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Posts Tagged ‘spicy’

I have always been more of a baker than a chef.  Certain things in cooking tend to elude me.  I know that I like my food to have a lot of flavor but I don’t always know that right way to achieve the flavors that I am looking for.  This has never proven more true than when I cook tofu.  So, with the help of several cook books and internet resources I am beginning my own personal Tofu Experiment. 

For the Tofu Experiment I will be making at least one meal a week using tofu in different ways.  Tofu tends to take on the flavors of whatever you season it with and can be prepared in a variety of ways.  I figure that this will encourage me to flex my culinary muscles a bit before they atrophy.  Hopefully the end result will be scrumptious and add a few new recipes to my repertoire.

For the first installment of the Tofu Experiment I took a simple tofu scramble and (in the words of Emeril) kicked it up a notch.  I love spicy food so I decided to do a South of the Border inspired tofu scramble.  It ended up being a big enough that I will be eating for lunch for the next couple of days.  But I don’t mind, it’s really tasty.

Salsa Verde Tofu Scramble

1/2 medium Onion  (diced)

3 cloves Garlic (minced)

1 Red or Green Bell Pepper (diced)

2 tsp. Olive Oil

1 tsp. Chili Powder

2 tsp. Cumin

1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

1-1/2 cups Salsa Verde

12 oz. Extra Firm Tofu

2 cups Frozen or Canned Corn

1- 15 oz. can Black Beans

Before you get started cooking you are going to want to press the excess water out of your tofu.  My technique for this is really simple.  Place your tofu on a plate and cover it with another plate.  Place several heavy books on th top plate and let it sit for about 20-30 minutes.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  When the oil is ready add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin and red pepper flakes.  Continuing at medium heat, saute this mixture for about 5-7 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.  Add the pressed tofu to the skillet and break it apart using your spatula.  Add the salsa verde and mix well.  Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring frequently.  Add the black beans and corn and continue to cook until the liquid is absorbed and the beans and corn have been thoroughly heated.  You can serve this on its own or roll it up in a tortilla with some guacamole.

The Verdict: This tofu experiment is a resounding YUM.  The first night I ate it all by itself with some era salsa and triscuits.  Yesterday I had it as a burrito for lunch and it was completely satisfying.

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I am finally back on my feet, and after a course of antibiotics and lots of sleep I am ready to start cooking again.  While I was down for the count most of my meals consisted of canned soup, fruit and whatever else was lying around.  So, needless to say, I have been itching to get in the kitchen and cook some real food.  This weekend provided the perfect opportunity to whip up some of my favorite comfort foods. 

For me comfort food is seasonal.  Something that hits the spot in winter or fall, may not do the trick in spring or summer.  Since we are in the midst of fall (with occasional winter tendencies) comfort food favorites include potatoes, homemade applesauce, cornbread and muffins.  Yum!  Just thinking about them gives me the warm fuzzies. 

For this adventure in comfort I made use of one new recipe and one old favorite.  The new recipe is for Sizzlin’ Home Fries.  It takes the classic goodness of pan fried potatoes and kicks it up a notch with some spicy goodness.  The old favorite is my Struselicious Banana Mini Muffin recipe, which has all of the flavor of banana bread packed into tasty little bite-sized morsels.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Sizzlin’ Home Fries

2-3 potatoes (I like Reds or Yukon Golds)

2 tsp. Olive Oil

1/2 Red Bell Pepper, diced

1/2 Green Bell Pepper, Diced

1/2 Medium onion, chopped (I use sweet or Vidalia onions)

1/4-1/2 cup Water

1/2 tbsp. Garlic, minced

1 tsp. Chili Powder

1/2 tsp. Cumin

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/8 tsp. Black Pepper

Wash potatoes and cut them into 1/2 inch  cubes.  Put the olive oil and potatoes in a large skillet and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the bell peppers, onion and water to the skillet then cover and cook for 5-10 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.  (You may need to add a bit more water as the vegetables cook.)  Removed the lid from the skillet and add the garlic and seasonings.  Cook uncovered for about 5 more minutes.  Serve just as they are or with your favorite hot sauce.

If you like a bit more heat you can add a diced jalapeno chile or for a different flavor add a diced chipotle chili.  If you want a more mild version just switch up the seasonings.  Keep it simple by using just salt and pepper or be as creative as you want. 

Struselicious Banana Mini MuffinsStrucelicious Banana Nut Muffins

1 cup Unbleached White flour

1 cup Whole Wheat pastry  flour

1/2 tsp. Baking soda

1/3 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1 cup mashed Banana

3/4 cup Brown Sugar

3 tbsp. Your favorite Non-Dairy milk or Water

1 tsp. Vanilla

In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda then set aside.  In a large bowl, cream the Earth Balance Buttery spread and brown sugar.  Beat the mashed banana into the sugar mixture.  Add the non-dairy milk or water and vanilla into the banana mixture then add the flour mixture.  Stir until well combined.  If you like you can fold in 1/2 cup of chopped nuts. (I like pecans but I know a lot of people like walnuts.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spoon batter into a well-oiled mini muffin tin so that each cup is about 3/4 full.  Then mix strusel as follows:

1/3 cup Unbleached White or Whole Wheat Flour

1/3 cup Brown Sugar

1/3 cup White Sugar

3-4 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/8 tsp. Nutmeg

A generous dash of Clove

Using a fork, combine the above ingredients in a small bowl until it forms small pea-sized clumps.  Spoon strusel mix over the muffin batter so that it fills the rest of each cup.

Place the muffin tin in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes.  Cooking times may vary depending on your oven so keep a close eye on you muffins while they are baking.  If you want full-sized muffins prepare them the same way as the minis but use a regular-sized muffin tin and increase baking time to 25-30 minutes.

Now that I have shared some of my vegan comfort food favorites I would love to know what your favorite comfort foods are.

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As mentioned in the previous post, I was experimenting with some new recipes this weekend.  The lentil loaf recipe appealed to me because I had some leftover rice in the fridge and I love lentils.  I put my own twist on this recipe which I found in the New Farm  Cookbook edited by Louise Hagler and Dorothy Bates.  I highly recommend this cookbook.  It has many great recipes that can be customized to suit anyone’s taste.

Spicy Lentil Loaf

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups Lentils

3-1/2 cups water

2 small or 1 large Onion, chopped

2 cups Brown Rice, cooked

1/2 tsp. minced Garlic (optional)

1/3 cup + 1/3 cup Hot or Mild Salsa, divided

 Seasonings of your choice (I like cumin, chili powder and crushed red peppers)

 

Directions:

Rinse and sort you lentils then cook them with 3-1/2 cups of water.  Lentils are ready when almost all of the water has been absorbed.  While the lentils are cooking, sauté your onions and garlic in oil or water until onions are clear and soft.  In a large bowl, partially mash lentils with a fork or potato masher and combine with the onion and garlic mixture, brown rice, 1/3 cup salsa and seasonings.  Firmly press this mixture into a well oiled loaf pan and cover the top with remaining salsa.

Bake for 60 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

I enjoyed this with some vegan cornbread and mixed green salad.  How do you like you lentils prepared?

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