kruizing with kikukat

Monday, December 9, 2019

Cupcake Surprise

Sometimes, a dessert occasion calls for something a bit fancier than a plain cupcake.

Cupcake Surprise

     8 oz cream cheese, softened
     1/3 c sugar
     1 egg
     1 box cake mix (to make 24 cupcakes), prepared according to directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin pan(s) with 24 paper liners.  Combine cream cheese and sugar.  Beat in egg.  Set aside.  Prepare cake mix according to directions on box.  Fill each cupcake liner half full (a #40 disher works well).  Place a scant tablespoon (#50 disher works well) of cream cheese mixture in the middle of each cupcake.  Cover with remaining cake mix batter (again, a #40 disher works well).  Bake for 19-21 minutes (whatever cake mix recommends for cupcakes).  Cool in pans for 15 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Mocha Biscotti

I spent a weekend trying to get this right.

Mocha Biscotti

     1/2 c butter
     1 c sugar
     2 eggs
     1 tsp vanilla
     1 1/2 c flour
     1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
     2 tbsp instant espresso powder
     1 tsp baking powder
     dash salt
     1/2 c nuts, chopped fine
     2 tsp turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Sift flour, cocoa powder, instant espresso powder, baking powder, and salt together.  Add to mixture.  Add nuts.   Divide dough in half.  Form each half into a log about 3" wide on prepared cookie sheet.  Sprinkle each log with 1 tsp of turbinado sugar.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes.  Slice into 1/2" pieces.  Place cut-side down on a low-rimmed baking sheet.  Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.  Flip over and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake and Icing

I misplaced this recipe for years and only found it recently.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake and Icing

Cake:  1 box (about 18.25 oz.) Duncan Hines yellow cake mix*
           1/3 c sugar
           1/3 c water
           1/3 c vegetable oil
           4 eggs
           1 c (8 oz) sour cream
           1/2 c butter, melted
           3 tbsp instant coffee crystals

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients except for coffee crystals.  Fold in coffee crystals.  Pour into 9 x 13" pan and bake 35-40 minutes.  Leave cake in pan.  Cool completely before icing cake.

Icing:  5 tbsp flour
           1 tbsp instant coffee crystals
           1 c milk
           1/2 c butter
           1 c sugar
           1 tsp vanilla

In a medium saucepan, combine flour, instant coffee crystals and milk.  Add butter, sugar, and anilla to flour mixture and cook until thick, stirring often.  Cool completely before icing cake.
*If using a new (2013 or later) cake mix (about 15 oz.), add 6 tbsp flour to cake mix before proceeding with recipe.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Sour Cream Pumpkin Bread

Shucks!  This post published prematurely, as I was not nearly ready with my "story", hence lack of pics. 

This is what I do with the pumpkins that seem to make their way to my home after Halloween.

Sour Cream Pumpkin Bread

     1/2 c butter, softened
     1 c sugar
     1 tsp vanilla
     2 eggs
     1 2/3 c flour
     1 tsp baking soda
     1/2 tsp salt
     1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
     1 c pumpkin puree
     1/2 c sour cream

Grease and flour 4 mini loaf pans.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.  Set aside.  Combine pumpkin puree and sour cream.  Set aside.  Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add 1/2 of pumpkin-sour cream mixture.  Lightly stir in half of flour mixture.  Add remaining pumpkin mixture.  Add remaining flour mixture.  Divide equally (If using a #10 disher, use 2 1/2 scoops per pan) among prepared pans.  Bake for 40-42 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Wait 5 minutes then remove loaves from pans.  Continue cooling on cooling rack.  

This can also be baked in a 8 x 8" pan (30-32 minutes), 8 x 4" loaf pan (65-70 minutes), or a double recipe can be baked in a 9 x 13" pan (1 hour).

Monday, June 17, 2019

Wayne's Char Siu Chicken

Happy Summer!  I'm looking forward to warm, restful days, but so far, not many of those has happened.  This summer actually seems cool (do I dare say "cold"?).  I have not gone swimming since the short heatwave we had in the early spring.

Spring...spring was so crazy, so full of activity.

