Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Adzuki Filling and Matcha Cream Cheese Frosting


Yep, exactly what the title says. I adapted the recipe from Cupcake Bakeshop’s.

I cheated and didn’t use her adzuki recipe. Instead, I just bought the pre-packaged, pre-sweetened red bean rectangles from the asian store and mixed them with the hand mixer until it was more paste like and less gel. I also used my grandmother’s mochi recipe to make the mochi, but I wasn’t happy with it — I recommend the linked recipe above. For some reason the adzuki didn’t turn out the same, and this recipe made 37 cupcakes instead of 24! I think they might have burnt a little bit because they smelled like burnt coffee, but it might have just been me.

The frosting was pretty good. Unfortunately, the color changed and by the time they got down to UVA, they looked like savory cupcakes — topped with guacamole and salt and pepper. That ‘salt and pepper’ was actually left over sugar/espresso powder from the holiday espresso cookies (1/2 cup sugar to 1 tablespoon espresso powder). I dusted the tops with matcha (bought from Lotte or Super H Mart, I forget) and a small piece of mochi I cut out with a straw. I should have cut out a larger circle, but didn’t think to get out my pastry tips. *sigh*


‘Twas a good effort! I want to try to make green tea cupcakes with maybe an espresso icing now. We’ll see, we’ll see…

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Butternut Squash Soup

Say bye-bye to winter with this easy to make soup!
(Recipe adapted from


  • 3/4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 pounds cut and cleaned butternut squash (usually sold like this)
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, cut into chunks or rings
  • 1/2 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1 3/4 cups stock, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss squash, onion and garlic cloves with olive oil; spread on glass baking dish and pour 1/2 cup stock over the top. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bake at 350ºF for about 1 hour or until fairly soft and a little caramelized-looking; check on the pan every 30 minutes (if necessary, add additional liquid to keep it from scorching to the bottom of the pan and stir). Add squash, garlic, onion, and any liquid from baking dish into a large pot. Add remainder stock, salt, and pepper to the pot, and cook over medium-low heat for at least 20 minutes. Purée all ingredients in a blender. Add back to pot, stir in cream and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

I waited over two weeks to eat this (refrigerated it) and it still tasted pretty good! This recipe makes 3.5 cups soup, which is too much for one person, but is a great side dish or snack.

Citrus Corn Muffin Madelines/Scones

I adapted this recipe from a recipe I saw on Serious Eats for “80-Cent Citrus Corn Muffin Madelines with Raspberry Confiture“. I wanted them to be more like scones so I used these triangle silicone molds (which when filled to the line only yielded 10 servings). Even though I used more zest than the recipe called for, I should have used all of the zest of the lemon and orange because these weren’t zesty enough for me. I think they would also work well with orange or lemon extracts/juices as well.

I didn’t have whole milk so using the leftover heavy cream from the Boston Creme Pie cupcake’s ganache, I was able to make 1/3 cup whole milk out of half a tablespoon heavy cream and filled the remainder with skim milk. I used the same bottle from the boston creme pie to fill them with raspberry (very convenient!).

I won’t make these again because I don’t like the texture of corn muffins (too gritty). I’d much rather citrus-ify a normal mix or bread recipe.

  • 1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • orange zest to taste
  • lemon zest to taste
  • ~1/4 cup raspberry jam or preserves

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn muffin mix, egg, milk, and citrus zests. Allow to sit for 4 minutes. Then stir again quickly just before dolloping it into pans/liners. If using pan, spray or grease lightly with vegetable oil or butter. Bake for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes in the oven, pull the madeleines out. Fill with raspberry jam slowly just until the jam fills the hole and starts coming out. Bake 2 to 4 more minutes—2 minutes until done; 4 minutes until golden and crisp. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool, or eat warm with extra jam and a cold glass of milk.



Cherry Blossom Festival Weekend

  • Friday: Dan Bento (Honey Chipotle Chicken)
  • Saturday: Sakura Matsuri, Tysons Corner shopping, Tachibana
  • Sunday: Family things and New Lotte (where I bought a new bento)

Since I included links for the main events on Friday and Sunday, I’ll mostly talk about Saturday. I don’t usually post personal things (outside of bento and reviews) here, but figured this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival was worth it!


First off, for some reason the Metro was horrible. Maybe because it was filled with tourists that don’t know anything about the Metro, riding the Metro, DC Geography, and Transit ‘rules’ (like if you stand, stand to the right on escalators so that others can walk up if they want to). Thankfully, we were able to bypass the long line snaking out of the metro because we had SmarTrip cards! Then we waited for a train and snagged seats. People were complaining about it being crowded and how people ‘wouldn’t move down’ to fill the entire car. What they didn’t realize is that we couldn’t move down. Oh, and maybe people didn’t want to move down because they didn’t want to get trapped inside the Metro and not be able to get off at their stop (my constant fear ever since it happened to me at Metro Center a few years back. That, along with being stabbed by turnstiles or elevator doors closing on me, but that’s another subject).

