Food & Cooking

Rice Cooker Spanish Rice

Tonight I decided to experiment in the kitchen, and I’m really glad I did! I made Spanish Rice in my rice cooker, and ended up with a really flavorful dish with an almost creamy texture. As I was making it, I thought I should take pictures of the process, but I only ended up taking one of preparing my rice so…I sort of failed that way. BUT! I promise the recipe more than makes up for my lack of pictures!IMG_1775
Rice Cooker Spanish Rice

Ingredients
1 c. short grain rice (I used sushi rice) + 1 c. water
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 chicken bouillon cube
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. ground cumin
1 Tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
1- 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1- 10 oz. can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1 yellow onion, diced
1 lb. ground beef
1 yellow bell pepper, diced

Directions
1. Add rice and one cup of water to rice cooker; massage until cloudy. Crush the bouillion cube and add it to the rice cooker, along with the olive oil and spices.

2. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt and pepper, and stir well. Start cooking in the rice cooker.

3. Meanwhile, saute the onion in a little oil until transparent; set aside.

4. Brown the ground beef; drain.

5. When there is about 10 minutes left on the rice cooker, add the diced bell pepper and onion. You do not need to stir.

6. Once the rice cooker has completed cooking, add the ground beef and mix well. I had to put the concoction in a separate, larger bowl.

7. Add lettuce to bowls as an optional garnish, scoop in a serving of the Spanish Rice, and serve. IMG_1776
I hope that if you get a chance to try out this recipe for yourself that you enjoy it as much as we did. Every time I eat Spanish Rice I am reminded of how much I loved it when my dad made it when I was growing up, and now I’ve found an easy way to recreate it in Japan!

xxCaitlyn

Around Town · Food & Cooking

Around Town: Kikanbo Ramen

We often go wandering around Ikebukuro, and when we do on weekends, we also often end up eating ramen. We’ve found several great ramen shops, but recently we decided to try one that always has a line of at least three people waiting every time we walk by: Kikanbo Ramen.IMG_1267 Chad thought I should show this picture to illustrate my point about the queue…
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First you buy your ticket with your choice of ramen, and then you take the ticket and stand in line.
IMG_1249While you’re waiting in line, one of the employees asks you what spiciness level you would prefer for your kara shibi ramen. The “kara” spice is made up of 12 different spices, and the “shibi” is ground Chinese numbing pepper, apparently. We chose “futsu” or average spice, for both of our bowls.

IMG_1245Outside the ramen shop, there is a giant oni, or ogre, club.IMG_1247
Inside the shop, there are several ogre masks, as well as ogre figurines and more clubs.IMG_1248 IMG_1250 IMG_1251 IMG_1252
It’s fun watching everything being prepared in the kitchen while you wait to be served.IMG_1253 IMG_1254 There is also drumming music to add to the ambiance. IMG_1259
After several minutes, my hunger was growing and I was starting to feel like an ogre myself. Fortunately it wasn’t too much later that we were each presented with a wonderful looking bowl of ramen.
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When our ramen arrived, we were most excited about the hefty piece of pork inside. It just fell apart in our mouths and was definitely the part of this meal worth savoring. As for the broth, it was quite peppery, and the spiciness cut through the oiliness of it. I tend to prefer ramen with a more buttery broth, but the “futsu” level of spice worked for me.  IMG_1261The noodles were of an al dente texture, and a bit thicker than a lot of ramen we’ve tried, but I liked them a lot. IMG_1262
Overall, I would say that Kikanbo Ramen is worth a try. Would I go back, though? Not necessarily. After all, there are so many ramen shops I am obsessed with, not to mention the many more I want to try!

Hope you’re having a good week–mine’s almost over!
xx Caitlyn

Food & Cooking

I’m still here! And mango beer!

Everyone, I’m alive and well, despite the huge break on Little Snail. After Chad’s cousin visited, we got super busy with work, I had a fun trip to Kansai, and then from last week, Chad’s brother has been visiting! Hopefully you’ve been able to see a few pictures from the last month on my instagram! I apologize for my lack of updates here, and hope to fill you in on some of the adventures we’ve been having soon (in between the ones to come!).

