[Updated 10 June 2021]
A principle I had growing up is to never order or buy something I can already make at home. Dishes and desserts that are too easy to make; foolproof recipes. Kitchen therapy is a thing, you know? I have been doing so for the longest time, and it did save me a lot of money while I earn myself a nourishing plateful that's guilt-free and satisfying at the same time.
But of course, it's always a matter of limited time on our hands. After a busy week, we even dread washing the dishes on the weekend. The silver lining to this COVID-19 pandemic 'season' is it strips away our aforementioned reasoning (it's not an excuse, okay??) and now, we've got all the time in the world to whip something up and have content for our social media ? Today, folks, I have listed amazing Instagram-worthy recipes that you can easily try at home. Yes, they taste as good as they look too. Let's go!
1. Tomato Soup with Zingy Chicken Strips
Starting simple, pantry-ready recipe is a game of matching the first few things you see in your pantry and your refrigerator. There's no need for a wild guess here; everyone appreciates a well-stocked cabinet lined by a few canned goods, especially when the idea of going out for meals is not so appealing anymore, or that you can't leave the house as easily, like right now.
Like the comforting mushroom soup, a good old canned tomato soup is the one thing we can count on. What I like about this recipe is there's a healthy balance having both plant and animal protein. Spicy food-lovers, don't worry - it doesn't have to be all tomatoes. This recipe by Niall Harbison of Big Seven Travel calls upon the spice harmony by adding red onion, chilli and plenty of garlic. In times of health crisis, it's always a great idea to bulk up on our immunity. What better to do so if not by being generous with garlic in our cooking? Creamy, hearty soup with a spice kick? Delightful indeed ❤?
The sidekick of this soup is the cajun-marinated chicken ?. It's really not as complicated as it might sound, and trust me, the end result will make you wonder why didn't you discover this recipe much earlier. For those who love carbs, you can toast a loaf or two for dipping! ? If you're staying away from carbs for whatever reason, you're good to go without it.
2. Creamy Chickpea Pasta with Rosemary & Spinach
Credit: The Fresh Pasta Shop on Facebook
Prior to learning the existence of the New York Times Cooking, my only memory of ever indulging in chickpeas is during Ramadhan. The star of the show that is our breaking fast spread: Bubur Lambuk (Malaysian spiced coconut milk congee) with salted chickpea, courtesy of my mom. I look forward to it every single year without fail ?
So when I came across this Creamy Chickpea Pasta recipe by Alexa Weibel, it cements the fact that there are a lot more joy chickpeas can offer to your dining table! I prefer getting a bag of dry chickpeas compared to the canned ones simply because you can boil them to your preferred texture. If you appreciate a good bite, canned chickpeas may be too soft for you.
May I also mention that this recipe is perfect for anyone who's practising a plant-based diet? ? The spinach adds colour to this beautiful meal. If that's not IG-worthy enough for you, sprinkle some chilli flakes and see if that change your mind ?
P.S. When you just don't have heavy cream and can't find it on the shelves of your favourite grocery store, I recommend substituting it with either canned evaporated milk or milk with butter. Personally, I keep 3 - 4 cans of evaporated milk in my kitchen cabinet as it's a very versatile ingredient for both main dishes and dessert!
#HHWT Tip: Love pasta? Here are 10 easy Italian recipes you can try making at home!
3. Skillet Seared Salmon with Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce
Credit: Tracy Stewart on Facebook
I love colours in my food. Every other kid can relate. While I admit I can no longer be categorised as one, it's human nature to find colourful meals more appealing hence appetising.
Now let's talk about salmon. Some of us are not a fan of raw salmon, like me. I see them all the time on the conveyor belt at my favourite sushi joint. I remember giving it a try, and the gummy texture puts me off. Yes, I know it's safe to eat, but I've eaten fried bug before and I'd pick that over raw salmon ?
However!! Seared salmon is something I don't think anyone would turn down, not even myself. This recipe by Cooking Classy brings my attention (and hopefully yours) to this Omega-3-rich fish, and gosh am I ready to find one at the supermarket ?. Other than the salmon, the rest of the ingredients are mainly your kitchen staples: butter, garlic, chicken broth, honey and your usual salt and pepper.
What I like to do when making this is watching the wonderful browning process. When the raw salmon flesh meets the heated oil, the coral colour slowly shifts to crisp brown on the outside, leaving the centre slightly pink. You don't want to overcook your salmon, so once you achieve this, your lunch/dinner is pretty much set.
Once paired with the sauce and sauteed vegetable of your liking, you'll see why we even feature this ?
4. Egg Shakshouka
Ooh, shakshouka. I do a little hip wiggle whenever I say the name because it's fun. Go on and give it a try ?
