Sunday, August 26, 2012

Southwestern Baked Spaghetti
Picture by Pat Farrell 
I had opportunity to eat all sorts of menu items in my 30 years of Navy service most of that on ships and underway. I loved it when the Mess Specialists would make their baked spaghetti. It is easy to prepare and tastes great. I am presenting my rendition of baked spaghetti hear calling it Southwestern only because of the roasted red peppers I added. The spaghetti sets up just fine without the addition of eggs as might be expected in the other baked spaghetti.
  • 1/2 box (8 ounces) spaghetti, broke into thirds & cooked as per instructions.
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 24 oz. jar of Newman’s Own pasta sauce – Sockarooni or any other meatless sauce you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 2 Large Red Bell Peppers (roasted)
Roast peppers over gas stove burner until totally blackened then place roasted peppers in a paper lunch bag and seal to let peppers steam.

Remove peppers from bag after 5 minutes and splay them open. Remove stems and seeds from inside, flip over and remove blackened skin by lightly scraping with a knife being careful not to tear the flesh. Small bits of skin can be left for added flavor.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

While the spaghetti is cooking brown the ground beef, onion and garlic in a large skillet until meat is no longer pink then drain excess grease. Stir in the pasta sauce and cook until thoroughly heated.

Combine the drained cooked spaghetti and cheeses into the meat sauce and mix until well blended. The hot pasta noodles and sauce will melt the cheese into the spaghetti. Spray a 9×13 inch casserole dish or pie plate with Pam non-stick spray and pour in the spaghetti mixture.

Top the spaghetti mixture with the roasted red peppers covering the surface of the spaghetti as much as possible. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes

Remove from oven and serve.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

 The Original Mom’s (Makuahine) Wontons
with Soy Vinegar dipping sauce
Picture compliments of  Cooking Sharades website, visit link:

I have always made my own wontons; store bought just doesn’t do it. It is a bit of a chore so I use two single packages or they also come in double packs. They can be frozen before or after cooking but usually they don’t last long enough to even consider freezing. I learned this skill in Hawaii where I lived out my teenage life and frequently watched my own Makuahine (Hawaiian word for mother) as she worked at making these excellent Pupus (Hawaiian for appetizer or finger food).

The remembered recipe is for the deep fried version noted below. I added the boiled and steamed versions as I like those as well. 

  • Wonton wrappers
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
For the filling:
  • 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1 (or two) 4 oz. cans of tiny shrimp, drained and squeezed
  • 1 can water chestnuts, minced
  • 3 scallions, thinly diced with greens
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp. Corn starch
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Few drops toasted Sesame oil
For the Soy Vinegar dipping sauce:
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine (or red wine) vinegar
  • 2 stalks green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ginger, minced
An excellent alternate dipping sauce is Mae Ploy style Sweet Chili Sauce from the Asian section of you neighborhood grocery store; Sweet and tangy, not too spicy. 

For the filling, incorporate ingredients in a mixing bowl, place bowl in fridge to stay cool while preparing work surface for the wrappers.

For the work surface, a cutting board with light dusting of flour works the best. A flat baking sheet lined with wax paper for staging the wrapped wontons.

For wrapping wontons, place a good pinch, about a heaping teaspoon of the wonton mixture in a wrapper and wrap sealing edges with water.

One way to wrap wontons is using your index finger dab some water on the outer rim of the wonton skin and fold the bottom tip to the top tip forming a triangle pinching out as much air as possible and ensuring a proper seal. Dab water to the inside of the left and right tips, fold the tips upward to meet and press together. Tuck the upper tip under the wonton forming a nice little package that will hold together while cooking.

Stage the folded wontons on the wax paper lined baking sheet and keep them covered with a barely damp towel to prevent them from drying out while you are folding the remaining wontons.

For the dipping sauce, in a medium bowl, mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, green onions, garlic and ginger, set aside.

For the deep fried, pour 2 to 3 inches of vegetable oil in a deep pan enough to cover; heat oil until shimmering hot. Gently drop wontons in one at a time until one layer lays across the bottom of the pan being careful not to over crowd. After a few minutes, one by one, they'll each float to the surface and when they do, they're done cooking. Turn them with your slotted spoon as the color turns a light golden brown. Remove them to a platter lined with paper towels. Serve immediately with or without dipping sauce.

