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.
I'm going to end up having three weeks on my own before I head back home to visit family again. And you know what I've realized? I don't actually need to cook all that much. I've also started timing myself to see how fast I can cook. Spoiler: I don't cook that fast, but I actually can cook faster than I thought.
I made this pasta since it's one of my go-to meals when I don't know what to cook. I've made it so many times that I'm actually able to beat the estimated time on Budget Bytes! It took me 24 minutes and the recipe says 25 minutes! Look at me shaving off one minute.
I used some of a tub of chive and onion cream cheese in this, which turned out fine, but this is way better when you just have a block of plain cream cheese. The spreadable tubs just don't give that nice creamy consistency that you want.
Shortly after that, I made this Shrimp Scampi Florentine which is another go-to. When I was visiting family, we noticed that shrimp was on sale for $5/lb. What a steal! They're never that cheap in the grocery stores I live near! Not even at Aldi!
I made it with rice since I didn't want to go overboard and eat pasta twice in one day (even though I have no problem eating rice three times a day), but I had some later meals with pasta, and I think this works much better with pasta than rice.
This also took me about 40 minutes to make, which is exactly how long the recipe said it would take. I don't know. I was going kind of slow and listening to a podcast at the same time. Feels like it should actually only take 30 minutes.
And finally, I made some Posole today. Back when my sister was still here, we tried a stove top carnitas recipe which was...lackluster. Anyway, I threw it in the freezer, and I figured this was a good use for some of it.
I don't know what it was, but I had a super potent onion, and I was crying just from chopping it up. My eyes were hurting so badly that they kept hurting for over an hour after I was done cooking. It took me just over 30 minutes to prep and cook, so I guess the name of the recipe was right.
What I'd really like to do is buy some more bowls. These Corelle bowls are just not suitable for picture taking.
Day 52 (Saturday): It's the weekend! Which means no work! Which means I actually had time to cook!
Yeah, that's right. I did the cooking. I really wanted to make some shrimp bowls. Of course, it ended up taking me forever, and it really felt like I made four different things: shrimp, rice, pineapple salsa, and black beans.
But whatever. It was worth it. Absolutely delicious.
Day 53 (Sunday): My sister was feeling lazy (and I've been feeling lazy for the past three weeks), so we just ate leftovers. We had too many leftovers sitting in the fridge anyway.
Day 54 (Monday): We bought this big thing of pork butt in our last grocery shopping trip and I think it may have been sitting in the fridge for just a little too long. So we decided to cook it.
I really wanted to try another pork loin recipe (but using a pork butt), and this honey garlic pork loin sounded really good. Using pork butt for this was definitely a good idea. We also needed a veg and some starch, so we roasted some brussels sprouts and potatoes as well. Overall, it was a good meal.
Day 55 (Tuesday): My sister made 韭菜粿 and I think it's worthy of its own post. So you'll see it in the next one.
Day 56 (Wednesday): When we went grocery shopping earlier this week, we stopped in the Italian grocery store, and decided to look all the different fancy pastas they had. Both my sister and I really like wide noodles, and I normally find fettuccine not wide enough.
But the Italian grocery store had some really nice fettuccine. The one we bought was completely in Italian! It was also a whole $2! I think paying that extra dollar was worth it though. The recipe we used was a bit weird, but it still tasted good.
Day 7 (Wednesday): So during my multi-grocery store excursion, I impulse bought some Ahi Tuna, because of course I did. And because I was out for three hours, that gave plenty of time for that slab of tuna to already start thawing, so I figured we might as well keep it in the fridge and have Poke the next day.
One of our lessons learned from past poke parties is that we usually buy way too much fish. So we picked out the smallest piece (about 1/2 lb), and we decided to NOT add any extra items to our grocery list because the best way to do poke parties is to just use what you already have.
Another lesson learned is that we should just marinate the fish, and not any of the other ingredients because otherwise it gets too salty. My sister makes the most delicious marinade with soy sauce and other Asian sauces and ginger and garlic and onions and she even included some lime this time!
If you're wondering, yes, we ate everything on that table. There were no leftovers, and there shouldn't be, since this is raw fish we're talking about.
Day 8 (Thursday): We had a planned game night with our cousins this day, so I wanted to make something easy. I still had a lot of pulled pork leftover from a few days ago, so it's taco time again!
I was expecting to do another taco night, so I made sure to buy lots of cilantro and sweet onions. I also happened to buy Mexican cheese, which I wasn't even planning on using for this. (I like putting Mexican cheese in my green bean casserole...which will be for another blog post!) But it adds some nice color to the tacos!
Also, we're sitting here at my dinky table, when I realize how nice the lighting is at one particular spot. And I realize that I have a spotlight in my kitchen that is pointing RIGHT at that spot on the table, and I have two other spotlights and I'm like WHY HAVEN'T I NOTICED THIS BEFORE. I need to buy a ladder now so I can re-angle these lights and give my pictures better lighting for the future.
My sister also made some shaobing. She's so talented.
Day 9 (Friday): So one of my friends is really into those Bon Appetit videos, and I figured I'd watch one to see what all the fuss is about. I'm not really into watching videos about food, but watching this video of this guy making pasta with chickpeas really made me want to make pasta with chickpeas.
Except this is more like soup. Pasta soup? They call it "brothy pasta" which my sister thought was weird, but that's what it is! You eat it with a spoon! We also threw in some kale and celery that we just happened to have. I thought it was great. I'd make it again.
Oh remember how I was struggling to find flour at the grocery store? Well, that's not the only thing we struggled with. We also couldn't find butter. We did find butter substitutes though, so we bought two packs of margarine. My sister used it to make these croissant-like things that don't really resemble croissants at this point, but whatever. It was still tasty.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.