Today Chad and his brother went to a hot spring area a ways away, so I’ve been having a bit of a girl’s day to myself. I ran, painted my toesies, went shopping in Harajuku, ate a crepe, wore hot pink lip stick, watched a romantic comedy… oh! And made a new video for Epicurean Baristas! You can watch it here, and then click on past videos, too!

I hope you enjoyed watching me try the mango beer flavoring, and that you didn’t get too bored by my rambling. But. I’ve been alone all day guys. With nobody to talk to. And omg I’mgoingcrazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, more to come soon–promise!
Lots of love!
xx Caitlyn

Food & Cooking

Epicurean Baristas Presents…!

Hello everyone! Sorry for the week hiatus–Chad’s cousin came to visit, and we were very busy sightseeing and eating delicious food. Hope you were able to see a few pictures on instagram in the meantime, though! To make up for the short break, I’ve got exciting news for you: Epicurean Baristas is up and running! In case you didn’t read about the vlog here before, Epicurean Baristas is a youtube channel created by myself and a close friend consisting of video letters that share our adventures in the world of food and drink. We’ve already got five videos posted, which I’ll include below. More should be coming weekly!

Hiroshima Style Chips
About: In this first video letter between the Epicurean Baristas, Caitlyn talks late at night without makeup on, but with a buzz. Classy, or bold and daring? Or perhaps just silly? You can decide and let us know.

A Pretty Piece of Cake
About: Caitlyn starts off going to a chocolate celebration, and ends up getting distracted by pretty cakes. She tries a pear-shaped cake that is subtly sweet with just a hint of pear flavor.

Pizza in My Hood
About: Tia and her son JJ have lunch at a new pizza spot in their neighborhood.

Taiyaki
About: Caitlyn tries a new version of one of her all-time favorite Japanese sweets: Taiyaki. Watch how they’re made and drool!

Karumeyaki
About: Caitlyn discovers a unique traditional Japanese sweet called Karumeyaki. It sort of resembles sea foam or honeycomb toffee. Caitlyn has a lot of fun watching it being made!!

I think the videos are already improving, but please let us know what you think of our videos so far in the comments!

Enjoy your weekend!
xx Caitlyn

Food & Cooking · Party

Wine and Cheese Night

Next weekend, Chad and I will be moving to a more long-term apartment, and we are super excited! We’ve been talking about how nice it will be to set up a routine in our new neighborhood, to explore together, and to start having friends over. One thing we’ve been talking excitedly about is hosting another wine and cheese party, which got me to thinking I should share pictures from our last one! Now, in advance, I must apologize for the blurry photos, but to my credit, we WERE leaving for Japan in only a few days, and we were also drinking delicious wine!

IMG_1743Throwing a wine and cheese night is a really fun way to get friends together, try delicious wine and cheese, and still keep the cost relatively low for the evening. We asked each guest to bring a bottle of wine and/or cheese, and we provided fruit, chocolate, crackers, bread, summer sausage and olive oil. We also contributed a bottle of Pinot Noir and some Aged Havarti.

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As you probably know, although I like drinking wine well enough, beer is more my forte. I barely know anything about pairings for wine, etc., I just know that I like dry reds (and that unfortunately dry reds tend to make me break out! *cries*). This was a fun way for me to expand my horizons!IMG_1748

Havarti is probably my favorite cheese, though raclette comes as a close second!

IMG_1749 IMG_1752 IMG_1761 IMG_1767 IMG_1772As the evening progressed, so did a couple selfies…

IMG_1784 IMG_1793…and apparently Chad thought it was necessary to balance wine glasses on Ariel’s head…IMG_1912It was really nice so many people were able to make it out–not only for enjoying the wine and cheese, but so that we could say goodbye before leaving (and give away some of our kitchen foodstuffs we were going to be parting with!).IMG_1913
Before the next party, I’m going to research the pairing we choose a little more so I can try and sound really impressive and snobby 😉

What’s your favorite wine and/or pairing?
xx Caitlyn

P.S. Take a look at some of the other parties we had over the last year in the links below!

