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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tofu Tuesday

Grilled Veggie and Tofu Stack
From Bon Appétit
1/3 Cup balsamic vinegar
2 Garlic cloves, minced
2/3 Cup olive oil
1/3 Cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves plus sprigs for garnish
1 12-ounce container extra-firm tofu, cut crosswise into 8 slices, drained on paper towels
1 Zucchini, trimmed, cut lengthwise into four 4-inch-long slices
1 Red bell pepper, rounded ends trimmed, seeded, cut lengthwise into 4 pieces
1 Japanese eggplant, trimmed, cut lengthwise into four 4-inch-long slices
4 3-inch-diameter portobello mushrooms, stems removed
1 Small head of radicchio, quartered through root end

Time for another addition of "Tofu Tuesday," and I'm especially excited to share this recipe since it's one of my favorite vegetarian summer dishes to make. I've made this recipe from Bon Appétit many times before, stacking different vegetables and marinating in different herbs. It's absolutely perfect for a hot summer night as a light and refreshing main that's still satisfying. This recipe makes a lot, but the left over veggies can be used in a sandwich or serve over pasta.

Prepare grill or grill pan (medium-high heat). Place vinegar and minced garlic in large bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Stir in sliced mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Working in batches, add tofu and vegetables to marinade in bowl and toss to coat. Place the veggies (except the radicchio) on the hot grill first and season with salt and pepper. Cook until charred and softened, turning occasionally, about 6 minutes. Set aside. Place tofu and radicchio on grill and season with some more salt and pepper. Cook until tofu is charred and radicchio is charred and wilted, about 2 minutes per side.

Stack tofu and vegetables on plates. Garnish with more mint.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Coffee Cake Muffins

Coffee Cake Muffins
Adapted from Annie's Eats
7 TBS unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 Cup sugar
1 Egg
1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 TSP baking powder
1/2 TSP baking soda
1/2 TSP salt
1/2 TSP freshly grated nutmeg (I used 3/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon)
1/2 Cup buttermilk
1 1/2 TSP vanilla extract

2 TBS flour
1/3 Cup brown sugar
1/2 TSP ground cinnamon
1 TBS cold butter (plus a little more if needed)

I had lots of buttermilk leftover from making Caesar salad dressing last week, but there are only so many salads one can eat, so I needed to find another use.  So I thought muffins would be perfect to bring to my parents when I see them this weekend.  I must warn you though, these muffins are insanely delicious and highly addictive.   The cinnamon-roll aroma of the batter was so enticing, they almost didn't make it to the oven!

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease the muffin tin with butter or butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray.

Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well until pale and smooth.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.  Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into butter and sugar mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. Stir until just combined (may be slightly lumpy).

Fill the prepared muffin tin until each is a little more than half full.

For the topping, mix the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles wet sand. Spread the topping evenly over batter, gently pressing down the topping.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Let cool for several minutes before removing from tins.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Little Quinoa Patties

Little Quinoa Patties
From Super Natural Everyday
2 1/2 Cups cooked quinoa, at room temperature
4 Eggs, beaten
1/2 TSP fine-grain sea salt
1 TBS chives
1/4 Cup onion, finely chopped
1/3 Cup freshly grated Parmesan or Gruyère cheese
3 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 Cup finely chopped cooked broccoli
1 Cup whole grain bread crumbs, plus more if needed
Water, if needed

This recipe from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Everyday immediately caught my eye. What a brilliant use of left over quinoa! It's kind of like a veggie burger - meets potato latkes. I'm taking her up on her suggestion to add chopped veggies to the patties, using leftover broccoli. Serve on a bed of greens, dip in hummus, or enjoy as is!

Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives, onion, cheese, garlic, and broccoli. Add the bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. Form into 12 1-inch thick patties, adding more breadcrumbs of water if needed if the mixture is to moist or dry.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan over medium-low heat. In batches cook the patties for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply browned (Turning up the heat if there is no browning). Carefully flip and cook the second sides for 7 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chicken Caesar Wraps

Simple Roast Chicken
2-3 LB chicken
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
Fresh thyme (optional)

Chicken Caesar Wraps
1/4 Cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, pressed through a garlic press
2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 TBS light mayonnaise
6 OZ cubed cooked chicken breast
1 Heads  romaine lettuce, cut into pieces
2 Spinach wraps

It's a huge time saver when you have chicken (or any protein for that matter) ready to go for week night meals.  While it's easy to find a good rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, I wanted roast my own chicken this past weekend.  I just roasted a 1.5 pound breast, which yields enough chicken for 1 or 2 dinners, so a larger whole bird could definitely get you through the week.  This recipe from the great Thomas Keller seemed like the most straightforward method.

