Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Spinach & Artichokes In Puff Pastry

Tonight I went to a sangria social with my women's group and we all needed to bring an appetizer or dessert (no sangria on an empty stomach!). It was at 6:30 and I clearly do not have time to make anything from scratch between work and that, so I found this genius recipe for a fancy little appetizer that can mostly be made ahead of time. I made it last night at like 10pm but according to the recipe you could make it three months ahead of time. It's super quick and super simple, freeze it into a log, then slice it up and bake it. Delicious. And guess how many I brought home with me today? Zero. Because people ate all of them. Score. I'd definitely recommend this for your upcoming holiday parties!

pastry

Spinach and Artichokes In Puff Pastry
Southern Living: Top-Rated Recipe, November 2000

You can make them ahead, slice them, freeze in a single layer, then transfer to a freezer ziploc bag. Just bake them right before serving.

10 ounces frozen chopped spinach -- thawed
14 ounces artichoke hearts -- drained and chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
17 3/10 ounces frozen puff pastry

1. Drain spinach well, pressing between layers of paper towels.

2. Stir together spinach, artichoke hearts, and next 5 ingredients.

3. Thaw puff pastry at room temperature 30 minutes. Unfold pastry, and place on a lightly floured surface or heavy-duty plastic wrap. Spread one-fourth spinach mixture evenly over pastry sheet, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Roll up pastry, jellyroll fashion, pressing to seal seam; wrap in heavy-duty plastic wrap. Repeat procedure with remaining pastry and spinach mixture. Freeze 30 minutes; cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. (Rolls may be frozen up to 3 months.)

4. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Yield: 4 dozen

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gruyere, Apple, and Sage on Rye

In my quest for fancy grilled cheeses, this was the next on my list to try. Honestly, I did not love it at all. I don't know why. It just didn't do it for me. Sad.

Martha says:
Crisp apple combined with a creamy, nutty Gruyere balances the earthiness of sage and rye.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

S'Mores Cookie Bars

So as if I don't have enough to do in life, I'm in love with Pinterest. I avoid recipes more often than not, because I am a snob, but I do take food ideas (especially ideas for shots and cocktails!). However, a friend pinned this the other day and I simply couldn't ignore it. Not only did I save it, but I made it. Already. Today.

And I will make it again because OH MY GOD. These are incredible. I would make them for guests and for parties and for any occasion I can think of. BEST BEST BEST. Directly into the favorites folder.

smores

smores

S'more Cookie Bars
Baked Perfection via Pinterest

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (approximately 7 full graham crackers)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 super-sized (5 oz.) dark chocolate bars (e.g. Hershey’s)
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Place chocolate bars over dough. Two 5 oz. Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick. Spread marshmallow fluff evenly over the chocolate layer.

4. Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff. This is most easily done by putting the second half of the dough in a gallon size freezer bag. Use your palms to flatten it out, and then use scissors to cut down both long sides of the bag, so it will open up book-style. Open it up carefully, and the dough will stick on one side of the bag. Then place the bag, dough side down, on the other three layers. From there peel the bag up ad spread the dough where it is uneven.

5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars

Yield: 16 cookie bars

Toasted Millet with Harissa and Sweet Potatoes

I got a pressure cooker as a wedding gift and was so excited when I got it, because I'd used one in an Indian cooking course I took with my mom and was so excited to be able to cook rice and beans quickly. But then I got scared of it. I was suddenly terrified that it would explode and beans and rice would go everywhere or I would get burned with scalding water or what have you. I know, I know. It happens, but rarely. And not with newer models so much. But still! Terrified. So it remained in my basement.

Well, I'm on a whole kick of making myself conquer fears and try new things as much as possible, so I decided that Tonight Is The Night I would try the pressure cooker. And you know what? Ridiculously easy. Ridiculous. This is wonderful because it means I can use it more. Hoorah! And it was exciting especially because the millet and sweet potatoes took all of 8 minutes to cook. Eight! Beautiful.

pressure

So on to the food. This was pretty good. Nothing special. More of just an exciting vehicle to try out the pressure cooker. I already had everything on hand so it made sense. Yes, I have harissa in the refrigerator, and yes, I have millet:

millet

I wouldn't make it again, but I enjoyed eating it. So there.

millet

Toasted Millet with Harissa and Sweet Potatoes
Vegetarian Times, Jan/Feb 2011

Harissa is a spicy red chile paste used to season North African dishes, such as couscous and tagines. Here, it adds gentle heat to a stew of millet, sweet potatoes, and spinach.

