Garlicky Baked White Rice with Cilantro

Garlicky White Rice with Cilantro This is one of those recipes that I never get tired of.  I’ve been making it for years and still find it to be one of the best rice dishes around.  It is simple to make, has excellent  flavor and texture, and it’s very versatile. For those of you who loathe cilantro, don’t leave yet. This rice is equally delicious without the cilantro.

Medium Grain Rice The original recipe comes from Rick Bayless, master of Mexican cuisine.  Rick sprinkles chopped parsley over the cooked rice rather than mixing it into the rice.  Though we serve the rice with Mexican meals, you could change things around and add chopped fresh dill, or chives, and serve the rice with roasted chicken or grilled fish. Sometimes I don’t add any herbs to it at all.

Cilantro, Diced Onion, Garlic With just a few ingredients and one pot, you will have delicious rice in 30 minutes.

Garlicky White Rice with Cilantro

Garlicky White Rice with Cilantro, Enchiladas & Black Beans

Garlicky White Rice with Cilantro
Serves: 6
  • 1½ tablespoons canola oil
  • 1½ cups medium grain white rice
  • ⅓ heaping cup chopped onion
  • 1 medium - large garlic clove
  • 1 14 ounce can chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons (or more) finely chopped cilantro
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Set a large oven-proof pot (with cover, 3½ - 5½ quart) over medium heat. Whatever pot you choose, try to use one with a wide bottom. I use my 5½ quart stainless steel Cuisinart multi-purpose pot but a smaller one would work as well.
  3. Heat oil for a minute or two. Add rice and onions to pot. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes. Add pressed garlic and stir for 30 seconds or so until fragrant, then mix in broth and salt. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. As soon as the rice reaches a full boil, remove from the heat, cover, and transfer to the oven. Bake 25 minutes. Let rice stand undisturbed for 15 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork, stir in cilantro.


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Smoked Bacon Wrapped Chicken Skewers

Smoked Bacon Wrapped Chicken Skewers John has been contemplating purchasing a Weber smoker for quite some time.  The decision was made easier by Amazon, which until recently did not offer free shipping to Hawaii.  The first thing we smoked was a fresh turkey breast.  It turned out to be easy and delicious, but we didn’t take any pictures or notes, so we’ll do that another time.  This recipe comes from Jeff’s “smoking-meat” blog.  We’ve made it a couple of times and it is so tasty.  It features a nice hint of smoke, a good barbecue sauce, and tender chicken tucked inside smokey bacon.

Preparing Smoked Bacon Wrapped Chicken Skewers Buy thin or regular cut bacon so that it has a chance to render and crisp up a bit while in the smoker. I cut my bacon strips into three even pieces but if you have larger pieces of chicken you might cut the bacon in half.

Preparing Smoked Bacon Wrapped Chicken Skewers

Smoked Bacon Wrapped Chicken Skewers We had one lonely piece of bacon left and a couple of potatoes lying around so into the smoker they went.

Smoked Bacon Wrapped Chicken Skewers

Smoked Bacon Wrapped Chicken Skewers
Serves: 6
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs trimmed of any visible fat
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • ⅓ cup of your favorite dry rub
  • 1 pound bacon
  • your favorite barbecue sauce (we like Trader Joe's)
  • wooden skewers
  1. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, about 6 pieces per chicken thigh ( 8 if you are using a large chicken thigh)
  2. Place chicken pieces in a Ziplock bag and pour about 3 tablespoons canola oil into the bag. Mix chicken and oil so that the chicken is well coated. Add ⅓ cup of your favorite dry rub to the bag. Massage the bag well so all the chicken pieces are evenly coated with dry rub. Place the bag in your refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  3. Place a piece of bacon on your work surface, top with a piece of marinated chicken, roll and push onto the skewer. Continue to add more bacon & chicken pieces to the skewer, leaving enough space on the skewer for turning during smoking. If you leave a bit of space between each piece of chicken, the bacon tends to crisp up better than if you push the meat together tightly.
  4. Set up your smoker for cooking at 250 degrees. Smoke the chicken for about 1 hour, brush generously with barbecue sauce, and smoke for about 30 minutes longer before removing the from the smoker.




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Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles

Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles These popsicles are so easy to make I can’t believe I never thought of making them before.  It all began a few months ago when my sister in-law, Paula, brought over a refreshing mango popsicle she had made.  From that day on I was determined to make my own.

Fresh Strawberries 16 oz. There’s a plethora of popsicle recipes out there in internet land.  It seems you can pretty much use any type of fruit whether it be fresh or frozen.  From there, you can keep it simple and add nothing more, or you might add cream, milk, nuts, coconut milk, or yogurt which I did in this case.  They are very easy to make and homemade popsicles taste so good.

