Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Little Less Gringa

Last week was Joey's birthday.  To celebrate, he asked if I would be up for going to a Mexican restaurant.  We live in a neighborhood with a very large Mexican population.  There are lots of restaurants around us that Joey has been wanting to try.

Since I can finally eat beans, I agreed.  We found a restaurant nearby, and it even sold cheeseburgers!  (That's important because my dad doesn't eat Mexican food.  I had to get my picky-ness from somewhere!)

So everyone was seated around the table.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous.  This was a huge gamble.  I took a deep breath and reached for some tortilla chips to help settle my nerves.  I saw my dad dip the chips in the salsa.  I didn't remember him liking salsa.

"I don't mind it if the salsa is mild."

Not really a gamble.  Just a leap of faith.

So I decided to brave the scary, red sauce.  I dipped my chip in the salsa.  And it was spicy!!  That's what I get for trusting a man who likes mild curry.

The chips and salsa were free, so I wasn't losing much by trying them.  Just taste buds.  My main course would definitely be a gamble.  I went with cheese enchiladas in a red sauce.  There was no description of the sauce, and I was wagering actual money on whether or not I would be able to eat this meal.

Here's my hand.  Hopefully a safe bet?

I wiped the onions off the top.  Raw onions are still not going to happen for a good long time.  I cut off a small bit of enchilada and went all in.

The red sauce had very little flavor, just lightly tomato, and it wasn't spicy at all!  Cheese is always delicious.  I slowly came to a realization.  I liked this meal!  I enjoyed this meal at an actual Mexican restaurant!  My family was so proud!

Definitely going back again.  And can't wait to hit up La Cabaña and finally get more than a margarita!  Too bad Iowa is so far....

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Sad Goodbye to an Old Friend

The Chicago grocery institution, Dominick's, is closing at the end of the year.  It may seem silly to be attached to a grocery store, but I am.  I've lived in Chicago my whole life, so I've been going to Dominick's my whole life.  This chain is huge, and showed no sign of being in any sort of financial trouble.  At least not to the people shopping there.

Dominick's provided me with single serve packs of ice cream after a stressful babysitting gig.  Dominick's held the answers to all my food cravings.  Dominick's had amazing discounts on wine and beer.  Dominick's even helped me afford gas for my internship last year!

Dominick's has also been with me since the start of my adventure.  It's sad to think that Shrimp Alfredo will be the last adventure we have together.

I hope all the Dominick's employees are going to be okay.  While I know being unemployed is almost never easy, this is an especially hard season to be unemployed.  I wish them all the best in the new year.

I'll miss you, Dominick's!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Shrimpier Than Before

Falling behind again!

About a week ago, I gave shrimp another go.  This time they weren't covered in fried bread.  Fried bread usually makes everything better, and I wanted to see if I liked shrimp or just loved fried bread.

So Joey and I bought a two-pound bag of shrimp.  We figured Shrimp Alfredo should be pretty innocuous.  (Joey forgot he doesn't actually like alfredo.  This fact will be important later.)  We decided to cook up a pound of shrimp and invite Emily to help us eat it.  Emily loves shrimp.

First things first.  We needed to peel and de-vein the shrimp.  I had to rip little, slimy legs off of the shrimp.  And then pull out their digestive tracts.  Gross.

One bowl holds legless shrimp.  The other, their itty bitty legs.

So after that ordeal, we boiled the little ocean bugs.  And we boiled up some linguine.  We did a great job cooking the shrimp, but for whatever reason the pasta was more al dente than even I like.  And I'm a big fan of al dente pasta.  We probably should have heated up our canned alfredo sauce, but we had already been working on this dinner for at least an hour and a half.  We just wanted it to be served already!

And during the cooking process, I had a wave of nausea hit me.  My stomach felt like it was filled with all those slimy feet.  I don't know what the cause was, but my stomach was on high alert for the rest of the night.

So our undercooked pasta, perfectly cooked shrimp, and room temperature alfredo sauce were all finally done!  And I managed to eat about six shrimp.  The meal didn't taste bad.  It would definitely be improved by pasta that was better cooked and sauce that was warm.  I was just feeling so gross!  I ended up having a couple spoonfuls of peanut butter for dinner.

The shrimp weren't so bad.  The nausea, undercooked pasta, and room temperature alfredo were.

Shrimp are better than scallops.  They don't have that vinyl texture.  Their taste is pretty bland, which means they can be paired with a lot of different flavors.  I totally understand the appeal of shrimp.  But I was too nauseous to give them a fair assessment.  Looks like I'll to have a another shrimp adventure to find out my true feelings.

Remember when I said that Joey forgetting he doesn't like alfredo sauce would be important?  Well, it only took one bite for him to remember.  So he gave his shrimp to Emily.  After about six bites, I couldn't stomach any more.  So I gave my shrimp to Emily.

Emily ate almost a pound of shrimp by herself.

Emily is a seafood-adventure life-saver.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bacon-less Scallops

I tried scallops on Halloween.  I vowed to try them without bacon, and I have remained true to my word.  A few days ago, I used scallops as the protein in a Stir-Fry.

Normally I use beef or just vegetables, but those scallops were staring at me from the door of the freezer.  Also, my mom asked what my plans were for the scallops.  I checked out a bunch of directions for cooking scallops and decided browning would be a good indicator of cooked-ness.  I asked Emily if she would eat some scallops so that I could cook up a bunch and not commit to eating them all.

