About a month ago, I thought to myself, "Man, I'm spending way too much money eating out. I need to cook more of my meals." And then I went on a little vacation, and I ate out for every single meal of the day because I'm not cooking on vacation.
But vacation is over. Time to cook. I'm know I'm really slow at making things, so I decided that I was going to try meal prepping. I'm not making three different dishes in one day--that's too much--but I wanted to see if I could do more prep in advance: cutting up vegetables, mixing together sauces and spice mixtures. So I came up with a bunch of different meals for the week, and I wrote down all the groceries I would need for those meals, and I spent over two hours on prep work
last last last Saturday.
I was exhausted. But, it really did make the cooking for the rest of the week a lot easier.
So the first thing I decided to make after all that prep work was leftovers. I was way too tired to cook a whole meal. But after I ate that meal, I guess I felt like I had enough energy to make some real dessert. That's right, I didn't just microwave something in a mug, I made a whole batch of snickerdoodles.
I have this little container of cream of tartar sitting in my pantry, and apparently that's what you use to make snickerdoodles. For most of my life, I thought snickerdoodles were just sugar cookies with extra cinnamon on them. Turns out they're sugar cookies with cinnamon and cream of tartar.
When I made my first batch a month ago, it was way more work than I expected. Mostly because I don't own a stand mixer. And it also took me forever. This time it was juuust a little bit easier and went juuust a little bit more quickly. I still somehow seem to mess up at least one batch in the oven, but I'm getting the hang of this.
On Sunday morning, I made some Greek Turkey Rice. (Actually I used chicken, because for some reason turkey is sold in 19.2 oz packages rather than 1 lb, and I already think 1 lb is way more meat that I need for this.)
I've had a bunch of pasta dishes lately, so I wanted to switch it up with some rice. I had some leftover spinach from last week, and I didn't mind buying feta, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes since I can just snack on those.
Very good, very easy meal. Also very easy to pack and heat up leftovers, which is what I needed after getting nothing but take out at work for the past few months.
Later on Sunday, I made some Cajun shrimp toast. I've already made up my mind that I want to make these as a Christmas appetizer when I visit family, but I wanted to try it a couple of times before then.
This stuff is so good. I went over to a friend's house on Sunday night to watch a movie, and I brought the shrimp toast. It was a big hit.
So the week before this, I ordered a HelloFresh box, and one of the meals was Cajun chicken sandwich. It was pretty tasty. I wasn't originally planning on making more chicken sandwiches, but then I thought about my container of celery seed that expired in 2017 that I'm trying to use up. I can make coleslaw with that. Coleslaw goes well enough with chicken sandwiches, right?
Right. I thought the coleslaw was great. I had only intended on making four sandwiches, but I had a little bit of chicken left over, so I fried up some nuggets and ate them with a pack of McDonald's BBQ sauce. That was also great.
I also really wanted to make some mac n cheese because I had some breadcrumbs, and because my boyfriend has mentioned that he likes baked mac n cheese, with the crispy breadcrumbs on top. The last time I made mac n cheese, it was just okay and it was way way way too much food.
Okay, so this time I tried a different recipe. And I only cooked half a pound of pasta, which is a much more reasonable amoumnt of pasta for one or two pasta. This was pretty easy to make since I could use pre-shredded cheese. I ended up using the rest of all the random bags of cheese that I had: pepperjack, mozzarella, and Mexican blend (four different cheeses!). And then I topped it with some parmesan! It's six cheese macaroni!
Honestly, after I put it in the oven, I was a little worried about all the different cheeses that I added. Maybe it was too much. But it ended up tasting pretty good! I think I made it a tad too salty, but we had no trouble eating all of it within a few days.
Finally, the last meal I cooked was some almost vegetarian shoyu butter udon noodles. Why is it almost vegetarian? Because I used butter. And oyster sauce. But I wasn't going to buy vegan products when I had perfectly good non-vegan substitutes.
Anyway, this was really easy and the mushrooms were delicious. I'm gonna make it again this week (I still have more noodles and edamame!)
And finally finally, I decided to make some carrot cake to use up the rest of a block of cream cheese I had sitting in the fridge. I followed this carrot cake for two recipe, but I doubled it, and then I also used my square muffin tins which are very large, so it ended up making three very large muffins. And it was kind of a struggle to get these cakes out of the muffin tin.
I also only ended up icing a single muffin so I have lots of cream cheese frosting left over. More muffins this week! I'll be sure to make them smaller and use cupcake liners so it's easier.
Okay, done writing for now. I know it's been a while, but thanks for reading my rambly food thoughts!
When I was buying groceries for that hummus pasta, for some reason I bought two pints of grape tomatoes, even though I only needed one for the pasta. And since I only used up half of my can of coconut milk, and I also had two green onions sitting in my fridge, I figured this was a good opportunity to make garlic shrimp in coconut milk and tomatoes.
I've actually made this recipe several times in the past, and I've always really liked it, but I guess I haven't written a single blog post about it. Until now.
So, this recipe calls for a can of diced tomatoes, not a pint of grape tomatoes, but I figured this was an okay enough substitution. It also calls for a whole can of coconut milk, not a half one, but the whole point of this is for me to just use up what I have. I really just needed to buy a single bell pepper and some shrimp. Oh and cilantro. I always need cilantro.
