Wednesday, September 29, 2010

PB and AP Swirl Bread Roll

Are you guessing what's peeking out of this delicious swirly bread? It's....peanut butter! Yes, that's right, this is your favorite sandwich now in roll form! Yummy swirl of peanut butter and jelly. Sounds delicious, right?

And it looks pretty cool when you cut it too! I've always wanted to make a roll bread, but for some reason I never got around to it. Finally I did, and boy am I glad I did. It was amazing! I even had a layer of chopped pecans to give it an added crunch!
Have I ever showed you guys my bread machine? It's so wonderful and easy to use. Maybe that's why I don't make a lot of roll breads. All I have to do is throw all the ingredients into the machine and presto fresh bread every morning! The one I have is the Zojirushi 1lb bread machine.

Impressive, yea? I totally recommend buying one because it makes great fresh bread, and perfect dough for these rolls. The machine bakes it for you, but if you pull it out before the last rising, shape it the way you want to, let it rise a little more, and then bake it, it's a super easy way to make shaped bread without having to knead the bread and all that hard stuff.

Peanut Butter and Apricot Pecan Swirl Bread Roll
1 dough:
-3/4 cup water (Hot if not using a bread maker)
-2 cups bread flour
-2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
-1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
-2 1/2 Tbsp. dry milk
-1 tsp. salt
-1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
-1 tsp. active dry yeast

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup jelly

1. Layer the ingredients in your bread maker, press start
2. Pull out dough before it begins baking, (before last rise)
3. On a lightly floured surface roll out dough
4. Evenly spread peanut butter and jelly. Sprinkle with pecans
5. Roll, and bake for 20 minutes at 350˚F
6. Enjoy the swirly goodness!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


My legs hurt.
My feet hurt.
I just ran three miles.

Three! In a race! Today was my first 3 mile cross country race of the season. It was hot, and guess what? I almost missed my race! I didn't want to go on the bus, so my parents said they would take me. One problem. They didn't know where it was. Or at least they thought they knew where it was, but then they didn't. So, I ended up going to the wrong place, and wasn't able to warm up or walk the course. Plus, there was a lot of traffic. I spent 2 hours in a car trying to get to the meet. 2 hours! I came 15 minutes before the race. Only 15 minutes! Usually when I come on the bus we're there an hour and a half before the meet! I ended up running from the car to the starting line, and that's all my warm up was. But, I didn't do that bad. Actually, I got my fastest time! 23:33! Woo hoo! My dad got a new lens, so this is one of his close up action shots. I look weird, don't I?

After the race I was craving something sweet, and these snickerdoodles were perfect. They actually were more like sugar cookies with cinnamon and sugar. They were kinda flat, and just way too thin. I know I'm a crunchy cookie lover, but when it comes to snickerdoodles I'm a super cakey snickerdoodle lover all the way! Maybe I didn't chill the dough enough. Brown eyed baker said to chill the cookie sheet along with the dough, but my fridge is too tiny, and so I just plopped the chilled dough on the not so chilled sheet. Whoops. They weren't bad, they just spread quite a bit....if you're looking for a thin cinnamon sugar cookie, then these are perfect!

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
2¾ cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
3. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla.
4. Gradually stir in the flour mixture.
5. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.
6. Mix together sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
7. Scoop 1/2-inch balls of dough and roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture to coat.
8. Place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and bake for 10 minutes.
9. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ume Somen

Have you ever heard of ume somen? I know you've heard of somen, or at least I hope you have. Somen is a type of thin Japanese noodles, they are usually white, but in this case they are pink! And if you don't know, ume is the Japanese word for plum. So they are basically plum noodles...that are pink!
They look pretty cool right? I bought them in a small specialty food store in Japan. My host mother found out I loved ume, and told me about these noodles. We searched for them everywhere, but couldn't find them....until the very last day! I even bought some other flavors too, like yuzu, goma, and ocha!
The ume flavor is very subtle, so I don't recommend eating these noodles with too much sauce. What I did was I enhanced the ume flavor with some edamame (soybeans) and some extra ume furikake (rice seasoning). It made a delicious lunch!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Soft and Chewy Chocoalte Chip Cookies (Martha Stewart)

Ack! School just started and I'm already drowning ;( Tomorrow I have a chem test, an Alg test, oh and a Japanese kanji test. Woo hoo *sarcastically* But no fear, I'm still baking! Like these cookies, for example. Plus, they're the perfect study food!

