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I Am... Friday Finds: 4.26.19

Hai! Remember when I said that I don’t have jet lag at all? Yeah, I lied. I have crazy jet lag. I’ve been sleeping at 3 in the morning – sometimes even 4 – and it’s a good day if I get up before noon. I feel like a major slob but at the same time, I kind of don’t really mind? I’m going to try to get to bed early tonight though so hopefully I wake up at a reasonable hour. Being awake in the middle of the night gives me plenty of time to surf the internet and read ridiculous articles. I’ve also been spending my time getting hyped for The Advengers Endgame. We’ve got tickets to see it and I’m hyped! I will not be drinking anything or having caffeine that morning so I will be able to make it through the entire 3 hours without a bathroom break. Anyway, weekend plans?! If you’re bored, here are some fun reads! Webstuff:

  1. Do you have a favorite grocery store?
  2. The blackest black.
  3. Burritos as we know them.
  4. Instagram as we know it is over?!
  5. Rose all day, every day. Rose is never going to be off trend, it seems.
  6. New KitKat flavor!!
  7. I don’t know about you, but I’d say in this giant potato airbnb!
Link Love:
  1. Two ingredient chocolate pot de creme.
  2. I could eat this pasta all the time and be happy.
  3. I love pavlovas and this one looks perfect!
I’ve got my eyes on you:
  1. I know it’s spring, but I kinda want a weighted blanket? Weird I know, but I like burrito-ing myself in blankets.
  2. These liquid measuring cups look interesting to me – sometimes I find the glass ones too cumbersome and they take up a huge amount of space, but these ones stack and would be usable with an immersion blender.
Lately on I am a Food Blog:
  1. General Tso’s chicken, with a healthy baked twist.
  2. I’m obsessed with Japanese shokupan: fluffy white bread.
  3. Hello UDON!!! And a bonus recipe if you’re feeling the udon urges.
  4. Do you guys wanna follow the white rabbit? He’s got cookies!
Hope you guys have a wonderful weekend! early start of the season strawberries and cream, xoxo steph

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~ 5 ingredients 30 minutes dinner & chill easy mains meat

I Am... An Easy & Healthy Oven Baked General Tso’s Chicken Recipe

General Tso's chicken may be the most popular dish in America when it comes to Chinese food. It's easy to see why with its sweet, sticky, and umami forward deep fried chicken nuggets. Like all things though, making it yourself at home is even better. This version is simultaneously tastier than takeout while being super easy and healthy because it's oven baked with no finicky oil to deal with, just delicious crispy chicken. Cooking Notes If you are so inclined, cutting the pieces into smaller than usual 1/2" cubes make for a crispier chicken that's actually more true to its Hunan origins. Properly speaking all parts of an authentic Chinese dish should be cut down into a uniformly small chopstick friendly size. The whole dried peppers add an incredible kick if you eat them or a delicate hint of smoke if you don't, but you can just leave them out entirely if you don't like spicy food or can't find them, this is dinner & chill after all. The green onion whites comes very highly recommended. What do you need? A non stick skillet and a baking sheet with a rack that fits. Cooking spray is highly recommended. It puts less oil on the rack than brushing (and you need the oil or you'll tear your chicken), How do you serve it? Serve with rice, fried noodles, and some traditional broccoli.

The Dinner & Chill Oven Baked General Tso's Chicken Recipe Serves 2-4
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cubed into 1"-1/2" pieces
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (ideally rice vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed

Optional but highly recommended garnishes

  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce (optional, for color)
  • 4-6 whole dried chinese chilies (optional, if you like spicy authentic food)
  • 4-6 green onion whites (optional, but highly recommended)
  • sesame seeds (optional)
1. Preheat your oven to 450ºF and season your chicken with salt and pepper. 2. Transfer your chicken to a ziplock/plastic bag along with 2 tablespoons of corn starch and shake well. Arrange the chicken onto an oiled tray on a foil lined baking sheet. 3. Bake your chicken for 30 minutes at 450ºF, flipping once after 20 minutes. 4. While the chicken is baking, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to 1/2 cup of water in a cup and stir into a smooth slurry. 5. Make your sauce by combining soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, hoisin, and garlic. If you are going all out and using the optional dark soy, dried chilies, and green onion whites, add them now as well. Add the corn starch slurry and bring everything to a boil, then take off the heat and stir until a smooth and glossy sauce forms. Set aside and make your rice or relax with a glass of wine until the chicken is done. 6. When your chicken is crispy and brown, toss it in the sauce until everything is evenly coated. Top with sesame seeds and chopped green onions with a side of rice, and enjoy!
Welcome to Dinner & Chill, a new series focusing on quick & easy weeknight dinners with easy to find ingredients, no special equipment, low prep, and low effort. Less shopping, less chopping, less mopping, more eating.

