9/20/16 ChefElla's Hawaiian Fried Rice with Spam Cakes

I am not Hawaiian, but last year I was at a Hawaiian dinner and I was impressed with how fresh the food tasted.  I will admit that I am more than a little skeptical about their broad use of Spam.  While Spam may seem a little old fashioned and the butt of many jokes, it is a part of the Hawaiian culture.  For this recipe you can substitute other ground meats, but if you like ham you might want to try this recipe with Spam and get in touch with your Hawaiian side.  If Spam cakes are just not your thing, skip it and make the fried rice.  It is a wonderful addition to any meal.

1.     Wash your hands.

2.     For this recipe you will need measuring cups and spoons, a wooden spoon, a knife and cutting board, a large scooper, a food processor, a large sauté pan, the stove, a cookie sheet and the oven.

If you are not allowed to use a knife, the oven, stove, or food processor by yourself you can ask an adult for help.

ChefElla’s Hawaiian Fried Rice with Spam Cakes (4-6 servings)

Spam Cakes

24 oz.         Spam (2 – 12 oz. Cans, I used the original but you could use Turkey or Low Sodium)

¼ Cup         Green Onion, The White Part, Thin Sliced (About 6 thin pieces)

       -Reserve the green part of the onion for later.

1 Cup           Panko Bread Crumbs

2 ea.             Egg, Large

¾ Cup           BBQ Sauce (Hawaiian Style, Honey BBQ, or your favorite kind)

1 tsp              Garlic, Fresh (1 large clove)

Hawaiian Fried Rice

4 Cups           Jasmine or Basmati Rice, Cooked

-For fried rice, it is best to cook the rice the day before, and let it cool uncovered in the refrigerator overnight so that it is a little dried out.  If you are not able to make your rice ahead of time it is ok to make when you need it.  Your fried rice will taste great anyway.  You can use pre-cooked rice in the pouch for this recipe also.

1 Cup              Pineapple Pieces, Plus 4 Tbl. reserved pineapple juice

          -Canned Pineapple in water or juice is ok for this recipe.

¼ Cup             Green Onion, The Green Part, Sliced Thin

½ Cup             Carrot, Shredded

4 Tbl.              Teriyaki Glaze or Sauce (Do not use the teriyaki marinade with the water like                                     consistency)

2 Tbl.               Soy Sauce

½ tsp               Garlic, Fresh, Minced

2 Tbl.                Vegetable Oil

½ tsp                Black Pepper

3.     Preheat your oven to 400F.

4.     Cut your spam into chunks and place in the food processor.  Add all of the remaining ingredients.  Pulse the food processor until all of the ingredients are mixed well and there are no large chunks of Spam.  Small pieces the size of a corn kernel are ok.  *If you are using ground meat for your recipe simply mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl.  You will not need a food processor.

5.     Line your cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  Using your scooper scoop the Spam cakes onto your pan.  About 4 tablespoons per scoop.  Bake the Spam cakes in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until they have a golden color. 

6.     When the Spam cakes have 15 minutes left to cook heat your sauté pan on the stove on medium high heat.

7.     Add 1 tablespoon of oil and the carrots to the pan and cook stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic to the pan and mix well.  Add the rice to the pan and mix well with the carrots to coat the rice with the oil.  Turn the heat to medium and stir occasionally to let the rice begin to brown a little and heat up.  Cook for 4-5 minutes.

8.     Add the soy sauce and teriyaki glaze to the pan and mix well.

9.     Push all of the rice to one side of you pan and add 1 table spoon of oil to the empty side of the pan.  Crack your eggs into a bowl, do not mix, and pour into the side of the pan with the oil.  Scramble the eggs quickly in the pan.

10.  Mix the rice and cooked egg together and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Add your pineapple, green onions, and pineapple juice to the pan and mix well.  Turn off the heat.

