Happy Fourth of July! ~ Haupia Stars

I hope you had a festive and fun Fourth!

You might have noticed I am on a Hawaiian kick this summer, exploring the many foods of Hawaii. It’s fun to take a virtual vacation through my kitchen!

I stayed with that theme for the Fourth of July. To celebrate America’s birthday, I barbequed some huli huli chicken from a Cook’s Country recipe, which I would highly recommend. Then the grand finale of our dinner was haupia with fresh summer berries.

Haupia is a traditional Hawaiian coconut pudding with a mild sweet flavor. The consistency is much thicker than most pudding recipes, so it can be cut into shapes with a cookie cutter. I cut mine into stars, and then chose red and blue summer berries to round out the colors of the holiday. 🙂


6 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup water

1 can organic coconut milk (Note: Light coconut milk really doesn’t work very well in this recipe)

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and the water until they make a slurry.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the coconut milk and sugar. While continuing to whisk, cook the mixture over medium heat until it just begins to boil.

Slowly pour the cornstarch and water mixture into the pan while whisking constantly. Cook until very thick, which will only take about a minute.

Take the pan off the heat. Add the vanilla and whisk well.

Pour the haupia into a 9 by 4 inch loaf pan. Spread until the pudding is an even layer in the pan.

Refrigerate overnight until the pudding is set.

Invert the haupia onto a cutting board. (The smooth side on the bottom makes a better presentation than the top side.) Cut into desired shapes with a knife or cookie cutter.

Serve and enjoy!

Fourth of July Sweets ~ Red, White, and Blue Parfaits

Red, White, and Blue ParfaitFor the grand finale of our Fourth of July dinner, I made red, white, and blue parfaits layered with tart cherry and vanilla yogurt gelatin topped with a layer of blueberries. 🙂 Yum!

The little desserts did take a bit of time to make since I needed to wait for each layer to set before I could pour the next, but most of that time was not spent actively in the kitchen. I could kick back and read a Fourth of July mystery out on the deck while I waited. 🙂 But I think they were well worth the effort. Plus, they can be made a day or two ahead, which is an added bonus.

If you didn’t have time to cook all of the red, white, and blue dishes you wanted to make this weekend, this one would also be perfect for Bastille Day on the 14th!

Red, White, and Blue Parfaits

For the red layer:

3 teaspoons plain powdered gelatin

3 cups tart cherry juice (or really any natural red 100% fruit juice you like!)

For the white layer:

1 1/2 teaspoons plain powdered gelatin

2 teaspoons cold water

2 cups 2% Greek-style yogurt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

1 cup whole milk

1/3 cup granulated sugar

Set aside 4 serving glasses. I used two tall parfait glasses and two martini glasses. I think wine glasses would also be pretty.

For the red layer:

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1 cup of cherry juice. Let the gelatin bloom. In a medium saucepan, bring the remaining 2 cups of cherry juice to a boil. Once it is boiling, remove from the heat. Add the bowl with the gelatin to the hot juice and whisk well. Transfer the mixture to a container with a spout.

Fill the serving glasses about 1/4 full with the cherry gelatin. Refrigerate the glasses until the red layer is set. (Mine took a couple of hours.) Set aside the remaining cherry gelatin and hold at room temperature.

For the white layer:

In a small bowl, add the gelatin to the water and let it bloom. In a medium bowl, add the yogurt and vanilla. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and sugar to a simmer, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Once the milk is simmering, remove from the heat, add the bloomed gelatin, and whisk to combine. Let the milk cool to room temperature. Pour the milk mixture into the bowl with the yogurt mixture and whisk until well combined. Transfer the mixture to a container with a spout.

Pour the white gelatin onto the set layer of red gelatin so the height of the white layer is approximately the same as the red. (Make sure the gelatin layer below is truly set before pouring the next layer on top.) Refrigerate the glasses until the white layer is set. Set aside the remaining white gelatin and hold at room temperature.

Repeat the layers until you have two layers of red and two of white. Chill until well set, preferably overnight. Top with blueberries and a cherry in the middle right before serving.Red, White, and Blue Parfait

Happy Fourth of July! ~ Northwest Salmon Burgers

Salmon BurgerHappy Fourth of July!

I made Northwest salmon burgers for dinner tonight to celebrate the date. 🙂 They were summery, festive, delicious, and easy to make. I will definitely keep this recipe in my collection for future summer celebrations.

Northwest Salmon Burgers

Based on a recipe from The New York Times

1 ½ pounds wild-caught salmon

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 medium shallots, chopped into approximately ¼ inch pieces

½ cup panko breadcrumbs

1 ½ tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed, roughly chopped

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

High heat cooking oil, such as safflower

Remove the skin and the pin bones from the salmon, and chop into coarse pieces.

