Thursday, September 22

Spicy Thai Tofu

It's has been brought to my attention that I seem to concoct a lot of recipes with tofu. (Liiiike here and here... that's right, taking over the world, one tofu dish atatime!). I like tofu, sorry if you don't. A lot. Like, a lot, a lot. I'm a huge fan of the consistency. Yum, mush! No, I'm serious. I eat it cold sometimes, right out of the package. Is that so wrong? You would do it too... because I know you eat peanut butter out of the jar. And it's not that much different.

OMG! Look how awesome this picture is! Thanks for the camera lend Jer!
I've come a long way in my relationship with tofu. Let's go back in time here for a minute. Long, long, ago (probably about 1 year) in a galaxy far, far away, (Newtown, PA) to a time when I was naive to the mysterious ways of the tofu. I needed a little help. Afraid to cook with tofu, aside from using it in place of chicken in the occasional stir-fry with the best Teriyaki sauce ever, I needed a little help. I got this recipe from Adam's (you've met him, my Sue) mom.

She's an amazing cook. Amazing. I aspire to be more like her (I'm not sucking up, I swear. Ok, I am a bit, but I really do mean that!). She always has a stocked cupboard full of baking supplies (including vanilla...and other things that I run out of), which I consider to be pretty impressive in itself! She taught me to make bread. She roasts a mean tomato (great for omelettes!). She introduced me to Penzey's, which... no, on second thought I won't get started on that again. And the list really does go on and on. 

But, I got this recipe from her. And I know I can always trust a recipe from her. And you can definitely trust this recipe from me. I made one tiny change, adding in some eggplant, well, mostly because it was going bad in my fridge.

Soundtrack: After that last uber-nerdy post about my not-so-secret-anymore love of spices, I sort of feel a need to share with you folks that I do have a life. I swear, it's real! I have real life, tangible friends. And I went to visit them last Friday and we did real life things. Like shake our shit on a boat and booze until all hours of the AM and eat delicious bbq. And I also want to share with my small, but OH SO appreciated, audience the talented and amazing sounds of Simon Green (aka Bonobo) who rules, dates one of my best friends, and is slowly becoming a great friend of mine. No embed code, so you'll have to click the link, but you should. Bonobo - Last FM

Spicy Thai Tofu
Recipe very slightly adapted from Bon Appetit (viewed on Epicurious)

2 tbsp olive oil
2 large red bell peppers, seeded, thinly sliced
1 c eggplant, cut into cubes
3 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 package extra-firm tofu, pressed for 20 minutes, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 scallions, thinly sliced
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
6-8 oz baby spinach leaves (just about 1/2 a 1 lb bag)
1/3 c fresh basil, chopped
1/3 c sesame seeds

Heat oil over medium heat in a saute pan. Add bell pepper, eggplant, garlic and ginger and saute until the eggplant begins to soften (about 4 minutes). Season with salt & pepper. Add tofu and scallions and cook another 2-3 minutes. 

Add soy sauce, lime juice and pepper flakes and toss to coat. Cook another 2-3 minutes. Add spinach leaves in small additions. Stir to combine until just wilted. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Remove from heat and toss in basil and peanuts. Serve over rice or with stir-fry noodles.

Step uno 
The dish!

Monday, September 19

Rosemary Cardamom Pumpkin Muffins

In a minute, muffins. But first...

I have a confession to make...

I have recently developed a huge nerdy obsession with shopping for spices.

In a super-food nerd sort of way, I found myself meandering through Penzey's Spices in Chestnut Hill for an hour or so this Sunday smelling every last spice. They display a jarred sample of each spice that features a description of the flavor and practical applications. I could get lost in there for days (and it's not even really that large). The place totally rules.

Some smell terrible, which is very interesting. But the majority are amazing. 

The best part about Penzey's is that the prices are really reasonable, with some even being cheaper than the grocery store (yea, I was shocked too, but cardamom is about 1/2 the price I've seen at Wegs). Most of the spices that aren't cheaper do actually say that you should use less anyway, as they are more potent.

The highlights? They have around four different varieties of Cinnamon (I needed it after my discovery of the Stop 'N Shop Cinnamon), Cardamom, Sweet Hungarian Paprika, Shallot Salt, Zatar... and then of course a long list of necessities for fall baked goods. 

