Dish #4: Guacamole dip

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4.7 / 5.0 on taste; 3.9 / 5.0 on presentation

Total time: 40 minutes of prep & cooking. Instant eating! Although you can refrigerate it if needed, but my sister and I couldn’t resist eating it right away.

Recipe – simple but really hits the taste buds!

How I deviated from the recipe:

I used a lemon instead of a lime. I also used a little bit more lemon juice (1 lemon and 1/4 of another) than on the recipe because I love citruses. I used a little less onions because my sister hates them. For salt, I specifically used finely ground sea salt, works fine. I didn’t have cilantro with me and anyways, my mom hates even the smell of cilantro. We also didn’t have ground cayenne pepper so I substituted that with a teaspoon of red chili powder. I used two large avocados instead of three. My Roma tomatoes were so squishy and not very firm, so I could only use certain parts of it. I wish I had better tomatoes because the tomatoes really added another texture to the guac! Also, the recipe doesn’t call for pepper but I put at least one teaspoon of black pepper in.

Things I liked about this dish:

TASTED so good! Love the texture and goes well with healthy dipping veggie chips, saltines, burritos, etc! Really easy to make and easy to impress. My sister’s obsessed with it.

Suggestions, things to do better next time:

Maybe put a little less lemon. Get some cilantro and ground cayenne pepper. Fresher tomatoes next time, and have them chunkier. More onions.

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Dish #3: Pizza Wheels/Rolls

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1.0 / 5.0 on taste; no rating on presentation because I didn’t have time to make it all pretty.

Total time: 1.5 – 2 hours

This is the recipe. Okay, I deviated from it a lot and it tasted terrible. DO NOT DEVIATE FROM THIS RECIPE.

How I deviated from the recipe:

So first mistake was that I used “pizza crust dough” in a can and not fresh pizza dough. I couldn’t find any in the store, but go to different places if you can’t find it in one store because the dough is literally the most important thing. Or if you have a lot of time on your hands, you can make your own fresh dough through the instructions here. Because I brought the wrong kind of dough, my pizza rolls were extremely hard (true to its name, “crusty”).

I substituted oregano for basil. It didn’t seem to matter that much. Here’s a helpful guide in substituting herbs.

Also, for pepperoni, I used pre-packaged tofurkey pepperoni slices. DO NOT USE THEM. I thought substituting them would be fine, but they dry up extremely fast (I’m guessing it’s because they don’t have the fats/oils that meat has). Get actual pepperoni. Really.

I used tomato-base pasta sauce instead of actual marinara sauce and I think it was fine.

Things I liked about this dish:

It smelled good. But I messed it up so badly that it didn’t taste good at all. (To save it, I had warm marinara sauce for dipping, as the recipe suggested, and that made it better.)

Suggestions, things to do better next time:

First of all, find all the accurate ingredients and don’t try to substitute for anything except maybe the oregano and the marinara sauce. But besides that, no haha.

I didn’t know how long it would take to preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and basically cooked the thing while the oven was still preheating.. Wait for about 15 minutes until the oven is 400 degrees before putting the uncooked roll in.

I am traumatized at how much I sucked at this dish and I promise I won’t be trying it again any time soon.

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Dish #2: Sprinkled Rice Krispy Treats

This is how the treats looked before they cooled down and solidified.

This is how the treats looked before they cooled down and solidified. (Click for way better quality.)

4.2 / 5.0 on taste; no rating on presentation because I didn’t put it out on a plate (too sticky!).

Total time: 35 minutes

So, here’s the recipe link but I basically did not follow it much. It’s for Rocky Road Rice Krispy Treats, but I used the basic idea and ran away with it.

How I deviated from the recipe:

I couldn’t find chocolate marshmallows at Ralphs, so I only used regular white. I don’t really like peanuts and I don’t think a lot of teenagers do either (I was making these for a party today), so I didn’t use peanuts. I added colorful sprinkles and chocolate sprinkles to make it look prettier!

