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.

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Goodfood Recap #29

And we are here with a slightly late Goodfood recap! But its a nice change in pace from the overload of movie reviews that I’ve been writing up!

No fancy picture today since the program I use is having some issues it seems. Either way, this box had some interesting recipes and one repeat recipe that I (of course) forgot to take a picture of. Let’s check it out!

Haddock
with homemade Romesco sauce & roasted fingerling potatoes

haddock

There’s this love we have for eating haddock which we only have when we make it in these boxes since the recipes are always so unique. This one is definitely outside of what we would usually cook at home. I had no idea what Romesco sauce is but it was really good especially when matched with the fish. Its nice also because everything were so nicely flavored but also nothing too strongly flavored also. We’ve been going for more normal flavors so this really did fit into our meals quite well.

Hoisin-Glazed Chicken Breasts
with spicy pickled vegetables, sticky rice & garlic peanuts

As usual, I’m always into the more Asian cuisine sort of meals. However, there is this fascination that Goodfood has with pickled vegetables. Its not a bad thing since its the alternative I have for eating raw vegetables. Although, I’ve built back the tolerance slightly to eating raw veggies here and there, I still prefer my vegetables cooked. However, other than the pickled vegetables, the chicken was pretty nice. Sometimes with hoisin glazed, it can get a little salty but this recipe worked pretty well.

Roasted Chicken Thighs
with root vegetables and fennel slaw

This is the repeat recipe and since I was so busy with the Festival du Nouveau Cinema, I had my husband do the cooking for this one. He did a fantastic job and gave it 5 stars simply for the cooking experience and how the house smelled. Plus, the recipe itself was a good one as well. You can see my first impressions of it back in this recap HERE.

Toulouse Sausage, White Bean & Cherry Tomato Cassoulet
with Salanova Salad

Finally, the first cassoulet in Goodfood that I think I’ve seen. I’ve never had one before so this recipe was the filler for the previous box but we knew that we needed it due to the busy week that I had anticipated. With that said, this one turned out pretty good. The meal is very tasty. The toulouse sausage in particular was the highlight of the meal. I’m not a big fan of white beans to begin with. Lentils and that sort of stuff is never my favorite food to eat but the spices and flavors worked well together so it was a pleasant surprise.

That’s it for this Goodfood recap! 
Some nice discoveries! I can’t say that anything in particular stood out as one that we would repeat other than the one that we did choose to repeat. 
The haddock however might be the choice for one I’d try again though. 

Recap: Goodfood #27

goodfood

Welcome to the next recap of Goodfood for last week’s box! One repeat and a few that sounded pretty good. Bowls usually are surprisimg winners, burgers always have a nice twist and well, sometimes meatballs and couscous are the simple combo that we need.

Grilled Tofu Dragon Bowls
with multicolored carrots, snow peas & red rice

grilled tofu dragon bowl

Tofu isn’t our cooking specialty so a lot of it is either at my mom’s or when we get a Goodfood box. My husband isn’t a huge fan of it either. We ended up getting this because we have loves past meals in bowls. Granted, usually it is something I have generally tried before and this one, I haven’t. However, the tofu and the red rice is super nice. The sauce here is amazing. My only issue was the raw veggies which I went ahead to cook because I had a part of it raw and honestly didn’t enjoy it at all. I’ve always liked my vegetables cooked so that is honestly a personal preference.

Chicken Yakitori
with roasted carrots, chinese broccoli & miso butter

Chicken Yakitori

The repeat here is this chicken yakitori which still remains as delicious as what I remember. On top of that, I always forget to do it for the Battle of Ingredients but the recipe calls for roasting chinese broccoli in the oven and the leaves turns out like making kale chips. It comes out some delicious flavors and its mostly seasons with salt and pepper which is all very awesome. Plus, Jasmine rice is my favorite variety of rice so everything here really justifies why I like this meal a lot and enjoy making it also.

Paprika-Garlic Chicken Sandwiches on Pretzel Buns
with horseradish mayonnaise & green salad

paprika-garlic chicken sandwich

The husband took care of this meal and the next. Its been a crazy week for us so these meals had a lot of it just being myself eating it and him only tasting it. I’m not going to lie that I ended up skipping most of the salad because of the horseradish. They gave a warning of the spiciness of it and washing hands afterwards. Luckily, my husband put together only a little bit of horseradish so it worked really well without burning my mouth. The chicken spicing with the paprika and garlic is really delicious. I’m adding this recipe to my chicken burgers ideas whenever we ever think about it and want to change up from beef.

