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.
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.
So I really like smoothies, but I haven't made them too often myself because I was always too lazy to take out my cheap $10 blender that could barely blend things and was a pain to clean up. But that's all changed now! My mom gifted me a Nutribullet last Christmas, so I've been able to make more smoothies!
Smoothies should be so easy. You just throw stuff in a blender, press a button, and voila, you have a smoothie. But smoothie making has been kind of a struggle for me. I buy so much ice cream and it's not always good. And every time I end up with ice cream that I don't like, I just think to myself, "I can throw this in a smoothie!"
Yeah, uhh, several not-so-great smoothies later, and I'm realizing that it really does matter what ingredients you put in. I am not good at just throwing things together when I make food. So I went and looked up a smoothie recipe. I haven't actually followed this exactly, but I did use it as a guide, and I think I'm getting better at the whole smoothie-making thing!
I'll still throw in some non-conventional items into the mix, like a mango popsicle coated with tajin, but I'm trying to not go too crazy. And I don't know, maybe these are more like milkshakes rather than smoothies because of the ice cream. Whatever it is, it's a very enjoyable frozen drink (: And it's a very good thing to sip on while I'm writing more code for this blog.
At work, I'm a team lead, so I have to write two management updates every single week. Some of the other team leads at the company write their updates in the same exact format every week. I've tried to do that in the past, but I find that I just get bored or things change and the format makes no sense anymore. Some weeks I use paragraphs, others I use bullet points. Sometimes I have headers, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I write project updates, and other times I focus on people. It's just...whatever feels the best each week. And I feel the same way about these blog posts.
So, no whiteboard picture this week. Maybe no whiteboard pictures for a while. I'm still feeling the grocery store pics though.
Recognize that "Good and Gather" brand? That's Target. That's right, I did my grocery shopping at Target because I needed to buy some non-food items and in these COVID times I figured I should limit my shopping trips.
Grocery shopping at Target is terrible. I don't know why anyone would willingly do their grocery shopping here. Also, note to self, never buy ground meat from a tube again.
You might be wondering why I bought a 5 lb bag of potatoes. Well, I wanted to make some beef stew (post to come later!), and yeah, I could have just bought two individual potatoes, but then I thought of other potato possibilities and the lower price per pound and the fact that I bought a single lemon three grocery trips in a row. So here I am now with way too many potatoes.
Even though I said I would limit my shopping trips this week, it just happened to snow way more than I expected it to on Tuesday, and for that reason I decided it was the perfect time to walk a mile to Trader Joe's to buy ice cream.
And I was right! There was no line when I got there. That's practically unheard of during these COVID times.
I'm of the opinion that Trader Joe's isn't a real grocery store (they didn't even have veggie oil!) but their ice cream is 👌 and for that reason I'm forever a
sucker loyal customer. And those mini cones are so good! They're like tiny little drumsticks, but even better!
As far as what I ate this week, I'm also going to ditch the table of my breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and just mention some highlights.
It was Chinese New Year and I missed being around family. I didn't even plan to make any Chinese food! But I figured I could eat something Asian and cook some more 腊肉 (lat bhat).
Hey, I really am getting better at this deep frying thing! I didn't overcook the meat this time!
I also had some leftover Dim Sum from last week, and I made some cucumber salad to go along with it. Normally I don't take pictures of food that I didn't make, but the salad looked so sad by itself.
I gotta get back to making more Asian food next week!
I'm getting bored with calling these posts "Meal Plan". It's really a weekly review, but I didn't want to call it that either. At one point I thought of making the tag line of this blog "thoughts on food", so I'm trying something like that. I was also going to append to that to give it a ridiculously long title, but I guess that's what subheaders are for.
So to start off, my whiteboard pic is back, and completely unedited!
Hummus had already been on my to-make list for a while, but when I thought about the tomatoes that I didn't have a use for, I figured I could turn my hummus snack idea into a meal and make Mediterranean Hummus Bowls. That also used up onions.
Like I said earlier, I made Beef and Pineapple Enchiladas so I could use up some corn tortillas, scallions, and the rest of my pineapple chunks. Plus that worked really well with the hummus bowls since I could use half the ground beef for each dish.
See that extra can in the back that's covered? Those are more chickpeas. You can never be too well-stocked on chickpeas. (Especially because I needed both of those cans this week) But you know what Aldi was missing? Tomato paste! I've never seen tomato paste run out at Aldi!
So I was just going to cut my losses and deal with having less tomato paste than my enchiladas called for (which honestly, would have been fine) but as I saw it snowing on Sunday I thought "This is perfect grocery shopping weather!" (because it's way less crowded.)
And you know what's even more perfect? Buying ice cream when it's snowing. Because I can walk at whatever pace I want and know it won't melt. (Also because it's always a good time to buy ice cream.)
So I'm standing in the gigantic ice cream aisle and I come to the same conclusion that I do every time I go to Giant Eagle: Giant Eagle has the WORST ice cream selection. It makes me angry. Every. Single. Time.
WHY are there SO many varieties of vanilla ice cream?! Turkey Hill has "Original Vanilla", "French Vanilla", "Vanilla Bean", and even "Homemade Vanilla"! (not pictured because there's not enough space in the picture to even capture the insanity) Turkey Hill, I know that you did not make that vanilla ice cream in a home. Don't give me that false advertising.
If one of my close friends read this, he would say "Meyling, you're just mad they don't have coffee ice cream." And he would be right. I am mad at Giant Eagle's lack of coffee ice cream. Coffee is a staple. You can't tell me you need four varieties of vanilla, but you don't need coffee.
You're probably wondering, did you even buy any ice cream? Well, I sorta did.
Breyer's was on sale so I settled for their "Frozen Dairy Dessert" that we all know is not real ice cream. I also tried a so-ridiculously-expensive-that-I-don't-want-to-say-how-much-it-was Leona's ice cream sandwich that was labeled "Chai Tea/Coffee". I still don't know if it was the ice cream that was supposedly coffee-flavored or the cookie.
Okay. Ice cream rant over. Here's what I ate this past week.
|Shrimp Scampi Florentine
|Rice w/ 腊肉 & Kimchi
|Rice w/ 腊肉 & Kimchi
|Fried Eggs w/ Rice
|Mac n Cheese
|Fried Eggs w/ Rice
|Rice w/ Beef Jerky & Kimchi
|Mac n Cheese
|Hummus w/ Carrots
|Rice w/ Beef Jerky & Kimchi
|Takeout: Dim Sum
I don't think I'll ever order from that dim sum place again. I miss real dim sum. When we get back to a normal, COVID-19-free world, that's the first thing I'm eating.