Battle of Ingredients: October 2019 Fall BBQ

Battle of Ingredients

Its been a long time since our last Battle of Ingredients! To be fair, we did have a dinner outing (or two) during this hiatus but it wasn’t nothing that I particularly wanted or had time to write about but the group got back together on the last weekend of October to get in a final little BBQ session. Phoebe made a few version of ribs and brought some assorted veggies while I did some drumsticks and butternut squash for the grill and brought some extra stuff to pad the menu in case there wasn’t enough food.

Drinks

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As usual, our friend provided the beverages. This time, he went for the assorted pack of Pepito’s Sangria which had three varieties: Sangria Blanca, Sangria Rosada and Bella Sangria. It had different non-alcoholic wine bases although there was still 4% of alcohol content in it so its a bit odd. Its light and fruity. I only had the Sangria Blanca and Sangria Rosada because the other one was the red wine base so while its non-alcoholic, it was more of a precaution. Sangria Rosada definitely had the berry flavors more while the Blanca was more the harvest fruits like apples and pears.

Main Dishes

Kim

Drumsticks

To kick things off, the first thing I made was Chicken Drumsticks. They are covered with the Dim Sum Dry Rub that I had bought previously and had already used before. It was a busy weekend so still working with the more familiar recipes. The last time I had used it on chicken wings and it still worked really well with the drum sticks. We had given it a little time to sit covered between tossing it on the grill.

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Butternut Squash seemed like a nice fall addition to the menu. Squashes are in abundance now so its always great to add them in. Its hard to cut but then I had done a similar recipe from Goodfood before in the oven and decided to give it a shot on the grill. This is done really simple. We just peel and then cut it into pieces, remove the seed and then sprinkle with salt and pepper and then its ready to put on the aluminium plates to grill. I forgot to add some honey to give it some sweetness at the end but that was supposed to be the plan.

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As the additional stuff in case there wasn’t enough food, I went out to M&M Food Markets and picked up the veggie burger patties (because they were on sale) and also the dinner rolls. I can’t say that I liked either of these very much. The dinner rolls turned hard really fast and the patties tasted a bit odd so still on the hunt for a good veggie burger patty.

Phoebe

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Lack of pictures on my part but Phoebe did make two types of ribs. The one above is the Korean Galbi style attempt which turned out pretty good. I eat rather bland food so I thought it was a little on the salty side however, for normal people who eat regular flavored food, this was pretty on point.

Her second style which is not here because it came off the grill after we started eating was a Honey Soy Sauce which is her little one’s favorite.

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Finally, the last dish to show itself is an assorted veggie platter to grill. It had both yellow and green zucchini, asparagus and Portobello mushrooms.

Overall…its a bit of a normal little Battle of Ingredients but as a little BBQ to get back into the routine of things, we had a lot of fun. Everything turned out pretty good and we had a nice balance of vegetables and meat. The alcohol was also very light and fruity.

Next up in the Battle of Ingredients is our normal November hiatus as we go and explore MTL a Table offerings. Right now, we have 3 booked in (and shouldn’t have more than that on our side at least). With that said, the first one has already happened as this post goes up so that’s coming up very soon.

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?

Battle of Ingredients #4 BBQ Edition

battle of ingredients

We’re back from our (previously unannounced summer hiatus). Due to all kinds of busy life things going on, we couldn’t find time to get together so we took a two month break. We still have a bit of mild weather here and there so we decided to get a dose of BBQ in there, all thanks to my co-host of this segment, Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road who offered up somewhere to do this, also giving us a little break from holding the event at our place. The evening was nice and we each brought our own unique take and Phoebe did all the BBQ along with the event help from my husband. With friends in place, husbands there and a toddler in tow, we all got together for the next Battle of Ingredients, we present the Summer BBQ Edition!

Drinks (courtesy of our friends)
Drinks

Pfaff was a light white wine that worked well as we had chicken for the most part. It was quite good. Nothing beats summer like having a sangria and Pepito is a decent choice. I’ve never had the Sangria Blanc of this brand but it turned out really well, especially as it was used to end the evening and added in some summer fruits like watermelon and raspberries. We’ll show this in order we had it, so it’ll be a little later.

