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Quarantine Kitchen: Tuna-less “Tuna”

“Tuna” Salad

Adapted from: <>

 [Remember in the Quarantine Kitchen, we need to be creative so we don’t have to venture out to a store]



3 cups cooked chickpeas (1-28oz can) – [Or in my Quarantine Kitchen, I have 2 – 15 oz cans of chickpeas]

• 2 to 3 tbsp red onion, (or to taste) [I had only sweet onion, but that works too– and Barry sautéd it!]

• 2 to 3 celery stalks (approx. 1/2 cup) [Yikes – no celery either, but I used the stocks of bok choy]

• 2 to 3 pickles (approx. 1/4 cup) [No pickles, but I have fresh cucumbers and vinegar.  However, I decided to use 1/4 cup of capers instead.  Either replacement is likely to work]

• 2 tbsp nori seaweed flakes* [I have the Kirkland Organic Roasted Seaweed Sack.  Because I chopped it up, my results weren’t as small as flakes.  I used 8 of the little snack nori sheets – taste to get the best result for you]

• 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise or Cashew Sour Cream [I had a little Primal Kitchen Mayo -with Avocado Oil left in a jar]

• 1 tsp sea salt (or to taste) [I do have sea salt & black pepper.  However, I thought the capers and nori gave enough salt, so I didn’t add salt]

• 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 


For this recipe, you will need one 28-ounce can of chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) or two smaller cans. Alternatively, you can cook your own, which is even better. If using canned, drain and place into a large bowl.

Using a pastry cutter, potato masher or a fork, mash the chickpeas to break them up. [A fast easy way is to pulse the chickpeas in your blender] 

Next, finely dice the onion, celery and pickle [or your replacements] and add them to the chickpeas. Add the nori flakes, salt and pepper and mix to combine.

*NOTE: If you do not have nori flakes, you can grind up one or two sheets of nori (the kind used to make sushi) in a spice grinder. The mineral-rich nori adds a nice “from the sea” flavor and look to the mixture. [I just broke/chopped them up]

Lastly, add the vegan mayonnaise or Cashew Sour Cream [avocado oil mayonnaise]

 Mix to combine and taste for seasoning. Note: If mixture seems a bit dry, add a touch more vegan mayo or cashew sour cream.


Although I needed to replace almost everything listed in the original recipe, I was quite pleased with the results.


Enjoy your tuna-less “tuna” on toast or in a green salad.



Why make tuna-less “tuna” instead of just opening a can of real tuna?  Real tuna may be overfished, lack strong management, or are caught or farmed in ways that harm other marine life and/or the environment.  Check out <> for a full list of sustainable fish recommendations.

Also,  “Large fish, such as tuna, can have mercury concentrations in their bodies that are 10,000 times higher than those of their surrounding habitats!” says MedicalNewsToday on the mercury risks of eating tuna <>

Just go tuna-less.  It’s tasty, healthy, and “no animal was harmed” in the preparation of your sandwich — and you don’t need to use everything listed for the recipe.  Be creative.

Stay healthy.  Stay home.  Have fun in your kitchen: be creative; use what you have.

Aloha, Renée

Quarantine Kitchen: Citrus Scones

Citrus Scones

I have yogurt now, and so this morning decided to make cousin Jennie’s no milk, no eggs Citrus Scones.  

Jennie says they are delicious and easy to make.  That sounds excellent.  


2 C. flour

3 T. cold butter

¼ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

2 T. baking powder

1 6oz. carton orange or lemon yogurt. [I used plain yogurt, which is what we have.  But I also have beautiful big fresh lemons]

2 tsp. orange peel [I used lemon peel]

¼ C. orange juice [lemon juice for mine]

1/3 C. sugar

2 tsp sugar  [I used shaved chocolate] 


Cut butter into flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder.  Stir in orange or lemon peel, yogurt, orange or lemon juice, 1/3 C. sugar. 


This makes a soft dough.  You will need to shape it into a round on a floured board and then place in pan. [Or I just used my hands to shape the dough].  

Pat into an 8 or 9 inch  greased round pan, sprinkle with 2 tsp. sugar.  

[However, you may remember that I had melted and then reformed to a hard slab what had originally been chocolate chips – a 4.5 pound slab!  So in the spirit of using what I have in my kitchen, I broke off and then grated chocolate, about a 1/4 cup to sprinkle over the top of my scones]


Score in 8 wedges.  Bake at 375 degrees for. 25 minutes. 

