Milk Chocolate Florentine (Lacey) Cookies

Dessert | November 30, 2016 | By

Milk chocolate Florentine (Lacey's) cookies

Milk chocolate Florentine (Lacey's) cookies

Anybody else love Trader Joe’s? Good price, fun selection, small, friendly… little kid carts that you try and sneak past so your kids don’t see… Anyways, love it. It’s a little far away so it’s always a bit of a treat to go. Speaking of treats, that’s probably the best thing about the store… so. many. treats. One of my favorites is their Lacey’s cookies. Have you tried them before?

They are crispy, almondy, toffee-y, chocolatey, and incredibly addictive. I usually don’t buy them because my husband doesn’t love that they use dark chocolate. In other words, he doesn’t eat any and I eat the whole container by myself after the kids go to bed. And we all know that the best time to eat dessert is late at night right before going to sleep!

Milk chocolate Florentine (Lacey's) cookies

It’s almost Christmas and I’ve been thinking about cookies, cookies, and cookies. I decided to kick off my cookie baking with a milk chocolate version of these laceys (you’re welcome, husband). By the way, they are traditionally called florentine cookies, but I think the name Lacey’s might be more well known!

These are absolutely delicious, and you won’t be able to stop at just one! They’d also make a great gift… Christmas cookie exchange anyone? Happy baking! Make sure you have a glass of milk with these!

Milk chocolate Florentine (Lacey's) cookies

Milk chocolate Florentine (Lacey's) cookies
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Milk Chocolate Florentine (Lacey's) Cookies

Crispy cookies with toffee, almond, and milk chocolate. Easy to make and incredibly delicious!

Course Dessert
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 15 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 6 T brown sugar
  • 1.5 T all purpose flour
  • 3 T butter unsalted
  • 1 T light corn syrup
  • 1/4 t vanilla
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 oz milk chocolate

Instructions

  1. Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely chopped. Combine almonds, flour, and salt in a medium bowl.

  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, sugar, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil while stirring occasionally, to completely dissolve the sugar. Let boil for about a minute, remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Pour the mixture into the almond bowl, and stir to combine. Set aside for about a half hour, to cool.

  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie trays with parchment paper. Using a teaspoon, scoop batter one teaspoon at a time onto the parchment paper. Roll into balls, and place with at least 2-3 inches of space between each cookie, as they will spread while baking. Bake one pan at a time, for 8-10 minutes, or until flat and a golden brown color. Cool on the baking pan for a few minutes, and transfer to a wire rack.

  4. Once all cookies are baked, place 4 oz of good quality milk chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, and microwave on 50% power for one minute. Remove and stir, and heat for additional 30 second increments until melted. Match each cookie with a similar sized pair. Flip one cookie over, spoon some melted chocolate on, spread around, and place the other cookie one top. Set aside to cool and set. 

  5. Store in an air-tight container. You may want to place parchment paper between cookies if you are stacking them. 

Recipe Notes

Adapted from: food network

 

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Easy Red Bean Bubble Tea

Uncategorized | November 26, 2016 | By

Easy red bean bubble tea

Easy Red Bean Bubble Tea

I mentioned before, my love of homemade bubble tea. It’s easy to make, and wayyyyy cheaper than buying it at a bubble tea shop! Also, I don’t drink certain types of tea, so I love that I can make a milk based bubble “tea” that… isn’t actually tea. So I guess my title is misleading, and I should call this red bean bubble milk, but that sounds kind of weird and I don’t think you would’ve clicked through if that had been the title.

When I DO go to bubble tea shops, I usually either get honeydew, almond, or red bean. Does your local shop have red bean flavor? I think it’s becoming increasingly popular, and the “eh? Bean?” reaction is starting to fade. Red bean is a super common Japanese dessert ingredient, and it actually goes great with dairy (like this red bean chestnut cake).

Easy red bean bubble tea

This recipe is so easy, because the drink only has two ingredients: milk and sweet red bean paste! You just mix mix and add your boba! I soak my cooked boba in simple syrup, to add a little sweetness. This time I used an equal portion brown sugar to water, and it was delicious! I’m thinking brown sugar works with boba pearls even better than regular sugar.

How do you like your bubble tea? I like mine as a regular drink, while my husband insists on slushy ones. You can go either way! Just add ice when you blend to make it slushy. I actually don’t have an ice maker right now, so I made mine sans ice. Whatevs, it’s good either way.

I think when it’s cold outside, slushy doesn’t feel quite right… Like I’m pretending it’s summer or something. I think when I make this in the summer, I’ll add the ice. I should have an ice maker by then!