There were a few things that led to the failure of Sakura Matsuri.

  1. The weather was horrible! The wind was so strong and it made it too cold to be outside enjoyably.
  2. In recent years, the Cherry Blossom Festival became sponsored by large companies like Target. Last year and especially this year, there was a huge influx of people and since it was so crowded, it was not fun.
  3. Crowded. This is a sub-item of #2, but it really set off a domino chain. Since it was so crowded, we had to strategically attack the festival. First up was food, because I’m not going to lie — the main attraction for me was to get some real Japanese street food not available elsewhere [FAILURE]. We got in a line for 10 minutes for pre-packaged sushi and taiyaki. Then a 30-minute line for Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki.
  4. Which leads to the next point. The taiyaki was cold inside. The Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki were so horrible tasting that we took two bites and threw it away. What a waste of time! I should have expected this since I saw them pouring the yakis out of huge pre-packaged, frozen food bags. What really saddened me is that every single thing that I had there, I could have made at home–better.
  5. And the final point: Authenticity. From the first time I went to Sakura Matsuri, the authenticity of the festival has degraded. Now I see a bunch of anime-obsessed posers with no traditional Japanese foods or events. I saw Archery, Martial Arts, and Origami, but I’ve been-there-done-that. I’m not a stranger to the Japanese culture. I don’t want or need education, I want what I want and what I’ve had!

Disgusting Taiyaki. Oh, I didn’t know how disgusting when this picture was taken or else I would have wiped that smile right off my face.

Inari-zushi and FutoMaki




Oh, thats where it came from.

After waiting in line (and meeting some very not-nice-slash-annoying people), we were done. At one point, a large lady rammed into Dan so hard that he bumped into me and I had to balance on one foot. Obviously, she had not been looking where she was going because we were looking straight up and were following the path of foot traffic. She was crossing the street and had the audacity to shout after us “Excuse You!”. *shakes head* Not to mention that we were waiting in line and someone asked us ‘if it was the line for food’. Now, I didn’t want someone to be mad at me, so I said “It’s the like for this one stand, there are other stands with their own lines”, and apparently I was being ‘condescending’ and got in trouble for that as well.

I even saw Maneki Neko and I wanted to wait in line (maybe their Okonomiyaki would be real?), but it really wasn’t worth it. We got to the cross-section of the food and non-food areas and looked around. I just became exhausted at the prospect of  ‘dealing’ with this huge glob of ‘festival-ness’ and was growing more and more bitter by the moment. So, I turned around and said “I’m done” in a tone that asked if it was okay that I was done.

So basically we trekked out there for bad food and cold. We had to wait in line to get on the metro to get back home, and the worst part: we didn’t even see the cherry blossoms. I had been really excited this year to see them since the last several years, they had been blown to smitherines and were non-existent at the time of the festival. But, it was just too cold.

(Don’t worry, I’ll be looking for redemption at Japan Day this weekend, where I know for a fact they’ll make everything from scratch, for free, because I was doing it last year!)

Free 'Electra' Shadow

Free 'Electra' Shadow

Danny picked up on my sense of defeat and we went to Tysons (where I Back2Mac-ed and got a free eyeshadow from MAC!) and to Tachibana for Shabu-Shabu! (That will be a seperate entry). Yay, the day was salvaged!


I had to go to my Mom’s to work, but before hand we went to Wal-Mart and looked at paint colors for our living room. We’re looking at bright greens, and I’m thinking between Jalapeno and Lime Spritz. Jalapeno is more of a yellow/brown/green, and Lime Spritz is a yellow/green. Of course, those font colors are not representative of the colors. But, they’re both in the family of the font color used for “Lime Spritz”.

Then we went to Wegman’s (Gainesville for some reason) and I got ingredients to make cupcakes and madelines that are going to be muffins now because I don’t have a madeline pan, nor do I need to justify buying one.

I worked for a few hours then headed over to my grandparents’ to sign my taxes, steal some mochiko, and get a mochi recipe. I also got to eat some bulgogi (korean bbq) and my grandma talked to me about how awesome the new Lotte is (which means I’m officially her favorite grandchild because *I* told her about it). Then I went to the new Lotte and shopped for a bit before going home. Because you know, I have a car this week, so I can do things like that!

On a side note: Congrats to the new addition to the piggie line @ UVA! (and her pledge sisters)

Honey Chipotle Chicken Bento


Danny said I could make his bento as cute as I wanted since no one would be at the office (Friday, 4/3/09)!

I used the yellow miffy bento because its just so perfect-sized! Honey chipotle chicken is left over from Thursday dinner I had with my family at Ruby Tuesday. Purple silicone triangle is filled with Jell-o Cook ‘N Serve Sugar Free Fat Free Chocolate pudding, and I made a little rectangle of rice.

You can’t see it that well in the picture, but the chicken is on a layer of baby spinach and the rice has little plastic ‘dividers’ so the chicken wouldn’t wreck it. I think the dividers had little Nemo-like fish on them.

It felt so good to ‘evil-y’ make a cute bento!