Spirulina Popcorn and the Bahamas

spiralina-popcorn-3

This month we went to the Bahamas on a cruise with my mom to celebrate her 85th birthday.

mom

85 years old! :)

It was a quieter event than the last time when we celebrated her 80th with our extended family five years ago.  I did a post on it here.

Jamie was so little then!

Somewhere in the Atlantic

Somewhere in the Atlantic

Here he is in the cabin as we left the New York port this time.

Jamie in the cabin as we left New York.

Cool dude.

The ship we were on was the Carnival Splendor.  It made stops at Grand Turks, Half Moon Cay, and the Bahamas.   We would have liked to have spent more time in Nassau where the ship docked for an afternoon.  It is a beautiful city, and we enjoyed a couple of hours at Ardastra Gardens and Zoo.

The highlight of the gardens are the delicate flamingos that are trained to do marching drills.

The highlight of the gardens are the delicate Carribbean Flamingos that are trained to do marching drills.

The gardens is also home to a collection of animals, including this guy, a capybara who wouldn’t stop eating.

capy

Did you know that the capybara is the largest rodent?  Somehow he is cute, but can you imagine him with a giant rat’s tail!?

After the gardens we visited Fort Fincastle and the Queen’s Staircase.

At the bottom of the stairs.

At the bottom of the stairs.

Then, we went quickly to an internet cafe to check our emails and then it was already back on the ship for us.

They say that it is not uncommon to gain a pound a day on a cruise ship, and I can believe it! There is an excess of food and alcohol and so many opportunities to consume. We definitely ate our share of soft serve ice cream and *popcorn* every night!  But luckily, Denis and I only gained a pound each. :)

While on the cruise ship, ironically, my mom and I listened to a long talk given by a nutritionist on detoxing the body.  He spoke at length about the benefits of algae and seaweed, and I was intrigued.  After the week on the cruise we all fell back into our normal daily habits, but I felt compelled to do more.  I researched more on the benefits of algae and seaweed.  I’ve always loved seaweed, and we all eat it regularly.  (I quit buying the seasoned roasted seaweed at Trader Joe’s because Jamie would inhale it and there is a lot of sodium in it.)  Now, we just eat plain roasted nori seaweed that is used to make sushi. It has no extra ingredients.   I cut it up myself with kitchen shears. :)

Roasted seaweed found in Asian markets.

Roasted seaweed found in Asian markets.

On the other hand, I had never had spirulina – a blue green algae, before, and decided to try it.

Spirulina is a microalgae that has been consumed for hundreds of years by Aztecs and other Mesoamericans.  It is a complete protein and has all essential amino acids as well as other nutrients and antioxidents, and is one of the best plant proteins on the planet.  It has been promoted as a treatment for many ailments, including diabetes and high cholesterol. Studies have also shown its antioxidant effects in reducing cancerous lesions.  See this 1985 abstract published in the Nutrition and Cancer journal for more info on the study.  It has also been found to help athletes recover from muscle fatigue faster, due to its antioxidant properties.  This is discussed in a 2010 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise.

That said, I wasn’t interested in taking spirulina supplements, I just wanted to eat it. :)  I have to say, the flavor is stronger than seaweed.  So it might take some time getting used to for people who aren’t even used to eating seaweed every day like us!  You could easily put it into a green smoothie though, and it would probably go well with the rest of the green flavors.  I haven’t tried this yet, because I’m still timid when it comes to green smoothies.

I like to eat my greens, so instead I sprinkled it all over my popcorn.

spiralina popcorn 2

I hinted before that I am somewhat of a popcorn addict.  I have an air popper and toss the popped corn with olive or sesame oil.  You could also use a mister to spray the oil if you have one.  I often cut up dried seaweed to toss in and sprinkle with sesame seeds and sea salt.  We have been enjoying popcorn this way ever since we had Hurricane Popcorn in Hawaii.   This is a much healthier version though!  I always found the thick buttery goo a bit much and prefer something lighter.

Spirulina Popcorn turned out to be quite tasty.  It turned our popcorn bowl into a green, healthy snack from the sea. :)

For more information on spirulina – its benefits and ways to use it, check it out nuts.com.

Spirulina Popcorn

1/4 cup popcorn kernels

olive oil or sesame oil

sea salt to taste

1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds

1 sheet of dried roasted seaweed, cut into small pieces with kitchen shears

1 teaspoon dried spirulina

1.  Pop corn in an air popper or on the stove.  If you pop it on the stove, place popcorn kernels and a tablespoon of oil in a large pot with a lid and heat on stove.

