Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Baked Acorn Squash with ground beef

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!

I started to find pumpkins and squash in the market. The autumn is definitely here. I found this Acorn Squash the other day and decided to try. I never cooked this squash before but I figured it must be similar to the pumpkins which I used to eat in Japan.

Well, quite a long time ago, I had this pumpkin dish at my friend's house. The head of pumpkin was cut open and it was baked with ground beef inside. I decided to recreate this dish from my memory.

First, I cut the Acorn in the half and took the seeds out. Then I cooked it in a oven with some butter and sugar for about 1 hour and half. (I followed some recipe from the Internet)

Meanwhile, I cooked chopped onion and ground beef in a frying pan and add some spices.

Then, when the Acorn squash is soft and done, I spoon the ground beef mixture into the hole of Acorn squash and bake more for about 10mins.

Then, it is done.

The Acorn squash was sweet and was great with salty ground beef. I was surprised how well it turned out. I am glad that I tried this squash. I like cooking with new ingredients especially when it turn out really good.

I am thinking about Butternut squash soup next. I made this last year for the first time and this was also really good. It is rich soup and great for a chilly night.

By the way, the Halloween is coming soon. I used to go to a Halloween party every year when I was living in California. But I haven't been to a Halloween Party for a while. It was difficult to come up with what costume I would wear but I liked Halloween party. Some people really spend lots of time and effort and have a great costume. I dressed up as 70's disco queen, nurse, pirates and stuff like that. Nothing extraordinary.

My roommate in California used to have a costume contest at his work and he used to go to work with a costume on a Halloween day. I think it is great. I wonder if he still wear his costume every year. Well, now he is a father of a son so I am sure that he dress up his kids on a Halloween day. I saw so many cute costume for baby and little kids in a store. It must be fun to dress your kids up for Halloween!

This year's Halloween falls on Sat. We don't have a plan yet but it might be fun to go to the city and see all these people dressed up in a costume and parade through the city.

Halloween is one of my favorite Holiday in the U.S. :-)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Seafood Yakisoba (stir fried noodle)

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!

I set up grill pan on a table and made seafood Yakisoba last night. Yakisoba is Japanese stir fried noodle with vegetables. Often times, it is with pork but I had frozen seafood mix in a freezer so I decided to use it and make seafood Yakisoba.

First, I prepared vegetables and seafood mix. I stir fried those separately before cooking noodle.

Then, Boil some noodle

Add vegetables and seafood mix

Mix well

Add special yakisoba sauce (it is kind of like Worcestershire's sauce)


I like having grilling plate on the table. In Japan, we use this kind of grilling pan or pot quite often. We use it for BBQ, shabu shabu, sukiyaki and so on. This is great because you can cook at the table with your own pace and the food is always hot.

I think this is great for especially busy moms because you just have to cut some vegetables and put them on a table. Cooking will be done by everyone who is at the table.

By the way, last weekend, one of my neighbor took me to a Taralli factory. Pictures of Tarelli are at the end of this old post.

It was a small factory and you wouldn't notice from the outside. Since my neighbor has been there many times, we just went in. But if I was by myself, I wouldn't have gone in because it does not look like it is open for public.

It was a small factory with just three people working there. There were no sign that say they sell any taralli there. We just went in and said hi to the workers there.

One guy came over to us and started talking in Italian. One of my neighbor spoke Italian so she talked to him and he gave us samples of different kind of Taralli. They had one with red peppers, garlic, fennel, black pepper and so on. They also had sweet Taralli shaped cookie and Focaccia bread. I bought 1 pound of red pepper Taralli and one Focaccia bread.

I did not bring my camera so there is not picture but it was a great experience and they make really good Taralli. The guy only spoke Italian but he was really nice and funny.

These Taralli are dangerous because once I start, I can not stop eating them. I am glad that they took me this factory. From now on, I know where I can get fresh baked Taralli.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My mom's super pound cake

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!

My mom used to give us homemade snack quite often when I was little. Back then, I wanted to have snacks from the store like other kids do, but now I think it was great that my mom baked quite often at home. The smell of baking sweets bring me back to my happy childhood.

My mom likes making other people happy. She used to invite her friends and bake something for them. Sometimes, when she likes something, she bake that same thing over and over. My sister and I used to complain about it because we didn't want to have same kind of sweets over and over. Now, I feel bad that we complained. I would happily eat same sweets everyday if she makes it now.

I felt lots of love from my mom's baking and that feeling is a very good memory now in my heart. I think whatever your mom made when you are little remind you of your mom and you never forget the taste and the feeling of that time.