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30 minutes easy instant pot mains that noodle life

I Am... Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Ramen Soup

There are some types of foods that people are happy to mess around and be creative with and then there are some types of foods that seem to be sacrosanct. I love a good classic, but I also am constantly blown away by creativity in food. Walking down the busy streets of Tokyo, I must exclaim every single minute to Mike about the food and how awesome it is. There are a ton of creative shops doing their own thing here and everything looks so good. The latest ramen craze seems to be spicy ramen. All the ramen shops are doing it. It’s not like they haven’t had spicy ramen before now, but all of a sudden it’s the hot new bowl in town and it seems like everyone is either making a spicy bowl or eating one. I can’t wait until we get back home so we can make our own spicy ramen. But in the meantime, back while we were still at home, one of the last bowls or ramen we made and ate was this chicken tortilla soup ramen. Sounds like it would be kinda weird and at first Mike was a little skeptical, but after the first few bites, we both agreed, it was a keeper. There’s no cute story about how I came up with the idea – essentially one day, at Taco Wednesdays (our favorite taco joints version of Taco Tuesday), I was having tortilla soup and I thought to myself, this is missing something. That something was noodles. 15 minutes of Instant Potting later and boom: chicken tortilla ramen. It’s a double soup ramen with super savory fire-roasted tomatoes and chicken broth, tender chunks of chicken (go for thighs, so much more flavor!), some peppers for spice, a tangle of toothsome ramen noodles, then ALL THE TOPPINGS. Spicy jalapeños, cilantro for freshness, avocados for the creaminess, cheddar for a bit of cheese pull, sour cream just because, and crunchy tortillas, because everyone knows that the crunchy tortillas are the best part of tortilla soup. Squeeze on some lime and you’re golden. Do this for dinner – it’s a dump everything in the instant pot and eat sort of situation. Noodles for the win!

Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Ramen Soup serves 2-4
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 dried ancho chile
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 4 cups no sodium chicken broth
  • 14.5 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 large boneless skinless chicken breast or 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 portions ramen noodles
  • sliced jalapeños
  • cilantro, roughly chopped
  • avocado, sliced
  • shredded cheddar
  • sour cream
  • crunchy tortilla strips or chips
  • lime wedges
In the Instant Pot insert, add onion, garlic, ancho chile, jalapeño, chicken broth, tomatoes, and chicken. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. While the Instant Pot is doing it’s thing, prepare the toppings. Slice the jalapeños, chop up the cilantro, slice the avocado, and cut the limes. Cook and drain the noodles and divide between two deep bowls. When the Instant Pot is done, quick release the pressure. Remove the ancho chile and discard. Carefully remove the chicken and shred. Add the chicken to the bowls with the noodles. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, then divide evenly between the two bowls. Finish with jalapeños, cilantro, avocado, cheddar, sour cream, tortilla strips, and lime. Enjoy hot! Note: If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can make it in a regular pot on the stove. Add the onion, chili powder, jalapeño, chicken broth, tomatoes, and chicken to a pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. Continue with the remaining steps.

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recipes small batch sweets

I Am... Small Batch White Rabbit Snickerdoodle Cookies

We are back from Japan and I’m not even jet lagged! Must have something to do with the fact that I spent most of the day and night yesterday sleeping, aside for a quick 3 am (dinner time-ish in Tokyo) snack of cheese toast made on straight-from-Tokyo hand carried on the plane shokupan.

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I Am... The Best Places in Tokyo for Fluffy Japanese Shokupan Bread

