Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Baked Potato Bar

I have been meaning to write this post for forever, but I didn't have the pictures. I still don't but I want to get it up anyway. We threw a baked-potato bar party over the summer, and at the end, I turned to Mr. Barefoot and said, "this would make a great thanksgiving!"

For a baked potato bar party, it's a super-simple concept that is really easy to make potluck and vegetarian or even vegan - we provided potatoes, greek yogurt, sour cream, butter, and spices, and everybody else brought toppings for both regular and sweet potatoes. We had black bean vegetarian chili, pulled pork, candied pecans, cheddar cheese, bacon bits, etc. For Thanksgiving, you could add roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, corn salsa or creamed corn, mac& cheese, green beans, and all manner of vegetables.

I love this as a vegetarian concept because nobody has to bring meat, and you end up with a holiday that doesn't revolve around meat. It's also novel enough that people won't complain as much about there not being a turkey. It's also great for people who are not very experienced cooks, because it's pretty hard to screw up baked potatoes. Just put a bunch on a cookie sheet and bake them for awhile. If you do eat meat, but don't cook very well, I personally would crockpot roast some drumsticks or something, and shred them to be a topping, but you could also provide roasted drumsticks as a side dish to avoid cooking a full bird. It also would be a great idea for a side dish if you do want to host a meal with a beautiful turkey, but don't want to put in the work to do multiple side dishes - a few potatoes go in the oven as soon as the turkey comes out, and while it rests, they bake, and everything is ready to go at once.

It also makes a great Thanksgiving leftovers brunch idea - because what leftovers aren't better on a roasted sweet potato? Minimal work, maximum fun - that's my kind of holiday!

What are you doing for a vegetarian (or carnivorous) thanksgiving?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Disaster Preparedness

I hope everybody is okay and safe and your families and loved ones are all well.  We got very lucky here in Baltimore and survived the storm unscathed, with power intact and only a slight leak in the ceiling.  But I wanted to address the issue of disaster preparedness - after the derecho in June, it occurred to me that we were ill-prepared to spend a week without power.  So when they started calling for Sandy, I wondered what we should do.

I think you all know how I feel about canned goods.  So it probably isn't a surprise that when I went to consider what we had in stock in case Sandy knocked out our power, we didn't have much. A few cans of soup, a few foil packets of Indian dinners.  Pretty much everything needs to be cooked.  We have an electric stove and a propane campstove.  We don't usually lose power - and when we do, it never makes sense - so we are more concerned about things like our roof staying on and our car not getting hit by a falling stop sign. But a little bit of disaster preparedness never hurt anybody, especially if the grocery stores can't be restocked for awhile.

When I woke up Saturday, I felt sick, so I dragged the husband to the store to pick up soup and Spaghetti Os, in case of disaster and mostly because I wanted them.  We went to buy bottled water and couldn't find any. (When we got home, we just filled a couple spare pitchers and all of our reusable water bottles.  We contemplated what other stuff we might need, and wound up buying taco tortillas because we keep Tasty Bite Madras Lentils in the pantry, and they make surprisingly good cold tacos (great camping food).  I also picked up a few cans of baked beans and some more canned soup.

We happen to have crackers and peanut butter leftover from our last camping trip, and we picked up some more snack food and some juice (I drink a lot of juice when I get sick).  We have a few cans of Trader Joe's tuna - that and the Sustainable Seas tuna is the only kind I will eat - and a bunch of cans of beans, which is kind of all we have for protein.

My dad said that we can use our propane stove in the fireplace, which does vent properly.  This means we can cook the package of fondue that we have

In the future, we will probably start keeping a regular "emergency kit".  I'm not really sure what should go in it - maybe one or two gallon jugs of water, a three day supply of canned goods (Spaghetti O's, tuna, peanut butter, a few Go Picnic meals, canned beans and soup, foil packets of tastybite Indian Entrees, nuts/seeds), a couple of flashlights, a pack of baby wipes/antibacterial wipes, and a spare batteries for the camping lantern. All of these things, except water, are things we will cycle through anyway, so maybe it would make sense to get a collapsible jug instead - which could be something we take camping.

