Category Archives: Quick Cooking

Pasta with Citrus Sauce

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This recipe will blow your mind.  If you followed the same path I did and made that quinoa bowl a few days ago, you should still have around a citrus sauce that is begging to be used up.  Your dinner plan will be as follows:

  1. boil water
  2. drop in store-bought tortelinni
  3. heat up store-bought baguette in 350 degree oven
  4. add dressing to cooked and drained tortelinni
  5. plate and eat (serve over a bed of arugula if you are feeling fancy)

No kidding…that’s it.  Dinner is served.

Leftovers Pita with Hummus

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I’m rather impressed with myself right now.  I made that delicious quinoa bowl  and had lots of leftovers, so I engineered this dinner the very next night, followed by another quick dinner the night after that, stretching the sauces out over three days AND more importantly using them up, instead of wasting them (which in cooking for 2 people I’m prone to do).

This leftovers pita with hummus, takes the Tahini sauce from the quinoa bowl, and whirls it around in a food processor with 1 cup of cooked chickpeas to fatten it up a bit-making hummus.  I added just a pinch of salt and had a spread to use with the leftover bowl materials (kale, red onion, chickpeas) and pan fried some tofu in sesame oil to add a little more substance.  Served it on a whole wheat pita that I just warmed in the oven while I fried up the tofu.

Quinoa Veggie Bowl with Two Sauces

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Once you become comfortable with having flexible items in your pantry, having no real plan for cooking isn’t very stressful.  You get to bring this kinda stuff together in a pinch.  This is a perfect no-plan panic meal.

Parm + Citrus Sauce/Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (make this Vegan and omit the cheese)
  • Zest and juice of 2 oranges
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 2T white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (or half reg. + half lemon oil)
  • 2 pinches of both salt + pepper

In a medium bowl (or Mason jar) combine the grated Parmesan, orange zest and juice, and the shallots. Whisk in the white wine vinegar. Whisk in the olive oil and finish by seasoning with salt and pepper.

Tahini Dressing:

  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • Zest of one lemon
  • scant 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

In a medium bowl or Mason jar combine the garlic, tahini, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil.  Add the hot water to thin a bit and then the salt.

For the veggie bowl:

Cook up quinoa according to package directions.  Pictured here, I made a mix of common white and less common Inca red quinoa.  They cook up the same, I didn’t have a cup of either, but combining them I just made it.  Before I add the water and put it into a pan to cook, I like to rinse it through a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear and then toast it in a saute’ pan until just barely browned.  I think it makes it taste nutty and earthy.  The end texture is also a little fluffier, less mushy like rice sometimes gets with the excess starch still attached.

In the bowl pictured, there is cooked room temperature chickpeas (mine were from frozen, but you could use canned in a pinch), raw red onion, steamed kale and steamed fingerling potatoes.  That’s what I had in my fridge that day but you can use any cooked or raw veggie you like.  The type of bowl you make is only limited by what’s in your fridge really.  Tofu would make an excellent addition to this dish.  I served my bowl room temperature for a simple dinner.

Dressings adapted from 101cookbooks.com

Spicy Ginger Stir Fry Sauce

Who doesn’t like a spicy Ginger?!

It’s been a while since I last posted.  Hey, I’ve been busy over at The Mode Life with a few posts not related to food.  I know, right?

Cupboard is bare except for the Doorganics delivery from Tuesday, so I whipped up a stir fry from some veggies and this sauce.  Don’t be too disappointed, I didn’t take pictures, but I assure you…it was delish.  Mr. Wonderful approved.

Ingredients (you probably have these in your kitchen already)

  • 1/2 cup low-sodium veg broth or water
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sherry or mirin
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

In a small bowl, combine the stock with the soy sauce, mirin, agave, cornstarch slurry, vinegar and sesame oil. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

In a medium saucepan, heat the peanut oil until shimmering. Add the ginger and crushed red pepper and cook over high heat (be careful not to breathe this in right away, trust me), stirring, until fragrant and golden. Add the stock mixture and boil over high heat until thickened and glossy, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a glass jar and let cool or use immediately over stir fried veggies and tofu.

Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine

Chickpeas, please.

