Happy New Year, and Happy WIAW!

It’s the first WIAW of the new year, be sure to check out what Jenn at Peas and Crayons and other bloggers are featuring today, you just might find some inspiration in their delicious foodie features!

I’m not really great at making New Year’s resolutions. I do like to make short-term goals (particularly with exercising) which seem to be more attainable for me. If I had to make one for the whole year, I’d say my resolution will be what I strive to do most days of the week: eat healthy and exercise!

My daily meals have been a bit mediocre and sporadic, but I finally have a couple of recipes that I felt were a change from the norm and a great way to share a couple of Hawaii-style comfort foods. But before we get to that, here’s what I’ve been ingesting for breakfast and lunch the past few days:

Yogurt_Smoothie_Strawberry_Orange_Banana

Yep, yogurt smoothies! My digestion has been a bit off, so I needed something that would be easy on the stomach but still be nutritious. This morning’s concoction consisted of frozen OJ, fresh strawberries, half a frozen banana, unsweetened almond milk and protein powder. I get about 20-25 grams of protein, half of my calcium requirements, and a fair amount of fiber from the fruits. Plus, it tastes like a strawberry-orange bang!

Now, on to New Year’s Eve dinner!

We went over to my brother-in-law’s parents’ house and brought some Hawaii-style food with us. My sister made somen salad (cold Japanese noodles topped with shredded lettuce, kamaboko (fishcake) thin slices of egg, and sauce),  shu mai (pork dumplings), sushi rice (sushi ingredients in a layered casserole form), potato-macaroni salad, manapua (char siu bao or meat buns), and suman or bud-bud, a Filipino sticky rice dessert cooked with coconut milk and palm sugar. My brother-in-law made a HUGE venison neck roast that was incredibly tender and just fell of the bone like nobody’s business! I made egg rolls, kal bi (Korean bbq short ribs), and potato macaroni salad (this plus rice is a staple in Hawaii plate lunches).

Me, grilling in the New Year!

Me, grilling in the New Year!

Somen Salad Sushi Rice

Front to back: somen salad, sushi rice, potato mac salads, egg rolls.

Manapua

Manapua (char siu bao or meat buns). Tastes pretty close to the ones you can get in downtown Honolulu!

Venison neck roast

Super tender venison neck roast.

Kal Bi

Kal Bi short ribs!

I don’t know how familiar you guys are with beef short ribs, but here is the cut that you want to use to make the kal bi:

Wegman’s didn’t have them, but Sam’s Club did here in Upstate New York. Other places might have a chunk of short rib meat the size of your fist, but that’s better for braising, not barbecuing! Be sure to get this cut. If you can’t find it, that’s okay. The marinade will work for whatever cut of meat you have for grilling, even for seasoning and basting burgers!

Kal Bi (Korean style barbecue)
Marinade great for bone-in chicken thighs, too

3 lbs short ribs, 1/2″ thick, thinner if you can get ’em
3/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup sugar
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes

Directions:

In a large pan, soak ribs in water for 15 minutes. In a 2 cup measuring cup, combine the soy sauce, sugar, garlic, onion, sesame oil and chili pepper flakes.

Rinse ribs and place in a clean baking dish, no more than 2 layers high. Stir marinade and pour over ribs. Refrigerate overnight, flipping ribs around so all pieces get their fair share of marinade.

Cook ribs over a grill until medium, about 3-4 minutes each side for 1/2″ thick slices. Top with chopped green onion, serve with steamed white rice and potato mac salad.

This recipe is for the one in the back (w/out olives).

This recipe is for the one in the back (w/out olives) but you can top it however you like.

Potato Mac Salad
this version has a tangy flavor thanks to mustard, dill, and vinegar

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon salt
2 lbs white or red potatoes
1/2 cup elbow macaroni or pasta shells
2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 cup frozen peas
3 hard-boiled eggs*

Directions:

Boil potatoes in salted water, skin-on, for 30 minutes. Remove from water and let cool. Add macaroni to water and boil according to package directions. Drain, rinse in cool water and set aside. When potatoes have cooled down, remove skins and dice into 1/2″ chunks.

In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, mustard, celery salt, vinegar, and dill. Add potatoes and macaroni, stirring well to coat. Give it a taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Add frozen peas and stir to combine. Top with sliced egg and serve. Can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

*To get nice, yellow yolks for hard-boiled eggs: put eggs in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat immediately, cover and let sit for 12 minutes. Rinse in cool water, remove shells and slice.

So…what are you New Year’s resolutions? Did you stick to the ones you made last year?

Be sure to check out what other foodies are featuring on Jen’s WIAW right here!

