Category Archives: Breakfast

Something for the vegetarians

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Today I have something for the vegetarians: I tried my hand at tofu! And it wasn’t terrible! In my quest for a different lunch this week (i.e. not salad), I stumbled upon this tofu recipe. I have to admit, I was pretty intimated. I have only made tofu once or twice before and every time, it was pretty bad. But for some reason, this tofu recipe caught my eye and I couldn’t forget it: I started to crave this tofu, even though I hadn’t tried it.

I decided to wrap this tofu up rather than sandwich it between bread: less messy, less bread-y, and I can pack more veggies into it! It is kind of an involved process: making the tofu, making the chipotle mayo, and then making the wrap. My advice? Whip up a batch of tofu and mayo when you have free-time (like 30 minutes before you want lunch) and make enough for the week. And then revel in the fact that your lunch is tastier and undoubtedly healthier than everyone else’s at the office 😉

Sweet-n-Spicy Seared Tofu

Adapted from a recipe at http://blogs.babble.com/family-kitchen/2011/09/16/easy-maple-tamari-seared-tofu/

Ingredients:

Seasoning rub:

  • Butt rub
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne
  • Chili powder
  • Salt and pepper

Marinade:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp paprika

Other:

  • 14 ounce block extra firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil

Directions:

1) Drain the water from your tofu. Squeeze dry with paper towels.

2) Slice tofu into 3/4 inch thick rectangles. Pat each individual rectangle dry with paper towel; set aside.

3) Mix together your spice rub; apply spice rub to both sides of tofu and let sit for a few minutes.

4) Mix together the marinade ingredients. Cover the tofu strips into the marinade; set aside for 10-15 minutes.

Ok, not so pretty. But tasty!

5) Add oil to a large nonstick skillet over high heat

6) When oil is hot, add the tofu to the pan (it will sizzle loudly but don’t move the tofu around: let it sit in pan uncovered). Cook 1-2 minutes per side.

7) Remove tofu from pan; let cool before serving.

Again, not as pretty as K Blog’s. Oh well.

Smoky Chipotle Mayo

Adapted from a recipe at http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2011/09/spicy-chipotle-tofu-sandwich.html

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup mayo or Vegenaise
  • 1 chipotle pepper, finely chopped (from a can of chipotle in adobo sauce)
  • 1 tbsp adobo sauce from chipotle can
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp each garlic powder, paprika, chili powder
  • Salt and pepper, to tasteSpicy Chipotle Tofu Sandwich Wrap
    Ingredients:
  • 1 wrap
  • 2 slices sweet-n-spicy tofu
  • 1 wedge Laughing Cow cheese spread
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp Chipotle Mayo
  • 2 planks of sweet-n-spicy tofu
  • Red-leaf lettuce
  • Tomato slices, chopped
  • Small handful shredded carrots
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • Slices of cucumber, chopped
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar/1 tsp olive oil


Directions:
1) Combine ingredients for chipotle mayo and place in fridge for at least ten minutes to chill.
2) Prep all of the veggies; gently toss in vinegar and olive oil.

3) Start assembling your wrap: heat wrap for 10 seconds in microwave. Spread Laughing Cow cheese spread on wrap; top with chipotle mayo and Dijon mustard. Add lettuce, tofu, tomato, cucumber, carrots, green onion, and avocado.

Review: The texture of the tofu wasn’t bad, thanks to the chewy and slightly crunchy exterior. I found the texture of the middle of the tofu a little weird for me but it wasn’t bad in the wrap. Very good flavor: sweet and mildly spicy, with a bit of smokiness.

I loved the chipotle mayo—so good! Again, mildly spicy, very smoky; flavors similar to those in the tofu but creamy instead of sweet; it kind of reminded me of Subway’s chipotle sauce. I toned down the mayonnaise-y taste by adding more chipotle sauce and brightened the flavor with lime juice.

The wrap as a whole was excellent: a ton of flavors and textures so my palate wasn’t bored. All of the veggies “hid” the texture of the tofu (you will have to excuse me, I’m still new to the ‘fu).

One note about tofu:  it is very moist. Like ridiculously moist. I used nearly an entire roll of paper towel drying it off. If you know of a better way to dry tofu, holla at me!

