Thursday, August 30, 2012

Slow Baked Sweet Potatoes

I haven't posted for what seems like ages, but I have good reason! I just moved into my apartment, meaning I moved into a new kitchen! Tonight I cooked my first meal in the apartment! I'm excited to say my kitchen is fully stocked and ready to be cooked in.

I wanted to make something easy in case the oven didn't work properly or the stove blew up. Luckily, all things went smoothly. If I make this recipe again, I'm definitely going to try to keep the skins on the potatoes from getting as tough, but overall, they were delicious. I didn't do a complicated base for the sweet potatoes, but I liked the simple combination of beans and rice.

Slow Baked Sweet Potatoes
Adapted from Edible Perspective
Serves 2
2 Sweet potatoes
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Everyday Seasoning (From Trader Joe's)
1 bag brown rice (I used the frozen kind from TJ's)
1 can Cuban style black beans

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch discs

Step 2: Spread slices across a casserole dish, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with seasoning.

Step 3: Bake potatoes for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Bring temperature up to 400 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Step 4: While the potatoes are baking, heat beans in a pan over medium heat. Make brown rice and mix the two together once heted.

Step 5: Serve sweet potatoes over beans and rice.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Creative Hydration

Because of the ballet intensive I've been in for the  past two weeks I've been seriously slacking on my blogging duties. I honestly have not cooked at all, mainly because I didn't want to be on my feet any longer than necessary. As a result, I sat on the floor icing my feet while my mom whipped up dinner. Despite my lack of food experimentation, I was able to mess around with hydration.

I am definitely not an avid water drinker. I tend to stick with teas, Vitamin Water Zero, Zevia, Kombucha etc. I simply don't find water particularly interesting, which results in me not drinking it as much as I should. Lately, though, I've been trying to avoid the vitamin water and hit the regular water... but in an tasty way: Infusion! The basic idea of infusing water? Combining flavorful fruits and herbs in water to make it more interesting and enticing. I've read a lot of articles and have found many websites providing yummy recipes (One good one is I even purchased a special pitcher that has a place to put fruit, herbs, vegetables, and whatever else I may want to use to flavor my water. I haven't made any set recipes yet, because there really isn't a set recipe to use! Here are a few flavor combinations that have been good so far.

Cucumber and Watermelon Infusion
~ Combine lemon juice, about 1 cucumber, sliced, and chunks of watermelon in a pitcher of cold water.
~ You can mash up the watermelon a little to help the flavor spread
~ Let the water sit for a few hours, and enjoy!
~Water will last for a while an you can refill the pitcher a few times, leaving the same ingredients. Just keep an eye on the fruit, making sure you toss it before it starts to rot/ taste bad.

Cucumber, Lemon, and Rosemary Infusion
~ Combine slices of fresh lemon, cucumber, and a few sprigs of rosemary to create a refreshing summer drink!

Here are a few other ingredients that I plan to mix and match in the near future...

Hope this helps make hydrating a bit more interesting!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Vegan Ratatouille

Saturday was a big cooking day for me. I made my Garlic Green Beans with Lemon for the potluck the next day, but also had to make something for dinner that evening. My mom had picked up some delicious summer squash earlier in the week and I wanted to make something that incorporated the colorful veggies. My mom suggested making a ratatouille. I thought that sounded great and went ahead with it! I can't give a definite recipe here, as I think it will vary from kitchen to kitchen depending on the ingredients on hand. I will share the general recipe I came up with, though, and you can do the rest!

Summer Ratatouille
By Caroline Mac
Variety of summer vegetables, chopped into large chunks (I used assorted summer squashes, red onion, eggplant, and cherry tomatoes)
2 heads of garlic, cloves peeled and left whole (Less if you're doing a small portion)
Olive oil to coat veggies
Italian seasoning
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Italian stewed tomatoes (canned), drained
Salt to taste

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the fresh veggies and garlic in a large casserole dish. Drizzle with olive oil and mix until thoroughly coated. 

Step 2: Shake Italian seasoning over vegetables and mix again until evenly distributed. I was very generous with the seasoning, as I like a lot of flavor. Sprinkle veggies with salt to taste and mix again.

