March 27, 2010

White Wine and Cheddar Shells

Sometimes my randomly thrown-together meals work out even better than my well-thought out, planned experiments. This is one such. Last night I just pulled whatever I had out of the pantry and came up with this beauty. It's not hard and it's relatively quick to make. I don't have specific measurements - adjust the proportions according to how many servings you need.


Pasta shells
1 T butter
1 T flour
Pino Grigio or Chardonnay
grated rosemary cheddar (or regular cheddar)
diced ham
baby spinach, coarsely chopped
garlic and wine seasoning

Preheat the oven to 350. Boil the pasta until just al dente - drain and set aside in an oven-safe pan. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Once it is frothy, stir in the flour. After the mixture blends smoothly, add a small amount of wine. Melt about 1/2 the cheddar into the wine mixture, adding more wine if needed to produce a thick but still liquid and silky texture. Pour the sauce over the pasta, adding the ham and spinach and stir to thoroughly coat the pasta. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and the garlic and wine seasoning on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until cheese browns and bubbles.

March 26, 2010

Chewy, Fruity Granola Bars

I hate eating breakfast. I always have. I just cannot eat right after getting up - it makes me feel horrible. Conversely, neither can I make it through a morning teaching small children without eating. Therefore, granola bars and the like have been my solution for years. This was fine until I started thinking more about what I eat and reading ingredient lists. After crossing off brand after brand due to ingredients or nutrition information, I was left with exactly one kind of granola bar regularly stocked at the commissary that met my criteria. And let me tell you - eating one thing every morning for breakfast gets old fast. So I got this recipe from SmittenKitchen and adapted it a bit to my tastes. That's the great thing about granola bars - you can put whatever you want in them!

For my first batch, I used mostly dried mango and pineapple, with coconut and slivered pecans. I also threw in some craisens for color and a few chocolate chips to satisfy my sweet tooth. If you're in the mood for peanut butter, throw 1/3 c into the mix.

Edit, April 24 2010:  I've begun to substitute 3-4 tablespoons of butter with applesauce.  I haven't tried subbing all of the butter for applesauce yet, but I've noticed that subbing about half yields much softer bars, and tastier too, I think!


1 2/3 c quick rolled oats
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
1/3 c oat flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts
6 T melted butter
1/4 c + 2 T honey
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil or parchment, mist with spray oil. Mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry. Press the granola into the pan evenly and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Candied Mango

I've been on a bit of a mango kick ever since Guam. Unfortunately, it's hard to get good mangoes up here. I bought a not-so-good one though, and have been playing around with it. I mentioned in my Proa review that we had a fantastic candied pineapple in Guam. So I figured I'd try something similar with my mango. The result isn't perfect, but is tasty!


1/2 mango, sliced evenly
1/4 c brown sugar
2 T butter

Preheat oven to 350. Layer the mango in a pan with the brown sugar. Dot with butter and bake for 45 minutes.

Cheesy Halibut Spread

I'm still trying to work my way through the 48lbs of halibut my friend and I came home with last summer. I think I've come far enough that the fish is (almost) confined to one shelf in the freezer! Of course, that means I still have over 20lbs to go. Anyway, I got the bones of this recipe from Kasilof Seafoods. This would make a nice little appetizer, served on baguette rounds. I had mine on the marbled rye I made for the BBA challenge.


1/4 lb cooked, shredded halibut
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 pearl onion, diced
1 handful baby spinach, diced
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
2-3 T mayonnaise
Several small pieces of sliced bread
garlic, salt, pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Mix the halibut, pepper, onion and spinach together with half the cheese. Stir in just enough mayo to reach your preferred consistency. Add seasoning to taste. Spoon the spread onto the bread, topping with the remaining cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and browned. Serve warm.

March 19, 2010


Hafa Adai! Here's my second-ever restaurant review!

We met up with our coworkers (I say our, because one of my coworkers is married to one of his, which is why we were all in Guam at the same time, but I digress...) at Proa one night for dinner. Proa is a fairly new establishment, I understand, but the joint is hopping. Don't expect to get in without a reservation. In fact, despite calling several days in advance, we only got our reservations by convincing them to seat us in the front room, which is technically part of the bakery!

I only have one bad thing to say about Proa, and that is that the kitchen is incredibly slow. Of course, it's also incredibly tiny, so I suppose that's something of an explanation. Still, that flaw was tiny enough that we didn't think twice about coming right back the next night!

Now, onto the plusses. The first night I had the special, which was a prime rib. The meat was pretty good, but the real winner was the gravy and the whipped potatoes. I rarely eat potatoes at restaurants (I'm picky, yes), but these were amazing! The cornish hen I had the next time was a bit dry, but again the sauces really stood out. The Husband had a rib-eye, which he loved. Even better than the steak though was the candied pineapple on top, which I am dying to recreate!

If you don't want to deal with the slow kitchen, order one of their hibachi meats. They make these in bulk on the grill and always have some ready. The Husband got a platter - and I do mean platter - the first night. Delicious!

While the food was great, the desserts were simply to die for. They have a dessert menu, but don't limit yourself. There are daily specials filling the display case up front, too! The sampler plate is a nice choice. It includes two chocolate chip cookies (mediocre), chocolate-wasabi cheesecake (good), banana fritter (fantastic!), and mango panna cotta (the best!). The next night, The Husband got the Mint Bailey's Mousse, which he proclaimed the winner. I disagreed, thinking that my spiced apple cheesecake was even tastier.

So, the bottom line is - if you are ever in Guam, go to Proa. Probably several times. And maybe get some dessert take-out too.

March 17, 2010

Blackened Mahi-mahi Lettuce Wraps with Mango-Peach Salsa

It's been quiet on the cooking front, but that's because I've spent the past week or so on vacation, visiting The Husband in Guam. Never fear, though! I did not spend my entire time lying on the beach sipping umbrella drinks. I actually did some cooking! I wasn't planning to at first, but The Husband has a full kitchen and I realized that there was actually fresh fruit available, not to mention freshly caught fish... yeah, I got the bug. We picked up the mahi from the fishermen's co-op, then grabbed some fresh fruit and other produce and I began to mess around. I'm very pleased at how this came out - deliciously light and fresh, a perfect dinner for a hot day.


1 mahi-mahi fillet, approximately 7 oz
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 mango, cubed
1 peach, coarsely chopped
1/4 red onion, diced
1 small jalapeno, minced
1 head iceberg lettuce
dry white wine
seasoning salt
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Remove any bones from the fish fillet. Rub both sides with salt, pepper and seasoning salt. Heat 1 T olive oil in a skillet. Sear the mahi in the skillet, approximately 45 seconds on each side. Transfer to a tinfoil pouch and cover with a few tablespoons of wine. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Meanwhile, combine the bell pepper, mango, peach, onion and jalapeno in a bowl. De-glaze the skillet with a few tablespoons of wine and pour over the salsa, stirring well.

When the fish is done, cut it into bite-sized pieces and gently mix it into the salsa. Spoon onto lettuce leaves, using the leaf like a tortilla. Enjoy!