Battle of Ingredients #2: Maple Syrup

Welcome to Round 2 of Battle of Ingredients!
If you missed the first round, you can find it here. I will be putting something on the side or above so that it’ll be easier to track soon.

This month’s Battle of Ingredients is all about maple syrup! Why? Because here in our lovely province of Quebec, we have the cabane a sucre (aka sugar shack) tradition. Maple syrup is a big deal around this parts (and apparently also in Riverdale according to the new TV series). It was a no brainer for myself and Phoebe that it would be our choice ingredient as well as trying out a new formula of doing a collaborated full course meal. All our dishes had maple syrup so lets just say, we were in for a sugar rush.

Let’s check out our menu, along with the wines we used to pair with it (although one of them we didn’t end up drinking…yet).

Wine

Wine

We drank the Kung Fu Girl which is one of my favorite wines. Apparently, it has somewhat of a sour taste which I never really thought about but always found it smooth. Regardless, hopefully we’ll keep the Fetzer in our fridge till the next Battle.

Appetizer – Kim

Bourbon Maple Glazed Chicken Wings

Bourbon Maple Glazed Chicken Wings

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/bourbon_maple_glazed_chicken_wings/

A very simple recipe to put together in general although you do need to simmer the sauce before putting it on the chicken wings and then have to simmer again to thicken it. I somehow managed to get it thicker the first time so that it wasn’t necessary to simmer again. I did have extra sauce however it was covered enough so I put it to the side in case anyone wanted anymore. This one was delicious and definitely a hit. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that I used our good bourbon without knowing it. Whatever the reason, these turned out much better than I expected and honestly, I kind of want to make another batch already.

From our friends: Not dry at all with the sauce, and it matched well. No extra sauce needed for me!

Main Meal + Side – Phoebe

Prosciutto Maple Salmon

Prosciutto Maple Salmon

Recipe via Pinterest: http://gardeninthekitchen.com/prosciutto-maple-salmon/

Phoebe chose this recipe off Pinterest. We don’t usually get the chance to use prosciutto frequently and never had thought to use to wrap around fish and yet, it came together really nicely. She hadn’t worked with dill before and I haven’t been a fan either, however we do have dill lovers at the table. This came together really nicely. Phoebe was a little nervous about the whole grilling part before baking it and we timed it all very nice to serve this and the sides, which we will talk about below.

From our friends: I personally find the dill to match well with the fish. Again, not dry the way it was made, the only slight annoyance was that the prociutto is hard to cut through, so putting any sort of pressure would crush the salmon under… But with patience of sliding your knife back and forth, it’s perfect.

Maple Syrup Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Maple Syrup Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.thewholesomedish.com/maple-syrup-roasted-brussels-sprouts/

Huge fan of brussel sprouts here, I found this recipe for Phoebe and she was totally into it, which is great. I’ve always wondered how maple syrup in Brussel Sprouts would work and actually it was the one the absorbed the maple syrup enough to actually taste it the most. It was much more subtle in the salmon for example. However, in the balance of the meal, it worked well.

Dessert

Chewy Maple Cookies

Chewy Maple Cookies

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.cleverlysimple.com/chewy-maple-cookies/

I decided on making these cookies very last minute. Like an hour before our cooking meet-up. Fact is, I was going to make Maple Ice but that needed Maple Water and Ice Cream Maker, both things that I don’t have or haven’t figured out how to use yet. Then there was the idea of making little maple syrup tarts but that was really complex with heating the pizza stone plate in the oven beforehand and the worry that it would just fail because I was changing this complicated tart recipe from a pie pan to little tarts. Anyways, point is cookies are the safe bet and thankfully, it worked well to not hog up the oven and we were able to get everything we needed done and ready on track.

From our friends: Cookies were good! Wasn’t dry, but wasn’t butter fest either! Maybe it would be even better with some nut in it like cashew, but then again, might alter the taste… But it was great.

Maple Flavored Popcorn (Bad Monkey)

Bad Monkey Maple Flavored Popcorn

In addition, Phoebe brought this Bad Monkey brand Maple Syrup flavored popcorn to match with the theme. I don’t eat a lot of popcorn for health issues but I did try a few and it was pretty delicious. Phoebe did find it a little on the sweet side however our friends did like this one as well. they actually put the popcorn and the cookie together and apparently, it went well together particularly because of the contrast in textures.

