Saturday, June 18, 2016

Balsamic glazed grilled tofu

Barbecue season isn't just for meat eaters; I tried out our "new" grill today with this delicious grilled tofu recipe.

Balsamic glazed tofu

Ingredients: serves 2-4
- 2 packages of tofu, blotted and pressed dry
- 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 3 cloves of crushed garlic
- herbs
- salt
- pepper

Make marinade by mixing together vinegar, olive oil, garlic, soy sauce, herbs, salt, and pepper. For herbs I used dried oregano and fresh chopped basil.
Slice tofu into pieces about 1/2" thick; I cut each block of tofu into 6 triangles as shown. Lay tofu on a cookie sheet and pour marinade on top, covering completely. Let sit for 30 min.
Flip tofu over and marinate the other side for 30 min.
When the tofu is done marinating remove the slices and put them on a plate. Pour the extra sauce in a sauce pan and bring to a boil on the stove. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes to make a glaze. Remember to stir constantly to avoid burning the sauce.

Cook the tofu over a grill, and pour the glaze sauce on top. Grilling time will depend on type of grill and heat. Remember to flip to cook both sides evenly. Tofu is done when the outside becomes brown and cooked.
I served the tofu with rice and asparagus. Delicious!

- Molly

Monday, June 13, 2016

Gobi Manchurian - Fried Cauliflower

I love ordering the popular Indo-Chinese dish gobi manchurian at restaurants, so decided to try to make some at home. Here is my version of the fried cauliflower dish - I found a couple of recipes online which I used as general guidelines, and then adapted based on the ingredients I had at home.

- cauliflower, chopped into bite size pieces
- cornstarch
- flour
- soy sauce
- rice vinegar
- garlic
- onion, peeled and chopped
- scallions
- sesame seeds
- oil
- salt
- turmeric
- chili powder
- sugar

Bring a pot of water to boil with salt and turmeric stirred in. Add cauliflower and cook until tender.
When cauliflower is cooked, drain and set aside.
Make batter by mixing together about a 1/2 cup of flour, a 1/4 cup of cornstarch, a teaspoon of soy sauce, a teaspoon of chili powder, a clove of crushed garlic, salt to taste, and enough water to make a medium thick batter.
Dip the cauliflower in the batter to completely coat.
Heat up oil in a pan, and add battered cauliflower.
When cauliflower is cooked on one side, flip over and cook the other side.
Put cauliflower on a paper towel to dry when completely cooked.
Meanwhile, heat up oil in a frying pan and add half of a chopped onion. Add a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of sugar, and a clove of crushed garlic. Cook until onion starts to brown, then add a little soy sauce and rice vinegar to taste.
Add the cooked cauliflower to the pan, and pour on a small amount of cornstarch mixed with water to thicken the dish. Cook for a few minutes.
Finally, add some chopped scallions and sesame seeds. Mix everything together.
Serve over a bed of rice. Enjoy!

- Molly

Carol's Note:
Wow! I had the ingredients on hand and made this last night, and it is delicious! I used coconut oil for the frying and was able to fry at a fairly high temp without burning. It wasn't greasy, so I omitted the paper towel step. The entire dinner took about half an hour - I started the onions while the cauliflower was boiling. I served it with a side of lentils.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Mystery lunch

Mystery lunch - Tofu with parsley pesto and avocado on a bed of Jasmine rice

The kids surprised us with a mystery lunch!  A fun and healthy alternative to going out to eat. I took pictures while they cooked. The photos are from a doubled recipe. The write up is for a regular recipe of 4 servings. The parsley pesto sauce packs a lot of flavor and brings it all together, so it's a good recipe to serve to people who think tofu is boring.

1 block of firm tofu
1-2 cloves garlic (or to taste)
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 ripe avocado
oil for frying (I used grape seed oil, but any light oil would do)
1-2 T. olive oil
Jasmine rice
Seeds - about 1 t. each - sunflower, sesame, flax

Rinse and cook rice according to package directions - about 18 minutes. While rice is cooking, blot tofu dry with paper towel. Cut into 1/2 inch strips.


Heat oil and fry tofu until golden on all sides, turning with spatula

Rinse parsley and remove thick stems. Peel garlic.

Pulse parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic in food processor to combine it into a sauce.

Transfer mixture to bowl and add flax and sesame seeds and salt to taste.

Cut wedges of avocado

To assemble you may sprinkle sunflower seeds on the bed of rice, top with tofu with sauce drizzled on top. Add avocado on side.

This is a recreated version with all the seeds mixed into the sauce. Both are delicious. Enjoy!


Avocado and Roasted Beet Crostini (adapted from Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen)

I wanted an elegant and simple appetizer different from the usual hummus.
This was a hit and makes a great presentation. The photo didn't save, but I will add it the next time I make this.

Avocado and Roasted Beet Crostini

2 beets (about 1 lb.), peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 T. olive oil
2 T. maple syrup
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1/2 baguette cut into 1/4 inch pieces or small toasts (I used packaged crostini to save time).
1 avocado
1/2 lemon

Line a baking sheet with foil, drizzle olive oil over beets, and salt.