Step 3: Cover and bake for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove from oven and spread beans and canned tomatoes over the veggies. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with more seasoning. 

Step 4: Bake for 15 more minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Bars

In honor of having my 500th hit today, I've decided to do a new bar recipe! My Everything Energy Bars have gotten the most page views of all my recipes, so I figure you guys might like some variety! I'm pretty proud of this one because I didn't look at another recipe as I created this. It was completely improvisational! The whole kitchen smelled like pumpkin as these were baking, and the taste is pumpkin pie-ish. I will say, if you prefer sweeter flavors, I would add some sugar or maple syrup to the mixture.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Bars
By Caroline Mac
1 15-0z can pumpkin puree
2 cups quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup original soy milk
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1.5 t pie spice
1 t vanilla extract
Dash of salt

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all wet ingredients and spices in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.

Step 2: Add oats, almond flour, and spices, followed by the dried fruit and nuts. Stir until mixture forms a moist dough.

Step 3: Line a medium sized, square baking pan with parchment paper. Transfer mixture to pan and spread evenly across bottom with a spatula.

Step 4: Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and crispy on top. Remove to cooling rack.

Step 5: Once cool, cut slab into bars of desired size.


Hey guys! I have a little update on the pumpkin bars. As I learned the hard way today, these bars need to be refrigerated immediately after they cool. They have a shorter shelf life than my other bars, and consequently went bad in a few days when out of the fridge.


Green Monster Smoothie

I've been wanting to try a green smoothie for a very long time. While some people stick their tongues out and gag when they see a smoothie the color of the grinch, my mouth starts to water. Smoothies are refreshing and perfect for hundred-degree weather like today. The main issue I have with smoothies, however, is that most smoothies sold in smoothie shops have so much sugar that they are no longer healthy. My Green Monster smoothie that I've created has no added sugar and is jam-packed with protein, fruits, veggies, and flavor. I will warn you, this smoothie isn't probably for someone looking for an ultra sweet, dessert smoothie. Yes, it is slightly sweet, but not excessively so. I'll definitely be making this one further down the line.

Green Monster Smoothie
By Caroline Mac
1 cup frozen mango
1/4 cup frozen edamame
1 c spinach
1 T shredded, dehydrated coconut
2 T quick-cooking rolled oats
1/4 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup Original soy milk, or other milk substitute

Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth, thick, and creamy.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Garlic Green Beans with Lemon

I have a feeling this recipe is going to become one of my all time favorites. Tonight was my second time making these delicious green beans and I'm positive it won't be my last. This recipe requires quite a bit of prep, but it may seem like that simply because I tripled it today for a potluck. Thus, I had to zest and juice three lemons, peel and slice nine cloves of garlic, and chop the ends off of more green beans than I can count. I think it was worth it, though. This dish works great as a side or as a salad. You could also make only the dressing and use it on a regular basis for roasting veggies or as a salad dressing. This dish can be served hot, cold, or any temperature in between.

Garlic Green Beans with Lemon
Adapted from Vegalicious Recipes
3 cups fresh green beans
1 lemon, zest and juice (separate some zest for garnish)
2 T olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup sliced almonds, or to taste

Step 1: Cut the tips off of the green beans and steam until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Step 2: Heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan. Once heated, add the garlic and saute until golden.

Step 3: Add the lemon juice to the pan, followed by the zest, salt, and pepper. Stir until thouroughly mixed and heated.

Step 4: Transfer the green beans to a large bowl. Pour the dressing over them and mix until evenly coated. Add the almonds and mix well. Garnish with extra lemon zest.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pesto Coated Beans and Cous Cous

Tonight's dinner was one of my first completely original recipes, and I really enjoyed the final outcome. I'm a huge pesto fan and I could eat it on everything. Combined with the chewy Israeli cous cous, sauteed fresh veggies, and beans, the dish makes for a healthy and hearty dish. I was very happy with the pesto, as I didn't use completely conventional ingredients (though it was pretty close to the classic recipe). Despite the tasty pesto and wonderful cous cous texture, my favorite part had to be the tomatoes. After they were sauteed, the tomatoes took on a juicy and extremely sweet quality. They practically burst in your mouth as you bite them, and add great contrast to the texture of the beans and cous cous. This dish could also be served chilled as a summer salad.

