In This Issue...
It’s the midpoint of exams! I’ve stopped buying groceries, since we’ll be going on vacation in two weeks, so these are very much “clean-out-the-fridge meals”.
★ My weekly Food Diaries are a way of tracking what I cook, buy, and eat every day. They provide insight into my eating preferences, allow me to analyze patterns in my spending, and help improve my cooking. And I always share my recipes! ★
Parker House Rolls and Loaf
I made these Parker House Rolls to eat with the stuffed mushroom filling that I didn’t quite use up from last Saturday’s recipe. The instructions for shaping the rolls were a bit vague. I used The Kitchn‘s post, which has really helpful pictures of each step.
The recipe ended up making a lot of dough, so I experimented with it a bit. The first batch, I made typical Parker House Rolls in their off-center folded shape.
The second batch, I baked as a loaf.
The third batch was bagel-shaped, baked on a doughnut pan.
Finally, I had a small ball of dough left over. I shaped those into two regular buns, which I’ll use for sandwiches.
The loaf is my proudest achievement. I seriously think this is the best loaf of white bread I’ve baked so far. The crumb is tight enough to hold the structure together when sliced, and the colour and rise on these babies are just perfect.
Finally, after an entire term of practice, I can make regular grocery store white bread. Yay!
Two-Ingredient Greek Yogurt Naan
You’ve probably seen this recipe for naan before, because it’s one that was quite viral at some point. The title is sort of misleading, because you technically need three ingredients (self-rising flour, greek yogurt, and salt) to turn out something edible. And, who keeps self-rising flour at home?, so it’s more like four ingredients (flour, baking soda, greek yogurt, and salt).
I made these once before, and remember being impressed by the flavour even though I totally burned the whole batch. For some reason, these ones didn’t turn out as great. Or maybe it’s because as my bread-making skills have gotten better, I’ve developed higher standards for bread? Either way, I was mostly disappointed by the lack of air pockets that you’d expect in naan. These looked, and tasted, quite flat. They are good enough as a vehicle for curry (which is what I made them for) but nothing beyond that.
Mango toast is what it sounds like: I put sliced up pieces of mango onto my homemade bread and toasted them. I was kinda inspired by avocado toast, I guess? I’ve seen mango toast on Instagram as well, but obviously a lot more aesthetic than mine. Although I like most fruit after it’s been roasted a little (especially apples and peaches… mmm), turns out mango is not one of those fruits. Maybe it was because I didn’t heat them long enough for the sugars to caramelize, but toasting mango did nothing to enhance its flavour for me.
Honey Garlic Roasted Chicken with Cauliflower
Trying yet another chicken marinade today! This one is a honey–garlic blend from Tori Avey. I rubbed the sauce on the chicken leg in the morning. It rested in the fridge for half a day before I roasted it for dinner.
Cauliflower was the usual, toss in some chicken stock and roast for 15 minutes on each side.
Cauliflower needs to cook at 400 °F for at least 15 minutes each side to be tender. But 30 minutes uncovered will cause the chicken to dry out. So my plan for next time is to up the heat to 450 °F and cook the cauli for 10 minutes on each side. This should be short enough to keep the chicken moist. At the same time, the high heat can ensure a crispier skin and a faster cooking time for the cauliflower.
Unfortunately, Kevin said there was still something off about today’s cauliflower. At this point, I’m at a total loss. I think the only variable it comes down to at this point is the fact that the cauliflower I used last time that he really loved was organic, while these ones weren’t. I’m very hesitant to believe the organic label could make such a huge difference in taste. I will be buying organic cauliflower soon and repeating the recipe to test this theory. Stay tuned!
Tofu Bok Choy Mushroom Burrito
Pretty weird burrito filling, right? This is the leftover dumpling filling from my recipe last week. I sauteed it on low heat to drive off some moisture, then wrapped it up into one healthy, tasty burrito. It was surprising how good this tasted. Then again, it tastes good in a dumpling, so why shouldn’t it taste good in a burrito, right?
I drizzled some spicy mayo on there between bites and that made it 10 times better. I swear this spicy mayo goes with everything.