Now, my mom does not bake as much as she used to but it makes her happy to know that I am trying to recreate what she used to make.

Well, one of the sweets she used to make quite often was pound cake. This is a very simple pound cake. Easy to make and fool proof.

I was looking at other people's blog the other day and someone was baking a pound cake with lady grey tea leaves in it. I decided to make my mom's pound cake and add some earl grey tea leaves in it.
Here is my mom's pound cake recipe

Butter 200g
Flour 200g
Sugar 200g
Egg 4
Baking powder 1 teaspoon
vanilla extract 1 teaspoon

1. Whisk butter in a large bowl until it is white in color.

2. Add sugar little by little and whisk together.

3. Add Egg one by one and whisk.

4. Add Flour and mix well.

5. Add baking power and vanilla extract and hold them in.

6. Place the mixture in a pound cake mold and bake it for about 40mins in 325F (160C) oven.

For this recipe, I added some earl grey leaves. Unfortunately, the flavor of earl grey did not come through. You can also add lemon juice if you like.

I shared this pound cake with my next door neighbor and they liked it also. This is really easy recipe and always come out pretty good. I hope you like it also :-)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pasta salad and buffalo chicken dip

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!

Normally, pasta salad is something on the side. But at my place, pasta salad can be a main dish for dinner also. I learned this pasta salad from a friend whom I met when I was living in California. She is German and she now lives in Germany but we keep in touch and actually we visited her this summer in Germany.

She brought this salad once for a BBQ party and I really liked it so I asked her for a recipe.
She also told me that it is OK to share her recipe in this blog so I am sharing her pasta salad recipe today.


Bow-tie Pasta 400g
Garlic 2 cloves
Chili pepper flakes 1/2 tea spoon
Sun dried tomato about 8 slices
Pine nuts 1/4 cup
Parmesan cheese 2/3 cup
Arugula 2 cups
Olive Oil about 4 tea spoons
balsamic vinegar (optional)

1. Roast chopped garlic and chili peppers in olive oil. Set aside & let it cool

2. Cook pasta, drain and set aside.

3. chop sun dried tomatoes, roast pine nuts in a pan without oil, grate Parmesan cheese

4. Mix sun dried tomatoes, roasted pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and arugula into pasta.

5. Pour olive-oil garlic mixture over it, add salt and pepper & more olive oil if you like. Also, you can add balsamic vinegar if you like.

I used a packaged arugula blend so mine has a little bit of red cabbage in it also.

This is a great garlicky pasta.

For the side dish, I made buffalo chicken dip. I got this recipe from Frank's Red Hot Sauce website. Here is the link to the page.

We like to eat this dip with tortilla chips.

Those two dishes are great for party and gathering. Please try them and let me know what you think!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mushroom Risotto

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!

Last night, I used the chicken stock I made for Mushroom Risotto. I make this dish quite often since I love Risotto and I love Mushroom. So for me, this is a heavenly combination. Every time I see Mushroom, I think about Mushroom Risotto.

I wrote this before a few times but my husband does not like Mushroom too much. He can eat them but if he has a choice, he prefer other items than Mushrooms. Even though I feel bad for him a little bit, since I like Mushroom so much, I cook with mushroom quite often. He has no choice but eat mushroom....

Normally, he leave some mushrooms on his plate but last night he ate them all and said it was delicious. I think it might be because he is recovering from a cold, his sense of taste might be a little off. But he was so happy and said he will be eating more mushrooms from now on! This makes me happy since I can make more mushroom dishes from now on :-)

I hope he start liking eggplant now also. Well, one thing at a time. If I make a great eggplant dish, he might also start liking eggplant someday.

I used regular white mushroom and dried porcini mushroom yesterday. Also, I drizzled truffle oil at the end. My husband loves this truffle oil so maybe this was a good trick to make him love mushroom.

Anyhow, this mushroom risotto was really good. I am excited to think about next mushroom dish :-)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Homemade Chicken Stock

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!

Lately, I make my own chicken stock at home and keep them in a freezer all the time. I used to use store-bought chicken stock but when I tried homemade once, it was 100 times better than the store-bought chicken stock so I decided to make my own whenever I can and freeze them for later use.

My husband had a cold for a few days so I made chicken noodle soup for him and I used up all the chicken stock I had in my freezer. So I decided to make it again.

Today, I would like to share my homemade chicken stock recipe. Since I just make it my way, I am sure that this is not a proper way of making real chicken stock but I like my homemade chicken stock so I decided to share here.