In the bowl of a food processor, process about ¼ of the salmon and the mustard until the combination forms a paste. Then add the remaining chunks of salmon and the shallots. Pulse the ingredients together in the food processor until the mixture comes together, but make sure it still has some texture. For best results, the chunks of salmon shouldn’t be bigger than ¼ inch, but they shouldn’t be a purée.

Transfer the salmon mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the breadcrumbs, capers, salt, and pepper until everything is well incorporated.

Form the mixture into approximately 6 patties and set aside on a plate.

Preheat a large nonstick skillet. When the skillet is hot, add a couple of tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the salmon patties. Be careful not to crowd the pan. You may need to cook them in two batches. Cook the first side for about 2 or 3 minutes, or until golden. Flip, and cook on the second side until the burgers are cooked through. Take care not to overcook.

I served mine on rosemary rolls with a little butter lettuce and a dollop of lemon mayonnaise on top.

Happy Fourth of July ~ Part 3 ~ Strawberry Cheesecake Tart (Updated!)

Cheesecake TartThe grand finale of our Fourth of July dinner was my hubby’s favorite cheesecake tart! It was a special request. 😉

Since I am always trying to improve and learn, I made a couple of small tweaks to the original recipe. Opting for an all natural ingredient, I exchanged the nonfat sour cream with nonfat Greek yogurt. I also omitted the sugar in the crust since I try to cut back on sugar where I can, and the graham crackers are sweet enough on their own.

You can make a few small cheesecakes, or one big one! For the tiny ones, I piped seedless strawberry jam to make the stripes, and placed a few little blueberries in the corner for the stars. So cute! I got the idea from MyRecipes.com. 🙂 For the big one, I topped it with fresh summer strawberries arranged in a pretty pattern. I also added a few blueberries this time around to make it a little more patriotic.

Cheesecake TartStrawberry Cheesecake Tart

Based on a recipe from Martha Stewart

6 full graham cracker sheets

1/3 cup almonds

4 tablespoons unsalted melted butter, or just enough until the crust is moistened

2 8-oz bars of Neufchatel cream cheese

1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Pint of fresh strawberries, or blueberries, or whatever you’d like to use for your topping

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, grind the graham crackers and almonds until they are finely ground. Add the butter slowly, and process until moistened. (You may not need the full 4 tablespoons.) Transfer to a 9-inch tart pan or three 3-inch tart pans. Press the mixture firmly into the pan(s) and up the sides. Freeze for 15 minutes.

If you have a second food processor bowl, I’d recommend using it now. Otherwise, just clean your bowl and blade very well. Then process the cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, egg, vanilla, and salt until the mixture is smooth.

Place your tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and fill with the cheesecake mixture.

Bake until filling is set, about 30 to 35 minutes for the large tart. For the smaller tarts, check the progress at about 20 minutes to ensure you don’t overbake.

Cool completely and decorate as you wish!

Cheesecake Tarts

Happy Fourth of July ~ Part 2 ~ Trout Burgers with Tarragon Mayonnaise

Trout BurgerWhat could be more American than a thick, juicy burger on the Fourth of July? 🙂 I made trout burgers with a tarragon mayonnaise for our holiday dinner. The steelhead trout I used came from the Columbia River, which is just south of Seattle. I wanted my celebration of the USA’s birthday to include some of the things I love and appreciate about my corner of this county, like fresh seafood! 🙂

I based my recipe on a salmon burger recipe from Bon Appétit magazine. The two fish are related, so they can be swapped with each other in most cases. I also changed a few things besides the fish. Most notably, I reduced the amount of mayonnaise and increased the amount of nonfat yogurt for the tarragon mayonnaise spread. I also added lemon zest in addition to the juice, and I used freshly grated horseradish rather than the prepared variety. To serve, I used homemade whole-wheat brioche buns rather than buns made with white flour.

Trout Burgers with Tarragon Mayonnaise

Based on a recipe from Bon Appétit magazine

Serves 4

1 pound skinless trout fillet, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 2 1/4 cups)

4 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon drained small capers

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon fresh white horseradish, grated

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon high heat oil, such as safflower

4 whole-wheat buns

4 large tomato slices

8 butter lettuce leaves

Tarragon mayonnaise (recipe follows)

To make burgers:

Combine first 10 ingredients in medium bowl, and mix well. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Mix breadcrumbs into salmon mixture. Form into four 1-inch-thick patties. Preheat a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil when the pan is hot. Add salmon patties; cook until just firm to touch and brown and crusty, about 3 minutes per side.

Assemble each burger on a bun with a generous amount of tarragon mayonnaise, a trout patty, a slice of tomato, and lettuce leaves. Serve immediately.

