If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know that I'm not really a baker, or even just a person who makes desserts. I don't even make simple things like chocolate chip cookies or box brownies. But in my quest to get rid of everything in my pantry, I've hit the point where I have to start going through all my baking ingredients.
So I think it's finally time to start conquering my fear of dough.
Uhh, not bread dough though. Let's start with cookie dough. Can you believe that I had never made chocolate chip cookies from scratch before?! My sister has her own special recipe that everyone in my family uses, and they make cookies all the time. So I never really felt the need to make my own cookies. But I had some leftover chocolate chips from the last time my sister visited me and I wanted to use them up.
I looked into a few different chocolate chip cookie recipes, and I settled on the one from The Novice Chef. It seemed easy enough. I only really had about 1/2 a cup of chocolate chips, so I cut the recipe in half (except for the egg because I'm not about to just use half an egg). As I went to for the cookie dough balls on the baking sheet, it was kind of a mess. I have no idea how I was supposed to roll it up into a ball. It was all sticky so I just ended up plopping messy mounds of cookie dough onto the sheet. I was a little worried when I put them into the oven, but they turned out okay!
Just okay. Not amazing. I'll have to try a different recipe next time. Maybe my sister's?
So, I've made pancakes plenty of times before, but I usually stick to oven pancakes, because I find them so easy and convenient. I decided to try some more traditional pancakes though. I had some leftover ricotta from the various pasta dishes I've made recently, and I wanted to try ricotta pancakes, since the idea of them sounded so intriguing.
And man, it was a lot of work. And the pancakes turned out...also okay. I don't even think it quite makes sense for me to include them in a post about "sweet things" since they weren't that sweet and I didn't have any maple syrup, but whatever. I just sprinkled sugar on top of them as I was eating them. Close enough. I'll stick to the cinnamon swirl oven pancakes next time.
I'm realizing that I could have titled this post "things that involved a hand mixer" and I guess baking and hand mixers just go hand-in-hand! (thanks sister for being the reason I even own one in the first place!)
Anyway, I was browsing facebook when I saw a recipe for some really simple no-churn ice cream, and I thought it looked so good so I saved it. This Oreo ice cream only calls for three ingredients, and I already had some sweetened condensed milk!
This one actually turned out really well! It definitely has an extra creamy taste to it, which is different from most ice cream I get from the store, but I liked it a lot!
Finally, the only dessert I (used to) know how to make. Delicious as always. And I will keep making it at least a few more times, just to get through my expired cocoa powder.
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.
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
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.
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?
Despite the questionable expiration dates, it was a very tasty breakfast.
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 (:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.