Ever since I began making chickpeas from a dried state, I have been obsessed with them.  I eat them by the handful like they are popcorn.  They’re delicious, nutty, versatile, freezable, and CHEAP (check them out at a Supermercado near you).

Here’s a super quick, frugal recipe to laugh Asian take-out prices right out the door.  It keeps well in the fridge for about a week and tastes AWESOME inside of a flour tortilla too.

Island Chickpeas

Adapted from Happy Herbivore

  • 4 C chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 C teriyaki sauce, use your fave from a bottle or better yet, make it
  • 2 T Szechuan sauce
  • 4 C cooked brown rice
  • 2 bunches Kale
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • lime wedges
  • canned mango salsa
Combine chickpeas, teriyaki sauce, Szechuan sauce in large frying pan or wok.  Allow to marinade for 5 minutes.  Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.  Remove from heat.
In  a saute’ pan, heat oil and garlic until sizzling, add the kale.  Saute’ until bright green and just wilted.
To plate, take 1/2 cup of brown rice, top with some kale a scoop of chickpeas and a squeeze of lime.  I also put a dollop of leftover mango salsa on mine.  Delish.
Pictured under the chickpeas is a Boca chicken patty as well.

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A win for used cookbooks and TVP

I’ve had this bag of Bob’s Red Mill TVP (textured veg protein) in my freezer for about 4 months.  Sometimes things seem like a good idea when you purchase them only to get a product home and be at a total loss for usage.  I had this relationship with TVP until I stumbled upon a used cookbook that sparked my interest at Schuler’s Books:  Vegetarian Sandwiches from Chronical Books.  In it a recipe for Vegetarian Sloppy Joes.  I basically bought the book because 1) it has really great pictures in it and 2) it has 3 recipes for TVP inside, also with pictures.  Turns out, I had all of the other necessary ingredients at home in my pantry and from my most recent Doorganics delivery to make this magic happen.  I was both shocked and delighted by the authenticity of the texture that this recipe recreated.  It tastes very, very similar to sloppy joes with ground beef, but doesn’t have that super dense and filling aftermarket feeling.  The recipe as it was written was a little too sweet for my sloppy joe needs so I spiced it up a little, the adjustments are worked into the recipe below.  I’m so glad I made a double batch with the intent of taking some along to the next GVSU tailgate to share.  I’m anxious to see meat-eaters try ’em.

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Vegan Sloppy Joes

Filling:

  • 1 C Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP)
  • 3/4 C boiling water
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 C coarsely chopped onion
  • 1/2 C coarsely chopped bell pepper (your choice of color)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 4-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 C water
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 T packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sriracha
  • 2 whole chipotle en adobo, chopped finely
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4-6 large hamburger buns or rolls or 10-12 slider buns

Directions:  To make the filling, stir the TVP and boiling water together in a medium bowl, let this stand for 5 or more minutes until the water is absorbed and the TVP is softened.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet (I used a wok) over medium-high heat.  Cook the onion, bell pepper and garlic through until the bell pepper is tender (8-10 minutes).

Stir the remaining sandwich filling ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Add this mix and the soft TVP to the skillet; stir until the mixture is bubbly.  Reduce the heat and cook, stirring for about 5 additional minutes.

To serve, spread filling onto a bun and enjoy.

Peanut Soba Noodle Salad

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I devour recipe books like most people read through the Oprah Book Club.  I relish all of the different flavor combinations that comprise regional foods and on occasion I like to make up my own recipes from the most awesome parts of other recipes.  I love peanut sauce in Thai restaurants, so I modified a recipe I found online to include hot water, thus creating a “dressing” consistency suitable for a salad instead of satay duty, paired it with a few of my fave Asian salad ingredients including the beloved soba noodle, dropped in a spicy protein and surprise a delightfully filling salad.   I would consider this one of my best salad efforts.

