Monday, March 31, 2008

Peanut Buttery Goodness

I've always had a thing for peanut butter - I always feel so bad for people with peanut allergies... they miss so much! Here's a yummy way to turn basic peanut butter into something far more exotic.

It does have quite a bit of fat from the peanut butter (20 g per serving according to the original recipe); however, only 3 grams of that are saturated fat so it's not so terrible! The protein content is fairly good and it's low sodium and calorie.

I had this with a salad - the recipe said to serve it with rice which would have upped the protein content even more but I ran out of time! Oh well, I think it would have been far too much food with a side of rice!

As far as I can tell, this is gluten-free. I'm trying to educate myself on gluten-free ingredients so I can start labeling more things. Actually, I'm a bit iffy on the GF status of the hot sauce! I always go for "better safe than sorry" so if you are on a GF diet, leave it out (unless of course you know better than me!)

Serves 2

1/2 package extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (squeeze the excess liquid from the tofu first) - superfood!
Small amount of vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped onion (I used a red onion) - superfood!
1/6 cup tomatoes, chopped (the original recipe called for canned; I cut up some fresh grape tomatoes) - superfood!
1 tsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. hot sauce (the recipe wanted 1/2 tsp. of chili-garlic sauce.. I just mixed hot sauce and a small amount of garlic)
1/2 clove garlic, minced (superfood!)
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1/6 cup creamy peanut butter (the organic stuff from Trader Joe's is cheap and yummy!) - nuts are a superfood! I wonder if PB counts? ;)
1/8 cup frozen cut green beans

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray and place the tofu in a single layer on the bottom of the dish.

2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion in the oil for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, hot sauce, garlic, and thyme. Saute 1-2 minutes. Stir in the peanut butter, green beans, and 1/3 cup water. Bring the mixture to a simmer.

3. Pour the peanut sauce over the sliced tofu and cover the dish with foil. Bake 5-7 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 5 additional minutes or until heated through.

I found this in the April 2008 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine - Baked Tofu with Peanut Sauce. Can't find the recipe on their website... :(

Black Bean Soup with Sherry

This was really good soup - and easy to make since I cheated and used canned black beans despite the recipe specifically stating "not canned." lol ;) Well, when you're hungry, you don't want to wait, right?

The soup starts out with what is known as a sofrito - a mixed vegetable soup base. It's time consuming but easy and well worth the effort.

Leave the hot sauce out to make this gluten-free ~ I'm really not sure if hot pepper sauce is GF or not...

Serves 4

1/2 tbsp. olive oil (superfood!)
1/2 small onion, chopped (superfood!)
1 celery stalk, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped (superfood!)
4 green onions, finely chopped (superfood!)

1 cup reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (superfood!)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. hot sauce
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/6 cup medium-dry sherry

1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat for 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to low. Add the onion, celery, garlic, and green onions. Saute slowly, stirring occasionally, until the moisture evaporates and the veggies begin to turn golden, about 30 minutes.

2. Add the stock, beans, ground pepper, hot sauce, cumin, oregano, and thyme. Simmer about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

3. Puree 1/3 of the soup mixture in a blender or food processor and return the pureed soup to the pot.

4. Add the sherry and cook an additional 5 minutes.

From Karen Lee's The Occasional Vegetarian.
My change, other than the canned beans, was to use green onions in place of shallots. Everything else remained the same. Oh, I also omitted water and cut the amount of broth since I wasn't using dry beans.

Banana Nut Muffins (Vegan!)

I love banana bread and will sometimes deliberately buy ripe bananas just so I have an "excuse" to make it (like I need an excuse!) This weekend, I decided to try out a new spin on the banana bread recipe I've been using for years to make these muffins. They are so full of banana flavour - really wonderful! :) They have wheat germ so they are a great source of vitamin E and folic acid.

Makes 12 large muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. aluminium-free baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (superfood!)
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (superfood!)
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ

1 cup mashed banana (about 2-3 medium bananas) - I like to think bananas are a superfood!
1 additional banana, mashed (egg substitute) - superfood! (eggs are a superfood, too, if you choose to make this non-vegan)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup applesauce (you could also use 1/4 cup cooking oil if applesauce is unavailable)
1 tbsp. raw turbinado sugar (optional)

1. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper or foil cupcake cases. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, wheat germ, and walnuts. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and set aside.

