Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cooking For Aliens 102


Remember how I mentioned that last week my dogs and I were on our own, while my parents were in Arizona? Usually I don't like cooking in this house, because my mom is always hovering around trying to give me instructions and ordering me to clean up things. So with my parents gone, I decided to try some cooking on my own! I was focusing on vegetarian recipes, because I am working on being a vegetarian. 
My trick was to find recipes that looked pretty easy, and then simplify them even more. I wanted to do cooking that didn't require me to have to do a whole lot of preparation or try to balance too many pots and pans at once. A lot of my recipes involved pasta or rice. Why? Because I love pasta and rice! (You can read about another one of my cooking adventures, from back in July, here.)
Here is my report on what worked, and what didn't. 

SUCCESS 1: Tomato Mozzarella Risotto
On the first day, I found a recipe for risotto, which is an Italian rice dish. Making real risotto is pretty complicated and takes a long time, but I found a recipe that seemed simple enough. I then modified it until it was super simple! Here's what I did! 

First, I prepared 5 ounces of aborio rice, which is a short-grained Italian rice that gets really creamy when you cook it. 

While the rice was cooking, I used a vegetable bouillon cube, mixed with two cups of water, to make vegetable stock. I heated it up in the microwave until the bouillon was dissolved, then put it in another pot. I added one can of chopped tomatoes. The recipe asked for two tablespoons of tomato puree, but the only tomato puree I could find in the store came in a huge can, so I bought a small can of tomato paste instead. The ingredients were exactly the same, with the only difference being the amount of water used and how ground up the tomatoes were.

I heated up the pot of stock and tomatoes and let it simmer until the rice was ready. Then I took a ladle and scooped one ladle full of the tomato/stock mixture into the rice, and stirred it in. I repeated this, adding one ladle at a time to the rice, and stirring it in, until it looked like it was nice and creamy but not soupy. 

My next step was to shake some basil leaves in, and stir that in. I also stirred in some olive oil. 

Finally, I put one serving into a bowl, and topped it with mozzarella cheese.

Mmm-mmm, it was so yummy! I ate two servings! 

Super easy risotto!

SUCCESS 2: Veggie and Tofu Stir Fry
For my next trick, I decided to go with something inspired by one of my favorite restaurants, Flat Top Grill. It is a restaurant where you get to create your own stir fry. It is like a buffet of veggies and toppings, and you go around and put everything you want into a dish. Then they fry it up for you. I decided to try my own. I gathered up all of the veggies I could find... broccoli, celery, green peppers, red peppers, and mushrooms... and chopped them all up. I also chopped up some tofu. Meanwhile, I prepared some angel hair spaghetti noodles. Finally, with some olive oil in a pan, I fried all of it up together! 
The results were okay, but kind of bland. I don't know much about seasonings. 
While texting with my mom, she suggested I add ginger, and apricot jelly. 
I was like, "Apricot jelly? What?"
But the next day, I brought the leftover stir fry for my lunch at work. I added some apricot jelly and ginger. And it actually tasted really good! 
Better with apricot jelly and ginger!

SUCCESS 3: Avocado Mac
I really love avocados. So when I saw a recipe for Avocado Mac on Pinterest, I decided to try it! Of course I simplified it to the bare essentials. Here's what I did. 
First, I prepared some rotini, which is spiral pasta. 
While the rotini was cooking, I sliced open an avocado, scooped out the delicious insides, and mashed them up in a bowl. I added one 5 ounce container of plain Greek yogurt, and stirred it all together. 
When the rotini was ready, I stirred in the avocado and yogurt mixture until the rotini was all green. 
Finally, I topped it with shredded cheddar cheese. 
OMG it was so delicious!
If I was going to do anything differently, I would use about half the amount of Greek yogurt, and maybe more avocado instead, for a stronger avocado and less sour taste. 
But still, this recipe is a keeper for me!
For avocado lovers only

