flailing in my kitchen 2.1

How can I be sad when I have breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
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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.


Slow(ly) cooking

May 26, 2022 11:04 PM

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 (:

Dumpling preparation -- a bowl of the ground pork mixture, some wrapped dumplings, and in my hand, a dumpling wrapper with some filling.

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.

Some cooked dumplings and dipping sauce

I had to get that crispy bottom in the picture too

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!

Scallion pancakes with dipping sauce
That dipping sauce was too spicy for me to handle and yet I kept going back for more

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.


Cooking is a lot of work

December 5, 2020 8:01 PM

I feel like I cooked so much this week, and yet didn't cook enough at the same time. This must have been why I took a break from the blog for so many months.

Mushroom Pasta

So, the good thing about this Creamy Mushroom Herb Pasta was that it was easy to make and tasted good. The bad thing is that it's pasta, and pasta leftovers are not great. 5/5 right after I finished cooking, 2/5 the next day. It definitely had a different texture after reheating. Less creamy, more...sticky? It also kind of lost some flavor, so I was sprinkling some garlic salt on it when I ate the leftovers.

Mushroom Pasta in a dish

I had actually bought those mushrooms to put in a green bean casserole, but you know I got sick of Thanksgiving food, so I never ended up getting to it. However, the sauce for this basically tasted like a more refined cream of mushroom. So it was like I ate green bean casserole without green beans. Which is...a little disappointing when you think of it that way.

I also totally forgot that I had thyme in my freezer, and I used dried thyme instead. Missed opportunity there. Will I make this again? Maybe. Maybe if I just happen to have all the ingredients for it, which is what happened this time.

Okonomiyaki

I think this okonomiyaki turned out a little better than the pasta though. I actually think the pasta tastes better right after cooking, but these pancakes held up better as leftovers. But maybe that's just because I reheated it in the pan. I didn't give the pasta the same treatment.

My sister made okonomiyaki earlier this year, but she used a much more authentic recipe than the Budget Bytes one. I am not at her level, so making a Japanese dish from an American blogger is more at the level I can handle. I did make the okonomiyaki sauce from Just One Cookbook though. I also put shrimp in these! (I know you can't tell from the pictures)

A different angle

Pancakes from a box are already a lot of work, so making these cabbage pancakes was a little draining. It's just so time consuming when you have to cook them one at a time. I don't think I quite got the hang of it. Why do pancakes always look nice on one side but bad on the other? I think I was hoping it would turn out a little crisipier, but it still ended up tasting good.

Also, I still have more cabbage!

Candied Bacon

Finally, I made some candied bacon. I've done this once before, and I think it turned out better the last time. I think I need to make sure I'm really applying pressure on the bacon while it's cooking. I also used thick cut this time and that probably added to the cooking time.

But candied bacon is always delicious, whether that's right out of the oven, or eaten the next day.


Social Distancing: Days 24 - 26

April 25, 2020 5:57 AM

So I've been verybusy at work lately, which is why I haven't posted an update in a while. When I start working on a project at work my mind is just in this "I NEED TO FINISH THIS" mode and I can't work on other things. Anyway, I've found a stopping point, so it's time to catch up on blog posts.


Day 24 (Saturday): I have decided to take inventory of all my food. That's right. Everything in my kitchen.

I had already been doing this, but I finally took inventory of my herbs, spices, sauces, etc. Yes, this is what I stare at every day when I decide what to cook and what leftover to eat for breakfast or lunch.

Before I get to the dinner portion of this, check out this super aesthetic coffee my sister made.

So tonight's dinner was Nam Sod (Thai pork salad). I had about a pound of ground pork sitting in the freezer, but what I really needed to use up were some super sad looking limes.

Nam Sod (Budget Bytes)

Nam Sod (Budget Bytes)

We ate it both with rice and in lettuce wraps. I thought it was great, though my sister prefers something sweeter. Adding some Thai basil would have made this even better though!


Day 25 (Sunday): We decide to go grocery shopping. On a Sunday. But we didn't think about what Sunday it is. EASTER. That's right, all the stores are closed except Whole Foods. And Whole Foods has a line that wraps around the building. We decide to head back home. We'll survive.

Okonomiyaki (Just One Cookbook), Sichuan Dry Fried Green Beans (The Woks of Life) but we winged a lot of this since we were out of a bunch of ingredients
Okonomiyaki (Just One Cookbook), Sichuan Dry Fried Green Beans (The Woks of Life) but we winged a lot of this since we were out of a bunch of ingredients

Since we have about half a head of cabbage in the fridge, we decide to make Okonomiyaki. It was delicious. We also had some green beans that seemed like they were going to go bad soon, so we fried those up as well. Of course at this point we're starting to struggle a little with what ingredients we had left. We used up the rest of our eggs for this meal!


Day 26 (Monday): We also wanted to go grocery shopping this day, but for some reason my stomach wasn't feeling so great, so we stayed home again. It's okay. We had some salmon in the freezer and some broccoli in the fridge so we made a quick meal out of that.

Cajun Salmon (How Sweet Eats), Cilantro Lime Rice (Budget Bytes)
Cajun Salmon (How Sweet Eats), Cilantro Lime Rice (Budget Bytes)

Unfortunately I didn't let the salmon thaw all the way before putting it under the broiler so that was a bit of a struggle to get it cooked completely. I'm still learning how to use that broiler properly. But the rub we added to the salmon was great, and the meal overall was delicious.

At this point, we were out of garlic, soy sauce, milk, fruit...we absolutely needed a grocery trip.


Social Distancing: First 3 Days

March 21, 2020 7:38 PM

So, my sister's school got canceled for who knows how long, which means she's back with me! And since she's back, you know what that means. We make lots of food and take lots of pictures.

Roasted Broccoli Pasta with Lemon and Feta (Budget Bytes)

So, when we got home we went grocery shopping, and my mom told us to buy two week's worth of groceries. So we bought a lot of food. But, there is zero chance that we managed to get enough for two weeks. I don't even think we bought enough food for one week. We went through a whole pound of broccoli in one meal!

Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus, Sesame Tuna Salad (Budget Bytes) Also a traditional tuna salad and veggies

We're trying really hard to not go grocery shopping again until all our veggies are used up. I think we can last a couple more days. Maybe. But I will not sacrifice healthy, well-balanced meals for this. I know eating veggies with dip might seem like a weird thing to have for lunch, but look at the different flavors! I have all the food groups represented. And I can use up my whole thing of celery, which is great because I don't really like celery.

My sister took this. Her pictures are so much nicer than mine.

And we bought so much fruit! Which is crazy for me, since I don't really like fruit that much. But my sister can turn that fruit into delicious smoothies, and I love smoothies.

Much less aesthetic scallion pancakes, which I took after we already ate a bunch.

Of course this means we have to be a little creative. Out of limes? Let's use lemons instead. Out of cilantro? What else do I have that's green? Have the wrong kind of cheese? Doesn't matter, I'll just use what I have.

Chili Rubbed Pulled Pork (Budget Bytes)

Yes, I made tacos and replaced limes with lemons, green onion with cilantro, and queso fresco with feta. And it was better than any other taco from a hipster restaurant that I've ever had.

Yeah, we're now officially out of fresh green things to use as garnish. Lesson learned? Buy way way way more vegetables next time.


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