Maui Girl Cooks

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti


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Chiles Stuffed with Crusty Beans

Growing up, I remember having stuffed green peppers for dinner fairly frequently.  Stuffed peppers weren’t one of my favorite dinners, because I wasn’t a fan of the stuffing {or meatloaf either}, which was probably just ground beef with onions and seasonings.  Mashed potatoes were always one of the accompaniments, and they were always a hit with me.  Who doesn’t love mashed potatoes?  I remember making a deal with my mom on Stuffed Pepper Nights. . . I gave her my stuffing, and she gave me her green pepper case.  Score!  I love peppers, and green peppers are my favorite, even though red, yellow and orange are supposed to be healthier.  Green peppers rank high on my list of favorite vegetables, in cooked or raw form.  They have a wonderful green flavor that I love.  On a hot day, a refreshing snack is half a cold green pepper sprinkled with sea salt; when you bite into the pepper, cool spray mists your face and it tastes oh so delicious . . .and then you eat the other half!

I have been making my own version of stuffed peppers, using chiles from the Upcountry Farmers Market.  I’m not sure of the variety, but they are a sweet pepper, so no worries if you aren’t into a good mouth burn, which I happen to love.  You can use any chiles you like; poblanos are a particular favorite of ours.  The stuffing here is not meat, but what we call Crusty Beans.

I would describe the texture of kidney and black beans to be moist and creamy.  Once they are cooked up as Crusty Beans, while still moist on the inside, the outside has a bit of crust, from cumin and chili powder; they are delicious.  Even though I prefer cooking dry beans, canned beans make this delicious dish quick and easy to make.  Crusty Beans are great for any meal, and are a fabulous accompaniment for eggs and toast, if you aren’t stuffing them into peppers.

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Crusty Beans

2 15-oz. can kidney or black beans, rinsed and drained {or about 2 cups cooked and drained beans}

1/2 medium onion, diced about 3/4 cup

5 cloves garlic, minced

Olive oil 4 T

Butter 2 T

Ground cumin 6 t

Chili powder 3 t {click here if you’d like to try my homemade chili powder}

Red pepper flakes 1/2 T or 1 minced jalapeño



Over medium-medium high heat sauté beans, cumin and chili powder for about 5”.  Add onions, garlic & jalapeños.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5” more.  The onions will still have a bit of crunch to them, because they were added after the beans were sautéed.

Makes 4-6 generous servings.

Now let’s talk about the peppers.  Select a pepper that you like, that has room for some stuffing.  You will need a lot of Crusty Beans if you decide to stuff them into bell peppers, but poblanos or the sweet peppers shown here take about 2-3 tbsp of filling.

Raw Sweet Peppers

Chiles Stuffed with Crusty Beans

8 chiles {poblanos, sweet long peppers, or other variety}

Sea salt

Crusty Beans

Soft goat cheese {or another good melting cheese that you like}

Minced jalapeño for garnish, if desired

Preheat broiler to high.  Adjust oven rack to second position from the top.  Wash and dry the peppers, and place them on a foil lined baking sheet.  There is no need for oil or seasoning for this step.  Broil peppers, turning when each side gets charred.  You can position peppers right next to each other to prevent them from rolling over, if necessary, so all sides can get charred.  When all sides are charred, remove baking sheet from the oven and fold the peppers up in the foil for about 15”.  The peppers will steam and the skins will loosen up for easy removal.  The peppers will be delicious, but the skins are papery and not pleasant to eat, so you will want to remove them when they are cool.

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Once the skins have been removed, cut peppers on one side from the pointy end to the stem end {leave the stem end on}; kitchen shears are great for this.  They can be a little slippery, but just take your time.  Remove the seeds and membrane from the peppers; if you carefully snip the stringy white membrane close to the stem, it is more easily removed.  A few seeds won’t hurt, but try to get most of them.  I have heard conflicting opinions on whether the seeds should be removed by running the peppers under water, which certainly makes quick work of this task.  For years, I avoided rinsing the peppers, but the last couple of times I’ve made them, I let the water do most of the work, and the peppers tasted great.