Any other suggestions for what we should keep in our "emergency kit"?  What do you make sure you always have on hand?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mrs. Veggie and Mr. Meat

I have a friend who came over for dinner last week and she expressed a bit of frustration at the fact that her husband not only eats mostly meat, but he's a picky eater with a pretty limited palate.  She's a vegetarian and he isn't, so I'm a bit familiar with their situation.  I made a couple of suggestions for meals that could easily accommodate meat, like curries and stir fries.  But I kept thinking about it and I feel like there must be a wealth of possibilities for meals that you can do two ways, and also don't require my friend to prepare meat. I'm starting with a lot of convenience food suggestions, which is an easy transition for people used to ordering takeout.

Here's a sample menu plan & shopping list for a week:
-Burgers & fries with salad
-Barbecue (Lentils for her, pre-made pulled pork for him, barbecue carrots on the side)
-Frittata/Torta Espanola 
-Stir fry (with baked tofu for her and chicken for him)

Shopping List-
Burgers and Fries
-1 bag frozen sweet potato fries
-1 package veggie burgers
-1 package meat burgers
-1 package hamburger buns (these will also be used for barbecue night)

-1 bag frozen peas
-1 bag carrots (also for barbecue)

-Curry powder, coriander, tumeric
-4 medium potatoes (need 8 total)
-1 can coconut milk
-Onion (need 5 total)
-Frozen chicken strips or a rotisserie chicken (use in both the curry and the stir fry)

Stir Fry
-2 bell peppers
-1 container sliced mushrooms or another pre-prepared vegetable for stir fry
-snow peas or green beans or another green vegetable
-1 bottle of stir fry sauce/marinade or 1 bottle soy sauce and 1 bottle sweet and sour sauce (combine equal parts for an easy marinade)
-1 box extra firm tofu
-onion (need 5 total)

-3-4 Potatoes (need 8 total)
-Onions (need 5 total)
-Plain Greek Yogurt (use instead of cream)

-Lentils (brown)
-Barbecue sauce
-pre-prepared Pulled Pork
-Onion (need 5 total)

Anyone have any other suggestions for meals for my friend?  What are your favorite carnivore-pleasing vegetarian meals?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Falafel Tacos

I like falafel alot, but it's time consuming to make.  Recently I had a delicious falafel taco, and it occurred to me that deconstructed falafel tacos are definitely the way to go.  So I took the falafel ingredients from The Meat Lovers Meatless Cookbook and popped them in the crockpot, then made tacos. 

2 cups chickpeas (dried and soaked, or a can of dried chickpeas)
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tps baking powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried cilantro
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Greek yogurt, dill
Tomato, sliced thinly

1. Combine chickpeas, onion, and garlic in food processor and pulse until well combined. 
2. Add remaining ingredients, continue to pulse until spices are evenly distributed.
3. Spray crockpot with olive oil. (Alternatively, spray a 9x13 pan and preheat the oven to 350). 
4. Cook on low 4-6 hours or high 3-4 hours or until crispy/crunchy and warm through. 
5.  Combine greek yogurt and dill until dill is dispersed in yogurt. 
6. Fill tortillas with falafel, greek yogurt, and tomato. 


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Barbecue Lentils

I spent way too much of my vegetarian life assuming that barbecue sauce wasn't for me.  I was wrong.  I've also recently discovered I like baked beans, although they aren't my favorite food at the barbecue.  However, my new obsession to bring to outdoor cookouts might very well be barbecued lentils, as they are easy, tasty, and I think the closest I've gotten to mimicking the texture of pulled pork.

-1 onion, diced.
-several cloves garlic (between 4-6) chopped
-1 green pepper (or carrots/celery/crunchy vegetable) diced
-bottle of barbecue sauce at least half full
-2 cups (1/2 lb) dried lentils
-red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper if you like spice

1) Rinse lentils and put in a rice cooker. Pour boiling water over to cover, and with plenty of room to spare - I would say at least 4 cups.  Our electric kettle is metric so I can't be more specific.  Turn rice cooker on.  (This could also be done in a crockpot or on the stove, but I don't know how long the cooking time would be for that.)

