About a month ago, I thought to myself, "Man, I'm spending way too much money eating out. I need to cook more of my meals." And then I went on a little vacation, and I ate out for every single meal of the day because I'm not cooking on vacation.
But vacation is over. Time to cook. I'm know I'm really slow at making things, so I decided that I was going to try meal prepping. I'm not making three different dishes in one day--that's too much--but I wanted to see if I could do more prep in advance: cutting up vegetables, mixing together sauces and spice mixtures. So I came up with a bunch of different meals for the week, and I wrote down all the groceries I would need for those meals, and I spent over two hours on prep work
last last last Saturday.
I was exhausted. But, it really did make the cooking for the rest of the week a lot easier.
So the first thing I decided to make after all that prep work was leftovers. I was way too tired to cook a whole meal. But after I ate that meal, I guess I felt like I had enough energy to make some real dessert. That's right, I didn't just microwave something in a mug, I made a whole batch of snickerdoodles.
I have this little container of cream of tartar sitting in my pantry, and apparently that's what you use to make snickerdoodles. For most of my life, I thought snickerdoodles were just sugar cookies with extra cinnamon on them. Turns out they're sugar cookies with cinnamon and cream of tartar.
When I made my first batch a month ago, it was way more work than I expected. Mostly because I don't own a stand mixer. And it also took me forever. This time it was juuust a little bit easier and went juuust a little bit more quickly. I still somehow seem to mess up at least one batch in the oven, but I'm getting the hang of this.
On Sunday morning, I made some Greek Turkey Rice. (Actually I used chicken, because for some reason turkey is sold in 19.2 oz packages rather than 1 lb, and I already think 1 lb is way more meat that I need for this.)
I've had a bunch of pasta dishes lately, so I wanted to switch it up with some rice. I had some leftover spinach from last week, and I didn't mind buying feta, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes since I can just snack on those.
Very good, very easy meal. Also very easy to pack and heat up leftovers, which is what I needed after getting nothing but take out at work for the past few months.
Later on Sunday, I made some Cajun shrimp toast. I've already made up my mind that I want to make these as a Christmas appetizer when I visit family, but I wanted to try it a couple of times before then.
This stuff is so good. I went over to a friend's house on Sunday night to watch a movie, and I brought the shrimp toast. It was a big hit.
So the week before this, I ordered a HelloFresh box, and one of the meals was Cajun chicken sandwich. It was pretty tasty. I wasn't originally planning on making more chicken sandwiches, but then I thought about my container of celery seed that expired in 2017 that I'm trying to use up. I can make coleslaw with that. Coleslaw goes well enough with chicken sandwiches, right?
Right. I thought the coleslaw was great. I had only intended on making four sandwiches, but I had a little bit of chicken left over, so I fried up some nuggets and ate them with a pack of McDonald's BBQ sauce. That was also great.
I also really wanted to make some mac n cheese because I had some breadcrumbs, and because my boyfriend has mentioned that he likes baked mac n cheese, with the crispy breadcrumbs on top. The last time I made mac n cheese, it was just okay and it was way way way too much food.
Okay, so this time I tried a different recipe. And I only cooked half a pound of pasta, which is a much more reasonable amoumnt of pasta for one or two pasta. This was pretty easy to make since I could use pre-shredded cheese. I ended up using the rest of all the random bags of cheese that I had: pepperjack, mozzarella, and Mexican blend (four different cheeses!). And then I topped it with some parmesan! It's six cheese macaroni!
Honestly, after I put it in the oven, I was a little worried about all the different cheeses that I added. Maybe it was too much. But it ended up tasting pretty good! I think I made it a tad too salty, but we had no trouble eating all of it within a few days.
Finally, the last meal I cooked was some almost vegetarian shoyu butter udon noodles. Why is it almost vegetarian? Because I used butter. And oyster sauce. But I wasn't going to buy vegan products when I had perfectly good non-vegan substitutes.
Anyway, this was really easy and the mushrooms were delicious. I'm gonna make it again this week (I still have more noodles and edamame!)
And finally finally, I decided to make some carrot cake to use up the rest of a block of cream cheese I had sitting in the fridge. I followed this carrot cake for two recipe, but I doubled it, and then I also used my square muffin tins which are very large, so it ended up making three very large muffins. And it was kind of a struggle to get these cakes out of the muffin tin.