On a more serious note, this is a brunch go-to whenever I have tomato soup/puree and eggs in my kitchen. Shakshouka is a Middle Eastern meal in which eggs are poached in a mixture of tomatoes and spices. The first time I made it was completely accidental; I saw a picture of eggs in red sauce sitting so beautifully in a cast-iron skillet. One morning, I found a can of bolognese sauce and eggs and had the idea to marry these ingredients together. It only occurred to me to Google what was it when a coworker asked me for the name after I've fed them my accidental discovery. Lo and behold, it was the magnificent Shakshouka.
This recipe by Downshiftology incorporates spices and herbs but let me tell you something: you're just as fine without them. If you do add in the cumin, paprika, parsley etc, that's good too. You will get that fragrant pan of simmering tomato and poached egg. Many cooking sites suggest adding feta cheese, but as I say it, do as you do ?
#HHWT Tip: It is recommended to use non-stick and/or stainless steel pan, not cast-iron when you're making Shakshouka. Tomato is an acidic fruit (yes it's not a type of veggie!!) and will erode the seasoning off the iron, giving your dish a metallic taste ?
P.S. If you're planning to head out to the supermarkets during this period, check out these halal online supermarkets in Singapore or these online supermarkets in KL!
5. Banana Bread
When life gives you bananas (don't tell me you didn't see that coming!), make banana bread! Or cake, whichever you call it! I've always been following Chrissy Teigen and her kitchen journey via Cravings by Chrissy Teigen, and they all never fail to make me go hungry. Several dishes in her cookbook just look grand so we all know how the preparation is gonna go. This personalised recipe of hers incorporates Irish butter and coconut shreds that give texture to the otherwise plain soft banana loaf.
However, there's no room for headaches when you're stuck at home hungry. You want something simple, so simple is what you're gonna get (ie. if you don't have coconut, you don't have put coconut!)
Chrissy's recipe is available on the IG post above, and to make things fun, here's an alternative: Ultra-Moist Chocolate Chip Banana Bread by The Kitchn ?? A wise foodie once said, you can never go wrong with chocolate chips, folks. Never. Alternatively, you can try this easy banana cake recipe at home.
6. Tropical Papaya Boat
We don't want to speculate why God shapes papayas like a boat, but it's probably so that we could make dessert boats out of it.
Frankly, papaya boats are as straightforward as how it looks. There need not be any recipes for this. Take a chilled papaya, scoop out the core, and fill it to your heart's content. You can go crazy with any complementary fruit and ingredient imaginable. But for the sake of reference, I present to you: Tropical Papaya Boat by Minimalist Baker.
Living in Southeast Asia, we are blessed with a wide selection of tropical fruits, and they are just ?? for this boat. Any yoghurt goes really well with papaya, but if you're feeling extra, you can also take 10 minutes to whip up custard and fill it in the papaya core to replace yoghurt. For a 10/10 dessert experience, get a variety of texture by sprinkling chia seeds or toasted, slivered nuts on the whole thing.
Do you know what's the best part? The only thing you have to wash post-Papaya Boat-binge is your spoon! No bowl is needed here. Lazy desserts cannot get better than this ?
P.S. If you're not a fan of papaya, honeydew or cantaloupe make good substitutes ?
7. Berry Pancake
Let's get one thing straight. If you have ever paid more than MYR10/SGD10 for pancakes at your local brunch cafe, I need you to sit tight and follow through this bit of the article.
About a year ago, a friend of mine came back from Canada with the most practical birthday gift anyone has ever given me: Aunt Jemima's Original Syrup. It is the best excuse for me to head to the kitchen and make myself pancakes from scratch. After a few failed attempts, I found the secret to make my pancakes fluffier, which is letting my batter sit for 10 - 15 mins before plopping them on the hot pan ? Once you've done all this and taste the fruit of your labour (no hard work here guys?), you'll never want to spend excessively on it ever again.
Now which recipe will give you a foolproof pancake guide, you ask? There's no one-true-recipe because every baker and cook has their version, but I've tried Pinch of Yum's Fluffiest Blueberry Pancake recipe and true enough, it lived up to its name. If you have your own tried-and-tested recipe, feel free to share it with other readers in the comments section!
8. Dalgona Coffee
You've seen it. You've heard of it. You probably have made glasses and glasses of it. So, of course, we're featuring it!
Gone are the days (at least for now) where you can pick up a frappe from Starbucks and the likes on your way to work. This beverage idea came at the right time when many people have 10 minutes at their disposal to whisk the froth that makes Dalgona coffee what it is.
The 3 essentials are ground coffee, sugar, and milk; all of which are super easy to find and you probably already have them in your pantry. This recipe by Whisk Affair entails very simply how you can get the no-brainer dose of caffeine, so do give it a try and snap some pics while you're at it!
Alright, that's enough recipes to keep you occupied for days! Remember, there's always something to be salvaged in your kitchen, so get creative and whip up something ???? Stay home and stay healthy everyone ?