Pesto Coated Beans and Cous Cous
2 1/2 cups fresh basil
2 T avocado
1 clove of garlic
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1 t whole grain mustard
Flower pepper to taste

1 1/3 cups uncooked Israeli cous cous
1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 T shallots, chopped and separated
1 1/4 cups chopped carrots
1 cup golden cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped basil
Whole basil leaves for garnish
2 T olive oil

Step 1: To make dressing, process all dressing ingredients in a food processor until completely blended.

Step 2: Prepare cous cous according to directions on the package, adding 1 tablespoon of shallots to the pot. Once finished, set aside.

Step 3: Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium-high heat. Add carrots and other tablespoon of shallots and sautee until carrots begin to soften. Add tomatoes and saute until they become soft and juicy, stirring the whole time. The tomatoes took me about 5-7 minutes.

Step 4: Add the beans and chopped basil to the vegetable mixture and stir until completely heated through. Reduce heat to medium-low. Once heated, add the cous cous and stir until thoroughly mixed. Finally, stir the pesto in with the cous cous mixture until everything is evenly coated.

Step 5: Serve warm, topped with fresh basil leaves.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Simple Cold Quinoa Salad

In my opinion, lunch is the most easily monotonous meal. At lunchtime, I almost always seem to be in a hurry, out and about, or don't feel like making something super complicated and gourmet. I tend to find myself consistently eating veggies and hummus, some kind of whole grain, and some kind of fruit. Consistently, meaning it's what I had for lunch nearly every school day this past year. That's a lot of veggies with hummus. Don't get me wrong, I still love that combination and am not opposed to having it, but there must be more options to make lunch a little more interesting, right?

The answer is yes. Last night, I decided I no longer wanted to have the same-old same-old for lunch. I'm in the middle of a ballet intensive at my studio, which means packing a lunch every day or buying it from the food co-op near my studio. Even though I could easily get something new and exciting for lunch there each day of the week, I don't see the point in buying more food when there's plenty in my own kitchen to work with! So, I threw together a quick little cold quinoa salad for my lunch today. It was incredibly refreshing to have after class and was packed with protein to last me through a few hours of rehearsal.

I wasn't planning on posting this recipe at all, since it's so simple, but one of my friends tried a bite, liked it, and asked for the recipe. This one's for you, Lucas!

Cold Quinoa Salad
Ingredients: You can mess around with quantities until you find a balance you like. You can't really go wrong here!
1-1.5 cups cold, cooked quinoa
1-2 T sun dried tomatoes

1/4- 1/3 cup edamame (fresh or frozen and thawed)
Balsamic vinegar and olive oil to taste (About 1 T each)

Step 1 (the only step!): Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix until evenly coated with olive oil and vinegar.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Vegan Beet Crust Pizza

Tonight's meal was a meal full of firsts. These firsts included working with beets, making "pizza dough" from scratch, attempting a balsamic reduction, and discovering that my dad actually does enjoy beets as long as they're disguised in something else!

I found this recipe while combing through one of my favorite blogs, Vanilla and Spice. I couldn't resist trying this recipe, simply because of the sheer originality. Overall, I loved the result. It's definitely not your typical pizza, but it sure is tasty! The beet crust was delicious and was actually quite crusty and bread-like. I loved the way the beet greens and parsley were paired with hummus as the topping instead of the typical mozzarella and marinara.

The only problem I encountered while making this was the balsamic reduction. Vanilla and Spice didn't go into much detail when describing how to make this sauce and it resulted in my burning it slightly. Apparently you're only supposed to let the balsamic vinegar simmer for four or so minutes, but I let it go for about fifteen. It still tasted pretty good regardless, but I'm sure it would have tasted even better if I had done it correctly. For future cooks' sake, I've included a link to more detailed instructions on successfully making a Balsamic Reduction.

One more note to those planning on trying this: This recipe does not make a big pizza. The final pizza makes one small pie of about four slices. If you are planning to feed more than two or three people, then you should double or triple the recipe.

