Wednesday, November 20, 2019

What We’ve Cooked Lately

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I thought it was time to round-up some of the dishes that we’ve been cooking lately.  A few months ago, I took over the weekly meal planning and grocery shopping duties.  Todd still does the majority of the actual cooking at the stove, but I plan, shop, and prep the meals before he comes home from work.  I may do a blog post about the tools and my method of weekly meal planning, if you guys seem interested.

One of my goals in life is to learn to cook some authentic Chinese dishes similar to what my mom used to make for us.  Todd and I attempted the Pork & Chive Dumplings.  We didn’t make the wrappers from scratch, we just used frozen ones from the supermarket.  But we made the pork & chive filling from scratch, and the chili oil from scratch. 

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We thought it was very good!  But we’re going to try a few more different recipes and then pick our favorite.

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We saw the episode of Milk Street where they went to Taiwan to eat street market food.  One of my favorite fond memories of childhood in Taiwan was the grilled corn from the street vendors, so we had to try to make this Taiwanese Grilled Corn!  It was also very good, but no exactly like my childhood favorite, so the search continues!

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The 3rd classic Chinese dish we made was Mapo Tofu from Woks of Life.  It did turn out yummy, but I think I bought pork that was too lean.  Next time I’ll try with a fattier ground pork.

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We made homemade from scratch pizza at home!  We did purchase a pizza stone and a pizza peel for getting pizzas in and out of the oven.  We used the America’s Test Kitchen One Hour Pizza dough recipe.  We made two pizzas, one for me and one for Todd.  The crust was chewy and crunchy, delicious!

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I started perusing the site Eating Well and found a salmon recipe that we tried and LOVED!  It really was so tasty!  It was this Roasted Salmon with Smokey Chickpeas & Greens.  Definitely 5 stars and will be making it again!

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Another Milk Street recipe we made was Sichuan Chicken Salad.  It was good too!

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A couple more salad-y dishes we enjoyed… Speedy Beet and Bean Salad with Herb Vinaigrette, except we added rotisserie chicken too. 

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Farro Salad with Asparagus, Sugar Snap Peas, and Tomatos

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A very flavorful chicken dish that we made for Todd’s family when we visited in August… White Balsamic and Terragon Chicken.  Here we separated the chicken and the sauce.

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An absolute favorite that we’ve made several times recently is Chicken Curry in a Hurry with Basmati.  It is SO GOOD and it’s easy, you make it with rotisserie chicken.  You can buy ready to heat naan bread at grocery stores.  Also, you MUST get the mango chutney because it really turns this dish from good to GREAT!

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Another Indian inspired dish we tried was Punjabi Aloo Gobi.  We didn’t super enjoy this one, mainly because of the very strong flavor of the hing.  If you try it, let me know what you think!

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These Beef Kofta Meatballs with Roasted Vegetables was absolutely delicious!  I love Middle Eastern beef kofta at restaurants!  I could NOT believe that we could make such similar beef kofta meatballs at home, I was so excited when we tried it!  It was great!

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Another Woks of Life dish we tried was Red Curry Noodles with Chicken.  We liked it!  Ours didn’t look very red.  It was very easy.

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Seared Tofu with Sweet Chili Sauce and Broccoli – very healthy dish

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America’s Test Kitchen’s Chicken and Dumplings is SO good!  To save time, we used rotisserie chicken.  You would need to add more fat (such as butter) to duplicate the taste if using rotisserie chicken.

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One of the first things I learned to make in the pressure cooker (Instant Pot) was Tex Mex Chili Mac, and we still love it!  It is from the America’s Test Kitchen Pressure Cooker book, but this one seems similar except we use ground beef.

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A recent favorite is this Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe from Skinnytaste.  Yum!

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Last but not least, I’ve fallen in love with steel cut oats again, now that I’ve learned to make it in the Instant Pot!  So fast, and so yummy!  I put fruits, pecans, and honey in it.  I make 2 cups, which is good for 8-9 breakfast servings!  Just keep in a glasslock container in fridge and eat it the whole week.  Add some milk and heat up.

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Well, that was a lot of recipes thrown at ya.  Cooking good food at home is one of our enjoyments, so we do it on average 4 dinners per week.  See ya next time!  If you try any of the recipes, I’d love to know what you think!

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Sunday, November 17, 2019

October 2019 Favorites

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A little late in summarizing a very busy traveling October.  In the beginning of the month, we traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia for vacation, with a one-day stop in Seattle.

We visited the Pike Place Public Market in Seattle.

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And visited our friend Cassi in Bellingham, WA.

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We visited the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, and went on a Forbidden Vancouver tour.


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We biked around the seawall of Stanley Park.

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Went on a Gastronomic Gastown Tour

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Visited Granville Island Public Market and Queen Elizabeth Park

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Vancouver was awesome and we would totally go again!

This is definitely NOT a fave, but on our last night on vacation in Vancouver, we got a text from our next door neighbor Fred, who is also our catsitter.  A driver in a Prius HIT OUR HOUSE.  We are still dealing with insurance and contractors to fix our house, with no end in sight yet.  Total bummer!  This is what I referred to in my previous blog post about being busy dealing with this sh*t!  I will write a whole blog post about dealing with this once it’s finally over, which I don’t expect until January 2020.

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We watched Veronica Mars season 4 on a one week Hulu trial.  Then we did a 5-day trial of YouTube TV and decided to cut the cord and cancel Dish Network.  Saved us $75/month and a great decision so far.  No regrets! 

On Monday 10/21 I had lunch with my friend from my old job Patsy, at Pailin Thai.  I totally forgot to take a photo.  It was GREAT to catch up with Patsy!