Moving on…

On a different topic, today I went back to healthy. It’s not that I haven’t been eating fairly healthy lately (bacon-piñata and epic sandwiches aside) but I have been struggling with working out. And I have been struggling with eating healthy as a life change and not as a temporary thing (aka a diet). I also get frustrated because I feel like I should be making huge strides (working out every day, never eating junk food, etc) and it’s tough and I get discouraged. So I am trying to reclaim “healthiness for life” in baby steps; one of my first steps was implementing yogurt for breakfast. I’ve read a lot about how adding low-fat/fat-free milk, yogurt, or cheese to your diet can aid in weight-loss but since I don’t really drink milk, I hadn’t considered it. But then I discovered Greek yogurt: 160 calories, no fat, and lots of proteins. I also discovered that I hated it: it made me gag and want to pitch it in the garbage. But after suffering through a week’s worth of flavored yogurt (strawberry, blueberry, peach, vanilla, etc), I accidentally ate the plain yogurt. And that, that one I like. It tastes a bit like sour cream, which can be off-putting, so I combated that by turning it into a sort-of-parfait. And now I have a mega-healthy breakfast that I kind of like (and being that I only kind of like it, I have been eating it for 2 weeks straight now and I’m not sick of it yet!).

Greek Yogurt Parfait

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz Greek yogurt, plain
  • 1 ½ tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Handful blueberries

Directions:

1) Stir honey and cinnamon into yogurt until well-mixed; add blueberries and enjoy.

Another step I am making towards healthy is a big step: 2-a-days. Basically, I am working out with Jillian Michaels twice a day between now and the end of next week. The deadline is because I am going out of town for a while; I figured that this intense period of time will be manageable because it isn’t permanent. It’s just a way to jump-start some weight-loss before transitioning into a more sustainable one-a-day workout. So I am doing Jillian’s Ripped in 30 DVD when I wake up and her yoga DVD before I go to bed. The Ripped in 30 is for body health, the yoga is for mental health. I just wanted to let you all know where it stands on my exercise; and to tell you, once again, how wonderful (awful?) Jillian’s workouts are. They are really designed to tear you down and build you up again; Jillian drives a hard workout and you hate her and your hate yourself for not being able to do it perfectly. But just when you think you can’t do it anymore, that you are going to give it, Jillian gives you an easier move to do and delivers a great motivational speech. And you find enough in you to carry on. I personally wonder if Jillian is the devil or a deity…

In my quest for a whole healthy day, I decided to make one of my favorite recipes for dinner: cod and mashed potatoes. I ran across this recipe at some point last year and The Boyfriend and I quickly made it one of our favorites. It was a bit of a hassle the first time that I made it but not that I’m familiar with the recipe, it’s pretty simple.

When writing this blog up, I realized that this is from the same source as to my favorite salsa recipe (that I will also be making this week)! Yay for Kayotic!

Steamed Cod and Taters

Adapted from a recipe at http://www.kayotic.nl/blog/steamed-cod-champ-and-mustard-sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ lb fresh cod
  • 1 ½ lb Yukon gold potatoes
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ – 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3 spring onions or 5 green onions
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • pepper and salt

Directions:

1) Peel the potatoes and boil them in lightly salted water until tender, about 25 minutes.

2) Mince the spring (or green) onions. Transfer them to a sauce pan, pour in the milk and when the potato timer has 10 minutes left, put them on the stove and simmer them over low heat for 5 minutes to soften up and heat the milk.

3) Stir heavy cream together with flour until smooth.

4) Heat broth; as soon as the broth starts to boil, pour in the cream/flour mix and stir intensely. Add water until you have a sauce consistency you like. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and Dijon mustard to taste.

5) Season the fish with salt and pepper; steam fish for 8 to 10 minutes.

Bamboo steamers are amazing–get one now if you don’t already have one. And don’t be afraid to really pack that fish in there.

6) Drain the potatoes, add the butter and mash them. Pour in the hot milk with scallions and a good bit of pepper; stir until well mixed.

7) To serve: divide the taters over the plates, top it with the steamed cod, and spoon mustard sauce on top.

