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

Closeup of Cleaned Green Onions


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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


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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

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.

Notes:

  • 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.

Notes:

  • 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.

Notes:  

  • 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!

Cropped Slice of cheesecake


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Sharon’s Quick & Easy Vanilla Cheesecake

“Because you don’t live near a bakery doesn’t mean you have to go without cheesecake.”  Hedy Lamarr

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou {Happy New Year} to all of you wonderful Maui Girl Cooks readers! Hope you are ready to move into a brand new year.   It’s hard to believe 2015 is here; it seems like Y2K was just a couple of years ago.  I am planning to add some new features to Maui Girl Cooks, which I hope you will enjoy and find useful.  

Before I became a teacher, I worked at Stanford University Medical Center.  It was at Stanford that I acquired several excellent recipes {3 to be exact}.  One recipe is for apple crisp, and while I don’t remember what made it so delicious, I just remember that it was.  The recipe is in our storage unit in Washington, with the rest of our belongings that didn’t come to Maui, and when it makes the journey across the Pacific,  I will make this delicious apple crisp again and tell you all about it.  Another recipe is one that I have been improving upon, and will share with you very soon; it is for a delicious molasses cookie which everyone seems to love.  My tweaked recipe no longer resembles the original, that while delicious, isn’t as good as my new version.  The last recipe was for this cheesecake, and I got it from a nurse named Lyni.  It  does not have a crust, which I think is just fine.  This cheesecake is all about the cream cheese and the sour cream topping.  While I enjoy a nice tall piece of cheesecake as much as the next person, my cheesecake is short, tangy and sweet.  Hope you enjoy it!

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Sharon’s Quick & Easy Vanilla Cheesecake

Cake:

2 8-oz. packages Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

3 large eggs

Beat softened cream cheese, sugar & vanilla until smooth and lump-free.  Scrape the sides of the bowl, as needed, to ensure that you are not leaving any lumps on the side that will end up in your cake {not a tragedy if you have a few lumps, but better to be smooth}.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each one is incorporated.

Pour mixture into 9” pie pan that has been greased or sprayed with pan spray.  Bake at 325 degrees for 50”.  The cake will be puffed up and lightly browned.  As the cake sits, the center will fall.  Set cake aside to cool {does not need to go into refrigerator}.

Topping:

1 cup sour cream

3 heaping tbsp granulated sugar

Dash vanilla 

Mix topping ingredients together and spread over cooled cake.  Bake at 325 degrees for 15”.  Chill overnight.

Notes:

  • I used full fat cream cheese & full fat sour cream. Please do not use fat free.  Since we eat very healthy 96.4% {or so} of the time, we use the real thing when it’s time to indulge.  Food scientists, in their “wisdom” have figured out how to add all kinds of chemicals to make reduced calorie food seem the same as the real thing. In my opinion, you are not saving that many calories to make it worth consuming the artificial additives.  Use your own judgement, but I’m going with real, whole food!
  • I am not always a brand-loyal shopper, but I have always used Philadelphia Cream Cheese {except the one time I tried another brand} because I think it’s the best.
  • One time, so long ago I don’t remember the exact details, I made this cake the same day I served it.  Perhaps I didn’t keep it in the refrigerator once we got it to my in-laws’ house, or perhaps I didn’t chill it enough after I made it, but it wasn’t as good as when chilled over night.  I know I made it in the morning, but that’s all I remember.  So, the moral is, plan ahead & make this cheesecake the day before you want to eat it.  You will be handsomely rewarded with a tangy, smooth & delicious dessert.

Bon appetit!

Add tomatoes, pepper, olive oil & parsley


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Mediterranean Goat Cheese Dip

