Battle of Ingredients #14 BBQ in the Thunderstorm

The summer is officially here and the weather has been beautiful with a heat wave of sort, more like humidity that swept through this past week as the thunderstorm just refused to roll in. Of course, Phoebe and I ended up choosing the day for the Battle of Ingredients on the day that the thunderstorm did hit. The thunderstorm did give us the perk of having a nice cool breeze. The husband was a champ and toughed out the rain under our car port to be the grill master. Summer BBQ is always a theme with us and we did try to keep things a little different and give some variety.

Drinks

Smirnoff Ice

As a change in pace, especially since I also found out that I had overtime on Sunday, my friends brought in the lighter coolers for our drinks and chose a mix pack for Smirnoff Ice which had the Classic, Wild Berry, Raspberry and Orange. These ones are always light and fun. Its been a while since I’ve had a Smirnoff Ice so it definitely brings me back to the early days when I first got introduced to the whole drinking alcohol business. Back to this choice, it was really refreshing and fruity and suitable for the general shindig.

BBQ Food

Phoebe

BBQ Mushrooms

Mushrooms, Corn & Zucchini

Coca Cola Chicken Drumsticks

Coca Cola Marinated Chicken Drumsticks

Phoebe bought over some mushrooms (mini bella & fresh shiitake) along with zucchini and corn to grill as our veggies. At the same time, she did a take 2 on last year’s coca cola chicken wings except this time she used drumsticks and had marinated them for 2 days beforehand to hopefully get the coca cola flavor more prominent. While the drumsticks still didn’t have the cola taste being exceptionally standout, it still had a really nice flavor to it.

Kim

Chicken and Veggies Skewers

Chicken and Veggie Skewers

Bacon wrapped sausages

Bacon-wrapped Sausages

My contribution went to two very basic options. The first was the bacon-wrapped sausages which I had planned for last time but didn’t end up doing so here we go. It turned out as it would to be quite good since you can’t really go wrong with sausages and bacon combo (at least to me). Chicken and Veggies skewers composed of chicken thighs, zucchini, bell peppers and Spanish onion. We also decided to try a new barbecue sauce and bought the Joe Beef one. They turned out really good as well.

Dessert

Nothing for dessert tonight and we chose the healthy route of having fruits which I obviously forgot to take a picture of. Next time, I’ll have some other plans.

That’s it for this Battle of Ingredients!
July is a busy month (as explained in the last Weekly Adventures post HERE), so we are working out some place to dine out instead.
Battle of Ingredients should resume in August (we are working out availability…). 

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Battle of Ingredients #13 The First BBQ of 2019

Its been a while since out last Battle of Ingredients. As usual, we have our Winter through summer months of busy and crazy schedules so our off season if you can call it that. We are back to doing Battle of Ingredients in the home setting, which is always fun.

The First Barbecue of 2019 had a change of scenery from our previous barbecue settings and that had to do with the purchase of a new one on our behalf. Its still early in the season however with the long weekend, we were able to do a nice little meal to feed our 6 adults and a 1 kid crew.

Before we start, I’ll apologize that pictures are a bit incomplete so please bear with me as I try to add more in the description.

Wine

Petale de Rose

The wine for this Battle was provided by our friend as usual. This was the bottle left over from the previous battle. It was a nice match as a rosé wine called Pétale de Rose. Its a bit on the drier side but its pretty smooth in its end notes.

BBQ Food 

First up, this was my BBQ food ready to go on the grill. There’s some skewers of marinated chicken, some sliced zucchini and some baby Shanghai bok choy. Right before the grill, the zucchini got its seasoning of the simple stuff: salt, pepper and olive oil. Shanghai bok choy had no season other than oil to prevent sticking (unless the husband put some then I can’t remember).

Zucchini

Chicken Skewers

The Chicken Skewers were done fairly quickly. For the these skewers, I used:

  • chicken thighs
  • garlic
  • smoked salt (from Les As du Fumoir)
  • Plumée poultry spice (from La Pincée)

We marinated the chicken in the fridge for about 3 hours (at least) before we skewered them and got them cooking. The chicken skewers turned out really well. We hadn’t had a lot of luck with bringing out the flavor when we used the smoked salt but it works really well on the grill. I really liked this spontaneous marinade for the chicken.