Pork Meatballs & Roasted Vegetables
with wild jungle peanuts & lemon balm couscous

pork meatballs & roasted vegetables

Finally, we wrap up with the pork meatballs and roasted vegetables on couscous. I have to say that the entire meal here is pretty well balanced. The tomatoes add a more acidic taste as tomatoes usually do with their more sour flavor but it works to give a lot of balance with the other vegetables added in here. The highlight here is the wild jungle peanuts which are specially picked from some region (Amazon, maybe? I can’t remember…) but taste pretty much like a peanut. The couscous is my issue as I had to pick out  the lemon balm because it was just too much in it and was so strong. Other than that, this was a pretty decent meal. I just need to remember to cut the onions into smaller pieces so the meatballs don’t have such coarse onions, making it stand out a ton. However, the spices are quite delish.

Overall, this was a pretty decent box. I liked everything fairly well. There were some issues here and there that makes me say that I love it with the obvious exception of the Chicken Yakitori. One more box next week and then we made the decision to drop the meal boxes to monthly basis for a while so we clear up some of our frozen meats in the freezer and eat some garden veggies from our garden and my mom’s garden, which she’s been sharing with us.

Goodfood Recap #24

Goodfood

Back to back weeks going on. Sorry for the delay. We’ve actually been really behind in cooking in general but we finally did finish up this box.

Do note that due to various reasons, we are again decreasing the frequency of Goodfood boxes. With our schedule, its actually becoming more of an inconvenience plus, we just can’t seem to decide on some of the recipes so we altogether decided to let some weeks by. It all works for the better financially also since these boxes are convenient but as we all know, convenience usually comes at a price. And well, July and August have been quite taxing on the wallet so we have to make our necessary cuts.

Without further ado, lets check out last week’s box!

Salmon Burgers
with Remoulade, Red Cabbage Slaw & Roasted Potato Fries

salmon burgers

My husband is a burger fan and we usually tend to try out the burger recipes. I can tell you that salmon burgers aren’t quite our cup of tea. We love salmon but as burgers and with this remoulade, it just wasn’t up our alley. The best part of all this was the roasted potato fries and well, you will see that its quite a frequent appearance in the meals we have been choosing. I’m sure salmon burgers are good for some people but a mix of factors here just didn’t work for us.

Spiced Chicken
with Bell Pepper & Cucumber Coucous Salad

spiced chicken

You can’t go wrong with chicken. Over and over its been proved to be right. It has been a while since we’ve had a couscous meal so this was really fresh to have the bell pepper and the cucumber with the salad. The chicken spices were really good. Its a simple meal but very delicious.

Grilled Greek Chicken
with Prune & Cerignola Olive Sauce, Roasted Potatoes & Arugula-Almond Salad

grilled greek chicken

When I first looked at this recipe, I was starting to worry about the prunes and olives and the taste that it would give. Surprisingly, it works really well. The potatoes were good, The chicken spices were simple and the prune and olive sauce worked so well with everything. My only issue is that it had arugula and I’m just not a big fan. Luckily, whatever was left over, my husband cooked the salad and paired it with another meal afterwards.

Pork-Lemongrass Skewers
with Crispy Rice & Bok Choy Salad

pork lemongrass skewers

The highlight of this box for sure goes to these pork-lemongrass skewers. It caught my eye when I was choosing this as one of the recipes. All the cooking goes to my husband as I’ve been busy with Fantasia Festival so he’s been taking care of a lot of these things for me. Crispy rice has appeared a few times in recipes and they are really good. The skewers and pork lemongrass is really tasty and there’s ginger in there that subtly was setting my mouth on fire and I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. My husband cooked the salad instead of leaving it raw which I love because while I’m slowly getting back to eating raw vegetables, I do like it cooked.

Overall, a pretty decent box. There was some surprises like the prune and olive sauce for the chicken.
Some things delivered like the pork-lemongrass skewers but of course, there was also the disappointing salmon burger. 

Which meal caught your eye in this box?

Recap: Goodfood #22

A little bit behind schedule for last week’s Goodfood. We only made the final meal for yesterday’s lunch. Luckily, it was a box full of relatively quick meals, which always helps on busy weeks to be healthy and not have to carve out huge amounts of time to cooking.

