The perfect chili base

There are so many different types of chili out there, I just never found the one that used exactly what I wanted, so after a year or so of making chili whenever the temperature dipped below 80 degrees (burr..), I finally created the perfect chili base- meaning after this you can add whatever you want to it and make it as spicy as you like.  This should also work well in a slow cooker or on the stove.  This also makes it easy to double or triple if you are feeding a crowd.  I find the ratio of 1 can beans + 1 can tomatos is good with each pound of meat.  Also, if you want to eat this sooner and/or dont like soupy chili, go ahead and drain the beans and tomates a bit (maybe reserve on side just in case).  Also, a good way to lower salt intake if you are concerned about that, is to always rinse the beans before hand- check the label on the can!

The Perfect Chili Base


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans (feel free to substitute with kidney or other beans)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

Add -ins 

  • chopped or pureed vegetables (carrots/celery)
  • corn
  • other beans
  • ground meat
  • fake ground meat
  • tofu/tempeh

Mommy Tips

  • picky eaters- puree up vegetables or beans if you kids don’t like them (from Deceptively Delicious)
  • time saver- chop the veggies (including onion) in a food processor or vitamix


  1. chop up the onion and saute in a little oil until soft
  2. add ground meat (if using) and brown
  3. when meat (or onions) are almost done, add in the crushed garlic and cook for a minute or two (until fragrant)
  4. add with the rest of the ingredients into the slow cooker, or into a big pot for the stove top
  5. season to taste, and feel free to add any other spices you might have lying around! If you like your chili spicy, add another tbsp of chili powder
  6. if you are using the fake ground meat (now available at costco on maui) – add in just before serving, to just get warmed
  7. Slow-cooker- 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low
  8. Stove-top- 90 minutes should do the trick!

Teriyaki glazed Mahi-Mahi with Mac nuts and Coconut

Ok, ok, i’m a bad food blogger.  I forgot to take pictures, but with two kids and four hungry adults, its hard to take pictures- especially when the food is all hot and plated up… plus I cook this dish with a glass of wine in one hand, so I have no hand to take the pictures with.  I tried to get Matt to take pictures, but, well, we forgot.   On to the recipe.  This is probably my favorite mahi dish- a classic that everyone loves, and is easy and impressive, even for a non-fish cooker.   This is an old Mama’s Fish House recipe…

Teriyaki Glazed Mahi-Mahi with Toasted Mac Nuts and Coconut


  • 4 Mahi-mahi fillets, 6 oz each
  • 1/4 c. chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 c sweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 tablespoons oil (olive or vegetable)
  • 2 large sliced onions (preferably a sweet, Maui or other…)
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1/4 c cornstarch
  • 1/2 c teriyaki sauce


  1. In a wide frying pan, toast mac nuts over medium heat until golden brown (you don’t really have to do this if they are already roasted)
  2. Add in coconut and lightly brown (careful not to burn- better to be under done than over)
  3. Remove nuts and coconut from pan and set aside
  4. Add 1 tbsp oil to pan and saute onions until soft. (this is one step where more is better- caramelized onions would be great) remove from pan
  5. Add remaining oil to pan
  6. Mix flour and cornstarch in shallow bowl
  7. Dust mahi filets in flour mixture and add to pan
  8. Cook about 2-3 minutes on each side (don’t over cook it! You just want it to be white, but you can even undercook mahi a little…)
  9. drain excess oil from pan, add onions and teriyaki sauce until slightly thickened
  10. Place fish on plates, then top with onion and sauce mixture, then nuts and coconut

YUM!  This goes great with sweet potatoes…

Bran Muffins- Two Ways

Yesterday (i think it was yesterday, my days blend together) I woke up wanting to make carrot bran muffins, and guess what I saw on Facebook? A fellow Maui-based food blogger, Tiffany Kidder, made carrot bran muffins.  She used a completely different recipe than I ended up using, but they probably ended up tasting fairly similar (like a bran muffin…) I’m not sure how her’s ended up, but mine were tasty, however dense (i think it’s the whole wheat flour/bran).  Mine is based on the Kellogg’s All-Bran recipe, but this time I ended up making two different muffins.

I like to throw dried fruits in mine, but this time, everytime I opened the fridge the leftover canned pineapple was calling out to me.  I figured it might be pretty tasty in there so I tried it in about half the muffins.  In the other half, I used raisins, craisins and chopped walnuts.  I put half the batter in another bowl, mixed in what I wanted, then put in the muffin tins.  Then I mixed in the other mix-ins (sorry, now this is getting confusing…) and made the rest of the muffins.

One thing I noted from these muffins, they are pretty low in fat, so they kind of stick to the paper liners- I ran out of liners and the muffins that I just sprayed with Pam popped right out, but the ones in the liners lost a lot of muffin to the liner…

Bran Muffins Recipe- Two Ways (or however you like it…)


  •  2 cups Kellogg’s all-bran cereal
  • 1 1/4 c milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 c coconut oil
  • 1/8 c applesauce
  • 1/8 c greek yogurt
  • 3/4 c white flour
  • 1/2 c wheat flour
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp molasses (adding it in for my slightly anemic little boy!)
  • 1 tbsp flax
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c baby carrots- grated (food processor or vitamix works great!)
  • Add-ins (raisins, craisins, walnuts, chopped apples, chopped pineapple-  1/4c to 1/2 c each depending on what you want!)
  • top- turbinado sugar!


