flailing in my kitchen 2.1

How can I be sad when I have breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
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I love poke

August 26, 2022 1:50 PM
Reasons why poke is awesome:

Various bowls of poke ingredients, laid out on the table

Me, grabbing some salmon with chopsticks to put in my poke bowl

Filed under: poke i love food

Cinnamon swirl pancakes

August 23, 2022 12:15 PM

Prior to this entry, I had six posts tagged with "pancakes", and every single one of them has been a savory pancake. But that all changes today! Twice this week I have made your typical breakfast pancakes. In the oven. Can't be too traditional.

I remember when I first saw the recipe for cinnamon swirl oven pancakes close to a year ago, I decided I had to make it. That day. I've actually made this a lot of times in the past, but this is the first time I've taken any pictures.

A large pancake in a baking pan, with a notecard next to it, showing the recipe
It's become one of my go-to recipes!

When I made this pancake earlier in the week, I'll admit I didn't do a very good job. For some reason the batter was super lumpy (I know they say you're supposed to have lumps in it, but this had A LOT of lumps of dry flour). The batter itself was also really thin. I noticed that when I mixed the melted butter with the rest of the wet ingredients, it just solidified again.

And at first, I was just going to leave it at that. I had used up the last of my bag of all purpose flour, and I didn't want to buy another huge bag. But as I was organizing one of my kitchen cabinets, I noticed an expired bag of self rising flour that I got from one of my coworkers at the start of the pandemic.

BEST IF USED BY 1/22/19

Totally fine!

The pancake batter in the pan, before it went in the oven. There is a nice cinnamon pattern to it
Chopsticks are very versatile

The second time, it went a lot better! I actually heated the milk up to room temperature before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients, and I must have done a better job measuring because the batter was more viscous and less lumpy.

I like to double the amount of cinnamon mixture and use white sugar instead of brown for it. When I make the cinnamon swirl, it reminds me of childhood, when I often made box marble cake with my 细姑. The last step before putting the cake in the oven was to pour a chocolate mixture over the batter and run a chopstick through it to make a cool pattern.

The pancake with cinnamon swirl, right after it came out of the oven, with the recipe instructions next to it
If you look really closely, you can find the hole that I created with the chopstick

A closeup of the pancake's cinnamon swirl pattern
I was really happy with this design

These pancakes were much fluffier than my first batch! The only thing that didn't work out so well was that I ran out of vanilla, and I could only use a quarter of what the recipe called for. But that's okay. I had some expired maple syrup that I could pour on my pancakes to give it some extra sweetness.

BEST BY 1/19/19

I mean, maple syrup can't go bad that quickly, right?

A piece of pancake on a plate, with some maple syrup on the side

Despite the questionable expiration dates, it was a very tasty breakfast.


Thai basil stir fry

August 22, 2022 1:55 PM

Whenever I need Thai basil for a dish, I always end up having some left over, so I end up making a stir fry dish using the rest of it. That was my plan with pho. But we actually went through so much basil while we were eating noodles, that I didn't have enough left for a stir fry!

Thai basil also goes bad really really fast, so by the time I wanted to make stir fry, I felt like it was already rotting. But I was committed to making this dish, so I had to buy another bag. I actually went to one of the nearby Asian grocery stores, and when I asked the person working there, they told me they didn't sell Thai basil and to "check Giant Eagle". What?! I know the local Giant Eagle doesn't stock Thai basil, and if they did, they would charge me an arm and a leg.

So I drove to the better Asian grocery store the next day. Okay. I finally had everything I needed.

Thai basil and mint stir fry with chicken, along with two plates of rice
too much shadow D:

This tasted pretty good, but it just seemed like way too much effort for the amount of food it produced. Pulling apart basil and mint leaves is SO tedious. It's worse than chopping!

And the worst part of it all was that I used a really hot red pepper. I think it was a red jalapeno! I didn't realize those could be red! I just thought, oh, this will add some nice color. Nope. Should have gone with a bell pepper. I deseeded the pepper with my bare hands, and then I popped a piece of beef jerky that I was snacking on into my mouth, and it started to BURN. I was still feeling the sting days later. I went to wash my face in the morning, and then my eyes felt it. I could even feel it burning my fingernails as I was trying to pluck my armpit hairs!

ANYWAY, back on to the topic of cooking. I was feeling way too lazy, so I only ended up using half of both bags of leaves. That meant I had enough to make the dish again!