Sprinkle the insides of the peppers with a little sea salt.  Now it’s time to stuff your peppers! The roasted peppers are fragile, so be careful not to tear them while stuffing.  I’m ok with overstuffed peppers; it’s fine if you can’t close the peppers.  Spray an 8×8 baking dish with pan spray. Nestle the unstuffed peppers together in the dish, stuff them and then cover the dish with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and sprinkle liberally with goat cheese.  Bake for another 10 minutes so the cheese is soft.  Shower with minced jalapeño and eat hot.

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Click here for some info on the health benefits of peppers!

Bon appetit!

salad with mango and vanilla vinaigrette

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A Splash of Vanilla in Your Salad

There are 4 basic tastes that come together to provide us with pleasure {hopefully} in the food we eat:  salty, sweet, bitter and sour.  There is also a savory taste, a fifth taste, known as umami.  Foods rich in umami include mushrooms, tomato paste, anchovies and green tea, among others.  Adding umami rich foods to a dish can elevate it to a new level, even though no one would ever be able to pick out that ingredient {for example, anchovies}.  How many people who love Caesar Salad know that there are anchovies in the dressing?  Many ingredients we add to our recipes are not in-your-face flavors, but are subtle, adding a layer that makes a difference in the final dish.

Desserts aside, I normally would not choose to eat something sweet over something savory.  While I can eat an alarming amount of chocolate frosting or brownie batter, I prefer a flavor profile that includes sour, bitter and salty over sweet. I enjoy a tart salad dressing, and when I make vinaigrettes, I am liberal with the vinegar, not adhering to the usual guideline of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil.  But I was thinking about vanilla the other day, and wondering how it would taste in a vinaigrette.  I found a recipe online for Vanilla Vinaigrette and tried it out on a green salad that included mango and avocado.  Consider me hooked on Vanilla Vinaigrette.  It not only has a great alliterative name, but tastes fantastic, adding a slightly sweet and tropical flavor when drizzled over the right salad.  Vanilla Vinaigrette isn’t for just any salad, but it is wonderful on salads that include fruit.  Fruit salads aren’t usually on my radar screen;  I love fruit, and don’t make fruit salads per se, but include fruit on many of our green salads.  What makes Vanilla Vinaigrette work is its subtle sweetness that mingles with the fruit. The fruits that work best with this dressing are tropical fruits and summer fruits, avocado included.  I love avocados, particularly the way they gently break down and become a part of the dressing.Green Salad with Mango & Vanilla Vinaigrette

As you can see in the picture, we added a bit of protein to our salad, in the form of a hard cooked egg.  I saw someone eating a hard cooked egg the other day, and the inside was atrocious, with an ugly gray-green ring around the yolk, so I thought I’d include the directions I use for making eggs with beautiful yellow yolks.

Hard Cooked Eggs
recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

Put eggs in a single layer in a saucepan with a cover.  Bring them to a gentle boil {uncovered} and boil for 1 minute.  Turn off the heat, cover and let stand for 6 minutes.  If you are going to use them later, put eggs into an ice bath to stop cooking.  Otherwise, peel and enjoy warm with a bit of salt and pepper.

Vanilla Vinaigrette
adapted from

3 tbsp white wine vinegar {champagne vinegar also good}

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp sugar {original recipe called for 1 tbsp}- add more or less to suit your taste

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together until well blended.


  • I have always used romaine with this dressing, but a Manoa, Bibb or Butter lettuce would be fantastic.
  • Mangoes, lilikoi {passion fruit}, blueberries, stone fruit and avocado are all delicious!
  • Some herbs that work well are basil, mint, tarragon and cilantro.
  • Sweet onions are always a nice touch, and pretty as well.
  • Chopped macadamia nuts that have been lightly toasted in coconut oil & salted make a delicious crunchy topping!

Bon appetit!


Piment d’Espelette and Other Mainland Fun

When you live in one of the top island destinations in the world, the need to leave for a vacation can seem silly.  Many who live here need to “get off the rock” periodically, but my husband and I have never felt the need.  We lived in Maui for 3 years before I discovered how much I love soaring above the clouds across the vast Pacific to visit friends and family on the Mainland.

