Category Archives: Simple Summer Suppers

Sizzled Pork & Pineapple Tacos

Why yes, I am going to lead with this picture of Naoto trying to look like a pineapple!

This summer, we want to perfect our grilling skills and go beyond the steaks, hot dogs, nachos, and sweet potatoes that we attempted last summer. (“We” is doing some heavy lifting here since it’s really Naoto that does all of the grilling work!) So far this summer, we’ve attempted to grill bratwurst, (way harder than you think!) chicken, veggies (using this Smitten Kitchen recipe!) and salmon. Basically, if the weather is cooperating and Naoto is home, we’re grilling.

Naoto has been testing out cookbooks from the library and he’s really excited about Ali Slagle’s I Dream of Dinner (So You Don’t Have To.) We’ve made the Sizzled Pork & Pineapple Tacos a few times and we really enjoy them. They are so sweet and summery and just so easy since everything can be done on the grill.

Sizzling Pork & Pineapple Tacos from Ali Slagle’s I Dream of Dinner (So You Don’t Have To)

1.5 pounds boneless pork shoulder cut into 1/2 inch thick steaks (Or you can use the boneless pork chops from Trader Joes. They come in a pack of three which was plenty for us with leftovers.)
1 fresh pineapple
1 orange
2 limes
4 cloves of garlic
1 fresh chile
8-12 tortillas (the recipe calls for corn, but we used flour)
olive oil
salt & pepper
avocado (diced)

Heat your grill to medium high. Season your pork with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Peel the pineapple and cut into 1-inch spears. Place onto a shallow pan. Zest your orange and set the zest aside. Cut the orange in half and add it in with the pineapple. Drizzle both with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Zest the two limes and add to the orange zest. Chop the four cloves of garlic and the chile and add those to the zest with a teaspoon of salt. Mix together to make a paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl and add the juice of the two limes and 1/4 cup olive oil. Stir to combine.

Head to your grill with the pork, fruit, and tortillas.

Oil the grates with olive oil and add your pork, pineapple, and orange over the direct heat. Ali recommends cooking the pork 5-8 minutes per side, but we have more success using a meat thermometor to make sure the pork was cooked through, but not overly dry. (The CDC recommends cooking pork to 145° F.) The pineapple and orange will need 3-5 minutes per side, as both should be charred when they come off the grill. As things are ready, remove from grill and set aside.

Once the fruit and pork are done, cut the pork and pineapple into bite sized pieces and add to the sauce. Squeeze the charred orange juice into the rest of the sauce and stir to coat. Cut up the avocado into bite sized pieces and set aside.

Head back to your grill with your tortillas. Char each side of your tortillas before filling each one with the saucy pork and pineapple and topping with avocado. Serve with an extra lime wedge for an extra dose of freshness.

Enjoy with a tiki drink and some Hawaiian music in the background.

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Dispatches from Home Part 9

This is really just a post about celery toast. It’s not pretty, but it has become my favorite snack over the past few months.

2 slices white bread (We like Pepperidge Farm for this because it’s nice and square and toasts up well.)


4 ounces Cambozola blue cheese

1 cup celery from the center (Don’t use the outer stalks, you want the inner, tender stuff.)

2 scallions

1 garlic clove

olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper

Slice the celery and the scallion on the bias and as thinly as possible. Mix together in a bowl and grate the garlic into the mixture. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and until everything is dressed, but not soaked. Toast the bread until golden brown. While the bread is still warm, butter it generously. Slice the cheese into quarter inch wedges and divide on the bread. Top with the celery mixture and a grind of pepper. Cut the toast in half and serve.

Although I *may* have taken to eating this for my entire supper, it really is the perfect snack or appetizer. The acidity of the celery and scallion slaw are so perfect with the creamy blue cheese and butter. Plus it is so easy to double or triple the recipe for a crowd (when it’s safe to have a crowd again…) We’ve started keeping a little notebook of recipes we’ve tried that will be good for entertaining someday. It’s nice to have goals, right?

The original recipe can be found in the New York Times, written by Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune fame. (I learned about her from The Mind of a Chef on PBS…I loved her episode about Garbage.)

Have a good weekend!

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Hasegawa Happy Hour: Summer Solstice Edition

summer solstice Hasegawa Happy Hour, #hasegawahappyhourNaoto and I had a little party for two to celebrate the summer solstice on Sunday. It was a good chance to eat on the balcony together for the first time this season and to recreate one of my favorite new drinks from Japan, the Spumoni Cocktail. I ordered a Spumoni during our anniversary dinner and fell in love, ordering it at almost every izakaya after that. Campari, grapefruit juice and tonic are the only three ingredients, so it’s nicely bitter and really refreshing for summer. #hasegawahappyhour summer solstice editionFor dinner, we made steak salads (and sadly had to move to wine because we finished off the Campari!) We grilled a steak on our stove and added it to a bed of lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, eggs, avocado, and goat cheese. It was so delicious and a great way to make an expensive steak feed both of us.