2.  Toss popped corn with oil and season with salt, sesame seeds, and dried spirulina

spiralina popcorn 1

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Chicken Katsu

chicken katsu

My mom is here visiting again!  When she arrived from a day of traveling, I served Chicken Katsu for dinner (with rice, miso soup, and miso green beans – not a low sodium meal!).  It was comfort food Japanese style.  When I lived in Japan, this was a favorite dish to order at a mom and pop type of restaurant –the equivalent of a nice, hot diner meal here in the U.S.

Basically Chicken Katsu is breaded chicken served with a Japanese savory sauce made up of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.

I like to trim the chicken breasts to make them thinner using kitchen shears.  Then I pound them to an even thickness in a Ziploc bag.

cooked

 

To bread, I simply coat in flour, then egg, then panko (Japanese bread crumbs).

breaded

Then, I fry them up in a skillet and keep warm in the oven while I continue to cook all the chicken pieces.

chicken katsu

Slice the chicken into strips at a diagonal and serve with sauce and hot rice!  Perfect comfort food. :)

Chicken Katsu

 

4 chicken breasts

kosher salt

½ cup flour

2 eggs or 1 egg + 1 white, beaten

1 ½ cups panko

about 1/3 cup canola oil for frying

 

¼ cup ketchup

1 ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

 

  1. Trim tenderloin from chicken breasts. Place breasts and tenderloin pieces in a large Ziploc bag and lightly pound until each piece of chicken is uniform thickness, about 1/4 –inch.
  2. Measure flour and place in shallow dish. Beat eggs in another shallow dish. Measure panko and place in third shallow dish.
  3. Pat chicken dry, place on plate and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt.
  4. Dredge a piece of chicken in flour. Coat in egg. Coat in panko. Set on clean plate. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces.
  5. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
  6. Heat a large skillet with about 1/3 cup canola oil. Test with a few crumbs of panko. When it sizzles, the oil is ready.
  7. Place a few pieces of the coated chicken in the oil being careful not to crowd the pan. Saute on each side until golden, about 1-2 minutes per side. Drain on rack set over a baking sheet. Place chicken in warmed oven and continue to cook remaining chicken in skillet.
  8. To make sauce, stir ketchup and Worcestershire sauce together until fully combined. Serve with chicken.

 

Yield: 4 servings

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Dad how-tos

thehungryartist:

A recent piece I did inspired by my neighborhood!

Originally posted on THE WAY TUGEAU:

hipster-dad-CORRECTED-Melissa-Iwai-2015 (3)Melissa Iwai’s how-to for the perfect (Brooklyn) Dad….

View original

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Beef Teriyaki Burgers

teriyaki burger

When we go to the Japanese store, Mitsuwa, in New Jersey, Jamie and I always share a Hamburg plate (Hamburger with sauce served with rice and soup) in the food court.  The flavors always bring me back to my brief time in Japan many years ago.  The other night, I decided to make similar Japanese style burgers based on this recipe, which I posted several years ago.  Instead of ground turkey, though, I used beef, and made them bigger, more like the Mitsuwa ones we love.

The sauce is thin, but is so delicious, and so much better than the sickeningly sweet kind you might find in the store.  Mirin is a rice wine similar to sake, but with a higher sugar content. It can be found in Asian markets.  You may have extra sauce which can be stored in the fridge and used in a pinch to season broiled salmon or other meat.  It is also good served over plain hot Japanese rice!

teriyaki burger 2

Teriyaki Burgers

½ slice of bread, finely minced

2 tablespoons milk

1/3 cup finely minced onion

1 clove garlic pushed through a garlic press

pinch of kosher salt

pepper to taste

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 lb. lean ground beef

1/2 tablespoon oil

Teriyaki sauce for serving

Teriyaki Sauce:

1/2  cup mirin

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1.  Soak bread with milk in a large bowl for about 10 minutes.

2.  Add onions, garlic, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce to mixture.  Then add ground beef.  Stir it lightly with a fork.  Then gently form into six large patties and place on plate.

3.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Heat oil in an oven safe skillet on the stove.  Cook burgers on each side until browned, about 1-2 minutes per side.  Place skillet in oven, and continue cooking burgers for about five to ten minutes, depending how well done you like them.

4.  To make Teriyaki Sauce, heat mirin and soy sauce in a small saucepan on low heat for about 1-2 minutes.  Add sugar, stir to dissolve, and let simmer for about 1-2 minutes.  Serve sauce over burgers and rice.

