March is practically over. We’re ready to jump into the hectic month of April, but first, we need to take a look back at all the food that came and went.
I had a good month food-wise and I hope you’ll all agree.
If you are looking to start your own food journey, I suggest Home Chef. They don’t sponsor me. I’m just a fan.
Teriyaki Ginger-Glazed Salmon with stir-fried bok choy and carrots
Teriyaki is a magical goo.
I have never had food with teriyaki and thought to myself, “this tastes like community gym socks.”
No exception here.
I’m also proud of myself because I’m getting better at cooking fish. I can almost pull off the perfect crispy skin. This summer, I will fire up my barbecue grill and see if I can master the art of cooking it with fire.
Now, I have a gripe about bok choy. What is up with your tiny little cabbage head, bok choy? You cost the same per bulb as a Humvee and there is never enough of you.
That’s okay. This recipe marks another great experience for me. I learned to stir-fry things. I’ve been intimidated by the concept for a long time and turns out it is easy. Homemade beats the hell out of buffet.
Learn to cook, guys. It will make you feel like a god-king.
Turkey and Avocado Tostada with pickled onions, sour cream, and chayote
I am a big believer in Taco Tuesdays. They are an important part of modern American culture. Tacos are the best form of sandwich and there is an endless sea of taco variants.
I’ve extended my repertoire beyond the basic fold a tortilla in half and fill it with yummies.
Henceforth, my taco Tuesday rule shall be thus:
If it has a tortilla shell, it can count as a taco for Taco Tuesday.
The fun fact about cooking these tostadas was learning tostada is a fancy way of saying baked tortilla shell. That means tostadas and nachos are the same thing. Except you break up the tostada as you eat it.
Everything else about this recipe was cooked the same as cooking tacos.
I am also learning that cilantro is an awesome verb. It is easy to chop unlike a lot of fresh herbs I’ve had to deal with and you can’t use too much of it. Not because cilantro is weak, but the opposite. Cilantro is so strong it that when you add a cilantro flavored or something. It’s cilantro flavored.
I don’t know about you, but that is a good thing.
Plus, cilantro just taste like summer. A nice punch straight into my food hole to remind me that winter is over and I need to move on with my life.
Homestyle Chicken and Dumplings with peas and carrots
I want to tell you a story about chicken and dumplings.
When I was in my early to mid 20s, I was poor. No, that’s not a fair statement. I was so bad with money, I lived in a one bedroom apartment with five other adults. Despite our numbers, we still had a hard time keeping food and nonalcoholic beverages in our apartment.
Fortunately for me, I was also involved in Eldaraenth LARP.
Through the LARP, I was adopted into a second family. These people helped me through some hard times and I will be forever grateful to them.
One way they did that was with food.
We would often have events that involved a dinner of some sort. Because there were a lot of us and chicken and dumplings are inexpensive and easy to make in bulk, we had them a lot.
Often, after one of these events, I would be sent home with leftover chicken and dumplings.
I’ve never been in danger of starving to death — I have too many good friends and family to let that happen. But, there’ve been times when I wasn’t making good decisions about what to eat.
Sometimes leftover chicken and dumplings reminded me there was more to life.
I don’t know if I will ever articulate how thankful I am for all of those years of leftovers.
So, thank you, Chicken and Dumplings. You reminded me again.
How can I review you objectively?
Pulled Ranch Chicken Sandwich with loaded potato wedges
I think there is something appealing about pulled meat sandwiches that are not barbecue. You are aware by now I’m a barbecue snob. I grew up in Kansas City. When you a to the greatest barbecue in the universe your entire life, you become a little jaded towards non-elite barbecue.
Which is why I like the concept of a pulled ranch chicken sandwich before I ever even ate it.
Last month, I made potato things with ranch seasoning on them and liked making what was basically my own version of Cool Ranch Dorito potato chips.
Yes, I know, Doritos are corn chips. Mine were made with potatoes.
I was not disappointed by the sandwich. I never realized how versatile ranch flavoring is when you don’t mix it with buttermilk to make salad dressing.
Hidden Valley, I owe you an apology.,
This is a simple meal. It was the easiest thing I cooked this month.
The loaded potato wedges were also kind of interesting. When I eat potato wedges, it’s because someone is using them in place of French fries. Out here in Montana, they’re popular. They call them Joe Joe’s.
They are always deep-fried. I like them. That way, but I am trying to be a little healthier.
These I baked in the oven and covered in sour cream, green onions, and chopped cheese., they were baked potato sticks. I mean they tasted like baked potatoes. Not fries at all.