The nerdiest part? Every time I go there or order online, I always try to grab one new spice or seasoning that I've never used before. Before I left on Sunday, I did a little research online to get some ideas. So I actually had settled on the shallot salt before I even left my house. I'm sure lots of people do this for lots of things. I don't. I don't plan well and I have no foresight. So this was huge for me, but it isn't the nerdy thing that I'm referring to. It's just the intro, but it's important because (take notes) I planned ahead.

I browsed around for a bit before finding the shallot salt. One whiff and I was convinced (it smells aaa-mazing) so I threw it in my basket (actually I placed it gently, since it's in a glass jar). 

So here's the nerdy part: I'm at the counter and the two (extremely nice) cashiers (who ruled) begin to comment on how much they love this shallot salt seasoning. I volunteer that I read about it online, etc, etc. They warned me to keep it away from humidity as it has a tendency to clump. Thank you, I explained, but I already knew this. I did my research. I was planning to keep it in the fridge. And then we had a pretty long intense conversation about well... shallot salt. It was beyond nerdy. 

Did I build that up too much? Maybe. Or maybe I just wanted to tell everyone how great I am now at being prepared. I'm so mature. Look at me!

Anyway, excited to use my new spices, when I got home I baked these delicious, yet healthy (as always! ok, ok, not always... ) pumpkin muffins. Some of you may have seen this basic recipe in a different incarnation here. I changed it up a bit, adapted if for fall. Still a very moist muffin, still very healthy, and maaayyybe an even better flavor this time around.

Soundtrack: Jamie XX - FACT Mix (No embed code, so ya gotsta click the link!)

Rosemary Cardamom Pumpkin Muffins
Yields about 20 muffins

3/4 c oat bran

3/4 c whole wheat flour
2/3 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp cardamom
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp salt
1 c. cooked pumpkin (I used a canned variety; just make sure not to buy pumpkin pie mix, that's different from canned pumpkin!)
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
2/3 c plain Greek yogurt
3 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 c apples, peeled and chopped finely
1/2 c walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oat bran, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, rosemary and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, egg, egg whites, yogurt, oil and apples.

Add wet ingredients to dry and fold in with a spatula, just to combine. Add walnuts in as few strokes as possible.

Divide batter into muffin tins 1/4 c at a time. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Action Action Oat Bran
Mmm.. Cinnamon!

Don't you love my silicone baking cups!?

PS This is what Jagger does all day on Sundays...

Tuesday, September 13

Carrot-Apple Soup with Lentils & Spinach

This morning felt like Monday to me. Which is odd, because right now, I swear it's Thursday.

But who knows, maybe I just need another brownie. Or to get a life.

Or maybe it's just because the anticipation of crisp weather has me doing things like making soup when the thermometer still reads 86F. Like throwing a heavy comforter on my bed that I just have to remove each night or suffer through being sweaty (I got a new duvet!). Like stocking up on cans of pumpkin at Wegmans. Like taking a shopping trip with my mom and buying a (super cute) winter hat (plan ahead much?) and sweater. Or drooling over pumpkin beers. 

Dear Fall, I made you soup. I'm ready. Now let's kill some leaves.

Soundtrack: Adam recommended:


Carrot-Apple Soup with Lentils & Spinach

3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 c. chicken stock (or vegetable, for vegetarian)
2 c. water
3/4 lb carrots, peeled and cut into thirds (size tends to vary)
3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 medium gala apples, peeled, de-cored and cut into quarters
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 tsp ground fennel seed
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp oregano
1 c lentils, rinsed
1 tbsp grated parmigiana-regianno cheese
4-5 heaping handfuls baby spinach
EVOO, Salt & pepper

In a small stock pot, heat a drizzle of EVOO. Add garlic and onions and saute until onions are clear and just beginning to brown.

Add stock, water, carrots, potatoes, apples, cinnamon stick and celery salt. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Bring heat up to high and cover. Once liquid begins to boil, remove lid, set heat to medium, and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, until carrots and potatoes are soft and can be pierced with a fork.

Once vegetables are cooked through, remove the cinnamon stick. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until it reaches a fairly smooth consistency. (A few lumps will add some character.)