But....I do think too much stress isn't good for the body. And it especially effects your mind! You see, I forgot baking powder and baking soda in these babies. Oops. My bad. I wasn't thinking.

They look a little flat, don't they? But they were still actually quite good. And I'm not just saying that because I'm super hungry as I write this post. I should go eat one of these cookies. I think I will...And, with a nice big cold glass of organic 1% milk from costco :)

I do love cookies. Yes, I do. And do you know who loves these cookies more than me? Um...every super soft cookie lover! But no really, they're actually quite good even if you're not a fan of the softies.

Martha Stewart Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie
Yield: 3 dozen
2 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F
2. In a bowl whisk flour and baking soda
3. In a separate bowl cream butter and both sugars
4. Add salt, vanilla, and eggs
5. Mix in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips
6. Place rounded tablespoons on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
7. Bake until cookies are golden in the center, about 8-10 minutes

p.s. Don't forget it's National Rice Month! How about cooking up a Wild Rice Chicken Stir Fry?  Plus, don't forget to vote! Maybe for the chicken stir fry?!?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tanka Bars and Bites Reviewed!

I'm not sure if you guys noticed the new little widget on the side, but I recently joined the foodie blogroll. It's this great site with tons and tons of food blogs, (duh) and great giveaways. I was lucky enough to win one of the giveaways! And for what you ask? Tanka bars, sticks, and bites!
According to their website, Tanka was founded back in 2005 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Owners Karlene Hunter and Mark Tilsen imagine a world filled with healthy foods that add to the restoration and preservation of our lands and ecosystem -- a world without the pain of starvation or obesity. The world they imagine embraces the lifestyle that Native American people lived just over a century ago.

"Tanka" is used in reference to delivering your best with all your heart, mind, body and spirit. It is the choices that you make and the actions that you take to be who you are. Whether you're Native, white, black, yellow or brown, it is your ability to overcome, to extend a helping hand for those in need, to defeat racism, to protect our Mother Earth, and to love all others on our planet.
It is your ability to acknowledge "Mitakuye Oyasin" -- we are all related.

So how did these babies taste? Well first I have to give a little story. So I was actually at REI when I first saw these bars in real life. I'm not sure if this is normal, but when I go to outdoors-y stores I head straight to the bar/food section. I'm not sure what's so attractive about those sections, but they definitely taste good! So basically I saw these bars there, and I was like OMG, I just entered a giveaway for those bars. And then like when I checked my email, it said I won the bars! I was like "Woah!". Yup, that's my story. Sorry if it was too boring for you. Okay so moving on to how they tasted...

Well as you can see I received bars, bites, and sticks. They came in two different types hot vs the not hold. They are all very similar, just in different forms. (Disclaimer:I don't eat meat that often (I'm like a semi vegetarian?), and so these reviews are based off my family, (they love meat!)

