Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup and macaroni salad from America's test kitchen and Onigirazu

This tomato soup is from a special edition of America's Test Kitchen Magazine called "All time favorite recipes". I love this tomato soup and I made it a few times already. One time, I made it for a friend who just had a baby and she and her family loved it.

This tomato soup use canned tomato and does not have any cream but it is creamy and great.

In America, I think it is common to have tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich, however my son doesn't like cheese so we didn't make grilled cheese with it. But I am sure the grilled cheese will taste great with this tomato soup.

It is great with crouton and the recipe called for homemade crouton but I was too lazy to make it homemade so I just used store bought crouton.

My son love it. I am sure we are making this soup again and again especially during the winter season.

I love America's test kitchen or Cook's illustrated magazined because they try lots of different methods and come up with the ultimate one. They explain all the details and troubles they went through in the process and it is very interesting and educational, I think.

This book is a collection of their favorite recipes and it is a great one to own. I love it. I haven't made all of them yet but I sure would love to try all the recipes in there.

Well, another thing I made is "Onigirazu". This is a new version of rice ball and it seems like it is very popular in Japan at the moment. Regular rice ball is triangle or round but this one is square and you just place seaweed, then add some rice, then add some ingredients you like and add more rice on top and then wrap them with seaweed like a present. Here is how it looks.

I think the reason why it got popular is  because you can add more stuff in it and it is easier to eat than regular rice ball.

This was had Spam and lettuce in it. Spam Onigiri is very popular in Hawaii. Hawaii's spam onigiri looked like nigiri sushi. They put Spam on top and wrapped it with thin slice of seaweed.

Well, the spam was too salty but I like this shape of onigiri. I think you can come up with many different like of stuffing inside.

I also made some sushi roll since we had avocado and imitation crab. I don't know why but it was so difficult to roll these sushi. I guess I am out of practice. I got so frustrated rolling those sushi. I almost gave up but my husband calmed me down and I finished about 6 rolls. 3 of them came out OK but the other 3 were disaster. Oh well.

I also made macaroni salad from the same book which I introduced earlier.
This came out great. I Actually added more vegetables than the recipe called for.

I think this is great for potluck party or BBQ or something like that. It was really good but the portion I made was huge. We had to eat macaroni salad everyday.... Well, I am glad my husband loved it so he didn't mind eating them everyday :-)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Nutritious Vegetable Soup

When someone has a cold or when we feel like we are not eating enough vegetable, I make this vegetable soup which my mother-in-law taught me how to make. It is easy and quick but very tasty and nutritious.

Normally, my mother-in-law add vegetable bouillon and so do I but this time I just used my homemade chicken stock with salt without bouillon. It was still tasty and great.

Vegetable Soup  3~4 serving 

Green Onion  1bunch
Carrot             3
Celery            4
Zucchini        1
Raddish          7
Ginger           size of a thumb
Chicken Stock   8~10 cups
Salt and Pepper   for taste
Vegetable Oil      1 tablespoon

1, First, cut all the vegetables into small pieces.

2, Then, add vegetable oil into a pot and add ginger and green onion to saute.

3, Add Carrot, celery and raddish.

4, Add chicken Stock and simmer until vegetables are tender.

5, When vegetables are soft, add zucchini and simmer for a little bit. (I add zucchini at the end so the color stays green. A trick which I learned from my mother-in-law)

6, Serve

This is a great soup for my son since sometimes he is picky with vegetables. When I made his soup, he always always eat all the vegetables without any complaint. I love making this soup for him. Sometimes, I add small pasta or barley or rice to this soup when I want to make it more hearty.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Family visit and Halloween

It has been a while since the last post. In October, my family came to visit us in NY. It was very short and I felt really really sad when they left. I couldn't stop crying at the airpot but luckily my son kept me busy and thing get back to normal quickly.

Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been if I stayed in Japan. It was my decision to come to the U.S. and stay here and I am very happy with my choice however I would love to have families around somewhere close by. Then, I also think about those people who live in Japan but do not see their family often. When I think about it, I spend weeks with them when I go back and I think maybe we don't spend that much time together at once if we live in Japan. So maybe overall the amount of time we spend together are same or more then average. I just wish I could see them more often :-)

While they were here, I didn't cook much but my mom made Japanese breakfast for us everyday so I definitely enjoyed having someone cook Japanese breakfast for me everyday :-)

There was a Halloween Party with my son's friends while they were here so I took them to the party. They enjoyed little kids dressing up and enjoying the party.