Once soup is pureed, stir in the fennel seed, red pepper flakes, oregano and lentils and add the cinnamon stick back into the soup. Season again to taste with salt and pepper. Bring back to a boil. Once soup boils, reduce heat and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until lentils are cooked.

Stir in parmigiana-regianno, then stir in spinach, one handful at a time.

Serve with a fresh loaf of bread, with a nice crisp crust. But don't call it crusty.

Getting right down to the core of it...
A little this, a little that
Wet lentils feel like little pebbles..

Sunday, September 11

Ginger Spiced Brownies

Ok, after that last one I know I owe you guys something real. Because I'm just that loyal. 

Real brownies!
And because after traipsing around the mall and beyond with my mother yesterday I really needed a brownie. (read: after trying on clothes for a few hours and swearing to myself up and down that I'm going to start behaving myself, working out and eating well, I needed a brownie.) I'm sorta self motivated, too. Sue me.

But first, let's talk about how I watched The Departed last night. For the first time ever. It rules! If you haven't seen it, go watch it. Now. Yea, that's my in depth analysis of the movie. Hey, this is a FOOD BLOG after all!

You might not know this about me, but I'm totally the person in every conversation who has never seen the movie that everyone else is talking about. Trust me, if you're not this same type of person, you would definitely be balking at the list of acclaimed movies that I have never seen. I've been recently making an Adam-motivated effort to correct this, by apathetically viewing every movie he deems necessary. This may mean I'm watching an overwhelming amount of testosterone-approved cinema, but I guess I'm cool with that.

And hey, at least I've seen every Star Wars movie a few times over, or I have a feeling we just wouldn't be able to continue such an ill-founded relationship any longer.

PS. best picture ever? Yes.
Ok maybe this tops the Audrey/Ewok picture.
And one more thing before we get down the meat (or sugar and butter) of this post.

I'd like to take a moment to reflect upon the loss of life ten years ago today on 9/11/2001. Our generation will never forget the tragedy and the overwhelming sadness of the people of our nation. The memorial is breathtaking; the scene is unnerving. offers some brilliant and emotionally charged photos: here. As we carry on with our lives, we will always remember the innocent victims and those who gave up their lives as heroes.

Now then, these brownies are the real deal. They're chocolate. They're buttery. They're sugary. And unlike this experiment, they aren't a natural laxative. They're a cake-like brownie, infused with the tang of ginger and cinnamon. Just the right chocolate-y snack to get you in the mood for autumn. Ahh, autumn. 

One note though: I ground my cinnamon fresh. I did this because the only cinnamon I had in my pantry was from Stop 'N Shop, which means I bought it in Poughkeepsie, NY and I haven't lived there in about 6 years. Now I'm no expert and I don't know exactly how long cinnamon can be used for, but that scared me. So I threw it out and ground a stick. I mention this only because if you are using already ground cinnamon you might need a little more, since I'm assuming fresh ground is more potent. (I also just want to expose my spice disorganization to the world.)

Soundtrack: New album from The Rapture: In the Grace of Your Love. And! Check out the review over at DPC: here.
  The Rapture - In The Grace of Your Love by modularpeople

Ginger Spiced Brownies
Adapted from Joy of Cooking

1/2 c (1 stick) butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 c AP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 c sugar
1 tsp 
vanilla extract
3/4 tbsp
fresh ground ginger
1/2 tsp fresh ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and chocolate together, stirring until thoroughly combined. Set aside to cool. (I stick it in the fridge to bring it back to room temp. It's important that you allow this mixture to cool, though.)

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and cinnamon, until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and salt on high with an electric mixer until the eggs are light in color and have a foamy texture. Gradually beat in sugar and vanilla. Continue beating the mixture until it is thick. Beat in the ground ginger.

Switch to a spatula and stir in the COOLED chocolate and butter mixture in as few strokes as possible. Add the flour mixture and stir, using as few strokes as possible to combine.

Pour batter into a greased 9x11 pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cut once cooled and sprinkle with a light dusting of cinnamon.

Dis how we do!
Leave some for licking of course!


Thursday, September 8

Raw "Brownies"

No, not batter...

Oh baby I like it raw... 
Let's talk raw food.

