A few weeks ago, I was getting lunch with my friend from one of my favorite restaurants: Taco Town. This place is right next to the office that I work in, but because I've been working at home for the past year, I haven't been able to eat here. So we were very fortunate that we happened to order food here on the last day they were open before taking a two month break.
On the other hand, they were out of carnitas that day. How can they run out of carnitas?! It's the best thing on their menu! Taco Town used to be a solid 5/5 stars for me, but recently I've had to dock them a star.
But whatever. If I can't buy carnitas I'll just make them. Except carnitas are a little more work than I like sometimes, so instead I ended up making some chili rubbed pulled pork.
Obviously these are pictures of the prep work, and I actually don't have pictures of the finished product. I invited a friend over for tacos that night, and sometimes you're just having too much fun to take pictures. I can assure you it was delicious though.
The green beans weren't bad, but I don't think I'd make that recipe again.
I also made some guac to eat with this pulled pork. Guacamole is one of the few things I can make without a recipe.
Typically when I make guac, it starts to brown after sitting in the fridge for a day. But this time was different. I had that guac in the fridge for 5 days, and it was still completely green! It was insane! Like I did some sort of magic on it!
I wanted to make the guac to put it in tacos or burrito bowls, but I knew I wouldn't need a whole avocado's worth of guac just for that. I went to the grocery store to buy some chips, and I came across guacamole-flavored tortilla chips, which made me feel kind of nostalgic. I used to hate guacamole, but when I was in high school, I loved guac-flavored chips. I guess that makes sense because guac-flavored chips taste absolutely nothing like guac. Eventually, well after graduating college, I started liking guac, but I still hated avocados. And just two years ago, my sister showed me just how delicious avocados are, and here I am now, loving all forms of avocado.
So many great uses for pulled pork. All were delicious.
(No, I haven't forgotten about carnitas. I'm absolutely going to make that at some point.)
First of all, I'm going to lessen the frequency of these blog posts. I'm trying to take it easy and also free up my time for other things. But I'll still be cooking, and I'll try to post at least once a week.
After impulsively buying tilapia a few weeks ago, I decided to finally make some tacos with it. Blue Apron has a catfish taco recipe that's been one of my go-to's, and I thought that if they have one good fish taco recipe, they must have others. So I went and searched for "fish tacos" and these are the top results:
Wait wait wait, these aren't fish taco recipes, these are fish OR taco recipes. Blue Apron, you gotta work on your search code. What is it with recipe sites and terrible search algorithms?
So after scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and scrolling I finally stumbled upon Baja-Style Tilapia Tacos.
These tacos were easy to make, and they tasted pretty good too. But they're fish tacos. Of course they taste good. I don't know if I love the combination of avocado and orange, but it seemed to work well enough. The only problem with this recipe is that it doesn't work well for leftovers. The avocadoes end up browning.
I followed the recipe pretty closely, but I used green cabbage instead of red because it was cheaper. I also used corn instead of flour tortillas because that's just what I had already. As much as I think grocery store brand corn tortillas are awful, Aldi corn tortillas are actually pretty great once you toast them in the pan. And finally I added cilantro because of course I added cilantro.
Oh, so, I also went grocery shopping today, and as much as I told myself I wasn't going to buy any more meat/seafood, I ended up impulsively buying another bag of tilapia. It was $5! That's even cheaper than when impulsively bought it last month!
I finally used up the rest of my cabbage, and I used it to make some delicious shrimp tacos.
Even though I used already cooked shrimp and just reheated it in the pan with the spice mix, it still turned out really well. I'd make one adjustment for the future though. The recipe calls for 1 tsp of coarse salt for the spice mix, so I used 1/2 tsp of table salt, and I think I should have cut that down to 1/4 tsp instead.
On an unrelated note, that day I happened to accidentally shoot food into my eyes twice. First, I was squeezing limes for the garlic cilantro lime sauce, and I squirted lime into my eye. Later that day, I was peeling ginger, and somehow I flung a piece of ginger into my other eye!
It's alright. My eyes seem fine now. The tacos were not impacted in any way by this.
I'm on my holiday vacation now, so I'll be taking a mini break from new blog posts. I'll be back some time in January!
Last week I showed you what was in the PERISHABLE section of my whiteboard. This week I'll expand that and also show you the PANTRY.
You see how some of the items aren't underneath a date? That means they're so old, I've forgotten when I actually bought them. And that can of bamboo shoots? I think it's been expired for a while. My go-to recipe for using up bamboo is curry, so I decided to put green chicken curry on my list of dishes for the week.
Obviously, that means I need to go to the Asian store to buy green curry paste. And since I've got that on my list, why not just make it a full week of Asian food? Sweet rice (sticky rice) is at the top of my PANTRY section, and the reason I bought that in the first place was to make Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage. But, the last time I made it, I didn't feel like actually opening that new bag of rice, so I just used my normal Jasmine rice. And that bag of sweet rice has been sitting in a cabinet, unopened, ever since.
For my third dish, I looked up noodle soup recipes on The Woks of Life since it's cold out now, and noodle soup sounds really good. I settled on Udon Noodle Soup with Chicken and Mushrooms since I've made it before and it uses dashi, which I currently have, and shiitake mushrooms, which I'm going to buy anyway for the sticky rice meal.
