Thanks for downloading and sharing!

Thank you so much for your downloading and sharing my “Kitchen Wizard Flexipes” during the promo last two days. Thanks to your support, it was #8 on all free Kindle cookbooks, food and wine category; #11 on Lifestyle and Home; and #1 on International and Regional Cookbooks at the end of 2 days.

Even though there was no pre-announcements, there were thousands of downloads — more than 1 download per minute!  It was so exciting! There even was one from Amazon Brazil!  It happened because of your support. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.  Thank you so much!

Hope you like “Kitchen Wizard Flexipes“.

If you like my book, please write and post a review on Amazon! It’s a lifeline for a new author like me.  Thank you for your support, in advance!

Have fun Kitchen Wizarding!


Free download “Kitchen Wizard Flexipes” till tomorrow


Kitchen Wizard Flexipes

A new, ebook-version of my “Kitchen Wizard Flexipes” is out. As my blog reader, I’d love you to download it free as my thank-you gift.  Free download is available on Amazon till midnight tomorrow, March 4 (US Pacific Time).  After that, the price will go up to $4.97.
You can read it on practically any devices — PC/Mac, Ipad, Smart phone with Amazon’s free app, or on good ol’ Kindle.  So feel free to share with your friends and family — before midnight tomorrow, anyone can download it at no cost!
It’s a win-win-win!  Your friends will learn smart tips to cook more variety of food in much less time; they will love you for it; and the more people download, the higher my Amazon ranking goes.  If you like the book, please be sure to write an Amazon review!  Thank you for your help, in advance.
Have fun Kitchen Wizarding!
PS: Be sure to download and tell your friends about it well before midnight tomorrow (March 4) US Pacific Time. After that the price will go up.

Kitchen Wizard Flexipes Book (paperback & Kindle) is out!

Kitchen Wizard Flexipes Book (paperback & Kindle) is out!

Happy New Year everyone!  

What’s your new year’s resolutions?  The number one resolution to many is “eating healthy”!  As we all know (including myself), keep eating healthy gets difficult as the days go by.

A great news!  My Kitchen Wizard method has become a book!  It’s available as both paper back and e-book from Amazon.  Give yourself a magic wand to help you finally succeed in your commitment and build a sustainable habit easily.  

Here’s to your happy and healthy 2013, filled with tasty home-made meals!



Recipe: Mother’s Day Treat Bread Pudding with Fruit

Second Life Bread Pudding and Fruit
Mother’s Day Treat Bread Pudding and Fruit

So what do you do with the leftover egg mixture after making that Mother’s Day Treat French toast?

Throw it away, you may say.  But what if I say you can easily make a dessert out of it, by adding an extra cup of milk?

You can make a delicious bread pudding out of it!  You can even save some French bread from the toast and use in it.  One effort, two different recipes, one for brunch, one for dessert.  Ultimate cooking optimization!  Gotta love it!

I’m assuming you have already made some Mother’s Day Treat (Freezable) French Toast, and have about a cup of egg mixture left.  You don’t?  No worries!  You can still make this recipe from scratch, following the instructions underlined below. (Or you can choose to make both at once, starting from the French toast recipe, and freeze it all.)  This amount should be enough for a family of 4 for a little dessert after dinner.

Mother’s Day Treat Bread Pudding with fruit

  1. Add 1 cup milk and 1 TBS melted butter into leftover egg mixture from Freezable French Toast. (You should already have about 2/3 – 1 cup left).  Alternatively, mix 2 beaten eggs, 2 cup milk, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 TBS melted butter and cinnamon in a bowl if you are starting from scratch.
  2. Add peeled, grated and drained apple and 1/4 cup chopped dried fruit and/or raisins into the egg mixture.
  3. Break white bread into bite-size pieces and place them in a buttered 5 to 6” baking dish or individual ramekins. (Remove the crust if it’s very thick) Pour the egg mixture and let it soak completely.  Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top.
  4. Place the baking dish into a larger baking pan, and pour hot water into the outer pan to about half of the height of the egg mixture.  Bake in a 375-400F oven until set, and top is golden brown.  Serve warm or cold, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, or without.

Optional: Omit apples/raisins/dried fruit if you don’t have any.  Or use melted bitter or semi-sweet chocolate instead.