Sorry for the lack of a more focused picture. Phoebe brought us the more intricate stuff with seasoned steaks which are under the Portobello mushrooms.

Mushrooms and Steak

Her steaks were marinated with:

  • salt,
  • oregano,
  • rosemary
  • homegrown fresh basil.

I don’t have the end result. We all forgot to take a picture and I thought I had taken one when I didn’t. However, the mushrooms were great and the steaks were also marinated really good also.

Non-BBQ Additions

Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

In addition to the BBQ food, I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough food so I added a little carbs to our meal but making a pasta salad.

The ingredients are:

  • Rotini
  • Pedon’s More Than Pasta – Green Pea Rotini
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Orange and Yellow Peppers
  • olive oil

We kept an Italian salad dressing (normal Kraft one) on the side for anyone that wanted to use it.

The pasta salad is pretty straight-forward. It turned as expected. The only new trial here was the Green Pea Rotini which has a very odd texture. We noticed that when cooking it more, it actually got more rubbery instead of mushier (which is what happens with some gluten-free pasta when overcooked). The texture was really odd in the sense. Pushing that aside, everything else works well. I left all the seasoning and sauces to however everyone liked it so just kept it as a base salad to be modified as desired.

Dessert

Apple Muffins

No recipe for this one as this was brought by our friends who also brought the wine. They are attempting the world of baking and brought us some dairy-free soy-based apple muffins. It was pretty decent.

That’s it for this Battle of Ingredients!
We are working on the date for the next one so things are picking up again in the Battle front.

I apologize again on the rusty organization skills and forgetting to take pictures.

Battle of Ingredients: New Year’s Eve Hot Pot

BATTLE OF INGREDIENTS

It seems we do about 6 Battles a year looking at things to land on our 12th session for NYE Hot Pot in our second year of Battle of Ingredients. We are definitely getting more organized, I can tell you that much. Most of the time, things don’t happen because we are busy with one thing or another with life. 2018 wrapped up in style with ourselves doing a New Year’s Eve Hot Pot session. There isn’t really much to talk about usually but here’s a little sharing on the stuff I put together and other vegetables and noodles we used.

Wines

Wines

We actually only got to drinking the J.P. Chenet Rose Sparkling Wine. It was a nice match for the meal. We mixed up some drinks for the rest of the evening with some people spiking their soda with tequila or Rum and Coke and myself, I had some Cranberry Ginger Ale spiked with Irish Whiskey or Apricot Brandy.

Hot Pot

Hot Pot

Our division of tasks for this battle of ingredients were Phoebe with the vegetables, fruits and other things necessary like noodles and she prepared a soup base (which we didn’t end up using because of technical difficulties she is still thinking about).

Hot Pot

She brought:

  • Bok Choy
  • Chinese Broccoli
  • Enoki Mushrooms
  • Udon Noodles
  • Konnyaku Noodles
  • Egg Tofu
  • Apples and Oranges

I took care of meats and dessert. I forgot to take a picture of everything so forgive the incomplete bits.

Dumplings Pork Balls

  • Pork Balls (Homemade with minced lean ground pork and garlic seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • Dumplings (Homemade with the same as the previous and store-bought wonton wrappers)
  • Sliced Chicken breast seasoned with sesame oil, salt and pepper
  • Store bought Frozen fondue beef slices
  • Fish Tofu (from my mom)

Pumpkin Cookies

As for dessert, I had some dough left from the previous potluck so made some more Pumpkin Cookies.

Also bought:

  • Marshmallows
  • Lindt Dark Chocolate
    • 70% Madagascar
    • Swiss Dark

For soup bases, we had a divided pot borrowed from my mom. One side was with water and all the flavoring was from the ingredients added in while the other part was diluted Chicken Broth.

