Category: Cooking

Twenty. And a belated home-cooking writeup.

20 weeks of workouts

It continues! I was greeted with this message as I checked into my dance class last night. If weeks were years, my exercise streak would be declaring a major (and changing its mind a week later), whining about running out of meal plan points, and making assorted terrible life decisions.

OH, ALSO: A week or so ago, Boyfriend and I baked some salmon with a ginger-chili-soy glaze and served it with stir-fried baby bok choy, bell pepper, and onion, but forgot to document it here.

Voila. It was delicious.

Random bonus: the sliced-off bulb ends of baby bok choy looked like little green roses:

We used this recipe for the stir-fried bok choy and bell pepper and did a modified version of this Asian-style baked salmon with sesame, soy, and ginger from the BBC (seriously!), substituting green onion and coriander powder for chives and ‘fresh coriander’. Incidentally, I only just learned that coriander = cilantro plant seeds. They’re brothers from the SAME mother. Also, now I’m pretty sure that by fresh coriander, the recipe meant cilantro. Oops.

This meal was definitely one to revisit. The bok choy was delicate and tasty, we got a nice helping of omega-3s, AND the kitchen smelled like sesame oil/a Chinese restaurant for the rest of the night! (That is a good thing in my book.)

Baking for Many: Dual-Chocolate Chip Cookie Edition

Dual-Chocolate Chip Cookies ready for their closeup

My department at work does a weekly rotating snacktime, and when my number came up, my co-snack-bringer and I agreed to bake cookies. After briefly considering buying prepackaged cookies or slice-and-bake dough, I decided to sack up and break out my recently acquired hand-mixer for some chocolate chip cookie goodness. While in the grocery store I was overcome with the urge to get weird and buy both white and semisweet chocolate chips. As a result, my cookies ended up being extra awesome tonight.

I modified the classic Nestle Toll House recipe slightly to include an extra egg yolk. I think that the cookies came out fluffier and chewier as a result. I also omitted the walnuts, because I forgot to buy them. Finally, I changed the brown-to-white sugar ratio because I thought I remembered reading about that somewhere.

Sugar in mixing bowl

Brown sugar reminds me of wet sand.

After taste-testing, Boyfriend said “we should keep 3 dozen of them,” which is a good sign– hopefully my colleagues won’t hate these babies!

Recipe and more photos after the jump.

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Meals I have made that have not given us food poisoning

Between 2007 and 2009 I subsisted on a near-constant stream of pizza, Lean Cuisine, chicken nuggets, and Annie Chun’s noodle bowls for dinner– and those were on the nights that I “cooked at home.” However, I luckily ended up with two great cooks for roommates while I was getting my master’s degree, both of whom were far healthier than me. It was while living with them that I explored the wonders of winter squash, went vegan for a month, and cooked vegetarian chili for the first time. My next roommate was also far more skilled than me in the kitchen. Now that I don’t have roommates to mooch food from anymore, I’m slowly becoming more brave in the kitchen.

While attempting to cook our way to Sweden, Boyfriend and I have been trying our hands at several dishes, most of them new to us. They all rank super-low on the difficulty scale, but pretty high on the “nom” scale. They include:

There are others, but those were the best of the best. Boyfriend and I are often paranoid that we’re going to accidentally undercook our food or ruin it in some other way, and attempts at these dishes have resulted in high fives all around.

The best thing to come from making an honest effort to cook more is that I’m becoming less reliant on takeout. And Lean Cuisine-type meals are officially a thing of the past for me.

We're not friends anymore.

GO BACK FROM WHENCE YOU CAME

Cooking for One : Leftover Pasta Edition

Tonight I was determined to cook for myself while Boyfriend was meeting a friend for drinks, especially in light of the fact that I spent an exorbitant amount on Pad Thai and apple-lemon-ginger juice at lunch today. I also wanted to start using the pre-made pesto I bought at the Fancy Market around the corner from Boyfriend’s apartment. Making some pasta and slapping a tablespoon of pesto on it is one of the few dishes within my culinary reach.

When I took the box of whole wheat rotini down from the cabinet and shook it, it sounded suspiciously rattly. A peek inside confirmed that barely a single portion remained. I opened the fridge to see if there was anything else that would go marginally well with the pasta and found lunchmeat, some Swiss cheese, and–voila– a whole box of mixed baby lettuces. Boyfriend and I are terrible at finishing any green produce we buy; we’ve wasted an embarrassing amount of perfectly good fresh veggies. However, we are extremely skilled at eating carbs. Hence the imbalance in our stock of pasta vs. greens.

I’ve also been trying to eat fewer raw vegetables lately, per the orders of every acupuncturist I’ve seen in the past couple of years, outside of the green juice with ginger I’ve been drinking a few times a week. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, raw veggies and certain other foods are considered “cold,” and if your digestion is weak, they mess with you, and…some other stuff I can’t remember right now. Anyway, because of that, and also because I’m terrible at eating my vegetables, I was pretty sure that a big ol’ salad was not my first choice to supplement my meager ration of pasta. Then I wondered if I wouldn’t be able to cook the greens in the pot after I drained the pasta, like I do with an egg for carbonara.

First I Googled “pasta wilted salad greens” to make sure I wasn’t just making up this idea. I do that a lot when I’m not using a recipe. It’s comforting to know that other people have done similar stuff before me. It also reassures me that whatever dish I’m making probably won’t kill me. I’m trying to build more self-confidence about my cooking, but it’s a process. For now, I have Google.

Having just finished eating, I would call this experiment a success. The slightly cooked greens give a nice freshness and some texture to the pasta. Read on to learn how to make it.

Rotini with Wilted Greens and Pesto

WHOLE WHEAT PASTA WITH WILTED GREENS AND PESTO

Ingredients

  • The dregs of a box of whole-wheat rotini…or fusili, penne, what have you. (Probably about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup, for one person.)
  • A few handfuls (1 c.) of mixed baby lettuce leaves
  • A hasty spoonful (1 tbsp.) of store-bought pesto, or for those of you with more motivation and time than me, homemade pesto.
  • Pinch of black pepper

Process

  1. Bring water to boil in saucepan/small pot; salt if you remember to.
  2. Add pasta, cook until al dente.
  3. Remove pasta from heat and drain in colander.
  4. Return pasta to pot and add greens, toss over low heat and add pesto and black pepper.
  5. Enjoy all by your lonesome, and be proud that you’ve cooked another meal without setting the kitchen on fire.