Spumoni Cocktail 

1.5 oz Campari

2 oz freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (Bottled wouldn’t be horrible here, especially if you like a sweeter cocktail.)

2 oz tonic water (I’m not a huge fan of tonic, but I like it in this. If you hate tonic, club soda could be substituted for a slightly less bitter flavor.)

orange wedge for garnish

Add Campari and grapefruit juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until fully chilled. Pour in rocks glass with fresh ice. Top with tonic and garnish with an orange wedge. Enjoy on the balcony as you toast the summer season.

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Summer Fresh Salsa

summer fresh salsa ingredientsI’ve been on the obvious end-of-summer mission to use up our tomato crop. In the last week, I’ve eaten tomato sandwiches, BLTs, roasted tomato caprese salad, panzanella, plain ol’ caprese salad, and I’ve added tomatoes to every other meal I’ve made or eaten. And still…there are tomatoes.

Since we have so many Juliets (which are slightly larger than grape tomatoes and are not well-suited for sandwiches because of their tiny size) I decided to make salsa last weekend. I started with this recipe and made some tweaks to give it the freshest flavor possible.

Summer Fresh Salsa

24-30 Juliet tomatoes (or 6-7 Romas), chopped

2-3 Jalapeño, seeded and diced

1 red, yellow or orange  pepper, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

handful cilantro, chopped

1-2 limes, juiced

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Sea salt, to tastesummer fresh salsaChop and stir the vegetables and herbs together. Add olive oil, salt and one lime. Taste and add more lime or salt as needed. (I usually use two limes because I like things citrusy.)

This salsa is very fresh, but if you prefer something more spicy, you can add chili peppers, chili powder some of the jalapeño seeds to heat things up. Try to make it ahead of time and chill it in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld. summer fresh salsaIsn’t it a pretty salsa? I love the colors and the crunch and the garlic and the citrus…and of course the tomatoes. Those perfect garden Juliet gems really make a good salsa. I’m so thankful for our bountiful harvest!

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Simple Summer Suppers: Roasted Tomato Caprese

garden dinner on the balconyThe challenge is on! We need to eat up all of our tomatoes around here before they go bad and before we hop on a plane for Japan. We’ve been giving away tons of red beauties, but still have so many to use! Last weekend, we had a mini-garden fest with our friend, Karen. We dined on our favorite panzanella, lightly grilled zucchini, Karen’s citrus rice salad and this delicious roasted tomato caprese salad. We were so lucky that the weather was perfect for dining outside on the balcony.

Honestly, it seems like a shame to roast perfectly delicious, garden-grown tomatoes…but it’s more of a shame to let them go to waste. I really think this salad will be a good one to try this winter with sad, peaked grocery store tomatoes. I’ll let you know. But for garden tomatoes…holy cow, the salad is crazy-good!roasting tomatoesIna Garten’s Roasted Caprese Salad

12 plum tomatoes (or the equivalent in lovely tomato varieties from your garden), halved with seeds removed

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

16 oz fresh mozzarella

handful of fresh basil, julienned

Preheat your oven to 275 degrees while you prep the tomatoes.roasting tomatoesPlace your tomatoes on a sheet pan (I covered mine with parchment paper to reduce sticky messes.) cut side up and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add garlic, sugar, salt and pepper.

Roast for two hours.

Cool tomatoes to room temperature and dump contents of pan (tomatoes and liquid) into serving bowl. Add fresh mozzarella (sliced) and basil. Mix and serve.roasted tomato capreseIna recommends arranging everything beautifully and adding a bit of extra olive oil, salt and pepper. But we found that the dish is fine without the extra oil. And while it’s lovely to serve alternating slices of tomato and mozzarella, serving it in a bowl is easy and rustic (and in no way lazy at all).

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Simple Summer Suppers: Homegrown Panzanella

IMG_0004Tuesday I was watching the TODAY Show (Don’t judge…it’s a sickness, I know.) and Giada was whipping up a dish with bread and tomatoes and artichokes and vinegar and basil–panzanella! I could not stop thinking about it. So I decided, eying the fresh harvest of tomatoes and basil sitting on the counter, that we would have to have panzanella for dinner.

Panzanella is the perfect summer meal. It’s the ideal recipe for fresh garden (or farmers market) tomatoes. I can’t imagine this dish could ever be enjoyed in the winter with the mealy, barely pink, imported grocery store tomatoes. Nope…better enjoy it now while we are harvesting the rich red tomatoes of summer.