***Ok, so this one is a little hard to veg-ify but I suppose if you replaced the chicken broth with veg broth, and found a good substitute for the cod (maybe roasted veggies?) than it could be done). You could even make it vegan if you used milk and butter replacements.***

Ok, I know it might sound a little weird to put fish on top of mashed potatoes and to cover the whole thing with mustard sauce. I know: it sounds a little bizarre. But don’t think of it as bizarre: think of it as exotic! And after you try one bite, you won’t be thinking of anything except how delicious it is. Talk about a party in your mouth! It’s exciting and it still tastes and feels like comfort food. Mmm…

Just like the blogger at Kayotic suggests, I always serve this with baked carrots. Besides the fact that these are delicious, the carrots are really easy to make; add that to the exotic Indian flavor and the great color pop on the plate next to the white fish and mashed potatoes, and you;ve got a hit!

My Favorite Carrots

Adapted from a recipe at http://www.kayotic.nl/blog/easy-baked-carrots

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb carrots
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • Cinnamon, ground cumin, curry powder, ground ginger, and cayenne, to taste
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees; line a cookie sheet or roasting pan with tin foil.

2) Peel carrots and halve them lengthwise.

3) Combine butter with all of the seasonings and garlic. Add the butter mix to the carrots; use your hands to make sure every carrot is covered. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and black pepper over the carrots.

4) Cover the baking tray tightly with aluminum foil. Place them in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.

5) After 40 minutes, remove the top foil; drizzle with about 2 tsp of olive oil and cook for another 10-15 minutes without the aluminum foil, until they’re slightly browned and caramelized.

Before I wrap it up today, I just wanted to tell you about a few big things in my life: I have 2 job interviews this week (yay!) and I am going to a burn in Atlanta in 2 weeks (double yay!). In addition, I will be spending a few weeks after the burn in Atlanta with my mom. The last one is not really a yay but I am looking forward to spending time with my mom and my friends in ATL. Expect to see a lot more vegetarian recipes while I’m there because my mom is a recent convert to vegetarianism. So my blog question for the day is: what’s your favorite vegetarian recipe??

Until next time…

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Farmers’ Market

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Farmers’ Market

I meant to post this on Saturday but I got behind so happy belated blog! On Saturday The Boyfriend and I checked out the renowned Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market. Every Saturday, the farmers’ market takes over downtown Troy; Troy closes off a few streets and close to 80 local vendors set up shop for four hours. I was super excited to see (and shop!) locally: I have never had the opportunity to buy meat, dairy, and accoutrements from local farms. In south Florida, there was a gigantic flea market that I used to frequent to buy cheap produce and the best Mexican food around, so I was doubly excited to find a replacement for my previous favorite Saturday excursion.

The Boyfriend and I decided to try to get as much of our weekly shopping done at the market as possible so we withdrew $60 for shopping (leaving about $30 for things we could only get at the grocery store). We got some great stuff for $55 (we had $5 left over!); I listed it all out because you’ll be seeing it on recipes throughout the week:

-1 lb ground beef and 1.6 lb beef spare ribs (Bornt Family Farms)

-1.3 lb chicken wings (Homestead Farms; antibiotic and hormone free)

-1 (huge) bunch kale

-1 zucchini, 1 squash

-1 lb Yukon gold potatoes

-1 bunch garlic scape

-1 tub sundried tomato and chive schmear Argyle Cheese Farmer

-1 tub Gar-la-la (vegan, raw garlic spread) from Zorba’s Natural Food

-1 22oz Hefferveisen from Brown’s Brewing Company (local brewery)

-6 oz locally made pasta from Flour City Pasta (sweet potato shells, red pepper crested rigate, lime tubes, carrot thyme radiatori)

-1 quart chocolate milk from Battenkill Valley Creamery

-1 bagel (Our Daily Bread)

-12 jumbo eggs (Cornell Farm)

On the wish list for next week is pesto from Buddha Pesto, pickles, sauerkraut, or kimchee from The Pickle Club, and some local wine! But for this week, The Boyfriend and I have planned out:

*Creamy Chicken Pasta and Raw Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

*Korean-Style Short Ribs with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and a salad

*Buffalo Wings with Cheese-Stuffed Zucchini/Squash and a salad

*Asian Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps with Sautéed Kale and salad

Now! The recipe. I had a cooked chicken breast left over from the week, as well as some mushrooms and orange pepper so I decided to combine leftovers with fresh goods to make an easy, healthy(ish), and fast dinner; for this recipe, I also used the schmear, garlic spread, and my local pasta.