Off the coast of Maui

Off the coast of Maui

So much so, that in the summer of 2014, I flew to Washington State twice in 2 months, for a whirlwind of food, family, friends and fun.  The second trip wasn’t originally planned, but was necessary, because I learned on the first trip that my friend Sally retired from teaching at the same school where I taught for 13 years.  There was a wonderful retirement party with great food, drink and conversation with my school friends…I loved it!  My recent sojourn to the Mainland ended about a month and a half ago, after a too-short trip to celebrate my second cousin Betty’s 80th birthday.  A more enthusiastic and loving person you will not meet, and I could not imagine missing her birthday bash.  Too many years ago to count, I flew from Washington, D.C. to Hawaii, and said that I would never fly straight through between the East Coast and Hawaii ever again; the trip is too long, and if it can be broken up with a fun layover stop, why not.  So stop I did, in Orange County, California, where my Aunt Debbie lives.  Because we are so close in age, we are more like sisters than aunt and niece, and had much catching up to do.  Apparently we gain superhuman stamina when we are together, because a lot of our catching up was done in the wee hours of the morning {as late as 4:30 one morning-yikes!}.  We had a blast for almost a week at her house, before we took off for Washington, D.C. and the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, where my family tree has many roots. If you are in Southern California, near Costa Mesa, I highly recommend that you pay a visit to Surfas Culinary District.

Eat at the Surfas Cafe

Eat at the Surfas Cafe

Describing the food at Surfas

Describing the food at Surfas

Whether you are a home cook or a professional, you will find Surfas a delightful place to spend some time. Until you can get there, click here to take a virtual tour of the store.  Surfas has a cafe, a fabulous olive bar and they also offer wine tasting during business hours.  My aunt Debbie and I were admiring a beautiful jar of what can only be described as gourmet maraschino cherries; they were much larger than the maraschino cherries usually seen on the grocery shelf, and their color was deep, rich burgundy, like a fine Merlot.  The wonderful lady behind the counter said she happened to have an open jar, and offered us a taste.  Oh my goodness!  I don’t know about you, but as a child, I loved the maraschino cherries in fruit cocktail, on hot fudge sundaes and everywhere else they made an appearance.  The neon red cherries have not appealed to me for many moons, but these lovely cherries were luscious.  There were some gorgeous dry pasta offerings, which we could not resist.  We made a beautiful pasta salad with the multicolor pasta pictured below, and it was just as colorful in the salad as it was dry!

Zebra Pasta

Zebra Pasta

Multicolored Pasta

Multicolored Pasta

I restrained myself from making too many purchases at Surfas, because of luggage limitations, but did buy some fleur de sel and a jar of Piment d’espelette, which I was excited to find.  Clocking in at only 4,000 Scoville units (habanero peppers rate up to 350,000 which is 100 times hotter than jalapeños), the Espelette pepper provides just a touch of heat, though our friend Sue, who orders Thai food with “zero stars” would find it decidedly spicy.  Along with the whisper of heat, and the intensely rich pepper flavor is a bit of fruitiness, which makes Piment D’espelette extraordinarily tasty in my book.  I made a quick and tasty Creamy French Dressing a couple of days ago, which is so much better than the bright orange stuff in the bottle {which I loved as a kid}.

Creamy French Dressing on Green Salad

Creamy French Dressing on Green Salad

Creamy French Dressing adapted from

2 tablespoons champagne wine vinegar {or white wine vinegar}
1 teaspoon sugar (or more, if you like a sweet “French” dressing)
1 teaspoon Piment D’espelette or 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika {I like the Piment d’Espelette}
Salt and freshly ground back pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a blender, combine all ingredients except the olive oil. With the blender on its lowest setting), slowly add the oil in a thin stream through the opening in the lid. Watch out, because even though the quantities are small, the dressing will splash out the top of the blender.  Check the dressing. It should be somewhat thick; if it is not, blend until it reaches the consistency of an American “French” dressing. Serve. Or, store in a covered container for up to 1 week. Whisk well before using.