Vegan Beet Crust Pizza
From Vanilla and Spice
1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1 raw beet, cut into small pieces
 2 T chopped fresh parsley
1/2 clove garlic
1 T coconut oil
Pinch of salt
2 cups chopped beet greens
3 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup hummus
Fresh parsley

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Process sunflower seeds in food processor until finely ground. Add the rest of the crust ingredients and process until mixture forms into a sticky ball. You may need to scrape down the sides occasionally once the dough gets really sticky.

Step 2: Grease a baking sheet. Place the beet dough on the sheet and spread with a spatula into a circle about 1/4" thick. Pinch the edges up to form a crust around the edge.

Step 3: Bake crust for 25 minutes.

Step 4: While the crust is baking, bring a large pot of water to boil. Put the beet greens into the water and boil for abou 4 minutes. Remove from water and immediately douse in cold water. Drain, and dry the greens.

Step 5: Make the balsamic reduction by following the directions on

Step 6: When crust is done, remove form the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Spread hummus on crust and follow it by drizzling it with the balsamic reduction. Finally, spread the beet greens over the crust.

Step 7: Bake the pizza for another 20 minutes, let cool, and top with fresh parsley. The crust is a bit fragile, but I could still eat the slice by just holding it.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Simple Salads

Salads are my main go-to food when I don't want to make anything complicated but want something healthy and flavorful. A major complaint I hear about salads is that they are boring. My response to this is that you simply haven't found the right ingredients! The possibilities for salad are endless. I love throwing together fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts to make interesting flavor combinations. I don't have one standard salad recipe, though I plan to write up a few as time goes on. Until then, I've made a list of some of my favorite bases, toppings, and dressings so you can start to make your own!

Favorite Salad Bases
Romaine Lettuce
Mixed baby greens

Favorite Fresh Fruit and Veggie Toppings

Favorite Dried Fruit and Nut Toppings
Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower Seeds
Sun dried tomato

Favorite Cheeses
Blue Cheese
Feta Cheese
Goat Cheese

Favorite Dressings (My favorite brand is Annies, but other brands make these flavors as well)
Lite honey mustard
Lite raspberry vinaigrette
Green garlic
Balsamic vinaigrette
Red wine and olive oil
Blue Cheese

I hope this helps make your salad experience more enjoyable!

Everything Energy Bars

        For the past six months or so I've been experimenting with making my own energy bars. I first got hooked when a friend recommended the blog Anja's Food 4 Thought. She has amazing recipes for healthy bars and I've been referring to her site ever since. I am also a huge fan of Barres, an energy bar developed by two dancers with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. The story behind Barre really inspired me to start making my own! Lately, I've branched off and have begun putting together my own combinations of fruits, nuts, and grains to discover what I like best. As a result, I've managed to create bars that sustain me through an intense workout. This particular recipe that I came up with yesterday even lasted me through and entire Franz Ferdinand concert! The recipe tends to be different each time I make a batch of bars, but I actually recorded my ingredients/ quantities this time so I could share it here! I call this bar the everything bar because I literally picked most of the ingredients at random and threw them all together until I found a combo I like. In the future, I plan to make more specifically flavored ones like carrot cake, piña colada, or snickerdoodle. If you have an flavor suggestions or requests, leave a comment!

Everything Energy Bars
By Caroline Mac
1/2 cup Sun Butter (Sunflower seed butter)
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup cranberries
1/4 shredded, desiccated coconut
1/4 cup fresh blueberries
1t cinnamon

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine oats, quinoa, raisins, cranberry, and coconut in a food processor and blend until fruit has been roughly chopped and all ingredients are fully mixed

Step 2: Add Sun Butter and blend until evenly mixed. Scrape down sides with a spatula if necessary. Add blueberries and process until fully mixed. Mixture should be moist and doughy.

Step 3: Cover the inside of a medium square/ rectangle pan with parchment paper. This makes for easy cleanup and keeps the bars from sticking to the pan. Spread dough across the bottom of the pan, trying to keep an even thickness throughout, bringing mixture all the way to the edges of the pan. Depending on the size of your pan the bars will vary in thickness. Ideally, the bars should be no thicker than 3/4". The thicker the bar, the more time you will need to bake.

Step 4: Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until top is slightly browned and crispy. Cook time can vary by preference as well. If you prefer a chewier, moister bar, I would suggest a shorter baking time. If you want a crispier consistency, go for the longer time. Again, cook time will also depend on the thickness of the bar.