Everybody brought some food and enjoyed the day together. I am so thankful to have such wonderful friends to share those moments with! My son is growing up so fast! I am trying to enjoy every events, every moments and every conversation with him.

While my family is here, I tried to make Red Snapper Rice (Taimeshi) with my mom. She never made this so this was first time for both of us. We got a nice big red snapper from Korean supermarket.

I think it came out pretty good but since I never had this before I was not sure how it is supposed to taste. For me, it was lacking some flavor but I guess it shouldn't have strong flavor. My aunt and uncle told me that this is how it supposed to taste so I guess we did it right. Since I LOVE ginger. I added extra ginger.

And this is a cake we ate together. It was from Whole Food. My son was so happy to see this cake but at the same time he was scared of it.

It went by so fast but I really really enjoyed the stay of my family. My son was so happy to have many people to play with. I guess this was how the family used to be. With many people in the family or more close with your neighbors and so on. Nowadays, it is rare to have such a big family but I think it might be a good environment for kids to grow up in :-)

I would love to have my family here again. I just wish the flight was shorter. I am excited for their next visit already!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A trip to Mystic, Connecticut

I have been wanting to go to Mystic Connecticut for quite some time ever since I saw it on TV. I was finally able to visit the other day. It was not too far away from where we are but since we didn't want to rush and fully enjoy the area, we decided to stay one night.

The first day was a beautiful day and we left home early to get there before everybody.

First, we got breakfast bagel near our place before we get on the freeway and start our trip. We do this sometimes when we go for a road trip and eat it in the car while we drive.

There are many bagel shops in NY and we have a few in our area also. It is great to be able to get fresh baked bagel anytime you want it. Since I am not a big breakfast person, I shared one breakfast bagel with my husband.

Then, we arrived at Mystic Connecticut.

There is a place called Seaport in Mystic. You have to pay to get in but there are a few old wooden ships and planetarium and so on. I think it is quite possible to spend a while day here in Seaport. Actually that is basically what we did. There are some activities and a house for kids also.

My son liked the ship so he had lots of fun exploring the old ships.

It was a beautiful day and the view from a small boat was beautiful like this.

For lunch, we went outside of Seaport. We ate at a restaurant called "Harbor House" which is in a hotel on a little hill where you can see the ocean.

I had clam chowder and a lobster roll. This is clam chowder I ordered.

Clam chowder was really good. I like those smooth chowders which are not too thick so it was perfect for my taste.

I forgot to take a picture of lobster roll. It was OK. I mean I think it is because I don't love lobster. I know I don't love lobster but sometimes I had to order to reconfirm that. Every time I eat lobster, I kind of regret it because I knew that I don't love it but I order it anyway. Oh well, I hope I will learn someday.

For dinner, we went to a small Mexican restaurant close to where our hotel was (which was not in Mystic). One of the reason we went there was because when I check their menu online, I found Horchata. My husband and I LOVE Horchata and every chance we get to drink Horchata, we take it.

Horchata is a typical Mexican drink (I think it is typical...) made from rice and sugar and cinnamon. When I was living in California, it was quite easy to get this drink since there were many Mexican restaurant around but after we moved to NY, Horchata had become something which is not easy to come by so we get super excited whenever we find it.

We loved Horchata so much, we actually tried to make it at home once. It tasted good but was quite a process.

Anyways, this restaurant was very casual, reasonable and good! It was a small place but very popular and people were just coming in non stop. We ordered lots of different thing but the best was of course tacos.

There was a swimming pool at the hotel we stayed in so my son really really enjoyed swimming. He just started to swim on his own with a little floating thing on his arms when we stayed in Germany with my in-laws. We would like him to keep swimming and be comfortable in water so we will try to take him to a swimming pool even in winter.

Next day, we swimming in the swimming pool again and checked out the hotel then head to a town called Essex to ride a steam engine train. But first, we went to a restaurant to have lunch.

We went to a restaurant which we found online and I had fish and chips there.

Sorry for this kind of smoky, blur photo... I don't know what happened here.

I LOVE fish and chips. Every time I see fish and chips in the menu, I feel like I have to order it (especially when I haven't have fish and chips from that particular restaurant before).

This fish and chips was really good. And French Fries.  is probably my favorite food in the world and I especially love truffle french fries. They had truffle french fries on the appetizer menu so I asked them if they can make my fish and chips with their truffle french fried. They were happy to do that for me and I was extremely happy.

