Hawaiian June

Hawaiian Food

Hawaiian June

This month’s dinner theme was tough to nail down. My husband wanted seafood, I was thinking vegetarian, and neither of us had a solid menu to go from. So… I was researching dinner theme ideas and came across Hawaiian cuisine. We love the Hawaiian islands! And the theme worked perfectly for June, the month that ushers in summer. Plus, BevMo! was having their 5¢ sale, so it was great time to try some new white wine! Here is the menu we created:

Libations

Grove Mill Sauvignon Blanc, 2009, New Zealand

Appetizers

Coconut Shrimp with Spicy Dipping Sauce
Ono Spareribs

Entrée & Sides

Blackened Tuna Steaks with Mango Salsa
Hawaiian Rice
Roasted Asparagus

Dessert
Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Although the coconut shrimp was fantastic, the dipping sauce (which I pulled from another recipe) was my least favorite item on the menu. It consisted of 1/2 cup orange marmalade, 2 tsp stone ground mustard, and 1 tsp horseradish. I didn’t care for the overall taste, so I added salt and sriracha to cut down the bitter sweetness. It helped, but I recommend going with a sauce that you know you like!

The blackened tuna was so good that we made it again about a week later. We bought the tuna from Marukai Japanese Food Specialty Store, which is where we get a lot of our fresh fish.

Banana Cake

Banana Cake

But the best part of this dinner was the banana cake. WOW! My husband started early in the morning on the recipe so that the cake was cooled and settled in plenty of time for our guests. It was definitely one of my favorite desserts we’ve made. It was fluffier and more moist than banana bread. If you like cake, MAKE THIS RECIPE! You will not be disappointed!

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April Ode to Lemon

Meyer Lemons

Meyer Lemons

April’s dinner was fantastic! Our theme was all things Meyer lemon. We got the idea from a group of recipes in a spring issue of Cooking Light magazine. We often find and make recipes from this magazine, and they are almost always good!

Here was the lineup:

Libations

Sparkling Lemon Cocktail with Vodka, Sparkling Wine, Rosemary
Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and California

Appetizer

Seared Scallops with Lemon Beurre Blanc, White Wine, Shallots, Thyme

Salad

Fennel Salad with Lemon, Parsley, Shallots, Olive Oil, Goat Cheese

Entrée & Side

Lemon Chicken Piccata Sautéed in Sauvignon Blanc
Roasted Asparagus with Brown Butter and Thyme Lemon Rind

Dessert

Lemon Curd Tart with a Macadamia Nut Vanilla Crust, Topped with Meringues

And here were the results!

April Meyer Lemon

April Ode to Lemon

French February

This year we were excited to cook French food for French February.

Heart Sourdough

Valentine Sourdough

We decided on a dinner menu that we thought would be a lovely. And while it was… it seemed like a few things went right and a few things didn’t. But I think that had to do with our skills (or lack thereof) vs. the actual recipes. What Julia Child had – we do not. But it was fun anyway! Here’s what we made:

Last year I made a special dinner for my Valentine. It was based on a Chicken Vol Au Vent recipe that Champagne Bakery in Del Mar served, before they Americanized their menu. Because I made up my version, I was wise enough to write down what I did, and here it is for you to also try!

Chicken Vol Au Vent
Valentine's Day 2010

Valentine's Day 2010

Ingredients

leeks
garlic
cremini mushrooms
spinach
unsalted butter
white wine
extra virgin olive oil
1% milk
sour cream
kosher salt
pepper
puff pastry
egg white
chicken breast
Method
Sauté cremini mushrooms in olive oil, white wine, and unsalted butter. Add leeks and continue sautéing. Then add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes before adding spinach. Then add small amount of milk and sour cream, salt and pepper to taste. Cook chicken separate and add at the end.
Cut pastry into circle for bottom and cut another for top. Cut a smaller circle or other shape in the middle of the top pastry (in my case, I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter that my Grandma Barb gave me). Poke holes in the middle of the bottom pastry, and stack top on bottom with egg white in between. If desired, you can add another layer of pastry between the bottom and the top (with a section cut out) to add a more depth and bowl-like shape. Bake pastry according to instructions (don’t forget to also bake the special shape if you made one!) then add the chicken filling just before serving with the pastry shape on top. Voilà!

Homestyle January

Our monthly dinners kicked off this weekend at D&V’s place. 2011 marks year 2 for this ongoing event and we continue to have a great time.