So there you have an easy dessert for Mother’s day (or Mother’s Day prep-day) too!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Recipe: Mother’s Day Treat (Freezable) French Toast

French bread soaked in egg mixture, ready to be frozen

Frozen French Toast, before...

After... Delicious French Toast!

I was going to put a post about the cold noodle salad with strawberry vinaigrette, but I need to push it back a bit.  Because…

Mother’s Day is coming.  I have a great recipe to share that allow Moms in the world to be treated well — and easy for the family.

Even moms that love to cook sometimes need a break. They get their wish come true on Mother’s day – Daddy and/or Children take her out for brunch, or even better, make a home-cooked meal!  Nice!

Here’s an easy freezable French toast trick I found in a Japanese cooking magazine. You can make a large batch this weekend, eat some and freeze the rest to have your family bring to your bedside from on Mother’s day (and beyond).

Mother’s Day Treat (Freezable) French Toast

  1. Slice French bread in 1” thick pieces.  Place all of them cut side down in a flat container.
  2. For 8 oz French bread, mix 2 eggs,  2-4 TBS sugar, 1 C milk, a little bit of vanilla essence or cinnamon, and pour it all over the bread.  Let the bread soak up the egg mixture completely (5-10 min), turning it once.
  3. For portions that will be frozen: Wrap individual portion with plastic wrap, with cut side down (if wrapping two or more together, make sure it’s wrapped side by side like on the photo, not on top of each other).  Put them on the cookie sheet with sides to avoid leakage, and freeze.
  4. For Mother’s Day, or whenever you want to have your family make this it for you: : )  Remove the plastic wrap, melt 1-2 ts butter in a skillet at low heat. Place frozen French Toasts and cook for 4-5 minutes with lid on. When it’s golden brown on the bottom, flip them, place lid again, and cook 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot with maple syrup.
  5. If they are not frozen, just cook with butter, without lid until golden brown.

We didn’t have any French bread, nor maple syrup, so made it with ciabatta, ate it as it is without syrup.  It was chewy, yet moist and delicious!

So go ahead and make some this weekend, and have the frozen version ready to go for your family to treat you to breakfast in bed later on Mother’s day.

As in this recipe, save some basic things you cooked previously, things like various sautéed vegetables, vegetable and meat mixtures etc. and give your family some written instructions.  Your sous-chef of the house (husband and children) will be able to assemble meals when you are away, busy or you need a break!  Look under “batch and fridge” or “batch and freeze” categories on my blog for ideas for food to keep on hand, and what you can do with them.  As a matter of fact, when I got pneumonia last fall, these batched items in our fridge and freezer literary saved our lives, and upgraded my husband’s status as a Kitchen Wizard. Because of that incident, when I was still in Japan about a month ago, but he was back in the US, I didn’t have to stock up food before I left as usual.  What a treat!

In case you are wondering, my husband never really cook much in the past, so if he can do it, your husband and/or children can do it too!

Talking about batching,  if you have that strawberries and radish from the last post sitting around, it may be a bit limp and jammy…  Actually they are quite good with these French Toast as a topping.  If you cannot stand the idea of radish with the French toast, just pick them out.  You won’t even notice.

So what do you do with leftover egg mix in the container?  How about making an easy dessert?

Stay tuned for the easy bread pudding recipe…  Click “ Email Subscription” on the right column, so that you won’t miss it!

The Japanese noodle salad with strawberry soy dipping sauce will be posted after that…

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Recipe: Marinated Strawberries and Radishes

“I got the best adult toy ever.”

When I said that on the Facebook, some of our friends got overly curious about what it is.

What do you think it is?

I got an Iphone, finally. It’s a lot more easy and fun than I thought, and to my surprise, it saves me a ton of time. As you know, I like things easy, efficient and fun.

One example is taking a photo for my blog.

OK, the quality of the photo may not be as good as it could be, but just being able to take a photo, upload it on Facebook immediately without downloading and all that hassle, AND be able to use it for my blog post right away. I’m writing this post as a reply to my email with that photo on my IPhone. WordPress has this great feature that if I send it to a particular email ID, it gets posted on my blog immediately. It’s amazing as soon as I push “Send/Receive” on my Outlook, I will find an email from WordPress that a new article is posted on “Secrets of a Kitchen Wizard”.