Failure 1: Green Pepper Stuffed With Couscous
I love stuffed green peppers. I've actually only had them twice, though. The first time was when I was about 17 and stayed in a foster home for a few nights, where the foster mother made them. They were so delicious, I ate mine, and when one of the other foster kids didn't want hers, I asked if I could have hers too! The second time, I think my mom made them a few years later per my request. Now that I am trying to be vegetarian, I wanted to find a stuffed green pepper recipe that didn't involve meat. I found one that used couscous (a sort of cross between pasta and rice), which seemed simple enough... and I love couscous! 
So I prepared the couscous, I hollowed out the green pepper, and I filled the green pepper with couscous. But here was where the problem started. I was supposed to broil the green pepper. When I set the green pepper on the pan, it tipped over, and the couscous rolled everywhere! This happened like nine times. Finally I managed to get the pepper to stand up. I put it in the oven and turned it on, and left it in there for ten minutes.
The results? A hot green pepper filled with couscous that still fell out and rolled everywhere! 
The only way to eat it was to put it in a bowl and mash it all together, defeating the purpose of a stuffed green pepper. Also it tasted kind of... oveny. It's hard to describe... but I just didn't like it very much. The next day, I ate all of the leftover couscous with butter and pepper. 

Failure (sort of) 2: Broccoli Spaghetti
Broccoli spaghetti is a delicious tradition in my household, somewhat invented by my mother when I was little. It involves spaghetti noodles mixed with broccoli, shrimp, and cheese. So yummy! The night my parents were coming home from Arizona, I decided to make some broccoli spaghetti for dinner to surprise them. Good idea, right? Except I realized I had no idea how to make it. I had never actually watched very closely when my mom made it. I looked up some recipes online, and decided I could figure it out on my own. 
I didn't have any more spaghetti noodles, so I cooked the rest of the rotini. I chopped up some broccoli and steamed it until it was bright green. I couldn't use shrimp because of the whole vegetarian theme I had going on, so I just mixed the steamed broccoli into the rotini, and stirred in some olive oil and mozzarella cheese. 
The results? I forgot to take a picture, but it didn't look (or taste) anything like my mom's broccoli spaghetti. It was still good. But a little dry. When my mom came home and tried my version of broccoli spaghetti, she said it was just different. The main difference in her version turned out to be that she uses butter instead of olive oil, and cheddar cheese instead of mozzarella. Not quite a failure, but just something to work on! 

Laziest Day
I saw something on TV that said Domino's Pizza had a deal where, if you ordered online, you got half off. My family orders pizza occasionally, but it is very rare that I get any say in what we order. While I love Domino's and Pizza Hut, they prefer a local order-out pizza place. My mom loves veggie pizza and my dad loves sausage, so those are generally my two choices. This was my big chance to get what I loved! I ordered a double cheese pan pizza, topped with even more cheese (cheddar) and green peppers. YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY... and all mine!
My favorite!

I am glad I got to do some cooking! The best part about cooking for myself is that I don't have to worry about impressing anyone else. If something doesn't work out, I just tell myself I can try again! And I definitely will be trying these recipes, and more, again soon. 

By the way, thank you to all of the people who have taken my survey so far! If you haven't already, please go take it! It will take you less than five minutes, and doesn't require your name or email or anything. Totally easy, anonymous, free, etc. Thanks!


  1. I am *so* impressed with your cooking efforts! WOW!! Good for you! (and Broccoli Spaghetti...that sounds AMAZING---your way or your moms!) I also love that you got pizza one day. I totally would have done that. I can't remember the last time I got to decide my toppings all by myself. Fantastic!! --Lisa

  2. I'm totally impressed with your cooking, too. I do really love to cook when I have the time but have found I too often do not have the time recently. It's hard. I wonder what the deal was with the stuffed green pepper? Maybe it needed some cheese or something to hold it together. And your risotto looks delicious!!!

  3. Good for you, trying stuff out!!! :-) Even the failures were great learning situations I'm sure. :-)

  4. I am making that avocado mac this weekend!! I LOVE avocados - my friend thinks its gross and you know what? I take extreme offense to that. They're my favorite along with tomatoes. Enjoy your week off and talk to you soon Angel! -Iva


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