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!

Mari

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!
Mari
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“)

Ingredients:

  • 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.

Pace Picante Sauce Super Bowl Challenge: Picante Mini Burger

 

As a Featured Publisher with FoodBuzz.com, I get to receive quite a few products to try. 

One of the recent challenge was to create a recipe for Super Bowl Party, using Pace Picante Sauce.  I don’t even understand the rule of American Football, yet I like parties, and of course food. I also don’t mind seeing different kind of dishes on Super Bowl party tables besides nachos and Mexican layered thingy.  (Ever since “The Biggest Loser“,  I’m scared of going near them, feeling like I won’t be able to stop and end up with 10,000 calories!)

Right before Christmas, I received two bottles of Picante Sauce from FoodBuzz.  One Mild, and one Medium.

According to the Pace Foods website, Picante Sauce is:

Ideal for cooking, since it’s smoother than salsa with the perfect balance of zesty sauce and crisp vegetables.

Created by David Pace over 60 years ago as a unique cooking sauce to add delicious flavor to all kinds of dishes.

With more rich sauce to go around, it helps dishes stay savory and keeps them from drying out.

A fast, easy way to spice up everyday meals and add flavor to meat, vegetables, pasta, rice, or any dish.

I like the last part.  When I make meatballs and burgers, I put a lot of sautéed vegetables for flavor and healthier eating.  Yet using Picante Sauce definitely make things easier especially when people don’t have them on hand.

Even though I used Medium, I found the sauce to be on the mild side. I personally like salsas which has lots of vegetables, and not very saucy, but this could be used for salsa for dipping in a pinch. 

As I started my experiment, I found its sauciness helps turkey stay moist, yet because it’s not that spicy, I had to add quite a bit, that makes the mixture soggy.  So I had to add extra panko to firm it up so that they firm up a bit.  This may not be an issue when you are using red meat, yet my husband doesn’t eat four-legged animal flesh, so it’s a dilemma I have to deal with every time.  My original plan was to make meat balls.  First attempt, I cooked them in the oven and the cheese inside ran out like there’s no tomorrow.  When I bit into it, there were lots of holes inside — where the cheese use to be!  I thought about calling them “MexSwiss Meatballs”, but I decide to ditch that idea.  

So, on my second attempt, I chose to fry them in the skillet with some flour to protect the cheese.  While I was rolling them in the skillet to color all over, they started to lose shape, so I flattened them into mini-burgers.  Thanks to the FLOUR POWER, the cheese stayed inside.

That accident actually worked out to my favor.  They came out as light and fluffy, flavorful mini-burgers which look like cookies, especially when they were adorned with Trader Joe’s cranberry apple butter on top!  Pretty enough to fool the picky eaters, perhaps?

Picante Mini Burger

Ingredients: (makes about 36 patties)

  • 1 lbs ground meat (I used turkey)
  • 1/2 cup or more Pace Picante Sauce, Medium (If using “Mild”, add hot sauce to taste)
  • 1/3 cup cottage cheese
  • 2 TBS sherry
  • 1 clove garlic (grated)
  • 1/2 ts anchovy paste or fish sauce
  • 1-2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil if using  Ground Turkey
  • 1/2 cup Panko moisten with Milk
  • Salt and Pepper
  • flour for dusting
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil for pan-frying

Directions:

  1. Add panko mixture, picante sauce, cottage cheese, sherry, salt and pepper to the ground meat.  Mix well.
  2. Shape the meat mixture into 2-inch patties (about 1/2 inch thickness).  Dust with flour on both sides, especially if using ground turkey — if you don’t, cheese may run out. (Easy and saves a lot of flour if you use mesh tea infuser.)
  3. Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium-high, and pan fry until cooked through and brown on both sides.
  4. Serve hot.  Optionally top with more picante sauce (best if it’s reduced by half) or cranberry apple butter (looks like cookies!), or mixture of the two.

Variation:  I used cottage cheese because that’s what I had in the fridge, yet also like Feta cheese especially with ground lamb.

