kruizing with kikukat

Monday, June 29, 2015

Seven-Layer Jello

I guess it's that time of year again. . .Fourth of July will be upon us soon.

With the exception of last year, I would try to post something red-white-and-blue, just to keep with the theme.  Last year I broke from tradition, and my post had nothing to do with the holiday.  This year, I'm tiptoe-ing on the edge.

While the picture on the left shows multi-colored layers, this could easily be adapted to the red-white-and-blue color scheme.  This is a popular layered jello which can be found on the dessert buffet at local parties. . .if they HAVE a dessert buffet.

Oh, who am I kidding?  All local parties have a table with a bunch of desserts laid out.  Or they SHOULD.

Last week, D2 went to a birthday party.  She and the others were told to arrive at noon and get picked up at 4:00.  Since I was working, I asked The Help to drop her off and pick her up.  When she got home, I asked her about the food.  She said she ate cake.  I asked what else was served.  She replied, "cake.  I told you already."

I guess that was one party which did not have the usual dessert buffet.  Of course, there was no "BYOB" on the invitations (like some of the graduation parties D1 gets invited to).

I suppose I'm just a fuddy-duddy with ideas stuck in the 1970s where parties had tons of food (more than triple what could be consumed there).

If you are like me and expect (and hope) parties have a huge variety of food with interesting and tasty desserts, you can contribute to the dessert table by bringing a platter of Seven-Layer Jello.

Everyone always loves Jello.  My favorite thing to do is to peel the layers apart as I'm eating.  If I'm lucky, I can separate all the layers nicely.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

Milk Mixture:  1 can (14 oz) condensed milk
                         2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
                         1/4 c cold water
                         1 3/4 c hot water

Soften unflavored gelatin by sprinkling over cold water.  Add hot water.  Stir for 2 minutes.  Add condensed milk.  Stir.  Set aside.

Gelatin Mixture:  4 boxes (3 oz each) jello, any flavor(s)/color(s)
                             5 c hot water, divided
                             4 envelopes unflavored gelatin

In a small bowl, stir together 1 box of jello and 1 envelope unflavored gelatin.  Add 1/4 c hot water.  Stir for 30 seconds to soften.  Add 1 c hot water.  Stir until gelatin dissolves.  Pour into 9 x 13" pan and chill 20 minutes.  While first layer is chilling, dissolve remaining boxes of jello/gelatin in separate bowls.  Set aside.

After 20 minutes, carefully pour 1 cup of milk mixture over first jello layer in pan.  Chill 20 minutes.  Pour second jello layer over milk mixture.  Chill 15 minutes.  Pour 1 cup of milk mixture over jello layer.  Chill 15 minutes.  Pour third jello layer over milk mixture.  Chill 15 minutes.  Pour 1 cup of milk mixture over jello layer.  Chill 15 minutes.  Discard any extra milk mixture.  Pour final jello layer over milk mixture.  Chill 15 minutes before covering pan.  When completely set, cut into bars or squares.

We finally got around to celebrating Mother's Day and Father's Day this weekend.  We indulged at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel's Clambake.  The Clambake is probably the most decadent (and most $) dinner buffet on the Big Island.  The $100+ price tag per person seems steep, but bring a daddy who can eat at least 2 lobsters, and you will get major bang for your benjamin(s).  Kids 12-and-under are considerably less.  While the lobsters are the star, I gravitate to the endless supply of raw oysters on the half-shell.  The tossed-while-you-wait Caesar salad may seem like a waste of tummy space, but the dressing is yummy (no sign of the vile condiment) and you can add your own garlic later.  The dessert array was adequate, but the build-your-own-sundae appeal is lost on me. . .I'm not a huge fan of ice cream.  BUT, if you have even a tiny bit of room to spare, treat yourself to the mac nut cups, tiny tarts filled with chocolate and macadamia nut mousse.  Check out the Clambake menu here.

The beautiful setting out on the lanai near the beach.  The last time I went to the Clambake, the weather wasn't good so they moved the entire buffet to the hotel ground-level lanai.  The beach lanai venue has the various stations nicely spread out so traffic jams by popular food stations are kept to a minimum.

The salad station. . .probably the most un-popular of all the stations.  I was going to try the tomato and ogo salad (middle), but I got sidetracked by the following picture.  The Help said he had the cole slaw.  Baka.