The hot pot went really well. Phoebe and I did most of the cooking and allocated food to everyone around the table. There’s always the worry of not having enough food and it all worked out. We even had leftovers. Definitely something to consider for the winter months to do as it makes it a lot simpler and actually quite nice to explore what ingredients to use and soup bases to make and such. It is an idea that we can discuss further to change things up just like how we slot in BBQ during the summer.

Battle of Ingredients: Fall: Winter Melon & Pumpkin

Welcome to the next Battle of Ingredients!

This time, we are actually taking a focus on a Chinese vegetable, Winter Melon which our guests had as harvest and Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road, my partner in crime in this project took the helm on our featured vegetable. As for myself, I took the back seat on this one and chose pumpkin as my fall harvest highlight, however, mine wasn’t our own harvest but just a recipe with the ingredient. I don’t have the land to grow pumpkin. (However, I did get two little ones that I haven’t made yet so I’ll be making a dessert out of that one soon.) We’re back indoors for the next few months until summer arrives.

Wine

wine

Dr. Loosen Riesling 2017

We started our main meal with the Riesling. The primary reason is that the second sparkling wine needed some more chilling time. This one is pretty good. It starts off slightly dry however the finish is very smooth. Its categorized as fruity and sweet which it delivers for sure.

Domaine de Lavoie Poiré Mousseaux 2014

We’re personally at our house at least, not much into pear flavored drinks. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I bought one however, this one was surprisingly good. It had a very subtle pear flavor and was a nice change. We cracked this one open with our dessert which was very fitting, I’d say.

Starter

Winter Melon

winter melon soup

Winter Melon Soup
Recipe by Phoebe

Ingredients:
Winter Melon
Dried Chinese mushrooms
Shrimps
Chicken Breasts (x2)
Jinhua Ham
Water
Dried scallop (optional)

Utensils:
Knife
Cutting Board
Bowl
Thermal Cooker
(using the Japanese Import Thermos Thermal Cooker)

*Our friend who gave the massive winter melon already removed the little fur on the melon with newspaper so it is easier to handle)*

  1. Soak dried Chinese mushrooms in bowl of water
  2. Cut the winter melon. Remove both the skin and seeds.
  3. Cut winter melon chunks to desired size (bigger pieces is normally better as the melon will disintegrate if too small)
  4. Put melon in stainless steel inner pot.
  5. Put in chicken breasts and shrimps.
  6. After a little while, pour the water of the Chinese mushrooms and toss mushrooms with other ingredients.
  7. Cut a small piece of Jinhua ham (do not put too much or it will be salty).
  8. Add water to the inner stainless steel pot and simmer to a boil (big bubbles).
  9. Put into the insulated outer container to cook for a few hours.

The soup turned out so good. Winter melon was cooked perfectly. The chicken, shrimps and mushrooms enhanced the flavor of the winter melon and soup in a whole. This is a fairly time consuming process to make any kind of Chinese soup so kudos to Phoebe for taking on this challenge.

Main Meal

Dim Sum

My contribution is the much more easy and simple meal here. The pasta is a mix of gluten-free spaghetti and Catelli Protein spaghettini. The vegetables are cooked in the pan and has carrots, brussel sprouts and portobello mushrooms. The chicken here is the highlight as I used chicken thighs and a local spice that I bought from Rustique Pies called Dim Sum which is a fun take with five spices. This dry rub was the highlight of my dish and I have to say that it turned out pretty good. It was slightly spicy though but worked so well.

The original concept was to have it all cooked together as one big pasta dish however, my pan just wasn’t big enough so I ended up doing it like this. The idea is that the seasoning from the chicken and vegetables will give the pasta taste so depending on how it was mixed, the pasta could have felt bland as I only put a little oil and salt in there. Most of the flavors was the in the chicken and vegetables.

winter nelon

Winter Melon and Jinhua Ham
Recipe by Phoebe

Ingredients:
Winter Melon
Jinhua Ham
Honey (maple syrup taste better if I recall)

Utensils:
Knife
Cutting board
Spoon
Deep flat pan with lid
Steaming Dish
Steaming Rack

  1. Cut winter melon to bigger pieces, remove seeds and skin.
  2. Prepare pot with water to steam.
  3. Gently slice in the middle of the big chunks and put in steaming dish.
  4. Cut the Jinhua ham in slices and place a slice into the middle of the melon chunks.
  5. Drizzle the melon and ham with a spoonful of honey
  6. Steam until melon and ham are cooked. Winter melon will become transparent when cooked.

