I'd say that this recipe is really solid. It didn't blow my mind, but it was really good and heats up well as leftovers. And when I consider the cost-to-flavor ratio, I'd say it's pretty amazing.
Since this is pretty cheap, I think we'll probably make it again, before eggplant disappears for fall. Like Kira says, this has a lot of ingredients, but I make enough Asian-style recipes that I have things like hoisin sauce and sesame oil on hand. It's worth the effort to get them and then continue making recipes that call for them (if you like Asian food, like I do).
(Tofu and) Eggplant in Spicy Garlic Sauce
from Cook, Pray, Love.
Yields 4 servings
1 pound extra-firm tofu (not silken)
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp. water
1/2 tsp dark sesame oil
1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup water
6-8 garlic cloves, minced–about 2 tbsp.
1-inch peeled fresh ginger, grated
3/4 cup vegetable broth or water
1 tbsp vegetarian hoisin sauce
3 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp dark sesame oil
1/2 tbsp sugar
3 tsp hot chili sauce (like Sriracha) (original recipe calls for 1/2-1 tsp if you prefer it more mild)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tomato, coarsely chopped
sprinkling of sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch slices and press them lightly between towels to get some of the moisture out. Combine the 3 tbsp. soy sauce with the 2 tbsp. water and 1/2 tsp. sesame oil. Dip each slice of tofu into the mixture and set on a plate.
Heat an oiled, non-stick skillet until hot. Place the tofu slices in the skillet and cook until browned. Turn over and brown the other sides. When the tofu is completely browned on both sides, remove it from the skillet and place it on a cutting board. Cut each slice into 8-10 cubes. Set aside.
Heat an oiled, non-stick wok and add the eggplant and 1/3 cup water. Cover and cook, stirring often, until eggplant begins to brown. Uncover and add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 more minutes.
Add all remaining ingredients except the tomato, sesame seeds, and tofu. Simmer uncovered until all the eggplant slices are completely cooked–they will be very soft and start to fall apart. Add the tofu cubes and tomato and cook until heated through. Serve over rice, sprinkled with sesame seeds.*
*We forgot the sesame seeds, but added about 1/3 cup of chopped cilantro to the rice. It complimented everything perfectly.
I bought this enormous zucchini for 50 cents, and planned to stuff it and bake it (similar to this)
But the I realized I had the perfect zucchini to bake with, since it would easily yield cups and cups when shredded.
After a quick internet search, I found a recipe that suited me (and decided to make a loaf of bread instead of muffins). The author suggests using a cup of canola oil, in place of butter. They seemed to think it tastes less good that way, but both John and I think this bread is delicious. So much so that we both can't stop eating it. I was still left with about a half pound of zucchini after taking the three shredded cups for this recipe.
Not the most elegant picture, I know, but this tastes so much better than it looks.
adapted from Simply Recipes
- 3 cups grated fresh zucchini
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- Pinch salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (I used two cups all-purpose, 1 cup whole wheat)
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). In a large bowl combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in the grated zucchini and then the melted butter. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the zucchini mixture and mix in. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir these dry ingredients into the zucchini mixture. Stir in walnuts, raisins or cranberries if using.
2. Coat a loaf pan with cooking spray and pour the batter into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes (depending on the speed of your oven), or until the top and edges are brown and a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Cool on a wire wrack.
*You could add nuts, raisins, etc. to this bread with ease.
This recipe is like the ultimate comfort food for me - warm noodles, slathered in peanut butter and sesame oil. John took the car with him out of town, and I forgot to buy pasta before he left. I can walk to a grocery store, if I really wanted to, but since I was slightly pressed for time and it was about to storm, I made a bold move and decided to make the pasta myself. This was the kind of stubborn decision that often backfires in a big way, but the pasta goddess smiled on me and they turned out really well!
Since my hands were covered in flour during the most exciting moments, I don't have a photo for you. I was a little nervous about making it, but I had two other experiences (see here, and here) under my belt, and I used my other source of Mark Bittman's knowledge to make an egg-less pasta. Just eaten plain with oil and herbs, this might not be the most interesting pasta (though as I type, that sounds really good). Covered in a really flavorful sauce, they were perfect.
