Easy Manju

….once again, this recipe was shared with me by my good ol’ friend Vikki!  Japanese Manju are those pillows of soft dough, surrounding a filling of sweetened Azuki beans and then steamed to perfection.  For those that don’t like the time consuming process of making Manju dough, using a can of biscuits and then steaming them, is the next best thing.  Give this technique a try, you’ll be very surprised!



1 (16.3 oz. can) GRANDS Biscuits (I used the Homestyle, Southern)
1 can Sweetened Red bean paste



NOTE:  Do not use the flakey biscuits or the ones that have several layers.

Begin by preparing your steamer according to manufacturer’s directions.

Open the can of beans, and if there are large pieces of beans, add them to a food processor and allow to process until there are no longer large pieces of beans.  Set this aside.










Open the can of biscuits.










On a cutting board or counter, using a rolling pin, roll them out thin.










Now, add about 1 tablespoon of sweetened beans to the center of each.










To seal, bring up the edges to meet in the center and then pinch them together, giving it a little twist to seal tightly.










Cut pieces of waxed paper and place a piece under each Manju.  This will prevent them from sticking to the steamer.










Carefully place them into the steamer basket, which should already be producing a rolling boil with steam; and allow them to steam for about 15 -20 minutes.


Rubber Ducky Punch (for a Baby shower)

What an adorable, colorful, and fun punch to make for any baby shower! This punch was a big hit today for a co-worker’s Dr. Seuss themed baby shower!  So easy and quick to make and so much fun!  There are so many versions of this punch on the internet, this is the one I tried and I have to say, it’s definitely a KEEPER!  Give it a try and watch it disappear!

rubber duck punch2

1 packet unsweetened BLUE colored Kool-aid (I used Berry Blue)
1 cup granulated Sugar
1 cup Water
1 (2 liter bottle) 7-Up, Sprite, or Ginger ale, chilled (I used 7-Up)
1 (64 oz. bottle) White Cranberry juice, chilled (I used White Cranberry Peach juice)
8 – 10 large scoops Vanilla ice cream (I used Breyer’s brand)
NEW Rubber duckies, washed well

Refrigerate the 7-Up and White cranberry juice and allow them to chill overnight or for a few hours.  Allow the vanilla ice cream to sit on the counter to soften slightly for easy scooping, roughly about 15 – 20 minutes before starting to make this punch.

Once you are ready to prepare the punch; in a large punch bowl, combine the packet of blue kool-aid and sugar.  Add the water; stir and allow the kool-aid and sugar to dissolve.

Carefully pour in the white cranberry juice and 7-Up.  Stir to combine well.  Add in the large scoops of vanilla ice cream and stir slightly, not too much.

Strategically place the rubber duckies, if using more than one, throughout the punch.  SERVE immediately!

NOTE:  Try using PINK colored kook-aid for a baby girl shower AND pineapple sherbet instead of the vanilla ice cream.

rubber duck punch1

Peanut Butter Cake

…..a special treat for any peanut butter lover!  This is a moist, decadent cake, slightly sweetened with peanut butter both in the cake and in the frosting.  Make this cake and surprise your peanut butter lover and watch the smiles happen….. 😉


1 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/3 cup Vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsweetened smooth Peanut butter
1 cup Brown sugar
2 large Eggs
1 cup Buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsalted Butter, softened
1 cup unsweetened smooth Peanut butter
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
3 cups Powdered sugar
1/4 – 1/2 cup Heavy whipping cream, for consistency

NOTE:  This makes 1 double layer cake.

Preheat the oven to 350° degrees.  Spray one round 9-inch baking pan with JOY or lightly grease and flour; set this aside.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set this aside. 










In a large mixing bowl, combine the vegetable oil, peanut butter, brown sugar and vanilla.  Beat this until smooth and combined.










Add the eggs.  Beat until smooth.











Add in the flour alternating with the buttermilk, and beating well in between additions. 











Continue to mix in alternately with the flour and buttermilk until all are finished. 











