Category Archives: Food & Drink

Importance of sorts

Thursday evening I prepared THIS meal with Bumblebee.

Okayyyy it’s pretty obvious that she realllly can’t jump in and assist me just yet, BUT I feel that she does truly enjoy hearing and watching us bounce around our kitchen space chattering and singing to her in silly little voices and making funny facial expressions. Most of the time she sits smiling watching us, or chews on her Very Hungry Caterpillar or hands (hehehe).

We try to explain what we’re making and the importance of fresh healthy ingredients.

We want her to grow up knowing how to cook and not be afraid or shy away from wild ingredients like foie gras, pink peppercorns, Korean or Thai peppers, or even smoked sea salt. (wait…are those ingredients considered wild??)

Together we’re striving to impress upon her the importance of good locally grown food, pairing a nice glass of wine with a meal, taking and making time with family and friends as we do Thursday evenings to relax, enjoy and eat together. Most of all to savor this short sweet life we’re all so blessed to live.

This dinner was almost too good for words! Seriously! It was SO simple and has to be one of the best weeknight meals that’s been served at our table. Oh boy, the gravy was so savory! The meat literally melts in your mouth and also makes your entire home smell all homey and delicious!

Slow cooker Balsamic Rosemary Beef Chuck Roast

(Should serve 4 comfortably with other sides of course)

Ingredients:
4 lb Beef Chuck Roast
1/2 Tsp Better than Bouillon Beef Base
4 oz Hot water
1/2 Cup Balsamic vinegar
2 Fresh rosemary sprigs
2 Bay leaves
1/2 Yellow onion, cut in half
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 Large cloves of garlic, minced

Gravy:
All purpose flour to get a thick gravy consistency
2 Tbls Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste (you’ll need it if you’re salt and pepper hounds like we are)

Instructions:

Slice the chuck roast meat into nice stew-like cuts.

In slow cooker combine the sliced meat, beef stock, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, rosemary sprigs, bay leaves, onion and minced garlic and stir/ mix by hands to coat everything nicely.

Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or if in a pinch on high for 4-6 hours. (The goal is to slow cook the meat until it melts in your mouth)

Once meat is cooked, use tongs to remove the meat into a separate bowl. Remove and discard the rosemary sprigs and the bay leaves.

In another separate bowl, add flour and slowly mix in about 2 1/2 Cups of the cooking liquid from the slow cooker until it’s smooth. (Be cautious because hot liquid and flour like to make lumpy gravy).

Next microwave until the flour mixture thickens, it’s about 1 minute. Once it’s a nice thick looking paste, whisk that into the remaining slow cooker liquid to create the gravy.

Taste and adjust any seasonings / add in another 2 Tbls of balsamic vinegar if desired, or needed for more flavor.

Return beef back to the slow cooker and stir to coat everything.

This pairs wonderfully with baked potatoes or rice. Don’t forget a nice tall glass of red too!

We served with baked potatoes, creamed spinach, freshly baked homemade pesto pine nut bread and garden salads. Mmmm!

Backpackbees

A love language of dinner and vino

We’ve said it before, but will say it again, our love language is sharing food with our family and good friends. There is nothing like eating delicious home cooked food and sipping on a glass of vino!

Over the past two weeks we’ve entertained a new friend visiting from Thailand, and we hosted a low-key vino night, who doesn’t like an excuse to bust out the cheese board and pop open the vino with good friends?!

Gahhhh we we’re sooooo in our happy place!

Backpackbees

Homemade Pizza

Homemade pizza is pretty amazing stuff. The very best part about homemade pizza is getting to be as creative as you’d like. Am I right? I love the endless amounts of combinations and flavors that everyone brings to the table. Me, I’m a HUGE veggieholic and could pile on the cheese, mushrooms, peppers, onions, olives, brocoli, etc. just give me all the vegetables! Mr. B loves stacking his pizza with meat, more meat and anchovies. Although, I must admit it took me awhile to get use to his salt-lick slices of pizza, but I eat it now ha-ha!

This is my go to crust recipe…it ALWAYS turns out tasty and has been a trusty keeper. If you try it for yourself, let us know what you think.

This past week on family/neighbor dinner night we made homemade pizza and topped one with cheese, homemade meatballs, sun-dried tomatoes, and mushrooms.

The other pizza, per our guest request, was topped with cheese, jalapeños and pepperoni. We paired the two pizzas with a big Greek salad and a nice glass of red.