When you think of Japan, do you think of noodles or rice? There’s no doubt that there are a ton of delicious rice and noodle dishes, but maybe what you didn’t know is: Japan really excels at bread. Usually found in perfectly 90° square sided loaves, shokupan, as Japanese white bread is known as, is unbelievably fluffy, soft, and delicious. Milky cloud white with a tender crumb, it’s a loaf that will take you right back to childhood, conjuring up the images of the ultimate crustless white bread sandwiches you dreamed of your mom making. Of course, that’s a completely subjective view point – maybe I’m the only one who dreamed of crustless sandwiches made from the softest, whitest bread filled with salty smooth peanut butter and sweet strawberry jam. The truth is, Japan is as obsessed about bread as it is about noodles or rice. While shokupan is plain and unassuming, with none of the texture or intense flavors of sourdough, it makes the perfect neutral canvas, much like a plain bowl of rice. Just like how rice can have nuances, so can shokupan. Bakeries pride themselves on both ingredients and history. Much like how you can judge a French bakery by its baguettes, you can also do the same with a Japanese bakery and its shokupan. Here are Here arethree of my favorite places in Tokyo to get the fluffy white stuff! Just a heads up though, much like anything that’s popular in Tokyo, there maybe a line, don’t be surprised if there is, and be absurd be excited if there isn’t. Centre the Bakery Center the bakery has a delightful café where you can choose your own toaster. Choose your own toaster! I feel like that sentence is enough to make you want to go there but if you need more convincing, it also happens to be one of the best shokupan bakeries in Tokyo. They consistently have lines and often sell out of their whole loaves, especially their “European” and “American” style shokupan. If you’re not looking to buy a whole loaf, you can skip the long line on the right hand side of the bakery and line up on the left for the café. Try the toast set which will give you one slice of each type of shokupan, as well as different butters and jams. 365 Days 365 Days is literally open every day of the year, except for leap year days. The original bakery is near Yoyogi Park, on a side street in a somewhat quiet area. That doesn’t stop them from having long lines of bread fans lining up for their famous crunchy croquant chocolat, a bun filled with crunchy little chocolate bits. They do excellent mini shokupan that are made with Hokkaido milk – perfect fresh and even better when toasted and slathered with butter. They’ve opened a new store in the more central location of Shinbashi, so there’s no excuse to not go! Pelican Bakery Pelican Bakery has been around for about 76 years and is still going strong. They only make two items: shokupan and dinner rolls. When you visit their little shop in Asakusa, which is more of a mini store front for their baking facility, you’ll see rows and rows of bread lined up, but they’re not for sale – those are preorders that people have called in so that they aren’t disappointed when Pelican Bakery inevitably sells out of bread. They do have some loaves for sale though, so don’t be afraid to pop your head in and ask. And, if you’re not looking for a whole loaf, Pelican supplies bread to many cafes around town and also has their own, just down the street. Get the toast set, which comes with coffee or tea and a thick slab of freshly baked Pelican bread toasted over an open fire. Serious bread goodness. Anyway, I hope this has inspired you to seek out some Japanese bread. It’s truly one of my favorite things in the world to eat. I love it when it’s fresh and fluffy and chewy, just like what you’d imagine a cloud to taste like; I love it when it’s toasted, with a crisp and crunchy layer giving into soft insides; I just love it.

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~ 5 ingredients 30 minutes dinner & chill easy gadgets instant pot meat recipes

I Am... Instant Pot Pork Shoulder Chile Verde

It's a shame that not more people know about chile verde, aka green chili, because it's one of the greatest stews ever invented, in my opinion. Smoky roasted green chile peppers and tomatillos and super soft chunky pork shoulder come together to make one of the most satisfying meals you've ever had in your life. This version is super simple, removing everything you don't need and keeping only what you do. It's not the easiest dinner & chill recipe, but it's worth it! Cooking Notes Browning the meat is a completely optional step that you can do while you wait for the peppers to roast, but it's not necessary. You can also do a very lazy job of browning only one side which is what I do. Anaheim chiles are actually Hatch chiles that were smuggled out of New Mexico and planted in California. They don't have anywhere close to the smoky heat that real Hatch chiles have, but they are close enough in the middle of winter. If you can't find either, sub any large green chile, such as poblano or any other pepper roughly 6" long. In a pinch, combine jalapeno and bell pepper. This recipe is for 1 pound of pork shoulder, but honestly Steph and I never find it enough. We double the recipe when we make it for dinner. What do you need? An instant pot, a blender, and a baking sheet. If you don't have a blender, crush the garlic and mince the cilantro to the best of your ability and just throw the rest into the pot, it'll dissolve. If you don't have an instant pot, this recipe will also work in a slow cooker, dutch oven, or regular pot, just double the cooking time. How do you serve it? Serve with tortillas, rice, or just eat by itself. Topping with avocado, lime, and cilantro highly recommended.

Easy 7 Ingredient Instant Pot Green Chili Recipe Serves 2
  • 3 green chiles (ideally anaheim)
  • 3 tomatillos
  • 1lb pork shoulder, cubed
  • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup cilantro (half a bunch)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
1. Preheat your oven to broil/500ºF. Using cooking spray or neutral oil, coat the peppers and tomatillos and roast for 10 minutes, then flip and roast for another 10 minutes. 2. Season your pork with salt and pepper. While the peppers are roasting, with your instant pot on saute high mode, roughly brown your pork shoulder in 1-2 tablespoons of oil. It’s not really necessary to get every side browned. 3. Add the onions. Reduce the heat to saute low and continue cooking until the onions are soft and translucent. 4. When the peppers are done, remove them and transfer just the 3 peppers to a ziploc bag to steam. After they are cool enough to touch (5-10 minutes), remove and peel the peppers. 5. Discard the peels and transfer the peppers to a blender, along with the tomatillos, cilantro, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Puree and add to the instant pot. Add 1 cup of water to your blender and pulse a couple of times to get the last bits, then add to the instant pot as well. If you like your chili on the thicker side, only add 1/2 cup of water. 6. Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. Quick release when done. Add the cumin, stir well, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Top with lime, cilantro, and avocado, and enjoy!
Welcome to Dinner & Chill, a new series focusing on quick & easy weeknight dinners with easy to find ingredients, no special equipment, low prep, and low effort. Less shopping, less chopping, less mopping, more eating.