I just love truffle fries. It was super good. The fish was good also but the truffle fries were the highlight of the meal for me.

After the lunch, we went to ride a steam train. My son loved it and it was quite nice ride.

On the way home, we kind of got stuck on traffic but it was a wonderful weekend trip. I highly recommend Mystic CT for weekend trip if you are living in NYC area.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pork and Onion with Ginger and Garlic

It started to feel like fall in NY this past few days. It is kind of sad since I LOVE summer but at the same time, it is exciting to think about all the bakings and warm food which we will be enjoying in fall.

We actually baked cookie yesterday since it was cool and rainy day. I love baking when the weather is bad. My husband and my son helped me to bake and they really really enjoyed being a sous chef.
And the chocolate chip cookie we made was pretty good.

Anyways, I would like to talk about the really yummy pork dish which I made a few weeks ago. I think this is a typical Japanese flavor. Soy sauce, Sake and Mirin. It goes really well with white rice and I always have to be very careful not to eat too much rice.

I am sure many Japanese people love this kind of dish but since my husband and my son loved it also, I think this might be a universal dish which can be enjoyed by people from all over the world.

I made this kind of dish before but this was the first time I used cilantro and tomato as garnish with it. This was absolutely great idea since we LOVE cilantro, eating this pork with cilantro made it taste even better and fresher. This is optional but if you like cilantro, I highly recommend eating it with cilantro. Well, in my opinion, just about anything taste better with cilantro ;-)

The only way to find out is to try making this dish and eat it yourself! Here is the recipe.

Pork and Onion with Ginger and Garlic

Very thinly sliced pork     1/4 lb
Onion                                2 medium (Sliced thinly)
Green Onion                     2  (chopped)
Ginger                               2 Table Spoon (Grated)
Garlic                                2 cloves (Grated)
Soy Sauce                         1 Table Spoon
Mirin                                 2 Table Spoon
Sake                                  2 Table Spoon
Cilantro  (optional)           a BIG handful
Tomato  (optional)            2 small (cut into 4 pieces)
Vegetable Oil                    1 Table Spoon

1, Add vegetable oil into frying pan and saute onion until soft

2, When onion got soft, add pork, ginger and garlic

3, Before the pork turns its color, add sake

4, After the pork turned its color, add soy sauce and mirin and saute more

5, Taste, add chopped green onion and mix together

6, Spread chopped cilantro on a plate and add pork and onion on top

7, Garnish with tomato and serve with rice.

This is an easy quick meal that satisfy everybody's appetite! Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Warm Maitake Mushroom Salad

Yes, it is yet another salad. This one has warm mushroom on top. 

This is also what my mother-in-law made for me before. This salad is great especially when you need something warm and meaty with salad. 

You can use any kind of mushroom but I had Maitake mushroom in the fridge so I used it for this salad. You can also mix different kind of mushrooms. I love mushroom and every time I go to Japanese or Korean supermarket, I buy all different kind of mushrooms. 

Anyways, for salad I used mixed green, tomato and avocado but this also can be anything you like. 

Warm Maitake Mushroom Salad 

Mixed Green (or any kind of salad leaves)        a handful 
Tomato  (Small)                                                  2~3
Avocado                                                              1
Maitake (or any kind of mushrooms)                 a handful 
Butter                                                                  1 Tea spoon 
Olive Oil                                                             2 Table Spoon 
Soy Sauce                                                           1 Tea Spoon 
Balsamic Graze                         as much as you like (for me about 2 table spoon) 

1, Cut Mushrooms into bite size pieces. 
2, Add 1 tea spoon of butter and 1 table spoon of olive oil into a pan and heat up. 
3, Add mushrooms into the pan and sautee the mushroom
4, Add soy sauce into the pan and mix. Turn the heat off. 
5, Place salad leaves on a plate. Cut tomato and avocado and add on top of salad leaves. 
6, Add mushrooms on top
7, Drizzle olive oil and balsamic graze. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Caprese salad

Yes, it is salad again! This is very pretty and easy Caprese salad (Tomato and Mozzarella salad). I Love Caprese salad and my husband loves it even more. 

You can use any kind of tomato and mozzarella but in here I used mini tomato and these small mozzarella called "Bocconcini". These are about same size so it looks beautiful and easy to each together. I julienned basil and sprinkle over. 

For dressing, I simply used white balsamic vinegar and olive oil. (I know, it seems like I only use those two as salad dressing lately..) 

