Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Kabocha Squash Coffee Cake

Squash is an awesome versatile vegetable, wouldn't you agree? It can sit on your counter for weeks and wont go bad, it can be added to everything from soups, casseroles, and even baked goods.  I even used squash as the sauce in mac n cheese and it was a-ma-zing!  I don't know why it took me this long to start using squash....oh ya maybe because the commissary charges over $6 bucks for any type of squash, it wasn't till I ventured off base and started shopping for my produce at the local Japanese farmers market that I realize how cheap squash really is.  The same sized squash I buy on base for over $6 dollars I can get off base for under $2 bucks, crazy right.  

I've been stocking up on squash and searching for a wide variety of recipes to start using it, not only is it cheap, its super hearty for vegetarians, full of fiber and vitamins and it can be added to every dish.   I recently used the Kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin squash) in a chickpea stew, mac n cheese and now this delicious coffee cake.  Whats great about Japanese pumpkin squash is that it taste a lot like the normal orange pumpkin you can buy for Halloween.  Its slightly sweet, a pain in the ass to cut though and orange in color.  I've been making a lot of dishes lately with pumpkin and have turned a pumpkin hater co-worker into a pumpkin lover now, especially after she tried this coffee cake, her mom even wanted to recipe :) When a mom wants your recipe you know you got something special.

Next time, I'll be doubling the crumb mixture because you can never had enough added to the top.

Kabocha Squash Coffee Cake
Servings: 10-12 


Crumb Mixture

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cooking oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold un salted butter


1.  Add all the dry ingrentins into a bowl and mix until combined,
2.  Cut in your cold butter and mix until the mixture is crumbly. I find that using a fork helps or just my hands. Set the bowl aside when finished.


1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed cooked kabocha squash (or any othre sweet squash like pumpkin or butternut)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
A pinch of ground cloves
1/2 cup unsweetned applesauce


1.  Preheat your oven at 350 degrees and grease a 9-in springform pan. 
2.  In a medium bowl combined your dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg,   and clove. whisk until combined and set aside.
3.   In an electric mixer cream together the shortening and sugar on high until light and fluffy, about 3 min.
4.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5.  Beat in the squash and vanilla.
6.  Gradually add in your dry ingredients into the creamed mixture until fully combined.
7.  Spoon half of your batter into the greased sprinform pan, using the back of a spoon to help spread it evenly.
8.  Spread your appleasauce over the batter in the pan and sprinkle with half of the crumb mixture.
9.  Spread the remaming batter over the applesauce/crumb mixture, using the back of a spoon again to help spread it evenly.  Add the remaining crumb mixture to the top.
10.  Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (FYI my oven bakes fast so it was done early. around the 40-45 min mark. so test your cake early.)
11.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing the sides of the pan. Makes about 10-12 servings.

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Candy Corn M&M Blondies

Its been a few weeks, I know I can give every excuse in the book, I'll spare you from coming up with a few, like my dog ate my computer....yeah that one diffidently sounds plausible.  I haven't been neglecting my kitchen, trust me I have piles and piles of dishes in the sink to prove it.  I've just been neglecting my little blog.   Yes I've been busy, work is constant but still, I could have taken a few photos of something, but then I get home late and I sit on the couch for 2 seconds and it turns into 2 hours before I have to peel myself off and go to bed.  

But no more! fall is just right around the corner and there are too many awesome apple, squash, pumpkin recipes to share.  I love baking and cooking with fall flavors its part of the reason I love this season so much, its not just for the gorgeous foliage changing and the crisp cool sweater weather its also for all that delicious food.  Kinda like these blondies I wanted to share, I happen to discover candy corn m&m's at the store and immediately added a bag to my basket, didn't even have to think about buying them because I know I was going to make something tasty with these m&ms. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hot Fudge! Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Hot Fudge

You know what goes great with every scoop of ice cream?  A huge dollop of homemade hot fudge.  I like to think of myself as a pro when it comes to ice cream.  I know ice cream is awesome by itself but when paired with toppings of all kind it just gets better.  So tonight I'm going to have me a nice big bowl of ice cream with dark chocolate peanut butter hot fudge, oh yeah you betta believe it peanut butter hot fudge.  This will for sure help ease the pain of tomorrow, cause I'm already prepared for a hell of a day at work, the life of an AF paralegal is diffidently not a boring job.  