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~ 5 ingredients 30 minutes easy recipes that noodle life

I Am... Dry Mein Recipe from Aloha Kitchen

Do you dream of Hawaii? Its brilliant blue waves, soft sandy beaches, and lush green forests? When you think of Hawaiian food, do you think of pizza? Well, if you do, Aloha Kitchen is here to blow your mind. Aloha Kitchen, by my dear friend Alana of Fix Feast Flair, is a gorgeous collection of all the foods that Hawaii calls near and dear – nary a pineapple pizza in sight. I first met Alana years ago – I’m not even sure how we might have come across each other...oh wait, now that I’m thinking about it, I’m pretty sure I just wandered over to her little part of the internet where I was drawn in by stories of mochiko chicken, spam musubi, and butter mochi cake. I must’ve left a bunch of creepy stalker-ish gushing comments. Somehow we became good friends. We’ve made panda buns together, hung together, and even have been to Hawaii together. It was amazing having Alana show me her hometown. We ate all the things but somehow missed out on dry mein?! If you know anything about me, it’s that I’m a noodle lover. So even though every single recipe in Aloha Kitchen called to me (shave ice! malasadas! plate lunch!), it was the dry mein that really caught my eye. Dry mein is somewhat similar to a lo mein, in that it’s essentially noodles tossed in sauce. Alana’s Hawaiian version is tossed with a soy-oyster sauce, with slivers of Chinese char siu, crunchy bean sprouts, and fresh sharp green onions. I love how just a couple of ingredients come together to create something amazing. I wish I could say that we went all out and made the char siu recipe from Alana’s book, but the truth is, that Mike made these noodles the day before we left for Japan and we didn’t have time to make the char siu. Instead, we went to our favorite Chinese bbq joint to pick up some of the best char siu in town. It’s always insanely busy – the little sit in area is always packed and the line ups are usually out the door. I love having a little Chinese bbq place and according to Alana’s book, so do people on Hawaii! Anyway, this dry mein was awesome, especially with the suggested hot mustard. So noodley and good. I hope you get a chance to make it, and if you don’t, I hope you get a chance to pick up Alana’s book. Flipping through the book is like visiting Hawaii. You really get a sense of that friendly aloha vibe. The photos are vibrant and gorgeous and Alana’s writing makes you feel like a close friend is giving you the best private food tour you could ever imagine. It’s like you’re in Hawaii without the plane ride :)

Dry Mein serves 4-6
  • 1.5 lbs fresh noodles
  • 6 ounces bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb char siu pork, julienned
  • 6 green onions, green parts only, chopped
  • hot mustard, to serve
via Aloha Kitchen Bring a large pot of water to boil over night heat. Rinse the noodles under the kitchen faucet to remove any excess cornstarch. Place the bean sprouts in a large colander and set in the kitchen sink. Cook the noodles in the boiling water until they begin to float to the top, about 1 minute. Do not overlook the noodles; you want them to be al dente. Pour the noodles into the colander with the bean sprouts. Give the colander a good shake and transfer the noodles and bean sprouts to a bowl. Toss them with the oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and black pepper to taste. Toss in the char siu and green onions. Serve with a dash of hot mustard.

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japanese that noodle life travel words

I Am... The Ultimate Guide To Sanuki Udon In Kagawa: The Birthplace of the Best Noodles Ever

I have a deep and abiding love for udon. Soba and ramen get all the love, but the humble, unassuming udon noodle is my favorite. Thick and chewy in the best way, super slurpable udon noodles don’t get enough love. They’re just the right amount of firm, with a smooth supple bite. Perfect hot, cold, or anywhere in between. Much like the wine regions in France, many of the prefectures in Japan have their own type of regional udon, differing in thickness, shape, and preparation. There are three ultra famous udon types in Japan: 1. Inaniwa Udon from northwest Akita: thin, chewy, and smooth. Inaniwa udon take up to four days to make and used to only be eaten by the Imperial family. 2. Sanuki Udon from Kagawa, Shikoku, the smallest island in Japan: square cut, firm, and supple. 3. Kishimen Udon from Nagoya, the fourth largest city in Japan: thin and flat. There are many more udon types, but perhaps the most well known both in Japan and abroad, thanks to food tourism, is sanuki. Kagawa is said to have the highest udon consumption rate in Japan - they even refer to themselves as the udon prefecture. As a noodle lover, it just didn’t feel right that Mike and I have never been to Kagawa. So, with empty bellies and open hearts, we boarded the Shinkansen towards the land of broth and udon. We arrived in Takamatsu, the capital city on the Island of Shikoku. It’s pretty small as cities go and we chose it more as a home base, rather than a city that we really wanted to explore. Nonetheless, that first night we managed to have a disappointing mediocre bowl of udon as well as their city specialty: chicken baked on the bone. Neither were anything to write home about. I was still a bit jet lagged (okay, majorly jet lagged) so we called it an early night so we could go udon trekking bright and early the next day.