Easy red bean bubble tea

Another thing I love about this drink, is that you don’t have to have powder. Did you know that most, if not all, of the places that sell bubble tea just use different flavored powders? I mean, it’s yummy and it’s fine, but… I just like the fact that I’m using real red bean, and that there are pieces of red bean in my drink. Feels authentic or something. By the way, if you don’t like little pieces of red bean in your drink (my husband complained to me about this), make sure to use “koshi-an” instead of “tsubu-an” when you buy your red bean paste (I just get the Shirakiku brand at my local Asian market).

Today when I was snapping pics, my cat came and joined me. He loves when I open the windows, because he can jump up and sit on the sill. It doesn’t happen very often now that it’s cold outside, so as soon as he heard me open it, he was there! Isn’t he cute? His name is Kona, named after the city Kona on the Big Island in Hawaii where I got married. He’s a fatty and all he does is sleep all day. I’m surprised he was able to jump up to the window sill. Seriously.

cat in window sill

 

Easy red bean bubble tea
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Easy Red Bean Bubble Tea

A quick and delicious red bean bubble tea you can easily make at home.

Course Dessert, Drinks
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup sweet red bean paste
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup boba pearls
  • water
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 2 T water

Instructions

  1. Combine brown sugar and water in a small bowl and heat in microwave. Stir until the brown sugar is completely dissolved in the water. 

  2. Cook the boba pearls according to package directions. Typical instructions: Heat 6 cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Add boba pearls and cover with lid. Simmer for 3 minutes, remove lid and simmer for additional 3 minutes. Drain boba and place in the brown sugar syrup. Allow to cool.

  3. When boba pearls are cooled, combine red bean paste and milk in a blender. Blend on low speed. Do not over-blend, or else the milk will become very foamy. Low quick pulses help reduce the amount of foam produced. Place drink in cups and add boba pearls. Add sugar syrup to taste for added sweetness. Drink with boba straws. 

Recipe Notes

Change this recipe up by using black tea, milk, and red bean paste if you prefer a tea based bubble tea. 

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Meyer Lemon White Chocolate Cheesecake

Uncategorized | November 21, 2016 | By

Meyer lemon white chocolate cheesecake

Meyer lemon white chocolate cheesecake

What I really wanted to name this post, is meyer lemon white chocolate cheesecake mousse bites, because I feel like it’s a little more accurate. Unfortunately, it’s a little bit too long. But that’s basically what this is. It’s lighter and fluffier than a regular no-bake cheesecake, and they are individual portion sizes! Whatever it is, it’s decadent, beautiful, and delicious!

The other day, when I was at Costco (I feel like I have been saying this line a lot lately), I came across a big bag of Meyer lemons. Meyer lemons are a little smaller, a little sweeter, and a little more orange colored than regular lemons. Supposedly they are a cross between a mandarin orange and a lemon? Anyways, they are still sour and I wouldn’t recommend just eating it straight, but they have a unique fragrance and flavor that sets it apart from regular lemons, and they are delicious! So, into the cart it went.

Meyer lemon white chocolate cheesecake

I actually don’t really like lemon desserts all that much. Lemon bars? Meh. Lemon meringue pie? ehhhhh, no thanks. But when lemon is combined with white chocolate, it changes things. I mentioned before that, well, I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate either (unless it’s caramelized, of course)! What is it about these two ingredients, both of which I am lukewarm about, that works so well together? Actually, I don’t know the answer to that. It just does.

What I DO like, is individual portion desserts. Like these muffin tin almond tarts. I like the look, the size, and the portion control (unless you eat more than one, which, actually, is pretty likely if you are… me). They are also perfect to bring to parties or get togethers, because each person can grab one and you technically don’t even need a plate or a fork!

Meyer lemon white chocolate cheesecake bites

Meyer lemons are seasonal, and you’ll (usually) only be able to get your hands on them during fall and winter, so… GO! Make these now!

Meyer lemon white chocolate cheesecake
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Meyer lemon white chocolate cheesecake

A light and fluffy no bake cheesecake flavored with meyer lemon and white chocolate tops a shortbread crust baked with meyer lemon zest. The perfect combination of sweet and citrus! 

Course Dessert
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

Shortbread Crust

  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 t baking powder
  • 1 t meyer lemon zest

Cheesecake mousse

  • 4 oz cream cheese room temperature
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1/2 cup meyer lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • meyer lemon zest, granulated sugar optional garnish
  • candied meyer lemon slices optional garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or butter/oil up a 12 muffin tin. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Combine the flour and baking powder, meyer lemon zest, and add to butter mixture. Mix until combined. Divide into 12, and press into muffin tin. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, and remove rounds from tin. Set aside.

  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring lemon juice to a simmer, and reduce to about 2t (Yes, 1/2 cup to 2 t!), watch closely near the end, once most of the water has evaporated. We want a strong lemon flavor! 

  3. Heat milk in a microwave safe bowl, in the microwave, until hot but not boiling. Remove from microwave and add the white chocolate. Stir stir stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool. 

