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. 

Battle of Ingredients: Moon Festival & Autumn BBQ

Battle of Ingredients

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

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

Wines

Wine

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

  • Listel
  • Cote des roses

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

Main Courses

BBQ

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

BBQ

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

Results

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

Dessert

 

king's pastry

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Recap: Goodfood #20

Goodfood

20 boxes into this Goodfood journey! There really isn’t much to say anymore other than the fact that I love doing these recaps.

Although, this box was kind of sounding really good but also very experimental? Who knows, right? If Goodfood has taught me anything, its to be adventurous in my foodie and cooking adventures!

Chicken Yakitori
with Roasted Carrots, Chinese Broccoli & Miso Butter

chicken yakitori

A lot of firsts here. I’ve never actually made yakitori before and rarely have attempted the kabobs things either. That turned out to be fairly simple. I never had thought about roasting Yu Choy in the oven but I guess that also does work. It just works a lot like kale and I think the recipe is still a little borderline on how long it keeps it there so mine turned out a little burnt. However, Chicken Yakitori did turn out to be really delicious. They had some lovely spices and other than the prep work for the kabobs taking a little longer, this recipe was pretty tasty and well worth the work.

Vegetarian Paella
with Marinated Artichokes & Toasted Almonds

vegetarian paella

Vegetarian Paella sounds a little odd but we’ve been exploring these vegetarian takes on food with these boxes and most of the time they don’t disappoint. Unfortunately, we weren’t a huge fan of this one. The zesty taste was a little too abundant for my taste. It was the first time I tasted marinated artichoke and that was also really acidic. I didn’t have an issue with the artichoke but more the fact that it was so acidic. Then there was tomatoes also which were also really acidic. This dish was just a whole plate of off balance. Can’t say I’m a particular fan but my husband was a mega champ and helped take care of what I didn’t want to eat. A rarity in our home because I usually manage to finish everything and am not a picky eater.

Gourmet Bacon & Cheddar Stuffed Hot Dogs
with Homemade Ketchup & Grilled Romaine Salad

Hot Dog

modified version

I should have looked at the ingredients more carefully when I chose this one. I never thought that the cheddar and bacon was actually a cheddar and bacon sausage. So my husband had the real deal, except the pictures turned out bad so I’m using the modified version. He was the master chef before this meal and he didn’t buy into the stuffing it overly and making the bun soggy and mine is a sausage with bacon so pretty much we modified this recipe to our own liking or at least in presentation. The homemade ketchup was pretty good. I can’t say it delivered quite as well as the awesome looking picture in the recipe looked like it would taste. Still, I love hot dogs so any excuse to have one is fantastic.

Ground Beef Tacos
with Homemade Salsa Verde, Cabbage Slaw & Panela Cheese

Ground Beef Tacos

Finally, the beef tacos! I actually put together 75% of the meal but then my husband wrapped it up and also I ended up just telling him to eat it because it would have too many modifications. According to my husband, the beef tacos were quite good. He’s into one word responses when it comes to food so honestly, it did smell really good as I was cooking it. The spices were great and the beef smelled good. The slaw was easy to put together. There was a decent amount of prep work for this since its a lot of cutting. It also uses tomatillos as the salsa verde and we have to roast it a little in the pan which was a pretty neat cooking experience.

Overall, this box was a little lackluster. My fave went to the Chicken Yakitori.
One of those weeks that we picked recipes and well, I just had to modify a lot to my allergies.

Gardening Update #5: Harvests and Other Thoughts

Its been almost a month since the last gardening update. I honestly just got back to do another grass and weed clearing session and it went relatively fast. I’m still frustrated that it seems to be a problem that won’t go away but I am hoping with enough frequent clearings, I will beat this.

Over July, we had more sun and more rain and last week, we had a huge thunderstorm. It was really a mix of both good and bad weather however, it might have been to my advantage. The rain helped me out a lot so I didnt have to worry about watering too much and still we got a ton of harvests. Last time we talked raspberries and they were still the star of July.

Latest update as of a few days ago…

Pineapple Sage has grown up!


If you recall, the last storm knocked out my entire pineapple sage except for a little baby stem. Well, its not a baby anymore and yet again proves what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Eggplant


This eggplant has been growing forever. I am about to harvest it. I really don’t think it will get bigger for the container grown eggplant. Hopefully, we will get another one before the end of the season.

Cucumbers & Zucchini


Zucchinis doing well is almost always a guarantee. My three are doing great. We have harvested two zucchinis so far and three more in the garden.


As for cucumbers, we were a little worried about the in ground ones. It seems that all it needed was time. In fact, it has surpassed the container cucumber and we have had harvests already.

cucumbers

Container Cucumber seems to be doing okay, I guess. I mean, there is this one right now and it looks like we have a few growing right now as well.

Zucchini and Cucumbers

Fresh from the garden yesterday are three cucumbers and one zucchini! We’re set for dinner tonight. 🙂

Ground Cherries are a Success!!

ground cherry

It only looks like foliage on the picture. I should have taken a closer shot. Either way, you can see the harvest below. And we still have a lot on the branches.

Actually this is only part of the batch. At this time, I had already given some to my mom. I’m thinking about making some fun dessert with it although I don’t mind eating these just like that. They are more tart but I enjoy them.