Mix until a smooth batter forms.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan, tap on counter to remove any air bubbles. 











Place into preheated oven and bake for about 30 – 35 minutes or until cake tester inserted comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Remove from the baking pan onto a cooling rack. Cool completely!

NOTE:  I made 2 cakes shown in the picture.  But I did not double this recipe!











While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting.  In a large bowl, combine the butter, peanut butter, and vanilla. 











Mix until smooth in consistency.  Add the powdered sugar in increments. 











Eventually a stiff mixture will form.











Add in the heavy whipping cream, starting with 1/4 cup FIRST.  Mix until smooth but spreadable in consistency.  IF NEEDED, add more cream, but do not allow the frosting to become too loose or watery. 











Now, using a serrated knife, cut the center of the cake, dividing the it into 2 equal pieces.  Lay the bottom half on a serving plate.  Dollop some of the frosting onto the cake and spread it evenly over, covering to the edge. 

NOTE:  To end up with a cleaner plate after frosting, lay strips of wax paper right under the edge of the cake on all sides.  This will keep the frosting from falling onto the serving plate. 











Top it with the other half of the cake and continue frosting until the cake is completely covered with the frosting.  Make sure to spread the frosting evenly all over the whole cake.  Swirl a design over the top using the back of a spoon or spatula.  Carefully pull out the pieces of waxed paper and discard.  Smooth in any areas where frosting might have pulled away from the cake.  Cover until ready to serve.

NOTE:  Chocolate chips can be melted and then drizzled over the edge of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.  Top with chopped peanuts.


Cream Cheese Danish & Cinnamon Rolls

It gives me great please to be able to share this recipe, given to me by my sweet friend, Vikki, originally from the island of Saipan, but now resides in Missouri!  This recipe is for a basic dough, but very versatile.  It’s made similarly to a recipe I had posted to my blog earlier, that uses a box of yellow cake mix.  Great for the novice baker as well as for the pros!  Through several test kitchen experiments, Vikki has broken the code for the most fluffiest, softest dough you have ever eaten.  This recipe is fool-proof! Thanks bunches Vikki, for sharing this recipe with me and allowing me to share it with the rest of the world…..Si Yu’us Ma’ase!


3 pkgs. Active dry yeast (YES 3, I used regular yeast)
2 1/2 cups WARM water
2 Tbsp. granulated Sugar
2 large Eggs, slightly beaten
1 (16.5 oz.) pkg. Duncan Hines CLASSIC Yellow cake mix (NO PUDDING in the mix!)
5 – 7 cups All-purpose flour

1 (8 oz.) pkg. Cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated Sugar
1 Egg yolk
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 – 2 Tbsp. Heavy cream, for consistency
1 can FAVORITE pie filling, I used Blueberry in the recipe

1 cup Brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted Butter, softened
2 tsp. ground Cinnamon
1/2 cup Raisin, optional
1/2 cup Nuts, optional

1/4 cup Butter, softened
4 oz. Cream cheese, softened (1/2 block)
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 cup Powdered sugar
Heavy cream, for drizzling consistency

2 cups Powdered Sugar
1/4 – 1/2 cup Heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract


Begin by combining, in a large mixing bowl, the 3 packages of dry yeast with the water and sugar.  Stir to dissolve the sugar and yeast.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow the yeast to bloom.











Add the beaten eggs.











Add the package of DRY cake mix and 3 cups of the flour.

NOTE:  It is very important that you DO NOT use a cake mix that has “pudding in the mix”.











Using a large spoon or spatula, stir all of these ingredients to combine.  Add 3 more cups of flour, you should have 1 cup left.  This will be added ONLY if the dough is still pretty wet.











After mixing the ingredients together, the dough will become a bit heavy to mix by hand.  Secure the dough hook of your stand mixer and allow the mixer to knead the dough for about 8 – 10 minutes, adding more flour IF NEEDED.

NOTE:  DO NOT use more than the 7 cups of flour!