I adore and look forward to these evenings dinners in with our neighbors, what a treasure. The weather was beautiful and not too terribly hot, a nice little breeze floating through our windows. Bumblebee was hammin’ it up, per her usual, making all sorts of friends with anyone in her line of sight, mowing down on her fist… I just love my little family!

Backpackbees

Wedding Anniversary

Wowie! June is just the month of celebrations!! I love it!!

So what all are we celebrating this month? (Glad you asked)
Our 9 year wedding anniversary…. Seriously, 9 years?!
A birthday for Mr. B… Oh la la
A first Father’s Day for Mr. B…. Eek!! ((I cannot wait!!)

So yeah, I’ve got some catching up to do since I’ve already posted on the fun birthday celebration we had this past week. Apologies for the radio silence on the blog the past few weeks. We’ve just been living life over here.

(belatedly written via this blog) 9 YEARSSSS!!! Goodness….we sure have come so far in these past few years of marriage.

In the morning our dear neighbor dropped off a gift on our doorstep with the sweetest card. Mr. B arrived after work with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers in hand! I’m still swooning over that sunflower!

Later that evening we celebrated our special day with our bumblebee at home. We dined on a fabulous sous vide feast of surf and turf, couscous and broccoli. Mmmmm! It was quiet, quaint and so very special.

Happy anniversary Beebs! To many more healthy and happy years spent with the two of you. Cheers!

Backpackbees

Birthday Celebration

Mr. B puts a limit on the amount of fuss and pizazz that I get to make over his special day, his birthday. He’s not one for parties, no dragging out the celebration, no telling the waitress while out at dinner (trust me…past experience he never lets me live down). His birthday request, celebrate one day, at home, a good home cooked meal, a favorite adult beverage (or a few) and his once a year praline ice-cream cake.

To me I feel that your birthday needs to be fussed about and you HAVE to drag it for at the minimum of a week, because come onnnnnn, it’s YOUR special day! Celebrate!!

So per his request last week we celebrated at home one evening with a good friend, delicious grilled rib eye steaks, foie gras, buttery scallops, hand cut French fries, a tomato cucumber salad with vinaigrette andddd of course his praline ice-cream cake. Mmmm-Mmmm!

Happy Birthday Mr. B. to the best dad and husband bumblebee and I could ever ask for.

Backpackbees

Memorial Day 2016

Unfortunately our freedom today comes at the cost of all our brave fallen men and women lives. Memorial Day is a day dedicated to honoring those past heroes, and is also a day that is often confused with Veterans Day, where we honor our present heroes.

Today had me really thinking about how we are all very guilty of bumbling through life, acting as if all of our tomorrow’s are guaranteed….We Place our eggs in life’s irrelevant baskets, place our happiness in others emotional state/hands thus affecting our day-to-day. We place such a high value on life’s petty things such as, getting social media “likes”, or money. But why? So since days like Memorial Day are really good in your face reminders telling and showing us that our tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, please make sure to take some extra time and truly reflect on this day and send an extra thank you upstairs to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and given us the opportunities of today and possibilities of our tomorrow’s.

Memorial Day has always been pegged as the “unofficial summer start”. Calendars show that the true summer season doesn’t actually arrive until later, however our warm Korean weather has been serenading us with a sweet summer song, plus kiddos are just as the cusp of breaking out of school and anywho like we all don’t need an excuse to get out and grill good food, and wear our patriotic pride colors!

Just because we’re in Korea doesn’t mean that we aren’t festive too! We try to uphold picnic and holiday traditions, just on a smaller scale. For our mini Memorial Day picnic feast, I prepared Mr. B’s Aunt Gail deliciously famous macaroni salad, the Mr. grilled a variety of big ol’ sausages and we slathered them with Coleman’s mustard, we munched on my grandmas homemade pickle recipe, and enjoyed the non-traditional side of Armenian eggplant clavier (we’re just a teeny bit obsessed). Dessert was honey pound cake topped with fresh vanilla whipped cream and local strawberries (But guess what? Our bellies were so full, we had to save them for tomorrow.)

Poor bumblebee….just a tall order of milk for now, lol!

^Cannot resist those baby belly buttons and leg rolls!

‘Merica! Love from the Bees!

