A Vegetarian Feast!

After months of reading about baked tofu here, and here, and of course here, I finally decided to try my hand at making it. I asked Beadie about her “perfect baked tofu” method, and read up on the famous Gliding Calm tofu. Over the weekend, I tried it for myself without an intent of sharing it with Adam just in case I royally screwed it up. I did the freeze-and-press method that Beadie likes, then the soy-ginger-sesame-sweet-hot rub that Miss Gliding Calm likes, then baked the heck out of it at 400* for about 45 minutes. IT WAS FANTASTIC!! I made it a point to make Adam taste some, and he loved it too…so much so that he requested it for dinner at least once this week.

When we went to Trader Joes on Monday, we bought 2 bricks of extra firm tofu. One went straight into the freezer, and the other stayed in the fridge. I wanted to try the different, less time-intensive, “drain-and-bake” method that  so many in Blogland love. So tonight, I simply drained the fridged brick of tofu, sliced it into slices, and rubbed it on both sides with a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, sriracha, and one Splenda packet. I baked it at 425* for about 45 minutes, and once it was browned, took it out. It was also amazing!! The texture wasn’t as “meaty” as the freeze-press-bake method, but still a great dinner. We had the slices of baked tofu with sweet potato fries, brown rice, and [an unphotographed] simple green salad.

Who am I channeling? Beadie? GC? Finessista?

Who am I channeling? Beadie? GC? Erin?

Adam even went back for seconds, and agreed that I should show him how to make this stuff! Next on my to-try list: baked tofu in a stir fry!

Now, a non-dinner note. Yesterday, Adam picked up a new video game, Street Fighter IV. Normally, I can’t stand the way that women are portrayed in video games. Usually they’re tall, ridiculously thin, ridiculously tall, and have inhumanly enormous boobs chests. I was beyond excited when Adam started playing this game last night because girl after girl had a much different silhouette than your typical video game chick. Sure, they’re still scantily clad. But instead of being unrealistic portrayals of what women “should” be, they are exaggerated portrayals of what women strive to be: muscular, strong, fit, and ready to kick some  ass butt! This is Chun-Li, one of the strongest women in the game:

Those are some ASS KICKING THIGHS!

Those are some ASS KICKING THIGHS!

And in Blogger news:

And, make sure you all have a WONDERFUL evening! I’m off to have some coffee (and maybe a treat) with some WW buddies. SO EXCITED!

Oh, and for Miss Erin who mentioned she’s missing the Northwest… a picture of the Oregon coast. I seriously fell in love with the landscape there!

Outside of Florence, OR

Outside of Florence, OR

xoxo,

Cuban-Style Chicken, Black Bean, and Sweet Potato Stew

When I was on my way home from work today, I had literally, no idea what the heck to make for dinner. No idea whatsoever. I knew I had chicken, but I also have ground beef, pasta, tomato sauce, and various other veggies… when I got home, I started scrounging. I found a sweet potato… then 2 cans of black beans… then chicken broth… then I had an idea! A quick, spicy, stovetop stew was perfect for this absolutely freezing night. I decided to take a few flavors I know and love, along with a technique I learned from making Ropa Vieja: meat + vinegar + slow (ish) cooking = really tender meat.

There were some really intense flavors here!

There were some really intense flavors here!

Cuban-Style Chicken, Black Bean, and Sweet Potato Quick Stew

Ingredients

2 large chicken breasts, cut into chunks

1 large sweet potato, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cans (15 oz) black beans, rinsed well

1 can (15 oz) chicken broth

2 Tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Sriracha to taste

salt & pepper to taste

2 c. cooked rice

sour cream (if desired)

Directions

In a skillet with a lid (or pot), heat the olive oil and garlic. Sautee until aromatic and garlic is lightly browned. Add the chicken, sweet potatoes, beans, broth, vinegar, and spices. Stir well, bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and simmer, covered for about 35 minutes. Serve on rice with sour cream on top.

I call this “Cuban Style” because, in many of the Cuban dishes I’ve had and made, they mix a bean-based protein, a meat-based protein, and multiple starches along with intense flavors and slow cooking. Next time I make this, it’s going into the crock pot to cook for even longer. It was very satisfying with all the different flavors and textures!

Not long after finishing dinner (and our first set of thank you notes!), there was a knock at the back door, and the UPS man handed Adam a mystery package. I recognized the name of the company on the outside of the box, but definitely did not order anything from them! Then it hit me! It was the hummus I’d won from Back In Skinny Jeans‘ giveaway! Stephanie at BISJ told me that I’d won “hummus in a tube”, but when I opened the box, there was a great surprise!

SO... MUCH... HUMMUS...

SO... MUCH... HUMMUS...

I got 4 jars of Wild Garden Hummus, 2 in original flavor and 2 in Roasted Garlic. I’m so excited to try them!

