Life is pretty good right now.
Work has been relaxing, but productive. Summer is approaching and I'm not getting anxious about it. I'm still cooking, but I'm doing it for fun--planning out one dish at a time, going to the grocery store four times a week, buying just the amount that I need, and not worrying about how much money I'm spending.
I planned to write a post like three weeks ago, but I bought a new laptop, and I had to put that together, and then I had to figure out how to move over all the code for this blog onto the new laptop.
But I did it! And now I have some food photos to share (:
I was at Aldi and I saw that their ground pork had $1 OFF stickers on them, and I learned that seafood and ice cream are not the only things I impulsively buy. It was one pound, so I used a tiny amount of it for some stir fry and saved the rest for dumplings.
It had been a while since I made dumplings, so I wanted to put my not-yet-published dumpling recipe to the test. I decided to buy thicker wrappers this time so I could try using the leftovers for scallion pancakes. I think I prefer the thinner ones though. And it turns out I pretty much used exactly one pack of dumpling wrappers for this, so I really could have just bought one pack of thin wrappers and one pack of thick wrappers.
...but I'll get back to the wrappers later. I think I spent about two hours prepping and wrapping and cooking, and probably another hour eating and cleaning. Yup. That was a Tuesday night. You may think that three hours spent on dinner is way too much time, but it was relaxing and it was delicious.
A few days later, I made the scallion pancakes at my friend's house. My original plan was to make them with her, but she was busy with work, so I did basically everything except make the dumpling sauce. Not quite as time consuming as dumplings, but still pretty time consuming. I really enjoyed it though. There is something so nice about working with your hands and being in motion and not having to think or stare at screens. And then I have something I can eat as a result!
The thicker dumpling wrappers were definitely a good choice for these. I thought they were delicious, and my friend thought they tasted pretty good too. I'll have to make these more often.
If I had the time and energy, I think I'd spend three hours cooking every day.
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.
First of all, I'm going to lessen the frequency of these blog posts. I'm trying to take it easy and also free up my time for other things. But I'll still be cooking, and I'll try to post at least once a week.
After impulsively buying tilapia a few weeks ago, I decided to finally make some tacos with it. Blue Apron has a catfish taco recipe that's been one of my go-to's, and I thought that if they have one good fish taco recipe, they must have others. So I went and searched for "fish tacos" and these are the top results:
Wait wait wait, these aren't fish taco recipes, these are fish OR taco recipes. Blue Apron, you gotta work on your search code. What is it with recipe sites and terrible search algorithms?
So after scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and scrolling I finally stumbled upon Baja-Style Tilapia Tacos.
These tacos were easy to make, and they tasted pretty good too. But they're fish tacos. Of course they taste good. I don't know if I love the combination of avocado and orange, but it seemed to work well enough. The only problem with this recipe is that it doesn't work well for leftovers. The avocadoes end up browning.
I followed the recipe pretty closely, but I used green cabbage instead of red because it was cheaper. I also used corn instead of flour tortillas because that's just what I had already. As much as I think grocery store brand corn tortillas are awful, Aldi corn tortillas are actually pretty great once you toast them in the pan. And finally I added cilantro because of course I added cilantro.
Oh, so, I also went grocery shopping today, and as much as I told myself I wasn't going to buy any more meat/seafood, I ended up impulsively buying another bag of tilapia. It was $5! That's even cheaper than when impulsively bought it last month!
Normally I would start with a picture of my whiteboard, but there's a ridiculous amount of
photoshopping MS Paint-ing involved to get the image to look the way I want. So, I actually went and re-organized the whiteboard to make it a little easier on me. But you'll have to wait for next week's meal plan post to see it.
I will show you my groceries, though! This week I made shrimp scampi florentine and BBQ chicken pizza, which you already know. I bought ingredients for those meals, and I also bought a few extra things for snacks, like getting chickpeas to make hummus. I spent a little over $30 on groceries.
Well, I impulse bought tilapia. (Frequent readers of this blog should not be surprised.) It was on sale for $6! It's normally $12 for the 2 lb bag! And that was from Giant Eagle, not Aldi. I know, it's always $6 at Aldi. But maybe this brand is better.
Also, Aldi was out of chickpeas! I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Aldi runs out of chickpeas a lot. I really didn't want to make another grocery store trip, so hummus will have to wait until next week. I really should just keep a constant supply of chickpeas like I do with eggs.
If you're wondering why I bought kimchi, it's so I could eat it with some meat that my grandparents prepared while I was visiting them.
My grandpa has the best recipe for both beef jerky and 腊肉. Deep frying things kind of scares me (but not as much as dough does) and I think I overcooked the 腊肉 a little, but it still tasted great.
I also asked several members of my family what 腊肉 (lat bhat) actually translates to. I know 肉 (bhat) means meat but what is 腊 (lat)?! No one was able to tell me! As I was looking things up in a Teochew app, I realized that 腊 is the same 腊 as in 腊肠 (lat chiang) Chinese Sausage. And then I looked this up in the Wiktionary and I learned 腊 basically means dry or dried meat. Now I know.
Okay, Chinese lesson aside, I only cooked two meals this week because I was still going through the leftovers in my freezer. It was my full intention to actually keep track of what I ate this week, but I realized I haven't written down anything since Monday. It was just bagels every morning, while rotating between the scampi, pizza, and leftovers during lunch and dinner.
And I did add pineapples on my leftover slices of pizza. I love leftover pizza. It's the best leftover.