Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Easy Beef Pho and Other Eats

Last week we ate a lot of turkey.  When that ran out, we made Thai chicken curry, served over rice.

We had so many leftovers after our dinner on Friday, so those made up the bulk of our meals over the weekend.  Breakfast on Sunday morning was really simple - fruit and cheese.

Later that day Christopher's parents had the whole family over, as a relative was visiting from England.  It was Freya's first time in Canada, and it was so nice to meet her.  There was a delicious spread of food to enjoy, and we had fun getting to know the niece that Christopher hadn't seen since he was in high school, when she was just a baby

To start out work week off we made a really easy beef pho.  It was so easy actually, that we were surprised by how good it was, although Donna Hay knows good food, and the recipe came from one of her cookbooks.

I adapted the recipe a bit.  It called for beef stock, but I used a combination of beef broth and pho broth, since I saw it in the store, and I figured a little extra flavour couldn't hurt.  The recipe also called for only 1.5 litres, but I just used both cartons so I wouldn't have any leftover broth.  Also, I didn't freeze the beef for two hours before slicing it as recommended.  The meat was thawed, and then I cut it very, very thinly, so that it would cook as the hot broth was ladled over top of it.  I also tossed in a couple extra star anise, because it seemed like the smart thing to do.

Easy Beef Pho
Recipe adapted from: Donna Hay Life in Balance Cookbook

1 x 6 cm piece ginger, peeled and halved
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 shallot, peeled and halved
1.5 litres beef stock (I used two 900 ml cartons, beef broth & pho broth)
2 star anise (I used three, but I also upped the liquid)
1 cinnamon stick
1 T fish sauce
1 T palm (coconut) sugar
200 g thin rice noodles, cook according to package, drain
1/2 small white onion, very thinly sliced
250 g beef, very thinly sliced (I used two steaks)
1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed
2 long red chilies, sliced
handful of Thai basil leaves
handful of mint leaves
sriracha (optional topping)

Put the ginger, garlic, and shallot into a non-stick pan, over high heat, and cook, turning until charred.  Transfer to a pot, and add the stock, star anise, and cinnamon stick.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the fish sauce and palm sugar and stir.  Strain stock into another pot to remove the solids, then keep the stock hot on the stove.

Place cooked noodles into bowls.  Top with the thinly sliced, raw beef, and the thinly sliced onion.  Ladle the hot stock over the top of the meat.

Eat with a generous amount of sprouts, chili, mint and basil.  Enjoy!

(*Ensure your liquid is hot enough to cook the meat to your liking; alternatively, you could use cooked meat.  Keep in mind that consuming raw or undercooked meats may increase your risk of food-borne illness.)

Have you ever had pho?  Made it?  Do you like it?

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Dinner with Friends

Last night we had our friends Jeff and Alaina over for dinner.  They came out to Christopher's show on Sunday, but before that it had been too long since we had gotten together with them.  We made a meal we've had numerous times before, which is always a good idea when having guests.

We started with some oysters and a few cheeses:

Clam chowder soup was next:

Then the main course:

And chocolate pavlova for dessert:

There are a LOT of leftovers, so the other meals we planned on making this weekend are being pushed back, and we'll be eating up these dishes for the next couple days.

Christopher made Southern eggs benedict this morning with some of the leftover cornbread as a base.  He whipped up a Cajun spiced hollandaise with the yolks that were left from making the pavlova, and poured it over the soft poached eggs.

It's a bit of a blustery day today, so we've been enjoying cozy time on the couch, and might throw on a movie or two this evening. 

What are you up to this weekend?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Weekend Eats

Friday was Chinese New Year, so we thought it would be fun to cook up a Chinese dish; we made ginger chicken, and served it over rice.

We had a few yummy breakfasts over the long weekend, and tried a couple new recipes.  We made shakshuka one morning, which is eggs poached in a tomato-based sauce. 

It was really good served with mini pitas.

After breakfast I ate a handful of cilantro, straight up. 

You guys, I think I have problems 😆 

On Sunday Christopher made skillets for breakfast:

And on Monday we had breakfast banh mi sandwiches:

More cilantro!

I was feeling like eggs again today so I had one, a piece of Ezekiel toast (so good), and a bowl of fruit.

For a late lunch/ dinner yesterday we shared a smoked meat poutine.

Then we threw a turkey in the oven, and nibbled on a bit of that for a snack later in the evening.  I'm going to make gravy and sides today, and we'll have that for dinner, and use a bunch of the meat for lunches this week.

