Archive for December, 2011

December 30, 2011

Homemade Sushi

So, last night I learned how to make sushi!!  Anyone who knows me can imagine me doing my happy dance right now.  One of my most favorite things is to learn a new cooking technique and last night was especially great because it was my big brother Scott who taught me (a sushi-expert extraordinaire).

A little background before getting into the recipe:  this week Kirk and I were visiting my step-brother Scott, his wife Jen and my niece Samantha up in Maryland (my parents were there too)!   When Scott was in college, he did an exchange program in Japan.  He loved it so much that he decided to move back after he graduated for another 2 years.  Living over there, he ate and made sushi all of the time.  One of the many benefits of this is that Scott always does the sushi ordering when we are all together.  He orders things I would never venture to get and it is always delicious.   Well, last night we were debating what to do for dinner and sushi came up.  I’m not really sure who suggested it first (probably me) but we decided to make our own sushi!  Scott hadn’t made it in a very long time, but apparently it was like riding a bike because it turned out great.

Cook’s Note:  There may be other variations out there and I certainly intend on following up on things we learn about making sushi as we go along!  But this is “version 1” J

Step One:  Make sticky sushi rice

Step Two: Prep ingredients (vegetables, fish)

Step Three:  Assemble

Step Four:  Devour!


  • 2 cups short-grain white rice (sushi rice)
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb yellowfin tuna filet, frozen and thawed
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 bag sushi nori/toasted seaweed
  • bamboo sushi rolling mat or parchment paper
  • wasabi powder
  • ginger (optional, I don’t normally eat this with my sushi)
  • low sodium soy sauce for dipping!

1:  Making the Sticky Rice – (40 minutes)

  • Measure 2 cups rice and rinse multiple times until the water is clear.  For rinsing, just use the pot you are going to boil the rice in and use the lid to help drain (or use colander with small holes or cheese cloth to help keep the rice from going through the holes)!
  • Add 2.5 cups of water and bring to a boil over med-high heat.  Once the pot is boiling, cover with a lid to trap all of the steam and turn heat to the lowest possible setting (10-15 minutes)
  • Once all of the water is evaporated, move off of the heat and leave uncovered for 10 minutes to set.
  • Combine 2 TBPS rice vinegar, 2 TBPS sugar (or rice sweetener) and 1 tsp kosher salt in a small bowl and microwave for 30-45 seconds.  Stir, ensuring that the sugar is melted.  Consistency should be syrupy.
    • Cook’s Note: I liked the taste of the rice a lot, but Scott said it didn’t taste quite like he was expecting.   I’ll update if I find a new ratio that I like better.
  • Gently fold vinegar syrup into the rice.  Don’t stir or the rice may become clumpy and mushy.
  • Let rice cool to room temperature or at least cool enough to handle with your bare hands.

2:  Prep Ingredients – (15 minutes)

  • Wash & peel one cucumber.  The goal is to cut very small, thin strips without any of the seeds.  Working around the core of the cucumber (in order to avoid the seeds), cut about a 1/8-1/4” slice off each side of the cucumber (4).  Laying these flat on your cutting board, cut each of these in half.  Then, carefully cut very thin strips.  These will be layered in the sushi roll, so it is better for them to be small and thin to avoid making the roll bulky.
  • Wait until assembling the rolls to cut the avocado.  When you are ready to cut it, cut in half lengthwise and remove the pit.  Using any kind of knife, cut small strips of avocado for layering.
  • Cut the tuna.  This part I’m not really sure how to describe, so you may have to watch this awesome youtube video!  Scott cut the tuna steak into portions usable for nigiri and scrap pieces usable for the rolls.  Anytime when there was a big string of fat, he would pull that out and put it into the discard pile.

    Alternatives to fresh fish:  immitation crab meat, shrimp, tempura fried fish, more vegetables..!

3:  Assemble (10 minutes)

  • Use either a bamboo mat or piece of parchment or wax paper (we had to do this bc Scott couldn’t find his bamboo mat) as your base.  Lay on a cutting board or plate.
  • Set out a bowl of room temp water for rinsing your fingers before working with the sticky rice.
  • You can either use Nori/Seaweed as the next layer or skip straight to the rice.  If using Nori, lay the shiny side facedown.  For the purpose of the instructions, I’m going to assume we are using the Nori.
  • Scoop some rice onto your Nori paper – only enough to cover the bottom ½ of the paper with a thin layer.  Dip your fingers in the bowl and spread out the rice.  Too much rice is bad.  I was surprised how little is needed!  Scott kept having to tell me to put some back into the bowl 🙂
  • Layer on tuna, then layer the cucumber and avocado so that it is even all the way across the roll.
  • Use your bamboo mat to fold your roll over.  Keep it tight, forming what you would imagine an un-cut sushi roll to look like.  Cut off the excess Nori paper (or only use a half sheet to begin with).
  • Using a sharp knive, cut the roll in half and then into quarters working down to smaller bites.  Each roll should yield 8-10 pieces depending on how you cut it.  You may need to wash your knife every few cuts because the sticky rice can leave a residue on the blade making it hard to cut.