D1 came back to Hawaii for a month.  She shadowed a doctor in Honolulu, and got spoiled by my cousins and uncle.  They graciously allowed her to stay with them and provided family "Uber" services so she did not need to drive herself anywhere.  My cousin and her family fed her all kinds of ono food, including Stason's specialty, smoked lamb.  D1 enjoyed the intense car convos with UMiles as he was chauffeuring her around. 

D1 got exposed to all kinds of food while shadowing the doctor.  His nurses would bring him sinigang and lechon on days at his Waipio office.  I don't think D1 ever heard of sinigang before that.  In fact, D1 claims she had her first peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which Aunty Lori Ann made for her.  D2 and I are confused, as D2 brought peanut butter sandwiches for most of her intermediate school's not like we didn't have peanut butter!

In early April, Mr. Dependable and I flew to Honolulu to help D1 deal with some medical issues which turned out to be all good.  D1 bounced back a lot better than I did!

By early May, we were all back in Honolulu to celebrate cute little Cody's 1st birthday party.  His family held nothing back!  The party was at Koolau Golf Club, and they had their famous bread pudding on the dessert buffet!!!  It was as creamy and rich as I remembered it from my resource teacher days.  Kids were feted with games and a the largest jumping castle which could fit inside the ballroom.  Yes, INSIDE the ballroom.  Kikukat Dad said the best part about the party, after the open bar, was the shave ice stand, which was available throughout the party.  I'm not sure how much the birthday boy will remember about his day, but he will certainly have pics.  He took a pic with every guest!

D1 left for AZ the next day, and D2 and I had a few hours to enjoy being in Honolulu.  We were hungry so D2 suggested we make a stop at one of her favorite Chinese restaurants in Honolulu, Fook Yuen Seafood.  Fook Yuen is on the 2nd floor of McCully Shopping Center, and the big draw there is the $15 lobster (limit 1 per entree).  We ordered the seafood pan fried noodles and a salt & pepper lobster.  D2 said her trip to Honolulu was now complete.

One thing keeping me from enjoying my summer is GERD.  I remember having it for a short time about a year ago.  I took some OTC meds for a week and it was gone.  This time, I did the same, but it came back in a few days and I've been working with my doctor to find the right medication.  I am hoping and praying I will not need to have surgery.  My friends who had the surgery have described recovery as grueling.  I'm not up for grueling.
In spite of my inability to eat, I've been enjoying all the food pics my friends have been posting from their travels.  TheKeeper has been traveling through small towns in Japan.  He made me drool when I saw Wagyu sushi.  Another friend has been eating his way through California.  He recently posted a menu showing out-of-this-world prices of Wagyu.  If I could eat it, I would pay!!!

My recent food consumption has changed drastically in an attempt to reign in the acid reflux.  I'm eating oatmeal and banana daily.  I've also discovered that salads sit very well.  Up until last week, I made the mistake of having dressing with my salad...until I realized that salad dressings contain vinegar (a source of acid!).  I'm not sure why I even thought dressing was okay.  Anyway, I'm a bit smarter now, so I'm having my salads without dressing.

In my attempt to "dress up" my salad without dressing, I've been exploring toppings with are neutral (not likely to cause reflux).  Boiled egg and shredded carrots have been my standard toppings on iceberg lettuce.  But I also enjoy small bits  of fish, meat or chicken.  A handful of diced char siu chicken added lots of flavor to a bland salad.  And no, my family is not eating bland food...they continue to eat "normal" food.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2-3 lbs chicken
     1/4 c shoyu
     1 tbsp 5-spice
     3 tbsp sherry
     2 tbsp red bean curd
     1 tbsp red food coloring (liquid) or 1/4 tsp concentrated red food coloring

Combine marinade ingredients and soak chicken overnight.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Broil 5 minutes in order to crisp the skin.  Instead of baking/broiling, chicken can also be grilled over a hibachi.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Hot Cross Buns

I didn't grow up in a house which baked a lot.  And when Kikukat Mom baked, she definitely didn't bake bread.  She blames it on a bad experience with manapua (char siu bao) which turned her off from using yeast.  All of my experience with bread baking has been self-taught, meaning I read it somewhere, be it in a cookbook, magazine, or on a blog.