Kitchen Tip du Jour: Do the Math on Paper First When Multiplying a Recipe

Do you ever need to double, triple or make it half or one third of a recipe?  If so, read on…  It could be your life saver (or at least your dinner saver!)

When you are following a recipe, and need to change the portion, don’t do the math in your head.  Write it down — ideally right next to the original volume of each ingredient, and how many serving it is for.  If you cannot write it down next to it (say, it’s your friend’s cook book, the recipe is online and your printer is broken, etc.), then at least write down the original measurement on a piece of paper, and write down the multiplier and do the math.

For example:

Original recipe  2 servings                          Your portion: 6 servings (6/2=3 is the multiplier.)

1 Egg                                             X3                  3 Eggs

4 oz flour                                    X3                  12 oz flour

2/3 cup water                          X3                  6/3 cup = 2 cups water

As you can see, especially when you have to deal with 3 (especially 1/3) it gets complicated. 

This is even more true when you are using a recipe from a different country — meaning those who uses metric system.  Since I grew up in Japan with metric system, I used to get confused with American measurement of oz and pounds often, resulting in quite a bit of frustration and less than perfect dishes.  Once I start writing them down, all I need to do is just to follow that amount.  Believe me, do the math first, then cook is so much easier than trying to do the math as you prep and cook! That kind of switch-tasking or multi/tasking end up costing you a lot of time.

So rather than trying to save time and end up with huge frustration and disappointment (and an inedible dish), take time to do the math on paper first when changing th portion of a recipe.  And as always, when adding stronger flavored ingredients and seasoning, taste as you add them gradually.  The same is true for liquids (water, broth etc.)

The biggest bonus: By writing down the convenient portion for yourself directly on the recipe, you will save the time to do the math next time!

So just remember to write them down!

Do you have any kitchen tips that help you save time and frustration? Look forward to hearing your tips in the comment section!

PS: This hold true for most of the things, especially for cooking that doesn’t require much chemistry or precision, yet not EVERYTHING is multiplied ie oil, salt, baking soda, baking powder.  Thank you Sam, for pointing that out.

  If you are cooking for a crowd, this resource gives you further details about super-sizing a recipe. 

 Another resource about reducing a recipe portion.  This one also talks about cooking time difference, etc. 

As a rule of thumb, the cooking time is affected by the type and size of the pan (esp. the bottom surface) heat, how much moisture the food cooked has etc. so it’s best to determine how much longer you need to cook by the look, smell and taste/texture.  Remember, a recipe is a guideline, not rules.

The World’s Easiest Cranberry Relish Your Family & Guest Will Love

One of the (very few) dishes my husband taught me is a Thanksgiving side-dish recipe that has been handed down from his grandma Henrietta.  She passed long before we got married, soInever had the honor of meeting her nor eating her dishes.  However, her husband – Keith’s grandpa – Park who lived till 101 told me how great of a baker Hanky (that’s what he called her) was, and excruciating details of her German cakes which he missed dearly.

This is actually a very simple cranberry relish recipe using a box of jello, yet the power of this should not be underestimated. It is very refreshing, and can double as a dessert. Both children and adults love it alike.  On top of that, it’s healthy — it has a lot of fruits such as apples, pears and oranges, in addition to cranberries, and doesn’t require cooking – I can say this is highly optimized. And it’s bright red, it’s festive and surely adds color to the table. If you have a food processor, it’s super easy.  It requires all familiar ingredients that are really cheap! Probably the most exotic and expensive ingredient is cranberries.

Whenever we make it, people always ask for the recipe and nowadays it became so famous, we get Thanksgiving invitations with the requests for this.

So I decided to post the recipe on my blog. My husband first resisted — “Nooo! It’s MY family’s secret recipe!”.  But those who eat it always ask for this recipe! And I grew up in Japan where’s there’s no traditional Thanksgiving celebration, I needed this for my readers!  So I asked “Wouldn’t it be great if your grandma’s recipe is enjoyed by more people in the world, not just by your immediate family?”

So here it is.  Kitchen Wizard is revealing another cooking secret, this one from her extended family.