OH FELLOW BLOGGERS!!! MAKE SURE you visit Lee’s blog here to sign up for our “Secret Cupid” Valentine’s Day Exchange!

Holy TGIF, Batman!

What a long week!! I managed to develop a cold last night… (darn students! Always blame the students!) Anyway, I got home early and all I could think about was how much I wanted some spicy sushi to help clear my head congestion. Adam and I re-visited a favorite place, and got some old favorites, as well as a new roll that is sure to become a favorite! Since everything we got (literally, everything) was spicy, we decided to get SOMETHING that wasn’t spicy and decided on something called an American Eagle roll. It was freshwater eel, avocado, and cream cheese, rolled up in a rice-free roll, and then the whole thing was tempura-ed. NOT your healthfood item, but also FANTASTIC! (Doesn’t that suck sometimes?)

After a light-eating day complete with leftover pinto bean burgers shared with my friend Heidi (HI HEIDI!), I probably over-did it a bit at dinner, but what’s that old saying? Feed a cold? Yep, that’s what I’ll do.

We tooled around Best Buy after dinner, then came home to find the cutest thing ever. So, on this freezing cold Friday night, I leave you with:

they really are the best of friends

they really are the best of friends

Please make sure to check out Meghann’s Team in Training page to help her earn money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society! She’s training for a race that I’m certain I could NEVER do… so the least we can do is help her out!

Happy Weekend!

Chipotle Pinto Bean Burgers

Well, this vegetarian week is going way better than I thought. Come to think of it, I haven’t had any meat-based meals all week, except for one chicken-topped Lean Cuisine pizza! I do, however, really want a steak, or some sushi, or chicken… I’m such a carnivore! It has definitely been a nice, rather inexpensive change of pace though!

Tonight, we decided at the beginning of the week, was bean burger night. I was so torn: do I make the black bean burgers from last week that were so very good, or do I try to create a new one? I voted for creating a new one, and my creation was so delicious! Next time, I think I’ll use slightly less bread crumbs, but other than that, this recipe is a keeper.

Blurry for some reason, but you can see how good these look!

Blurry for some reason, but you can see how good these look!

Chipotle Pinto Bean Burgers

2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 small green pepper, cut into chunks

2 chipotle peppers, cut into pieces

2 Tbsp. reserved adobo sauce from chipotle chiles

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 egg

2 garlic cloves

3/4 c. dry bread crumbs

Directions

In a mixing bowl, place the beans, chipotles, adobo, egg, garlic, and green peppers and blend with a stick blender (you can also do this in the food processor). Stir in bread crumbs. Heat a large frying pan with olive oil or spray, and spoon some of the mixture into the pan, creating patties of the size you want. Flip once after one side is browned. Enjoy!

We found that the smaller burgers cooked more evenly and got nice and crispy. My batch made 7 small, English muffin-sized burgers.  For you WW folks, the NI comes to: 128 calories, 1 gram of fat, 5 grams of fiber when the recipe is made into 7 burgers.

I ate mine with a small side of a sliced tomato with olive oil, pepper, and shredded parmesan:

I wish I'd had fresh basil!

I wish I'd had fresh basil!

Also, a new favorite thing: pan roasted broccoli! I swear, anything would be better roasted (have I said that recently?)

roastiness...droool....

roastiness...droool....

I’m so beyond excited that tomorrow is Friday, and I do have to say… we may be doing sushi tomorrow, so Vegetarian Week may be over, but I’m so glad I’ve figured out these delicious meat-free dishes. They’re all things I think I’ll put into regular rotation!


Vegan Chili with Bulgur

Vegetarian week continues successfully with a brand new, created from scratch recipe!! I figured that INAUGURATION DAY was a great time to try a new thing!I’ve wanted chili for the longest time, and with vegetarian week came a challenge: create a delicious chili with no meat but still lots of flavor and texture.

I did it! After some research of other meatless chilis on various recipe sites, I came to a few conclusions:

  1. I am not (and probably never will be) brave enough to try TVP. It just kinda scares me.
  2. I don’t like using Boca crumbles in things that have to cook a long time since they get weird and tough.
  3. Wheatberries take altogether too much time to cook.
  4. Many meatless chilis use nothing to keep the “meat” texture in there, but since I thought it was important to keep it as close to my normal chili as possible!
  5. Adam said that if we were going to have vegetarian chili, it had better have a TON of beans in it.

I almost always go to the Mexican food aisle to get my beans, and when I was picking up the 8 (yes, 8, you read that right) cans of beans for this chili, something caught my eye. It was small. It had a blue label. Real chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I had to have them. They had to go into my chili.

Then I went on to the natural food aisle to pick up the organic small-cut bulgur wheat that I like, and ended up picking up some Odwalla bars, which I’m now obsessed with!!

Ok, I’ll stop rambling and get to the eats! Just a quick note too, I’m physically incapable of making a small pot of chili. This recipe makes approximately 6 quarts of chili, so feel free to halve the recipe!