Peanut Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup (brown) rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • drizzle of toasted sesame oil
  • big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4-1/2 cup hot water

Salad:

  • 1 package soba noodles prepared according to package instructions
  • 2 carrots, peeled, grated
  • 4 radishes, chopped
  • 1 head napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1/4 C crushed peanuts or cashews
  • a handful of bean spouts per salad
Mix dressing ingredients together in the food processor, let set 10-20 minutes to develop in flavor intensity, reserve 1/4 C dressing for topping salad.  Shred cabbage, toss with chopped radishes and grated carrot, mound in 3-4 salad bowls.  Toss soba noodles in the peanut sauce until coated nicely, divide and add to cabbage salad, top with 1/4 C reserved dressing and crushed peanuts or cashews and fresh bean spouts.  Serve immediately.
Pictured with salad ginger/garlic/soy marinated baked tofu (recipe below):
  • 1 package extra firm tofu, drained, sliced in half (thickness wise) and pressed (after pressing 20-30 minutes, cut into pieces about the size of a pinky finger-sorry, that’s kinda gross!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 C soy sauce
  • 2 inches ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
Marinate tofu in mixture of the ingredients above for 30 minutes to overnight. Bake tofu on a foil lined, lightly greased, rimed baking sheet at 375 until firm in texture, turning every 5-10 minutes.  Serve with salad.

Cheater’s Buffalo Chicken Salad

Sometimes I just don’t have time for extensive dinner prep and if I make one more decision in a day my head will explode; enter, Cheater Buffalo Chicken Salad.

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  • 2 Boca Spicy Chicken Patties
  • 1/2 pound mixed greens
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 5 green onions, greens only diced
  • 1 medium cucumber, seeds removed, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 C ranch or green goddess dressing, diluted with 3 T cold water or milk
  • 3 T Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • 2 T shredded cheese
Super simple plan:  bake chicken patties according to package instructions, cut into bite-sized pieces.  Assemble veggies into 2 medium bowls, top with baked chicken pieces, top with dressing made from ranch, water and Frank’s Red Hot; plus shredded cheese.
The beauty of this salad as you can use whatever you have on hand in the fridge.  Heck you can even mix up the chicken patty for a black bean burger or any other faux veg protein for that matter.

Soggy Baby Cukes Remade Into Crisp Quick Pickles

I’m a pickled veggie snob.  I will spend $12.00 on a jar of pickles.  I will eat one a week so as not to get rid of them too soon, savoring every bite, then I will keep the jar of juice and dump baby carrots into the remaining sea of spices until I drain the jar dry.

Today I noticed some very much neglected pickling cukes in the back of my crisper, not looking so much crisp as sad.  Here is my science experiment and foray into quick pickles.  I hope you like it spicy.

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Pickles:

  • 6 baby cucumbers washed and cut into rings
  • 1 habanero pepper cut into 4ths
  • 2 jalapeno peppers cut in half
  • 2 whole cloves garlic smashed
  • Handful kosher salt

Brine:

  • 1 1/2 C white vinegar, cause I’m old school
  • 1 C water
  • 1 1/2 T garlic chopped
  • 5 bay leaves, whole
  • 2 T dried dill, or 4 T fresh dill
  • 1 T black peppercorns
  • 1 T agave nectar
  • 1 T cumin seeds, whole
First, prep the cukes.  Cut into rounds, place in colander, salt generously, let sit for 15-30 minutes.  This should perk up your cukes if they were a little sad like mine.  Place cukes, peppers, and garlic cloves in a couple of jars you have lids for, it could be a jam jar for all I care, just make sure it’s clean.  Since we are not “canning” here, it doesn’t make a difference.
To make the brine, boil for 15 minutes the ingredients listed in brine list.  Remove from heat, pour over veggies in the jars.  Let cool on counter, then pop in the fridge. 
Eat these little guys within the week.

Pectin Free Blueberry Jam

Short and sweet.  This was a small batch I used to experiment with the ratio of sugar to Berries.  I think I can still make it with less sugar.  I’ll let you know what happens with a less sugary recipe later in the month.

If you have excess blueberries, save summer by making Blueberry Jam.

  • 4 C Blueberries, mashed
  • 2 C sugar, white
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

In a dutch oven over medium heat, cook mashed berries until they boil add sugar, boil while stirring until sugar dissolves, then turn heat down to low and simmer mixture for up to 60 minutes, stirring every few minutes until it reaches your desired jam thickness.  Once you hit the thickness you desire, for me this was 40 minutes, add the juice of 1 lemon and its zest, turn up to medium, bring back to a boil and then shut off heat.

Remove from heat, pour into canning jars and either freeze or if you have done the boiling canning method, seal and keep at room temp.