This winter melon and Jinhua ham dish was done really well. For one, the winter melon was cooked perfectly. The balance here is mostly however between the honey’s sweetness and the Jinhua ham’s saltiness. Phoebe made a point above about how maple syrup was the original ingredient which we didn’t happen to have a small portion to use so she went with honey. In my opinion, this did turn out that honey didn’t quite overcome the powerful saltiness of Jinhua ham. However, that’s my opinion. I know that for someone who likes saltier foods (and not bland like myself), this worked pretty well.

Dessert

Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin Cookies

Recipe found via Pinterest: https://lovelylittlekitchen.com/soft-pumpkin-cookies/

I was actually able to use this recipe exactly as it was. The only ingredient that I didn’t use was the nutmeg. Also, I ended up cutting the recipe in half because I didn’t want to 3 dozen. However, seeing as everyone loved it and pretty much ate it all in the evening. Probably 3 dozen would have been good. This one was really good. For one, it was fluffy and soft. Phoebe had a comment about how it wasn’t heavy on cinnamon as she doesn’t like cinnamon as much but it worked with this recipe as it was fairly subtle and balanced between the ingredients.

 This wraps up this month’s Battle of Ingredients!
Next month, we head out like past years to MTL a Table in November before we head back to the kitchen and homecooking.

Battle of Ingredients: Moon Festival & Autumn BBQ

Battle of Ingredients

Welcome to the next round of Battle of Ingredients hosted together with Phoebe over at Starry Traveler’s Road. This month’s get together was a slightly belated Moon Festival celebration as well as the last BBQ of the season.

Its a packed one this time so let’s see what we came up with. A lot of the food was really thought up simply by our brains so if we have recipes references, we’ll share it, if not, we can list some ingredients or whatnot. this time seems mostly to be checking out spices and such. Nothing too complex as we were both fairly busy with our personal lives.

Wines

Wine

The two wines offered by our friends this time were these two rose wines

  • Listel
  • Cote des roses

I will talk about both of these wine in the upcoming wine recap. I had already tasted Cote des Roses before but realized that I hadn’t shared it in any wine recaps before (oops..).

Main Courses

BBQ

We went fairly simple this time. Phoebe took care of most of the food. She had some vegetables from various types of cauliflowers to peppers and more. She also had corn. There was also steaks which she had two types of seasoning for. The first was a gourmet steak spice blend and the second was a innovative herb type which was a mix of oregano and thyme with salt.

BBQ

My contribution for dinner were kabobs. It had sausages, zucchini, peppers, mini portobello mushrooms and onions. The sausages were the IGA supermarket brands. One kabob had the honey-garlic flavor and the other one was wine and chives. There was no additional seasoning added to anything. We just put it on the skewer and barbecued it.

Results

I’m sorry that I didn’t take more of the veggies pic. However, everything turned out really good. The steaks had two different flavors. The one with the spices had more of the flavor as the spices were on the steaks itself. While the herbs and salt was more subtle, which is normal since it was just on top. As for the kabobs, I thought they turned out fairly well. It was fairly packed but cooked quickly so was good. The sausage flavors were also quite delicious.

Dessert

 

king's pastry

Dessert was obviously the highlight here and that’s moon cakes. Just like last year, we went for a more local brand. This one is a Canadian brand, King’s Pastry. It was a variety pack (like last year as well). The flavors were the following:

  • Date paste
  • Red Bean paste with melon bits
  • Traditional one egg yolk lotus paste
  • Five nuts

To be honest, they were okay. The five nuts had the citrus peel which was a bit intense. My husband and Phoebe was not a fan of it to say the least. The traditional was a bit too sweet. The date paste turned out better than expected. The same applied for the red bean paste.