2) Saute onion, then add garlic, and green pepper until mostly soft.  This should take about 15 minutes, and the lentils should start to look pretty soft and be splitting apart by this point.  If not, cook the lentils for longer. 

3) Drain lentils, add to pan with vegetables.  Add about half a bottle of barbecue sauce, and some cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes for heat if you would like.  

4) Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. 


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tofu Cabbage Egg Rolls

Too. Much. Cabbage.

Tofu Cabbage Egg Rolls:
-1/4 shredded head of cabbage (shredded in the food processor so it's super thin)
-1 block of firm tofu, drained and run through the food processor
-5 spice powder (or any spice mixture you like - 5 spice powder is surprisingly sweet)
-1 onion, sliced thin (I just ran it through the food processor after the cabbage)
-soy sauce (I used Trader Joe's soyaki) - probably about 2 tablespoons.
-egg roll wrappers - about 10
-Olive Oil

Oven at 400.

1. Heat olive oil in a pan on medium high heat, add in tofu and spice powder and a little soy sauce (1 tbsp) and scramble until browned.  Set aside, or push to the edge of the pan.
2. Saute onions until translucent, add cabbage and saute until soft (about 5 minutes.)  Add remaining soy sauce.
3.  Wrap filling into egg roll wrappers - if you buy the nasoya brand, they have a diagram. Basically, make an envelope, then wet the flap and close it down.  Put rolls flap side down on a greased baking sheet.  Spray the tops with olive oil
4. Bake for 15 minutes.  I flipped them at about 12 minutes to get both sides equally crispy.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cabbage Pasta

We've been getting a lot of cabbage from the CSA lately.  I don't dislike cabbage, but it's a tough vegetable sometimes.  I found this recipe for cabbage pasta though, and gave it a try.  I don't do anchovies though, so I subbed in tuna fish and it was pretty tasty.  If you also hate tuna, try the white albacore stuff from Trader Joe's - it doesn't have the same tuna-y taste.

-1 can tuna
-1/2 bulb garlic (I only had four cloves, but I would definitely use at least five)
-crushed red pepper
-1 box pasta (I used whole grain penne)
-1/2 cup breadcrumbs
-1/3 cup olive oil
-1/2 head shredded cabbage (I sauted mine in the crockpot the night before - combine with butter, cook for 6 hours on low)
-salt and pepper to taste
-grated parmesean cheese

1. Cook the pasta to al dente.
2. Meanwhile, saute 2 cloves garlic in olive oil, add tuna, then add breadcrumbs and saute until golden.  Pull off burner and set aside.
3. Saute remaining garlic and red pepper in olive oil for a minute, then add cabbage.  If you haven't already sauted the cabbage, cook for 10 minutes (check the pasta and drain it, it's done), or until soft.
4. Combine the breadcrumbs, then the pasta, with the cabbage.  Toss and top with cheese.

It was surprisingly tasty, although next time I'll slice the cabbage with the food processor to get it to be more thin and uniform.  I definitely recommend trying this one out if you have gotten a lot of cabbage this year.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mini Pineapple Cheesecakes

We had people over for the fourth of July, and I was itching to make a no-bake pineapple cheesecake.  However, I remembered the last time I did this, I had a ton of leftover cheesecake, and we're pretty low on fridge space these days.  So I compromised and made much simpler and cuter mini-cheesecakes.

You will need:
-2 containers phyllo shells
- 1/2 block cream cheese (low fat is fine) - softened
- 1/2 tub cool-whip (do NOT use low fat)
- 1/2 can crushed pineapple - drained
- 1/4 cup sugar

1.) Whip cool whip, cream cheese, pineapple, and sugar together.
2.) Spoon into phyllo cups.
3.) Chill for one hour and serve.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Suggestions needed: Road Trip Food