The sticks are new, and my brother wasn't too thrilled with the idea of rice inside of the sticks. He said the meat and cranberry flavor were pretty good, but when I asked him about it later he was like, "uh, I don't really remember. It had rice in it." Yea, that's the response you get from a teenage boy. But the rice he was talking about is Minnesota Wild Rice (Such a strange coincidence considering this month is national rice month and all.). I actually heard the combination of wild rice and meat is better for you than just meat or rice by itself. Neat, huh? These sticks are great for those on the run, like super healthy meat/rice sticks! I would totally recommend them if you're going on any camping/hiking/outdoors-y adventure. The bites and bars are made from tart-sweet cranberries and prairie-raised buffalo. Conveniently packaged, and great for an afternoon pick me up!
My dad's favorite were the bars and bites. He said, "those are the best meat things. Ever." Seriously, those were his exact words. He's going to be at REI, and he's like, "They're kinda expensive, but they were really really good!" So yea, even though we have some, he's going to go and buy more. He said they were that good. He described them as "wild", I'm serious, they taste "wild"! And he said they aren't oily, and very different from the normal dried meat products, as in super duper awesomely superb! Totally recommend trying them, especially the Tanka Bars!

Overall, these were very much liked by my family. They all agreed that the bars were the best, closely followed by the bites, and last but not least was the sticks.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone knows the urban legend right? Some lady asked for the recipe and they said 250. She said okay, but got a bill for 250 dollars, not 2.50. She goes on to get her revenge by distributing the recipe to all the cookie lovers of the world! Well I'm pretty sure that story is bogus, but the recipe still makes a pretty good cookie.  :)

My dad actually liked these cookies the most. They were soft (yuck! >.<) and chewy (yuck! >.<)! But of course, since my dad loves soft and chewy cookies, these were one of his favorite (I've made too many for him to decide which exact cookies were his favs). I did like the look of these cookies, thought. And doesn't this picture below look pretty neat? It's a floating cookie!

So although these cookies were soft and chewy, they held up nicely and were quite sturdy. I didn't use espresso powder (couldn't find it...) so I'm not sure how it tastes with it. But it was quite good even without it!
Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie adapted from here
Yield: 2 dozen

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 300˚F
2. In a bowl cream the butter and sugar until fluffy
3. Beat in egg and vanilla extract
4. In a separate bowl sift dry ingredients, slowly mix into butter mixture
5. Stir in chocolate chips
6. Spoon tablespoons of dough onto a greased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Gently press down on the dough with the back of a spoon to flatten slightly
7. Bake for 20 minutes or until done

p.s. Please don't forget! The entire month is National Rice Month, and the voting period for the Minnesota Wild Rice competition! I'm a finalist (I made chicken stir fry), so please don't forget to vote (and maybe for a chicken stir fry by a girl named lynne! (Oh, and you don't even need to enter your email address. It's easy as clicking the button (and maybe next the chicken stir fry) and hitting submit vote :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Japan: Day 14 - End :(

Sorry this week has only been about Japan, but don't worry, tomorrow will be another recipe! :)

I know it doesn't seem like I did a lot of things, or at least a lot for staying in Japan for a month, but I actually did! I just can't put 3000 pictures on here. Well I guess I could, but I'm pretty sure it'd take forever to load and all that tech-y stuff. Well back to my trip, so you know how I said I was going to school? Well I did, or at least sorta. Keio (the school I went to) had summer break so we had the classrooms all to ourselves! But we did see some students, like the college kids. (Yea, if you know Keio school then you'll know there are several campuses. I went to the hiyoshi one) Do you wanna see my teacher? He looks very wise...doesn't he?
Just a little warning, but I'm pretty sure this post is gonna be super duper long! So what did we do in class you asked? Games! And we went on field trips practically every other day. We even went to camp! It was all the way up in the mountains, I'm pretty sure the area is called Tateshina. The air was super fresh, and it was kinda chilly. It was a relief to not have to worry about fanning myself!
We stayed at Tateshina for a couple of days (I switched families right before, so I'll get to my 2nd host family in a second) and they were filled with nature stuff. Like hikes and stuff. Okay, so they weren't really hikes, we took the ski lift up the mountain and walked down. Woo hoo, such a work out. Well actually it was...I know, I was really out of shape. :(
 Right went I got to the bottom of the mountain I was so tired, but I was also really really hungry. Can you guess what I bought to eat? ice cream! yum! Japanese soft serve is the best!

