In This Issue...
Happy Canada Day ♡ Kevin and I reached a new achievement this week: we ate only home-cooked meals for all seven days! Fingers crossed we can keep it up.
★ 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! ★
Spam and Sausage Pizza
I made another pizza using another ball of the same dough from two weeks ago, the one Kevin said was his favourite to date. I put roughly the same toppings on this one: spam, cheese sausage, and mozzarella. To my surprise, he hated this pizza. The crust was the problem; he said it “tasted weird.” After watching him struggle through a few slices, I told him just to scrape the toppings off and leave the crust. No idea what changed between this one and the last. I had a little bit of the crust, and both of them taste the same to me.
The only difference was this crust was still too soft in the middle when I initially took it out of the oven (I forgot to account for the fact that I was baking this from the fridge whereas the other one was already at room temp). But even after baking for an extra ten minutes to stiffen it up, it was still no good. According to the bf, it was the taste of the dough, not the texture, that was most off-putting. It’s frustrating, to be honest, especially because I have like five more balls of this dough in the freezer.
At least this is in line with his character. Remember when I was really surprised when he said he liked this last time because he ordinarily hates anything whole wheat? I guess last time was either a fluke or a whole wheat-tolerant demon briefly took possession of his human form, but now we’re back to the regular Kevin we know and
Poutine with St. Albert Cheese Curds
I did it! I finally achieved my dream of making poutine from scratch with real cheese curds! After looking for cheese curds at the supermarket in vain twice in a row, I found them today sharing shelf space with salad mixes and tofu. Looks like third time’s the charm. I also made proper baked fries this time, instead of my lazy method of smashing potatoes on a baking tray.
Although Kevin liked these fries better than the smashed potatoes, he would still prefer them to be deep fried. We’ve been debating getting a deep fryer to gussy up our home-cooked meals, but I really don’t know if I want:
- another machine to take up space in the kitchen
- to deal with cleaning something so greasy
- the risk of oil splatters and burns
- to have to buy so much oil
We also thought about getting an air fryer instead, but I’m afraid it won’t taste the same to Kevin, who’s particular about his fried foods. My other question is, why use a deep fryer when it looks like a saucepan can achieve the same thing? I just don’t know if it’s the worth the investment, guys. Do you own a deep fryer? Please comment with your experiences if you do!
Mock Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supremes
Neither Kevin nor I have ever eaten at Taco Bell, but we both have heard so much about their legendary Crunchwrap Supremes. There has to be a hundred different DIY Crunchwrap Supreme recipes out there. Today I finally decided to test one of these recipes out to see if it really is as good as every American hypes it up to be.
Short answer: yes
Long answer: These bear only a passing resemblance to Crunchwrap Supremes. (I was missing lettuce and tostadas, minimizing the “crunchiness” factor, so really these should just be called Wrap Supremes.) Kevin still enjoyed them, though. Making these was kind of an adventure. First, I decided I wanted to use this opportunity to try these 1-ingredient lentil tortillas that I’ve had my eye on for some time. Second, I didn’t realize this recipe required nacho cheese until I was halfway through cooking the beef. Budget Bytes’ 5-minute nacho cheese sauce really saved my ass here because I managed to whip it up just in time before the beef and tortillas got cold (I used soy milk, and you can’t even taste the difference). I also used a home-mixed taco seasoning. So basically, I made three separate recipes this evening and it all came together to make three measly Crunchwraps.
They are really filling, though: Kevin ate two tonight and will eat the other one for lunch tomorrow. The only suggestions he offered were, of course, to add lettuce and tostadas because it was missing something crispy. I’m also planning to bake instead of pan-fry them next time, to make the outside tortilla a little crunchy as well. Cooking them on the skillet caused some parts to almost burn while other parts still remained soft. Maybe I didn’t use a low enough heat setting.
Those lentil tortillas have pleasantly surprised me. They were very easy to make with my Blendtec, and are as pliable as wheat flour tortillas. I made them a little too thick this time, but nevertheless they turned out very good for a first run. I’m planning to use a little more water with the next batch to thin out the batter and make it easier to pour into a nice thin wrap.
I made this brioche loaf last week together with some dinner rolls (recognize the flax seeds?). But I’m only slicing into it now!
