Archive for the ‘Holiday Treats’ Category

Often times I get frustrated because I cannot find a recipe that is exactly what I want. So what do I do?? Make up my own recipe! Such is the case for this one. I have been craving this kind of muffin since I LOVE cranberries and it is such a festive holiday food, not to mention very good for you. Cranberries are full of antioxidants, vitamin C, fiber, among many other important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Add heart healthy walnuts, vitamin C rich orange juice, and healthy whole-wheat flour and these muffins are a delicious and guilt-free treat. Eat them warmed spread with a little bit of butter and enjoy!


  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Zest of one orange
  • Juice of one orange
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 12 oz. bag fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tins with muffin cups (of course I use festive Santa ones :))
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, gently combine flour, sugar, and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. Mix together eggs, vanilla, sugar, canola oil, orange zest, and orange juices. Slowly add in flour mixture. Then gently add in walnuts and cranberries.
  4. Scoop into muffin tins- I filled them up to the top using one scoop of a big spoon. It will look like a lot but they do not rise too much.
  5. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Test with a toothpick to make sure they are fully cooked.

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The added cinnamon to the classic peanut butter chocolate chip cookie makes it perfect for winter and the holidays. I got this recipe through the daily emails from MyRecipes.com and couldn’t wait to make them. They were delicious and a HUGE hit at work. The huge chocolate chunks and peanuts make them a crowd pleaser and everyone loved the taste that the cinnamon added. I can’t wait to make these again soon!

Here is the recipe, straight from MyRecipes.com:

Yield: Makes 28 cookies


  • 1/2  cup  butter, softened
  • 1/2  cup  shortening
  • 1  cup  chunky peanut butter
  • 1  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1  cup  firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2  large eggs
  • 2 1/2  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  baking soda
  • 1  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1  cup  unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1  (11.5-ounce) bag chocolate chunks


  1. Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; add chunky peanut butter and sugars, beating well. Add eggs, beating until blended.
  2. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients. Add to butter mixture, beating well.
  3. Stir in peanuts and chocolate chunks.
  4. Shape dough into 2-inch balls (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie). Flatten slightly, and place on ungreased baking sheets.
  5. Bake at 375° for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on pan 1 to 2 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Double Chocolate Chunk-Peanut Cookies: Reduce flour to 2 cups; add 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted. Proceed as directed.


Recipe Source: MyRecipes.com

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Just in time for Halloween, here is a super fun recipe for pumpkin cupcakes! I got this recipe via the daily emails that Real Simple sends out and it seemed so quick and easy that I wanted to make them immediately. With only 6 ingredients, you can’t get a much simpler and yummy cupcake recipe!

Here is the recipe:

  • 1 18.5-ounce box yellow cake mix (plus the ingredients called for in the package directions)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 2 8-ounce bars cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 24 pieces candy corn


  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Prepare the cake mix as directed but with the following change: Add the pumpkin pie spice and substitute the can of pumpkin puree for the water called for in the package directions.
  2. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Spread on the cupcakes and top each with a piece of candy corn.

Zoe’s Notes: Instead of making the cream cheese frosting, I bought it pre-made… you can do it whichever way you like! I also doubled the pumpkin pie spice since I love that flavor… try it and see what you think!

Source: Real Simple

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Photo Credit: LeiChic.com

The Fourth of July is just days away – time to dust of the old BBQ, invite some friends over and have a party!  I’ve been getting recipes galore from Food & Wine etc., but the latest one from Lei Chic caught my eye.  I can make a pasta salad any day, but my grilling skills really leave something to be desired.  Thanks to Lei Chic, I can take a few notes from Wayne Kauppi, owner of Kaimuki’s Hog Island BBQ and a champion of slow-cooked meat, for a few grill-to-oven techniques.

The Heat
Kauppi recommends a kettle grill fueled by mesquite charcoal. Get the coals glowing red-hot, then put on the lid and starve the fire to bring the temperature down. This creates an even glowing charcoal bed and prevents flare-ups that would char your steaks. Keep the cover on while cooking, using the vents to control the heat. Meanwhile, bring your indoor oven to a not-so-piping-hot 190 degrees.