Step 4: Once baked to your satisfaction, remove the large slab of bar from the pan and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Once cooled, cut into individual bars and store. I usually keep mine in the fridge if I plan to keep them for multiple days.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Spiced Coconut Bites

        I used to view potlucks as a burden because it meant I had to come up with something to bring... Now I love them because it means I have to come up with something to bring! Today I went and saw a local circus group with my friends and we all brought a little something to munch on. Since we 'd be sitting on grass without a ton of space, I didn't want to bring something that needed napkins, plates, forks, etc. Instead, I made a dessert-ish finger food: Coconut balls.
        Inspired by Anja's recipe on Anja's Food 4 Thought, I used her basic recipe and spiced it up a little (literally). The result had a taste similar to cinnamon cookie dough (which was dangerously delicious), but without the excessive butter, refined sugar, and flour. The only issue I had with these little bites was that they were a little difficult to shape, as they are a little crumbly. However, I found that using a teaspoon as a mold was extremely helpful. These balls are great as a dessert, snack, or potluck item and are healthy in comparison to cookies, cakes, and other classic desserts. 
Spiced Coconut Bites
1 cup almond meal
1 cup coconut flakes
2T agave syrup
1t cinnamon
1t cardamom
1/2t vanilla extract
Extra coconut flakes and cocoa powder for coating

Step 1: Blend all ingredients in a food processor until completely mixed and mixture sticks together when compressed.

Step 2: Using a teaspoon or other round spoon, fill with dough and press until sticking together. Gently slide ball out of the spoon and carefully coat in either cocoa or coconut flakes. Once all dough has been shaped, serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. 


Savory Celery Stalks

        Celery has never been a favorite food of mine. However, this summer I've become quite a fan of it. It's the perfect base for tons of dips, spreads, and toppings and is way healthier than crackers or bread. I've come to love the crunch and the unique flavor that really good celery has. 
        My favorite celery topping is definitely the old favorite, peanut butter with raisins (a.k.a. "Ants on a log"). Today, as I went to prepare said celery for lunch, I noticed my mom eating some rice cakes with balsamic hummus. She then suggested putting some of the hummus on celery instead of peanut butter. I tried it out and loved it! However, I decided that was far too boring a recipe for this blog. So I spiced it up a little. By topping the celery with balsamic hummus and sun dried tomatoes, I created a new snack to add to my repertoire. The combination of crunchy, creamy, and chewy textures make for a fun chewing experience, and the different flavors blend together in a very delicious way. 

Savory Celery Stalks
By Caroline Mac
Celery, washed and cut into 3-4 inch pieces
Balsamic hummus (you can buy this at the store or make your own by adding balsamic vinegar to regular hummus)
Sun dried tomatoes, sliced (dry, not packed in oil)

Step 1: Spread the hummus on each celery stick so it fills the bowl-like part, but not overfilled.

Step 2: Take 2 or 3 pieces of tomato and press them into the hummus


Banana Mango Breakfast Smoothie

        I'm a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast. I often eat the same few things, alternating day to day. Today, though, I had an epiphany: Why make the same-old-same-old when I actually have time to switch it up? After all, it's the summer and today I don't have to be anywhere until 12:30. So, I made a smoothie!
        I love smoothies, but I rarely buy them at smoothie joints because of the high sugar content in them and lack of good ingredients. Instead, I just make my own! I really should make smoothies more often because they're great on the go and can be just as satisfying as a parfait. I think the main reason I don't make them is that I hate washing the blender. I know, that's terribly lazy, but true. I guess it's worth it, though, because this smoothie was delicious.

P.s. I was so excited by my new breakfast that I forgot to take a picture. This post will be sadly lacking in imagery until I make this smoothie again.

Banana Mango Breakfast Smoothie
Inspired by Peachy Palate
1 banana
1 cup frozen mango
1 cup plain soy milk
1/4 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
1T quick cooking rolled oats
1t dried, shredded coconut

Step 1: Put everything in the blender and blend until smooth. Wasn't that easy?


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Roasted Baby Eggplant

I'm definitely an eggplant fan. I'm also a fan of roasting veggies. This recipe combines the two. Enough said. I chose to pair this recipe with the Garlic Green Beans with Lemon. They complemented each other really nicely because of the lemon and garlic.