That’s it for this Battle!
Maple Syrup was a fun adventure and on all fronts this was a win.
We learned some new recipes and had a great time with friends.
Next month’s Battle is still deciding what will be the star(s) of the show! 

Perhaps this will be the structure from now on as it is easier to get together an acceptable meal but we will shift the courses around to who is responsible next time.
We will see…like I said in the first round, a work in progress. If you have any suggestions, do share with us. 🙂

Battle of Ingredients #1: Carrots and Noodles

It is finally here!
A new segment with Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road!
Thanks so much for joining us!

Battle of Ingredients

INTRODUCTION – What is Battle of Ingredients?

Battle of Ingredients (name subject to future change maybe) is the brainchild of myself and Phoebe who really love to talk about tons of things but our families have somewhat become foodie buddies. We talk food a lot and go to restaurants even more but we each have our food restrictions and our habits and with this Battle of Ingredients, we have two goals.

One: we want to learn more about the Quebec foods through different seasons which will be a huge focus on how we pick our ingredients.
Two: To expand and explore new recipes and ways to cook as well as try out new ingredients.

However, we do also want to say that this is a battle of ingredients but we use the word ‘battle’ loosely because we aren’t actually battling each other. Our judges are family and close friends and they offer us suggestions on how to improve our recipes. Its more the challenge of figuring out a good way to incorporate the selected ingredients. There will be times, like the next one, where we will be working together to put together a meal with the next selected seasonal ingredients which will be announced at the end of this post.

Battle of Ingredients #1: Carrots & Noodles

The first challenge is a simple one. We wanted something that we could use readily, plus carrots are about the best looking vegetable available at our supermarkets now. The meat is free to our choosing and noodles is for a nice carbs base that everyone gets a good energy boost. Two noodle dishes are heavy so we served them in moderate portions.

PHOEBE’S MENU
Homey Osso Bucco with Udon

Osso Bucco

Homey Osso Bucco with Udon

I know Kim wanted to try osso bucco and it is freezing outside thanks to Canadian winter, so I decided to cook this dish as part of the cook-off. This is one of my mom’s thermal cooker recipes that I managed to replicate with some adaptations over the years.

Given I had to prepare more portions than usual, I had a hard time putting numbers on the quantities of ingredients.

  • Osso bucco
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Sweet onions (normal onions are okay, but I prefer sweet ones)
  • Bay leaves
  • Chicken stock (powder)
  • Water
  • Udon

Instructions:

1. Wash the osso bucco and put in the inner pot.
2. Wash and chop all the veggies to your desired size (please note if it is too little, veggies will disintegrate into the soup). Put in the inner pot on top of the meat (I usually cut carrots first because they are bulky when compared to celery and onions).
3. Wash the bay leaf and put into the inner pot (I always prefer 2-3 in my cooking).
4. Pour water into the inner pot and make sure it covers the meat and veggies.
5. Boil it until it starts bubbling and add chicken powder to taste (One thing that I noticed if you are cooking more portions than usual, you may need to reboil to ensure the osso bucco is thoroughly cooked).
6. Boil it a bit longer and put the inner pot into the vacuum insulated cooker.
7. Let it cook over night.

While my family usually eat this with rice, I prefer udon after doing a lot of testing in dorms. My mom used to vacuum seal some with veggies so I can enjoy it while doing my assignments. I remember trying rice vermicelli, egg noodles, pasta and udon. Rice vermicelli got soggy really quickly while egg noodles held themselves a little better. Pasta was okay, but udon stood out for remaining bouncy when it took me a little while to finish dinner.