Cooking & Evening View

Downtown Montreal is a beauty especially when you can’t see the orange cones everywhere. The sunset and everything made it a beautiful night to BBQ with friends. Phoebe made the Chicken Wings marinated in Chinese Spices and grilled Bok Choy. I had the foil packets, portioned already for each person. In the foil packets were home grown zucchini and cucumbers along with chicken bacon and Mild Italian Sausages and spiced with Herbes de Provences, paprika and ground pepper. My packet was a little different because fancy sausages now all are made with milk so I picked up a pack of Lester’s Jumbo Sausages lactose-free. The extras were grilling on the top with the extra chicken bacon for the little toddler.

The Results

Battle of Ingredients

Chicken Wings & Grilled Bok Choy

Battle of Ingredients

Chicken Wings with Chinese Spices

Battle of  Ingredients

Foil Packets

Everything turned out great. The chicken wings were marinated well. The Chinese spices gave it a nice flavor. Grilled Bok Choy is a nice way to keep the Asian theme we had and it worked well although took a little longer to cook through. My foil packets went in for about 20-30 minutes. The lesson was to make sure that the cucumbers were not sliced so thin because they cooked to a very mushy texture. however, the flavors that I chose worked well. I was pretty pleased with them and I believe the general feedback for everything was very positive.

Dessert & Sangria & Fresh Fruits

S’mores Kit – Laura Secord

S'Mores

S’Mores

First part of dessert was the S’mores. Phoebe picked up the Laura Secord S’mores kit to give it a go. I had to bring my own dark chocolate to make sure it was lactose free. We used the remaining heat of the BBQ to warm it up. It took a little longer but during that time we sat down and chatted while finishing our wines and whipping together our sangria. The fresh fruit was cleverly used in the sangria (as it should). Watermelons and raspberries from our garden. We let soak while the s’mores were heating up.

White Sangria with Fruits

White Sangria with Fruits

The perfect way to end off the night. S’mores was like camping and BBQ and it was an awesome way to get back into the Battle of Ingredients. As hectic as it was (on my part) to get it all together, everything worked out really well.

And we got to enjoy it with a beautiful city lights of Downtown Montreal!

This wraps up this edition of Battle of Ingredients!
Our question to you: What do you like to BBQ?
What meals are particularly summer-y for you?

Pinterest Spring/Summer Inspirations!

Its been forever since I’ve shared some fantastic Pinterest stuff! Mostly because while pinning is super fun and therapeutical, putting together the posts can be tiring.  Just deciding what to do takes so much time that it becomes less therapeutical than it actually is even if I love putting those posts up.  However, maybe this is what Pinterest is going to be: Therapy or Inspirations! Spring is pretty much almost over and hints of Summer is landing in Montreal.  The last few days have been hot and humid and I love it! 🙂

This also means spring cleaning and garden/outdoors stuff needs to be taken care of! I have some rhubarb to harvest and maybe make some nice drinks.  The heat also means that I kick in a much healthier lifestyle.  Lots of things that I seek out Pinterest for! Lets look at some of my faves and ones I hope to pursue if not now, eventually!

The Anatomy of Sangria

Sangria

Hot summer days calls out to me in the form of Sangria. I don’t drink a lot in general but a great sangria is so hard to resist. This infographic breaks it down in an interesting way and peaks some new ways to use different ingredients next time.  For the record, I’ve recently realized that I’m intolerant or maybe allergic to red wine so any sangria’s now have to be with white or rose wine. I have also done a autumn sangria with brandy and that turned out pretty good.

Popsicles

Popsicles

I’ve tried out a few popsicle recipes before and I’m not really good at it but its something I’m trying to learn to do better. This one looks delicious.  They are called Fruit Salad Ice Pops.  I love fruits and especially fruit salads and wrapped up in a popsicle. Yummy!  I’m already thinking of what fruits to get to make it and wondering where those popsicle molds are.

