Archive for the 'tofu' Category

27
Feb
12

chicken/dance.

So, I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten my body weight in chicken these past few weeks. In the days leading up to my abandoning vegetarianism, I was sure I’d take to the gamey and processed meats of which I’d never before experienced. I had vivid dreams of lamb and was openly envious when people spoke of prosciutto, so I couldn’t have foreseen myself clinging to America’s most over-exposed foul. And yet, I’ve clung. Nearly everything I’ve made recently is chicken-centric, such as these great feta-stuffed chicken burgers I found courtesy of Weight Watchers:

Ingredients:

feta stuffed chicken burgers

1 lb chicken breast, ground, raw

1 tbsp Oregano

¼ tsp garlic powder (I used 1 clove of fresh)

7 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled

1 c lettuce (I used spinach)

¾ c peppers, red, roasted and sliced

Begin by heating up the Panini Press and coat it with olive oil cooking spray. Then mix the chicken, feta, garlic and oregano in a large bowl. Divide into four balls and press them into patties. Put them on the grill for about 7-8 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, I preheated the oven to 450 degrees. I chopped a head of cauliflower, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted those in the oven for about 15 minutes. I removed those and drizzled with lemon juice. I spent about 2 minutes sautéing the spinach in a pan with a little cooking spray, salt and pepper.

This recipe is, like, embarrassingly easy. I’m pretty sure it took me less than 20 minutes to cook, preparation and all. The burgers came out really juicy, and the feta and oregano were the perfect simple flavor combination. New favorite? Methinks so.

feta stuffed chicken burgers topped with spinach and red peppers, alongside roasted cauliflower

As far as the sweaty is concerned, I have been going to a dance class that I just adore. In the past I’d found that dance classes in NYC typically range from the awkward white girl zumba to the wannabe Broadway auditions, and there is very little demand for the working professional who simply wants to rediscover her shoddy childhood technique and learn a fun combo every once in a while (me). Imagine my surprise when I found a single class offered thrice (go with it – I’m trying out my Shakespearian tongue) a week that occurs after work and boasts an encouraging, delightful teacher. I’m thrilled.

The class ends at 8 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, though, a fact which kept me from regularly attending when I originally discovered it a few months back. At the time I thought of the timing as a major drawback, assuming that I’d be eating dinner by 9 p.m. at the earliest and therefore dreading the inevitable 9 hour stretch between lunch and dinner. Luckily, I recently began subscribing to the 5-6 short, light meals a day school of thought, so I’m able to do both things I love. Hallelujah. Moving forward, though, I’ll need to take care to have short preparations when cooking those nights. I found this great recipe for Parmesan chicken with Caesar roasted romaine in Bon Appetit magazine last week, and prepared it Monday in about 20 minutes. Seriously.  I’m beating Rachael Ray at her own game.

Ingredients:

Parmesan chicken and roasted romaine

1 ½ lbs chicken breast cutlets

½ c grated Parmesan and pecorino cheese blend

½ c panko breadcrumbs

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 large hearts romaine, halved lengthwise

1 lemon, cut into wedges

Salt and Pepper, to taste

This recipe also called for anchovies, but I can’t seem to let go of that childhood aversion, so I omitted them. You start by reheating the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and put them on the baking sheet. Then combine cheese, panko, 2 tbsp oil, parsley, and one garlic clove in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and pat the mixture onto the chicken. Place in the oven, and roast for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, drizzle romaine with 1 tbsp oil and one chopped garlic clove. Season with salt and pepper, and place in the oven around the now golden chicken. The recipe says to roast for just 5 minutes longer, but I found my salmonella fearing self keeping them in there for at least 10. Remove from oven, and serve with lemon juice squeezed atop the whole plate.

This is one of the best meals I’ve made in recent memory. I was obsessed with what appeared to be a roasted chicken Caesar salad, yet needed no buttermilk dressing, buttery croutons, or any of the other unnecessary fattiness associated with components of the Caesar salad. This meal is a winner. Julius himself would be pleased.

Sadly, I had a few days last week in which I over-chickened. One such time happened last Friday, when I neglected to eat a proper dinner and headed home at about 10:30 p.m. On my way, I bought a chicken salad, which had the unfortunate 3:1 ratio of chicken to greens. I awoke feeling overly full and perplexed, as my late night cravings are usually of the cheese or baked goods families, and rarely constitute so much animal carcass. I found myself craving a little chicken distance after that experience, so I’ve decided to play vegetarian this week.