All of the cut veggies and chicken and sauce, in preparation for stir frying it
It looks like so much basil and mint when they're fresh

Hey, I learned my lesson about the peppers. I had to make some adjustments:

Thai basil chicken stir fry in the pan
And then they just wittle down to nothing

Okay, this definitely could have used more basil/mint, but I wasn't about to go to the Asian store a fourth time. I liked that I made a larger amount of food this time. I might have added a little too much water, so I think the right amount would be just a single teaspoon added to the sauce mixture.

Bowl of rice and stir fry with chopsticks and more stir fry on the side
I use chopsticks so I eat more slowly

It was a very, very good meal.


Tomatoes and mozzarella

August 21, 2022 4:59 PM

My favorite pizza topping is tomato. Not tomato sauce, fresh slices of tomato. Why did I decide to make pizza in the first place? Maybe it was because I had a small amount of shredded mozzarella cheese that I wanted to use up.

I'm making pizza
But that's parmesan in my hand

So, I bought a bag of tomatoes from Aldi. Even though I didn't have too much shredded cheese in the bag, I still wasn't able to use it all up, and now I had four more tomatoes to go along with it. And, I'm gonna detour away from the pizza for a moment to show you a couple of other tomato-y things.

Tomato rice on a plate with a spoon

One of the things I made with the other tomatoes was tomato rice. This wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. I know I was thinking, "hey, I could use up a tomato in this!" But it actually called for diced tomatoes and tomato paste, so this didn't really help me cut down on my tomatoes.

I was able to use up some tomatoes (and mozzarella!) in my tomato and mozzarella panini. This was probably way too much effort for a workday lunch, but it was pretty good! I actually made it twice, and the second time I added basil and mint because I felt like it needed something leafy inside. It was a little strange, but I thought it was a good addition.

Tomato and mozzarella panini, cut in half, on a plate

Sandwiches aren't really that aesthetic

But before I made it, I actually went and bought a log of mozzarella because I was worried that my shredded mozzarella wasn't going to be enough. I used up all of the shredded stuff, and then I still had a lot of the mozzarella log left.

Bottom half of the tomato and mozzarella panini on the panini maker
But it looks a lot cooler when you can see what's inside

And I know. You're seeing a never ending cycle now, where every time I finish using up one ingredient, I still end up having too much of another. Does it ever end???

I don't know. But I'm gonna make more pizza tonight.

Cooked pizza

Sliced pizza, with one piece sticking out a little more than the others

Remember when I used to always take a photo of my pizza like this?

This time I won't buy more tomatoes or mozzarella. Hopefully.

Filed under: pizza skillet rice sandwich

Something that vaguely resembles pho

August 18, 2022 10:14 PM

Every once in a while I get a sudden craving for pho. I don't know how it hits me, but I just think about that pho smell and then I want some. I'm not about to spend 6 hours simmering some broth though, so I needed a shortcut. I remembered that Budget Bytes has a "faux pho" recipe, and it has decent reviews, so I decided to give it a try.

Me in my kitchen, assembling a bowl of noodles
Trying to make the bowls all fancy

Her recipe uses chicken, and it just doesn't feel right to have chicken pho. I wanted beef. So I used beef broth instead of chicken broth and sliced beef instead of cooked chicken. I had a container of beef Better than Bouillon that expired earlier this year that I wanted to use up, and I bought the cheapest piece of beef I could find at Aldi, which was an "eye of round".

The soup is really simple. It's just broth and five spice. And so I mixed my beef broth with five spice and took a sip. It...felt like it was lacking something. I wasn't really sure what, but I ended up throwing in some bullhead barbecue sauce (hot pot sauce) and a little bit of hoisin, and, well, it didn't really taste like pho, but I guess it wasn't bad.

Bowls of pho on the table, with some sauce and fresh veggies in the background
The plate of fresh veggies is very important

I ended up squeezing a lime slice into my bowl, and that made it taste a lot better. Still didn't really taste like pho, but it was some good noodle soup. Later that day, after I got back from a walk, I remember stepping into my living room and thinking "hey it vaguely smells like pho in here!"

I had some leftover broth and fixin's so I made more the next day, but I just went completely hot pot on it, and added cooked broccoli as well.

Noodle soup, with some plain beef and broccoli on the side
I still need bigger Asian bowls

I really like noodle soup, and I want to give pho a try again. Maybe I'll actually use a recipe from an Asian person next time.


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