  4. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese and 2 T of the sugar. Add the vanilla, the reduced lemon juice, and beat to combine. Add the melted white chocolate and beat again to combine. 

  5. In a medium size mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream with the remaining 1 T sugar. Fold the whipped cream into the cheesecake mixture until combined. If it's a little runny, place in the refrigerator to firm up a bit. 

  6. Pipe the cheesecake mousse onto the individual shortbread rounds, and top with lemon zest sugar (combine 2 parts lemon zest to 1 part granulated sugar, or to taste), and a candied meyer lemon slice. Return to refrigerator until ready to serve. 

Recipe Notes

Shortbread crust adapted from: allrecipes.com

For candied meyer lemon slices, I used the instructions from: she wears many hats, but I only needed one cup of water and one cup of sugar. You can also use store bought. 

 

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Red Bean Chestnut Roll Cake

Uncategorized | November 19, 2016 | By

Red bean chestnut roll cake

Red bean chestnut roll cake

Roll cakes are so fun and cute! Today I’m sharing a recipe with you that is Japanese flavored: sweet red bean paste (Shirakiku is the brand I often see at the Asian store) and chestnut, which is a really great combination. Sweet red bean paste is a very common Japanese sweets ingredient, and you’ll often see it in mochi and daifuku. Chestnuts are also a common treat in Japan, especially once the weather gets cold. They are big and sweet and ah-mazing!

You definitely can’t get freshly roasted large chestnuts around here where I live, in Kansas. Maybe you’d have better luck in a big city? But the other day I was perusing the aisles of Costco and found: organic roasted chestnuts ! And unlike this outrageous Amazon price, a four pack was $5.99. Not bad not bad! I picked a box up, thinking I’d make something with it, but my kids and I  (my husband got a couple pieces…) finished off all four bags in about four days… But no worries, I went back and picked up another box!

Red bean chestnut roll cake

Now these are not the same as the Japanese chestnuts that are used in most of their sweets making. They usually use chestnuts that are boiled and sweetened but, I gotta just work with what I have, right? These roasted chestnuts are a good alternative, since… you can actually get them, you don’t have to do a ton of prep work, and it still tastes really yummy!

The cake is a simple sponge cake that I baked in a cookie sheet. I think the flavor and texture of a sponge cake is just incomparable, and it really pairs well with whipped cream. It takes a little bit of extra effort, because you need to whip the egg whites, but I promise you that it’s worth it! Inside, I used a whipped sweet red bean cream, which is just whipped cream mixed with the red bean paste. Easy peasy. Then I put blobs of the red bean paste and scattered the chestnuts over it. I did the blobs because I didn’t want to spread it out and figured it’d be fine. And it was, but my husband said if I make this again (I will), that he’d rather have it spread out evenly. Whatevvvs, maybe I will. Red bean chestnut roll cake

To make the roll cake, you roll it up from short end to short end. So if we are looking at the pic above ^^^, you’d roll it from left to right (or right to left I spooose). I just lifted the left end up a bit and started peeling the parchment paper away, and then kept peeling it away as I rolled it up. The paper is sticky and coated with bits of the cake, so you need to fold the paper onto itself while rolling if you don’t want to get it all over your hands! When it’s all rolled up, you can use the parchment paper and your hands to shape it nicely. Then into the fridge it goes, to firm up. I finished it off with a layer of the cream on the outside, and topped with some whole chestnuts!

The cake is so fluffy and soft, and it goes perfectly with the whipped cream filling! And, like I said, red bean and chestnut are a match made in foodie heaven. Try it out!

Red bean chestnut roll cake

 

Red bean chestnut roll cake
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Red bean chestnut roll cake

A Japanese style rolled sponge cake filled with sweet red bean paste, red bean whipped cream, and chestnut pieces. 

Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sweet red bean paste
  • 1 cup roasted chestnuts, chopped
  • whole chestnuts for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a half sheet size (about 13x18x1) cookie sheet with parchment paper. Wash medium sized mixing bowl to completely remove any grease or oil. Wash hand mixer whisks to remove all oil.

  2. Divide the eggs, putting the whites in the very clean oil free medium bowl, and the yolks in another medium bowl. Add half of the granulated sugar to the yolks. Whip the egg whites with a hand mixer, adding the other half of the sugar a bit at a time, until stiff peaks form. Use the hand mixer to mix the egg yolk and sugar until lightened in color and fluffy, a couple of minutes. Add the butter and mix well. Sift in the cake flour and quickly mix in with the hand mixer, or fold in with a spatula. Add about 1/4-1/3 of the egg whites to the yolk mixture and stir in until completely combined. Add the yolk mixture back into the remaining whites and fold in gently, being careful not to deflate too much. Pour into cookie sheet and even out the top with the spatula. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until baked through.

