Category Archives: Experiments

Family Mart taco rice musubi sando review

taco rice riceball taco rice riceball package



As a lover of tacos, taco rice and anything Tex Mex, I had to try the Family Mart taco rice musubi sando when I saw it. How could I not? It was decent and I will definitely try to replicate it.

  • The rice was seasoned with taco seasoning. It was also reasonably spicy, as advertised.
  • There was taco meat and processed cheese as filling. I will use regular cheese when I make it.
  • The nori was surprisingly okay with the taco flavors.

To make it:

  • Mix rice with taco seasoning to taste. Taco seasoning is available at many supermarkets and import shops. You can find a recipe for it here.
  • Brown some ground beef and onions, season with taco seasoning and add a bit of salsa or tomato paste.
  • Spread rice in a thin layer all over a nori sheet. Spread taco meat and cheese over one half of the rice layer.
  • Fold the non-topped half over the topped half. Cut to any size you desire.
  • Done and done.




On Friday a couple of friends and I had a geek night. We made butterbeer (Harry Potter) and Batman chocolates, painted t-shirts and watched a movie. It was a great time. I rather enjoyed the butterbeer and thought I would share it with you.


Source: I can’t find it again but will link to it when I do

50mL heavy cream
50mL butterscotch (or caramel) topping
2 tablespoons butter
355mL cream soda

In a saucepan, mix the cream, butterscotch topping and butter. Heat on the stove on low until the butter has melted. Remove from heat, stir in the cream soda and serve over ice.

Where to find:

  • Cream – in the dairy section of the supermarket
  • Butterscotch/caramel topping – in the supermarket. You can use the stuff meant for ice cream or the stuff meant to go on toast.
  • Cream soda – and import store like Kaldi Coffee. I found some in a Sanwa supermarket oddly enough.

Black Sesame Cupcakes


I had a cupcake craving but no desire to make plain vanilla or chocolate, the only two flavors I had ingredients for. I decided to give black sesame a whirl. I checked Pinterest and found these two recipes. The first one looked beautiful but seemed too much work. The second one had matcha cream cheese icing on top which made me cringe. I decided just to see how much sesame they put in and modify a vanilla cupcake recipe. I went with the Hummingbird Bakery recipe as I know it works well.

I really enjoyed them and the husband gave two thumbs up. These are not too sweet and are suitable to make for people in Japan. I made a half batch of icing and still had leftovers. This could be because I used tall cups so I ended up with only nine cupcakes instead of twelve.

You can see that I don’t use a lot of icing. This is a result of living in Japan so long. I can’t stomach a big swirl of icing on top. If you make these for Japanese people (or anyone from a country that doesn’t use much sugar) or long term expats, I would recommend a thin layer of icing and reducing the sugar to half.


Modifications to the cupcakes

  • reduced the sugar to 100g (you could go down to half and not miss the sugar)
  • used rice milk instead of whole milk (that’s what I had)
  • took out one tablespoon of flour (to balance for the ground sesame)
  • added two tablespoons of ground black sesame
  • used a hand mixer (whipped butter, added dry ingredients, added wet ingredients)

Modifications to the butter cream

  • made a half batch
  • added in one tablespoon of ground black sesame before the powdered sugar
  • didn’t actually measure the powdered sugar (I have followed the recipe properly before and it was great)
  • used a hand mixer

What is your favorite cupcake flavor? Do you have a go to recipe that everyone should try? Leave a comment below.

Bus cake 3

The bus birthday cake adventure

My son turns two this week and we had the first of two parties this weekend past. I decided to do a bus cake so I tested out the buttercream and cake recipes for my birthday a couple of weeks ago. Everything tasted good and since it was a city bus and completely square I didn’t have to worry about entering the lovely world of carving round edges. I used this cake recipe and this buttercream recipe. I halved the sugar for the cake and after living in Japan for so long, I could reduce it further. I have a sweet tooth but North American sweetness levels can be over the top. If I had a stand mixer I think I would make a merengue buttercream instead of a basic buttercream since the sweetness can be reduced.

I found this excellent buttercream decorating tips page via pinterest.

The gear

  • two small loaf pans bought at the 100 yen store (similar to a dollar store)
  • a cake decorating set from the 100 yen shop
  • cardboard and tin foil for the base
  • a jar of hot water

I started with the picture from my son’s book.

bus cake picture

Next I did a crumb coat chilled it in the fridge for a couple of hours and then started decorating. I found that when room temperature is in the upper twenties, chilling the cake does nothing as the icing softens almost instantly.

Bus cake 1

I decided to start at the bottom and work my way up. Until I got this.

Bus cake 3

Not bad for my first decorating job. I have to say that with the small size of this cake it was a bit of a challenge. My perfectionist brain was not impressed that it was too small for me to smooth out the icing properly.

Overall it was a fun experience. I will do a theme cake for the kiddo every year methinks.


Rice Cooker Love

As you can imagine, now that I’m working on a rice cooker cookbook, I have been making a lot of food in the rice cooker. I love how easy it is. With summer in full force, I don’t seem to have the usual cooking energy and five minutes of active prep works for me.

I’ve been having a harder time with cakes because I have a three cupper and cakes need a wider area like a five cupper. What a great excuse for a new rice cooker.

Here is what I’ve been working on.

