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 😁
So, I originally wasn't going to make a blog post just for this salmon, especially because the photos I took are...not great. But I just had to tell you that I spent so much time de-scaling this piece of salmon, having the scales fly everywhere and making the sink all gross and fishy, only to end up with the salmon skin sticking to the foil! I don't know why I thought it wouldn't stick. I always buy salmon with skin on it, because I figured the skin would stick to the pan and I'd easily pull off the meat from it.
Well, at least I remembered to cook the salmon skin side down.
Two years ago, I had attempted to make this same salmon dish, and it was a complete failure. I must be getting better at this whole cooking thing, because I tried to make this again earlier this year, and it was so good and so easy. I didn't even have to measure anything! In the past, I wouldn't know what to do with just a list of ingredients, but I think I'm getting more comfortable with just sprinkling and pouring things and going by feel.
So, I wanted to take it up a notch by also de-scaling the salmon. Next time, I'll actually spray some oil or butter on the baking pan and hopefully it won't stick. And eventually I will post this recipe on the blog! But today's not that day.
I also made a salad using some leftover iceberg lettuce, and I even blended up some carrot ginger salad dressing. It was a very good meal despite some wasted efforts.
Man I have been so busy with work and various trips that I have not been doing much cooking. And I can feel it. So much eating out and eating junk food. But it is now February 2023 and I am finally feeling a little less busy.
I don't have a nice theme to tie these all together, but here are a few meals that I cooked this past week:
I had four pieces of rice paper left in my cabinet, and while I don't have a picture of the spring rolls I made, I do have a picture of the salad I made with all of the same ingredients. I cooked some pork butt, and tossed it in toasted rice, which is something that my aunt taught me how to do. One day I'll post a recipe for that pork.
One of my friends has really been in the mood for "savory bread" lately, but I was definitely not prepared to make bread. She looked up a recipe to see if she could find something easy, and we decided to make this savory quick bread with cheese and olives, which is bread in the same sense that banana bread or zucchini bread is bread. Basically, it's cake in the shape of a bread loaf.
We added a bunch of extra things that the recipe didn't even call for, like green onion and sun dried tomatoes. I think we went a little overboard. This recipe also called for four eggs, which is way too many eggs, especially considering how expensive eggs are nowadays. But what we didn't add was salt. Bad decision. You always need salt. The recipe simply said to "salt to taste", but how am I supposed to salt to taste when there's raw flour and eggs?! I can't taste that!
I was a little worried I was going to hate this because I don't like egg-y things, but it turned out to be...okay. Not great. Would not make this recipe again. I'd probably try a different bread recipe though.
And finally, here's my breakfast from this morning that I spent way too much effort on. It was worth it though. My family gave me some beef jerky, and I just love the combination of beef jerky and white rice. I also added a marinated soft boiled egg and some cucumber slices to trick myself into thinking this is a well balanced meal.
Remember how I said I was super busy at work, but I had some breathing room? Yeah, work got super busy again.
Day 36 (Thursday): I had this warm cauliflower salad on my to-make list for a while. And now I always have Tahini stocked so it felt like a good time to make it. I was a little concerned this wasn't going to be enough food for dinner, but we paired it with that pork loin we made the other day.
Yeah, that really dry pork loin. You can even see how dry it is in the picture!
But the salad was delicious. Warm salads are great.
Day 37 (Friday): One of the things I've had sitting in my pantry for waaay too long are canned bamboo shoots. I don't really like bamboo, but my sister really likes it and I don't mind it so much in curry. I had some other veggies that would go well in curry (frozen green beans, carrots) so we decided to make some.
Unfortunately, Aldi was out of chicken thighs when we went, but that's alright. This was still delicious with chicken breast. This was super easy to make and very flavorful, so I'd definitely make it again. And adding limes made it even better!
Day 38 (Saturday): Somehow with all the stay-at-home orders, I still managed to have jam-packed weekends. I had a virtual hangout with my friends during the day, and a virtual hangout with my cousins at night. So I wanted to make something easy for dinner.
I've made this beef and cabbage stir fry a few times in the past, and it's easy and tastes good enough, but I feel like it was lacking something. Maybe it needed more fish sauce and sugar. The sriracha helps though.
Day 30 (Friday): I don't know what it is, but work is starting to exhaust me. I'm trying to find more easy meals to make. So I decide on some Sesame Chicken.
The original recipe doesn't call for broccoli, but I figured we should have some vegetables. And contrary to the comments on Budget Bytes for this, I think there is plenty of sauce. Maybe even too much sauce. We boiled the broccoli for a few minutes before mixing it in with the chicken, but now I'm wondering if it would have been better if we roasted the broccoli first. I'll try that next time. Overall, this still tasted good.
Day 31 (Saturday): I had a virtual game night on Saturday, so I wanted to do something easy. We've had dumplings in the freezer, so this seemed like a good time to cook some of those. We also had some iceberg lettuce in the fridge, along with other various veggies, so it seemed like a good idea to make some salad. When I think of how to use iceberg, my mind immediately jumps to those salads you get at Hibachi restaurants.
Yes, we had dumplings from two different batches. Look at that color contrast.
Day 32 (Sunday): Another thought about using up lettuce is to put it in soup. So we figured, let's make some noodle soup! We were thinking we might want to make Pho since we're stuck at home all day, but that requires way too many herbs and spices that I don't currently have, so we're making Teochew Noodle Soup 粿条汤 instead.
This made me realize I don't have those large Asian bowls. We still made it work with smaller ones.
We actually never ended up putting lettuce in this. But it doesn't matter, noodle soup is always a good idea.