Monday, March 29, 2010

Hi everyone I had all intentions of writing up this post sooner but something always came up and pushed it farther back on my list. I’ve pondered on how I would write this up and was not sure what I was going to say. Well the time has come albeit a little late to introduce you to two other members of my family who are my cats. If you are a Food Buzz friend of mine I know you have seen my BW who is my avatar and if you follow me on twitter you have seen my Remus as my avatar. Both are very special to my family. So you will understand why I said this post was somewhat late in the making. I really wish I could have introduced them at a better time.

This past weekend I had the unfortunate duty of having to put my oldest cat BW to sleep. She had been with me almost all her life which was 20 years. I found her as a stray and took her in and she has been part of my family ever since. I remember the first time I saw her. She came roaming around my house about a week before my daughters 1st birthday. I didn’t take much notice of her because I figured she belonged to someone in the neighborhood. My aunt who has worked with animals told me she could tell that she pregnant but she was a very young cat. A couple of months later she came around again and I could now tell she was close to giving birth. It was around November or December and here in Michigan it is very cold. So I took her in because it was obvious to me that she didn’t belong to anyone because she was roaming around in the state she was in.

Eventually she had her kitten but because of her being so young or just not having the proper instincts her kittens died. I knew that if I had taken her to the Humane Society they could only hold her for a few days and if no one claimed her then you know what happens. That is when she became a permanent part of my family. She grew up along side my daughter as my second child. She sat with us when we were sick or upset, she slept with us, she protected us and she loved us as we did her. I know most people who don’t have a pet as part of their family will never understand the impact of a loss like this and that’s ok. I just needed to write this not so much for telling everyone about my loss but I think more for helping me cope with the loss.

With that said I would like to introduce you to my second and now only kitty Remus Lupin. He will be 6 this year on April 11. When he was given to us we where told that he was a girl so he was originally named Samara. We soon realized that the name would not fit him so we changed it. He was supposed to be my daughter’s cat so as she was really into Harry Potter at the time she decided to name him Remus Lupin after the character that turns into a werewolf. I must say he does not live up to his namesake. He is sweet and playful, loving and very much spoiled and I have to take the blame for that.

When we first got him he was like a ball of fur. We took him with us almost everywhere. As I drove he would lay on my shoulder and sleep. When we went out walking my daughter hold him and cuddle him. As he got older he would ride in the car with us and lie in the back window and sleep, he loves riding in a car. He’s very playful and loves to lie on my legs when I sleep. I don’t mind because it keeps my legs warm. He’s sweet and spoiled and likes to follow me around. He’s still like a little baby sometimes and likes to cuddle up next to me when I am asleep. He’s my special boy.

As I said before I wish I had introduced them earlier but here they are now.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ok call me crazy but last week I was craving oatmeal raisin walnut cookies and banana nut bread at the same time. So I decided to combine the two into one recipe. For this recipe I went to my tried and true Oatmeal Cookie Jiffy Mix. As you may know from my other oatmeal cookie recipe this mix lends itself to a variety of experimental cookies. You will get roughly 18-20 cookies out of this recipe.


1 box Oatmeal Cookie Jiffy Mix
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 very ripe medium banana mashed to a baby food consistency
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (can increase if desired)


Empty box of mix into large bowl, add egg, butter, mashed banana, and chopped nuts and mix well.

Let mix stand for 10 minutes to stiffen.

Drop 1 teaspoon of mix on cookie sheet about an inch apart for expansion.

Bake at 380° for 10-12 minutes. (experiment with your oven) Normally I would cook them at 350° but I increased the temperature due to the added moisture of the banana.

Remove from oven and place on cooling rack (if you can stand to let them cool).

There you go, you are done. Enjoy. Next time I will be trying out the recipe with an oatmeal cookie recipe recommended to me by another blogger. This does not mean that I won’t continue to keep my Jiffy Mixes in my pantry. I am rebuilding my recipe book because I won’t always be in a place where the mix is readily available to me.