Todd went on a bike ride by the ocean with some friends from the San Diego Triathlon Club.

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On Sunday 10/13 we met up with Sally and her kids to walk around Miramar Lake and have lunch at Chile Peppers afterwards.

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On Wednesday 10/16 I had lunch with my work friend Erecca at Ponce’s Mexican.  Always so fun to chat with Erecca.  We have made it a recurring monthly date to get together.

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I am going to write a post about all the awesome new dishes we’ve cooked at home lately.  One of them is this homemade from scratch pizza!  It turned out so good!

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We went to dinner with our friend Cecile at Sushi Fish Attack.  It was fun to catch up with Cecile and see what she’s been up to!

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I deep cleaned my Keurig for the fall season (I only drink cold brew coffee during the summer).  Then I bought the “My K-Cup” (at the recommendation from my friend Jennifer) so I could use whatever coffee I want, and it’s reusable so it’s a lot less waste!  I’ve been enjoying extra-good coffee! 

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We went to Ohio to visit Todd’s family at the end of October.  We did lots of fun things, including a special tour of the Goodyear Blimp.

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Making a spooky Halloween dinner.20191028-2019-10-28 18.41.25_blog

And enjoying the fall foliage.

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Noodle was extra needy because of all our traveling.  And he’s more snuggly when the weather turns cooler.

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Still loving his infinity bed.

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Friday, November 15, 2019

$100 Fun Things Budget | October 2019

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November has sort of gotten away from me.  In the blink of the eye it’s mid-November already.  I’ve had things going on that I will tell you about in a month or so, maybe two. Nothing to be alarmed about, but it has kept me busy.

It’s time for the belated October 2019 edition of the “$100 Fun Things Budget”!  The below are the items I purchased using my $100 Fun Things Budget.  To read the rules of what falls under this budget, please read my previous post that talked about it.

October 2019:  $96

  1. Adidas Lite Racer Cloudfoam Slip-On Walking Shoes  $22
  2. Max & Mia The Essential Travel Cardigan  $25
  3. Felina Comfyz lounge set  $13
  4. Sarasa 4+1 Multi Pen Doraemon Time Travel Silver special edition  $15
  5. Sarasa Select Ink refills  $7
  6. Zebra Mildliner Doraemon Time Travel edition  $15

I had two pairs of Skechers slip on walking shoes that I loved and wore for like 3 years.  They’ve been worn out, so I bought the Adidas from  They were a good deal for $22 (but are no longer available on their website).  I had read that they run HUGE.  I’m normally a size 6.5-7 in women’s shoes.  I decided to buy a size 6 and they’re still quite big!  I have to wear thick socks so my feet don’t slide around in them.  So they do run HUGE, if you are interested in them.

I ADORE the Max & Mia travel cardigan!  They feel soooo soft, exactly like the popular Barefoot Dreams circle cardigans, except waaaaaaay cheaper at $25!  I got it in store at Costco, because I wanted to wear it on my two plane trips in October.  On plane rides it feels like you’re wearing a soft blanket!  I loved it so much that I went back to Costco two weeks later to buy more as Christmas gifts, but by then they only had size L and bigger, and none of the people I was buying for were that size.  Too bad!  And it’s not on Costco online, so no dice.  I linked to Amazon above but it’s also large size and above, and costs more.  It’s still cheaper than the Barefoot Dreams version though!

I also bought the two piece Felina Comfyz lounge set at Costco in store.  They were on major sale at $13!  Both the top and the bottom are so soft and comfy.  I’ll definitely get a lot of cozy use out of it this winter! 

By the way, I count clothes & shoes in my Fun Budget because lord knows I have enough of clothing that I do not NEED anymore, so I have to use my fun budget to purchase them.

The next three items are all Doraemon related. 

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It’s a long nostalgic story, but I started reading Doraemon comics (manga) in Chinese when I was in early grade school in Taiwan.  It was originally published in Japanese but translated into Chinese.  (He’s a robotic cat who time travels.)  I still have some of those books!  Long story short, over 40 years later Doraemon is still quite big in Japan.  I noticed that Amazon even have the mangas translated into English, so a couple of years ago I bought and downloaded some of them to read on my iPad.  I *LOVED* reading them as a kid, and I just want to keep reliving it, you know?  Lo and behold, I was on Instagram the other day and Tokyo Pen Shop announced they had Doraemon special limited edition pens in stock.  I was so excited that I went to the website right away the bought the multi-pen, different colors of refills for it, and the mildliners.  If you love Japanese pens and stationery, I highly recommend Tokyo Pen Shop.  They’re actually based in the US (Iowa), but source all their special items from Japan. 

Just look at the different Doraemon facial expressions on each highlighter!  It makes me smile every time I see it!

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Doraemon multi-pen with 4 gel ink colors and a mechanical pencil.

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My entire pen collection is swatched in a big notebook that I call my “comPENdium” (ha ha, get it?)  If you are interested I will write a post about my comPENdium soon.  It’s indexed by type of pen and everything!  It even includes all my fountain pens and ink refills.  I keep the comPENdium updated because it’s fun to look at, but also so I don’t accidentally buy the same pen when I already have it.

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That’s it for my October Fun Budget purchases!  I’m making my list for Black Friday sales as we speak.  I have gift budgets for my family and a few friends that I’m purchasing gifts for.  I also have a budget for myself.  Top of my list is a new Canon Pixma for printing photos for scrapbooking!  I’m totally excited to jump back into scrapbooking.  My 7-year old Canon Pixma MG5320 finally bit the dust a few months ago.  I can only scrapbook if I can print photos at home, so I need to buy a new printer.  Hoping for good Black Friday sales!

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