Moon Madness V – Usagi’s Birthday Cake

Happy birthday, Usagi!

That’s right, it’s Sailor Moon’s birthday today! To celebrate–and to cap off our month of Sailor Moon-themed meals–I’ve cooked a chocolate-vanilla birthday cake for the lover of all things sweet.

I dare not attempt to make frosting without my stand mixer, so I went with two pre-made jars of vanilla frosting instead (I recommend buying/making at least 38 ounces).

Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting

Supplies:

  • 12″ x 2″ heart-shaped cake pan
  • 14″ cake board for frosting
  • Round cereal bowl
  • Pizza cutter

Ingredients:

  • Moist Chocolate Cake *
  • 32-38 ounces of vanilla frosting
  • 2 ounces of white fondant
  • 4-5 ounces of black fondant
  • Bright pink food gel

*It will not taste like coffee, I promise.

Directions:

  1. Assemble cake as per directions. Bake between 30-35 minutes.
  2. Let the cake cool completely before adding a thin layer of crumb coating. To make the crumb coating, mix about 2-3 tablespoons of frosting with enough water to form a light glaze. Spread the glaze over the top and sides of the cake and allow to harden.
  3. Once the crumb coating has hardened, apply the frosting.
  4. Add pink food gel to the remaining white frosting and stir. Using a piping bag (or a ziplock bag), ice the perimeter of the cake (I had a 131 and a 21 tip, so I did this step twice. A larger tip will definitely work.)
  5. For the rabbit: knead white fondant until it softens. Mold it into the shape of the ears and head. Have fun with it! It’s like using Play-Doh (only, you know, it’s okay to eat it). Piece the ears and head together, and use your fingertips to rub out any of the crease marks. To make the pink accents, add a drop of pink food gel to some of the remaining white fondant and knead the fondant until the gel is evenly distributed. Mold the inner ear shape and press it to the outer ear. Use the bottom or top of a straw to make symmetrical eyes and press them onto the head.
  6. For the black centerpiece: knead black fondant until malleable. Roll the fondant onto countertop. Using a pizza cutter, cut the fondant into a circle by tracing the rim of a cereal bowl.
  7. For the lettering: Use (up to) a size 3 piping tip to pipe the message onto the fondant. Clearly Makoto wrote the birthday wishes on the original cake because the lettering is perfect. Unless you, too, are gifted with extremely steady hands, I suggest practicing before you pipe the fondant (the lettering on my cake isn’t bad because I can’t write/read hiragana–I can–but because I have terribly unsteady hands. Do better than me!)
  8. Assemble, sing “Happy Birthday to You,” and eat!

And there we have it! The end of a month of delicious Sailor Moon-themed dishes!

In many ways, the 20th anniversary of Sailor Moon’s release couldn’t have come at a better time. I grew up watching the anime and reading the manga and, as my own special brand of twenty-something approaches (25th birthday, that is), I feel an extra-special connection with Sailor Moon. Usagi and the gang have seen me through a lot of milestones, and I’m glad they’ve made it to see me through another.

I remember being so in love with this series as a child. I waited eagerly for the latest manga release (I had Books-A-Million’s shipping schedule memorized. New books were shelved every Thursday, and I could be found among the stacks.) and rushed home from school to see the latest episode of the anime. Now that I’m older and creating young adult and literary stories of my own, I can only hope to one day do for readers what Naoko Takeuchi’s story did for me.

Happy eating!

 

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Usagi celebrates
おめでとううさぎちゃん!そしてどもうありがとうございました!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Moon Madness IV – Minako’s Chicken Ramen Noodles

How fitting is it that the guardian of love (and enemy of kitchens everywhere) gave me nothing but trouble this week? Because I’m in Birmingham to visit my family for the upcoming holiday,  I had to push back Sailor V’s meal to the very end of the work week, knocking out my usual sandwich + apple + popcorn lunch.

Ah, well. Minako is worth it :)!

Since Minako has a love for compact comfort foods that pack flavorful punches, I decided to make homemade ramen for the original champion of justice and co-leader of the sailor scouts. This dish should give the idol-in-training just the right amount of energy to do her thing. Enjoy!

