M&M Cookies

October 13: National M&M Day

Those who love chocolate chip cookies like us will certainly enjoy its colorful, crispy “cousin”—M&M cookies. The candies are a festive substitute for the chocolate chips and can be made with the colors of the season (warm oranges, yellows and chocolate M&Ms for fall; red and green M&Ms for Christmas; pastel M&Ms for spring and Easter, etc.). But we followed the classic M&M cookie recipe for our blog post today in observance of National M&M Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from M&Ms)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¾ cup (1 package) M&Ms

Directions

In a large bowl, cream the butter with the brown and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg. Stir in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add this into the butter-egg mixture. Stir until a smooth dough is formed.

Fold in the M&Ms, reserving a few to press onto the top the cookies (optional). Scoop one-inch balls onto a lightly greased baking sheet, leaving them about two-inches apart. Flatten slightly for flatter cookies (optional). Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Yield: Approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Notes

  • We recommend letting the cookie dough rest after folding in the M&Ms. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for half an hour before scooping into balls. This also helps to prevent the cookies from spreading too much during baking.
  • Adjust baking times for softer cookies (10-12 minutes) or crisper cookies (12-15 minutes).
  • Learn more about M&Ms from the official candy website at http://www.mms.com.

Mocha Frappuccino

October 7: National Frappé Day

Before we switched to mostly drinking tea, Highlander would spend several dollars a day at Starbucks drinking coffee—and that, when added up, was a budget buster! So sometimes it made “cents/sense” to make our own blended coffee drinks, such as a mocha frappuccino, at home for a whole lot cheaper. And we could control the amount of sweetened condensed milk, chocolate and whipped cream added to the coffee to suit our tastes. We still go to Starbucks once in a while, but not as frequently as before, to indulge in a frappé. But instead of buying one today, we made our own to observe National Frappé Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups espresso or strong brewed coffee (we used leftover Kona)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup chocolate syrup
  • ice cubes
  • whipped cream

 Directions

In a blender, pour the coffee, milk, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.

Add the chocolate syrup. Top off the blended with ice cubes. Blence until smooth. Pour into two tall glasses. Swirl some whipped cream on top. Add a straw and enjoy cold.

Notes

  • We halved the above recipe for the two of us and still had an extra serving left over.
  • Add about ½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to the recipe for some texture and flavor.
  • We drink more tea now (just plain—no sugar or milk/cream) than the sugary blended coffees but still indulge in a frappé once in a while. Although it saves us more money than buying Starbucks drinks daily, sometimes good quality organic tea can get pricey, too.
  • We bought a Starbucks frappucino and saved the logo cup, cover and green straw to drink the rest of our homemade frappé.

Kale Parmesan Chips

October 3: National Kale Day

Our farmer friend Eugene K. generously gave us a big bag of fresh vegetables, including kale. Islander prefers spinach overall but after tasting baked kale “chips”, she now craves kale this way for a healthy snack! This quick and easy homemade recipe for baked kale leaves tossed in olive oil and Parmesan cheese and lightly seasoned with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes are a totally tasty way to observe National Kale Day!

Recipe

Adapted from Betty Crocker

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

 Directions

Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Mist with cooking spray. Wash and dry the kale. Tear the leaves into small pieces. Place in a bowl and toss with olive oil and cheese. Season the salt, pepper and flakes.

Spread the leaves out on the prepared pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through until the leaves are crispy. Remove from the oven and cool. Store remaining chips in an airtight container.

Notes

  • Thanks to Eugene K. for the kale from his farm.
  • We hope to add more kale recipes to our blog soon. Search back later.

Kona Coffee Liqueur Ice Cream

September 29: International Coffee Day

Ethiopia, Colombia, Jamaica, Indonesia, Vietnam. These are some of the countries that are world famous for producing fine coffee. The United States ranks in the top 10 in many coffee polls, thanks in part to Hawaii’s contribution! Kona (Big Island) is the most popular but there are coffee plantations and estates on the other Hawaiian Islands.

We proudly put Hawaiian coffee in recipes that call for this ingredient. That way we feel like we are supporting America and Hawaii’s local economy while adding a touch of aloha to our dishes. In our no churn coffee ice cream, we add a double dose of Kona coffee in the recipe by dissolving Kona coffee crystals in Kona coffee liqueur. It is onolicious!

Enjoy no churn Kona coffee liqueur ice cream on International Coffee Day!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1-2 teaspoons instant Kona coffee crystals
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla, hot water or Kona coffee liqueur
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped
  • a few drops of brown food coloring/paste (optional)

Directions

In a small cup, dissolve the coffee crystals into liquid (vanilla, water or liqueur). Blend well with the sweetened condensed milk.

In a mixing bowl, beat the heavy whipping cream until peaks form. Fold in the whipped cream into the condensed milk mixture. Add a bit of brown food coloring (optional). Place in a loaf container, cover and freeze overnight.

Notes

  • Hawaii is only one of two states in America that grows coffee commercially. California is the other state. Georgia is in the early stages of experimenting with coffee growing. Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, has had a coffee plantation for some time.
  • Check out our other Kona coffee recipes: cupcakes, cheesecake and cookies, oh my!
  • Search our blog for other no-churn ice cream recipes under our Theme Menu option.