Mr. Barefoot and the Barefoots-In-Law are all going away this weekend to a cabin in West Virginia.  It's about a 6-hour drive from us, and Bonus Sister Barefoot has to drive 3 hours to get to us, so I figure I'll make us road trip food.  I should admit something that I've been hiding from you all lately.  I seem to be (hopefully temporarily) lactose intolerant.  It's apparently something that can be stress induced, and since my new job is super-stressful, I can no longer eat cheese.  Bummer, I know.  I seem to be okay with yogurt, and I'm hoping this is something that I outgrow as I settle into the job better.  I've been here for three months though, so we'll see. 
So here I am, trying to figure out good car food, and I'm trying to come up with something that is easy to eat while driving - meaning all things that need to be eaten with knives and forks are out.  I was thinking of sweet potato black bean empanadas, but those seem really unhealthy and this is already going to be a super-indulgent weekend. 
Another option is sandwiches, on some kind of soft roll that will keep everything together, but I'm rubbish at thinking of good sandwich combos that don't involve mozzerella.  I have an eggplant in the fridge right now, and could do some kind of eggplant-goat-cheese sandwich deliciousness (since goat cheese is okay), or some kind of hummus-and-veggie blend.  Mr. Barefoot does not eat peanut butter, but I suppose we could get him some deli meat and we could each have a really boring sandwich. 
Other ideas I have had are things like roasted chickpeas, for protein, and then some kind of crispy and easy to eat vegetable, but Mr. Barefoot is not a big carrot-stick muncher or anything like that.  Also, some kind of spring rolls or veggie egg rolls seems like it might be a possibility. 
So please help me out!  What are some easy to eat car foods?  It's okay if they are a bit elaborate to put together, I just want something tasty and easy to eat that won't make a mess in Bonus Sister Barefoot's car.  We're going to be eating burritos several times in the next few days, so I don't think those are an option. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sweet Potato Cashew Curry

We have finally gotten the hang of menu planning for two people with busy jobs, I think.  The trick is to plan meals that allow for advance prep, but don't require it, and to allow for a few slacker meals.  This week's menu plan:
-Pear, Leek, Goat Cheese Pizza
-Potato, Mushroom, and Leek Croquettes
-Pad Thai
-Sweet Potato Cashew Curry

Theoretically, we were going to do all the prep work on Sunday.  That didn't happen - we got to the leeks, the onions, and the stuff for my grandmother's 90th birthday party.  So instead, last night, I prepped everything for the potato, mushroom, and leek croquettes and the sweet potato cashew curry while also making pad thai.  This means that this morning, I just tossed the curry in the crockpot and came home to a really delicious meal.  Since I adapted the original recipe, I'm going to share my changes here.


2 tbsp oil
1 sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup raw cashews
3 tbsp (or a conservative pour) Trader Joes yellow curry sauce
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, and cut into small chunks (I only used one, but two would be better)
1 can diced tomatoes (with juice)
2 cups water
1 cup frozen corn
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
3 tbsp (or generous pour) yellow curry sauce

-Heat oil in a pan over medium heat, saute onion, saute until translucent, then add cashews.  Saute until golden brown.
-Add yellow curry sauce and sweet potatoes, fry for another minute or two.  Transfer to crockpot.  
-Add can diced tomatoes, water, frozen corn, tomato paste, hoisin sauce, and remaining yellow curry sauce.  
-Cook on low heat for 4-6 hours.  Serve over rice.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Banana Bread

I'm sorry if I've shared this recipe before, but I couldn't find it when I searched my archives.  This is my friend Boston's banana bread recipe, and it's delicious.  I'm making it for my old secretary for Administrative Professionals Day this week.  

2 large or 3 small bananas mashed

Sift together:
2 cups sifted flour
½ ts baking powder
¾ ts baking soda
½ ts salt

Beat together:
½ cup shortening
1 ¼ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 ts vanilla

Add ¼ cup sour cream or applesauce (you could also use greek yogurt or buttermilk)

Combine dry ingredients into wet ingredients, gradually, stirring pretty well. Then add applesauce, then the mashed bananas, mixing it all together well.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes in a greased tube pan or loaf pans (I make mini loaf pans of this and it's delicious).  