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Doorganics Tacos

Mike Hughes I salute you.

It’s a rare opportunity when you can shake the hand of the person who not only planted, but harvested and DELIVERED your fruit and/or veggies to, your, door.  I don’t want to ruin the fantasy I have playing in my head about him digging up my little french radishes, putting them in a cooled green bin and driving them over to me personally just to say hi…but he basically did just that.

I’m going to keep this short and sweet.  Doorganics delivered today, thus, these tacos were created from my bin.  Go online, hook up with Doorganics and be pleasantly surprised.  I was.

I give you Doorganics Tacos.

  • 1 tablespoon, vegetable oil
  • 2 cups fresh white or yellow corn kernels
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced ( I used purple)
  • 4 french radishes, finely diced
  • 4 green onions, green parts diced only
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 warm corn tortillas
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • goat cheese or Daiya to taste

PREPARATION

  1. Heat half of oil in a large skillet over high heat. Toast corn 5 minutes, stirring; season with salt. Remove corn; set aside. Heat remaining oil in skillet. Cook onion, stirring, until it caramelizes, 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, both peppers and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until warm-I like ’em crunchy still.  Add zucchini; cook until tender but not mush, 6-10 minutes; season with salt. Add corn, beans, oregano and pepper. Cook 3 minutes. Split filling among tortillas; top each with 1 1/2 tsp salsa, a few bits of radish, green onion and 1 tsp cheese.  This makes a TON more than 8 tacos worth.  I’m taking it to lunch tomorrow sans shells.

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Saved The Best For Crisp

While making the raspberry jam from the previous post with some of the mushier berries, I couldn’t wait to make this crisp from Ina Garten’s recipe with the perfect berries.  Alas, I opened up the fridge and no butter.  Each of Ina Garten’s and Paula Deen’s recipes begin with butter, so a trip to the store was needed before I could begin, but the outcome was well worth the wait.

You could make this vegan with Earth Balance sticks pretty easily.  I like to over bake the crisp just a little so it’s super crunchy.  It can be baked ahead of time and reheated but who in the world has the willpower to let a hot fruit crisp hangout for future consumption?  Not this girl.

For your immediate consumption, I give you a modified version of Ina’s Peach and Raspberry Crisp, modified for the raspberry lover.

  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 pints raspberries
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the inside of a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2-inch oval baking dish.

Combine in a large bowl, add the orange zest, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the raspberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. If there is a lot of liquid, add 1 more tablespoon of flour.   Pour this mixture into the baking dish and smooth the top.

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt, oatmeal, and the cold, diced butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is pea-sized and the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly on top of the raspberries. Bake for 1 hour, until the top is browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator and reheat in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until warm.

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If you plant a herb garden, you better damn well like pesto.

My herbs are staging a coup d’état in the backyard.

I’m striking back with pesto.

One of my fave 101cookbooks.com blog posts is entitled “How to Make Pesto Like an Italian Grandmother”.  She’s right.  It’s a brilliant recipe; however, sometimes I do not have 1) pine nut cash allowance (so expensive!), 2) oh, I don’t know 1000 extra calories to inhale a 2 tablespoon mouthful of wonderfulness or 3) time to chop BY HAND (wtf?!) a zillion leaves into a paste-like substance-I guess that’s where the grandmother part comes in for Heidi Swanson’s recipe; grandmothers have lots of extra time for this stuff.

Tonight when I realized my parsley was about to FLOWER for goodness sake, I took it upon myself to hack it all down, grab some garlic and headed to the food processor to make, “Certainly not an Italian Grandmother’s Pesto” while muttering to myself, “it’s a damn good thing I like pesto.”

Pesto from the Fridge

  • 2 lemons zested and juiced
  • 2 large handfuls of something delish and green from your herb garden (could really be anything)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, 2 if you are not interested in vampire protection (TrueBlood starts at the end of the month)
  • 1/4 C good EVOO

**To make this real pesto, add 1/2 C toasted walnuts or pine nuts,  sometimes called Pinons and 1/2 C grated parm cheese to the mix then increase your EVOO as needed to get a nice puree.

Hack down a bunch of your herbs you have been neglecting, use the tender leaf part for the pesto (wash and dry it) and the stems to clean out your garbage disposal, it will make it smell better after you grind them up in there and send them to their new water home.

