Posts tagged ‘kabocha’

Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin) Soup

Has it really been over two weeks since I’ve last posted? Argh!

I admit, between Thanksgiving, getting ready for finals, work, and getting ready for Christmas, I’ve been a bit…busy.

Who hasn’t though, right? It’s the busiest time of the year for many of us.

I love it though! OK, the finals, maybe not so much, but Thanksgiving, getting ready for Christmas, etc. I just love the Christmas season, no matter how busy it is! Bring it on! I’ll fly through it all with Johnny Mathis Christmas music playing and a ginger bread latte in hand! And maybe a cookie…or two.

Anyway, I made this weeks ago, but I’m just now getting around to posting it.

I love making kabocha soup in the fall/winter months. Albeit it’s still in the high 70’s here, but it’s the spirit of winter that counts! I think…

Kabocha is one of the sweetest kinds of squash out there. It’s dark green on the outside, and bright orange on the inside. It’s delicious! Plus, unlike many squashes, the rind (peel? skin?) of kabocha is edible, and really tastes no different from the orange inside. That means that while you can peel it if you want, it isn’t necessary. Kinda like potatoes. I usually peel off any rough spots, but the rest I leave on. I’m all about simplifying things, you know?

This is a very simple soup. It’s all about the delicious sweet flavor of the kabocha. It’s just kabocha, onion, chicken broth, cream (or milk or half and half), and salt and pepper. Simple. Easy. Delicious.

Kabocha Soup

(serves 4 – 6)

  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium kabocha, washed, de-seeded, and cubed (5 – 6 cups) (peeling the kabocha is optional)
  • 1 medium-small onion, diced
  • 2 1/2 c. chicken broth (may substitute vegetable broth to keep it vegetarian)
  • 1 c. cream, half and half, or milk
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and kabocha and saute gently about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add broth and raise heat until boiling. Lower heat to a simmer, cover, and continue to simmer until kabocha is tender, about 10 – 15 minutes.
  3. Turn off heat. Uncover, and use an immersion blender to blend soup until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, allow soup to cool until no longer scalding hot, then process in batches in a blender until smooth, and return to pot.
  4. Add cream, mix well, and season with salt and pepper to taste.




December 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment

Pumpkin Lasagna

I’m on a roll with the pumpkin recipes this season.

I’ve made some yearly favorites (pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin French toast, etc.), and I’ve also made some new favorites, namely pumpkin lasagna and pumpkin flan. I’m saving my pumpkin cheesecake for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, but I also have a few more pumpkin foods I want to try making. I’m thinking pumpkin scones, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin bread pudding, and maybe some pumpkin granola…

Poor apples. They’re being so looked over by me this fall. Don’t worry my pretty apples, I will soon turn my attention to you as well.

Anyway, I really wanted to make something savory with pumpkin, other than pumpkin soup, and I decided pumpkin lasagna sounded pretty awesome. I couldn’t find a recipe online that I liked though, so I ended up making my own with very satisfying results.

Instead of pumpkin puree, I wanted to you slices of roasted pumpkin, so I turned to my absolute favorite pumpkin, kabocha. I’m sure I’ve talked about it before, but kabocha is also known as Japanese pumpkin. It looks similar to acorn squash, but with more of a small pumpkin shape with a green outer skin and bright orange flesh on the inside. It’s one of sweetest types of squash out there and very delicious. You can usually find it at Asian grocery stores and places like Whole Foods and Central Market. If you can’t find any, feel free to use acorn squash or butternut squash, but I encourage you to try out kabocha. It really is tasty.

The kabocha I sliced and baked on a baking sheet with some olive oil, dried sage, and salt and pepper until tender. You don’t have to peel kabocha (the outer peeling, more like a rind really, is edible, and tastes the same as the orange inside)

For the sauce, I made a bechamel, or white sauce. Basically just butter, flour, and milk. I cooked the butter until it browned, however, and then added some dried sage (sage goes great with most winter squashes and sweet potatoes) before adding the flour and milk.

For the cheeses, I used large curd cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese (it doesn’t really matter which you use though), grated Parmesan cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, and crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (the last is amazing with sweet winter squashes and sweet potatoes). Yes, I used four kinds of cheese in this lasagna. That’s how awesome it is.

I used oven ready lasagna noodles, because they just make life so much simpler, and I topped off the lasagna with some pumpkin seeds/pepitas.

This is a vegetarian dish, but not really what I would call a “light” dish. It’s a nice change from regular lasagna though, and a delicious treat for welcoming the Fall/Winter seasons. And it has four kinds of cheeses in it. Come on, you can’t go wrong with that. You know I’m right.


Pumpkin Lasagna

(serves 5 – 6)

  • 1 box oven-ready lasagna noodles (you won’t use the entire box)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 whole kabocha (Japanese pumpkin)
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 container large curd cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese)
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 c. crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/4 c. butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1  tsp. dried sage
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 c. whole milk
  • salt and pepper
  • plain pepitos (pumpkin seeds) for sprinkling on top
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400° F. Scoop the seeds out of the kabocha. Cut off any brown, rough spots on the outside of the squash. Thinly slice the kabocha about 1/2 centimeter in thickness, and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, add 1 tsp. dried sage, and add dash of salt and pepper on top. Toss the slices to coat them. Bake until tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add the cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, and egg. Mix everything until well combined.
  3. In a skillet or saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add 1 tsp. dried sage and continue cooking the butter just until it starts to brown. Sprinkle in the flour, mix until a paste forms, and continue cooking and stirring for about 5 minutes (you want to cook the flour, but you don’t want it to brown). Gradually pour in the milk, a little at a time, while whisking vigorously. Raise the temperature to med-high, and continue whisking until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency. Remove from heat, and season with salt to taste.
  4. In a deep, 2 quart casserole dish, add a little bit of the sauce, and spread it around the bottom of the dish evenly. On top of that, layer lasagna noodles, half of the kabocha slices, half of the cottage cheese mixture, 2/3 c. of the mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 c. of the Gorgonzola cheese. Repeat with noodles, sauce, the remaining kabocha slices, the remaining cottage cheese mixture, 2/3 c. mozzarella cheese, 1/4 c. Gorgonzola cheese, noodles, the last of the sauce, the last 2/3 c. mozzarella cheese, and then sprinkle with pepitos.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400° F for 20 – 25 minutes. Then, remove the foil and continue baking for another 15 – 20 minutes, or until noodles are tender. Let cool 5 – 10 minutes before serving.




