High Protein Peanut Butter Chocolate “Play-Doh”

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Who says you can’t play with your food?

We’re bringing the whole family into the spirit of “New Year, New You!” by making a super healthy, kid-friendly, high protein snack. This is real food, friends – but don’t worry, your secret is safe with me. Let the kiddos think they’re eating dessert instead of the nutritional equivalent of an expensive protein bar. Win! Win! Continue reading

Tokyo Food Tour! Ramen!

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Shoyu Ramen with Dumplings and Rice

Ah, ramen. There are approximately 80,000 ramen restaurants in Japan. Try to wrap your head around that for a moment… that’s three times the number of McDonald’s restaurants in the entire world. Volumes of cookbooks have been written about ramen, the quintessential Japanese comfort food. Revered chefs from David Chang to Ivan Orkin have perfected their own signature bowls. You haven’t tried a bowl of real ramen yet?

Well, you simply must.

Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we’ll be happy to share a simple and delicious ramen recipe. We need you, our readers, to point us in the right direction! Would you prefer a ramen flavored with soy sauce (Shoyu Ramen) or a broth that’s even saltier (Shio Ramen)? Does a fermented broth (Miso Ramen) sound lovely? Or, would you prefer to go all in with a fatty but delicious pork stock (Tonkotsu Ramen)? They’re all delicious, it’s just a matter of personal taste.

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Many ramen shops have a vending machine such as the one shown here. Customers place their orders and make their payment at the machine, then give a ticket (like a receipt) to the server and wait for their food to arrive.

Vote here, and we’ll create something just for you!

 

Tokyo Food Tour! Uobei Sushi

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Salmon Roe with Cucumber

Is it possible to stumble upon the most fun restaurant in Tokyo during one’s first day in Japan? Let’s put it this way – if I find something more fun than Uobei Sushi in all of Tokyo, I may never go home!

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Spicy Shrimp

My traveling companions and I visited Uobei Sushi in Shibuya, which feels a bit like Times Square in New York City. Upon exiting the Shibuya train station, we were overwhelmed in a fabulous way by the sights and sounds of this booming metropolitan area. The main intersections are a sight to behold. When the crosswalk signals allow, thousands of people cross 5- and 6-way intersections in all directions. Loud music is piped into the intersections, accompanied by flashing advertisements on giant screens mounted on the sides of buildings. Wow.

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Snow Crab with Crab Butter

We may never have found Uobei Sushi without Natsu, a dear local friend who generously helped us navigate our first days in her amazing city. Let’s be honest… without Natsu, we not only would missed out on Uobei Sushi, we might still be standing in the airport!  🙂

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Smelt Roe

Back to Uobei Sushi… it’s fun! It’s casual! It’s very affordable! And it’s DELICIOUS! This isn’t an ordinary restaurant, friends. At Uobei Sushi, customers order from a vast menu of nigiri sushi, rolls, and sides using an iPad. Food is delivered on computerized, high speed conveyor belts that stop right in front of the customer for whom the items are intended!

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Conveyor Belt System

Green tea and ice water are self-serve and complimentary. Most varieties of nigiri sushi are just under $1 (USD equivalent) for 2 pieces. How can I not go back? If I don’t come home, friends, you know where to find me!  🙂

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Tuna and Salmon

 

 

Springtime Tea Party

 

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Recently, I hosted a Springtime Tea Party. It was great fun! If you have a few friends you haven’t seen in a while (don’t we all?), consider inviting them over for a simple tea. Here are a few suggestions!

First, don’t worry about being matchy-matchy.

I used an inexpensive tablecloth to cover an old, scratched up kitchen table. It looked juuussst fine, and didn’t require a big investment. My little fruit bowls are completely different from my plates, and yet they worked together nicely. Those little dishes of chocolate? Mismatched! The napkins? Borrowed from my mother! You get the idea.

Second, if you don’t want to cook from scratch, don’t.

A tea party does not require hours of slaving away in the kitchen. If you don’t feel like spending prep time in your kitchen, here is a “recipe” for a fuss-free tea party:

Boil a pot of water, and steep a pot of tea! Offer cream and sugar on the side.