I also fried some tofu to add to this, since he suggests whatever leftover source of protein you happen to have around. I just threw it in and stirred everything together at the end. Also, I wouldn't put the flavors of sesame, peanut, cucumber, and green onion together, but somehow they really taste great in this recipe. I should add, too, that he calls for this recipe to be eaten cold. I inevitably heat it up and I think it's better that way. But it's also good cold, and it's nice to have the option.
"Cold" (or hot) Asian-style Peanut Pasta
adapted from Marc Bittman
- 1 to 2 cups shredded cooked chicken or about 8 ounces boneless chicken breast (I used tofu)
- 1 pound cucumber
- 12 ounces long pasta like linguine, or fresh Chinese egg noodles
- 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
- 1/2 cup sesame paste (tahini) or peanut butter*
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger, optional
- 1 tablespoon rice or wine vinegar
- Hot sesame oil or Tabasco sauce to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more
- At least 1/2 cup minced scallions for garnish
2. When water comes to a boil, cook pasta until tender but not mushy. (If chicken is not done, you can still add pasta; remove chicken when it is done.) While pasta is cooking, whisk together sesame oil and paste, sugar, soy, ginger, vinegar, hot oil and pepper in a large bowl. Thin sauce with hot water, so that it is about the consistency of heavy cream; you will need 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Stir in cucumber. When pasta is done, drain it and run pasta (and chicken, if necessary) under cold water. Drain. Shred chicken (the easiest way to do this is with your fingers).
3. Toss noodles and chicken with sauce and cucumbers. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary (the dish may need salt), then garnish and serve.
*For these to really be "sesame" noodles, then yes, use tahini. I opted to use chunky peanut butter because peanuts are good in pasta anyways, and because I'm obsessed with it. Creamy peanut butter would also be good.
Something about highs in the 80s makes me want to keep my oven turned off.
[That's right, highs in the 80s. Weep for our hot summer. It's Canada.]
I wanted to find a good dessert for the John's-gone-for-the-weekend brunch, and then this recipe came up on The Kitchn. The blog where the recipe originally appeared is written by some pretty artsy, camera savvy Europeans. They take amazing pictures, and they seem to know how to make dessert taste good without involving a million calories.
Like the name implies, you don't have to heat anything up to make this recipe. In fact, if you know how to work a blender, the rest is pretty easy. Blend some fruit. Mix in some marscapone. Put it in a pan. I even bought ground almonds to ease the pain of having to grind almonds myself (I know, my life is hard). I think next time around I'd skip the dates for the crust and make it almonds-only. I also didn't use coconut oil because I have NO clue as to where to buy it. But I'm sure that a food processor could make the dates smaller and that coconut oil would be really flavorful. I just used corn oil and called it a day.
I definitely don't feel as guilty eating this, knowing what's in it, and I will probably try it again, maybe with another berry.
No-bake Strawberry Cheesecake
from Green Kitchen Stories.
2 cups almonds
10-12 pitted, fresh dates
2 tbsp coconut oil (I used canola oil, a little more than 2 tbsp)
pinch of salt
2 cups fresh (or frozen) raspberries and strawberries (I used two cups strawberries only)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup honey
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1 cup quark or curd (I used plain, lowfat yogurt. Greek yogurt with more fat would probably have worked better)
Grind almonds in a blender or a food processor for about a minute. Add dates, coconut oil and salt and run the processor until it all comes together. Flatten it out on the bottom of an 8-inch non-stick spring form. Store in the fridge while you make the filling.
Blend berries, lemon juice and honey. Stir together mascarpone, curd and the blended berries in a large bowl. Pour it on top of the crust in the spring pan and put it in the freezer for 1-2 hours (you can keep it in the freezer for days but then you have to let it soften a bit before you serve it) .
Top the cake with fresh fruit. Serve immediately.
- Go running
- Read (both for research and for fun)
- Watch ______ (lately, Freaks and Geeks).
- Maybe cook something for dinner.