11.  Top your spam cakes with a little more BBQ sauce and serve with your fried rice.

You can add or substitute different ingredients to your Hawaiian Fried Rice with Spam Cakes.  Try adding different vegetable to your fried rice or different meats or sauces for your Spam Cakes.



Ella’s Helpers

ChefElla’s helpers can help by:

Measuring the ingredients

Adding the ingredients to the food processor

Mixing the dry and wet ingredients

Scooping and shaping the Spam Cakes

Older helpers can help by:

Cutting the vegetables

Setting the oven temperature and timer

Sautéing the fried rice


8/25/25 ChefElla's Fresh Fruit with Fruit Dip

While lunchtime at school is fun, it seems like you barely have enough time to eat your whole lunch.  With so little time at lunch, trying to eat a whole apple, banana, or orange can really slow you down.  The answer, cut fruit, but apples and pears brown so quickly after they are cut, and who wants to eat a banana or orange every day?  In my recipe for fresh fruit I will give you the secret to keeping apples and pears from turning brown, and even give you my secret fruit dip recipe to make you want to finish every last piece in your lunch.  Enjoy your lunch and have a great school year.

Wash your hands.

For this recipe you will need a stand or hand mixer, measuring cups and spoons, a rubber spatula, a knife, a cutting board, and a medium bowl.

If you are not allowed to use a knife or the mixer by yourself you can ask an adult to help.

ChefElla’s Fresh Fruit with Fruit Dip (Yield 2 Cups of Dip)

8 oz.         Cream Cheese, Light

6 oz.         Vanilla Yogurt

1 Cup         Powdered Sugar

½ tsp         Vanilla

Soaking Water

1 Cup         Water

1 Tbl          Lemon Juice

Fruit Options:

Sliced Apples, Pears, Bananas, Strawberries, Raspberries, Sliced Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Oranges, Grapes, or your favorite fruit.

Make sure you wash your fruit under running water before you cut it up for your lunch.

To prepare the apples or pears ahead of time:

1.     Mix water and lemon juice in a medium sized bowl.  The lemon water will keep the fruit from browning.

2.     Using a melon baller scoop out the stem and bottom of the fruit.  Cut the fruit in half and scoop out the seeds.

3.     Put the fruit on your cutting board flat side down.  Cut the halves into slices or wedges.  Let the fruit sit in the liquid for at least 20 minutes to keep it from browning.  Drain and put fruit into a serving container.  If you are making the fruit the night before let the fruit sit in the lemon water overnight, drain in the morning before school and put fruit into a serving container.

To prepare the Fruit Dip:

1.     Add cream cheese, yogurt, powdered sugar, and vanilla in your mixing bowl.

2.     Put the mixing bowl on the stand mixer, and mix on low speed until the powdered sugar is mixed into the wet ingredients.  When the powdered sugar is blended.  Mix on high speed for 30 -45 seconds.  Remove the mixing bowl from the stand.

3.     Scrape all of the ingredients together in the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure all of the ingredients are blended well.  Scrape the fruit dip into a bowl, cover, and store in the refrigerator. 

4.     Pack cut fruit and a small container of the fruit dip in your lunch.

You can also try other flavors in your fruit dip like almond extract instead of vanilla.  Try some orange or lemon juice, or you can even try some pureed strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries in your dip.



Ella’s helpers can help in the kitchen by:

Scooping out the ends of the apples and bananas.

Washing the fruit.

Measuring out the ingredients.

Adding the ingredients to the bowl.

Measuring and mixing the soaking water.

8/3/15 ChefElla's Summer Corn & Compound Butters

It is that time of the summer when you are starting to see more and more fresh vegetables.  If you live in or near the country you are passing roadside vegetable stands, and if you live in the city you are seeing more fresh vegetables at farmers markets and the grocery store.  I normally do not eat a lot of corn, but eating fresh corn in the summer is a tradition.  Sure it makes a mess when you clean it, and it gets stuck in your teeth, and you will always look like a cave man eating it, but it is worth it.  I know there are people who say, only eat fresh corn with salt and pepper, or just add butter, or just eat it plain, but I like my corn with some flavor.  So this week when I made my corn I also made some flavored butters (aka compound butter) to go with it.  I know they sound difficult to make but they are really easy to make.  Whether you grill, roast, or boil your corn take the time to enjoy it while it lasts.