Bake beets at 425 for 30 min.

Remove from oven, drizzle with maple syrup and vinegar and roast until caramelized (about 5 to 8 min.)

If you are toasting the bread, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 5 to 8 minutes.

Mash avocado and mix with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread a think layer of avocado on each crostini, top with roasted beets, season with salt and pepper.
Drizzle with lemon juice.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

A refreshing solution - apple cider vinegar and lemon drink

Apple cider vinegar and lemon drink

Raw, unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar - 1 T.
wedge of lemon
glass of water

If you aren't used to eating a plant-based diet, you may have concerns with gas. I'd like to offer a couple suggestions. Your body does adapt, but there are a few things you might also try.

Before breakfast, I have a refreshing glass of water with lemon and about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. It should be raw, organic, and unfiltered. If it has a blob in it that is good. Just shake it before you use it. It will help your body's enzymes with digestion and also boost your immune system. You can have this a couple times a day about 15 minutes before meals. I just have it before breakfast - an added benefit is that I start my day hydrated. I like the tanginess of the drink, but if it's too sour for you, adding honey is an option.

Another way to combat gas in eating beans is to cook them yourself. The key is rinsing the soaking water before you cook.

Tip: I keep lemon wedges on hand for the week.



Monday, April 4, 2016

Noodles with tofu and peanut sauce

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes, and is always a big hit. It only has a few essential ingredients but is packed with flavor and texture, and can easily be dressed up with extra toppings if desired.

Noodles with tofu and peanut sauce

- 1 package of tofu, patted dry and cut into cubes
- 2 servings of soba noodles (any asian noodle works, or even whole wheat spaghetti)
- 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
- soy sauce
- oil (anything neutral, I generally use olive oil)
- sesame oil *
- 1 lime *
- peanuts *
- scallions *
- sesame seeds *

* optional - if you are missing one or more of these ingredients, it's not the end of the world!

Heat up your regular oil in the pan on medium heat. If you are using sesame oil, mix a little of that in as well. (Sesame oil has a very strong flavor, so a little bit goes a long way!) Add the tofu, making sure to stir frequently so all sides get cooked.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the package instructions.

Make the sauce while the tofu is cooking. In a small bowl stir together peanut butter and soy sauce. Keep adding soy sauce and mixing until you have a thick liquid consistency. Add a little bit of sesame oil if using. Squeeze half of the lime into the sauce, mix well. Adjust to taste.

If desired, put the peanuts in a ziploc bag and crush with any hard object.

Chop the scallions.

Once the tofu has started to brown, pour HALF of the peanut sauce on top, and continue cooking. Add the sesame seeds and crushed peanuts at any time. Cook for a few minutes, making sure to stir so that the sauce covers all sides.

When the noodles are done, rinse them under cold water, drain well, and put in a bowl. Pour the remaining half of the peanut sauce on top and toss to coat the noodles evenly.

Serve the hot tofu on top of the cold noodles, top with scallions and serve with the remaining lime wedges.

- Molly

Red lentil soup

Red lentils are tasty and easy to make, which makes them a good legume to have on hand. Here is a lentil soup I made the other day. I added a lot of "extra" veggies and spices, but you can make it as simple or as complex as you want. Just see what looks good in your kitchen!

Lentil soup

- 2 small potatoes, cleaned and chopped
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- a few cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 cup dry red lentils, rinsed and drained
- 2+ cups of water
- olive oil
- spices

Heat up oil in pan over medium-high heat, add all the veggies and cook until the potatoes start feeling slightly soft, about 5-10 min.

Add water and bring to a boil. Adjust the water as necessary so that everything is submerged (will depend on how many vegetables you include).

Add the lentils, return to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. The lentils take about 20-25 min to fully cook. As they cook, keep an eye on the water level and add more if necessary so that it maintains a "soupy" consistency.

Add any spices you like, and taste as you go. Definitely add at least salt and pepper. I was inspired by an Egyptian lentil soup recipe I found, so I added cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and paprika as well.

Mix everything together. Soup is ready when all the lentils and vegetables are cooked and soft.

Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh ground pepper. Yum!

- Molly

Linguine with cannellini pesto

Linguini with cannellini pesto adapted from quick-fix vegan

We were just hit with an April snowstorm, so this was the absolute perfect comfort meal I whipped up in the 7 minutes it took to cook the pasta. I already had cooked cannellini beans on hand, but canned beans are fine too. This is a low fat but equally delicious version of regular pesto, and it will become a staple in the summer with a good supply of fresh basil. Note that the combination of the cannellini beans and the whole grain pasta makes this dish a complete protein.

