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Strawberry sushi

I’ve been entertaining the idea of this recipe in my head for ages. Long before berry season I dreamed of these little bite-sized treats and couldn’t wait for my favorite fruit to ripen so that I could make these over and over throughout the warmer months. Strawberries have been tasting sweet and ripe for a few weeks now, but for some reason I’ve had a really hard time getting myself to finally make this recipe that I so longed for all winter.

Strawberry Sushi

What it took was a visit from a far-flung friend. Hannah of Wayfaring Chocolate has been staying with me for the Atlanta leg of an epic travel adventure/ global slumber party that she’s about 10 months into now. It has been so much fun to spend time with someone that before only existed in pictures and writing. Blogging is so wonderful in that it has allowed me to create many such friendships with kindred spirits I might never have had the chance to meet in “real life” otherwise. And now that she’s in my house, I must look productive! Cook all the things!

Strawberry Sushi

We both enjoyed sampling these sweet little strawberry sushi. The rice is just lightly sweetened with sugar and zinged up with the subtle tartness of fresh lemon juice and zest. The texture of the thinly sliced strawberry on top is strangely but appropriately reminiscent of fresh sushi-grade fish – firm but giving way to softness and a burst of bright flavor.

Strawberry sushi

A simple to make sushi featuring fresh strawberries pressed into balls of lightly sweetened sushi rice.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: Makes 12 to 14


  • 1/2 cup short grain rice (sushi rice)
  • the zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 5 or 6 medium-sized strawberries
  • black sesame seeds for garnish if desired

Cooking Directions

  1. Prepare the rice: Rinse rice under cool water until water runs clear. If using a rice cooker, follow the instructions for making one cup of rice using the provided measuring cup.
  2. For stovetop rice: Rinse 1/2 cup of rice and bring to a boil with 3/4 cup of water in a medium sauce pot. As soon as water boils, turn heat down to lowest setting and place the lid on the pot. Allow rice to cook on lowest setting for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to continue steaming for an additional 10 minutes. Do not remove lid at any time during cooking or steaming.
  3. Transfer rice to a dish and fluff it with a rice paddle or spatula using cutting and folding motions.
  4. Add zest, juice, and sugar and incorporate using the same cutting and folding motions.
  5. Slice strawberries into thin slices. Place a slice in the center of a sheet of plastic wrap and top with a small ball of rice. It helps to dip your hands in water before handling the rice to keep it from sticking as much.
  6. Pull the plastic wrap up around the ball of rice and twist to form a tightly packed ball. Repeat until all the rice is used.
  7. Brush the top of each strawberry with a lemon wedge and sprinkle over sesame seeds to garnish.

These sushi are extremely easy to make. They are made in the temari-zushi style where all the ingredients are compacted into a little ball shape that is meant to resemble an object of Japanese folk art. A temari is a toy ball covered in ornate patterns of colorful thread and sometimes scraps of luxurious kimono fabric. These days, this intricately crafted object is much more art than toy – a collectible piece made by talented artisans while the toy versions are mass produced out of less expensive materials.

Strawberry Sushi

I use the plastic wrap method to make them. Just lay down a square of plastic wrap, place a slice of strawberry (or whatever topping you’re in the mood for) in the center of the plastic, add a small handful of rice, and then twist the plastic wrap up around it to compact the whole thing together. You can use as much or as little rice as you prefer. It helps to keep them bite-sized so that you can pop the whole thing in your mouth in one bite and not have to worry about them falling apart upon biting into them. If you make it too big, just pinch off a bit of rice and twist the temari back together again.

Strawberry Sushi

Hannah and I both loved these, and I was inspired to try out another long-dreamed-about recipe with her yesterday which also turned out delicious but needs a bit of tweaking before I can debut it here. Her visit is coming to an end soon (sadness!) but we’ve managed to cram in tons of great food memories that I’ll share with you soon too. Making food with friends is so much more fun!

Have you ever made sushi at home?

What flavor dessert sushi would you make?



Lemon ginger coffeecake

I’ve had two asian pears sitting in my fruit bowl for over a month. Every week they would get softer and softer as I tossed in another load of avocados or bananas that caused them to ripen at great speed. It was finally now or never, use the pears or toss them.

I decided to use them up in a coffeecake. I have been craving coffeecake. It’s the crumbs I was after, really. Just give me a big bowl of coffeecake crumbs and a spoon, I’ll entertain myself from there.

Lemon ginger coffeecake

Well, I absolutely wrecked my kitchen making an asian pear coffeecake, only for it to turn out not so great. The flavor of the cake (and the crumbs!) was spectacular, but the pears were nigh undetectable and they were so watery that the center of the cake refused to finish cooking no matter how long I left the thing in the oven. It was time to start over.

