and people were dishing up food, they would step aside and allow the food to be photographed again. No weird looks while photographing, or impatience while waiting in line to dish up a plate, just mutual understanding. Hell-o.

Top l-r : Four cute food bloggers I met at lunch one day, trying out some fun new food products, the SWAG bags, and yes, it was bags. Plural. As in- I had to buy another suitcase to get everything home!, a tasting before dinner one night from Alaska Seafood featuring Alaska Halibut Corndogs, Buffalo Alaska Cod Quesadillas, Sockeye Salmon and Bacon Wrapped Scallop Sliders. 

The classes were awesome.  Dorie Greenspan, Andrew Scrivani, Chef Jon Mitzewich, Jeffrey Lunak, Mark Briggs, the people from Allrecipes, Foodista and so many more. The only problem was how to attend every class, when there were three going on at the same time...
I met the nicest people and it was a great learning experience.  An experience that helped me to appreciate, a little more, what a blessing it is to spend time sharing my love of family, friends, community and cooking through ABK!

In honor of my recent visit to Seattle, I'm sharing (my daughter Corrine's) Shrimp and Avocado Salsa. This is one of our family favorites. Corrine has been making it for a few years and it's become one of those recipes. You know the dish that you make once and then get assigned to make for  EVERY party from that time forward because it's just So. Darn. Good.
Yup. This is that recipe. I've had people text, email and call me for this recipe. If you're a seafood hater, you may want to reconsider,  even seafood haters tell me they love it.
Tuck it away for your holiday parties coming up.
I know you're going to love it.

Everyone's Favorite Shrimp and Avocado Salsa
Adapted from Corrine at Mint Arrow
print recipe

1 lb cooked shrimp, thawed, tails removed and rinsed*, medium to large in size
juice of 6 limes
1 large white or sweet onion, chopped ( about two cups)
two bunches of cilantro, stemmed and chopped coarse, reserving a little for garnish
2 Serrano chilies, seed the chilies if you don't like spice and chop fine
4-6 medium avocados, slightly soft, chunked
1 large red pepper,  seeds removed, diced
Several dashes of hot sauce, to taste
1-1 1/2 cups ketchup
a few dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

The day before serving, remove shrimp from freezer and thaw in refrigerator in bag (see note below).
The next day-
Pull the tails off shrimp and devein the shrimp if needed. Chop the shrimp into large chunks, place in large bowl. Squeeze the fresh lime juice over the shrimp.
Place the chopped onion, cilantro, chilies, avocados, red pepper, hot sauce, ketchup and Worcestershire into bowl with shrimp. Season with salt and pepper. Gently fold the ingredients together.  Chill until ready to serve.
Serve with tortilla chips.
Serves 15-20 as an appetizer

-Plan ahead when making this dip. The best way to thaw the frozen shrimp is to leave it in the fridge overnight. If you forget and try to run it under cold water to thaw, the shrimp can take on a water-logged texture.
-If you like your dip more saucy, add another 1/2 to 1 cup of  ketchup.
-This can be made up to about 6 hours ahead of serving.

Night-night Seattle.


Tessa's French Peasant Bread

Guess what the weather forecast is for the weekend. If you said SNOW, you're a winner.  Heavy sigh. Last week, we went to Southern Utah for baseball.

Sun. I remember you. Warm. Blue skies. Sunscreen. No boots.
Then Monday came, reality along with it. Back to the North.
Snowy day= The perfect time to bake bread.

If you are a lifer on A Bountiful Kitchen, you know I love my friend Tessa. And I love her cooking. Tessa brought this to a dinner party at Christmas and I fell in love.  So simple. No kneading. No mixer required. Makes two loaves. Perfect for sharing on a cold winter day.

Tessa's French Peasant Bread
Tessa Reinemer
print recipe

1 pkg dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups flour
melted butter

Place yeast, water, sugar and salt in warm water and stir until dissolved. Add flour and stir until blended. Do not knead.
Cover and let rise for one hour or doubled in size. Flour or grease hands and remove dough from bowl and place in 2 rounds on oiled cookie sheet ( or parchment paper ) sprinkled with corn meal. Let rise and additional hour. Brush top with melted butter.
Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and cook an additional 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and brush again with butter.
Serve warm.


Grilled Salmon with Simple Lemon Aioli

Did you think I had fallen off the face of the earth? I'm still here. Just returned from a vaca with Grant. Celebrating our 30 years of wedded bliss.
Fish is one of my favorites. It probably doesn't seem like it, since I don't post a lot of fish recipes. Here's the deal- my favorite recipe for fish is: a little lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cook until barely done.
A few thoughts about fish from my fuzzy mind at 3:30 in the morning. Insomnia/jet lag. It's a beautiful thing...

The first pic is of a sea bass we ate in Greece. Absolutely melt in your mouth delicious. The price tag? Not so wonderful. Let's just say, never, ever, sit down to lunch in Greece (or anywhere else for that matter) and let the restaurant owner give you suggestions without seeing the printed menu. The bill may form undesirable negative attitudes about Greece in general. No worries though, Greece's economic  woes may now be repaired. eh eh eh.