3. In another bowl, combine the bananas (including the "egg" banana), brown sugar, granulated sugar, and applesauce. Add this banana mixture all at once into the well in the dry mixture. Stir until just moistened - the batter will be lumpy.
**Do not overmix as this will create tunnels and pointy tops on your finished muffins.**

4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin (an ice-cream scoop is your friend here!) Sprinkle the unbaked muffins with a little turbinado sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

The basic banana bread recipe (and cooking times) are from The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (1996 edition). I got the inspiration to add the wheat germ and turbinado sugar from Cooking Light's Orange-Cranberry Wheat Germ Muffin recipe which I love so much! The nutmeg and brown sugar additions were just last-minute changes I decided to try out - thank goodness they worked! I know messing with baking recipes can be a bit risky!

Pesto and Veggie Pasta

The original recipe for this called for purchased pesto - like it's hard to make! lol :) I've included the pesto recipe I used. I also just found out you can freeze pesto for up to 3 months - little added incentive to just make it!

This dish is far from low-fat but the good thing is the majority of the fat is unsaturated... hey, have to make myself feel better for it somehow! Plus, it's a good source of protein since I used whole-wheat pasta and it has all that cheese! Eh, once in a while it's OK - not like I eat like this every day! :)

The zucchini was so yummy with the pesto and the grape tomatoes I used complemented the sweetness of the basil nicely (they also provided a nice contrast to the cheese). My only gripe about this dish was that the photo from the magazine was so pretty and mine just looked really messy! Needless to say, I did not take a photo of it. Maybe I should have taken a photo before adding the goat cheese or just sprinkled the goat cheese on top. Next time... ;) I can tell you, it tasted far better than it looked!

2 Servings

Pesto Recipe (this made enough for 3 [1/8 cup] servings of pesto)
1/2 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp. dried parsley or 1/4 cup firm packed fresh parsley
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/8 cup pine nuts
1 garlic clove, quartered (superfood!)
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/8 cup olive oil (superfood!)

1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Cover and process with several on-off pulses until a paste forms, stopping the machine several times and scraping down the sides.

Pesto and Veggie Pasta
4 ounces penne, ziti, or fusili pasta
1/2 tbsp. olive oil (superfood!)
1/2-1 medium zucchini, sliced (you could also add some yellow squash to this if you have it on-hand)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced (superfood!)
1/4 cup reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 large tomato diced or 7-8 grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced (superfood!)
1/4 cup pesto (recipe above)
1/4 cup soft goat cheese, cut into small cubes

Pesto and Veggie Pasta
1. Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain and then return it to the pot.

2. While the past cooks, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the squash and garlic to the hot oil. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broth and simmer until the broth is almost completely evaporated and the squash is tender. Remove from the heat and stir in the tomatoes.

3. Add the squash mixture, pesto, and goat cheese to the pasta. Toss to combine.

I used the Summer Pesto Pasta recipe from the August/September 2005 issue of Cooking Pleasures magazine for this. I found the pesto recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (1996 edition).

Four-Bean Chili

I used a couple different recipes to come up with this! I started out with a three-bean chili recipe from Cooking Light and then added some other things to it. It's a great one for cleaning out the pantry!
I realize "chili beans" are really just pinto beans but I still counted them as a fourth bean ;)
As far as I can tell, this is vegan/dairy-free if you leave off the sour cream and cheese.
I served this with cornbread muffins.

Serves 3 (it freezes well so plan on making the whole recipe even if you're just feeding 1!)

1 tsp. olive oil (superfood!)
1/2 cup onion, chopped (superfood!)
1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp. minced garlic (superfood!)
3/8 cup water
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (superfood!)
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 can (15 1/2 oz.) chili beans
1 can (15 1/2 oz.) black beans (superfood!)
1/2 can (15 1/2 oz.) kidney beans (superfood!)
1/2 can (15 1/2 oz.) cannelini beans (superfood!)
1/2 can (14 1/2 oz.) no-salt added diced tomatoes, undrained (superfood!)
1/2 can (14 1/2 oz.) reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 tbsp. yellow cornmeal (I've decided to leave this out next time)
1/4 cup beer
Fat-free sour cream (optional garnish)
Sharp cheddar (optional garnish)
Additional chopped raw onions (optional garnish)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, and garlic and saute about 3 minutes.

2. Stir in the water, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, basil, oregano, sugar, beans, vegetable broth, beer, an
d tomatoes. Bring this mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes.

3. Stir in cornmeal; cook 2 minutes longer. Serve with optional toppings - cheese, sour cream, chopped onions.

This is based on two recipes - the Three-Bean Chili from the January/February 2008 issue of Cooking Light recipe and the Chili recipe I found on Annie's Eats (I need to get the new URL for her blog so I can link that appropriately).

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Menu - Week of March 30-April 5

This is my 200th post :) Pretty sad that it's only being used for a menu but whatever! I don't have anything else to post about at the moment!