[Some recipes tell you how to store leftovers.  That is not necessary here especially if you have hot coffee or tea or hot chocolate – and a free morning – or afternoon – at home].  


Enjoy.  Hope you are trying old favorites — and new recipes with what you have in your kitchen — and enjoying your creations.  

“Bon appétit!” 

Aloha, Renée

P.S.  Another lesson I’m learning by staying home is that those treats I sometimes get myself – like a scone – to go with my coffee when I’m out and about with friends are really easy to make, and likely healthier [if I don’t eat five of them at once] and cheaper and even at least sometimes taste better than the purchased kind!  

Quarantine Kitchen: Cinco de Mayo Burritos

Hola, this Cinco de Mayo.

This Mexican holiday, an anniversary of a 1862 military victory over the French forces of Napoleon III, is mainly recognized now in music, dance, food, friends, and fun.  

Barry, my husband and quarantine partner, who has in the past been known for his chili (about 50 different types), has expanded his repertoire.  He  made delicious burritos out of what we had on hand.



Barry in the kitchen. I like his cooking!

You can too.  Use what you have.  Of course, make substitutes so you don’t have to go out to shop.


2 – 10-inch flour tortillas

1 – 15oz can refried beans

1 – large onion, sliced 

1 – 4 oz. can sliced mushrooms

1 – 4 oz can sliced green chilis

1/2 cup – shredded hard cheese (we had Gouda)

(You could also include canned corn kernels, drained; cooked rice, and cooked hamburger)

Optional garnish: finely diced red onion; lettuce; diced tomato or salsa; sour cream; fresh cilantro; avocado or guacamole


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Sauté onions, add mushrooms & green chilis 
  3. Prepare each burrito: spread ¼ cup beans down center of tortillas; top with ½ of sautéd onion, mushroom, chili and 1/4 cup cheese.
  4. Fold in opposite sides of each tortilla, then roll up, burrito style. Place, seam-sides down, in prepared dish. 
  5. Bake for 20 minutes (until cheese melts). 

Ours were delicious and gone before I thought to get a photo.  Also, it’s good to note that the burritos are healthy.

Wikipedia notes, Joel Fuhrman who wrote Eat to Live, and Super-Immunity . . .  , “advocates what he calls a micronutrient-rich diet.[1]

A former competitive figure skater, he suffered a serious injury which removed him from competition. He says an alternative medicine therapy helped speed his recovery and led him to become a physician. His practice is based on his nutrition-based approach to obesity and chronic disease,”  Fuhrman says that if most of your diet consists of – more greens, onions, cooked mushrooms, legumes/beans, seeds, and berries, you will have a healthy diet.  Barry’s burritos have the onions, cooked mushrooms, and beans.  Plus add a green salad, and you will have a very healthy and satisfying meal for Cinco de Mayo — or any other day.

 Stay healthy.  Stay home.  Enjoy your own celebration wherever you are. 

Adiós, mis amigos, Renée

Banner photo from Business Insider


Quarantine Kitchen: Scones

When my cousin Jennie from California sent me a recipe for her lovely scones, I thought I’d give them a try in my ample free time.  The scones are milk and egg free— and delicious.  But the recipe calls for yogurt.  

We had a bit of yogurt, but Barry has been using that in his oatmeal each morning.  We, like almost everyone now, are quarantined; Hawaii is still mainly locked down.  So we make do as much as possible with what we have.  

So what did we have?  Eggs, almond milk, and CHOCOLATE!  Surely I could find an appropriate recipe.  

The eggs came from son John’s chickens; the almond milk I’d made fresh (from a cup of almonds soaked over night and four cups of water mixed in a blender) and  2.5 pounds of chocolate chips that had melted together in my car several months ago.  Those chocolate chips would have been long gone if they were in individual chips – but this was a solid block of chocolate.  

