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!
My favorite pizza topping is tomato. Not tomato sauce, fresh slices of tomato. Why did I decide to make pizza in the first place? Maybe it was because I had a small amount of shredded mozzarella cheese that I wanted to use up.
So, I bought a bag of tomatoes from Aldi. Even though I didn't have too much shredded cheese in the bag, I still wasn't able to use it all up, and now I had four more tomatoes to go along with it. And, I'm gonna detour away from the pizza for a moment to show you a couple of other tomato-y things.
One of the things I made with the other tomatoes was tomato rice. This wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. I know I was thinking, "hey, I could use up a tomato in this!" But it actually called for diced tomatoes and tomato paste, so this didn't really help me cut down on my tomatoes.
I was able to use up some tomatoes (and mozzarella!) in my tomato and mozzarella panini. This was probably way too much effort for a workday lunch, but it was pretty good! I actually made it twice, and the second time I added basil and mint because I felt like it needed something leafy inside. It was a little strange, but I thought it was a good addition.
But before I made it, I actually went and bought a log of mozzarella because I was worried that my shredded mozzarella wasn't going to be enough. I used up all of the shredded stuff, and then I still had a lot of the mozzarella log left.
And I know. You're seeing a never ending cycle now, where every time I finish using up one ingredient, I still end up having too much of another. Does it ever end???
I don't know. But I'm gonna make more pizza tonight.
This time I won't buy more tomatoes or mozzarella. Hopefully.
Two years ago, back when this blog was in its infancy, I made a post on Greek turkey rice. This week, I had a few ingredients that would work well for this dish, so I decided to make it again. I remembered it being good and easy to make.
Well, I still don't disagree with that statement, but after a few chill meal-making sessions, I went back to flailing like crazy. There were flying pieces of rice, spinach, chicken broth, and lemon zest. This is why I gotta write down my recipes in advance.
(Throwback to when I took pictures of food right underneath the spotlight! Not as nice as the pictures my sister would take though.)
Also, I used ground turkey from a tube. I didn't realize you could buy ground meat in a tube, but the tube was cheaper than the non-tube form. I don't know if I'll ever do that again. I mean it tasted fine, but it was weird. Any time I tell my family I'm cooking ground turkey I know they'll respond with "TURKEY?!" and I can see them making a disgusted face that says "why would you ever do that".
Hey, I'm just following a recipe.
You know what else is in the ingredients list? A lemon. But this recipe doesn't even call for lemon, just lemon zest. Now I've got "Naked lemon slices" in my leftovers.
Unfortunately there were no sun-dried tomatoes in either Target or Trader Joe's, (I know, these are terrible places to grocery shop. But I was there for other reasons.) so I was missing that extra pop of color/flavor. I also didn't put the aesthetic lemon slices in the middle of the pan.
But that doesn't matter. It tasted good. That's what really counts.
Summer is exhausting. Kids are out of school and everyone's on vacation, and sometimes you just need a vacation after your vacation. I'm slowly getting back to having a normal routine though.
You might be wondering, "Hey! What happened to your $30 a week thing? You only lasted two weeks!" Yeah, it might be a while until I try that challenge again. I'm trying to focus on just eating and exercising well, and I don't want to have to think about saving every penny I can.
But I told myself I'd get back to the blog, so here are three things I made this week:
I've made this yellow rice so many times, but it was always with chicken. The chicken was always my least favorite part of the dish, so it just made sense to only make the rice part. And then I can pair it with other things, like a fried egg! This rice tastes even better if you stir-fry it the day after.
Man, they really make dishes sound fancier when they put so many ingredients in the name of the dish. This was really easy to make, and the flavor was really good, but I don't know how to get my salmon to have that nice color on it. Maybe mine was so pale because I only cooked it for 15 minutes. But it's salmon! I can't have overcooked salmon! I might try roasting it for say, 8 minutes, and then broiling for 5 more minutes next time.
That salmon recipe called for the zest of two whole lemons. You know what that left me? Two naked lemons. And I totally forgot about them when making this salad, so I still have two naked lemons. Anyway, I don't really love kale or salmon in my salads, so I'm not sure why I decided to make this. I did like the dressing though. I used whatever kale came in the bag I got from Aldi, but I think this would have been better with lacinato kale.
So I mentioned in a previous post that Aldi had really thin asparagus. Normally I wouldn't buy any, but they were on sale for the past two weeks, so I went and looked for the bag with the thickest stalks (which were still really thin). I needed an asparagus recipe and I came across Crispy Parmesan Asparagus Sticks from How Sweet Eats.
It seemed like a great idea since I had both Parmesan and breadcrumbs, and the recipe actually called for super thin asparagus. But I started breading them, and I realized how much of a pain it is to bread asparagus. Way too much effort for a tiny asparagus stalk.
I also had some potatoes that looked like they were getting kind of sad and growing too many eyes, so I sliced them up and made these Roasted Potato Wedges with Shawarma Sauce from Budget Bytes. The sauce was way too salty so I think that should be cut in half. I would probably also just cut the whole sauce recipe in half because now I have a bunch of Shawarma sauce and I need to figure out what to do with it.
And I completely forgot to take pictures of this Unstuffed Bell Peppers rice dish that I made (also from Budget Bytes). It was a quick and easy dish. My sister did remember to take one photo of it, combined with the potatoes and asparagus.