Ginger Baked Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 3/4-1 pound chicken breasts, rinsed and halved
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (about)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/4 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a lidded, glass casserole oven. Make sure to coat the chicken well!
  3. Bake for 30-35 minutes or juices run clear when fork is inserted into chicken.

Ramen Noodles
adapted from here

Ramen dough WP_20140627_003

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup bread flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp warm water
  • Flour, for dusting
  • Salt, for boiling water
  • Soy sauce, optional

Directions:

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Make a well in the center of the ingredients and beat in the egg and water until combined.
  2. Flour a clean surface and knead dough until ingredients are well incorporated. Additional water or flour may be needed. Add 1/2 tsp at a time until consistency is right. The dough should feel moist but dry enough to separate from your hand (if the dough can roll from your hand in 1-2 seconds then it’s just right).
  3. Fold a damp towel around the dough and let it sit for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours during the winter.
  4. Flour a clean surface. Using a rolling pin, roll dough onto surface until it is about 1 mm thick. Dust with flour.
  5. Fold the dough vertically. Flour. Fold the dough vertically again (in the same direction).
  6. Cut dough into thin strips using a wide, square knife (I used a santoku knife).
  7. Bring water to boil and sprinkle with additional salt and soy sauce if desired.
  8. Drop noodles into water and cook for 4-6 minutes or until done (trust your stovetop!). The noodles should rise to the top.

Put it together:

Ingredients:

  • Ramen noodles
  • Ginger Baked Chicken
  • Red, green, or yellow peppers (optional)
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Shredded carrots and cabbage, steamed
  • Olive oil, for peppers
  • Soy sauce (soy sauce)

Directions:

  1. Sautee peppers in olive oil and over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes or until softened.
  2. Plate noodles and pile on the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle with soy sauce if desired.

 

 

 

 

Venus Cooking
Video Source

When You Need Ice Cream

for ice cream II for ice cream

When I go to Sonic it’s for one thing and one thing only: the M&M SONIC Blast (no whipped topping, please. I want to get right to the good stuff). So what do I do when a Sonic ice cream craving hits at 12 am 3 am? I whip up the next best thing.

This specific ice cream/M&M combo is amazingly similar in taste to the Sonic Blast original. All you need is a tub of Breyers Extra Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream* and a package of M&Ms (plain)*. That’s it! Now combine and go to bed happy.

*Do not substitute for one of the thirty other versions of Breyers’s vanilla ice cream. Go with extra creamy.
**Don glasses, a hat, whatever you have to, and buy the large bag from the convenience store. No judgment here

P.S. It tastes even better if you combine and freeze at least one hour before eating.

Moon Madness III – Ami’s Bento

This week’s Moon Madness meal is dedicated to Ami Mizuno aka Sailor Mercury. Ami’s always been the practical scout, so it’s no wonder that her favorite food is equally as practical–the sandwich. It’s portable and delectable with a thousand different interchangeable breads, meats, cheeses, and sauces, the perfect meal for someone who likes both order and variety. In the Sailor Moon episode titled “Food Fetish,” Ami can be seen eating not one, but two sandwiches while typing away at Quicksilver-like speed on her keyboard (always hard at work, that Ami, even on her lunch break). So here’s to Amy, the sandwich queen of the universe (and fellow Virgo 🙂 )!

Sandwiches: Some Assembly Required

I chose to make three different sandwich combinations, but feel free to mix and match ingredients or to add ingredients of your own!

Southwest Turkey: 

  • Italian bread, cut into a circle*
  • Southwest-style turkey breast, shaved
  • 1 slice of pepperjack cheese
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper
  • Optional: 1/2 tbsp ranch or Caesar dressing

Breadcrumb Fried Chicken:

  • Italian bread, cut into a circle*
  • 1 fried chicken tender, chopped
  • 1 slice muenster cheese
  • 2-4 wonton crisps
  • 1 tbsp savory cabbage, green cabbage, sliced carrots, green onion, and cilantro, shredded
  • 1/2-1 tbsp of Zesty Italian dressing (or Sesame ginger dressing for the adventurous)

Oven Roasted Turkey Breast:

  • Italian bread, cut into a circle*
  • Oven roasted turkey breast, shaved
  • 1 tomato, tossed in pepper and sea salt
  • 1/2-1 tbsp(s) honey mustard
  • 2 slices of cucumber, thin

* I used a large biscuit cutter to make the bread circular. DON’T throw away excess bread. Use it to make croutons or bread crumbs.