Creamy Chicken Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz tri-color spiral pasta
  • 8 oz chicken breast; seasoned, cooked and chopped
  • 4 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
  • Half an orange pepper, diced
  • Half a white onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp schmear or cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: 2 tbsp Gar-la-la

Directions:

1) Put a pot of water on the stove to boil; add dash of olive oil and salt to water.

2) While waiting for your water to boil, heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, onion, and garlic to pan; cook 3-4 minutes.

Freakishly large garlic clove!

3) Add mushroom and red pepper to pan; cook another 3-4 minutes.

4) Turn heat down to medium; add schmear, milk, and Gar-la-la (if using). Stir until schmear melts and milk and schmear is incorporated.

5) Add chopped chicken, salt and pepper, and dill.

6) Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all ingredients are incorporated. Turn off the burner and take the skillet off the heat; add lemon juice just before serving.

If I wasn’t going for healthy, bacon would be a great addition to this recipe; spinach would also be a tasty compliment to the pasta. Or sundried tomatoes! Or rosemary instead of dill, mmm. Or… I should probably stop before I get carried away. The point is, this recipe is pretty versatile and you really can add or omit ingredients at your discretion. I can’t recommend the garlic spread enough though—shit is baller. Tastes great on everything—bread, crackers, chips, pasta; you get the idea.

For the side dish, I decided to serve some of the giant bunch of kale that I bought. I didn’t want to serve it the way I normally do (sautéed with garlic and olive oil) since the pasta was already garlicky. Instead I decided to go out on a limb and make a raw kale salad. Kale can be a bit bitter (and, as The Boyfriend says, tastes “too plant-y”) but I read a few online recipes that recommended removing all of the stem to tackle the bitterness problem; the recipes also recommended soaking the kale in salad dressing  to soften it up and give it some flavor.

Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • ¼ bunch kale
  • ¼ cup cup shredded carrots
  • 6 slices of cucumber, quartered
  • 1 roma tomato, chopped
  • ¼ cup roasted chickpeas
  • ½ cup salad dressing

Directions:

1) Wash kale; completely remove all stem pieces and chop kale into bite-sized pieces.

2) Add kale and salad dressing to Ziploc bag; squish bag to make sure kale is completely covered in dressing. Place kale bag in fridge and let chill for 15-20 minutes.

3) When kale is ready, put kale in bowl with other salad ingredients; toss.

Roasted Chickpeas  

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Seasoning of your choice (I used paprika, salt, pepper, red pepper, and garlic powder)

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400o; line a baking sheet with tinfoil.

2) Add chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, and seasonings to bowl. Mix well.

3) Spread chickpeas onto baking sheet and put baking sheet into oven; bake for 20-25 minutes stirring chickpeas occasionally.

Once roasted, the chickpeas can be eaten as a snack as well as a salad-topper; The Boyfriend really enjoyed them and compared their texture and taste to peanuts.

The salad was pretty good; The Boyfriend thought it was still too plant-y but I thought it tasted fine. I’m also a big fan of tomato, cucumber, and shredded carrots so it was an easy sell for me.

And they say money can’t buy you happiness

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And they say money can’t buy you happiness

I didn’t do much cooking last week as I was on Spring Break and in New York(!) but I still managed to eat some good stuff.

If you’re a foodie and you have never been to New York City, I highly recommend it. There are endless options and the only problem is that it is unlikely you have the amount of money or the tummy-space to try everything. They have food in carts on the streets, in chain stores, in hotel lobbies, and even in train stations. Case in point: Grand Central Station.  There are over 35 places to buy food in Grand Central alone. One of the first things I saw was this bakery:

This is one-half or so of the bakery; I couldn’t get the entire establishment in one shot. Whoa.

The Boyfriend and I tried our best to cross  off as many eateries as possible off of our “Places to Eat in NY” list, starting with the Shake Shack!

