Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Good eats, what’s cookin’ good lookin’! Comfort foods like homemade baked gratin potatoes, homemade baked macaroni and cheese, among other things...and a yard and potato update

Hi everyone! Our house is still, knee deep in midterm study and the prep for that. From yesterdays post until after the midterm is over, I'm going to close the comments and the reason I chose to do that, is because, you are all so wonderful and I like the communication we have in the comments section. But, this week is a little more hectic than I'd like. Also, it could just be me, but I feel like crap, if I can't reply to a comment. There's a few even now, that I haven't had time to reply back and I feel superly bad about it. Also that's why I have been trying to make shorter posts too since last week also, if you notice, so we could get back to midterms and concentrate on those.  I also thought about not blogging until after the midterm is over too. I sort of had this debate in my mind, pause/hold blogging for this week and then resume afterwards or just continue, but hold the comments and make shorter posts and then get back to the fun comments next week. And I just think that is better and that way I won't fall behind with blogging either. : ) So forgive me. It's seriously not you...it's me. lol. : ) Okay anyway...I cook dinner for the most part, about 7 nights a week (whole week), I think maybe twice a month, we'll go out to dinner. But it's rare. I really do love cooking, plus it's healthier and nice knowing what's in our meal and sure somedays, if I had a Taco Bell handy or a Wendy's drive thru, I'd surely use it about once a week especially during mid term season or maybe on swimming nights, Mondays and Thursdays. Also, the town we live is another factor, there's no fast food places in our town or Coco's restaurant Coco Ichiban restaurant. Those are in the small city nearest us, but on nights where we have to immediately get crackin' on homework right away, there's no time to drive all the way there and all the way back to our town. It's just not realistic. And that's okay really. So yeah most of the time, I cook the meals and make sure they are ready to go, as soon as the boys get home! Here in this picture, I decided to make fried pork chop. Now, I usually like to make this with Rice a Roni. But I've been out forever. And so, I just decided to not let that stop me and so I made, homemade gratin potatoes from scratch and homemade macaroni and cheese. I used the super fine panko flakes, not the regular sized flakes, and stir fried them with a bit of butter nice and toasty, to make a crispy bread crumb crust for the topping for the mac and cheese. I made a simple roux with butter and flour, milk and then added the shredded cheese pictured here, let the cheese melt and poured over both my potato and pasta dish, so doing both was super easy.  

I made this last Thursday, May 15th. The boys came home from swimming school starving! Swimming for 2 hours doing laps non stop at fast speeds makes a person, super hungry. Even though they had a snack before swimming school. This was waiting for them, when they entered the door after the swim bus dropped them off! : )

Comfort food! All four of us enjoyed last Thursday nights dinner, quite a bit. 

These Cook Do's are so awesome. They really make cooking for me in Japan easier. A lot of them are Chinese dishes and there are also some Cook Do that are Korean dishes too. My favorite is the sweet and sour one though. Anyway, this one pictured here... has no seafood in it at all. And sometimes the packets do contain seafoody flavors in there, but not this one. With the exception of shrimp and lobster, I really don't care for seafood at all, so I always have my husband double check the ingredients list for me. Says for 3-4 people. 

I used quite a bit of lean thin sliced pork, cut off any fatty bits and stir fried in a bit of oil, after the pork was cooked, I threw in some chopped up cabbage and mushrooms. 

The sauce is so good and not too spicy where Noah couldn't eat it, but it did have a very good flavor. We've eaten this one a few times before. 
This is another good one too. After you cut your chicken up, you are supposed to lightly roll it in flour. Not like dredge it to the point of say... you're making fried chicken, you know what I mean... but just lightly toss in the flour real quick. Also, I find this sauce salty enough, so I add not salt at all, when I fry my chicken or into the flour. The sauce is enough and it's not overly salty at all either, it's just...if you salted the chicken while cooking it could be too much. 