I couldn't find my usual stir-fry sauce, so I combined some soy sauce and oyster sauce.  Emily was dubious (since I wasn't even measuring the sauces), but she didn't back down.

Behold my creation!

That sauce was tasty.  A+ for me!  And the veggies were delicious (even though we were out of bean sprouts).  I ate this at 5:30 and was still stuffed when I went to bed five hours later.  That is a quality meal!  I love Stir-Fry.

But what about the scallops?  I had a minor revelation.  Scallops taste fine.  Not as good as bacon, but they taste fine.  What I don't like about them is their texture.  They feel like vinyl on my teeth.  Or at least, what I imagine vinyl would feel like on my teeth.  I do not dig that.  I can eat them as long as they're with something else.  In the Stir-Fry, scallops are fine because there are so many other textures at play.  Wrapped in bacon, everything is wonderful.

Oh, and Emily totally liked my improvised sauce.  And finished my left-over scallops.  Thanks, Em!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

What's All the Hullabaloo About?

So I might have seriously neglected my blogging over the holiday weekend.  And the post-holiday week...  Whoops!  Well, I'm getting back on track.  This post was a long time coming.

Over Thanksgiving, a friend was in from out of town.  Miriah and I went to see a movie with her and then suddenly found ourselves at a sushi restaurant.

Sushi is something I do not understand.  As far as I do understand, the driving force behind sushi is people will pay to eat raw fish that has been draped over a bundle of rice and seaweed.  It is only slightly more logical than paying to eat a steak you have to cook yourself.

Miriah doesn't really do sushi either, but for the sake of politeness we took off our shoes and pulled up a chair.  I scoured the menu for something I would enjoy and luckily found vegetable tempura.  Miriah decided to try some sushi.  The table ordered four rolls, each a different kind.  There was your typical raw fish on top of rice and seaweed variety, fried crab, and semi-spicy sweet potato.

Miriah avoided the raw fish since she doesn't even like cooked fish.  (I'm not the only fan of the kids' menu in our family.)  I stuck with my fried veggies.  Till the end.

I was persuaded to try the semi-spicy sweet potato sushi.  Being the adult that (chronologically) I am, I dipped the slightly-more-than-one-bite-sized roll in soy sauce and shoved it in my mouth.  I assume you eat the rolls all in one bite, hence the shoving.

That's sushi.  That's what people lose their minds for.  I might never know why.

Despite the protests that the roll was not actually spicy, I felt the familiar burning of the taste buds.  It was nowhere near as scorching as those wings, but there was kick nonetheless.  The most surprising part came after the slight heat subsided.  After the heat was nothing.  If the sushi had not had that semi-spicy sauce, it would have had no flavor at all.

I'm not normally one to knock bland foods.  In fact, a lot of my favorite foods would never be described as "bursting with flavor."  But people are obsessed with sushi.  People who consider themselves super into food and its accompanying flavors.  So why are they into sushi?  It tasted like nothingness.  There was no complex interplay of flavors, no delicate balance of x and y.

I admit that I only had one of the apparently multiple varieties of sushi.  Maybe other varieties have more flavor.  But I'm not willing to risk my money on that.  Do you know how cheap sweet potatoes and rice are?  So much cheaper than sushi!  Maybe I'll come back to sushi in a couple months and find that there's something I didn't pick up on the first time around.  For now, sushi very securely remains on the "Do Not Eat" list.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Recently, my mother celebrated her birthday.  We all went to The Atlantic, scene of the first way-too-hot wings.  I got the delicious Mac and Cheese.  Joey got a Crab Cake Sandwich that he couldn't convince me to take a bite of.  There was some suspicious sauce on it....

Joey and I ordered Cheese Fries as well.  I just can't say no to cheese and potatoes!  My parents ordered Curry Fries for the group.

Look at that.  That's the flavor equivalent of an oil spill.

Everyone told me the curry was mild and almost sweet.  Well, I've been told things were mild before.  That turned out to be a giant lie.  At least the curry sauce was a natural-looking color.  And there were fries that hadn't been contaminated, just in case I needed to sooth my burning mouth.

I took one curry-covered fry and one plain fry.  I ate the curry-covered fry was delicious!  My family had not lied to me!  The curry was sweet!  I actually ate more, and I even dipped my plain fry into the curry sauce.  It was more tangy than spicy with a lovely sweet note to compliment the salt of the fry.  I'm looking forward to eating them again!

Joey is already planning a trip to Little India.  I don't know how soon that adventure will be happening....

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

They Claimed the Sauce Was Mild. They Lied.

Joey and I went to see a movie the other day.  The movie theater is right next door to Buffalo Wild Wings, and I am a sucker for those Potato Wedges with Cheese.  It combines two of my favorite things: potatoes and cheese.

But what the restaurant is really known for is their wings.  They have a bunch of sauces you can get on the wings.  I was feeling adventurous so I told Joey I would split some wings with him.  I said, "But you can't go any spicier than mild."

I'm about to use math to explain my reasoning.  This will be the last time (probably) that I use math on this blog.  Mild is the fifth sauce from the bottom of a 21-rung spiciness ladder.  There are 16 sauces ahead of mild.  In other numbers, 76% of their sauces are spicier than mild.  I felt comfortable in the lowest quartile of the spicy range.  I figured it would not rock my world, but that it wouldn't be unbearable either.

So we ordered 25 mild wings.  Apparently, I was also feeling ambitious.  We each ordered a beer, and we decided to split a basket of those delicious potatoes.

Then the wings arrived.

That is a color and sheen that does not occur in nature.