So when I made this new dish my friend Fumi told me about, I took a photo with my brand new IPhone and posted on Facebook immediately, as a practice. Yes, it’s the dish those who came to my class last Saturday get to sample. : )

She found this recipe from a new Japanese movie called “Eatrip” that I’d love to see.

The combination of strawberries and radishes sounds a bit strange, but it’s really nice and refreshing. Best to eat it when it’s marinated for about 3 hours, not too long (it gets limp.)

Marinated Strawberries & Radishes (from Japanese movie “Eatrip“)


  • 1 pack strawberries (cut in half or quarter if big)
  • 1 bunch radishes – about 10 (sliced thin)
  • 2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 2 TBS Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 TBS Turbinado or Brown Sugar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Mix EVOO, Wine Vinegar, Sugar well in a container with a lid.
2. Add Strawberries and radishes and mix gently to coat them well with the vinaigrette. Season with a little bit of Salt and pepper to taste.
3. Cover, and let it marinate for about 3 hours in the fridge.

Note: You can use the leftover juice as strawberry vinaigrette for salad. I mixed it with mentsuyu noodle soup base for my cold Japanese noodle salad the next day, it was delicious! (and yes, my leftover sliced radishes also adorned this pretty dish.) I’ll share the recipe on the next post!

By the way, it’s still not late to sign-up for Diageo Wine-Pairing Teleseminar on Friday, and get access to their great Employee Wine Sale.

Want to know more? Check out this post.

Or sign up immediately from here.

Feel free to share with your friends and family who’d love to stock up great wine for great price!

So what’s your favorite function or apps on your IPhone? Please share with me.

Kitchen Wizard Turned One! Want to Have a Great Wine Deal?

It’s spring, it’s time for a big celebration and party!
Secrets of a Kitchen Wizard Turned One!
It’s time to toast with my royal readers who kept me motivated all year.

The challenge is, you guys are from all over, so to involve everyone, the celebration needs to happen virtually, so to speak.

So I asked a good friend of mine who works for Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines, one of the largest wine companies in the world, if I could share their Employee Wine Sale (which is going on just now) with all of you, and she said YES!   The deals this spring are specutacular with up to 70% off retail on many of the wines including Rosenblum Cellars! You would love it — it looks like there are wines for pretty much every occasion, both domestic and imported.  Oh, and the shipping is included.  So all you have to pay extra is your local tax.  Sweet!

Best of all, you are encouraged to invite your friends and family for the same deal.  All you need to do is to forward this email, all they need to do is to sign up.

Better yet, she and her friend will give us a wine-pairing tele-seminar.  You can send in wine-related questions in advance (leave as a comment on this post).   These experts should be able to help you choose the perfect wine from many choices they offer.

So when is it?
Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines
Wine-Pairing Tele-seminar (Complimentary):  Friday April 30, 2010 9:00 am PST
Call in number and how to post your question will be sent in your confirmation email when you sign up.

How to access the sale: the details will be given during the special call.  After the call, sale details and url will be sent again via email as well. The sale ends on May 7th.

Cannot attend the call?
No worries!  If you register, you will receive the link to the recording as well as Employee Wine Sale details promptly after the call — whether you were on the call or not.

How do you share this deal with your friends and family?
Just share the link to this post with your friend and family.  If you could add a short blurb such as “Hey, check this out.  Mari’s blog will help you whip up twice as many variety of dishes, with half the time and effort.” etc. that would be awesome!

With summer approaching, this is a great offer you cannot miss, and can share with your friends.

Sign-up for Diageo Wine-Pairing Call & Employee Wine Sale from here.

So what are your questions about wine, wine-selection or wine-pairing to these wine experts from Diageo?
Leave your question as a comment below.
Please be as specific as possible — we are expecting a lot of people on the call, so if your question is chosen, I’ll be asking your questions on your behalf.

You can ask as many questions as you want — yet make sure to use one comment box per question.

Thank you for your comments, questions and sharing my blogs with other people!
You guys are the BEST!



Please note:  Anyone can sign up and attend the call.  The wine sale is only available for US residents of 21 years of age or up.  There are different state laws in regards to shipping wines, so depending on where you live, the quantity you can order, etc. on Diageo Employee Sale site will be different.

Free Event! Farmers’ Market: Shopping & Cooking Secrets for Spring Produce

blog post photo

Have you been trying to eat more vegetables?