Check out that grainy goodness!

Check out that grainy goodness!

Vegan Chili with Bulgur

Ingredients

1 onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 cups bulgur wheat

4 cups water

2 large (32 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes

2 cans pinto beans, drained

2 cans dark red kidney beans, drained

2 cans light red kidney beans, drained

2 cans great northern beans, drained

3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped

2 Tbsp. reserved adobo sauce from pepper can

2 Tbsp. chili powder

2 tsp. Sriracha or other hot pepper sauce

Directions

In a LARGE pot, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the garlic and onion, and cook until transluscent, and the garlic is browned. Add the tomatoes, drained beans, bulgur and water. Stir well. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat to medium-low, and simmer until bulgur is done, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I did muck with the vegan integrity of this meal by putting sour cream on top…but what’s chili without sour cream?? I have to say, this was, quite possibly, the best pot of chili I’ve ever made! Ok, that wasn’t exactly modest. Whatever! It was awesome! The chipotle peppers gave it a nice smoky flavor, and the hot sauce gave it a nice kick. Since the bulgur gave it the texture and bulk that ground beef does without the calories, one of the BEST parts of this recipe is the nutrition facts. Are you ready for this? Seriously…are you sitting down? Each 2-cup serving (the recipe makes 12) has only 240 calories, 1 gram of fat and… 15 grams of fiber!!! One serving was enough for dinner!

I’ll stop rambling now… but just a reminder! My guest post on Love of Oats is tomorrow! Make sure you read and let me know what you think!

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

Happy Monday all! Today was so much better of a day than all of last week, so I’m in a fantastic mood (finally!). I’m sure Adam appreciates that too 🙂

Tonight’s dinner was inspired by a recipe on Beadie’s blog, What I Ate Yesterday. I originally intended on just using her recipe, but upon further research, I kind of combined hers with another. Since I’d never made black bean burgers before, I felt like I had to at least sort of follow a recipe! First, the recipe and photo:

Accompanied by sauteed mushrooms and roasted cauliflower

Accompanied by sauteed mushrooms and roasted cauliflower

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

Ingredients

2 cans black beans, drained and well rinsed; divided

1 small onion, cut into chunks

1/2 green pepper, cut into chunks

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 egg

1 1/2 Tbsp. Chili powder

1 tsp Sriracha or other hot sauce

3/4 c. breadcrumbs (I used panko)

Directions

In a bowl, place 1/2 of the beans (1 can), garlic, and the vegetable chunks. Using an immersion blender, blend well until no chunks remain. Add the rest of the beans and blend briefly, so that some whole beans remain. Add the egg, chili powder, and hot sauce. Stir well. Add the bread crumbs and combine until the mixture is sticky. Form into 4 patties and either bake, 10 minutes per side in a 400* oven, grill, or pan-fry until hot all the way through and the outside is crunchy.

Continue reading

Chicken Katsu and Peanut Noodles

I decided to venture into the wonderful world that is Panko breadcrumbs today. Panko crumbs are  Japanese breadcrumbs, usually used on the outside of tempura fried dishes, and dishes such as tonkatsu (a fried pork cutlet) and chicken katsu (the same, with chicken). Chicken katsu is a favorite of Adam’s when we go to our sushi place, so I decided to try it for dinner today. I had no recipe, so I just cooked by the seat of my pants, so to speak.

The recipe for the noodles is below!

The recipe for the noodles is below!

Chicken Katsu

Ingredients

1 lb. chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 3 or 4 oz pieces

1 egg, beaten

1/4 c. milk (or water)

1 Tbsp. low-salt soy sauce

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 Tbsp. dark sesame oil

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions

Mix together the egg, soy sauce, and milk (or water) in a shallow dish. Pour the panko crumbs into a separate dish. Heat the oils together in a large frying pan, then proceed to coat the chicken in first the egg mixture, then the panko. Gently place in the oil and cook until golden on both sides and chicken is cooked through, about 5 min. on each side.

We also had some sesame-peanut noodles with broccoli on the side. THESE were a hit! Here’s the recipe, super simple, and very easily vegetarian or vegan!!

Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles

Ingredients

2 servings of whole wheat or high fiber pasta, cooked

3 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter

1 tsp. dark sesame oil

1 Tbsp. low-salt soy sauce

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

red pepper flakes to taste (i used about 1/2 tsp)

Whisk all ingredients except pasta in a bowl. Thin with water if necessary. The sauce should be the consistency of a thin pudding. Pour the sauce over HOT noodles, and stir until all noodles are coated. Add a vegetable of choice, I chose broccoli, but peas and/or cabbage would be delicious!

This was a fun dinner, since it tasted like we were out to eat, but we were at home in our pajamas! I’m dreading going back to work tomorow, after being off for over 2 weeks, but alas… back to reality I go! It will definitely be nice to have a set eating schedule again, and much more limited fridge access!