Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Hola! Hispanic Heritage Month is from September 15th-October 15th. In honor of this celebration, we’re featuring salsa verde and empanadas this week. Ironically, these are the dishes I made for my first week of my new course on culinary and pâtisserie. Whoo hoo!

Let’s start with salsa verde- ‘coz it was simple and pretty quick- hehe!

Ingredients (yields two cups):

  • 1 oz Canola oil
  • Bunch of cilantro (or parsley)
  • 1 Garlic
  • 1 Lime (juiced)
  • 1/2 oz Onion
  • Salt- to taste
  • 1/2 of Jalapeño or serrano peppers
  • Tomatillos (canned or fresh)
    • 1 canned 13oz
    • 5 fresh (I guestimated since I couldn’t find canned tomatillos at my grocery stores)

When using fresh tomatillos, be sure to remove the husk. Also, before blending, fresh tomatillos, they should be blanched or broiled. I did both.

  • Blend all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor to desired consistency.
  • Heat canola oil over medium high heat.
  • Season with salt.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Salsa will keep fresh up to five-to-seven days.

I’ve never made my own salsa before. I couldn’t believe how simple and quick it was. I would love to experiment in making other salsas like pico de gallo and salsa roja (red salsa). Ooh, I can’t wait! I’m on a salsa kick! (I’m doing my quick salsa dance right now 🤪💃🏻). My university had a ballroom dancing course that I took. It was pretty cool, but definitely had its challenges. Salsa was a bit difficult to learn. My favorite dance was the foxtrot. It was the first dance we learned and was the easiest.

Onto empanadas… Empanadas are basically Spanish turnovers. They can be filled with either a savory or sweet filling. We’re filling them with savory ingredients.

Ingredients (yields eight servings)

  • 2 oz bread flour
  • 1 oz cake flour
    • *NOTE: can substitute both flours for all-purpose flour (3 oz total)
  • Canola oil (optional for deep-frying)
  • 1/2 oz lard or vegetable shortening
  • 2 oz monterrey jack cheese or mild cheddar, shredded
  • 1 poblano pepper (roasted, seeded and diced)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1.5 oz warm water
  • Sift flours into a mixing bowl.
  • Add lard or vegetable shortening and blend into flour (I used vegetable shortening).
  • Dissolve salt in warm water before pouring into the flour mixture.
  • Knead dough until smooth.
  • Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile…

  • Scrape the filmed skin off the poblano pepper, using the back of the knife.
  • Remove seeds and cut into dices. (The seeds will make the flavor more acidic)
  • Combine cheese and pepper into bowl.

30 minutes later…

  • Weigh the dough on a food scale and divide into eight equal pieces.
  • Sprinkle flour on surface and rolling pin.
  • Roll dough into a ball and flatten with a rolling pin, creating a circle.
  • Place cheese/pepper mixture on one side of the circle.
  • Fold the other side to create a turnover.
  • Press dough around the filling and crimp edges with a fork.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper and bake in a 375ºF oven until golden brown.

Happy October! Wishing you a great week ahead. Until next week…

Peace and wellness,

FS x

Please check out my social media platforms for more posts throughout the week!

We’ve got ourselves a Mexican fiesta!

Happy last weekend of July and start to the 2020 Olympics! I watched the opening ceremony on Friday night. The Japanese do not disappoint! My peeps; my motherland. So proud! Go Teams USA and Japan! Wishing all the athletes the best of luck!

On Saturday night I witnessed the men’s street skateboarding athletes from the US, Japan, Peru, Brazil, and France showcasing good sportsmanship to one another. Hugging, encouraging, and supporting each other. It brought a warmness to my heart. The world coming together.

I recalled my very first trip to Japan in 2015. Tokyo was already underway in preparing for the Olympics. A lot of construction building those extraordinary infrastructures. Amazing! They were already selling Olympics merch, too. I bought some hand towels as souvenirs. I remember thinking about wanting to be in Tokyo when the Olympics occurred. Who knew that we’d experience a global pandemic in 2020. So glad I didn’t buy tickets. I hope all who did were able to get a refund. Sending good energy that cases don’t soar out-of-control during these next couple weeks in Tokyo and amongst the athletes and all who are involved in making the Olympics happen. I’m looking forward to watching my favorite sports: gymnastics, swimming, and diving.

