Here in Japan you can find noodles in the grocery store that are made from yams. They are called Shirataki noodles and are a low calorie, low carb, translucent alternative to gluten packed pasta. This is one of my go-to products when I am in the mood for pasta, but can't eat it. The noodles themselves have no flavor, so it is really easy to flavor them using pasta sauce, cheese or other typical pasta toppings. 

Today I was feeling adventurous and decided to make my lunch for this upcoming week. So I headed off to the store to grab some ingredients to make the perfect, healthy and nutritious lunch. I bought some kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), a sweet potato, shirataki noodles, chicken and a zucchini. All of this was less than 10 dollars and will most likely last me all week (: 

Japanese pumpkin and sweet potatoes are different than the ones you find in the US. The American sweet potatoes are actually sweet, whereas the japanese sweet potatoes are not. If you want to know how to cook the sweet potato and pumpkin, check out my guides on Snapguide! 
Sweet Potatoes:

Ingredients for "Pasta" Dish: Makes ~5 servings. 
1/2 zucchini
1 small sweet potato
1/4 kabocha
2 packages shirataki noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped chicken 
salt and pepper

1. Cook all the vegetables and chicken. You can cook the sweet potato and kabocha following my guides above. 
2. Drain the shirataki noodles and rinse under water (for some reason they have a fishy smell)
3. Add the noodles, chicken and vegetables into the skillet and top with olive oil. 
4. Cook for around 5 minutes, then place into a container to store, or eat up!

Nutrition: for 5 servings

Greetings from Castine, Maine! I haven't written a post in a while and I thought it was about time to make a new one! This summer my parents let me go visit my friends and grandma in Maine without them! So I have been staying at my grandma's cottage here called the Cooperage. 

Mini History Lesson: The last name Cooper means Barrel Maker. My Grandma and Grandpa decided to stick to the meaning of the name and continue the tradition of being a "cooper" so my grandpa made a couple barrels and they named their house the "cooperage".  I found out the meaning of "Cooper" a few years ago and ever since then it makes sense as to why there are so many barrels around! 

Anyways...I thought it would be nice if I made dinner for my grandma a couple nights while I was visiting here and this was one of the creations I came up with. Full disclosure..I am not very knowledgeable in the world of spices so the flavor of these stuffed mushrooms was a little bland. However, if you spice gurus out there end up trying this recipe. Please comment and let me know what spices you used and why! It would be much appreciated! 
2 portobello mushrooms
1/2 green zucchini cut into bite size pieces
1/2 yellow zucchini cut into bite size pieces
1/3 yellow pepper cut into bite size pieces
1 cup spinach
1/2 package of brown rice (microwave version)
1 Johnsonville  Bratwurst cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup shredded cheese 
Sweet Potato Fries:
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Mushrooms: So to start off the filling for the mushrooms, I heated up some olive oil in a pan and then threw in some diced onions and zucchini. (Oh, and also preheated the oven to 350F) After those cooked for a while I added my other vegetables and protein: yellow peppers and spinach and a bratwurst. (You can really use any vegetables or meat you want to, but these were just the ones that I had in the house at the time.) While the vegetables finished cooking, I heated up one of the 90 second brown rice packages in the microwave. Next, I added about half of the brown rice package to the sautéed vegetables pan and stirred the ingredients together. After the ingredients were finished cooking, I scooped some of the mix into each of the mushrooms, lined a baking sheet with foil and put in the oven for 35 minutes. Afterwards, I topped them with the shredded cheese and placed them back in the oven until the cheese melted and was golden brown on top. 
Sweet Potato Fries:
Wash the sweet potato and then cut it up into wedge size pieces. Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium mixing bowl, add the wedges, olive oil, salt and pepper and mix together with your hands so the wedges can get a good coating and wont stick to the pan. Afterwards, on a lined baking sheet (parchment paper or foil will do) place the wedges down and bake in the oven for 40 min. After the 40 minutes, take them out of the oven, flip over and bake for another 30 minutes. 

