I'm going to take a brief pause from my Teochew work to show you these tacos that I made last night.
They were so good. Also so much work. So so much work. I used this crispy braised chipotle beef taco recipe that I found on Half Baked Harvest (my co-workers rave about this site). I opted for the slow cooker version of this, which I think is less work than using the stove and oven, but it was still a lot.
I had planned to go play DDR that morning, but I wanted to get the beef cooking first, so I got up early and bought ingredients, prepped the sauce, and cut up the meat. The recipe says to use a blender to blend up the ingredients, but my only blender is a single serving size Nutribullet, which definitely was not big enough for this. I used my food processor instead, and it made me wonder why this recipe specifically called for using a blender.
Well, I hit the "LOW" button and suddenly a bunch of sauce spilled out of the container and went flying everywhere! 😱 And then when I went to pour the sauce into the slow cooker, it was splashing all over the place!
Okay, I guess that's why they say to blend liquids in a blender.
It all turned out well though. If I ever make this again, I'll want to use a fattier cut of meat, and I would probably forgo the blending altogether. Just dump everything in the slow cooker, and I'm sure it would taste just as good.
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.
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!
Hey, I learned my lesson about the peppers. I had to make some adjustments:
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.
It was a very, very good meal.
Two years ago, back when this blog was in its infancy, I made a post on Greek turkey rice. This week, I had a few ingredients that would work well for this dish, so I decided to make it again. I remembered it being good and easy to make.
Well, I still don't disagree with that statement, but after a few chill meal-making sessions, I went back to flailing like crazy. There were flying pieces of rice, spinach, chicken broth, and lemon zest. This is why I gotta write down my recipes in advance.
(Throwback to when I took pictures of food right underneath the spotlight! Not as nice as the pictures my sister would take though.)
Also, I used ground turkey from a tube. I didn't realize you could buy ground meat in a tube, but the tube was cheaper than the non-tube form. I don't know if I'll ever do that again. I mean it tasted fine, but it was weird. Any time I tell my family I'm cooking ground turkey I know they'll respond with "TURKEY?!" and I can see them making a disgusted face that says "why would you ever do that".
Hey, I'm just following a recipe.
You know what else is in the ingredients list? A lemon. But this recipe doesn't even call for lemon, just lemon zest. Now I've got "Naked lemon slices" in my leftovers.
Unfortunately there were no sun-dried tomatoes in either Target or Trader Joe's, (I know, these are terrible places to grocery shop. But I was there for other reasons.) so I was missing that extra pop of color/flavor. I also didn't put the aesthetic lemon slices in the middle of the pan.
But that doesn't matter. It tasted good. That's what really counts.
I finally used up the rest of my cabbage, and I used it to make some delicious shrimp tacos.
Even though I used already cooked shrimp and just reheated it in the pan with the spice mix, it still turned out really well. I'd make one adjustment for the future though. The recipe calls for 1 tsp of coarse salt for the spice mix, so I used 1/2 tsp of table salt, and I think I should have cut that down to 1/4 tsp instead.
On an unrelated note, that day I happened to accidentally shoot food into my eyes twice. First, I was squeezing limes for the garlic cilantro lime sauce, and I squirted lime into my eye. Later that day, I was peeling ginger, and somehow I flung a piece of ginger into my other eye!
It's alright. My eyes seem fine now. The tacos were not impacted in any way by this.
I'm on my holiday vacation now, so I'll be taking a mini break from new blog posts. I'll be back some time in January!
In my quest to finish using up all of my cabbage, I decided to make some Singapore noodles. (Apparently I associate cabbage with Singapore noodles) I've made this a few times using a recipe on Budget Bytes, but I don't love the way she says to prep the noodles, so I decided to check out The Woks of Life. I settled on their Vegetarian Singapore Noodles recipe, since I've been lacking vegetables in my diet lately.
And there were a lot of veggies in this! So many veggies that I think it took me about 45 minutes to prep for this dish. I realized that I don't know how to julienne carrots. I was slicing them with a knife in probably the most inefficient way possible. I gotta watch a youtube video on this for next time.
I also realized that I had way more cabbage than I thought I did! And I already thought I had a lot of cabbage. The recipe calls for 6 oz, and I definitely had more than that. I also don't think I know the right strategy for cutting up Taiwanese cabbage either. Cabbage was flying everywhere as I was cutting it. As I was dumping all the veggies in my pan, I decided to only put half the cabbage in, so now I still have more cabbage that I need to use up.
All in all, it took me 1 hour, 20 minutes to make this, which is 20 more minutes than the actual recipe says. I blame at least ten of those minutes on the fact that this recipe calls for salt. That was weird. I never put straight salt in my Asian food. It's always some sort of sauce that gives it that saltiness. And as I was pouring my salt into a bowl, I realized that I was low on salt. So I look for the big container of salt, because of course I have more salt. I looked in every cabinet, and turns out, I'm COMPLETELY OUT OF SALT. How in the world did I run out of salt?!
(I'm having a deja vu moment. I'm pretty sure I suddenly ran out of salt when my sister was here earlier this year. How the heck do we use up so much salt? But I'm only out of normal salt. I still have garlic salt, seasoning salt, and that pink himalayan salt that everyone just happens to stock in their kitchen for some weird reason.)
In the end, I'd say these noodles were alright. 3/5. They're not bad, but I really should have used soy sauce instead of salt. There was actually a comment in the original recipe that questioned why this didn't have soy sauce. I should have listened more to that commenter.