2 teaspoons olive oil
10 ounce container diced onions -- or 1 large onion, diced (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups millet
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 large sweet potato -- peeled and cubed (3 cups)
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 teaspoons harissa paste
5 ounce bag baby spinach -- leaves thinly sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1. To make Stew: Heat oil in pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Add onions, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft. Stir in millet, cumin, turmeric, and coriander, and cook 3 minutes more, stirring constantly. Add sweet potato, broth, and harissa.

2. Close pressure cooker, and bring up to high pressure. Cook 9 minutes.

3. Release pressure with quick-release button, or transfer pressure cooker to sink, and run cool water over rim to release pressure.

4. To make Vinaigrette: whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, oil, maple syrup, and lemon zest in small bowl. Stir spinach and Vinaigrette ?into millet mixture until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Servings: 6

Vermont Maple Syrup Muffins

I was really excited for these muffins because maple syrup is delicious, and I was really disappointed with these muffins because they were not at all what I was expecting. They looked and tasted like I had made them with Bisquick. In fact, they actually just tasted like a muffin-pancake. This is not necessarily a bad thing and probably would be great for a quick breakfast in the morning, but I was expecting something cakier and less biscuity. I wouldn't make these again.

muffin

Vermont Maple Syrup Muffins
Joy of Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup melted butter

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk egg, milk, syrup, and butter. Gradually pour this egg mixture into a well in the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir quickly. Batter will be lumpy. Do not overbeat or muffins will be tough. Spoon into greased muffin cups and bake at 400F until brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Yield: 1 dozen

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Breakfast

What to do with leftover stuffing? Have an amazing day-after-Thanksgiving breakfast, obviously. Smush the stuffing up into little patties, pan fry in some olive oil, top with fried egg. Best thing ever.

stuffing

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chinese Orzo Vegetable Salad

I've had this recipe forever and never bothered to try it. I made it tonight. Super easy-peasy. I skipped the celery because I didn't want any, and that's that. Good choice all-around. I liked this. It would make a great lunch. I would make this again.

orzo

Chinese Orzo Vegetable Salad
CLBB

Salad:
1 1/2 cups orzo
2 quarts boiling water
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
2 cups asparagus, sliced on the diagonal
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup canned baby corn, cut in half
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 scallions, thinly sliced

Dressing:
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium
1 teaspoon chili paste
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
2 cloves garlic, minced

1. Cook the orzo in a large pot of boiling water for 10 to 12 minutes, until al dente, sitrring frequently. Drain the orzo in a colander with small holes or with a strainer, rinse with cold water, and transfer to a serving bowl. Toss the orzo with the sesame oil and set aside.

2. Blanch the asparagus in boiling water to cover for 3 minutes, until just tender, then briefly submerge in cold water to help maintain their bright green color. Add the bell peppers, baby corns, celery, scallions, and asparagus to the orzo.

3. Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and pour it over the orzo and vegetables. Gently toss to coat everything evenly with the dressing and serve.

Servings: 6

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving and Stuffing

Well, here's the situation with Thanksgiving: my family is in chaos right now. We are dealing with a lot of family emergencies all at one time, so it ended up just being me and my mom. We ate in front of the TV and watched Arrested Development. That was not so bad. As a result of the chaos, though, we only made a few things. All the standards that are the true definition of Comfort Food in my household. Except pie. I didn't make pie. I know, shock, right? And since it was just two of us and I don't eat meat, we nixed the turkey. So this is what we had:

