Summer is fast approaching. Summer has my favorite kind of weather, yet it's my least favorite season. Summer means that my family plans all these vacations, and I get really overwhelmed and stressed out. Summer is when so much of my mental energy is taken up by other things, that my side projects take a back seat.
All that to say, things are slowing way down for the food blog. I won't say I'm taking a break, but I'm tending towards making easier meals and spending less effort on creating aesthetically pleasing photos.
I really really like making this chicken and rice dish, but most of the time when I make it, I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. It's just easier. But this time, when I went to the store for chicken, the family pack of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs were 50% off, so I had to get that instead.
And really, the dish is so much better this way. What's nice about having the skin is that it gets nice and crispy when you intially cook it. But the problem with this dish is that you later nestle the chicken in while the rest of the rice is cooking, and the skin gets all soggy again. And I think the skin still tastes good that way, but it's just not the same.
So what did I do? I ate a whole bunch of crispy chicken skin right after cooking the chicken. So no, I don't have a full picture of the finished skillet because it's a bunch of naked chicken pieces and it's weird looking.
This dish actually makes a lot of rice, much more than what's needed for four chicken thighs, so I later cooked some more asparagus and salmon to also eat with it.
I know, I have a salmon and asparagus meal just three posts below this one! And I took a picture at exactly the same angle! Well, asparagus is in season, and I still have a ton of impulsively bought salmon, and this is just all my brain can handle right now.
(Okay...that salmon above? That's not even from the same shopping trip where I bought 2.5 lbs of salmon. This post's salmon was bought two weeks ago, and it was also an impulse buy. I had to! It was also 50% off!)
This was all already delicious right after I cooked it, but reheating the leftover rice in a skillet is 👌.
On my grocery shopping trip a week and a half ago, I impulsively bought some asparagus because it was only $0.99/lb! I figured this would go well with some salmon I impulsively bought last month.
Salmon is one of the easiest things to cook, but it is a little pricey, which is why I feel the need to impulsively buy it a lot. I love salmon, but I never order it from restaurants. I find that they never cook it right. It's always overcooked and dry and lacking flavor. But when I make it myself, it's always delicious.
My quick, go-to salmon dish is this Salmon with Dill. I first made it for a guy I was dating several years ago, and I remember it absolutely blew his mind at how good it tasted. I don't know. I didn't even measure anything. I did, however, cut the cooking time down to 10 minutes. 20-25 minutes for salmon is way way way too long. My other trick to cooking salmon is that if I don't want the skin, I just cook it in a crappy baking pan and I let the skin stick to the bottom of it.
I was going to also include potatoes, but then I forgot to buy some. I still needed a starch, so I made more hummus. It worked.
Day 42 (Wednesday): During this whole quarantine, I've made sure to have chicken breast stocked at all times. I know chicken breast is kind of boring, but my sister has gotten really good at cooking it well.
Seriously, it was really good chicken. We also had some scalloped potatoes and asparagus to round out the meal.
What a nice fancy, American meal.
Day 43 (Thursday): After eating that chicken and that shepherd's pie, I was starting to feel really sluggish, so I wanted to have something a little bit lighter. I stared at my whiteboard for a while until deciding on making some Greek chicken wraps.
Except I had pita bread, so it wasn't actually wrapped. My sister also made me some french fries since I told her I really wanted some (: We had to be a little creative for the hummus, since I realized in the moment that we didn't have any lemons. We replaced that with some vinegar and orange, which was a really strange combination. Not my favorite hummus, but it was still edible.
The sandwiches all put together were really good though! Once again, my sister did a great job cooking the chicken.
Day 44 (Friday): We ordered takeout. Yup, we finally supported a local business and got some fried chicken. It was alright. The cornbread was dry. I don't take pictures of food I eat at a restaurant, so I don't have a picture of the fried chicken we ordered.
Day 45 (Saturday): Rounding out the American-ish meals, we decided to make meatloaf!
We put the dry cornbread in this, which I think was a good use of it. I think it turned out great.
I know meatloaf isn't very visually appealing, but it had really good flavor. My sister loved it.
Sunday we're hitting up the Asian store and the Mexican store, so that'll spice up our meals for next week.
Okay, I know we're not really quarantined, but I didn't know what else to call this blog post. I had some pictures of things I made before my sister visited. And I know I can't tie these all together nicely, but whatever. Enjoy the pictures!
I've been on a hummus kick for the past few months. Back when I could still go into the office, I would snack all the time. I don't think I went a single hour without eating something. And the cafe in the office doesn't exactly offer the most healthy options.
