flailing in my kitchen 2.1

How can I be sad when I have breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
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Salt and pepper tofu

August 14, 2022 12:18 PM

I don't know when my mom got into looking at recipes on the internet, but she has been raving about Made with Lau. They have videos on how to make a lot of classic Chinese dishes with good explanations on how restaurants make certain dishes that are hard to replicate at home.

One night during my usual youtube browsing, Made with Lau's recipe for Salt and Pepper Tofu showed up in my feed and I figured this was a good time to see what all the hype was about.

Salt and pepper tofu on a Chinese plate
Step 8 of the recipe is Take pictures! So I took a lot of them!

Okay, it looked really good. I had to try making it. It also looked like a lot of work. I'm sure any one of their videos could have shown up on my feed and I would have had that same reaction, so maybe I could have picked something simpler. But I watched the salt and pepper tofu video so salt and pepper tofu went on my mental list of things to make, and when something goes on my list, I have to make it.

I looked at their website and it lists 30 minutes as the total cooking time. This recipe requires you to boil, deep fry, AND stir fry the tofu! There is no way I could get this done in 30 minutes. I guessed it was going to take me 3 whole hours to finish it, so I needed to do this on the weekend when I had plenty of time.

Deep frying tofu
I was too scared to use high heat and cook them all at once

Some parts of the recipe used such small amounts of ingredient that they seemed a little ridiculous to me. It requires 0.5 egg. What am I supposed to do with the other half?! I'm not going to waste half an egg! I'm also only supposed to use the white part of the green onion. Why would I do that when the green parts add so much nice color? During the stir fry step, I'm supposed to put a few dried chili peppers in the pan, stir around for 8 seconds, and then remove them. At least I already had a lot of dried peppers in my pantry, because I wasn't going to buy some just for this recipe.

Close up of me holding a piece of tofu with chopsticks as I stir fry them
These chopsticks have seen better days

But I guess this guy really knows what he's doing. The tofu turned out really well, and it only took me 1.5 hours to make! Half as much time as I expected (: Coating the tofu in cornstarch was kind of a mess, and I got cornstarch all over my kitchen, but overall, not too hard to make.

A spread of salt and pepper tofu, along with Hawaiian chicken thighs and marinated spinach
This is far too much food for just myself, but I had to put it all out for a nice picture

I couldn't just eat tofu though. I made some rice and a Korean spinach side to go along with it. And I still kind of wanted some actual meat, but this was already way too much work, so I went to Aldi and bought some precooked Hawaiian chicken thighs that I could just heat up in the microwave.

Close up of the salt and pepper tofu
Shots like this are made possible by my flip phone

It was a very, very good meal.

Smoother hummus

August 12, 2022 5:07 PM

Hummus has been one of my go-to recipes, and in the past I've always preferred a chunkier hummus. But I wanted to try something different. I had been meaning to try the Woks of Life hummus recipe for a while. I really like their food blog, but I've mostly ignored their non-Asian recipes. Their hummus just looks so aesthetic though!

Hummus in a food processor
Not so aesthetic

It wasn't bad. This was certainly more work than the hummus I'm used to making. I usually just throw all the ingredients in a food processor and let it run for a minute, and I'm done. This recipe has you blending in stages. Honestly, I don't think it's worth it.

I must have blended this for at least 5 minutes, but it was still kind of grainy. I think that I would have needed to peel the chickpeas in order to get that super smooth texture, but that's definitely not worth it.

Hummus bowl with olives, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and pita bread
This just doesn't have the same pop without cilantro and feta

I mostly made hummus just so I could use up the rest of my cut fresh veggies. I had already run out of tomato, so I used mini sweet peppers instead. I think a red sweet pepper would have looked nicer but the bag I bought had way more orange and yellow peppers, and I needed to save some red ones for those fajitas I made.

I used a meatball recipe for the cooked ground beef (except I didn't turn it into a meatball), and that was very good.