October 12, 2012 at 11:17 am 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

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

I love pancakes.

I also love waffles (not the thinner crispy kind, but the thick, soft Belgium waffles), but due to my current lack of a waffle maker, I make due with just pancakes.

Pancakes, like muffins, are so versatile. You can add so many things and make so many kinds.

Around this time of the year, I always have a craving for pumpkin pancakes.

The settle flavor of pumpkin and toasted walnuts, accented by the spicy aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger; served with butter and warm maple syrup. And a cup of coffee. Don’t forget the coffee. NEVER forget the coffee.

That, my friends, is bliss on an October morning.

So without further ado, here is my pumpkin spice pancake recipe.

Enjoy these on a lazy Saturday morning, or on a weekday morning when you need something a little special. Just don’t forget the coffee…

One note, I use Japanese pumpkin (kabocha) when I make these. Kabocha has much less water in it than American pumpkin, so you may need to use less milk if you’re using American pumpkin (fresh or canned).

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

(makes 7 – 8 pancakes, depending on how big you make them)

  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1 c. milk (if pumpkin is very watery, use less)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. melted butter or coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. clove
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger powder
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking powder.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix pumpkin puree, milk, egg, butter, honey, vanilla, spices*, and walnuts (if using).
  3. Add liquid mixture to dry mixture and mix until smooth.
  4. Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat and coat with melted butter or cooking spray.
  5. Ladle out pancakes onto griddle, and cook until browned on bottom. Flip, and cook on remaining side until browned. Repeat until all batter used up. Serve with butter and warm maple syrup.

*note: I like to be able to taste all the spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger), but if you like a more settle flavor, feel free to add less of the spices.


October 13, 2011 at 10:04 am 2 comments

Today’s Lunch

I realized today that I’ve officially lived in Japan for four years now!

I can’t believe I’ve been here that long! Time flies…

Or as my husband would say, I’m getting old…

At least I’ll always be younger than him! Ahahahaha!

*cough* Anyway… it’s been an amazing four years, and Japan will always be my home, but I can’t say that I’m not excited to be returning to my original home, the U.S. this December. There will always be things I like about both countries, and things that I don’t care for about both countries. If there’s one thing I’ve learned during these four years, it’s this:

Everywhere has its good points and its bad points. Everywhere. Nowhere is perfect.

“Home” is wherever you decide it is.

Last but not least, happiness is not something you find in a place, be it a country, city, neighborhood, or that “perfect” house. Happiness is something you find within yourself. It’s not in a place, or things, or money, or a career. If you don’t bring it with you, you won’t find it there.

Okay, I guess that was actually three things, not one. I think I might keel over from so many deep thoughts in one day. On to today’s lunch!

Tofu hamburg, steamed rice, edamame, simmered kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), and half a Japanese pear

September 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm Leave a comment

Menu Plan Monday for Sept. 26 – 30

Two three-day weekends in a row (well, one was more like a 4-day weekend since we went to Nagano) had left me pretty sleepy and tired this Monday morning!

Mysteriously, despite not exercising at all yesterday, my muscles were sore this morning when I woke up. Maybe it’s like accumulative muscle fatigue. I haven’t given my body time to be sore, so when I finally take a day off from exercising, the next day I’m sore. Something like that.

Being sore isn’t too much of a hindrance for me when I work out though. It’s feeling sleepy/tired that kills me. And man, when I’m sleepy, tired, and sore all on a Monday morning (like this morning), it’s a doozy.

I managed to vacuum the apartment and do my workout this morning, but I still have karate this afternoon. Considering it’s cool and cloudy outside, I would love nothing more than to curl up in my futon and go to sleep, but I’m going to make myself go to karate. I must persevere! Besides, I can always curl up in my futon and go to sleep after I get back from karate, hehe.

Menu Plan for Sept. 26 – 30:

  • Tofu hamburg, miso soup, simmered kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), sesame spinach
  • Lentil loaf, potato wedges, tossed salad
  • Minestrone soup and fresh bread
  • Mushroom cream pasta and tossed salad
  • Thai curry and steamed rice

September 26, 2011 at 12:51 pm Leave a comment

Today’s Lunch

I think because I was semi-comatose with sleepiness this morning, my picture of today’s lunch came out a little blurry. I have sleepiness issues in the mornings… As I’ve mentioned before, my husband says I walk around like a zombie (head down, hair in my face, hunched over, arms bent at the elbow and hands dangling) in the mornings, and likes to make fun of me about it on a regular basis.

I have no clue what he’s talking about, of course, and I think he made the whole thing up out of jealously of my natural glamour and elegance from the moment I wake up! *sparkle sparkle*

…um, yeah. *cough* Here’s today’s lunch…

Today’s lunch: Left-over Swedish meatballs (from last night’s dinner), fried potatoes and onions (also from last night’s dinner), kabocha salad, and fresh pineapple



September 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm Leave a comment

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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.

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