Infused Water Combinations

Infused water

Last year I started getting into infused water. I like cold drinks and water is super healthy so I’ve tried something with blueberry and basil before if I remember correctly.  This summer, I want to keep with the healthy stuff and try some other ones.  These ones are pretty neat especially detox and weight/sugar control and metabolism booster. I guess everything but the lower blood pressure one looks like choices I want to try out.

Watermelon Strawberry Sorbet

Sorbet

For those of you who are new here, I’m lactose intolerant or at least it seems to be in an extreme phase again.  Its really built a love and appreciation for Sorbets in my life. I’ve been wanting to try to make sorbet for a while and if these recipes say its easy, I’ll believe it! Its one of my goals this summer to give it a try.  This combination particularly looks great. I love strawberries and watermelons and yet, no one really pairs these two together. I wonder what it’ll taste like.

Liquid Sunshine

Liquid Sunshine

I know, its a lot of alcoholic beverages here! In general, there’s a lot of drinks. Thing is, I was going to do a cruise dedicated post after my cruise recap last year and I forgot about it. I flat out forgot. That’s just how I am. A year after, I remembered and was thinking maybe this year, I’ll start a little drinks segment to experiment different recipes.  I don’t mean alcoholic cocktails, even if they are resistible, I don’t usually drink that much but even for like lemonades or infused waters and other healthy stuff. I think its well worth a shot! 🙂

That’s it for this Pinterest Inspirations!
Originally, it had a ton of other stuff for the garden and whatnot, but I just wanted to keep this fun and short! 🙂 

Let me leave you with this lovely quote!

making mistakes

Happy Friday! 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

This week’s photo challenge theme is On Top.

On top can be a feeling, a perspective, or a physical location. – The Daily Post

I started thinking to myself after I read this.  What makes me feel like I’m on top of the world?

For starters, its when I’m flying in a plane, travelling from one place to another. You know that moment mid flight when you look out the window and you are literally flying above the clouds or between the clouds, whichever it is.  Over the clearing, you even see mountains under you. That feeling is just something can’t be replaced.  Its exactly how I feel take off is so majestic also.

Plane

The second feeling is when on a peak of some kind.

The Hong Kong Peak gives me that feeling especially with the bright lights and skyscrapers.  Its really beautiful to look at.

Hong Kong Peak

I’m not really so much an urban girl.  I don’t like crowds much and lots of people so the most relaxing feeling of being on top of the world has to go to being in nature.  Some of the best views I’ve seen are in viewing towers of Maine.  This one is from the top of the hiking trail in Maine that we spontaneously found while looking for another trail.

Maine Hiking Trail

Maine hiking trail

Now, since I’ve made myself a bit happier thinking about travelling. Lets bring things a bit closer to home and be more literal.

Here’s a view on top of my bookshelves.

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It has a bit of me in there.  Cookie jars, childhood dolls, souvenirs from my mom’s trip, my fave Yuna figurine and Disney stuff, oh right and hockey.

And to end things off since I’m doing this last minute and to celebrate Friday! Some fruits floating on top of  my Sangria from a hangout with my friend 🙂

Sangria

Sangria and fruits

This is my response to Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top.  Be sure to check out other entries HERE!

HAPPY FRIDAY, MY LOVES! 🙂

Restaurant Review: El Cortijo at Burlington, Vermont

After a long night, we were all exhausted and got back to shower and rest at 7:30pm at the hotel room.  Not much of a partying group, eh? Well, after everyone was sitting in bed at 9pm, we turned on the TV and landed on the Food Network. It was at the show called Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (or something like that) hosted by Guy Fieri.  We are now forever glaring at this Guy Fieri, something like a love-hate relationship.  My friend started craving all the food she saw him showing on the show at the different joints he visited.  It was then we started searching up the restaurants to see which ones were open.

We eventually ended up jumping out of beds and changing quickly and heading out to get ourselves some tacos at El Cortijo.  On Fridays, this little restaurant is open till 1am.  Which worked perfectly for us 🙂

Here’s a little bit of the menu!

El Cortijo Menu

El Cortijo Menu

First up we ordered some drinks.  I went with my craving for Sangria and got a red one.  The girls decided to get a margarita.  One chose Pomegranate Margarita while the other one chose an orange flavored one.  I only got my own in pictures though.