  1. Combine cereal and milk.  let stand for 1/2 hour
  2. add egg, oil, applesauce and yogurt, beat well
  3. add rest of ingredient (except mix-ins) beat until just combined
  4. pour into muffin pans sprayed with pam (recommended over liners- see above)
  5. divide batter if desired to add in the different ‘add-ins’
  6. top with a pinch of turbinado sugar
  7. cook for 20 minutes at 400′ or until golden brown.

note- i didn’t really read the instructions this time and let the cereal and milk stand while i mixed the rest, and grated carrots, etc, adding that in at the end.  besides being a little dense, which i think they would anyway, i think they turned out fine.  The ones with pineapple turned out delicious, but i also liked the nutty walnut raisin ones.  the turbinado (raw) sugar adds a nice sweet crunch on top.  Carrot Bran Muffin

Egg in the ‘whole’ wheat toast

This is so delicious and so easy, I’ve been making this almost daily for a few weeks. Grease a frying pan or griddle, cut a hole in a piece of bread, ( use small cookie cutters for something fun), put it on the griddle, then drop in an egg and cook however you prefer your eggs. Toast up the cut out piece to dip in yolk if you like. These are amazing with Alpine Valley bread from Costco.




Melt in your Mouth Poke

I apologize in advance, because if you actually make this poke, you will never eat any other poke.   So if you enjoy Safeway’s poke, your neighbor’s poke, or just the ability to eat poke at all those backyard luaus that you attend, just ignore this post.  But if you want amazing, melt-in-your-mouth poke that even self-admitting ‘non-fish’ eaters enjoy, go ahead and give this a try.  As in all recipes, feel free to adjust the ratios to taste.

Melt-in-your-Mouth Ahi Poke Recipe


  • 5 parts sesame oil
  • 2 parts chili oil
  • 3 parts brown sugar
  • 7 parts soy sauce
  • Sashimi grade ahi (yellow-fin tuna) or aku, cut into bit sized chunks (approximately equal parts fish to sauce ratio, ex- 1 cup of fish to 1 cup sauce…)
  • Garnishes- sesame seeds, chopped avocado, furikake, chopped onions, green onions


Mix the oils together.  Add sugar and mix. Add soy sauce and mix.  Chill for 20 minutes.  Add fish and mix.  Serve immediate or marinate an hour or as desired, garnishing before serving.   Grab your own helping and then quickly back away from the bowl. Its like feeding sharks.

Baked Apple Chips

There are two kinds of apples at Costco.  Tasty ones, and terrible ones.  These were not the best batch.  I think they were Gala’s.   So I put my trusty mandolin to work and started baking (again).  I read that you should use parchment or the apples will stick to the baking sheet, even sprayed, but I used tin foil in absence of parchment and spray and it seemed fine.  I baked the first batch, and after cooking for two hours, then watching them all disappear in a matter of minutes, I knew I had to try something more creative to cook more chips at a time- where the wire cooling rack comes in handy. This is less of a recipe and more of a discussion, so I’ll tell you what I did.

  1. Thinly slice the apples– I used the thinest selection on the mandolin.
  2. add a layer to each baking sheet- – they shrink up a little so you can overlap them a bit to get more in there…
  3. sprinkle on cinnamon sugar
  4. top the baking sheet with a wire cooling rack 
  5. add more slices and sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar (i used up four apples this way)
  6. Bake at 275 for two hours, flipping each slice after an hour.  
  7. when the apples on the wire racks are done to your liking (chewy or crispy!), remove, then continue baking the ones on the sheets.

Baked Tofu- Two Way

I’ve been on a baking kick.  For a while I was roasting everything I could get my hands on, but now I’m trying everything baked.

My mother-in-law made baked tofu, which was delicious, so the next time I was at Costco I picked up a three-pack and did a little research.  There are probably a million different ways to bake tofu, but here is what I did.

  1. Drain, rinse and press the tofu.  To press- put it on a plate or baking sheet, top with another plate, or anything, then add a big can of tomatoes or cast iron pan, heavy cutting board, you get the drill.  The idea is that if you press out all the water, it will better absorb the marinade.  I’m not sure of the optimal time, I just do it for a half hour or so.
  2. Marinate the tofu.  Cut it to whatever size you want- strips, bites, etc. You can use soy sauce, barbeque sauce, teriyaki sauce… i used Hawaiian BBQ sauce from Costco, since the two-gallon (exagerating, slightly) container was taking up most of my fridge.

    Hawaiian Barbeque Sauce

  3. Add a crust if you like- again, could probably coat with anything, but after marinating for 30 min, i dipped in a mixture of half cornmeal, half nutritional yeast.
  4. Bake- put on a baking sheet covered with tin foil.  Bake at 350 for an hour or so, flipping after 30 minutes, then checking every 15 minutes afterwards.  Its much less messy if you add a crust, the marinade i used was really sweet and burned and made a nice burned crust, but use the cornmeal for a nice crunchy texture.