 

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Ancho Chili Rubbed Grilled Flank Steak Salad for Cinco de Mayo

steak salad 2

After a very long winter here on the east coast, things are finally warming up!  We celebrated by buying flowers at a neighborhood plant sale and planting them in our garden.

flower

Then Denis whipped up the grill.  With Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, I thought I would share a Mexican inspired steak salad recipe. It’s loosely based around my Asian one, which was a finalist in the 2006 Cooking Light Magazine Reader Recipe Contest and appears in the 2008  Cooking Light Annual Recipe Cookbook.

I first prepared the flank steak by rubbing it with an Ancho Chili Spice mix that I made and let the steak sit at room temperature for about an hour.  I scored the surface of the flank steak diagonally, making a diamond pattern.  This is to prevent the met from curling when it’s exposed to high heat.  Then I inserted garlic slivers in the cuts.

raw steak

While the meat was resting, I made a Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette and put together the salad.

Denis grilled the Ancho Rubbed steak on each side for about 4 minutes on a very hot grill, then 5 minutes over indirect heat.  This is for medium well.  If you want it to be more rare, cook in less time, and keep checking the resistance of the meat to touch.

charred top2

After tenting the steak for about five minutes to let the juices redistribute, I sliced it on the bias and served with the salad and drizzled the vinaigrette on top.

cut meatGarnished with a bit of Cojito cheese and more cilantro, this healthy salad was the perfect meal to celebrate more warm, sunny days to come!

For more healthy recipes and inspiration similar to this salad, check out Aloha’s healthy recipes. I’ve been drooling over the recipes there!

steak salad 1

 

 

Ancho Chili Rubbed Grilled Flank Steak Salad

For steak:

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder (if you can’t find this, regular chili powder would work)

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 lb. flank steak, trimmed of fat

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons olive oil

1.  Mix salt, brown sugar, chili powder, ground cumin, and smoked paprika together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

2.  Score diagonal lines across both sides of flank steak.  Rub with spice mixture on each side.  Insert garlic slivers in cuts.   Let rest for 30-60 minutes.

3.  While meat is resting, prepare grill with the coals on one side.  Brush one side of meat with olive oil.  Sear  about 4 minutes over direct heat.  Flip and brush with more oil. Sear for another 4 minutes then move to the indirect heat side and let cook for about three to five minutes, depending on how cooked you like your meat.

4.  Tent meat and let rest for five to ten minutes.  Slice on the bias and serve.

charred top

For the dressing:

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic (about 1 clove)

1 teaspoon lime zest (from one lime)

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup heaping tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

1/4 cup tablespoons olive oil

1.  Mix garlic, zest, lime juice, vinegar, salt, sugar, and cilantro together.  Slowly add olive oil to mixture while stirring.  Set aside

For Salad:

8 cups mesclun greens

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1 ripe avocado, cubed

2 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup steamed frozen corn kernals

cilantro for garnish

1/2 cup crumbled cojito cheese

Ancho Rubbed Grilled Flank Steak, sliced thinly on the bias

1.  Toss greens, onion, avocado, tomatoes, black beans and corn together.  Top with sliced grilled steak.  Garnish with more cilantro and crumbled cojito cheese.

Makes 4 servings, with extra dressing.

steak salad 3

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Filed under Beef, Dinner, Vegetables

Bacon Shrimp Linguine

pasta 1

 

In the past months, I finished illustrating two books, some magazine pieces, a promo piece, and some pieces for two gallery shows.  Oh, and I took two online courses.  Now that I finally have a moment to breathe, I have enjoyed cooking and experimenting again!  It’s so nice to spend time in the kitchen and try different things outside of our usual rotation of dinners of late…

I made this delicious shrimp and bacon dish last night and wanted to share it.  Also, I want to remember how I made it as I will definitely have to make it again!  My inspiration came from part of a package of bacon and frozen shrimp in our freezer that I had to use up.  The base of the recipe is similar to a All’Amatriciana dish I used to make often.  I omitted the red pepper flakes because my son and husband don’t like them, but it would be a great addition to my version.  I used smoked bacon instead of pancetta and added shrimp.  It is easy to make and perfect for a week night dinner.

Prep involves deveining and cleaning shrimp, so make sure you’ve done this beforehand:

shrimp

After sauteing bacon pieces until crunchy, drain and set aside for a nice garnish!

bacon

 

When it all comes together, the smokiness of the bacon, the acidity of the tomatoes, and the creaminess of the cheese goes so well with the shrimp!

pasta 3

Shrimp Bacon Pasta

4 slices of bacon

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced finely

3 gloves of garlic, crushed and minced

1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes

kosher salt to taste

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried basil

About 1 pound of shrimp, cleaned and deveined, chopped

1/2 pound of linguine

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Boil 4 quarts of water in a large pot.

