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.
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 feel like I keep telling people about this $30 a week challenge that I really want to try, but keep failing at. Well, this past week was the first week in a while that I could actually cook, and so I tried the challenge again. And I did it! I spent $27.79 on food, and that's even including eating out once. And this "week" actually started Thursday night of last week, and went til today. So it's technically longer than a week.
Okay, so maybe this was cheating, but I had a bunch of frozen seafood already on me. Including crab legs, which I bought a month ago since they were on sale. It was a good thing I had them, plus romaine lettuce because that meant when I drove back from my family's place, I didn't have to buy groceries that same night.
And wow, romaine lettuce really does keep for a long time in the fridge. I'm pretty sure they were sitting there for a month, but they still seemed perfectly fine for eating this past week. I was able to make a few Caesar salads with shrimp (yup, I also had that in my freezer already). I considered buying croutons, but then I had this wonderful idea to just toast a bagel (that I did buy this week) and cut it up into little cubes. It turned out great, but I definitely need a break from romaine lettuce for a while.
Look, I had scallops already in my freezer too! But only scallop pieces, because I'm cheap like that. (Yep, this definitely feels like cheating) I looked up scallop recipes and decided to make Garlic Butter Scallop Bowls from Damn Delicious. (Technically, I used Budget Bytes's Cilantro Lime Rice recipe) I still don't quite understand the key to making good scallops, though the fact that I used the scallop bits and pieces probably didn't help. I really liked the flavor of them though. I wasn't as huge a fan of the pico de gallo. I feel like it had a little too much lime, so I'll have to look for a different recipe for that next time.
In trying to really stay under budget, I decided to make some shrimp burrito bowls, since I could utilize some of the unused pico de gallo, cilantro lime rice, and romaine lettuce. All I needed to buy specifically for this dish was a can of black beans. I used the shrimp and black bean parts of Budget Byte's Chili Lime Shrimp Bowls recipe. It was delicious.
Okay, not everything I made utilized impulse-bought seafood from the past. Of course I had to make some tacos too. I used Damn Delicious's Mexican Street Tacos recipe. Instead of using skirt steak, I actually found pre-cut beef at Aldi, which was also cheaper than their skirt steak, so win-win. I also used sweet onions instead of red onions because I think sweet onions are far superior.
So, I will be attempting to stay under $30 again next week. And maybe it'll feel less like cheating with less seafood already in freezer.
I know they call them "pot stickers" but you really don't want them to stick to the pot. Because then you can't take them out of the pot, and you end up with dumplings that are missing bottoms.
We switched to a non-stick pan for the second batch. I guess you can't really tell from the picture though, since the bottoms are hidden.
One of my friends made a pretty salad to go with the dumplings. Apparently he was supposed to use green onions, but Aldi was out of them so he used red ones instead. Red onion is not a good substitute for green onion.
...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.
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.
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.