Our Top 5 Recipes for Cookie Exchange Season!

Our Top 5 Recipes for Cookie Exchange Season!

posted in: Desserts, Food | 1 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Tis the season of holiday cookie exchanges. A wonderful time of year! If you are still on the lookout for cookies to bake, checkout some of our favorite cookie recipes.


Peanut Butter Cookies
This recipe is from one of our grandma’s cookbooks and the cookies are soft and chewy! Perfect to satisfy those sweet and salty cravings.

All Time Favorite Mini M&M Cookies
Whenever we crave chocolate chip cookies, this is the recipe we turn to. We have been making them for years and they are delicious.

Oatmeal Apple Cookies
If you love oatmeal cookies but not the traditional raisin variety, give these cookies a try. The apples in these cookies keep them moist, while the oatmeal plumps up to give them a chewy texture.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pumpkin spice has overtaken the food market, and we’re joining the trend. The spice mix in this recipe is perfection. The addition of mini chocolate chips make these cookies extra sweet and warming.

Date Pecan Cookies
Pecans add a delightful crunch to these cookies. The chopped dates are marvelous morsels that add moisture and soak up the warm spice flavors.

We hope you give these cookie recipes a try! Let us know how they turn out!

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Scrumptious Shrimp and Vegetable Okazu (GIFT #6)

Scrumptious Shrimp and Vegetable Okazu (GIFT #6)

posted in: Food, Grandma Inspired Fantastic Treats (GIFTs), Main Dishes | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Our last Grandma-Inspired Fantastic Treat (GIFT) was for a Perfect Rich and Sweet Blueberry Crumble. Today’s GIFT is for Scrumptious Shrimp and Vegetable Okazu. In Japanese, the traditional definition of okazu is a general name for anything that is served with steamed rice. Growing up in our house, okazu was defined as a meal consisting of some kind of meat cooked with a mix of vegetables covered in a sauce served over steamed rice. It was and still is a family favorite.

shrimp and veggie okazu - 7

Our grandma would cook this dish for us at least once a week. She never had a written recipe for her okazu, she used whatever meat and veggies she had on hand. The only consistent part of this dish was the sauce and the white rice. Even then, replicating the sauce was difficult since she was like every other grandma and just mixed things together, tasted it and that was it. No measurements were ever done. It took a lot of practice to perfect the sauce to taste the same as how it tasted when she made it. The recipe below is a loose guideline. Feel free to take liberties and change it up to make okazu how you like it.

First, slice up your veggies. For this recipe, we used celery, carrots, onion, and cabbage.

shrimp and veggie okazu - 1
shrimp and veggie okazu - 2

Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan and add the sliced veggies.

shrimp and veggie okazu - 3

Cook veggies for about ten minutes on medium heat. Then add chopped shrimp. The shrimpies cook fast – they only need about two minutes.

shrimp and veggie okazu - 4


In a large bowl, combine the chicken stock, soy sauce, ginger powder and cornstarch (for thickening). Yummy yummy sauce.

shrimp and veggie okazu - 5

Add the sauce to the pan and cook until sauce has thickened and mixture is bubbling.

shrimp and veggie okazu - 6

Serve with rice!

Scrumptious Shrimp and Vegetable Okazu

Scrumptious Shrimp and Vegetable Okazu

Ingredients

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 4 c sliced cabbage
  • 2 lbs shrimp, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 T garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 c chicken stock
  • 1/3 c soy sauce
  • 2 t ginger powder
  • 1 1/2 T cornstarch

Instructions

  1. Heat large fry pan and olive oil to medium heat.
  2. Add onion, carrots, celery and cabbage.
  3. Cook vegetables until almost done then add shrimp.
  4. Mix stock, soy sauce, ginger powder and cornstarch.
  5. Cook until shrimp are pink.
  6. Increase heat to medium high, add liquid mixture and cook until bubbling and thick.
  7. Serve over steamed rice.
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Perfect Rich and Sweet Blueberry Crumble (Grandma Inspired Fantastic Treat #5)

Perfect Rich and Sweet Blueberry Crumble (Grandma Inspired Fantastic Treat #5)

posted in: Desserts, Food, Grandma Inspired Fantastic Treats (GIFTs) | 2 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Our grandma was born in Oregon, the third highest cultivator of blueberries in the US, behind Michigan and Georgia. But that is not the only reason this recipe reminds us of our grandma.