1.     Wash your hands.

2.     For this recipe you will need a small bowl, a rubber spatula, a knife, a cutting board, tongs, measuring spoons, and plastic sandwich bags.  For boiled corn you will need a large stock pot.

If you are not allowed to use the grill, stove or a knife by yourself you can ask an adult to help.

ChefElla’s Summer Corn & Compound Butters (6-8 Ears of Corn)

6-8 ea.        Ears of Fresh Corn

-When you get your fresh corn home, clean it over a paper bag or over the garbage, outside.  Slowly pull off the green leaves a few at a time until they are all gone.  Carefully snap off the remaining stalk.  With your hands, rub or pull off the silk.  Silk are the little threads attached to the corn cob.  Set your corn aside.  Rinse with water before cooking.

 Compound Butters (Each recipe makes 4 Tablespoons)

To prepare any of the butters take a stick of butter out of the refrigerator and let it sit out for 3-4 hours or until it is soft to the touch.

Parmesan Butter

4 Tbl.          Butter, Unsalted, Softened (1/2 of a stick)

2 tsp           Parmesan Cheese, Grated

2 tsp           Basil, Fresh, Minced (about 4 medium leaves)

¼ tsp          Oregano, Dried, (not ground)

1/8 tsp       Granulated Garlic

Southwest Butter

4 Tbl.          Butter, Unsalted, Softened (1/2 of a stick)

1/8 tsp       Cumin Ground

1/8 tsp       Onion Powder

2 tsp           Cilantro Leaves, Fresh, Minced

1/8 tsp       Smoked Paprika

1/8 tsp       Salt, Kosher or Sea

                       -The butter may taste a little salty if you try it plain, but it will taste fine on your corn.

Mediterranean Butter

4 Tbl.          Butter, Unsalted, Softened (1/2 of a stick)

1 Tbl.         Feta Cheese, Crumbled

1 tsp           Sundried Tomatoes, Minced

1/8 tsp       Thyme Leaves, Dried, Minced

1/8 tsp       Oregano Leaves, Dried, (not ground)

1/8 tsp       Salt, Kosher or Sea

                       -The butter may taste a little salty if you try it plain, but it will taste fine on your corn.

a.  To make any of the butters follow the same instructions.

b.  Add butter to your small bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Using your rubber spatula or a large spoon, mix together all of the ingredients.  Keep mixing until they are all blended together.

c.  If you would like to serve your butter out of a dish, put the butter in a small dish and refrigerate.

d.  If you would like to make your butter into the traditional stick shape, do the following.  Take a sandwich bag and roll down the collar of the bag 2-3 times.

e.  Scoop butter into the bottom of the bag, and roll up the collar of the bag.  Using your fingers, mold the butter in the bottom of the bag into a cylinder shape.

f.  Wash and dry your rubber spatula.  Lay out the bag with the butter in it on the counter, and gently scrap the butter to the bottom of the bag.  The butter will compact and make a roll shape.

g.  Seal the bag and place in the refrigerator to harden. 


3. If you are going to grill your corn.  Pre-heat the grill to a medium high heat.  Add the corn to the grill over a low flame or no flame with your tongs.  Check the corn after a couple of minutes.  When the corn starts to brown a little, turn it ¼ turn.  Check the corn every couple of minutes and continue to turn.  When the corn is cooked on all sides it is done.  Try to keep the corn from blackening.  If it blackens it will taste burnt and may not cook long enough to be done.