Now hot fudge is pretty spectacular, but when I decided to raid my pantry and found reeses peanut butter chips and incorporate them into the mix it totally blew my mind. Who doesn't like chocolate and peanut butter together, they wear meant to be.  This fudge recipe is a keeper in our fridge, I try to come up with ideas to use this sauce on anything and everything...cookies done, fruit dip yes! mixed into coffee sure why not. 

 By the way I wont judge if you want to eat this hot fudge by the spoonful cause secretly if there is no ice cream around who's to say you can't eat this straight from the jar..I do :)

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Hot Fudge
Adapted from Averie Cooks

Yields about 16 ounces


2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (I used Hersey's special Dark)
pinch of salt
4 ounces bittersweet dark chocolate
1/3 cup reeses peanut butter chips
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Using a medium heavy sauce pan over medium heat bring together the cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, cocoa powder and half of the dark chocolate to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon until the chocolate is melted and all the ingredients are combined, Reduce the heat and continue cooking at a low boil for 5 minutes, keep stirring with your wooden spoon to avoid burning the chocolate.

2. Remove from heat and add the butter and the rest of the dark chocolate, peanut butter chips, vanilla and salt. Stir until smooth. Let cool for a couple of minutes and drizzle over ice cream.

3.  This keeps very well in the fridge with a tight fitting lid for a few weeks, but will harden, just stick in the microwave for 20 second intervals until melted again. Warning, super addicting and easy to eat by the spoonful.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Crumb Coffee Cake

Its good to be home and back in my kitchen ~ But I think I'm going to need another vacation from my recent vacation.

When we set out for our trip 3 weeks ago to the states to visit family I had not fully prepared myself with the amount of traveling we decided to cram into 3 weeks.  I'm still in disbelief on how many miles we drove, walked and even rowed.  We easily covered over 1500 miles, traveling to 4 different states and another country (Canada).

The best highlights of the trip were starting off in New York City for 2 nights where we walked  10 miles of Manhattan to eat at the "first" pizza place Lombardi's, checked out the Empire State Building, visited the Space Shuttle Enterprise at the Intrepid Museum, by the way free for active duty :) and hitched a ferry ride to Staten Island to catch a glimpse of the statue of Liberty.  After leaving NYC we picked up our car in Syracuse and headed south to Pennsylvania to Hersey Park and went to a Dave Matthews Concert (totally awesome!), then headed up towards Scranton to visit my brother in-law, his gf and our niece for the first time.  (This was the first 5 days)

The best bagel cream cheese in Lox in all of NY
Intrepid Museum 

Biggest Ladder Back Chair in the world
Dave Matthews 

After our time in PA we drove to Vermont to visit family, play some disc golf and had fish in chips in 
Massachusetts with Grandma.  Took a detour to Lake George and camped out for 3 nights on a island in the middle of the lake, did a little kayaking, cliff jumping (small cliff), tubing, watched an amazing electric storm on the lake..oh and was savagely attacked by mosquitos.  We kept traveling north for  a reunion in Plattsburg NY later that evening went even further north to Montreal Canada where we stayed in the historic part of downtown in a cute little hotel watching fireworks from the bridge, walking the entire city checking out local shops and restaurants and trying putine for the first time, which by the way is fries smothered in gravy and topped with cheese curds...delicious!! (All this in week 2)

Cliff Jumping Lake George 

Birds eye view of Montreal 

After our stay in Canada we left to meet up with my father in-law at his camp in the Andirondacks where we stayed a couple of nights, went canoeing, boating and thrift shopping. the last leg of our journey we headed back to Syracuse to catch up on sleep, laundry and more sleep before leaving to go back to Japan.

 All in all it was a very successfully trip, we saw a lot of family that we haven't seen an a couple of years, our rental car never gave us issues and for the most part we didn't get lost when driving all over the northeastern side of the country.