Hope you enjoy! 
Happy Fourth of July! In honor of our dear nations birthday, a red, white, and blue dessert is necessary right!? Thats what I thought too. I always see holiday desserts on pinterest and facebook etc...and I thought it was time to make one of my own. So here you have it. Vanilla Risotto Pudding Shooters with red, and blue fruit to give it that American pride. 

In all honesty, the pudding recipe I followed did not work out well. I pretty much drowned the risotto in milk so it ended up being a little soupier than I wanted it to be. However if I were to make this again, I would only use a 1/4 of what the recipe actually called for.

 Aside from the fact that it was too liquified, this pudding tastes AMAZING. There is just a dash of cinnamon which really helps enhance the flavor that the vanilla bean an vanilla extract provide.I have never had risotto pudding before so I did not know what the texture would be like. Let me just say that it had a similar texture to tapioca pudding, but a little less gummy if you know what I mean. 

If you want to buy the cookbook where I found the recipe, here it is Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey. This cookbook is amazing. One of my favorite recipes is the Black Bottom cupcakes which are basically chocolate cupcakes with a cream cheese and chocolate chip filling that oozes out when you take a bite. My mouth is already watering just thinking about them. AHH so good. 

Anyways, here is the recipe for the pudding shooters! This is half of the recipe from the cookbook because I only needed a little bit for the shooters I was making

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup risotto (italian rice)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Strawberries and Blueberries for decorations

  1. Over medium-high heat, combine the whole milk, risotto, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil then turn down the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Make sure to stir every 5 minutes to prevent the mixture from burning
  2. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes or until the risotto is tender but not too mushy. 
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolk, heavy cream and vanilla extract. Then add it into the pan, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes. 
  4. Pour the pudding into a serving bowl or individual dishes and place in fridge until ready to serve. I put mine in the freezer to make them really cold. 

Happy July! 
This morning I was really in the mood to make something but I had no idea as to what I should create. My mom recently bought some sugar free chocolates that have coconut, caramel and truffle fillings and I decided that I wanted to make my own version--much healthier! 

This was the easiest candy/dessert I have ever made. You can basically top the chocolate with whatever your heart desires but I wanted to keep it simple and add a little crunch and sweetness to balance out the dark chocolate. According to the taste tester (aka. my mother) they were delicious! I used 85% and 99% dark chocolate in this recipe so incorporating the coconut really helped to give it a sweeter taste. 

1 bar of dark chocolate (any percent is fine, you can also use milk chocolate!)
about 20 roasted almonds 
coconut flakes (un-toasted)
1/2 tsp butter
Parchment paper 

In a sauce pan, add a 1/2 tsp butter and melt on medium-low heat. You want to make sure the chocolate is not going to stick to the bottom of the pan. If you are confident in your non-stick pan, I think you can go ahead and skip this step. 

Next, break up the chocolate bar and add into the saucepan. 

When it is all melted, use a spoon to scoop it onto a piece of parchment paper. You can make them any size you would like. Mine were around 1 inch wide. 

After all your chocolate has been scooped onto the parchment paper, add you desired toppings and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour. Afterwards, you can either eat them right away or store in a container and place it back in the freezer. 

I hope you enjoy! (: 
Recipe from Mary Tregellas: Notes from the Jam Cupboard
Makes 1 x 340g jar 
Keeps for 12 months

900 g ripe tomatoes
112 g shallots, chopped
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp mustard seeds
1/2 tbsp allspice berries
3 peppercorns
112 g granulated sugar
212 ml distilled malt vinegar

1) Cut a shallow cross at the base of each tomato and place into a medium sized heat-proof bowl. Cover in boiling water and let sit for 2-3 minutes before removing the skins and chopping roughly. Place chopped tomatoes in a large pan along with the chopped onions and salt. 

2) In a piece of muslin cloth, tie the spices and add to the pan. Cook ingredients over a low heat, stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes until the tomatoes are reduced to a pulp. 

3) Add the sugar and vinegar and stir until the sugar granules are dissolved (you'll feel the graininess disappear at the bottom of the pan). Bring to the boil and then lower to a simmer for 20-25 minutes stirring occasionally, until you feel it thicken slightly. 