For the boiled, bring a large pot of water to a boil or use chicken stock if you would like a little soup with your wontons. Put in the wontons several at a time until one layer lays across the bottom of the pot being careful not to over crowd. Boil for 3 to 4 minutes, when they float to the top they are done. Remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer to a serving dish. Drizzle Soy Vinegar sauce over the wontons or float them in a little of the chicken bouillon soup; sprinkle the sliced scallions and salt & pepper or other seasoning of choice.
For the steamed, if you use a bamboo steamer place the steamer in a big wok that has boiling water. Make sure the the steamer does not touch the water - use a stand. Place the wonton in the steamer, cover and allow to steam for 15 to 20 minutes. If you do not have a nifty bamboo steamer, lightly grease a plate with oil and place the filled wontons on top (without touching one another). Heat 2 cups of water in the bottom of a wok or large saucepan over high heat until boiling. Place the plate on a steamer rack or upturned cup in the wok, cover with the lid and steam for 16 to 20 minutes. Remove the wontons to a serving dish. Drizzle Soy Vinegar sauce in top. 

Picture compliments of  Kitchen Forager blog, visit link:

Picture compliments of Cooking Hawaiian Style website, visit link:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Norma's Traditional Posole - Mexican Soup
Picture by Pat Farrell
This traditional Mexican soup is a great way to share a family meal. The soup is rich with tender pieces of chicken and pork and white hominy. The toppings are a must and create a festive atmosphere to this simple meal. Below is my wife Norma's recipe for authentic posole. Throw in some tortilla chips and salsa and you got happy campers.


For the soup:
  • 2 29 oz cans Juanita's Mexican-Style White Hominy, drained
  • 5 slices of bacon
  • 1 1/2 lb lean pork shoulder, cut into 1 to 2 inch chunks
  • 1 whole cut chicken, skinned and cut into smaller serving pieces
  • 1 19 oz can of Las Palmas red chile sauce
  • 8 to 10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, halved
  • Water to cover
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of Knorr's chicken bullion or more to taste
For the Toppings: 
  • 1 bunch Cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 head Cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 1 bunch Red Radishes diced
  • 3 to 4 lemons, halved for squeezing
  • Oregano (optional)

In the soup pot fry the bacon slices over a medium flame until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove the bacon slices and save for another use.
Place the pork chunks in the soup put and brown on all sides in the hot bacon fat. Throw in the garlic during the last moments of browning along with the two onion halves. Once the pork is finished browning add water to cover by 2 to 3 inches above the pork pieces.
Next add the chile sauce and hominy, stir to mix and bring mixture to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 1 hour.  
After 1 hour add in the chicken pieces and simmering for about 40 minutes more. After 40 minutes mix in the one heaping tablespoon of chicken bullion or more if desired to taste and continue to simmer an additional 10 minutes.
The soup will be done the meat will be tender and ready for serving with all the toppings.
It's like a holiday.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chicken Adobo
Picture compliments of Panlasang Pinoy website, visit link:
I've had this style of chicken in several places along the Pacific rim as well as Hawaii and Mainland USA.. When I find a food I like chowing down on, I add it to my repertoire and master the cooking of it so I can have it whenever I want. This version of Adobo Chicken taste better than any I can remember having eaten at any restaurant and is a super hunger satisfier.

I found this adobo Chicken recipe on Nancy's Kitchen website, visit link:
Because it was favored by the 5th Hawaiian governor, Governor Ben Cayetano and he used a lot of crushed pepper like I like, I gave it a try and it was fantastic; a for-reals keeper.

I buy the small packets of whole peppercorns, they equal almost a 1/2 cup and I course grind them myself using a lava style pestle & mortar. 

You will need a large deep non aluminum pan with a cover for cooking this one

Ingredients for 4 to 6:
  • 3 pounds chicken thighs, cut each thigh in half through the bone. Other cuts of chicken also work well.
Adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 bay leaves

Combine all adobo sauce ingredients in a bowl. Cut each chicken thigh in half through the bone. Place cut chicken pieces in a large pan and pour adobo sauce evenly over chicken . Cover, and allow to marinate in refrigerator one to three hours. Turn chicken in sauce half way through marinating time for even marinating.

Place covered pan on stove and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan and allow to simmer for an additional 15 minutes turning the chicken pieces in the sauce until lightly browned. Serve over or alongside a good helping of good white sticky rice like Basmati, Jasmine, or Calrose.

I see some online sources mention (see note below), they like to make this in a crock pot. I have not done it yet but sounds like something I will like to try.

Note: For Crock pot: Combine all in Crock pot, cook on high 1 hour, then on low 6 hours.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Best Fried Rice
Picture by Kiara Hobson (My daughter)
I'm a huge fan of fried rice; I like it tasty and light made in a WOK. I found this recipe on line and tossed away the one I used for years. I want to share it here and give credit to the guy who invented it, Bravo Zulu to David J. Stewart.

I suggest using a quality electric WOK with a setting as high as 14. You need the heat and is a great convenience for cooking many things. My wife Norma has made great fried steaks and excellent breakfast pancakes.

