flailing in my kitchen 2.1

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Cinnamon swirl pancakes

August 23, 2022 12:15 PM

Prior to this entry, I had six posts tagged with "pancakes", and every single one of them has been a savory pancake. But that all changes today! Twice this week I have made your typical breakfast pancakes. In the oven. Can't be too traditional.

I remember when I first saw the recipe for cinnamon swirl oven pancakes close to a year ago, I decided I had to make it. That day. I've actually made this a lot of times in the past, but this is the first time I've taken any pictures.

A large pancake in a baking pan, with a notecard next to it, showing the recipe
It's become one of my go-to recipes!

When I made this pancake earlier in the week, I'll admit I didn't do a very good job. For some reason the batter was super lumpy (I know they say you're supposed to have lumps in it, but this had A LOT of lumps of dry flour). The batter itself was also really thin. I noticed that when I mixed the melted butter with the rest of the wet ingredients, it just solidified again.

And at first, I was just going to leave it at that. I had used up the last of my bag of all purpose flour, and I didn't want to buy another huge bag. But as I was organizing one of my kitchen cabinets, I noticed an expired bag of self rising flour that I got from one of my coworkers at the start of the pandemic.

BEST IF USED BY 1/22/19

Totally fine!

The pancake batter in the pan, before it went in the oven. There is a nice cinnamon pattern to it
Chopsticks are very versatile

The second time, it went a lot better! I actually heated the milk up to room temperature before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients, and I must have done a better job measuring because the batter was more viscous and less lumpy.

I like to double the amount of cinnamon mixture and use white sugar instead of brown for it. When I make the cinnamon swirl, it reminds me of childhood, when I often made box marble cake with my 细姑. The last step before putting the cake in the oven was to pour a chocolate mixture over the batter and run a chopstick through it to make a cool pattern.

The pancake with cinnamon swirl, right after it came out of the oven, with the recipe instructions next to it
If you look really closely, you can find the hole that I created with the chopstick

A closeup of the pancake's cinnamon swirl pattern
I was really happy with this design

These pancakes were much fluffier than my first batch! The only thing that didn't work out so well was that I ran out of vanilla, and I could only use a quarter of what the recipe called for. But that's okay. I had some expired maple syrup that I could pour on my pancakes to give it some extra sweetness.

BEST BY 1/19/19

I mean, maple syrup can't go bad that quickly, right?

A piece of pancake on a plate, with some maple syrup on the side

Despite the questionable expiration dates, it was a very tasty breakfast.


Something that vaguely resembles pho

August 18, 2022 10:14 PM

Every once in a while I get a sudden craving for pho. I don't know how it hits me, but I just think about that pho smell and then I want some. I'm not about to spend 6 hours simmering some broth though, so I needed a shortcut. I remembered that Budget Bytes has a "faux pho" recipe, and it has decent reviews, so I decided to give it a try.

Me in my kitchen, assembling a bowl of noodles
Trying to make the bowls all fancy

Her recipe uses chicken, and it just doesn't feel right to have chicken pho. I wanted beef. So I used beef broth instead of chicken broth and sliced beef instead of cooked chicken. I had a container of beef Better than Bouillon that expired earlier this year that I wanted to use up, and I bought the cheapest piece of beef I could find at Aldi, which was an "eye of round".

The soup is really simple. It's just broth and five spice. And so I mixed my beef broth with five spice and took a sip. It...felt like it was lacking something. I wasn't really sure what, but I ended up throwing in some bullhead barbecue sauce (hot pot sauce) and a little bit of hoisin, and, well, it didn't really taste like pho, but I guess it wasn't bad.

Bowls of pho on the table, with some sauce and fresh veggies in the background
The plate of fresh veggies is very important

I ended up squeezing a lime slice into my bowl, and that made it taste a lot better. Still didn't really taste like pho, but it was some good noodle soup. Later that day, after I got back from a walk, I remember stepping into my living room and thinking "hey it vaguely smells like pho in here!"

I had some leftover broth and fixin's so I made more the next day, but I just went completely hot pot on it, and added cooked broccoli as well.