2.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add oil and fry bacon until crispy.  Remove bacon to drain on paper toweled lined plates.  When it is cooled and crispy, break into little bits.

3.  Saute onion and garlic in remaining oil and bacon fat until soft.  Add crushed tomatoes, salt, sugar, oregano, and basil.  Let simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.

4.  Add salt to boiling water in large pot and cook linguine according to package instructions after sauce has been simmering for about 10 minutes.

5.  Drain pasta and return to large pot.  Add shrimp to tomato sauce.  Cook another minute or so until it becomes opaque.  Be careful not to overcook the shrimp.

6.  Pour shrimp sauce on top of pasta in pot, add cheese and stir.

7.  Serve pasta with crispy bacon and more grated cheese on top.

Makes about 4 servings

Enjoy!

pasta 2 bacon

 

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Filed under Dinner, Pork, Shrimp

Chocolate Frozen Banana and Blueberry Bites

chocolate covered blueberries

These Chocolate Frozen Banana and Blueberry Bites are my new favorite treats recently.  I can’t get enough of them! They’re quite healthy too.  You can use raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder.  Especially when combined with the frozen blueberries, this packs a powerful antioxidant punch. :)

I always have frozen banana slices in my freezer for my smoothies.  This is how I prepare them:
frozen banans I slice a ripe banana (still firm though) and lay the pieces on a piece of parchment and freeze in a lidded container. I used to do this on a plate, but my husband claimed the banana flavor was permeating the ice cubes.  After they are frozen, I usually store them in a freezer bag, as it takes less space.  I buy frozen blueberries and just use those.  Very easy!

To make the chocolate treats, first melt some coconut oil and mix with the cocoa powder, coconut milk, and sweetener of choice. I use stevia.  Then heat for a bit on the stove or in the microwave oven. I nuke it, because it’s one less pan to clean and faster.

Then dip the frozen banana slices and/or frozen blueberries in the chocolate and place on a plate or in a parchment paper lined container.  Be sure not to put too many frozen pieces at one time in the chocolate, as the coconut oil will harden (coconut oil is used to make home made Magic Shell because of this effect). I usually do one at a time.

banans and blueberries on parchment

Put in the freezer to harden, then transfer to a zip lock bag.  When you want a quick frozen bite, grab a few and you’re good to go! :)

chocolate covered bananas

YUM!
chocolate covered bananas 1

Chocolate Frozen Banana and Blueberry Bites

Frozen banana slices from about 1 large banana

Frozen blueberries – about 1/2 cup

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao powder

2-4 tablespoons coconut milk, almond milk, or cow’s milk

Stevia or other sweetener to taste

1.  Melt coconut oil in a bowl until it’s in liquid form.  Add cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons of coconut milk and sweetener of choice.  Heat in microwave oven for about 30 seconds.  Stir until powder has dissolved.  It it’s too thick, add more milk a bit at a time until the consistency is of chocolate syrup.  Heat again for about 10 seconds. Stir until smooth.

2.  Dip frozen banana slices and berries one at a time in the chocolate and place on a parchment lined container or plate.  Continue to dip slices and berries until chocolate syrup is used up.  Freeze until hardened.  Transfer to a zip lock bag for storage.

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Filed under Desserts, Gluten Free

Low Carb Cauliflower Crust Bacon Zucchini Quiche

quiche side 1

I procrastinated today and instead of doing my work, I did some experimenting and cooking in the kitchen!  We had a frozen pie crust I needed to use (it kept threatening to fall out of the freezer in an annoying way), so I decided to make a quiche.  I try to keep my processed foods on the low side (with the occasional lapse of salty snacks that sometimes make their way in our house…).  So I made one quiche with the Pilsbury pie crust and one quiche for myself with cauliflower crust (my husband and son hate cauliflower, so that’s why there was no sharing).

I based the filling on this Cooking Light recipe.  I doubled it because I was making two quiches.  The recipe below is for one quiche.  I used onion instead of shallot since that’s what we had. I lessened the oil to 1/2 tablespoon, used only half of the zucchini, and added parmesan cheese.  The results were yummy!  This quiche is also gluten free. :)

quiche top

Low Carb Cauliflower Crust Bacon Zucchini Quiche

For crust:

Non-stick spray

1/2 head cauliflower, about 18 oz., chopped

6 tablespoons liquid egg whites (or 2 whites)

salt and pepper

1/4 cup almond meal

For filling:

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 small zucchini, sliced (about 2 cups)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

3 eggs

9 tablespoons liquid egg whites (or 3 whites)

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1 1/2 oz. shredded part skim mozzarella (about 1/4 cup)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray pie pan with non-stick spray.  Set aside

2.  Finely process cauliflower in food processor.  Transfer to a bowl, cover with saran, and steam in microwave for 4 minutes.

