Snacking Tokyo-Style: Plum Onigiri

riceAre you looking for an easy way to jazz up your weekday lunch?

All over Tokyo, food courts and convenience stores sell triangles of sticky rice filled with all sorts of wonderful goodies. Called onigiri, these snacks fit easily in the palm of your hand, are quite filling, and are very affordable – many cost the equivalent of $1 or less. Our whole family enjoyed sampling onigiri filled with pickles, plums, smoked salmon, and even hard boiled eggs. Our favorite were the plum-filled snacks, which we are creating today.

rice mold

Onigiri mold

You can Continue reading

Cinnamon Apple Dutch Baby

dutch 1So, the fam asked for pancakes for dinner. I don’t mind making pancakes, but have you ever seen the number of pancakes that a table full of hungry kids can work their way through? It takes time to make pancakes for this bunch!

What about Dutch Babies? The pancakes, not the people.  🙂

As I started Continue reading

Kids in the Kitchen: Cake Mix Cookies II

cake cookies

Shown: Funfetti mix with extra sprinkles, and Devils Food mix with mini chocolate chips!

If the kiddos in your life are asking to bake something, and you don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen, Cake Mix Cookies are a perfect 15 minute treat. That’s right – it will only take the kids 5 minutes to Continue reading

Kids in the Kitchen: Cheesy Tuna Casserole

mac cheeseThis tasty weeknight supper is easy enough for children to prepare, and they’ll feel proud to serve the family! Cheesy Tuna Casserole is not a “from scratch” recipe, but then, not every meal needs to be. By starting with an ingredient familiar to children everywhere – boxed shells and cheese – you’re more likely to have cooperation from even the fussiest of pint-size diners. The added vegetables and protein aren’t so… suspicious… when the noodles and cheese are already a sure hit.

As long as an adult handles the boiling water and oven transfer, the kids can do the rest. Sit back and let them cook you dinner for a change!

Ingredients (Serves 6; recipe can be easily cut in half) Continue reading

Simple Strawberry Jam

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Enjoying first strawberries of summer almost makes the long winter worthwhile. Almost. The thing about strawberries is, they’re delicious for about one day after they are picked. If you have a large quantity of strawberries to preserve, you need to work fast! This Simple Strawberry Jam recipe is super fast! Ready… Set… GO!

Ingredients (Makes 4  cups)

5 cups of strawberries, washed and cut in half (green hulls removed)

5 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 pouch (3 ounces) liquid pectin

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest -OR- seeds scraped from the inside of 1/2 of a vanilla bean pod (optional but delicious!)

Directions

Step 1) Place halved strawberries in a large pot. Mash the strawberries a few times with a potato masher. Add sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and lemon juice.

Step 2) Bring strawberry mixture to a full, vigorous boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. You want this mixture to really boil… it should boil enough that bubbles continue to cover the surface of the mixture even when you are stirring!

Step 3) When your strawberry mixture has reached a FULL boil (this will take at least ten minutes, maybe longer), stir in the pouch of pectin. Allow the mixture to return to a FULL boil, and boil with stirring for two minutes.

Step 4) Remove the pot from the heat. Add grated lemon zest or vanilla seeds. Stir gently. Allow jam to cool before ladling into storage containers. This jam will keep nicely in the refrigerator for two weeks, or can be frozen for up to six months.

jam

 

Best Lobster Roll in Salem!

dotty-ray-s-lunchFirst things first. A few hours after arriving in Salem, we ventured into a cute little restaurant right off of the touristy Essex Street pedestrian mall. We were able to escape the bright sun while still enjoying the open air, grabbed a quick bite to eat (grilled cheese with fries) and listened to some really excellent live music.

However…

If we weren’t jet lagged, we might have realized before we asked for a table that restaurants in touristy areas also have touristy prices! We passed on the $25 lobster roll. Seriously – who charges $25 for a lobster roll when you can practically see the ocean from the restaurant kitchen? I digress.

Time to contact my good friends GOOGLE and UBER!

A quick web search for the best local lobster roll and where do Salem locals eat pointed us squarely in one direction – Dotty and Ray’s Restaurant. Located about a mile from The Hawthorne Hotel, Dotty and Ray’s is across the river from the touristy town center in residential Salem, where locals live and eat. Google says it’s a 16 minute walk. Uber says it’s a $4 ride. Take your pick, but GO!

For $12.95 you’ll get a lobster roll that’s so generously portioned and delicious, I dare you not to go back the very next day for more (we did!). Look! Look and imagine how delicious this is!
lobster

Casual, delicious, regional home cooking with great service and very reasonable prices -what more does a hungry tourist need? It was fun to watch the staff visiting with other diners in a familiar way; Dotty and Ray’s is clearly the place to catch up on local news over lunch. Even as outsiders, we were welcomed and enjoyed a bit of conversation with our server. It felt a bit clandestine to be the only tourists in a beloved local establishment, as if we’d discovered something too magical to share.

scallops

Scallop Roll

(Magical… Salem… see what I did there?)

Their scallop roll was amazingly sweet and also generously portioned. We substituted the fries for mashed potatoes, which were buttery and wonderful. If you’re in the Salem area, don’t miss out on lunch at the tucked away gem that is Dotty and Rays.

Salem Seafood Chowder

Soup1Chowder, or Chowda as the locals say, is popular in Salem. Many diners and pubs feature clam chowder high on their menu as either an appetizer or a complete meal with fresh bread. Two establishments, Tavern on the Green in the Hawthorne Hotel and also the wildly popular Red’s Sandwich Shop, offered amazingly delicious seafood chowder. Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we’ve done our best to recreate authentic seafood chowder, loosely based upon Continue reading