Roasted chicken 1
Celery 5 ribs
Carrots 3
Onion 1
Black peppercorn about 10
Dried Bay Leave 2
Dried Rosemary 1 tea spoon
Dried thyme 1 tea spoon
Dried Oregano 1 tea spoon
Water about 6 cups

First, you get a whole roasted chicken from Costco for $4.99. (It does not need to be from Costco but I like the whole roasted chicken from Costco because it is cheap and always freshly roasted. You can also make your own roasted chicken at home!)

Separate meat and bones. Eat the meat. I made broccoli as a side dish here. I just sprinkle salt, pepper, olive oil and cheese on top of the broccoli and microwave it. Easy side dish.

Place the bone into a large pot. Add Celery, Carrots, Onion and black pepper cons.

Then, Pour water until it covers the bone.

Bring it to a boil with a medium heat, then when it reached the boiling point, reduce the heat to low and simmer it for about 1 hour and 30mins. (Put the lid on)

After 1 hour and 30mins, add bay leaves, rosemary, thyme and oregano and simmer for another 40mins.

Turn off the heat and strain the liquid through sieve.

Package them in a Tupperware and keep them in a freezer for later use.

Isn't it easy? I don't add any salt in my chicken stock because I like adding salt when I actually cook with the stock.

I think this is a great way to use a chicken bone from a roasted chicken and homemade chicken stock taste great. I can use it for chicken noodle soup, risotto or just about anything.

When you have roasted chicken next time, please try this. I hope you like it also:-)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tacos and cilantro lime rice

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!

I love Mexican food. But I don't cook Mexican food too much at home because it seems very complicated. However, I make tacos at home sometimes. It is not authentic tacos but it is easy to make and always good.

Since I had not made tacos for over a year or so, I decided to make tacos last night.

When I first came to the U.S., I did not like Mexican food too much but now I love it. I love going to Mexican restaurant. I miss this one Mexican restaurant I used to go in California. It is called "Fiesta del Mar". They have the best shrimp dish. I really hope I can find a good Mexican restaurant in NY. If anyone knows a great Mexican restaurant in NY, please let me know.

Anyhow, I think tacos is a fun meal to make. It might be even good to make it with your children if you have children. You can make it with ground beef, grilled beef, grilled chicken or grilled vegetables if you are vegetarian.

I also made cilantro lime rice on the side. This rice was so good. Since I love cilantro, this rice was perfect for me. I will be making this rice more often. It is very simple mixture of cilantro, lime, garlic and oil. I think if I used more cilantro, it made the color greener. It was very refreshing and great flavored rice.

If you have a good Mexican restaurant in your neighborhood, I think it will be better to eat at the restaurant but if you don't have a good Mexican restaurant around, home-made taco is fun and good dinner to make at home. If you use soft taco or fry your own crispy taco, it will be more authentic.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Oktoberfest in Central Park and Awesome Peruvian restaurant

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!

There was a German parade and Oktoberfest in Central Park on Sat, so we went to check it out. It was a beautiful day and perfect for being outside in the sun. I also wore Dirndl which is a traditional Bavarian clothes for female. I got this from my husband's family friends when we got married. I love it so much but I don't have too many chances to wear it so this was a perfect chance for me to wear it!

Before the parade, my husband's co-worker invited us for a Bavarian breakfast! There were white sausages, pretzels, German bread, salami and special mustard for the white sausage. It was really good. I did not think we can have such a good white sausage here.

Then, we head to the parade and enjoyed seeing the parade. After the parade, we head to the Oktoberfest in the central park. There were a lot of people and the ticket for entrance was sold out. Luckily, we already had tickets so we were able to get in.

There was a bog tent, and big stage and everybody was already drinking and singing and having fun. We had some potato salad (I love German potato salad), hot dog and stuff.

Some people started piling up the empty pitchers and other group started in other area and it soon became a competition. Everybody was happy and having fun.

After the Oktoberfest, we head to visit our friends who lives in the city. They purchased a juicer a few months ago and they were so into making fresh juice so we wanted to try making fresh juice with them. Since my husband loves watermelon, we decided to make watermelon juice this time. It is amazing how much liquid watermelon hold.

It looked beautiful and tasted good. I think it will be better if we add some other fruit in it. Watermelon itself is a little too watery. But I liked the juicer. It is powerful and makes a great juice. The only problem is that it takes up a counter space.

Then, we went for a dinner to this Peruvian restaurant called "Pio Pio". It is on 1 Ave between 90th and 91th. This restaurant was really really good! I was so impressed with their food. It is such a small place and their menu is very simple but the flavor is so great and the portion is really big. We ordered roasted chicken and fried seafood platter and fried plantain.