Grammy Hanky’s Cranberry Relish

Ingredients:

  • 1 Small box of red jello (we like raspberry. Strawberry is a bit too sweet.)
  • 1 cup hot water (Do not add the second of batch of water, which is suggested on the box.)
  • 1 bag cranberries
  • 2 large oranges, peeled and segmented
  • 2 large apples, cored and cut in bite size pieces
  • 2 large pears (should be relatively firm), cored and cut into bite size pieces

Directions:

  1. Mix jello with hot water to dissolve. Put bit-size pieces of fruit in the food processor and pulse several times to grind roughly to about 1/4″ cubes or smaller.  Make sure the cranberries are ground up well — if they are not, it could be tart.  Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to do it in two batches.
  2. When the jello is room temperature, add all the fruit including its juice. Mix well.  Chill in the refrigerator until set. (Because of the amount of fruit, it may not set completely.)

We love serving it with turkey in place of regular cranberry sauce or relish, or you can eat it as dessert as well, with or without whipped cream. We normally make a double batch, using the large jello box, and using 1/2 – 2/3 for the actual Thanksgiving, and save the rest for us to eat later.

Oh, this is also great when you are sick! When I had flu and pneumonia 2 months ago and didn’t want to eat, I asked my husband to make this, and I ate it everyday.

So there you have it.  Try it and leave me a comment on how you and your guests loved it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Almost) Less Than 5: Sautéed Eggplant with Miso

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Sauted Eggplant with Miso

Many years ago, my fridge (or especially freezer) looked like a morgue.  No more. Ever since I started Kitchen Wizard, my kitchen is a lot more organized and that has helped me decide what to cook much quicker, and also reduced waste significantly.

They all have the labels with dates and contents, I know exactly what I need to use up soon, and for what.

Today, that item was grilled eggplant.  As some of you older readers remember, I posted a series of eggplant recipes over the summer. Throwing eggplants on the grill whether we plan to eat on that night or not, along side our chicken and sausages is a must for us, because they are one of the most convenient and versatile thing to have on hand. As the day gets colder and shorter, we don’t grill out much, but they are still handy in fall and winter too – for different dishes.

So I decided to make an easy Japanese dish that can be made with pantry items.  This really is a cinch if you already have grilled or sautéed eggplants (ideally cooked in vegetable oil, not olive oil). Obviously, grilled eggplants are healthier – it uses much less oil and salt.  You can also stick the whole eggplants in the toaster oven until soft. You can use a conventional oven too, yet a toaster oven heats much quicker (doesn’t require pre-heating), plus uses much less energy.

If you are vegetarian/vegan, omit the meat or chopped shiitake mushrooms as substitute.

Sautéed Eggplant with Miso

Ingredients (2-3 servings):

  • Ginger, sliced: about 1 ts
  • Green onions, chopped: about 3
  • Crushed chili (optional)
  • Japanese, Chinese or Italian Eggplants: (ideally already grilled) 5-6
    • This is a cinch if you have already grilled or sautéed eggplants. Cut in bite size pieces. You do not need to peel skin for this dish.
  • Ground meat: 4oz (100g)
  • Sake: 2 TBS (sprinkle 1 TBS on the meat, mix 1 TBS into miso to create paste.)
  • Soy sauce: 1 ts
  • Sugar: pinch
  • Miso: 1 – 2 TBS

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a skillet. Cook sliced ginger and green onions (and chili, if you are using) on medium-high heat until fragrant. (If you don’t have cooked eggplants, add oil and sauté sliced eggplants. Add a little bit of salt to shorten the cooking time).  When soft, move toward the edge of the pan.
  2. If you have the cooked eggplants, add to the onion ginger mixture. Add ground meat and any sake residue, and cook until brown.
  3. Add soy sauce and pinch of sugar, and mix in the miso/sake mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve hot with steamed rice.

Kitchen Wizard Leftover Make-Over Tip:

If there’s any left over, add hot water and miso and make eggplant and ground meat miso soup.  Add extra green onion on top.

This is a kind of dish they serve at Izakaya as well as at home in Japan…  So maybe you should have some beer or sake with this, and pretend that you are in Japan!