The foundation for my hot cross buns recipe comes from Mika's blog, The 350 Degree Oven.  Like Mika, I admired "Japanese milk bread".  There was/is nowhere in Hilo which makes Japanese milk bread.  I first had this kind of bread from Panya in Honolulu.  The pillowy softness is what separates it from other local breads (Portuguese sweet bread, shokupan, etc.).

In spite of this blog and the plethora of recipes I've amassed over the years, I don't consider myself a good cook.  I think I've been successful because I can follow a recipe, ingredient-wise, and I am able to take calculated risks when I need to deviate.  Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men have been known to go awry. 

I must've inadvertently copied the recipe incorrectly.  Only when I went back to Mika's blog to check on something did I realize what I had done differently.  This was AFTER I had made both a loaf of hybrid whole wheat milk bread and a batch of hot cross buns!  In spite of my oversight, both turned out great, and I'm posting the full recipe (the ingredients differ slightly from Mika's version).

Hot Cross Buns

     1/2 recipe of tangzhong (see below)
     1/2 c milk
     1 egg
     3 tbsp butter
     2 c bread flour
     1/2 c whole wheat flour
     4 tbsp sugar
     1/2 tsp salt
     2 tsp yeast
     2/3 c dried fruits (fruitcake mix, cranberries, etc.)
     2 tsp flour

Place all ingredients, except for dried fruits and 2 tsp flour, in bread machine pan, following the manufacturer's ingredient order.  Start dough cycle.  Stir dried fruit with 2 tsp flour in a small bowl.  Add to dough at "fruit and nut beep".  Grease a large pan.  When dough is done, divide into 16 pieces and shape into round rolls.  Place on prepared pan.  Let rise for 40 minutes.  Bake at 375 degrees for 13 minutes.  Remove to wire rack to cool.  Cool completely before glazing.

Hot Cross Bun Glaze

     1/2 c + 2 tbsp powdered sugar
     2 tsp milk
     1/8 tsp lemon juice, vanilla extract, or lemon extract

Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.  Place in plastic bag, cut a small hole in corner of bag, and pipe crosses on buns.


     1/3 c flour (original recipe called for bread flour)
     3/4 c water (original recipe called for 1 cup)

Heat flour and water in a small saucepan, whisking constantly, until thickened to a paste.  Set aside to cool or refrigerate if not using immediately.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Roasted Kabocha Squash

Now that I'm relatively rested from Thanksgiving, the November Grand Sumo Tournament has come and gone, and the Huskies secured their Pac-12 championship trophy and made it to the New Years' Six, I can finally resume my dinner planning with more thought.

A steak is always simple (I'm not the one who cooks it!) and there are a handful of other quick, go-to options which would make mostly everyone happy.  It's usually me who is the least happy.

When I know we are having something I don't care for much, like corned beef and cabbage, I try to make a side dish that I enjoy.  Last week's cucumber dish was a prime example.

Since we are getting ready for the biggest eating season of the year, I thought another post with a side dish would be a good choice here.

I did not eat much kabocha/pumpkin while growing up because my parents did not cook it.  We ate more of the other type of squash...winter melon, fuzzy melon, long squash...cooked with some kine of meat or in soup.

But thanks to Thai curry, I've come to realize that I like pumpkin.  And I like it in all forms.  TheHelp likes it too, so he will often pick up a kabocha when he is at the market.  I would love to add chunks to curry, but D2 is not a huge fan.  So instead of adding it to dishes, I cook it separately.

Recently, my go-to method for preparing kabocha has been to roast it in the toaster oven.  My toaster oven is just large enough to accommodate a cut-up kabocha.  Once cooked, the kabocha can be cut up further and added to individual servings of curry.  The light seasoning makes the squash delicious on its own as a side dish.  Any leftovers can be mashed up and used for baking.