Whenever we see turkeys on sale for about $10 we always buy a few and put them in the freezer.  They are super economical, extremely easy to cook, and we never get sick of turkey sandwiches etc.  We've started cooking the turkey one day, and making the sides the next, as we find that we never want to eat a full turkey dinner on the day that we make it.  There is something about smelling it cooking that satisfies us enough, that we usually aren't too hungry that day to eat it.

I am off today, and I didn't do too much other than a bit of straightening up around the house, and some laundry.  The rest of my afternoon will be spent with a book and some tea.

Forever Nuts tea from David's Tea is fabulous!

We only have one David's Tea in town, but every time I am in the mall downtown I stop there.  The other day when Christopher and I were running a couple errands I tried the English toffee tea - mmm!

What is your favourite tea?  Do you ever go to David's Tea?

Monday, February 19, 2018

Long Weekend

Since we stayed in for both our anniversary and Valentine's day, we decided to go out on Saturday evening for a little date night.  Sticking with our theme of firsts, we went to the first restaurant we dined at together - Korea House.

In the past couple of weeks we've eaten at more restaurants than we usually do, including Fomoso, which wasn't very good:

And Bushwakker last night to share a pizza before Christopher played a show at Revival Music Room, an awesome music venue.

This was both his and the guitarist's last show with the band.

They are moving on to do their own things, and Christopher was super pumped to get some new music started in the basement today. We went out shopping on Saturday and picked out a bass guitar for him (the one he was using in the band was borrowed), and he's been loving playing it and already has a couple songs almost fully written for a new project he's been experimenting with.

We had a tonne of fun at the show last night, and also got to visit a bit with Christopher's parents, and our friends Jeff and Alaina who came out to catch the last gig.

In other news, we tried a delicious new pasta recipe recently, rigatoni with sausage and fennel.

It's a recipe we'll hang on to and make again.  Other recent eats include spaghetti with puttanesca meat sauce:

Rice, acorn squash, pork chops and apple sauce for dipping:

Potato soup with biscuits:

Asian noodles:

Salmon and loads of veggies:

Workday breakfasts have looked like this ...

Today is the Family Day holiday in Saskatchewan, so we have been enjoying the day off.  I have the rest of the week off too, and plan to get a lot done around the house.

I'll be back tomorrow to tell you a bit more about our long weekend!

How was your weekend?  What have you been cooking lately?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Our Valentine's Day

When Christopher and I first started dating he invited me over for dinner.  He had rolled up some sushi and served it with kimchi, which he knew was my favourite.  I had told him that I was trying to learn to like smoked oysters, so he served some of those too, as well as seaweed and tea.  We had dumplings to start.  I was already smitten with him, but this definitely had me even more intrigued.

Since this was the first meal he ever made me, we thought it would be fun to replicate it for our Valentine's dinner.  We cheated and picked up the sushi from a restaurant, as we wanted more time to just hang out.  It was fun to re-do this dinner that brings back so many fond memories for us.

I remember Christopher putting on Jill Barber's Chances disc (so romantic), and then we danced in the kitchen, and he promised that we would always dance in the kitchen together ... forever.

Did you celebrate Valentine's day?  What did you do?
It's almost the weekend - any plans?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Third Anniversary

Three years ago we secretly got hitched!  For our first anniversary we enjoyed dinner exactly where we said our vows.  For our second anniversary we went to our favourite restaurant in town, which is now unfortunately closed.  This year we decided to stay in and cook the first dinner that we ever enjoyed together, back in 2012.

We started with a few cheeses as a little snack, while watching Jeopardy.

The cheeses are from Takeaway Gourmet, a wonderful little shop in the Cathedral area.

Dinner was maple-glazed, pepper-crusted salmon, sweet potatoes, and salad.  When we first cooked this meal together we BBQd it, but that was in the spring, and since it's winter now, we replicated this meal in the oven.

Dessert that first meal together was chocolate, vanilla bean pear crumble.  I made it again this evening, with a scoop of ice cream on the side.

Each year we pick out something together that fits with the traditional anniversary gift themes ... paper, cotton, and this year it's leather.  Our gift to ourselves is ordered, and I'll post a pic when it arrives in the mail. 

We have another little at-home celebration for Valentine's day tomorrow, and then on Saturday evening we're having a date night out on the town!

Do you have any anniversary traditions?  
How is your week going so far?