Noodle soup, with some plain beef and broccoli on the side
I still need bigger Asian bowls

I really like noodle soup, and I want to give pho a try again. Maybe I'll actually use a recipe from an Asian person next time.


Mug cakes

November 12, 2021 7:26 PM

I've been really into mug cakes lately. They're easy to make, and I end up with just the right amount of warm dessert for myself. I really like Budget Byte's Cinnamon Nut Swirl Mug Cake (minus the nuts).

But man, for a "microwave cake", it's actually kind of complicated. I'm pretty sure I use every size measuring spoon I own plus an extra bowl, mix three sets of things, and use the microwave many times. So yeah, I needed to cut some of this out.


Budget Bytes has a few other mug cake recipes, and I wanted to try them out. I saw her post this Funfetti Mug Cake earlier this year, and I saved it for the next time I had milk I needed to use up. This was a lot easier. Like, I finished making it and I thought, "wow that was easy".

The taste? It was okay. It felt like something was missing though.

And then I realized that she doesn't put any salt in this recipe. How can you make a cake with no salt?! I made the recipe again a day later with a pinch of salt. Not the best, still not even close to the taste of that cinnamon mug cake, but better.


Okay, so I also made some hot chocolate a few days later, and I realized my cocoa powder expired over two years ago. It still seems fine, but I guess I should try and use it all up. I remembered that Budget Bytes has a chocolate mug cake recipe. I made this once while my sister had been staying with me and I remember feeling that it was pretty...average.

But I still need to use up this milk, and I also need to use up this cocoa powder, so I made that chocolate mug cake again. And this? This was even easier. This one doesn't have butter, so I didn't have to even use the microwave twice or grab a bowl. I also didn't bother with the dollop of peanut butter in the middle.

The taste was still pretty average though, and it definitely wasn't sweet enough. Maybe I've grown too much of a sweet tooth lately, but two teaspoons of sugar just did not feel like enough. So I decided to remake this again, but use a whole tablespoon of sugar. Definitely helped.

And that had that extra benefit of getting rid of a need for a measuring teaspoon. So this is so easy now. One mug, one 1/4 tsp spoon, one tbsp spoon. Use the 1/4 tsp spoon to mix everything. One minute in the microwave. That's it. I could make one of these every day.


Still, those two easier mug cakes don't beat the taste of the cinnamon swirl mug cake. Maybe I can tweak that one...


Meal Plan: 12/5 - 12/11

December 12, 2020 11:41 AM

Last week I showed you what was in the PERISHABLE section of my whiteboard. This week I'll expand that and also show you the PANTRY.

Whiteboard

You see how some of the items aren't underneath a date? That means they're so old, I've forgotten when I actually bought them. And that can of bamboo shoots? I think it's been expired for a while. My go-to recipe for using up bamboo is curry, so I decided to put green chicken curry on my list of dishes for the week.

Obviously, that means I need to go to the Asian store to buy green curry paste. And since I've got that on my list, why not just make it a full week of Asian food? Sweet rice (sticky rice) is at the top of my PANTRY section, and the reason I bought that in the first place was to make Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage. But, the last time I made it, I didn't feel like actually opening that new bag of rice, so I just used my normal Jasmine rice. And that bag of sweet rice has been sitting in a cabinet, unopened, ever since.

For my third dish, I looked up noodle soup recipes on The Woks of Life since it's cold out now, and noodle soup sounds really good. I settled on Udon Noodle Soup with Chicken and Mushrooms since I've made it before and it uses dashi, which I currently have, and shiitake mushrooms, which I'm going to buy anyway for the sticky rice meal.

And that would have settled it, except I looked back at my whiteboard and realized I STILL NEED TO USE UP THE CABBAGE. I was trying to think of other Asian dishes that use cabbage, and my mind went to Singapore noodles. I don't know why my mind associates that with cabbage, but it works since I also have vermicelli noodles.

So, my original shopping plan was to just hit up the Asian store. But then I put together my list and realized I needed to buy chicken, and I just do not think buying chicken from the Asian store is a good idea. I don't even know if the local Asian stores here sell chicken.

Groceries - Aldi

So, I made a trip to Aldi. And look at all that produce! I'm definitely getting my greens this week. And yeah, Aldi sells ginger now. Crazy.