And that would have settled it, except I looked back at my whiteboard and realized I STILL NEED TO USE UP THE CABBAGE. I was trying to think of other Asian dishes that use cabbage, and my mind went to Singapore noodles. I don't know why my mind associates that with cabbage, but it works since I also have vermicelli noodles.
So, my original shopping plan was to just hit up the Asian store. But then I put together my list and realized I needed to buy chicken, and I just do not think buying chicken from the Asian store is a good idea. I don't even know if the local Asian stores here sell chicken.
So, I made a trip to Aldi. And look at all that produce! I'm definitely getting my greens this week. And yeah, Aldi sells ginger now. Crazy.
Aldi also sells coconut milk, but I just decided I'd get it at the Asian store instead. I'm not actually sure which option would have been cheaper. The Chinese sausage and dried shrimp are also kinda pricey. In total, I spent $48.37 on my groceries, which is way more than I should spent on food in one week. But, I did have a very light grocery haul last week, and next week will probably also be light. If we're averaging, I'm still under $30/week.
|Saturday||Mushroom pasta||Takeout: Chicken sandwich||Fried mac n cheese|
|Sunday||Fried mac n cheese||Singapore noodles||Okonomiyaki|
|Monday||Fried mac n cheese||Pulled pork tacos||Chicken curry|
|Tuesday||Fried mac n cheese||Okonomiyaki||Singapore noodles|
|Thursday||Singapore noodles||Sticky rice|
|Friday||Singapore noodles||Chicken curry||McDonald's|
So, it's Saturday now, and I'm sitting here and I cannot remember well enough what I actually ate on Wednesday. Usually I try to write this down the day of, but I just happened to forget to do that on Wednesday. Did I actually skip a meal? Why in the world would I have skipped breakfast? Maybe I snacked on something. Maybe I had beef jerky in the morning.
I did sort of skip lunch on Thursday. I mean I ate food. I was grazing all day. I definitely had a yogurt and some beef jerky and probably something else as well. You'll also notice that I had McDonald's on Friday. I just really wanted those french fries. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything else on the menu I really wanted. But I got a few other things and it was still satisfying enough for a lazy Friday evening.
Ending with an obligatory photo of the pulled pork tacos:
I'm going to try something new, and show you more of my thought process in how I meal plan. This is inspired by the Weekly Recap posts that Beth used to make on Budget Bytes.
First of all, I cannot be spontaneous with food. If I'm cooking, I need to plan every meal, and I am constantly thinking about my next meal. So, as long as work hasn't totally exhausted me, I'll take some time every Friday night or Saturday morning to come up with the next few dishes to cook. And I start that by staring at my whiteboard.
Yes, this is an actual snippet of what was on my whiteboard a week ago. There's actually A LOT more on the whiteboard, but I just cropped this. Each date lists what I bought that day. I know, you're seeing that I've had half and half for almost two months. The internet tells me I should only keep half and half a week after opening. But it still smells and tastes fine. /shrug
But you know what, it's a whole quart of half and half so I should really find another use for it besides going in my morning coffees. I searched for recipes that use half and half on Budget Bytes, and I see that she has a mushroom pasta recipe, which works well, since I also have mushrooms that I don't know what to do with. It's perfect! All I have to buy for this is pasta!
So I also have this huge head of cabbage that I bought for my dumplings. My dumplings only took like a quarter of this head, so I need something that uses a lot of cabbage. My go-to cabbage meals are stir fry or some sort of sausage skillet, but I figured I'd try something different and make okonomiyaki. And it also works because I can use up the rest of my green onions as well!
Finally, you see that Mac n Cheese in the Already Cooked section? Yeah, I needed to do something with that. I decided to try and make fried mac n cheese balls, except it's going to end up being fried mac n cheese rectangular prisms since that's easier to cut. I wanted to make some dipping sauce for this, and of course I looked on Budget Bytes for one.
And that's already plenty of food, especially when you consider all those Thanksgiving leftovers I had. So I barely had to buy anything from the store!
...of course I ended up buying twice as many things as I had on my list. But I ended up spending a whopping $10.52, so I think it's okay. Random grocery store thoughts:
As I was checking out, I thought, "Huh. I don't have any veggies." I probably should have bought something green. I don't know why I didn't restock on cilantro. I mean, I had it on the whiteboard, but I was low on cilantro, and why would I ever be worried about having too much cilantro? Plus it's only like $0.75! That was a mistake. Definitely getting cilantro next time.
Anyway, here's every breakfast, lunch, and dinner that I ate. I also had a lot of snacks, but I'm not going to type those out, because that's just way too much to type.
|Saturday||Rice w/ fried eggs||Thanksgiving leftovers||Pulled pork tacos|
|Sunday||Mushroom pasta||Gumbo @ my friend's|
|Monday||Roll||Thanksgiving leftovers||Thanksgiving leftovers|
|Tuesday||Musroom pasta||Pulled pork tacos|
|Wednesday||Rice w/ fried egg||Pulled pork tacos||Okonomiyaki|
|Thursday||Crescent rolls||Mushroom pasta||Okonomiyaki|
|Friday||Crescent rolls||Mushroom pasta||Dumplings|
Stay tuned, and I'll actually show you how all the cooking went. In the meantime, here's some tacos using the last bit of cilantro I had.