Sunday - Summer pesto pasta with a Goddess salad for myself; chicken Parmesan with spaghetti and home-made marinara for DH.

Monday - Black bean soup with sherry; Chicken enchiladas for hubby. I might actually have the soup for lunch and then have veggie enchiladas for dinner... still deciding!

Tuesday - Baked tofu with peanut sauce. I'll also have some type of green veggie on the side; hubby will have a burger with blue cheese and all his favourite toppings.

Wednesday - Quinoa tabouli salad (I'm so excited to finally be trying quinoa!); lemon-mustard chicken with rice and broccoli for hubby.

Thursday - Spring vegetable stew with soft polenta; Parmesan pork chop (going to try the Giada recipe) for DH.

Friday - More quinoa! :) Peruvian baked quinoa and cheese (sort of a better for you version of mac and cheese I guess...); DH will have tacos.

Saturday - So far I have kung pao tempeh triangles for myself for lunch... not sure what hubby will have. Dinner will be lemon-dill salmon croquettes with horseradish sauce and a salad.

I'm worried I'm not getting enough protein so I've decided to add fish (and maybe a little chicken here and there) back into my diet once or twice a week. Besides, I miss fish! I'll still be eating veg. most of the time since I've loved all the new recipes I've found! I'm not a calorie or anything else counter so trying to make sure I'm getting adequate protein is just too much of a pain - I know, such a quitter! There are just too many health benefits of fish that I feel I can't give it up completely...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Risi e Bisi

That's really just a fancy name for Rice and Peas :) I like the Italian name - fun to say! This was my first risotto-style dish and it turned out really well - I had it with a salad for dinner last night. It was really quick and easy to make which is always appreciated! This is also a decent source of protein (almost 11g per serving) and is low-fat! Yeay :) The only bummer is the sodium content but if you use low-sodium broth and omit the salt/use unsalted butter, you can control that.

Serves 2 (as usual, the amounts are a bit funny since the original recipe was for 6!)

2/3 tbsp. butter (I actually used the Earth Balance spread)
1/6 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup short- or medium-grain rice
5/6 cup (just measure a little less than a cup...) reduced-sodium vegetable broth
2/3 cup water
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly-ground black pepper
Sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1/8 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. dried basil
2/3 cup frozen green peas, thawed

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion to the pan and saute until golden.

2. Add the rice to the onion and saute 1 minute. Add the broth, water, salt, pepper, oregano, and basil. Bring the mixture to a boil.

3. Cover the pan and reduce the heat. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Stir in the peas, cheese, and parsley and let cook 2-3 minutes more.

This recipe is from the January/February 2008 issue of Cooking Light magazine. The only changes I made were to add the oregano and basil. I also used the non-dairy spread in place of butter.

Fusili with Pizziola Sauce

This was very similar to the Pasta alla Puttanesca but it also included goat cheese which added a whole other layer of yumminess to it! The sauce is spicy but the cheese really helps mellow it out (but not too much that it's boring...)
This was a quick and easy dinner - great for busy weeknights!

Serves 2

1 cup chopped onion (superfood!)
1 tbsp. olive oil (superfood!)
1 tbsp. minced garlic (I just minced three cloves) - superfood!
1 (14-ounce) can tomatoes (superfood!)
1 tbsp. fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried
Pinch of salt (1/4-1/2 tsp. is sufficient)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 pound fusili, radiatore, or other short pasta
1/4 cup pitted and chopped black olives (I used kalamata)
1 tbsp. capers, drained
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 1/2 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)

1. In a medium skillet, saute the onion in the olive oil until soft, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until golden, 1-2 minutes.

2. Empty the can of tomatoes, including the juice, into a bowl. Crush them using your hands or the back of a spoon. Add the crushed tomatoes to the onion mixture. If you are using dried oregano, add it now. Add the salt, pepper, and sugar and simmer until the sauce is thick, about 15 minutes.

3. While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta.

4. Stir the olives, capers, red pepper flakes, parsley, and fresh oregano (if you're using fresh) into the sauce. Simmer another minute or so.