You see the caterpillar? We found him on one of our walks/hikes around the cabins. Oh, and you know what else we find around the cabins? A snake! I'm not kidding! And it was really scary too, cause we had just taken a bath and were walking back to our cabins in the dark, when all of a sudden someone starts screaming (imagine a girl screaming) and everyone freaked out! Sorry the picture is so bad. I was one of those screaming...
On our way back we stopped at a soba making place. Man, those old little ladies sure are strong! We mixed the flour stuff
then formed it in to a dough
then we flattened it super super thin
lookit those hands go! sorry I don't have a picture of how thin the dough was rolled out. It was so thin it was amazing it didn't break. We then cut the dough. Can you tell which ones are done by us and which ones are done by the super strong super tiny old Japanese lady?
You guessed it! The upper right hand corner is the super strong super tiny old Japanese lady's work. But it all tasted good. See, we're all smiling
And boy, spending an hour making noodles sure makes them taste a whole lot better! Wow, those strands are sure not uniform. I don't think I'm getting a job there...
And no trip to Tokyo is complete without going to.....
Okay, wait. I think it should be. You know why? Cause Disneyland was soooooooo (multiply by a gazillion) crowded! It was fun and all, but I would so much rather be spending time exploring than here. I'm not saying I didn't have fun, of course I did, but really, Disneyland in Japan? C'mon. Plus I'm not much of a roller coaster mountain =  O.O uh oh...

I almost tried to get out. This was my all time favorite sign. Escape pod anyone? But it actually wasn't that bad. Okay, it wasn't scary at all. For some reason, maybe I'm just bigger, it isn't as scary. But I'm pretty sure all the rides aren't as scary, cause even thunder mountain wasn't too bad. There weren't any huge splash mountain. >.< couldn't ride that! Wayyy too scary for me! Yes, I'm a big baby..

But while everyone was riding splash mountain...I was eating popcorn! They have several different flavors sold in popcorn stands like the one below. They had some pretty interesting flavors (shoyu butter? curry?), but my favorite was honey! And there are these cute little containers for the popcorn. I don't really recommend buying them unless you like the container....who would want to carry them on the rides?!
OOH! Aren't these melon bread cute?! They are shaped like Mike, you know Mike, from Monster's Inc.!
Or how about Roz? The scary lady also from Monster's Inc...
Or what about a chilled tip torta? Um, no thanks. Those were sooooo weird. It was cold (hence the name), shaped like a super skinny burrito, had a weird doughy pastry-like outside, and filled with some kind of salty stuff (we got the caramel one, but I'm still not sure why it was salty). Sorry it's such a bad description, I just can't explain it!
My favorite ride is hands down Pooh's Hunny Hunt. And it's not just cause of the name! (Although it makes it ten times funnier telling other people!) They wouldn't let us take pictures inside, but the ride was sooo cute! It's for more littler kids, but the gift shop had a ton of pooh stuff (no pun intended..or maybe it was...?)
My host mother was an amazing cook. I mean she made The Best anko (azuki bean) ever. Like Ever. I would eat bowls of it by itself. I'm not kidding. It was that good. See those little white mochi looking things? We made those! It's called shiratama. I have to go find some...cause it was really good! Tastes similar to mochi, but super easy to make. I should make a post on them...first gotta find it. (Dang, I should've taken the bag..)
This is heidy. He's a labradoodle, oh, and he has her own blog! (Yea, he's named heidy but is a boy...strange, but just go with it...) He's super hyper, but he's really sweet, and he's really fluffy! (fwah fwah!) Oh, I found a post about me!
OMG! Do you see what I see?

Yes I do! It's a square watermelon!!!

And a gourd shaped watermelon!! OMG!

Wahhh! ;( Farewell hooo we had to go home the next day....but it was the most amazing trip...Ever! (We all had to put skits on and we sang the pokemon theme japanese!)