In a food processor, take the peeled garlic cloves, lemon juice, lemon zest and all of that beautiful greenery and blend while slowly adding the EVOO.  You might need less than 1/4 C depending on how liquidy you want the pesto.  I like mine a little bit on the dry side.

To store, I take an old ice cube container, spray a little oil in the bottom and on the sides then portion out my pesto in the little wells which happens to make a nice amount of sauce for 2 people when I decide I need a pasta fix; freeze and then pop out and store in a freezer bag.

I have also used this concoction as:

  • Tofu marinade
  • Combined with greek yogurt to make dip, or thinned with water to make salad dressing.
  • Mixed with more EVOO and a dash of balsamic vinegar to create a quick and flavorful vinaigrette.
  • Tossed with pasta and raw veggies for a quick lunch or dinner.
  • Tossed with pasta, a little pasta water, goat cheese and toasted walnuts for a yummy dinner.
  • On top of crusty bread for the base for bruschetta or plain as garlic bread.
  • Tossed with saute’d mushrooms.
  • Base for marinated olives and bocconcini (baby mozzarella balls) skewers.
  • Base for tortillini soup.
Technically this recipe might be considered a Coulis due to lack of cheese; but whatever the case, it’s a flexible, cheap, quick and yummy way to put that herb garden to use and just about any herb or green will due.  I’ve even used spinach with fantastic results.  Pulling one of these little cubes out of the freezer in February makes my heart remember spring.

Rummaged Flatbread

Some nights I just don’t feel like cooking.  Really.  Yes, even me.  Which is why I’m thankful that I am competitive enough to make a game out of what I can scavenge from the fridge to pull dinner off.  Mr. Wonderful loves anything in the family of pizza.  So naan is a great quick pizza crust and Costco has the best deal on naan in the free world.  Enter naan from freezer and let the creative juices flow.  The most difficult part about this recipe is the patience it takes to caramelize the onions…chop them up and toss into a fry pan over very, very low, for a very long time.  You can vacuum, do dishes, watch some YouTube videos in the mean time.  Hell, get crazy and read a real book.

Here’s a quick flatbread recipe as rummaged from the fridge/freezer/pantry:

Grilled Asparagus, White Bean and Caramelized Onion Flatbread

  • 1 very large onion, any type, chopped finely into half circles (approx 2 C raw)
  • 1 bunch asparagus trimmed and washed
  • 1 C Provolone cheese, grated (goat or gorgonzola cheese would be better here, but none in the fridge, alas)
  • 4 C white beans, cooked or 2 cans, drained-reserve this liquid in case your hummus is too thick and you can drizzle some in (I pulled these from my freezer-reserve 3/4 C to sprinkle on TOP of flatbread, the rest will be used for “hummus” for the sauce on the flatbread)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2-3 T Tahini (or just use a little of the juice from the beans if you don’t have this in your cupboard)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano or a handful fresh
  • 1/2 tsp dried cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried chipotle or red pepper flakes, omit if you are not pro-heat
  • 2 T lemon juice, fresh squeezed preferred, but that little plastic lemon kind won’t kill you here
  • salt to taste, this will take more than you think…white beans have little flavor
  • EVOO
  • 2 pieces commercial naan bread

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Cut up onion, toss in hot frying pan with a swig of EVOO, then turn way, way down to low.  Here is where the patience comes in…now, wait.  Stirring every 15 minutes or so.  Caramelized onions take TIME.  Like, an hour or so.  Good news, you don’t have to do anything to them except poke around at them every quarter hour….seriously quit your complaining.
Take the following ingredients and zap them in the food processor until smooth:
tahini
white beans (minus 3/4 C for topping of flatbread)
lemon juice
garlic cloves
spices
pinch of salt
You just made white bean hummus which is the “sauce” for the flatbread.
Asparagus should be washed, trimmed and tossed with a splash of EVOO, then turned out onto a hot grill, or in a grill pan until just warm, they should be crispy, semi-raw still, they will be cooked again in a hot second.
Fire the naan for a few minutes in a 400 degree oven to crisp it up just a little.
Now assemble:
Apply “sauce” to naan bread, then onions, reserved white beans, asparagus and top with provolone cheese.  Toss back into hot oven until cheese melts.   Season with a bit of black pepper.
Devour.

