Taco Tuesday

Taco Tuesday
By Tia

Whether you call it Taco Tuesday or Fiesta Friday, it is a hit in my household.

My brood has gotten involved in the set up and we enjoy that part almost as much as the eating part …my daughter at age four sets the table and fills serving dishes with shredded cheese and sour cream while my older sons help by chopping toppings.

Tacos are a perfect meal for families like ours, and I am fairly certain others as well, because for once everyone gets to put together their own creation from their favorite things and enjoy every bite with no complaints or grimacing.

I enjoy using my Aroma rice cooker for preparing the ground beef, since I can do it in advance and have it simmer while I supervise and help my sous-chefs.

I believe it is essential to have many toppings to suite everyone’s appetite and I try to mix fresh vegetables with the necessary ingredients like cheese and sour cream, for a more balanced meal, and not surprisingly, it all gets eaten.

MEAT FILLING
1 lb ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning

Set your rice cooker to Sauté-Then-Simmer and brown beef. Add seasoning packet and 1/4 cup water. Let cook for 20-30 minutes uncovered. Switch to warm and close the lid until ready to eat.

TOPPINGS
2 cups each chopped, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, cabbage or lettuce, separated in their own bowls
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
2 cups sour cream
2 cups salsa
1 cup jalapeños, chopped
1 cupcilantro, chopped
taco shells

July 22, 2014 at 8:20 am Leave a comment

Quinoa Chopped Salad With Cilantro-Lemon Dressing

Quinoa Chopped Salad With Cilantro DressingBy Tia

Every country has its own “Starbucks” and in Israel this chain is called…Can you guess?

Yes, it is called Aroma, and although they serve and prepare the standard coffee drinks and pastries, they also make the most amazing salads.

I ate this salad at the airport on my way home and have made a close rendition of it quite a few times since. Once to take for lunch to work, as well as twice for my girls’ pool party luncheons on Fridays, that have resumed after the winter. Last week I had my friend Patti over to show her pictures from my trip and I think she was equally impressed with the salad as she was with my photo sharing.

I added my own salad dressing creation based on complimentary flavors to enhance all the goodies in this salad, but in a pinch you could just drizzle lemon and olive oil on top and it would be fine. Or you could make a big batch of the dressing and use it for other things as well, like chicken or fish marinade.

QUINOA CHOPPED SALAD

For the salad:
3 cups lettuce
2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
1 English cucumber, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup Jicama, chopped
1 cup green zucchini, chopped
1 cup green onions, sliced thin
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup pepita seeds
1/2 cup soynuts
1/2 cup craisins
12 ounces Feta cheese, cubed

Layer all ingredients in a large shallow dish, starting with lettuce on the bottom and topping off with the cheese cubes.

For the dressing:
juice of 3 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup walnut oil
1/2 cup of fresh cilantro
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Blend all ingredients together in a blender.

July 14, 2014 at 10:48 am Leave a comment

Fresh Fruit with Zabaglione

Fresh Fruit with Zabaglione
By Tia

My family and I just returned from a trip of a lifetime to Israel and my inspiration tank has completely been recharged at all levels.

I am truly excited to share some new and delicious dishes with all of you, starting with this simple fresh fruit dessert topped with a creamy Zabaglione sauce, just in time for the berry season in our country. With the Aroma rice cooker, it is always such a pleasure to test double boiler recipes, because it is just so hassle free and easy.

Although Zabaglione is a true Italian sauce, it really is a basic custard elevated with either Marsala wine or some times even with Champagne, making it lighter and adding a crisp taste to the otherwise very sweet sauce.

I was lucky enough to enjoy it at my girlfriend’s house while on my trip, and it really did convince me that great simple food is universal.

SEASONAL BERRIES WITH ZABAGLIONE

For Zabaglione:
4 egg yolks
4 tblsp sugar
4 tblsp sweet Marsala wine

Add 2 cups of water into your rice cooker and place a clear glass bowl on top to make a double boiler. Set to steam for 15 minutes.

Add all ingredients into the glass bowl and whisk until thickened, about 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before using.

For berries:
1 cup each of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.
1/4 cup of sugar

Mix berries with the sugar in a bowl and let macerate for 30 minutes or so, to draw the fruit juices from the berries. Divide the berries into 4 dessert bowls and top with the Zabaglione.

Although I used berries for my recipe you could just as well use other fruit as well.

July 10, 2014 at 9:53 am Leave a comment

Apple Crumble With Vanilla Sauce

Apple Crumble with Vanilla Sauce

By Tia

Growing up, we always had apple or berry crisps topped with vanilla sauce, a cool smooth sauce that resembles melted vanilla ice cream and pairs perfectly with tart apples or berries. In Finland, this sauce is a staple and you can readily buy it pre-made in the cooler at your local grocer. Since I moved to the US, I’ve been perfecting this nostalgic topper I grew up with to share with my family and friends… and quench my own cravings. And here it is, finally perfected to share with you and bring a little taste of Finland to the states.