After the chicken was lightly rolled in flour, I skillet fried it in a little oil and turned it on both sides, until cooked, then added fresh button mushrooms. The packet suggests adding onions, but nobody really, well except me, is all too crazy about onions around here so I don't add them. So, I just add what we like. Mushrooms and then broccoli at the very end. 

And done, I think this dish is really good, because the chicken was lightly rolled in flour first, it just has a very good flavor. The sauce is also delicious, this is a favorite around our house. I make Noboru's with dark meat, because he just prefers dark meat for his chicken. I use white meat for ours. Either way works. : )
Another night I made Noboru buta kimchi. I use kimchi on his like you're supposed to and add extra chili flakes for some added kick. For mine, again I'm not crazy for seafood and most kimchi has shrimp sauce or some sorta fishy flavor in kimchi so for me, I just use Chinese cabbage and add the flakes for mine and it comes out just fine and with no fishy flavor. Sorry, while I do have a very open mind, I have very close minded taste buds! : ) Hahaha. I just can't handle seafood at all. 

Saturday, May 16th I made tacos. Also strawberries are so dirt cheap around where we live, so we eat fruit all the time. Melons too! Fruit and veg is really cheap, where we live. : ) 
I wasn't planning to share this breakfast pic, if I was planning to take a pic of breakfast to share type pic, I'd have added some vivid colors like red or green. But, it was just a random regular breakfast, and I snapped the one picture to remind myself the breakfast I made that morning. So no color really on the plate, pretty drab looking, sorry. : ) Branden serving is larger since he's older so his is at the back. Scrambled eggs, rice and 1 sausage and 3 warmed up pancakes with butter and syrup inside. Branden ate this completely and had 1 Yakult and 1 small glass of apple juice. Before getting on his bike and heading to school that morning. : ) With a 3km bike ride to school and a 3km bike ride home, plus all the studying and gym at school. Plus two nights a week, he swims for 2 hours. So he really needs to start off on the right foot for breakfast. I try to make a point of making sure they get a very good breakfast every morning. And Noah is smaller, so his serving is closest this camera. 2 pancakes, 2 sausages and a smaller amount of scrambled eggs. Noah also had 1 Yakult (for the record, I buy store brand Yakult stuff, but still call it Yakult, no worries) and no apple juice that morning for Noah. : ) I drive Noah to school and pick him up when school is done. : ) But, I still want to make sure, he eats a lot, enough so he can properly study and do gym too, kids can concentrate better on full tummy's. : )

Sanchu update, it's getting so big right now isn't it!  : )

Little heads of lettuce are getting bigger, hahaha.

Grass is getting greener!

Potatoes are looking good! However I have 2 friends in our housing community, who are also growing potatoes, they started theirs earlier than I started mine and theirs are about 2 to 3 times bigger than mine! Go potatoes go! : )

Yep greener grass!
This day, Branden and Noboru were studying in the kitchen and Noah was finished with his homework, so he went outside to swing on his swingset. Meanwhile I went to check on the potatoes. 

Enjoying a nice good swing! Especially now that the weather has been so nice lately.

They are getting there. I know we're not supposed to even pull them until summer, so we still have plenty of time to grow still. But still, hurry potatoes! Get there...get there! Hahaha. Alright enough chit chat from me for today. Time for me to go and bring the laundry in from outside. The house is cleaned for today. And sorry if this is TMI, but I started my period this morning and I just feel yuck and blah today. I did walk this morning, so it helped some, but I think after I bring the laundry in, maybe I should pop an Advil and maybe lay on the couch for 45 minutes, until my cramps go away. Noah gets out at 3:45pm today, so it's a late day for Noah and Branden gets out at 4pm, but will ride his bike home. Noboru gets off work at 2pm, and he'll be home at 2:30pm, so I know, he'll be happy to pick Noah up for me, since I feel sorta crampy today. : ) That way I can get started on dinner, while he gets Noah. Alrighty later for now. : )