Crushed Strawberries

Cream of Coconut Cream of coconut is normally found in the liquor section of the market where the drink mixers are sold.

Ice Pop Maker I bought this popsicle maker from Amazon the moment Paula came over with her mango popsicle.  It’s just $12.99 and with Amazon Prime you get free shipping.  It’s easy to use and makes 10 refreshing popsicles at a time.  If you don’t have a popsicle maker, I urge you to get one right away!  Popsicles are great all year round.

Strawberry Yogurt Mixture for Popsicles Leave a little space at the top for expansion otherwise it will be difficult to remove the top of the ice pop maker once they are frozen.  I didn’t do that the first time around but with a little nudging I was able to remove it without disturbing my precious pops.

Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles

Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 10
  • 16 ounces fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and halved if large
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 6 ounce container Green Valley lactose free strawberry yogurt (or your favorite brand)
  • 1 6 ounce container Green Valley lactose free vanilla yogurt (or your favorite brand)
  • 3 tablespoons cream of coconut
  1. Crush strawberries with a pastry cutter or potato masher. Stir in 2 tablespoons white sugar and set aside
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk yogurt and cream of coconut until smooth. Fold in crushed strawberries
  3. Pour mixture into ice pop maker leaving a little space at the top to allow for expansion. Place cover over ice pop maker and insert popsicle sticks. Freeze for at least 4 hours or over night.
  4. To remove popsicles, run warm water around the mold for a few seconds to loosen them slightly. Wrap popsicles with a small piece of waxed paper and store in an airtight container.


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Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes I would find it difficult to single out a particular cuisine as my exclusive favorite since I love all types of food (though Italian, Japanese, and Mexican are at the top of my list).  These enchiladas from Bon Appetit are easy and delicious, plus they freeze well if you happen to have leftovers.  Be sure to freeze some of the sauce in small containers to serve with the enchiladas.

Tomatillo Tomatillos are unusual little green orbs with papery husks.  They belong to the nightshade family (tomatoes, eggplant, some varieties of potatoes and chiles).  They can be  eaten raw or cooked, and their citrusy-tart flavor is delightful in salsa.

Onion, Poblano, Tomatillos

Verde Sauce The tomatillos, onion, and poblano chile are roasted for a short time before they go into the blender with a few other ingredients for a quick whirl.  Sauce is ready!

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4
  • Green Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ onion, halved
  • 1 large poblano chile, halved, seeds removed
  • 2 pounds tomatillos, husked removed, rinsed and halved
  • 2 serrano chiles, chopped (remove seeds if you prefer to)
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • kosher salt
  • Enchiladas:
  • ½ rotisserie chicken (about 1 pound), skin removed, meat shredded
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 6 ounces finely grated extra sharp white cheddar cheese (or Cotija cheese), divided
  • ½ cup sour cream mixed with 2 tablespoons milk
  • ½ small white or red onion, thinly sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brush olive oil over onion, poblano chile, and tomatillos on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until vegetables are soft and lightly browned about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then slip off and discard poblano skin. Transfer onion mixture and any accumulated juices to a blender. Add serrano chiles, garlic, chicken stock, cilantro, and lime juice and puree until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl, season sauce with salt.
  2. Arrange tortillas on a cookie sheet and lightly spray both sides with cooking oil (Pam). Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 4 minutes. When done, let them cool and they are ready to be filled and rolled. Do not skip this step. It keeps the tortillas intact when enchiladas are baking.
  3. Turn oven temperature up to 425 degrees. Toss chicken with coriander, red pepper flakes, and ½ cup green sauce in a large bowl; season with salt.
  4. Spread about 1 cup of green sauce in a 13x9" baking dish to cover the bottom completely. Pour some of the green sauce into a pie dish and dip both sides of each tortilla in sauce, just to coat. Working one at a time, spread ¼ cup chicken mixture down the center of tortilla and fold one side over filling, then continue to roll enchilada onto itself. Place seam side down in prepared baking dish as you go (enchiladas should be nestled right up against each other). Top with more green sauce and most of the cheese (set aside some of the cheese for serving). Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is beginning to brown, about 25 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, combine sour cream with milk, season with salt. Serve enchiladas topped with extra cheese, a drizzle of sour cream mixture, sliced, onions, and cilantro.


