Lentil and Farro “Falafel”

I’ve been trying lots of new things lately in the kitchen and in life.

I find that the older I get the more anxiety I have about this.  It is most important to try new things when you feel a resistance to stepping out of your comfort zone.

Why you ask?

Well for me, it is so I can find the compromise between the person I want to be and the person I actually am.

The person I sometimes think I want to be is a bit of an extremist. She has a clean car, organized closets and she is radiating health from a raw food diet and a day of kayak surfing.

Yeahhhhh.

I made I made a raw, vegan cashew cheese. Have you ever had that before? It’s pretty good. But then I remembered that I’m not vegan and not on a raw diet and real cheese is really just so much better. I made it half a day on raw cashew cheese and salad and then had a feeding frenzy snack attack like none other when my kids got home from school.

And as for kayak surfing, the only wave I caught was the shore break that sent kayak, paddle, hat, and myself scattered along the beach in front of a small but notable audience.  Not exactly the graceful ocean exit plan I had in mind. Luckily for me awkward is the new cool. [Read more…]

Avocado Dip and Getting Back to the Basics

So much has happened. I went to Coachella and it was ahhhh-mazing!

You are probably thinking, Coachella, wow, aren’t you a little old for that? And the answer is no, well I hope not. You are never too old to go to a music festival and dance your heart out in a desert sand storm for 3 straight days. Right Grandpa?

Granted I came home looking tired and a few years older, it’s what’s inside that counts, and I came home feeling young!

Young and rebellious. Like I didn’t have to live according to societies rules anymore. I mean we make our own realities, right? Why couldn’t we just home school our kids in an RV while traveling from festival to festival? YOLO! (Mom- yolo stands for- you only live once:)

It took about a week for the Coachella aftershocks to wear off. And as the fog began to lift, it became perfectly clear that if I dragged my kids around to festivals they would grow up to be worse than Lindsey Lohan.

For the same reasons I explain to my children, if it was your birthday everyday it wouldn’t be special. Besides there is a certain beauty and security in the everyday life. I know there is, sometimes it’s just hard to feel.

So now it’s back to the basics. Going to the gym, parent-teacher conferences, packing lunch boxes, paying bills, sitting in a sweltering hot, swimming pool size petri-dish counting the minutes till gymnastics is over while a toddler repeatedly rams a toy truck into my leg. You know.

Thinking about getting back to the basics made me think a lot about Maui Flour Child. To be honest, it’s not all White Sauce Pizzettas and Red Wine Poached Pears around here. You can’t eat fancy food everyday nor can you go to Coachella every weekend. Boo.

So I thought I’d start a unit on my basic recipes. I mean, you know a lot about me, but you don’t even know my shredded chicken taco recipe yet. We have a lot to cover. Let’s begin with this fabulously simple Creamy Avocado Dip.

I love me a good chunky guacamole but this avocado dip is so versatile and flavorful that it has become a staple whenever I make Mexican food.  Don’t you think it would be yummy in a squeeze bottle and drizzled over this Tortilla Chip Crusted Shrimp? Or what if you made it a little thinner and tossed it with a edamame cucumber salad? I’m just thinking out loud here.  And getting very hungry.

Here’s what we will need:

2 ripe avocados

1 jalapeño (with the seeds, live a little)

1 clove garlic

a handful of cilantro

a generous pinch of kosher salt

some pepper

a dash of cumin

1 cup milk

Here’s what we are going to do:

Put music on loud. Put everything except the milk into the cusinart.

Turn it on and slowly add the milk until you get a nice creamy consistency. Not too thick, not too thin. Taste. Make sure there’s enough salt or else it will be bland, and that’s no way to live. Unless your doctor says… Since all avocados are not created equal, you be the judge of how much milk to add.

Get you bag of chips.

Creamy + Cool + Spicy= Ahhhh-mazing

 

353 Days till Coachella 2014,

 

Shrimp Ceviche with Cucumber Salsa

One of the cutest things about kids who grow up in Hawaii is that they eat sushi, sashimi and poke like it’s nobody’s business. I have had many proud mommy’s moments at restaurants on the mainland when my kids have asked for these foods.