Welcome to What I Ate Wednesday, another presentation of everyday eats and tasty treats sponsored by the awesome Jenn at Peas and Crayons!

Today I’ll be continuing with the “Flavor of the Week” presented to you in Monday’s post. I’ve been experimenting with several drinks and desserts using lemon sugar, and in addition to Monday’s Lemon Coconut Macaroons, I think a lot of you will enjoy reading about today’s featured recipe which can be the perfect finish to cool you off on a warm summer’s evening.

The past few days presented us with some great weather once again, so we were able to enjoy more super-casual outdoor dining. Breakfast was peanut butter and raspberry jam on sprouted grain toast, scrambled egg with Gouda cheese & onions, German bratwurst from Aldi (mini-sausages with a strong nutmeg taste, I didn’t like them at all!) and coffee w/stevia:

Lunch was a colorful salad with Gorgonzola cheese and some Tostitos chips leftover from the Frito-Lay Gluten-Free Challenge (please check it out, folks!) Now usually I like the tangy taste of chevre with my salads but today I wanted to try an Il Giardino Mountain Gorgonzola I picked up the other day from Sam’s Club (they have a good selection for great prices.) It’s a lot softer and sweeter than other blue cheeses, and not exactly what I was hoping for…but it was okay:

Colorful salad with dots of soft Gorgonzola: there, there….here, and there.

Snack time consisted of more (unphotographed) Tostitos chips and couple of these chewy indulgences. It’s got tons of peanuts and a deep rich caramel, much tastier than the stuff you’ll find in a candy bar:

Two of these are enough to satisfy my sweet tooth…well, maybe three.

On Sunday, my sister made some great barbecue chicken and panko crusted walleye her husband caught the day before. We ate it with potato salad, buttered salt potatoes, and I topped the fish with mayo and soy sauce. We had the leftovers for dinner the next day, and I added some diced pineapple, celery, lettuce, avocado and tomatoes.

Barbecue chicken and a mish-mash salad

Now, on to dessert! After making a couple batches of macaroons I wanted to try another coconut and lemon-infused dessert. I thought a cream pie would be great, something nice and cool to enjoy on a warm evening. I have a favorite chocolate banana cream pie recipe I make every Thanksgiving, so decided to change it up by giving it a light lemon taste in a luscious coconut cream pie. The result was surprisingly good.

The cookie-like crust is flecked with lemon zest and shredded coconut and tastes great on its own. It will stay nice and crisp even after a couple days in the refrigerator. The cream filling had just enough coconut milk to create a luxurious base for a smooth balance of coconut and lemon flavors. Topping it off is a whipped coconut cream sweetened with lemon sugar and sprinkled with lightly toasted coconut and lemon zest.

With the contrasting textures and flavors supporting each other so wonderfully, this dessert is definitely worth a try.

Lemon Coconut Cream Pie
Freeze the pie for an additional 30 minutes, it will taste just like frozen custard.

Gluten-Free Crust (based on “Tart Shell Crust” recipe from Gluten-Free Baking Classics):

1 cup Brown Rice Flour Mix (2 parts brown rice flour, 2/3 parts potato starch, 1/3 part tapioca starch)
1/4 cup lemon sugar
1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
2  tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 teaspoon coconut or vanilla extract
5 tablespoons coconut oil or unsalted butter

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position rack in center of oven. Spray an 8″ round pie pan (or 8″x8″ square cake pan) with cooking spray, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add coconut oil and sprinkle in extract. Mix with a fork until well combined and clumpy. Sprinkle crust mix into pan then gently press evenly over the bottom, but not up the sides.

Bake in center of oven for about 14-16 minutes or until lightly golden. Set aside while you make filling.

Filling:

3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup low-fat vanilla soy milk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Combine cornstarch through soy milk in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and cook 30 seconds or until thick. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Beat cream cheese until light (about 30 seconds). Add lemon juice and beat well  to incorporate. Add about 1/3 cup hot custard to cream cheese, and beat just until blended. Stir in remaining custard and blend well.

Pour into pie crust and cover with plastic wrap, pressing to surface of filling. Cool on counter for about 10 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Topping:

1-2  cans coconut milk
1 tablespoon lemon sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream or coconut cream
1/4 cup toasted coconut
1 teaspoon lemon sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Refrigerate coconut milk overnight. Open can(s) and scoop out cream at the surface, reserving rest of milk for later use. With an electric mixer beat coconut milk, sugar and heavy cream or additional coconut cream at high speed until thickened. Spread over pie. Mix toasted coconut, lemon sugar and lemon zest and sprinkle on top before serving.

Not too sweet, not too heavy, but just right