• Personally speaking….

    Just the thoughts and cookings of a software engineer that likes to make foodstuffs from time to time in the bay area of California.
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Day 7 of the menu plan: Spaghetti Pie

Today was the last day in the week of menu plans. As planned, I made Creamy Spaghetti Pie. I used to make spaghetti pie a bit when I was on Weight Watchers. I thought I’d try again with a meatless version.

Creamy Spaghetti Pie

It didn’t go very well, but tasted alright. I used low-fat cottage cheese instead of ricotta. That was fine. But it was all very runny. And it didn’t fit into my pie pan at all. Not sure what happened to cause all the excess water. I’m sure the leftovers are going to be amazing though.

Instead of serving it with the planned green beans, I served it with a salad so that I could try out a dressing.

Doing a menu plan for the week is nice but I need to focus on it more and read the recipes better. Maybe then I won’t end up cooking till late at night for that evening’s meal. This week is going to be a whirlwind anyway. This weekend is the conference where I present a 40-minute session on marketing to the younger generation. There’s also library board meeting, class, Toastmasters meeting, class team meeting, and more.

Then it calms down a little but not as much as it’ll calm down in December! (Right around the corner. See it? Hi! There it is.)

Exploration about town: Grey Goose Restaurant

I had a dinner meeting. Being a vegetarian before is no different now that I’m back on the wagon: I worry about dinner meetings! I abhor bell pepper. For some reason, most everything I get that is the result of checking the vegetarian box on an RSVP has bell pepper. Why! Why, oh bell pepper, must you vex me so?

Last night was no different. At least, though, I could remove it easily. I believe I amused those at my table.

Vegetarian entree
Grilled Vegetable Napoleon with Roasted Tomato Compote

The dinner was at The Grey Goose Restaurant which was a lovely place. (Gotta love a restaurant with a great website!) The food was delicious, though I didn’t like the pie as much as I thought I would so 3/4 of that was left behind. Oh, and, of course, the surgically removed roasted bell pepper was left with no apologies.

Grilled Vegetable Napoleon with Roasted Tomato Compote had zucchini, yellow squash, portabella mushroom, roasted red pepper, mashed potato, and roasted tomato sauce. The brown drizzle was… balsamic reduction/glaze? Rosemary sprig for garnish. It was hard to pick apart all the flavors. And I’m already feeling a lack of confidence in identifying flavors because I failed so miserably at the lunch on Monday!

Is it a Napoleon cause it is layered? Neat idea filed away into the inspiration box.

Chocolate fudge pie
Chocolate Fudge Pie

Incredible homemade Indian lunch

I work at a place where scientists come from all over the world to do experiments. Every once in a while, I get to enjoy homemade food from the world’s greatest cooks!

Mmmm

What a spread! Sandy — nickname — is from Calcutta and treated us to slap your mamma good food. Let’s see… Starting with the pot in the top left: Rice with asparagus and … shoot, I should have taken pictures of my plate but people were already wary of my picture taking; chicken; shrimp (prawns); I forget but it was amazing and had cilantro in it; carrot “sweet dish”; more of the cilantro-y sauce; spinach and made-from-scratch cottage cheese (not our cottage cheese) and potato; tomato ginger relish; another shrimp dish. All was vegetarian except for the seafood dishes and the one chicken dish, of course.

I tell you what… I don’t know all the seasonings or all the ingredients, but I do know it was out of this world amazing. I am so thankful to have been invited!

My favorite dish was the spinach, potato and cheese dish. She makes her own cheese. She said the carrot dish was a sweet dish so it was warmed in the microwave. We had that as dessert. I’m not a huge carrot fan but that was rocking. Also, the ginger tomato dish is served at the end to help with digestion. Who knew?

The carrot dish was made with grated carrots, evaporated milk, I think, light-colored raisins, cashews and pistachio. It was very sweet and rich.

She also served some great tea that came from India. No tea bags. It was loose leaf Darjeeling.

Also! I learned I have been eating incorrectly. The hostess informed us that she eats a little rice and a little taste. Because there are so many flavors there, that you go up many times. So I did. That was wild. Very good.

Sandy, thank you! Oh, to be able to learn in your kitchen for a few years!

Quick Tofu Fried Rice

Tofu fried rice

I saw Tofu vegetable fried rice today through foodgawker and it inspired dinner!