The wings were bright orange.  My first clue that Buffalo Wild Wings had lied to me.  Then I bit into one.  Yup.  Definitely not mild.  My mouth felt like bank statements in a fireplace.  But I was committed to finishing that wing!  The wings were so hot that I used ketchup (usually a total yuck food) to sooth my scalded mouth.

I didn't want to make Joey eat 25 wings, so I somehow managed to eat a grand total of 3 wings.  I think the fact that I managed to eat not only one but three wings shows my development as a person.

I learned two lessons that night:
  1. I can suffer through (some of) a meal if I really put my mind to it.
  2. Never underestimate the lowest quartile of spiciness.  It's still really spicy.

Horrible, mouth-burning experience aside, I cannot wait to go back and eat more Potato Wedges with Cheese.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Taco Surprise

I do not eat most food found on Mexican restaurant menus.  I also don't eat most food on pretty much any restaurant menu, but that's beside the point.  Joey very much enjoys Mexican food.  Miriah practically lives on refried beans.  So last night, we made Traditional Beef Burritos.

This recipe has a couple of things that are "Do Not Eat" foods.  The first one is cumin.  Cumin is still a bit too spicy for this kid.  I've realized that chili powder isn't actually so bad, but cumin just fans the flames of any other spice in a dish.

The second big "Do Not Eat" food is refried beans.  While they are essentially the life force of my sister, I maintain that beans are gross.  If you're not going to let your kid eat paste, why are you going to let them eat beans?  Same consistency, same taste.  And before you ask, yes, I have eaten paste.

Same adhesive properties?  Who knows.  Miriah won't let me "waste" them in order to find out.

And of course, "Do Not Eat" food number three.  Taco sauce.  Mainly by virtue of the fact that it is sauce specifically designed for a food that I find too spicy and too suitable for an art project.  In fact, after looking at the ingredients, I decided taco sauce was innocent till proven guilty.

Look at that!  It's even mild!  Maybe it won't be so bad....

We browned the meat (yum), added garlic (yum) and onion (eh), and then the recipe started getting gross.  But it also started smelling awesome.  I was even starting to feel a little excited.  How could something with so much garlic turn out bad?  I hoped (since this was dinner) that it couldn't.

After trying to roll the burritos, Joey passed the task to me.  I treated it like a Potbelly sandwich, and it seemed to go just fine.  Our tortillas were slightly too small, but we managed.  We popped them into the oven to bake.  Remembering those way-too-ambitious pork chops, I started brainstorming back-up dinner options.

After we took them out of the oven, I put more cheese on mine.  Once again, cheese is delicious.  I had forgotten to buy sour cream, so we had to skip that part.  The burritos looked good but scary.  Who knew how much the cumin and taco sauce would burn my mouth?

The potential dangers are so well hidden....

The meat was a little spicy.  But I could totally handle it!  I'm quite proud.  I think this is proof that I'm maturing as an eater.

More surprising though, I preferred the beans to the ground beef mixture.  Beans go well with cheese.  I don't know if that's the magic of cheese or my continuing personal growth.  I guess the next step would be to try refried beans on their own.  I wonder if Miriah would be willing to part with them.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Adventures in Babysitting

Last night, I was babysitting.  Just one girl, four years old, and I've been babysitting her for about two years now.  Normally we just bake Rainbow Cupcakes.  (Seriously, like, every time I babysit her.)  Last night, she convinced me to adventure.  While my adventure with her may not have been film-worthy, it was blog-worthy.

After taking her to fiddle class, I was starving.  I drove to her house, unpiled everything out of the car, and attempted to open the front doors while holding an iPad, purse, car-seat, and empty snack tin.  I rummaged through the fridge and took out the spaghetti her mom had mentioned and some fried rice.

That's when I heard "I don't want spaghetti."

My anxiety levels rose, assuming she wanted Rainbow Cupcakes for dinner.  I was starving!  I needed to eat!  But I asked her, "Well, what would you like instead?"

"Cheese, pepperoni, beans, and cauliflower."  What weird kid.

Now, most of that stuff resides on my "Do Not Eat" list.  Cheese is the one exception because cheese is absolutely delicious.  But she didn't say Rainbow Cupcakes, so I was happy to give the girl what she wanted.

I heated up my fried rice and we sat at the kitchen table, talking about how great her behavior was at fiddle class.  Despite being an only child, she is great at sharing.  So I wasn't surprised when she started offering me her food.  I took a bit of the cheese.  It was the only part of the meal I liked.  Then she said, "You like cauliflower?"

"No.  I never really liked cauliflower.  I do like broccoli, though."

"It's really good for your body.  Candy isn't good for your body.  Broccoli is and cauliflower is.  You could have some."

So gross that no color wanted to be associated with it. (Photo courtesy of Eat-Drink-Garden.)

The four-year-old was (and still is) less picky than me.  In fact, she was encouraging me to take an adventure.

So I picked up the little bleached tree.  The last time I ate cauliflower, Clinton was president.  And the cauliflower was covered in cheese.  It was probably more cheese than cauliflower.  (My mom was getting desperate.  Anything to make me eat vegetables!)

She was watching me with wide eyes, waiting for me to eat it.  I reminded myself, not for the first time on this adventure, that I am an adult.  I should be able to eat more than Rainbow Cupcakes!  So I took a deep breath and ate the cauliflower.