Contrary to the last box, this one was all about new recipes and exploring some new foods. Its an adventure that we love. We are skipping the next two weeks of boxes so maybe I’ll whip up some fun meal to explore. There has been a few recipes I’ve been eyeing.

Let’s not go off on another tangent and take a look at what was on the last week’s menu!

Summer Shrimp Rolls
With Green Peas, Tarragon and Lemony Cabbage slaw

So…nice way to start this but we forgot to take pictures of the meal before eating it. It happens that we forget every once in a while.

Summer Shrimp Rolls are pretty good. They were pretty easy to do and the flavors are really distinctive. I liked it a decent amount. When I first looked at everything, I couldn’t imagine how it would work together but it actually does go well together. They had an overflown looking rolls so we put as much as we saw fit and I ate the rest on the side which worked well also.

Steaks with Roasted Tomato Chimichurri
& Spinach-Potato Salad

steaks chimichurri

I feel like the constant topic of these menus are changing it up to my own beliefs. I’m not claiming to be better or more knowledgeable than the Goodfood chefs. I followed everything here almost to a T, except for the spinach-potato salad. I served that separated because the roasted potatoes turned out so great that if I were to add the washed (meaning wet) spinach to it, it would just make it soggy and counteract the time it had in the oven and lose the texture and flavor. Its my opinion of it and I liked it. The cut of the beef was quite thick and since I’m not the usual steak cooker at home, I had to put it back on the stove after slicing it to give it a more done cut. We don’t like seared meats and more leaning on the well done or Medium done at the minimum. The roasted potatoes is great and the chimichurri spices are awesome!

BBQ Pork Tournedos
with Garlic Green Beans & Charred Scallion Rice

pork tournedos

The thick meat here also had a bit of problems for us. My husband took care of this meal. For him, it seemed to be fairly simple to do. I loved the charred scallion rice. I’m not much of a straight up strong scallion flavor person but the rice had this beautiful aroma that just made it taste super delicious. The garlic green beans are awesome. I think my husband added a little bit too much salt so its not the recipes fault. The salt and pepper seasoning is based on personal preference and our salt tolerance is pretty different since I eat fairly bland foods, according to other people. The tournedos were pretty good once we got the cooking done for it. I’ve never been a tournedo person. I would much rather just cook pork chops with a side of bacon, but then thats just me.

Fresh Dan Dan Noodles
with Ground Pork, Baby Bok Choy & Yu Choy

fresh dan dan noodles

There was a lot of hesitation for this one. My husband didn’t really want it. In the end, it didn’t matter because I ended up eating the two meals. A rarity with these boxes since usually I hit more menus that I can’t eat when they get here and changing it would just be a waste of time and ingredients. I hadn’t had dan dan noodles in a long while so I figured learning how to make it was cool, especially since its pretty simple to put together. It is a very efficient meals. I thought the bok choy and yu choy mixed together was great. The chinese five spices are always delicious and adding in that there was a good deal of sauce, even after reducing it, the noodles still had absorbed a bit of it and made everything taste really good.

Overall, it was a decent box.
We had a few tweaks here and there but it had alright dishes.

4 Essentials for Breakfast in Bed on Mother’s Day

Breakfast in Bed is a rather novel and strange idea to myself. Why eat dinner in bed and make it all dirty because I might be the one to have to clean the sheets however, it is one of those lazy Sunday concepts that just warm up our hearts when we have the opportunity.

Coming from a Chinese family, breakfast in bed was non-existent. My parents, especially my mom, is an energetic and proactive woman. Even today, she doesn’t like wasting time in bed doing nothing. I still remember being a little girl and when I hung out with my mom on the weekends in bed, the time wasn’t wasted because she would take the time to teach me how to recite Chinese poetry.

Every mother is different however my mom valued the little things and she particularly likes to be frugal. With that said, this essentials for breakfast in bed is tailored to my mother specifically. Who says we can’t make Mother’s Day memorable without breaking our bank, right?