I was able to get the bell pepper from Giant Eagle, but when I walked over to the seafood section, I looked at the shrimp, and it was $13.99 a pound! That's insane! And the recipe calls for a pound and a half. I wasn't going to pay $21 for shrimp. Aldi sells shrimp. I'll just get it from there.
Unfortunately, Aldi ended up being out of raw shrimp, and they only had bags of cooked shrimp left. I'm pretty sure I have an old blog post about why I should never buy already cooked shrimp. But I didn't want to walk back to Giant Eagle just for the shrimp, and this bag was only like $7. So I bought it.
Terrible decision. Never never never buy already cooked shrimp. It was way too tough and didn't have enough flavor.
So, I made way too many deviations from the original recipe, and this turned out...not as good as it normally does, but it wasn't terrible! I still ate all the leftovers.
I made shrimp fajitas today! I made this recipe close to two years ago, and it was awesome. And I made it again today, and it was...not so awesome. And here I am, writing this entry, right after I cleaned up because I need to make sure that if I make this a third time, I don't screw this up.
Just yesterday I was talking about how much I love shrimp and how I cooked my shrimp perfectly, but you know what I did today? I overcooked it. 😭 And overcooked shrimp is really bad. The recipe said to cook it for 6-8 minutes. 6 minutes is way too long. I can't imagine I liked overcooked shrimp in the past. Somehow past me must have known that and present me forgot. So, here are some things for future me to remember:
Okay, honestly, not the worst shrimp tacos/fajitas I've made in the past few months. But I know I can do better!
This past weekend was Labor Day which meant three day weekend, which meant four day workweek, and you'd think that it would be easy to get through, but I feel like I need to catch up on sleep again. I was so busy during the week that I didn't wash dishes for a whole three days, and you can imagine how gross that got.
I also somehow ended up with so much food in my fridge, so I've really been trying to eat all my leftovers. But, on to what I cooked this week.
Remember how I made kale salad last week? Well I still had half that bag of kale left. So, I needed to do something with it, and I wanted to actually cook the kale this time. I don't know what it is, but I still haven't quite mastered the art of making salad. I think salads that I've gotten from restaurants are delicious, but my homemade salads are never quite fulfilling enough.
So, I made this kale skillet. It was alright, certainly better than the salad. The recipe said to saute the kale for 3-5 minutes which I think is way too long. Just a minute should be good enough. I really am sick of eating kale at this point though. I added some shrimp to this for one of my meals, which made it a lot more satisfying.
I might be bad at making salad, but I think I've got burgers down pretty well. I love burgers, but I'm almost always disappointed when I order one from a restaurant. They never have enough flavor. It's just cooked ground beef, and I'd like that beef to be transformed more.
I've had burgers on my to-make list for a while, and I figured it was appropriate to make them on Labor Day. This Drunken Aussie burger recipe had a lot of great reviews, so I figured I'd try it. And like every burger I've ever made, it was delicious. But I actually think that was mainly because of all the other toppings, and not the burger patty itself, which was a little on the bland side. Adding the beer helped, but it still felt like it was missing something. I think adding an egg in the ground beef mixture would have made it easier for the patty to stick together.
The recipe also said to use two different pans, which seemed excessive to me. I cooked all of it in the same pan in this order: bacon, onion, (wipe pan), egg, burgers. I'm happy with how it all turned out, but I don't think I'll be using this recipe again.
But hey, check out this salad that I added on the side! Since the burger called for arugula, I bought a (way too large) box of it, and I used it in a side salad as well. And I know I said I'm bad at making salads, but my "Arugula Strawberry Sun-Dried Tomato Salad with Balsamic Dressing" was decent.
Finally, I'm gonna end with this Cajun Shrimp Toast, which is another recipe that was on my to-make list for a while. This was also delicious, and I'm definitely making this again. I think it would be great as an appetizer during Christmas or some sports watching party. I don't remember exactly how many pieces of toast this yielded, but I ate more than half of them in one sitting.
...is unfortunately not as successful as part 1.
Last Christmas my aunt made these shrimp avocado cucumber bites, and it was probably the most Californian thing I've ever seen. And I was convinced I needed to make these myself. I googled "shrimp guacamole cucumber" and grabbed the first recipe I saw: Avocado Cucumber Shrimp Appetizers from Natasha's Kitchen. Now it probably would have made sense to actually buy some shrimp for this, but I had half a bag of seafood blend that I needed to use up.
I also had guacamole that we had made earlier in the week using Skinnytaste's Best Guacamole Recipe. So really all I took from that other recipe is the Cajun shrimp part. It wasn't so bad, but next time we'll just use shrimp, and actually use freshly made guacamole. Or be lazy and buy it from the store.
We actually had leftover pieces of seafood, and my sister remarked that we could throw some pasta in it. I checked my cabinets and I found a box of that Banza chickpea pasta...that expired last year. Hey, it's a box of pasta! It should be fine!
Second note to self: Do not eat expired chickpea pasta. In fact do not even buy chickpea pasta at all. It is way more expensive than regular pasta and doesn't taste as good.