Friday, April 13, 2012

Chain Restaurants - an examination and defense

My coworker and I were just discussing Ruby Tuesday and she expressed that she does not go to chains.  Her argument is "Why would I go to a chain when I have all of Baltimore?"  Which I completely agree with.  Mr. Barefoot and I try hard to avoid chains, and many people in our immediate circle of family and friends agree on this.  What is the problem with chains, exactly?  It varies.  Sometimes the food is surprisingly expensive, sometimes they don't have good vegetarian options (I am looking at you, Applebees), sometimes they move in next to a beloved local restaurant and drive them out of business. 
The problem, really, is the food.  Often it is mass-produced and over-processed.  I used to work at an Atlanta Bread Company and while our bread was made overnight, it was made from doughs that had been frozen months ago.  Our soups came in a plastic bag that you put in a vat of boiling water and eventually cut open to pour into the soup pot.  Having talked to various friends in the restaurant business, this is true of many other chains, especially fast-casual chains, as well.  Not to mention that when you eat at a local joint, especially one that purchases their food from local farmers, you are directly supporting your local community and local economy.  More of your money supports people that live and work in your neighborhood, which in turn supports other local businesses. 
However, I think chain restaurants have their place, and I am often grateful that they exist.  For example, when you have a large group of people and are in an unfamiliar location - such as when we went to run a marathon in Virginia Beach.  We had traveled from four states to converge for this race, and we had one car, and every restaurant in downtown VA Beach was totally full.  So we discussed where to go and none of us knew the area, none of us wanted to risk the race on unknown food, and we had one vegetarian and one gluten allergy to consider.  So we eventually wound up at Ruby Tuesday - because when it was suggested, all of us had eaten there in the past decade and knew that we could each order one thing off their menu that was vegetarian friendly.  After running the marathon, the five of us sat in the room and considered dinner.  Somebody said they wanted fries, and suddenly all of us wanted fries, and then somebody remembered there was a Gordon Biersch in town and suddenly we all wanted garlic fries. 
The value of chains is that it gives a common experience, which makes it infinitely easier for a group of people to agree upon a chain dining location.  With my hockey team, if you suggest Olive Garden or Greene Turtle, everybody is happy enough.  If you suggest the local indian or sushi place, some people have a problem with it and then it's forty minutes before you can make a decision and you're thinking, "I could be eating salad and breaksticks by now!"  I did put my foot down on one hockey trip and suggest to our captain that we pick one local restaurant to eat at for a fancy dinner, and we did, and it was amazing and a much more positive experience than going to Hooters.  (I don't want to talk about that trip.)
There is one other big advantage to chain restaurants that gets overlooked by people who don't have dietary restrictions - for people with allergies, chains can often put together a better dining guide, or there is a dining guide, for that particular restaurant.  Ruby Tuesday had a particularly spectacular vegetarian selection, for a chain, as well as many gluten free options, and Gordon Biersch has a whole gluten-free dining guide that is pretty amazing.  There are local restaurants that do this as well, but sometimes you don't have the time to hunt when you are hungry in an unfamiliar place. I also know where I can't eat - I know there is no vegetarian food at Arby's, no good vegetarian options at McDonalds, but at Wendy's I can get a baked potato, at Five Guys I can get a grilled cheese sandwich, at Subway I can get a veggie sandwich or a veggie burger. 
Overall, when it comes to making food decisions, I'm not sure that simply looking at a restaurant and saying, "it's a chain, I won't eat there" is any better than saying, "I won't eat anywhere that isn't a chain".  There is probably a lot more thoughtful examination required - how do they source their food, how is it prepared, is everything cooked on sight or is it prepared in a big corporate headquarters and then shipped out?  As I would like to engage in a more thoughtful examination of my food generally, can anyone point me in the direction of resources that might discuss such things?  Is there an app for this? Some kind of omnivore's dilemma rating system?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Tonight was my annual passover dinner with my friend Boston, and I made dinner and she made apple cake and thumbprint cookies for dessert.  (Plus we had salted caramel matzoh.)  For dinner we had:

Patatas Bravas - and now we have a ton of delicious aioli leftover

Baked Sweet Potato Falafel - this recipe has some serious delicitude going on. 