12 oz. box of whole wheat linguini (or pasta of your choice)
1. cup cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed (more to taste)
1/2 t. salt or to taste
1 T. white miso paste or nutritional yeast
1 large bunch of basil (about 1 1/2 c.), rinsed with stems removed
2 T. olive oil
about 1/2 c. water from pasta pot

  • Cook linguine according to directions on package. Scoop up about 1/2 c. cooking water and set aside.
  • Combine all other ingredients in food processor, add cooking water to desired creaminess (I used the 1/2 c. as recommended in recipe and it was perfect.)
  • When pasta is cooked, drain and return to pot. Toss with sauce and serve immediately.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Pressure cooker update

We are overdue for a real recipe, but for now I will update on using the new pressure cooker. This model is fine, but it's not nearly as sturdy as my older model (same brand, Presto). If the old one turns up, I'll go with that and replace the rubber seal.

I've been using the new cooker about 3 times a week for the past month. I no longer need to freeze beans and we haven't opened a can of beans either. If I want to have beans in the evening, I rinse and soak them before work. They really just need 4 hours of soaking. I cook them for 2 minutes when the "hat" starts to rock. It's been very easy and they are tastier than the canned beans. I do not bother to add oil for cooking.

For lunches, I put whatever bean I've just cooked on a salad (cannellini, garbanzo, or black beans). Beans alone are not a complete protein, so I usually have it with a piece of whole grain pita bread. You can combine beans with any source of whole grain (brown rice, quinoa, whole grain pasta etc.)

I toss it with olive oil and a chili vinegar which was a holiday gift from our neighbors. Delicious!
Started soaking beans this morning to make fresh hummus for lunch.

A few hours later, a delicious hummus lunch with fresh cooked chick peas.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Trying out the new pressure cooker

We took the plunge and invested in a pressure cooker! It's been decades since we've used one, and we decided to go with the low tech model (Presto 6-quart) for $49.00 on Amazon. I read a lot of reviews and it sounded like the electric ones didn't hold the power after some time.

I soaked cannellini beans this morning - 4 hours total. It's important to drain and rinse beans before cooking. Then I covered the beans with water (must be under the half way mark) and a little cooking oil which is recommended to prevent too much frothing.

Let the pressure build up - takes about 10 minutes.  When the little "hat" starts to rock, you start the timer. The book says to cook for 2 - 5 minutes. We went with 4  minutes and will go with 3 next time as they were a little mushy. I will keep the book handy and put my own notes in.  I'll sauté the beans later in the week with olive oil, garlic, and spinach.

It makes groceries easier to not think about replenishing cans. I used half the bag of beans because I wasn't sure what would fit. It appears that I could have used a full pound of dried beans, but since cooking is so quick, it's nice to just have freshly cooked beans.
It does take some time (maybe 20 minutes or so) for the pressure to come down, but once you turn the heat off, you can walk away and not think about it. That's my kind of cooking!
And cooking beans in advance forces me to start the week with a plan.

Note: Seeing the little hat rocking about can be a little intimidating the first time you see it go. Just be sure to read the directions before using - there are built in safety features.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Black bean sunburgers adapted from quick fix vegan

I'm surprised it's taken me this long to get these sunburgers up on the blog because this recipe is a staple. We always keep canned black beans on hand and whole wheat burger rolls in the freezer. When there is nothing else in the house, I can always make these. And they're delicious! I haven't touched a bocaburger since I discovered this recipe from quick fix vegan. The smoked paprika is a nice surprise!

Black bean sunburgers

1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 small can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 c. vital wheat gluten flour (you may substitute garbanzo flour if avoiding gluten)
2 T. soy sauce
1 t. smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying
4 toasted burger rolls

Pulse beans, onion, gluten, sunflower seeds, soy sauce, paprika, and seasoning in food processor.

Divide bean mixture into 4 patties and fry on each side

Serve right away on burger bun. I've also brought these in for a work lunch and they're fine to eat cold.

Tip: I've made this recipe missing onion or sunflower seeds and it's still okay. You really just need the beans and the gluten (or garbanzo) flour for it to stick together. So easy!


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cooking and freezing garbanzos

This won't be one of the more exciting posts, but I did want to share a way to have garbanzo beans easily available. While it's great to have canned beans as back-up, home cooked beans are cheaper and tastier. I used to have a pressure cooker and am considering getting another, but in the meantime, here goes...

1 bag dried garbanzo beans

Pour beans in colander and sort through making sure they're whole and there are no rocks. (I've never seen this, but that's what is says on the bag.) Rinse and cover beans about 2/3 full of water and soak overnight. The next day, drain, rinse, fill pot with water, bring to boil, and then simmer for about an hour and a half. Let cool in pot of water.

Drain beans and spread on cookie sheet prepared with non-stick spray. Stick in freezer. You can also use parchment paper which probably works even better.

After it's frozen, scrape the beans off the sheet using a plastic spatula.

Pour individual beans in ziploc bag and keep in freezer. I use these when I'm making a salad for work. You can pour out what you need and toss the beans on the salad in the morning and they're thawed by lunch time. I did this almost two weeks ago, made hummus and have had plenty for salads. Great protein!