Makes about 1 cup

For awhile, I’ve been thinking about knitting again, something I have not done since moving to Maui.  Occasionally it’s cool enough in the morning and evening to wear a light knitted scarf, and it’s certainly cool to wear one when scoping out Haleakala.  So before I left, I did some research on the knitting stores close to my aunt’s house.  I decided to visit Yarn del Sol, and was happy I did. I know the basics of knitting, but haven’t knit for a few years and wanted a short refresher.  There was a lovely woman, whose name I unfortunately do not remember, at Yarn del Sol who sat down with me and helped jog my memory of a particular cast on that I like, as well as a few other things.  I appreciate her assistance and look forward to knitting again! I have not knit a single stitch since I returned home {I am not surprised}, because there seems to be more hours in the day to do “extra” things when you are on vacation.  Once you are back on your home turf, there are  tasks that you did not do on vacation, so I will have to figure out how to fit knitting into my days, and then the issue is where to purchase the kind of beautiful yarns that, as far as I know, are not for sale anywhere on Maui.  There is no shortage of those gaudy hued acrylic yarns that our grandmothers often used to knit potholders and afghans.  Lest you think I don’t care for those kinds of afghans, I assure you this is not the case.  We have what we call “Grandma’s Crazy Afghan” on our sofa for Jack the cat to lie on, and for us when we have chilly feet.  It was one of my husband’s grandmother’s belongings that we both wanted after she passed away.

Jack on Grandma's Crazy Afghan

Jack on Grandma’s Crazy Afghan

A few other fun times in Southern California included a delicious dinner at the Lake Forest location of Avila’s El Ranchito Mexican Restaurant.  I had Shrimp Botana, which included soft handmade corn tortillas, charbroiled shrimp {quite a few!!!}, avocados, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeños and fresh lime wedges.  And…if that weren’t delicious enough…there was a bowl of clarified butter {!!!} to mingle with the hot sauce.  It was a dish I have never had before, and a very good choice for dinner.  A lunch of delicious fish tacos was enjoyed at Bear Flag Fish Company in Crystal Cove; this is a small and very casual place with a lot of great energy!  We entertained at home a couple days before we flew to the East Coast.  I had the pleasure of meeting some of my Aunt Debbie’s friends, and eating some great food that we prepared {and Bourbon Slushies!}.  My aunt has a very sweet dog named Honey, who I treated to lots of pets and scratches {and ice cubes that came pouring out when I didn’t pull my glass away from the ice dispenser fast enough…she loved that}.  And I mustn’t forget the tiny hummingbirds who were trying hard to outgrow their equally tiny nest, just outside the sliding glass door to the back.  It was fun to watch mom swoop in for mealtimes!  By the time we returned from Virginia, they had moved on to bigger digs; my aunt was happy, because they created quite a mess under the nest.



Read about our adventures on the East Coast in a future post.

Bon appetit!

Closeup of Cleaned Green Onions


An Abundance of Deliciousness

First, I would like to say that I realize that the way my husband and I do things will not work for everyone.  Our lifestyle literally revolves around what we eat and cook.  It sounds kind of funny to say that, but it is true, and I know that most people probably do not have that luxury.  That being said, I hope that you will find an idea or more that you can implement in your kitchen to streamline your meal preparation.

If you are like my husband and me, a trip to the farmers market, or even the grocery store, sends you home with an abundance of beautiful fresh delights; sometimes even more than you can reasonably eat.  I mean, how can you resist gorgeous heads of crisp freshly picked lettuce, deep magenta beets freshly dug with greens as proud as a peacock, and the plethora of other super fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables?  Really, how can you?  The farmers market is like a candy store to us {my wonderful husband is actually the one who leaves the house a little after 6 am every Saturday}, so Saturday mornings offer many opportunities to prep, cook and figure out how in the world it will all fit into the refrigerator.  It can be overwhelming and a bit frustrating, because the sheer quantity of vegetables makes it extremely difficult to navigate the refrigerator.  Do you know how much space greens, particularly unprepped greens, take up?  Lots and lots!  I wrote about this very subject last year, and told you what we did with our market bounty everyday for 1 week {some photos appear to be missing for some reason; sorry about that}.

Beets with Greens

This is $4 worth of beets & greens!


Today I have some more tips for how we manage what comes home from the farmers market.  Before we moved to Maui, most of our produce came from Central Market, my favorite grocery store in Washington State.  The farmers market was only a few months of the year, and more often than not I did not have the willpower to get up early on a Saturday morning after teaching all week.  So I went to the store, and was unable to resist the bountiful displays of fresh fruits and vegetables, and I am sorry to say, we wasted some of that food now and then.  I was teaching full time plus {no teacher I know only works full time} and even with the best intentions to cook the Swiss chard, or the butternut squash I didn’t always get to it, and sometimes. . .sometimes. . .we threw food away {gasp!}.  Such a sad tale, but it happens to the best of us.