Now to the food, I made this coffee cake before I left on vacation, some co-workers were craving it, this recipe came out amazing, very light, sweet and the huge brown sugar crumbles are delicious, they were my favorite part.  Place this cake soaks up coffee like a sponge.

Crumb Coffee Cake

Adapted from Sally's baking addiction

1 Tablespoon Flour, to coat the pan
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons cold butter, lightly softened in the microwave for 20 seconds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray and sprinkle the bottom of the pan with flour, tapping out excess flour.

2. Whisk the flour, sugar, salt together in a large bowl until combined.  Cut the butter into 1 tablespoon sized pieces and using your hands or a fork mix/mash together the butter and dry ingredients until it resembles a crumbly mixture. scoop out 1 cup of the mixture and set it aside.

3. Transfer the rest of the ingredients from the large mixing bowl into an electric mixer (the batter is going to be very thick and the mixer helps a lot) Add in the baking soda and powder and mix together for 1 minute. Add in the buttermilk, egg, vanilla and mix everything together on medium high speed for about 2 minutes until smooth and fluffy, the batter will look kinda of like frosting, pour the batter into the springform pan and using a spatula smooth the top of the batter until even in the pan.

4. Using your empty large mixing bowl add in the reserved 1 cup of flour mixture and add in the brown sugar and cinnamon, using a fork or your hands crumble up the ingredients together making course crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs over the batter, pressing lightly so the crumbs stick to the batter.

5.  Bake for 50-55 minutes (mine took 50) or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, allow to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, remove the side of the springform pan and cool completely to room temp.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Coconut & Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I can't wait, one more week and me and the hubby will be off to the east coast for a much needed vacation.  I think its been about 2 years since we've been on a vacation.  Our last one was in 2011 after we came back from a 8 month deployment in Iraq.

In the military we earn 30 days of leave a year and when you dont use that leave up they just roll over to the next year. Basically we earn about 2.5 days of leave every month.  

Some people dont normally have issues with taking leave from their work centers. But then if you are one of those unlucky people who have jobs where its very hard to coordinate leave, you can end up not taking leave for several years and have about 70-80 in the books to use. But it doesn't help to save that much leave because you are only authorized to use 30 days at anyone given time, you can never go over 30 days without commander approval.  When I was a mechanic it was extremely hard to take leave beause of low manning and workload so I only took a vacation about every other year.  My new job as a paralegal is pretty much the same, only because we dont have many people in the office and we can get pretty busy with court-martials.  Im fortunate enough that I was able to coordinate some leave for about 3 weeks and now we are off to a family reunion in New York plus a Dave Matthews concert in Hersey PA! Plus I'm pretty excited to go back to the states and shop.

These cookies were a big hit at work the combination of chocolate and coconut combined within a oatmeal cookie seemed like the perfect match. Plus it helps when you just overload the batter with chocolate chips so every cookie and every bite took you got come chocolate chips and coconut. 

Coconut & Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from the Messy Baker

Yields: 25-30 cookies depending on size


1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups old fashinoned rolled oats
3/4 cup chocolate chips (your favorited kind)
3/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk togehter the flour, baking soda, salt and oats, set aside.

3. In a electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy about 3 minutes, add in the eggs and vanilla extract until completely combined.

4. Switch the mixer to low speed and gradually add in the flour mixture until combined, making sure the scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorportate everything together.

5. Fold in the chocolate chips and coconut into the batter and depending on how big you want to make your cookies roll a 1 to 2 inch ball together slightly flatting it and place it on the parchment paper 2 inch apart from each other  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove cookies from oven and cool on a wire rack. Enjoy with a giant glass of milk!