”You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients”– Julia Child

When asked to bring something to a party or potluck, I always offer up dessert, usually something with chocolate, but not always.  Occasionally though, I am asked to bring something else. Once, a long time ago,  I was asked to bring something totally boring, but necessary. . .plates. . .gasp. Luckily that hasn’t happened again, because I like to share something delicious, and I think there are enough people who don’t want to buy or prepare food that they can bring the boring but necessary stuff.  I have never had a “go to” appetizer, so if asked to bring one, I would rifle through cookbooks and other sources of great recipes for something to make; preferably something that would be a real hit and something unique.  I am here today to tell you that I now have a “go to” appetizer!  It is quick & simple to make & quite addictive to eat.  Carrol, one of the nurses I work with, brought this dip to work one day.  I was among many who could not stop eating it; thankfully, it was one of the occasional days that we weren’t super busy.  It’s a flexible recipe, more of a plan really, so you can take it in different directions, depending on your tastes and the ingredients you have in your pantry.  We almost always have the ingredients I’ve outlined here, so this dip can be ready quickly for any occasion.  I’m taking this dip to a Christmas Eve gathering this evening with some Hawaiian Chip Company’s Sweet Potato and Taro Chips.  These chips are fabulous, not greasy or too salty, but pretty much perfect.  When you are in Maui, you can find them for the best price at Costco.  I made the dip in Washington State when I was there in October, and served it with Trader Joe’s Fig and Kalamata Olive crackers, also very good.  Some day soon I plan on making homemade crackers, which I look forward to eating with this dip.  

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Mediterranean Goat Cheese Dip

Soft goat cheese 5 oz. {approximately}

Garlic 2 cloves, finely minced

Red pepper flakes, as many as you like

Chopped kalamata olives {I used 14}

Julienned sun dried tomatoes {I used 14}

Fresh herbs, chopped {I used basil & cilantro}, reserve some to sprinkle on top {I used about 3 tbsp}

Freshly ground pepper

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling over top

Place goat cheese at the bottom of your bowl.  Lightly mash it down with a fork to make an even layer.  Top with minced garlic, red pepper flakes, chopped herbs, olives, tomatoes, several grinds of pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  Sprinkle with reserved herbs.  Let dip sit out for about an hour at room temp for best flavor.

Notes:

  • Quantities are for a round bowl 5 1/2” in diameter.
  • Cream cheese may be used if you prefer it to goat cheese.
  • You can use sun dried tomatoes that are not packed in oil.  If you use oil packed, soak for 5” in hot water, then blot on a paper towel.

 Bon appetit!

Grated Carrot Salad with Cherries and Pine Nuts


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Grated Carrot Salad with Cherries & Pine Nuts

One of my favorite additions to my cookbook collection in 2014 is David Leibovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.  It is on my headboard for bedtime reading, and I am almost finished reading it from start to finish.  Each recipe is one to two pages and is enhanced with a story.  So far, I have only prepared this carrot salad, but I will definitely be making many more recipes from this book. . .  Shakshuka, buckwheat crepes with ham, cheese and egg, French lentil salad with goat cheese and walnuts. . .where shall I begin?

According to Leibovitz, everyone of French ancestry has the knowledge to make grated carrot salad in their DNA; recipes can vary from person to person, because there is no one recipe that everyone uses.  We enjoy Leibovitz’s take on this French classic.  My husband added tart dried cherries & pine nuts to the carrot salad one night and it tasted great;  I highly recommend it!  The dried fruit adds a lovely sweet counterpoint to the tart dressing, and the pine nuts are a little earthy. . .a great combination.  It’s a bright & pretty salad that is quick to make & lasts for a few days in the refrigerator.  If you have an abundance of carrots, it’s a fast way to use them up quickly.  Give it a try & see what you think.

Grated Carrot Salad
from David Leibovitz’s My Paris Kitchen

2 lbs  {900 gm} carrots, scrubbed and peeled

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon

1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp granulated sugar or honey

3 tbsp minced fresh Italian parsley, chervil or chives

Grate the carrots on the large holes of a box grater, or in a food processor fitted with a large shredding disk.

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, salt, mustard and sugar or honey.  Toss the grated carrots & the fresh herbs in the dressing.  Serve on plates garnished with additional fresh herbs.

Serves 6

Notes:

  • Meyer lemon juice works great here, if you have one.

 

 

Grated Carrot Salad with Cherries & Pine Nuts
slightly adapted from David Leibovitz’s My Paris Kitchen

2 lbs  {900 gm} carrots, scrubbed and peeled

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon

1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp granulated sugar or honey

dried tart cherries, as many as you’d like

pine nuts, as many as you’d like

Grate the carrots on the large holes of a box grater, or in a food processor fitted with a large shredding disk.

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, salt, mustard and sugar or honey.  Toss the grated carrots, cherries and pine nuts in the dressing.

Serves 6

Notes:

  • Raisins are great here, if that’s what you have.
  • Another nut can stand in for pine nuts, if you prefer.

 

Bon appetit!

Mele Kalikimaka & Hau’ole Makahiki Hou!

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