Things I liked about this dish:

Who doesn’t like sweet stuff? Even though I heavily botched up the recipe (see below at “things to do better next time”), everyone enjoyed the treats because they were sweet. It’s hard to go wrong with dessert, I realize. The sprinkles that I added were a moment of spontaneity but I’m glad I added them because they made the treats look cute haha.

Suggestions, things to do better next time:

Okay. MAJOR, MAJOR mistake I did. Since I’ve started cooking (uh, which was yesterday), I realized that MEASUREMENT is everything, really. And the units are all messed up and confusing because there are “ounces” for both solids and liquids and that can get confusing… So measurement / units are extremely important in cooking. It really is like chemistry. Basically, I bought three bags of 16 oz marshmallows and one bag of 10 oz marshmallows because I thought I needed about 1600 grams due to a conversion between cups –> grams –> ounces. Yeah, it’s confusing. Anyways, after putting in all the marshmallows in the 16 oz and the 10 oz bag, I was kinda getting suspicious of what I was doing because there was just SO MUCH marshmallow cream. The recipe calls for 6 cups of marshmallows. I did a quick look-up on my iPhone and basically, a 10 oz bag of marshmallows = 6 cups… or 16 oz = 8 cups. So I put in 8 more cups of marshmallows than was called for in the original recipe. Quickly, I put more cocoa krispies and sprinkles in the large mixing bowl to even out the large supply of marshmallow creme. I guess it turned out “yummy” in the end but it was extremely sticky and hard to cut! Don’t make my mistake! Remember, a 10 oz bag of regular-sized marshmallows = 6 cups. (Now I have two extra bags of marshmallows though..)

Yes, 5 tbsps of butter (my butter wrapper/cover had measurement units on it, so that was nice). It is a pretty large stick, so don’t freak out if you think you’re putting too much.

Also, the melting of the marshmallows into cream actually takes pretty long. The recipe says to melt them at low heat, but I did it at medium heat and topped the saucepan (get a large saucepan), and the whole process was still pretty long.

In summary, before buying groceries, I suggest finding out the accurate measurements of how much of an ingredient you actually need.


Dish #1: Tomato-based Pesto Pasta Salad

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This is my first dish for this summer! I would give myself a 3.2 / 5.0 on taste and 2.0 / 5.0 on presentation. Tasty but definitely a lot I could improve on. for example, how it’s presented haha. We were all so hungry that I just plopped everything on plates.

Total time: 1 hour (?)

The link to the recipe (<– it has much better pictures). It doesn’t say so, but I am almost positive that the recipe is for 4 servings. Also, farfalle is just the Italian word for “bow-tie pasta,” so don’t freak out 🙂

I am such a beginner; I don’t even know the “proper” way to chop lettuce. This helped.

How I deviated from the recipe:

I used regular diced tomatoes for the sauce and it turned out fine so don’t worry if you don’t have canned sun-dried tomatoes. I also didn’t use sun-dried tomato oil (obviously), and just used apple vinegar.

I added a bit of dried basil to the sauce before blending everything in the blender.

For the salad, I put in just a little bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil when mixing everything (but next time I won’t because the pesto sauce is enough).

Things I liked about this dish:

The sauce is really subtle and delicious (kinda spicy) and such a pretty color. The pasta and salad and sauce all mixed together really well. It didn’t take that long to make.

Suggestions, things to do better next time:

The dish said 5-6 cloves of garlic but my sisters and I were constantly drinking water because the sauce was spicy and hot in that special garlic-y way. I put in 6 cloves and will definitely put in 4 next time. Also, blend a bit more next time because the garlic cloves were not entirely blended. A little bit less than 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and vinegar.

I didn’t know that marinating onions was supposed to take 24+ hours, so remember to marinate your onions beforehand! (Here’s a helpful link on marinating onions.) After soaking my onions for awhile in that special marinating sauce (albeit for only 30 minutes), I sauteed them brown before putting them in the salad.

I would also add more cherry tomatoes and cucumbers to the salad than what the recipe suggests. Makes it more fresh! Also, to bring more freshness, don’t add olive oil or balsamic vinegar to the salad.

Make the presentation prettier! (Which means I gotta lose the plastic plates.)

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