*This cookie dough can be made ahead and kept in the fridge up to 5 days in an air tight container.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Green Tea Coconut Ice Cream

I love ice cream, you've probably heard this statement from multiply people, cuz come on who doesn't  love ice cream? But no seriously I..LOVE..ICE CREAM.  It's my go to dessert of choice, hell I could probably eat ice cream everyday for the rest of my life and never get tired of it.  If I had to be stranded on a deserted island and could only have 1 choice of food, it would be ice cream.  I told you I'm pretty serious about my ice cream. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Chocolate Chiffon Cupcakes w/Raspberry Buttercream

Military Life: EXERCISE EXERCISE EXERCISE.....I will hear this sentence at least 50 times in the course of an military exercise/drill that we do on base every few months.  It's expesically not fun when you're sleeping in the middle of the day and over the base intercom system you hear someone shouting the word exercise 3 times, along with a command, every hour or so.  Unfortunately I'm a light sleeper :/ but I love working night shift, and I'm prepared to never get any sleep since I live on base and hear every alarm, warning and the "big voice" come over the base intercom system.  Exercise's mean wearing chem gear and performing certain training injects for about an week.  It makes you appreciate your normal job you do in the military every day, after you've sweated through your chem gear for 12 hours a day for a week. If you want to know what it looks like to wear chem gear I have pics here the last time I made my portobello mushroom chili

During a break this weekend we had a baby shower for one of the captains and his wife, and there was a ton of delicious food there.  I always like to bring the dessert.  So for the baby shower I had asked the mommy to be what her favorite flavors were and she mentioned chocolate & raspberry or chocolate & peanut butter, I knew I liked her!  That right there is like the perfect combo for any baker, who doesnt like chocolate & peanut butter or chocolate & raspberry together....if  you dont, well then you must be crazy.  I found the worlds fluffiest cake recipe, I've heard of chiffon cake before but never gave it a shot till today.  This recipe turned out to be one of the truly fluffiest and lightest chocolate cakes I've ever had and paired with a raspberry buttercream topped with ganche drizzle, how can you say no to this tasty creation.  Sadly I made a peanut butter version with this same chiffon cake because I had so much batter leftover, but I didn't have anytime to take pictures before we had to leave for the party, expect for this pic taken with my ipod which clearly shows that the cake vanished fast...
the 8 inch Chocolate Chiffon Cake w/ Peanut Butter Frosting & ganache
oh well...looks like i'll have to make it again :)  FYI this is a lot of batter so if you have a big party or a lot of mouths to feed this is perfect.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake
Adapted from Natasha's Kitchen 

Yields: 24 cupcakes and 1 (8 inch 2/12 inch tall cake pan) or over 48 cupcakes or 1 cake using a 10" springform pan


1/2 cup unsweetned cocoa powder
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
7 egg yolk at room temp, keep the egg whites! you will use them later

1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar

7 egg whites at room temp
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar


- Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside, if making a cake too  in a 8inch cake pan line the bottom with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl combine the cocoa powder and boiling water together and stir until smooth, add in the oil, buttermilk, vanilla extract and egg yolks and whisk until combined and smooth.
- In a separate large bowl combined your flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar together and whisk until the ingredients are blended together breaking up any large pieces of brown sugar lumps.
- Now combine your wet mixture into the large bowl with your dry mixture and mix until the ingredients are wet, be careful to not over mix.
- In a electric mixer add your egg whites and mix on medium speed for 2 min. till frothy, add in the cream of tartar and beat for another 2 minutes on medium-high speed till whites start forming small peaks, Turn the mixer to high and slowly add in the sugar, continue mixing on high speed for 2 more minutes till stiff peaks form.
Soft peaks

Stiff peaks
- Using a spatula fold in the whites into your chocolate batter 1/3 of the whites at a time until all is completely incorporated.

- Using a ice cream scoop fill your paper-lines up 3/4 full and bake for about 10-13 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  For the 8 inch cake bake for about 45 minutes.
- Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack, once cool decorate with your buttercream
*Note: when the cupcakes come out they will shrink a little so dont be alarmed.

Raspberry Buttercream
Adapted from Grandbaby Cakes 


1 cup butter at room temp
3/4 cup raspberry jam
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whipping cream or milk


- In a electric mixer beat or butter on medium-high speed till light and fluffy about 3 minutes, add in the jam and continue beating on medium high until fluffy about 3 more minutes.
- Gradually add in your powdered sugar, using the milk or cream to help thin it out. Mix until all is combined and smooth about another 2-3 minutes. Pipe your buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes

Chocolate Ganche
Adapted from Grandbaby Cakes 


8 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla


- Place your chocolate chips into a medium bowl and set aside
- In a small saucepan heat your whipping cream on medium heat on the stove until just boiling
- Pour the hot cream on top of your chocolate chips and let sit for 2 minutes.
- Add in the corn syrup and vanilla and whisk till smooth.
- Place your frosted cupcakes into the freezer for or refrigerated for 30 minutes and then dip into the cooled ganche, place back in the fridge or freezer (if your short on time) to set the ganche.

