Reviews: Do not like

Oregon Chai original chai latte concentrate
This was MUCH too sweet. I usually get the Tazo version of the same (which you mix with an equal amount of milk), and I think this is even sweeter, which is appalling. I’m currently using these as shots to make flavoured milk, but I’m not pleased. Avoid.

Nasoya fettuccine shirataki “zero calorie” noodle
Tried this at the recommendation of Hungry Girl, whose recipes are usually brilliant. I bought it intending to use it in a creamy Italian-style dish, but then changed the plan to a Asian-style beef broth when I heard it didn’t work well as a pasta-substitute.

I am not a fussy eater (certainly not since I’ve had to eat my own cooking). I’ve liked pretty much all the foods and cuisines I’ve come across so far, especially Asian, and have no problem with most textures. However, these noodles are CREEPY. They are somehow gummy, but in a weirdly sprightly way; and even after significant rinsing there is a faint but disquieting aftertaste. I’m sure Japanese cooks are capable of making this delicious, but that skill set is beyond me. I actually thew them out, which is a rarity as I’m quite frugal about food. So, unless you know what you’re doing, AVOID and go with soba for Japanese- or Chinese-style noodle dishes, or spelt pasta for Italian.

Belvita breakfast chocolate biscuits
Mixed feelings about these. On one hand, they taste good, chocolatey but not too sweet (might be a little bland for those who have a very sweet tooth, but I liked them). On the other hand, they make me bloaty and burpy and unhappy — I think it’s the fibre overload. I will be consuming the rest of the packet very carefully, with one biscuit at a time. Verdict: worth a try if you’ve a strong stomach, but chocolate digestives are better.


Apple, cucumber, and tomato salad

(My mother’s “recipe”. This is perfect as a substantial appetizer/salad and also works as a palate cleanser. The sweetness of the apple makes the tomato and cucumber seem almost salty, even as everything remains crisp and light.)

Chop roughly equal amounts of red apple, tomato, and cucumber into small cubes. Squeeze half a lime onto the apple cubes to prevent browning, before tossing everything together.

You could add seasoning with mint or a hint of salt, but it really doesn’t need it.

Steak and onion soba stir-fry

Verdict: This British-Japanese-Chinese stir-fry is great for when you’re snowed in, have no fresh veggies, and need to use up steak after a mini-power outage. Or, you know, whenever.

Slice steak into small strips or cubes (mine were ~1cm a side) and marinate in black pepper, garlic powder, and half a tablespoon of oyster sauce.
Fill a pan with just enough water to cover the soba noodles. Bring to a boil, then add the soba and cook until done (~4mins). Meanwhile, slice half an onion into smallish crescents.  When the noodles are done, drain and set aside.
Wipe the pan dry and fry the onions in a bit of heated sesame oil (medium-high). When the onions are just beginning to soften, push them to one side of the pan. Add just a bit of cooking spray (or more sesame oil!) to the pan, turn heat to high, add steak, and stir-fry away! Optional: add half a teaspoon or so of low-sodium soy sauce for moisture and flavour.
When steak is done, add the noodles to the pan. Flavour the noodles with pressed ginger (I used a couple of small squirts from a tube) and a little soy sauce. Toss together and serve.


Broccoli slaw “pasta” marinara

(Based on a Hungry Girl recipe.)

Add broccoli slaw and water to a small saucepan in a 4:1 cup ratio (e.g. 1 cup of slaw [about a quarter packet], 1/4 cup of water). Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until all the water has evaporated and the slaw is tender (about 6mins). Mix in a few spoonfuls of marinara sauce, and (optional) warm cooked sausage.

For quick, mess-free sausage: Slice pre-cooked sausage links on the diagonal and lay on a lightly greased tray. Bake at 400F for around 12mins, flipping halfway.

Verdict: Immensely satisfying.


Update: I tried to make a one-pot “spag” bol with this, adding the slaw to browned ground turkey and red sauce. It worked fine, but the slaw takes much longer to simmer and soften (nearly 30 minutes!) in the sauce than in water.

At-ease chicken and soba noodle soup

Soba or other noodles (spelt spaghetti is a good substitute)
Chicken broth (I use low-sodium, single-serving packs)
Spinach (or other fast-cooking leafy veggies, like bok choy)
Cooked chicken

Cook soba noodles for ~3-4mins in saucepan.
Meanwhile, prepare other ingredients: slice mushrooms, mince garlic, shred cooked chicken, and prepare spinach.
Drain cooked soba and set aside. Wipe saucepan mostly dry and set back on the stove, on medium-high. Heat a bit of olive oil or cooking spray, and then sautee garlic, followed by mushrooms. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
When mushrooms are mostly done, add spinach, chicken broth, and shredded chicken. Turn heat down to low/medium (so the broth simmers very gently). Mix in the cooked soba and serve when everything is warm.

Verdict: Smooth, comforting, and nutritious. Great for sick days.

Lazy spinach chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a baking tray with olive oil spray. Place bagged, pre-washed spinach leaves onto the tray in a single layer. They’ll shrink as they cook, though, so don’t worry about crowding the tray. Also, don’t bother drying the leaves if they’re only a little damp. Large leaves work best.

Season with a little salt and a lot of black pepper, maybe some garlic powder. Bake for about 10 mins (turn off the oven but leave the tray in for an extra 5mins for extra crispness).

Verdict: quite delicious!