Have you been intrigued by all the bounty at the farmers’ market, yet shy away from it because you don’t know how to cook and enjoy it?
Well, this photo is from Kyoto, Japan, but when I saw these vegetables at the market, I felt the same way.  I wished someone would help me how to use these unusual vegetables — something I’ve eaten and liked at the restaurants, and want to try at home too.

So… I’m hosting a free class next weekend to help you with these spring bounty at our local Farmers’ Market!

What: “Farmers’ Market:  Shopping & Cooking Secrets for Spring Produce”

When: Saturday, April 24th 2010  1-3 pm

Where: Oakland Lakeview Branch Library
550 El Embarcadero, Oakland, CA  510-238-7344

We’ll meet at the I-580 side entrance of the Oakland Lakeview Library at 1pm, stroll through different booths at the Grand Lake Farmers’ Market, and discuss different produce and cooking options until about 1:45pm. (You can eat lunch during that time. Lots of great options!)

Then back at the library at 2pm, you will learn my secrets — how to optimize what you bought for your everyday cooking so that you can create one week’s worth of many different dishes with half the time and effort while having a lot of fun!

Of course, there will be demos and sampling! The class will end around 3pm.

Depending on your schedule, you can only join the farmer’s market part or the class part.

The space is limited (esp. the library portion). My last free class at this location filled in a few hours — so please RSVP by clicking here now while there are only few — about 25% of the spots left.

If you have any questions, please leave me a comment.

Hope you can join us!


Japan Food Report 1 – Amazing Food Choices at the Train Station

Food is everywhere in Japan.

A lot more than I thought, or specifically, a lot more than I remembered.

Even at the train station. I mean inside of the actual station, after you pay, and go though the ticket booth.

When we went to Kyoto, we got some bento — pre-made boxed lunches before we went through the actual ticket gate at the station. Since we started our day a bit late, I thought we should eat lunch in the train and save time in Kyoto for sight-seeing. I knew that in Japan, all these long-distance trains have vendor girls who go through the entire train to sell bento, snacks, and drinks. There are also some bento sold at platforms of the major stations of long distance lines. But in my memory, the choices were pretty limited. We had time there till our train would arrive, so I thought we should buy our bento where there was the most selection.

There were quite a bit of choices at Kamata, which is medium sized train station near my mom’s house, even without going into the adjacent department stores’ food floor. Most of the Japanese department stores have at least one, sometimes two floors dedicated to everything food for home-consumption, in addition to one or two more "restaurant floors".

We took the JR (Japan Rail) Keihin Tohoku Line to Shinagawa, to get on to the bullet train.

I was in awe when we got there!

This medium sized station changed so much! I used to get off at this station, every single day from spring of 1967 till spring of ‘77 for my elementary and junior high school. Even later, I either passed through or changed trains at that station practically every day until I left Japan in early September, 1988. Now not only Shinkansen, but Narita Express stops there. The biggest surprise was that they have something called Ecute, which is the concourse food mall, much more elaborate (when it comes to food) than those in the major airports in the world. On one floor that opens right up to the major station corridor, they have 13 food shops called "Traveler’s Kitchen", 13 sweet shops, and 7 other food related stores.

The first thing that caught my eyes…

Only in Japan, you see individually wrapped sushi. The choices are pretty impressive, far better than the typical sushi joint (at least to those who just arrived from the US!) This is a branch of a Numazu Uogashi Sushi, in English, Numazu Fish Market sushi. Numazu is a well-known fish port in a few hour South of Tokyo. No wonder they have amazing choices even for "wrapped sushi".

Another pretty and appetizing choice from Numazu Uogashi Sushi. These look prettier than desserts! I love the color contrasts, not only from the top, but from the side too. When I make chirashi zushi like this next time, I might put it in a glass container.

Traditional Japanese traveler’s lunch, onigiri. A seasonal item, the pink one on the left feature salted cherry blossoms. Looking at these choices inspires me to incorporate more colors and varieties in my cooking.

Not only Japanese, but they also have Chinese dim sum. We Japanese LOVE these, and often make them at home as well. these are giant "log gyoza", probably about 3-4 times bigger than regular gyoza.

