August 4, 2012: Tilapia and Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce

So Saturday night I was in the mood for some fish (partly since I missed out on Fish Fridays). And, I had been having a craving for asparagus for close to a week at this point. So I figured it’d be the perfect time to do both!


The asparagus was pretty simple, I had to trim off the bottom of a few of the spears before I washed them. Ideally, I would have steamed them, but lacking a steamer, I opted to put them in about a half inch of water in the pot. At least they stacked up so most of them were above water level and steamed. I also mixed them around a few times so the ones at the bottom wouldn’t be over boiled. They came out quite well after a few minutes – cooked, but still crisp, with that great asparagus flavor (no soggy, wilting asparagus here!)

After that it was time to cook the tilapia I had bought. It was frozen when I bought it but by now it was defrosted. Seasoned with a little salt and garlic powder, I put them in the pot with some oil and cooked them for a couple minutes until done (with a little browning crust). I also now realize that this is the first tilapia I’ve done this summer that was not done in the oven.

Cooked fish! All it needs now is the sauce…

Then, I tried my hand at a sauce. Taking out the fish, I then poured in some balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing. Now ideally, I would have used balsamic vinegar, but I’ll take what I can get. I let that boil for a little bit and reduce (and caramelize/blacken some of those spices that are in the dressing). When I felt that it had reduced enough (meaning a wild guess), I added some butter into the mixture to melt and give it a little more richness.

Reducing the balsamic vinaigrette dressing


Plating time – I put the fish and some asparagus on the plate, and added some rice leftovers from my last chicken meal.  Afterwards, I poured a tiny bit of the balsamic butter sauce onto the fish. Just a little at first, to see how it tasted.

Great meal! (With a dash of sauce)

And to my surprise, it was quite good! Despite some burnt parts, it had a lot of flavor – some sweetness, but also some tartness – there was a great blend of flavors which went well with the fish. After taking a bite, I added a bit more of the sauce to the fish!

Great sauce on the fish!


August 3, 2012: Pot ‘Roasted’ Chicken

Now this is one of those blog posts that suffers a bit because of the custom font, and the special character set that it has – the title for today should be:

August 3, 2012: (Pot) “Roasted” Chicken

Mind you, this was no pot roast chicken! This was a chicken “roasted” in a pot – perhaps pan-fried is a better description. But there’s a little background on this. I was intending to do some sort of chicken where I’d have to season or batter it, on the last Friday night. However, I got wrapped up in a rather lengthy conversation and before I knew it, it was 8pm! By then, I wasn’t that interested in shopping for food and then cooking, in what would probably at least an hour to an hour and a half (I was going to make rice too, in the same pot). So I remembered that Whole Foods has pre-seasoned chicken, so I bought some chicken hind quarters seasoned with lemon and pepper. I also purchased a head of broccoli and a baguette.

Pre-seasoned chicken


When I got back, the first task was to cook the broccoli. I figured I’d steam it and only use a little water, instead of boiling it, so I could use less water, and it wouldn’t take as long to start boiling. The broccoli was soon done.

Chicken in the pot

After that,I put in a smidge of butter to melt in the hot pot, and then added the chicken as soon as possible. (As the chicken got warm, it added quite a bit of oil, thus the fried roasted chicken – had to pour out some of the excess at one point).

Great bread (still warm from the store too!)

While the chicken was going, I enjoyed some bread from the baguette to tide me over while everything cooked through. The chicken got a nice crusting, though I had to wait a while for it to cook all the way through.

Chicken done – great crust!

Chicken finished

After the chicken was done (or nearly done), I placed it on the plate for a while to cook a little more, and covered it after a bit (to try to keep the outside rather crispy) to keep it warm.

(dark) browning the rice

Last was the Rice a Roni, added into some of the leftover chicken flavored oil. This time, I allowed the vermicelli and rice brown more than usual (to a dark brown, rather than light), before adding in the water and spices. After that, it was just waiting for the rice to finish.

Dinner! Only about 45 minutes cooking time!

When everything was done, it turned out pretty well. The chicken wasn’t quite as flavorful as I was expecting (perhaps I should have added some salt to it), but it was still tasty and a pretty pain-free way to have a roasted-like chicken!

Flashback: Chai Tea Frappes!

July 31, 2012

We had a bit of group kitchen fun during Mary Beth’s last night – Chai Tea Frappes! Or at least our attempt (interpretation?) of one! Originally, the idea was to do a green tea frappe – though we ended up having chai tea – works just as well! While boiling a large part of water with the tea, we took to the ice.

Tea time

Of course the ice has to be crushed (since we were without blender – luckily, thanks to Mary Beth, we were with hammer). Wrapped in plastic baggies, ice crushing commenced. Not that the plastic bags actually contained the ice during the smashing, but that’s just a small detail!

Ice + Bag + Hammer = A night of fun



When the tea was sufficiently strong, we placed it in the freezer for faster chilling. When it was chilled, we added various amounts of tea, milk, ice, and vanilla ice cream. I think they turned out quite well! I really enjoyed the spices in the tea, and when mixed with the ice cream to give it sweetness and a little frothiness, it tasted almost like a Christmas drink! Or a chai frappe milkshake. Either way, it was a lot of fun and quite a memorable night!

Ready to drink!

Pizza Flashback!

A couple of weeks ago, we did a group dinner in the dorm to make a group pizza. Not too much to it, but it was a lot of fun. Nick, Ben, Mary Beth, and Cecilia had gotten various ingredients earlier. It started off with Ben and I kneading the pizza dough (which, being from Whole Foods seemed to be gluten and dairy free). There was a little improvisation – using a pasta sauce jar as a rolling pin, and aluminum foil for a baking sheet. After that, it was fairly simple – adding the marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and other toppings – spinach and tomatoes for the vegetarian pizza, and (huge) pepperoni and some veggies for the meat lovers pizza!

Pizza dough


Pizza making

Huge pepperoni

After that, it was pizzas on the foil (in retrospect, we probably should have put some oil on the foil so it wouldn’t stick). It came out and it was pretty good! The outer crust was great, though the center was a little soggier – I suppose we could have had a hotter oven. But besides that, it was a great group meal!

Meat pizza

Veggie pizza

A little later, we added some naan bread pizzas to have some more to go around – they were great too!

July 31, 2012: Shrimp Pasta!

I’ve had this box of parmesan Pasta Roni sitting in my room for a while. I probably would’ve used chicken, but I already did a chicken with white sauce pasta…so I figured that I’d do shrimp! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I was planning to do it earlier in the week, but I ended up waiting until Tuesday.

Frozen shrimp!

I bought some frozen shrimp (precooked, though I didn’t realize that until later), and defrosted them. I cooked them in the pot in two batches. Added butter, garlic powder, and salt (albeit a bit too much in the second batch). Also used a bit of lemon juice.

Butter, garlic powder, lemon, and salt

Cookin’ some shrimp!


After the shrimp was done and warm, I turned to the pasta, which was just a parmesan flavored pasta roni – not too hard, just following directions off the box. Boiled water and milk, added the pasta, then added the spices and sauce packet (which I assume included parmesan in there somewhere!)

Great meal!

I then placed the shrimp on top of the pasta. On the side, I also added a rocket salad (arugula! Mmmm!). I mixed arugula with some mixed spring greens so the arugula flavor wouldn’t be overly strong. Besides some of the shrimp being overly salty or dry, it was a very satisfying meal!