This is quick and easy beautiful salad you can eat as a main with bread or as a side of your main dish. 

Those small mozzarella balls are addictive. I couldn't stop popping into my mouth while I was making this dish. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Greek salad

It am eating salad everyday for lunch. Even though I went out with my friends in Manhattan last night at Greek restaurant called AVERA and had greek salad, since I had ingredients for greek salad I made it for lunch and enjoyed it. 

Olive was little too salty for me. I should wash it out next time before I use it. 

Anyways, this is super simple salad but tasty and perfect for summer. 

Greek Salad 

Green salad leaves       a handful 
Cucumber                    1/4 cup (chopped) 
Mini Tomatoed            1/4 cup  (cut into half) 
Feta Cheese                  1/4 cup  (Crumbled) 
Olive                             1/4 cup 
White Balsamic Vinegar   1 Table Spoon 
Olive Oil                           2 Table Spoon 
Dried Oregano                  1/4 tea spoon 

The greek salad I had last night also had red onion in it. Since I didn't have red onion, I skipped it today but it is a great idea to add red onion stripes. 

The restaurant we went last night was very busy. I didn't know about this restaurant by my friend book it and it was delicious greek food. We had some appetizers such as grilled octopus, grilled Sardine, Greek Salad, Zucchini Chips. All were really good but my fav was grilled octopus. It was so tender and yummy!!! 

For main course, we shared branzino. It was really fresh and wonderful. 

We had so much fun together last night. I laughed so much that my cheeks were hurting afterwords. 

It is great to have friends like this whom I can laugh with. I am very thankful to have them in my life. We realized that we don't do this often enough. We decided to get together at least quarterly from now on. I am looking forward to our next quarterly meeting! 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Easy summer salad with farm fresh corn and tomatoes

I just came back from a farmer's market and got some fresh vegetables so I had to make a salad for lunch. Today, I got those corn, mini tomatoes, egg plants, potatoes and basil.

The tomatoes were just amazingly sweet and I couldn't stop eating them.

Simple Summer Salad with corn and mini tomatoes

Serving 1

Salad leaves    a handful
cucumber         1/4 cup (cut into small pieces)
Corn                 1/4 cup (boiled)
mini tomatoes    about 8
Crumbled Feta Cheese   1/4 cup
Olive Oil           2 table spoon
White Balsamic Vinegar    1 Table Soon

1, Toss salad leaved and cucumber with vinegar and olive oil

2, Add Feta Cheese, tomatoes and Corn on top

I love eating Salad in summer especially when you find fresh ingredients. This is super easy salad which you probably don't need recipe for and you can add any kind of vegetables of your liking.

By the way, we were in Germany to see our in-laws. We had a great time there and since my in-laws were watching and playing with my son all the time, I was able to do some reading for myself. Here are the books which I read during the trip.

This one is a mystery which is quite dark as the title indicate.

Since I like her other book "Gone Girl", I might have expected too much. It was OK but not as good as "Gone Girl" in my opinion.

This another book is called "The Glass Castle". It is about authors childhood and it is quite a childhood this author had. It was very interesting and I liked it.

Since I finished two books which I brought with me, I went to the library in Germany and borrowed this English book.

After I borrowed this one, I realized that I actually read another book from this same author before.
I did not really like this book. I think the concept was good and it makes you wonder what happens next throughout the book but it was actually a bit disappointing at the end for me.

The other book I read before from this same author was this one.

Again, I think the concept was interesting but I didn't really like the story and how it end. Well, it seems like she is a popular and famous author so I guess it is just I don't like her style and many people find her book very interesting.

This last one was the most entertaining book I read in this trip. Actually, I wasn't really interested in reading this one but I didn't have anything else to read so I borrowed this one from my father-in-law.

I know the author is super popular and many of his books were made into movies. I just didn't think I would like this kind books. I thought the vocabulary will be too difficult for me since it was about lawyers and tax and stuff. However, I was pleasantly surprised how easy and entertaining to read this book. Now I know why he is a popular author and I would love to read his other books also.

I would definitely watch the movie also. I think Tom Cruz is a good choice for the main character. I am just very interested who else were casted for other roles. You know, when you read a book, you have a certain image in your head for all the characters and sometimes it is right on when you watch a movie but something it is so different from what you have in your head. Anyways, I am curious.

Well, I am excited to cook some food with the vegetables I bought today at farmers market. Love Summer!

