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Lime Cilantro Rice

If you are lime me and a big fan of the fresh Mex restaurants like Costa Vida, Cafe Rio or Chipotle give this recipe a try.  This saved us when we lived in Hawaii and there were no restaurants like this on any of the islands!

Makes 8 cups of cooked rice

  • 4 c. uncooked rice, (long-grain, white rice is best but you can use any rice)
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced (or 4 tsp of minced garlic from the jar or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 2 Tbsp  freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 8 cups water (or up to the “4” line if using a rice cooker)
  • 1 Tbsp & 1 tsp “Better than Bouillon” chicken stock or 4 bouillon cubes

 

  • 4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • ¾ cup fresh chopped cilantro

 

1-Put the first 6 ingredients in a rice cooker and start the rice cooker. (If you don’t have a rice cooker, put the first 6 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat.)

 

2-In a small bowl combine lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice.

 

*This is perfect for soft tacos, burritos or taco salads.

Adapted from https://therecipecritic.com/2012/08/cafe-rio-copycat-cilantro-lime-rice/

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Keeping your hand towel where it should be! Simplifying & Organizing Tips

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Ok, so maybe this only happened at my house but it seemed like whenever I went into the bathroom to wash my hands the hand towel has been thrown on the counter or floor-gross! I change hand towels often, usually daily, and I want it to stay put once I hang it up! Anyway, if you’re like me than you will probably appreciate this tip. I know I’m not the first or only one to think of this but I came up with this last year when we were running a school in Japan and successfully kept all the hand towels hung up in the school bathrooms and kitchen with this tip. Sometimes it’s the little things! So here’s the tip…

Tip: Once you hang up a fresh towel, use a binder clip or clothes pin to keep the towel in place. You can even fold the towel over it so you don’t see it if you like.

Another tip that goes along with this that I’ve discovered is putting an extra hand towel lower where young kids can reach. Some places, like in our bathroom, the younger kids can’t reach the towel without climbing on the counter and as we know, the easier it is for kids to wash their hands, the better! I use this over the cupboard door towel rack but many kinds of hooks would also work.

Give it a try at your home and let me know what you think!

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Shoyu Pork Roast

This is a very simple, fast to prepare & yummy meal. It’s a classic pork roast with a slight Asian taste to it from the added soy sauce.

Ingredients

1/3 c. Soy Sauce (I like Kikkoman)

2 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce

1 tsp Garlic Salt

1 Tbs Brown Sugar

1 or 2 small pork roasts (I like the ones from Costco)

Put the pork roasts in the crock pot (they can be frozen or not) and pour the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt & brown sugar over the roasts.

Cook on low for 8 hours (or 4 hours on high, if you don’t have that much time.)

Serve with rice or potatoes and some steamed vegetables.

*You can also add fresh, frozen or canned pineapple and juice to make this more of a Hawaiian styled pork roast.

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5 minute Chocolate Lava Cakes

These chocolate lava cakes are a new and delicious discovery here at our little apartment in Japan. I looked up several recipes on Pinterest and tried one but it wasn’t quite right so after changing a few things I think I now have the perfect, super fast, delicious and great-to-make-in-a-tiny-apartment-when-you-don’t-have-an-oven recipe! I hope you enjoy these as much as we do. And let me know what delicious variations you come up with. Happy chocolating!

 

5 minute Chocolate Lava Cakes

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup all purpose flour (強力粉 in Japan works great)
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg – beaten
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 Tablespoon melted butter (or vegetable oil)
  • 10 chocolate chips or 2 truffles*

Directions:

In a small bowl mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt, egg, milk, and melted butter. Divide between 2 mugs, ramekins or small ceramic bowls. Push 5 chocolate chips or  1 truffle into each mug*.

Microwave on high for 1  minute 30 seconds. It will still look a little gooey but don’t over bake it!  Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

It’s quite fabulous with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream on top or a little sprinkled powdered sugar.

*You can also use caramels, Andes mints or peanut butter in place of the chocolate chips in the middle.

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Black Bean Salsa

Ingredients:
-1, 15 oz. can black beans (drained) or 1 cup cooked black beans
-1, 15 oz. can black-eye peas (drained) or more black beans
-1, 11 oz. can kidney beans (drained)
-1, 11 oz. can white corn (drained) or ½ cup frozen corn
-2 medium sized tomatoes, diced
-1 diced bell pepper (red, yellow, orange green..whatever you have)
-½ diced purple onion
-3 diced avocados
-½ cup Kraft Zesty Italian Salad Dressing
-chopped cilantro (to taste)
-lime juice (to taste-I use fresh squeezed)
-garlic salt (to taste)

Directions:
Mix everything together and enjoy with lime tortilla chips, on a soft taco etc.