Roasted Baby Eggplant
From Real Simple
6 baby eggplants
3 lemons, 1 thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
12 sprigs fresh oregano
1t salt
1/2t ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
8 oz feta cheese, sliced

Step 1: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice each eggplant lengthwise, leaving the two halves attached at the top. Place them in a pan at least 2 inches deep.

Step 2: Squeeze juice from 2 lemons on eggplant, press the other slices into slits of each eggplant. Press the garlic and oregano into each slit.

Step 3: Sprinkle eggplants with salt and pepper and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil.

Step 4: Cove the pan with foil and roast for about 40 minutes until eggplants are soft. Keep brushing the juices in the pan over the eggplants throughout the entire cooking time.

Step 5: Remove foil, roast for five more minutes, and serve topped with feta.


                      My mom got very into photographing this meal...

Garlic Green Beans with Lemon

This was one of my first legitimate cooking attempts and this recipe remains one of my favorites. I'm a fan of lemon and garlic. Combined, they are delectable. I will warn you: once you start eating these green beans, you cannot stop. This dish is great as a side, or you could even saute a wider variety of veggies, double the sauce, and make a warm salad!

Garlic Green Beans with Lemon
Adapted from Vegalicious
1lb fresh green beans
1 lemon, juiced and zested
2T olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: Steam the green beans until they are tender, but make sure not to overcook.

Step 2: Heat the oil in a sauce pan. Add the garlic and stir until it becomes golden (about 2-3 minutes).

Step 3: Mix the lemon juice in with the olive oil and garlic. Add salt, pepper, and zest (save a little lemon zest for garnish)

Step 4: Mix sauce with the green beans. Serve warm.


Thai Red Curry with Noodles and Veggies

I was very apprehensive about trying this recipe for the first time. Why? Well, it's VERY easy to make a bad curry. The flavors are so important and if there's a disproportionate amount of one particular spice, the whole thing just tastes weird. Understandably, it would not have surprised me if my first curry came out less than fantastic. However, I got lucky and found a great recipe and was very happy with the result! My parents even thought it was great. My dad said it was "restaurant quality." Then again, they may just have been being nice. I ate it as well, though, and thought it was quite tasty. I topped this dish with the Curry Baked Tofu and loved the combination.

Thai Red Curry with Noodles and Veggies
Adapted from Vanilla and Spice
8 oz dry rice noodles (I used Mai Fun)
2T canola oil
1/4C Thai red curry paste
1t curry powder
1/2t turmeric
1 inch piece of minced ginger, or about 1t powdered ginger
1 can coconut milk
1/2t sucanat (This is a form of brown sugar)
1t soy sauce
2 cups vegetable broth
1 zucchini, sliced
1-2c diced carrots
3 sticks of celery, cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion, peeled and diced
Limes for serving

Step 1) Cook the rice noodles according to the directions on the package. It usually only takes a few minutes in boiling water. Set aside.

Step 2) Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add in the red curry paste and stir for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and turmeric.

Step 3) Add the onions, veggies, and ginger to the curry mixture. Cook until onion becomes translucent and vegetables become tender, constantly stirring. Make sure the veggies are evenly coated in seasoning.

Step 4) Pour the coconut milk in the pot, stir, and bring to a boil. Add the sucanat and soy sauce, stir until evenly mixed, and then add the vegetable broth. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.

Step 5) Serve by placing some noodles in a bowl and spooning the vegetable curry on top. Finish with a squirt of lime. You can also garnish with some chopped cilantro.


Quinoa, Mixed Veggies, and Sun Dried Tomato and Artichoke Pesto

Since I'll be living away from home this year, I'll be cooking for myself and occasionally my roommate. Because of this, I've been cooking a LOT at home so I'll have a wide variety of tasty recipes under my belt. After all, there's nothing worse than boring food! I also want to make sure I'm eating as healthy a diet as possible, with a good balance of whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, and good sources of vegetarian protein.

I'll start by sharing my most recent recipes, and will supplement them with the recipes I've done in the past. I've gotten most of my recipes off of other blogs, with some modifications based on what was in the fridge.