Here's another pic from the trip. I know, you wanted to see photos of ruins, but I thought you would enjoy this special treat. A fish pedicure. It's all the rage in Europe and Asia. Yes. That's right. Tourists lining up to pay money to plunge their feet into a tank (not cleaned in between pedicures) of small fish who then eat the dead skin off of their feet. Really? Am I the only one who thinks this is really disgusting?

Alright. Back to my dish. I wanted to serve salmon for Brookie's birthday a few weeks back, but also  wanted it to be a little out of the ordinary.  It was June, so we fired up the bbq.  Thought maybe some type of lemony drizzle would be festive. I Googled "Aioli and lemon" and came up with a recipe calling for mayo and lemon juice. Typically aioli is made with crushed garlic, egg yolk and olive oil. Whisking those ingredients together will produce an aioli. I was in a hurry, so I improvised and came up with this quickie sauce.
If you love simple, fresh and delish, you'll love this.

Grilled Salmon with Simple Lemon Aioli
A Bountiful Kitchen
print recipe

Wild Salmon fillet, about 1 1/2  lbs
one fresh lemon
salt and pepper
cilantro or parsley for garnish

Heat grill to medium high heat. Coat grill with non stick cooking spray.
Squeeze the juice of one lemon on to fish. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Place fish on grill, skin side down.
Cover with lid of grill and cook for about 8-12 minutes. Do not turn over.
Check to see if fish is done by using a fork and pulling apart the fish gently at the thickest part. If the fish flakes apart easily, and is not fleshy looking inside, it is done. Do not overcook. The fish should be done in no more than about 12 minutes. Using a large spatula, transfer the fish to a plate. Cover with foil until ready to serve. Garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley.
Serves about 4-6

Simple Lemon Aioli
1/2 cup mayo (not low fat)
1/4 cup yogurt, plain
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon rind, grated
fresh ground pepper and coarse seal salt to taste

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Pass alongside fish, vegetables, chicken.
If desired, spoon into a small plastic bag. Snip off small corner of bag, squeeze sauce onto fish in zigzag pattern.

-I have found the freshest fish in Btown is sold at Costco. A few years ago I took a series of sushi making classes at Orson Gygi in SLC.  Jonas Otsuji, Sushi Chef (Survivor 2012 contestant) who taught the class recommended Costco as a source of fresh fish for those who live in mountain states.  I've purchased it several times over the years to make sushi and fresh fish dishes. I highly recommend cooking fish the same day it is purchased.
-I also highly recommend spending a few extra bucks and buying wild salmon, instead of the farm raised. It's seasonal, so it is not available year round. Wild vs farm raised? Remember the story about the fish pedi's?
Same concept.
In my mind.
The farm raised are swimming around eating everything in the tank. Ok, Ill stop there. Just buy the fresh and not farm raised when you have the option. Enough said.
-Broiling as an option- I broil fish all of the time. Simply place on a cookie sheet, line it with foil if you like for easy clean up. Spray the surface of the pan or foil with cooking spray. Place the rack on the second to top rack in the oven. Broil on high for about 8-10 minutes. Do not turn over.
-Make sure to snip a small corner of the bag if you want your aioli drizzle to look beautiful. I obviously was in  a hurry and snipped off a large hole, hence the thick, unattractive drizzle  :o
-If your grill has grates that are spaced quite far apart, you may want to use a soaked cedar plank to cook the fish, so it doesn't fall into the grill. Another option is to place the fish on a layer of foil, (double layer is best) then grill over the flame. You won't get as much of the bbq flavor, but if the option is foil or losing the fish in the grates, I choose foil. 


Fresh Blackberry and Lemon Yogurt Muffins with Warm Vanilla Yogurt Glaze

Grant, Corrine and I lived in Portland while Grant went to school at Lewis and Clark back in the (should I say it??) 80's. Gasp! We are old. Last summer, my mom and I took a little trip back to the Oregon Coast.
We loved our three years in Portland. We especially loved that in about two hours, we could be at the beach. My favorite place in the world. What is it about the ocean? The sound of the waves is so soothing. The Oregon coast is not the trendiest spot as far as beach destinations go. If you are looking for bikini-clad hotties and muscle bound bodies, you are probably going to be a bit disappointed. We went last August, and I wore a jacket most of the trip.

The Oregon coast probably attracts more folks who are on the Eddie Bauer/Birkenstock/granola side of life. More for families, and people who really enjoy long stretches of deserted beaches, fresh air, and a laid back coastal lifestyle. Big sigh. I love it there. Did I already say that? Back to the trip. Mom and I spent days driving, walking, and stopping at every little fruit stand, bakery, restaurant, antique shop, roadside marker and beach along the way.

I love to travel with people who will indulge in my road trip crazy. Meaning, we need to stop at every bakery/quaint restaurant/gas station that might sell funky junk and home made treats.