I found the following recipe on the King Arthur Flour website:  


  • 2 1/2 cups (298g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or 2 1/2 cups (255g) Pastry Flour Blend
  • heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/8 cup (6 tablespoons, 85g) cold unsalted butter, cut into pats
  • 3/4 cup (170g) cream — half & half, light, heavy, or whipping [I used my unstrained almond milk]
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups (255g to 340g) chocolate chips. [I grated my chocolate slab. The result was an even chocolate throughout each scone — yummy]
  • coarse white sparkling sugar or Demerara sugar, for topping


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) a baking sheet.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder until thoroughly combined. Add the butter, working it in until the mixture is unevenly crumbly.
  • Whisk together the cream, eggs, and vanilla. Set aside 2 tablespoons, and add the rest to the dry ingredients, along with the chocolate chips. Mix to form a moist dough.
  • Transfer the sticky dough to a heavily floured rolling mat or other work surface. Gently pat and round it into an 8″ circle. Brush the dough with the reserved egg/cream mixture, and sprinkle heavily with coarse sugar.
  • Dip a 2″ round cutter in flour, and use it to cut out a total of 16 scones; you’ll have to gather the scraps and reshape the dough once. Space the scones evenly on the prepared pan. [As you can see below, I didn’t have a round cutter, so I just made flattened a bit individual balls]
  • Bake the scones for 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and serve warm. If not serving immediately or within a couple of hours, store in an airtight container. To reheat, wrap loosely in aluminum foil, and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes.
Chocolate scones – they didn’t last the morning!

When we get yogurt, I’ll try Jennie’s recipe, but we made great use of what we had. Hope you too are making delicious discoveries at home.

Aloha, Renée

Recipe & banner photo from King Arthur Flour <;

Quarantine Kitchen: Onion & Herb Frittata

  • Adapted from The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two by Anna Thomas

Now that we are home all the time, even I have been spending more time in the kitchen. Here is a dish that is easy, healthy, and versatile.

The following is the basic recipe – but I always add what I have on hand.  It’s an easy dish that you can serve hot or cold, for breakfast, or by adding a salad, for lunch or dinner.  It can be the dish you take to share for a potluck (when we get to do that again).  

1 yellow onion

1 red onion

3 Tbs. olive oil

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/3 cup snipped chives

1/4 tsp. Dried basil or 2 tsp. fresh

6 eggs

Salt & pepper to taste

[I didn’t have the parsley or chives today when I made this, but I did have fresh spinach, tomatoes, cheese,  garlic, and a left-over baked potato].  

Peel and coarsely chop the onions.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the onions in it until they just begin to color.  Add the parsley, chives, [or in my case, the spinach, garlic, cut-up baked potato] and basil and sauté a few minutes more, stirring often.

Beat the eggs lightly with a little salt and pepper [and I add a 1/4 cup of  1/2 & 1/2 cream].

Give the onions and herbs one more stir, then distribute them more or less evenly in the skillet and carefully pour the eggs over them.  Lower the heat as much as possible, cover the pan, and cook until the eggs are barely firm on the top; this should take 10-15 minutes on very low heat.  

Turn a large plate upside down over the skillet like a lid and overturn the skillet quickly, dropping the frittata onto the plate.  Then slide the frittata back into the skillet and brown the other side for a few minutes.  

Turn the frittata out onto a serving plate and, just before serving, cut it into wedges.  It may be eaten hot, cool, or best of all, at room temperature.  

[This whole turning the egg dish back and forth has not turned out well for me in the past, so what I do is cook the eggs and other ingredients in the skillet, stirring until the eggs are fairly firm.  Then pour the ingredients into an attractive  serving dish that can go into the oven.  Grate 1/2 cup of cheese and sprinkle it on the top, arrange slices of tomato and fresh basil around the edges.  Put your dish in the oven, set to broil for a few minutes until the cheese  browns].  

Serves 6 as a first course or as part of an antipasto (p. 259) [or for breakfast or brunch].  

That’s it.  Quick, easy, tasty, and very adaptable to what you have on hand.  


Aloha, Renée

Add a salad, wine, & bread and you have a dinner fritatta

Let’s Get Cooking: Chia Seed Delight

I love the nutritional benefits of chia seeds — and the way just having some fills me up. I don’t get hungry between meals when I include a teaspoon of chia seeds in my oatmeal or water bottle!

Because my Brazilian friend Rosita has asked for dessert recipes, I’ve kept my eyes open for something relatively healthy (since it is still January and most of us want to keep our New Year resolutions for healthy choices).

Here’s a recipe that you could use to start your day or serve as a tasty, healthy, colorful dessert.

From the November/December 2018 issue of “Eating Well” magazine, comes –

“Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!” — Fruity Chia Pudding

Active: 5 minutes Total: 8 hours, 5 minutes

To Make Ahead: Refrigerate pudding for up to 3 days. Mixed with a fruity base and refrigerated, chia seeds expand to form a thick, creamy texture similar to tapioca pudding . . .