Continue mixing the dough until a smooth and soft dough forms.  The dough should still be slightly sticky to the touch!











Lightly grease or spray a large bowl, place the dough, rotating it on all sides to coat with the grease. Cover with a clean towel and place in a draft free warm area, such as your oven.  Allow the dough to rise and double in size, usually for about an hour.











In the mean time, while the dough is rising, prepare the cream cheese filling.  In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients, except for the heavy cream.  Using a mixer, combine these together until smooth and creamy.  To make the filling a spreading consistency, add 1 – 2 tablespoons of heavy cream to the mixture.











Beat this mixture together until the cream cheese is smooth but not too stiff.  Cover and set this aside.

NOTE:  If you are only making the Cream cheese danish, then double the filling recipe, otherwise, this filling recipe is enough for only one roll.











Now mix the filling ingredients for the Cinnamon rolls by combining everything together thoroughly.  Set this aside.











By this time, the dough should have doubled and is ready to roll out.











Lightly flour your counter surface, pour the dough out onto the counter, and lightly sprinkle some flour on top of the dough.  Using a pastry cutter or knife, cut the dough into half.  Set one half aside covered so that it doesn’t dry out, while you work with the other half.











Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough roughly into a 18-inches long x 12-inches wide rectangle.  Using a straight edge, dividing into thirds, LIGHTLY score the dough, making sure NOT to cut through it. Your center should be about 6-inches wide. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter (great tool), eyeballing as best you can, cut diagonal strips about 5/8-inch wide, leading up to the center’s score line, but not cutting all the way through, as pictured below.  Continue doing this evenly on both sides.










Now, take your filling and spread it on the center part of the dough, as pictured.











Dollop 1/2 the can of your favorite pie filling over the cream cheese mixture.  Spread evenly over the cream cheese.  I used only half the can because I didn’t want it to ooze out while baking and also overpower the flavor of the cheese filling.  This is just preference.











Now, starting on one end of the roll, begin by overlapping the strips, forming a braid, going over and under with each strip. When you get to the end of each strip and you can’t braid it anymore, either tuck it or cut it off.  Continue braiding the strips until you get to the other end.  Trim off any “extra” strips that you don’t use.











After making it look so pretty, the challenge is to CAREFULLY lift the danish, from the counter onto your lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet, without ruining it, LOL!  GOOD LUCK!  😉

NOTE:  After I had made this, I was trying to figure how to lift it onto my baking sheet, this without ruining my braiding.  It becomes quite heavy with the filling.  What you can do, is tear off a large piece of parchment paper, about 20-inches long OR use your silpat silicon liner, place your already rolled rectangle onto the parchment or silicon liner and THEN continue with the cutting and braiding part. Once you’re done, lift the paper or liner onto your baking sheet, VOILA!  😉

Now, once you’ve carefully transferred your danish onto the baking sheet, take the extra strips of dough and press them into the areas on the ends that do not have any dough, as pictured below.  Tuck them under pinching to seal.











Beat an egg and using a pastry brush, brush the danish lightly.  Set this aside to rise until doubled.  I just placed it into my oven for about 35 – 45 minutes and it rose beautifully!  While the danish is rising, proceed with making the other half of the dough.  You can either make another danish using a different pie filling, or you can make Cinnamon rolls.

Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, set this aside.  Roll the dough out to about 18-inches x 12-inches. as shown below.











Now take the Cinnamon filling that you prepared earlier and spread it evenly over the dough. Starting on the longer end of the dough, roll the dough away from you, forming a log.











Once you’re done rolling, using the palms of your hand, roll it again to seal the open seam, as if you were rolling out a piece of dough into a rope.  Using a serrated knife, cut the log in half, then cut those pieces into halves and so on.











Place the pieces of dough, cut side facing down, onto the prepared pan.  Set this aside in a draft free area, such as your oven, to rise until doubled.











While the pastries are rising, prepare the glaze by combining all of the ingredients.  Mix well, adding the  heavy cream as needed for drizzling consistency.  Set this aside.