The dough worked well in the dinner rolls, but disappointing for a sandwich loaf. The crumb is too soft and flaky to work as sandwich bread, although I managed to messily spread some Laughing Cow cheese onto it. (I don’t even know why I bought this cheese in the first place, because I hardly ever eat it now. I’ve had it for months and it’s almost reached its expiry date, so I’m trying to get rid of it. I saw it mentioned on /r/1200isplenty that it goes well with honey on some toast, so that’s exactly what I did here.)
Who would’ve thought it would be so hard to make a loaf of plain white grocery store style sandwich bread?
Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole
I had to use the rest of the ground beef I bought to make Crunchwraps, so I dug up this recipe. It’s a perfect recipe to use up ingredients because it also happened to get rid of some of the excess food in my fridge—namely, an onion, some sour cream, and a bunch of cheese.
Instead of six servings, I sliced it into four large ones—which, yeah, is a lot of food at over 700 cal per slice—but since Kevin had only eaten a leftover Crunchwrap earlier in the day, I thought that the bigger serving size would be better. The first thing he said after taking just one bit was that it could taste a lot better with some rice mixed in. I’ve never considered that, but it could work! Besides, this recipe is a keto one, so it’s definitely lacking in some substantial carbs that he was probably craving. I don’t know if I’ll be making this again, since it’s not exactly a healthy meal. I’ll serve the leftovers with some rice for the next few days.
I made Kevin this Instant Pot beef stroganoff for lunch today (using potatoes in place of mushrooms). I tasted some of the noodles as I was putting it into his bowl because it just smelled so irresistible. I’m seriously so impressed! Frankly, if there weren’t meat chunks mixed in, I definitely would’ve eaten more. It only got a lackluster response from Kevin, however.
He says that he’s just not big on creamy stuff, and that this same recipe would taste better with tomatoes. He had the same comments about the bacon cheeseburger casserole yesterday—he would’ve been much happier with a lasagna instead. I’m the total opposite. I don’t like tomatoes very much and much prefer rich, creamy flavours to sharp, acidic ones. Maybe I’ve been focusing too much on what I think I would like to eat when I’m making his meals, rather than what he wants, if that makes sense. From now on, I’ll be focusing on making more tomato dishes!
Triple Meat Pizza, Take 2
This pizza features the same toppings as the Monday pizza plus some salami. This time, the dough was made from the trusty NYT pizza recipe. The ball of dough was too big for one pizza, so I split it into two smaller balls. Unfortunately, this means each ball is very, very thin-crust.
For some reason, my pizza cutter barely made a dent in this one. I thought a thin-crust pizza would be easier to slice, but maybe the lack of a soft center layer makes the entire thing more tough to cut through. This made the slices a little uneven and messy, but Kevin enjoyed it even though he prefers a thicker crust!
Older oranges taste better
This is an insight on my personal tastes: Oranges (or clementines? I never remember the difference) taste best when they’ve been left on the counter for a while for the inside to dry slightly. Today I snacked on one, the one I’ve eaten in over a month. I bought a bag of oranges in mid-May, and only opened the bag now after I started worrying they would go bad. Although the skin had softened up a tiny bit, they were still perfectly fine to eat. I noticed while cutting into one that the flesh was quite dry, with each orange piece looking a bit shriveled, and the juice didn’t go spraying everywhere for once! They were also much sweeter. Overall, not only are older oranges less messy to peel and eat, they also taste a lot better. 🙂
Sinigang is a Filipino soup that’s soured with tamarind. It’s traditionally made with pork, but I followed a vegetarian variation.
I bought a box of tamarinds last term when I thought they would be needed for curry, but turns out I had made a mistake and the recipe in question called for tamarind paste. I’ve been keeping an eye out for fresh tamarind recipes ever since, but it’s been difficult since it’s a pretty rare ingredient. When I saw this recipe for sinigang, I had to make it! Without the meat, it becomes a very, very light dish. There’s almost no fat in it, as it’s all vegetables, tofu and water. I don’t know what it is about chopping up a cutting board full of veggies and dumping them into a soup, but it’s just so satisfying.