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My tried and true, amazing classic Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes (about 8 Medium) Red Potatoes and Russets work as well, but Yukons are my favorite in this dish!
  • 4 whole Hard Boiled Eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup Real Mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip)
  • 1/4 cup Prepared Yellow  Mustard
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 8 whole Small Dill Pickles
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt (more To Taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped thinly (or 1 teaspoon dried chives)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery (optional, but I love the crunch it adds!)

    Preparation Instructions

    1-Boil your eggs (you can find really great and easy to follow instructions here) and let them completely cool. (I like to do this a day or 2 before if possible so there’s 1 less step.)

    2-While your eggs are boiling and cooling, wash the potatoes really well (no need to peel unless using russets.)

    3-Cut the potatoes into bite size chunks (the size you like in your potato salad), then boill until fork tender. Drain. And let them cool in large bowl in the fridge. (If you’re in a hurry you can run cold water over them, even adding ice, just be sure to drain them well and then put them in the fridge.)

    4-While the potatoes are boiling and cooling, wash and cut up your green onions and chives (kitchen shears work great for this!) If you’re using a yellow or golden onion make sure you dice it into really small pieces, unless you like bigger pieces of onion in your salad.

    4-Cut up your dill pickles and cold boiled eggs ans add them to the large bowl with the potatoes.

    5–In another smaller bowl, mix together the  mayonnaise, mustard, green onions, salt, pepper, and spices, saving a little of the chives and paprika to sprinkle over the top of the salad at the end.

    5-Pour this mixture over the potatoes, pickles and boiled eggs. Gently mix everything with out smashing the potatoes or eggs too much. Make sure all the potatoes are well covered in everything, being sure to check the potatoes at the bottom of the bowl.

    6-If you like you can transfer the salad to a pretty bowl now or keep it in the same bowl and sprinkle the salad with the rest of the chives and paprika.

    7-Cover the bowl with a tight lid or aluminum foil or plastic wrap and put in the fridge. (Potato Salad is great after it’s aged a day so if possible, make it a day a head of time and let it chill in the fridge.)

    8-Make sure your potato salad stays cool when you’re serving it and store any leftovers (not likely!) in the fridge for up to 5 days or so.  A good way to keep it cool at a picnic is to put your bowl of salad in a larger bowl that is filled with ice. You can also buy a variety of bowls that stay cold for hours, here are some examples on Amazon.

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Irish Fare for St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! Coming from Irish heritage (my grandmother was a Riley) St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal and we celebrate it every year with a big Irish inspired dinner and party. I thought it would be fun to share some pictures and recipes of the food we enjoy.

Green tossed salad and dressing, my mother-in-law’s amazing “Dilly Bread” cream cheese mashed potatoes, corned beef and cabbage.
The recipe for the corned beef & cabbage is very simple: cut open the package of corned beef and dump it into your slow cooker, juices, spices and all and pour about 1/4 to 1/2 c of water over it, put on the lid and cook on low for 10-12 hours or on high for 5-6 hours. For the last hour add a washed and cut up head of cabbage. Slice up the corned beef on a plate and dish up the cabbage and enjoy!
Lime Jello Jigglers (cut out with a cookie cutter) and whipped cream

Recipe for Jigglers can be found here. My kids think these are extra special because we very rarely eat jello 🙂

Rainbow made fruit pizza style: sugar cookie dough shaped like a rainbow and baked, cream cheese & whipped cream topping spread over it and rows of sliced fresh fruit + chocolate gold coins for our “pot-o-gold” makes any easy and fun to make dessert

The recipe I used for the sugar cookie dough can be found here I love that you don’t need to chill the dough before hand! I do recommend increasing the baking time a few minutes more than the recipe says.

Shamrock shaped sugar cookies made from the extra dough from the rainbow, topped with butter cream frosting and green and rainbow sprinkles.

I frosted these cookies with this butter cream recipe.

Some of the other simple and fun things we enjoyed was having the kids taking turns being “the Leprechaun” and hiding chocolate gold coins for the other kids to find and listening to Irish music. Lots of fun!