When the pastries are ready to be baked, REMOVE the pans from the oven, if you were using it to proof your pastries.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees to bake the Cream cheese danish, for about 35 – 40 minutes, or until golden in color.











Allow the danish to cool slightly, drizzle the glaze over top. SERVE!











Bake the Cinnamon rolls at 350 degrees for about 30 – 35 minutes or until golden.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  You can either use the Cream cheese frosting OR the glaze to top it off.  I opted for the glaze.  Either one is tasty!  SERVE!

To make the Cream Cheese Frosting, in a bowl, combine all of the ingredients and using a hand mixer, beat these ingredients well, forming a smooth and creamy frosting.  Continue to add more cream until the desired consistency is reach.  Frost the tops of slightly cooled Cinnamon rolls.











Take a look at the inside yummy goodness of both pastries!  Drooling yet?  😉


Yummy Biko with Latik (Toasted Coconut Milk Crumbs)

BIKO, the quintessential Filipino native dessert, that has been loved and adapted by many Chamorros.  Sweet sticky rice or the Filipino term “Malagkit”, is cooked with coconut milk and brown sugar; then topped with a yummy coconut milk glaze and baked to perfection.  Give my recipe a try!  😉


1 (13.5 oz.) can Coconut milk, I used Chaokoh brand
2 cups Water
3/4 – 1 cup Brown sugar
2 cups Malagkit sweet sticky rice, uncooked and washed
1/2 tsp. Salt

1/2 cup unsweetened Coconut milk, I used Chaokoh brand
4 Tbsp. Brown sugar


In a non-stick, medium sized pot, combine the coconut milk, water, brown sugar, and salt.  Stir this mixture to combine well and dissolve the brown sugar.  Add the washed and drained sweet sticky rice.

NOTE:  Make sure that you are using Malagkit Sweet Sticky Rice and not regular calrose or jasmine rice; it will not work in this recipe!










On a stove top, on MEDIUM HIGH heat, bring the mixture to a boil.  Stir.










Cover the pot and reduce the heat to LOW and allow the rice to cook for about 20 – 25 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.

NOTE:  Make sure to stir the rice often!










Every few minutes, lift the lid and stir the rice mixture; cover again.










While you continue to cook the rice, make the coconut glaze.  In a small bowl, combine the ingredients together.  Stir to dissolve the brown sugar.  Set this aside.

NOTE:  I sometimes double the glaze mixture because I like a thicker topping.  This is just my preference. (I doubled the glaze in this picture, but didn’t use all of it.)










Check on the rice again, continually stirring until the cooking time is done.  Once the cooking time is over, the rice will resemble a thick risotto and the rice grains will only be partially cooked.  Remove the mixture from the heat.










Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease or spray an 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch baking dish.  Pour the rice mixture into the baking dish and smooth the top.










Pour about 1/2 cups to 3/4 cups of the coconut glaze over the top of the rice mixture.  It may or may not seep into the nooks and crannies of the rice.  Once the oven is preheated, carefully place the baking dish into the oven and bake the Biko for 40 – 50 minutes.

While the Biko is baking, you can make a popular topping called Latik or “toasted coconut milk crumbs”.  This is OPTIONAL and will not take anything away from the Biko!  Once the Biko is done baking, allow it to cool before slicing, and it is ready to serve.

To make the Latik or “toasted coconut milk crumbs”; you’ll need regular coconut milk.  I used1 cup of the remaining Chaokoh brand of coconut milk that I had left from making the glaze.  This 1 cup will yield about 1 – 2 tablespoons of Latik.

In a medium sized pan, on MEDIUM HIGH heat, add the 1 cup of coconut milk.  Bring this to a boil.










Reduce the heat to MEDIUM and allow the coconut milk to literally “cook down”.  MAKE SURE TO STIR OFTEN!










Continue stirring, making sure to watch your stove top’s temperature!