My daughter’s favorite thing to eat is shrimp ceviche. Good call little one! It has been since she was one and a half years old.  There is nothing I love more than the shocked look on doctors, teachers, and family’s faces when they ask her what she likes to eat and shrimp ceviche is the answer she gives. It really just warms my heart to hear this. [Read more…]

Roasted Artichoke and Caramelized Onion Dip

Well I’m pleased to tell you that since we last talked I have gotten my Christmas act together. We have a tree, a real tree, with a tree stand, lights and decorations. We even have stockings…with our initials on them. And, no big deal, we listened to Christmas songs and drank hot coco while we decked the halls. I feel like a real adult now, one who creates Holiday traditions for her children to cherish and someday imitate.

It turns out my daughter Tiare is somewhat of an elf. She cut out about 100 paper snowflakes in less than an hour and strung them throughout the house. Her productivity is quite impressive! Unfortunately I am now out of printer paper and will forever be picking up tiny white shreds off the ground, but it really does look lovely.

Roasted Artichoke Hearts and Caramelized Onions. Call it a dip, call it a spread, call it what you want, but this is exactly what I expect to eat as an appetizer when I am invited to a holiday party. Served hot please, with crostinis!  Just kidding. You can make me whatever you want. I will gladly eat it and wash dishes!

Let’s get real here for a minute. If you are on some kind of holiday diet or if you are considering substituting all the ingredients for fat-free alternatives, this dish is not for you. Stop reading now. Maybe you should make Carrot Lentil Soup or a Papaya and Grilled Chicken Salad.  Here’s a Maui Flour Child cooking tip: don’t try to make unhealthy food healthy. It is not in that foods nature and will just end up tasting weird. Let food be itself. [Read more…]

Tzatziki and a Bug to Travel

I know, I know, I should be braising or baking something. It’s November!  But last time I checked it was 85 degrees outside. I considered blasting the AC and putting on my UGGS, but that seemed expensive and contrived. The oven would hands-down win against the AC, and you would know my heart wasn’t really in it.

Besides, if you want the truth, my mind is a million miles away from the holidays, the crazy month of November and Hawaii.  Once upon a time, before I had children, my husband and I used to travel to exotic places with little-to-no itinerary. Just a general idea of where we would like to go and what we would like to see. [Read more…]

Rosemary Balsamic Buffalo Wings

“Dad, what are buffalo wings?” I asked, peering over the plastic basket lined with greasy, checkered wax paper. It was Friday afternoon and this was our tradition. My Dad would pick me up from school every other Friday to stay with him, and we would always start the weekend off at Dollies in Kahana to play Pac-Man and eat Buffalo Wings.

“Buffalo wings are the wings from buffalos.” He said matter-of-factly.

“Dad!” I shrieked and looked up from the scab on my knee.  I was 7 years old, almost old enough to know when my Dad was pulling my leg. “Buffalos don’t have wings!”

“Yes they do. They are born with wings. Little tiny buffalo wings, they’re very cute.” He said with a smile.

“Well, I’ve never seen a buffalo with wings before.” To be honest, growing up on Maui, I had never really seen a buffalo at all.

“Of course you’ve never seen a buffalo with wings, they cut them off when they’re babies. Does this look like a wing from an adult buffalo? No way, that would be way too big for us to eat.  It wouldn’t even fit on a plate.” He held up a buttery red hot wing between his fingers for me to examine before biting into it and adding the bones to the growing pile. “Aren’t you going to eat yours?”

I looked at the basket skeptically before shaking my head and deciding to nibble on a celery stick. “No thanks,” I said. Whatever these “buffalo wings” really were I didn’t want to be a part of it. [Read more…]

White Sauce Pizzettas with Ribbon Zucchini, Arugula and Pine Nuts

Pizzettas with White Sauce and Zucchini

 

Turns out you don’t need a good reason to make fancy pizzettas! I thought you did, so sadly I have been depriving myself and my cravings for about a month now.

It’s not just the food. It’s the cute dress, the ballet flats, the special wine, the nice platter: what am I saving this stuff for?

Let’s redefine what a “good reason” is, shall we?

Here’s what I came up with. Life is short, it’s summer, I love to barbecue, I love Napa inspired cuisine of all sorts. You should always listen to your body and my instincts are telling me that eating miniature pizzas with big flavor in a cute dress with a delicious glass of wine is the right thing to do!

If that’s not good reason, I don’t know what is.

Make these and let me know what your “good reason” is! [Read more…]

Spinach, Feta and Roasted Bell Peppers in Puff Pastry Shells

If you have ever been to a party at my house or if I have ever catered for you, chances are you have tried these little puff pastry treats. I always make these for a party. They taste great, they make the house smell amazing, and there are never any left over which I take as a good sign. But the real reason why I always make savory, spinach puff pastry shells is because I can make them and freeze them weeks in advance.

