Posts tagged ‘fall’

Pumpkin Bread

Once again, I know I’m kinda jumping the gun here with Fall, but…

I just really wanted some pumpkin bread.

I always start dreaming of Fall in August. Cool, crisp weather. Red, orange, and yellow leaves. The faint smell of smoke in the air from people’s fireplaces. The flavors of crisp apples and rich pumpkin. The smell of bread (and other goodies) baking filled with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Ah, I love Fall.

Of course, I have a feeling there isn’t a whole lot of cool crisp weather, colored leaves, or wood smoke from chimneys in the fall here in Houston. Alas. I can still enjoy the flavors of Fall though!

If like me, you find yourself wanting a preview of Fall, try this bread. It’s easy and quick (thus, quick bread, harhar!), and smells wonderful while it’s baking.
Go ahead. Who says you can’t have pumpkin goodies in August? Certainly not I.

Pumpkin Bread

(makes one loaf)

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 c. white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. sugar or sucunat
  • 2/3 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 c. melted butter
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. allspice
  • 3/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger powder
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Grease or spray a regular loaf pan.
  2. In a medium size bowl, add the flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger. Mix well.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, sugar, butter, buttermilk, and egg together. Add the dry mixture into the wet mixture, and mix well. Mix in the nuts.
  4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake 1 hour, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. [note: if bread starts to brown too quickly, loosely cover with aluminum foil to prevent top from burning]
  5. Cool on a wire rack.

350 1 hr


August 28, 2012 at 1:05 pm Leave a comment

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins

I know early spring seems an odd time of year to be baking pumpkin muffins, but early March is generally still cold enough in many places (Not you Hawaii. Curse your continuously warm weather, white beaches, and delicious Mai Tais) that one can still enjoy the tastes and smells of winter (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and pumpkin? Yes, please).

The great thing about these muffins is that they’re made with 100% whole wheat flour, yet are still moist and delicious as muffins should be. Don’t tell your kids they’re healthy muffins, and they’ll think they’re getting a real treat for breakfast.

I added raisins and chopped walnuts, as that’s my personal preference, but feel free to add whatever you want to them (chocolate chips anyone?), of leave the add-ins out all together for you purists.

These are great by themselves, with butter and honey, or with my new favorite, yogurt cheese (i.e. yogurt that’s been drained of all its whey, the liquid part, until you’re left with a soft creamy cheese tasting similar to cream cheese, but with a yogurt-y tang). These would also be great with apple butter now that I think about it.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins

(makes about 24 regular size muffins)

  • 1 2/3 c. whole wheat flour (I like to use white whole wheat flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 c. sucanat, honey, or sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp. ground clove
  • 1 c. pumpkin
  • 2/3 c. buttermilk
  • 1/2 c. melted butter or coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. raisins (optional)
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Spray or grease 2, 12 muffin tins.
  2. In a large bowl, combine, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sucanat (if using honey combine with wet ingredients), cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and clove. Mix well.
  3. In a smaller bowl, combine pumpkin, buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs. Mix well.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Mix until batter is smooth. Add raisins and nuts if using.
  5. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins, filling muffin cups 3/4 of the way full.
  6. Baking 35 minutes, or until tops have browned, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

March 9, 2012 at 10:04 am Leave a comment

Menu Plan Monday for Oct. 31 – Nov. 4th (and fun in the park)

The weather has been absolutely fabulous here the past several days. Especially the weekend! And considering every weekend for the past month has been rainy and dreary, I was so glad to have a sunny weekend finally!

Saturday, Hisa and I went to the park to enjoy the lovely weather. We have neither a baseball, baseball gloves, or a football, so we ended up playing catch with a tennis ball (because we’re cool like that). It worked out quite well though, surprisingly enough! Tennis balls are soft enough that you don’t need a glove to catch them.

We also played Frisbee for awhile, but as you may remember, I’m horrible at Frisbee, so we didn’t play that quite as long. Around the time the sun started going down (4:30pm. Oh, Japan), we just walked around the park and enjoyed the changing leaves. It was a fun afternoon.

Japanese Ginkgo trees are so pretty in the fall!


My husband has this condition that makes him unable to take a normal picture on the first (or second) attempt. I’m pretty sure this is due to high levels of silliness in his blood.

The second attempt at a picture resulted in an equally silly face, so this is actually the third attempt. Third time’s the charm! By the way, don’t we look cool in our sunglasses? Prescription sunglasses: best idea ever.


Menu Plan for Oct. 31 – Nov. 4:

  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and tossed salad
  • Pad Thai and tom yam kung soup
  • Japanese curry rice and miso soup
  • Spaghetti with bolognese sauce and tossed salad
  • On Nov. 4th, Hisa’s co-workers are having a going away dinner for us, so we’ll be eating out that night.


October 31, 2011 at 12:50 pm Leave a comment

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

My fall pumpkin kick continues!