I link up to these great parties!

Monday, May 27, 2013

A juicing experience: Ruby Red Juice

Military Life:  Did you know all military members have to pass a annual/semi annual physical fitness test every year (PT test as we like to call it).  If you dont you could potentially be kicked out of the military for not staying physically fit. The military puts a lot of emphases on being "fit to fight" you wont do yourself or any of your battle buddies any good if you are huffing and puffing in your 50 lbs Kevlar gear in the desert under hostile conditions, trust me that gear is heavy I know.  Now we're all not constantly deployed or in hostile conditions, but you still need to stay fit incase you have to be deployed, not to mention its just healthier and better for you if you are constantly striving to be or stay fit.  Plus talk about a good motivator to get your butt in the gym, (at least for me it is) its either workout and stay in shape or basically get fired!  In the last few years as I start to creep up into my late 20's, dare I say close to 30 :/  I have found it harder and harder to keep those pesky pounds off, I was not fortunate enough to be blessed with the skinny gene, I have always had to make sure that I not only eat healthy but I have to add daily exercise into my routine or poof I swear in 3 months I can put on 10 lbs.  

Because of my constant need and my own personal desire to stay healthy and fit, I have been trying to incorporate more vitamins into my diet.  My kryptonite is a multivitamin, this girl cannot talk adult sized multivitamin without getting sick, seriously it will come right back up (sorry not trying to gross you out), I've tried taking Flintstone vitamins but I'm the worst at remembering to take it and even when I do they still make me somewhat nauseas. Recently I came across an article about juicing and how juicing your veggies and fruits deliver their vitamins and nutrients straight into your blood stream because your stomach doesn't need to break down or digest any of the fibers from the produce.  Well, I received a juicer a couple of months ago for a birthday present from my hubby, and he was smart and didn't buy a super expensive one, he got me something mid price and would get the job done and I could not be happier with my juicer.

 I love taking random fruits and veggies from the fridge and juicing them to see what delicious concoctions I can create, not only do I enjoy taking my vitamins in juice form but its quite filling and I sometimes will drink a big glass of juice as a meal replacement.  You'll also find out quickly which combinations dont work while juicing,  like celery ...Yuck, seriously I'm not kidding freakin gross! I dont know what it is but I thought I would like cerely, I cook with it, I like to eat it raw but I found that I do not like it juiced at all, it literally runis any juice if I add a stalk of celery in it, its just so over powering and bitter? not sure how else to explain it, but celery will probably never end up in a juice of mine ever again, especially not after having to choke down a juice I made recently with celery in it, because I refused to toss it down the drain, especially when most fruits and veggies are pretty pricy here in Japan. Other than hating on celery I really enjoy beets, they have a distinct taste but not in a bad way, and juicing beets produces the most gorgeous ruby color. This particular juice is very beety, if its too overwhelming try adding grapefruit. 

This picture does not represent the amount
I put into the juice, just the produce I used,
 I used almost half of what you
see here for my juice (not shown is lemon)

Ruby Red
Recipe by Oishii Treats

Yields:  8 oz


1/2 (2" in diameter) Beet, peeled and sliced small enough to fit in your juicer
1/2  (5 inch long) Sweet Potato, sliced
1 small carrot or 5-6 baby carrots
1 small apple, sliced and remove seeds
1 inch sized piece of ginger
2 think slices of a lemon, cut off the peel


-Add all ingredients into your juicer, once juiced, stir all together and enjoy.

This is a rough estimate of the nutrition and vitamins of this particular juice from using Juice Recipes Juice Builder
Calories: 108  Potassium: 497 mg  Vitamin A: 52.5%  Vitamin C: 15.96%  Calcium: 3.55% Iron: 10.56%

Note: If the juice is too beety try adding some grapefruit for a more sweet and sour flavor.

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