Half of this station (you can guess which half) has got to be tied for my favorite area.  Raw oysters are awesome, and these oysters were fresh and sweet.  The mignonette sauce provides a tart departure from my standard shoyu.  The only improvement would be a vat of chili-pepper water. 

Judging from the looks of this area, this pic was taken before D2 got in line.  She took two large scoops of rice.  Did she miss my message about eating the $$$ stuff?  Who goes to a buffet and has rice?  Apparently, D2 does.

Where else can you find a nice man who will extract the lobster meat for you just by asking?  The lady waiting for her lobster meat must've missed the waiter's explanation about those blue and white platters.  He clearly indicated that those dishes were for for the lobster shells; dinner plates were at the end of each station. 

After fiddling with half a lobster on my first round, I decided not to waste my time.  The next time I went into the lobster line, I asked the nice man (in pic above) to give me just the tails and claws.  I ended up eating just the tail portions. . .D2 discovered that she enjoys lobster after all.  Her fave part:  the claws.

While we were waiting for our check, er, while I was waiting for the check, a young family (dad, mom and son) sat on the table next to us.  They wasted no time in going for the lobster.  Dad's plate has 3 whole lobsters and son's plate has one lobster on it.  The son must've been somewhere between 7-9 years old.  Mom's plate is hidden, but there's a thick slab of prime rib on it.  Luckily they left the table to get other things so we could snap a pic.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sour Cream Muffins

OMG!!!  I'm getting too old for this.  I don't know how my friends who are resource teachers do it.  The stuff one must deal with. . .the stories, the crises.  I cannot.  I just cannot.

While I've been stressing out with my "cruise" summer job, the Ds have been chugging along.

D2 is enrolled in a summer program with the county.  Last week she went paddling and did something I have never done. . .she swam in Hilo Bay.  Yup.  She came home and said prior to jumping in the canoe, she had to take a swim test which entailed swimming a lap in the bay and treading water for 10 minutes.  I wouldn't have passed the test.  Then after paddling, she said she willingly tumbled "scuba style" out of the wa`a and into the bay.

This week she is going camping for 2 nights.  KN's mom told me they are sleeping in tents and have been practicing putting up a tent during the program.  Bingo!  Again, something I've never done. . .never went camping where I had to sleep in a tent.  Glad it's not me! 

D1 has been spending a lot of time, hanging out with friends.  She has been going out, and they have also been hanging out here.  I don't mind them coming over, but sometimes I feel guilty about not always having stuff for them to munch on in the morning when they spend the night.

I am a breakfast person, probably because I am a morning person (another reason why I agreed to my second summer job).  D1 is not a morning person, although she might have the potential to turn later in life.  But that's how I know she won't be up early cooking breakfast for her friends.

I suppose if I wasn't so lazy (apparently laziness trumps feeling guilty), I'd make these muffins more often.  These are easy to throw together and can sit without refrigeration while waiting to be eaten by hungry teenagers, or guilty adults.

And if you buy the big tub of sour cream, you will have enough leftover to make a delicious dip or real dessert (cake).

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 c Bisquick
     1 c (8 oz) sour cream
     1/4 c sugar
     1 egg
     1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a 12-cup (regular size) muffin pan with paper liners.  Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Mix well.  Turn into prepared muffin pans (I like to use a #20 disher) and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.  These muffins do not get very dark.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Cookie Jar: Peanut Butter Cookies

My summer vacation lasted all of 1 (ONE) day.  And now that I think about it, it can't even be called a vacation because it was a state holiday here:  King Kamehameha Day.  If school had been in session, I would've had it as a legitimate holiday anyway.  So perhaps a more accurate opening line should have been, "I completed my first and began my second summer employment opportunities."

I reported to the good 'ole blue and gold on Monday for 3 days of pacing guide work.  While it sounds intense, it was actually time well spent.  I managed to finish my pacing guide for the 1st quarter, and I'm almost done with the 2nd quarter.  Now all I need to do is share it with my partner to see what she'd like to incorporate in our co-teaching class.

In addition to working on my pacing guide, I helped a friend, OllieMama, get the keys to her new classroom.  She'd been driving around with half her work shit in her truck so she was more than happy to get access to her new digs so she could unload.  The key czar in the office was in a good mood and readily allowed her to sign out her key set, which included the "magic" key.  The magic key works the building elevator. . .no need to lug 40-pound boxes of paper up 3 flights of stairs!