5. Drain the pasta and mix the sauce and pasta together. Add the goat cheese and serve.

Surprise! ;) This was from The Occasional Vegetarian from Karen Lee. I bought the April issue of "Vegetarian Times" yesterday so I'll be able to branch out a bit on my recipe sources! I also found an old computer CD (I've been spring cleaning this week!) that is full of vegetarian recipes... I'll have to dust that off and try some of those out, too!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cannellini with Salsa Verde

I had this with a stuffed tomato for dinner last night. It was so yummy - great source of low-fat protein! I think the only thing that would have improved the meal would have been a green veggie of some sort (bit hard to remember these things when you're trying to make this along with a steak for your carnivore hubby! ;)

Quick note on the lack of photos lately.. I have been taking them and they are stored on my digital camera. However, I am having technical difficulties! My desktop computer is completely kaput - the motherboard died on it and since it's an old computer I won't be able to fix it... :(
My USB cable from my digital camera (also old!) also decided to quit on me so I'm having to take the memory card out of the camera and stick it in the slot on the front of my printer. I have hooked the printer up to my work (PC) laptop but I'm not sure if I can still stick the memory card in the printer and have the photos transfer to the computer (this worked beautifully on my desktop PC)... since I'm on spring break from work this week I'll have a go at it and see if I can get some photos back on here! Hopefully they turned out OK.. bit hard to tell since the little screen on the back of my camera is teeny (and the thing has pretty crappy resolution anyway!)
Aye! Technology is not my friend!

Serves 2

1 green onion, chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. flour
1/8 cup white wine
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp. chopped pine nuts
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cooked cannellini or other white beans
Optional (I omitted it since I didn't have any) - 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, saute the green onion in olive oil over medium heat until they begin to colour. Add the garlic and saute for another minute.

2. Add the flour; stir and cook 1 minute more. Add the wine, broth, pine nuts, parsley, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens. If you are using the cilantro, add it now.

3. Process the sauce in either a blender or food processor.

**You can make the sauce up to this point several hours ahead. Refrigerate until you are ready to use it.**

4. Return the sauce to the saucepan and add the beans. Cook just until the beans are heated through, 2-3 minutes. Serve warm.

From Karen Lee's The Occasional Vegetarian (yes, I really like this book! I do think it's time to invest in some new vegetarian cookbooks, though! Broaden my horizons a bit).

Raita with Mixed Vegetables

This is a great little "salad" or garnish to serve alongside anything spicy - the combination of the yogurt and cucumber has a great cooling effect.

This makes 2 1/2 cups

2 cups plain nonfat or lowfat yogurt
2 tbsp. nonfat sour cream
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 tomato, seeded and diced
2 tbsp. diced red onion
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground cumin

Combine the yogurt, sour cream, cucumber, tomato, onion, lemon juice, salt, and cumin in a bowl. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

**This can be prepared up to 1 day ahead - keep refrigerated.**

From Karen Lee's book The Occasional Vegetarian. The only change I made was to omit 1/4 cup of diced red bell pepper.

Vegetable Couscous with Steeped Paprika

I had this as a main dish since I wasn't very hungry (and couscous can be pretty filling!) along with a raita (sort of a cucumber salad). It would also be great used as a side dish for a chicken or fish meal.

Serves 2

2/3 cup vegetable stock
1/3 tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
Good sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup uncooked couscous
1/3 tbsp. olive oil
1/6 cup chopped onion
1 green onion, green and white parts
Small amount of chopped carrot (I think I used 3 baby carrots)
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped, seeded tomato
1 tsp. dried parsley

1. Bring the broth to a boil in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Remove 1 tbsp. of the broth and dissolve the paprika in it. Pour the paprika-broth mixture back into the saucepan. Add a little salt and pepper and return the broth to a boil.

2. Remove the broth mixture from the heat and add the couscous grains. Stir and cover then allow it to sit off the heat for 5 minutes.

3. Heat the olive oil, onion, and green onion in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute for about 2 minutes or until the onion begins to colour. Add the carrot and bell pepper and saute an additional minute. Add the tomato, saute 1 minute more. Add a little more salt if desired as well as another grind or two of black pepper, then stir. Add the parsley, stir again. Remove the mixture from the heat.

4. Transfer the veggies from the skillet to the couscous pan and fluff as you mix. Serve immediately.

**This can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Return the mixture to at least room temperature prior to serving.**

I found this in The Occasional Vegetarian by Karen Lee. I didn't make any changes :) Next time, though, I may try steeping a different spice or blend of spices in the broth and then add that to the couscous.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Menu - March 22-28

Saturday - DH had Parmesan tilapia and broccoli; I had vegetable couscous with steeped paprika and raita with mixed vegetables. It never ceases to amaze me how much more interesting vegetarian recipes sound! ;)

Sunday - Steak for DH (since I'm so nice, I put bleu cheese on the top for him); cannelini with salsa verde and a stuffed tomato for myself.

Monday - Radiatore with pizziola sauce. I'll add some meat (either seasoned ground beef or Italian sausage) for DH. I don't radiatore pasta so it will be just whatever I have on hand..