I made the Seared Tofu with Pine Nuts recipe I also found on Weight Watchers. I altered it a bit, as the original recipe called for Swiss Chard, and Trader Joe’s was without. I subbed a bag of mixed southern greens and some apple cider vinegar:

Parmesan chicken with Caesar roasted romaine

Ingredients:
4 tsp pine nuts

1 tbsp soy sauce

½ tsp black pepper

8 oz tofu, firm, drained and sliced crosswise into ½ inch slices

2 tsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bag mixed southern greens (collard, mustard and spinach)

¼ c Apple Cider vinegar

Set a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add pine nuts and sauté until golden, shaking often so they don’t burn, for about 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Combine soy sauce and pepper on a plate, add tofu and turn to coat.

Heat oil in the same pan over medium-high heat, add tofu and sear until golden, about 2 minutes a side. Remove from pan. Add garlic to the pan and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the greens and cook for a couple of minutes until they begin to wilt. Add apple cider vinegar and cook for another 30 seconds or so. Serve the greens under the tofu; sprinkle 1 tsp of pine nuts on top. This just may be my most favorite detox dinner ever, and it’s easy on the eyes as well. See below:

Seared tofu over southern greens and pine nuts

28
Feb
11

post-Mexico, curried squash and lentil soup, tofu.

This Winter has been quite the little bitch. She’s made me near antisocial with her ice storms, blizzards and general temperatures comparable to a witch’s teat as of late. It seems like she’ll start to warm, and suddenly we’re hit with more unsavory degrees. Everyone’s pretty pissed at her.

I got a few days of reprieve last weekend, when my friend got married in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The bride and groom are from outside Chicago, met in New York and currently live in London, but they thought Mexico would be the most reasonable climate for a February wedding. I had to tear myself away from the then-16 degree weather, but somehow I made it. Ohh, sarcasm. I’m a fan.

I spent several weeks trying to beat my lumpy post-holiday frame into submission, but it was resisting me pretty hard. I was spending, like, hours at the gym on the daily, getting to know the treadmills, bikes and elliptical machines better than any member of my family.  By the time I unwillingly shed my cover-up while poolside, I felt improved but far from satisfied. According to my beach read, Women’s Health magazine, I should try working out in intervals. I had a brief flirtation with interval training a few years ago, but I quickly abandoned it for being far too challenging. I prefer my workouts sweat-free and routine, thank you. I don’t care for results. Allow me to plug away for months and see absolutely no change in physique. That sounds productive.

Playa del Carmen

Beginning in the resort gym, I started doing intervals which look something like this: walk for one minute at 3.6 speed, increase to a speed of 8 for 30 seconds and run as if Nicholas Cage is chasing you, decrease back down to 3.6, and repeat. Do the whole sequence about 20 times. Hello, sweat? Yeah, you found me. Heart, I’m feeling the pound.

 

Interval training is also effective with hills, which I’ve done just once at this point because it’s so, well, intimidating. To run at a 5% incline while not tripping over one’s feet at a speed of 8 is deserving of a medal. I’ve been alternating the two for about a week now, and I think results are on their way.

I did not hold back whilst (go with it) in Mexico, and at a certain point there was more guacamole shooting through my veins than blood. That’s hardly an exaggeration. It was barely a three-day trip, but I left not being able to zip my pants. I am more motivated than ever, so I’ve decided to try this trendy workout that Kelly Ripa touts. I went to my first class Saturday, and I’m sold. It’s safe on the joints, geared towards woman, and I’m all kinds of sore today. Bring it, muscles. Let’s do this thing.

As the spicy goes, I made this great soup a few nights ago.

Ingredients:

butternut squash and lentil soup

3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1.5 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 carrot, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp minced peeled ginger
1 tbsp curry powder (I used cumin)
1 c red lentils (I used yellow)
2 quarts water
1 tsp lemon juice (I used a whole lemon)
1 tsp Greek yogurt (my addition)
chopped cilantro, to taste

 

Heat oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium high heat and then cook squash, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger and 1 tsp salt for 15-20 minutes. Stir in cumin and ¼ tsp pepper, stirring for 2 minutes. Add lentils and water and simmer, covered, for 25-40 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. I served atop this wild rice and quinoa mix, and topped with a little Greek yogurt and chopped cilantro.

I had to lay my immersion blender to rest a few weeks ago when it died mid-salsa blend, so I didn’t even have the option to puree. I’ve pureed nearly every soup I’ve made for months now, so it was an odd sensation eating soup with texture. The rice combined with the vegetables, lentils and dollop of yogurt was really tasty. I highly enjoyed.

Now back to the sweaty…I recently watched “Singin’ in the Rain” and became infatuated with tap dancing. I got myself pretty excited and decided to try an intro tap class at my dance studio. I’ve taken tap before, but my former dance studio transitioned you to clogging pretty rapidly. I never even got to wear the sexy heeled tap shoes and dance with a chair, and for that I’ve always been a little bitter.