Homegrown Panzanella
(slightly adapted from Giada’s Artichoke & Tomato Panzanella)

3 cups bread, cubed into 1-2 inch pieces (I used ciabatta)

3 large tomatoes, cut into 1-2 inch pieces, or sliced (I used a mix of tiny Juliets and two big Brandywines, all freshly picked from our garden!)

1 can artichoke hearts, sliced in half

handful of chopped basil

2/3 cup good olive oil (For salads, we love Trader Joe’s California Estate Olive Oil.)

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

drizzle of olive oil for cooking

salt & pepper

Preheat a grill pan on medium heat. Toss your bread and artichokes with a little bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and add the bread and the artichokes to the preheated grill. Turn every couple of minutes until each side is golden brown. Remove from the grill and add to a serving bowl with your tomatoes and basil. Toss to combine.

Whisk the good olive oil and vinegar together and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the salad. Toss and serve.

You could add olives, red onion or parmesan cheese.

As it was, the panzanella was amazing. We ate it as our main course, with a side of fresh green beans from the farmers market and a couple of glasses of red wine. We took advantage of another mild summer night and ate outside…it just might have been the perfect summer meal.DSC_0113

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Simple Summer Suppers: Lemon Chicken Pasta


DSC_0021It’s hard to pick a favorite summer supper…but this one might be it. Naoto and I have been making this for years and it’s become our go-to recipe for guests because it’s no stress and it’s always a crowd pleaser.

Just like the Greek Orzo Salad, Lemon Chicken Pasta is a Giada de Laurentis recipe that we modified and made better (well, better for us, anyway.)

Lemon Chicken Pasta

1 pound angel hair pasta

2-3 chicken breasts (roasted)

2/3 cup olive oil

2/3 cup grated parmesan

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

extra parmesan for serving

Roast your chicken breasts. (As I said here, the only no-fail way I know how to cook chicken breasts is to season them with salt and pepper, fold them up in little foil pouches and pop them in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until my meat thermometer says 165 degrees.)

Boil a pot of water for the pasta.

While the chicken is roasting and the water is coming to a boil, make the sauce: whisk the olive oil, lemon juice and grated parmesan in a large serving bowl. Set aside.

When the chicken is done, slice it into bite sized pieces and add it to the serving bowl.

Boil the angel hair until it’s al dente. Drain the pasta, but reserve a cup of the pasta water for later (just in case).

Toss the pasta and the chicken in the lemon sauce. If the mixture seems dry, add a little bit of the cooking liquid to loosen things up. Once everything is mixed in well, add the chopped parsley and lemon zest for garnish.

Serve with extra parmesan.

If you don’t want to turn the oven on during the hot summer, you can pick up a whole roasted chicken from the deli section of the grocery store and use that instead of the chicken breasts. And, of course, you could leave out the chicken and just make the lemon pasta (as Giada originally intended in her recipe.)



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Simple Summer Suppers | Somen

Cold Somen

During the summer, Naoto & I like to eat simple cold dishes that we can enjoy on the balcony. Last summer I shared two dishes, but hopefully this summer, I will be able to share more. We are looking forward to eating our own community garden grown vegetables.

This somen dish is an old favorite. I had it for the first time at Naoto’s host parents’ home in Hawaii. Auntie Judy, Naoto’s host mom, made it for lunch and I found it so refreshing and tasty. There are many variations of somen dishes, but this one is probably a slightly Americanized Hawaiian version of the Japanese dish. Oh, and I shared this recipe back in 2011 on my old blog, so Mom, it might look familiar.


Simple Summer Somen

For the broth:

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup mirin

2 teaspoons sesame oil

Bring all ingredients to a boil, then allow to cool completely.

For the noodles:

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and drop in one bunch of somen noodles per person. (Somen typically comes in little paper-bundled bunches.) Boil for 2-3 minutes, or until noodles are soft. They cook very quickly! Drain, and rinse with cold water.

For the toppings:

Slice any or all of the following into thin strips, or “matchsticks”:

turkey (or ham) lunch meat




naruto (fishcake)

thinly sliced scallions

wasabi (I like the wasabi that comes in a tube.)

To assemble: 

Place a serving of noodles in a bowl. Add some broth (not too much, this isn’t a soup!) and the toppings of your choice. Squeeze on some wasabi and mix well. (Mix well enough that you don’t get accidentally eat a hunk of wasabi…although I kind of like the suspense of knowing my sinuses might be cleared out at least once in a bowl of somen!)


We almost always just use turkey, cucumber, scallions and wasabi because those things are always on hand and readily available for somen cravings. I like mine with extra wasabi and I always eat mine out of my Hello Kitty bowl with Cinamaroll chopsticks…because it’s tradition.


This week, I will be sharing some little aspects of our multi-cultural marriage in celebration of Loving Day on Wednesday. Somen is one of the first Japanese dishes that made it into our regular dinner routine back when we were dating. 

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