*My mom's cheeseball
*Lipton soup onion dip
*Mashed potatoes
*Green Bean Casserole
*Roasted Brussels Sprouts
*Rolls from Trader Joe's

food

We also had stuffing. And I've decided I might as well share that recipe here now. My mom has made this super-simple stuffing my entire life, and she got the recipe from her mom. The closest I've found is this Betty Crocker recipe. The night before Thanksgiving, my mom tears up the bread (standard white bread from the store), chops up the onion (Vidalia) and celery, pours on the pepper and sage (no thyme), and mixes it up in this huge tupperware container that is at least 10 years older than me. She doesn't cook the onion or celery, just tosses them in. Then she melts 2 sticks of butter and pours that over everything, stirring it in. And then she covers it up and leaves it overnight so all the flavors mush together. She used to put it all into the turkey, but then I stopped eating turkey so she'd make a smaller pan of stuffing just for me, and then she just started making a huge pan of stuffing for everyone. So, since it doesn't get moisture from The Bird, she pours vegetable stock over it before baking so it doesn't get all dried out. And thus our perfect herb stuffing comes to fruition. Here is the Betty Crocker recipe that I found that is close to it.

The other secret with this stuffing is the Morning After Thanksgiving amazing breakfast: smush the stuffing into a little patty, pan-fry it in a little bit of butter or olive oil, and top with a fried egg. Oh my gosh. Heaven.

Bread Stuffing
Betty Crocker


3/4 cup butter or margarine
2 large celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
9 cups soft bread cubes (15 slices)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Melt butter in 4-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook celery and onion in butter 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Remove Dutch oven from the heat.

2. Gently toss celery mixture and remaining ingredients, using spoon, until bread cubes are evenly coated.

3. Use to stuff one 10- to 12-pound turkey. Or to bake stuffing separately, grease 3-quart casserole or rectangular baking dish, 13x9x2 inches. Place stuffing in casserole or baking dish. Cover with lid or aluminum foil and bake at 325°F for 30 minutes; uncover and bake 15 minutes longer.

Yield: 10 servings

Greek Pizzettes

Monday I did cook! Monday I made Greek Pizzettes. I had found some great locally-made onion-fig jam and wanted to use it. It was delicious. I didn't have fresh figs, but dried ones actually worked just fine. So that was nice. I give myself a pat on the back for that.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash, Rosemary, and Garlic Lasagna

Look! I made a very intricate dinner. It makes up for the lack of cooking. This really was very involved and I have half my kitchen in my dishwasher now as a result. It took about 2 hours from start to finish. But I didn't skip any steps! I even used my little aerator to whip the cream (I swear, that was a genius idea on my part awhile back - whipped cream or egg whites in less than 2 minutes? Best.).

This was wonderful. It's one of these recipes I've had for a long time and always want to make but it's too complicated to make on a weekday so I always put it off. And as I was making it, I was very nervous because it occurred to me that it's really just noodles, squash, and a LOT of milk. But it was great! It was really, really good. I would make it for guests; that's how good it was. I had it with some rosemary ciabatta. Delicious!

lasagna

Roasted Butternut Squash, Rosemary, and Garlic Lasagna
Cooking Light, November 2004

This dish is easy to divide into make-ahead steps. Roast squash and prepare white sauce the night before, then layer lasagna up to six hours before the party. Just before guests arrive, top with cream and the last layering of Parmesan cheese, then bake.

8 1/4 cups cubed peeled butternut squash -- (1/2-inch) (about 3 pounds)
Cooking spray
4 cups fat-free milk -- divided
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt -- divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces precooked lasagna noodles
3/4 cup grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano -- (3 ounces) divided
1/2 cup whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Arrange butternut squash in a single layer in a large roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Coat squash with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 25 minutes or until squash is just tender, stirring once. Set aside.

3. Lower oven temperature to 350°.

4. Combine 3 1/2 cups milk and rosemary in a 1-quart glass measuring cup, and microwave at high 5 minutes or until mixture begins to boil. Let stand 10 minutes. Strain milk through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard rosemary.

5. Lightly spoon all-purpose flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and remaining 1/2 cup milk, stirring flour mixture with a whisk until well blended to form a slurry.

6. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute or until tender, stirring constantly. Stir in steeped milk, and increase heat to medium-high. Gradually add slurry to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook 15 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Combine milk mixture and squash, tossing gently.

7. Spread about 1 1/2 cups squash mixture into the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over squash mixture; top with 2 cups squash mixture and 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat layers once with 3 noodles, 2 cups of squash, and 1/4 cup of cheese. Top with 3 noodles.

8. Beat whipping cream and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt with mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Spread the whipping cream mixture over noodles; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until golden. Let stand 10 minutes.

Servings: 8

Vegetarian Reubens

I KNOW. I KNOW I DID NOT COOK ALL WEEK. I made my black bean soup and then I ate that all week long. So it's not like I ate frozen meals or take-out, I just didn't feel like making anything new. Gosh.

Last night I did made Vegetarian Reubens, which are one of my favorite vegetarian sandwiches. So yummy. And the fun part is that I had them with Alexia Sweet Potato Puffs, which are sweet potato tater tots. There is absolutely nothing that is not awesome about that sentence. It was a nice dinner. And I swear to you I am trying really hard this week. Plus this week is Thanksgiving so that's a day when I definitely will be cooking!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Black Bean Soup

I still have a ridiculous amount of dried beans from my old boss in Maryland. That means they are about 3 years old. How long do dried beans survive for? The internet tells me that they can last for years but may require longer cooking time to soften. I did not find this to be the case, but I also soaked the beans for like 10 hours because I started them right when I woke up this morning. So by about 6:00 my 3-year-old beans were ready to make into a soup. This came together easily and, although it cooks for an hour, it was relatively hands-off. I did make the crema (using sour cream instead of actual crema) and the hard boiled egg. I know it's weird, but this is not the first time I have put hard-boiled egg into soup. And it worked very well and was very tasty. I must be lacking in protein lately to be constantly craving beans and eggs. Weird, right? Oh well. This was really good. It's a nice, solid black bean soup recipe. I'd keep it around but I have a feeling there are better recipes out there, and when I find them, my dried beans will still be waiting.

beans

Black Bean Soup
Cooking Light, October 2009

1 cup dried black beans
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil -- divided
3/4 cup chopped onion
7 garlic cloves -- minced and divided
2 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1/4 cup no-salt-added tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
4 ounces chopped green chiles
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 jalapeño pepper -- seeded
1/4 cup crema Mexicana
3 hard-cooked large eggs -- peeled and finely chopped
Fresh cilantro leaves

1. Sort and wash beans, and place in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water; cover and let stand for 8 hours. Drain beans.

2. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; cook 4 minutes, stirring often. Add 5 garlic cloves; cook 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beans, broth, and next 7 ingredients (through chiles); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until beans are tender. Let stand 10 minutes.

3. Place half of bean mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid; secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid. Process until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining mixture. Return soup to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring often.

4. Finely chop 1 cup cilantro and jalapeño. Combine 2 tablespoons oil, 2 garlic cloves, cilantro, jalapeño, and crema. Ladle 1 1/4 cups soup into each of 4 bowls; top each with 2 tablespoons crema. Sprinkle soup with eggs. Garnish with cilantro leaves, if desired.

Servings: 4

Sunday, November 13, 2011

For Future Reference

First of all, I just got a tattoo on my right shoulder and my right (dominant) arm is killing me so my guess is I will be eating leftovers tonight. Hell no am I going to cut up butternut squash to make a very involved lasagna that I'd had planned. I'll go for something easy instead. Sorry.