Eat Cake. Press Tofu. Juice Lemons. Make Buttermilk.

One of my gal pals celebrated a birthday last week and NO ONE made her a cake.  This is basically a crime.  Ina Garten would have been be pissed; hence, I dropped everything and made some Barefoot Contessa cupcakes.  Fear not, while the cupcake recipe DOES start with nearly 2 sticks of butter, for dinner I made Lemony Chickpea Stir-fry which basically cancels out the butter!  Eat up!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature (I never have this on hand, so I “made” buttermilk using 1 cup skim milk and 1 T lemon juice-it really does work)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons brewed coffee
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup good cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Peanut Butter Icing, recipe follows

Chopped salted peanuts, to decorate, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s completely blended.

Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (1 rounded standard ice cream scoop per cup is the right amount). Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frost each cupcake with Peanut Butter Icing and sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if desired.

Peanut Butter Icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

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I have a lot of friends that hate working with tofu because it’s “too spongy” or too this, or too that…I create extra, extra firm and combat spongy, with a very scientific pressing technique that I have perfected in my kitchen, you can see it in the first few photos post cupcake in the slideshow.  Hint: it involves a cast iron grill pan.  Very complex.

For the record, the birthday girl hated the stir-fry, but learned that she loves chickpeas.  One small victory.  I on the other hand decided this is one my fave Heidi Swanson recipes.  Different strokes.

Lemony Chickpea Stir-Fry

  • Recipe from 101cookbooks.com
  • 2 tablespoon ghee or extra-virgin olive oil
  • fine grain sea salt
  • 1 small onion or a couple shallots, sliced
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (canned is fine, if you don’t want to cook up a pot of dried chickpeas)
  • 8 ounces extra-firm tofu
  • 1 cup of chopped kale
  • 2 small zucchini, chopped
  • zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon

Heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee/olive oil In a large skillet over medium-high heat and stir in a big pinch of salt, the onion, and chickpeas. Saute until the chickpeas are deeply golden and crusty. Stir in the tofu and cook just until the tofu is heated through, just a minute or so. Stir in the kale and cook for one minute more. Remove everything from the skillet onto a large plate and set aside. In the same skillet heat the remaining tablespoon of ghee/olive oil, add the zucchini and saute until it starts to take on a bit of color, two or three minutes. Add the chickpea mixture back to the skillet, and remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice and zest, taste, and season with a bit more salt if needed. Turn out onto a platter and serve family style.

Curried Noodle Pot

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Curry on the brain this week I guess.  Monday I wrote about Curried Hash and now, we have the Curried Noodle Pot courtesy of the lovely Heidi Swanson from 101cookbooks.com.  This recipe comes from her cookbook Super Natural Cooking.  Why buy one of her books?  Her photography.  You can thank me later for the copious amounts of food porn present.

Curried Noodle Pot

  • 8 oz whole-grain wide Asian noodles ( I used whole spelt udon)
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1-1/2 tsp red curry paste
  • 12 oz extra firm tofu pressed and cubed
  • 1-14 oz can coconut milk
  • 2 C veggie stock
  • 2 tsp ground tumeric or curry powder
  • 2 T shoyu sauce (or any other type of soy sauce)
  • 1T agave syrup
  • juice of one lime
  • 2/3 C peanuts (optional)
  • 1/3 C slivered shallots
  • 1/3 C chopped fresh cilantro

Cook noodles in plenty of water until just tender.

Start making curry while noodles cook. Heat coconut oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir in garlic, onion and curry paste and mash the paste around the bottom of the pan a bit to distribute evenly. Cook until fragrant – just a minute or two.  Add the tofu stir until well coated with curry. Stir in the coconut milk, stock, shoyu and agave, bring to simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in the lime juice and add the noodles.  Turn to coat.

To serve, heap big piles of noodles into individual bowls and top with a ladle or two of curry. Top with peanut and cilantro and shallots.

Note:  I thought this needed a bit of salt because I used unsalted peanuts for garnish.  From start to finish, this took me less than 20 minutes to make.  Bonus points for quick dinner.