Flash forward to present day, and I bought myself a pair of Mary Jane-style shoes and showed up ready to Time Step my face off. Unfortunately, no one else shared my determination, as I was the only one who came to class. As a result, I got a private lesson from the teacher, who had been studying tap for years and filled me in on the social and political reasons why tap stood so low in the already lowest discipline of the art world. Also, I learned the Sham-Sham, which is a totally fun staple known by all tap dancers. The teacher also told me how tap’s roots were intertwined with jazz. It was pretty fascinating, but I can’t decide if I want to actually pursue.

Now back to spicy…in keeping with my post-Mexican low-calorie consumption, I found this fun tofu dish on Epicurious:

randon tap pic

Ingredients:

1 14 oz package firm tofu
½ c whole grain Dijon mustard
4 tbsp vegetable oil
½ medium onion, sliced
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 bunch kale, sliced crosswise
1 small red-skinned sweet potato, peeled, halved and sliced
2 tbsp lime juice
hot sauce, to taste (my addition)

 

You start by cutting the tofu into eight ½-inch slices. Drain on paper towels, and spread both sides with mustard. Heat two tbsp oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and ginger and sauté one minute. Add kale, sweet potato and lime juice. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining two tbsp oil in another skillet, add the tofu, and cook for a few minutes on each side. Serve the tofu atop the vegetables, and devour. It really is the most low calorie dish I could imagine, and it had good flavor thanks to the mustard and hot sauce. See below:

mustard crusted tofu with kale and sweet potatoes.

 

 

10
Nov
09

portabella mushroom & tofu burger.

I’m a couple of weeks deep in Project: Get Hot for Thanksgiving, and I’m coming away with a few lessons learned. First off, I’m not fit to give up cheese. I stayed cheese-free all last week, and then come Friday I chose a pear, brie and walnut crepe for dinner. I thought, “you’ve had your fun; that was the last time,” and then Saturday hit. I had lots of queso blanco for dinner at Caracas, and then I went to a house party during which time I gave the cheese and cracker platter quite a bit of action. So, yeah, the anti-cheese collective (me and dairy-free me, obviously) has disbanded and gone our separate ways. Secondly, I learned that I miss dancing so badly it hurts. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t listen to Jay-Z without some sidewalk hip action. It’s awkward, so I’ve decided to bring it indoors where it belongs. Tonight I’m starting a new hip hop class. It’s too soon to tell, but it just may be my favorite thing on the planet.

My exercise routine could use a little variety. I’ve been running every day, and honestly it all starts to feel a little tedious. Like, where the hell is this going? I’m not saying I’m done with it, but I’m running miles and getting nowhere. After Sunday brunch on the Upper West Side, I decided to walk all the way home. And that’s approx 9 avenues and 70+ blocks. In short, it’s a shitload. My feet were feeling it when I tried to take that motivation to the gym that night. In the name of ped preservation, dancing it is.

I stole this from google images, but it's hip hop

Although I’ve given up on giving up on cheese, I’m still trying to severely limit its presence in my diet. I decided to make a Portabella mushroom burger for dinner last night, and I held the cheese. Believe it.

I started with a Portabella mushroom and a yellow bell pepper, and I seasoned both with salt, thyme and olive oil. On the side, I cut some sweet potatoes into mini chips, and I seasoned them with salt, chili powder, cayenne pepper and olive oil. I roasted all in the toaster over at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

I cut a thin piece of tofu and pan fried it in some olive oil over medium heat. It took about five minutes on each side, and then it got all goldeny brown. Delicious. I cut a ciabatta roll in half and put a little olive oil on each side, and then I toasted that for about five minutes in the Panini Press.

Once the mushroom and peppers were ready, I removed them from the oven and built my sandwich. I looove seedy mustard, so I put lots of stone ground mustard on one side along with my ever-present arugula. The other side housed my tofu, the shroom and the pepper. I served it alongside my chip shaped roasted potatoes. It was enormous and delicious, and the sweet pepper contrasted really well with the savory pepper and mushroom. See below:

portabella mushroom and tofu burger alongside sweet potato chips

 

30
Aug
09

bruschetta and bok choy.

So many exciting things are happening, like, right this minute. First off, manchego cheese is going for $4/lb at the cheese shop, which is so dirt cheap that it’s basically insulting. Luckily, it takes a lot to offend me. Second, it’s been extra overcast outside, so I was able to run two miles straight around my track at 2 p.m. today. Also, I just found out that Nightman is becoming a legit musical! How much do I want to see Denis pay the troll toll so he can get in the boy’s hole? SO much.