“So pears are out, what else have I got?” Lemons, now there’s an idea! Oooo! And ginger!

And so it was born. And WOW is it good.

Lemon ginger coffeecake

The cake is dense and buttery. The flavor of the lemons and ginger is subtle, more aromatic, less tart and spicy. The crumbs are crisp and golden and are a delightful texture contrast against the soft cake. I dusted mine with a pretty snowfall of powdered sugar, but they are just dandy without.

This is the kind of cake you expect to eat with a rich cup of coffee (it is a coffeecake after all,) but the gentle summery flavors would pair just as well with a light cup of tea, even a tall glass of iced tea with a squeeze of lemon. It’s a great breakfast pastry for segueing into the warmer months.

Lemon ginger coffeecake

This buttery rich coffeecake is lightly scented with the aromas of fresh ginger and zesty lemon. A perfect pastry for warm weather breakfasts or afternoon tea.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Yield: Serves 9 to 12


  • For the crumb topping:
  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp. dry ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick melted unsalted butter
  • *** ***
  • For the cake:
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/4 cups plain unsweetened yogurt
  • 1 heaping tbsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • the zest of one lemon

Cooking Directions

  1. Start with the crumb topping: Mix all ingredients except for the butter together in a stand mixer on low speed, then pour in the melted butter and mix until fully incorporated. Set aside for later.
  2. For the cake: Cream together softened butter and sugar until light in color, then add eggs one at a time, then yogurt mixed on low speed.
  3. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and add the lemon juice, zest, and grated ginger. Mix through.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Add to wet in three stages, mixing in between each.
  5. Pour batter into a buttered and floured 9-inch square baking dish. Dish should be deep.
  6. Top with crumbs and bake at 350F degrees for 1 hour. Cover the top loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil with a few holes poked in it and continue baking for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, this will allow the center of the cake to finish cooking without the crumbs burning.
  7. Allow to cool completely in the baking dish before serving. Store covered in plastic wrap.

I don’t know about you, but I like a coffeecake that is piled high with crumbs. The crumbs are the whole point, in my opinion. So if you start making this recipe and it looks like you’ve made an absolutely absurd amount of crumbs, don’t second-guess it. Just go with it. Pile all of them on and thank me later.

Lemon ginger coffeecake

Craving satisfied.

Do you love lemon desserts as much as I do?



Bar Exam: Good n’ natural lemon bar

I haven’t done a bar exam in a long time! Truthfully, I haven’t been sampling many new bars lately because I’ve been having a Clif Builder protein bar almost every day while I’ve been doing the LiveFit trainer. I haven’t exactly wanted a second bar on any given day so there’s rarely a time for me to try any.

I did give this Good n’ Natural lemon bar a shot though, because as you may know, I LOVE lemon flavored sweets.

Good n' natural lemon bar

This bar is packed with real whole foods and is both vegan and dairy-free.

Good n' natural lemon bar ingredients

At 230 calories, it’s the right size for a satisfying snack. 9 grams of sugar is not that bad, and as a bonus there’s 10 whole grams of protein too.

Good n' natural lemon bar stats

Appearance: Has the smooth pasty look of a larabar but is completely filled with obvious oats and nuts. I tend to love these bars that are essentially just fruit and nut paste, so I was already excited about this one as soon as I unwrapped it.

Good n' natural lemon bar unwrapped

Texture: Delightfully chewey. The oats provide a nice textural element without being too much to chomp through. I always hated the Quaker granola bars as a kid because my jaw would ache from chewing all those oats like a pony. Not a problem with this bar, the oats are softer and the fruit and nut paste that holds them together is smooth and homogenous.

Good n' natural lemon bar unwrapped 2

Taste: Sigh. This bar was so promising. Looks good, chews good, but it tastes like wood chips and cardboard held together by wax. There is a faint floral lemon zest aroma and flavor right as you swallow, but it’s very light and tastes more like the kind of lemon you’d expect to find in soap or perfume than in food. Sad, really.

Good n' natural lemon bar bite

It was so gross that I’m not sure I can trust any other flavor from this brand. If they use the same stale nuts, flavorless dried fruit, and fake-tasting “natural flavors” as this one, I’m sure to be disappointed as well.

That’s it. I have had so many negative Bar Exams that I’m gonna just review one that I know is excellent so I can have something nice to say again. Maybe a Kind bar or a Larabar in a fun flavor I haven’t tried.

Have you ever bought something that sounded like it was made for you only for it to end up tasting gross?