How To Recipes

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Pesto Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes Recipe

You may not believe it, but buttermilk mashed potatoes are just as fluffy as regular mashed potatoes made with heavy cream. The only difference is a pleasant tangy taste that the buttermilk imparts to the potatoes. To enhance the flavor of the mashed potatoes, I added some homemade Pecorino basil pesto. There is nothing subtle about this dish; it is absolutely bursting with color and flavor.

I was inspired to make this dish during our Christmas trip to Las Vegas. We went to our favorite eatery, "The Buffet at Bellagio". They served pesto mashed potatoes, but without buttermilk. It was so good I had to replicate it but of course, I wanted to add my own twist. I recently made a large batch of Pecorino basil pesto, so I thought it would be a good time to try my hand at the dish. I hope you like it!


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Chicken Kebab Burger Recipe

Chicken Kebab Burger

03.22.10 by Jackie

Chicken kebabs are both healthy and nutritious. The poultry is mixed with garbanzo beans and seasoned with Indian spices. I usually make this recipe when I have leftover chicken. We had company for dinner so I decided to make a complete meal out of them and serve them as burgers. I double-stacked 2 patties with tomato slices, cilantro, fresh mint, raita (Indian yogurt sauce), red onion and fried shallots.

The weather is getting clearer and sunnier by the day, so next time you think of a barbecue, you should consider making chicken shami kebabs (that's the real name of the dish). If you're planning a fancy dinner party, you could serve them as tapas. Bite-size burgers are getting very popular. Either way, you should definitely try this fresh take on an American classic.


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California Sushi Rolls Recipe

California Sushi Rolls

02.24.10 by Jackie

Making sushi is a lot easier that it seems. The real key to well-presented sushi is having good utensils, such as a sushi mat and a sharp knife. Each ingredient can be prepped in advance and assembled when you're ready to serve, and when you make it at home, it's a fraction of the cost!

Though there are many wonderful forms of traditional makizushi, or rolled sushi, feel free to experiment with the ingredients you have on hand. I got my inspiration for the sushi pictured above from ingredients native to California; I used Hass avocados, goat cheese and baby Persian cucumbers. I wrapped these ingredients in the traditional combination of nori sheets and Japanese rice.

In standard California roll fashion, the rice is on the outside of the nori. If you've ever wondered why this is the case, the story goes that Japanese immigrants who came to the US turned the sushi inside out to hide the nori from culinarily unadventurous Americans. I don't know if that's true, but it's the story a sushi chef told me once. It certainly is a great tale!

I served the sushi rolls with wasabi paste, homemade pickled ginger and soy sauce. It may seem daunting, but a sushi dinner is really as easy as 1-2-3.


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Beef Shami Kebab Recipe

Beef Shami Kebab

02.17.10 by Jackie

Shami kebabs are made with an abundance of fabulous spices, meat (beef, goat, lamb or chicken) and chana dal (dried garbanzo beans). The spices vary depending on whether they're from India (Lucknow or Hyderabad) or Pakistan. My husband Lulu's family is from Hyderabad. They're all meat-eaters, with the exception of my husband and father-in-law. So we often make this dish when we have family over for dinner.

These are not your average kebabs. The meat is cubed and cooked in a pressure cooker with chana dal, and once cooked, it's ground in a food processor with yogurt. The resulting mixture is formed into "hamburger" patties that can be frozen or seared, depending on when you plan on eating them.

I learned this recipe from Baji, Lulu's late grandmother. She was an excellent cook. When Lulu and I first got married, she was already giving us hints.

"Jackie, I'm going to teach you a meat specialty from my hometown. They're called Shami Kebabs; they're spiced hamburger patties. This recipe is a must-have when you two have little children. It's nutritious and easy for little ones to eat. Speaking of which, when are you going to give me great grand-children so I can feed these kebabs to them?"

I would always smile, nod and pretend I didn't hear the part about having kids. Don't get me wrong, we'd love to start a family, but the pressure was a little overwhelming. Lulu's grandmother isn't with us anymore, but I promise that I'll make this for my kids when I have them, assuming they don't become vegetarians like Lulu (fingers crossed).


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Kale with Caramelized Kumquats Recipe

Kale with Caramelized Kumquats

02.07.10 by Jackie

This side dish couldn't be easier to make. Onions and kumquats are slowly caramelized with ginger and agave nectar and added to slightly sautéed kale. What could be better than a dish that's delicious, healthy and simple?

I was inspired to make this dish by a reader. Chef Doreen T. Ross is a culinary artist and consultant from North Carolina. Doreen sent me a recipe suggestion using kumquats (I've asked for recipes using this ingredient) with wilted kale. I've adapted Doreen's recipe and added an Asian twist to it. Sunny and Lulu were my guinea pigs, and they loved it. Merci Doreen!

As I've said several times, I'm just a home-cook who is passionate about food and has had no professional training. Creating this site has really broadened my culinary horizons. I've received many lovely messages filled with kind words and a ton of tips and culinary tricks. Thank you all for your support, and please keep those messages coming.


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