Saturday, May 24, 2014


We are in japan! Enjoying japanese bread!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Osteria Morini

My in-laws were visiting us from Germany and we have been quite busy. They spoiled us and played so nicely with our son everyday. During their stay, they watched our son to let us go for a date nights and let me go have hair cut and a day in Manhattan.

It was really nice to have a day in Manhattan all by myself. I went to book off and got some books for myself and for my son. Then, went to have lunch by myself at a restaurant which I wanted to try for sometime.

The restaurant is called "Osteria Morini" and it is owned by a well-know chef named Michael White. He owns many restaurants here in NY. I actually didn't know about him until I went to this one event in the end of 2013. It was a dinner event which 7 famous chefs prepare each course. One of the chef was Michael Symon which is a iron chef and I took picture with him :-) But the best dish of the night was a dish from Michael White and I wanted to visit his restaurant since then.

He has one restaurant near central park but this one is quite fancy and I found out that he has this another restaurant in Soho which is more casual and affordable.

Since my hair dresser was close to soho, I thought this is the perfect opportunity to try his restaurant.

He is famous for his pasta dishes so I ordered pasta. It was truffle ricotta ravioli with butter sauce. It was sooooooo good!!! It taste rich but light at the same time. The portion was quite small but I was not super hungry so it was just perfect. I am sure my husband would love this dish so maybe I would like to visit this restaurant with my husband sometimes again. Next time, I will try something else even though this one was really good.

There are many dishes I wanted to try. I might have to go more than once ;-)

Anyways, it was wonderful and as much as I LOVE my son so much, it is also nice to have a day off for myself. I really appreciate my in-laws gave me this opportunity. They even let me sleep in. This is like unheard of in Japan. I mean, I think Japanese daughter-in-law will never sleep in even when your parents in-laws tell you that it is OK. They just don't. But I know that they mean it and I took the opportunity and it was great. I know I am a very lucky daughter in-law.

Now, I have my rest and have my energy back so I can cook more! I got this vegetable cook book from the library the other day and excited to try some stuff from this book. My in-laws have very healthy life style and they eat lots of fruit and vegetables. I inspired me to eat more fruit and vegetables so this book will help me to cook with more vegetables.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Potato and Beef Croquette Recipe

Croquette is a very popular dish in Japan and I think you can find them in many different countries in the world. I love them but since it is quite time consuming to make it and fry it, I don't make it too often. In Japan, you can find already fried croquette in a supermarket or you can also find frozen one so you can just fry them at home.

Since I had 1lb of ground beef and lots of potatoes at home, I decided to make this dish the other day.

I made a lot of them and froze half of them. Next time I want to eat croquette, I can just take them out from the freezer and fry them.

Normally in Japan, we eat this with Tonkatsu sauce which is something like a ticker Worcestershire sauce. I always have this on hand but if you don't have it, you can either use regular worcestershire sauce, ketchup, hot sauce or even without any sauce. If you season them well during cooking, you don't really need any sauce.

If you want to but it, you can buy them from Amazon. This is a very popular brand of tonkatsu sauce in Japan. Bull dog Tonkatsu Sauce.

Here is the recipe.

Potato and Beef Croquette
Print Recipe

Yields about 14 large croquette

Potato   4 large
Ground Beef   1lb
Onion         3 medium
Carrot         3
Nutmeg      2 teaspoons (Optional)
Salt             1 tablespoons
Pepper        1~2 teaspoon
Flour           about 1/2 cup
Egg             2
Panko (Bread Crumbs) about 1 cup
Vegetable Oil for frying plus 1 tablespoon

1. Peel and cut potatoes into small pieces and boil them until fork tender.

2. While cooking potatoes, chop onion and carrot into small pieces.

3. In a Frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Then add onion and carrot to saute.

4. When onion and carrot are cooked, add ground beef and saute until meat is cooked. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper.

5. When potatoes are boiled, drain and mush in a large bowl.

6. Add meat mixture into potato and mix.

7. Let the potato/meat mixture cool.

8. When it is cooled, prepare flour, egg and panko(bread crumbs) stations.

9. Shape potato/meat mixture into a oval shape and dust with flour.

10. Then into egg then to panko.

11. Heat vegetable oil in a pan and fry them until golden brown. Since inside is already cooked, you don't have to worry about inside being uncooked.

12. Serve and eat while it is hot.

Kids love this potato croquette. I would recommend making a bunch of them and keep some of them  in the freezer for later.