About a month ago, I thought to myself, "Man, I'm spending way too much money eating out. I need to cook more of my meals." And then I went on a little vacation, and I ate out for every single meal of the day because I'm not cooking on vacation.
But vacation is over. Time to cook. I'm know I'm really slow at making things, so I decided that I was going to try meal prepping. I'm not making three different dishes in one day--that's too much--but I wanted to see if I could do more prep in advance: cutting up vegetables, mixing together sauces and spice mixtures. So I came up with a bunch of different meals for the week, and I wrote down all the groceries I would need for those meals, and I spent over two hours on prep work
last last last Saturday.
I was exhausted. But, it really did make the cooking for the rest of the week a lot easier.
So the first thing I decided to make after all that prep work was leftovers. I was way too tired to cook a whole meal. But after I ate that meal, I guess I felt like I had enough energy to make some real dessert. That's right, I didn't just microwave something in a mug, I made a whole batch of snickerdoodles.
I have this little container of cream of tartar sitting in my pantry, and apparently that's what you use to make snickerdoodles. For most of my life, I thought snickerdoodles were just sugar cookies with extra cinnamon on them. Turns out they're sugar cookies with cinnamon and cream of tartar.
When I made my first batch a month ago, it was way more work than I expected. Mostly because I don't own a stand mixer. And it also took me forever. This time it was juuust a little bit easier and went juuust a little bit more quickly. I still somehow seem to mess up at least one batch in the oven, but I'm getting the hang of this.
On Sunday morning, I made some Greek Turkey Rice. (Actually I used chicken, because for some reason turkey is sold in 19.2 oz packages rather than 1 lb, and I already think 1 lb is way more meat that I need for this.)
I've had a bunch of pasta dishes lately, so I wanted to switch it up with some rice. I had some leftover spinach from last week, and I didn't mind buying feta, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes since I can just snack on those.
Very good, very easy meal. Also very easy to pack and heat up leftovers, which is what I needed after getting nothing but take out at work for the past few months.
Later on Sunday, I made some Cajun shrimp toast. I've already made up my mind that I want to make these as a Christmas appetizer when I visit family, but I wanted to try it a couple of times before then.
This stuff is so good. I went over to a friend's house on Sunday night to watch a movie, and I brought the shrimp toast. It was a big hit.
So the week before this, I ordered a HelloFresh box, and one of the meals was Cajun chicken sandwich. It was pretty tasty. I wasn't originally planning on making more chicken sandwiches, but then I thought about my container of celery seed that expired in 2017 that I'm trying to use up. I can make coleslaw with that. Coleslaw goes well enough with chicken sandwiches, right?
Right. I thought the coleslaw was great. I had only intended on making four sandwiches, but I had a little bit of chicken left over, so I fried up some nuggets and ate them with a pack of McDonald's BBQ sauce. That was also great.
I also really wanted to make some mac n cheese because I had some breadcrumbs, and because my boyfriend has mentioned that he likes baked mac n cheese, with the crispy breadcrumbs on top. The last time I made mac n cheese, it was just okay and it was way way way too much food.
Okay, so this time I tried a different recipe. And I only cooked half a pound of pasta, which is a much more reasonable amoumnt of pasta for one or two pasta. This was pretty easy to make since I could use pre-shredded cheese. I ended up using the rest of all the random bags of cheese that I had: pepperjack, mozzarella, and Mexican blend (four different cheeses!). And then I topped it with some parmesan! It's six cheese macaroni!
Honestly, after I put it in the oven, I was a little worried about all the different cheeses that I added. Maybe it was too much. But it ended up tasting pretty good! I think I made it a tad too salty, but we had no trouble eating all of it within a few days.
Finally, the last meal I cooked was some almost vegetarian shoyu butter udon noodles. Why is it almost vegetarian? Because I used butter. And oyster sauce. But I wasn't going to buy vegan products when I had perfectly good non-vegan substitutes.
Anyway, this was really easy and the mushrooms were delicious. I'm gonna make it again this week (I still have more noodles and edamame!)
And finally finally, I decided to make some carrot cake to use up the rest of a block of cream cheese I had sitting in the fridge. I followed this carrot cake for two recipe, but I doubled it, and then I also used my square muffin tins which are very large, so it ended up making three very large muffins. And it was kind of a struggle to get these cakes out of the muffin tin.
I also only ended up icing a single muffin so I have lots of cream cheese frosting left over. More muffins this week! I'll be sure to make them smaller and use cupcake liners so it's easier.
Okay, done writing for now. I know it's been a while, but thanks for reading my rambly food thoughts!
Remember my cookie in a mug post that I made a couple of months ago? Well, I still had some milk left over from another recipe, and even though this cookie requires no milk, it's pretty tasty to eat it with a glass of milk.
The last time I made this, I concluded that the wider the mug, the better. So I took out my huge Borgata mug, and I made the cookie in it. I cooked it for just 40 seconds, and then I even took it out and put it on a plate so it wouldn't keep cooking inside of the warm mug.
It was really good! I feel like this recipe is a winner! The bottom of the cookie was actually a tad undercooked, so I don't think I needed to take it out of the mug, but slightly undercooked cookies are pretty tasty in my opinion. I even made it two more times this past week!
When I went to make the cookie a second time this week, I realized that I had left my container of sugar at my boyfriend's place, so I ended up making this with brown sugar and powdered sugar. It wasn't bad, but I think white sugar is better here. I knew I could get by without the white sugar, but you know what, it's okay to have extra sugar. I know I'll use up the sugar eventually. It's not like it's expired chocolate syrup that's been sitting in my fridge for over 5 years.