Tarragon Mayonnaise

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

2 green onions, chopped

1/2 tablespoon drained small capers

Zest of 1/2 a lemon

1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon freshly grated white horseradish, or more to taste

To make mayonnaise:

Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)

My festive Fourth of July wine bottle label came from Catch My Party. They have the cutest free downloads to kick up your celebration a notch. 🙂

Fourth of July Wine Bottle Label

Happy Fourth of July ~ Part 1 ~ Homemade Dill Pickles

Dill PicklesI hope you had a lovely Fourth of July weekend!

To celebrate the occasion this year, I made fresh dill pickles from the farmers’ market, trout burgers with a tarragon mayonnaise, and my hubby’s favorite summer strawberry cheesecake tart. I’ll share all three recipes since we really enjoyed them all, starting with the pickles. 🙂

I stumbled upon a farmers’ market last week where I saw some beautiful Kirby cucumbers that I couldn’t resist, along with a big bunch of fresh dill. (I must admit, I’m one of those people who gets much more excited about beautiful cucumbers and herbs than I do about beautiful shoes and purses. 😉 ) For a couple of dollars, I knew I could make something fresh and delicious with my discoveries.

I used a dill pickle recipe from Food and Wine magazine with only a few small changes. I reduced the amount of sugar by half and added some whole peppercorns for added seasoning. I also omitted the dill seeds and used more fresh dill than the recipe called for (since I had a huge bunch). These pickles were so flavorful and delicious! I have a feeling I’ll be making this recipe again and again. Maybe I’ll try radishes or green beans next time? I can see what my local farmers’ market has to play with next week!

Dill Pickles

Based on a recipe from Food and Wine magazine

1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon whole peppercorns

2 cups hot water

2 pounds Kirby cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise or sliced 1/2 inch thick

1 1/2 cups fresh dill, coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

In a large, heatproof measuring cup, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns with the hot water and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Let the brine cool.

In a large bowl, toss the cucumbers with the dill and garlic. Pour the brine over the cucumbers and turn to coat. Place a small plate over the cucumbers to keep them submerged, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the pickles overnight, stirring once or twice. Serve cold.

The dill pickles can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Stay tuned for the trout burger recipe next! 🙂

Dill Pickles

Happy Fourth of July! ~ Bison Hot Dogs on Homemade Buns; Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad; Blueberry and Raspberry Parfait with Vanilla Yogurt and Whipped Cream

Click photos to expand. 🙂

Bison hot dogs on homemade hot dog buns

Red, white and blue potato salad

Sparkling wine with blueberries and raspberries floating in the bubbles…

A red and blue berry parfait (with an equal combination of non-fat Greek vanilla yogurt and whipped cream for a layer of white)…

Fun patriotic decorations

It’s our Fourth of July celebration!

I hope you all have a fun, safe, and happy Independence Day! I’m off to Seattle’s festival on Lake Union! 🙂

Enjoy it all!


Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

From Cooking Light magazine

2 cups fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise (about 10 ounces)

2 cups small red potatoes, quartered (about 10 ounces)

2 cups small blue potatoes, halved lengthwise (about 10 ounces)

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

3 hard-cooked large eggs, finely chopped

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

Place fingerling and red potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Drain; cool slightly. Place potatoes in a large bowl.

Place blue potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes or until tender. Drain; cool slightly. Add blue potatoes, onion, parsley, dill, chives, and eggs to bowl; toss gently.

Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients. Pour over potato mixture; toss gently to combine. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Note: Blue potatoes are starchier than the others and tend to bleed, so cook them separately. If you need to, prepare this dish a day ahead, but add the blue potatoes just before serving. If your potatoes are larger than the ones we call for, cut them to a uniform size.

Happy 4th! ~ Watermelon and Cantaloupe Salad with Fresh Mint


Happy Fourth of July everyone!

I made the most summery thing I could think of to celebrate this summer holiday today: A watermelon and cantaloupe salad tossed with mint and lemonade. A recipe inspired me from Giada DeLaurentis, but over the years, I have tweaked it to be the way I like it :). This is the streamlined version that is super easy to make anytime.

Watermelon and Cantaloupe Salad with Fresh Mint

1 bunch fresh mint

¼ cup lemonade (you may not need the full ¼ cup)

2 cups watermelon balls, from about half a watermelon

2 cups cantaloupe balls, from about 1 cantaloupe

In a blender, combine the mint and as much lemonade as you need for the mixture to become completely blended. (Up to ¼ cup.)

In a large bowl, combine the watermelon and the cantaloupe balls. Add the mint/lemonade mixture and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl (or half a watermelon rind) and serve.

