Monday, April 27, 2015

Chocolate Coconut Tapioca

Our relative from Hawai`i came to visit late last year but as Murphy’s Law would have it, it happened to be the same time we were going to be in her neck of the woods.  Despite knowing that we were going to miss each other, she still was thoughtful enough to bring us omiyage from the islands, one of my absolute favorite Big Island shortbread cookies and a package of coconut tapioca that you can make by just adding water.  Now you are probably wondering, how good can powder + boiling water taste?  Absolutely decadent reminiscent of a rich luscious rice pudding.  If you want to try it yourself, check out 


1 pkg of Kauai Tropical Syrup’s Coconut Tapioca (dry powder)

½ cup semi sweet chocolate chip morsels

Preparation- should be on back of the package

  1. Boil 2 cups of water to a hard boil
  2. Whisk in the coconut tapioca dry ingredient
  3. Hard whisk for 20 seconds until slightly thicken
  4. Remove from heat, and stir in the chocolate chip morsels until it is completely melted into mixture
  5. Let cool stirring occasionally
  6. Once cool, transfer to serving dishes and refrigerate for a few hours before serving
1.  I mixed some fresh bananas slices into it and it was delicious.  Strawberries would probably be another good combination!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Huevos Ranachos

As I mentioned yesterday, I made a double batch of mixture since I had 1 ½ times the amount of corn tortillas that the original recipe called for the Potato and Zucchini Enchiladas.  With the leftover mixture, I already had ideas of how I can get a double duty out of it and repurpose it to something absolutely delicious.  The crisp potatoes reminds me of breakfast potatoes which immediately makes me think of eggs, a versatile ingredient that would be delicious as a BLD, breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Still in the Mexican mode, Huevos Rancheros popped to mind but I used all the corn tortillas for the enchiladas.  Oops, guess, I didn’t think far enough in advance on that one.  I just had huevos at Easter brunch at my favorite but now only open once a year brunch place and it was over one large super crispy corn tortilla.  I loved having that crunch until the last bite.  So I lined a plate with white corn tortilla chips like I would for nachos, followed by the reheated leftover enchilada mixture, topped with a fried egg, leftover salsa, and chopped parsley.  Say hello to my new creation, the Huevos RaNachos!


Leftover salsa

Leftover chopped parsley or cilantro

2 Eggs

White Corn Tortilla Chips


  1. Heat up the leftover potato and zucchini enchilada mixture in a skillet to recrisp up the outside of the potatoes
  2. Pan fry an egg to your liking (over easy, over medium, or over hard)
  3. Since the eggs and tortilla chips are the only new things about this dish and the rest are leftovers and already calculated into the previous day’s dinner price, this price only reflects these two ingredients
Price:  $1.50 for 2 servings = 75 cents a serving  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Potato and Zucchini Enchiladas

On a recent episode of RR where the whole show was dedicated to money saving tips, I knew that I had to make Curtis Stone’s Enchiladas.  I mean, who doesn’t want to save a little money right?  My philosophy all along has always been to make recipes where I already have or a way to substitute most of the ingredients and only need to buy a few extras. 

No Russets so I substitute with red potatoes which tend to last longer anyways.  Zucchini, check!!  I had two leftover from my TJs pack after making my guilt free Grilled Chicken Breast with Zucchini and Corn last week.  Garlic and onion are staples that should be in everyone’s fridge.  No sour cream?  No problem!!  I have been using Greek Yogurt instead of sour cream for years now, making me feel even better about bumping up my protein.  No cilantro?  Great use of the leftover Italian Parsley from those 2 meatball recipes last week. 

So that only left three ingredients I needed to pick up.  Since I am a non spicy girl, instead of making the habanero salsa, I just bought the TJ premade Mild Salsa Especiale that you can find in their refrigerated section, feta which I only used a little and can be stretched to another dinner, and corn tortillas. 


  1. The TJ corn tortilla pack comes with 12 so I doubled the zucchini and potato leaving me a little extra mixture as a double duty for something else still TBD
  2. Red potatoes take about 5 extra minutes to cook since they are less starchy than Russet potatoes
Price:  $6 for 4 servings = $1.50 a serving

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Margarita Pizza

Sorry, no tequila or lime juice in this margarita pizza but what it is a classic simple Italian pizza.  Often pizza in the US tends to suffer from topping overload while a traditional Italian pizza when done right tends to have only 2-3 ingredients, sometimes including the cheese.   One of the best pizzas I ever had was a simple margarita in Bellagio, the actual Italian Lakes city, not the Vegas replica and 11 years later I still remember how I could not stop eating slice after slice of it with a carafe of house wine.    

So when I had a hankering for freshly made pizza, I thought nothing is fresher than a simple margarita pizza.  Since ripe tomatoes are not quite in season, I used the tomato sauce that I recommend you making extra of from the meatball recipe as the base and the rest of the fresh mozzarella from the meatball sandwich over it. 


