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.

Dinner: Oven Roasted Tricolor Carrots

I have a confession to make. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with Tricolor Carrots, Brussel Sprouts and Portobello Mushrooms. I see this obsession particularly with the Tricolor/Nantes Carrots to last a while. So far, I’ve found the best way to do them is oven-roasted. I actually would like to replicate what I tried in Kelowna at Basil & Mint Restaurant. Those carrots were absolutely delish. Its because of that that when I went to Atwater Market a few weeks ago, I got a bag of these carrots and amazingly, also the second reason why I love buying carrots is that they can be preserved for a good while.

This is a simple recipe and I’m sure someone else has probably done it but I did put this together on my own.

Oven-Roasted Tricolor Carrots

Carrots

Ingredients

10 Tricolor Carrots (or Nantes carrots), scrubbed and cleaned
2 tbsp Avocado Oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
1 tsp Herbes de Provence (or as you see fit)

How to make it

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Lay carrots in a single layer on top of the parchment paper.
  3. Drizzle oil over the carrots.
  4. Sprinkle on the Herbes de Provence.
  5. Put in oven for 20-25 minutes or when carrots are tender enough for your taste.

Simple and easy is what I usually aim for. We paired this up with Tourtiere which is a meat pie. Plus, Tricolor carrots have a sweeter taste, especially my favorites are the purple ones with the orange center that taste a little like sweet potatoes. Plus, Herbes de Provence is one of the best herb blends for making a lot of different varieties of food from pork chops, chicken, turkey and even vegetables. It is our go-to spice for a quick solution that packs a little extra taste.

How do you like to cook carrots?

Dinner: Ultimate Garlic Bread

I’m a little behind on Sunday’s post all the time so I figured that I’d go for a quick and fun post: a new recipe post!! They are making a comeback slowly but surely, which is good because I like the feeling of having accomplished good food or trying out new stuff.

I’m not sure about all of you but my husband LOVES Garlic Bread and I mean like cheesy garlic bread. The moment I saw this recipe, I knew it was one I had to do. Plus, we had just bought lactose-free cheese so for once, I can actually get in on the lovely snack/meal. I ended up using this for lunch a few times.

I saw this recipe on Popsugar Food in this video. They take full credit for the attempt of this recipe.

My recipe does have a few modifications and it will be at the bottom as usual.

First of all, here is how it turned out.

Ultimate Garlic Bread

Now for the modifications to the recipe:

  • Melba Toasts turned into breadcrumbs instead of Panko breadcrumbs
  • Lactose-free Cheese (Allegro brand) instead of all cheese ingredients
  • Unsweetened Almond Milk instead of whole milk

The recipe says that it makes two servings, however I made smaller portions and ended up with double the amount. These Ultimate Garlic Breads are a little more complicated to make than then regular bread because you have to first make the chicken, let it cool off before cutting and then make the dough, put it together and back into the oven. It is incredibly cheesy and I have to say grating cheese is something I am the worst at (but that is really just my own problem and not the recipe’s fault). However, if you happen to want to give up halfway and just pull out the chicken breasts and eat that, I can totally understand that because I kind of wanted to also because they look delicious alone.

With that said, this recipe did take me a little while because I paired it with another recipe. I’m a fantastic multitasker in many many other scenarios in life except for two places and that is cooking (not baking) and gaming. However, I did manage to get this recipe done in a really long time and I blame my skills on it. However, this is a much more time consuming recipe but the payoff is worth it. This Ultimate Garlic Bread is packed with a ton of flavor from the chicken to the extra cheesy filling and topping. It isn’t a light meal so I’d suggest to cut it in strips or something and eat it like that. The video suggests to use marinara sauce to go with it. I haven’t tried it with that pairing yet.

Bottomline: The Ultimate Garlic Bread takes a little more time to put together but is well worth the effort.

Dinner: Roasted Endives with Thyme

Its been quite some time since I last posted up a recipe and here we are! I went on a cooking craze so here we are!!

I’ve been wanting to try out cooking endives for quite some time now. A few weeks ago I went out to Atwater Market in Montreal and came back with a ton of vegetables. Of course, I picked up some endives. After looking at some recipes, we decided to do this simple recipe which we also happened to have all the ingredients. That is definitely a plus. 😉

Also, the recipe below is for 4-5 endives but I only had three so I made little adjustments.

Roasted Endives with Thyme
(recipe from: http://naturallyella.com/roasted-endives-with-thyme)

Roasted Endives with Thyme

Ingredients

4-5 Endives
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp thyme, minced
3-4 tbsp toasted bread crumbs

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Slice the endives in half lengthwise and toss with two teaspoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until endives are tender and starting to brown.
  2. Heat 4 remaining teaspoons of olive oil in a small skillet until warm. Remove from heat, add thyme and when endives are done, drizzle the olive oil/thyme on top and sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs.

That’s it! Easy, right?  Still, as I type this up, I realized that I did make some small changes other than a slight adjustment of portions. The main thing is that we ran out of black pepper. Horrible, I know. So instead of using salt and pepper, we ended up using The Keg steak spice. Also, we completely forgot about the toasted bread crumbs so that was omitted. Another thing is that we recently swapped out olive oil to avocado oil. I’m not sure if that would affect the taste.

However, it turned out absolutely delicious. I haven’t had endives many times but it turns out that I like the texture of the vegetable, plus this one blends in simple spices. Definitely an efficient and easy meal to make and that is exactly how I like recipes to be since I’m not such a skilled cook.

Do you eat endives? How do you cook them?

Baking: Cherry-Cranberry Crumb Bars

Spring cooking date with my friend! Remember my road trip buddy that I hang out with for movies and baking dates? Well, we only had one baking date before Christmas last year where we made this and this. We’re back this time for the long Victoria’s Day weekend and with cherries and eggs, I went over to her place and we did some research and ended up making some Cherry-Cranberry Crumb Bars.

Cherry-Cranberry Crumb Bars
Adapted from: Blueberry Crumb Bars from Smitten Kitchen

Cherry Cranberry Crumb Bars

Ingredients

1 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted flour
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
*zest and juice of one lime
4 cups *fresh cherries & cranberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 tsp cornstarch

  1. Preheat over to 375F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup white sugar, 3 cups flour and baking powder. Mix in salt and lime zest. Use a fork to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half the dough into the prepared pan.
  3. In another bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the cherries and cranberries. Sprinkle the fruit mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the fruit layer.
  4. Bake in preheated over for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Cherry-Cranberry Crumb Bar

There were no substitutions for anything here. Although this one is already modified to how we made it.  There was only two ingredients from the original recipe that we’ve changed.  The first is that we made cherry and cranberry instead of blueberry and the other is that we used lime zest and juice instead of lemon.

The last time I made crumb bars was in 2012! Almost four years ago! That’s crazy! Last time was good but the pan was too small so the levels didn’t work out well in that sense.  However, these crumb bars were rather tart, probably because of the cranberries.  I personally love it like this more.  The pan we used was perfect and had a great texture in layers.  The fruity bits balanced well with the crumb on the top and when it cooled, it became firm enough to actually feel like a bar and didn’t fall apart.

This recipe is rather easy to do.  Of course, it would be less time consuming if you used blueberries.  We had a bit more prep time just because we had to pit the cherries.  Now, I am thinking of redoing the Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumb Bars I did four years ago but using the right sized pan and making it the perfect fit for this time of year, especially when my rhubarb plant is fabulously ready for harvesting! 🙂

What flavor do you like crumb bars or just granola bars or whatnot?