3.  Mix cooked cauliflower, 6 tablespoons egg whites, salt and pepper, and almond meal together in the bowl.  Pour into the pie pan and shape crust with a spoon, pushing sides up the edges.

4.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and turn heat down to 350 degrees.

5.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet, add onion, zucchini, thyme, salt, and pepper and saute on medium heat for about 5 minutes until softened.  Let cool a bit.

6.  Beat eggs, egg whites, milk, parmesan cheese, and bacon together in a bowl.  Set aside.

7.  Spoon cooked onion and zucchini mixture into cauliflower crust and spread evenly.  Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.

Then pour egg/bacon mixture on top.

8.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until center is set.

Serves 8.

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Filed under Dinner, Eggs, Gluten Free

Easy Broccoli Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce for the Busy Person

Not the prettiest but oh so delicious!

Not the prettiest but oh so delicious!

Happy to start the new year with lots of projects, but that means I need to cook fast!

This has been my go-to super fast lunch for awhile now, and I thought I’d share the recipe here.  It is really easy to make if you have all the ingredients on hand. I usually make just one serving at a time, but you could double or quadruple the recipe pretty easily.

Have you seen the raw broccoli slaw they sell these days in the refrigerated section?  I still prefer my broccoli cooked, but I love the convenience of having it already washed and sliced thinly for stir fries.  I par cook the broccoli in the microwave for about 2 minutes with a spritz of water.  Then I fry it in just a smidgen of sesame oil for flavor in a non-stick pan and add a slice of firm tofu, and an egg white.  As the white cooks, I break it up along with the tofu and season with a bit of soy sauce.  Then I stir it all together with a peanut sauce I make.  You can use this peanut sauce recipe I use for my Asian Chicken Salad with Peanut Noodles, and use as needed.  Or you could just make a bit of sauce fresh (which I’ve been doing) of some peanut butter, peanut flour, coconut milk, and a bit more soy sauce.  In the above picture, I added some leftover shirataki noodles to the mix.  I’m doing a bit of low carbing these days, trying to lose some holiday weight….

Here is the recipe for a single serving:

Easy Broccoli Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce

1 1/2 cups of broccoli slaw (I use Trader Joe’s)

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 slice of firm tofu

1 egg white (I use liquid whites)

2 teaspoons soy sauce, divided

For sauce:

1 teaspoon peanut butter

2 teaspoons peanut flour (alternatively, just use 1 tablespoon of peanut butter for the sauce)

1 tablespoon coconut milk or water

1.  Steam the broccoli slaw in a bowl in the microwave for about 2 minutes.

2.  Heat sesame oil in a non-stick pan.  Add broccoli, tofu, egg white, and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce.  Let whites harden a bit, then stir together and break up tofu into pieces.

3.  Remove from heat and set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, peanut flour (or just 1 tablespoon peanut butter) with coconut milk or water and the rest of the soy sauce (1 teaspoon).

4.   Pour over cooked vegetable mixture and stir to incorporate.  Serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving

And here’s a small “sketch” I did of a dad I saw at Starbucks last weekend — just because….  :)

DAD and babya

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Filed under Eggs, Lunch, Vegetables, Vegetarian

2014 Round Up Top Five Posts

Looking back on 2014, I am happy of all the things I accomplished in my art life, but cooking took a backseat this time….  I won’t lie, most popular posts were from previous years! Number one was Creamy Pesto Sauce from 2013 for some reason in April of this year:

creamy pesto ravioli2

It is a really good recipe, I have to say — check it out!

The top posts of this year were Adventures with Jello — also in April (am I sensing a trend here?):

flubber jello

Check out my Flubber Jello!

California Dreamin’ — our recent trip to California and my mom’s yummy Migas!

With refried beans, crema, and chopped scallions

With refried beans, crema, and chopped scallions

And Tex Mex Scramble (another fav I always cook) and my illustrated recipe of it for They Draw and Cook:

tofu2

Click to view larger

Click to view larger

And last but not least — another easy weeknight meal: Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions and Mini Pizzas!

pizza 2

Hope everyone has a wonderful, exciting, prosperous 2015!!!  See you next year! :)

2015 copy

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Filed under Art Related, Dinner, Eggs, Pasta, Vegetarian