Friday, October 31, 2014

Orange October

Once October hits, you seem to see Orange everywhere with pumpkin everything (just look at Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer) as autumn is in the air.  However Orange October always has an additional special meaning in the Bay Area especially when the SF Giants fights tooth and nail to not only make it into the World Series as a wild card but keeps you biting your nails until the very last out in Game 7 to win it with just 1 run.  Even if you are not a Giants fan, you cannot help but give Mad Props to Mad Bum for his Mad Skills. 

Since I will be spending most of my day glued in front of my set this year vs. attending the parade in person like 2010 and 2012 before contributing to the sugar high of the soggy trick or treaters, here are some past recipes that are perfect to close out Orange October. 

Pappardelle with Autumn Pesto and Roasted Butternut Squash

Coconut Pumpkin Curry

Pumpkin Raviolis with Fried Sage

Congratulations SF Giants on your 3rd win in 5 years and Happy Halloween!! 


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Polenta with Mushrooms, Poached Eggs, and Arugula Salad

This is one of those BLD recipes, good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and would be beautiful presentation wise if you have friends over for brunch.  The richness of the polenta will fill you up so I only did a half recipe as it really expands like Cream of Wheat and you can refresh any leftover polenta with a dash of milk before microwaving.

Since I used the arugula as the double duty side for the Spinach Artichoke Ricotta Pie just yesterday, I also topped this dish with the rest of the arugula on its own dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, and sea salt. 

Polenta with Mushrooms, Poached Eggs, and Mixed Greens - Rachael Ray Show Recipe  -


  1. If your polenta is sticking to the bottom of the pot, you can add a little additional milk to loosen it up when you stir
  2. I recommend stirring or topping your polenta with the parm cheese in a bowl vs. straight in the pot to make cleaning it easier
  3. I used only cremini mushrooms vs. a mix for my tipsy mushrooms and just deglaze with white wine since that is what I had on hand
  4. If available, it is more economical to buy the polenta loose by the pound as it is not only cheaper (mine was under $2/lb and since I only needed a cup doing a half recipe, it was under $1) but you can buy what you need vs. having too much that you will throw away later. 
  5. I would recommend you hard poach a couple of extra eggs for the leftovers as cleaning the pot that you use to poach the eggs requires a bit of elbow grease so you may not want to do it twice
Price:  $8 for 4 servings = $2 per serving


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Spinach Artichoke Ricotta Pie - GO GIANTS!

I like to think of spinach artichoke dip as great game day food regardless of whether it is football, baseball, or hockey.  So since my cousin was coming over to watch the World Series – GO GIANTS!!, I thought this would be a great way to turn game day food into dinner.  Little did I know that she would be bringing enough food from Hang Ten Boiler to feed the entire team.   

Spinach Artichoke Ricotta Pie - Rachael Ray Show Recipe  -


  1. Phyllo dough is different from puff pastry so make sure that you get phyllo dough for this recipe
  2. Phyllo dough is usually in the freezer aisle which requires 5 hours at room temperature to thaw so plan accordingly to give yourself enough time
  3. You can serve with a side of arugula dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, and sea salt
Price:  $12 for 6 servings including side of arugula salad = $2 per serving


Monday, October 20, 2014

Salmon Topped with Fresh Pesto

I had harvested a lot of my basil leaves before leaving for Maui but was only able to get about a cup of pesto from it.  So it was such a nice surprise that it seemed to have flourished with the heat wave upon my return that I was able to make another 2 cups of pesto to freeze for later use.  As I was making it, I was thinking what a shame that I always end up freezing my fresh pesto instead of actually enjoying it right then and there.  Normally when I make pesto salmon, I bake the salmon with the pesto already on top of it but since I really wanted to taste the freshness of the basil, I roasted the salmon first and then just topped it with the fresh pesto and serve over rice with a side of chard which also happened to explode while I was away. 