Yesterday I found myself with half a Japanese pumpkin (kabocha) and the desire to make something yummy with it.

I was also feeling kinda tired and bleh yesterday, so I wanted to make something fairly easy with said pumpkin.

Result: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Now if you’ve never had pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, you might be thinking, “Wait a minutes, pumpkin and chocolate? Together? Isn’t that a bit strange?”

My answer is: no, it’s not. It’s lovely. It’s wonderful. It’s like your favorite chocolate chip cookies and your favorite pumpkin bars had a love child together… assuming that were actually possible..which, it isn’t (but I digress..).

These cookies are lighter and more cake-like than your regular cookies. Also, because of the pumpkin, these cookies only use half the amount of butter regular cookies need, and almost half the amount of sugar. So it’s actually healthier than regular chocolate chip cookies! And if that isn’t a good excuse to drop what you’re doing and make these right this minute, I don’t know what is!

The combination of less butter and sugar, combined with pumpkin and pie spice results in a cookie that is lighter, with a slightly less sweet taste than regular cookies; delicately flavored with pumpkin, and with a settle spicy aroma. In other words, they’re really good, and a great fall treat for kids and adults alike.

Mmmm, pumpkin cookie dough…

I always use dark chocolate for these cookies (and everything else), because it’s my favorite kind of chocolate in the whole world, but use whatever kind of chips you like (semi-sweet, milk-chocolate, etc.).

I think these cookies would also be fabulous with chopped walnuts in them, but I didn’t have enough walnuts when I made them this time around (of, the travesty!). If you like nuts in your cookies, I say go for it. 🙂

I love fall. ♥

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

(makes about 24 cookies)

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 c. whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 c. unbleached white flour, but use whatever floats your boat)
  • 1 c. pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground clove
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.
  4. Gradually mix flour mixture into pumpkin mixture.
  5. Add chocolate chips and nuts (if using).
  6. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a greased or lined cookie sheet, and bake for about 10 – 15 minutes, or until golden brown and firm.

October 14, 2011 at 2:03 pm 4 comments

Guinness & Red Wine Stew – The Perfect Food for Fall

Summer is finally officially over here, and we’re not in the depths of Fall.

I love it.

It actually got a bit cold last weekend. More like November temperature rather than October. Now it’s back to more normal October temperatures for this area; high temperatures in the low to mid 70’s and low temperatures in the low 50’s. Perfect. The air has also gotten a bit drier, so the oppressing humidity of summer is also over (thank God!).

Due to the much cooler temperatures, I’ve been in full Fall foods mode this week. I’ve made stew and fresh bread, pumpkin soup, Japanese croquettes (actually this isn’t really a fall dish, but it is really good), and mushroom cream pasta (fall is mushroom season in Japan, or so I’m told).

I’m planning on making pumpkin pancakes for breakfast tomorrow morning. Ah, pumpkin! I love anything made with pumpkin in the fall. My particular favorite is kabocha, Japanese pumpkin. It’s less watery and naturally very sweet. I love it! I’m a little worried I won’t be able to find kabocha after we go back to the U.S. this December. I don’t really now if it’s readily available in the U.S. or not. If you know of somewhere I can buy it, please comment and let me know!

This stew recipe is really really good. It takes quite awhile to make (about 2 1/2 – 3 hours), but it’s very easy, and so worth it. Most of that time is spent just letting the stew simmer, so you can go off and do other things while it’s cooking (although if you have small children or large dogs, make sure they don’t go near the stove unattended! I worry you know…).

A lot of stew recipes out there involve adding red wine, while others involve adding beer. The thing I love about this recipe is that it involves adding both red wine and beer, and a stew with red wine and beer in it can’t be bad! Although the alcohol cooks off (did I just here some of you sigh dejectedly?), the beer and the wine give the stew great flavor, and it makes the meat soooo tender and wonderful. You won’t be disappointed.

Heat a little olive oil in a pan. Lightly salt your stew beef and add it to the pot. Let it brown on each side. This is not actually a pound and a half of meat like the recipe calls for. I didn’t have enough meat, so that’s why it looks like less in the picture. Don’t commit this travesty like I did.

When it’s browned on each side, add six cloves of minced garlic and saute one minute. I know it seems like a lot of garlic, but trust me, it’s not.

Add 6 cups of beef stock, 1 cup of Guinness beer, 1 cup red wine, 2 Tablespoons tomato paste, 1 Tablespoon sugar, 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, and 2 bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover it, and let it simmer for an hour. When you add the beer, it’ll make the stew all foamy like in the picture. I always find this amusing, but then I’m easily amused. 🙂

While the stock and beef are simmering, heat 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes, carrots, and onion and saute for about 15 minutes. Then add the green beans and corn and saute for another 5 minutes.

For some reason I took this picture and then added the green beans. I don’t know why. I’m weird.