We’re highlighting on two dishes I made: rice pilaf and Mexican pinto beans, aka frijoles de olla. I was extremely nervous to make the rice pilaf on the stove. Every time I used to make pilaf on the stove, my rice would turn out mushy. Thank goodness for rice cookers! It’s a staple in almost every home in Hawai’i and especially amongst Asians. I learned over the years that a rice cooker can be very handy in cooking all sorts of foods, besides rice. There’s a Buzz Feed article I came across years ago. I’m glad the link is still active: https://www.buzzfeed.com/melissaharrison/rice-cooker-recipes

As suspected, my first attempt at making the rice pilaf turned out mushy. Ugh! While my taste testers enjoyed the texture, I certainly didn’t. I had another go at making it. This was unacceptable to submit to my instructor. The second time, I didn’t follow the recipe to “the T.” I added in less liquid than the recipe called for and hoped it would be enough to create a “just right” texture and consistency. Phew! Thank God it worked! My second attempt turned out perfect! And boy, was it delicious! Or should I say, addicting! It was buttery, light, fluffy, and somewhat chewy (in a good way). The dish included butter, chicken broth, and onions (brunoise style cut 1/8″ x 1/8″ x 1/8″). I didn’t know rice pilaf required baking for 18-20 minutes after boiling on the stove top. Whaaaat? Yep! It helps the rice absorb the liquid and creates that fluffy texture. Ooh whee!

Onto the frijoles de olla. That was pretty simple and self-explanatory. I soaked the pinto beans overnight. Any dried beans needs to be soaked overnight before cooking. Also, they’re to be seasoned last, after the beans are fully cooked. If they’re seasoned before they’re tender, the beans won’t cook properly. I learned something new! The Mexican pinto beans included the following ingredients: sliced onions, and chopped garlic and jalapeños. All ingredients are thrown into a pot, covered in water. They’re to be brought to a boil and then to a simmer until the beans become tender. Once the beans are tender, lard, or white fat from pig, is added. Lard can be substituted for butter, which is what I used. Bam!

Have a marvelous new week ahead!

Stay safe,

FS x

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Papa’s Day to all the fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and father-figures! Hope you had a chillaxing day, doing absolutely NOTHING! We appreciate all that y’all do for us. Thank you, thank you!

My family and I are celebrating with my dad. My sister and I cooked steaks, seasoned with garlic pepper, and rack of lamb, marinated with teriyaki sauce. We’re using the Instant Pot air fryer combo we got my dad for Father’s Day last year. It has all kinds of cool features: air fry, bake, broil, and roast. We’re using ALL the features. So exciting!

I made a Greek yogurt sauce to complement the meats. Yum! That’s my favorite part about eating red meat, which I’m so excited to eat because I don’t have very often anymore. Red meat is a delightful treat. I was introduced to this delicious pairing when I went to Turkey in the summer of 2010 for a world conference.

The yogurt sauce is similar to the Greek tzatziki sauce. It’s very simple to make. I add my own simple touches to it to make it my own. I used plain Greek yogurt and seasoned it with garlic pepper, minced dried garlic, and dried dill. Voilà! All done! The sauce is so good, I can eat it by itself. Uh huh! You heard right!

Now, gotta have them veggies! We made green beans and brussel sprouts, cooked with garlic balsamic olive oil, onions,and garlic. Scrumptious! Now, that’s how you get people to eat their vegetables, haha!

We also had Portuguese sausage, the best sausage there is, in my opinion (I’m not a huge sausage fan) and shrimp tempura. The tempura was already pre-made, thanks to Costco. My dad cooked oysters in a buttery garlic sauce. Oh my! I was in heaven! I love oysters. We don’t eat it all the time. Whenever we do, I savor every bite! It’s a wonderful treat!

