Category Archives: Sit-Down Dining

Scrumdiddlyumptious

Another summer slow cooker meal coming at ‘cha. Scrumdiddlyumptious slow cooker salisbury steak! Say THAT 5 times fast…. Whew!

Salisbury steak makes me think back to the Kid cuisine frozen meals from childhood. Do you remember those? The brownies….mini corn on the cob…You might be rolling your eyes at the mention of a frozen meal, but hey let’s be real here, we were 90s kids growing up in America, we ate them occasionally, along with Gushers, DunkAroos, Sunny Delight, and Fruit By The Foot. Talk about things that rocked our jean jacket and jellies off and was total bliss in the eyes of a 90s kid! Blast from the past, huh?

Whatever would make me want to recreate a frozen meal you ask? Possibly nostalgia? Possibly part curiosity of the taste as an adult? I’m really not sure? Whatever the case, I’m salivating thinking back on the smells that wafted through our home when these little guys were simmering away in the slow cooker. Mmmmm just imagine the combination of beef, mushrooms, onions and that au jus mix magic!

We served the salisbury with a nice fresh head of locally grown broccoli, herbed stuffing, and sous vide black truffle pomme purée. It seriously turned from a good ‘ol central Pennsylvania go to frozen dinner classic to a simply gorgeous meal with minimal effort (….minus the black truffle pomme purée).

You guys…. It was GOOD! Sooooo good! I swear all that was missing was a sisterly fight over what we were watching next, Rocko’s Modern Life or The Fresh Prince….

Enjoy the blast from the past!

Slow Cooker Salisbury Steak
Recipe source slightly altered from Here

Ingredients:

1.39lbs Lean ground beef
1 (1 ounce) Envelope dry onion soup mix
4 Tbls Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tbls Lactose free milk
2 Tbls All-purpose flour
1 Tbls Safflower oil
1 (10.75 ounce) Can of condensed cream of chicken soup (low sodium)
1/2 of Packet dry au jus mix
3/4 Cup Better than chicken bouillon broth
Hand full of mushrooms, sliced
Pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, onion soup mix, bread crumbs, and milk using your hands. Shape into 8 patties.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Dredge the patties in flour just to coat, and quickly brown on both sides in the hot skillet.

Place browned patties into the slow cooker stacking alternately like a pyramid.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cream of chicken soup, au jus mix, and chicken broth. Throw in chopped mushrooms.

Pour mixture over the meat. Cook on the Low setting for 4 or 5 hours, until ground beef is well done.

Backpackbees

On Summer Evenings

One of the things I adore the most about the summer months is just how simplistic it is throwing together “hors d’oeuvres” and calling/ texting up friends for a casual night of entertaining.

We try to fill our weekend summer evenings all gathered around the table with our little family and friends, a good bottle of vino, an assortment of cheeses, some meat, crackers, dips, fruit, nuts… you get the idea… We had a hoot arranging it on a great big ‘ol inherited Fiestawear platter dish or wooden cheese board that my grandfather made us. We light some votive candles and sit back enjoying good belly laughs while sharing stories and the music playing softly in the background. It’s a fun little tradition I hope we continue to uphold and bumblebee grows up remembering!

^ NEW FAVORITE TORTILA CHIP!! Spicy Sriracha soooo addicting!

Cheers summer weekends! Cheers!

Backpackbees

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

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!

Yammy & BarbeCooks

We’ve lived and traveled all over the US and have tasted many platters of BBQ. Pulled pork, beef brisket, chicken, homemade smoked sausage, southern style, northern style, mid-western style, heck even Korean style, we’ve sought after and love them all for different delicious reasons.

When I sit and think about the BBQ culture in America the thoughts that come to my mind immediately are that American-style BBQ isn’t just about chucking a hunk of meat on a grill, only then to remove a few moments later. No, American-style BBQ is a prideful, timely, and passionate involved cuisine. We will take the time to smoke our cuts of meats over heat from hand selected seasoned woods and special charcoals to creating a perfect fire for that perfect amount of time, all just to get that perfect end result of BBQ. And when all of these factors are done just so, oh how incredible that end result is.

The owners of a new American style BBQ joint were just getting the restaurant ready, days before their grand opening, when they approached us while we were on an evening walk. They wanted to say hello and invite us to try out their BBQ on opening night. We were surprised and pleased by their openness to approach foreigners like that. (Thank you!) However after tasting many disappointing “Americanized” dish attempts served in Korean restaurants, we initially wondered just how “Americanized” the BBQ would really be? Perhaps it was our curiosity, or wanting to support a local friendly family business owner, whatever the case, when Yammy BarbeCooks officially opened their doors only a few steps away from our own, we thought why not? Let’s give it a go!