It's that last one that's affecting the blog the most, I think. We go to interesting places from time to time, but if we're not making dinner, I feel less drive to tell you about what we ate.
Last week, we made something that turned out really well, but that had flavors I didn't like at all. This is completely a personal thing - I'm not really a big fan of parsley, except in some Mediterranean food. We made these stuffed tomatoes, and I think that for the right person, they'd be the perfect food.
Then John went out of town last weekend. To keep busy, I invited people over for brunch.
I'll post one of the recipes separately, but here's a summary of what we had.
A quiche with spinach, feta, ham, and mushrooms. It's my favorite, go-to quiche recipe.
Roasted potatoes. There's no real recipe here, but here's what happened:
- Cut enough red potatoes for three people (I made extra and John and I ate them for dinner), slicing them into halves, then thirds. Mince two cloves of garlic.
- Toss potatoes and garlic with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and spread on a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven's speed, and on the number of potatoes.
It's simple, but really delicious.
I also made a no-bake cheese cake, that you can read about here. It was cool and light, and a great summer dessert.
John and I ate a lot of this food as leftovers when he got back into town, which was part of my plan all along. It was also nice to see Gillian and Anthony, two music grad students from Western who were able to come for brunch. I don't have pictures to show you of the things they brought, but Gillian made delicious raspberry muffins (that tasted a lot like scones...yum) and Anthony brought, among other things, two medium sized eggplants. I'll show you what I did with them in a little bit.
So the blogging may be sporadic for now, but I'll usually have more to say when I post.
Last night was one of those nights when pancakes sounded better than whatever leftovers we were going to eat. Instead of using the internet I turned to How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman. I've had it out a lot lately because I've been using his advice to make bread by hand (more on that another time).
Using his suggestions, I subbed sour cream and lowfat yogurt for the milk, and used wheat flour for about half the flour portion. I ended up adding milk to the batter before frying them, since it was extremely thick. It was so thick that I had to make dense little cakes at first, then press more batter out of the sides after flipping them (which meant flipping them twice). That's what happened in the picture above.
That said, they turned out great. I was skeptical, but this is one of the better pancake recipes I've made in a while. They were fluffy, and definitely filling. I added a few chocolate chips to about three of the pancakes.
I put random stuff on my pancakes: honey, peanut butter, faux-butter, apple sauce (unsweetened), and a defrosted version of a fruit popsicle with peaches, blueberries, a banana, and yogurt (sounds strange, but it was the perfect fruity sauce).
My one complaint is that these didn't reheat very well. Part of the reason I tend to make pancakes is that I can eat the leftovers for the rest of the week. They're great post-running food. But these were kind of tough and just generally disappointing this morning. It's a strike against this recipe, but it was still really great the night they were made.
That dark spot is a chocolate chip.
Bittman's "Everyday Pancakes,"
from How to Cook Everything
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white (or 2 cups white flour, if you prefer)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup plain, lowfat yogurt
2 tbs canola oil, plus more for the pan
Heat the griddle or skillet while you make the batter.
Mix the dry ingredients, set aside. Beat the eggs, then add sour cream, yogurt, and oil. Stir to combine. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring just until combined (don't overmix). You may need to add milk, if the batter is too thick.
Add butter or oil to the skillet (with each addition, unless you use a good non-stick skillet). Add 1/4 cup batter at a time. You may need to lower the heat after the first batch. Cook pancakes 2-4 minutes, until the first side is brown and the top bubbles, then flip. Cook the second side for 1-2 minutes. Warm the oven and store pancakes there until serving.
We haven't cooked in a few days because we made burgers on Friday and have been eating them ever since.
John and I are both eating tons of watermelon right now, since it's in season and it's always on sale. As you can see, we've also been eating corn on the cob.
Last week was our anniversary and I took John on a date to play mini-golf.
He beat me, but not by much. I had my good moments.
I've decided to sign up for a duathlon, run by this person. It's swimming and walking, like a triathlon, but without the cycling aspect. The one I'll do is fairly informal, and more like a practice than a race. Meanwhile, it means I can eat more peanut butter than before. Bonus!