Yep, I just totally blew my cover, but that’s ok, we’re friends. Right?  I’m sure Super Woman has a few tricks up her sleeve. Not that I think I’m Super Woman. Well make these for yourself and see if you feel at all like a culinary super hero.

If you are planning a big party and attempting to do most the cooking on your own it is essential that you find a balance of low maintenance foods and foods that require attention and detail. If you don’t find that balance in your menu planning it is very likely you will go down in flames in the kitchen with frizzy hair and a frazzled expression on your face in front of all your family, friends, guests and/or employers. Overly dramatic? A little. Serious? Very!

These Greek inspired puff pastry shells are a low maintenance menu item, hooray! All you have to do during your party is pop them in the oven and set a timer. All the high maintenance work is done in advance on your own time. So a few weeks before your party if you have a day where you’re just cruising at home, make a batch of these and keep them in the freezer. You will not be disappointed. They taste so much better than the pre-made frozen ones you buy at the store, it’s not even comparable!

You will need a mini muffin pan. This recipe makes 48.

Get creative with these. Everything tastes good in puff pastry so go wild and use what you have on hand. I’ve made fillings of brie, cranberries and pistachio, also roasted artichoke hearts and olives, how about mini apple pies? Yum.

Ingredients

2 Puff Pastry Sheets Defrosted

8 oz cream cheese (room temp)

1/2 Cup Crumbled Feta

2-4T Milk

1 head Garlic

1 bag frozen chopped spinach (defrosted with all the water squeezed out)

1 red bell pepper

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1 t finely chopped fresh oregano

1 T finely chopped fresh parsley

flour for dusting

Directions

Preheat your oven to 450.

First thing to do is get roasting. Chop the top off your head of garlic. Put it on a piece of foil and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Wrap it up in the foil and put it in the oven next to your red bell pepper on a sheet pan. Leave the garlic in for about 25 minutes or until your house smells like roasted garlic and you remember to take it out.  (No harm no foul) Unwrap it and let it cool. The cloves should be soft and squeezable.

Flip your bell pepper over every so often until the skin is evenly blackened and roasted on all sides. About 45mins to 1 hour. Once you have accomplished this put your pepper in a ziplock, close it up, and let it steam.  Once it has cooled down you can peel off the skin and scrape out the seeds. Try not to rinse it under water cause that will wash away all the flavor you just worked so hard to achieve.

While all that roasting and steaming is going on, get out your mixer and add your cream cheese, feta, milk, parsley, and oregano. Squeeze out all the cloves of roasted garlic into the mixer. Turn it on with your paddle attachment until you have a nice thick and creamy mixture. You can add more milk if you need to thin it out a bit. You can also do this by hand if you don’t have a mixer.

Next get your spinach ready. Put it in a pot with a few tablespoons of water and cook until it is not frozen. Drain, and I mean drain! I like to squeeze out all the excess water through a clean dish towel. Add the spinach to the mixer. Dice up your roasted, peeled and deseeded red pepper and add it to the mixture.

Lightly toast your nuts and add it to the mixture. It should look something like this.

Now that your filling is ready lets get to work on the puff pastry. Lightly dust your clean work surface with flour and unfold one puff pastry sheet on it. You can even it out with a rolling pin if you like just be careful not to overwork the dough.  You are going to cut the dough into 24 pieces. This requires a little thinking. 3 cuts one way and 5 cuts the other way, right?

Get your mini muffin pan, and spray it with Pam. As a rule, when in doubt, spray Pam! Fit your puff pastry pieces into the muffin pan and add about a tablespoon of spinach mixture into each.

 

After they are all filled up, cover the pan with syran wrap and put it in the freezer. You should have about half the spinach mixture left, put it in the fridge. Eat some lunch, take your kids to ballet, do some laundry, maybe some crunches. Whatever.

Once they have frozen into their new and improved muffin tin shapes, pop them out using a butter knife and put them into a ziplock freezer bag. Store them in the freezer for up to one month. Repeat with the other puff pastry sheet and remaining mixture.

During your party, calmly preheat your oven to 425. Put your pan in the oven and set the timer for 25 minutes.  Let them cool a bit before popping them out with a butter knife and serving. They will go fast but you will be ready with another bag in your freezer.

Hope you have a great party!

Love,