So until next post Itadaki masu!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bento #12

I wasn’t sure if I was going to post this bento because I feel it’s so bland but I changed my mind. This bento is one of my throw together bentos. I have been so uninspired lately with my bento making. Don’t get me wrong the bento itself was very tasty and filling but as far as in a photographic since it is not interesting.

The first section is filled with sauté broccoli, penne paste with butter, salt, pepper and cilantro and my Breaded Turkey Zucchini Patties. I used one of the patties as a natural baran between the pasta and broccoli.

In the second section peeled pink grape fruit, dried apricots (natural baran), walnuts, a few fruit snacks and Oatmeal Raisin Banana Nut Cookies.

Hopefully my next bentos will be a little more photogenic.

Until then Itadaki masu!

The other day I was feeling a little inspired and wanted to try out some new recipes. I have to admit I’m not good at recipe writing because I cook from feel most of the time. Yeah I know that is not good if the dish comes out tasty because how can I duplicate it if I don’t have it written down. Well most of the time I do take pictures of every step and try to write everything down immediately after. Well for this recipe I forgot to write everything down and I did not take a photo of every step. So here is my attempt at remembering what I did.

When I do cook by recipe I like recipes that have very few ingredients because I believe there is less chance for mistakes then. I believe it is important for someone who is cooking a recipe for the first time to get it as accurate as possible to have a baseline to go from when you attempt to tweak it to suit your own tastes. So when I create something I usually keep the original recipe down to only a few ingredients with room for expansion.

The other day I was looking for something different. Recently I have been trying to stay away from a lot of fried foods in an attempt to take off a few pounds but I began craving something fried. However instead of going out to a fast food place I decided to make something at home. That way I can control the ingredients that will go into it.

I went into my pantry and found that I had some zucchini that I bought for another project. I didn’t want it to go bad so I decided to experiment with some dishes. The first one I made I won’t mention now because it came out less than stellar. Then I decided to add some to some ground turkey along with some shredded cheese I had and it was on. Here is the result of my labor.

1 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup finely shredded zucchini
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

1 Egg
8 teaspoons cold water
4 tablspoons of flour

Note that all of the seasoning is approximated because I very rarely measure except when I am baking. I will update this post the next time I make this dish with true measurements (I hope ;~)).


1. Combine ground turkey, shredded zucchini and shredded cheese then season to taste. Mix well

2. Take about 1 teaspoon full of the mix and create small patties. Place them on a plate and cover them with wax paper and place in the refrigerator to chill and firm up for about 30 minutes. The firming not absolutely necessary but I find it makes the patties easier to handle when putting into the batter and panko bread crumbs.

Note I used the following method to create my patties for this recipe. (see photo below)

Wax paper roll method:

· Tear off a piece of wax paper about 12 inches long.
· Take mixture from the bowl and form it into a rough sausage shape.
· Place on the wax paper about 5 inches from the end.
· Place the end of the wax paper over the turkey roll leaving a short edge you will use to hold on to.
· With a cutting board place it against the roll on top of the wax paper and pull to form a tight even roll.
· Then roll up in the remainder of the wax paper, twist the ends closed and stick it in your freezer to chill and firm up for about 20 minutes.
· Once chilled remove wax paper and place on a cutting board. With a very sharp knife cut off even slices about 1/2 inch thick.

3. Once the patties are chilled make the batter and in another bowl put the panko bread crumbs for breading the patties.

4. Combine the egg, cold water and flour in a bowl and mix well. Also this is the time to turn on your skillet to heat the oil. Note I did not give a temperature amount for the oil because I know that every cook surface is different. I place mine to medium heat and that worked for me. Please experiment with one patty to check to see if you temperature is right.

5. Dip the patty into the batter covering it and then place it in a bowl filled with the panko bread crumbs.

6. Cover the patties with the bread crumbs and set them aside on wax paper the set.

7. Place no more than 3 patties in at a time so as there is not a significant drop in the temperature of the oil.

8. Fry to a golden brown. Let cool and serve.

These patties can be cooked in advance then reheated. I use a toaster oven set at 380° for 10-15 minutes. These patties are also the perfect size for bento so they will be included into my bento stash in the freezer.