A Big Warm Hug

No Mother’s Day (or any day) can be free of a hug or hugs. What better way to start the day with one. It costs nothing and comes from our heart. Words of thanks and kisses on cheeks, the whole deal of love and gratitude for everything my mom has done for me. We might not always see eye to eye but she still is my best friend because I can’t help telling her everything even when I don’t quite know if she understands all the stuff in my life, particularly this blogging and podcasting thing. Still hugs are warm and loving and the perfect way to start the day. As I get older, we learn that there is no greater luxury that being able to steal a moment or two of doing nothing but relaxing in a cozy spot like our bed and its comfy mattress. If you are looking for a luxury mattress, consider checking out Leesa.

Fresh Cut Flowers from the Garden

Frugal comes into this. My mom loves flowers. In fact she is quite the gardener. Some days I wish I had half the skills she has however she never stops to teach me more. However, Mother’s Day is never without any flowers. The garden usually is blossoming with daffodils and tulips and if we are lucky, sometimes peonies are starting as well. This year being an exception because the weather is still lingering in the single digits (Celsius). This year’s fresh cut flowers will for sure be a bouquet of tulips from my yard.

Healthy and Hearty Breakfast

My mom is a health nut. Which has its benefit because as my husband likes to say, she is one tough cookie. She travels and in many ways, much more active than I am and competent in everything. My mom is quite the superwoman in my heart even if age slows her down a little bit now. Breakfast for her is all about being healthy. Its feeds and cleanses our bodies and prepares us for the day. When I lived with her, no matter how old I was, she’d always have something ready for me in the morning. Her choice would probably be plain oatmeal with assorted dried fruits and almond milk. That would be frugal option as we’d have all the material at home. However, if we were to go a little more traditional Chinese breakfast, it’d be congee with some rice rolls (like above).

Handmade Gift

via Pinterest

Finally, a handmade gift! What is more frugal than something that you’ve put your heart into. One year, my best friend and I celebrated a collaborated Mother’s Day gift where we did a photo story video with our own singing and put it all together with pictures when we were kids till grown up and took our families to dinner. It was a pretty fantastic gift. Both our moms loved it a lot and it was to thank them for what they did. I can’t share that video of course and since that idea is used, I’ll resort to making something either decorative and useful or even better, my mom’s idea of a best gift is something you can eat. She loves eating healthy snacks so what better than putting together a trail mix, right? A jar of trail mix so she can enjoy it for days to come while reading the newspaper or binging TV dramas.

Here’s my frugal version of Breakfast in Bed on Mother’s Day with these four essential components! 

What are your essentials for breakfast in bed for mom?

Dinner: Pork Tenderloin Roast

Time for another recipe time! Today its all about dinner.

Last week’s new recipe tryout was for a Pork Loin Roast. We don’t tend to make loin roast, just because they take a long cooking time and we don’t plan our meals that extravagantly, like marinate the day before or whatnot. However, we did buy it so we decided to give it a go. I often find the best recipe book for dinners with cool, fun and quick meals are in my Looneyspoons book and I’ve done a lot of those recipes over here for it, especially in the earlier recipe days. Now I have more choices and Pinterest is always a good place to find all sorts of recipes.

Here we go!

Pork Tenderloin Roast
(‘The Loin King’ from  The Looneyspoons Collection by Janet & Greta Podleski)

Pork Tenderloin Roast

Ingredients
Makes 10 servings

Marinade
1/4 cup each brown sugar and ketchup
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp curry powder, ground coriander and ground ginger
1/2 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 boneless pork loin roast (4lbs/1.8kg)

  1. Whisk together all marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Place pork in a large, heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. Add marinade and seal bag. Turn bag several times to coat roast with marinade. Marinate overnight in refrigerator.
  2. Preheat oven to 325F. Remove pork from bag and place on a rack set in a shallow roasting pan. Reserve marinade. Roast pork, uncovered, from about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours. Meat thermometer should read 155F.
  3. While roast is cooking, pour reserved marinade into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 minutes. Brush roast generously with marinade during last 20 minutes of cooking time.
  4. Remove roast from oven. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

To be fair, other than the marinating part overnight, making this one was pretty easy. Plus, it helps that this recipe also turned out pretty good. I’m one of those odd people who do love adding ketchup into marinade and liking that tangy taste it gives. Adding onto the fact that the spices are pretty good as well, it loved it a lot. We did end up skipping the bring the reserved marinade to boil in a saucepan (#3 of instructions) mostly because my husband said that the marinade will heat up in the oven. Which I can’t really argue with especially since it all worked out in the end.

Do you like to make roasts? How do you like to make them? What spices do you like using?