Have a hankering for BBQ chicken, or pork ribs? Maybe you are craving the sides like macaroni salad, potato salad, baked beans, or even the little buttery buns you get when you pop your bum down at a BBQ joint. Yammy & BarbeCooks has all of that and then some, to include off the wall additions like, chicken fried rice, shrimp fried rice, combination fried rice, oh and a fresh fruit salad too.

We’ve ordered the BBQ chicken platter and went back and ordered the Yammy platter. We were blown away! The portions were plentiful, you could see and taste the high quality ingredients used, and overall the meal was very decently priced.

The Yammy platter meats includes BBQ chicken, ribs, hot dogs, kielbasa, and little flank steaks.

The sauce that smothers the moist BBQ meat is perfect and packs a bit of heat in each bite (but not too hot). You pick up on a bit of bay leaf flavoring throughout too. Pure perfection!

Both platters also came served with side dishes that are not to be missed. From the perfectly crisp french fries, to the mashed potato salad, the macaroni salad, sweet little pickles, buttery little toasted buns, and perfectly grilled hot dogs.. Mmmhmmmmm. Try them all! Seriously!

The staff is super friendly and incredibly helpful! They are all family and make you feel welcomed and part of their family immediately upon entering. The restaurant is very clean and has an awesome at home in your dining room atmosphere vibe going on from inside, to the large outside wooden deck, where the vibe is like being at your neighbors grilling out on their deck.

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Backpackbees

Charlie’s Wok

Typically I brown bag it everyday at work, however a building mate asked me if I’d like to join him for lunch nearby at a friends restaurant. Although my peanut-butter, banana, topped off with local honey on whole wheat sounded very satisfying, lol, I said sure!

So we went to Charlie’s Wok, an American Chinese restaurant, where I was introduced the main man himself, Charlie.

The restaurant is located off the Main Street and tucked away in an alley near the Bosan subway station and US Army installation Camp Casey. When we pulled up to park, I quickly realized why I had never seen the restaurant before, it was because of the discreet location.

Don’t let the unassuming exterior and location fool you, once we stepped inside my nose immediately told my belly that I was in for a treat. I learned that the food is always freshly made after you order, so be prepared for a bit of wait. You do have the option to place a take out order, as well as call ahead to place your order to eat dine in. If Charlie isn’t available, the restaurant does not open, it is a one man wok show. You see the pride Charlie takes in his food quality, the prices are very reasonable and you are served generous portions.

^
I ordered a 2 entrée combo meal because I couldn’t decide between the beef with broccoli, and General Tso’s chicken. With the combo you also decide if you’d like fried rice, or chow mien. I ordered chow mien based off of recommendation. The recommendation was spot on!

^Building mate’s garlic chicken and General Tso’s chicken

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Overall, I was pleasantly pleased with my order. The menu offers a small variety of standard Chinese American staple choices and price points. Sure, this isn’t a gourmet 5 star restaurant, but it definitely is a great little neighborhood find!

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Enjoy!

Give Charlie a call! 031-866-8656

Backpackbees

Weekending and Côte Jardin

Over the weekend we had some appointments are errands to run in Seoul, so we made an entire day of it and met up with some of our very good friends.

We took them to a small cozy French café and bistro, Côte Jardin, located off and away from the main street in Itaewon.

This was the second time we have dined at the bistro and what brought us back was the romantic yet casual vibe, the very attentive staff (each visit the management has struck up a conversation with us and you can just feel their passion for their customers and business) and of course the delicious French cuisine!

On this trip, Ms. B ordered the burger for the second time, not a typical move on her part. The rest of the table was so convinced with her past experience, wouldn’t you know that they too followed suit. (Eek! Pressure was on!)

Yes, we DO realize that not many people would associate the French cuisine with a “burger”, but to us, this bistro certainly trophied the burger points on the scorecard for the French! They made their country proud!

So the burger… It was a bit different from the first time we had visited, however the basis of the burger, a mixture of lamb and beef combination, still shone through with its distinctive taste.

The first burger featured mushrooms, beet root, and bechamel cheese very creatively. (Photo on Instagram)

This time the burger was a bit more traditional with a nice cut of bacon, fresh lettuce, tomato, onion, topped with ground mustard sauce, and cheese. Délicieux!

This was the second time that we ordered the French onion soup as well. Mmmmmm… One can never go wrong on a very cold day with slowly cooked, caramelised onions that are both mellow and sweet in the perfect broth, topped off with a crusty bread and thick melted cheese.