I, for one, don't really understand the raw food diet. I mean, for starters, cooking (most!) foods makes them taste better (and that's obviously my main concern). Cooking kills bacteria and other things that aren't so great for you (HELLOOOO, ECOLI!?). And I'm going to go ahead and side with my man Alton Brown (swoon...) on this one, and argue that the ability and common sense that we, as humanoids, possess to cook our food, is really what sets us apart from the animals and we should make use of this skill frequently. Just to show off.

And yea, I know, just because I can do something, doesn't mean I should. We all know that. But just because because someone somewhere gets the idea that something is bad for me, doesn't mean it is (helloooo.. salt, carbs, etc) or that it's any worse for me than anything else I'm doing (Who wants to go grab a drink?). I'm just a skeptic. Furthermore, I just feel that life is all about balance and eating a raw food diet is a serious extreme that I'm just not ready (or willing!) to commit myself too. I can only be so healthy or I'd go crazy. 

Besides, what the HELL do you do with your stove/oven? Store off-season clothing? Or do raw kitchens just not have one of those? What if you have to boil water? Oh wait, can you even consume boiled water? See!? It's just such a confusing lifestyle.

But like they say, live and let live and I for one won't stick my neck out there and criticize any raw foodists. It's just not for me. And I gotta say, after making these "brownies," I also think some of them have some particularly good ideas.

That being said, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the raw-food "brownie." I refuse to remove the quotes, because I just won't consider it a sub for all that chocolatey-sugary-butter-gooeyness. Not even close. The taste is actually eerily similar to that of a brownie though and I have to say, if I hadn't actually eaten a real brownie in awhile, it might be totally fooled. I am actually pretty taken aback by how good this actually is. The consistency is more that of an energy bar though, so be prepared for that.

I found this recipe today and after reading all the comments touting how amazing and decadent (yes, someone used that word to describe something made mostly from dates and walnuts) these were, I just had to see if what all those health nuts were raving about was actually that good.

No, these ingredients aren't cheap. I'm just a person who is willing to drop $20 on a baking (or not...) experiment.  Medjool dates and raw cacao powder (although I'm sure unprocessed cocoa powder would be just find) probably aren't easy to find either. A friendly neighborhood Whole Foods should really be listed as ingredient number one. 

But now that I've tried it for you (and you know you can trust my taste buds) and I've certified it "More Than Edible" (and Organic!), I think you should give it a go as well. In the name of adventure.

Raw "Brownies"
Recipe from My New Roots

2 c walnuts
1 c
raw cacao powder¼ tsp kosher salt
2 ½ c Medjool dates, pitted
1 c raw unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
Put walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and run on high until they are finely ground. Add the cacao powder and salt, and pulse until fully combined.

With the food processor running on low, drop the dates in, one at a time, using the feed tube. Make sure to cover the tube after each date is added, as it will cause the ingredients to agitate and could be a potential mess. 

In a large bowl, stir the almonds into the cacoa-walnut-date mixture.

Line a cake pan with parchment paper (this is one instance, where cutting corners will help you!). Press the "brownie batter" into the pan, using your hands. It's not as sticky as you would think. Place the brownies in the freezer until cooled before cutting.

OMG! It looks like there's butter from this angle!

Back to basics

The best part? No waiting for it to cook!

Tuesday, September 6

Sesame Shrimp Fried Rice with Cabbage

I realized something tonight. And it's something I'm really awful at. Want to know what it is?


I don't think I have ever gotten a single question right before it's answered, even when I know that I know the answer. I crack under pressure. I'm more of a walnut, less of a Brazil nut (they're really hard to crack, vs walnuts, which are easy). Seriously, I read the question slowly and can't seem to focus. I think of the answer and then choke. And by that time, we've moved on to the next question anyway. Classic stage fright symptoms, you name it, it happens to me. Maybe it's the song. Who knows, but I feel the pressure.

This is why I think anyone who is actually good at Jeopardy is probably a robot. Ken Jennings, you, sir, are definitely a robot.

But let's talk about something I'm good at, shall we? Because that's more fun for me. 

Yea, it's food.. Good guess!
It's no secret, I love ginger.
I put it in cookies... 
And in my oatmeal...
I hang out with this ginger all the time...
It's also no secret that I love shrimp!

You've seen it over polenta...