Guess what.  Turns out it tastes just like broccoli.  All that fuss over nothing.  Sorry, Mom.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Scary Halloween Adventure

On Saturday, I threw a party.  A Halloween party to be precise.  And of course, I made food.  There was food I knew I liked (Mozzarella Bites, Pumpkin Cupcakes, and cheese and crackers), food I knew I didn't like (Sugar Cookies), and food that was quite adventurous (Bacon-Wrapped Scallops).

I thought that after my successful experience with shrimp, scallops couldn't be too bad.  There were only three real ingredients: bacon (the ultimate yummy food), scallops (gross), and water chestnuts (yuck).  I hoped my love of bacon would out-weigh any grossness.

There it is.  You can barely see the grossness lurking within....

So I ate that little sucker.  And the water chestnut was still pretty gross.  I don't know why, I know it doesn't really have a strong flavor.  Maybe it's the watery-ness paired with the crunch that I find so unsettling. 

But you know what wasn't so gross when it was wrapped up in the glory of bacon?  Scallops.  Maybe now I can try them on their own.

Or maybe I should just eat some bacon instead.

(Happy Halloween!)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Now I Want to Try the Potato Chips....

Revelation time!  Well, "revelation" might be a bit too extreme.  Kind-of-small-but-still-techincally-life-changing-realization time!  Turns out shrimp don't really taste like anything!  I like that!

Let me start at the very beginning.  As a small child, I actually enjoyed shrimp.  "Enjoy" doesn't do my feelings justice.  I loved shrimp with every fiber of my seven-year-old being.  We would go to Old Country Buffet so I could gorge myself on mac and cheese and shrimp for ultra cheap.

Then something happened.  It might have been an association between that kid who spewed at Old Country Buffet while I was eating shrimp and shrimp themselves.  It might have been a simple case of over-saturation.  Who can say?  Whatever it was, I suddenly found shrimp disgusting.  I could not stand the idea of having those things on my table, let alone in my mouth.

About two or three years ago, I realized that the egg rolls I had been eating my whole life (from the absolutely divine Mee Mah) had shrimp in them.  Curse you, mood lighting, for not revealing those disgusting little creatures!  But I was too old to just stop eating delicious egg rolls.  (The best in the country, my father and I would argue.)  I tried to pretend I had never seen the little things.

Even before I started dating Joey, he would talk about how much he and his family loved shrimp.  He made it sound like they were actually a Scottish-American off-shoot of the Gump family.  I would tell him that his family, like shrimp, was gross.  Who would eat such ugly, disgusting, little animals?  (Of course, his family is lovely.  They were lovely even when I thought shrimp were the oceanic equivalent of worms.)

Finally, I decided to bite the bullet and try shrimp, securely on my "Do Not Eat" list for well over a decade, one more time.  Joey was ecstatic.  I was apprehensive, to say the least.

We bought Jumbo Butterfly Shrimp.  I was nervous that these would be too big.  Joey pointed out that "jumbo shrimp" is an oxymoron.  Shrimp would never be huge.  We also decided to make a whole bunch of mac and cheese in case I hated the shrimp.

So we cooked up some dinner.  I nervously sat down to eat.  They weren't as big as I thought they were going to be.  That was a plus.

There they are.  They've still got tails attached to them!

Obviously, I dipped them in tartar sauce.  They tasted like tartar sauce.  When I ate them plain, they tasted like fried batter.  Shrimp doesn't really have a strong flavor.  It seemed to just take on the flavor of whatever was closest.

I liked it.  It doesn't have the same texture problem that fish does.  I would totally eat this again.  I don't know if I'm ready for them without any breading, but I might be ready for prawn potato chips.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Wow.  So I've been slacking.  I've been so busy these past couple weeks.  I'm planning a Halloween party and I have to make costumes!

But on Saturday night, when we went out to a pub for a friend's birthday, I adventured.  Joey ordered a small plate of buffalo chicken.  Miriah said, "That's really spicy."  Joey said, "It's a little spicy."  I said, "I'll have a small bite."  (I had a big plate of mac and cheese to wash it down.)

I cut off a little bit of the insanely bright chicken.  I took a deep breath and ate it.  Miriah was right.  That was really spicy.  It spread like wildfire, burning everything.  It was worse than the time I drank hot chocolate with a straw and scorched the roof of my mouth.  Somehow, I  managed to get it all down and then stuffed mac and cheese into the burnt remains of my mouth.

On a side note, that was delicious mac and cheese.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Mustard. Mustard Everywhere!

I try to adventure at least once a week.  It's less overwhelming that way.  This week's adventure involved chicken (which I'm coming to terms with) and a whole lot of mustard (which is definitely gross).  This week we made Holy Yum Chicken.

Another dish that involved making a sauce, the glaze (and eventual sauce) called for mustard, maple syrup, pepper, salt, and rice wine vinegar.  We mixed it all together and coated the chicken in the stuff.  Then we popped it in the oven and waited to see how yummy it would be.

After baking at 450 degrees.

A bit too spicy for me.  Before you laugh, mustard is spicy!  Wikipedia agrees with me!  A "sharp hot pungent sensation," it says so right there!  And we put pepper in it!  Pepper is spicy.  We have already established this.  So I could only eat one of my three little chicken thighs.  But I think this dish has the potential for experimentation.

Two of these thighs are officially leftovers.

That being said, I'm getting better with chicken.  It will never be as good as pork or beef, but I can deal with it.  I also really enjoyed the maple syrup.  It helped sooth the spiciness of the mustard and pepper.  Who knew maple syrup and mustard complemented each other so well!  Maybe more maple syrup and a little less mustard and pepper next time?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Take a Good Dish and Make it Scary

I love Pasta Roni's Shells and White Cheddar.  So much.  It borders on unhealthy.  My college buddy and I used to split a box for "second dinner" after working in the dining hall.  Those nights were magical.  Those shells are magical.  I love them.