APPLE CRUMBLE WITH VANILLA SAUCE

For the vanilla sauce:
2 cups milk
1 egg
1 tblsp potato starch
2 tblsp sugar
2 tsp vanilla

For the crumble:
4 green tart apples, cored, peeled and sliced
2 tsp cinnamon
1 stick of butter at room temperature
2 cups oats
1/4 cup sugar

To make the vanilla sauce: In the inner pot of the rice cooker mix together milk, egg and potato starch.  Set to Steam for 10 minutes. Mix constantly until milk mixture thickens and bubbles and remove from heat. Add sugar and vanilla and let cool in the refrigerator.

To make the crumble: Rinse the inner pot and place butter, oats and sugar inside. Mix to combine. Layer apple slices on top and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Close the lid and set to Cake.

When your rice cooker beeps invert the dish onto a serving tray and serve with cold vanilla sauce.

June 17, 2014 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

Cake Batter Ice Cream

Cake Batter Ice Cream

By Desiree

The “official” summer kickoff is this weekend but as temperatures climb across the nation I’m definitively declaring that we could all use some ice cream right now. Cake batter ice cream has been quite the rage for a few years running and seems to delight people of all ages. Its cake-like taste comes from a secret ingredient you would probably never guess (I know I didn’t)… butter, well butter extract that is. Somehow, the rich component balances with vanilla, cream and sugar to add that familiar birthday flavor to every melty bite. It’s hard to go back to store-bought ice cream once you’ve tried the homemade stuff but I’ll bet good money it’d be even more difficult when it comes to this flavor. As for me, I know I haven’t been able to look back.

CAKE BATTER ICE CREAM

2 cup half and half
2 1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 1/2 cup whole milk
3 3/4 cup sugar
5 tsp vanilla extract
5 tsp butter extract
sprinkles

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until mixture has fully chilled.

Remove mixture from refrigerator. Pour into the mixing canister of your Aroma Ice Cream Maker and follow directions in the “How to Use” section in your instruction manual.

Top with sprinkles and enjoy!

Note: Serving straight from the ice cream maker will produce a soft-serve/pudding type consistency as pictured. For a firmer texture allow the frozen yogurt to harden in the freezer for 30 minutes to 1 hour after churning.

June 10, 2014 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment

Smoked Salmon Frittata

Smoked Salmon Frittata

By Tia

Mother’s day is just around the corner and my family always gets together to have a great brunch with my own mom and my mother-in-law. In order to take a load off and enjoy a day also celebrating me, I opt for brunch items that are quick and easy and allow me to spend as much quality time with my moms as possible. This salmon frittata comes together in five minutes and packs an amazing amount of flavor in a priceless color palette just perfect for a Mother’s Day brunch.

SMOKED SALMON FRITTATA
6 eggs
4 oz smoked salmon
1 tsp butter
2 tblsp fresh dill or cilantro
dash of black pepper

Set your rice cooker to Sauté-Then-Simmer and add the butter to the inner pot.

Whisk the eggs and pepper together in a bowl. Pour egg mixture into the inner pot and place salmon slices and herbs on top.

Close the lid and let cook for about 5 minutes or until eggs are set. Serve sliced in wedges.

Note: If your rice cooker does not have Sauté-Then-Simmer use the White Rice function and cook for 6-7 minutes until eggs are set.

June 3, 2014 at 4:11 pm Leave a comment

Lemon Pudding Cakes

Lemon Pudding Cakes With Raspberry Jam
By Tia

I love all things sour.  Luckily, so do most of my family and friends, which makes dessert making simple… lemony anything thrills us all.

With spring in the air and heat on the rise, it seems only appropriate to move into lighter desserts that reflect the season and pair well with lighter fare. These little lemon puddings are sweet and sour and very airy and make a perfect treat for your favorite person in the world. Hence, why I serve these every year for my favorite mothers. Now I hope that you might share them too.

LEMON PUDDING CAKES

2/3 cups caster sugar, plus more for dusting
2 eggs, separated
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 tblsp fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup cake flour
pinch of salt
butter for greasing
raspberry jam and whipped cream for topping

Beat together egg yolks, buttermilk, lemon juice and lemon zest. Slowly add the flour, salt and sugar and continue to beat until well blended.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  Fold whites carefully into the egg yolk mixture.

Divide into 6 buttered and sugar dusted ramekins and place into the steam tray of your rice cooker. Pour 2 cups of water into the inner pot and set to Steam for 15 minutes.

Invert each cake onto a plate, top with whipped cream and raspberry jam and enjoy!

May 27, 2014 at 3:03 pm Leave a comment

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