Whenever I go over to my friends' places and they cook for me, I find it so inspiring. Homemade food is always so good, and usually so simple. I go to restaurants and I eat take out, and I'm pretty much never impressed, but there is something about a homemade dish that is incredibly satisfying. Everything that my friends make, I want to make too.
A few weeks ago, one of my friends showed me this spaghetti aglio e olio recipe that she had been making a lot of. (It took me a few times of saying that dish out loud before I could remember it) It was pretty good, but my friend loves spicy foods and doesn't like things too salty, so she doubled the red pepper and added way less salt than the recipe called for, and well, it tasted very pepper-y to me. So I wanted to try making this myself.
Also, the recipe says Don't serve cheese with this and I know I'm basically asking to be told what to do when making a dish, but I don't appreciate recipes telling me not to add cheese to my pasta. So I searched for another recipe, and I was feeling Love & Lemons take on it more.
I was feeling fancy so I used bucatini instead of spaghetti, and I wanted some vegetable in this so I added some grape tomatoes. Cooked tomatoes are delicious and this dish was delicious and the noodles were so fun to eat 😊
After I had read a few pages of Salt Fat Acid Heat, I told myself that I would try to read the whole thing once I got back to my apartment. That was May, and I waited til September to take the book out from the library, and after that it just sat on the shelf for month. (I'm really bad at returning library books in a timely manner. It takes me months, sometimes over a year.) But I finally started reading it again in earnest last week.
There is a lot of information in the book just about salt, but I figured the next place where I would try to incorporate another lesson is pasta. The author, Samin Nosrat, says this about boiling your pasta water:
season your cooking water as salty as the sea. [...] You might flinch upon seeing just how much salt this takes, but remember, most of the salt ends up going down the drain.
I filled up my pot with some water, started boiling it, threw two clumps of (table) salt in, and tasted a spoonful of the water. Not even close. I did this probably four or five more times, and wow this takes a lot of salt to get to what seems like "sea salt water". I'm not flinching because I'm worried about my salt intake, I'm just thinking about how much more salt I'll need to have on hand.
And now it has suddenly dawned on me how I kept running out of salt when my sister was staying with me.
Hey! I actually tasted the saltiness of the pasta! It was good! But yeah, this is a lot of salt. I think I'll keep trying to make properly salted pasta, but I'll stick to table salt in my cooking water.
I ended up making Creamy Chicken Fajita Pasta because I had a nub of cream cheese, along with a bell pepper and an onion sitting in my fridge. It was delicious. You can never go wrong with creamy pasta.
I might try and make a less saucy pasta next, one where the flavor in the pasta itself is much more apparent.
For now, I think I need to restock on salt again.
When I was in college, well before I knew how to cook, I went on a spring break trip to Chicago with my two best friends. This was sponsored by the school and we stayed at a hostel. For some crazy reason my one friend really wanted to cook during this trip. I definitely did not, seeing as I didn't know the first thing about cooking, and even with the amount of cooking experience I have now, I still wouldn't want to cook during a vacation.
But that's what we did. We went to the grocery store, and my friend asked me "What do you want to make?" I didn't know, and she probably made several suggestions, and I probably seemed less than interested in every single one of them, which was just the first of many times one of us got annoyed at the others during this trip.
Anyway, we settled on pasta. A really simple spaghetti + pasta sauce + ground beef pasta. Of course at the time, I could barely boil water, so it still seemed really intimidating to me. But we managed. It tasted fine. And we did not cook again during that trip (thankfully). And that was the only time I had ever cooked pasta with my friend(s).
...until last week! I invited one of my friends over for an "easy" pasta meal, and since my initial pasta-with-friends session, I guess my idea of an easy meal has changed a lot. It ended up being more than he expected, heh.
But it was delicious and it is so worth it to make your own pasta sauce.
I'll definitely make more pasta meals with friends in the future (:
For some reason, I keep buying milk at the grocery store, then realizing it's about to expire so I scramble to find something to make with it, and then once it's gone I end up buying another quart of milk because I need it for something else.
Anyway, this time when I looked up recipes that use milk, I came across this Chili Cornbread Skillet. So I read the recipe and it looked pretty simple. Make some chili, mix up some cornbread mix, put it on top of the chili and then bake it.
The only thing I wasn't sure about was What pot or pan do I use? The recipe said to use a 4qt skillet. I don't know if most pans are labeled with their volume, but mine aren't. I had a deep skillet that I wanted to use, but I wasn't sure if it was big enough. So I actually went and measured 4 quarts of water and started dumping it in this skillet. Turns out it only holds 3.5qt. Alright, I'll use my pot instead.
Look at all that extra room in the pot! I totally could have used my skillet! That would have been so much better and so much more aesthetic. Plus I had preheated my oven not realizing how close the two racks were and then I needed to awkwardly remove one to make the pot actually fit.
Overall, this recipe was alright. A good number of commenters said that this was bland and I have to agree with them. I doubled the amount of salt, but I think I should have doubled all the spices. The cornbread was also kind of bland. It needed more sugar at least. And maybe the whole thing needs more cheese because I barely noticed it in between the chili and the cornbread.
I really enjoyed the leftovers though. I reheated the cornbread part in the toaster oven and the chili part in the microwave, which worked out well.
Today I made another southwest-y dish: Creamy Chicken Fajita Pasta. The reason I decided to make this was because I happened to have half a block of cream cheese and 2 bell peppers that I needed to use up.
Now this was delicious. I really like the pasta recipes on Budget Bytes. And cream cheese in pasta is great. Problem is, I still don't like leftover pasta, and I have a feeling this will go from a 5/5 meal to a 3/5 meal in leftover form.
I had a little nub of cream cheese in my fridge, so I was looking for recipes that use cream cheese. I saw this One Pot Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta on Budget Bytes (which I may or may not have made in the past. I don't know. I've made a lot of pasta recipes). This recipe called for 3 oz of cream cheese and I only really had one. Oh well, I'm not buying more cream cheese. I just need to use up this nub.
So I'm reading the recipe, and this is what I see in the description:
This Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta comes together in about 25 minutes, is super luscious and creamy, and uses just a few simple ingredients. ;)
25 minutes? Really? Well Beth, I'm testing this out now. I didn't bother reading the recipe in advance, so I'm going in blind.
It ended up taking 42 minutes total. I guess I wasn't being super efficient. I cut up the garlic and chicken before I turned the heat on the stove, and I probably could have saved time by turning it on, then cutting things up. It also took me 10 minutes to cook the pasta when the recipe calls for 8. And I added a tomato since I had one.
But this recipe really was easy to make. It was a very chill meal-making time for me, and I think I could get it done in 30 minutes next time. Overall, it's a great pasta recipe. 5/5.