Candy Sushi

It’s birthday time again, this time for first-born daughter.  Of course birthdays get more exciting the older you get, until a certain point…  This year she wanted to bring candy sushi into school to celebrate with her classmates, and then I would make bowling pin cupcakes for her birthday party over the weekend – yes, they were going bowling.  I planned it all out – one weekend I make the candy sushi, the next I deal with the cupcakes.

Years ago one of my best friends was living in Tokyo – so my husband and I made the long journey over to visit.  We just had to go when we had a personal tour guide that spoke the language.  I loved it, but with my seafood allergy, I have to admit it was a little frustrating.  She still managed to take us to tons of places where I could eat…oh and the bread in Japan is amazing, I know, you would never think that – but I ate very well.

My husband LOVES sushi, so one day we walked down to the fresh fish market so that they could enjoy some fresh sushi – I brought a book, found a nearby hotel, and sat in the lobby while they feasted.  I couldn’t even go near the fish market, the smells were just too much for me…

So candy sushi is about the closest I will ever come to eating the stuff.  Boy was this fun to make.  She helped me a lot by wrapping all the sushi.  I haven’t made rice krispie treats in years – and for some reason I thought it was actually complicated – not at all!  It was so easy, and easy enough to flatten out in preparation for rolling.  We had a blast, and they came out looking spectacular!  She said they were a huge hit at school – lots of kids were out because of the holiday weekend, so her teacher brought the rest into the teacher’s lounge, and they went nuts.  Gotta love sushi!!


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 (10 oz., about 40) pkg. regular marshmallows or 3 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 6 cups Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal
  • Swedish Fish
  • Gummy Worms


In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add the marshmallows and continue to stir until the marshmallows have completely melted. Remove from heat.

Stir in the Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal coating them well with the melted marshmallow mixture.

Using a buttered or silicone spatula, press the mixture evenly into a 12 x 17 x 1 inch (jelly roll) pan which has been buttered or sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with wax paper.  Cool completely.

To make the rolls, cut a 12 x 2.5 inch strip of the rice krispie teats.  Place gummy worms next to each other in the middle of the strip.  Very carefully, roll the rice around the gummy worms.  Slice the roll into about 11 pieces.  Take some fruit by the foot, and wrap the outside of each roll.

To make the sushi, cut the rest of the rice krispie treats into rectangles.  Place a swedish fish in the center, and wrap with some fruit by the foot.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Candy Sushi

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Carrot Cake

When I was younger I hated raisins.  I pulled them out of everything I could.  I didn’t get sweets very often, so you would have thought when I finally got my hands on some, I would have eaten just about anything – but that wasn’t the case.  Raisins were not acceptable – in fact, I felt that way about pretty much any type of dried fruit.

Now that I am grown up, you think I am going to tell you that things have changed.  Well, they haven’t – but only when it comes to raisins.  I love all sorts of dried fruit, but I still just can’t get myself to eat raisins.  Sometimes when I am in an all-day meeting, and they serve those boxed lunches – I chose the wrong one, and the cookie happens to be oatmeal raisin.  I can’t believe I am admitting this, but I discretely take the raisins out while I am eating the cookie.  Shhhh…don’t tell anyone.  I know, I am ashamed.  Put some cranberries or dried cherries in my cookies, I will gobble them up, but raisins…sorry.

I saw this recipe in Cooking Light – and I was so excited that it was missing that dreaded ingredient – I couldn’t believe it, because that is one of the main reasons why I tend to stay away from carrot cake.  I love it – but it ends up being a lot of work to eat.  I usually just make a good carrot cake sans the raisins, but here was a recipe that did it for me.  The cake turned out beautifully – so nice and moist, and the frosting – well, cream cheese frosting, need I say more?  I did omit the pecans that were supposed to be toasted and sprinkled on top, but that is another story for another day…



  • 10 1/10 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • Cooking spray


  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 ounce fromage blanc
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare cake, weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add 2 cups grated carrot, tossing to combine.

Place granulated sugar, brown sugar, and 6 tablespoons butter in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spread batter into a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake completely on a wire rack.