Grandma Inspired Blueberry Crumble

The second reason was her dentures. She had “soft teeth” from an early age and consequently, she was sporting dentures before her twentieth birthday. She wasn’t bashful about it either. She considered it a talking point and even a point of pride, for no one else she knew had been wearing dentures for so long.

Anyway, whenever we would go grocery shopping with her, we would pass the blueberries. Then we would joke and ask her if she wanted some, and she would exclaim, “NOOOO, they turn my teeth BLUUUUE!” and then she would laugh, which in turn made us laugh.


We actually have a love-hate relationship with blueberries ourselves. Like Forrest Gump said, “You never know what you’re going to get,” and that is a disconcerting fact about these little indigo orbs. Sometimes they can be so squishy. That being said, blueberries have been proven to have several health benefits, including being high in antioxidants and a low Glycemic Index.

This Grandma-Inspired Fantastic Treat is a deliciously sweet blueberry crumble. It manages to make blueberries delicious and brings a smile to our faces with memories of our grandma.

For the Crust and Crumble

Combine sugar, flour, baking powder, diced butter, egg, and salt in a food processor. Mix until roughly the size of peas.

blueberry crumble - 1

Here is the texture we’re looking for.

blueberry crumble - 2

Press half of the crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.

blueberry crumble - 3

For the Filling

blueberry crumble - 4

Whisk together lemon juice, granulated sugar, vanilla and cornstarch. Then pour over the blueberries, giving them a gentle stir to coat. The cornstarch will help keep the filling together.

blueberry crumble - 5

The blueberries are ready for action. Pour them over the bottom layer of crumble and tilt the pan around for even liquid distribution.

blueberry crumble - 6

Top with the other half of the crumb topping. It’s ready to go into the oven!

blueberry crumble - 7

Bake for 35 minutes in a 350°F preheated oven.

blueberry crumble - 8

And there you have it, perfect blueberry crumble. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream for yummy deliciousness.

Mind the dentures though, this stuff stains. ?

blueberry crumble - 9

Blueberry Crumble

Blueberry Crumble

Ingredients

  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 3 c flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 c butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 4 t cornstarch

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Grease 13x9 pan with butter
  3. Using a food processor, mix first 6 ingredients
  4. Pour about 1/2 of the crumb mix into the prepared pan
  5. Press crumb mix with fingers to compact the bottom layer
  6. Whisk together lemon juice, granulated sugar, vanilla and cornstarch
  7. Pour liquid mixture over blueberries and gently fold to coat all the berries
  8. Pour blueberry mix into pan over the crumb layer
  9. Tilt pan slightly to move the liquid all over the crumb layer
  10. Maneuver blueberries into a uniform layer
  11. Pour remaining crumb mix over the top
  12. Bake about 35 minutes, until top is golden brown
  13. Let cool and store in refrigerator
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Very Eggy, Very Veggy Egg Foo Yung: GIFT #4

Very Eggy, Very Veggy Egg Foo Yung: GIFT #4

posted in: Food, Grandma Inspired Fantastic Treats (GIFTs), Main Dishes | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Egg foo yung is derived from the Chinese fùh yùhng meaning “hibiscus.” The resulting egg and vegetable patty does actually resemble a hibiscus flower. It is a traditional Chinese dish originating from Shanghai.

Our Japanese American grandma loved to cook up this quick and easy omelette style dish, especially since it was a speciality at her brother-in-law’s restaurant. (She was nothing if not competitive.) This is the fourth entry in our blog series: Grandma-Inspired Fantastic Treats (GIFTs).

Grandma was also a big time vegetable lover, but that isn’t to say she didn’t like meat. She loved meat, but she always wanted to serve well rounded meals. We think her love of vegetables came from being a farmer. She really appreciated the fruits of her labor.