Still on tap for this summer:
- a trip to Bloomington for Julia's party and recital.
- a trip to Virginia for my cousin Jason's wedding.
John is going out of town this coming weekend, so I will probably cook and bake for entertainment in his absence. Until then, I think we're in the dog days of summer.
1 and 1/3 cups hulled, halved strawberries
Scant 1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 frozen banana
1/4 cup 1% milk or soy milk (plain or chocolate)
1 tbs peanut butter
Freeze in molds for at least 4 hours.
I wish I had a picture of that one, since it turned out so well. This week I was out of strawberries so I just made one with all of the other ingredients, and doubled the frozen banana. It was so good! Frozen banana, when blended, is extra sweet and takes on the consistency of ice cream. I'd like to stress that it's really easy to make this into a vegan recipe by using either plain or chocolate soy milk. The nutty flavor of the soy milk will go really well with peanut butter and chocolate (I've tried this a few times).
If you're thinking, "I don't have popsicle molds," don't worry about it. Use an ice cube tray. Use paper cups and put straws or popsicle sticks in them. Or just use a small dish or tupperware and portion it out like ice cream instead. This recipe is a great antidote to the heat, in whatever shape it takes. If you like peanut butter and chocolate, that is.
We made just a couple of changes based on things we did or didn't have on hand. First, red beans instead of chickpeas. Also, we added fresh pineapple, since mango went so well with the first version. We ended up adding the pineapple to the bean mixture while it was still cooking, and they went really well together. I also chopped up a green onion and added it on top, since I had one that needed to be used up.
What we ended up with was a more colorful, more beany version of the previous recipe, and it's delicious! I highly recommend the pineapple-red bean version.
Indian-style Rice and Beans, II
adapted from No Meat Athlete
- 1 cup dry brown rice
- 1 can drained and rinsed red kidney beans
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
- a thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, minced*
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 and 1/2 cups chopped pineapple
- 1 green onion, chopped (optional)
Stir the curry powder and cinnamon into the bean and onion mixture. Fry for a minute, than add the ginger and tomatoes and their juices. Cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes no longer taste raw. Add pineapple, cook 1-2 more minutes (until heated through). Stir the cilantro into the rice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with green onion.
*Our ginger was looking kind of scrawny, so we used 1.5 tsp ground ginger. It was nowhere near as flavorful as the real thing, so I'd recommend NOT using ground ginger.
Seagulls resting atop Mackie's, a local fast-food and ice cream kind of a place, right on the beach.
Here's a picture from google to help you see where we went.
This little construction was next to our spot on the sand. It looked like some kind of frightening seagull ritual happened there.
John tried to get our umbrella secured in the sand, but it was a windy day and the umbrella made a break for it at one point.
We had perfect weather that day. Of course, we couldn't help making a lot of comparisons to Grand Bend, where we went only a week before.
One big difference is that the seagull are tamer and a lot more intense at Port Stanley. I barely saw any at Grand Bend, but they were everywhere on Lake Erie.
For instance. This guy hung out around our umbrella for a little while, until he realized we had no food.
Another one loitered around the opposite side of our spot.
Another big difference was the wind, that made a lot of waves. It was so choppy that we could hardly stand up in the shallow areas, and we got tossed around like crazy in the deeper part. It was like a ride at a water park, but, you know, real.
Maybe if it were windier in Grand Bend it would have been the same. I've also heard people in London say that Lake Erie has really dangerous undertow, so I think the waves are more common there.
The atmosphere at Port Stanley is different from Grand Bend, in that there were fewer teenagers showing off their bodies to each other. The parking was free, and really convenient (bonus!), and, if we hadn't missed our first turn on the provincial highways, we would have made it there sooner. But I think Grand Bend and Lake Huron are maybe more aesthetically pleasing, and the swimming was more relaxing, depending on your preference for waves.
This recipe is extremely easy to make. If you can boil pasta and cut things, you can make this. I started by cooking an entire box of gemelli pasta (my new favorite shape). After it was done, I just added things to it, made a simple vinaigrette, and tossed everything together.