Côte Jardin is the quintessential combination of offering a fantastic menu, paired with excellent wines, a caring staff, affordable prices and a personal, inviting, charming environment.

Address: 131-23 Itaewon Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Phone: 02-793-507
Website: Here

Backpackbees

South Korea’s mysterious island- Ulleungdo

How was your 4th of July? Did you get to celebrate with a good ol’ cookout? Take in the local fireworks display? We hope it was possibly your best one yet!

We didn’t do a typical Independence Day celebration this year, but then again are we ever doing the typical over here? Nah… But boy did I miss me some grilled cheeseburgers, bratwurst, and fresh corn on the cob, oh and our families too! Thursday evening right after work we grabbed some snacks and hit the road south to meet up with our friends at a ferry port. We purchased ferry tickets to visit the island of Ulleungdo and Dokdo. These islands are located off the coast of Korea have been on my bucket list since moving abroad. Yippee I get to now cross them off! I love getting to cross things off my list!

Friday morning we woke up early, ate our Korean breakfast consisting of a rice porridge, kimchi, fresh tomatoes, and coffee. Lol…of course we tried it, but as you know there are just something’s you can never shake…mine is an American style breakfast. I opted for yogurt, a banana, and coffee.

We boarded the ferry that took us 3 1/2 hours to reach the island of Ulleungdo. Here is a link to see more about the island. http://wikitravel.org/en/Ulleungdo

Grab the Google map coordinates HERE.

ulleungdo_map1

The island was absolutely beautiful! We loved how preserved and untapped it still is! There is hardly any industry, except for tourist and fishing. However even with the tourist there isn’t a ton of large luxury hotels eating up the land. The water was so clean, so blue, the air was so fresh, and the land was so lush and so green! I really had to keep pinching myself to remind myself that we were still in Korea. It was just that breathtaking.

Just check out the views from our hotel!

^We ate this yogurt every morning during our stay at the hotel. There wasn’t any western style breakfast so this did the trick for about half of an hour. LOL!

We rented a large passenger van and cruised around the one main “highway” stopping off at all the little must see marks on the map from our car rental guy. It’s really easy to travel to all the locations, park, and walk. You honestly could do the island in one day if you rushed it, but we took our time, plus we had the entire weekend.

The guys got in some dives and were really excited about the clarity of the water and just how much sea life there was. Mr. B is already putting together a fun dive trip for the 38th Parallel divers. Something to stay tuned in for.

One morning we took another ferry, another hour and 40 minutes to Dokdo island. Here is the link http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264142 . The really awesome history about Dokdo is that Korea is constantly fighting with Japan over it, and still is. Japan has even wrote in history books that they teach their children that the island is theirs.. But Korea unfairly took it….but it’s not the case, and they found historical documents showing otherwise. While it is rather close to Japan, Japan would love to have it for the fishing rights. It’s pretty interesting. Oh and Korea has one resident living on the island. Also Korea is manning the island with stationed Korean police.

The ferry ride seemed much longer because we ended up cruising over two fishing nets that got wrapped up inside of the propellers. Oops. They did a number on the boat because it delayed our trip significantly. In the end they couldn’t cut away all of it and decided they needed to service it once we docked back on Ulleungdo. I felt sorry for the group leaving Ulleungdo that night that was scheduled on that very boat.

I think the a-ha moment was when someone decided to take a smoke break in the restrooms and the smoke detectors went off. I just sat looking up waited for the overhead sprinklers to kick on, luckily they didn’t. I’m not sure where the disconnect was with the passenger and all the signs posted in Korean not to smoke, smoke free vessel, etc. Eh…. I guess sometimes the struggle is that real.

We were nervous because the day we took the ferry to Dokdo island the waves were larger and there was the possibility we wouldn’t be able to dock on the island to get our chance to set foot on it. Thankfully we were able to dock and had some time to snap a few photos. It was really neat!

We met an older Korean gentleman, actually two different ones. Both such characters absolutely worth notating for future memories. The one worked on the ferry and kept a personal log book of guest he’s spoke with, said hello, blessed. He insisted we sign his log book and that we tell him where we were from in the states, after responding he proceeded to give us many thumbs up. We felt loved nonetheless. The other character sought us out while in line awaiting to board the boat back to mainland Korea. He handed us his business card and stayed he wanted us to return back to the island in August for a 5k that we could run or walk, all expenses paid. This man meant business and stood there wanting confirmation with guarantee we were coming. Sweet man. He then pulled us out of line insisting we get a photo with him in front of the boat, again posing with the thumbs up. Lol, I see a pattern here… So we got the photo, he seemed happy, but then later pulled just the two men out for a photo. It was harmless, but the joke was that our faces were now going to be on some Korean noodle restaurant sign that endorses just how delicious the noodles are. Do us a favor and keep your eyes peeled for us if ever in Korea. So that wasn’t the last of him, once on the boat he then purchased us all cold canned coffees and passed them out to our group. Too kind!