To prepare frosting, place softened cream cheese and next 4 ingredients (through 1/8 teaspoon salt) in a medium bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at medium speed until combined (don’t overbeat). Spread frosting evenly over top of cake. Sprinkle evenly with toasted pecans if desired.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Carrot Cake

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Spring Risotto

There seems to be a ton of asparagus in the markets lately.  Maybe because we have had such a late spring, or maybe it is like this every year, and I just don’t remember – but everywhere I go, they seem to be pushing the asparagus.  I don’t mind at all, since I love it – can’t get enough.  I have gone through stages over the years on the type of asparagus I buy.  Some years I am focussed on the thin spear, and will only buy them when they are shaped like a pencil.  Some years I only want the big thick ones – and then I spend time peeling the spears.  That woody stem turns into a soft stalk that is silky on the outside loaded with flavor.  This year I seem to be mixing it up a bit – sometimes thin, sometimes thick – depending on how much time I think I have.  The asparagus has been so good and fresh, that both kinds have been outstanding.

I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, looking at the pound of asparagus I had sitting in the refrigerator, and I had our meal planned.  The only problem was that once I thawed the edamame and left the bowl on the counter, all ready to add to the dish – it slowly started to disappear.  My older daughter LOVES those soy beans.  I actually had to make some more – but other than that, this was quick and easy – I didn’t even mind all that stirring – it came together quickly, and had a wonderful flavor.  The thin asparagus I had in the refrigerator was perfect for this preparation, and I saved myself some peeling.  Even though it is back to being gray and dreary again, I can pretend it is spring…


  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 3/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1 cup frozen shelled edamame
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ounce shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme


Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Add asparagus, and cook for 2 minutes. Drain. Bring 2 cups water and chicken broth to a simmer in a saucepan.

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil, and swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 4 minutes. Add garlic, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in rice, edamame, and salt; cook for 1 minute. Stir in 1 cup broth mixture; cook for 4 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed before adding more (about 20 minutes total).  Add the asparagus.

Spoon 1 cup risotto into each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese; sprinkle evenly with thyme.

Serves 4 for dinner, 6-8 as a side dish.

For a printer friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Spring Risotto

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Barbecued Chicken Kebabs

It is almost grilling season – in some areas of the country, it probably already is.  We are on our second day of sun here in the Pacific Northwest, and you can hear the cheering from miles away.  It has been a long time coming.  I love the clouds – but I have even started to get a little crazy when I remember that it is the middle of May.  I know, I know, I am crazy anyway – but even crazier if you can believe it.  Watching my girls play T-Ball and Softball in my thick down puffy jacket in May just doesn’t seem right…

My husband (the grill master of the house) will put anything on the grill that I prepare, but I must say, kebabs is not his favorite.  They are cumbersome on the grill, and it is really hard to cook them properly and consistently without drying out the meat.  He does a great job at it, but I know it is not easy – especially when it is chicken breasts.

I saw this recipe in Cook’s Illustrated where they went into great details about the different variations they tried to make sure the chicken stayed moist – this was the winner.  Well, I had to try it to believe it – and it was perfection!  First of all, the bacon paste was genius.  Who wouldn’t love the taste of bacon grilled onto chicken?  The flavor was outstanding, and the meat stayed tender and juicy.  The BBQ was such a hit as well – I will definitely use it again.  That is, if the sun ever decides to shine in our lives again…



  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup light or mild molasses
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion (used the large holes on a box grater)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • metal skewers


Sauce:  Bring all ingredients to simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reaches ketchup-like consistency and is reduced to about 1 cup, 5 to 7 minutes.  Transfer 1/2 cup sauce to a small bowl and set aside remaining sauce to serve with the cooked chicken (although I didn’t think it needed it!).