Since olives are one of the main, most flavorful ingredients, I decided to spring for the nice olive-bar olives. I think it was worth it.
Using an entire box of pasta meant that this recipe made a TON of pasta salad. We ate a fair amount of it at the beach, but John and I will probably be eating it for the rest of the week.
I used this recipe as a guide, and kind of did my own thing. The recipe called for cucumber, and I just used a small amount of our leftover, seedless cucumber. It was proportionally not enough to be a strong flavor over all, but I feel like it's one of those ingredients you can just add "to taste."
One reason I wanted to make this salad was that last week John and I finally bought the kilo of feta at Costco. We cut it into smaller chunks and froze some of it (he read about it on the internets first). We've been looking for stuff to do with it ever since.
My plan was to use red wine vinegar, but mine was pretty old, so I used balsamic like I normally do with regular salad. It darkened the color of the pasta a little bit, but it tasted pretty good.
Simple Greek Pasta Salad
1 lb small shape pasta, cooked
2 scallions, chopped
1/4 lb of mixed olives, pitted, and roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/3 cup of crumbled feta (or more...)*
1 Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup cucumber, peeled and chopped (seedless works well)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 and 1/2 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste (for a whole lb. of pasta, I needed more salt and pepper than I expected).
Combine pasta and chopped/minced ingredients in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Stir together olive oil and vinegar in a separate bowl, whisk together until combined. Pour over the pasta mixture and toss to coat evenly. Add dried basil, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss to combine. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
*Or leave it out and this becomes a vegan recipe.
In case you haven't heard of poutine (and you're probably American, so you probably have never encountered it), it's a French Canadian food that people in Ontario also love: fries, topped with cheese curds ("NOT SHREDDED CHEESE, ACTUAL CURDS!" shout my Canadian friends), and brown gravy. People here seem to put gravy and pretty much anything. Not sausage gravy, just a brown kind of gravy, similar to what we eat at diners on chicken-fried steak, or on Thanksgiving. Poutine sounds strange, and I was skeptical before I tried it, but it's actually pretty good. I mean, cheese fries are hard to screw up, right?
The booths selling things really were varied. We saw hats.
Wall art for insect lovers.
John really wanted to buy one of these swords and send it to our friend Dave. The sign below says that each sword comes with a plaque. Ultimately, we were deterred by thinking of what a pain it would be to take even a silly sword over the border. The plaque wouldn't help quell suspicions that it was a "fake" weapon.
Banana scarves. For some reason I find this funny.
"Matches are bad? Heh heh...I dunno'!"
John said "what's wrong with this picture" is that it's not a picture. It's a set. Of pictures.
We saw this dude, who was just walking around dressed as a pirate. I don't think he was selling or promoting anything. He was just enjoying pirate life, I guess.
That's our friend Gillian, walking with John. Gillian is part of our Ultra Nerdy Summer Reading group, and she's masters student in theory at Western. She accompanied us to the beach this weekend, which I'll write about shortly.
This recipe comes from No Meat Athlete, written by a guy who runs ultramarathons and has chosen to eat a vegetarian (and mostly vegan) diet for several years, in part because he's convinced it helps him run faster.
His post includes a few variations on the traditional rice and beans meal, and we went with the Indian-style recipe. This was so good. We were both really surprised at how flavorful it was. That makes two pretty easy Indian dinners to come out of our kitchen in the pat 3 weeks. We will definitely make this again soon, especially since a can of chickpeas is only $0.79.
They recommend having a mango with this, and we decided to try one. We both loved it, and agreed that it would be delicious added into the chickpea mixture, right before serving it. It's crazy how good the mango tastes with all the other spices.
Indian-style Rice and Beans
from No Meat Athlete
- 1 cup dry brown rice
- 1 can drained and rinsed chickpeas
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
- a thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Stir the curry powder and cinnamon into the chickpea and onion mixture. Fry for a minute, than add the ginger and tomatoes and their juices. Cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes no longer taste raw. Stir the cilantro into the rice. Add salt and pepper to taste.