1 Medium Fresh pizza dough from pizzeria

Tomato Sauce from the Spaghetti and Meatball recipe -

4 oz of Fresh Mozzarella cut into cubes

Torn basil leaves


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Roll out the pizza dough over a floured surface like a cutting board until it is round in size and thinness you want
  3. Using a fork, lightly punch holes into the dough and pop any air bubbles
  4. Place dough on pizza pan
  5. Spread thin layer of tomato sauce over dough
  6. Sprinkle torn basil leaves onto sauce
  7. Place cubes of fresh mozzarella on top
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly bubbly and crust starting to brown
Price:  Less than $4 for a whole pizza (Since the mozzarella and the sauce was left from previous recipes, I did not include in price).  If you buy ingredients specifically for this yourself, anticipate another $4 to the price. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Spaghetti and Meatballs

It takes 215 posts before I get around to making spaghetti and meatballs?!?!   Long before Real Housewives of NJ star Teresa Guidice and her husband Joe got caught being mixed up in a fraud conspiracy she was mixing up some really delicious meatballs on RR.  I have made this once before and this Jersey girl gives it a 10!!

After being ground beef deprived for 6-8 months, I admit that I am going a bit crazy making my second meatball recipe in a week but my excuse is using many of the leftover ingredients from the meatball hero sandwich and this time over what you would expect to see them on, spaghetti.  Mangia!! 

Joe’s Juicy Meatballs - – Rachael Ray Recipe -

1.  Make extra tomato sauce that can be used as a double duty for another recipe. 

Price:  $6 for 6 servings = $1 a serving

Friday, April 17, 2015

Italian Slow Cooked Ribs

Sometimes you just want a dinner that will stick to your ribs, pun intended and these ribs sure does the job.  On special occasions, my dad would sometimes make a couple of racks of ribs with a mixture of hoisin sauce and ketchup once a year but the closest I ever got to “making” ribs for dinner is heating up the Lloyds fully cooked baby back ribs with BBQ sauce.  Watching Rachael make dishes on her show often gives me an “I Can Do That” attitude so when she recently made Italian slow cooked ribs where the hardest part is the wait, I decided to give it a shot as well.  So armed with a 2 pack rack from Costco, I tackled my latest experiment.  Although different flavors than my dad’s Asian influenced ones, slow cooking it made them literally fall off the bone tender and another great use of my rosemary bush that has exploded over the years. 


  1. Since the cooking time in the oven is over 3 hours, this is more of a weekend or day off recipe.  The prep time takes practically no time though.
  2. I ran it under the broiler for 5 minutes on the second rack to crisp up the top
Price:  $21 for 6 servings = $3.50 a serving

After slow cooking for 3 hours

Final product after running under the broiler

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hot Meatball and Mozzarella Heroes

This is an almost 10 year old recipe that I got from a TV Guide of all places at a time when the Sopranos were still on the air and I was just starting to expand my cooking repertoire. 

I had been out of ground beef for a good 6-8 months now since the last time I made beef burgers, was in August and the last time I used ground beef was in September.  I have been patiently waiting for the Harris Ranch ones to go on sale since, substituting turkey for my meatloaves, burgers, and meatballs in the meantime.  But Labor Day BBQ came and went and Super Bowl Sunday came and went and still nothing.  So I finally caved and bought the Costco pack to split with my parents and used a lb to recreate this “straight from Carmela’s Kitchen” that is almost good enough to kill for. 


1 lb ground beef or combination of beef and pork

½ cup plain dry bread crumbs, preferably homemade from Italian bread

2 large eggs beaten

1 tsp very finely minced garlic

½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano

2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley

1 tsp salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tbsp olive oil

2 ½ cups tomato sauce, preferably homemade

6 crusty hero rolls

8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced


  1. Combine all the meatball ingredients (from beef to pepper) in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands.  Rinse hands in cool water and lightly shape the mixture into 1 ½ inch meatballs
  2. Heat the oil in large heavy skillet.  Add the meatballs and brown them very well on all sides. (They will finish cooking later).  Remove to a plate
  3. Bring the sauce to a simmer in a large saucepan or skillet over low heat.  Add the meatballs and cook, turning them occasionally for 10 minutes
  4. Preheat the broiler.  Open the rolls and pull out some of the soft crumb.  Add the meatballs and sauce.  Place 2-3 slices of mozzarella on top of the meatballs in each sandwich. 
  5. Put the open sandwiches on a baking sheet and run them under the broiler briefly to melt the cheese. 
  6. Close sandwiches and serve immediately

  1. For the easy way out, you can use regular dry breadcrumbs vs. homemade and jarred tomato and basil sauce instead of homemade. 
  2. I usually do not have pecorino romano cheese so I just used parmesan which is fine or leave the cheese in the meatball out if you prefer
  3. Instead of browning the meatballs on all sides in a skillet, you can also pop them into a 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes to cook it through.  It can finish cooking in the sauce. 
Price:  $10 for 6 servings = $1.67 per serving