When the beef and stock are done simmering, add all the vegetables, and let it simmer, uncovered, until the veggies are tender, about 40 minutes. Discard the bay leaves, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Stew goes best with fresh hot bread in my opinion, so I made some homemade whole wheat bread to go with the stew. Heavenly, and perfect for a crisp fall night!


(serves 4)

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/4 lb. stew beef
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 c. beef stock
  • 1 c. Guinness beer
  • 1 c. red wine
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 lb. potatoes (2 – 3 large russet potatoes will probably work fine)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 c. carrots, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 c. fresh green beans, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 c. frozen corn, thawed
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over med-high heat. Lightly salt beef and add to the pot. Cook without stirring until browned on one side, then turn pieces over. Repeat until all sides are browned.
  2. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add stock, beer, wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, and bay leaves. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  3. While the meat and stock are simmering, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, onions, and carrots. Saute for about 15 minutes, then add the green beans and corn. Continue sauteing for about 5 more minutes. Set aside until beef and stock done simmering.
  4. Add all vegetables to pot with beef and stock. Summer, uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes.
  5. Discard bay leaves, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with fresh hot bread.

October 7, 2011 at 3:15 pm 1 comment

Minestrone Soup

Fall is finally hear in the Kanto area (Tokyo and surrounding prefectures), and I love it!

Ever since typhoon #15 hit us, it’s been cool and lovely. It’s been in the low 70’s during the day and the high 50’s at night. We had to get out some of our heavier blankets this week, since it gets so cool at night now. The leaves are also starting to change, so most of the trees have a yellowish orange-ish tint to them, and you can often smell that smokey smell on the air that’s so common to fall and winter.

Due to the start of fall, I’ve initiated my annual fall food extravaganza! Which basically means I just get super excited about the fall weather and start cooking lots of fall foods. Ha! Soups, chili, pumpkin, chestnuts, apples, fresh bread, I love it!

Last night for dinner, I tried out a new recipe for minestrone soup, and baked some pumpkin yeast bread to go with it. A good hearty soup and fresh bread is pretty hard to beat in the fall/winter months, and this soup did not disappoint!

Hearty fall soups = love


Why, hello there…


Minestrone Soup (serves 3 – 4)

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 medium size onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 stick celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • small bunch of fresh basil, leaves and stalked separated
  • 2 (15 oz./400 g) cans of whole tomatoes
  • 1 c. red wine
  • 1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
  • 1 bunch of fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 c. chicken stock (or beef or vegetable)
  • 1 (15 oz./400 g) can of red kidney beans, drained
  • 25 – 30 g dried pasta
  • grated Parmesan (optional)
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over low heat. Add bacon, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and the diced stalks of basil. Slowly cook on low heat so that the vegetables sweat but don’t brown for about 20 minutes with the lid slightly ajar.
  2. Add the can tomatoes, zucchini, and red wine. Smash up the tomatoes with a spoon, and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the spinach, stock, beans, and pasta. Continue simmering until the pasta is cooked.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, and add a little more stock if the soup is too thick.
  5. Serve with the torn up basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil on top of the soup, and grated Parmesan.

This recipe is based on a minestrone soup recipe from Jamie Oliver.

Served with homemade pumpkin yeast bread.

Ah, Fall. I love you so!



September 29, 2011 at 12:41 pm Leave a comment

Today’s Lunch

I think the typhoon completely missed us, and hit western Japan instead of here.

Talk about a let down. They’ve been talking about the how the typhoon was going to us for days, warning us every day to take precautions and to try not to venture outside today and tomorrow. I was actually hoping the typhoon would come here and make it cooler. I’m so ready for it to be cooler and Fall-ish!

Crisp. That’s the word I want to use to describe the weather right now. Crisp and cool. I’m ready to whip out my fall clothes and start cooking up a bunch of fall foods. Chili and corn bread, soups, stews, a plethora of pumpkin goodies, chestnuts, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, squash etc. I’m so ready for fall!

Today’s lunch: calzone (that I had to slightly squish to fit inside the box), salad and homemade vinaigrette dressing, and a chocolate chip cookie.

Nothing beats a homemade chocolate chip cookie in my books. It’s the ultimate comfort dessert for me. All warm and soft (I don’t like crispy cookies) and gooey, with a glass of cold milk. Ahhh, that’s happiness my friends. It’s been awhile since I made chocolate chip cookies, so I ignored the hot humidity yesterday and baked up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. They make everything better. Except maybe your waistline that is. But you only live once, right?

September 2, 2011 at 2:24 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts

About Me

My name is Rachel. I'm a small-town girl born and raised in Oklahoma, currently living in Japan, who likes cooking, baking, reading, working out, and traveling. Join me in my culinary adventures, my domestic doings, and the story of my life, one day at a time.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 12 other followers

July 2018
« Dec