·         2 cups cooked white rice that has been allowed to cool (I used Jasmine)
·         2 Tbsp peanut oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
·         1 egg
·         2 cloves diced fresh garlic
·         1/4 teaspoon dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
·         1/2 yellow or white onion, diced fine
·         1-2 scallions, diced
·         1 tsp of brown sugar
·         3/4 tsp salt (measure with the 1/2 tsp spoon and then use the 1/4 tsp for the rest; thus equaling 3/4 tsp total)
·         1 dash of white pepper (a dash is 1/8 tsp)
·         1/4 c cooked ham, diced (you can use any type of savory meat such as, Chinese BBQ Pork, Sausage, & Shrimp). I like & used Spam.
·         1/4 cup cooked carrots and peas (I followed Davids suggestion and just added a handful of frozen mixed vegetables to the wok.
·         1/2 tsp of Accent (optional)


In a wok, heat peanut oil over high-heat until just before smoking (oil will shimmer). For fried rice I set the heat knob to 12 (14 is the hottest).

Add onions and garlic and sauté. Once onions appear transparent (cooked), break the egg right into wok and gently scramble with spatula (it doesn't have to be scrambled much).

Dump cold, dry, white rice into wok and break apart clumps. Stir-fry mixture for several minutes until you see a nice browning on the rice surface. Wait and turn it about every 30 seconds to give the rice time to brown.

Add the meat, green onions, brown sugar, white pepper, Chinese rice wine (or sherry), mixed vegetables, MSG, and salt to wok. Cook until heated and well-mixed (about 2 minutes).

Let me know what you think if you try it and I welcome any other comments regarding the rest of the Web site content.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cheese Stuffed Yellow Jalapenos
Picture by Pat Farrell

Yesterday I posted my favorite Huli Huli Chicken recipe and was asked about the yellow peppers in the photo I shot of the chicken on the grill. I mentioned I would post the simple recipe for those that would like to try these. They are out of this world and go real well with any grilled food. Easy to make, here's how:


  • Yellow Jalapenos (I always just make two per person. There are never any left over).
  • Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Oil
  • Salt & Lemon Pepper

Slice each pepper along one side from top to bottom. Make another small slice crosswise to the first slice just below the top of the pepper forming a "T" and an opening for removing the seeds and innards.

Remove the seeds and innards and place a small piece of Monterey Jack Cheese (½ X ½ X 1 ½ inches, or so) inside each Jalapeno.

Form a tray from doubled aluminum foil; long enough for the peppers to fit when laid side by side, in a top to bottom fashion

Rub oil all over outsides of peppers and season outside with salt & lemon pepper.

Place aluminum foil tray on grill and roast peppers to desired doneness They will develop a very nice toasty color and the cheese will be melted inside the pepper, .

Recipe note:  Turning is not necessary and I keep the slit toward the top to prevent melted cheese from flowing out.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Huli Huli Chicken
Picture by Pat Farrell
Every time my wife and I visit the Island of Oahu I make sure to find a Huli Huli chicken stand. It's common to be driving along and see a bunch of grills set up in a parking lot just off the roadway grilling up what to me is absolutely got to be the islands greatest hunger satisfier.

Below is my adaptation to the famous Huli Huli Chicken recipe; I substituted wild bee honey in place of the brown sugar. Any honey will do, mine came from Singing Winds Bee Hives; caringly nurtured and collected by my brother Tim Farrell of Richland Center Wisconsin. BZ brah!


  • 5 lbs chicken pieces (quarters or halves work well also)
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 honey
  • 3 tablespoons sherry
  • 1 piece (thumb sized) ginger root, crushed
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed 
Recipe note: If Sherry isn’t desired substitute Apple Cider or Vanilla extract as follows: Apple cider is commonly used to substitute for sherry in cooking. It can be used in equal measure for the sherry called for in the recipe. If using apple cider vinegar, cut the amount to half of what is called for and replace the remainder with water.

Alternately, for every two tablespoons of sherry called for in a recipe, substitute 1 to 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.


Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and let the flavors fuse together for about an hour.

Cooking Huli Huli Chicken on an outdoor grill is best but is also excellent when baked inside.

For baking inside, set oven to 350 degrees, arrange chicken, skin side up in a deep baking dish and bake for 1 hour until chicken is done.

Weather grilling or baking, Huli Huli BBQ sauce needs to be applied 10 to 15 minutes near the end of the cooking time.

Baste the chicken with two or three separate coats allowing each coat to caramelize prior to applying the next.

Continue this basting & baking  / grilling process for 10 minutes or until done to your liking. I do it until all the sauce is used.

Recipe note:  Take care not to let the sauce burn. A little charring is always tasty / desirable. 

Oven Baked - So Good
Picture by Kiara V. Hobson

"Landlubbers Beware"

I am well travelled having sailed around the world several times as a service member in the United States Navy.  I have logged all my favorite foods and want to share them with visitors to this-my blog.