Groceries - Asian store

Aldi also sells coconut milk, but I just decided I'd get it at the Asian store instead. I'm not actually sure which option would have been cheaper. The Chinese sausage and dried shrimp are also kinda pricey. In total, I spent $48.37 on my groceries, which is way more than I should spent on food in one week. But, I did have a very light grocery haul last week, and next week will probably also be light. If we're averaging, I'm still under $30/week.

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Saturday Mushroom pasta Takeout: Chicken sandwich Fried mac n cheese
Sunday Fried mac n cheese Singapore noodles Okonomiyaki
Monday Fried mac n cheese Pulled pork tacos Chicken curry
Tuesday Fried mac n cheese Okonomiyaki Singapore noodles
Wednesday Okonomiyaki Singapore noodles
Thursday Singapore noodles Sticky rice
Friday Singapore noodles Chicken curry McDonald's

So, it's Saturday now, and I'm sitting here and I cannot remember well enough what I actually ate on Wednesday. Usually I try to write this down the day of, but I just happened to forget to do that on Wednesday. Did I actually skip a meal? Why in the world would I have skipped breakfast? Maybe I snacked on something. Maybe I had beef jerky in the morning.

I did sort of skip lunch on Thursday. I mean I ate food. I was grazing all day. I definitely had a yogurt and some beef jerky and probably something else as well. You'll also notice that I had McDonald's on Friday. I just really wanted those french fries. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything else on the menu I really wanted. But I got a few other things and it was still satisfying enough for a lazy Friday evening.

Ending with an obligatory photo of the pulled pork tacos:

Tacos


Social Distancing: Days 12 - 14

April 6, 2020 8:00 AM

Day 12(Monday): We still have a decent amount of Thai basil leftover, and I figured it's due time for some stir fry. Plus I don't think it's going to last another day. I'm scrolling through recipes from The Woks of Life and I come across one that looks good. It also looks familiar. I made it last year! So I check my old posts, and it says to double the amount of basil. Well, that's not happening. Doesn't matter. This was still delicious.

Thai Chicken Stir-fry with Basil (recipe from The Woks of Life)
Thai Chicken Stir-fry with Basil (The Woks of Life)

We also realize that even though we bought a ridiculous amount of groceries the week before, that we were running out of fruit! So we go back to the grocery store an pick up more stuff. Hey, we lasted one extra day this time!


Day 13 (Tuesday): I have a friend of a friend that apparently works at a local restaurant, and they've got a ton of food (ingredients) that they're telling their employees to take home. So what does that mean for me? I get a surprise box of produce! It's like Misfits Markets again!

I mean, really all I specifically asked for was avocados, but she asked me if I was also willing to take limes, and so I said, I'll take anything! But these avocados are super ripe, so they need to be used today.

And what else can we do with avocado? Put them on some BBQ chicken pizza!

We half the dough recipe this time since we had super thick pizza two days ago. But this turns out super thin. Next time we'll go with 3/4 the amount of dough. And maybe one day I'll actually buy a circular pizza pan so we can have proper circular pizzas.


Day 14 (Wednesday): Yesterday we had chips and guac. Today we decide to have chips and queso!

But what about dinner? We have so much food. Why did we buy so much food? What do we have that looks like it's going bad? The green beans are looking a little sad. Let's make green bean casserole! I have this can of Cream of Chicken that has been sitting in my cabinet for who knows how long. It looks like it expired last year. But it's canned, so I assume it's fine.

In making the pizza and the cheesy bread a few nights ago, my sister learned that I have a large amount of cornmeal just sitting in my pantry, so this inspires her to make some cornbread.

Now all we need is some protein in this meal. I did buy a family pack of chicken breast from the store on Monday. So I look for some chicken breast recipes, and found this super basic one from Budget Bytes. Chicken breast is kind of boring, but as long as we absolutely do not overcook it, it will be delicious. The recipe says to cook for 20 minutes. I think we cooked it for less than 15. Perfectly cooked chicken breast.

Garlic Herb Baked Chicken Breast (recipe from Budget Bytes)

Garlic Herb Baked Chicken Breast (Budget Bytes)


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