A Raclette Party (via Amanda) – you KNOW you want to know what a raclette party is!
A Ramen Party – click to learn how to make amazing pot stickers with your friends!
A Hobo Stew Party – sort of like potluck stew 😉
An Oktoberfest Party – amazing food & beer, and fun dessert!
A Parisian-Themed Baby Shower – so beautiful and sweet! You’ll love looking at the food and decor!

Food & Cooking

Winter Cookie Exchange

A month or so ago, Ariel mentioned that she and her coworkers were going to do a cookie exchange this year, and I thought that sounded like a great idea to do at my workplace, too! I put up a sign asking interested partners to sign up by December 7th, instructing they should then bring a bag of cookies for each person who decided to participate on (or near) the 10th of December.

I decided to make Puppy Chow cookies. (You can find the easy recipe here!)IMG_1576The cookies were super easy to make: you just combine peanut butter and vanilla to spread between two Ritz crackers, dip the combo into melted chocolate, and then dip that into powdered sugar. I had fun getting messy with this recipe, even though the assembly did take a while. IMG_1574Once all of the cookies were assembled and the chocolate had hardened, I prepared baggies for each person.IMG_1577I wrote a personalized message in each of the cute little tags 🙂IMG_1579I remember each year when I was little, my mom would get a tin filled with an assortment of Keebler cookies from her work. I use to LOVE those cookies, which I’m sure doesn’t come as much of a surprise to you! One of my favorite parts about the tins she received was that there were two layers, so just when you thought the end of your cookie delight had come, you could lift the partition to reveal another layer of yumminess. IMG_1580A week or so ago when I went thrifting, I found this lovely tin with an old-fashioned scene, and in the spirit of cookie tins past, I decided to wash it and use it to put all of the extra cookies in. I had fun reminiscing about my childhood while I packed the cookies inside! Despite my longing to overindulge in these Puppy Chow Cookies, I knew more cookies were in my future, so I brought the tin to work to get gobbled up with the rest. (I actually have some restraint sometimes, guys.)

Have you ever done a cookie exchange before? What are your favorite cookie recipes? Let me know in the comments below!
xx Caitlyn

Food & Cooking · Tried

Infographic Love, Coffee Love, and Epicurean Baristas (Love!)

Christmas BlendClick image to enlarge

Hi everyone! I’ve been going crazy over infographics as of late, and I even made one to describe Starbucks Christmas Blend (pictured above). After I finished my Christmas Blend infographic, I got to wondering if there were a lot of other Starbucks coffee-related infographics out there. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find many that talked about coffee, though I could find quite a few that described Starbucks as a company and its history. Here are a couple of the ones I liked (though they’re not in English):

Starbucks 1Click to enlarge (Source)

PrintClick to enlarge (Source)

I also found these super helpful (free!) websites that I will be using to create future infographics:

Easel.ly
Infogr.am

After thinking about all that coffee, I knew today I would have to make a French Press at home. I decided to pair Christmas Blend with a Cranberry Loaf, and OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS THE LOAF WAS AMAZING. I will share the recipe eventually, but I am planning on making it for every single Thanksgiving get together this year so you’re just going to have to wait and drool.

Christmas Blend Pairing(You can find this image on my instagram, too! 😉 )

While we’re still talking (and dreaming about) my pairing from this afternoon, I think it’s a good time to mention that I tried taking my first ever video while preparing the tasting. I’ve got a lot to learn, and my friend Amanda is going to help teach me the ropes of editing, but I think the video I took today will be a good start.

A good start to what, you ask? A good start to a new YouTube channel that my friend Tia and I are starting called Epicurean Baristas. Since Chad and I are going back to Japan, Tia and I thought it would be fun to stay in touch via video “letters” talking about things we’re very passionate about: eating and drinking! We’re still working out the kinks of our YouTube page and blog, but I’ll keep you posted as things progress!

xx Caitlyn