4) Remove the spices and pour the chutney into the sterilized jars. 

Jars need to be sterilized to prevent bacteria growth. 
I sterilized the jars by cleaning and rinsing thoroughly, using soap. I then place them into a clean bowl and cover them with boiling water, letting them sit for a few minutes before drying them well with a clean paper. 
So, Hannah's ditched me for a while. 
But there's no stopping either of us. We're officially on Summer break and it feels so good having so much down-time! Here's a recipe I found today at this website. 

This is kind of like a cross between a scone, scroll and loaf, with a little baklava twist in terms of flavouring. It turned out really well! Not only in form but taste, too. It's great with coffee or tea, and probably even better with a scoop of ice-cream. We had none in the freezer :(
It's best eaten on the day. As with scones, it'll dry out overnight and won't be as good the next day.  


- 3 cups plain flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 80g butter, softened and cubed
- 1 - 1 1/4 cups milk

- 1 egg, lightly beaten, for bushing

- 2/3 cup mixed nuts (cashews, pecans, almonds, walnuts)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup golden syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp cardamom powder


1) Pre-heat your oven to 180˚C, or Fan-forced at 160˚C. Line a 6.5 cm deep loaf tin with baking paper.

2) Place the mixed nuts in a food processor and process until finely chopped. In a small bowl, sieve together the sugar and cinnamon and then add the nuts. Set aside.

3) In a medium bowl, place the flour and baking powder. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Then, make a well in the mixture and pour in 1 cup of milk. Combine with a flat bladed knife. (If the mixture is too dry and won't hold together, add some more milk). Turn the dough out onto a flat, lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth. (Don't overwork the dough, though, or it will be tough.)

4) Roll the dough out on a sheet of baking until it's a 21cm X 36 cm rectangle. Then, brush over the surface with egg and sprinkle the filling over the top, keeping 2 tbsp aside for later. From the short end, roll the mixture tightly into a log, like pictured, and then place, seal down, into the lined loaf tin. 

5) Place in oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. 

IN the meantime: syrup

6) In a small saucepan, heat the ingredients for the syrup until the sugar is dissolved. Mix it well. Then, bring the mixture to boil and, without mixing, let it boil for a further 5 minutes. Take it off the heat, and set aside. 

5) Once the loaf is cooked, pull it out of the oven and poke a few holes through the top. Then, drizzle half the syrup mixture over hot loaf and sprinkle the remaining filling over the top. Before serving, heat the syrup in the microwave and drizzle over the top of individual slices. 

Yay! Happy summer everyone! My friends were having a going away party today I decided that I needed to bake something (hopefully) amazing for the event. I spent most if my morning scrolling through Pinterest and food gawker trying to find an out of this world cupcake.And THIS is what my stumbling led me to create!!

I didn't want to make a typical cupcake for this event. I wanted something special that would catch the eyes of the guests and make everyone's mouth water. Originally I was going to make Oreo cupcakes---vanilla cupcakes with bits of Oreo inside. However, I thought I needed to take that design one step further. Instead I came up with a chocolate cupcake stuffed with a cream cheese Oreo filling and topped with whipped cream cheese frosting, oreo "powder" and a mini Oreo.

Although not super challenging, the process for creating these magical little things took a few hours. Technically I cheated during the process. I didn't have a lot of time so instead of making homemade chocolate cupcakes I bought the box mix of devils food cake. GASP! Next time I will be sure to make them all by hand I promise!

It's important to let the filling ingredients come to room temperature (the butter and cream cheese) and to have the cupcakes fully cooled before stuffing them. I didn't really keep track of time while making these but I think it is safe to say they took me a good hour and a half to two hours to fully complete them.

Step 1: make the chocolate cupcakes!

I used the a box mix to create the chocolate cupcakes. You can use any flavor that you would like but I thought chocolate would go well with the Oreos!

Step 2: load those babies up!