For dessert, my dad requested a haupia pie, which my sister bought. Haupia is a Hawaiian coconut dessert.

Time to grind all the delicious foods! Ciao!

Have a great week. Happy belated Juneteenth, now a federal holiday (yay!), and Happy Summer!

FS x

Sixteen of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded Me + Brick Oven Pizza

It’s sweet 16.

16. Recognizing that everyone deals with crises differently.

We’ve gone through an ordeal of crises in 2020. I came to understand that everyone has dealt with the tribulations differently this year, including myself. While I was feeling motivated and optimistic, others around me were feeling stressed and depressed. As a compassionate person and licensed social worker, it’s in my nature to empathize and imagine myself in other people’s shoes to understand how the certain situations and multiple factors affect their emotions. Things like: familial discord, financial struggles, loss of vocation, lack of socialization and personal interaction, loneliness, and uncertainty of the future… This year’s circumstances immensely attested to our emotional and mental health. But we will rise from this. We always do. We are resilient. We come out better and stronger.

Overtime, I’ve experienced going through the spectrum of emotions this year. I started off feeling positive and driven, but those emotions slowly turned into frustration and despair. I had to practice a lot of self-talk, self-motivation, and self-love to get myself through the year.

I was searching the internet and came across a colorful wheel of emotions. This pretty much explains the entire year, and then some…

Last Christmas, my colleagues and I went to our boss’s house to make pizzas in her man-made brick oven (see featured image). It was a beautiful oven. The pizzas we made were delicious. I made a pesto base with spinach, vegan cheese, onions, and garlic. It was scrumptious. Yum!

Wishing you all the best last week of 2020. Let’s go out with a BANG!

FS x

Ground lamb and turkey squash stew

Happy Spring!

In light of a new season, I made a yummy squash stew with ground lamb and turkey and barley rice from Japan. I was inspired by this recipe.

Ingredients used:

  • Ground lamb
  • Ground turkey
  • Large onion
  • Garlic
  • Sprigs of thyme
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Kosher salt
  • Garlic salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic pepper/powder
  • 1.5 bottle of beer (I used Miller Lite)
  • Butternut squash
  • Chicken stock (no salt)
  • Barley rice
  • Flour for thickening

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Barley rice from Daiso in Japan.

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Ta da! A very tasty stew.

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I wish I had bought more of this rice. It was so delicious!

A healthy, yummy dinner just in time to welcome spring! I was very pleased with this dish.

Now that Honolulu has Daiso, I hope to find this rice there. It was to-die-for!

 

Christmas grindz

Christmas came and went. All we did was eat! The holidays is a wonderful time to gather together with loved ones and enjoy delicious foods together. In Hawaii, we have a mixed pot of ethnicities and that means there’s a variety of foods on the menu, plus the local grinds!

We had our annual prime rib, courtesy of Costco. This dish never disappoints. It’s so tasty! It’s pricey, but it’s worth every penny! Yummy!

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I also made fresh cream corn for the first time. I came across a recipe on Delish.com.

It’s super simple. The following ingredients included:

  • 2 c. milk (I used lactose-free skim milk)
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter
  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • 3 bags of frozen organic corn (you can also use canned corn, too)
  • 1 tbsp. organic sugar
  • fresh black pepper
  • garlic salt
  • garlic powder

I slow-cooked it on high for four hours. My Crock Pot did not have the two-hour feature.

We had leftover bacon from our Christmas breakfast, but forgot to add it in afterwards. Also, decided not to add in the green onions. This dish was a hit, nonetheless! Everyone loved it. Guess this’ll be a dish that will be added to the holiday dinner menu! Yay!

Have a blessed New Year’s celebrations. Be safe!

FS x

Spring chicken soup before spring is over!