Directions:

  1. Assemble sandwiches (leave off the last ingredient in the breadcrumb fried chicken sandwich) and bake at 350 degrees for 2-3 minutes or until bread is lightly toasted and cheese is melted (yes, we baked the sauces, too!)

Sandwiches beg for crunchy sides. Zucchini chips and Truffle Fries add just the right texture.

Zucchini Chips

WP_20140618_014

Ingredients:

  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, for eggs
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, for eggs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place cooking rack on top of baking sheet.
  2. Cut zucchini into thin slices, about the width of two knife blades.
  3. Combine eggs, 1/2 tsp sea salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper in a small bowl.
  4. Combine bread crumbs, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 1/2 tsp of parsley in a medium-sized bowl.
  5. Dip and coat zucchini slices into egg mixture.
  6. Dip coated zucchini slices into bread crumb mixture. Place slices onto cooking rack.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, flip, and bake for 15 additional minutes or until zucchini chips are golden brown and crunchy.

Truffle Fries

WP_20140618_010

Ingredients:

  • 1 russet potato
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp(s) sea salt
  • 2 tbsps truffle oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Clean potatoes and cut into 1/4 inch strips.
  3. Place potatoes into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Coat with all other ingredients and mix well.
  4. Bake for 15-17 minutes on either side or until crispy and cooked throughout.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATW43c-6ixI
Gif’d from: http://bit.ly/1l4gAdJ

Red Velvet Truffles

So remember when we made those Red Velvet Brownie Bars and we had all those delicious “crumbles” left? Here’s what we can do with them:

Red Velvet Truffles


Ingredients:

Yields between 13-16 truffles, depending on the size

  • Red velvet brownies, crumbled
  • 2/3-1 cup vanilla icing
  • 12 ounces of white chocolate, melted
  • 12 ounces of milk chocolate, melted

Directions:

  1. Mix red velvet brownies with vanilla icing until well combined (should be moist).
  2. Roll mixture into balls and place onto cookie sheet. Freeze for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Melt white chocolate in sauce pan over low-medium heat, stirring constantly until all but a few chunks of chocolate are melted.
  4. Remove from heat and continue to stir until final chunks have melted.
  5. Using a toothpick (or two spoons), dip red velvet mixture into the chocolate. Place chocolate-dipped truffles into the freezer for 30 minutes or until chocolate has set.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 using milk chocolate.

 

 

Keep crumbling.

Keep crumbling.

Chicken Mozzarella Melt

Like most good ideas, this one a) happened by accident b) is all Mom’s doing.

While dining on a Zaxby nibbler, Mom happened upon a stray slice of cafeteria pizza (best teacher ever, by the way). Not in the mood for pizza and a nibbler, she took some of the cheese off the former and added it to the latter. Her concoction–a cheese, chicken, and lightly marinara-sauced sandwich–turned out to be a glorious, bite-sized helping of Heaven. So, for this week’s Faraway Friday Meal, we put our heads together and came up with a Chicken Mozzarella Melt that will make the inner cheese god in you smile.

You’ll need the Pizzeria Style Sauce and the Favorite Pizza Dough recipe for this meal, so plan ahead.