That is pretty much it for my recipe. Hope you enjoy it! 😊

KIM’S MENU
Chicken Rice Noodles with Carrots and Cucumbers

Chicken Rice Noodles

Chicken Rice Noodles with Carrots and Cucumbers

Unlike Phoebe, my recipe is somewhat of a combination of a few things I like making. I did end up forgetting something in this one and our judges definitely did realize even if I don’t honestly mind that much.  Here are the ingredients I used:

  • Rice Noodles
  • Nantes Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Eggs
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Chicken Thighs
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Green onions
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sesame Oil

How to make it:

1. In a bowl, mix together sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and garlic. Set aside.
2. Prepare the chicken. Cut the chicken lengthwise and mix with the marinade above.
3. Boil water in a saucer. When it starts to boil, put in the rice noodles to cook. Place in for few minutes. Remove and put in strainer. Rinse with cold water. Rest strainer on a bowl to let water drain.
4. Peel the carrots and cucumbers and chop them lengthwise (or however you like them that makes it easier to cook). Mince the garlic and chop the ginger.
5. Heat up the wok on medium-high heat. Put in some oil (sesame, olive, whichever you use; I used avocado oil) and let it heat up.
6. Put in some garlic and ginger into the wok. Afterwards, add the carrots and cucumbers. Let them cook through and remove on plate.
7. If you need, add a little bit of oil to the wok and cook the scrambled eggs.
8. Next, cook the chicken with marinade as sauce.
9. Once its cooked through, add back the eggs, carrots and cucumbers. Let it cook a little more and add the noodles to heat everything back up.
10. Remove from heat and put in plate.

COMMENTS FROM FRIENDS (AKA TASTERS)

Phoebe’s Osso Bucco was cooked thoroughly and enough time. The only comment was on the choice of using the Udon noodles and that dials down to a personal preference.

Kim’s Chicken Rice Noodles was cooked well however it was on the more bland side. Something that Kim suspected out of her eating habits and the fact that she forgot to use broth. The suggestion was to use chicken broth to add some natural flavor instead of using salt and it would help infuse the meal overall.

This concludes our first BATTLE OF INGREDIENTS!
Hope you enjoyed it!

The next battle will be held next month as a collaborated full course meal featuring MAPLE SYRUP!
Right in time for cabane a sucre season!

Dessert: Jell-O Candy

An oldie but a goodie is here today!

My mom’s hit dessert when she used to throw me birthday parties when I was a little girl are these yummy Jell-O treats. Its probably why to this day, I love Jell-O so much! Not even sure why. Much opposite from my husband who doesn’t like the texture. These little rainbow Jell-O candies take a few hours and a little patience but not a whole lot of ingredients. They look colorful and usually are a cheerful addition to a party.

Jell-O Candy

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Ingredients
(for 5 layer Jell-O Candy)

5 boxes of Jell-O Candy (go for 3 darks to contrast with 2 lights)
5 pouches Unflavored gelatin
Boiled Water

Other items:
Liquid Measuring Cup
9×13 inch Glass Dish

How to make it

  1. Pour one pouch of Jell-O and one pouch of Unflavored gelatin into your liquid measuring cup. Dissolve with boiled water, aim for the 300 – 350 mL mark in order to have enough liquid to cover the bottom of the glass dish.
  2. Let it cool, then pour it into the glass dish. Make sure it covers the entire bottom.
  3. Place it into the fridge for 30 minutes or until it is solid.
  4. Boil more water (if needed) while you wait and prepare for the next layer.
  5. Follow instructions 1-4 for the next layers.
  6. Let sit in fridge overnight (optimally), if not, for a few hours. The longer it has to cool in the fridge, the better the texture.

Colorful and simple, although a little bit more time consuming and requires some patience, but the payoff is well worth it. Maybe a bit of it is nostalgia talking and because I really love eating this. I make this as a treat when there’s some special occasion. In this case, it was for my friend’s birthday and she likes this Jell-O candy thing.

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?

Breakfast Dinner: Portobello Mushrooms & Eggs

2017 is going to be a huge goal of trying to get back to a healthier lifestyle. With that said, cooking is going to be a bigger part of our life. At least we’re really trying to do more homecooked meals.

In the last few months of 2016, I started having a huge love for Portobello mushrooms. Add into our love for breakfast food and eggs in general, I thought about doing something like this for a while and decided this past weekend that with the remaining two Portobello mushrooms left in the pack, I could try this one out. I took some inspiration from the site below for cooking times but I didn’t really season with anything fancy.