I also printed some very sweet little Fourth of July decorations from my favorite DIY site at the Elli blog. The patriotic decorations can be found here. So cute!


Happy Fourth of July ~ Bison Burgers with Washington Cabernet Onions and Wisconsin Cheddar

Happy 4th!

Tonight I decided to shake up the traditional Fourth of July hamburger with ground bison. It’s a very lean meat and a healthier option compared to most ground beef, and it is also feels like a patriotic choice for this holiday since bison have lived around this country longer than we have! I followed a recipe from Bon Appétit magazine that was absolutely delicious.

Bison Burgers with Washington Cabernet Onions and Wisconsin Cheddar

From Bon Appétit magazine


2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

3 cups sliced onions (about 2)

3/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon or other dry red wine (I chose one from my home state of Washington)

1 pound ground bison (buffalo)

2 tablespoons chopped shallots

1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

4 organic hamburger buns (I used whole-wheat)

6 ounces sliced Wisconsin white cheddar cheese (My other home state, where I grew up :))

Dijon mustard

1 small head of escarole, leaves separated


Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until tender and golden brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and continue to sauté until very tender and well browned, about 15 minutes longer. Add wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cool, cover, and chill.

Preheat broiler. Gently mix meat and next 3 ingredients in large bowl. Shape into four 1/2-inch-thick patties. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Sprinkle burgers with salt and pepper; add to skillet. Cook until well browned, about 2 minutes per side for medium-rare.

Open buns and arrange, cut side up, on rimmed baking sheet. Place cheese slices on bun tops. Broil until cheese melts and bottom halves are lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Spread bottom halves with mustard. Top each with a few escarole leaves, then burger. Spoon onions atop burgers, dividing equally. Cover with bun tops; press lightly.

Makes 4 burgers.

I served the burgers with simple sides of corn on the cob and watermelon slices. What could be more summery? 🙂

We also paired dinner with a Washington wine with a patriotic label called 2010 Charles & Charles Red Wine. It is a blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a perfect compliment to red meat.

The cute little clip art drink skewers and table decorations were from HP.com and MarthaStewart.com. Both were free to print :).

Happy Birthday USA ~ Fresh Oysters on the Half Shell with a Watermelon, Champagne and Cucumber Mignonette


Happy birthday USA!

Today is all about celebrating our country, and this year I decided to do that by celebrating our little corner of the country with some of the best treats that the Northwest has to offer.

We started with a plate of Penn Cove Select oysters on the half shell with a watermelon, champagne and cucumber mignonette. I think of sparkling wine when I think of the Fourth, since the sparkles remind me of fireworks :). The watermelon and cucumber also added a summery sweet freshness to the oysters’ salty brininess. I must admit, oysters are something I am just now beginning to enjoy. I’ve tried them in the past, but they were never my favorite choices. I liked this mignonette so much, that I had three of them! The most important thing is to get live oysters from a fishmonger that you trust. The recipe is based on one from Oprah.com, and I’d like to pass it along to you.

Fresh Oysters on the Half Shell with a Watermelon, Champagne and Cucumber Mignonette

12 shucked fresh oysters

1/4 cup watermelon juice

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

1/2 cup champagne

1/2 tablespoon prepared horseradish

2 tablespoons minced English cucumber

2 tablespoons minced shallots

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon for garnish

To make the watermelon juice, place 1 inch pieces of melon into a food processor, and process until pureed. Place a coffee filter in a strainer, and place the strainer over a large cup. Pour the melon puree into the strainer, and let it drain into the cup. Discard the pulp.

Combine the watermelon juice, champagne vinegar, champagne, horseradish, cucumber, shallots and black pepper in a bowl. Mix well.

Serve about a teaspoon of the mignonette on top of each oyster. Garnish with the chopped tarragon. Serve immediately.

For the main course, we had a Dungeness crab boil…A classic American summer celebration dish with a Northwest twist. It was super easy and delicious. I always ask my fishmonger to dispatch and clean the crabs when I buy them. They are much sweeter if they are cleaned before they are cooked. For two crabs (about 2 lbs each), steam for about 17 minutes until they are cooked through. At the same time, in a separate pot, boil the potatoes and corn. That’s it! 🙂 It couldn’t be easier.

Dessert was even easier and equally as delicious. We had a big bowl of Rainier cherries. They have a very short season, so they always feel like a special treat. They don’t need any help from a recipe :).

We paired dinner with a Chandon Liberty Sparkle cocktail from DomaineChandon.com. The recipe is basically the same as the Pomegranate Fizzes that I wrote about earlier this year, but with an added patriotic name for a red sparkling cocktail! It’s just a splash of pomegranate juice and a splash of Grand Marnier topped with sparkling wine.

I hope you have a safe and happy Fourth of July!