Gamou Udon

We started off our udon itinerary by hopping on a local train heading east through fields and fields of vibrant green wheat. Our destination was the tiny town of Kamogawa. We got off on the platform, crossed a river, and walked through quiet residential streets until we saw an incongruous parking lot full of cars. The cars were there for the same reason we were: udon. Well, at least their drivers were. There was a line made up of what looked to be udon pilgrims and locals, quietly waiting to get inside for their bowl of udon. There’s barely a menu and all you need to know is if you want your udon hot or cold and how many bundles of udon you’re hungry for. After you let the chef know, he hands you a bowl of udon. Then you get your toppings, pay, and head to the giant pot of dashi that’s on a soft simmer. Fill your bowl and top it off with some green onions and then head outside to eat on a bench. Part of the fun was slurping outside on a sunny day with everyone else doing the same thing. There were construction workers, families, and us. The noodles were just the right amount of firm and chewy – mochi mochi as the Japanese like to say. We got a bowl of both cold and hot so we could compare. The cold udon was a touch more firm and the warm udon soaked in a bit more of the dashi flavor and was just the tiniest bit more supple. A pure and simple bowl. Seriously, nothing beats the combination of udon and tempura. If you love udon, you’ll appreciate the udon here, like much the rest of Japan. Gamou is one of the highest rated udons in Japan.

Jotou Udon

After our bowl at Gamou, we headed back on the train towards Minoura Station, a tiny station that consists of a platform by the Seto Inland Sea. We got off the train – we were the only ones who did – and headed across the train tracks towards a tiny little shop by the sea. Looking towards the Seto inland sea you can see the concrete blocks breaking the tide. Looking back towards the tracks, there’s a sun worn blue noren fluttering in the wind to let you know you’re at the right place: a for-the-love-of-udon shop opened by a husband-wife team that runs Japan’s number 6 udon shop according to the ever popular Tabelog – Japan’s definitive restaurant rating catalog. Order your noodles from the friendly proprietress – she’ll hand you a bowl and gesture you towards a vat of boiling water where you heat them up briefly yourself. Top it off with dashi, green onions, and little bits of tempura crunchies. Choose from the small selection of tempura, pay, and find a seat. We sat down at a counter seat next giant window facing the train tracks. There was a small grove of Sakura trees in full bloom. The sun was streaming through the blossoms and a gentle breeze blew soft pink petals through the air. It was like something out of an anime: the warm spring sun, a train rumbling by, the sound of Japanese talk radio murmuring in the background, and the laughter of the husband and wife chatting with each other. I was deeply deeply content, me by Mike's side, the both us of lost in our bowls, slurping in silence. The noodles were thick and slippery and chewy in the best way possible and the experience just couldn’t be beat.

Nagata in Kanoka

Nagata in Kanoka is rated the second highest udon in Japan. People travel from far and wide for a taste of their udon. As we got off at the train station, we even noticed another udon fanatic walking towards the restaurant at the same pace we were. When you get there, you’ll see a giant parking lot filled with cars. Cars are definitely a thing in the Japanese countryside - it’s a lot easier to go on an udon tour if you have a car. And for some reason, all the tourists going around eating udon are local Japanese people. Nagata in Kanoka had the feel of serious udon place with a bunch of udon heads, plus some local grandmas and grandpas thrown in. Anyway, much the same as the other udon places, all you can do here is order hot or cold. There aren’t even any toppings to be had. This place is ALL about the udon, nothing else. And the thing is, it didn’t disappoint. We ordered a hot and a cold, of course. The hot came in a bowl its own cooking liquid and a huge jug of hot dashi. You pour the hot dashi into a cup, add some green onions and ginger, then grab some noodles from your bowl and dip it into the soup. The first bite of udon was SO GOOD. Very chewy and slippery but not too soft. The hot ended up being just a touch more soft/supple compared to the cold, as per usual. The cold was beautifully firm yet chewy. It’s the kind of udon you want to eat over and over again. The first bite of the hot udon is very impressive, but the cold is what you’ll go back to time and time again.