Matzo Brie, topped with cheese and zucchini
4 sheets matzoh
2 eggs (or one egg and two egg whites, if you also made the aioli.)
dash of milk (about one tablespoon)
boiling water
small zucchini, sliced thin

1. Heat a skillet on medium heat until pretty hot (I actually baked my cast iron one in the oven at 400 for thirty minutes and then put it on the stove on medium heat). 

2. Break matzoh up into small-ish pieces (no bigger than two inches square), put in a colander, and pour boiling water over matzoh. 

3. Press matzoh dry with paper towel, squeezing water through colander.  Put matzoh in a shallow pan.

4. Combine eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and pour over matzoh. Allow to soak for about 5-10 minutes. 

5. Grease pan.  Be generous.  Pour matzoh and egg mixture into pan into a big pile of eggy-matzoh-ness. 

6. Add zuchinni slices if there is room around the matzoh. 

7. Once matzoh/egg has cooked on one side, flip the whole thing and cook on the other side. 

8. Flip the zucchini. 

9.  Remove matzoh from heat, top with cheese, and then zucchini. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Frozen Burritos

When I started my new job, I knew I wanted to have easy to grab lunches in the fridge.  I went from working at 10am to 8:30am, so I no longer had time to make myself lunch in the morning if we had gone out the night before and didn't have leftovers, or just had burgers and fries for dinner.  I buy the CedarLane Vegetarian Burritos from Costco, but they don't always have them, and I was looking for an even cheaper way to make freezable lunches. 

So when I had an extra sweet potato one day, and had accidentally opened a can of Trader Joe's Refried Beans instead of black beans, I whipped up about 8 frozen burritos.  They are surprisingly delicious and store pretty easily.  I just let it thaw on my windowsill all morning, then heat it up in the microwave. 

1-2 sweet potatoes, mashed (add salt and pepper to taste)
1 can vegetarian refried beans
6-8 flour tortillas (I used white and I think that is part of why they held up so well - the white ones are just softer and heartier)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Put a flour tortilla on a piece of saran-wrap. 
2. Spoon sweet potatoes and refried beans into center of tortilla until it is pretty full.
3. Add cheddar cheese to the top. 
4. Fold burrito over and in on itself.  If it is having trouble sticking, use a bit of sweet potato as additional glue.  Immediately wrap in Saran Wrap. 
5. If your sweet potatoes are still hot, place in the refrigerator until cool.  If they are not hot, place burrito directly in the freezer. 

I made these about 2 months ago and just had one for lunch and it was good. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More Chia Granola

I've made three batches of burned granola lately - I keep leaving it in the oven, and it's just not quite dark enough - not quite - and then BAM - burned.

So I switched to the crockpot.  Which meant when I burned it around the edges, I spooned that part out.  I've also added coconut, so here is a new recipe.

2 cups oats
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/4-1/2 cup chia seeds
1 stick butter, melted
1/4-1/2 cup honey (or "a generous pour" as I measured)
1/8-1/4 cup corn syrup (or "a generous spurt" as I measured)

1. Combine oats, chia, butter, 1/4 cup coconut flakes, and honey and corn syrup in crockpot.
2. Cook on high for approimately 2 hours, leaving a wooden stick in the crock so that the crockpot vents.
3. Once done cooking, add remaining coconut flakes, stir, and put lid on.  Allow to cool completely.

The granola on it's own is pretty good, but this morning I added chopped dates which took me from pretty good to "best breakfast ever."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Baked Tofu

I recently figured out how to bake tofu in a way that it is easy to add to any stir-fry, salad, or anything else.  It's not quite as good as when you coat it with cornstarch and deep-fry it, but it's better than when you try to saute it in the pan.  I've taken to buying tofu at Costco ($3.79 for 6 grocery-store sized blocks) and so then I spend an occasional Sunday baking it so I can toss it into salads or use it in stir fry during the week.