Joey loves tuna.  Tuna is securely on the "Do Not Eat" list.  But my beloved shells suggest adding tuna to make a complete meal.  So following the advice of Joey and Pasta Roni, we added tuna to the shells.

Can you see it there?  Those camouflaged chunks of gross tainting my beautiful shells?

I ate almost my whole plate.  Very much like an adult!  But to be completely honest, it was pretty gross.  By the end (and this is where the "almost" happened), I starting piling my tuna off to the side.

I know what the problem is, though.  And I have a whole new appreciation for Jessica Simpson.  Tuna's texture is similar to chicken.  The taste is a couple steps down from chicken (ironically, I think tuna tastes earthier).  It's a little bit grittier than chicken.  But tuna is very much the chicken of the sea.  And I can understand Jessica's confusion.

I think next time, I'll stick with regular Shells and White Cheddar.  Why ruin the extremely tasty pasta?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fancy People Food

Joey and I are trying to eat a little healthier.  This can make adventures even scarier.  Turkey is healthier (but grosser) than beef.  Tomatoes are disgusting but healthy because of lycopene.  Lycopene prevents prostate cancer, but apparently not having a prostate does not exempt me eating tomatoes.

Tonight we made these stuffed shells.  Miriah said that she would try them, but she didn't sound super enthusiastic.  I was also concerned because, as I mentioned before, turkey and tomatoes are gross.  Joey, on the other hand, was pumped.

As we all know, when one food is stuffed into another, it automatically becomes fancy.  (Unless it is turducken.)  Spinach Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce even sounds fancy!  (Turducken does not.)  So kudos to Joey on finding a recipe that is both fancy and healthy.

These little shells are the most labor intensive (a big component to fanciness) meal we've made on this adventure.  But they are among the most delicious.  Miriah and Joey both agree.  These shells are ultra tasty.  I even like the ground turkey!  (Though I'm still not in the tomato club yet....)  Lucky thing the recipe makes 9 servings!  We're going to freeze them and eat them for days.

27 delicious shells.  And a bit too much lycopene for my taste.

I was surprised that the ground turkey tasted so much like ground beef.  I was not surprised by the tomatoes.  I managed to eat some of the sauce, but I mostly just picked the turkey out of it and left all the tomato-y bits on my plate.

And the recipe actually yielded a bit extra stuffing.  So Joey made a delicious suggestion for an appetizer.

This does knock down the health factor a bit....

Absolutely delicious.  Definitely making this again.  But I'll let Joey have most of the sauce.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Tastes Like Chicken

In an attempt to make chicken tasty, Joey and I made Chicken Breast with Orange Glaze.  I'm also not a big fan of orange marmalade, so the recipe definitely counted as an adventure.  Not something I would ever make for myself if I wasn't making a conscious effort to eat foods I normally wouldn't.

Joey cooked the meat while I made the glaze.  The smell of meat cooking in butter is hard to rival.  Aside from a little snag where I misread "tablespoons" as "teaspoons," the glaze turned out really well, too.  Even though, it did look pretty disgusting before I thickened it.

The least appetizing soup in the world or a pretty tasty glaze.  You be the judge.

The chicken cooked and the glaze thickened, we put together our plates.  I was a little concerned about the glaze running over onto the rest of my food (I'm picky like that).  But it wasn't too out of control.  I tried to put the carrots in between the glaze and the mashed potatoes to save them.

My carrot levee.

I've decided that I just don't care for chicken.  I don't hate it anymore, but it will never be as tasty as pork or beef.  I think it's the way chicken cooks.  When you cut into beef or pork, it doesn't come off in strips the way chicken does.  I don't like those little strips.

Other than my new-found ambivalence toward chicken, the meal was delicious.  Joey cooked the chicken perfectly.  I think the glaze would definitely benefit from some brown sugar.  However, it was pretty tasty without any sugar.  It was a little heavy on the citrus flavor.

In summary: chicken=meh, carrots=border, sauce=overly citrus-y, brown sugar=the best.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My First Adventure into the Sometimes Scary World of Leftovers

This meal actually occurred on Thursday, but I somehow became quite busy this past weekend.  So I will post about it now.

As many unemployed 20-somethings, I live with my parents.  I don't usually eat meals with them anymore because our schedules don't always match up.  (Also to ensure that, when I have a job and move out some magical day, I know how to prepare meals myself.)  Since I am possibly the pickiest eater in my family, this frees my mother up to create all kinds of chicken and curry and sometimes curry chicken dinners.

On Thursday, I sampled the leftovers of such a meal.

In this microwave-safe container lies the potential for great yucky-ness... or great yummy-ness.

My parents and sister had a dish called Singapore Noodles last week.  I can't find my mom's exact recipe, but it calls for chicken (gross), peanut butter (yum), pea pods (yum), noodles (yum), chili powder (scary), and curry powder (also scary).

But I love pea pods so much.  I had to try it.  I put a couple heaping spoonfuls on a plate and nuked it.  A minute-thirty later, I sat down to eat.  It was yummy!  The peanut butter covered the taste of the chicken very well.  The pea pods were oh-so crunchy and delicious.  The noodles and carrots provided a good texture contrast to the pea pods.  It wasn't even that spicy!  I had finally triumphed over chili powder and curry powder!  Indian restaurants here I come!