Stir often, making sure to break up the crumbs.










I looked away a bit too long and it turned darker than I would have liked it; but it was still good.  Remove from heat, and drain on paper toweling.










Once you Biko is removed from the oven, sprinkle the Latik over top of the Biko and allow it to cool completely before cutting.  Don’t rush this or you’ll burn the roof of your mouth, like I did, OUCH! 😉


Chicken and Ginger Soup with Malunggay Leaves

This soup, typically a Filipino dish, flavored with ginger, garlic, and fish sauce; is a great “stick to your ribs” kind of soup.  It’s refreshing and healthy, with the addition of Malunggay leaves aka Horseradish leaves.  Although fresh is always better, these leaves can be found at local Asian markets located in the freezer section.  Here is a link that can provide you with some of the awesome health benefits of eating these leaves     http://health-benefits-of-malunggay-leaves.blogspot.com/   Give my recipe a try and make it a part of your meal planning!


8 medium/large pieces Chicken thighs, excess fat and skin removed
2 Tbsp. Vegetable oil
1 medium Onion, sliced
4 – 6 whole Garlic, finely minced
1 (2-inch piece) fresh Ginger, peeled and sliced
3/4 tsp. Salt
3/4 tsp. ground Black pepper
1 tsp. Accent seasoning
1 Tbsp. Chicken bouillon (I used the powder version)
4 – 6 Tbsp. Fish sauce, to taste
6 cups Water
1 (8 oz. pkg.) frozen Malunggay leaves, thawed and rinsed
1/2 head Cabbage, cut into chunks

-1 Chayote squash, peeled and cut into chunks, add before the cabbage and Malunggay leaves.

-1 firm Green papaya, peeled and cut into chunks, add this after the chicken has boiled with the water for about 15 – 20 minutes. Then add your cabbage and Malunngay leaves.


Trim the chicken and remove excess fat and skin.  Using a cleaver, cut the thighs in half, making sure to remove any bones that have cracked or slivered.










Let’s begin by heating up a 6-quart pot to MEDIUM HIGH heat. Add the vegetable oil. Add the ginger pieces, onions, and garlic.










Once the onions have turned translucent, add the chicken.  Stir to combine well.  Cover and reduce the heat to MEDIUM.  Allow this to cook for about 10 minutes.  This is going to bring out the moisture from within the chicken, thus helping to make a great broth.










Remove the lid and bring the heat back up to MEDIUM HIGH.  Add the salt, pepper, bouillon, and Accent.  Stir to combine well with the chicken.










Now add the water and about 3 – 4 tablespoons of the fish sauce.  Stir.  Bring this back up to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to MEDIUM.  Cook the chicken for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until they become tender.










Throughout the cooking time, make sure to remove any excess fat and scum that accumulates at the surface.









While the chicken is cooking, drain the thawed Malunggay leaves into a colander or strainer.  Rinse and remove any leaves that are yellow or dark.  Remove the larger pieces of stem from the leaves.  Set this aside.










Cut the cabbage in half and then using half of the head; cut the leaves into chunks.  I prefer to use half but you could add more if you’d like.










Once the cooking time is up and the chicken pieces are cooked and tender, add the cabbage and Malunggay leaves.  Bring this up to a boil.  Cover and allow to cook for an additional, 10 – 15 minutes, or until the cabbage is cooked but still tender.










Once the cabbage is cooked, taste for flavor.  Because the cabbage can add extra liquid, that will “water down” your broth; add more fish sauce as needed.  I myself wanted a little more “ginger” flavoring so I added a tablespoon of ground ginger, pictured below.

Stir to combine well and allow to finish the cooking time.  Serve with hot steamed rice and Vinegar style fina’denne’!












Mardi Gras King Cake

King cake, the perfect finale to any Mardi Gras celebration!  Similar to a coffee cake, is not only rich with color and taste, but also in history and tradition!   Mardi Gras, also known as King’s day, marks the start of merrymaking that continues until the grand finale on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.  Usually decorated with sugars in the colors of purple (Justice), green (Faith), and gold (Power), the cake honors the three kings who visited the Jesus Christ on Epiphany, the 12th day after Christmas.