Serve on a fun plate with ginger and wasabi!  We made our wasabi using the powder available in most grocery stores on the international aisle.  It is a powder you mix equally with water and is the same stuff you’d get in the restaurants!  Scott said fresh grated wasabi root is really the best though if you can find it.  That is definitely on our list of things to try!

Note:  We purchase the tuna straight from the seafood section in Whole Foods and were able to use it without any other steps because it was very fresh and it was a salt water fish.  However, we read that it is recommended to freeze the fish first to get rid of any potential bacteria, especially with fresh water fish.  Ask the butcher though, there is a good chance the fish has already been flash frozen unless you are in a coastal community.  Just be careful!!

December 13, 2011

Broccoli Soup – An Ever Evolving Recipe

Kirk and I have become obsessed with homemade broccoli soup.  It’s easy, quick, healthy and when you use the immersion blender – definitely more fun than the usual recipes!  Kirk always gets that task though, he has become a master of it.

The #1 reason why I love this recipe is that once you make a successful batch following the recipe (Link:  Original Recipe), you basically can just wing it in all future attempts!  We’ve made it 3-4 times now and I’ve done different variations each time.   The only thing that seems to really matter is putting enough spices in and enough liquid.  I’m very eager to see this continue to evolve into other pureed soups!

Version #3 / Semi Smoky Broccoli – Potato – Carrot Puree Soup

Note:  I made a triple batch this go-round and then froze the leftovers into my mini loaf pans.  Each is exactly one serving, ~1.5-2 cups.  I’ll take them out of the loaf pans tonight and put the “soup blocks” in a big ziplock bag or vacuum seal them (and then right back into the freezer). 

  • Step 1:  Thaw Frozen Broccoli Florets in a large stock pot over med-high heat with enough water to boil.  Drain in collander.  Leave it in the sink for now!  I used 3 LBS of broccoli.
  • Step 2:  Rinse Potatoes and Carrots.  Leavings skins on, roughly chop into medium sized pieces.  I used 4 cups Russet Baking Potatoes and 4 Regular Carrots.
  • Step 3:  Peel & Slice Cloves of GarlicI used 2 cloves.
  • Step 4:  Measure out:  Salt, Pepper, Celery Salt, Onion Powder, and NutmegI used 1 tsp of each except for the nutmeg… that was just three shakes.
  • Step 5:  Pour Olive Oil in quickly rinsed stock pot and sautee garlic, spices and carrots for about 5 minutes over medium heat.  I used ~ 1 TBSP or 3 ish second pour from my bottle with a spout.
  • Step 6:  Add in Potatoes,Broth, and Milk.  Bring to Boil.  I used 4 cups low sodium chicken broth, 2.5 cups 2% milk, 2 tbsp of heavy cream.
  • Step 7:  Add in Broccoli back in at any point you want after it reaches a boil.
  • Step 8: Boil over med-heat for 15 minutes.  Start checking to see when the potatoes and carrots are cooked enough to be pierced (doesn’t have to be mushy or anything).
  • Step 9:  Add a few shakes ofChipotle Tobasco Sauce
  • Step 10:  Puree with immersion blender until smooth!!  Careful:  be sure to keep the bottom of the immersion stick under the liquid so it doesn’t splatter.
  • Step 11:  Taste with a spoon to see if it needs more salt, pepper or liquid.  Adjust to your taste a little bit at a time!

 In all, this probably took us 35-45 minutes.  I noted the portions I used out to the side in each step so you can adjust on your own!  Use whatever spices, type of potato, type of broth, milk or vegetables that you want!  It’s fun to experiment.  I’ve used vegetable broth and soy milk before and it was just as wonderful.

Happy Cooking!!

Tool Shout-Out:  Cuisinart Smart Stick Immersion Blender

December 11, 2011

Best Turkey Burgers Ever!!

I found this recipe on and have made it twice now!  Love love love it.  It is now our go-to!  Very moist, good flavor and healthy!  Highly highly recommend making this to everyone.  We made doubles (1/2 lb) and calculated them to be roughly 600 calories with our toppings and the bread.  Realistically, I should have just eaten a single – but I was feeling pretty hungry because I had just come from spin class.. 🙂  Either way, not too shabby for a dinner meal!  With the fries, it was probably about 800 total for the meal.

  • 1-1.5 lbs ground turkey (or chicken) – we use 93/7 lean
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (original)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp ReaLemon juice
  • salt & pepper (couple of shakes and grinds, hah)

Combine all ingredients and shape into patties.  With all of the added ingredients, if you are using 1.5 lbs of turkey, it yields roughly 8 patties (4 oz each).  I used my kitchen scale to measure them out 🙂  We also smooshed the burgers out to be as round as the buns we were using (~1/4 inch thick).  I found that they didn’t really shrink up too much, which was great!  Grill 5-6 minutes per side in a grill pan (I flip them when the meat is cooked a little more than halfway up the burger).

Top with anything that you like!  We normally pick some kind of fun cheese like jalapeno havarti out of the deli section or use sharp cheddar.  Wholly Guacamole is now making 100 calorie guac packs for snacking, but we use them for our burgers because we can split a package between our two burgers and don’t have to worry about the rest going bad!

Original Recipe:

Happy Cooking!!  If you come up with any fun topping combinations, feel free to share!