The roasted chicken was so tender and juicy. And the green sauce which comes on the side was amazing. It is a bit spicy but not too spicy and taste fresh. Also, the fried seafood platter was something I never had before. They had some kind of pickled onion and vegetables on top of the fried seafood. It goes perfectly well with fried seafood and those picked onions. Even though there are pickled onion on top of the fried seafood, it was still crispy and crunchy. Plus, this place has a very reasonable pricing.

I would definitely go there again! I am so happy that our friend introduced this restaurant to us. There are so many restaurant in NY, it is sometimes difficult to find a great restaurant with good price. Too bad I forgot to take picture of the food from this restaurant....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cranberry and Pecan Scone

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!

I was reading Emi's cooking diary and saw a picture of good looking scones and I just had to make it for myself. The recipe asked for dried cranberry and walnuts. I did not have walnuts at home so I used pecan instead.

It came out perfectly. I never made scone before but I was surprised how easy it was. I think the combination of cranberry and pecan was also really good!

This is a picture of before baking.


It is not too sweet and perfect texture. It is excellent when it warm but it is also very good when it is cold. I am so happy that I tried this. Thanks Emi for sharing the recipe you found.

I am pretty sure that I will be making this scone often. I wonder what other ingredients I can use for scone. I have dried current. Maybe I will use that next time. The recipe was for 12 scones but I made just a half.

Autumn is here and it is time to bake! The only problem is that we are only two people and whenever I bake something, we can not finish them. Often times, when I bake something, my husband have to bring them to work to share it with his co-workers. Or I share it with my neighbors.

My mom used to bake all the time. One of my favorite was her sweet potato pie. This one was kind of semi-homemade because she used pre-made mashed sweet potato and pie sheet. But it tasted so good! I would love to re-create this sweet potato pie this winter!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pork & Vegetable stir-fry

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!
When I buy a head of cabbage, I have to come up with a few dishes which used cabbage in order to use it up. I used a half of the cabbage for okonomiyaki but I still had the other half so I decided to make this pork and vegetable stir-fry.

I also added some carrots, bell pepper and bamboo shoots. For the flavor, I used some Chinese chili paste, miso paste, sake, sugar, water and soy sauce. It came out pretty spicy and good. It goes very well with rice.

This is easy dish and you can use any kind of vegetable which you have in your fridge. I couldn't use all of the cabbage yet so I still have to come up with another cabbage dish. I have about 1/4 head of cabbage left. Any good suggestion?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Japanese savory pancake (Okonomiyaki)

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!

I often make this Japanese savory pancake (Okonomiyaki). Normally, I use a packaged Okonomiyaki mix for this. I buy them at Japanese supermarket when I have a chance. This Okonomiyaki has lots of cabbage in it. I also added red pickled ginger in it. It is super easy, fast and yummy.

I pour okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise on top and made this pattern with a knife. You just make a line with a knife and it is easy but it looks more complicated and fancy. My husband was not looking when I made this pattern so he thought I spend quite some time to make this pattern :-) In reality, it just took about 10 second.

After dinner, we went for a walk to the beach. It was pretty warm yesterday so it felt really nice to walk on the beach at night. But the end of the summer is here and I think we don't have many more of those nights which we can enjoy the walk at the beach in the night. So we might as well enjoy it now.

By the way, I would like to introduce some books I am currently reading. I love reading since I was a child but now again I am so into it. I tend to read a few books in parallel. Lately, I start to think if I am getting everything I am supposed to get from my reading. What I mean is that I am not sure if I am getting 100% from a book. I might be missing some important message which is in the book. I can read but I started to doubt about my deep understanding ability. So I pick up these books to improve my reading skills.

First one is called "How to read a book"

This book was originally written in 1940's and rewrote in 1970's. The one I borrowed was the one which was rewrote in 1970's. It tells you about different kind of reading and how to improve your reading abilities in order to acquire more understanding from reading. It seems like I can learn something from this book.

The other book is a Japanese book called "Dokushoryoku" (translation will be "Reading ability" or something like that). This book is also about improving your reading ability. This book states that people are not reading as much as people used to. We have more information then before but we don't have ability to read. I just started to read this but I think I can also learn somethings from this one to improve my reading skills.

The last one is "Complete idiot guide to Speed Reading"

I borrowed this one more from out of curiosity. I think I am a slow reader so I thought it might be good to know how to read fast. Normally, I like reading slowly to enjoy the book but there are some situations which I have to read something which I don't want to read in a limited time. In those case, I think speed reading will be useful. I am not sure if the speed reading is a good reading or not. But I was just curious about it. In the first book I mentioned "how to read a book", there is a section which they talk about speed reading. I am also curious what their opinion is about speed reading.