Quick Tofu Fried Rice

1 block firm tofu, drained, pressed, cubed
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups (ish?) leftover brown rice
1 cup (ish?) frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1/3 cup (ish?) low-sodium soy sauce
freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon (ish?) vegetable oil

I drained the tofu, wrapped it in one paper towel, then wrapped that with a kitchen towel. I then put a heavy cast iron pan on it and let that sit while I chopped up the onion and thawed the vegetables.

I sliced the tofu lengthwise then cubed it so that they were small-ish cubes.

Heat some vegetable oil in a skillet over medium. When it’s hot, add the tofu cubes. I flipped them around to get as much of the sides browned as possible. Cook for about 5 minutes. Remove and save.

Add some vegetable oil to the skillet. Once it’s hot, add the onion and vegetables. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes. Add rice. I cooked for about 5 minutes. If the rice is too cold, I would heat it up so that the vegetables don’t get overcooked.

Add soy sauce, pepper, then the tofu. I add enough pepper so that I see it. That’s how I know it’s the flavor I like. That’s up to preference, much like the soy sauce. Heat for about 2 minutes.

Tofu fried rice vegetables Tofu fried rice tofu

In the past, I’ve added egg to fried rice. To do that, I push the rice to the side and add a little wetness like butter to a corner of the pan. The egg fries up quickly, then gets folded into the rice. Also, I’ve done cornstarch on the tofu before but wanted to try without this time. I didn’t miss it.

Eggplant Experiment continues: Stirfry

I tried again to recreate the a side dish I ate a few months ago. I remember the cook saying she nuked it for 20 minutes to get the water out and then some time in the pan. 20 minutes seemed a long time.

I took an eggplant, sliced it into 1/3″ slices, salted, and put in a colander. This process I found in random googling. The salting process is supposed to get the water out. After 45 minutes, I rinsed the slices off and squeezed them as dry as I could. I even put them on a towel to help dry them more. I then chopped it up and added it to a pan that already had onion (1/2 chopped red), garlic (2 cloves) and olive oil (1 Tablespoon) going. I also added some pepper. I sauteed it a bit then covered it over low and cooked for about 10 minutes. I took the lid off and continued for a few minutes more till it was tender.

I served it with warmed pita bread, store-bought hummus, and leftover spaghetti.

Eggplant and spaghetti

I don’t know. It just wasn’t it and I’m not sure how to get it. Maybe she didn’t use onion and garlic? Or maybe the colander trick doesn’t work like I thought? Not sure. It was OK, but I will definitely experiment again.

Dinner: Spaghetti

I cleaned out my pantry a bit and found three jars of spaghetti sauce. There are also quite a few packages of noodles in there. Time for Spaghetti!

I tried Bertolli Organic sauce and added some chopped up Roma tomatoes that were passing away into tomato Heaven on the counter. Pretty good. Rounded out the meal with some noodles with “plus” on the box, cheese on top of bread, and some spinach on the side. Quick meal and tasty.

Now. What to do with the leftover sauce? And the other two jars?

Spaghetti

Dinner: Sweet Potato Burrito

Something was off. I’m not sure what. Maybe the garlic? It basically just tasted like a bean burrito to me. The other eater thought the sweet potato was weird. I wrapped up the leftovers (lots) in plastic and put them in the freezer. I’ll post when I try that. I’m new to the freezing thing 🙂

Sweet Potato Burrito

Dinner: Sweet Potato Burrito

Laptop Lunch #3

Yes. I’ve been buried under a lot of homework and it kept me from putting up my foodstuffs. But I have been eating. 😉 And taking pictures!

Laptop #3

Clockwise starting top left: Fat-free cottage cheese with a strawberry. I had some frozen strawberries from a sale and put it in there. The lid would go on so I fished it out and cut it in half. Since I pack my lunches the night before, the strawberry had time to thaw in the fridge and left its goodness all over the place. Black olives. I wish I had a food pick but fork worked fine. Papaya was very hard to cut. I should have looked up how to cut one but thought it’d be like an avocado. Not sure if it didn’t work out because it was overripe? No idea. I do know now that I don’t like papaya much. But I tried it. The pink container has a pile of frozen mixed vegetables. Again, it had time to thaw out till lunch. Wasn’t bad microwaved for a minute. Already had a spritz or three of ICBINB spray. Pretty tasty. I don’t use a lot of salt and these didn’t have any.

For the plate: Red

How can I plan a meal for presentation? I don’t see me making little radish roses but I could see nestling in a grape tomato for a splash of red. I’ll list what I’ve found even if I don’t eat it. Tastes change, etc.

