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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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!

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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!


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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!