Anyway, my opinion about improving my reading is reading all different kind of books and articles. I tend to pick up a book in a genre which I like but I think it might be important to explore different kind of writing in a different topic. I will try to read variety of books and improve my reading ability. If anyone has a book which you absolutely love, please let me know. I would love to hear from you. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Spaghettii Meatsauce

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!
Once in a while, I make a big batch of meat sauce and freeze them. My meat sauce has so much vegetables in it. I chop onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper, mushroom and zucchini. Since it will be cooked in a pot for a few hours, some of the vegetables simply melt in the sauce. If your kid doesn't like eating vegetables, I think this might be a good way to trick them.

Vegetables give sweet flavors to the sauce. For the meat part, I used a combination of beef, veal and pork. Supermarket sell this combination ground meat for meatloaf. I like this combination because it seems like there is more deep flavor. I add some red wine, tomato paste, tomato puree, diced tomato, Chili sauce (from Heinz)butter, heavy cream, nutmeg, thyme, oregano, sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper.

I make this sauce in a large pot so there are about 3~4 freezer packs which I can make from this batch. It is quite time consuming to make this sauce but once you add everything in, you just need to simmer it for about 90mins so it is quite easy.

When you eat this sauce with pasta, I add parmigiana cheese on top. Since the sauce is quite sweet, it is perfect when you add cheese on top when you eat them. I love this meat sauce. Plus, I can take so many different kind of vegetables from this one dish.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Balsamic chicken drumettes

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!

I wanted to try this recipe for a while but I couldn't find drumettes ever time when I go to supermarket. But yesterday, I finally found drumetts so I decided to try this recipe.

This recipe is from Giada Del Laurentiis and you can get her recipe from food network website. Click here for this recipe.

I tried a few of her recipe but so far I did not love the ones I tried. Hoverer, this one was the great recipe. I loved it. It is easy and tasty.

I only bought 1 pack of drumetts which only had 9 drumetts and they are pretty small so 4 and half drumetts each for dinner was a bit too small for us but it was great. I would make more next time. It has balsamic vinegar but also soy sauce so it is kind of like Italian Asian fusion., I think.

I think this will be great party food. The football season is coming and I am sure that there are many people who are panning to invite people over to watch the game. This will be the perfect football party snack. But be sure to make them plenty because this will go quickly!

Guggenheim Museum and Italian dinner

Welcome to 7th Kitchen!

We have been living in NY for more then 3 years but we had not been to Guggenheim Museum yet. So We decided to go to Guggenheim Museum on this cloudy day.

We took our car and we were lucky enough to find a free parking right in front of the Museum. We were pretty surprised.

This Museum is also famous for its architecture. I believe it was Frank Lloyd Wright who was the architect for this building. It is very modern and looks beautiful both from inside and outside. It is spiral and had glass ceiling.

I felt little dizzy by looking at spirals but it is a beautiful building.

Unfortunately, the museum was preparing for the next exhibition so they closed half of the building. Maybe because of that, there weren't too many people and we were able to listen to the explanation of the pieces from the machine and spend a moment with each piece without rush.

After the museum, we went to this Italian restaurant called "UVA" which is on the 2nd ave between 77th and 78th st to meet up with our friends. We had never been to this restaurant but the atmosphere was really nice and food was also good with reasonable price.

We had a few appetizers. As I tend to get so excited when I see food, I forgot to take first two appetizers. One of them was bruschetta with sheep cheese and honey and truffle oil. Oh, this was really really good!

This is one of the appetizer which I was able to take picture. It is grilled vegetables. My personal favorite is Eggplant.

For the main course, I had homemade ribbon pasta with veal ragu. This was really good. I just wished it had more ragu.

My friends and my husband were having Penne Pasta, Truffle gnocchi and Vitello Tonatto.

I tried all of them but they tasted pretty good.

We were pretty full after the main course but of course we had some dessert.

I shared lemon tart with my husband. It was light and perfect dessert after heavy meal.

My friends were having Almond cake with ice cream and Nutella dessert.

Almond cake was really good but the chocolate was bit too heavy for me. But it looks very pretty. Great presentation :-)

The Nutella dessert was way too heavy for me but if you love Nutella, this is the perfect dessert for you.

We spent great time over great food. It is always nice to see friends for dinner. I appreciate that they came tonight despite the fact that we call them this morning. We had a wonderful Saturday with great friends. Plus, the traffic was not bad a all today so that also made it easy for us to go in and out the city.