  3. When cake is done baking, remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Move the cake with parchment paper to a wire rack to cool. Meanwhile, whip the 1 cup of cream to medium peaks. Add 1/2 cup of sweet red bean paste and whip to combine. When the cake is completely cooled, spread whipped cream all over the top, leaving about 1/3-1/2 cup to cover the outside, if desired. Add the remaining half cup of red bean paste by either dropping globs of it all over, or spreading it out. Sprinkle the chopped chestnuts all over. 

  4. Roll the cake from narrow end to narrow end. Start by peeling back the parchment paper a little, and start rolling while peeling away the parchment. Fold parchment paper onto itself to keep the sticky cake remains from getting on your hands. Once the cake is rolled up, place in refrigerator to set up (about a half hour). Remove from fridge and cover with the remaining cream, and top with whole chestnuts. 

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Easy Mochi Style Gnocchi

Dessert | November 16, 2016 | By

Easy mochi style gnocchi

Mochi style gnocchi
So I was at Costco (seriously, I’m always there because it’s my fav place to get groceries), and came across these bags of gnocchi. They are round, which I thought was interesting, since gnocchi usually is kind of flatter-oval-y-fork-crimped-y looking right? Anyways, I grabbed it because gnocchi is SUCH an easy weeknight dinner. While we were eating it for dinner the other night (with some pasta sauce and parmesan cheese), my husband said, “You know, the bite of gnocchi kind of reminds me of mochi”. I almost dropped my fork as I realized, yeah, whoa, IT KIND OF DOES!

See, I love love love love mochi (here’s a Hawaiian mochi recipe I recently posted). The texture, the bite, the way you can flavor it with some of my other fav things including kinako (soybean flour- better than it sounds I promise), and soysauce sugar glaze… But it’s kind of hard to get good mochi around here. My mom actually has an electric mochi “pounder” where you can pour the mochi rice in with some water and it magically makes fresh mochi for you. We used to do that during new years and eat fresh mochi for days, but now I have a couple states between me and that machine, so… boo. And no, gnocchi does not have the same bite as freshly made mochi. But it DOES have a very pleasant chewiness, does it not?

Mochi style gnocchi

Actually, potato mochi is a thing in Japan, and it’s quite easy to make. But you know what’s even easier? Just using gnocchi! So, I gave it a try and it was delicious! You just boil the gnocchi according to package directions (or a little less, since we will saute next), and then throw butter in a nonstick pan and saute the drained gnocchi until it gets a little crispy, and then throw in a sugar soy sauce mix to glaze it. Look. at. that. glaze. jafkljeabgk it’s so good. Soy sauce and sugar are so right together. My kids LOVED this, and so did my husband. We finished it off so quickly that I went and made another batch that same afternoon!

No, it’s not mochi, but it so works. And it’s so easy. You have to try it!

Mochi style gnocchi

Easy mochi style gnocchi
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Easy mochi style gnocchi

Gnocchi is reimagined as mochi in this sweet and salty snack made with a soy sauce and sugar glaze. 

Course Dessert
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gnocchi
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Boil gnocchi according to package directions (or you can even take it out a little earlier). While boiling, add butter to a nonstick pan and turn heat to medium high. Drain gnocchi well, and saute in the butter until browned. Meanwhile, stir together the soy sauce and sugar. Turn the heat to medium, and add the soy sauce sugar mixture to the gnocchi and quickly stir to coat the gnocchi in the glaze. Remove from heat and serve. 

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Tofu Steaks with Miso Pecan Sauce (vegan+GF)

Main | November 13, 2016 | By

Tofu steaks with miso pecan sauce (vegan+GF)

Tofu steaks with miso pecan sauce (vegan+GF)
Is tofu still trendy? I mean, it was trendy right? I think it was… it probably still is. Anyways, tofu is yummy. I ate it growing up, but with three brothers and a dad that liked meat, I don’t remember us eating it much as a main dish. The primary use was in miso soup and side dishes. Lucky for me, my husband will only grumble a little bit if we have tofu as our main. Actually, I take that back. He used to grumble, but now either he has learned to like it, or he’s resigned himself to the fact that we will have our non-meat nights. I think it’s really important to take (at least!) a day or two a week where you take a break from meat. I know for sure that my family eats too much of it!

My favorite way to eat tofu for dinner is making tofu “steaks”, because it makes my husband feel a little better about not having meat on the table. Look, it’s basically steak we’re eating! Just kidding. But it’s called steaks, probably because of the shape. You know, just, slabs of tofu. It’s super easy to make, with minimal prep work and time.