I will be experimenting with other vegetables and seasonings and will keep you updated.

So until next time.

Itadaki masu!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Speading the Sunshine Award

I arrived at my blog today and found a pleasant surprise. I had been given a Sunshine Award by a new blogger friend Eric Ackerson from My Hungry Tum. Eric’s blog is absolutely wonderful in its concept of exploring foods from around the world through the national dishes of each country. I was introduced to Eric’s blog when he began following me on twitter and when I saw what his blog was all about I loved it.

I feel that the entire world is connected by food. At any given time we are all eating and enjoying the tastes of the different foods of where we live or of places we might like to go. Food is universal we all need it to survive and anyone who is given the gift of talent to be able to prepare delicious meals for family and friends are truly blessed.

It took me a while to hone the skills that where inherently passed down to me by my parents who where great cooks. That is why I enjoy sharing my flavor and taste with others. As I was passed on this award so shall I pass it on to others. The following 12 people are only a few of whom have been a source of inspiration to me in my short time as a food blogger. Seriously I wish I could pick more than 12.

When I began my journey into Asian food I found a blog called Rasa Malaysia written by Bee Yinn Low. This blog explores the gambit of food from many different Asian countries. I find it a great source for anyone who is looking to explore those types of ethnic foods.

Hapa Bento written by Debra is a blog that is about bentos and the bento making process and is a constant source of inspiration for me in my bento making education. Debra explores multinational cuisine and fits it into the bento process.

Happy Little Bento written by Sherimaya is another bento blog that has been a great inspiration to me. I am always amazed at how she is able to make her bentos with foods that some adults won’t eat but her kids will. She is also a very nice person and is always very encouraging.

Hawai`i’s Bento Box Cookbook written by Susan is another bento blog that is I feel an inspiration to parents of small children. Her beautiful bentos are fun and appetizing. Susan is also a very sweet person and very helpful.

Bentolicious is written by Lia who I must say is a great kyaraben or charaben bento artist. I call her an artist because she is able to take these characters that kids love and turn them into something very edible. She is always there with a kind word when you need it and even when you don’t.

Itadakimas written by Debbie Davidson is only one of her blogs that take you right into the culture of Japan. I began following one of Debbie’s other blogs on etegami as further exploration into the culture of Japan and found this blog and her other one on Japanese confections which have been a great source of inspiration to me.

Cook Japan is another source for Japanese cooking I have found. The recipes explore cooking Japanese recipes in different conventional ways.

What’s Cookin’ Italian Style Cuisine is a blog about homemade Italian cooking. Claudia gives you recipes that are in my opinion easy to make and tasty to eat.

Cooking Korean food with Maangchi I found this blog when I began my exploration into Korean cuisine. Through her YouTube channel and her blog she takes you through recipes that make cooking Korean food look easy and very tasty.

Eat, Live, Travel Write is a blog written by Mardi who takes you into the world of French cuisine. Her love of France and the French culture is exhibited in the recipes she posts.

Savory Japan is another blog that I have recently found that contains a wealth of information on Japanese cuisine and culture.

Japan Food Addict is a new blog I have recently found. It is filled with a gold mine of Japanese dishes that anyone can attempt.

Even though it may appear that I am very focused on Japanese cuisine and culture, which I am, I still enjoy foods from all over the world. I love finding recipes to try from different cultures and incorporating them into my daily life. Although I have name 12 blogs that has inspired me in my journey through the realm of food and food blogging there are so many more blogs I wish I could mention. To the people I have listed thanks for your inspiration and please pass this award along to other deserving recipients.

To the award winners, please pass this on to your favorite bloggers! Here are the Rules:
  1. Put the logo on your blog or within your post
  2. Pass the award on to 12 bloggers
  3. Link the nominees within your post
  4. Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog
  5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award
Thanks for the inspiration, and pass some sunshine around!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bento #11

Bento number 11 is another very simple bento. However everything in this bento with the exception of the boiled egg was seasoned with Hidden Valley Dip Mixes. I like using these mixes because they are very quick and versatile. This bento consisted of dill season rice, dill season tilapia, seasoned green beans and a bowled egg.