Ippuku Honten

We visited Ippuku the next day, fresh from a good night’s sleep. It’s only a couple of stations away from Takamatsu, the capital city of Kagawa, so it’s a very easy udon destination, especially compared to some of the other udon shops that we visited. After a short walk from the station, we came across a cute little neighborhood udon shop full of families, young couples, and groups of friends. Ippuku is a casual sort of udon place, the kind where you grab a tray, then head down the cafeteria style line. First you pass by a selection of onigiri, then you let the udon chef know which noodles you want, then you pick up your toppings, pay, find a seat, and slurp away. Ippuku has the most extensive menu of all the udon shops we went to. They have the classics of course, but they also have kama tama, a sort of carbonara type situation with a raw egg; curry udon featuring that classic thick Japanese curry sauce; and niku udon, udon with dashi and thinly sliced beef, kind of like a gyudon beef rice bowl, but on noodles. I was going to go for kama tama, but ended up getting niku udon because that’s what Mike always gets and I always covet his bowl. It was a good move. The beef was tender and sweet, the dashi perfectly seasoned and the noodles...oh my goodness, the noodles were intensely good. Even though they were slightly thinner than some of the other udons we visiting, they still had heft and chew. So slurpable and completely satisfying. It was probably the best udon shop to end on. Fun and friendly, with a room full of laughing udon eating locals. My udon heart was so full. Note: it’s actually unclear which three udons are the top three famous udon in Japan, because there’s some discussion on what the 3rd udon is. Some say it’s Kishimen, some say it’s Mizusawa, some say Himi udon is the third. I guess we’ll never know, but in my heart, sanuki is number one.

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~ 5 ingredients 30 minutes easy japanese recipes that noodle life

I Am... Spicy, Savory, and Completely Addictive Mentaiko Kimchi Udon

Hi from Niigata, a little town on the Western side of Japan. It’s not a huge must visit for most first timers to Japan, but if you love rice, sake, and seafood, it’s great! Still, even people in Japan will find it hard to believe that you’re going. I mentioned to one of my Japanese friends that we were headed there and she said, “Wow, that’s the real countryside!” It’s true, there are fields and fields of rice and it is decidedly less cosmopolitan than the other major cities in Japan, but it has a charm all its own. The people are friendly and the food is good – what more could you want? The first place we ate at was a little izakaya that kind of reminded me of home. We have a ton of great izakayas in the city and one of our faves does this crazy delicious kimchi mentaiko udon that I love. You’ll see plate after plate of it head out of the kitchen: a tangle of firm, yet chewy udon noodles coated in a butter, kimchi, spicy cod roe mixture. Have you had mentaiko before? It’s a Japanese take on a Korean spicy salted cod roe – basically spicy fish eggs that add a huge hit of flavor to rice, noodles, eggs...essentially anything and everything you can think of. It goes exceedingly well with kimchi and even better with noodles. This has got to be one of the easiest noodle dishes you’ll ever make. The payoff compared to the effort you put in will blow you away. Of course, you have to go to the Asian grocery store to get the mentaiko, which might be a pain, but hey, while you’re there, you can stock up on the snacks, am I right? And, if you absolutely can’t make it to the store and only have kimchi and butter in the fridge, that’s pretty darn good on it’s own. Kimchi butter noodles are where it’s at, the mentaiko just takes it over the top. I hope you guys have a chance to try these noodles! I’m going to head out now – we’re planning on finding some yakitori :)

Spicy, Savory, and Completely Addictive Mentaiko Kimchi Udon Recipe serves 1-2
  • 1 brick of frozen udon
  • 1/2 cup kimchi, plus a bit of kimchi juice
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 sac of mentaiko
  • sliced green onions and nori, to finish
Cook the udon according to the package and drain well. Melt the butter over low heat and add the kimchi, frying slightly. Remove the roe from the sac by cutting open with a knife and using a spoon to scrape out the eggs. Add to the butter and kimchi. Toss in the udon and mix until well coated and glossy. Top with green onions and nori. Enjoy hot!

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~ 5 ingredients 30 minutes dinner & chill easy mains meat recipes restaurant recipes

I Am... An Easy & Healthy Oven Baked Orange Chicken Recipe

Pretty much everyone knows and loves orange chicken, the dish upon which a panda empire was started. This is a healthy, not-quite-copycat, slightly more authentic version that you can feel good about eating every night if you want. It's not deep fried, oily, or difficult, and it's utterly, utterly delicious. A tangy, bright, and slightly sweet sauce comes together with lightly crispy chicken and forms something that's far more than the sum of its 6 ingredients worth of parts. Cooking Notes You may need to adjust the sugar content to suit you because it's not possible to predict the sweetness of the orange you end up with. What do you need? A non stick skillet and a baking sheet with a rack that fits. Cooking spray is highly recommended. It puts less oil on the rack than brushing (and you need the oil or you'll tear your chicken), How do you serve it? Serve with rice, fried noodles, and maybe a healthy side salad.