I am happy to report that since we have moved to Maui, we waste very little food.  There are a variety of reasons for this.  The main reasons are that we both know what’s in the refrigerator, and we prep some foods so they are ready to eat.  When you are busy, it’s easy to reach for something quick instead of taking the time to wash the greens, or cut up the broccoli, etc.  Sound familiar??  If you have a refrigerator full of fresh produce, but none of it is prepped, when pressed for time you will probably go for what’s quickest to prepare, while what was beautiful on Saturday languishes, until it is thrown away.  We did the same thing, and still do, although not nearly as often these days.  Another reason is that we have more time for food than we ever had, and for that I am grateful.

  • My husband is the primary food shopper & I am the primary “put the food in the refrigerator” person.  We both know what’s in the refrigerator, so we don’t tend to forget what we have, even if it gets pushed to the back {which it inevitably does in our smaller size refrigerator}.
  • We try to eat the more perishable food toward the beginning of the week, so we aren’t tossing food because it’s lost its appeal or integrity.  So, the spinach, broccoli {before it goes yellow}, arugula, tender lettuces and Swiss chard get eaten first. . .most of the time. . .we aren’t perfect.
  • We try to prep many foods before they go into the refrigerator.  For instance. . .
    • Wash & steam or roast your beets; don’t even put them in the refrigerator until they are cooked.  You can peel them when they are done & store them for use throughout the week, on salads or as a hot or cold vegetable.  If you want to make pickled beets, make a super quick pickling liquid while they steam.
    • If your beets came with greens, cut the stems off.  Wash the greens well, spin dry then store in a ziplock bag.  Beet greens are usually on the sandy side, so you may need 3 changes of water to get them squeaky clean.  They are pretty sturdy, so you don’t have to cook them right away.  Here’s a recipe for cooking beet greens, which I think are my favorite cooked greens {I love cooked greens!}.
    • Wash at least a couple days’ worth of lettuce, spin dry and store in ziplock bag with 10 little holes poked in it.  Read why you should do this here.
    • Wash enough arugula for 1 or 2 meals and eat it soon; it shows signs of wear and tear even right after you clean it.  We love it simply dressed with thinly sliced onion, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and salt & pepper.  The beets you prepared are good here too!  And crumbled goat cheese!
    • You can wash & trim green onions ahead of time so they are quick & easy to use in a stir fry, salad or a healthy nibble on your plate.  This was a pleasant surprise to me;  I tried it one week, and they stayed fresh beautifully for the whole week.
    • Remove the outer leaves of cabbage, wash and store in a zip lock bag.
    • Trim celery, separate into stalks and wash.  Store in a ziplock bag for easy use.  Good to eat with a little salt, peanut butter {!!!}, in tuna salad, soup, pimento cheese, goat cheese, cream cheese, etc.
    • Wash, seed and halve peppers-green, red or yellow.  They will keep just fine in a ziplock bag for several days.  Just reach into the bag for a crunchy snack!

Bon appetit!



Closeup of Dressed Salad


Breakfast Salad with Creamy Dressing

I’ll begin with a few “ifs” before I tell you about one of my favorite breakfasts.  If you are among those who can only eat “breakfast food” for breakfast, consider making this for lunch or dinner.  Personally, any good food qualifies as potential breakfast food, though I have never warmed up to cold pizza, which seems to have quite a following.  If your mornings are chillycold, freezing, and a hot and hearty breakfast is what you require, put this one in your pocket for spring and summer.  If you enjoy plain yogurt, healthy and delicious, and teeming with live active cultures {so good for you!}, consider using it as a creamy component for your breakfast salad’s dressing.  Yes, I said breakfast salad.  I love getting a head start on healthy eating by enjoying a breakfast that includes vegetables {and I much prefer savory flavors to sweet}. Using yogurt in this way is something I came up within the last 3 years or so.  I came up with it partly because I have always loved eating falafels with plain yogurt, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and a squeeze of lemon {so delicious!!}.  The other thing that got me thinking about plain yogurt as part of a vinaigrette is that my Aunt Debbie, who is so close in age that she is more like my sister, mixes in a little plain yogurt when she tosses a green salad, in addition to an oil and vinegar based dressing.  Adding plain yogurt is a great way to enjoy creamily dressed salads without feeling like you’ve gone over the top calorie-wise, not that there isn’t a time or place for that.  I love going over the top every now and then! Anyway, this is somewhat of a blueprint, rather than a recipe.  Put it together however you like, with whatever vegetables you have on hand.  It will be great and your body will thank you for starting the day off with delicious healthy food.