Shrimp Chive Dumplings. They are my favorite! I bet they are pretty warm, or they will heat it up for you. We had our 3rd breakfast one hour before (we were jetlagged!), and it was only at 10 am, meaning they wouldn’t be eaten for another 2 hours, so we had to pass on them.

Japanese love foreign names, and often it sounds funny to those who speak English. (Same can be said about American stores and products with Japanese names.) Buzz Search for a fancy bakery. I wonder where the name came from???

You can buy this beautiful fruit tart at the train station, while connecting to another train. Especially because it was a station I used every day since I was 6 years old, it felt very strange. I wish train stations in the Bay Area were like this….

Japanese love seasonal items. These are Sakura (cherry blossom) Roll Cakes. I didn’t eat any, but they probably have cherry petals ground into the cake outside, and the leaf on top is cherry. We also enjoy cherry blossom tea & cherry blossom mochi (Sakura mochi) in spring as well. One time, I even bought cherry blossom udon. Pretty pink udon with a subtle scent of cherry blossoms.

Japanese often buy food or cakes for others, or when they travel somewhere, they buy something to share (and eat) for work. So they are probably for that purpose, not to eat the whole thing in the Shinkansen train. The entire show case was filled with these cakes. Who buys all these cakes? The Japanese are getting even more picky about freshness, I bet they will throw them out if they don’t sell in one day.

There was only one non-food store on the first floor…

It’s pretty amazing they have such a fancy florist inside of a train station. These tall branches are cherry blossoms.

Noticing us taking photos, this guy at the florist gave us a peace sign. : )

A traveler or a commuter can buy these foods (and flowers) with a Suica Card, a chargeable card for any train or bus line tickets in Greater Tokyo and Kanto area, which can be also used at vending machines, Kiosks, and other stores inside of the train stations in the Suica covered area. The Wikipedia says that you can use this in Kansai Area, but when we were in Kyoto and Kobe, I didn’t see any Suica readers. The greatest thing about this card is that you don’t even need to take it out of your wallet or even a purse. You just need to strategically place your suica card facing outside of the bag or wallet, and tap that area with the reader when you are going through the booth. A perfect solution for ever crowded stations in Japan!

So, of course, there were Suica readers at these food shops within ECute.

Suica is a charge card mainly for all public transportation within Kanto area, but also for other purchases at the vendors inside of train stations as well as other stores outside of the train station. I loved that card — I can get on to all the trains, subway, bus, and buy things like bento box, sushi and flowers.

Given that in the Bay Area (and many other US cities), we need different cards for different things, or have to buy a ticket each time you use public transportation, I really want Suica to be introduced to the US!!!

You could pass HOURS at ECute, but (un)fortunately, these bullet train comes every 5 minutes or so. Even Hikari, which is free for JR Pass holders comes every 30 minutes, so we couldn’t piddle there too long. The good thing is, is just right down the hallway! How convenient!

Our train is coming into Shinagawa station. I’m surprised that the gate is left open before the train comes to stop.

You can buy things like several choices of bento boxes, canned beer, soft drinks, green tea and sake in most long-distance train in Japan. Next time we go somewhere, I’ll definitely buy my bento at ECute at Shinagawa Station!

I wish there were these stores when I was at school. Then I would be buying these tasty snacks and more every day after school, since I was always hungry.

The thing is, it was good that there weren’t. I would have gone broke easily, and if there were Suica at that time, I would have been in trouble with my parents why my card needs to be charged more often than needed for commuting.

So do you think it’s good to have fancy food stores like these inside the train station? Would you like to have a few at your station? Or for drivers, would you like fancier choices than McDs and other typical first food drive-throughs?

Sneak Preview — Food in Japan Report

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Happy April!
As with the most wizards, a Kitchen Wizard also disappears from time to time.

This time, I wasn’t sick, and not being able to eat.  (Thank god!)

As a matter of fact, I was in Japan, visiting family and eating lots of good food for 2 weeks.

During the fast week, my husband joined, and we travelled to Kyoto and such.
On my second week, he went home becoming a mini-kitchen wizard back home during my absence, while I taught my mom how to do Kitchen Wizarding, and she made some things from the base I made.

I will start more detailed reports with photos next week.

In the meantime, here is a sneak preview — the highlights from my trip, to whet your appetite over the weekend.  : )
(The slide show of all these photos on top.)

Which photo/food do you find most intriguing?

Have a great weekend!