We also had a fruit bowl that I put together with apples, clementines and grapes but I forgot to take a picture so we’ll leave that out since no one really ate any of it with the amount of sweets we already had.

Overall, a simple but lovely meal together!
This is a wrap for this Battle of Ingredients!
Back to the indoor kitchen for us as we figure out our next battle!
Nothing settled just yet..we’ll be back in a few weeks!

Battle of Ingredients #9: BBQ 2018 – Take 2!

Battle of Ingredients

Welcome to the next Battle of Ingredients! July was a busy month (you must be sick of me saying this if you follow all the different topics here) but we came back in August for another BBQ. Its almost tradition now that summer months are focused around more BBQ oriented meals. Its easy and fun and we can enjoy the weather. You have to live in Montreal (or the majority of Canada with the exception of maybe British Columbia or Vancouver, I’m not sure) to understand that we live half the year in winter and then another 3 months in rainy spring and autumn and then just like 3 months of warm/hot/unbearable weather. We did get a heat wave which also stopped a lot of the normal activities (notice the lack of hiking posts…). Anyways, we are back and the weather luckily after July’s heatwave is also cooling down a little.

Let’s just jump right in and see what Phoebe (aka Starry Traveler) and I came up for this battle!

Drinks

Sangria

Beringer

  • Pepito White Sangria
  • Beringer Rose – White Zinfandel

A sweet wine and a delicious white sangria that matched perfectly with the season and the event.

Dinner

Inspiration: http://moneysavingsisters.com/3-ingredient-soy-sauce-coca-cola-chicken-drumsticks-slow-cooker-meal/

Phoebe’s husband loves veggies so she added in some asparagus, corn and peppers to grill.

Aside from that,she found inspiration to make chicken that she used to have as a child and the recipe above was the one she used to change a crock-pot version to a BBQ version with this first platter of drumsticks. Normally, its easier with chicken wings but we have friends who don’t eat wings so she accommodated this one.

The drumsticks didn’t get the flavor quite so well. I would imagine that the crock pot would work better when doing drumsticks to get the flavor in it. It wasn’t not tasty by any means. To be honest, I love soy sauce chicken drumsticks. Its one of my fave things to eat. Simple but very yummy. My mom still holds the crown (because I’m biased) but Phoebe’s was pretty awesome also. Everyone enjoyed it. However, the goal was to have the cola flavor pop out and in that sense, it didn’t quite make happen.

Chicken Wings (left): Normal Biftheque spiced wings
Chicken Wings (right) inspiration: https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/betty-whites-chicken-wings-13707

Phoebe decided to do chicken wings anyways for everyone else. We made one normal variety with some typical steakhouse spices. It was delicious and a guaranteed success. For her second inspiration, it was to do the recipe above but adding in a fourth ingredient, white sugar. The recipe she saw above asks for brown sugar but she didn’t have any on hand. Chicken wings work better for BBQ and for this recipe, the cola flavor definitely did pop out much more. This recipe is an absolute hit. There may some freestyling with how the recipes are as most of the recipes here were inspirations and added in our own flair.

Chard Rolls

Inspiration for Chard Rolls: http://vegdept.com/asian-style-rainbow-chard-wraps/

My contribution was luckily a lot of my own harvests. I found this chard roll idea and decided to work with what I had. I scrapped the Asian way and didn’t simmer the leaves either but on the grill, they cooked everything through as it wrapped in aluminum foil. My version ended up looking like that and the size varied to the size of the leave. Inside, there were homegrown cucumbers, bell peppers and store bought carrots. I didn’t season it but let everyone add what they wanted. Chard leaves were a little overcooked so it was slightly bitter, bit still the whole tasted fairly good.