You need to drain the tofu, and then drain it again using papertowels and a little bit of weight. Tofu soaks up a lot of the water that it comes packaged in, and it’s best to get a good portion of it out before you throw it on your frying pan! It’s really easy. You just cut your tofu into your “steaks” and then you place them on paper towels on your cutting board, and then more paper towels on top and a cookie sheet or something flat on top of thaaaat and then weight it down a bit, with some cans or something. I sometimes put my tofu straight on the cutting board, then do the paper towels and cookie sheet on top, and tilt it at a slight angle into the sink, so the excess liquid just drains into the sink. I guess it depends on what your sink set-up is, as to whether you can do that or not.

Tofu steaks with miso pecan sauce (vegan+GF)

Once your tofu is drained, you just heat some oil in a nonstick and throw them in! A lot of recipes I’ve used in the past have called for coating it in flour, but in this recipe, you aren’t tossing the tofu in the sauce, so I don’t think it’s really necessary! So, easy peasy. Just salt both sides and place it in your pan and cook until golden brown on both sides. If you’re up for it, you can even do the sides, but, you don’t really have to. I did this time around so give them browner edges, but that was purely for aesthetic purposes.

This topping. Oh man, this topping. It gave me a really hard time because, well, it’s delicious (obviously!)… but would you think so from looking at it? If I just looked at these pictures and saw the sauce I’d think… um… what is that. ew. I tossed around the idea in my mind to just ditch this recipe because the sauce just isn’t that PRETTY! I’m really sensitive to… little dots and holes and things. Have you heard of trypophobia? Look it up if you dare!!! I’m not even going to link you to it. I mean, I’m not like, fall to the ground screaming, but I get really uncomfortable and freaked out looking at those pictures. So maybe I’m just extra blah about the sauce and it’s little black sesame DOTS, and normal people will look at it and say, it’s fine, what’s your problem? What do you think? Does the sauce weird you out a bit, or am I the weird one?!

Anyways, the sauce is yummy, I promise. It’s made with miso, aka fermented soy bean paste, which is both delicious and totally good for you. You know how fermented foods are supposed to be the best for you? Yes, another on-trend health ingredient. And THEN you add toasted pecans to it, which gives it this great bite! And on top of that, you have sesame, which is also toasted and delicious. So many great Japanese flavors coming together in this sauce. As I was eating this (for the third time, because, well, recipe testing) it dawned on me that this would also be great on top of avocado! Mmm, creamy slices of avocado. Yup, it’d be great. Someone try it out and get back to me please!

Tofu steaks with miso pecan sauce (vegan+GF)

Tofu steaks with miso pecan sauce (vegan+GF)
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Tofu steaks with miso pecan sauce

Slabs of tofu, topped with a delicious sauce using miso, pecans, and sesame seeds. Vegan, and gluten free!

Course Main Course
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

  • 1 block firm tofu
  • 2 T chopped pecans
  • 1 T black sesame
  • 2 T ground white sesame
  • 2 T sake
  • 1 T mirin
  • 1 T sugar
  • 2 T water
  • 2 T miso paste
  • green onion garnish
  • 1-2 T oil

Instructions

  1. Cut your (well drained) tofu into 6 pieces by first, cutting the height into three pieces, and then cutting the block in half (see pictures above). Lay some paper towels on a cutting board and arrange tofu slabs so they are not touching, cover with more paper towels, and place cookie sheet on top, weighted with some cans. Allow to drain for about ten minutes, changing out the paper towels if soaked through.

  2. While tofu is draining, toast the chopped pecans and black sesame in a small pan over medium heat, watching closely so it doesn't burn. Once toasted, set aside on a plate and return pan to stove. Combine sake, mirin, sugar, and water and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring the sugar to melt it. Remove from heat, and stir in the miso and ground white sesame until fully combined. Stir in the pecans and black sesame. Set aside. 

  3. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add half of the tofu and fry until golden brown. Flip and cook other side until golden brown. Place on paper towel lined plate and repeat with remaining tofu. 

  4. Top the tofu with miso pecan sauce, and add chopped green onion. Serve with a side of rice. 

Recipe Notes

Adapted from:E-レシピ(Japanese)

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Simmered Kabocha Squash (Kabocha no Nimono)

Side Dish | November 10, 2016 | By

Simmered Kabocha Squash aka kabocha no nimono

Simmered Kabocha Squash (kabocha no nimono)

So I’ve been on a bit of a kabocha kick lately, and I think a part of the reason is because I keep seeing pumpkin recipes all over, and every time I see a pumpkin recipe I think to myself… Oh man, kabocha is so much better than pumpkin (sorrynotsorry). This time I’m sharing a savory dish with you! Kabocha is naturally quite sweet, so the savory applications are extra delicious. What’s better than sweet, and what’s better than savory? Sweet AND savory. Okay, maybe all three of those things are good, and it just depends on your mood. BUT I promise you that you’ll be in the mood for this simmered kabocha, aka kabocha no nimono.

kabocha squash

Nimono basically means simmered dish (which is why I called this simmered kabocha! Bam!) , and it is a very common food genre in Japan. There are allll types of nimono, with the basic recipe being stock, and things being simmered, whether it’s one thing or a combination of several. Pretty straight forward. What makes nimono SO good and comforting is that with the simmering, your food really soaks in the delicious stock flavor. I like it even better when I make it ahead and let it sit for a while for ultimate. flavor.