Tuesday - Chili! I'm having a yummy-sounding 3-bean chili since I lost the vegan chili from Vegan Planet that was saved on my computer (damn motherboard!); DH will have beef chili. I'll also make either cornbread or biscuits to go with it. Yum!

Wednesday - Rice and peas for myself; Buffalo chicken bites for hubby.

Thursday - Stuffed chicken breast for DH; black bean and salsa soup for me.

Friday - Sicilian spaghettini for me; spaghetti bolognaise (can't spell that all of a sudden!) for DH.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Practically Painless (and 100% meatless!) Manicotti

I've wanted to make manicotti for a long time! To be honest, I've had it at restaurants and always thought it was a bit boring/I could make it a whole lot better at home! Guess what?! You can, and it really doesn't have to be a huge PITA! ;) This is based on a recipe from Cooking Light which uses uncooked manicotti.

I made two versions of it for dinner on Friday night - one meatless for myself and one with a filling similar to the sausage stuffed shells that DH likes. This one is the vegetarian version; meaty version coming soon! Believe it or not, this is fairly low-fat (original recipe had 9 grams - mine was probably right around there).

Serves 1

1/8 part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup fat-free cottage cheese
1/4 cup spinach (I used frozen spinach that I thawed - I originally put 1/2 cup in my manicotti but I have decided that I was a bit too much so I've cut it back to 1/4 cup)
1/16 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/8 tsp. dried oregano
Sprinkle of red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried parsley
A little salt and black pepper
1 small clove of garlic, minced
2 manicotti shells
Marinara sauce (I used home-made red wine marinara)
1/4 cup water

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine the mozzarella, cottage cheese, spinach, Parmesan, oregano, parsley, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Spoon the cheese mixture into the uncooked manicotti shells.

3. Pour some marinara sauce into a baking dish. Arrange the stuffed pasta shells in a single layer over the sauce. Top the shells with the remaining sauce. Pour 1/4 cup water into the dish. Sprinkle a little additional mozzarella over the sauce. Cover the dish tightly with foil.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until the manicotti shells are tender. Let the pasta dish sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Based on the Easy Meatless Manicotti recipe from Cooking Light magazine (May 2005 issue).
I really didn't make many changes - I just added the parsley and red pepper flakes. Everything else remained unchanged.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Eight-Treasure Fried Rice

I found this recipe as part of a feature on Chinese New Year meals. Totally forgot about it during Chinese New Year but oh well ;) Better late than never, right?!
The original recipe called for shrimp and sausage to be two of the eight treasures... I made mine vegetarian by subbing some marinated tofu and broccoli for those items. The eight treasures here are represented by: eggs, tofu, mushrooms, peas, broccoli, pineapple, cashews, and cilantro.
For next time, I'd make it more colorful by adding some red (a lucky colour in the Chinese culture) with some red bell pepper or even some cherry or grape tomatoes which I'd add after cooking. You could also easily make this vegan by omitting the egg and using agave nectar in place of the honey. Since tofu is a great egg substitute, you won't miss it! Just be sure to replace it with an ingredient to keep the eight treasure theme going!

This made quite a lot! Probably enough for 2 main-dish servings or 4 side-dish servings. The amounts are a bit weird since I divided the original recipe by 3...

White or brown rice, cooked and cooled (I used 1/4 cup rice and 1/2 cup water to cook it)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 egg, beaten
1/12 cup chopped onion (probably works out to be 2-3 tbsp.)
3 white mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
1/4 cup diced pineapple
1/4 cup cashews (I chopped mine up a little)
1/6 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/6 cup sweet-and-sour sauce
Small amount of chopped cilantro
1/4 cup broccoli florets
1/4 block extra-firm tofu
1 tbsp. honey or agave nectar
1 tbsp. orange juice (you could also use pineapple juice or half orange/half pineapple if desired)
1 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
A quick shake of red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. vinegar

1. Marinate tofu. Squeeze tofu between paper towels to remove the excess moisture. Cut into small cubes. Mix together the honey, orange juice, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and vinegar in a zip-lock bag. Add the tofu and toss to coat. Let it marinate in the fridge for about 30 minutes - it doesn't need long. Work on the rest of the recipe while the tofu marinates.

2. Heat 1/2 tbsp. of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over high heat until hot. Add the egg and scramble until set. Remove the eggs from the skillet and set aside.

3. Heat the remaining oil in the same skillet over medium heat until hot. Cook the onion 15 seconds or until shiny and fragrant. Add the tofu (discard the marinade); stir-fry until cooked through. Add the mushrooms, broccoli, and peas; cook one minute.