So...I bought more sugar. And then I thought, let me switch things up and make a cake in a mug instead. Using the powdered sugar reminded me of the cinnamon swirl mug cake that I've made in the past, and I had a tiny bit of milk left, which is perfect for a little mug cake.
I just bought one of those bags of sugar from Aldi, which seemed perfectly fine, but later that day I noticed that there were grains of...something on my living room floor, and when I went to inspect it I realized it was the sugar. Huh. I went to pour the sugar from the paper bag into my sugar container and then I saw it. There was a hole in the bottom. 😱
It's fine though, I just had a bunch of sweeping to do, and I should probably do another sweep later.
Also, I started making the mug cake, and I realized it doesn't even call for white sugar! 🙃 It's just brown sugar and powdered sugar. Why did I buy extra sugar?!
...to make the cookie a third time. That's why. I'll never get tired of desserts in mugs.
I've made plenty of cakes in a mug before, but a few weeks ago I saw a video for a chocolate chip cookie in a mug. I love desserts in mugs! And I love chocolate chip cookies! I had to try it. And then I had to try it again. And again. And again.
Hey, I really like making meals for one. I can just keep iterating!
Attempt 1: The first one that I made actually didn't turn out so well. I used one of those Corelle mugs, and I found that it was a little too narrow. After cooking it in the microwave for a minute, it still seemed undercooked. So I cooked it a little longer. It still seemed undercooked, but when I started to eat it, I realized that the middle was way overcooked.
It was also way too sweet. I bought a milk chocolate bar and just crushed that into little pieces, but I definitely should have just gotten a bag of the classic semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Okay, so not great, but I could make adjustments. The video said to use a shorter, wider mug, and I just happened to have this cute little mug as free swag from work.
Attempt 2: Apart from the switch in mug, I also used less sugar. I bought a bag of dark chocolate chips, and I cut the brown sugar down to just a tablespoon.
Just coming out of the microwave, this looked much better. The top wasn't too goopy, and it settled into a nice cookie texture after I let it cool for a few minutes. But the middle was still really hard! I think 60 seconds was a little too long.
The sweetness level was good though, but I think it was a little too chocolate chip-y for me. I still didn't have the semi-sweet chips, and I also think using mini sized chips would have been better. (But I wasn't going to buy another bag of chocolate chips)
Attempt 3: Alright, this time I only cooked it for 50 seconds, and that definitely helped! I also only mixed a single tablespoon of chocolate chips (as opposed to two in my earlier attempts), but I still added a few on top once I had mixed everything together. Much much better cookie to chocolate chip ratio this time. But man, I need a better strategy for not overcooking.
Attempt 4: This time I cooked it for 45 seconds (but I really should have done 40), and then once I let it cool for a couple of minutes, I pulled it out of the mug and put it on a plate. I figured that being in the warm mug just kept cooking it longer, so I wanted to prevent that. I think it helped! And it allowed me to take a slightly different looking picture, which is a plus.
My latest attempt was certainly my best attempt yet, but it was still overcooked in the middle! I think I'll have to try something completely different for my next attempt. Maybe I'll use a much bigger mug.
For now, I'm going to take a break though. This recipe called for an egg yolk, so every time I made it, I accumulated an egg white. By the end of the week, I decided to just cook all the egg white and eat it with rice and some soy sauce. Honestly? It was pretty good. I just really like eggs.
If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know that I'm not really a baker, or even just a person who makes desserts. I don't even make simple things like chocolate chip cookies or box brownies. But in my quest to get rid of everything in my pantry, I've hit the point where I have to start going through all my baking ingredients.
So I think it's finally time to start conquering my fear of dough.
Uhh, not bread dough though. Let's start with cookie dough. Can you believe that I had never made chocolate chip cookies from scratch before?! My sister has her own special recipe that everyone in my family uses, and they make cookies all the time. So I never really felt the need to make my own cookies. But I had some leftover chocolate chips from the last time my sister visited me and I wanted to use them up.
I looked into a few different chocolate chip cookie recipes, and I settled on the one from The Novice Chef. It seemed easy enough. I only really had about 1/2 a cup of chocolate chips, so I cut the recipe in half (except for the egg because I'm not about to just use half an egg). As I went to for the cookie dough balls on the baking sheet, it was kind of a mess. I have no idea how I was supposed to roll it up into a ball. It was all sticky so I just ended up plopping messy mounds of cookie dough onto the sheet. I was a little worried when I put them into the oven, but they turned out okay!
Just okay. Not amazing. I'll have to try a different recipe next time. Maybe my sister's?
So, I've made pancakes plenty of times before, but I usually stick to oven pancakes, because I find them so easy and convenient. I decided to try some more traditional pancakes though. I had some leftover ricotta from the various pasta dishes I've made recently, and I wanted to try ricotta pancakes, since the idea of them sounded so intriguing.
And man, it was a lot of work. And the pancakes turned out...also okay. I don't even think it quite makes sense for me to include them in a post about "sweet things" since they weren't that sweet and I didn't have any maple syrup, but whatever. I just sprinkled sugar on top of them as I was eating them. Close enough. I'll stick to the cinnamon swirl oven pancakes next time.
I'm realizing that I could have titled this post "things that involved a hand mixer" and I guess baking and hand mixers just go hand-in-hand! (thanks sister for being the reason I even own one in the first place!)
Anyway, I was browsing facebook when I saw a recipe for some really simple no-churn ice cream, and I thought it looked so good so I saved it. This Oreo ice cream only calls for three ingredients, and I already had some sweetened condensed milk!
This one actually turned out really well! It definitely has an extra creamy taste to it, which is different from most ice cream I get from the store, but I liked it a lot!
Finally, the only dessert I (used to) know how to make. Delicious as always. And I will keep making it at least a few more times, just to get through my expired cocoa powder.