Portobello Mushrooms & Eggs

Portobello Mushrooms & EggsRecipe inspired by: http://healthyrecipesblogs.com/2013/11/04/eggs-baked-in-portobello-mushrooms/

Ingredients
Makes 2 servings

2 Portobello mushrooms
2 eggs
Salt & pepper to season
a dash of Herbes des Provences
olive oil, to spray

How to make it

  1. Preheat broiler, setting temperature to high. Set oven rack in the middle and line the baking sheet with foil.
  2. Spray the mushroom caps with olive oil cooking spray on both sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil 5 minutes on each side.
  3. Remove mushrooms from oven. Switch oven from broil to bake, setting temperature at 400F.
  4. Break an egg in each mushroom. Sprinkle with Herbes des Provences.  Bake 15 minutes, until egg whites are cooked.
  5. Sprinkle the egg with a dash of salt and pepper. Serve.

If you follow the link above, you can see the variation is to sprinkle with cheese. Which would be our first choice except we ran out of lactose-free cheese (for myself) so I used herbs instead. And that worked out quite well. A note to remember would be to avoid sogginess to wipe clean instead of washing the mushroom. I only remembered that as I turned on the faucet and tried to soak up the water as much as I could. It wasn’t too soggy luckily.

Overall, simple and easy. I really loved the taste of this one and to be honest, I’ve been thinking about heading out to get some more portobello mushrooms and adding cheese to the mixture and it should taste even better.

How do you like to make mushrooms? What variety do you use?

Baking: Chewy Ginger Cookie

Holiday season is here! That means its time for me to bake up a storm. This year, I went mostly with easy solutions ranging from festive Rice Krispies Treats to Chocolate Bark (which are both no bake recipes) and then made vanilla cupcakes with store bought icing. However, I did get a little inspired and tried a new recipe from Butter Baked Goods book called “The Gingerstamp” which are chewy ginger cookies.

Ginger Cookie
Makes 24 cookies

Ginger Cookies

Ingredient

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup fancy molasses
1 tsp pure vanilla

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 cups of the sugar on medium to high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time and beat briefly after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the molasses and vanilla. Continue to mix on high until the molasses and vanilla are well combined and the mixture is pale in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Turn the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined.
  6. In a small bowl add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Use the ice cream scoop to drop 24 equally sized portions of dough, one at a time, into the sugar. Use your fingers to roll the dough around to coat on all the sides, then place the cookies on the prepared cookie sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Use the palm of your hand to press down lightly on the top of each portion to flatten slightly.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 17 minutes or until the cookies are firm around the edges but still slightly soft in the center.
  8. Remove fromt he oven and transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool.

As usual, there were minor omissions. This time, it was because I ran out of the ingredient. Those were the baking soda amd vanilla extract. However, I do know that these two don’t make a huge difference to the taste, but maybe the texture.

Cookies are about one of the easiest things to bake. Plus, I have those mini ice cream scoops so I actually have left over cookie batter to make another 12 cookies at least after making the 24.

With that said, these cookies were a crowd pleaser. I do find it a little bit of a debate whenever I make ginger anything for baked goods because not everyone likes it as much as I do. I am glad to see that everything worked out.

What have you been baking/cooking?

Breakfast: Baked Eggs (in muffin pan)

Aren’t Sunday brunches the best? I love them a lot! Its why this recipe (even though I made it for a quick dinner solution) works great for this morning’s post!

I’m all about making food quick and simple and I’ve been seeing these muffin tin recipes for a while. I kind of improvised most of this myself, which seems like a norm nowadays since I just have to work with what we have as I’m too tired to go to the grocery store especially on the week nights after work. Excuses aside, This is how it turned out!

Eggs in Muffin Tin

Baked Eggs

Ingredients:

Eggs
Green onions, chopped
Cheese, grated
Herbes de Provence
Pepper

*Quantity of each is as you please, except for the egg which is one per muffin cup

Baked Eggs

How to make it:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and oil the muffin pan to prevent sticking.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the ingredients. Separate the chopped green onions and cheese into each muffin cup space (whatever you call it).
  3. Crack an egg into each space with ingredients.
  4. Season with Herbes de Provence and pepper.
  5. Cook in oven for 10 to 15 minutes (or until cooked).

This is my own recipe that I put together so nothing changed or substituted. However, if I were to redo it, I might cut the shallots smaller or place less in the version I made. However, the taste of it all was really good. I like Herbes de Provence as a seasoning and a bit of pepper always brings out a nice taste to food. I used lactose-free cheese but whatever cheese you fancy probably works.