Simmered Kabocha Squash (kabocha no nimono)

The extra special thing about this dish is the ratio we use. It’s so easy I could tell you once and you’ll remember. Okay here it is: 100 to 1. As in, 100ml of water to one tablespoon each of the flavoring. The ingredients might be a little harder to remember, if you don’t use them often in the kitchen, but even then it’s very straight forward. Sugar, sake, mirin, soy sauce, and that’s it. Just mix with water and bring to a simmer. Add your chopped kabocha and simmer away until you can easily pierce it through. And then, if you planned ahead and have some time, you can let it sit for a bit to soak in the flavor. Just reheat and eat!

Here’s a little picture to show you how I had my lid on, but slightly propped open. Isn’t this little guy cute? My husband brought it home from a business trip in Hong Kong. You can either just slightly offset your lid so there’s a little steam escaping, or you can use one of those lids that has a little steam escapey hole on it. Traditionally you should use an otoshibuta but I don’t have one and usually can’t be bothered to make one, so I don’t. I dunno, maybe it will turn out better for you if you do! But don’t stress, this recipe is easy and forgiving to make, and delicious and comforting to eat.

Simmered Kabocha Squash (kabocha no nimono)

Simmered Kabocha Squash (kabocha no nimono)
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Simmered Kabocha Squash (Kabocha no Nimono)

Kabocha squash is simmered in a delicious Japanese flavored stock until soft. A easy and healthy side dish that is savory with the perfect amount of sweet.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 Kabocha about 2 lb
  • 300 ml water
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 3 T sugar
  • 3 T sake
  • 3 T mirin

Instructions

  1. Wash the kabocha and cut into approximately 1.5 inch chunks. Keeping the sizes regular will help with even cooking. Combine the remainder of the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar melts and add the kabocha pieces. Place lid on (slightly ajar to let out some steam), and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and allow kabocha to simmer until softened and easily pierced. Serve, or allow to sit and soak in flavor, and reheat before serving. 

Recipe Notes

If you are using less, or more kabocha, adjust the amount of stock. Just keep the 100 to 1, 1, 1, 1 ratio. 

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Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Dessert | November 6, 2016 | By

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

It’s supposed to be fall, but today we went to the park and I was almost sweating because of how warm it was. Anyone else? It’s already November, so if fall doesn’t start soon, I’m afraid it’s just going to jump straight to winter and start snowing! Before we went to the park, we had a big shopping trip at Ikea. Since we recently moved from Utah to Kansas City, and bought our first house, we’ve become loyal Ikea shoppers. I have three kids, where two can (and do) wreak havoc, and one is about 6 months away from it. I love that I can buy a cheap table and chairs, where I don’t have to freak out when the kids draw all over it with markers. As in, that’s a true story, the dining room bench is covered in marker…

Anyways, I used to love strolling around Ikea, looking at the cute rooms, thinking someday I’d have my own house where I can have a cute little this and pretty little that. Now my husband and I throw our oldest in Smaland and then do a mad dash through the top floor to check everything out before our one hour is up and we have to pick her up. Then we are dragging three kids through the bottom floor and pushing two giant carts full of stuff while trying to keep their hands away from the glass bottles and plates and and and… Basically it’s crazy and it wipes us out for the rest of the day!

But the point is, we got a system of shelves for our kitchen, which is AWESOME because right now I hardly have any storage, and everything is sitting on the floor. Not feeling very moved in yet! I’m so excited to actually have enough room to put all my stuff! Maybe I’ll put a picture up when everything is set up… if it looks good. Crossing my fingers.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

So these cupcakes are wonder-fall (okay sorry, that really wasn’t funny). They are made with a basic cupcake batter, but there are big chunks of caramelized apples in them! And to top it off (literally), I made some caramel whipped cream. I love buttercream, and it’s great on cupcakes, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I just want a light whipped cream topping. This one is amazing, because it’s made with caramelized sugar! I personally like to caramelize my sugar to the point where it’s a little burnt, so it has a bit of a bitter flavor to it. Actually, I took these to my husband’s work and some of his coworkers thought it was coffee flavor! I guess it’s the bitter notes that threw them off. If you don’t like bitter, then just don’t caramelize the sugar for as long, and you’ll be a-okay.