The Dinner & Chill Oven Baked Orange Chicken Recipe Serves 2-4
  • 1lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, 1" cubed
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (about half an orange)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
1. Preheat your oven to 450ºF and season your chicken with salt and pepper. 2. Transfer your chicken to a ziplock/plastic bag along with 2 tablespoons of corn starch and shake well. Arrange the chicken onto an oiled tray on a foil lined baking sheet. 3. Bake your chicken for 30 minutes at 450ºF, flipping once after 20 minutes. 4. While the chicken is baking, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to 1 tablespoon of water in a cup and stir into a smooth slurry. 5. Make your sauce by combining orange juice, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar. Add the corn starch slurry to it and bring to a boil, then take off the heat and stir until a smooth and glossy sauce forms. Set aside and relax with a glass of wine until the chicken is done. 6. When your chicken is crispy and brown, toss it in the sauce until everything is evenly coated. Top with sesame seeds and chopped green onions with a side of rice, and enjoy!
Welcome to Dinner & Chill, a new series focusing on quick & easy weeknight dinners with easy to find ingredients, no special equipment, low prep, and low effort. Less shopping, less chopping, less mopping, more eating.

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I Am... Small Batch Triple Coconut Loaf Recipe

Mike and I are currently on a shinkansen, speeding through the Japanese countryside. We just spent the last two days eating at tiny udon shops tucked away in little residential towns and on the sides of the train tracks. I’m so deliriously happy to be back in Japan! Before we left, Mike made this little triple coconut cake as a sweet treat to welcome in spring. I’ve really come to love our new tradition of baking a mini loaf every Sunday. Loaves come together so quickly and there’s nothing better with a cup of coffee (which I’ve started drinking again after a long hiatus from caffeine) in the morning. Are you guys slow starters in the morning or do you like to just get up and go? I’m pretty much the worst in the morning – I need quite a bit of time to wake up properly, otherwise I end up being grumpy mcgrumpface. I like the whole ritual of grinding up coffee beans, making pour over, and lingering over coffee and cake. But really, it’s not always possible, especially when there’s work to be done. So, more often than not, it’s a grab and go kind of situation. And cake in a grab and go situation is always a good thing. This little loaf gets it’s coconuttiness from three sources: shredded coconut, coconut yogurt, and coconut oil. There’s a tiny bit of coconut extract in there too, but you can skip out on that if needed, it’s plenty coconutty without. Bake this at the beginning of the week and you’ve got cake for days! It’s super moist and keeps well.

Small Batch Triple Coconut Loaf Cake makes one mini loaf
  • 3/4 cups (90 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cups shredded coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 6 tablespoons whole-milk coconut Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract, optional
Heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil and flour pan a mini loaf pan (6×3 inches or a pan that fits 2 cups liquid) or line with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, coconut, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk the sugar together with the yogurt, oil, egg, and coconut extract. Fold the dry ingredients in, just to blend. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes, remove from the pan and let cool completely on the wire rack. Enjoy!

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I Am... Sakura Season in Tokyo