I saw this awesome spring chicken soup recipe while browsing my Facebook and I HAD to make it!

https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a19992009/spring-chicken-soup-recipe/

Ingredients: (of course, as y’all know, I modified the recipe.)
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 c. low-sodium organic chicken broth
1 whole chicken, shredded
2 sprigs thyme
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 cans of Southwest corn
Lemon slices, for garnish
My ingredients for this awesome soup!
Directions:
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion, carrots, celery, and asparagus, and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, then add oregano, salt, and pepper.
  2. Pour in chicken broth and thyme. Bring to a boil then add chicken and lower heat. Let simmer until chicken is cooked through, 10 minutes.
  3. Remove chicken from pot and shred with two forks. Add chicken, lemon juice, and corn to pot. Cook until warmed through, 5 minutes. Garnish with lemon slices and parsley to serve.

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This soup was amazing! It lasted my family and I for three days!

I made pesto grilled cheese sandwiches to go along with the hearty soup.

The homemade pesto recipe is super simple:

  • Basil (Thai basil is also fine to use)
  • Pine nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves

Blend ingredients in a food processor or blender. It is so good! The best pesto I’ve ever eaten!

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I wanted to try Muenster cheese. It reminds me of Swiss. It was very yummy!

Bringing out an old friend… Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

In honor of this holiday, I was inspired to make some grinds with tequila! This time, with lamb shanks, baby!

I made orange-tequila lamb shanks.

I tweaked the recipe, as I always do.

Ingredients (Foodnista Soul’s way):

A perfect dish for Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! In honor of today, a posting on the perfect dish- a Burmese salad from Piggy Smalls, sister restaurant of The Pig & the Lady. I love both restaurants. Their cuisine is Vietnamese-fusion. The Pig & the Lady started out at a couple Farmer’s Markets on the island. After taking off, they decided to open a physical restaurant, which my girlfriend and I were so excited for! Finally!! Their phở is unlike no other. It’s different and so tasty. A few years later, Piggy Smalls opened. Yay! Love that there’s so many options now. The Pig & the Lady still appears at Farmer’s Markets and community events.

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Doesn’t this look refreshing? Lots of variety.

The “Weekend at Burmese salad” consists of the following ingredients: green papaya, tomatoes, garlic, sesame, various toasted nuts & sprouting seeds, preserved lemons, and Serrano peppers, with fermented lahpet dressing.

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This is the salad, mixed together. Mmm!

Here’s some facts about Earth Day: https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-earth-day.

If you haven’t tried one of the Piggies, you got to!

Piggy Smalls
Ward Village
1200 Ala Moana Blvd.; Honolulu 96814
http://thepigandthelady.com/piggysmalls/

The Pig & the Lady
83 N. King St.; Honolulu, 96813
http://thepigandthelady.com/welcome

 

 

 

Hard core balsamic vinegar!

Boy, oh boy! Balsamic vinegar is where it’s at! It’s potent, but oh-so-good, and healthy for ya. Did you know it’s made from grapes?! I had no idea! Where was I? Haha! Makes me think of wine.

I was inspired by our Easter luncheon to make a dish with balsamic vinegar. I also learned how healthy it is for you. Time to use this ingredient much more often.

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I made a honey-balsamic chicken dish, courtesy of AllRecipes.

It was a very simple dish. I, of course, added onions and garlic to my dish. My must-haves!

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I baked the chicken for an hour and 10 minutes at 375 degrees. It was really good! Best to marinate the night before- not required, though.

I also made a spinach, quinoa, and strawberry salad with homemade oil and vinegar dressing. Oh, to-die-for!

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Ingredients for the dressing. I measured 1/3 c oil and vinegar and 2 tsp. sugar. The garlic powder and pepper are bonuses! Hehe!

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Beautiful salad; beautiful colors. You can cook the quinoa in a rice cooker or on the stove. I cooked it in the rice cooker- one cup of quinoa and measured two cups of water, as instructed, but the quinoa came out a bit mushy. Next time, I’ll put 1.5 cups of water instead. Can’t always trust the instructions. That’s why I always cook by taste, rather than following a recipe to-the-tee. I use recipes as a guide.

Happy Friday and upcoming weekend! Relax and unwind…