Buttermilk-and-Herb Fried Chicken
from William-Sonoma’s New Flavors for Chicken: Classic Recipes Redefined with slight changes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Half of 1/3 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tbsp red hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
  • 1 tsp rubbed sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme*
  • 1 package of whole chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • Canola oil for frying
  • 1/3-2/3 cup(s) of bread crumbs
  • Pizzeria Style Pizza Sauce

Directions:

  1. In a large, nonreactive bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, 1/2 cup of salt, hot pepper sauce, marjoram, rosemary, sage, and thyme until blended and the salt is dissolved.
  2. Cut chicken breasts in half and rinse under cold water. Place in buttermilk mixture and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.
  3. In a smaller bowl, mix together flour, pepper, baking powder, and 1/2 tsp of salt. Separate chicken into two piles. Pile One: dip chicken into the flour mixture one at a time, coating well. Shake to remove access. Place on a plate.
  4. Add 1/3-2/13 cups of bread crumbs to flour mixture and mix. Pile Two: coat remaining chicken breast slices in this mixture. Shake to remove access. Place on plate.
  5. Preheat stovetop to medium-high heat (a 7 for my stovetop). In a large, cast iron frying pan, add canola oil. Let canola heat until hot but not smoking.
  6. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  7. Place no more than 3 chicken breast slices into the oil at any given time (don’t crowd the pan). Let chicken cook for 4 to 5 minutes and then flip to cook for 4 to 5 additional minutes on the other side. Drain (this is important), and place chicken onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Repeat. Chicken should register 160 degrees  when done (or, you could just use the oh-it-looks-ready-lets-break-open-and-taste-test method. This is the preferred method.)
  8. Drain chicken. Cut into chunks.
  9. Place Pizzeria Style Pizza sauce into a small, lidded sauce pan. Add chicken chunks. Cover and simmer sauce over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preparing the pizza dough

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Ingredients

  • Pizza dough
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 mozzarella cheese block
  • 1/4 cup 5 blend cheese (Asiago, Provolone, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano)
  • Cornmeal, for dusting

Directions:

  1. Dust cornmeal onto pizza stone.
  2. Roll out pizza dough into a (roughly) 10-11 inch circle.
  3. Using the bottom of your rolling pin (or some other small, circular object), press light indentations into the pizza dough.
  4. Drizzle olive oil onto dough. Massage into pizza. Sprinkle garlic powder onto dough.
  5. Top with a light layer of pizza sauce.
  6. Pre-bake for 5-7 minutes at 425 degrees.
  7. Remove from oven and top with remaining layer of pizza/chicken sauce. Add cheeses. Bake for 13-17 minutes or until dough is thoroughly cooked.
  8. Serve with a Caesar salad. Or a salad with Caesar dressing.

 

*I ran out of thyme when I was cooking. I laughed way harder than I should have at this.

Moon Madness II – Sailor Mars Red Velvet Brownies

This week’s Moon Madness dessert is a little bit Sailor Mars, a little bit Sailor Moon. We’ve got the purple-red motif that Mars wears coupled with the sweet taste that Usagi lives for. Mars and Moon are the best of pairs, so I think it’s a good choice!

Every once in a while, I like to cheat when I bake, especially when I’m baking two desserts back to back (stay tuned for the second posting). Today’s red velvet brownies (cut in the shape of Mar’s brooch) are made easy with red velvet cake mix. Don’t worry; they still taste delicious!

Sailor Mars Red Velvet Brownies

Ingredients:

  • Red velvet cake mix
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Butter, for pan

Frosting

  • Plain vanilla frosting
  • Red and blue food coloring gel

Tools

  • Frosting tips
  • Frosting bag
  • Heart-shaped cookie cutters
  • Aluminum foil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8×8 light metal pan with aluminum foil. Grease the inside of the pan with butter and set aside.
  2. Combine melted butter, water, vanilla extract, and egg in a large mixing bowl and mix for 2-3 minutes on low speed.
  3. Add red velvet cake mix to wet ingredients. Combine using baking spatula. DO NOT OVERMIX.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.
  5. Let the brownies cool for at least 1 hour. Watch the “Food Fetish” episode of Sailor Moon while you wait.
  6. Add red and blue food coloring to frosting. Spoon frosting into frosting bag and set aside.
  7. Use the ends of the aluminum foil to lift the brownies from the pan. Cut brownies into heart shapes using heart-shaped cookie cutters. Save the scraps! We’ll use them for something else.
  8. Frost, serve, and enjoy!

 Question: Who’s your favorite sailor scout?

Mars eating

Save the scraps! Usagi will eat them. Or we’ll make cake pops.