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Popping Popcorn using a glass bowl in the microwave

This is one of those “Why didn’t I know about this awesome thing earlier?!” things. We love popping popcorn seeds at our house and usually eat this snack several times a week. I love that it’s whole grain, real food, super cheap and  totally versatile so you can top it with whatever you like. (We won’t even bring up all the ways that prepackaged microwave popcorn is gross and not healthy!) My organization loving heart is always so happy when you can eliminate a kitchen appliance and use things you already have!

For those of you who don’t know about this tip, here are the instructions:

Super Simple Microwave Popcorn

1-Get a large glass bowl and pour 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels into it

2-Put a microwave safe, ceramic plate or do what I do and use your microwave cover (If you don’t have one of these you really should pick one up-very cheap (I got mine at the dollar store) and they keep your microwave nice and clean!)

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3-Microwave for 3-4 minutes, listening for when the pops are slowing down. Since the bowl and cover are clear, my girls love watching the kernels pop.

4-Enjoy with some melted butter and salt, dark chocolate drizzled over the top or whatever you like.

*Cool tips:
-If some of the kernels don’t pop, you can take them out of the popped kernels and microwave them again until most of them pop!
-If you want to easily get the unpopped kernels out of the popped ones, put a cooling rack over your bowl and hold the rack tight to the bowl while you turn them upside and shake until the unpopped kernels fall out!

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List of essential items you need in your kitchen

Having a well equipped kitchen is essential when you want to make yummy, healthy meals at home every day.  However, I’ve discovered through cooking in the 7 different kitchens in our different homes in Hawaii and Utah over the past year and a half (yes, that means WAY too much moving) that some things are essential, some things are nice to have and a lot of things just take up space so I thought I’d write up a list of the things that I recommend for every kitchen.  When we moved to Hawaii we only brought suit cases so I had to completely start from scratch which was challenging but also refreshing because I only bought things I really needed and really loved.  Sometimes I was surprised by what I found I needed right away and what things I totally forgot about! You can click on the items that are in blue below and it will take you to a specific product that I recommend on Amazon or other places. (These are affiliate links so if you click on them from my site here and buy anything on Amazon I get a very small percentage. So thank you, if you do! And don’t worry, I will of course, only add links to things I truly recommend!)

Appliances
Essential right away:
-Toaster
-Crockpot/Slow cooker

Get them when you can:
-Stand Mixer, I recommend a Kitchen Aid or Bosch if you bake a lot like me.  This is the one I have  but this one is a little smaller and cheaper and still works great if you don’t make large quantities of things (Since these last forever try to get an awesome deal on one 2nd hand, or watch for a deal at Costco.)
Food processor (Love this for many things, but especially for making nut butters) I bought mine at Costco.
Rice cooker (We make a lot of rice so this is essential for us but you may not need it, check Costco for a better deal.)
-Electric griddle or skillet (great for pancakes and other things but do make sure you have the storage space because these are both bulky.)
-Grain Mill/Wheat Grinder (I love grinding my wheat fresh and use this several times a week, the one I have and love is the “WonderMill” it works great turning any grain into flour (rice, teff, quinoa etc.) I’ve also heard the Nutrimill is great too.)
-Waffle iron (if you love waffles like us!)

Kitchen Utensils & Gadgets
Essential right away:
-2 sets of measuring cups (I like the sets with 3/4 & 1 1/2 cups too.)
-2 sets of measuring spoons
-2 nice Santoku knives
-1 bread knife with serrated edge
-pizza cutter, I love this for cutting quesadillas, pancakes for my kids, brownies, pies etc.
Kitchen shears-I use these ALL the time! So great for cutting meat up in recipes like my Honey Garlic Chicken and for some many uses.
Can opener
Vegetable peeler
Cheese grater
Liquid measuring cup
-2 rubber spatulas that are heat resistant
-2 heat resistant spatulas/pancake turners
wire whisk I got this in a set with a spiral whisk at my local Ikea for about $2 but I could only find it online on the UK Ikea site so I linked to there so you could see what they look like-love them!
-spiral whisk
-large, long handled spoon for serving and stirring
-large, long handled slotted spoon
-long handled ladle
-salad tongs
-pasta server
potato masher

Nice to have when you can:
-Pie server (useful for serving cake, pizza and cheesecake too)
-Ice cream scoop
Apple Slicer
-Funnel (grab these at the dollar store)
-lemon zester
-fine grater (for ginger and such)
-1 hand lemon juicer