Southern Fried Pork Chop with mac ‘n’ cheese and spicy green beans
I am about to write something I never thought I would write.
In this meal of fried pork chops and macaroni and cheese with green beans, I wish I’d had more green beans.
The pork chop was great. The macaroni and cheese was almost as good as my mom’s homemade. But, as crazy as it sounds, the green beans cooked with some red pepper flakes were freaking phenomenal.
I don’t know why I never thought to try putting red pepper on my green beans before. It is not an original or clever idea. People do it all the damn time.
I can’t recall having ever done it myself.
The macaroni and cheese made from scratch is a giant pain in the butt. This mac & cheese was made with real cheese, real cream, and real macaroni (?).
It was creamy and delicious, but I don’t know if I would pick it over my mom’s melted Velveeta and milk blend.
Way to go, Mom. You’ve set the bar too high for even gourmet mac ‘n’ cheese.
Korean Pork Medallions with Sriracha marinade and crunchy rice vinegar slaw
You know how I know I’m a fat guy?
I’ve decided based on the food I’ve learned to cook through Home Chef, I need to visit Korea.
I know I’ve only hit the tip of Korean food iceberg, and I’m already hooked.
I need to invest in a Korean cookbook.
I might even prefer Korean cooking to Chinese.
This is a big admission for me.
Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos with slaw and lime rice
I love shrimp. I love tacos. I’m growing to appreciate spicy foods.
Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos delivered.
Don’t know what else I can add to that. The recipe was easy to follow. The batter on the shrimp fried up well despite only using a bit of olive oil and I learned something from that.
I also learned that I need to buy some sort of taco stand if I’m going to keep taking pictures of my food to post on the Internet.
When I first started this whole learning to cook journey, I posted pictures on Facebook to my friends and family as kind of proof I was in fact learning to cook.
I got a lot of positive feedback from it. That led to me posting pictures on a histogram. It also led to this series of blog posts.
I never set out to be one of those people that takes pictures of their food.
I used to make fun of those people.
Now, I understand the appeal. It’s fun. I’m trying to up my food picture taking game.
Tacos are hard to do. I will definitely need taco stands.
The bang bang shrimp tacos taught me how important they are.
I was a little disappointed with the lime rice. I am not a fan of zesting things. Zesting is a lot of work even when it makes a difference. With the lime rice, it didn’t seem to.
Since I am very new to cooking in the grand scheme of things, maybe I screwed something up. But, the rice was bland and I couldn’t taste the lime.
I also thought I was supposed to put three pieces of shrimp on each of the tacos. Turns out, I was only supposed to use to. It meant I didn’t have enough shrimp to make the six tacos. I was supposed to have for two servings.
Since I eat my home chef meals twice in a week, I need that second serving. With no shrimp, I was just eating Sriracha sauce on lime rice and coleslaw.
I don’t think I should downgrade a recipe because of my own mistakes, but I wish I’d had a few more pieces of shrimp.
Still, bang bang tacos were awesome. Next time, I might just make them with a different side.
“Banh Mi” Meatball Sub with pork meatballs, pickled vegetables, Fresno chile, and fresh cilantro
Once upon a time, I hated touching Rob meet with my fingers. Especially the ground meat. It’s kind of greasy and slimy. I don’t appreciate the texture.
A couple years ago my mother was teaching me how to cook meatloaf and the entire time I kept thinking to myself, I will never cook this again because I can’t stand touching ground beef.
Times have changed.
I am proud to say I have overcome my fear of ground meat. I will stick my hands in a bowl and smoosh it up in my fingers. I’ll page off a loaf and roll it into a ball. I’ll slap it around like it owes me money.
I feel like this is real growth for me as a person.,
There isn’t much to say about the sandwich itself. It was a decent meatball sub. I appreciated that it didn’t have marinara sauce on it. Too many meatball subs go straight to that standard.
I don’t know that I would make this recipe again. It was a lot of work for a sub sandwich.
It was good. But, I’ll just go to Subway next time I’m in the mood for a meatball sub.
I did get to use my vegetable peeler to turn a cucumber into a nub. That was cool. I can add vegetable ribbons to my arsenal.
Angry Dragon Noodles with mushrooms, snow peas, and eggs
Stir-fry twice in one month! I must’ve done something right.
This was my vegetarian meal the month. I promised myself I would eat at least one no meat meal. This one counts, even though it has an egg. And, I am thrilled with my choice.
I’m a protein and potatoes kind of dude. I tried living a semi-vegan lifestyle for a month several years back. I learned there are non-animal foods I can appreciate, but, I am much happier when I am murdering something for my sustenance.