Break one or two high-quality chocolate bars into bite size pieces, and arrange the pieces in a small serving dish.

Layer a few cups of berries in a pretty bowl. Drizzle with honey or maple syrup.

Purchase a tray of cookies or scones. My local Aldi offers a surprising variety of delicious cookies at very reasonable prices!

gazpachoThinly slice a loaf of artisan bread from your local bakery. Spread each slice with butter or cream cheese, and top with thin slices of cucumber or prosciutto. Delicious!

Feel like cooking?

If you’d like to prepare a dish or two from scratch, here are a few suggestions:

croque ingredientsSpringtime Gazpacho served in little tea cups makes a lovely chilled starter!

Mini Croque Monsieurs make lovely tea sandwiches!

Rainbow Shortcake makes a beautiful, individually plated dessert!

 

 

rainbow shortcake

Life is short. Enjoy your friends!

Korean Garaetteok

WIN_20160424_142917Korean Garaetteok, a type of rice noodle, is fast becoming a staple freezer item here at Crowded Earth Kitchen. These noodles are fun to remove from the freezer on busy weeknights and use to quickly jazz up dinner. Often, I add a cup or two of frozen Korean Garaetteok into soups during the last 15 minutes of simmer time. Occasionally, I’ll allow a batch of Korean Garaetteok to thaw on the countertop before stir-frying in sesame oil for about five minutes. Stir-fried Garaetteok can be tossed with vegetables for a savory side dish, or lightly coated with honey and crushed peanuts for a fun dessert. Enjoy this versatile item!

WIN_20160424_122115Ingredients (Makes about 2 cups)

2 cups rice flour

1 1/4 cups boiling water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

Directions

Step 1) Combine rice flour, boiling water, salt and sugar in a medium size, microwave safe bowl. Stir together with a fork.

WIN_20160424_122945Step 2) Cover bowl with plastic wrap, leaving a small edge uncovered to allow steam to vent. Microwave bowl for 2 minutes. Stir, cover again, and microwave an additional 2 minutes.

Step 3) Grease the bottom of a large bowl with 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Transfer rice flour mixture to the greased bowl. Knead with your knuckles (pressing into the mixture) for 5 minutes, until a smooth dough forms. If mixture is too hot for your hands, try pressing into the mixture with the bottom of a mason jar instead.

WIN_20160424_125954Step 4) Grease countertop with remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Divide dough into 4 pieces, and use your hands to roll each piece on the greased countertop into a 12 inch length.

Step 5) Set the lengths of dough aside for one hour, uncovered. This will dry the dough slightly, allowing it to slice easier.

Step 6) After 1 hour, slice the dough on a diagonal into bite-size pieces approximately 1/2 inch thick. From this point, do one of the following:

  • Add your Korean Garaetteok to a pot of soup and simmer for 15 minutes. Delicious!
  • Stir-fry your Korean Garaetteok in sesame oil for about 5 minutes, until crispy on the outside. Toss with cooked veggies for a fun side dish, or drizzle with honey and crushed peanuts for dessert!
  • Freeze your uncooked Korean Garaetteok in an airtight container for later use.

Happy Cooking!

 

 

Raisin Crisp Cookies

WIN_20151119_160152My Mom makes these and, like everything my Mom makes, Raisin Crunch cookies are delicious. I enjoy Raisin Crunch Cookies with coffee, because they are crunchy enough to hold up to a quick dunk. To be fair, I enjoy anything with coffee, but still… Happy baking!

Ingredients (Makes 4 dozen)

1 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup oats (I use old fashioned; quick oats will also work)

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup raisin bran cereal (variations such as “Honey Bunches of Oats” also work well)

1 1/4 cups flaked coconut

1/2 cup raisins

Directions

Step 1) Cream together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix well.

Step 2) Fold in cereal, coconut, and raisins.

Step 3) Drop heaping teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 14 – 16 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.

Step 4) Remove from oven and allow cookies to rest on the baking sheets for 4 minutes. This helps them to crisp – and these cookies are supposed to be crispy! After 4 minutes, transfer cookies to cooling racks. Allow to cool completely before covering and storing.