Vegetables on cutting board


Yogurt with lettuce

Dressed salad on yogurt

Closeup of Dressed Salad

Yogurt salad bowl

You may need a spoon


Breakfast Salad with Creamy Dressing

Put some plain yogurt in the bottom of your bowl.  Top with lettuce, fresh or sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, quartered artichoke hearts, thinly sliced fresh  jalapeños and thinly sliced onions.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with red wine vinegar & extra virgin olive oil.


  • I use Kirkland artichoke hearts packed in water.  If you have oil packed, I suggest patting off as much of the marinade as you can with a paper towel.
  • Use whatever plain yogurt you like, but make sure it has live active cultures for the health benefits.  Any level of fat is fine, although whole milk yogurt can be a bit rich with the olive oil.  We like Nancy’s Organic Yogurt.
  • Use whatever kind of vinegar you like and have in your pantry, but not too much. . .just a few splashes.
  • Use good extra virgin olive oil, but not too much. . .just a drizzle.
  • Fresh herbs are always a great addition!
  • We buy the sun dried tomatoes in olive oil at Costco.  I have never been a fan of the herbs in these tomatoes, because they taste too strong to me.  I recently discovered a way to prep these tomatoes which I think makes them taste better.  I put the quantity of tomatoes I think I’ll use over the course of the week in a bowl, then cover them with boiling water.  Let them stand for 5” or so, and then drain them on a paper towel.  Blot them to get most of the moisture off & store them in a jar or other covered container.
  • Do not be tempted to put too much yogurt in the bowl, as it will be too soupy.  I put about a 1/2 cup at the most.
  • I do not mix everything before I eat it.  It is just like a regular green salad when you start eating, but then you get some of the yogurt and it becomes a salad with a creamy dressing.

Bon appetit!

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Maui Girl Eats Lunch. . .@ Home

Plate salad with salmon

Plate Salad with Salmon & Red Wine Vinaigrette or Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

There is no such thing as too much salad.  We love salads and eat a lot of them.  Main dish salads are called “plate salads” at our house.  A plate salad is big, beautiful, healthy and delicious, and they are a great way use up odds and ends you have lurking in your refrigerator, as well as vegetables {and fruits too!}  specifically prepared  for a salad.  We baked a salmon for dinner a few nights ago, so for lunch we had a plate salad with leftover salmon and a few other vegetables to add color, crunch and flavor.  Every now and then my husband gets in the mood for a creamy dressing, so I made Thousand Island Dressing for him.  I enjoy creamy dressings, but a red wine vinaigrette sounded right to me, so I whisked up a few ingredients and had a delightfully sharp dressing for my salad.  I don’t use recipes for these dressings, but the general idea is written below.  It’s simple to whip up your own fresh salad dressings, and certainly tastier than purchased dressings.  Not to mention a lot less expensive and better for you.  What a deal!!

You can take this salad any way you want, depending on what you have handy.  The base of our salad is a mix of romaine, red leaf lettuce and quite a bit of cilantro.  If you are a member of the “I hate cilantro set,” feel free to leave it out or substitute another fresh herb{s} that you enjoy.   Top the greens with diced celery, sliced jalapeños, grated raw beet, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts {packed in water}, sliced onions and salmon.  Season with good quality salt {kosher, sea salt, Maldon, Fleur de Sel, etc.} and freshly ground pepper.

Plate salad with salmon 3

Plate salad with salmon 2


Thousand Island Dressing

Mayonnaise {homemade or store bought}

Ketchup {good quality, not the stuff with high fructose corn syrup and other disagreeable ingredients; we use Annie’s}

Yogurt, low fat or nonfat, about 1-2 tbsp {optional, but good if you want to lighten the dressing up a bit}

Sweet pickle relish {good quality, not the stuff with high fructose corn syrup and other disagreeable ingredients; we use Woodstock Organic Sweet Relish Sweet ‘n Sassy}

Minced onion {just a bit, because there is onion in the pickle relish}

A few shakes of Worcestershire Sauce {can be left out if you don’t have it}

A few drops of apple cider vinegar, if you want a bit of tartness

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

A pinch  of sweet paprika

Freshly ground black pepper

A shake {or more} of Tabasco Sauce

Put enough mayonnaise in a bowl to make the amount of dressing you want.  Add enough ketchup to make it as pink as you think it should be.  Add remaining ingredients and mix.  Voila!  You have homemade Thousand Island dressing.