Sangria

Sangria

I’m telling you this.  If you go to places and you suspect people are diluting your drinks and giving you more fizzy soda or fruit juice than actual red wine, this place is for you.  Mr. Bartender at El Cortijo made this drink in the way that all I really tasted was the red wine.  The girls also had high alcohol content in their margaritas and started getting a tad tipsy by the end, which made for a lot of laughing loudly.  We all learned that we are all happy drunks, if ever we did get to that point.

So did decide to have a light late night snack and took the solo tacos which is just one taco pretty much. The girls eventually took another one because it was going to help the margaritas sit better and get a bit of the tipsy feeling away.

Solo Tacos

Solo Tacos

I ordered the Chicken one and had to remove one of the ingredients but I think its alright. It was a pretty tasty taco although this one proved to be way messy with the sauce leaking as we were eating it.  Gotta work on those taco eating skills 😉

After sitting for an hour or so, we had to leave.  Suffice to say that Burlington downtown and Montreal downtown is very different at midnight.  This is what it looks like in Burlington!

Night in Burlington Downtown

Night in Burlington Downtown

Empty streets! 😮 Montreal is add packed with people to this scene and less space to walk and there you go.  Granted this place, had a lot of pubs and clubs and bars that had a lot of people inside and loud music blaring and a few people standing outside.  I like the different atmosphere 🙂 Plus those lights are just so pretty!

What do you like to have for late night snacks? What do you crave for in the middle of the night?

Fruity Cupcakes (infused with Sangria)!

I’m going to start right off with a confession…they weren’t supposed to be fruity cupcakes.  I had originally wanted to figure out how to make Sangria Cupcakes since there isn’t really many recipes featuring online.  The cupcakes are infused with Sangria though, since I didn’t have any red wine on hand.  It was inspired by a recipe I saw on a fellow blogger Sweet Little Thang’s Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes.  I used the same recipe but researched on how to replace the ingredients for the strawberry daiquiri mix and tequila.

Here’s the recipe for how I did these fruity cupcakes.  I did two different batches, so when with the ingredients, you’ll see and/or for the component that changed.

FRUITY CUPCAKES

Makes 24

Cake ingredients:

1 box white cake mix

1 cup fruit punch concentrate (1st batch)/ orange punch concentrate (2nd batch)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup Sangria

3 whole eggs

Frosting ingredients:

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

2-3 tbsp berry punch concentrate (1st batch)/orange concentrate (2nd batch)

For how to make them, refer to the link above.

I followed the instructions pretty much the same as there with the exceptions of the first part.  For the cake, I mixed it by hand instead of with a mixer, therefore taking a bit more time (so there was no different mixing speeds).  I baked the cupcakes for 23 minutes, both batches turned out pretty nice at that time.

First batch with fruit punch concentrate

Second batch with orange punch concentrate

For the frosting, I don’t own any decorating bags, so I used a Ziploc bag, which is why my frosting decors aren’t as sophisticated but still, I’m pretty pleased with it.  In the second batch, I just smeared it on while I also beat it for longer and it gave it a better consistency.  Also, for the second batch, I ended up using half of the recipe as I only was making half the batch. I made the frosting a bit lighter in taste (which had some mix commentaries).

As for my taste feedback, I think both tasted pretty decent.   The first batch was more fruity and the second one was more zesty.  My boyfriend tasted both and liked them.  My friends liked it also, with and without comparison to my first batch.

So why Sangria cupcakes? Do they even exist? (A question I got a few times)  I had a BBQ to go to and wanted to bring in a bit of summer fun.  Besides, I think cupcakes can be made with whatever you want to mix it in.  Sangria is usually a summer hit so why not, right?  I did a bit of research on how to make them and eventually decided that it would be easier to just use something fruity.  Little did I know that, the fruity aspect took over the cupcake. Its back to thinking of what ingredients to use. I’m looking at replacing the Sangria with red wine and instead of the concentrate, using actual frozen fruits, probably mashed up a bit or something like that.  What do you think? Think that’ll work better? Any other suggestions?