flailing in my kitchen v3

How can I be sad when I have breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
Showing posts filed under: looks better than it tastes

Overcooked chicken strips

Take a look at these chicken tenders. Don't they look great?

Chicken tenders on a plate, with some salad on the side, and a book in the background
Photos in the post feature the book Rise: A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now

Well, they didn't taste great. I guess the first night I made them, they tasted OK, but eating them as leftovers was...not fun. But let me back up a bit.

I decided to make chicken strips because I was looking for ways to use up the rest of my breadcrumbs that have been sitting in my cabinet for who-knows-how-long. These Sriracha Chicken Strips looked like a good choice because I already had everything that the recipe called for, minus the chicken. This recipe also called for baking the strips instead of deep frying them, which sounded great! I didn't have to use up a bunch of oil and I wouldn't have to stare at it while it was cooking.

I know breading things can be kind of tedious and take a while (especially for me), but I figured, it's Friday night! I've got time! So I went for a run after work, and then I took a shower, and then I started prepping at about 8pm. I read the first step of the recipe which said to marinate the chicken in sriracha for at least an hour. I should have done this earlier! Oh well, this wouldn't be ready until at least 9...30, but that's okay.

Some uncooked chicken strips, breaded in breadcrumbs and cornmeal, along with various bowls to comprise the breading station

Once the chicken was ready for breading, I set up my breading station, and one at a time, I put flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs on every piece. This was actually kind of nice, albeit it made my fingers a bit gross after a while. I actually ended up running out of breadcrumbs before I was done with all the chicken, so I decided to use cornmeal instead, and that was extra gross.

Once I was ready to cook the chicken, I made sure to spray the baking pans because I was NOT about to have another thing stick to the pan.

Chicken tenders right after they've been pulled out of the oven. They are a little burnt.
These are a little burnt :/

Chicken tenders right after they've been pulled out of the oven, flipped over to the less burnt side
I flipped them over and they're less burnt on this side!

And they didn't stick! Unfortunately, I cooked them for way too long, and I don't know how I did that because usually I'm so paranoid about overcooking things. I really should not have bothered broiling them at all. Why do I need to broil chicken tenders?

Even though these were marinated in sriracha, I felt like that really only made them spicy, without actually adding much flavor. I ended up dipping them in ketchup. I also ended up accidentally squirting ketchup all over my hand, so it's a good thing I took the photos before I took out the ketchup.

Overcooked chicken ends up being even more overcooked when you heat it up for leftovers, so I tried to pair it with other things that tasted better.

Chicken alfredo

Well, this pasta didn't taste that much better. I used store-bought jarred alfredo sauce in this and honestly, that was a bad idea. I should have made my own. Or maybe used vodka sauce instead. Or just bought better quality sauce. I also ended up oversalting the pasta water, which I've never done before. (Hey, I was just trying to make it taste salty like the sea!)

But I'm done complaining, and I'm gonna end this post on a high note.

Chicken tenders and sweet potato fries, with a book in the background

Close up of just the sweet potato fries

These sweet potato fries were so good. And I have leftover peanut sauce, so I might make more soon.

Chipotles in adobo sauce

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.

Shrimp fajitas

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.

Hummus with a piece of naan bread

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)

Pulled pork tacos for lunch

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.

Pulled pork breakfast bowl with an egg and cilantro on top

It also made for some good breakfast bowls.

Two attempts at noodles

Last week, as I was browsing through food blogs at night, I stumbled across a stir fry noodle recipe that looked interesting. The pictures looked really good, but the comments were pretty mixed. Quite a few people said it was too salty, but some people really loved it. I'm never sure about Asian inspired recipes from non-Asian food bloggers, but I gave it a shot.

I already had a bell pepper and some scallions. I figured I would just omit the hot peppers, zucchini, and carrots. I did want some basil, but my local non-Asian grocery store only had really expensive Italian basil. So I bought a tiny container of expensive Italian basil. The store does have an Asian section, so I was able to get an 8oz pack of rice noodles. I also bought a single shallot and a single piece of chicken breast. I was running low on soy sauce, but I did have a lot of Golden Mountain Seasoning Sauce, so I figured that was close enough.

The recipe claims that it takes 15 minutes of prep time and 15 minutes of cook time. I decided to time myself. It took me 52 minutes, 44 seconds to make the dish, prep and cook. That's actually faster than I expected!

Stir fried noodles
Looks better than it tastes >.>

Heeey that looks pretty good! Unfortunately it was way too salty, just like all of those commenters said it would be. I didn't even put as much soy sauce as it called for! I also don't think the Italian basil made sense, and the noodles from the non-Asian grocery store were...not great.

The peanuts were a nice touch though.

It wasn't so bad that I didn't finish it all. But whenever I'm trying out a new recipe, the cogs in my brain immediately start turning and thinking about how I'd modify it.

  • Less salty components
  • More sugar
  • Get noodles and basil from the Asian store
  • Don't bother with the shallot, just use more scallions

So, noodles take 2!

Prep for stir fried noodles
I also added cornstarch to thicken it, and I added ginger just because I had some.

Stir fried noodles again

This second attempt was much better! And it was slightly easier for me to put together. I think it took me about 48 minutes, start to finish. If I made this a third time, I'd probably increase the amount of fish sauce a little, add a little bit of dark soy sauce, and decrease the oyster sauce. But I think I'm good on stir fried noodles for a while.

I'd say that the best part about making these noodles was that I got to share it with two of my friends, who both enjoyed eating it (:

Seafood Blend: Part 2

...is unfortunately not as successful as part 1.

Last Christmas my aunt made these shrimp avocado cucumber bites, and it was probably the most Californian thing I've ever seen. And I was convinced I needed to make these myself. I googled "shrimp guacamole cucumber" and grabbed the first recipe I saw: Avocado Cucumber Shrimp Appetizers from Natasha's Kitchen. Now it probably would have made sense to actually buy some shrimp for this, but I had half a bag of seafood blend that I needed to use up.

Avocado cucumber shrimp appetizers
Man we really should have scooped off the brown parts of the guac before taking a picture.

I also had guacamole that we had made earlier in the week using Skinnytaste's Best Guacamole Recipe. So really all I took from that other recipe is the Cajun shrimp part. It wasn't so bad, but next time we'll just use shrimp, and actually use freshly made guacamole. Or be lazy and buy it from the store.

Seafood cooking in the skillet

We actually had leftover pieces of seafood, and my sister remarked that we could throw some pasta in it. I checked my cabinets and I found a box of that Banza chickpea pasta...that expired last year. Hey, it's a box of pasta! It should be fine!

Second note to self: Do not eat expired chickpea pasta. In fact do not even buy chickpea pasta at all. It is way more expensive than regular pasta and doesn't taste as good.

Chickpea pasta
This looks way better than it tastes.

Showing posts filed under: looks better than it tastes