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Mother's Day Bruch

*Edited to add that the Big Island is experiencing some serious volcanic activity on the East side of the Island. Many people and animals have been displaced or have lost their homes. If you are so inclined and have the ability, please consider donating to one of the following organizations:

The Food Basket

Pu'uhonua o Puna (this is a gofund me link, but Bank of Hawaii has also created an account for them and is accepting donations, but you have to go in to one of their branch locations to make a donation)

Aloha 'Ilio Rescue (they are taking in and helping home displaced animals. We adopted our Cassie girl from them and they are an awesome group!)


What did you do for Mother’s Day? Usually, we make a reservation at one of the hotels on the coast and spend too much money to eat too much food at a FaNcY buffet. Since we weren’t working this year, we decided to do a simple brunch up at my parent’s house; it was easy, kid friendly, and we didn’t walk away from the table regretting how much we ate. Although, in hindsight, I should have soaked the black-eyed peas prior to cooking since we all experienced a ***windy*** afternoon.

Mother’s Day Brunch Menu

Salad Nicoise

Cowboy Caviar

Minted Fruit Salad

Cheesy Sausage Polenta Bake

Strawberry Shortcakes w/ Vanilla Whipped Cream

Gluten, Nut, & Dairy Free Apple Banana Bread


Salad Nicoise

Adapted from

2 heads chopped Romaine, washed and dried (I used a mix of romaine and baby red romaine)

1 lb. red potatoes (or your choice of young/new potato)

12 oz boiled and peeled baby beets (medium dice)

12 oz cherry tomatoes washed and halved

8 oz green beans trimmed and blanched

8 small radishes washed and sliced very thinly

3 small cucumbers washed and sliced very thinly

½ c basil leaves; torn or chiffonade cut

¼ c thin slice green onions

2 hardboiled eggs cooled and halved

8 salt packed anchovies rinsed and patted dry

1/2 c nicoise olives or kalamata olives


1 glove garlic smashed or ground into paste

1/3 c olive oil

1/4 c balsamic vinegar

1 T dijon mustard

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

To assemble salad

1. Cut potatoes into a medium dice, cover with salted water in a pot, and cook till tender, but not falling apart. Drain, place on oiled baking sheet (cover with a few passes of olive oil), and bake till golden brown in a 375 oven; 20-30 minutes.

2. Boil (till tender, but not mushy), peel, and dice beets. Let cool. Trim (cut off tips and bottoms) and blanch green beans in boiling water for a minute or two. Shock with ice cold water and let cool. Boil eggs (6-7 minutes in boiling water). When cool, peel and slice in half.

3. Evenly distribute chopped romaine over large platter, place potatoes, cherry tomatoes, green beans, radishes, cucumbers, beets, and olives in equal portions over the romaine. It’s ok if it’s piled on, just so that it’s not too sloppy. Scatter basil and green onions over top, place halved eggs and rolled anchovies at the very top. To roll anchovies, simply start at the tail end and roll it up. Serve dressing on the side.


1. Smash or grind up garlic clove and place in small mason jar (make sure it has a top!), along with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Dijon mustard. Screw on top and shake very vigorously. Add salt and pepper to taste. Lemon juice may be substituted for the balsamic vinegar, although you might want to add a touch of honey to cut the acidity.

Cowboy Caviar

Adapted from

1 package of dried black-eyed peas (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)

1 c rough chop cilantro or parsley

½ c olive oil

½ c balsamic vinegar

1 serrano pepper, minced

1 red bell pepper, very small dice

1 red onion, very small dice

1 sweet onion, very small dice

1-2 garlic clove minced

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. If using dried black-eyed peas, rinse and make sure there are no stones or small fragments in the beans. Cover with water (do not salt) and bring to a medium boil. Cook till beans are very tender, but not mushy. The time will really depend on the freshness of the beans (the older the beans, the longer it takes to cook). My beans took about 35 minutes. Drain, cool, and place in larger sized bowl.

2. Rough chop cilantro or parsley, mince serrano pepper, red bell pepper, red onion, sweet onion, and garlic. Add to the beans.

3. Mix in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt & ground black pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours. If you have time, let it sit overnight to let the flavors soak into the beans.

Minted Fruit Salad

½ small watermelon, cut into small cubes

1 small pineapple (or ½ large pineapple), cut into small cubes

1 large mango cut into small cubes

1 liliko‘i

2-3 cups green grapes washed and cut in half

1-pint blueberries washed and dried

¼ c washed and dried, chiffonade mint leaves

To Assemble fruit salad

1. Cube watermelon, place in large serving bowl.

2. To cut pineapple, cut off top and bottom (save the top and plant in your garden for your own pineapple!). Place pineapple on cutting board and shave off the skin with a large sharp knife. Cut into quarters (cut in half and then half again), cut out core, and then you can cut into cubes.

3. To prep mango; using a sharp paring knife, start with a slice at the top of the mango and slowly peel like an apple. Place on cutting board and slice off a side. You can now use that side as a stable “base” and slice the rest of the sides off. When you get close to the pit, hold in your hand and use the sharp paring knife again to cut off as much as you can around the pit. You don’t want ANY part of it to go to waste! Cut into small cubes and add to bowl.

4. To prep liliko‘I; wash fruit and slice in half. Using a spoon, scrape out all the insides into the bowl on top of the other fruit.