Red

photo by mollyali
Beet
Can be eaten raw, but are more typically cooked or pickled. [more…]
photo by cursedthing
Blood orange
Raw. Less acidic in flavor than regular oranges. [more…]
photo by bonnieshulman
Cherry
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by mjlaflaca
Cranberry
Cook or it’s too tart. [more…]

Guava
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by fabiocosta
Papaya
Raw. [more…]
photo by niznoz
Pomegranate
Raw. [more…]
photo by calliope
Pink grapefruit
Raw. [more…]
photo by jenmaiser
Radish
Raw or cooked. Hot peppery flavor. [more…]
photo by marko k
Raspberry
Raw or cooked. Sweet, slightly tart.[more…]
photo by funadium
Red apple
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by docman
Red bell pepper
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by chubbybat
Red chili pepper
Mild to hot. [more…]
photo by princess of llyr
Red currant
Cook or it’s too tart. [more…]
photo by farlane
Red grape
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by ethomsen
Red onion
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by fortinbras
Red potato
Cooked. [more…]
photo by pipstar
Rhubarb
Cooked. [more…]
photo by anushruti
Strawberry
Raw or cooked. [more…]
photo by svenwerk
Tomato
Raw or cooked. [more…]
Photo by darwinbell
Watermelon
Raw. [more…]

Images are from Flickr Creative Commons-licensed content. Clicking on each image will take you to the photographer’s album.

Somebody saaaaave me (oh and a couple of dinners)

I think I mentioned my crazy course load this semester. Well, I knew it would be time consuming so planned for it. This means very little time for anything else, unfortunately. That means I missed hitting some local markets, planning meals based on sales and sleep. Ok, I did sleep a little.
Taco soup
Dinner: Taco Soup

  • I love this recipe. I’ve been doing it for a few years now with some experimentation with ingredients here and there. All this is cooked for about as long as I want to wait. I guess it takes about 20 minutes to heat everything over medium.
    • 1ish pound of meat (or not). If ground something, it’s browned with the onion and garlic. If it’s leftover something, then I brown the onion first so that I don’t overcook the leftover something. If I’m vegetarian, then I up the bean count by one can.
    • Garlic and onion. I prefer chopped red onion. I add about 2-4 teaspoons of minced garlic. If I’m cooking without meat, then I brown them together in some heated olive oil.
    • 1-2 cans (rinsed and drained) pinto/black/kidney beans. My favorite combination is two beans. I like the difference in look. I believe this time I had one can of pinto and another of kidney.
    • corn for color. I guess I put in about 1-2 cups. If frozen, then I just have to keep that in mind when cooking. Just cook it a little longer. If canned, drained.
    • Rotel diced tomatoes with chile. Usually run about 2 cans of this. I add it with all its juice. It can get a little spicy but I like spicy. I’ve tried with other diced tomatoes with chile and keep coming back to Rotel.
    • Taco seasoning. I use a packet of low-sodium. I used to have my own taco seasoning mix mixed up but need to get a new jar of it going.
    • Ranch seasoning packet. I only use half of a packet because it’s so salty and stuff. I don’t think it needs a full packet and can save the rest for the next soup.

    With this, I had some homemade tortilla chips. I quartered some corn tortillas and placed them on a baking sheet. I sprayed them with Pam and put them in a 350 oven for about 13 minutes. They got too brown though so maybe 350 for 9 minutes?

Sticky chicken
Dinner: “Sticky” dump chicken, rice and squash

  • Sticky dump chicken: I love the idea of dump chicken but this combination was not good to me. Way too gloppy and the smell as it was cooking was unpleasant. I love peanut butter but this wasn’t what I thought it would be.
  • Brown rice: I used instant brown rice in the bag. I thought I’d have sauce from the dump chicken but didn’t 😦 So I added pepper to it and a pat of butter to moisten it.
  • Squash and onion sauté: Again with the random makeups. I had a half bag of frozen squash in the freezer and wanted it. Over medium, I heated extra-virgin olive oil, added leftover chopped up red onion (probably about half an onion), and stirred it around till the onion started to soften. I then added the frozen squash and covered it for about 10 minutes or more. I took the lid off and added pepper and a little salt. With the lid off, the squash lost a little of the squishy look but not too much.
  • Note: Obviously, the chicken isn’t happening again. But overall, the look was bleh. I was hoping for more punch. Ah well.

DSCN2600 I can really tell when I have natural light in the photos. I held the bowl of soup up against my dining room window to shoot. The plate of squash and chicken was photographed on my dining table without outside light. I’ve included a shot of the squash cooking (at right) where there’s some window light coming in.