Pesto Recipe


2 cups of basil leaves

1/3 cup of pine nuts

Handful of parmesan cheese

2 cloves of garlic

Olive oil


  1. Add basil, pine nuts, parm and garlic to food processor and pulse it a few times until it is chopped
  2. Scrape any of the ingredients from the side of the processor to mix it through
  3. Turn on the processor and stream in some olive oil until the mixture pulls away from the side of the processor and it reaches your desired consistency. 
Roasted Salmon Recipe -

Price:  $10 for 4 servings = $2.50 per serving

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ocean Vodka and Deep Island Rum

Since I have been to Maui over 15 times now, the one question I seem to get often is “Is there anything left for you to do that you haven’t done already?”  Yes, I have probably experienced all of the touristy things like the Road to Hana, sunrise AND sunset at Haleakala, and beautiful and mystical I`ao Valley but I pride myself on always finding new things each year especially when they are still hidden gems.  I had done the Surfing Goat Dairy and O`o Farms tours years ago shortly after they started offering public tours and this year along those same lines of agritourism, the relatively new Manawai Estate Chocolate Farm and Ocean Vodka Farm and Distillery tours. 

While most of their visitors are introduced to Ocean Vodka because of the tour and distillery, I actually knew about and have already purchased a bottle of Ocean Vodka even before arriving on island.

Tour:  We arrived right when they opened since tours are offered every half an hour and nothing says vacation like vodka first thing in the morning.  Because it was so early we were the only ones there netting us a private tour with our wonderful guide David.  For just $10 a person, we got a fun and educational tour as we walked around the grounds with the 30+ variety of sugar cane they grow, the warehouse and bottling area where they hand “cork” the bottles themselves with a mallet and we got a sneak peak of their really cool new bottles that will be coming off the assembly line any day now.  They had just released their first rum in the Deep Island Rum line so new that they are even hand labeled for the time being.  With so many varieties of sugar cane that can be blended, each type of rum in their line will eventually have different notes to it just like wine, with the Wave, one to satisfy even Curious George.  They try to be as organic and green in their process as possible by hand cutting vs. burning sugar cane and a pest control strategy that may just answer the age old question of why the chicken crossed the road.

Tasting:  Since the rum was finished, we got to taste the new Deep Island Rum Wave in addition to the Ocean Vodka and the $30 Mahalo water that is used in the vodka.  Yes, $30 for a bottle of water from so deep in the ocean that it is free of any impurities and only available for retail in Japan.

The view is phenomenal up there so pack a sandwich and linger after your tour to soak it all in at the few picnic tables overlooking that view and stop by the herb garden before you leave for some fresh herbs, perfect if you are cooking in paradise.  It will be the best $10 you spend on the island. 

Cocktail Creation by David from Ocean Vodka and Deep Island Rum

Muddle some watermelon in a shaker

Add Deep Island Rum

Top with a little agave

Shake it up with some ice, strain and serve



Chicken Herb Shepherds Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is not just for St. Paddy’s Day but for when the 10 lb bag of potatoes are on sale and I could not pass up 10 lbs for $2 even if I did not know what I was going to use it for. 

Since we just dropped about a grand on food (groceries, Farmer’s Market, and eating out including all the sweets) during our 2 week stay in paradise, which is actually cheap for Hawaiian vacation standards especially since it included 3 special occasion dinners and some unplanned meals out, it was still way more in comparison to what we normally spend on food at home. 

So we have been pretty good about cooking more since we returned to offset that.  

Chicken Herb Shepherd’s Pie - Rachael Ray Show Recipe  -


  1. I never have shredded carrots so I have always left it out and just added more peas since I usually have at least a bag of frozen peas in the freezer.
  2. I always have milk in my fridge for my breakfast so I use that to loosen the potatoes vs. chicken broth. 
  3. You can eat it plain or over rice which we did
Price:  $14 for 6 servings = $2.34 per serving

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Vegetarian Greek Nachos

How I had not gotten a chance to make this recipe since I started this blog is beyond me since this is the one dish that started me cooking consistently with Rachael Ray -

So as I mentioned yesterday, eggplant was on sale for $1 a piece and since I do not have time to go to Farmer Joe’s for ground lamb, I decided to make this dish vegetarian, my third one in a row.  It is so strange how this is the outcome without even meaning to do so.    Even without the lamb, it is delicious!!  Wow, I’m beginning to sound like Rachael too so let me take it a step further and say “This is what’s for dinner tonight!”

Greek Nacho Bowls - Rachael Ray Show Recipe  -


  1. Pita bread, crumbled feta cheese are available at Trader Joe’s
  2. I just used black olives since I always have a few cans in my pantry that I pick up when it is on sale for $1
  3. Tomatoes from my backyard
Price:  $7 for 4 servings = $1.75 per serving