But the real winners in all of this were the custodians.  Upon entering her room, OllieMama and I discovered the remnants of a sheet cake and a "PLEASE EAT" sign which had been left on a desk by the previous occupant.  Had OllieMama not asked for the keys, the room would not have been opened for several weeks.  The custodians, who would have opened up the room to wax the floors, would've had a massive surprise.  OllieMama is fortunate to be in a building which does not have the same critter infestation problem many of the other buildings have (probably because it's the newest building, save for the gym, on campus).  The cake would've definitely welcomed the roaches and other creepy-crawlies.

OllieMama definitely has her work cut out for her.  In addition to the cake, the previous occupant did a horrible job cleaning the room.  Everything was merely shoved into the cabinets.  At least OllieMama will have lots of time to get her room into shape.  I can't wait to see the finished product.

Sometime in the early part of the week, Mr. Dependable jetted off to the continent, leaving the Ds to take care of his pets.

When the Ds were younger, I used to dread having to deal with Mr. Dependable's animals.  The Ds couldn't manage the dogs on their own, and cleaning the rabbit cage was a nightmare.  Now, there's no rabbit (R.I.P. Ruby) and the Ds are both able to handle to his unruly dogs by themselves.  Even better, D1 can drive there herself!

Since I had the Ds through the weekend, D2 and I decided to bake cookies.  We spent a lot of time trying to decide what kind of cookies to make.  We thought about making chocolate chip cookies and snickerdoodles, but we abandoned those ideas in favor of peanut butter cookies.  D2 is a fan of peanut butter, and I told her about how I loved it when KikukatMom made these because I got to help do the criss-crosses.  D2 helped me mix the dough and did the criss-crosses.  It would've been nice if she helped me wash the dishes, but I guess I have to do some work.

 click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1/2 c butter
     1/2 c peanut butter
     1/2 c sugar
     1/2 c brown sugar
     1 egg
     1 tsp vanilla
     1/2 tsp salt
     1 tsp baking soda
     1 1/4 c flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Sift salt, baking soda and flour together.  Set aside.  Cream butter, peanut butter, sugar, and brown sugar.  Add egg and vanilla.  Gradually add sifted dry ingredients.  Use a #60 disher to drop dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Flatten in criss-cross pattern with a lightly floured fork.  Bake for 11 minutes.  Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

Oh.  I almost forgot.  My second summer employment opportunity began on Friday.  At 6:00 am.

I thought there was a chance it would end on Friday too.  At 6:30 am.

One of the summer people decided to take the day (sick or off, does it really matter?) and, unbeknownst to me, took it upon herself to call a sub.  It took me over 30 minutes to find someone "legitimate" (submitted employment papers) willing to sub.  I don't understand the people who put in their names as subs...apparently 2 months ago, working as a sub during the summer sounded like a good idea, even if they had no intention of actually working.  And then now, when I'm calling at 6 am, working doesn't sound good at all.

Then I thought about quitting again.  At 8:00 am.

I got a call from the sub (not the one I called; this is how I found out the employee called her own sub).  As Eliza Doolittle would say, "Garnnnn!"

I'm hoping today will be a better day.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Party Food: Crispy Chicken Wings

I'm not sure what it is about my kids, but they are so picky when it comes to chicken.  In fact, D1 keeps telling me she doesn't like chicken.

Over the years I have posted some awesome, kick ass chicken wing recipes:
But these are the wings my kids, especially D1, will actually request.  I don't get it because I think the fried ginger chicken is the best thing on this list.  But this is what they pick.  I don't mind making this because there is no oil to clean up.  I made this for D1's 16th birthday party, and her friends devoured these wings.  D2 once remarked that cooking this makes the house smell like a Chinese restaurant.

Last week, an email came out at work.  The email contained a truly offensive reminder that the start of the next school year is but a mere 8 weeks away.  Really???  Cripes!  They HAD to go there?  Final grades weren't even due and they go reminding us about the next school year.  The "slap in the face" part for me meant that in less than 10 weeks, D1 will off to college.

