Thursday, December 20, 2012

Korean Beef Tacos in the Crockpot!

Wow, this weather is crazy lately, no?

Somehow we have escaped the clutches of Winter Storm Draco (raise your hands if your mind immediately went to Harry Potter) here in MN. Hubs and I, unfortunately, will have to charge into the aftermath of the storm tomorrow as we head to Wisconsin to see family for Christmas.

Anyway, in the clutches of cold cold winter, what better to eat than something that has been slowly roasting away in it's own deliciousness all day in the crockpot?

Nothing is better, to answer my own question.

Especially if that something is Korean beef tacos!

Yay Pinterest and finding a great new recipe to celebrate and modernize my mom's cooking!!

I was mostly intrigued because of the cucumber slaw. It's a really simple dish, one that Momma Shin makes pretty often, and one that Hubbles goes a little coo-coo over. He really lurves this cucumber dish.

Along with the added advantage of having a crockpot do most of the work for me, it was time to give it a whirl!

In typical me-fashion, I edited the recipe as I went along. It calls for either short ribs or back ribs. I went with chuck roast, because I've had some spotty luck with roasts, and ribs are 'spensive, yo!

In the morning, all I did was put the sauce together and set the roast going. It said to put in ginger. I did so hesitantly. Not a huge fan of ginger. (It turned out to be delicious, so no worries!)

 I was mollified because this is also a garlicky recipe. YAAAAY GARLIC!! Sauce made, dumped over roast in crockpot, set to low, DONE.

This is what I came home to in the evening. OH MY.

The rest of the meal comes together pretty quickly. I started with the cucumber topping. Thanks to Mom, I've some expertise in making this.

Hothouse seedless cukes. Whatever you have on hand is probs fine. I prefer these because I'm not a fan of seeds. Pickling cukes work too, but where do you find them in the winter?

The trick, here, is this. Look carefully. Salt! I sprinkle a generous dose of salt over the sliced cucumbers, toss it evenly, then let it sit for at least 20 minutes. The salt does double duty. It seasons the dish, and draws out a lot of the unnecessary moisture from the cucumbers. Just drain the excess water after 20 min and you're set!

Add the rest of the seasoning: finely minced garlic, hot pepper flakes, sugar, and vinegar.

After that I just made a taco assembly station on the dining room table and we went nuts!

For some freshness and crunch, taco toppings = bean sprouts and cilantro. If you don't like cilantro, then lettuce probably would be fine. I HEART cilantro. Extra cilantro for me. And sriracha for that extra kick. I took a quiz online and discovered that I am 84% addicted to sriracha. Which doesn't surprise me one bit.

Tada!! So delicious. Unctuous beef, and spicy and pickly and crunchy fresh toppings! I had some extra cucumbers on the side. NOM NOM NOM.

It was a mega-hit. I will definitely be duplicating this in the future.

Merry Christmas everyone! My kitty says so too.

Korean Beef Tacos:

Ingredients (for the beef)

  • chuck roast, 2-2.5 pounds
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1-2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl, then place roast in crockpot and pour sauce over to coat. Set crockpot on "Low" for 8 hours, or "High" for 4 hours. Try not to stay in the house for the cooking duration, the aromas will drive you nuts.

Ingredients (for toppings)
  • 2 hothouse (aka English aka seedless) cucumbers, sliced
  • 3 tbsp (approximately) salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp vinegar (regular or rice is fine)
  • 1 tbsp hot red pepper flakes (I used the Korean extra spicy kind....cuz I like spicy)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • bean sprouts
  • cilantro
  • sriracha (optional, cuz I like spicy)
  1. sprinkle salt over cucumbers in a large bowl and toss to coat evenly. Let sit for 20 minutes, allowing salt to draw moisture out of the cucumbers. Drain excess water.
  2. Add sugar, vinegar, pepper flakes, and garlic and combine.
  3. Wash bean sprouts and cilantro, and assemble tacos.
  4. Enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Twinkle Lights Trolley Ride!

December always means one thing for me. ChristmasTime!

Tis the season to tra-la-la-la-la--la----lley!

Hmm. Trolley.

Anyway, thanks to LivingSocial, Hubs and I got to take a rare Saturday date night last weekend! We bought a deal (Living Social calls them "adventures"...I call them excuses to leave the house) called the "Twinkle Lights Trolley Ride".

I am a nut about holiday lights. I love all things twinkly and sparkly and Christmas-y, and the idea of getting to take a tour on a trolley to see twinkle lights was too much to pass up. Plus it included a cocktail and dessert afterwards!

So off we went!

Place: Great Waters Brewing Company in St. Paul, start and end the Holly Jolly Trolley!

Event: Lots of boozing and sightseeing nighttime twinkle lights!

Hubs and I bought a growler of beer from the pub to take on the trolley. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what a growler is, I have now discovered it is just a hipster word for JUG. We bought a JUG of beer and finished it on the 2 hour tour.

It turned out to be hilarious fun! Everyone on the trolley was in various states of inebriation, the houses we toured took twinkle lights to UBERmode (read: walking tour, costumes, and photo ops with Santa on the front lawn), and our trolley driver Bill even stopped for a potty break so we drunks could finish the tour with class.

Afterwards we rallied to the Great Waters dining room for a cocktail and dessert. I had my first steamy cup of wassail, which it turns out is an alcoholic drink involving cider and spices. Hubby ate his apple crisp, then ate half of my chocolate cake. Never come between my Hubs and a dessert, unless you enjoy being in mortal peril.
The Grinch invades our trolley!
I saw him and screamed SAAANTA!! Like Buddy the Elf. Classy.

1987 Christmas Bear in a display...on someone's lawn. I have the same one!
Photo Op with Santa!!!

Hubby is excited about the Rudolph clay-mation display.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Winter blahs

There's always a bit of seasonal anxiety for me when the weather gets colder each year. On the one hand, I love breaking out the cozy winter clothes, like fluffy sweaters and sassy boots...I also have an unhealthy obsession affinity for chunky knit scarves and hats.

On the other hand, let's keep in mind that I live in Minnesota, land of the great White North. Where it gets colder and snowier and darker than 98% of the rest of the country. This equals a good deal of winter blahs on my part.

Usually I'm not too focused on it. But events have transpired at my lab at school in the past few months, events which amount to moderate technical difficulties in the actual world, but catastrophic impediments to me graduating in grad school world.

I feel like maybe these catastrophes (or me catastrophizing) coupled with the winter blahs have amounted to me feeling less motivated and harumph-y lately.

All this is by way of explaining why I've been immensely absent from the blog-o-sphere as of recent months.

But, I've come to realize that the movie Wedding Crashers has a valuable lesson to share:

Profanity and terrible spelling aside (sorry, it was the only video that included the appropriate sound bite), let's make December the month of Rule #76.

Rule #76: No excuses, play like a champion.

Henceforth, everything will be accomplished (if only for the month) like a champ!! Onward!!

I wonder if playing like a champion includes eating like one. Because over the holidays it will happen.

Hubby and I went out for date night a while back and I took an obligatory food picture because the sheer volume of food was too much to pass up:

Place: Hubby's favorite restaurant, Brasa Rotisserie.

Event: Delicious gluttony.

We purposely ordered lots of food so that we could eat leftovers for lunch. It looked a little much on the table though.

Slow roasted meats and southern-inspired a champion!!