Because I don’t have a big stock pot, I made this soup in my Instant Pot. I put the potatoes in first with half of the water and let them cook under high pressure for 0 minutes, and let naturally release. Then I added the rest of the ingredients and water, and cooked for 4 minutes under low pressure, then let naturally release. I think this was a bit too long, because the veggies were very soft when I opened the pot. Not falling apart, but getting there.
This soup is ok. I guess it’s about as much as you can expect from a recipe with no spices other than black pepper and tamarind. The tamarind didn’t add a discernable flavour, even though I added three pods instead of the two called for in the recipe. I much prefer eating the tamarinds on their own.
Baked Teriyaki Tofu
My mind is BLOWN! I just pulled out a tray of teriyaki tofu from the oven and by god are they good.
Even though I am the world’s #1 tofu lover, I’m quite inexperienced with marinating and baking tofu. Since tofu tastes so good to me even on its own, I haven’t really bothered getting fancy in it. Usually, the most I do would be to fry it with a little cornstarch and soy sauce, but most of the time I just use whole, unseasoned cubes. Or even eat it raw.
Today, though, I had a lot of time on my hands, so I tried pressing my tofu. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone Chinese doing this, but it’s a really popular technique in Western recipes to firm up the tofu a little more, especially for savoury recipes. I was mostly just curious to see how much of a difference pressing tofu actually makes, so I used a super simple recipe to prepare it.
- Take a 700 g package of firm tofu from T&T, placed each of the four blocks onto a steaming rack, which was then placed on top of a cutting board, and then I put another cutting board on top plus a bag of oranges. Let the tofu sit there, slowly draining away, for a couple of hours. I left it there for an entire day!
- Slice each tofu block into quarter-inch pieces and covered both sides in a thin layer of store-bought teriyaki sauce.
- Bake it at 400 °F for 30 minutes, then flip them. Add a bit more sauce to the flipped side, and bake for another 10 minutes.
In retrospect, I should’ve made thicker slices because this tofu was a bit too tough. I like my tofu to still have a little bit of moisture inside, for the perfect crunchy-outside juicy-inside texture. 1/2 inch is probably the ideal size. Also, next time I will bake at 425 °F. I think the lower temperature caused them to dry out without doing as much browning to the outside as I would like. Finally, I would add more teriyaki sauce! The amount I added today was tasty but I bet they would be even more flavourful if they were slathered in sauce.
Last night, I started making soy milk in my Instant Pot WITHOUT PUTTING IN THE SEALING RING. It spilled everywhere, and I mean everywhere, even places I didn’t think it could go. This morning I took it apart after watching a couple of YouTube videos, cleaned up the mess inside, then pieced it back together. Between that and studying, it was late evening before I even thought about cooking. Poor Kevin had to suffer through the stroganoff I made this Thursday, which he seriously doesn’t like. I promised him pulled pork today, but he’ll have to wait until tomorrow instead. 😭 However! I did make one last thing before my Instant Pot disaster last night that he was able to enjoy today:
New York Cheesecake!
I won’t waste words, since I already outlined making cheesecake in the Instant Pot two posts ago.
I followed the recipe more closely this time (I bought sour cream specifically for this cake). It turned out to be very soft—almost melty in texture. I personally like this more creamy version, but Kevin preferred the denser cake from last time. I think the textural difference was because this time I took care not to mix a second longer than necessary. Last time I took the “better safe than sorry route” and mixed longer at each step just to make sure all the ingredients were incorporated. According to the recipe page, the difference between a creamy cheesecake and a firmer one is the mixing time.
In preparation for the pulled pork that I’ll be making soon, I baked a batch of hamburger buns using the famous King Arthur Flour recipe. I also threw in some extra tangzhong I made last week when I was baking Hokkaido milk breads. This is the first time I’m using it in a recipe that’s not milk bread. I’ve heard that it can add some fluffiness to any bread recipe.
The dough was not the easiest to shape, since it was quite sticky. I found that if you shape it by passing it between your hands really quickly like a hot potato it becomes less sticky and more smooth the more times you throw it back and forth.
I’m not sure if the tangzhong is what made the difference or the original recipe is just that good, but these buns were beautifully soft and fragrant! Lovely chew as well. Can’t wait to stuff them with pulled pork tomorrow!