I suppose, I could eat angry Dragon noodles without the egg, but it wouldn’t be as good.
This stir-fry recipe was more in line with what I thought stir-fry was, too.
I know while cooking it, it looked a lot more like what you would see being prepared in a Japanese cartoon. I know stir-fry isn’t Japanese, but you get the point.
Bonus: I now have multiple recipes I can cook for Yeti Detective. His vegetarianism has been a rift in our shared dining experiences for most of her friendship. Not as big as living on opposite sides of the country, but it meant. We’ve never been able to split a pizza. Now, I can cook food we will both enjoy.
I have to come up with some money to fly to New York City to make him angry Dragon noodles. He will — well, my mom reads these posts so I won’t say what he will do.
100% recommend this recipe. Looking forward to my next chance to cook it again.
Southern Fried Chicken and White Cheddar Grits with butter, green onions, and hot sauce
I grew up in an anti-grits family. My mom hates grits, my dad doesn’t seem to like grits, and I cannot remember ever having eaten grits before now.
I’ve heard it grits are hard to cook. I was a little intimidated going in this recipe. I thought I would screw it up.
I don’t know if I did or not.
From my experience with this recipe, grits are the bastard offspring of mashed potatoes, oatmeal, and quick hardened cement.
recipe card told me grits could thicken. It told me to add water and warm them up to soften them.
I did that. Several times. Mine were still Play-Doh.
I don’t know if I cooked them wrong or if grits are just as terrible as my mom has always told me they were.
Do grits sucked because they’re hard to cook or are they hard to cook because they suck?
I will never know. I don’t imagine they will ever be cooked by anyone in my family again, and if I go to a restaurant that offers grits. I will probably stick to French fries.
The Southern fried chicken with the hot sauce gravy was superb. I tried to mix the gravy in with the grits to soften it and give it some flavor, but the grits soaked up the sauce and turned it into more grits.
If anyone knows what I’m doing wrong, please tell me. I will give them one more chance.
But only if they come up in my home chef rotation on a week when nothing else sounds appealing.
Spaghetti and Ricotta Meatballs with pecorino garlic bread
Spaghetti and meatballs — four out of five.
Spaghetti is one of the few foods I have known how to cook most of my life. I learned how to cook pasta growing up, and I learned how to make pasta taste great with cheap ingredients.
I don’t have the palate of a master chef. I can’t taste the difference between fresh parsley and dried bottle parsley.
So, I don’t know if my taste buds are good enough to judge if this spaghetti was any better than any other spaghetti. I’ve had my entire life. It was fantastic spaghetti, but spaghetti is spaghetti.
Have you had bad spaghetti?
I haven’t. My little brother judges restaurants based on their spaghetti. Next time he and I get together, I will cook this meal for him and he can let you know if it is awesome spaghetti or not.
I can only tell you it was good. I enjoyed it. It filled me up. And it took a lot more work than normal spaghetti.
Meatballs always do.
Chicken Chili Verde with lime crema and fresh cilantro
I just finished eating this meal. It was delicious. I might even say it was hearty and scrumptious.
I can appreciate any food I can cook and only dirty up 75 dishes. So when I can cook something in one pan — like most chilies — I enjoy it.
The flavors on chili Verde differ from most of what I have had in my life. I have had a white chili and real chili. I like them both. This was my first time eating green chili, and I was not disappointed.
The recipe was easy to follow and cleanup was much easier than normal when I’m cooking. I liked the lime cream and thought it was worth the time to zest the lime and make it.
I enjoyed it.
I’m happy with the progress I’m making in the kitchen. 45 minutes to an hour cooking every night is motivating me to do more domestic things in my life.
I feel like I’m growing up. It’s strange how something as simple as cooking can make you feel like you’re an adult. Despite being in my 30s, some part of me has always felt like I was still a teenager. Everybody probably feels that way, and it probably doesn’t ever go away, but, when I’m in the kitchen I can see myself being more like my mom and dad.
It’s a good feeling.
Because of my kitchen experience, I’m looking to add more structure to my life.
I love Home Chef. It has opened a whole new world for me. Going forward, however, I’d like to do more.
To make that happen, I’ve given myself a strict schedule every day. I’m using apps to fill my entire 24 hours.
I’ve been doing it for four days now, and it’s going well.
If you’re interested in seeing how I’m trying to add structure my life, be sure to check back next Friday.
If you’re only here for pictures of the food, I’ll see you next month. And, if you can’t wait that long, follow me on Instagram.
I post pictures of everything I cook as I cook it.