Dan Bing 蛋餅

(Taiwanese Egg Pancake)

September 26:National Pancake Day

Islander’s college roommate from Taiwan, Monica C., would cook foods from her country and graciously share them with her. Sometimes, for Saturday brunch, they would skip the bland cafeteria food and cook together in the dorm kitchen. Dan bing, a type of Taiwanese style savory pancake, was one of the breakfast/brunch foods they would make because it was simple and filling (the proteins in the egg and pork floss and the carbs in the tortilla would provide them with energy to study—or play—for the rest of the day).

The recipe that follows is a mainland version of dan bing using flour tortillas (because as inexperienced cooks, that was all they could find as a substitute ingredient in their Midwest college town). When we visited Monica in Taiwan, we ate real dan bing (the flour pancake was much thinner) at the local cafes and they were much better and authentic than Islander and Monica’s mainland version. But it is still a delicious dish for breakfast/brunch and on National Pancake Day.

Recipe

(From Monica C.)

Ingredients

  • Chopped scallions (green parts only)
  • 4+ eggs, beaten
  • a little oil for frying
  • fresh flour tortilla
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Rousong (pork floss)

Directions

Chop the onions. Beat the eggs. Heat a little oil in a skillet. Pour beaten eggs in the middle and fry a little but not yet set. Sprinkle green onions on it.

Place a tortilla on top of the egg before it sets. Pour more beaten eggs over it to cover the top. Sprinkle green onions on it and season with salt and pepper to taste.

When the bottom egg is set, flip the entire tortilla over and fry until the egg on the bottom is set. Transfer to a plate. While still hot, carefully roll. Slice and garnish with pork floss and more green onions. Serve with soy sauce.

Notes

  •  Search our blog for other sweet pancake recipes.

Cherries Jubilee Cookies

September 24:National Cherries Jubilee Day

We avoid flambéing our foods because we do not want to cause a fire in our complex and upset our neighbors on either side of our walls. So we find recipes that can be adapted for the food holiday, like these cherries jubilee cookies for National Cherries Jubilee Day. They are soft and crumbly and uniquely spiced. The main “jubilee” ingredients are the chewy dried cherries that have been soaked in cherry-flavored brandy—without the flambé! Cherries jubilee is often served with vanilla ice cream and these cookies would be a good accompaniment as well as a teatime treat. Cheers to cherries jubilee cookies on National Cherries Jubilee Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from “Country Home Magazine”)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup brandy (we used Kirshwasser)
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar, granulated white (plus more for coating the cookies)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon Chinese five spice powder

Directions

In a saucepan, combine the dried cherries with the brandy. Simmer for a minute or two, pressing down on the cherries to release their juices to mix with the brandy. Remove from heat and let stand for half an hour. Drain and reserve two tablespoons of the liquid.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar. Add the whole egg and egg yolk. Stir in the two tablespoons of reserved cherry liquid. In a separate bowl, combine the flour with Chinese five spice powder.

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until a sticky dough is formed. Fold in the cherries and blend thoroughly. Scoop and roll into one-inch balls. Place at least an inch apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest on the cookie sheet for about five minutes. Roll the warm cookies in a bowl of granulated sugar. Cool completely on a wire rack. Yield: Approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Notes

  • The original recipe calls for rolling the unbaked cookie dough balls in sugar. But they tasted better when they were rolled after baking to give a nicer texture and taste.
  • Search our blog for other recipes containing cherries.

Bitterballen (Dutch Meatballs)

September 10: Feast Day of St. Theodard of Maastritch

Highlander and his co-workers stopped in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, for a day, after a week-long business meeting in Germany. They took advantage of seeing the city before having to fly back to the United States the next morning.  Although it was just a quick tour through the quaint streets by the river, they enjoyed the sights—and snacks.

One of the most popular snacks in the Netherlands is bitterballen (deep fried beef croquettes or meatballs). Islander tried to re-create them at home so she could experience a little bit of what Highlander sampled in Amsterdam.

We also wanted to make a traditional Dutch dish with beef as an ingredient in honor of a seventh century bishop in The Netherlands—St. Theodard of Maastritch—the patron saint of drovers and cattle dealers. Try making bitterballen on his feast day for a taste of The Netherlands.

Recipe

(Adapted from Taste of Home)

Ingredients

  • ¾ pound beef (sirloin steak)
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • oil (for deep frying)

Directions

Chop the beef into ¼ inch pieces. Mince the parsley. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.

Stir in the flour and mix until smooth. Gradually stir in the broth to make the gravy. Boil until thickened. Stir in the meat. Add the chopped parsley. Cook and stir until the meat is no longer pink (about 3-5 minutes).

Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Transfer to a bowl, cool, cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours to allow the flavors to develop and solidify. In a small shallow bowl, put the breadcrumbs in it. In another bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and oil. Remove the meat mixture from the refrigerator and scoop into 1.5 inch sized balls.

Dip balls into flour mixture, then egg and then roll again to coat in breadcrumbs. Deep fry until golden brown (about 3-4 minutes). Drain on paper towels. Serve hot with mustard (optional).

Notes

  • Bitterballen has a very moist, meaty center. Make sure to fry them long enough to heat the beef inside.
  • We are working on trying more Dutch recipes and will add them to our Theme Menus list soon.