5. Add halved grapes, blueberries, and chiffonade mint to the bowl. Gently mix to evenly distribute fruit and liliko‘I seeds. Cover and refrigerate. If you are not serving the salad till the next day, hold off on adding the mint until you are ready to serve as it might get a little brown in the fridge overnight. If you don’t care about that, go ahead and add it whenever you want. The longer it mixes with the fruit, the more pronounced the flavor will be.

Cheesy Sausage Baked Polenta

1 ring spicy Portuguese sausage (or your choice of sausage)

16 oz grated cheddar cheese

1 c whole milk

4 eggs

2 c polenta (plus 4 ½ c salted water)

Salt and ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat a baking pan with a nice slick of olive oil.

2. Slice sausage and fry in pan with a bit of olive oil (you don’t need too much as the sausage has a lot of fat). Set aside to cool when nicely browned (don’t throw out oil!).

3. In a medium sized pot, bring 4 ½ c salted water to a fast boil. Slowly add the dry polenta, turn down heat, and cook till the polenta is creamy, but still has a bite to it. Do not leave this to cook on its own, you should be constantly stirring it so that it does not stick or burn. Also, the polenta has a tendency to pop and spurt like the volcano action we have going on right now, so be wary of flying hot polenta. Remove from heat when cooked but leave in pot for the moment.

4. In a separate bowl, beat together the milk, eggs, salt and pepper. Add this mixture to the cooked polenta, stir in the browned sausages (with oil), and cheddar cheese. Mix thoroughly and then scrape into prepared baking pan. Cover with foil and bake for approximately 60 minutes.

*While this was very tasty, we all thought that a bit more cheese and the addition of jalapeno peppers with some good quality salsa would have made it even better.

Strawberry Shortcakes with Vanilla Whip cream

Adapted from Betty Crocker’s 40th Anniversary Edition Cookbook


1 quart strawberries washed and quartered

1-2 T sugar

1/2 t very finely minced fresh rosemary

Whip Cream

1 small carton heavy whipping cream

1 t vanilla extract

2-3 T powdered sugar


2 c all purpose flour

3 t baking powder

1 t salt

1/3 c butter

2 T sugar

¾ c whole milk

1. Prep strawberries, mix in sugar and rosemary. Let sit for an hour.

2. Whip cream on high with a whipping attachment in a standing mixer. Slowly add vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Whip till stiff peaks form. Use a spatula to transfer whip cream to an air tight container and store in fridge until you are ready to assemble shortcakes.

3. For shortcakes; preheat oven to 450. In a medium sized bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut butter into the flour mixture until it resembles crumbs that stick together (you can use your fingers, two knives, or a pastry cutter to get this texture). Stir in milk and then turn mixture out onto a floured surface. Gently knead into a ball, but do not overwork the dough or you will end up with hockey pucks. Roll out dough to about ½ inch thick with a rolling pin and cut with a circle shaped cutter (about 3 inch size). If you don’t have a cutter, you can use the top of a water glass to cut out circle shapes. Place on a siplat lined baking sheet, with enough room between each one so that they can puff out. Bake 10-12 minutes (mine took 14), remove from oven when golden brown.

4. If serving immediately, cut shortbreads while warm and fill with strawberries and whip cream. Vanilla ice cream would also make a nice substitute for the whip cream.

*funny side note: I misread my recipe and used 3 TABLESPOONS of baking powder instead of TEASPOONS. The shortbreads were ok, but they didn’t have that nice flakey height of a good shortbread. I kept thinking, these look weird, but taste ok. This is a good reminder to both read your recipe all the way through at least once AND wear your glasses while reading. D’oh!

Gluten, Nut, & Dairy Free Apple Banana Bread

Basic recipe adapted from Betty Crocker’s 40th Anniversary Edition Cookbook

1 ¼ c sugar*

½ olive oil or canola oil

2 eggs

1 t vanilla

2 c very ripe mashed apple bananas (only use overly ripe bananas, it will taste gross if you don’t)

½ c rice milk w/ 1 T lemon juice to make Rice Buttermilk (that sounds disgusting)

2 ½ c Natural Directions Gluten free flour

1 t baking soda

1 t salt

1. Preheat oven to 350. Oil your choice of baking pan or loaf with your preferred oil.

2. In a medium sized bowl, sift together flour and baking soda. Make sure no baking soda lumps remain. I think we’ve all bitten into a piece of banana bread at one point in our lives with a nice chunk of unmixed baking soda. Shivers.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the rice milk and lemon juice. Set aside and let sit until it thickens up and has a few chunks in it. Usually I don’t like using rice milk because it is so gross, but this is a nut free recipe, so rice milk buttermilk is just fine.

4. In a large bowl, vigorously mix together sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract. Mix in rice milk buttermilk and then the mashed bananas. Add in the flour mixture and salt, making sure that the mixture is fully combined (but don’t over mix it; a few lumps are ok).

5. Scrape into prepared pan and bake approximately 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean (no goop sticking to it). Cool bread, cut, and enjoy knowing that you won’t have an allergic reaction!

*If the bananas are extra sweet (as apple bananas usually are), you may want to reduce the sugar to 1 cup, or even ¾ cup. The bread came out very sweet, which the kids didn’t mind!

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