Red Wine Vinaigrette for 1 Plate Salad

2 anchovies

Small clove of garlic

Kosher salt

Dijon mustard, about 2 tsp

Red wine vinegar, about 1 tbsp

Extra virgin olive oil, about 3 tbsp

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a mortar and pestle, or on a cutting board, mash together anchovies, garlic and salt until they are a paste.  If your mortar is large enough, whisk in Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil to taste.  Otherwise, scrape paste into a small bowl and whisk in remaining ingredients.


  • Jalapeños are interesting in that they can taste super hot when eaten alone, but sliced in a salad, they are mellow, crunchy and deliciously green {my favorite flavor!}.  Not exactly sure how this works, but it’s an observation I have made.  It doesn’t always hold true, but in my experience, it usually does.
  • My husband and I have speculated that Thousand Island dressing got its name because of the pickle relish, which represents the “islands,” but this link, as well as a few others do not support our hypothesis.  We still like our theory!
  • The pickle relish doesn’t have to be drained well; a little liquid is good for thinning the dressing a bit, making it easier to distribute over your salad.
  • Check out other salad dressing recipes here!

Bon appetit!

Molasses Cookies Cooling on Cookiesheet

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Molasses Cookies with Orange & Fresh Ginger

Several days ago, I shared with you my favorite cheesecake recipe, and said that I would share this cookie recipe with you once I had finished tweaking the ingredients.  Well, I am finished.  I love molasses, and have seen many recipes for molasses cookies, and have tasted a few, but I have not found one that I like better than this recipe.  My recipe uses oil instead of butter or shortening, and perhaps using oil allows the molasses flavor to shine.  That is my hypothesis anyway.  The changes I made to the original recipe were few, but key.  I reduced the sugar, changed the flour to whole wheat pastry flour {instead of all purpose}, added fresh ginger and fresh orange zest.  That’s it!  Without further adieu, here is the recipe for these dark cinnamon-hued, perfectly round and delicious cookies.

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 Molasses Cookies with Ginger & Orange

1 1/3 c canola or sunflower oil

1 c granulated sugar

1/4 c dark brown sugar

1/2 c molasses

2 large eggs

4 c/480 gm whole wheat pastry flour

4 heaping tsp cinnamon

4 tsp baking soda

5 tsp freshly grated ginger {powdered ginger not a substitute}

5 tsp freshly grated orange peel {from 2 large oranges}

1 tsp kosher salt

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper/silicon sheet or spray with cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together.  In a large bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, eggs & molasses.  Stir dry ingredients into sugar mixture until thoroughly combined.  Roll into balls the size of walnuts {I make 3/4 oz. balls} & roll in granulated sugar.  Bake for 8-12 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet.


  • I always weigh my cookies, because making cookies the size of walnuts is subjective.
  • Even if your balls aren’t perfectly round before baking, and they usually aren’t, the cookies always bake up pretty perfectly round.  Unless they touch while baking, then you get a flat side.  No worries!
  • I use regular molasses {usually Grandma’s Unsulphured Original}.  I made the cookies with blackstrap molasses once, and wasn’t overly thrilled with them.  They weren’t bad, but I didn’t share them with anyone because I didn’t think they were as good as they could be.
  • If the dough seems too soft to shape into balls, chill for awhile in the refrigerator.
  • Some of the oil may separate out if the dough sits; this is not a problem, just stir it back in.
  • The range in baking time is wide because you can bake these cookies to be chewy or crispy, depending on how you like them.  I like them both ways!  If you want them crispy, leave them in for 11-12 minutes; the edges should be set and the centers brown & baked through.  For chewy cookies, bake just until the edges are set and the cookies look underdone in the center.  It’s amazing how much they brown and continue to bake while they cool on the cookie sheet.
  • These cookies freeze well.

Bon appetit!


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