The Meat
The best cut for the grill is the rib eye, Kauppi says, because the fat marbled in with the muscle makes for a juicy steak. If you want a leaner cut, try the filet mignon. Apply a dry rub to the meat and allow it to rest before cooking.

The Feat
You’ll want to begin cooking about an hour before you plan to serve the meal. Do check the steaks during the cooking process, but don’t cut into the meat often—it’ll cost you too much juice.

Put steaks to be well-done on the grill first, searing the meat for no more than five minutes on each side. Place each steak on an oven-safe plate. Transfer the plates to the oven and leave the meat to slow-cook for about 45 minutes. The low temperature will continue the cooking process without evaporating water, meaning the plates will fill with the juices of the steak.

Next, repeat the searing and plating process with the medium steaks, but oven-bake the meat for only 20 to 30 minutes. Finally, sear your rare steaks. This set of steaks will be in the oven for only ten to 20 minutes.

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Zoe and I got this recipe from my mom who as Zoe puts it is turning into quite the “Barefoot Auntie Joan” with all of her recipes from Ina Garten lately.  Here is her note to us, the recipe, and a few pictures of an Easter High Tea she had with some friends of ours.  Personally it’s been forever since I’ve done High Tea and this might be the perfect excuse!


Sofie and her Grandma Susie as well as Sofie's mom KC and friend Jenny spent the day having High Tea, a scavenger hunt, Easter baskets and all the rest last Friday with my mom & Pua!

Hi Girls, I made this soda bread for St. Pat’s Day and it was so easy and so good I made it again for our Easter breakfast!  I added extra orange zest because I love the citrus flavor.  Love, Mom aka Auntie Joan

Irish Soda Bread by Ina Garten


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup dried currants


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Lei ChicAccording to Japanese tradition, today, March 3rd, is Girl’s Day (Hina Matsuri).  In practice since the Edo Period (17th-19th century), the holiday is meant to bring good luck to daughters for their future happiness and is celebrated by displaying dolls in the likeness of the Emperor and Empress during the festival time.

Being Japanese but also growing up in Hawaii with the huge Japanese influence, we have always celebrated Girl’s Day with treats and gifts.  One of the traditional goodies is mochi, a starchy, smooshy, hard to describe but very, very delicious thing, and I thought I would share this super easy recipe I just got in my email from Lei Chic.  I love the red azuki bean paste they tell you to use, but if you don’t like it or can’t find it the mochi will be super tasty without it.

I may not have time for any mochi making today, but I do know that first thing tomorrow morning I am taking down the dolls I have up in my room as my Aunt Kay instructed me to do….cause apparently leaving them up after Girl’s Day leads to REAL bad luck such as not ever getting married. So yeah, maybe those babies’ll be coming down tonight…

Microwave Mochi

2 cups mochiko (rice flour)
¾ cup sugar
2 cups water
1 can tsubushian (sweetened red azuki bean paste)

Mix the mochiko, sugar, and water with a drop of red food coloring in a microwaveable bowl. Cover. Microwave on HIGH for 9 minutes. Spread potato starch on plastic cutting board. Divide mochi into 18 pieces. Flatten each piece and fill it with ½ teaspoon of tsubushian. Pinch the edges together around the end to seal. Shape into patties and dust with potato starch.

Recipe excerpted with permission from ” Girl s Day in Hawai’i with Yuki-chan,” by Tokie Ikeda Ching (Mutual Publishing). To purchase or for more info, click here.

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For the past 3 years, instead of going out to dinner for Valentine’s Day (and spending a fortune), my boyfriend and I spend the evening cooking dinner together. We like to do it appetizer-style and make several things so that we can enjoy a lot of yummy food. This year, we followed our tradition and made caprese salads with prosciutto, caeser salad, parmesan and basil chicken strips, and bruschetta. Everything was pretty similar to what we had made last year, with a few slight changes. I would recommend all of our picks for a romantic night in. 🙂 We picked up some desserts from a little French bakery, but we were actually too full to eat them last night, so we will enjoy them tonight. Here are some pictures from our delicious dinner!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day too!



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