This dish is traditionally served with a thick gravy like sauce however our grandma never served one. We always enjoy our favorite condiment on ours: soy sauce. If you like a kick of spice, you can also dab on a little sriracha sauce.

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Grandma Inspired Fantastic Treat 4: Very Veggy Egg Foo Yung

This recipe can be modified if you would like to include some type of meat. When our grandma made this recipe she loved to add peeled, chopped shrimp. You could also add chicken, beef or pork to make it a more robust meal.

egg foo yung, onion, celery, cabbage, carrot,

For our version, we started off with thinly sliced vegetables (carrot, celery, cabbage, green bell pepper, and onion).

egg foo yung, onion, celery, cabbage, carrot, broccoli, rice

The vegetables tossed together.

egg foo yung, onion, celery, cabbage, carrot, broccoli, rice

Then we whisked up some eggs, granulated onion, granulated garlic and black pepper.

egg foo yung, onion, celery, cabbage, carrot, broccoli, rice

The eggs and veggies, all ready to be cooked up.


egg foo yung, onion, celery, cabbage, carrot, broccoli, rice

A neat little pile of veggies and egg, nearly ready to be flipped.

egg foo yung, onion, celery, cabbage, carrot, broccoli, rice

A nicely browned egg foo yung.

egg foo yung, onion, celery, cabbage, carrot, broccoli, rice

Make it a delicious vegetarian meal by adding some white rice and steamed veggies. A delicious lacto-ovo vegetarian meal.

Very Veggy, Very Merry Egg Foo Yung: GIFT #4

Very Veggy, Very Merry Egg Foo Yung: GIFT #4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c carrot
  • 1 c bellpepper
  • 1 c onion
  • 1 c cabbage
  • 1 c celery
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 t granulated garlic
  • 1/2 t granulated onion
  • 1/2 t ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Thinly slice all of the vegetables
  2. Whisk eggs, granulated garlic, granulated onion and ground pepper together
  3. Pour a little bit of oil into a pan and heat to medium
  4. Use a ladle to scoop about a half cup of veggies and a egg
  5. Let the bottom set and brown slightly, about 2 minutes
  6. Flip and cook the other side
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Perfect Plump Peach Muffins with Crumb Topping: GIFT #3

Perfect Plump Peach Muffins with Crumb Topping: GIFT #3

posted in: Desserts, Food, Grandma Inspired Fantastic Treats (GIFTs) | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Every time we see peaches we think about our Grandma. Our grandparents had lots of different jobs during their lifetimes but the one that they most talked about was when they had a farm and ran a roadside fruit stand.

It was hard work but Grandma was a people person and the fruit stand let her chat up the customers. On this particular stretch of road, there were a couple of rival fruit stands, run by other families.

Grandma took great pride in her wares and took the time to set out her fruit carefully so the fruit were not bruised. She also believed that her customers should treat the fruit with respect and care. So when customers stopped by to pick out peaches, they thought the best way to tell if they were ripe was to squeeze them. This was unacceptable to Grandma and she scolded the customers for doing this.


Since it was a small town, she knew everyone and everyone knew her. Eventually, word spread that Grandma wouldn’t let customers squeeze her peaches and a rival fruit stand put up a sign that said, “YES, you can squeeze my peaches.” Grandma thought this was hilarious. She loved to tell us this story and we loved seeing her face light up with delight.

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How to Make Perfect Plump Peach Muffins

So for today’s Grandma Inspired Fantastic Treat, we made some delicious Peach Muffins. Peach season is in full swing. According to Reference.com, peaches are in season May through September, peaking in July.

peach, peach chunks

Peeling and dicing up the peaches can take awhile to accomplish, we usually allot 30-45 minutes to do this. You can blanch them for easy peeling, but we usually just use a knife.

crumble, muffin crumble

The yummy crumb topping, a mix of brown sugar, quick oats, flour and butter.

brown sugar, flour, spices

The dry ingredients, looking sweet and spicy.

