Find out what we ate this week and hope that it’s somehow entertaining!
This was the second chili i’ve made in my Instant Pot. It claimed to be a Wendy’s copycat chili, and i admit i wondered “why would you want to copy that?” It was very meaty and, yes, very very close to Wendy’s chili. Pretty good, actually, but it pushed the IP to its limits … there was only about an inch of space from the rim of the pot.
This is definitely a better weekend meal than one for weeknights, because the cook time was really long thanks to the full pot, BUT it made a boatload of leftovers that filled in a lot of gaps for us through the week. i may even make it again tonight.
We ate it while playing board games. i love board games.
(this was also the evening of the infamous five dollar cake, which i managed to fit into my calorie allotment)
Monday: Ribs and mashed potatoes and crispy parsnips
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the in-laws dropped in for dinner, so i had to pull out a few more stops than usual (which means making a vegetable). i had had these crispy parsnips on my to-make list for a few weeks (thankfully, parsnips take forever to spoil).
Even though i forgot to drizzle honey on them and salt them in the final step, they were actually quite delectable! The in-laws had never eaten parsnips before, and enjoyed them. They came out a tiny bit like french fries. The kids enjoyed them. We all did. i would definitely make these again.
(i might just crank up the amount of mustard in them, because i’m not sure that flavour came through)
As for the ribs, i trusted to this guy’s method, which involved breaking down the meat with apple juice and what he called “apple cider.” He meant “apple cider vinegar,” which had on hand, but discovered only after scouring the grocery store for apple cider.
i would have enjoyed these ribs more if i didn’t know there was so much apply stuff underlying them. i don’t like apples. i would surely make ribs in the Instant Pot again, but with less of a biased flavour chipping away at the meat. And i’d probably look for a better, more explicitly honey-garlicy sauce than Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey.
(the potatoes? i threw a bunch of cheese and butter in them. Shhhh…)
Tuesday: Cashew Nut Chicken
It was Cheryl’s night to cook, and she went back to one of her favourite dishes that she gets when we order out. She used the poor, lovelorn stovetop instead of the Instant Pot. (i think this is the first complete meal the stove has seen in weeks!)
This recipe is killer, killer, killer. Absolutely fantastic. A definite keeper. Go buy groceries and make it this week!
Wednesday: Chicken Adobo
This is a confusing dish. When i read about it, it’s always like “THE SMASH HIT DISH FROM THE PHILIPPINES” and “OMIGOD IT’S OUR FAMILY’S FAVOURITE.”
First of all, i can’t even get a good handle on what “adobo” actually IS.
i mean, i have this stuff in my cupboard (and perplexingly, the recipe didn’t call for any of it):
…. and then i have these things, which are in a rich red sauce that tastes nothing like the seasoning above. The carnitas recipe for Thursday wanted them, but they didn’t appear in this chicken adobo dish somehow:
i had made chicken adobo in the crockpot a year or more ago, and the chicken came out super underwhelming. TOTAL CAVEAT: the recipe called for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, and i made this with chicken breasts instead because i had a brain fart at the grocery store (and whenever i see the word “breasts” i just go crazy and bust out my credit card).
The chicken came out as dry as any chicken breast with soya sauce on it. My sauce didn’t thicken in the last step like the recipe author suggested (not enough fat from the skin and dark meat, maybe?) So i splashed this thin, non-glistening and underwhelming soya-vinegar sauce on some chicken breasts and called it a night. The flavour was entirely underwhelming. Would not make again.
Do you guys like chicken adobo? Does it turn out well for you? Let me know, because i’m still curious as to why this ranks off the charts in so many recipe write-ups.
Thursday: Pork Carnitas Tacos
Leaning on my awesome stock of nixtamal tortillas from La Tortilleria, i put together some carnitas in the Instant Pot. This is one of the dishes you see recipes for all the time when you poke around Instant Pot sites.
i definitely think i used the wrong cut of pork, because i paid 16 bucks for mine, and the meat in the recipe looks like it fell off the pig truck when it hit a bump. i’ve had carnitas before, and my meat was just a bit too … succulent? i dunno. i think if you’re gonna make this right, you need pork from a pig that was yelled at and slapped around a little.
It was pretty good nonetheless, and it made LOTS … too much, perhaps. It’s still in the fridge. i know i’m supposed to freeze it, but i don’t like eating unfrozen meat weeks after the fact.
Friday: Thai Basil Chicken
This was another case of Cheryl going back to her takeout faves. You’re supposed to make this with Thai holy basil, which you can only get in Thailand unless you grow it yourself (they don’t sell it at No Frills, because it is very definitely a Frill). i think Cheryl WAS growing it at some point, but we didn’t have any on Friday, so we settled for Thai sweet basil, which you CAN get at No Frills, because it is exceedingly unfrilly.
It was my fault for missing the thai chili peppers on our grocery list, leaving Cher in the lurch. She substituted cayenne pepper for the heat, and as you know, cayenne pepper is a bit like carfentanil: one single grain, and you’ve overdosed on demon spice.
The kids complained that this was too spicy, but it sounded like it was to Cheryl’s taste.