  • 1 1/4 cup blackberries, raspberries and/or diced mango (fresh or frozen) divided
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup granola


  1. Purée 1 1/4 cups fruit and milk in a blender or food processor until smooth. Scrape into a medium bowl; mix in chia, syrup and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.
  2. Divide the pudding between 2 bowls, layering each serving with 1/4 cup of the remaining fruit, 1/4 cup yogurt and 2 tablespoons granola.

Serves: 2 about 1 1/3 cups each.

Nutritional Facts:

  • Cal 343/Fat 15G (Sat 3G)/Chol 8MG/Carbs 39G/Total Sugars 18G (Added 6G)/Protein 14G/Fiber 14G/Sodium 125MG/Potassium 573MG

**Chia seeds are packed with fiber, a nutrient Americans [and others] often fall short on. Just 2 tablespoons provides a whopping 9 grams of fiber (p. 44).

Be healthy and enjoy this yummy dish for breakfast — and/or dessert..

Aloha, Renée

Let’s Get Cooking: Noodles with Sesame and Garlic Dressing

Here’s a basic noodle dish for you, Rosita (or any young adult headed out on his/her own) and any of us who want easy, healthy, beautiful dishes to serve our friends.

This traditional and very tasty form of Chinese ‘fast food’ is quick and easy to prepare and much better for your health–and digestive system–than burgers and fries!  You may apply the recipe to virtually any type of noodle, adjust the sauce to your own taste, and add whatever sort of vegetables you like best.


  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 250 g (8 oz) dry wheat noodles (or spinach or egg or . . . noodles)
  • 1 handful fresh mung bean sprouts, washed and drained
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), finely minced
  • 1 red capsicum (bell pepper), seeds removed and cut into fine strips
  • Optional: 2 handfuls of any other fresh vegetables you love (broccoli, mushrooms, corn . . . )


  • 2 tablespoon dark sesame paste (or tahini) blended with 3 teaspoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mushroom oyster sauce (su hao you)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oil (olive, sunflower, grapeseed, or other high-grade oil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced


 1. In a roomy mixing bowl, stir together the dressing ingredients, then add in the minced garlic.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a full boil with 1 teaspoon salt, then add the dried noodles; return to boil and simmer until cooked (cooking time depends on type of noodle; follow label directions).

3. Drain the noodles well, then add them to the sauce ingredients.  Toss all together with the bean sprouts, spring onions, and capsicum (sweet peppers), making sure the sauce is evenly distributed before serving in a large bowl or in individual portions.

Try different types of noodles for different versions of this dish, including Italian spaghetti and angel hair noodles.  You may also use fresh noodles, if available.  It’s a good idea to offer an assortment of condiments and garnishes on the table, like chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) or basil, chilli oil and Sichuan pepper

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 mins.

Cooking time: 8 mins.


Aloha, Renee

From: Chinese Vegetarian Cooking by Daniel Reid, p. 39.

Let’s Get Cooking: Chinese Vegetarian Sandwich with Sesame Sauce

This is a convenient, modern adaptation of a sort of ‘Chinese sandwich’ that is traditionally made with flat wholemeal bread which requires special ovens and a lot of experience to prepare properly.  Instead, we substitute any heavy, high quality wholegrain bakery bread, thinly sliced and toasted, and this provides equally good, if not better, results.  The key to any good sandwich, besides fresh ingredients, is the spread, and in Chinese sandwiches sesame paste is the key to the spread.


  • 3 thin slices of heavy wholegrain bread, toasted
  • 1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
  • 12-15 fresh celery leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 leaves fresh iceberg lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced


  • 35 g. (1/4 cup) raw sunflower seeds, presoaked at least 3 hours (or overnight) in cool water and drained
  • 2 tablespoons dark Chinese sesame paste (or tahini) blended with 3 teaspoons water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. To prepare the spread, place all the ingredients in a blender, and blend to a smooth paste.  Taste and adjust salt if necessary.
  2. To assemble the sandwich, slice and toast the bread.  Place a slice of toast on a plate and cover with one-quarter of the spread.  Arrange half the tomato, chopped celery leaves, lettuce and onions on top of the spread.  Top with a second slice of toast spread–side down, then cover the top of that slice with spread and arrange remaining vegetables on it.  Complete the sandwich with the third slice of toast placed spread–side down.
  3. Cut in half with sharp knife, or serve whole.

