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 (:
It's my first week back in my apartment since before the holidays, and any time I come back from a long vacation my plan is to always make something simple. My go-to simple meal is always Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta because it's vegetarian, and I know I can make it in less than 30 minutes. The only downside is that I have to buy cream cheese, but whatever, I'll get bagels for next week.
I also decided to make noodle soup because it had been on my to-make list for a while. Since I had shoved a bunch of leftovers in the freezer before going to see my family, I figured I could eat those too. So, two dishes is plenty.
Pretty sure I spent less than $10 on all of this. I just got what I needed for the two dishes plus some fruit and yogurt for snacks. I'm really trying to make sure I have healthy snacks.
Also, it's a shortened week since I got back on Monday.
|Tuesday||Egg rolls||Noodle soup|
|Wednesday||Pasta||Sticky rice||Noodle soup|
|Thursday||Sesame Ball||Pasta||Noodle soup|
|Friday||Pasta||Pad kra pao||Noodle soup|
Yeah, the week started out kind of rough and I don't think I was eating enough, but I got back on track towards the end. And I'm gonna show you another portion of my noodle soup to show you that I also made ramen eggs!
I tried a different method of soft boiling the eggs, and it worked out really well. The recipe says to boil water, then add the egg, but I find that one of my eggs always cracks when I do this, so I just put the egg in the cold water and let it come to a boil, then turn the heat off, cover it, and let it sit for about 4 minutes. I was worried I might overcook it, but it came out perfectly.
Next week, I'll get back to my usual consulting of my whiteboard.
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.
Yeah, I'm still catching up. But I apparently didn't cook much between Thanksgiving and New Years. Or at least I didn't take pictures of what I cooked.
Yeah, I make this a lot. It's still my go-to for an easy meal when I don't want to put a lot of effort into cooking.
Yup, that taco is completely vegetarian. I don't know, I wanted to try jackfruit-pretending-to-be-meat, since I know it's commonly used as a vegetarian substitute for pulled pork. It tastes and feels nothing like pork. So it was alright, I guess.
I don't remember why, but I think I really wanted some stir fried eggplant, so I looked up recipes for it, and this looked easy enough. I also impulsively bought a family pack of chicken breast. (5 pounds!) I don't remember how much it cost, but I assume it was cheap since I impulse bought it. I do remember this tasting good, but pretty much all stir fry recipes I try are good.
So when I went home for Thanksgiving, my cousins were kind of obsessed with Popeye's new chicken sandwiches. And apparently the rest of the world was too, because Popeye's kept running out of chicken sandwiches, and the first few that I checked didn't even have any! And when I don't get to eat a food that I expect to, I want it even more.
So after unsuccessfully trying to buy a Popeye's chicken sandwich I said, screw it, I'm making this myself. Well, not the way Popeye's does, but I can look up chicken sandwich recipes and follow them. I had this recipe saved for a while, and I figured it was finally time to make it. This took me like an hour to make because I'm really slow, but hey, it was worth it.
This week I spent $17.12 on groceries, which was pretty amazing. I also spent $15 on a meal out, which brings my total to above $30, but if this were an allowance that could roll over week to week, then I'm totally still within my budget!
I often will plan for making slightly more food than I need each week (better to have too much food than not enough), so I still had some stuff left over to make one more shrimp burrito bowl. I don't actually think I like lettuce in my burrito bowls, but it makes me think I'm eating healthier when I add it.
A few weeks ago I visited my family, and my dad gave a whole box of Champagne mangoes. Mangoes are my favorite fruit, but I still had way too many mangoes to eat in one week. I had save this Cashew Shrimp and Mango Stir Fry recipe from How Sweet Eats a while ago, and I figured this was the perfect opportunity to make it, especially because I also had a bag of cashews that I didn't know what to do with.
I'll admit that this dish seemed a bit strange while I was making it, but it turned out to be delicious. I'm not a huge fan of nuts in my stir fry, but the cashews really worked. (It also helps that I really like cashews) The recipe only called for one mango, but I used two since Champagne mangoes are a bit small.
The other main dish I had for this week was Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta from Budget Bytes. This is my #1 go-to recipe for something quick to make when I'm completely unprepared to make anything. I had leftover cream cheese, since I bought it to eat with bagels a few weeks ago, and the only thing I know to use cream cheese in are bagels and this pasta.
And finally, I really wanted to have some dumplings on hand, so I made a batch of those. I love chives, and I've been wanting to make pork and chive dumplings for a while. But less pork and more chive. I went to two different Asian grocery stores and waited in line at the meat place forever just so I could get the best prices on these ingredients.
I like having dumplings in my freezer because I think they make a really good breakfast. You know what else is a great breakfast? Eggs.
Spoiler alert for next week, but I've already gone over budget. I don't actually need to buy too many things for my meals, but seafood is on sale, and you know how I am about seafood...