Baked Tofu
- 1 block of tofu
- cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Press tofu between two cutting boards or some other method for draining it.
2. Cut tofu into small cubes - probably about 1/2 inch.
3. Spread evenly on greased pan.  Cook for 20 minutes.
4. Turn tofu over to the other side, cook for another 20 minutes or until crispy-ish.  Toss into dinner, or store in the refrigerator or freezer for easy use.

Anybody got any good salads, etc. that they like to add tofu to?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Caramel Popcorn

Well, I accidentally posted this to my other blog, so sorry for the cross-post - but EVERYBODY should make this.  It's amazing.

Ever since meeting the CEO of Crunch Daddy Popcorn, I've been on a quest to make my own caramel corn (although if you are looking for delicious perfection in a bowl, just order some.  The sesame ginger crunch is fantastic.) 

I wanted to make some for superbowl Sunday, because we have to make whatever we are bringing in advance this year, so I prepped some this morning.  I used this recipe from AllRecipes and even though baking isn't necessary, I'm trying it now.  I'm not sure how coated the pieces are supposed to be, but I often find caramel corn to be too sweet, so I went for half coverage.  Everything is more in clumps and stuck together - I think going in several batches for stirring might have been a better idea. 

I also halved the recipe - and it made a GIANT pyrex bowl (thanks Paul!) full of popcorn.  So if all you have is a normal mixing bowl, just halve the recipe and you'll have plenty of caramel.  Make an appropriate amount of popcorn - I did two batches in a 2.5 quart bowl and it made enough for a giant ziplock bag full.  

Friday, January 20, 2012

Smashed Reskins with Kale

I bought a bag of Kale last week, which is another reason you should never grocery shop after a 14 mile run.  I also bought a giant bag of Redskin potatoes.  And a thing of cheese puffs.  Seriously, don't do it.  We had some leftover cream from New Year's that I wanted to use up, so this recipe came from some googling (mostly of the "I wonder if people ever put Kale in mashed potatoes" variety) and also some haphazard "just use it up" testing.

1 cup kale, washed, de-stemmed, and chopped into small pieces.  The smaller the better. 
4-5 redskin potatoes, cut up into 1 inch pieces
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream (if you don't have any, just use milk)
1/2 cup milk
olive oil
Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Boil a pot of water, toss in potatoes.  Let cook for 20 minutes or until tender and mashable.  Drain.  Mash (you can mash them later, but as I was mashing them later, I thought, "gee, I should have mashed these first.)
2. Heat a big pan (or use the mashed potato pan) with olive oil, saute garlic until slightly golden. 
3. Add kale, saute until bright green. 
4. Add potatoes, heavy cream, and milk.  Stir together until everything is well mixed.  If you did not mash the potatoes before, mash them now. 
5. Add salt and pepper to taste, serve topped with Parmesan and enjoy! 

Salad Dressing Flounder

I know, it sounds gross.  But there really aren't many good flounder recipes out there, even though flounder is pretty cheap and can be quite delicious.  I did that thing where you go to Costco and think, "oh, I need fish" and then get home and find out in fact, you have fish.  Twice.  So we are working through three bags of flounder.  Since fish cooks so fast, I like to have quick and cheap recipes in my back pocket.  This one was really good. 

4 fillets flounder
1 bottle of creamy salad dressing (I used a low fat parmesean peppercorn ranch)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
parmesean cheese (optional)
olive oil in a spray bottle (or other spray oil)

1. Heat oven to 425.  If you have a pizza stone, heat it up in the oven. 
2. Mix breadcrumbs and parmesean cheese
3. Once the oven is hot, take out the stone (or skip that step and just put it on a pan) and spray with olive oil. 
4. Put the fish on the pan, squeeze about 2 tsp of salad dressing on each piece of fish and spread evenly over fish.
5. Cover the top with breadcrumbs, pressing into the dressing, until well coated. 
6. Spray with a little more olive oil.
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until cooked through. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cookbook Challenge: Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker

Yes, the project is still going on.  Today I tried a new chili recipe from Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker - Three Bean Chili with Chive-Flecked Cornmeal Dumplings.  I've adapted it slightly to accommodate the ingredients in my pantry and my personal taste.