So, I'm trying to make sure I have healthier snack options. And since I love chickpeas, that also means I love hummus. And homemade hummus is way way better than anything you can buy at the store.
Remember those fish tacos I made a while back? I actually bought the family pack of tilapia, so I needed to do something with the rest of the filets. I saw a chimichurri fish recipe on Budget Bytes, and you know I love chimichurri.
I was going to buy a head of cabbage for this, but I saw a pack of coleslaw mix on clearance for $1 so I grabbed that instead.
You know a post about lots of food I make wouldn't be complete without tacos. Sweet potatoes were on sale at Aldi, and I also saw these tiny little tortillas at Trader Joes that I impulse bought!
Since the potatoes at Aldi come in 3 lb packs, I still had to so something with the rest of them. So why not continue making more Mexican-inspired dishes?
The chipotle chili powder in the lime crema was a great addition. I think I'm going to always add the chipotle powder in the future.
And to finish off the sweet potato recipes, I also made some beef stew. The sweet potatoes made the whole dish sweeter, which was nice.
For something completely different, here are some pierogies! That I bought from the store, because sometimes I need an easy meal.
Dumplings! The best freezer meal and completely worth the hour of prep time that goes into making a large batch.
And tacos again! Because I love tacos! All recipes on this page get a 5/5 star rating from me. Hopefully I'll remember to post more often in the future.
When my sister was living with me, I was cooking almost every day. We kept cooking and cooking, and it seemed like we had so much food, but whenever I took a break from cooking for one day, it's like all the food disappeared. Well, I had this crazy realization this week that when I'm by myself I could cook three dishes during the weekend and then not have to cook at all during the week.
I know, that's what meal prepping is. But when people say they meal prep, I always envision them cooking two dishes on Sunday and then dividing everything up into individual portions in tupperware containers. Which sounds boring. I like to make every meal feel like a special accomplishment.
And you know what I accomplished this week? I only spent $16 on groceries! On the flip side, I also ate out four times, but one of those meals was on my company's dime.
I'm trying to make sure I include some low effort meals that will last me a while. This chicken rice dish requires very little chopping, and I can make it last six meals. With pasta, I try to not make it last so many meals because I get sick of it easily, but this rice dish still tastes great on the sixth day in a row.
What's nice about this dish is that I can split up the rice and chicken, and then use those individual parts for other meals. I saw asparagus on sale at Aldi for $1.49/lb, which usually isn't that great because Aldi tends to stock suuuper skinny asparagus sticks, and who wants that? But this time the asparagus actually looked decently sized!
I actually made this same asparagus recipe about a month ago when my mom visited, but it didn't quite turn out so well since I was flailing in my kitchen trying to cook three things at once. This time I could just focus on asparagus. The recipe calls for shallots, which I replaced with onions because no one on a budget should ever buy shallots. The recipe also said to cook these for 20-25 minutes. That is way way way too long. I had these in the oven for about 12 minutes and I still think they were in there for a tad too long.
I was very satisfied with the way the asparagus turned out though. The combination of bacon, onion, and parmesan made it very flavorful.
My final dish of the week is Huevos Rancheros, which I was happy to stumble upon a recipe for it since it's probably my favorite brunch dish. Now I personally hate the idea of brunch. You take two perfectly good meals and squash them into one meal, and then get charged way more than you should be charged for either meal. Why would I ever choose to eat one meal over two meals? I've been to a lot of hipster brunch places, and they all feel exactly the same. They serve pancakes, chicken and waffles, and a bunch of random things with an egg on top. And then they try to get you to buy alcohol to make the meal even more extravagant.
But having brunch at home? That's a much better idea. Of course, I didn't make these for brunch. I ate these for breakfast and still had lunch later.
These Huevos Rancheros were okay, but I think the recipe could use a lot of tweaks. The salsa has way too much water, so I would cut that in half. It could also use some more salt and maybe some other spices. I just found it lacking. I also think two eggs is too much. There are plenty of days where I only eat two eggs for breakfast, so having that plus a bunch of other stuff is overkill. The recipe just says to arrange two tortillas on a plate, but I think it's better to first make sure the tortilla is toasted and crispy, and then break it up into nacho sized pieces.
I also substituted the refried beans for some pulled pork that had been sitting in my freezer for a while. Having to use three pans to cook breakfast is a bit much so I wanted to take whatever shortcuts I could. But...I guess this is supposed to be a brunch recipe. And brunch is fancy.
Oh, also I just really wanted to post a picture of more fajitas since I had this two more times this past week. This time I toasted the tortillas on the pan and threw some cheese on top which made them even better.