First off I used rice from my bento stash. I measured out 1 cup and placed that in a microwave safe bowl with 2 tablespoons of chicken broth made from the last time I cooked chicken and about 1/4 teaspoon of Hidden Valley Dip Mix Harvest Dill flavor. I mixed and microwaved it for about 2 minutes. Then I thinly sliced a baby carrot to decorate the top and give it a little more color.

Next I place 1/2 cup of canned green beans in a microwave safe bowl. I seasoned it with some of the HVR original dip mix (I ran out of the harvest dill) and mixed it. I microwaved it for about 1 minute.

I prepped the tilapia the night before by cutting it into small nugget sized pieces and then I seasoned them with the HVR harvest dill dip mix. When I was ready to cook it for the bento I went to the recipe for Korokke Pan by Cooking With Dog from You Tube. I found that cooking method worked out well for cooking the tilapia as well.

I added a boiled egg (“green”) baran between the tilapia and the green beans which qualifies this bento for the Hapabento March B.O.M.B. challenge. The egg was not season. However I did cut it with a paring knife in the zig zag design for a decorative effect.

There we go. Until the next bento.

Itadaki masu!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bento #10

This bento is actually from my dinner a couple of days ago. I was as always looking for something simple to fix because I had been so busy lately. My daughter had been craving salads lately so we have been having them for dinner for a few days.

This salad is made up with organic romaine lettuce chopped and organic spinach chopped as its base. To be honest I only like to eat raw spinach because I don’t like the taste of it cooked but if there is anyone out there who has a good spinach recipe that you think will make me like cooked spinach by all means share.

The additional topping consist of shredded cheese, julienne carrots and bite sized chicken pieces. Normally I would add a chopped boiled egg and leave it at that and put on a light dressing. This time I forgot to boil the eggs so I decided to add some chopped walnuts and pretzel pieces from a bag of Ghardetto’s placing the toasted brown bread bits on the side.

The dressing was made from 1/4 cup of light sour cream with Hidden Valley Ranch Dip Mix added to it to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon) and about 1/2 teaspoon of 2% milk. Most people would say why go through all of that trouble. Just use a light ranch dressing instead. I have to tell you in my opinion there is a distinct difference in the taste.

I must say I thoroughly enjoyed this salad and anyone who says a salad can not be a meal doesn’t know how to make a real salad.

Until the next bento.

Itadaki masu!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bento #9

I’ve been busy lately so I’ve been keeping my bentos very simple. This one is from last week. The top part contains a simple turkey pasta salad with chopped spinach on top. The bottom part contains a strawberry fan, sliced bananas, blueberries and honey roasted almonds.

Itadaki masu!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bento #8

Here’s another very simple bento.

Yesterday I wrote up my bento post really fast. I have been in a bento block for a little while and wanted to get that post up as soon as I could because I finally came up with a bento I felt worthy of posting.

Well this bento consists of a chicken salad lettuce wrap. The chicken salad is made up of baked chicken breast (shredded), shredded cheese, carrot sticks, boiled egg, with a small amount of Hidden Valley Ranch Dip Mix and Kraft Mayonnaise with lime juice. The wrap is romaine lettuce. You can also see three little wraps made from the remaining pieces of the lettuce leaves. Waste not want not. There is also walnuts and trail mix along with Michigan grown Fuji apple slices and a Baby Bel cheese round.

I was looking to make something very simple and light but filling and I think this bento hit the nail on the head.

Until the next bento.

Itadaki masu!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bento #7

Today’s bento is very simple.

Chicken Salad Wrap: Consists of baked chicken breast (shredded), shredded cheese, carrot sticks, boiled egg, with a small amount of Hidden Valley Ranch Dip Mix and Kraft Mayonnaise with lime juice.

Crunches: Gardetto’s pretzel snack mix

Fruit: Michigan grown Fuji apple slices

Snack: 1 piece of dark chocolate

I made this bento for my daughter. She wanted something very simple and light.

Until the next bento.

Itadaki masu!