BBQ Cauliflower Wings
These cauliflower wings were made with instructions from hot for food. I’ve been looking forward to making these for a while now, but I was seriously underwhelmed. The BBQ spice mix was so flavourless, I might as well have been eating cauliflower dipped in straight up flour. I couldn’t taste any hint of a BBQ flavour at all.
People say cauliflower is a miracle food, but 90% of the recipes I’ve made with cauliflower where it tries to pretend to be something else have failed. I think I’ll mainly stick with good old stir-frying and roasting for all my cauliflower needs.
Bacon Egg Breakfast Sandwich
This was a quick dinner for Kevin. I fried two eggs with runny yolks and nestled them on top of folded slices of bacon. The buns used were the Parker House “bagels” I made earlier this week.
Kevin said he really liked the meal, but it doesn’t work as a dinner. I’m one of those breakfast-all-day types, so I didn’t really think of that as an issue, but I can see what he means. It’s not too satisfying as a dinner.
Mushroom Zucchini TVP Bowl
This was a recipe I saw on Reddit, but I can’t find it anymore. (EDIT: found it!) It’s basically 1/2 lb of TVP (dry), prepared according to a ground “beef” recipe, 1 lb of spiralized zucchini, 1 lb of diced tomatoes, and 1 lb of mushrooms. Cook with some garlic powder, salt, and Italian seasoning. I added some soy sauce and cumin for the TVP, and used Italian-seasoned canned diced tomatoes.
I’ve never made something in such a large quantity on the stovetop before. It’s literally threatening to spill out of the skillet!
The taste is just so-so. The TVP has an oatmeal-y taste to it. I was quite hungry when I made this, so I happily scarfed down a bowl, but it requires some more finagling with spices to really be something you’d want to eat.
Instant Pot Fish Curry
There’s a 900 g bag of frozen basa fillets sitting in the freezer, so I thought I’d put them to good use in a curry recipe. I used a basic Instant Pot fish molee recipe. It was super easy, almost a dump and go recipe! My boyfriend was skeptical since he is very picky with his seafood. Last time I made fish, he found it too briny and couldn’t even eat it.
Even though I added four Thai chilis and thought the spice level was perfect, Kevin said it could use more heat. However, he didn’t taste any brininess from the seafood as we feared, so I count that as a success!
Zucchini Blender Brownies
It’s been a while since I made any blender bakes, hasn’t it? I used to be so in love with the idea of being able to stick a bunch of ingredients into a machine, hit a button, and have everything prepped and ready to bake in less than a minute. It’s so futuristic!
But reality is often disappointing. The issue with making batter or dough in a blender is they often don’t blend well due to the viscosity. Today, I tried a recipe from the official Blendtec website. I figured if anyone knows which recipes work in a blender, it’s them.
I still ran into the problem of the ingredients not quite blending. Instead of running one BATTER cycle like the recipe instructed, I had to run it twice more before it was a uniform consistency. It’s definitely far from the most frustrating thing I’ve tried in my blender, though.
As for the sugar, I ran out of white sugar making the Parker House rolls on Monday. I substituted about 130 g of dates for the 1.5 cups of white sugar. Not even close! There was just barely enough sweetness to keep the whole thing from tasting bitter, but really that’s it. I tried to save it by making a sweet potato frosting, which did help add some sweetness. Overall, though, it was still too flavourless for me.
High Protein Chocolate French Toast
Every time I bake bread, I have the urge to make French toast with it. And because this time my bread is so nice and sturdy, I can actually make a proper looking French toast without it falling apart everywhere!
I used a recipe for French toast with a little protein powder because I feel like I haven’t been eating much protein lately. I made a peanut butter drizzle out of 2 tbsp of PB&Me peanut powder, adding water until it became the consistency of thin syrup, and about 6 drops of Sweetleaf stevia extract. Next time I’ll probably just use some maple syrup or honey to sweeten, because the stevia left a bitter aftertaste. Overall, the French toast itself wasn’t great either—looks pretty good, but tastes quite bland without added sugar or butter.
Shrimp Scampi with Fettucine
Well it’s about time I used up some of the shrimp that’s filling up our freezer!!
I started by defrosting 1 lb of shrimp (about 24 shrimps—is shrimps the proper plural word?), peeling them and frying the shells in a generous amount of olive oil. Meanwhile, I drizzled the peeled shrimps in more olive oil and tossed them with 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp minced garlic.