I felt it was important though to post an addendum to yesterday's Ancho-Coffee Chili. I wanted to eat a hearty breakfast before going for the tattoo because otherwise I'd get light-headed and no one needs that. Feeling somewhat inspired, I warmed up the chili from last night, topped with a fried egg, and served myself with toast and coffee. It was The Best Breakfast. And I am about 99.9% certain it would be massively amazing after a night of heavy drinking. This automatically bumps the recipe from a "maybe" to a "make again." And this, my friends, is one of the reasons why I do the lunchbox test. Sometimes things work out better the next day.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ancho-Coffee Red Bean Chili

When I mentioned this on twitter, a few people reacted with a "ew, coffee? in chili?" type of response. Just like how sometimes chocolate is a secret ingredient in Mexican food, so too is coffee. I promise, you don't even notice it. It makes the chili have a stronger, deeper flavor but not in a coffee-like way. This was very simple but was really good. I enjoyed it. I would keep the recipe around, though I don't know if I'll make it again. I saved some in tupperware so we'll have to see how it does tomorrow. If it passes the lunchbox test, it may turn out to be a make-again after all!

chili

Ancho-Coffee Red Bean Chili
VeggieMealPlans.com

Recipe loosely adapted from "Red Bean Chili with Ancho Chiles and Coffee" from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop, p. 368. Measurements are approximate.

This chili always brings me nice memories of our trip to Alaska last year. I made a double batch the week before we drove up and froze it in two-serving portions to pack along for a couple of dinners around the campfire at night. It was such a warm and comforting meal, and even though everything seems to taste good when you're camping and you're cold, damp and hungry, I can assure you this chili tastes just as good when we're in the comfort of our cozy home - and it's even tastier leftover.


1 tablespoon oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cups of diced canned tomatoes, including the juice
3/4 cup brewed coffee
1 1/2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon minced chipotle in adobo, or to taste (optional)
2 1/2 cups cooked red beans, drained
Handful of chopped, fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion until softened and lightly browned. Stir in garlic, chile and cumin and cook one minute. Add the tomatoes, coffee, water, bay leaf, chipotle (if using) and beans. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take off the lid and simmer chili to desired thickness. Remove and discard bay leaf. Stir in cilantro.

Yield: 3-4 servings

Fudge Brownies

I jinxed myself. When I started making this, I was SURE that it was going to be The Perfect Brownie Recipe. But I was wrong! It was really good, but I think it hyped itself up too much. I suppose I'm still on the quest for the perfect brownie. Good thing I have a bazillion recipes to try!

brownie

Fudge Brownies
King Arthur Flour

Fudgy, cakey, fudgy, cakey... can't make up your mind? If you're looking for a brownie that's right in between those two styles, you've found it. These brownies combine a fudge brownie's ultra-moist texture with a subtle cake-like rise, for the best of both worlds.

Our guarantee: These brownies, deep chocolate brown inside with a lighter-colored top crust, will be about 3/4" to 1" tall when cut. They'll be ultra-moist without crossing the line into gooey/underbaked.


8 ounces unsalted butter -- (2 sticks)
15 3/4 ounces sugar
4 large eggs
3 3/4 ounces Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-Process Cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 1/4 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
12 ounces chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan

2. In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it's hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.

3. While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth.

4. Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.

5. Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.

6. Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan.

7. Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Spicy Korean Tofu with Pear Slaw

I could not freaking find gochugaru. But I did find a sauce in the Asian aisle of the grocery store that had gochugaru in it. So I used that instead and just reduced the amount of soy sauce to balance it out. This turned out pretty well. The pear slaw was a little pointless and meh, but the tofu was very good. I don't think I would make it again though, since I have a better Korean Tofu recipe already. Oh well!

tofu

Spicy Korean Tofu with Pear Slaw
Vegetarian Times, September 2011

Gochugaru, a Korean red pepper powder with a distinctly sweet heat, is used to season this braised tofu dish. It’s worth seeking out and having in your spice pantry, but if you can’t find it, you can substitute red pepper flakes.

1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
1 14 oz package firm tofu, drained, patted dry, and cut into 8 rectangular slices
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon gochugaru or 11/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 green onions, thinly sliced (1/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)

Pear Slaw
1 Bartlett pear, sliced into matchsticks (11/2 cups)
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted black sesame seeds

1. To make Tofu: Heat sesame oil in large skillet over medium heat. ?Add tofu, and cook 7 to 9 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together soy sauce, gochugaru, maple syrup, vinegar, and 3 Tbs. water in small bowl. Stir in green onions and garlic.

3. Pour sauce around tofu, reduce heat to medium-low, cover skillet, and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until most of sauce is absorbed. Flip tofu halfway through cooking.

