flailing in my kitchen v3

How can I be sad when I have breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
Showing posts filed under: timed cooking

Salt and pepper tofu

I don't know when my mom got into looking at recipes on the internet, but she has been raving about Made with Lau. They have videos on how to make a lot of classic Chinese dishes with good explanations on how restaurants make certain dishes that are hard to replicate at home.

One night during my usual youtube browsing, Made with Lau's recipe for Salt and Pepper Tofu showed up in my feed and I figured this was a good time to see what all the hype was about.

Salt and pepper tofu on a Chinese plate
Step 8 of the recipe is Take pictures! So I took a lot of them!

Okay, it looked really good. I had to try making it. It also looked like a lot of work. I'm sure any one of their videos could have shown up on my feed and I would have had that same reaction, so maybe I could have picked something simpler. But I watched the salt and pepper tofu video so salt and pepper tofu went on my mental list of things to make, and when something goes on my list, I have to make it.

I looked at their website and it lists 30 minutes as the total cooking time. This recipe requires you to boil, deep fry, AND stir fry the tofu! There is no way I could get this done in 30 minutes. I guessed it was going to take me 3 whole hours to finish it, so I needed to do this on the weekend when I had plenty of time.

Deep frying tofu
I was too scared to use high heat and cook them all at once

Some parts of the recipe used such small amounts of ingredient that they seemed a little ridiculous to me. It requires 0.5 egg. What am I supposed to do with the other half?! I'm not going to waste half an egg! I'm also only supposed to use the white part of the green onion. Why would I do that when the green parts add so much nice color? During the stir fry step, I'm supposed to put a few dried chili peppers in the pan, stir around for 8 seconds, and then remove them. At least I already had a lot of dried peppers in my pantry, because I wasn't going to buy some just for this recipe.

Close up of me holding a piece of tofu with chopsticks as I stir fry them
These chopsticks have seen better days

But I guess this guy really knows what he's doing. The tofu turned out really well, and it only took me 1.5 hours to make! Half as much time as I expected (: Coating the tofu in cornstarch was kind of a mess, and I got cornstarch all over my kitchen, but overall, not too hard to make.

A spread of salt and pepper tofu, along with Hawaiian chicken thighs and marinated spinach
This is far too much food for just myself, but I had to put it all out for a nice picture

I couldn't just eat tofu though. I made some rice and a Korean spinach side to go along with it. And I still kind of wanted some actual meat, but this was already way too much work, so I went to Aldi and bought some precooked Hawaiian chicken thighs that I could just heat up in the microwave.

Close up of the salt and pepper tofu
Shots like this are made possible by my flip phone

It was a very, very good meal.

Creamy mushroom pasta

So for the most part, my youtube feed has consisted of music performances, updates on celebrities that I've followed, clips of funny shows, and rhythm game videos. But one day, youtube decided to recommend me a cooking video. I watched it, and now half my feed is recipes.

That first recipe video I watched came from a channel called Sip and Feast which just has lots and lots of pasta recipes. They all look really good and the comments also rave about the pastas, so I had to try one of them. I settled on making spicy creamy mushroom pasta, or as it's titled on the youtube channel, "Quite Possibly The Best Cream Sauce Ever!" -_-

The annoying thing about recipes on youtube is that they always just put the actual recipe text in the description and there's no nice "printer friendly" version of the recipe that I can look at without being blasted by ads. So you know what I do? I write it down.

Pasta recipe written down in a journal, with a stain on it
I spilled chili garlic sauce on the side

I kind of hate the taste of wine, but I felt like I needed it for this recipe, so I went to the local Fine Wine and Good Spirits and bought the tiniest, cheapest box of white wine I could find. It was $3. I also replaced Calibrian chili paste with chili garlic sauce because that's what I already had.

Mushroom pasta with cream sauce
Don't look too closely or else you'll notice that this basil is starting to go bad

I think best ever was a bit of an exaggeration, but it was pretty good! I really liked the flavor of the sauce. And I know I have this weird aversion to leftover pasta, so I only boiled enough pasta for one meal, and I mixed in just enough sauce with that. It took about 40 minutes to make, which wasn't too bad for my first time. I think I'll try more pasta dishes from this channel. Maybe an alfredo next time.

Two attempts at noodles

Last week, as I was browsing through food blogs at night, I stumbled across a stir fry noodle recipe that looked interesting. The pictures looked really good, but the comments were pretty mixed. Quite a few people said it was too salty, but some people really loved it. I'm never sure about Asian inspired recipes from non-Asian food bloggers, but I gave it a shot.

I already had a bell pepper and some scallions. I figured I would just omit the hot peppers, zucchini, and carrots. I did want some basil, but my local non-Asian grocery store only had really expensive Italian basil. So I bought a tiny container of expensive Italian basil. The store does have an Asian section, so I was able to get an 8oz pack of rice noodles. I also bought a single shallot and a single piece of chicken breast. I was running low on soy sauce, but I did have a lot of Golden Mountain Seasoning Sauce, so I figured that was close enough.

The recipe claims that it takes 15 minutes of prep time and 15 minutes of cook time. I decided to time myself. It took me 52 minutes, 44 seconds to make the dish, prep and cook. That's actually faster than I expected!

Stir fried noodles
Looks better than it tastes >.>

Heeey that looks pretty good! Unfortunately it was way too salty, just like all of those commenters said it would be. I didn't even put as much soy sauce as it called for! I also don't think the Italian basil made sense, and the noodles from the non-Asian grocery store were...not great.

The peanuts were a nice touch though.

It wasn't so bad that I didn't finish it all. But whenever I'm trying out a new recipe, the cogs in my brain immediately start turning and thinking about how I'd modify it.

  • Less salty components
  • More sugar
  • Get noodles and basil from the Asian store
  • Don't bother with the shallot, just use more scallions

So, noodles take 2!

Prep for stir fried noodles
I also added cornstarch to thicken it, and I added ginger just because I had some.

Stir fried noodles again

This second attempt was much better! And it was slightly easier for me to put together. I think it took me about 48 minutes, start to finish. If I made this a third time, I'd probably increase the amount of fish sauce a little, add a little bit of dark soy sauce, and decrease the oyster sauce. But I think I'm good on stir fried noodles for a while.

I'd say that the best part about making these noodles was that I got to share it with two of my friends, who both enjoyed eating it (:

Pesto pasta

I had a little nub of cream cheese in my fridge, so I was looking for recipes that use cream cheese. I saw this One Pot Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta on Budget Bytes (which I may or may not have made in the past. I don't know. I've made a lot of pasta recipes). This recipe called for 3 oz of cream cheese and I only really had one. Oh well, I'm not buying more cream cheese. I just need to use up this nub.

So I'm reading the recipe, and this is what I see in the description:

This Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta comes together in about 25 minutes, is super luscious and creamy, and uses just a few simple ingredients. ;)

25 minutes? Really? Well Beth, I'm testing this out now. I didn't bother reading the recipe in advance, so I'm going in blind.


It ended up taking 42 minutes total. I guess I wasn't being super efficient. I cut up the garlic and chicken before I turned the heat on the stove, and I probably could have saved time by turning it on, then cutting things up. It also took me 10 minutes to cook the pasta when the recipe calls for 8. And I added a tomato since I had one.

But this recipe really was easy to make. It was a very chill meal-making time for me, and I think I could get it done in 30 minutes next time. Overall, it's a great pasta recipe. 5/5.

More pasta

Filed under: pasta timed cooking

Cooking for myself again

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.

Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta

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.

Shrimp Scampi Florentine

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.

Showing posts filed under: timed cooking