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Archive | January, 2018

Instant Pot: Sweet & Sour Chicken

30 Jan

Cooking! Once again with the cooking. sigh. When will I be rich enough I can pay someone to do this for me? ๐Ÿ˜‰

I bought an Instant Pot in November, it took ages to get to me thanks to WalMart’s slow delivery, but that’s fine because though I wanted it, and had vague but great plans for it, I had no idea what I wanted to cook in it.

It finally got opened a week ago and there were so many warnings in the box, in the book that came with it, on the actual device, that I almost boxed it back up out of fear that I would kill myself if I tried to use it. If anyone could do it…

Instead I washed it, put it in the cupboard, and tried to figure out what to cook in it first. After much scouring of the internet for recipes I decided on Sweet and Sour Chicken. See, while the Instant Pot can be used in a whooooole bunch of ways, I mostly wanted it for it’s slow cooker settings. I owned a tiny slow cooker, because I am single and don’t need a massive slow cooker, but the tiny slow cookers are lame in that they aren’t programmable, so you have to be around to turn it off when you want it to stop cooking which means I could never set it and go to work, or practice, or wherever, because I wouldn’t be home in time to turn it off and the food would over cook.

This adorable 3 quart Instant Pot however, has all the bells and whistles, while being a small enough size for my needs. Yay!

Because I was still half convinced I was going to either (1) make it explode or (2) experience recipe failure, I picked an easy recipe to try.

I bought one of those Club House slow cooker packages and for the most part did what it said to do.

Club House Slow Cooker Seasoning

I kind of guessed how many peppers would make the measurement required, same with the onion, aaaand the celery lol I ended up using three peppers (one red, one yellow, one orange – cause I liked the colours), one red onion, three or four celery stalks (can’t quite remember), one can of corn kernels (drained), and one can of pineapple tidbits (not drained). Oh, and instead of chicken thighs I used chicken breasts, I believe I put four or five in there, but that is because they were tiny.

Except for the guessing on measurements for the vegetables I did everything else exactly as described on the back of the seasoning package. After much googling I learned that “low” on a slow cooker equals “normal” on an Instant Pot, so I set it for 8 hours on normal, oh so slowly backed away, quickly begged the universe to let this work, and went to bed.

Whoever decides to try a new recipe, in a new kitchen appliance, for the first time, when it is a meal you are taking to share with friends, is either very sure of their cooking abilities or an idiot. I’m pretty sure you can figure out which of those applies to me lol

When I checked it in the morning it was perfect! The chicken was tender, moist, perfectly cooked, the veggies were cooked but still a bit firm (which is how I like them), and the sauce was delish. I took the chicken out, cubed it, put it back in and mixed it all around, then left it on the “warming” setting until I was ready to put it in a container and take it to the get together I had made it for.

People loved it! It also made a huge amount, so I am grateful I took extra and sent people home with left overs, there is after all, only so much sweet and sour chicken a girl can eat in one week lol

I’m glad I started with such a simple meal, makes me think maybe the next dish I make in there will work out also!…maybe…

sweet and sour chicken 2

Warming up left overs…

sweet and sour chicken

Aaaand a close up, cause why not?

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Meatloaf…Of A Sort…

17 Jan

Does it still get to be called meatloaf if it isn’t, say, quite a loaf shape? Or any shape…

Deep thoughts to be pondered over here tonight.

When I was home at Christmas I took a pic of my mom’s recipe for meatloaf. I don’t know why meatloaf gets such a bad rap, my mom’s is really good. She was kind enough to make it when I was home and when her back was turned I took a pic of the recipe and smugly thought I could recreate it for myself anytime I wanted.

I really should know better by now. *rolls eyes*

The only thing I swapped in the recipe was Panko instead of bread crumbs, though it turns out mom actually uses wheat germ (not sure what that is, so I know it isn’t in my cupboard!). Other than that I did everything the recipe card said.

My cooking ability being what it is the meatloaf turned in to a red in the middle, setting off my smoke detector twice, mess. Oops?

Before the hour of cooking was up I heard sizzling sounds, the liquid from the meatloaf was spitzing over the edge of the loaf pan and sizzling. I started to freak out, what if it caught on fire or something? So I put a cookie sheet underneath the loaf pan to catch any flying liquid and then nervously sat staring at the oven for the remaining 15 minutes wondering if the cat and I were far enough away to not be harmed if it blew up. When the timer went off I took the loaf pan out oh so carefully (so as not to spill all that liquid that magically appeared…seriously, what is that? I used extra lean ground beef!), poured out the liquid, hastily put everything down so I could wave my oven mitt under the smoke detector to shut it off…fyi, there was no smoke so I don’t know why it went off. Then I cut in to the middle of the loaf, took a peek and swore because oh man so much red still left in there.

Obviously my oven’s 350 degrees is not the same as my mother’s oven’s 350 degrees.

I put it back in for another 20 minutes, nervously hovering and peeking through the window in the oven door…cause ya know, that’ll make everything work out better lol. When the 20 minutes was up I pulled the loaf pan out, poured out more liquid, waved the oven mitt under the smoke detector again, swore a bit louder this time, cut in to a different part of the meatloaf, discovered pink (which is a downgrade from red, so better I guess…), and put the whole thing back in the oven. sigh.

When I next pulled it out I had gotten smarter and put the oven fan on high so yay for no more smoke detector going off! I cut the meat loaf in a new spot, by this point the poor thing was in pieces, and thought it looked cooked through. Finally!