4. To make Pear Slaw: toss pear matchsticks with vinegar and sesame seeds.

5. Arrange 2 Tofu rectangles on each of 4 plates, and top each with Pear Slaw.

Servings: 4

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Curried Couscous Salad with Dried Cranberries

Tomorrow is a coworker's baby shower and I signed up to bring something "magical and delicious," and I forgot to plan ahead. Luckily I had everything on hand to make White Chocolate-Cashew Coffee Biscotti. Except the cashews. I substituted some toffee bits for the cashews, which I think was genius. Hopefully they go over well at the 8am baby shower.

Last night for dinner I made this couscous dish. I swear, couscous is one of the best things in the whole world. Boil some water, pour it on top, wait five minutes. How is that not amazing? And then with this, you pour the water over the couscous and rehydrate some cranberries in the process. It's insane.

So how was the food? Fantastic. I've made a lot of things like this before but I think this one is my favorite! It's wonderful. I did change the dressing a little bit - I used some regular orange juice in place of the orange zest and concentrate, which I think was a great idea. I ate it for lunch today (it passes the lunchbox test!), and for dinner tonight (and it was still amazing). I'm glad I made the full recipe. It's great left over. I would definitely make this again.

couscous

Curried Couscous Salad with Dried Cranberries
Cooking Light, July 2001

Salad:
1 1/2 cups uncooked couscous -- (about 1 [10-ounce] box)
1 cup dried cranberries -- (about 4 ounces)
1 cup frozen green peas -- thawed
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
15 1/2 ounces chickpeas -- (garbanzo beans) rinsed and drained

Dressing:
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon thawed orange juice concentrate
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 garlic cloves -- crushed

1. To prepare salad, combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Pour 2 cups boiling water over the couscous mixture; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork; cool. Stir in onions, basil, and chickpeas.

2. To prepare dressing, combine lemon juice and the remaining ingredients in a jar; cover tightly, and shake vigorously. Pour over couscous mixture, and toss well to combine. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

Servings: 8

Monday, November 07, 2011

Mediterranean Pitas with Muffaletta Relish

Last week I DID cook, despite what the blog implies. I just didn't make recipe type stuff. Well, Wednesday night I made my best Spinach-Artichoke Dip and then I ate that again on Thursday, and then Friday through last night I was in Florida for my uncle's wedding. So that's that. Here we go though as I attempt to cook most days this week. Hooray!

Tonight I made this little sandwich that has a quick hummus-like spread (it IS NOT hummus despite calling itself that) and olive spread. I may have cheated there - I used a pre-made olive relish from the olive bar at Wegmans. I'm sorry but it was SO MUCH cheaper just to buy a scoop full of that than all the different ingredients for the relish. So... keep that in mind. Also I added feta to the sandwich because I think everything is delicious with feta. I really liked this a lot. It's simple and filling. It kind of made me wish I'd made Greek Paninis, but I was still very happy. I'm not sure if I would make this again. I probably would. Yum!

pitas

Mediterranean Pitas with Muffaletta Relish
Vegetarian Times, June 2011

Julie DeMatteo, a retired school teacher from Clementon, N.J., modeled the relish in her colorful pita pocket after that from muffaletta—a classic New Orleans sandwich piled high with a marinated olive salad. She added a sprinkling of wheat germ for “nutrition and crunch.”

Relish:
1 6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped, marinade reserved
1/2 cup diced plum tomato
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced roasted red pepper
1/4 cup chopped black olives
1/4 cup chopped stuffed green olives
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Hummus:
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pitas:
4 6-inch pita rounds, cut in half crosswise
1/2 cup wheat germ

1. To make Relish: combine all ingredients, including reserved marinade, in medium bowl.

2. To make Hummus: blend all ingredients and 2 Tbs. water in blender until smooth.

3. To assemble Pitas: Spread 3 Tbs. Hummus into each pita half, and sprinkle with 1 Tbs. wheat germ. Top with Relish, dividing evenly among Pitas. Serve immediately.

Servings: 8