I told my sister, with great pride, how I had enjoyed my plate of Singapore Noodles.  My pride disappeared when Miriah said, "Probably because Mom forgot to add the curry."

Thanks.  I thought this would be the first curry dish to cross over.  Guess I was wrong.  My mother promised to make Singapore Noodles "right" (or, as I call it, "scary") next time so I can try the dish with curry powder in it.  Hopefully the peanut butter and pea pods will save me....

But at least I learned that chili powder isn't so scary after all.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Giving It Another Go

So after my thoroughly unappetizing encounter with tilapia (though most of the blame was probably on us), I decided to give fish another go.  Joey was on board.  This is important because he'll eat almost anything, so I might need him to finish my dinner if turns out to be more yuck than yum.

There I am looking on the Internet for fish recipes, when lo and behold! a recipe for red snapper with the very words "this one's for the haters" in the title!  How absolutely fortuitous!  Joey looks over the recipe and thinks it looks yummy.  Cue shopping for fish and subbing catfish for red snapper.

After an extremely short prep time (probably the fastest recipe we've made so far), the fillets are ready to go in the oven.

Turns out we didn't have cayenne pepper.  Mine (left) has paprika.  Joey's (right) has red pepper flakes.

After an even shorter time under the broiler, they are ready to eat.  All told, 15 minutes from stepping into the kitchen to walking to the dining room with our prepared meal.

Paired with American chips.  I figured fish, salt and vinegar chips, how could I go wrong?

Preparing to be disgusted, I bite into the fish.  Still a gross texture, but fairly palatable taste.  The fishy taste, as always, is complemented nicely by the lemon in the sauce.  The barbeque sauce has been tempered by the mayonnaise.  The crunchy carrots and chips help balance the squishy-ness of the fish.  This is a meal that I would eat again.  "For the haters," indeed.

I think I'm rather slowly getting used to the texture of fish.  It doesn't make my stomach turn as much as it did a month ago.  However, I still don't think I would ever order it at a restaurant.

Green peppers on the other hand....

Friday, August 30, 2013

And the Winner Is...

One food has officially moved from the "Do Not Eat" to the "Totally Eat" list.  I have had this particular food both very cooked down and, as of tonight, pretty much raw.  Tonight, I realized that I officially like green pepper.

I adventured again tonight, sadly without photographic evidence.  You'll just have to trust me.  I made a Hawaiian Quesadilla.  The recipe can be found in a collection of recipes called "Fresh & Delicious Meals for 2."  (Or apparently online!)  It was pretty straight-forward.  Basically add ham, pineapple, and green pepper to a quesadilla.

It was indeed delicious.  Well categorized, Ms. Crocker.

I think I've nailed down a process to making myself like new foods.  The trick is to find a recipe that has just one or two ingredients on the "Do Not Eat" list.  Preferably, have those ingredients covered up by something else.  With the sloppy joes, the ketchup and green pepper were wonderfully masked by brown sugar.  Eat this recipe a couple times to really get used to the ingredient.  Now try the ingredient with progressively less and less to mask their taste.  Voila! Suddenly something as gross as green peppers suddenly becomes quite yummy!

So the adventure continues!  Perhaps next will be a very mild curry.  What's milder than yellow?  If you find it let me know, because that's really where I should start.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Something a Little Fishy

So my mom bought tilapia a couple months ago.  It came in variety pack with chicken breast, burgers, and pork chops from Market Day.  The fish has been sitting in our freezer ever since it came into the house.  My dad, sister, and I don't like fish.  My mother mostly eats meals she cooks for the family.  My housemate and boyfriend eat fish but don't cook it themselves.

Two fillets of tilapia sitting cold and lonely in the freezer?  A recipe for Roasted Almond Tilapia in The Gluten-Free Bible?  Challenge accepted.

Roasted Almond Tilapia combines fish with Dijon mustard, two ultra-gross ingredients.  Then there's the paprika on top.  Not the end of the world, but certainly not ideal.  On the (only) plus side, there are almonds!

Before I go on, I have a confession.  The recipe asked for 6 ounce fillets.  We had a 4.5 ounce and 4.1 ounce fillet.  Turns out those extra couple ounces are really important.

Joey, once again, joined me on this adventure.  We cooked the fish beautifully, especially for our first time.  Other than that, we didn't get much right.

Yeah.  That would be the rice flour....

I think it's the texture of fish that I dislike.  Once I focused on the taste (after scraping off a bunch of flour), it's pretty palatable.  The texture just feels vaguely slimy.

Somewhat ironically, the flavor combination of the tilapia and the mustard was the best part of the dish.  The fish cut the spiciness of the mustard.  I quite like the combination, actually.

The worst part was undoubtedly the thick layer of flour on top of it all.  I can only assume that the flour and almond concoction was meant to be a crunchy exterior.  My theory is that because our fillets were smaller, we should not have used the amount of flour that the recipe originally called for.

We tried to brush the flour off, but it was no use.  The meal was pretty much ruined.  I could only force about a third of it down my throat.  It'll have to be a long time before we try this recipe again.  The feeling of flour drying out my mouth is still too fresh in my mind.  Maybe some other seafood dish?  Joey really wants me to start liking shrimp....

But flour certainly is not something you'd ever want to eat unbaked or uncooked.  Trust me.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Perhaps the Most Appropriate Name for a Food

Last night Joey and I were adventuring again.  Well, I was adventuring.  He was just eating dinner.  (He's not a picky eater, so new food isn't as stressful for him.)