I guess my mission for the next 10 weeks will be to cook things she likes.  I'm going to start with this chicken, although D1 is primarily a red meat eater.  If she had her way, we'd have either rib eye steak or pulehu ribs every night.  I'm wondering what she will eat when she goes away.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 1/2 lbs chicken wings
     1 tbsp oil
     1 tsp salt
     1/8 tsp pepper
     2 tbsp brown sugar, packed
     2 tbsp maple syrup
     1/4 c water
     1/2" piece ginger
     1 star anise
     1/4 tsp sesame oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking pan with heavy duty foil.  Place rack in prepared pan.  Spray rack with non-stick cooking spray.  Remove wing tips (discard) and cut remaining wing into 2 pieces (drummette and flat).  Toss chicken pieces with oil, salt, and pepper.  Place in a single layer on rack.  Bake 50 minutes.  While chicken is baking, bring brown sugar, maple syrup, water, ginger, and star anise to a boil.  Cook for 15 minutes or until reduced to half.  Remove garlic, ginger, and star anise.  Place cooked chicken in a bowl.  Add sesame oil to sauce and pour over chicken.  Toss to coat evenly.  Place chicken back on rack and bake another 10 minutes.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Congratulations, D1! Celebrating with Almond Float

D1 is officially a high school graduate!


Four years went by quickly!

A few days before graduation, D1 sent me the scorpion pic (on left. . .scorpion is a reference to the pose) with the caption "school isn't over but I sure am".  Zazuzzhhh.

D1 is generally a good student, but towards the end, she was driving me bananas.  I would cringe in the early evening because I didn't want to receive a "robocall" from the school attendance office saying she was absent from class.  She appeared unfazed by my kicking and screaming about being conscientious to the end.

But she made it. . .or at least I'm pretty sure she did.  Diploma distribution is early next month, and I'm thinking they could call at any time to say they made a mistake!

In any case, it was nice that the family came out to support her at commencement.  I had my teary moment when D1 hugged me in the reception line, but I had over 200 other students to congratulate so I managed to hold it together.  It was only later that evening, as I was looking through preliminary pics with The Help, that I noticed D1s shoes.  She was wearing my Michael Kors white patent wedges!  Darn kid!!!

I played nicely with Mr. Dependable and his family.  I didn't cuss him out, and I was pleasantly surprised that he was dressed nicely, unlike KikukatDad.  While we were queued to enter the stadium, I noticed he was wearing a polo shirt (not even an aloha shirt) with a bunch of flaming guitar motifs all over! Luckily, he kept his jacket on all night since he was on the breezy side of the venue.

We now enter the short party season before kids embark on the next chapter.  Unfortunately, it doesn't look like D1 will have a massive party rocking the walls at Sangha Hall.  That's not how she rolls.  She did ask me if she could have a handful of friends over for a pool day/night.  I'm also thinking of having family over when it gets closer to her departure date.

For those of you who know me, you can bet the menu wheels are already turning in my head.  One item of the dessert menu will definitely be almond float.  Almond float is a popular Chinese dessert which consists of tofu-looking cubes with assorted fruit.  Traditionally, agar agar is used as the coagulating agent for the cubes, but a quicker, easier coagulant is unflavored gelatin (doesn't require all the soaking/shredding).  Chinese restaurants (if they're worth anything) still use agar, but most home versions use gelatin.

D1 and D2 both love almond float.  It's easy to make for a party because it can be thrown together ahead of time, and guests can serve themselves in small, colored plastic cups.  Almond float is also a great way to use a variety of fruit.  For the Ds, canned mandarin oranges are non-negotiable.  I also add fresh oranges (and the juice...helps to keep any apple chunks from browning), mangoes, and pieces of longan.  Canned or fresh lychee can be added.  Many people add canned fruit cocktail, but I think that's just gross. . .the grapes and pears give me the willies!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
     3 1/4 c water, divided
     1 c sugar
     1 1/2 c evaporated milk
     1 tbsp almond extract
     assorted fruits (fresh or canned), chilled

Soften gelatin in 1/2 c of the water.  Bring remaining water (2 3/4 c) to a boil and add softened gelatin and sugar.  Stir until dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Add milk and almond extract.  Stir.  Pour into 9 x 13" pan and refrigerate overnight.  Cut into cubes and mix with fruits, including liquid.
If you aren't squeamish and want to see pics from graduation and a few events leading up to the big day, please enjoy the slideshow.  There's some background music so be sure your speakers are turned on.

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