Bao Chick-a Bao Wao

Watch out, there is some serious food porn comin’ atcha.

(Mom, close your eyes.)

So here’s the thing: there are a few dishes that I just won’t bother cooking.  Buffalo wings (the bars have that one covered), doughnuts (bakeries have those covered), beef stock (boxes have that covered)…

Most of the time it’s because I don’t have the proper equipment, and I’m not about to go out and buy a deep fryer because just imagine how much trouble that would get me in, or it’s just too time consuming and/or complicated.

Or there’s just too much majesty in the dish for me to risk f’in it up by blindly attempting my own version.

My latest Trader Joe’s discovery-of-the-week were these frozen bao.

If you’ve never heard of bao, they’re steamed Asian buns filled with meat and/or vegetables.  The dough is almost a little bit sweet, and so fluffy it’ll make you want to close your eyes and reflect on things like kittens, marshmallow fluff and Snuggles the bear.

In all likelihood, bao is not something that I will ever attempt on my own.

For one thing, I’m not a dough maker.  A dougher, if you will.  I don’t get the same joy out of kneading as some people do.

And just look how perfect they are!

Why would I go and possibly screw this up when I now know that I can buy 4 of them for $2.99 at Trader Joe’s?

Thank you once again, TJ’s, for eliminating all the problems in my life.

I ate this for dinner the night after I got back from New Orleans.

Can you sense how much of a vegetable withdrawal I was going through?


Much better.

Terrific Tuesday

Ever have one of those days that seems to never end?

It’s never the days when you’re doing something fun, is it?  It’s usually on a Tuesday, at the office.

Even though my co-worker dubbed today “Terrific Tuesday”.  I think he was kidding.  Let’s hope so.

Work dragged and I was met with gridlock on the expressway on my way home (which is what happens pretty much every day, so nothing new there).

Between having to run some errands after work and the time I devoted to cooking last night, I wasn’t in the mood to make myself an elaborate dinner.

Instead of relying on a frozen entree (I save those for lunches to bring to work when I’m in a real pinch), I made the fastest fresh meal I know.

Scrambled eggs.  Easy enough.  You don’t even have to try to make them look pretty like you would with an omelette.  Omelettes are high maintenance, let’s face it.

I should be honest, I have a compulsion to eat a square meal at dinner every night.  I blame this on my parents.  We always had a starch, a vegetable and a protein at dinner.  I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but let’s just say there have been times when I’ve gotten my shorts in a bunch because I didn’t have the full trifecta on my plate.

That means I added some veggies to my eggs in the form of a salad.

With some carrots and a little edamame.

And my starch was some TJ’s garlic naan.  I’m obsessed.

Of course, this naan is technically from the freezer section but I can’t really save it for lunch because it has a ton of garlic on it.  It would be rude to eat in public.   I mean, our office isn’t big enough to accomodate garlic breath of that magnitude.

A really simple, fast meal.  Because sometimes you want to braise your food.  And sometimes you just want it in your stomach.

One Ingredient, Three Ways

I’m a woman, ergo I enjoy multi-tasking.

I put on makeup while I talk on the phone.

I get my news, via the radio, while I commute.

I blog while I…read other blogs.

It’s a scientifically proven fact that women are born multi-taskers.  [disclaimer: you should know that what I consider “scientific fact” is often rooted in cold hard evidence such as “I heard it on the radio a couple weeks ago”.]

As one of said born multi-taskers, I expect a lot from my food.

Rarely do I buy a grocery item with only one purpose in mind.  Take this black bean dip, for example:

This baby can multi-task.  Clearly it’s a female dip.  Ew, that sounds kind of pervy.  Forget I said that.

I’ve eaten a bunch of it with chips and veggies.  It’s got a lot of kick (they weren’t kidding with the spicy part), so naturally I’m addicted to it.

It’s also great as an accompaniment to a main course like this sausage/onion/potato/cilantro stirfry that I recently wrote about.  I threw a blob of it on my plate and stirred it in.

Sometimes I love making sauces.  Sometimes, not so much.  This is a great alternative when I’m feeling especially lazy.

The dip would also be great incorporated into a dish that already calls for black beans.  For example, I’m currently toying around with a great black bean quesadilla I have stashed away in my recipe bank.  A little bit of this dip would add a ton of flavor to the whole quesadilla.  Or enchilada.

It could also be awesome melted into soup.  I mean, who doesn’t love a dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche on their butternut squash soup?  Black bean dip would be equally amazing in vegetable soup.

At about $3 a jar, I’d say this was a good investment.

Yes I consider something as little as $3 an investment.

Don’t judge.  I’m very frugal.

I’m thinking of doing a series of posts like this. — are there any grocery store items that you’d like to see me stretch into different uses?  Suggestions welcome!