Sunday, October 14, 2012

Food: What I've been making

**UPDATE 10/15 - Links added in for ones I have!**

**I was going to add links to all these recipes, however our Internet is running super slow and so you are lucky you all got the link for the first one. Boo. Sorry! If it gets better in the next few days I will add the rest of them in. If you have links to any of these recipes, please leave them in the comments! Thanks.**

Yes, I thought it was time for a post about food. With all the changes in what is readily available, I've had to remake my "go to" meal list. Not a bad thing, but definitely time consuming. These days, I've taken to Pinterest to help me find simple dinners & desserts - and it has not disappointed (though I have yet to try most of those). Here's a rundown of the successful & not-so-successful recipes I've attempted...

Cheeseburger Soup. Or otherwise known as the-most-expensive-soup-I've-ever-made. Why? At the time I made this (just over 10 days in), I still hadn't found the best place to buy hamburger and ended up paying almost $10 for one pound. Yikes! Add to that, $5 for 8oz of cheese and $3 celery and you have one expensive recipe. However, I am willing to forgive myself because 1) I was desperate to make something I knew & loved and 2) it turned out excellent. 

Pasta. Seriously the easiest meal to make here. Penne and spaghetti are cheap & I can get a large can of Hunts or Del Monte pasta sauce for around $3. Just throw in some sautéed veggies & hamburger (no longer the expensive kind thankfully) and you have a meal! Sides for this have included garlic sautéed bok choy, bread, steamed asparagus, and corn on the cob. The corn was excellent, but it has since went out of season (I think, because I haven't seen it for a few weeks). However, just yesterday we found asparagus and I know there's no way that is in season here, not sure how that works.

Speaking of veggies, I buy most of mine from the supermarket (because when I'm there on the second milk run for the week it's fast and easy). However, the last few weeks I have started going around the corner to a couple of fruit & veggies stands/trucks that sell great stuff. I had to go to several different places to get exactly what I needed, but it was good produce. 

Let's see...what else...

Stewed tomatoes. Yup, I did stew my own tomatoes. Which is much cheaper than paying $4 a can. I actually have about 25 tomatoes in the fridge waiting to be stewed. I need to get on that!

Pasta casserole. Did I say pasta was easy? Well I used some of the aforementioned stewed tomatoes, some butternut squash (at least I'm pretty sure that's what is was), some onions & mushrooms and made a GIANT casserole that fed us for five days (at least). This was a "go to" in the states, however usually I use zucchini & brussel sprouts. I could not find either, so I swapped for the mushrooms & butternut squash. It worked perfectly. 

Taco salad. So easy. There's an amazing import store in Shanghai called City Shop & they deliver to Nanjing on Fridays. I got a big container of fresh greens from them for $1.50 (like two of the pre washed salads you buy packaged in the states) & found decent tortilla chips at Carrefour.  Add in a jar of salsa from City Shop and taco meat (I brought over my own seasoning) and voila - awesome taco salads. Delish.

Apple cake. It just sounds good. So yummy. I got "green" apples from the market (I don't think they were Granny Smiths, they weren't sour enough) and whipped up a yummy loaf of apple cake. It was so good! I didn't have vegetable oil & the recipe called for applesauce, so I also made applesauce and used it to also substitute for the oil. Making the applesauce was also easy. Just peeled, cored & chopped the apple and cooked it on the stove with some sugar and water and then mashed it up. Simple! Who knew? Although I was a little disappointed mine looked more brown than the yellow I saw in all the pictures of homemade applesauce on Pinterest. The cake was a huge hit with everyone. Even our Chinese friends loved it!

Meatloaf. Yup, another "go to" in the states. This one I only substituted the type of BBQ sauce I use (yes, I put BBQ sauce in my meatloaf). It was a little runny, but tasted excellent. 

Orzo with Parmesan & Basil. I think this is the Hubby's favorite side dish. It's just so yummy! I was excited to find that City Shop had orzo & I found a block of Parmesan at an import store. So happy to find Parmesan cheese! 

Cookies. So far I've made no-bake cookies & the amazing Wallace cookie.  No-bake was an easy choice before I had an oven. The Wallace cookie was made possible by a local friend having butterscotch chips at her bakery! Yay! 

So there you have it, a little run down on the yummy foods we have been eating over here. I feel like we hit our stride a few weeks ago making life a little less chaotic and cooking a little more feasible. I'm so thankful for all the helpful friends who have advised where to find things and what to look for.  There are also a few helpful blogs that have aided me so far. 

Oh, and another blessing - we got a free oven! Ok, we're just borrowing it, indefinitely. One of our friends here knew a family that went back home to the states and let her keep their oven "until they return". She doesn't use it (she's Chinese, they don't really bake) and so offered for us to have it. I'm not sure when her friends are coming back, but it sounds like they left awhile ago. The bonus is that it is the biggest size you can get here, almost full sized (one large cookie sheet fits snugly side-to-side). Extra blessing! 

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