I'm cooking a lot. Sometimes my aunt will call me and ask me if I've gone grocery shopping that day, and my answer is always yes. I think I go to the grocery store an average of at least once a day. I mean, it's so convenient. I have at least 5 stores within walking distance.
So, here are just a few more things that I've cooked this week.
I bought a whole head of green leaf lettuce when I made the guac burgers, and I only ended up using two leaves total! That's half a leaf per burger! So, I figured I could make some salad with the rest of it. I keep buying caesar salad bag mixes from Aldi, and I could save so much money by just buying the ingredients separately.
But man, having to wash and dry lettuce is such a pain. I don't mind chopping things, but drying things is the worst. I still don't know how people do it. You never see people drying veggies in recipe videos. Green leaf lettuce is also not a great choice for caesar salad. It was just way too leafy and soft. I needed some extra crunch.
I still have some green leaf lettuce left, but I decided to buy a bag of some romaine and...some type of red crunchy leaf for the next batch of salad. And it was pre-washed so I didn't have to wash it! (But I still ended up cutting it into smaller pieces because the pieces are too large)
The other thing you can see in the photo is some mashed potatoes. I made slow cooker mashed potatoes to use up half a block of cream cheese (and some of my milk). It wasn't bad, but I really should have cooked it for an extra hour. I don't have a potato masher, so I was using other various cooking utensils to mash the potatoes: a wooden spoon, a slotted spatula, a ladle, a fork. I really should have just used a hand mixer like it said to do in the recipe, because I actually have one of those!
Oh, I've made these mashed potatoes before, and I said it needed more, well, everything. I still agree with that. Maybe future me will actually remember next time.
To use up the other half of the cream cheese, I made this tortellini pasta. I figured it would be good because I really like the creamy tomato spinach pasta from Budget Bytes. She said this would be even easier (and it was!) but I think I prefer the other pasta. I don't think this one had enough sauce for how much pasta was in it.
This recipe called for 19 oz of pasta, and I should have known that that would be WAY too much pasta, especially given the fact that the tortellini package was labeled "Family pack". You know how I feel about leftover pasta. I also dislike leftover spinach. But it's okay, my boyfriend told me he will eat the rest 😁
The past two months have been really busy with either me traveling to visit someone, or someone else visiting the area. I haven't really cooked as much, which means I haven't done anything for the food blog.
But I did try making hummus pasta again, and it turned out really well!
This is what I did differently this time:
If I had more time in my day, I'd cook a lot more and I'd make the same dish three days in a row, just so I could keep making tweaks to make it better each time.
I'm trying to eat healthier. I know that means something a little different for everyone, but for me that mostly means more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods.
One of my coworkers mentioned that they like the site Pick up Limes, which has lots of vegan recipes, and that's gotta be healthy, right? I saw a recipe for hummus pasta, and people had such good things to say about it, so I had to try it out.
This was really easy to make. It had very few ingredients, and even though I always make hummus from scratch, I decided I didn't want to make hummus and pasta, so I just bought some from Aldi. The recipe also includes vegan "parmesan" and I just bought real parmesan from the store.
When I was mixing up the hummus and the coconut milk, I was worried it would be a little bland, so I added some salt and pepper which I think was a good decision. In fact, I think I should have added even more salt and pepper.
It wasn't bad though! I think I'd want to try making this again. I didn't want to halve the recipe because I didn't want to have half a can of coconut milk left, but I think I could just make the same amount of sauce and halve the pasta. Also, I gotta stop buying penne from Aldi. I haven't had my pasta fall apart quite as bad as that one time, but it always ends up falling apart a little bit. And I should probably get better quality coconut milk too.
Oh, I also had to see how the leftovers would taste, and they weren't terrible, but they weren't good either. Very few pasta dishes make good leftovers though, so it's alright. I'll just make a smaller batch next time.
I actually bought pita bread to eat with my store bought hummus, and I'm not sure why I did, because I basically used all of the hummus for the pasta. I needed to eat something with the pita, so I went and made my own hummus later! A while back I had tried this caramelized onion and balsamic hummus, and I thought it was really good, so I wanted to try making some of my own. And what do you know, Pick up Limes, has a recipe for this too.
It took a bit of time, and my eyes were dying from the onions, but it was very tasty! I'll definitely make it again.
I really like making baked ziti. It's kind of time consuming, but it's so relaxing, and it's such good comfort food. But the problem I run into with baked ziti is that it makes so much food, and it would take me at least ten meals to get through all of it by myself. And I don't want to cut the recipe in half either, because then I'd just be left over with a bunch of baked ziti ingredients.
Last time I mentioned baked ziti, I said it would be good to cook for my family. So I figured that it would be the perfect dish for me to make for Christmas! Every year, my family likes to do something special for Christmas. One year it was "dip-mas", where everyone had to bring a dip. This past year was "app-mas", and everyone had to bring an appetizer that starts with the first letter of their name.
Well, my name doesn't start with a B or a Z, but I still wanted to make baked ziti! I decided to look up various pasta shapes to see if any started with an M or a K. Macaroni didn't quite feel right. But I found something that would work!
Mostaccioli. It's penne with no ridges.
My cousin even made a silly tiktok video, and I was very awkward in it.
And it turned out great! Mostaccioli is a great substitute for ziti. But I learned that not all pasta shapes work quite that well. A few weeks ago, we had a friend over, and I decided to make baked ziti again. This time I did halve the recipe (because it's still plenty for three people), and I didn't want to buy a box of ziti just to have half of it left over. I decided to use what was already in the pantry, which happened to be half a box of radiatore.
This definitely felt different. The dish wasn't bad, but it wasn't as good as the baked ziti I normally make. Something about the extra surface area and lack of tubular-ness.
And somehow, I still haven't gotten sick of variations on baked ziti, so this past weekend, I decided to make baked ravioli.
I actually was going to suggest baked ziti, but I switched it up, and used ravioli instead so I wouldn't have to buy ricotta cheese. This probably resembles lasagna more than ziti, but lasagna is just ziti with lasagna noodles anyway.
This was even easier to make than baked ziti, and it was really tasty too! My friend really enjoyed it.
That salad was also delicious. The chopped caesar salad kit from Aldi is 👌
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.