4. Add the rice and toss to combine. Add the egg, pineapple, cashews, green onions, and sweet-and-sour sauce. Cook 2-3 minutes until the rice is tender and all ingredients are heated through. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

This is based on an eight-treasure fried rice recipe I found in the February/March 2008 issue of Cooking Pleasures magazine. The tofu marinade is based on the Honey-Glazed Chicken Stir-Fry recipe from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (1996 edition).

Black Beans and Rice

This is a really quick and simple weeknight dinner. Plus, it has lots of protein so it's great for vegetarians (or carnivores who just want a break from meat!) Yummy with a colorful side salad.

Serves 2

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/8 cup chopped bell pepper
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 can (15 ounce) black beans, undrained
3/8 cup water
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tbsp. sherry, cooking wine, or cider vinegar (I used sherry)
1 cup hot cooked rice (white, brown, or wild)

1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Saute the onion, bell pepper, and garlic until tender, about 8-10 minutes.

2. Add in the remaining ingredients (except the rice) and stir until boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer 20-30 minutes until the sauce is reduced. Serve over rice.

From the "Fresh Mama's: Whole Cooking for Our Whole Families" cookbook.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Indian Lentil Soup

I love Indian flavours and lentils so I was excited to find this soup! It's really tasty! This is a fairy quick meal so it's good for a weeknight dinner when paired with a salad or some brown rice.

Makes 2 servings (excuse the weird amounts - I divided a recipe by 3!)

1/3-2/3 cup green lentils
1/3 onion, chopped
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/12 tsp. turmeric
1/6 tsp. coriander
1/6 tsp. curry powder
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1/8 cup carrot, diced
1/12 cup oatmeal
1/3 tsp. tomato paste
2 cups water or vegetable broth
Vegetable oil (I used olive)

1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the cumin, coriander, curry powder, and garlic. Stir for 1 minute until the flavours bloom/become fragrant. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Stir in the tomato paste.

2. Add 2 cups water or broth, carrots, lentils, and oatmeal. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft. You can add salt and pepper to taste if desired.

**Note, the original recipe also called for 1/6 cup diced potato. I didn't feel like chopping up a potato for that small of an amount so I left it out! Next time I may add some chopped red potato.**

This recipe is from "Fresh Mama's: Whole Cooking for Our Whole Families." That's the cookbook one of my student's parents gave me. :) It's compiled of healthy recipes using whole ingredients.

Yin-Yang Tofu Stir-Fry

I did take an actual photo of this but since my desktop computer is still not working (DH is thinking it's the motherboard which is going to be expensive since it's an older computer and will also need new memory, something else, and something else... no, I am not the computer nerd in this family! lol)... maybe I'll just get my iMac instead ;) In addition to that, my USB cable for my digital camera also went on the fritz and my work laptop that my printer is hooked up to will not do any of the fancy printer features like scan or allow me to stick my camera card in the front of the printer and then get my pictures from there... yes, high drama! lol ;) The cute dragon-y yin-yang will have to do for now!

So, I decided to call this yin-yang tofu since it's really called sweet and sour tofu and I figured "oh, opposites and balance! I'll call it yin-yang!" Yes, I'm a nerd... :) Well, I'm a Libra and I do tai chi so all that balance, Zen, yin-yang stuff can't be helped..! I like my cheesy blog post title!

If you would like to make a more carnivorous version of this meal, I'm sure it would be great with some thinly cut chicken breast strips or shrimp!

One quick change I would make next time: I'd let the tofu marinate in a simple marinade made with the pineapple juice, honey, soy sauce, and hot sauce. It was a bit blah... :) I may also add some additional veggies such as carrots and mushrooms next time.

Enough blabbering... here's the recipe! This was enough for 2 servings.

1 block of water-packed extra-firm tofu (you will need the extra-firm, the wimpier stuff will not hold up as a stir-fry).

1 tsp. canola oil
1/4 tsp. salt, divided
1/4 tsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
1 bell pepper cut into strips (I always cheat and use the pre-cut, tri-coloured frozen stuff from Trader Joe's! hee hee)
3/4 cup pineapple juice, divided (I just got a can of pineapple "rings" and used the juice from that since I couldn't find pineapple juice at the store and was feeling too lazy to really hunt for it)
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. hot sauce
2 pineapple "rings", sliced into little triangles
1 cup broccoli
1 cup snow peas
1 tbsp. honey or agave nectar for vegan version
1 tbsp. thinly sliced green onions
Hot cooked long-grain rice
A little fresh cilantro as a garnish

1. Cut the tofu into small bite-sized squares. Arrange the pieces in a single layer on several layers of paper towels. Cover the tofu with additional paper towels and place a cutting board on top. Let it stand for about 15 minutes to drain. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and sprinkle with 1/8 tsp. salt. Cook 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer the tofu to a plate. Add the ginger, broccoli, and bell pepper to the pan; saute 2 minutes or until crisp tender.