Tonight, I made a Quinoa dish. Quinoa is definitely one of my favorite grains, as well as a great source of protein. I'm always trying to find new ways to get protein since meat isn't an option. Originally, I planned to make a kale and sun dried tomato pesto sauce. However, my plans were thwarted when I discovered my kale was covered in bugs! Honestly, I was just way too grossed out to use the buggy kale. Thus, I decided to resort to a recent technique I've adopted in my cooking: Improvisation! I substituted the kale with the artichoke hearts I was planning to mix in later on, and messed around with the other ingredients until I found a sauce I liked. I ended up sautéing some veggies adding them to quinoa and mixing it all in with the pesto! I suggest making the pesto first, and then making the quinoa and veggies at the same time, combining it all at the end. I served it warm, topped with some more sun dried tomatoes and a few walnuts.


Sun Dried Tomato and Artichoke Pesto
1 can of artichoke hearts, reserve liquid
1 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes (Not in oil)
3 T olive oil
2 T Walnuts
2 large cloves of garlic
Lemon Pepper to taste (Mine is from Trader Joes)

Step 1: Combine the artichoke hearts, olive oil, garlic, and reserved liquid in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Step 2: Add the sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts, lemon pepper, and remaining liquid and blend until smooth.

Variations: You can add less of the artichoke liquid to create a thicker, more dip-like consistency. This can then be used in the same way as hummus with veggies, crackers, breads, and anything else you can put it on! 

Quinoa with Shallots
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups Low-sodium vegetable broth
1 T diced shallots

Step 1: Combine quinoa, shallots, and broth in a medium-sized saucepan.

Step 2: Over high heat, bring pot to a boil. Stir the quinoa mixture, reduce heat to low, cover, and let sit for approximately 15 minutes.

Step 3: Once quinoa is fluffy and has absorbed all of the broth, remove from heat and fluff it with a fork.

Mixed Veggies
Mixed vegetables of choice
        My Choice: 2 Cups peas
                            1 Zucchini, thinly sliced or chopped
                            1 bunch of asparagus, cut into small pieces and then cut diagonally across
2-3 T olive oil
Italian seasoning to taste

Step 1: Heat oil in a large pan at medium- high heat. Add veggies and seasoning.

Step 2: Constantly stirring, saute veggies until tender.

Once all of the components are made, Combine everything in a large pot or bowl, making sure the veggies and quinoa are evenly coated. This recipe makes quite a bit of food, but it was a good amount for my parents and myself. I'd say it makes 3-5 servings.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Curry Baked Tofu

One of my favorite things to make is baked tofu. I love the variety of flavor options, as well as the great source of protein. I bake mine for a relatively long time at a higher temperature to form a crust on the outside of the tofu.

I had made baked tofu before, but this was my first curry recipe that I've tried. I also baked my tofu when the recipe said to grill it. Because of this, I had no idea how this would turn out. I was pleasantly surprised and consider this tofu quite a success. There is some spice to this recipe, but I love my food to have a little kick to it.


Curry Baked Tofu
Adapted from Edible Perspectives
1 block extra firm tofu
1T brown rice flour
1T ginger
1T lemon juice
1T olive oil
1t garam masala
3/4t cumin
1/4t coriander
1/2t salt
1t chili powder
1/8t cayenne pepper
1/2t turmeric
1 1/2t paprika
1T curry powder
1 T minced garlic
1 C plain, nonfat greek yogurt

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Drain the tofu and place the block on a plate. Cover it with another plate and add weight to the top. Allow the tofu to press and release excess fluid while you make the coating. You can also use a tofu press.

Step 2: Combine all ingredients and whisk together until smooth and completely blended.

Step 3: Slice the tofu into 10 even strips, about 1/2 inch thick.

Step 4: Dip each slice into the curry- yogurt mixture until evenly coated and place on a greased baking sheet.

Step 5: Bake tofu for 7-10 minutes on each side, or until a crust has formed. Tofu will stick to pan when flipping, so make sure you don't separate too much of the coating from the tofu when flipping.

Serve over noodles, veggies, or on it's own as a snack or appetizer!

                             Curry Baked Tofu Served Over Thai Curry Noodles and Veggies