Rinse the bird inside and out, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.  Generously season with salt and pepper inside the cavity and on the outside (If using a whole bird you may want to truss before seasoning).  No butter or oil means less steam, thus creating that crispy skin.  Roast in a 450 degree oven, and leave it alone (50-60 minutes for 2-3 pounds).  Remove from oven and baste with the juices and sprinkle with fresh thyme.  Let sit for 15 minutes to rest.  Now you can use your chicken as a blank canvas for endless dinner possibilities you can whip up in no time, such as these salad wraps.

For the dressing combine buttermilk, lemon juice, garlic, and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.  Mix with Mayonnaise, and set aside.  In a large bowl toss the dressing with the chicken and romaine.  Divide the salad among the wraps, roll-up and eat.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Shrimp and Chorizo Skewers with Smoky Paprika Glaze

Shrimp and Chorizo Skewers with Smoky Paprika Glaze
Adapted from Bon Appétit
3/4 Cup olive oil
4 Large garlic cloves, pressed
2 TBS chopped thyme
5 TSP smoked paprika
4 TSP sherry vinegar
3/4 TSP salt
1/2 TSP freshly ground black pepper
1/2 TSP dried crushed red pepper
12 Uncooked extra-large shrimp, peeled, deveined
12 1-inch-long pieces chorizo or other fully cooked smoked sausages
12 Cherry tomatoes
12 2-layer sections of red onion wedges
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

All of this talk about The Rapture got me thinking...what would I want my last meal to be?  While it would be nice to splurge on a 10 course meal at Per Se or Jean Georges, it's hard enough to get a table on a Saturday night last minute as it is, let alone if the world is ending.  But I think there is nothing I would want more than an indulgent home cooked feast (that would include a variety of expensive, high-fat, cheesy/buttery foods), a bottle of wine, and a bunch of close friends and loved ones.  Since 6 PM came and went by the time I hit the market, I decided to hold off on the filet mignon, lobsters and brie.  Shrimp will do for now, and I can still get my surf and turf fix with these delicious shrimp and smoked sausage skewers from Bon Appétit.

Whisk oil, garlic, thyme, smoked paprika, sherry vinegar, salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper in small bowl to blend for the glaze.  I made half the glaze here, but the extra can be used as a dipping sauce. 

Alternately thread shrimp, sausage, tomatoes, and onion wedges on each skewer.  Keep refridgerated until ready to grill. 

Coat grill rack or grill pan with nonstick spray and heat over medium-high heat. Brush skewers on both sides with glaze. Grill until shrimp are opaque in center, turning and brushing occasionally with more glaze, 6 to 8 minutes.

Serve with a salad, grilled bread and lemon wedges.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pizza Night

Spring Veggie Pizza
Pizza dough
EVOO, for drizzling
1 Cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 Cup Gruyère, grated
1/2 Cup Pecorino Romano, grated
1/3 Cup shitake mushroom caps, sliced thin
1/3 Cup asparagus spears, sliced diagonally
1/3 Cup bell pepper, sliced thin
2 TBS green onions, sliced diagonally
Fresh cracked black pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes

I think it's been too long since I last made pizza...and I have a craving.  Luckily, I always keep spare pizza dough in my freezer for emergencies.  It's the perfect solution for when I have lots random vegetables and cheeses in my fridge, but not a lot of anything else.  It also gives me an opportunity to get creative!  A white pie with ricotta, Gruyère and Pecorino Romano cheeses calls for really fresh vegetables.  I left the vegetables raw to maintain their beautiful colors and not over-cook in the oven.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What's For Dinner Tonight?