Fortunately and unfortunately, MERS the Middle East respiratory syndrome, has really made a dent in the tourism for Korea. Its made for some pretty fantastic advantages for travelers such as less people and discounted prices at some attractions. Almost all the attractions on the island were empty and we almost always had a discounted price.

The entire time we were on the island we ate what the locals ate, mostly seafood. Honghapbap-mussels with steamed rice, haemulcheon- seafood/green onion fried pancakes, sanchae bibimbap, ojing-eo bulgogi -squid grilled at the table with vegetables and hot pepper sauce. We tried the local flower shrimp, chicken shrimp, tiger beef, and frequented and befriended a local coffee shop.

The shrimp was out of this world! We were blown away by the taste and the fact they were only boiled. No old bay seasoning here folks. We would have ate sooooo much more, probably our weight in shrimp, but at 80,000 won a kilo…. Eek…bit pricey.

The tiger beef was outstanding as well! Again pricey coming out at 100,000 won per couple, we had three couples. But where else are you going to get to sink your teeth into a local delicacy like the island tiger beef? Nowhere but Ulleungdo so you just have to do it once.

The coffee shop was fantastic! The owner so nice and had excellent taste with his quality of bean choice. We highly recommend getting a nice treat there after a meal. Try the waffle, trust us it will not disappoint!

All and all the trip was wonderful and getting to pal around on the island with some good friends made the trip that much more! So if you find yourself needing to get away from Korea without getting to far away, check out the mysterious island of Ulleungdo.

Backpackbees

More helpful information about traveling to Ulleungdo Island:

Tourism Information Here

Our Hotel Information:
Ulleung Daea Resort
Phone: +82-54-791-8800
LINK

Picnicking in Paris

I remember the moment we were driving into the city from the airport and I was getting glimpses of the Iron lady standing proudly as we zipped off to our hotel. I started to get teary eyed because I couldn’t believe that moment was real, I was seeing the Eiffel tower in person!! Lol then I noticed the big ball hanging from the center of the tower for the French open. (Mr. B the comedian refers to this ball as the “truck nuts”.) Regardless those glimpses were so enchanting!

The morning of our anniversary we woke up and enjoyed drinks at a local sidewalk cafe. It was lovely just taking our time, enjoying the perfect springy weather with no real rush in our schedule.

From there we leisurely strolled to the Eiffel Tower to purchase our tickets and climb up the steps. Luckily we went early enough there was essentially no line, nor wait. Tip: If you can, take the steps! It’s an awesome workout to all the French food you know you’ve been pounding during your stay, the views are just incredible, plus you can save a few euros too!

We ascended up until we couldn’t anymore. From that point we took an elevator, got out looked around on the first observation deck, than took another elevator to the very top. When the elevator doors opened, I think I recall having to pick up my mouth up from the floor. Again…. These views! Magical!!

After our crazy hike up the tower, we strolled to a near by market and grabbed some goodies (Baguette, wine and macaroons)for a picnic to continue with the celebration of our wedding anniversary. I come from a long family history of picnickers. In fact, my grandmother would put together what I remember as a little girl, some rather lavished picnics and tea parties. So you can say there is something about a picnic that just makes my heart happy. I knew as cheesy as it might sound, when we were going to Paris, we had to picnic under the Eiffel!

Looking at these pictures again takes me away and makes me feel like it was only yesterday that I was lying under the tower on a beautiful spring day enjoying a delicious picnic at the Parc du Champs de Mars (Park of the Field of Mars) with the Man of my dreams. Someone please pinch me, I need to snap back to reality….

Later that evening after dinner we made it a point to stroll back to the park near the tower, watch the sunset and catch the evening show of the tower sparkling. We snagged a park bench to ourselves, people watched, avoided eye contact with the wine and selfie-stick peddlers, and enjoyed just being in that very moment together. Cheers Mr. B!

Backpackbees

Website: Eiffel Tower
Cost: Here
Schedule:
from 9 a.m. to midnight from mid-June to early September,
from 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. during the rest of the year,
At Easter weekend and during the Spring holidays extended opening hours to midnight.