To make the filling I used 1 block of cream cheese and 1 stick of butter (half a cup). Make sure these ate BOTH at room temperature before you start. I allowed 2 hours for the cream cheese and butter to come to room temperature. Using a stand mixer I combined the butter, cream cheese, 1tsp vanilla, and 2 cups of confectioners sugar until it was smooth and creamy. If needed you can add heavy whipping cream to get it to your preferred texture. Then I added 3 snack packs of Oreos and mixed well.. *make sure to crush them up before adding them into the mixture!

Next, using a knife or a cookie cutter, remove the center of each cupcake and fill with the desired amount of cream cheese filling. Then place the removed section back on top and press down.

Step 3: make them Pretty!

Add a layer of frosting on top to make them pretty! I used whipped cream cheese frosting from Betty Crocker. (Next time I will make my own, I promise!).

To add a little flare to these cupcakes. Place 1-2 bags of snack pack Oreos into a food processor and pulse until you get a really fine crumb. Then sprinkle them over the cupcakes! I added another Oreo on top because I had extra but you can do whatever you like! ENJOY AND BE CREATIVE!

Caera here! 

I find that in the summer, hot food becomes less appealing and salads, fruit and icy drinks bring about the most relief from the heat and humidity. Last night was one of these occasions and this salad was the perfect cure. 
I've had this dish before, and sometimes the first time you try a type of dish, it's the best tasting one you'll have. This time, it was the other way around. Maybe that's because it's the exact thing I've been craving.

This salad "thais" together all the fresh ingredients you'd expect to find in thai cuisine.  It's just a healthy, tasty, fresh salad, and honestly, it could never be more simple to prepare. The mix of chilli, coriander and mint, along with the sesame, soy, and peanuts, brought together with the tender meat, is so mouth-watering. It smelt great in the kitchen. But, I recommend that you buy the best steak you can, because it can ultimately make all the difference! 

Serves 4


3 tbs fresh lime juice
2 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs fish sauce
3 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp soy sauce
3 tsp finely grated ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed


- 200g grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 japanese cucumber, or half an english, thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced
- 6 scallions (bulb and 3/4 green), chopped
- 1-2 fresh red chilies: halved, de-seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 bunch fresh mint leaves, large torn
- 1 bunch fresh coriander, picked
- 500g Beef Rump steak
- 55g peanuts, toasted and chopped
- 3 handfuls bean sprouts
- sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds, optional


1) Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Place your beef steak on a plate and brush the few spoonfuls of the dressing over the meat. Set aside. 

2) Prep all salad ingredients, the first 7 listed, and combine in a medium bowl. Set aside.

2) In a heated pan drizzled with a tablespoon of olive oil, place your beef and cook for about 3 minutes on either side, adding a sprinkle of salt to either side, too. The meat is best when medium-rare, but it is entirely up to your liking. 

3) When meat is cooked, wrap in foil and let rest for at least half the cooking time, so around 3 minutes. A well rested piece of meat allows it to hold onto its juices, however the juice thats left over can be added to your dressing. 

4) Place your mixed salad into a bowl. Slice the meat thinly and across the grain, and then place on top of the salad. Drizzle over your dressing, and then sprinkle over the peanuts, sesame seeds and bean sprouts.

Dive in. :)
Here we are again with the spiced baked goodies....
If you like carrot cake, and are fan of cheesecake, then these will appeal to you. Whoopie pies are essentially a construction of creamy filling sandwiched between two soft, spongey cookies. You'd typically see chocolate whoopie pies, as they are the traditional flavour and colour, but nowadays people are always putting a spin on things. I flavoured mine with the ingredients you'd find in a classic carrot cake, minus the pineapple, and then sandwiched them together with a cream cheese filling. A splash of lemon juice added to the filling gave it a similar taste to that of a fridge cheesecake. Mmm. I scoffed down 2 before they were even assembled! But the next day, because the flavours had had time to intensify, they tasted even better. I don't know if I was hungry or just in need of a sweet treat, but they went down so well. 

Adjustments can be made to the amount of spice- I tend to add more. You could also crush some walnuts and roll them in it to cover the oozing filling around the sides.  These would be fun for kids parties!