Kebabs:  Toss the chicken and salt in a large bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

While the grill heats, pat the chicken dry with paper towels.  Combine the sweet paprika, sugar, and smoked paprika in a small bowl.  Process the bacon in a food processor until a smooth paste forms, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down the bowl twice during processing.  Add the bacon paste and pice mixture to the chicken;  mix with your hands or a rubber spatula until all the ingredients are thoroughly blended and the chicken is completely coated.  Thread the meat onto skewers, rolling or folding meat as necessary to maintain 1″ cubes.

Place the kebabs on the grill turning 1/4 turn every 2 to 2 1/2 minutes until well browned and slightly charred – approximately 8 minutes for breasts or 10 minutes for thighs.  Brush the top surface of the kebabs with 1/4 cup of the sauce; flip and cook until the sauce is brown in spots, about 1 minute.  Brush the second side with the remaining 1/4 cup of sauce;  flip and continue to cook until brown in spots and instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 160 degrees for breasts and 175 degrees for thighs, about 1 minute longer.  Remove kebabs and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving.  Pass with the reserved sauce.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Barbecued Chicken Kebabs

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Potato Galette

Ok, I know what you are thinking – and it is not true.  I’m sure you have heard this phrase before, and I just have to repeat it – don’t judge a book by it’s cover.  Don’t – definitely not this time, because this potato galette was the best freakin’ potato dish I have ever made in my life.  I swear.  I know it doesn’t look pretty, and you may even be thinking it looks burnt – but it was perfect.  Let me tell you about it…

So, I saw this recipe in Cook’s Illustrated, and it looked amazing. I read the recipe, and it actually looked easy enough to make on a weekday, so I decided to give it a try. I also decided it was the right time to use my mandoline, which worked splendidly.  The potatoes were a perfect consistent thickness.  I followed the directions to a tee, and when I flipped the potatoes over to put them on a plate, they looked way too brown.  I served them anyway though – and they were AMAZING.  I had a decent sized wedge, and my husband (my not overweight at all husband) ate the rest – YES, he probably ate 5 potatoes himself!!!  My girls only sort of liked it – they had some bits of mine, but they are partial to these.  My husband thought this was the best potato dish I have ever made.  I have to say, I agree with him, they were unbelievable – seriously.  So buttery and creamy, and crispy on the outside, wow.

So – I decided it was so brown to take a picture – which meant I had to make it again.  I even tried cooking it at a lower temperature, but the same thing happened – I think it is my pan.  But, I didn’t care, I had to share this with you because it is just too good – so here it is, a little brown, and not that pretty, but absolutely ridiculously delicious.  Now go make it and see for yourself.


  • 2 ½ pounds (5 to 6 large) Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and sliced 1/8” thick
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper


Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.  Place the sliced potatoes in a large bowl filled with cold water.  Using your hands, swirl to remove the excess starch, and then drain in a colander. Spread the potatoes onto a kitchen towel and thoroughly dry.

Wisk 4 tablespoons of melted butter, cornstarch, salt and pepper together in a large bowl.  Add the dried potatoes and toss until coated. Place the remaining tablespoon of butter in a heavy bottomed 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet and swirl to coat. Place 1 potato slide in the center of the skillet then overlap slices in a circle around the center slide, followed by an outer circle overlapping slices.  Gently place the remaining sliced potatoes on top of the first layer, arranging so they form an even thickness.

Place the skillet over medium-high heat and cook until sizzling and potatoes around the edge of the skillet start to turn translucent, about 5 minutes.  Spray a 12-inch square piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray. Place the foil, sprayed side down, on top of the potatoes.  Place a 9-inch cake pan on top of the foil and fill with 2 cups of pie weights. Firmly press down on the cake pan to compress the potatoes.  Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the cake pan and foil from the skillet.  Continue to cook until the potatoes are tender when a paring knife is inserted into the center, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Return the skillet to medium heat on the stovetop and cook, gently shaking the pan (using a potholder, the pan will be very hot) until the galette releases from the sides of the pan, 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the galette from the stove and place a cutting board over the skillet.  Protect your hands by using oven mitts or potholders, place 1 hand on the skillet handle and carefully invert the skillet and cutting board together.  Lift the skillet off the galette.  Using a serrated knife, gently cut into wedges and serve immediately.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Potato Galette

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Espresso Pound Cake

Work has been a little more stressful than usual lately – my team is in the midst of a re-org, and I haven’t been able to do a lot of cooking, let alone baking.  I am going through withdrawal.  Badly.  I can tell that my patience is wearing thin, and I am trying to hold it together, but it is not easy.  Exercise is a good stress release, but baking is definitely the best.  Yes, I do thrive on stress, but when I can’t bake, things get a little crazy.