And in burritos...
Scallions? Yes, please.  Sesame seeds? Sign me up. Fried rice? Sure! And this is brown fried rice with less fat that's actually not greasy? Ok, ok, I'll have two, thanks. So, here's an opportunity to make something easy, quick, and delicious for yourself. So you can be good at this food thing too! It's not just for robots.

And just to prove how much I love you, here is something hilarious to read so you can forget about how hungry all these pictures are making you, if it's not dinner time: funny stuff.

And here is some throwback music you can groove to:

Soundtrack: The Sounds - Myspace playlist

Sesame Shrimp Fried Rice with Cabbage
Adapted from Ellie Krieger 

4 c cooked brown rice, very cold (freezer cold)
1 drizzle EVOO
4 scallions, white and green parts, sliced thinly
1 tbsp ginger, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 lb small shrimp, deveined and peeled
4 c thinly sliced red cabbage, cut crosswise into 3 in pieces
2 large eggs
1 tbsp sesame oil
4 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame seeds, pan toasted until golden brown (about 1 minute)

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a wok or large pan over medium heat. Add scallions, ginger, garlic and shrimp. Cook about 2-3 minutes, until shrimp turn pink. Add cabbage and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes until cabbage begins to soften. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.

Spray a small fry pan with nonstick pan spray and drop 2 eggs into the pan. Fry until cooked through and chop into small pieces using the spatula.

Meanwhile, heat the sesame oil over medium heat in the same pan used for the shrimp and cabbage. Toss in the rice and cook for about 5 minutes, spreading it evenly, then stirring, then spreading it evenly again, about every 30 seconds.

Once the rice is heated, add soy sauce, eggs, shrimp and cabbage, and sesame seeds. Continue to cook until combined for another 2-3 minutes. Serve. 

Giant scallion. Huge.

Red cabbage... except it's really purple...
Work space... ready to fry!
Too much green here!
Yea purple! Finished product. I will take 2, thanks!

Friday, September 2

Spiced Craisin-Carrot Breakfast Cookies

Cookies. For breakfast. 
Best meal of the day
No, no, not Cooooookie Crisp.

I wish I could take credit for the idea, because I love when I have great ideas, but I can't. I found this fabulous idea here, from Joy the Baker. Her cookies are also vegan! I made them. It was my first vegan baking experience! The texture and consistency were phenomenal; I was so surprised/relieved. Joy, one of my all time favorite food bloggers (she's genuinely talented AND genuinely human), is the genius behind the cookies for breakfast revolution. Her post (which was adorable and you should read as well... right after mine of course) really took me back to childhood. When I all I wanted to do was be a grown up. Because grown ups do what they want, of course. If only I could just go back and shake myself, a la Billy Madison. Tell myself to pull a Peter Pan. Van Wilder my college years a bit. 

But you know what they say about seaweed.

But as adults, we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So what am I doing promoting these baked goods as your new favorite morning meal? These are actually good for you! These cookies contain all the right stuff to get you started in the AM in a more-fun-to-eat-than-muffins sort of way. These contain: 1) Greek yogurt for protein 2) Craisins for the antioxidants 3) Carrot for vitamins and beta-carotene 4) Oats for fiber 5) Ginger which is good for your immune system 6) Millet, a good source of minerals and fiber, and 7) Honey, which boosts your energy and is also great for your immune system. And I swear, they taste good. I always feel like I have to swear healthy things taste good. Sad. Anyway, they have a scone-like texture and spicy, yet sweet complexity.

So here's to eating cookies for breakfast... and feeling good about it too!

Chromeo by Chromeo

Spiced Craisin-Carrot Breakfast Cookies
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Yields 2 dozen cookies

1 1/2 c flour
1 c oats
3 tbsp dry millet
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (my favorite!)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c
greek yogurt
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/2 c honey
1 heaping c carrot, finely shredded
1/2 c dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, millet, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients. Use a spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet until combined. Allow the dough to stand for 5 minutes.

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or these amazing things:
Use a large table spoon to scoop dough out onto cookie sheets. Dough will be sticky, but try to flatten just a bit. Bake for 10 minutes. After removal from oven, allow to cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheets, before transferring to a drying wrack.

Carrots... for breakfast? Is that weirder than cookies?
Great grain!
Like laundry... folding.. duh
Little breakfast treats