Dining & Serving (I recommend 3x’s the # of people in your household for each item)
-Set of flatware that includes serving flatware too, like larger spoon, fork etc.
-Chopsticks (if you eat a lot of Asian food like us)
-Dinner plates, matching & not too big to fit in your cupboard
-bowls for cereal and soup, matching set
-smaller matching plates for desserts, salads, toast etc.
-Half glasses & full glasses (I LOVE these sturdy ones with lids)
-Matching plastic cups (if you have younger children or frequent guests)
-2 water pitchers, I like clear ones so they go with everything
-1 or 2 Water bottles for each member of your family (love these for kids, look for both of these at Costco too)
-Ice cube trays if your fridge doesn’t have an ice maker
-Butter dish with a cover (find one at the Dollar Store, or here)
-Salt and Pepper Shakers

Bakeware and Cookware
-2 sets muffin tins
-2, 9×13 glass pan with lid
-2, 8×8 glass pan with lid
-2 loaf pans
-4 glass pie pans
-2 cookie sheets/jelly roll pans
-2 Silpat mats that fit in your cookie sheets/jelly roll pans
-large pot and lid
-sauce pan & lid
-large frying pan & lid
-medium frying pan & lid
-2 9″ cake pans (I love these silicone ones)
-rolling pin (You may not need this if you don’t intend to bake much)
-2 pizza pans (if you make lots of pizza)

Food Prep & Storage
-2 or 3 cutting boards (I recommend ones that are dishwasher safe so they can easily be sterilized)
-1 large colander
-set of food storage containers
-4 mixing bowls (preferably one’s that nest & have lids)
-set of 3 or 4 glass bowls with lids
Salad spinner (I use this all the time wash my lettuce and then store my complete salad in the fridge to keep it fresh longer)
-Fine mesh strainer

Cleaning
-10 dish towels
-10 dish cloths
-4 hot pads (2 mits and 2 regular)
-Scrub brush (I love the one at Ikea that is $1)
-Srubbie
-Scraper
-Dish soap dispenser
-Hand soap dispenser
-Spray bottle (for water & vinegar all purpose spray)
-Dishwasher detergent
-Broom
-Dust pan and small hand broom
-Garbage & recycling cans
-Cleaning cloths
-Mop or Swiffer (I use this with cleaning cloths, instead of the expensive pads made for it) depending on what flooring you have

Storage
-Bag clips, big and small

If you like to entertain
-table cloth that is stain and wrinkle resistant (start with white)
-linen napkins that are stain and wrinkle resistant  (start with white)
-Tiered dessert stand (I like the kind that swivel because they save space when you need to store them)
-serving platters -2
-serving bowls 2

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies (all from scratch!)

Yes, you read that right, Pumpkin Cheesecake and brownie all together in one fabulous fall dessert. Easy, all from scratch and absolutely decedent. Make, eat, share and be happy.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies
Ingredients:
-1 cup (2 cubes) of  Butter (Olive Oil & Coconut Oil both work too to make these dairy free!)
-2 cups of Sugar
-2 tsp Vanilla
-4 Eggs
-3/4 cup Cocoa
-1 cup Flour *If making these Gluten Free, replace with any GF flour of your choice)
-1/2 tsp Baking Powder
-1/4 tsp Salt
-4 oz cream cheese, softened
-1/2 cup pumpkin puree, canned is great
-1/4 cup of Sugar
-1 egg
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp ground ginger
-1/4 tsp nutmeg
-1/4 tsp cloves (optional)

Directions:
1-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2- Grease a 9×13″ pan and set aside.
3-Melt the butter in a large microwave safe bowl.
4- Stir in each of the rest of the ingredients by hand until everything is well mixed.
5-Pour 3/4 of the brownie batter into the greased pan, spread it out evenly and set the rest aside.  The batter will be thick.
6-In a separate bowl mix the cream cheese, pumpkin, spices and egg on medium high for 1 minute or so until everything is well combined.
7-Pour the pumpkin mixture over the brownie batter and spread evenly.
8-Put the rest of the brownie batter over the pumpkin mixture and swirl them together slightly.
9-Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the oven, until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.

*You can eat them warm but they are also amazing after the have cooled and been refrigerated for a few hours. Think warm pumpkin pie versus set up, cooled pumpkin pie.