As with all sandwiches, you may improvise and experiment with a variety of different fillings, as well as different types of wholemeal toast (sourdough rye is especially good with the Chinese sesame spread).  As long as you use the basic sesame sauce, or some version of it, as your spread, the sandwich will taste ‘Chinese.’ It will also have the unique health virtues of Chinese food, for sesame paste is a very potent source of nutritional elements.

Serves 1

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Assembling time: 5 minutes

[ From

10 Health Benefits of Tahini [ground sesame seeds]
  • It’s rich in minerals such as phosphorus, lecithin, magnesiumpotassium and iron.
  • It’s a good source of Methionine, which aids in liver detoxification.
  • It’s one of the best sources of calcium out there.
  • It’s high in vitamin E and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B15. + more]

Be healthy — and Enjoy.   

Aloha, Renee

From: Chinese Vegetarian Cooking, Daniel Reid, Periplus Mini Cookbooks, p. 8.

Let’s Get Cooking: Basic Kale and Basil Pesto

“This variation of traditional pesto adds another taste dimension.  It’s easy to prepare and full of those kale nutrients.  Besides having it with pasta, you can spoon it into soups, spread over a layer of fresh ricotta, toss it with steamed potatoes, over eggs or use it in salad dressings.  Sometimes we add chopped roasted walnuts and finely grated Parmesan cheese.  We spoon any leftovers into an ice cube tray and when frozen hard, we pop them into a zip lock bag for later use,” says Ayu Spicy in “Food Glorious Food” (from The Bali Advertiser, Nov. 2017 p. 16).


Kale for kale pesto.  Image from:

Basic Kale and Basil Pesto (makes about 1 1/2 cups)


  • 4 cups kale leaves, washed and stems discarded
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest finely grated
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 shakes of Tabasco or 1/16 tsp. powdered cayenne


With the blender or food processor running, throw in the garlic clove until minced.  Stop the blender and add the rest of the ingredients and run the blender until all is chopped.  Stop the blender and scrape the sides down.  Turn it back on and run until you have a smooth sauce.  If it seems too dry, add more olive oil.


Blender with kale and other ingredients.  Image from: <

Taste the bright green silky sauce and adjust lemon, salt, pepper, and Tabasco to your liking.  Note: Add 2 Tbl. chopped roasted walnuts and or 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese to all or part of the recipe for variation.

Buon Appetito!”

Aloha, Renée

Banner from


Let’s Get Cooking: Shiitaki Mushrooms with Soy Sauce, Garlic and Balsamic Vinegar

“This easy dish has mega flavor.  It keeps for several days, making the mushrooms even tastier.  You can also use a variety of mushrooms or just your everyday white ones.  But I prefer the shiitaki with their strong flavor and chewy texture,” says Ayu Spicy in her column, “Food Glorious Food.”

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of such books as Eat to Live and Super Immunity, advocates what he calls a micro-nutrient-rich diet.  To have optimum health, Dr. Fuhrman says we need to eat GMOSBB (more greens, cooked mushrooms, onions, beans, and berries).


This Shiitaki Mushroom with Soy Sauce, Garlic, and Balsamic Vinegar dish is a tasty and easy way to get your recommended cooked mushrooms.   Serves 2-3.


  • 1/2 kg. fresh shiitaki mushrooms or other mushrooms
  • 1 Tbl. virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbl. soy sauce
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbl. chopped chives for garnish


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (204 C).

Clean the mushrooms getting all the grit off of them.  Drain and then dry them on paper towels.  Remove the stems and discard if they’re tough.  If not, cut them in half crosswise.  If the mushroom caps are large, halve or quarter them.  You want big pieces of mushroom for this dish.

In a bowl mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.  Beat this with a fork or whisk to make a smooth sauce and then add the mushrooms and toss to coat well.

Choose a glass or ceramic oven dish big enough to hold the mushrooms in one layer.  Spread the mushrooms over the bottom and bake for 10 minutes.  Stir the mushrooms and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.  If the sauce starts to burn, turn the heat down to 350 F (177 C).

Remove the dish from the oven and let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving these beauties.  Allow to come to room temperature before eating.

Enjoy your meal!  From “Food Glorious Food at

Aloha & sampai jumpa, Renée

Banner : Photo by Christina Holmes

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