Today I was in an all-day meeting, and when I needed a little stress break, I would think about what I was going to bake next.  Many ideas ran through my head…I can’t wait to bake them and share.  Oh, and I will have a new team soon to share stuff with – they have no idea what they are in store for – that is if my husband and the girls let me bring the leftovers to work…

I actually made this pound cake a few weeks ago, and we loved it.  It was super easy to make, and it came out extremely moist and flavorful.  I wasn’t sold on the glaze, until I put it on and let it set – it was perfect – just the right amount of sweetness to go with the cake.  Even though I haven’t been able to bake – writing about the process is actually soothing – but no, not a substitution.   Thanks Bon Appetit for the great recipe – and watch out…I can tell a binge is coming soon.


  • 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpse flour
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or ground cardamom
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder or instant coffee
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, or almonds, divided
  • 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries or dried unsweetened cherries or blueberries, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk


Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter a 9x5x3-inch metal loaf pan. Dust pan with flour, tapping out excess.

Whisk flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Whisk eggs and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon espresso powder in large bowl until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer running, gradually add egg mixture. Add flour mixture in 2 additions, beating on low speed just to blend after each addition. Beat batter 30 seconds on medium speed. Add 3/4 cup pecans and 3/4 cup cranberries; beat just to incorporate evenly. Transfer batter to pan.

Bake cake until top is golden and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 5 minutes. Invert cake; remove pan. Turn cake top side up; cool on rack.

Mix powdered sugar, milk, and 2 teaspoons espresso powder in medium bowl. Spread glaze over top of cake, allowing some to drip down sides. Sprinkle 1/4 cup nuts and 1/4 cup cranberries over. Let stand until glaze sets, about 20 minutes.

DO AHEAD Can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Espresso Pound Cake

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Thai Chicken Salad

Salad, greens, ruffage, or as my step-father calls it “The Silent Killer,” based on Jeffrey Steingarten’s book “The Man Who Ate Everything.”  Yes, I read the book, but I didn’t believe it.  I cannot live without salad – it is my stand-by lunch every day.  I cannot get enough greens, as I like to call it.  There is something about that fresh crunching sound that really invigorates me.

Every summer we have one or two weeks when it is so hot, you don’t want to turn on the oven or the stove.  Occasionally it gets too hot to even grill outside – of course as I sit here on this sunny day in May when it is barely getting out of the 50s, I can’t ever imagine that will happen again.  Unless I have just ruined it for us, yes, it does eventually get warm – at least for a few days.  I remember my husband saying that a good hearty salad would be perfect on those hot days – thus avoiding the oven, store and grill.  So, when I saw this recipe in Cooking Light – I decided to give it a try – just to see if this would make the mark.

Let me first start out by saying that I made enough salad to feed a small army – but it was delicious.  The dressing was light, yet potent enough to give it a wonderful peanut flavor.  The sprouts made it slight bitter, but I loved that – and the red peppers added a touch of sweetness.  The fresh lime though really made the salad.  I ended up squeezing a few extra sections onto my helping, and it was just the touch it needed.  This summer, when you don’t feel like cooking – go and get yourself some cooked chicken from the market, and whip this one up – it will fill you up, without creating any heat!


  • 6 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
  • 2 cups fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 3/4 cup sliced celery
  • 2/3 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
  • 4  lime wedges (optional)


Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine coconut milk and next 5 ingredients (through red pepper) in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and cool for 2 minutes. Pour warm coconut milk mixture over lettuce mixture. Sprinkle with peanuts; serve with lime wedges, if desired. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6 as a main course.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Thai Chicken Salad

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