We wanted to use the crock pot because it looked so fun!  I have a booklet of recipes for the crock pot so that's where we found our recipe.  We chose Maple-Sage Pork Roast.  Any recipe that involves multiple pounds of pork can't be that bad, right?  Well, as long as it's not so spicy that it feels like it's trying to chain smoke it's final pack of cigarettes on it's way down my throat.

Two items in the recipe were on my "Do Not Eat" list: onions and butternut squash.  Fun fact: when I was a baby, I ate so much squash and carrots that I turned vaguely orange.  Like a fake tan from beta-carotene.  I loved squash.  I think my body decided to turn me against squash to avoid the inevitable Oompa Loompa jokes.

Back to the cooking.  So the recipe called for maple syrup, pork, beef bouillon, and carrots.  All of which are definitely at the top of my "Do Eat" list.  It also involved garlic and sage.  We put all of the ingredients into the crock pot and let them cook for 8 hours.  So easy!  I'm definitely sold on crock pots!

8 hours later, we put the pork shoulder on a platter and all the veggies in a bowl.

Behold the yummy-ness!

Behold the....  Well, at least there are carrots!

The recipe also suggested making a gravy from the juice left over in the crock pot.  This is where the maple flavoring was most concentrated.  This was also one of the most disgusting things I had ever seen.  I'm sure you'll agree.

Joey described it best: "Troll bogies."

So how were the "Do Not Eat" foods?  I confess I did not eat the onions.  Joey had some and said they tasted pretty much like raw onions.  I definitely haven't reached that level of adventure yet.  I did, however, eat the squash.

The butternut squash tasted legitimately like butter and nuts.  What a straight-forward, honest name!  The texture is a bit mushier than I like, but the flavor was above adequate.  It was the most time-consuming part of the prep, so that might have factored in to my feelings.  I could definitely eat it if someone else was making a dinner, although I don't think I would order it at a restaurant or prepare and cook it myself.  But I would totally make this roast again (I even blanched the remaining squash in case I liked it!).  If I'm not up to prepping squash, there's always potatoes!

Squash and I are not going to rekindle our love affair any time soon, but maybe we can hang out sometime.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Dinner I Could Actually Eat!

Despite my rather unpleasant experience with the Spicy Pork Casserole, I adventure on.  I decided to pace my adventure a bit better from now on.  The casserole was a truly humbling experience.

Tonight, Joey and I tried Oven-Barbecued Chicken from a booklet of recipes called "Healthy Homestyle Meals in Minutes."  The recipe calls for ketchup (still gross) and obviously chicken (ultra gross).  The recipe has you make your own barbecue sauce.  Pour it on the chicken, top with onion and lemon, and bake!

About to go in the oven!  It's almost like the chicken isn't there!

So, moment of truth.  How was it?

Well, it was so-so.

I'll be honest, I didn't eat the onions.  They were so big and intimidating!  I don't like the texture of chicken.  If you like chicken, it was cooked very well and worked very well with the barbecue sauce.  More sauce might help cover the fact that the dish is centered around chicken.  But the sauce was not the sloppy-joe-esque creation I had anticipated.  The ketchup flavor was more pronounced in this dish than in the sloppy joes.  Not cool.  The lemon-ketchup combo was the worst aspect of the dish.  Perhaps the dish would be improved by removing the lemons.

Someday, I might enjoy eating birds.  Today is not that day.  Fowl remain foul.

But I managed to eat the entire half of the chicken breast that I was served!  That's more than I can say for that pork chop....

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Little Too Ambitious

I have two new foods to talk about in this post.  One was a success and one.... Well, one was a little too ambitious.

Two days ago, my sister (Miriah), a friend, and I went to Trader Joe's.  I was hoping to buy fresh cooking lavender, but they didn't have any.  What they did have were free samples!

Free samples are one of the best ways to try new, potentially gross foods for the following reasons:
  • They're usually small.  It's easier to shortly suffer through if it's too gross.
  • They're not your whole meal.  So you don't think "Well, I guess dinner didn't work..." (More on that later.)
  • They're free!  You have literally lost no money discovering that it's disgusting!
Tuesday's free sample was smoked trout on a cream cheese topped cracker.  I love cream cheese, and I'm a huge fan of crackers.  Fish is pretty gross, though.  But Miriah reminded me that adults don't make faces when someone asks them to try a new food.  They put on a polite face (or even a happy one), take the free sample, and try it.  Kids make faces when someone asks them to try a new food.

Time to decide.  Was I a kid or an adult?

Look at all the fishy bits on top of this tiny cracker!  That's a huge gross to yum ratio!

Well, I ate it.  And was so pleased I did because it was really good!  I don't pretend to be an icthyologist or even someone familiar with eating fish, but I think it was the smokiness of the trout that made it so appealing.  It tasted a bit maple-y, like bacon or smoked ham.   Add in my beloved cream cheese and you have a snack I can really get behind.

Riding on this wave of culinary success, I let my boyfriend, Joey, pick our next adventure meal.  We were looking through the Gluten-Free Bible and found a recipe for Spicy Pork Casserole.  The recipe involved all sorts of things I don't eat.  The casserole involved tomatoes, red pepper flakes, chili powder, and black pepper.  These are all safely on the "Foods I Don't Eat" list.  It also had oregano, which I'm mostly indifferent toward.

I thought, "If I can conquer trout, I can conquer peppers!"

Finished product is quite pretty, but looks can be deceiving.