Totally got ahead of myself though. When I put the spatula in and pulled up a piece the bottom half stayed in the pan. Ok, fine, so that first piece won’t be pretty, that’s all good. Um, yeah, all of the lower half of the loaf stayed in the pan because while the top half became meatloaf-esque the bottom half did not. It was more uh, ground beef with some stuff mixed in it that I wasn’t sure was totally cooked.

I was fed up by this point so the upper half of the loaf got pulled out and put on a plate, the lower half that did not choose to take form got put in to a frying pan where I cooked it a bit longer, juuuuuust in case…hey now, no judging, nobody over here is wanting food poisoning thanks.

So this is what I ended up with…

There was more of the meatloaf that was sort-of loaf shaped, it just didn’t make it in to the picture because I’d already admitted defeat and put it in a tupperware container. I have been told the ground meat on the left would be good in a chili, I was thinking of using it as my breakfast protein for the next couple days and tossing some in with some scrambled eggs, or making a wrap or something…

The meatloaf that is sort-of loaf shaped is slowly being eaten. I ate some as-is and it was good. I also made a cold meatloaf sandwich and it was good then also. So, the flavour is right, the meat is cooked, it just didn’t take shape the way it would have for my mother.

I’m thinking maybe I had too much in the pan. It was quite domed above the edge of the loaf pan, but I thought it would be ok because my mom warned me it would shrink down, so I thought maybe it was supposed to start high…I’m now realizing that logic may be flawed and perhaps I should have either (1) used less meat (in my defence I used the amount specified in the recipe) or (2) split the mixture into 2 loaf pans.

It would be nice if these simple, logical thoughts, came to me while I am cooking, instead of the day after. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A Little SUV Maintenance

11 Jan

Ok yes I know that as a vehicle owner I am supposed to have a maintenance fund set up for when I need work done to my suv. I don’t have one quite yet, it’s more like I have a general emergency fund and if something happens to my suv I pull from there. I don’t like it, but it’s what I’ve got for now.

The other week a guy pulled up beside me at a red light and motioned for me to roll my window down. When I did he told me my right brake light was out. I was on my way to work so couldn’t really do anything about it then but once I took time to think about it my general thought was:

“Shit. How much is this gonna cost?”

I knew it would cost a stupid amount if I went to a shop because of labour charges, but when a vehicle needs work that’s what you do, right? You take it to a shop?

Except, what if you don’t?

What if you go internet sleuthing, find some instructional videos that show you how to change the brake light on your suv, hit up Canadian Tire to buy the $7 light bulbs, and change it yourself?

Well, then you would have done what I just did, and be filled with a happy little feeling of pride.

And yes I know, feeling pride because I changed my brake lights (apparently if you change one you should change both so I did both) is a silly thing because it turned out to be dead easy, but I don’t care. Car maintenance is soooo not my thing but today I managed it.

I think this deserves a happy dance…

happy dance

Receipt Checker

10 Jan

I don’t know about you but until last year I’d go shopping, take the receipt, stuff it in my purse where it would get crumpled down at the bottom and stay there until I got annoyed with it and threw it out.

Receipts

Last January I started budgeting. And not in a vague sort-of not researched type of way. Oh no, I did massive research, read books, watched YouTube Videos, read everything on Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s website (re-watched a bunch of her tv show episodes),ย  and pestered my parents multiple times a week with questions, sort of way. Hey, if you’re gonna do something, might as well do it right!…or to the best that you’re able cuz oh wow was learning how to budget a frustrating experience. There were a bunch of mistakes made, things I could have done better, a decently large learning curve to navigate but I did eventually manage to navigate it. I learned from my mistakes, took notes so I knew what I wanted to change for 2018, and overall think that starting this whole budgeting dealio was a solid choice.

Now, and all of last year, I take the receipt, write down in a tracker the date of the purchase, what I bought, how much it cost, and I would deduct it from my running tally. Yeah, I became that person.

Today I went to Wal-Mart for some stuff and when I got to the checkout I thought the total was high but didn’t think to question the cashier cause, well, why would I? When I was home, comfie in my sweats, and happy in the knowledge I didn’t have to go out again, I was checking my receipt as I wrote the expense in my tracker (because yes, I’m still that person!) and to my surprise there were two items at the top of my receipt I didn’t recognize.

Now, sometimes the short description on a receipt is not easily translated in to the item you bought but this was a tiny purchase, I only bought 6 things, though this receipt said I bought 8. That and all the other items clearly said what they were and I knew I bought those things.

I had been charged $14 and change for two things I didn’t buy.

Not cool.

I called Wal-Mart, the phone rang over 30 times (not even kidding) and when I finally got a person and told them what happened I was told to call back in ten minutes.

*rolls eyes*

I called back in ten minutes, I stopped counting the rings at 50 but I didn’t stop calling, I just let it ring, and ring, and ring and finally someone picked up. It turned out to be the same lady I spoke with earlier so at least she knew what the problem was.ย  She asked me a couple questions about the receipt and told me if I came back in tonight she would fix things.

Not gonna lie, I was torn between staying home cozy in my sweats or going back out for a refund of $14 but the cheap side of me won out and on went real pants, up in to a pony tail went the hair, and off I went.

Sure it’s only $14 but every dollar counts, especially when you are budgeting and you know where that $14 should be going…like next weeks groceries!

So lesson learned, take a look at the receipt before leaving the store to not only make sure I wasn’t charged incorrectly but to save me having to change out of my cozy sweats and back in to public appropriate clothing. Really, it’s all about comfort in the end lol ๐Ÿ˜‰

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