We drove to Tillamook one day. Sound familiar? Yes. The Cheese people. Actually Tillamook is more than just cheese. It's ice cream, yogurt, cheese, and butter. Yum.  We drove through Tillamook,  to the beach at Cape Lookout and also to the Cape Meares Lighthouse. Serene and absolutely beautiful.

    Cape Lookout, Tillamook, Oregon

Recently, I received an email from Kelly, who represents Tillamook asking if I would be interested in developing a recipe using their new line of  yogurt, Tillamook Light. It's the first light yogurt on the market naturally sweetened with Truvia, has 100 calories and is made with no artificial junk. No artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, high fructose corn syrup or growth hormones. Wow. Now you know I'm not a health nut, but this was intriguing to me. After enjoying Tillamook cheese for years, and honking at cows while driving through valleys in Tillamook, last summer,  I had to try it. It's really, really yummy. If you want to read more about this line of yogurt go here.

A couple of mornings later, I got up started writing a recipe for yogurt muffins. I tried to stay with a light and (semi) healthy theme, so I used 1/2 cup of canola oil (instead of butter) and only 1/2 cup of sugar (this is almost sugar free to me). Fresh and light, but enough sweet to qualify as a yummy breakfast treat. Wouldn't your mom love these on Sunday?? You remembered, right?
Yes people.
Next Sunday is Mother's Day.
This year I'm posting a Mother's Day Brunch menu. I'll have quiche and salad posted later this week.
See you soon.
After you finish your Mother's Day shopping.
Yes, I'm talking to you.
P.S. I my next life, I'm definitely living on the beach.
P.S.S. I did not receive any payment for this post. I did receive a box of Tillamook yogurt for testing purposes. And some gift certificates for more yogurt that I will( in the near future) include in a giveaway to you on this blog :)

Oh, the recipe!  Here it is...

Fresh Blackberry and Lemon Yogurt Muffins with Warm Vanilla Yogurt Glaze
A Bountiful Kitchen
print recipe

1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
zest from 1 lemon
1- 6 oz container Tillamook Light Vanilla yogurt*
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup blackberries, rinsed

for glaze/topping:
1- 6 oz Tillamook Light Vanilla yogurt*
2 tablespoons granulated or powdered sugar

Grease a 12 cup muffin tin, set aside.
Preheat oven to 400, set rack in center of oven.
In a medium size bowl, whisk together the eggs, and 1/2 cup of sugar.  Add the canola oil, lemon juice, zest and vanilla yogurt.
Place the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a small bowl and whisk together with a fork. Pour dry ingredients into the bowl with wet ingredients. Mix with a large spoon or spatula just until all of the wet and dry ingredients are incorporated. Fold in the blackberries.
Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin cups.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-17 minutes or until center springs back when touched lightly.
Remove from oven.
Heat the remaining 6 oz of yogurt in a small pan over medium-high heat on stove. Whisk and heat to a low boil for about one minute. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of granulated or powdered sugar.
Dip each warm muffin top into the pan of heated yogurt. Set aside to cool for a few minutes. If there is enough yogurt glaze remaining, you may dip the muffin tops again to create a second layer of glaze, or spoon on the remaining glaze.
Muffins are best served while warm, but may also be served at room temperature.

-*You may use any flavor/brand of yogurt. This recipe would also work well with a lemon or berry flavored yogurt. I recommend using a lemon or vanilla flavor for the glaze/topping.
-You may also use any type of fruit. I suggest fresh blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.


Italian Oven Fries

We had these at River's Run last time we visited Mary and Will in Mississippi.  I use this recipe when I'm short on time and want to whittle away at the 50 lb bag of Idaho potatoes in my garage. It's a quick, kid friendly side dish that goes with almost any meal. YUM.

Baked Italian Fries
adapted slightly from Mad Hungry
print recipe

6 or 7 Idaho Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/3-inch-thick French fry-style strips, soaked in cold water
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs or some combo of dried oregano, thyme, marjoram, and basil
2 cups freshly grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) salted butter, cut into cubes
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400* degrees.
Drain the potatoes and pat dry with paper towels. Spread 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on each of 2 rimmed baking sheets and spread out the potatoes. Overlapping is fine.
Sprinkle the dried herbs evenly over the potatoes. Liberally spread the cheese and parsley on top. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the cheese. Scatter the cubed butter around the pans.
Bake until the potatoes are golden brown, rotating the pans after 30 minutes, for 45 to 50 minutes total. Use a spatula to lift off the potatoes with all the crusty cheese adhered to them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot. 
Potato Prep: For a French-fry cut, peel the potatoes and slice lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Stack the slices on top of one another, a few at a time, and slice lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick strips. Peeled and sliced potatoes can turn brown pretty quickly. To avoid this, try floating the peeled, cut pieces in cold, salted water. When you're ready to cook, drain them and pat dry.

-Soaking the potatoes in water is not necessary if you are in a hurry. I have made this recipe several times and skipped this step.
-You may also skip the peeling step. Just scrub the potatoes clean before slicing. 
-* I turn the oven to 425 convection and bake them for about 20 minutes total.