We had our friend, affectionately called Chavo, over to help us eat it.  So Miriah, Chavo, Joey, and I all sit down at the dining room table for a nice grown up meal.  And it quickly becomes apparent that I am the only one second guessing the food.

My portion before I attempted to eat it.

The three of them dug right in and I sampled the corn, potato, and tomato concoction beneath the pork chop.  Not as spicy as I had feared, but we had reduced the amount of chili pepper by half.  The red pepper flakes were only bad if I actually ate one.  I did learn, however, I still hate tomatoes.  They are mushy and disgusting.

The pork chop.  Dear Lord, the pork chop.  There was so much black pepper, it caused me mild physical pain to eat it.  Joey went to get me a glass of milk.  Chavo laughed, clearing his plate as I attempted my second bite.  My throat felt like I had smoked a cigarette not eaten a pork chop.  Eventually, I conceded defeat.  I need to build my spice tolerance up before I attempt this meal again.

I had never had an unfinished pork chop on my plate before that night.

Miriah and Joey congratulated me on trying to eat it and actually managing three bites of pork.  Chavo told me that last weekend he ate a whole, raw jalapeño pepper for fun.

We'll try it again some time in the future.  Tonight, it's sloppy joes again!  Yum!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Practically on the Kids' Menu

Today I had two meals that I would normally politely turn down.  Both these meals usually go over pretty well with kids.  Both were definitely meals I would not have eaten two weeks ago.  Lunch was an unexpected dish made by my wonderful sister.  For dinner, my boyfriend and I made in a conscious effort to choose one of the many dishes that exist on my "Won't Eat" list.

Let's start with lunch.  My sister asks me if I want some Annie's Shells and White Cheddar.  Of course I reply, "Yes!"  I love shells!  After she drains the water, she asks if I'm okay with peas in my shells.  My first instinct is to say, "Never," but I'm trying to broaden my culinary horizons.

More peas than I've ever eaten without my mother watching.

The resulting Shells and White Cheddar were definitely more healthy than I'm used to.  I'm still not sold.  You could taste too much of the peas and too little of the cheddar.  Maybe if I ever start to like peas I'll try it again.  Until then, my shells will be pea-free!

On to dinner.  My boyfriend and I decided to eat off the kids' menu.  We were going to make a gluten-free pork dinner.  But then I sang the sloppy joe bit from Adam Sandler's "Lunch Lady" song.  So we decided to make sloppy joes.

We used this recipe.  I was a little nervous about the green pepper, because I think they taste bad.  I also don't like ketchup.  And I hate mustard.  But part of being adventurous is trying to move past the initial ick-factor.

By the time it was simmering in the pan, my boyfriend thought it looked delicious.  I thought it looked gross.

I still think I'm right.

 Nonetheless, I put it on a bun, took a deep breath, and bit into this mess.

I guess there's a reason why they're not called "tidy joes...."

The peppers apparently cook down so they're not crunchy.  This was a big concern of mine when we started making dinner.  And when peppers cook down, they taste a lot better.  The ketchup and mustard are outweighed by the brown sugar.  Sloppy joes are both sweet and savory, my favorite flavor combination!

I learned tonight that I totally enjoy sloppy joes!  They're delicious (if not aesthetically pleasing)!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Well, I like eggs and bacon. How bad can this be?

The point of this adventure is not necessarily to discover new favorite foods.  It's to find out that foods I don't eat right now are actually palatable if not pleasant.

With this in mind, I had another adventure off the kids' menu.

I went to a small family gathering the other day.  We were going to order Chinese food and catch up on each others' lives.  Nothing special.  So imagine my surprise when my great-aunt breaks out some sort of deviled eggs.  I assumed those were only for fancy people!  So either we are suddenly fancy people or deviled eggs aren't that fancy.

I looked at them for a bit.  I'm not going to lie, they've always looked kind gross to me.

Look at how chunky it is!  That can't be right!

Now I know the base is hard-boiled egg (which I'm totally a fan of).  I asked what my great-aunt put in eggs. Apparently the yolk-y bits (not at all a fan) are mixed with mayonnaise (definite fan) and bacon (huge fan).  But there's no adventure if you're certain it's going to be tasty!

So I ate one of those devils.

And it wasn't bad.  I'm not saying they're a new staple in my diet, but they were pretty good.  If they were passed around at a dinner party, I would partake.

I guess I'm fancier than I thought.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

And so the adventure begins...

I am a picky eater.  Most of the foods I like can be found on the kids' menu.  I am trying to change that.
Let me break down some of the foods I eat:
  • Potatoes
  • Hot dogs
  • Eggs
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Broccoli
  • Cottage cheese
  • Most fruit
  • Carrots
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Cheese
  • Salt
  • Pastries
Surprisingly, the list could go on.  But not much longer.

The list of things I don't eat is longer than most epic poems.  Here's a small selection:
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Salami
  • Pepperoni
  • Fish
  • Pepper
  • Curry
  • Mustard
  • Chili
  • Squash
  • Beans
  • Pickles
  • Oranges
  • Cauliflower
  • Olives
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Onions
  • Cheesecake
 I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

A few days ago, I began actively trying to shorten this list.  Already, it is hard and at times unpleasant.  But I am trying!  To start things off, I ate about a tablespoon of baked beans earlier this week.  I did not relish the slightly mushy texture, but the taste was not as horrific as I remember it being 7 or so years ago.

I am tired of having the most complicated order at the table!  I am tired of being told that 24 is too old to order off the kids' menu!  It's finally time for me to start eating like a grown-up!  So let's adventure off the kids' menu and see what we find....