brown sugar, flour, spices

The dry ingredients are now prepped, awaiting the wet ingredients.

eggs, milk

Milk, eggs and vegetable oil all whisked and foamy.

batter

Tempted to eat some of this batter.

batter with fruit, peach

Now gently folding in the peeled and diced peaches.

batter with fruit, peach, cupcake pan, cupcake liner

We use an ice cream scooper to portion out the batter into prepared muffin tins.

batter with fruit, peach, cupcake pan, cupcake liner, crumb topping

The crumble topping finishes off these muffins and they are ready to go into the oven at 350°F.

finished peach muffins, muffin top, crumb topping

Lovely, golden brown peach muffins. Let cool and store in refrigerator.

Perfect Plump Peach Muffins with Crumb Topping

Perfect Plump Peach Muffins with Crumb Topping

Ingredients

  • For Crumb Topping
  • 2/3 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 c quick cooking oats
  • 1/3 c butter, melted
  • For Muffins
  • 4 1/2 c flour
  • 2 c brown sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 4 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t ground allspice
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 3/4 c vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 c milk
  • 5 peaches, peeled and diced

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line 24 muffin cups.
  3. Combine ingredients for crumb topping: brown sugar, flour, quick cooking oats and melted butter. Mix to combine and set aside.
  4. Combine dry ingredients: flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon.
  5. Whisk together eggs, vanilla, oil and milk. Stir into dry ingredients.
  6. Fold in peaches.
  7. Scoop batter into prepared cups. Cups will be be full.
  8. Sprinkle prepared crumb topping on top of each muffin
  9. Bake 20-25 minutes.
  10. Let cool. Store in fridge.
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Of GIFTs and Woof Treks: Two New Series for Our Blog

Of GIFTs and Woof Treks: Two New Series for Our Blog

posted in: Food, Grandma Inspired Fantastic Treats (GIFTs), Woof Trekking | 1 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

In the coming days, we are going to debut two new series of blog posts.

The first series will be about our travels with our pets, aka Woof Trekking. The second series will be recipes inspired by our grandma, aka Grandma-Inspired Fantastic Treats (GIFTs).

It may not seem like it, but these two series are deeply connected.

Four years ago, both of our grandparents passed away on the same day (as we previously blogged about in Nana the Brave!). Our grandpa’s passing was expected, while our grandma’s was not. She passed away six hours before he did, even though she was in near perfect health for an 86-year-old. They always said they wanted to pass away together and walk up to heaven holding hands. In the end, they did.

Their passing induced two major changes in our lives. The first was adopting Nana. The second was our Commemorative Road Trip along the West Coast.

We travelled up the Pacific Coast Highway, through San Francisco, and up to Oregon, where our Grandma was born. The featured image of this post is “The Torii Gate” located outside the Portland Expo Center. It features “3,500 identification tags… to represent the same number of Japanese‐Americans housed at the Portland Assembly Center located at Expo during World War II.” (Source: http://www.expocenter.org/sites/default/files/pdf/expohistory_rev_2011.pdf)

of gifts and woof treks

From there, we travelled to Minidoka, Idaho (see our previous blog post about Minidoka here) where she was interned during World War II and then down to Brigham City, Utah where she met our grandpa. This trip turned out to be our very first Woof Trek, and paved the way for many more excursions with our pets across the United States.

In the Woof Trekking series, we will talk about locations we have Woof Trekked to and show you that it is possible to take your pets on the road with you.

When we returned home from the Commemorative Road Trip, we had to sift through all of our grandparents belongings. During this process, we discovered several cookbooks and cooking magazines in which our grandma had made a ton of little notes and corrections to recipes.

In the Grandma-Inspired Fantastic Treats (GIFT) series, we will make these recipes and share them with you, our readers! We will also be making dishes that remind us of stories about our grandparents (like our post about Chicken Souvlaki.) Grandma loved sweets, so many of the recipes will be baked goods, but every once and awhile we will also post a savory dish she liked.

We hope that you come back and read our two new blog post series. Tomorrow we will have an exciting announcement. Please stay tuned!

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