Dessert

Campfire Cones

Campfire Cones

Campfire Cone recipe: https://hip2save.com/2015/06/25/campfire-cones-fun-easy-summer-dessert/

When figuring out dessert, I searched up what we could do on the grill and it was this easy and fun idea. Mine had blueberries instead red berries because of allergy issues (not me but others). The cook time should have been longer so it would turn into a gooey delicious mess but still, it was a pretty good one. One that can be replicated in the oven, I would think also. I would do this one again with some raspberries and I’d imagine that it would turn out fantastic. Let’s face it..these are s’mores cones with a twist, right? How can you hate on that…well, unless you hate dark chocolate or marshmallows, I guess. You can see the ingredients that I used on the top. I used a local dark chocolate maker, Rochef and it had sea salt so added a different layer of taste.

And..this wraps up this Battle of Ingredients!
We are back to monthly editions for a little bit and see how things go from there.
September’s edition is still BBQ themed with some more look at what else to cook..seasonal and whatnot.
If you have any suggestions, go ahead and suggest away in the comments and we’ll take a look at what we could do next time.

Battle of Ingredients #8 St-Jean Baptiste Summer BBQ 2018

battle of ingredients

Welcome back to another Battle of Ingredients! Summer is here and our Quebec provincial day was this past weekend so what better way than to meet up and do a little barbecue with friends and get back into the Battle of Ingredients action, right?

Drinks

Alcohol

Main Meal

We’ve done a few barbecues now for Battle of Ingredients and to make things easier this time, my lovely co-host and friend Phoebe (Starry Traveler’s Road) took care of the meats saying that she found a spot near her that supports local businesses and we love to do that. This stuff is from Fruiterie Boucherie Longueuil.

They pretty much sell barbecue boxes and she tried the Econo Mix which is $90 worth of meats and potatoes and such. Here it is!

Now for the unpacking of what is inside and preparation she did. Here you go!

And the first batch into the grill…

And finally, the results of the taking turns of cooking between the husbands and Phoebe, while I took care of their little one and helped carry the umbrella as it was raining. My skill sets unfortunately don’t extend to barbecuing so I left it to the experts. Here is how it turned out – hopefully I didn’t forget anything.

BBQ

BBQ meats

BBQ

Chicken leg

BBQ

BBQ Foil packs

The box itself is a lovely assortment. The seasoned meat was really good. There was a good variety to share. It provided a lot of food. The meats were pretty fresh. It was a good choice to not have to worry about the preparation ourselves and just be able to get something ready to just pop onto a foil and cook on the grill. It was a smart and efficient choice for Phoebe and I’m totally supportive of it. She mentioned that there are other things to substitute in the boxes and other choices and whatnot that we could try so maybe we will talk about that in the next barbecue.

Dessert

Dessert

With that said, my job was desserts. I made some Rhubarb Apple Tarts. It was a super simple recipe. I bought tarts from the grocery store since making pastry is still one of those things that I haven’t quite figured out well enough yet. Its a work in progress. Rhubarb is fresh from the garden and I used Cortland apples. It was an attempt to balance the acidity of the rhubarb a little.

The recipe for the filling was taken from here: http://www.coffeeandcrumpets.com/apple-and-rhubarb-galette/

This recipe had more than 12 tarts worth of filling so if you do intend to try it out, just keep that in mind.

Battle of Ingredients

The tarts turned out pretty well. They were very cinnamon-y and I think it had to do with the fact that it wasn’t in a galette but used in a tart. Although to be fair, when making apple desserts usually, there is some cinnamon. I thought they turned out pretty good since I don’t have an issue with cinnamon.

Overall

This was a lovely choice. The BBQ box made our lives a little easier. The cooking still took a long time just with the sheer amount of items in it and the variety and different cooking times and such. However, it is a good idea. The tarts turned out how I wanted them to and I think in general everyone enjoyed it well enough. Fruit tarts are always tricky especially since we have an array of allergies to take into consideration between our friends, Phoebe and myself. Hopefully by the next BBQ, I will have more vegetable harvests to work with to give it even more of a personal touch.

Before we finish, you will notice that the Battle of Ingredients will officially decrease in frequency just a little which is already in effect, due to busy schedules and just the need to not overstretch our time. It was a decision I needed to make for myself. However, we are still chugging along and planning for the August meet-up after this one.

Have you started your grills and enjoyed the first BBQ?
What do you like to make?