Vanessa and Lisa

Vanessa and Me

This time, I made the mistake of not taking any pictures of the food! Rookie mistake of a newbie blogger. What was I thinking? Well, I was thinking about (and eating) the rosemary and olive oil bread they served from Bread & Cie, along with Brie and Irish Cheddar. True to form, I got my bread and cheese on (sorry Paleo)… but the good news is that I indulged LIGHTLY, a skill I am learning. And still lost weight the next day on my weigh-in. That’s how it’s done!

Here was the menu for the night, which was so good!

  • Baked Salmon
  • Au Gratin Potatoes
  • Jalapeño Cornbread
  • Asparagus
  • Prosciutto wrapped Shrimp with Pesto
  • Coleslaw
  • Cheesecake

I don’t remember the red wine we had… I know I picked up a few bottles from Cost Plus World Market, but I guess neither were memorable.

We ended the night by learning a new game called Sequence! Next month we are planning to make French food at our place… so excited! Please send French wine recommendations!

Nepalese November

Food from Nepal

Nepalese November

The first time we had Nepalese food, we were in Boulder, Colorado, one of my favorite places to visit. We were staying in Denver and drove up to Boulder to dine at a little two story restaurant called Nepal Cuisine. We were in a state of euphoria when we left. The food and service was something to remember.

When November rolled around for our monthly dinner night, it was our turn to cook. Nepalese food proved to be one of the most difficult dinners for us to carry out so we did just that – ordered carry out! Recipes online were hard to find so we broke the rules for November and ordered Nepalese food from a restaurant in La Mesa, CA. To find the place, I did what I always do and searched Yelp. That’s where I found a lovely little restaurant called Himalayan Cuisine, and my fellow Yelpers gave the restaurant 4.5 stars.

We ordered food that can be found on their menu and also added a few items of our own.

LIBATIONS

APPETIZERS

Alu Bhanta – Eggplant & potatoes cooked in Himalayan style curry sauce.

Vegetables Momo – Steamed dumplings filled with minced cabbage, spinach, mushroom, cashew nuts, paneer, onion, cilantro, green onion & spices, served with special Himalayan sauce.

Samosas – Crispy pastries stuffed with jalapeños, cheese, and potatoes. (I actually bought and made these from an Indian supermarket in San Diego called Ker Fresh.)

ENTRÉES

Chicken Makhani – Premium chicken cooked in the tandoor and then cooked in a butter sauce.

Mixed Tandoori – Tandoor chicken, Boti Kabab (lamb), shrimp tandoor and chicken tikka. Served with sautéed onions, carrots, bell pepper and cabbage.

DESSERT

Gulab Jamun – Juicy sweet milk balls. (I didn’t care for these and was glad I decided to serve the mango sorbet and fresh mint!)

Mango Sorbet topped with fresh mint. (I added this and was glad I did, it was a wonderful ending!)

Spanish September

Spanish Food

Spanish September

September marked a lovely cooking experience! It was our month to make dinner and we chose Spain as the country from which we made recipes. These are the recipes we used, and of them, the Patatas Bravas and Berenjena con Vinagreta (eggplant topped with tomato vinaigrette) were our favorites.

LIBATIONS
Sangria

APPETIZERS
Patatas Bravas
Berenjena con Vinagreta

SALAD
Ensalada de Melon Chorizo y Alcachofa

ENTRÉE
Simple Seafood Paella

SIDES
Yellow Tomato Gazpacho

DESSERT
Bizcochos Borrachos

Monthly Dinners

Beginning in January 2010, my husband and I began a monthly dinner night with another couple we’ve known for years. The rules for 2010 are:

  1. Each month had to have theme beginning with the first letter of the month corresponding to a country, e.g. Jamaican January.
  2. The couple who is hosting must do all the cooking from scratch.

It is almost December 2010 and I wish I had started this blog earlier because I would have liked to keep track of all the recipes we made! I may just go back and add them, as I think most of them are in my husbands bookmarks folder. Here’s what we did for 2010:

  • Jamaican January
  • French February
  • Moroccan March
  • Armenian April
  • Mexican May
  • Japanese June
  • Jordanian July
  • Argentinian August
  • Spanish September
  • Italian October (Oman is the only country beginning with “O” and all of us decided it was time to break a rule.)
  • Nepalese November (We broke another rule here and ordered take out. It was amazing!)
  • December – because the holidays are so busy, we took this month off.