3. Combine 2 tsp. pineapple juice and cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside. Add remaining pineapple juice to the pan. Stir in the remaining salt, honey, lemon juice, soy sauce, sugar, and hot sauce. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir well. Bring this mixture to a boil and then allow it to cook for 1 minute.

4. Return the tofu to the pan, stirring gently to coat. Stir in the onions, peas, pineapple. Spoon the mixture on top of hot cooked rice and then sprinkle with some chopped cilantro.

I doctored up the Sweet and Sour Tofu recipe from the June 2007 issue of Cooking Light magazine. I would link to it but I can't find it on their website...
My additions: pineapple pieces, honey, broccoli, snow peas. I also used regular old hot sauce in place of the chili garlic sauce that was called for (might add a clove of garlic next time...)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mulligatawny Soup

I love the name of this soup - always makes me think of Irish pubs! lol :) Totally not an "Irish pub" sort of taste, though! I have been wanting to make this for a long time and have had the recipe tagged, I just haven't gotten around to it!
Well, this past Saturday I was driving home from the grocery store with all sorts of exciting ingredients to make lots of yummies over the weekend... unfortunately, as I was driving I noticed I was going from sweating to shivering and that my throat was getting scratchy. Great, here comes that nasty cold that everyone has had that I was sure I had managed to avoid. :( Good thing I was planning on soup for Saturday night's dinner! By about 4pm, I was just feeling so crummy and the last thing I wanted to do was stand in the kitchen chopping veggies. But, being the bit of a masochist that I am, I did it anyway! Boy, was it worth it! As yucky and stuffed up as I was feeling at that point, the soup still smelled so wonderful while it cooked and the spiciness really helped soothe my throat. Yum! Hooray for soup! :)
Here's the recipe:
This made enough for 2-3 servings

1 1/4 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped apple (I used Red Delicious and left the peel on)
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/4 can (14.5 oz) diced peeled tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/6 cup long grain rice
1/8 cup chopped onion
1/8 cup raisins
1/2 tbsp. snipped fresh parsley
1/2-1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven combine the broth, apples, carrot, undrained tomatoes, celery, uncooked rice, onion, raisins, parsley, curry powder, lemon juice, pepper, nutmeg, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.

2. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the rice and carrots are tender. Enjoy :)

The original recipe called for chicken broth in place of vegetable broth and to add 3/4 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey after simmering for 20-30 minutes. I wanted to make mine vegetarian so, obviously, I omitted the chicken!

The original recipe is from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (1996 edition).

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Anthos Lentil Soup

I found this recipe in Cooking Light and tagged it as a "must-try" :) I love lentils! This has a nice tangy taste from the vinegar and the veggie combination is really yummy (yeay parsnips!) Enjoy :)

I didn't take a picture because it really wasn't very attractive! It did taste really good, though!

Changes I made from the original recipe:
*I made it vegetarian/vegan by switching the chicken broth for vegetable broth.
*I used onion in place of shallots.
*Since I didn't have sherry vinegar (and wasn't about to go hunt some down for 1.5 tbsp...), I used 1 tbsp. of white wine vinegar and 1/2 tbsp. of sherry.

This made enough for about 3 servings (I had two large bowls of it!)
1 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cup baking potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup sliced carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
3/8 cup chopped parsnip
1/6 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp. sherry
3 cups vegetable broth
3/8 cup lentils
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
A little sprinkle of sea salt

1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the potato, celery, parsnip, and onions to the pan; saute for 7 minutes or until tender.

2. Add the sherry and vinegar to deglaze the pan. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits. Add the veggie broth, lentils, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer 45 minutes or until the veggies and lentils are tender. Discard the bay leaf.

3. *I skipped this bit because it would have been just one more thing to clean.. lol so lazy!* Transfer half the lentil mixture to a blender. Remove the center piece from the blender lid to allow the steam to escape; secure blender lid. Place a clean towel over the opening in the blender lid. Blend until smooth, scraping the sides of the blender. Return the lentil mixture to the pan; stir in pepper and salt.

I found the original recipe in the January/February 2008 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Guilt-Free Rice Pudding

**Update - it is even better a day later! :) I threw the leftovers in the fridge yesterday and just heated some up for a little pre-lunch goody! Yum :)**

Mmmm... I have been craving rice pudding for goodness knows how long! I can't remember the last time I had it but I know it's been way too long! It was sort of a staple dessert for my family growing up. We really only ate dessert after Sunday lunch but we often had rice pudding... it's like ambrosia to me!