I also think you should get your pasta boiling at this point, I didn’t know this but fettucine takes so much longer than spaghetti to boil (it seems obvious now given the size difference, yeah), so I started cooking the pasta towards the end and the shrimp was cold by the time it was ready. Anyway, boil some salted water and put your 4 oz of dry pasta in. (I cooked 8 oz and I think it was way too much fettucine for two people. It was a bit bland and there was such a large pasta to shrimp ratio. I was completely stuffed after the meal and Kevin also said it was too much food, even though he was very hungry and ate it all anyway. Next time I would do maybe 4 oz of dry pasta for two people, that sounds reasonable.)
When the shrimp shells are a bright orange-pink and beginning to char, press them against the edge of the pan to squeeze the oil out and scoop them out and discard them, keeping the nice infused oil for the next step.
Add 1–2 tbsp of butter or margarine to the pan. Once it’s all melted, add 1.5 tbsp of minced garlic and 1 tsp of red pepper flakes. So uh, you’re gonna start choking at this point because man, the red pepper fumes are spicy! But just turn your head away from the stove to breathe and you’ll feel better. Right after you add the garlic and red pepper flakes, add the shrimp mixture and saute for 2–3 minutes or until they are mostly pink.
Pour in 1/4 cup of white wine and 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Once the liquid starts bubbling, move the pan off the heat.
Your pasta should be done or close to done, and once it is, add it to the pan with the shrimp. Toss to mix and transfer to two plates. Grate half a lemon over each, sprinkle some parsley, black pepper, and parmesan cheese, and serve.
If you want this to be an even quicker dinner, use pre-peeled shrimp and skip the oil infusion step at the beginning. Also, it’s so important to start the noodles early or you’ll be stuck waiting for them to cook while everything else gets cold.
For Kevin’s dish, I also made a couple of bacon-wrapped green bean bundles to get him some veggies. I came upon the recipe while I was doing research for the shrimp scampi, and it was just perfect that I had some green beans sitting in the freezer! I steamed them for 0 minutes in the Instant Pot before following this recipe to cook them with the bacon.
Kevin was very unsatisfied with how little bacon there was per bundle. He complained he couldn’t even taste the bacon under the taste of the green beans! But he still finished eating everything and I am very proud of him 🙂
Tacos with Walnut & Sundried Tomatoes Taco “Meat”
This is probably one of my most Insta-worthy meals this term, although taste-wise it was just meh. The taco “meat” recipe is from Minimalist Baker, and even though I added just half of the recommended amount of brown sugar, it was still too sweet imo. You get sick of it after two or three tacos. Next time, I would make it without any sugar, since the sundried tomatoes already add enough of a sweet tang.
Although the corn tortillas and “meat” are both vegan, this meal is not, because I drizzled it with a spicy Japanese mayonnaise. Without it, the mixture was quite bland.
Instant Pot Shrimp Korma
This was a simple shrimp korma recipe from MyRecipes. I cooked it up in my Instant Pot on SAUTE mode. The only issue: once I added the coconut milk, it became far too thin, not really like a thick curry. I also added the shrimp too soon (because I didn’t expect the curry to be quite so watery), and ended up overcooking them.
I thought it was okay, but Kevin wasn’t into it, especially not the peas. Next time I will use coconut cream instead of coconut milk, and maybe take out the peas if Kevin is eating it.
Vegan Brownies with Toasted Coconut
When Kevin saw me eating my zucchini blender brownies earlier this week, he got jealous!! He wanted brownies too, but I knew he wouldn’t like the zucchini ones because they weren’t sweet enough. So I made us a quick batch of brownies this evening.
This is probably the easiest recipe in the world to make, but it turned out quite well. The mixture is very, very wet, and pours like a syrup, but it firms up in the oven.
Baking it for 25 min wasn’t quite enough; it was too gooey and soft to hold properly and was a mess to eat. But the taste was wonderfully rich with a bold chocolate flavour, to the point where Kevin actually said it was too chocolatey. He loved the toasted coconut that I scattered on a few of the brownie squares, more as an experiment than anything, so I think I will continue sprinkling the tops of my brownies in the future!