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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Grilled Eggplant Sandwich

I have been keeping up so far going through and picking out recipes from my 2011 Martha Stewart Everyday Magazines…better late than never right?  So one of the recipes I took out of the September one and put aside was a grilled eggplant sandwich.  When I saw eggplants on sale recently for just $1 each, I knew the time has come.  Since I had leftover individual ciabatta rolls from my Saltimbocca paninis, I used those which I personally like better anyways.  You can pick up fresh mozzarella already presliced from Trader Joe’s but they somehow left it in the basket when ringing up my groceries and I did not realize until I was already making dinner so I had to bite the bullet and pay more at my local supermarket.  I had fresh tomatoes and basil from my backyard making it at least somewhat farm to table. 

Grilled Eggplant Sandwich – Martha Stewart Recipe  -

Price:  $12 for 4 servings = $3 per serving

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pumpkin Raviolis with Fried Sage

By now, you should realize that I try to make the most of my ingredients so I do try to think of what dishes I can use whatever I have left and in this case sage.  Although I used it in both the ricotta stuffed saltimbocca and the saltimbocca paninis, I still had some sage leaves left. 

While I was at Trader Joe’s picking up my sage and the ricotta cheese, I was happy to see that the honey pumpkin raviolis were back.  In fact, if you look at their Fearless Flyer this month, practically most of it had pumpkin in it like a big smack in the face that fall is here in full force!!  Good thing I like pumpkin.  So I picked up 2 packs and stuck them in my fridge for a future dinner.  Lets just say it didn’t last too long as a few days later, I was cooking them up per the package direction and crumbled some fried sage leaves right on top using this simple recipe I found online.  Topped with a drizzle of good olive oil, it turned out to be such a perfect pairing, for once I wish I had more sage. 

Price:  $6 for 3 servings = $2 per serving

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ricotta Stuffed Saltimbocca

I had 11 new RR episodes from when we were away that I am still weeding through of which this one was one of the first I saw and wanted to try.  A big reason was I had the second pack of prosciutto from my Costco pack that was expiring soon that I ended up making the saltimbocca paninis - and was therefore already buying sage for that so after defrosting some chicken breast from the freezer, only needed to buy ricotta cheese. 


  1. The recipe calls for about 2 tbsp per breast but the video said 1 tbsp.  Warning that the 2 tbsp ricotta cheese mixture leaked out in the pan creating a bit of cleanup
  2. If you cannot get the chicken breast fully cooked in the pan due to the ricotta mixture leaking, you can also wrap it in foil and bake for another 10 min in the oven at 350 degrees
  3. Since I have been buying Mary’s Free Range chicken breast, price is higher $5.99/lb than if you stocked up on chicken breast when it is selling as a lost leader on sale.  I have seen it for about $2.88 per lb. 
Price:  $16 for 4 servings = $4 per serving