I found this recipe in Cooking Light and tagged it to try but since my husband won't eat it, I've been reluctant to try it. I finally decided "oh well, too bad for him" and made it anyway! So creamy and delicious - he obviously doesn't know what he's missing ;)

It's really low-fat and I skipped the salt that was called for in the recipe... the egg does add quite a bit of cholesterol but it's really not much since it's only 1/4 egg per serving. Besides, it's protein! :) You could use 2 egg whites in place of the whole egg to make it even less of a guilty dessert.

Serves 4

1 cup cooked short-grain rice (I used 1/2 cup dry rice and 1 cup water to get this)
1 3/4 cup fat-free milk
1/6 cup sugar
1/8 cup nonfat dry milk
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1. Combine the rice, liquid and dry milks, and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat; bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes; stirring occasionally.

2. Place the egg in a medium bowl. Gradually add half of the rice mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk while adding. Return the egg mixture to the pan/remaining rice over medium-low heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Based on the Rice Pudding recipe from the October 2007 issue of Cooking Light magazine.
Changes: I actually used medium-grain rice since I couldn't find short-grain that wasn't obnoxiously expensive! I left out the raisins (I'm actually eating those on the side!) and I added some nutmeg in place of half the cinnamon. My mom makes rice pudding and uses nutmeg so we can thank her for that :)
She also bakes it - I am definitely going to have to remember to ask for the recipe!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Mixed Vegetables al Forno

Like the minestrone I made, this is another great one for cleaning out the fridge! It was really good but I think it could use a little more "oomph!" Maybe some basil? White wine? I'll have to experiment with the seasonings on this one a bit! I served it with rice tonight but have leftovers that I'll have with couscous for lunch tomorrow.

This would also make a good side dish for a chicken or fish meal.

Serves 2

1/2 medium onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow crookneck squash, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
3-4 medium-sized white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup green beans
2 tomatoes, seeded and cut into 8 pieces each
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 parsnip, peeled and sliced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Put all vegetables in a Dutch oven or other lidded oven-proof pot. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Stir. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Serve hot over rice or couscous.

This is based on the Mixed Vegetables al Forno recipe from The Occasional Vegetarian.
The changes I made included adding the parsnip (forgot how much I LOVE parsnip!), carrots, and celery. I used regular white mushrooms in place of a portobello and used regular tomatoes in place of plum tomatoes.

Menu - Week of March 2-8

**This may actually have some repeats from last week since I ended up changing some stuff around ;)

Sunday - Mixed vegetables al forno for me; DH had a couple tuna melts (this was not a "make something interesting for DH;)

Monday - Burgers with blue cheese! DH will have beef; I'll have a veggie burger. Whole wheat buns, lots of other toppings - tomato, red onion, lettuce, spicy mustard, whatever else I can dig up!

Tuesday - Anthos lentil soup; chicken fajitas for hubby.

Wednesday - I'll be out of town for a work thing... fend for yourself night :)

Thursday - Kheema with rice; chicken adobo with rice

Friday - Sweet and sour tofu; chicken Parmesan bundles

Saturday - Mulligatawny soup; margarita salmon


This was such great soup - it had a little of everything in it since I was using two recipes and sort of just making it up as I went! :) Great for cleaning out the fridge! I used white wine in this recipe which was great, but I think next time I'd use red instead. I think it would go a little better with the kidney beans and tomatoes in this soup.
Like hubby's beef stew, I was really wishing I had some great Italian bread to go with this... sigh

Oh my gosh, I made a TON of soup! I think this would be enough for 6! Good thing I can freeze it...

2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup pasta (I used rotini)
1/2 (14.5 ounce) can tomatoes
1 cup diced zucchini
1 stalk celery, chopped

1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 (15 ounce) can kidney beans
1 1/3 cup white wine (thinking back, that was probably way too much! Hello drunken veggies! lol)
1/8 tsp. dried basil
1/8 tsp. dried oregano

1. Cook the garlic in the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the onion, celery and carrots. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring often.

2. Add the wine and pasta. Cook 2 minutes more. Add the vegetable broth and stir well. Mix in the tomatoes, beans, zucchini, bay leaf, oregano, and dried basil. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat and simmer for an additional 5 minutes or until all the veggies are tender.

Serve with Parmesan cheese if desired (of course, it won't be vegan if you add the cheese!)

I used the Quick Minestrone recipe from Cooking Pleasures Magazine (oops.. forgot to write down the month/year when I ripped this out of the magazine and the website no longer tells that..)
I also used the Minestrone Soup with Basil Pesto recipe from Ingrid Croce's The San Diego Restaurant Cookbook.