Pineapple Curry Chicken

Roast beef

Daikon and chicken in a gochujang sauce

Coconut Kabocha Pie

Coconut Kabocha Pie

Coconut kabocha PieMarch 14th was Pi Day. π, not pie. For the last three years I have not remembered until I read someone’s recap in the late evening and could not participate. Confession: I just realized this year it is pi day because the date is 3.14. How could I forget when it happens? It’s also White Day in Japan. Luckily I saw a Facebook update in the morning and had time to bake a pie to celebrate. I also got to try out the little coconut mild powder packets I recently spotted at the supermarket. This solves a dilemma I used to have. I don’t really cook with coconut milk so whenever I but a can pack of powder it is usually for a purpose that only uses a bit of it. Now no waste as the pack is only 18g. Anyway, back to the pie. It was fabulous. I used my usual pumpkin/kabocha pie recipe and crust and just made a couple of changes. I used coconut oil in the crust because the lovely Soness gave me a big tub of it. I don’t think that really changed the flavour of the crust so regular cooking oil as per the recipe will still be great.

Coconut Kabocha Pie

1/4 cup kabocha squash, cook and puree (you can peel or not peel it)

milk to thin out the kabocha until it is like a really thick soup

1/2 teaspoon salt

27 grams coconut milk powder (1 1/2 packets of the stuff below)

2 well beaten eggs

1 cup sweetened condensed milk (sold for strawberries in Japan)

Whisk everything together until smooth.  Bake in your favorite pie crust for ten minutes at 220C and then turn the oven down to 160C and bake for 40-60 minutes more.  Cool before serving.


Coconut Milk Powder

This is the only package of coconut milk powder (or any coconut product for that matter) in Japan that I have seen without English on it. This one was in the curry section while canned coconut milk was in the Asian food section. It’s made by S&B, the company that makes those red cans of curry powder.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

This is called rennyuu (れんにゅう 練乳) in Japanese and is mainly sold for strawberries. I have seen it in many different locations in supermarkets, sometimes right by the strawberries. Probably best to ask as it will probably be on the top shelf in a seemingly random place. Image source.


Kabocha Miso Vinagrette


I went into Tokyo today and had planned on bringing my lunch. When I realized how much stuff I had to take to daycare for my son, I gave up on the idea. That is the reason for the bento box presentation. Beautiful, isn’t it? I threw the dressing together in a minute. Salad dressings are all about personal taste so I’ll just give you the ingredients list and you can find your ideal mix. Just put everything in a jar and give it a shake.

In the mix: kabocha puree, miso, cider vinegar, sugar, water and salad oil

In the salad: lettuce, zucchini, carrot and red peppers


Quick Japanese Curry


I saw this on a Japanese cooking tv show. I don’t remember which channel or which show. The show featured three popular food bloggers but I haven’t been able to recognize who it is by looking at food blogs. I searched the internet (in Japanese) and this is a fairly common thing to do. The recipe took about fifteen minutes to make. That’s right, fifteen minutes. This is great when you want curry ASAP. This, of course, only works with veggies that can be sauted in five to ten minutes.

Quick Frying Pan Curry

Serves two

2 Japanese curry roux cubes
1 bunch spinach, cut to size of your choice
1 small onion, diced
100mL milk (I used soy)
100mL water
2 servings of cooked rice

Saute onion in a little bit of oil in a frying pan until translucent. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted. While the spinach is cooking grate the curry cubes into the frying pan. Once the spinach is ready, add the milk and water and stir. Cook until thickened. Serve over hot rice.


Kimchie and Sausage Sushi Rolls


Kimchie is not something I would go out of my way to eat but I do like it. I saw this recipe in an Orange Page (オレンジ) supplement while my car was getting some routine maintenance.  The supplement was on sausage and ham, believe it or not. I made these the other day and was quite happy with the result. They also got a stamp of approval from the hubby and one of our friends. I made 2/3 of a batch but posted the full recipe below.

For an one roll you need:

1 sheet nori
2 1/2 shiso leaves
3 sausages
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
a couple drops of sesame oil
1 tablespoon Chinese cabbage kimchie
Enough rice for the thickness you want

Kimchie and Sausage Sushi Rolls

Orange Page Sausage and Ham Supplement (not sure when it is from)
Makes 8-10 rolls, depending on thickness

3 cups cooked rice (short grain sticky)
3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
20-25 leaves shiso (I used 2 1/2 per roll)
1 cup Chinese cabbage kimchie
24-30 sausages (about three per roll)
8-10 sheets of nori

Fry the sausages in a frying pan. While the sausages are frying mix the rice, salt, sesame seeds and sesame oil. When the sausages are done you can roll everything.  I layered in this order: nori, rice, kimchie, shiso leaves, sausages. Roll and cut. Serve warm.

If you are new to rolling sushi there is a tutorial at Just Bento here. You don’t even need a special rolling mat.


Creamy Avocado Shiso Ume Soumen


That’s right, I put a thick creamy sauce on soumen. I think my hubby will find this a bit blasphemous but I like it. I’m pretty sure this would taste great on cold soba as well.

I found shiso umepaste (pictured below) at a grocery store near my in-laws. I hope they sell it at the one near my house too. Not that I couldn’t just add the two ingredients separately…

Creamy Avocado Shiso Ume Soumen

Serves two

Two servings of soumen, cooked and chilled
1 1/2 small ripe avocados
Shiso ume paste to taste

While the noodles are cooking, mash the avocado. Add shiso ume paste slowly until you have a strength you like. Toss the noodles in the sauce and serve. This can be completed in ten minutes if you time it right.