Being in Japan during sakura or cherry blossom season has always been on my bucket list. Still, it took Mike and I nine years of going to Japan before we actually got to see sakura. Not because we kept missing the season, or because we didn’t want to. To be honest, I’m not sure why it too us so long to get here. I think it was partially because I was scared of the stories about how cherry blossom season was the busiest season in Japan and partially because, well, we have Japan down pat. We know what we like and we know which season we like it in. Even so, this year is the year we broke our rut. This year is the year we finally made it to Japan to see the sakura! We almost didn’t because I told Mike that it wasn’t really a top priority of mine, but he insisted, saying that if we were going to go around the season, why not try to plan it for the peak. Cherry blossom season varies from year to year, depending on the weather, but it’s usually somewhere near the beginning of April. There are websites and calendars dedicated to telling you when the trees are blooming and when they will be at full bloom. Full bloom is what you want: a gorgeous, generous canopy of fluffy white pink blossoms that are incredibly delicate and fleeting. Their fleeting quality is what makes sakura so popular in Japan. In a culture that celebrates things in season and nature in general, they would of course, celebrate a natural phenomenon a both as a herald of spring and as an excuse to get drunk and eat delicious food. Somehow Mike and I (okay, it was really all Mike) managed to book our flight into Tokyo right at the start of the peak season. Our plan was: check out the blossoms in Tokyo for just one day before heading on a mini train trip to see some other lesser known parts of Japan. We landed in the afternoon after a very long flight (I managed to watch 4 movies!), quickly dropped off our luggage at the hotel and headed out to one of the top cherry blossom spots in Tokyo: Nakameguro. Nakameguro, even without sakura, is a very fun neighborhood. There are a ton of cute little eateries, hipster cafes, and shops all around the station. And, of course, there’s the Meguro river, which is lined with a dense population of sakura trees. The trees, next to the river, along with pink lanterns, is probably something you’ve seen on Instagram. It gets super busy, both day and night, with everyone politely (sometimes not so politely in tourist cases) jostling for the best photos. We loved the Nakame sakura (what locals call Nakameguro for short) so much that Mike dubbed it Naka Bae. Since we arrived in the afternoon, before most people got off work, it wasn’t absurdly busy. As the afternoon went on, it did get increasingly busier, but it was nothing like what I was scared it would be. If you don’t like crowds, this probably won’t be the place for you, but it wasn’t as busy as the time we went to see the winter illuminations – now that was intense. The best part of Nakame, after the blossoms, which were absolutely delightful, was the street food. There were a bunch of vendors set up on both sides of the river, selling sakura themed food and drinks. Think: strawberry everything, pink champagne, and all your classic Japanese festival foods. I had a grilled mochi covered in a thick, sweet, garlicky sauce. It was crisp and chewy at the same time and seriously so good. We also had some classic Japanese festival street food: yakisoba. I wanted to eat all the things, especially the long fries and the tornado sausage, but we wanted to visit another sakura site so we didn’t eat as much as we could have. But seriously, I love street food and there was SO MUCH! Some of the more popular things I saw people having were: strawberry drinks, strawberries on a stick, boba drinks, takoyaki, grilled mochi, and miso dango. After Nakame, we headed to Chidorigafuchi park, which is right near the Emperor’s place. Sadly there was no street food there. We got there right at sunset, when they started to light up all the sakura. It was very, very pretty, but it was also so BUSY. Busier than Nakame, and that was already bustling by the time we left. It seemed like there were more out of town tourists at Chidorigafuchi and more local young peeps at Nakameguro. I liked the way the sakura looked at night, but it wasn’t really what I think of when I think of cherry blossoms, so after a quick stroll and ten thousand pictures, we called it and decided to come again to visit in the morning. The next day there still wasn’t any street food, but it was a lot less busier. The canopy of cherry blossoms at Chiodorifuchi is gorgeous. As you walk along the moat, you can see people out on boats, and the color of the moat next to the pink of the blossoms is perfection. I’m so happy we came back during the day. We walked around most of the of moat and got to see all the people who were already staking out their claims for hanami viewing parties. Hanami is when groups of people picnic under the sakura trees. You get a bunch of friends, food, and alcohol and hang out, drinking and eating and enjoying the cherry blossoms. There were huge blue tarps laid out, with just one lonely guy or girl just hanging in the middle. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to hanami because we were leaving Tokyo. But hopefully we’ll get a chance to in one of the other places we’re visiting. If we do, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be awesome. And that was it! An afternoon and morning of Tokyo’s best sakura. We’re literally on a shinkansen (bullet train) while I’m writing up this post. We’re headed down south and Mike and I are the only ones on the train. If you get a chance to be in Tokyo for sakura, here are our top 5 tips on how to hanami: 1. Bring a tarp. You’ll see giant blue tarps with one lonely person hanging out in the middle of them. They’re just waiting for their friends. Usually, one person will come early in the morning to secure a good spot and friends or office mates will trade off during the day to ensure that they have the best space to hanami. You can grab a cheap tarp at any 100 yen shop. 2. Grab some drinks. Alcohol is a big part of hanami, so if you’re going to do it right, you need to get your drank on! Visit a combini – 7-11 or Lawson’s is always a good choice – and grab some drinks. It’s perfectly acceptable and what everyone means when they say they are going to “see” sakura. 3. FOOD! You’ll need some snacks with your alcohol. Depending on where you hanami, they’re may or may not be food stalls. If there are, of course buy the food at the foods stalls. Otherwise, I’ve been seeing a lot of Uber Eats hanami ads where people literally uber their food to their tarps. Of course, convenience store food or food from a food hall works too! 4. Don’t be disheartened if you can’t sit down. It’s seriously competitive and well, you can just as easily enjoy food and drink while standing around near the food stalls. It’s just as pretty and the food will taste the same sitting or standing. 5. Bring some napkins/wet wipes. Most vendors don’t have them. Sometimes they do, but if you’re a messy eater, like me, just bring your own, you won’t regret it!

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