Yup, my brain is super focused on the Teochew site, and even though I'm not working, I still don't have enough time to do everything that I want to do! But, I've got time for some easy meals. I made Tomato Basil Pasta because I wanted to use up the rest of my ricotta.
So I buy some pasta, two pints of tomatoes, and some incredibly overpriced basil. My boyfriend noticed that there were 3(!!) boxes of pasta in my "pantry" (it's a container that sits on my counter) and he wondered why I needed so much pasta.
Well, we were very low on rotini, and we had a full box of ditalini, but ditalini is so tiny! I wanted bigger pasta pieces! So I bought a box of penne.
Cooking this was pretty easy. Just cut up the tomatoes, basil, and garlic and throw it all in the pan. But as I was boiling the pasta, I noticed that it was...weird looking. Kind of grainy. The rotini was fine, but the penne was not looking good. It was completely falling apart. I didn't even cook it for that long! It was probably around 8 minutes total, and the box says to cook it for 11-13 minutes. If I did that, it would be mush!
I must have gotten a really bad batch of pasta. It was from Aldi, so it's not the highest quality stuff, but I've bought penne from Aldi plenty of times in the past and I've never had pasta fall apart like that.
But, I guess it tasted good enough. I also still had half a box of it leftover, and I barely made a dent in my container of ricotta so I made the dish again. This time I decided to grocery shop at Trader Joe's, which was a good idea in theory, but it was a Sunday afternoon and it was packed, and as I stood in the store I wondered why I had done this because this is exactly what I've been trying to avoid during my sabbatical.
Never, never, NEVER, go to Trader Joe's on a Sunday. Same goes for Whole Foods.
On the bright side, basil from Trader Joe's was both a larger amount AND cheaper! So I should absolutely go to Trader Joe's for Italian basil in the future. (in the middle of the workday)
Aaaand, they had pumpkin mini cones! I had been so excited to try these last fall, and I never saw them, so this was a pleasant surprise.
Yeah, my pasta fell apart again. That's okay. I expected it. I'll still give Aldi penne another chance.
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.
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:
Okay, honestly, not the worst shrimp tacos/fajitas I've made in the past few months. But I know I can do better!
A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a recipe for spicy chipotle honey salmon bowls and it looked really good. It claims to be a good "weeknight dinner", but I found it to be way too much work, and it had too many components, so I don't think I'll ever make it again. I didn't even take a picture.
One of the ingredients that the recipe calls for is chipotles in adobo sauce, so I bought a little can of it. I tried a little, and it was so much spicier than I expected, so I didn't use nearly as much as the recipe said to. This meant that I had almost a full can of these chipotles left and no idea what to do with them.
But I thought, "I can improvise! I'll make some fajitas!" So I bought a pack of shrimp and some bell peppers and tortillas, and I tried to throw something together.
It was not good. Honestly. I know they look good in the photo, but tacos always look good. The shrimp just tasted weird. Maybe I marinated it and cooked it for too long. And the marinade I made was also bad.
Okay, so I had to try something simpler. I figured since these were so spicy that I could throw a couple of peppers into hummus and blend it up.
Well, it wasn't really hummus. I only had half a lemon and I didn't have as much tahini as I needed for a single can of chickpeas. And then when I was at Aldi, I couldn't find any pita bread, so I bought naan instead. But it tasted great when I dipped a warm piece of naan in it, and now I think I'll always get naan for hummus.
Finally, I threw some of the chipotles into a large batch of pulled pork for some tacos. This time I actually used a recipe that I know works well, and I just added the chipotles to it. (And sugar! I always add sugar)
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a small piece of pork butt, so I bought a pork loin instead, and man was it dry. But that's okay, it wasn't terrible, so I just decided to buy lots of toppings to put on top.
It also made for some good breakfast bowls.
Speaking of slowly cooking, I spent a couple of hours making udon noodle soup a few nights ago. I think it was 11pm by the time I actually produced this bowl of soup.
Worth it. So worth it.
I wanted to make some udon noodle soup because I had gone to an udon restaurant a couple of months ago, and at the time I didn't think I really wanted noodle soup so I got a rice bowl. But everyone else was ordering the udon noodles, and by the end of dinner, I really wanted those noodles.
It was also a little more appropriate a couple of months ago because it was colder. Now we're hitting 90° outside and it is definitely not soup weather anymore. But I don't care. I made the noodle soup and ate it three times and will eat it again twice more because I still have leftover noodles.
I don't know if this is normal or not, but whenever I eat noodle soup, I like to make a nice little spoonful for every single bite. A little bit of noodle, some soup, a couple of other garnishes on top, and a wonderfully flavorful experience for my mouth.
I actually don't think I've ever had udon noodles from a restaurant before so I have no idea how they're supposed to taste, and the Woks of Life recipe I used even explicitly stated that it's not really authentic. But it is delicious.
I do know that restaurants often put soft boiled eggs in their noodle soup, so I wanted to do the same thing. I've been using this ramen egg recipe from Just One Cookbook for a while and it's always been great. I figured it would be really easy to make a few eggs to throw in my bowls of soup.
But I figured wrong. Holy crap I have never struggled so much in my life to peel boiled eggs. The ramen egg recipe calls for putting the eggs directly in boiling water, but I thought it would work just fine if I put the eggs in cold water and brought it to a boil. When I stopped cooking them and tried to peel one, it all broke apart and every piece of shell I tried to remove just ended up removing more of the egg white. I don't think I initially cooked them for long enough so I boiled more water and tried to cook them longer, but that was still a fail.
I can't end on a fail though, so I did some googling and was determined to make better soft boiled eggs. I made a few adjustments for the second attempt:
And it was a success! It peeled so easily! Incredible.
The other day I saw salmon on sale for $5.99/lb. I didn't have salmon on my list of things to cook for the week, but I can't say no to cheap salmon. So I walked to the grocery store and bought two pounds of salmon. That's it. Just salmon.
My aunt makes this great salmon dish with lemon pepper and mayonnaise. I always look forward to eating it when I visit her. It seems so simple to make, but for some reason, every time I try to make it, it doesn't turn out right.
And this time? It's no different. It wasn't great. I don't know, I think I need to watch her make it. I have all the ingredients written down, but how much of everything do I need?!
Also, do you see that salmon? I cooked it UPSIDE DOWN. How the heck did I do that? I didn't even notice it until I took it out of the oven. It was overcooked, but the breadcrumbs weren't browned, and it wasn't seasoned enough, but I think I put too much butter, but I didn't even use salted butter so it was weird...
It's alright. Next time, cook it for like 10 minutes and then broil for a few more minutes. Use more lemon pepper. Use more mayo. Use more chicken granules.
At least my green beans and eggplant turned out well.
Yeah, 5/5 for the veggies. 2/5 for the salmon, but I'll try the salmon again another time.