I also only ended up icing a single muffin so I have lots of cream cheese frosting left over. More muffins this week! I'll be sure to make them smaller and use cupcake liners so it's easier.
Okay, done writing for now. I know it's been a while, but thanks for reading my rambly food thoughts!
To round out the past week, I made some American dishes. I had some leftover broccoli and leftover shells from the hummus pasta, so I decided to make some mac n cheese. I've made this broccoli shells and cheese recipe before, so I knew it would taste good! (I also followed the recipe exactly)
I was having a really busy Wednesday. I went into the office that day, and then I also went for a quick run after work. By the time I had even started cooking, it was almost 9pm. But I really wanted some comfort food, so I was making that mac n cheese.
And even though it was late, it was very chill, and I didn't flail at all! Just a good, comforting, late dinner of some
macaroni shells and cheese.
I made more American food the next night. I've had this bottle of Worcestershire sauce (that's really hard to spell) that's been sitting in my fridge for probably way too long, so I wanted to use it up. I was browsing through recipes that use this (that also wouldn't require me to buy more sauces I didn't have), and I came across slow cooker steak tips and mushrooms. Honestly? The picture kind of reminded me of dog food >.>
But it uses sauces and vineger that I already have, and it still looks like it tastes good, so I put this on my list of things to make. I also figured this would pair well with my mac and cheese!
Well, since this required slow cooking, I prepared it Thursday night, so I could finish it off Friday morning. It was after 10pm when I started prepping, and man, was cutting up the beef super annoying. Not chill at all. I really, really, really should get a better knife. And maybe I should buy beef from somewhere other than Aldi. I was exhausted just from cutting the meat and I was regretting even deciding to make this in the first place. And then I remembered that I was supposed to brown the beef on the stovetop! (It didn't brown. Not at all. I should have just skipped that step)
But I did it. I got everything in the slow cooker.
And the next morning, I had...something that kind of looked like beef stew, actually. It wasn't terrible. I also still had a head of broccoli, so I roasted that with some steak seasoning and chili powder, and I had a very dinner-like breakfast.
Oh, yeah I actually did eat this with one serving of mac and cheese the next day, but I never took a picture. I think it paired better with rice anyway.
You would think that after eating way too much mac n cheese and fried mac n cheese cubes that I would just stop making mac n cheese altogether. But no. I just stopped baking it in the oven and turning them into fried cubes. When I was a little kid, I loved baked mac n cheese, but I think my tastes have changed over time.
I saw this broccoli shells and cheese recipe on How Sweet Eats and I immediately saved it for a time when I would buy too much milk and needed to use it up before it expired.
For some reason I thought mac n cheese was hard. This was actually so easy. The recipe said to use freshly grated cheese, but pre-shredded works perfectly fine. It tasted great, and I might decide to make this for Thanksgiving next year.
Happy Thanksgiving! It's December 31, and my family is having Thanksgiving dinner, and tomorrow we're celebrating Christmas. Because that's just how my family rolls.
Remember that incredibly large portion of mac n cheese I made last last Thanksgiving? Remember how I deep fried some of it a week later? And then deep fried more of it in February but still had some left over? Well, I finally finished deep frying all of it. In April. But I had these photos on my Pixel and I only just got my app in a state where it's able to upload photos.
I don't remember much about this, but I do remember taking the photo on the Pixel and thinking "Whoa! This picture quality is waaay better than my old iPhone"
I think I finally figured out how to make fried mac n cheese without flailing. And I also think I won't be making any more fried mac n cheese for a very long time.
If you read the table in my last post closely, you'll notice that I had mac n cheese a few times. As you know, I made a gigantic batch of mac n cheese last Thanksgiving and I still have way too many frozen mac n cheese blocks sitting in a bag. So I decided to fry up some more of these.
I reread my old fried mac n cheese post, and I had suggested to myself to dip the blocks in flour before dipping them in egg. So I tried that this time. Did it make a difference? I have no idea.
But you know what? This deep frying experience was...much less flail-y than I expected it to be. Maybe deep frying food isn't that scary. I just had to not turn the heat up so much. That must be the cause of so much of my cooking anxiety growing up. My mom always insisted on everything being cooked on high heat, but you know what that resulted in? Flying pieces of cabbage and a huge oil burn on my leg.
But not this time. This went surprisingly well.