Salade Niçoise Pour Une
1/2 Shallot, minced
1 TBS chives, minced
1 TBS Dijon mustard
1 TBS honey
2 TBS red wine vinegar
1/4 Cup EVOO
2 Cups baby spinach
5 Kalamata olives, pitted, and sliced
1 Small tomato, diced
2-3 Cooked new potatoes, quartered
1/4 Cup green beans, blanched
1/2 Can of tuna, drained
1 Hard boiled egg, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

It's just me for dinner tonight!  I'm thinking I should treat myself to a nice, big, healthy salad for dinner.  I've been into Niçoise salads lately, and it's a great option for dinner since it's packed with veggies and protein.  The picture doesn't do this salad justice, because it really is a gorgeous dish.

In a small bowl mix the first five ingredients until well combined.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Toss the spinach with the olives, tomatoes, potatoes and green beans.  Top with tuna and egg.  Drizzle dressing over the salad and season with salt and pepper.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tofu Tuesday

Vegetarian Tostadas

Re-Fried Beans
1-14 OZ Can black beans, drained with liquid reservred
1/2 White onion, diced
1 Garlic clove, peeled
1 TBS of chipotle chilies in adobo
1 TSP fresh organo, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1 Package smoked tofu (I used Soy Boy's Hickory Smoked Tofu, but if you can't find you can marinate plain tofu in a little BBQ sauce)
1 Red bell pepper, cut into strips

Queso blanco, crumbled
Tomatoes, chopped
Romaine, shredded
Pickled red onions (See Side Note)
Lime wedges

It's Tuesday again, so that means another tofu wonder on the menu tonight.  Tofu is mostly associated with Asian dishes, but I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate into different cuisines.  I bought some smoked tofu, which I thought would go nicely in a Latin-American dish.  I'm going to grill with some veggies for my vegetarian take on the tostada.

For the beans, combine the first 5 ingredients in a food processor.  Blend until a chunky puree forms.  Heat oil in a pan, add bean mixture and 1/4 cup of the reserved bean liquid.  Stir over medium heat until warmed through, adding more liquid if dry.  Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a lightly oiled grill pan over medium-high heat.  Grill the tofu and red pepper, until nice grill marks have formed.  Set aside and keep warm.

Heat some oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat.  When almost smoking, add the tortilla and cook 30 seconds per side or until browned and slightly puffy.  Drain on paper towels.

To assemble:  Spread the re-fried beans on the tostada.  Cover with slices of the tofu and pepper.  Top with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and pickled onions.  Serve with lime wedges.

Side Note:  I was served pickled red onions at a Peruvian restaurant recently as a condiment, and I fell in love.  It's the perfect compliment for any Latin meal, and it's great to serve on the side with burgers or BBQ too.  Pour 1/2 cup of warm water and 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar over a thinly sliced red onion.  Stir in 1 TBS of sugar and a pinch of salt.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes.  Can be made ahead, and kept refrigerated for a couple days.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Baked Polenta With Spicy Sausage Sauce

Baked Polenta With Spicy Sausage Sauce
Adapted from Cooking Light
1 Packaged of sun-dried tomato chicken sausages, sliced
1 Cup onions, diced
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1 TBS fresh oregano
1/2 TSP crushed red pepper
2 (14 OZ) Cans of low-sodium, fire-roasted tomatoes
Pre-cooked polenta, sliced into 3/4-inch thick rounds
EVOO for brushing
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 Package of baby spinach
Parmesan cheese for serving

Polenta is a great, quick-cooking base for saucy dishes like this spicy sausage sauce from Cooking Light.  I'm going to serve this sauce with baked polenta rounds and sautéed spinach.  I have never cooked with polenta before, but there are so many pre-made options in the grocery store that you just slice and re-heat.  It's so easy, and it makes any dish look restaurant-quality.    

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange the polenta rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet and lightly brush with EVOO.  Season with fresh cracked pepper and sea salt.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.

In the meantime, heat oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Sauté sausage for 3 minutes, or until browned.  Add the onions, and sauté until they being to soften.  Sauté the garlic for 30 seconds.  Stir in the oregano, pepper and tomatoes; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Heat oil in a separate pan and sauté the spinach with some salt and pepper.

Arrange polenta rounds on plate, top with spinach and sauce.  Serve with fresh-grated Parmesan cheese.