4.  If you are going to boil your corn.  Fill large pot half full of water and bring to a boil on the stove.  Using your tongs place, do not drop your corn into the water.  Let the water come back to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes for large ears, and 8 minutes for smaller ears.  Remove the pot from the heat.

5.  You can let the corn sit in the water for up to 5 minutes if you need.

6.  Spread the compound butter on your freshly cooked ears of corn and enjoy.

You may have some butter left over and you do not want it to go to waste.  Other uses for compound butter.  Spread it on toast or warm rolls.  Mix it with noodles or rice.  Put it on top of grilled or baked meats, steak, chicken, or seafood.  You can even add it to your other favorite vegetables, mashed potatoes, or mashed cauliflower.   Compound butters can also be used to sauté foods to add more flavor, and can even be melted over fresh popped popcorn.



Ella's Helpers

ChefElla's helpers can help in the kitchen by doing any of the following:

Measuring out the ingredients.

Mixing the butter and shaping it into a cylinder.

6/13/14 ChefElla's Cowboy Calico Beans

I was invited to a picnic this week and I wanted to bring something a little different.  My Grandma told me about cowboy calico beans.  I told her I do not like baked beans because they are so sweet and syrupy.  My Grandma told me that recipes are not set in stone and that I could change the recipe to make it how I like it.  So I made my own version of cowboy calico beans.  I used turkey bacon and ground turkey meat so that there was less fat, and instead of using ketchup, bbq, sauce, and molasses, I used real tomatoes, brown sugar, and spices.  I guarantee you, you won't miss all the sugar, and with my recipe you can go back for seconds.

For this recipe you will need to use a knife and the stove.  If you are not allowed to use a knife and stove by yourself you can have a grown up help.

1. Wash your hands.

2. For this recipe you will need measuring spoons and cups, a knife, a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, sauté pan,  a medium sauce pot with lid, a strainer, and a cutting board.

ChefElla's Cowboy Calico Beans (This recipe will make 8-10 servings)


1 lb.            Ground Turkey

12 oz.         Turkey Bacon

                   -Open the package and put bacon on the cutting board.  Do not pull the bacon

                   strips apart, leave them in a brick.  Slice the bacon into thin strips.  This way you will

                   not need to cut each individual piece of bacon at a time.

1 Can         Pinto Beans, Drained and Rinsed (15 oz Can)

1 Can         Black Beans, Drained and Rinsed (15 oz Can)

1 Can         Great Northern or Cannellini Beans, Drained and Rinsed (15 oz Can)

1 Can         Petit Diced Tomatoes (14 oz Can)

1 Cup        Onion, Small Diced or Chopped (1 small or 1/2 medium onion)

                  -Chop the onion first and then measure in your cup.

1 tsp           Garlic Powder

2 tsp           Worcestershire sauce

1/2 Cup      Brown Sugar

1/2 tsp        Black Pepper

2 tsp           Yellow Mustard

1 1/2 Cup    Water

1 Tbl.          Olive Oil

3. Heat sauté pan on medium high heat.  Add turkey bacon and break pieces apart so that there are no large chunks and the pieces are separated.  Cook until the pieces are nice and crispy but not burnt.  Stir the bacon and spread around the pan at first.  As the bacon cooks, stir more frequently so that it does not sit for too long and get burnt.

4. Pour bacon into the medium sauce pot.  Return pan to the stove and add olive oil.  Add onions and stir occasionally.  Cook for 3-5 minutes.

5. Pour onions into the medium sauce pot.  Return pan to the stove and add ground turkey.  Mash and break up the meat as it cooks.  When the meat is no longer pink it is done.

6. Add the meat to the medium sauce pot.  Add all of the remaining ingredients to the sauce pot.  Heat mixture on the stove covered on medium heat for 25-30 minutes stirring occasionally.

7. Serve warm.

Serve this dish at a picnic, when you grill, or bring to a pot luck.  Your friends will never know you made a good for them bowl of cowboy calico beans.


- ChefElla