I have heard that the Shake Shack is one of the quintessential places to go for a burger while you’re in NYC. Had I known that the Shack was outside, I probably would have skipped it, seeing as it was in the upper 30s that day; but boy am I glad that we went! The Boyfriend and I got our first taste of NY by sharing a burger, a NY style dog, fries, and a chocolate shake. Talk about burger nirvana; so good that I forgot to take a picture! The burger was everything a cheeseburger should be: melty, chewy, soft bun, secret sauce. The hot dog was different than any one I’d ever had: it had texture, you had to chew it! It clearly wasn’t liquefied meat piped into casing. And topped with sauerkraut and mustard, it was just the way I like it. After tasting the shake, I understand why they are called Shake Shack. The chocolate shake was creamy but not too much so, and tasted like decadent slightly dark chocolate. It was perfectly balanced so that it was sweet enough that you wanted the whole shake, rather than the average fast food milkshake: so sickly-sweet that you only want a little.

We didn’t get to eat here but I really wanted to. We were on our way to Katz’s when we ran across this place. They serve pomme frites (or as us commoners call them, french fries) with a ton of different mayo-based sauces. This place is definitely on the check-list for next time.

We made a stop at the infamous Katz’s Deli.

We got the classic pastrami on rye. It was pricey but definitely worth it. Layers and layers and layers (do you see how tall that sandwich is?) of pastrami with just a little bit of mustard. It may not sound like much but Katz’s does simple perfectly; no bells and whistles needed. The two pickles served alongside it were great too; the light green pickle in front tasted more like cucumber than pickle (and yes, I am aware that pickles are pickled cucs). The Boyfriend wasn’t a fan but I found it interesting and refreshing.

On our second (and unfortunately last) day in the city, we hit up China Town.

China Town is a culinary dream! So many markets with seafood, spices, fruit; I wish I could have done some food shopping here, but unfortunately we were on our way to Albany that evening.

I have never seen so many dried (theoretically) edibles! What does one do with dried sea cucumber?

Our last stop was at Grimaldi’s Pizza in Brooklyn. We had been advised by a friend of ours that this was where to go for the best pizza in Brooklyn. On the way from Manhattan to Brooklyn, The Boyfriend and I got pretty lost; as we were bumbling around sniping at each other, hungry and worried about the train we had to catch at Penn Station is just a couple of hours, it started to hail. Never has anyplace looked so good as when we saw Grimaldi’s and got to go inside out of the cold and hail.

Unfortunately, the first sign we saw said “No slices.” The second sign read “Cash only.” Thankfully we had enough time (and enough cash) to grab a whole pie. And I think I know why those 2 signs exist: no one should ever have just 1 slice of Grimaldi’s, it is just too good. And if we didn’t have to pay cash, I’m pretty sure we would have bought a second pizza to take with us. As it was, we had to be content with a large pizza (with pepperoni and mushrooms).

We were halfway through the pizza before I remembered that I needed to get a photo.

And then of course we had to get dessert.

Easily the best cannoli I have ever had (and the only one that The Boyfriend has ever had! When he saw it arrive, he asked me if it was some kind of deep-fried tortilla with ice-cream filling).

We spent much longer in Albany than we did in the city and we found a few good eateries there as well, but nothing that really compared to the food in NYC (but really, what can?). Well, I will make an exception for Cheesecake Machismo. Apparently it is one of Albany’s highest rated restaurants and it exclusively serves cheesecake. The Boyfriend and our 2 friends and I decided to split half of a Frankencake: a cheesecake made up of any 6 slices of their flavors-of-the-day.

We chose (from left to right): Purple Nurple (black raspberry Chambord cheesecake with double chocolate ganache on top); Chocolate Chip Fasciana; Sponkey Monkey; Coconut Smores; Chocolate Buzz (rich chocolate coffee cheesecake, double chocolate ganache, oreo crumbles, and a dark chocolate covered espresso bean on each slice); and Hazelnut Black Cherry.

It was glorious. I don’t know that I have ever had such delicious cheesecake. Going into it, I was most suspicious of the hazelnut-black cherry slice; it just sounded like all of the bad fake flavors from a candy store rolled into one. I was happily mistaken and it wound up being my favorite slice!

We tore our way through those 6 slices like we were cross-country skiers tearing down a mountain. We immediately felt over-full and sleepy and kind of ill; symptoms of a cheesecake hangover.