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chili powder
One 28 ounce can giant tomatoes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can light kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp olive oil

1. Saute onion, garlic, and red pepper over medium heat until soft.  Add tomato paste and chili powder.  Add to crockpot.
2. Add tomatoes, beans, salt, and pepper.
3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
4. Mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, frozen corn, and milk, together.
5. Drop spoonfuls of cornmeal mixture into crockpot.  Replace lid, and either cook on low for another hour, or cook on high for 30-45 minutes.

Cookbook Review: Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker was the first crock-pot cookbook we purchased when we got our crockpot, and it's always the one I recommend to friends who say, "uh, I got a crockpot...how do I, like, make food?"  All of the meals are balanced, substantial, and delicious.  I've made several recipes from this book and never had a flop.  The directions are straightforward and easy to read, any weird vegetables have instructions for how to clean them and what they taste like, and the book is well organized.  You should definitely buy it.  And then make some chili.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lentil Chili

I've been looking for a copycat recipe for the TastyBite Madras Lentils for a little while without any luck, but tonight I was craving some healthy chili goodness so I found this recipe on AllRecipes.  I wound up adapting it quite a bit, but I love the use of the bulgar wheat.  It creates a similar mouthfeel to the ground beef substitute that we put in chili sometimes, but isn't so many questionable chemicals, and it's cheap.  And we have it in the house.

I adapted the recipe quite a bit, so this is what I did:
5-10 cloves garlic
1 cup lentils
1 cup bulgar wheat
1 onion chopped/1 tbsp dried onion
2 cans diced tomatoes
3 cups vegetable broth
2-4 tbsp chili powder
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup heavy cream (optional)

1.) Soak the lentils for an hour or so or boil them for a bit - maybe for about 10 minutes.
2.) Saute garlic and onion until clear.
3.) Add lentils and bulgar, then toss in tomatoes and juice, and vegetable broth.  Add chili powder and salt and pepper.
4.) Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 20-30 minutes, adding more water/broth if necessary.
5.) Once lentils are soft and delicious, serve up and add heavy cream to taste.  I find I need a bit of it to help offset the heat of the chili powder.

You could also do this in a crockpot by just tossing everything in and cooking for 4-6 hours on low.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Breakfast for Dinner

Last night, we had a breakfast for dinner new year's party.  We served a five course tasting menu, consisting of:
-yogurt with homemade granola
-chocolate chip waffles with fresh whipped cream
-sausage and garlic-spinach-feta frittata
-breakfast quinoa
-sweet potato quiche cups and ham
-deep fried french toast and bacon

I thought I'd share the recipes for breakfast quinoa, since I'd heard about people eating it for breakfast but never tried it, and the frittata.

Breakfast Quinoa (serves 4, or 8 for a tasting menu)  (cook's note: DO NOT PUT THIS IN YOUR RICE COOKER.  IT WILL DESTROY IT.)
2 cups milk
2 cups quinoa (rinsed)
1 cup water
1/2 cup craisins
2 tbsp cinnamon sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
1/4 cup brown sugar (optional)

1.) Combine milk, water, quinoa, craisins on a stove, stirring occasionally.  Cook on medium heat until fluffy for about 15 minutes, adding more water if desired.
2.) Add remaining cinnamon sugar, allow to cook until all liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat.  Add heavy cream and brown sugar.
3.) Serve with maple syrup.

Garlic-Spinach-Feta Frittata (serves 4, or 8 for a tasting menu)
4 eggs (6 would probably be better, we were running short)
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 bag spinach
4-6 cloves garlic
1 small onion
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 and use an oven safe skillet or stovetop pan.
1) Dice onion and garlic. Saute in olive oil or butter on medium heat until caralmelized.  Add spinach and saute until wilted.
2) Combine milk and eggs, add salt and pepper to taste.
3) Toss half the feta into the pan with the spinach, onions, and garlic.  Saute and spread evenly.
4) Add egg mixture and remaining feta on top of everything and continue to cook until about halfway cooked.
5) Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.  Enjoy!

Hoping 2012 brings you many delicious treats!