To make the caramelized apple, I threw some sugar and a little water in a small saucepan and caramelized the sugar. I added some butter and then added the apple, halved and cored, and mixed it around until the sauce penetrated it and the outside started to soften juuust a bit. I like using halves, and chopping it later, because then you have firm apple on the inside, while you still get the caramelized flavor on the outside. If you chop it up first and then caramelize it, the apple will get too soft and then they kind of just turn to mush when you bake it. I want to bite into apple chunk, not apple mush! I also decided to forgo spice in this recipe. While I like apple spice, I feel like everything is pumpkin spice or apple spice in the fall, and I wanted to make something that was just a clean caramel apple taste. But if you must have spice, feel free to add a little cinnamon and nutmeg, or whatever else you want.

P.S. I realized AFTER I took all of my pictures, that the caramelized apples I garnished with kind of look like daikon radish. Oops! I’d recommend garnishing with fresh apples!

Happy baking!

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

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Caramel Apple Cupcakes

These cupcakes have caramelized apple chunks in them and are topped with a delicious caramel whipped cream.

Course Dessert
Servings 12 Cupcakes

Ingredients

Caramelized Apple

  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 apple Fuji, or a baking friendly apple

Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 6 T butter room tempaerature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk

Caramel Whipped Cream

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 T water
  • 1 cup cream

Instructions

  1. Make the caramel whipped cream: Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir to melt the sugar until mixture starts to simmer. Stop stirring, and let the sugar caramelize. When sugar is a deep amber color, remove from heat and slowly add cream while stirring (it will hiss and bubble up). When all of the cream has been added, return to heat and stir until fully combined. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool and place in refrigerator to fully cool. 

  2. Make the caramelized apple: Peel, cut in half, and core one apple. Stir 2T of sugar and a couple teaspoons of water together in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Let sugar caramelize without stirring, and add butter when sugar is amber colored. Once butter is melted, add the apple halves and stir to coat. Once the apple is slightly softened on the outside, remove from heat and set aside. When cool, chop into pieces, to be folded into cupcake batter. 

  3. Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place 12 cupcake liners in a muffin tin. Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl and set aside. Cream together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Add egg one at a time and beat well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla, and slowly stir in milk. When combined, add the flour mixture and stir/fold to combine, making sure not to over-stir. Fold in the chopped apples. Spoon into cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

  4. When cupcakes are completely cool, beat the caramel whipping cream until medium stiff. Pipe caramel whipped cream onto cupcakes and garnish with a piece of apple (if using fresh apple, make sure to treat with lemon or salt water so it doesn't brown). 

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Keema Curry (Ground Beef)

Main | November 4, 2016 | By

Japanese Keema Curry (Ground Beef)

Japanese Keema Curry (Ground Beef)

Before I start, I gotta ask… How can you make ground beef look appetizing in a picture? I don’t know. I tried, you guys. I did. I think I did alright, but trust me when I say, this recipe is delicious.

I’m always on the lookout for ground beef recipes, because they are usually quick and easy to make. Here’s my thought process: oh shoot, dinner is in a half hour and I’m still in my pj’s (this happens more often than you would think. Is it still pj’s if you wear them all day?)… What’s in the freezer? Chicken and ground beef. Okay, we had chicken the last three nights so…

You get the idea. This keema curry recipe is meaty, spice-y (not to be confused with spicy), and a little tangy. As an added bonus, it’s got your veggies right in there, so you don’t have to make a side dish. Just cook some rice and serve. Keema is a traditionally South East Asian dish, where minced meat is mixed with spices and some veggies. This Keema curry has Japanese influence, in that it uses Japanese curry cubes. You can typically find Vermont, Golden, and/or Kokumaro in the United States. You’ll likely find all three at an Asian store, but I’ve seen Golden curry at normal grocery stores in the Asian section. My personal favorite is the green Vermont box, which is medium hot.

Japanese Keema Curry (Ground Beef)

A discovery I made wayyy too late in my life is that a fried egg is SO GOOD on curry. Now whenever I make any type of Japanese curry (once every few weeks at least), I put an egg on everyone’s dish. My mom, who is Japanese, is very unJapanese in the sense that she doesn’t like raw egg (or raw fish for that matter), so I grew up thinking I didn’t like my eggs runny. How sad. Anyways, I’ve been enlightened, and my kids will spend their childhood breaking their yolks onto toast, curry, whatever, everything. Actually, when I made this for dinner, my 2 year old picked up her egg and slurped the egg yolk out. Haha. Kind of gross when you eat it like that, but ok.

Another great thing about this curry is that it’s not soupy like your typical curry. It’s more of a “dry” curry, which means you can do something really yummy with the left overs…

Japanese Keema Curry (Ground Beef)

Yesssss, we can wrap it in filo dough and make a curry pocket! We ate these the next day for lunch. Be careful though, filo dough is messy and flaky and it gets all over! I made my kids eat theirs outside on the deck. And then when I saw the mess my husband and I were making, we went out and joined them. I don’t really have a recipe for that, but you basically just layer 4-6 layers of filo (oiled between each sheet), and plop some curry onto the center and wrap it up and bake. I used Martha Stewart’s recipe as guidance, because, Martha Stewart. Anyways, they turned out really delicious, and next time I make this keema curry, I’ll probably double the recipe so I can have more of the hand pies.