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Avocado Pesto

Avocado Pesto Our poor Sharwil avocado tree has dropped most of its fruit before their usual December season due date.  We attribute this to the extremely hot and humid weather we experienced this summer.  It was quite unbearable for us humans, and so we expect the poor plants were suffering as well.  In any case, we had to throw many away but the most recent ones that have fallen off the tree have been ripening nicely and are quite good.  I’m always searching for new ways to use our homegrown fruit.  This avocado pesto recipe from Eating Well magazine sounded delicious so I whipped up a batch for lunch.

Fresh Basil The one plant that never suffers from too much heat is basil.  It just thrives in our garden.

Sharwil Avocado

Hemp Seeds Hemp seeds are quite delicious. I sprinkle them on salads and now use them in place of pine nuts for pesto.

Avocado Pesto

Avocado Pesto
Serves: 4 about 1⅔ cups
  • 1 large bunch fresh basil (about 2 cups lightly packed)
  • 2 medium-sized ripe avocados
  • ⅓ cup hemp seeds (or walnuts)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Place basil leaves, avocados, hemp seeds, lemon juice, garlic and salt in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add oil and process to form a thick paste. Season with pepper and additional salt if needed.
  2. Toss the pesto with your favorite pasta. I love the way the pesto coats the long, flat strands of linguine.
  3. Pesto is best eaten the day you make it as the avocado pesto will brown slightly if made in advance.


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Summer Tomato Pie

Summer Tomato Pie I’m a bit late on posting this since it’s now October and summer is over, but if you’re  able to find good tomatoes at your local farmers market (or in your back yard) you’ll love this recipe from Cook’s Country.  Not only are there just a handful of ingredients, most of which you probably have in your pantry and refrigerator, the pie is quite stunning and most of all simply delicious.

Summer Tomato Pie The original recipe says to use Cook’s Country pie dough recipe, your own recipe, or store-bought dough.  I am sold on this pie crust recipe.  It’s the only one I use these days.  I use 2 tablespoons of vodka in place of 2 of the 5 tablespoons of water called for. From Cook’s Illustrated: “Since water bonds with flour to form gluten, too much of it makes a crust tough. But rolling out dry dough is difficult. For a pie dough recipe that baked up tender and flaky and rolled out easily every time, we found a magic ingredient: vodka. Using vodka, which is just 60 percent water, gave us an easy-to-roll crust recipe with less gluten and no alcohol flavor, since the alcohol vaporizes in the oven.”

Homegrown Big Beef Tomatoes These gorgeous Big Beef tomatoes did fairly well in our garden even though we had the hottest, most humid summer ever.  They are meaty tomatoes with few seeds.  Just perfect for this recipe.

Extra Sharp Cheddar

Preparing Tomatoes for Pie Thinly sliced tomatoes are salted and left alone for 30 minutes to draw out their moisture. This procedure ensures the crust will not be too doughy and wet once the tomatoes are layered on the crust.

Preparing Summer Tomato Pie The original recipe doesn’t call for bacon, but I couldn’t resist adding some.

Preparing Summer Tomato Pie

Summer Tomato Pie

Summer Tomato Pie
  • 2 (9-inch) pie dough rounds (see Best Ever Pie Crust link above)
  • 2 pounds ripe beefsteak tomatoes, cored and cut into ¼-inch slices. I prefer to peel the tomatoes but this is optional.
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (I used extra sharp white cheddar)
  • 4 scallions sliced thin
  • 5 pieces cooked and crumbled bacon, about ½ cup (optional)
  1. Arrange tomato slices on paper towel-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Let drain for about 30 minutes, then press tomatoes with additional paper towels until very dry.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 dough round into 12-inch circle. Transfer to 9-inch pie plate, letting excess hang over edge. Cover with plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes. Roll second round into 12-inch circle and refrigerate for 30 minutes (I placed mine on waxed paper lined cutting board and covered with plastic).
  3. Adjust oven rack to the second placement from the bottom (about 5" from the bottom of the oven floor) and heat oven to 450 degrees. Mix mayonnaise, cornstarch and 1 cup cheese in bowl until well combined. Sprinkle remaining cheese over bottom of dough-lined pie plate. Arrange a third of tomatoes over cheese. Spread half of the mayonnaise mixture over the tomatoes and sprinkle with half of the scallions. Sprinkle half of the bacon bits over the top if using. Layer another third of tomatoes, remaining mayonnaise mixture and scallions, and bacon if using. Top with remaining tomatoes.
  4. Arrange top crust on pie. Press crusts together, then trim, fold, and crimp edges. Cut four 2-by1-inch oval vent holes in top. Place pie on rimmed baking sheet, bake for 10 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until crust is golden brown, about 55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack at least 3 hours. Serve at room temperature.



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