I’m two weeks strong with the post-work gymming, and this is a total estimation but I’m guessing I’ve burned 500 extra calories each day since. In the interest of jump starting the results, I had bruschetta and salad for dinner most nights this week. I bought heirloom tomatoes at TJ’s because I’m trendy and used this delicious rye bread that was basically the only non-babka item at the Russian store across the street. My roommate bought a basil plant, so I used a few leaves and chopped it up with the tomatoes. I added olive oil, salt and pepper, mixed it together, and served it atop the toasted rye. I served it alongside a spinach salad with nectarines and shaved manchego. I dressed it with olive oil and lemon juice. It was amaaazing and much too easy to prepare:

spinach, nectarine and manchego salad, heirloom tomato bruschetta

spinach, nectarine and manchego salad, heirloom tomato bruschetta

I wanted to make something new for dinner tonight, so I bought me some bok choy. I’ve never cooked with it before, but I sure do love to stare at it every time I’m in the grocery. This time I decided to stop playing games and took it home with me. Life is much too short to wonder what could have been.

I also bought some tofu and this spicy peanut vinaigrette that TJ’s designed with me in mind. I came home and made my own recipe for the first time in a long time. I chopped a clove of garlic and some fresh ginger, and sauteed them in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. I cubed half a package of extra firm tofu and tossed it into the oil mix. While that browned up all nicely, I added about 1/4 cup of honey. I chopped the bok choy on the side, minus the bottom third,  and tossed it in with the tofu. A few minutes on the stove top, and my bok choy wilted into submission:

virginal bok choy

virginal bok choy

Meanwhile, I re-heated some of the basmati rice I’d originally prepared for my okra. I poured a generous amount of spicy peanut vinaigrette on the whole mix, and salted and peppered it up. I served the tofu and bok choy stir fry atop the rice, and it was really tasty. It’s possible I was too liberal with the ginger, because it kind of burned the nostrils and there’s no way my peanut vinaigrette would do that to me. It was the best way I’ve ever prepared the tofu, though, and I credit my last minute choice to involve honey in making it all crunchy and delicious. It was a great original Asian/Indian fusion recipe. See below:

tofu and bok choy atop basmati rice with spicy peanut vinaigrette

tofu and bok choy atop basmati rice with spicy peanut vinaigrette

09
Jun
09

black bean & tofu burger, buns of steel.

Ok, so I’m neglectful. It’s not like I haven’t been sweating and spicing everything in sight, because I really have.  Just yesterday, I cybexed it for 45 minutes and then made myself an egg and cheese sandwich with cayenne pepper and salsa verde. I’m on limited funds. I can’t be bothered to recount everything workout or food related from the last two blogless weeks, so I’ll just give the highlights.

To start, I manned up and tried that terrifying Stair Master on Crack machine. I think that’s its official name. Just LOOK at it: stairmaster on crack

Aren’t you scared shitless? I think that’s its intent. A couple of weeks ago, I just decided to go for it. Now I’m a seasoned vet, but I’m still not sure if I’m a fan. One thing it does, without question, is make you a LOT more connected to what’s going on. I tend to zone out mid-workout, but this machine, like, refuses to be ignored. You have to be totally connected to the stepping or one’s toes suffer. I learned the hard way.

At some point in the last couple of weeks, I made this delicious pizza. I really struggled with the crust this time, because I ran out of flour and just kind of assumed the dough didn’t really need it. Yeah, not so much. Dough and flour is a necessary union. I topped it with zucchini, roma tomatoes, spinach, marinated mozzarella ($1.99 at the cheese shop) olive oil and red pepper flakes. It looked like this:

pizza

pizza

And it tasted like magic. That’s the most accurate way to describe that.

Also worth noting, I just moved into a fourth floor walk-up in the East Village. This is brilliant for several reasons, the first being I WILL have buns of steel in like a month. Possibly less time. You can count on that. Even though I’m literally surrounded by every amazing restaurant ever, I’m still motivated to cook because my new kitchen looks a little something like this:

home

home

What’s that, Barefoot Contessa? You’re jealous of ME? I’m flattered. You’re not even getting the full picture, though. Stage left houses a washer/dryer, and there’s a real live kitchen table. It’s incredible.

Tonight, I made some black bean & tofu burgers by mashing together the two, and then adding an egg (binding), bread crumbs (more binding), and lots of cayenne pepper (spicing). I pan fried the patties in some olive oil for about five minutes on each side, and then I served them in a pita with a slice of gouda cheese ($0.99, cheese shop. HOW do they do that?) On the side, I roasted tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach in the toaster oven with a little olive oil. I ate it all with some homemade honey mustard on the side. Soo good. See below:

black bean & tofu burger with roasted veggies

black bean & tofu burger with roasted veggies




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