Gardening Thoughts

Thought #1: In terms of gardening, I’ve seemed to have found a good system between container and in ground vegetable and fruit areas. As time goes by, I see that only a section of the vegetable garden will be annual replants. Right now, already there is mint on one end and ground cherries and blueberries along with green onions on the other side which are perennial. I’m slightly worried about the blueberry plants right now because the area should expand however, I’m not quite sure how because the other part is just a grass area now and I use it to put my hose. Maybe I’ll just turn it into tiled grounds to make it easier to put stuff and add more containers there since it gets a lot more sun there. Some research to be done there. My parents had tiled their walkway one year by themselves so I think with the right research and buying stuff myself, I can take care of that small patch of land myself. If not, I’ll hunker down and turn it into a perennial garden or something filled with medicinal plants or herbs. Something to match with the edible garden that is going on right now.

Thought #2: I had wanted to recycle one of the pickup truck tops left by the previous owners and turn it into a flower garden. It would help minimize the weeds in that area since that area really would be near impossible to get it weed-free. Plus, I wanted to plant in some annual flower gardens, targeted mostly towards being a bee and butterfly garden with bee baths and different assortment of flowers appealing to them. I’m excited to get that going. Right now, I’m just waiting for my husband to have a moment to drag out the thing from behind the shed. Its pretty heavy and lots of obstacles to do by myself. Then I can get the soil bought and get cracking on it. I probably won’t start on it this year but I would like to have it set up before the season ends.

Thought #3: This thought has been on my mind ever since the first summer we’ve had the house. Its an ambitious plan and one I haven’t felt like I have the time or abilities to put together yet. However, this summer, one of the houses that I walk by when I get off the bus had done that by themselves. They have it on half of my scale. The idea is that I have a slope on my garden and I want to turn that into a landscape thing. Get some boulders or larger rocks, buy some shade and partial sun required flowers and get a nice landscape going on. Before all that, the most painful part will be getting all the grass out. I’ve been researching here and there on this and its a whole idea of conceptualizing what to plant as well as what to keep and what to remove.

That’s it for this gardening update!
How are your gardens going? Any harvests?

Gardening Update #4: Rain & Harvests!

Welcome back to a long overdue Gardening update! It keeps getting bumped back and finally, now its time to report back after vacation.

Its been a rainy and gloomy summer. We can’t complain much because we live without the luxury of air conditioning in a bungalow so that means, when its hot, its boiling inside most of the time. Compared to last year, this is somewhat a heavenly situation especially on days where I need to record podcasts. However, plants and flowers aren’t like us and most of them need the sun and bees to pollinate in order to bear fruit aside from just water, which it also needs a lot of, of course. With that said, the garden is still doing pretty good. We started to have some harvests and the vegetables and flowers are all coming around.

In-Ground Garden

Gardening

Gardening

Gardening

zucchini

No blueberries or asparagus in these pictures as they are waiting for next year to have any harvest. However, they are so far doing quite well.

Here is the in-ground garden. Zucchinis are coming out now. The lettuce is actually doing worse than in the containers. You’ll see later. Cucumbers are also not doing as well as in the container however they are starting to form some cucumbers. Hopefully it’ll work out especially with all the rain. If only, there was more sun. One of the more solid plants are the Ground Cherry. The challenge so far is still actually getting it to ripen before it falls down. I had planted it two times before in containers with that same issue. Now I’m hoping planting it in-ground will do the trick so we can harvest some ground cherries soon. Its definitely looking strong.

Raspberry

On the other side is our trimmed but somehow still overgrowing raspberry shrub. Strawberries had their season and I would have shared the harvest but like a loser, I deleted all my pictures this past weekend off my phone when I was lining up for a Comiccon panel. Long story short, I don’t have it anymore and the season is over. We did have decent harvests but nothing as epic as what raspberry will be. We had two tupperware bowls already in the last two weeks, which is pretty impressive. As you see, there are still raspberries ripening so the rain and sun balance seems to work beautifully for it. Plus, raspberries are great to have as it also helps out the bees, which Canada has been acting on to encourage Canadians to plant more bee gardens. I got my bee garden kit, just trying to get the garden ready as it’ll be a raised garden that I’m trying to get ready.

Flower garden

In my flower patch, the flowers right now is my mini rose shrub and these yellow flowers. I have to remember to keep these in check as they spread really fast although they are super pretty. My cone flowers are also starting to bloom however, they are also super depressed because the rabbits now can’t access the vegetable garden and they decided that they’d snack on the cone flower leaves instead. They looked miserable for the longest time. And now there another one that I moved and suspect will have to move again. The flower garden needs to be restructured and organized. I’m pondering that at the moment.

Container Gardening

Herbs are doing fantastic. We’ve harvested some basil mostly and added it to our recipes. The others we keep fresh in the fridge. It gives us a reason to use fresh basil and make foods with it. As you may notice, my pineapple sage lost the fight with the storm and is not just one stem struggling to stay alive. At least it survived. I almost thought it was a total loss. The kale and cucumbers are doing great here. Pots do cucumbers miracles as they are growing well although, it won’t be successful until we actually get some cucumbers to harvest. Finally, there’s the eggplant. The over excessive rainfall and lack of sun seems to be affecting it the most as it gets more yellow everyday and its not really having anything yet.

Our lettuce harvests were probably the earliest. While they are growing slower now, they are still doing quite well. Especially since we have them in-ground and in two hanging baskets.

Finally, the last thing is our kale. Its been doing fantastic. We’ve really only been making kale chips out of them. I should really post up the recipes for it that we use. I promise I will soon. The kale has been treating us well. As this post goes up, I’ve been thinking of harvesting my next batch this evening and making some more chips.

That’s it for this gardening recap!
How are your gardens doing?