Backpackbees

Blueberry Coffee Cake

A friend recently mentioned in passing that my photos used to be mostly foods we cooked or baked and hasn’t been lately, but with good reason, and she missed reading about it. (Admittedly bumblebees photos filled my entire iPhone and I need to clear space now). This post is for you Leibe!

It does seem like ages the last time I REALLY got to sink my hands and teeth into something I baked out of our kitchen. Yes, yes I’ve baked oatmeal cookies almost weekly now…but I mean really baked something with the kitchenAid and all! So I found myself jonesing one Sunday morning and took advantage of the “free-time” and whipped up the most scrumptious Dahlia Bakery’s sour cream coffee cake (so kindly introduced to me by our dearly missed friends).

Imagine a nice thick blueberry sour cream coffee cake topped with just an irresistible cinnamony crunchy streusel topping. OKAY! Now STOP imagining and go bake it!

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Streusel
Serves 12
Recipe from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

Ingredients:

Streusel:
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter

Cake:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 cups berries (blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries)

Directions:
Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9×13 pan and set aside.

Make the streusel: combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Dice the cold butter, add it to the mixture, and blend with your fingers until crumbly. Set aside.
Make the cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda into a bowl, and set aside. In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each and scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in the sour cream, vanilla, and salt. Add the dry ingredients a third at a time, mixing until just blended. Fold in the berries.

Scrape the batter into the pan and spread it evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle the streusel over the top.

Bake 45-50 minutes, until a tester comes out mostly clean. Cool in the pan in a wire rack.

Backpackbees

Crabby Patties

Whooooo lives in a pineapple under the seaaaa??! Hahah sorry couldn’t resist. Did I get that song stuck in your head too?

Crab cakes. Right. Back on topic.

Crab cakes transport me right to the summers at beach with my dad and stepmom. Some of the best memories I have are those days we spent endlessly soaking in the sun, listening to the ocean waves crash on the beach. Ahhhh…. I can practically smell the sea-salt in the air!

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to join them on summer vacations these past few years while we’ve been living in Korea. I have offered the nice “tropical” beaches of Korea to them for a change-up… But… Still no dice. I wonder why?? Lol!

Anywho these memories call for margaritas and homemade crab cakes! Gosh I just love crab cakes! (Fun fact about me: I used to eat broiled crab cakes almost every Friday night, with a side of macaroni and cheese, when I worked at a Social Club during college.)

I went through our Paprika app (by the way have you guys tried that app?! It’s awesome to keep those recipes all organized, and helps you build grocery list. Plus the Mr. and I can access on ALL of our electronics!) and found a crab cake recipe a friend passed onto me sometime ago. I’m not certain where it came from, but I did slightly adjust it to more of our taste.

Let’s get cooking!

Crabby Patties:

1 pound lump crab meat drained
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1 white onion, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, plus additional for dredging
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons mustard powder
1 teaspoon Blacken by Old Bay
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Lemon wedges, for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the crab cakes, combine crab meat, bell peppers, and onions in a large bowl. Add all of the remaining ingredients and mix gently until well-combined. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop crab mixture and form patties with your hands. Dredge the cakes in panko breadcrumbs until completely covered. Place the cakes on a sheet-pan chill until ready to cook.

Bake the crab cakes at 350 for 25 minutes. You want the internal temperature to reach 165F.

Backpackbees

Weekday Dinner Spontaneity

Welcome to South Korea! We’re halfway through May and it’s practically Summer already. The the temperatures are holding steadily in the lower to mid 70’s. Hey, I’m not complaining about the gorgeous afternoons that I get to share with my bumblebee outside. Nope, I know that all to soon the monsoon season will be upon us. I know! I had to bring it up…complete BLASPHEMY! So you’ve got to squeeze every single sunray out of each day. We decided the other evening for dinner to “grill out” (funny little fact: we don’t own an actual grill, lol) with our neighbor was in order!

Hey, isn’t this is what life is all about!? Spontaneity!! Or at least it calls for homemade spirilized French fries, homemade burgers, homemade bread and butter pickles, and homemade pickled eggs and red beets. Hands down worth the effort in the end! Oh! Don’t forget the cutest little petite roses to set in the center of it all too.

Holy cow I just love our little life! (prepare yourself for food envy and a photo dump)

Backpackbees

Click, Ship & treat yourself!

Product Review: Purely Elizabeth Probiotic Granola

Good morning! Up and at em’ let’s kick it off with a product review of Purely Elizabeth’s Maple Walnut Probiotic Granola.