Belting It Out
i missed out on the Thai Basil Chicken because i was out buying clothes at the Dufferin Mall while fat, which combines three of my least favourite things. As i’ve been losing pounds (thanks to making dinner every night), i’ve been thinking about ways to reward myself. i thought that perhaps buying a new piece of clothing would be a good approach.
That was until i remembered what utter hell clothes shopping was. i was looking forward to buying a new pair of jeans, until i realized that the jeans i was wearing had grown fat with me over time, and i couldn’t even do a new, comparably-sized pair up at the store. i had to go two-inches-fatter.
And belts? Don’t get me started on belts. i took my own beleaguered belt off and lined it up with a belt on the rack that said it was the same waist size of the Big Boy Pants i just bought. The new belt was about a foot too short. So i grabbed one a couple of inches up. Still a baby’s arm length short. So i scoured the belt rack for a preposterously-sized belt (we’re talking north of 45 inches here) and the one i found was still shorter than my own.
Thus began an odyssey of searching for a Belt That Would Fit Fatty. Store after store, same story, as i held my belt up to the mocking new ones like a prince with a glass slipper.
Finally, i hit Winners, which was the last store in the mall next to where i parked, and instead of going by the sizes on the belt tags, i looked at the actual physical length of them. i grabbed one, lined it up, and it was a match. At last! And the tag said something like “36.”
That’s All She Roti
BUT i DIGRESS.
That night, i dodged the Duffy Mall food court bullet, and decided instead to visit an old haunt in Liberty Village: Island Foods, where i enjoyed many a boneless chicken roti in my days working as a video game developer at Corus. i would go to Island once or twice a week to enjoy their food, so i was pretty excited to return and have a mouthful of nostalgia.
Since Island has fewer than the requisite 25 restaurants, and is exempt from the Ontario calorie posting law, i couldn’t get any reliable data on their food. i know that MyFitnessPal has chicken roti at about 440 calories, which makes it one of the most reasonable lunch takeout options for me. But something about the oily gravy at Island made me wonder.
And then i remembered Andrew Baker, who had just signed on with Corus after having worked in the same neighbourhood years ago. He used to eat at Island Foods all the time too, and had recently worked hard to lose a lot of weight. When he sat down with us, 15 years ago, for HIS nostalgic roti, i remember him commenting that they were “really doughy.” That was nothing to me, a young buck who was still cramming gluten at every opportunity and blissfully unaware of the hockey stick graph his inevitable weight gain would become. So, curious about the calories, i asked.
The girl behind the counter (who was still working at Island Foods nigh these 15 years) acted like she knew the calorie count of the roti, but refused to tell me. She said “i dunno – probably as much as a Big Mac.”
“Ru-roh,” i thought.
She said “Someone did a calculation of it online – you can go look it up.”
That “someone” turned out to be Megan Ogilvie, author of The Dish, a feature in the Toronto Star where they nail down the caloric content in popular Toronto eateries where the numbers (habitually) aren’t posted. i remembered their mind-blowing exposé of Gandhi roti, which turned it into a once-a-year kind of food for me. (But sooo. Damned. Gooood.)
So Megan informs me, through her column, that a boneless chicken roti at Island Foods clocks in at 1013 calories. That’s a lot of heft for one meal, added to the obligatory Grace grapefruit soda. But i had eaten reasonably all day, so i went for it. The roti was delicious and filling and brought back a lot of memories, both bitter and sweet. All in all, a worthwhile venture.
(But to think, 15 years ago, that i was regularly eating 1000-calorie rotis for lunch once or twice a week. The picture of my meteoric weight gain draws into focus.)
Saturday: Steak n’ Ribs at The Keg
Earlier this week, i posted a calendar of all the times since i started writing these Reviews that our family had eaten out at restaurants. i realized quickly that sometimes, you’re just GONNA eat at a restaurant. Special occasions and what-not. Mostly birthdays and holidays. i marked these unavoidable incidents with a green starburst. Last night, the occasion of my mother-in-law’s 60th, was a green starburst night.
The other thing bursting was my stomach. i had to take off my hard-fought new belt after they cleared my plate, and then my new jeans started strangling me at the gut line. Cheryl was very careful and very well behaved, and stayed mostly under her calorie limit, but i decided to go for broke and face the consequences later.
When we returned to my mother-in-law’s house, there was a spread of cheese and baked goods and all the demonic fruits that a home buffet table can boast. i had a single pastry. And the enormous 90-slice CostCo cake? No way. Fuck that cake.
Cheryl zeroed out her calorie overage on the treadmill. i managed, with great difficulty, to lace up my kicks and pull about a half an hour on the treadmill, which still left me with a 1000 calorie overage. This morning when i weighed myself, i was a pound up.
But no problem! A pound of fat is 3500 calories, so it won’t stick. i have today to go swimming and grocery shopping, and to create a deficit to atone for the sins of the night before.
One of the lies i told myself the last few times i tried counting calories was that one slip-up was enough to knock me out of orbit, careening into Fat Space. It’s not. i have a newer, more positive attitude. And it allows me, every so often, to enjoy some ribs at The Keg.