Me dipping a piece of pita bread into hummus
I tried to be fancy with the paprika, but I don't think it worked

Next time I make hummus, I think I'll be more creative with what I mix in.

Filed under: hummus

Shrimp fajitas

August 11, 2022 8:51 PM

I made shrimp fajitas today! I made this recipe close to two years ago, and it was awesome. And I made it again today, and it was...not so awesome. And here I am, writing this entry, right after I cleaned up because I need to make sure that if I make this a third time, I don't screw this up.

Shrimp fajitas, right out of the oven
I mean, it looks okay

Just yesterday I was talking about how much I love shrimp and how I cooked my shrimp perfectly, but you know what I did today? I overcooked it. 😭 And overcooked shrimp is really bad. The recipe said to cook it for 6-8 minutes. 6 minutes is way too long. I can't imagine I liked overcooked shrimp in the past. Somehow past me must have known that and present me forgot. So, here are some things for future me to remember:

Shrimp fajitas on a plate with cheese, cilantro, and homemade lime crema on the side
Yes, I put mozzarella cheese on this

Okay, honestly, not the worst shrimp tacos/fajitas I've made in the past few months. But I know I can do better!

Pasta alfredo

August 10, 2022 9:51 PM

What? Three pasta entries in a row? Is this all I eat now?

No. I swear I eat other things. I was totally going to make some fajitas tonight, but it's been three really busy days at work and I wanted some easy comfort food, so I switched things up last minute.

I mentioned two entries ago that I wanted to try the alfredo recipe from Sip and Taste. I tend to like white sauce more than red sauce for pasta, and I appreciate that the video uses my favorite type of pasta, pappardelle. I just really like wide noodles.

Pappardelle pasta with alfredo, next to my handwritten notes on how to make the recipe
The recipe calls for parsley. But you know me.

I know I complained about youtube recipes in general, but this video doesn't even have a text recipe in the description! I actually watched the video and furiously wrote down notes at the same time.

But my notes must have been good enough because this was really easy to make and I was very happy with it! The original recipe calls for chicken, but when I was at the grocery store last night I saw shrimp on sale for $5.99/lb and I had to get it.

Shrimp is probably my favorite seafood, but I find that if it's not cooked right it tastes really bad. So I kept this simple. I sprinkled a little bit of cajun seasoning on the shrimp and cooked it on the pan for a few minutes and it was perfect. High quality shrimp already has such good flavor that I like eating it even without anything added to it.

Alfredo pasta next to a plate of some cooked shrimp

My cooking experiences aren't complete without some sort of flailing, and I may have dropped some pasta on the stove while I was taking it out of the boiling water and into the sauce. I liked not having to use a colander, but once I had gotten all the long noodles out, I knew there were still short pieces of pasta still left in the water and I was kind of struggling to fish it all out.

But other than that, it was smooth sailing. I think I'd make this again! Not anytime soon though. I think I should take a break from pasta.

Close up of the alfredo pasta

Baked ziti

August 9, 2022 9:49 PM

I don't think of my mom as a pasta person, but the one pasta dish she would always come back to is baked ziti. It's kind of heavy, which is probably why she never makes it anymore, so I need to make it myself if I ever want to have some.

I've made this just a few times before, but it's not really a dish I come back to because I've found it to be a lot of work. I use the baked ziti recipe from Budget Bytes. In the past, I would halve the recipe, but this time I cooked the whole pound of pasta, and I actually found it to be a lot easier this way.

Baked ziti

While it does taste best right after it's been cooked and taken out of the oven, leftover baked ziti isn't half bad. And we had a lot of leftovers. This might even be something I could cook for my family! (if they weren't all on a diet)

Two plates of baked ziti

I really don't have much to say about the recipe. It does have a lot of steps, but it's pretty easy, and the end result is very satisfying and tasty.

Filed under: baked ziti pasta

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