2 pkgs. Active dry yeast (I used regular and not INSTANT)
1/2 cup WARM water
1 tsp. granulated Sugar
1/2 cup WARM milk
1/3 cup Sugar
2 large Eggs
1 tsp. Salt
1/3 cup Crisco Shortening
3 1/2 – 4 cups All purpose flour

1 (8 oz. pkg.) Cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
Heavy whipping cream, for consistency

2 cups Powdered sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1/4 – 1/2 cups Heavy whipping cream OR Milk, until desired consistency is reached
Gold, Green, and Purple Colored sugars


In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, warm water, and teaspoon of sugar.  Stir to combine and dissolve the yeast.  Cover and allow the yeast to “bloom”.










While the yeast is rising, pour the milk into a microwave safe dish and place in the microwave to heat slightly to lukewarm.  Add the shortening to the warm milk and stir to slightly melt the shortening.










Add in the eggs and whisk together to combine well with the shortening and milk.










By this time, the yeast mixture should have risen; pour the egg/milk mixture into the yeast mixture.










Add in the sugar.










Now combine 2 cups of All-purpose flour with the salt and stir to combine.  Add this to the yeast mixture in the bowl.  Using a dough hook, mix the ingredients to combine.










Once most of the flour has incorporated, add 1 1/2 cups more flour.  Mix this together until a soft dough forms, this will usually take anywhere from 8 – 10 minutes.  Add more flour if needed to form a slightly sticky but soft dough.

NOTE:  DO NOT use more than 4 CUPS of flour, in total!










Once a slightly sticky, but soft dough has formed, remove it from the bowl.  Lightly spray a glass bowl with JOY baking spray and rotate the ball of dough all around to coat with the spray.  Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size.










In the meantime, make the filling by combining the ingredients in a bowl.  Using a hand mixer, blend the ingredients until smooth and creamy.  Add a few tablespoons of heavy cream or regular milk to the mixture for a desired spreading consistency.  Cover and set this aside.










Once the dough has risen, flour your board or counter.  Place the dough onto the board and rub some flour over the top of it, just to avoid it being too sticky.  Flatten it out a bit with your fingers.  Now cut it into half; you will be able to make 2 loaves of King cake with this recipe.










Cover the other piece of dough until you’re ready for it.  Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the piece of dough to roughly about a 16×20-inch rectangle or close to it.  Now, top the dough with the cream cheese filling you made earlier.










Using an offset spatula or knife, spread the filling all over the dough, covering the whole thing.










Now, taking the longer end of the rectangle, start rolling the edges towards the other end.  Continue doing this until the dough is completely rolled up, making sure seam is facing the bottom.










Place the dough onto a lightly greased baking pan or Silpat silicon liner, forming a ring.  Pinch the two open ends together to seal the ring and avoiding it from opening while baking.  Using a clean towel, cover the dough and place in a draft free area to double in size, about 1 – 1 1/2 hours.










While the King cake is rising, start making the glaze.  Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and using a hand mixer, beat until well combined.  The glaze should be a smooth but of a pourable consistency.  You want to be able to drizzle it over the cake and have it drip down the sides.  Set this aside.










When the rising time is almost up, preheat your oven to 375° degrees.  Making sure your rack is in the CENTER position of your oven, place the pan in the oven and allow to bake for about  25 – 30 minutes, rotating the pan a few times to brown evenly.

Allow the “cake” to cool in the pan, before  moving onto a cooling rack. Once the cake has cooled, you can either drizzle the glaze while it’s on a cooling rack OR just leave it in the pan.

Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the cake and allow it to drip down and around the cake, this can get a bit messy.  Allow the glaze to set slightly and then sprinkle your colored sugars, alternating with the purple, green, and gold OR yellow.  Move onto a serving plate, slice and serve!