Whoopie Pies:
2 cups white flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrot
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp orange zest

Cream Cheese Filling:

- 1 1/2 tbsp golden syrup
- 6 tbsp butter, room temperature
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 2/3 cup icing sugar
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice to taste

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt, set aside. In another bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat in the eggs and vanilla extract until combined. Add the dry mixture and the carrot, raisins, coconut and lemon and orange zest. Beat until well combined, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to an hour. 

Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 160˚C Fan Forced (180˚C normal) and line two trays with baking paper. 

In a medium bowl, beat together the golden syrup, butter, cream cheese, icing sugar and lemon juice until light and fluffy. Then, cover and place in the fridge. 

Grab your dough from the fridge. Measure out 1 heaped teaspoon of dough and place on the baking sheet. Do the same with the rest of the dough, placing each 5 cm apart from each other. Place in your pre-heated oven for 15 mins, or until they spring back nicely when gently pressed with a finger. The bottoms should be slightly darker than than the tops. Once cooked, remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. 

Once fully cooled, place about 1-2 tsp of filling between each sandwich. It's optional to roll them in crushed walnuts or coconut, but they're fun just as they are!
It's a Japanese public holiday today! The definition of a day off for me: no school, sleep and relaxation, and a generous slot of time to get into the kitchen and start clinking and clanging some pots and pans together. 
Okay, so, try not to imagine me pathetically trying to create a pretty little tune with a bowl on my head, a pot balancing between my legs, wooden spoons in my hands and limbs flailing around like those blow up noodle men. Because I just imagined it, and.... it's not normal. I don't do that kind of stuff. 

Hahah, one day though...

Anyway, my mum made these a few days ago because I guess she felt like doing the noodle man thing, too. And, even though I was amazed at my family's generosity- saving me half of a 1/16th of the whole loaf....- I was told that I was missing out on the real deal. The "Real Deal" is that moment of awe when it's just been pulled out of the oven- when it's warm, oozing with cheese, and slightly crusty on the outside. I know what this moment feels like, and tastes like, now that I've actually witnessed it. Yeeeeeummmmm. 

It's just cozy food. I fall victim to even the plain and simple english scones. (Jam and whipped cream, please!)
Question; What jam pairs the best with a scone?
Raspberry all the way for me! Although, the classic strawberry is still great.

These scones have a surprising balance of spice and cheese. I wasn't told about the pepper the first time I tried it, and I actually laughed when the heat unexpectedly hit me. It gives the scone such character!  

The cheese is there alright! You get a good punch of it. But, that's not the entirety of the scones personality. It's not just a plain scone with grated cheese. The addition of the cayenne pepper and mustard sets it apart from any other. Behind every rustic morsel, you get a gentle kick of heat. So much so, that it lingers there after.  

One thing- I'd recommend not pairing wedge of this scone with a cup of tea! The spice intensifies the heat and flavour of the tea- just a wee bit bitter. It would, however, make such an exciting sandwich!  

And one last thing,
It's best when eaten on the day it's baked. Overnight, it tends to become too dry.
225 g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp mustard powder (or english mustard)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp baking powder
25g butter
150g grated mature cheddar cheese
1 large egg
A splash of milk


Pre-heat your oven to 200˚C Fan forced (220˚C normal) and lightly grease a baking tray.

Into a medium bowl, measure the flour, salt, mustard powder (english mustard would be added later), cayenne pepper and baking powder. Add the butter (and the english mustard if substituting for powder) and rub into the flour mixture with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then, stir in 100g of the grated cheese until well combined.

Break the egg into a measuring jug and add milk until leveled at 150ml. Stir this mixture into the dry mixture and mix until a soft but not sticky dough is formed. 

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured flat surface and knead it lightly with the palms of your hands. Use your hands to form the dough into a 15cm circle. Slice it about 3/4 of the way through into wedges, using a knife or pizza cutter. This aids in breaking the loaf into segments once it's cooked. Brush with a splash of milk and sprinkle the remaining 50g of cheese on top of the loaf. 

Bake in your pre-heated oven for about 20 mins or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Slide it onto a wire rack to cool down. But honestly, eat it as soon as it's out of the oven, while the cheese is still oozing, and the dough is fresh and toasty warm.