Sunday Baking

Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies
1/2 Cup of butter (1 stick), melted and cooled
3/4 Cup sugar
3/4 Cup brown sugar
1/4 Cup ground flax seed
2 TSP vanilla extract
2 Large eggs
2 Cups all-purpose flour (or whole wheat, or half-and-half)
1 1/2 TSP baking soda
1/2 TSP salt
1 1/2 Cup of old fashioned oats
1 Cup dried cranberries

When it comes to homemade cookies, I'm a sucker for oatmeal.  It doesn't matter if it's oatmeal raisin, oatmeal chocolate chip, oatmeal butterscotch or oatmeal raisin chocolate butterscotch chip (too much?) -  I love them all.  My ideal oatmeal cookie is crunchy on the outside,  chewy on the inside, and just sweet enough with warm caramel flavors from the brown sugar and butter (Mom's can't be beat).  This recipe from calls for flax seeds for extra nutrition without sacrificing taste or texture, and it's not cloyingly sweet.  Of course you can add dark or white chocolate chips, coconut or walnuts to these, and you still won't feel as guilty if you happen to devour the whole batch!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk the butter, sugars, flax, vanilla and egg until smooth.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.  Slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry.  Stir until just combined.  Fold in the oats and cranberries.

Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your cookie.  Let cool.

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...or not.        

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tofu Tuesday

Vegetarian Fried Rice
2 Cups cooked brown rice
1 TBS,  plus 1 TSP vegetable oil
1 Red bell pepper, diced
1 Yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 Onion, diced
1 Cup shelled edamame (thaw if frozen)
1 Block of tofu, cubed
1 TSP sesame oil
2 TBS soy sauce
1 TSP crushed red pepper flakes
2 Eggs, lightly beaten

I'm sure you've heard of "Meatless Mondays," but I'm officially making tonight "Tofu Tuesday."  Browsing through the tofu section at the grocery store, we found some interesting new items.  It seems like there are much more meatless options today then there have been in recent memories - tofu in every flavor possible, tempeh, seitan, tofurky, faux sausages and nuggets.  While I have experimented with other meat substitutes, I've always been most partial to the taste and texture of tofu.  Rich hates mushy tofu and I hate when my tofu falls apart when stir-frying (I usually bake my tofu cubes first for crispness, but that adds an extra step - not ideal for a busy night), so Wildwood Organics super firm tofu caught our eye.  It weighs 5 pounds and feels like a rubber brick, but it held up nicely to my stir-frying since there was very little excess water.  This Ellie Krieger dish is a great go-to tofu recipe, and I've made it many times before with different variations.  Using this tofu makes this dish extra filling, so I don't think the meat was ever missed!

Heat oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat.  Add the peppers and onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Add the tofu, cook until it begins to brown.  Add the edamame and sauté for 1 minute more.  Add the cooked rice with the sesame oil, soy sauce and crushed red pepper.  Stir to combine, then push to the sides of the pan adding the teaspoon of oil.  Add the beaten eggs and let cook until they begin set.  Stir everything to combine. Serve with chili sauce.      

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Weekend Indulgences

The weekends should be all about indulging in your favorite things - whether it's sleeping late, drinking wine, going out for a fine meal, or all of the above.  Eating a big, hearty pasta dish made with lots of olive oil and cheese is definitely something I enjoy on the weekends (especially when it involves a bottle of red wine).  This pasta dish with whole wheat fusilli, garlicky vegetables and sweet Italian chicken sausage in a fire-roasted tomato sauce should do the trick. 

I roasted the vegetables first with olive oil (I used zucchini here), garlic and salt and pepper until soft. In a sautè pan cook the chicken sausage in olive oil until browned.  Add a spoonful of tomato paste, a can of chopped fire-roasted tomatoes (they have much more flavor than regular canned tomatoes, perfect for quick cooking) and a pinch of crushed red pepper.  Add the vegetables, and let simmer for a couple of minutes then toss in the cooked pasta.  Top with freshly grated Pecorino cheese.   

And no weekend would be complete without brunch. I love serving up bagels and lox with cream cheese, lemon and lots of fresh dill.

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The Hungry Yuppies, Annie and Rich, are a young couple from CT who are self-proclaimed foodies. Annie is the chef, and Rich is her willing taste tester. Juggling a full time job in the city wasn't going to get in the way of Annie's love for cooking. It's about eating well whether you have just 30 minutes on a Monday night, or all day on a rainy Sunday.