And a side note. . .I took advantage of the Black Friday sale at Eat.Sleep.Knit.  My order arrived a few days ago, which was, by coincidence, the same day I made the roasted kabocha.  I couldn't get over how well the color of the yarns matched with the food.
 click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 medium Kabocha squash or small pumpkin
     2 tbsp butter, cold
     1 tbsp brown sugar
     1 tbsp maple syrup
     coarse salt, preferably in a grinder
     shichimi togarashi (Japanese spice), optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut squash in half, remove seeds, and slice into wedges.  Slice each wedge in half to form 2 triangular pieces.  Place squash skin-side down onto foil lined baking sheet. Cut butter into tiny pieces and divide evenly among squash.  Sprinkle squash with brown sugar, drizzle with maple syrup, and sprinkle lightly with salt and shichimi togarashi.  Roast for 35-45 minutes.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018


Otaru is probably THE destination for me when visiting Hokkaido.  There are so many things to eat (mostly sweets) and so many things to buy.

Our first stop in Otaru was the fish market adjacent to the train station.  We had an unmemorable meal there. . .the place we ate at last year was much better, although if compared to Hawaii, the fish market meal would've been awesome.

A trip to Otaru is not complete without a taste of the lavender soft cream.  The lavender soft cream from the small snack counter in Otaru (main street area) is the best I've ever had.  The snack counter is entirely unassuming.  There are 2 entrances to the place, one from the water side (Russia) and one from the street side (canal).  The eating area has stacking plastic chairs, the same type of plastic chairs popular here for patios.  The Ds made a stop here, and D2 swears that if I had taken the time to eat the twisty potato on a stick, I would've been impressed.  Unfortunately, I had just eaten at the fish market, so the only thing I had room for was the lavender cone.  Yum.

Upon the recommendation of Wi, TheKeeper and I bought a bunch of honey syrups from the Sugi Bee Garden store. 

TheKeeper, DHS, and Nakaz, all bought sake from the sake store.  I wanted to do the same, but I had to save my padded sleeves for TheHelps omiyage.

We revisited Kitaichi Glass, and I managed to double my sake cup collection.

No trip to Otaru is complete without eating something from LeTao.  The four of us, still full from fish market and soft cream, went to the 2nd floor salon to rest our legs.  Because of the season, LeTao had a pumpkin double fromage, which I ordered.  TheKeeper ordered the chocolate double fromage.  I cannot remember what Nakaz and DHS ordered.  I did not eat the bin de fromage this time, but it looked really nice in the glass case next to the chestnut tarts (for next time!).

On our way back to the train station, TheKeeper and I bought some fresh kakimochi from the kakimochi store.  I regret not buying more.  I rationed the kakimochi best as I could, but it was so good.  My favorite is the one coated in coarse crystal sugar.

We spent most of the day in Otaru, leaving in the mid-afternoon for Yoichi.  Last year, we did not go to Yoichi, but I wanted to get special omiyage for TheHelp.  The train ride to Yoichi was interesting.  It took close to an hour to get from Otaru to Yoichi on a small, 2-car train.  At some point, I wondered if we were really going to Yoichi, as I was shocked to be passing through what seemed like an endless rural landscape (think on the road from Kamuela to Kohala).  So why the journey?

Yoichi boasts the flagship Nikka Whisky distillery, a company started by Masataka Taketsuru and his Scottish wife, Rita.  The brick exterior fronting the street did not prepare us for what was inside.

Behind the brick facade was a sprawling array of lawns and brick buildings.  It actually looked like a college campus.

I was amused that Massan's home was painted in robin's egg blue!

We did not go to the tasting room (none of us drink whiskey), but I bought two special bottles of whiskey for TheHelp.

Was the trip to Yoichi worth it?  If you like whiskey, it would be wise to spend a few hours there.  For me, a non-whiskey drinker, I would say yes. . .TheHelp was thrilled with his gifts. 

Was it worth the trip for my fellow travelers?  Probably not, but they were great sports.

Our long day ended with a highly-recommended bowl of ramen in Susukino from Keyaki.  We waited about 20 minutes for space at the counter.  The tiny restaurant can fit 8-10 people, so the 20 minute wait wasn't bad at all.  The miso ramen was a bit spicy, but it hit the spot.  I also tried their pork and shrimp water dumplings. (sorry, no pic) 

And without TheKeeper, we would never have been able to find the place.