Summer is fast approaching. Summer has my favorite kind of weather, yet it's my least favorite season. Summer means that my family plans all these vacations, and I get really overwhelmed and stressed out. Summer is when so much of my mental energy is taken up by other things, that my side projects take a back seat.
All that to say, things are slowing way down for the food blog. I won't say I'm taking a break, but I'm tending towards making easier meals and spending less effort on creating aesthetically pleasing photos.
I really really like making this chicken and rice dish, but most of the time when I make it, I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. It's just easier. But this time, when I went to the store for chicken, the family pack of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs were 50% off, so I had to get that instead.
And really, the dish is so much better this way. What's nice about having the skin is that it gets nice and crispy when you intially cook it. But the problem with this dish is that you later nestle the chicken in while the rest of the rice is cooking, and the skin gets all soggy again. And I think the skin still tastes good that way, but it's just not the same.
So what did I do? I ate a whole bunch of crispy chicken skin right after cooking the chicken. So no, I don't have a full picture of the finished skillet because it's a bunch of naked chicken pieces and it's weird looking.
This dish actually makes a lot of rice, much more than what's needed for four chicken thighs, so I later cooked some more asparagus and salmon to also eat with it.
I know, I have a salmon and asparagus meal just three posts below this one! And I took a picture at exactly the same angle! Well, asparagus is in season, and I still have a ton of impulsively bought salmon, and this is just all my brain can handle right now.
(Okay...that salmon above? That's not even from the same shopping trip where I bought 2.5 lbs of salmon. This post's salmon was bought two weeks ago, and it was also an impulse buy. I had to! It was also 50% off!)
This was all already delicious right after I cooked it, but reheating the leftover rice in a skillet is 👌.
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.
When my sister was living with me, I was cooking almost every day. We kept cooking and cooking, and it seemed like we had so much food, but whenever I took a break from cooking for one day, it's like all the food disappeared. Well, I had this crazy realization this week that when I'm by myself I could cook three dishes during the weekend and then not have to cook at all during the week.
I know, that's what meal prepping is. But when people say they meal prep, I always envision them cooking two dishes on Sunday and then dividing everything up into individual portions in tupperware containers. Which sounds boring. I like to make every meal feel like a special accomplishment.
And you know what I accomplished this week? I only spent $16 on groceries! On the flip side, I also ate out four times, but one of those meals was on my company's dime.
I'm trying to make sure I include some low effort meals that will last me a while. This chicken rice dish requires very little chopping, and I can make it last six meals. With pasta, I try to not make it last so many meals because I get sick of it easily, but this rice dish still tastes great on the sixth day in a row.
What's nice about this dish is that I can split up the rice and chicken, and then use those individual parts for other meals. I saw asparagus on sale at Aldi for $1.49/lb, which usually isn't that great because Aldi tends to stock suuuper skinny asparagus sticks, and who wants that? But this time the asparagus actually looked decently sized!
I actually made this same asparagus recipe about a month ago when my mom visited, but it didn't quite turn out so well since I was flailing in my kitchen trying to cook three things at once. This time I could just focus on asparagus. The recipe calls for shallots, which I replaced with onions because no one on a budget should ever buy shallots. The recipe also said to cook these for 20-25 minutes. That is way way way too long. I had these in the oven for about 12 minutes and I still think they were in there for a tad too long.
I was very satisfied with the way the asparagus turned out though. The combination of bacon, onion, and parmesan made it very flavorful.
My final dish of the week is Huevos Rancheros, which I was happy to stumble upon a recipe for it since it's probably my favorite brunch dish. Now I personally hate the idea of brunch. You take two perfectly good meals and squash them into one meal, and then get charged way more than you should be charged for either meal. Why would I ever choose to eat one meal over two meals? I've been to a lot of hipster brunch places, and they all feel exactly the same. They serve pancakes, chicken and waffles, and a bunch of random things with an egg on top. And then they try to get you to buy alcohol to make the meal even more extravagant.
But having brunch at home? That's a much better idea. Of course, I didn't make these for brunch. I ate these for breakfast and still had lunch later.
These Huevos Rancheros were okay, but I think the recipe could use a lot of tweaks. The salsa has way too much water, so I would cut that in half. It could also use some more salt and maybe some other spices. I just found it lacking. I also think two eggs is too much. There are plenty of days where I only eat two eggs for breakfast, so having that plus a bunch of other stuff is overkill. The recipe just says to arrange two tortillas on a plate, but I think it's better to first make sure the tortilla is toasted and crispy, and then break it up into nacho sized pieces.
I also substituted the refried beans for some pulled pork that had been sitting in my freezer for a while. Having to use three pans to cook breakfast is a bit much so I wanted to take whatever shortcuts I could. But...I guess this is supposed to be a brunch recipe. And brunch is fancy.
Oh, also I just really wanted to post a picture of more fajitas since I had this two more times this past week. This time I toasted the tortillas on the pan and threw some cheese on top which made them even better.
We just forget to take multiple pictures of the meals we make. Or I'm stuck by myself and have to take a picture with my phone.
I totally forgot about this in my last Odds 'n Ends post! I had a turnip and I had no idea how to use it, but I saw an egg hash recipe, and I love egg hash. We added bacon and crumbled feta cheese on top which added some extra flavor. All of the turnip recipes I looked at used it like a potato, but I must say, it tastes nothing like a potato.
We needed a really quick meal for a Friday night since we had plans to play a game with our cousins. I almost said that we should just get food from a local restaurant, but making pasta is cheaper and faster. I had these really dinky looking asparagus from Aldi, so I didn't even bother steaming them, and I just sauteed them for a couple of minutes. I also added mushrooms, which you really can't see in the picture either.
This might actually be the very first recipe I ever tried from Budget Bytes. It was delicious the first time I made it, and it's become one of my really simple go to meals. This is the first time I made it with bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, though. I normally buy boneless, skinless because I'm lazy, but I'm trying to save money so I'm buying whatever meat is on sale. These chicken thighs were only $0.69/lb!