The flavor was great! The texture was great! Ohhh and the crunch was great too! Sweet but not too sweet, salty but not too salty, oaty… well you get the point. Everything I look for in granola I found! It was tasty just munching straight out of the bag, or getting a bit crazy like I did and throwing a serving on top with my Rice Krispy cereal, banana and Silk coconut milk this morning. MmmmmMmmm!

So why did I order THIS specific granola? I’m always on the hunt for healthy choices and this little granola claimed to foot the bill. It’s incredibly hard to find products that truly are healthier choices and not just claiming to be. You can pronounce and recognize basically all of the ingredients, again how rare is that?

For instance, instead of typical organic cane sugar, Purely Elizabeth contains organic coconut palm sugar, a considerably healthier sugar, as well as coconut oil too. I felt like the ingredients spoke volumes….take a look for yourself!

“Organic Gluten Free Oats, Organic Coconut Palm Sugar, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Walnuts, Organic Maple Syrup, Sunflower Seeds, Organic Puffed Amaranth, Organic Chia Seeds, Organic Quinoa Flakes, Organic Millet Flakes, Natural Flavor, Cinnamon, Sea Salt, Probiotic Cultures (Organic Inulin, Palm Oil, Bacillus ans GBI-30 6086).”

Since becoming pregnant I’m really mindful of what I’m putting into my body because I know what I’m ingesting essentially our bumblebee is too. Also, before moving to Korea, I had some serious stomach issues. All sorts of foods irritated my stomach to include some forms of dairy. I was pretty much plagued with an ongoing nightly upset stomach, sometimes even getting physically ill. Most of my issues have since gone, occasionally I do have an issue, however I really feel it was a change in my food and lifestyle. Korean food culture staples are fermented foods. Kimchi and other fermented foods have probiotic lactic acid bacteria (LAB), the good little gut fighters! So it wasn’t even a question adding a little extra help to my daily routine with my morning granola. Bring on those healthy probiotics!!

Oh…wait…did you catch that last statement? Probiotics! YES! This granola made with GanedenBC30. The site says, “It’s a Non-GMO, vegan strain of probiotics.” Why all the fuss? Well, “GanedenBC30 a strain of probiotic that survives the baking process, due to its protective spore. Once the probiotics hit your gut, where the moisture level and temperature are just right, the probiotics work their magic!” How awesome is that?!

Not keen on maple? Don’t worry! Other flavor options with probiotics are CHOCOLATE SEA SALT. I’m not really a chocolate person, (GASP), so I didn’t order. However, If you are not looking for probiotics, but just a great granola, they also have the following options available:

::GRAIN-FREE::
BANANA NUT BUTTER
ORIGINAL

::ANCIENT GRAIN GRANOLA::
ORIGINAL ANCIENT GRAIN
BLUEBERRY HEMP
PUMPKIN FIG
CRANBERRY PECAN

There were two downsides to the granola and Purely Elizabeth. One is the serving size. The bag list 1/3 cup at 130 calories as the recommended serving size. After topping off my breakfast bowl and realizing just how delicious the granola was, I wanted moreeeee! Hahaha! What can I say? Mommas gotta eat!!

The other downside was dealing direct with the company Purely Elizabeth. Typically we’re big fans of Amazon Prime because of our location, however the specific probiotic granola I was after wasn’t being sold via Amazon, just other Purely Elizabeth varieties. So I had to place an order from the company direct. I ended up having a hard time ordering because it listed my shipping state as an option initially, only to reject the order at the end. I had to send an email, as well as three follow-up emails to rectify and place the order. I’ll be fair and will mention that once I did finally get a response back and assistance to place the order, it was easy. However…I almost gave up. (Better step up your game Purely Elizabeth!)

Would I order the granola again? While I’m not sure if go directly to the company website and deal with that again…. I’d absolutely go the Amazon route! I’m thinking blueberry hemp and possibly the banana one are calling my name next.

Did you hear that noise in your kitchen? That’s the sound of your breakfast spoon clinking against your soon to be tasty breakfast bowl after you place your order on Amazon Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Granola Variety 3 Pack Original + Cranberry Pecan + Blueberry Hemp
, or take a gamble and deal with the site directly here. Stateside folks also can pop into a local Whole Foods store, or select Target and grab some up too (lucky ducks).

What are your favorite granola brands? Do you have any crazy concoctions you’d like to share with us?

Backpackbees