So, add this recipe to your collection of last minute ground beef recipes!

Japanese Keema Curry (Ground Beef)

Japanese Keema Curry (Ground Beef)
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Keema Curry (Ground Beef)

This ground beef "dry" curry uses Japanese curry cubes to make a quick and easy weeknight dinner.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn
  • 2 T ketchup
  • 2 T worcestershire sauce
  • 150 ml water
  • 1/2 box Japanese curry
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 inch ginger
  • cooked rice
  • 4 eggs optional

Instructions

  1. Dice the carrots and onion. Mince the garlic and ginger. Heat 1 T of oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Saute garlic and ginger and for about thirty seconds. Add the onion and continue cooking until softened. Add carrots and cook for a few minutes more. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer red. Add the peas and corn, stir until heated through, and take off heat. Combine the water, curry cubes, ketchup, and worcestershire sauce, and add to meat and veggies (cubes can still be solid, they will melt as you heat it through). Place back on heat and stir until heated through and combined. 

  2. Add salt and pepper if desired. Serve with rice and top with fried egg (optional)

Recipe Notes

Adapted from: cookpad (Japanese)

 

 

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Muffin Tin Almond Tarts

Dessert | November 2, 2016 | By

Muffin Tin Almond Tart

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I’m not that great at food styling. I’ve always been more of a “taste is what matters!” type of person. But lets be honest, I was only saying that because I couldn’t get my food to look good. Now that I’m blogging about food, that’s a bit of a problem… so I’m working really hard to up my skills!

I’m telling you this because I gotta say, I think this almond tart might be one of the best looking desserts that I’ve created so far! It’s so cute, and it looks delicious, don’t you think? Look at the shine on those almonds! And my first attempt at a quenelle on the whipped cream is a little rough around the edges (literally), but it’s pretty cute too! Okay, okay, enough of that. 

A cute almond tart made in a muffin tin. Tart crust, almond filling, and a glazed almond topping. Top with whipped cream for an elegant dessert.

The thing I love about this tart is the fact that it’s made using something every amateur baker has- a muffin tin. Tarts are so yummy, but if you don’t have a tart pan, you may have given up on the idea of making one. Using a muffin tin solves that problem, and as an added bonus, it gives you a beautiful minimal look. The wavy edge on tart pans is cute, but this muffin tin shape is unexpectedly chic! 

There are four components to this dessert: the tart shell, almond filling, almond topping, and whipped cream garnish. It may seem like a lot, but the ingredients are surprisingly similar. It’s all about the almond, butter, and eggs. That’s why you know it’s going to be good! Now, make sure you give yourself a little time to make this, because the tart shell dough needs to sit in the fridge for about an hour. After that, it all comes together pretty quickly. If you want to make a cool little whipped cream garnish, try making this quenelle

Happy baking!

A cute almond tart made in a muffin tin. Tart crust, almond filling, and a glazed almond topping. Top with whipped cream for an elegant dessert.

 

Print

Muffin Tin Almond Tarts

A cute almond tart made in a muffin tin. Tart crust, almond filling, and a nougat almond topping. Top with whipped cream for an elegant dessert.
Servings 8 tarts

Ingredients

  • Tart Shells
  • 70 g butter room temperature
  • 30 g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 130 g cake flour
  • 20 g almond meal
  • Almond Filling
  • 70 g almond meal
  • 50 g sugar
  • 50 g butter room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • Almond Nougat
  • 70 g sliced almonds
  • 40 g honey
  • 40 g butter
  • 40 g granulated sugar
  • Whipped cream for topping
  • mint leaves for garnish

Instructions

  1. To make the tart shell: Beat the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk. Sift together the cake flour and almond meal, and fold into wet mixture. Combine, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the inside of each cup with some softened butter. Remove pastry from the refrigerator and divide into eight equal portions. Press each portion into the muffin tin, making the thickness as equal as possible along the bottom and the sides. It should come a little over half way up the sides. Pierce the bottom and sides a few times with a fork (I didn't do this and it was fine, but most recipes recommend it).
  2. To make the almond filling: Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, and when combined, beat in the almond meal until combined. Spoon the filling into the eight shells. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until edges start to brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Make the almond nougat topping: Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees F. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, honey, and butter and stir until melted. Add the sliced almonds and stir gently to coat. When the mixture starts to brown, spoon on top of each tart and return to the oven to bake for 10-13 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing from tin. Top with whipped cream and mint leaf garnish (optional).

Recipe Notes

Adapted from: Cookpad (Japanese). 
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