Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tofu & Spiralized Zucchini in Homemade Peanut Sauce

Tofu & Spiralized Zucchini in Homemade Peanut Sauce... So I've yet to master a good Thai inspired peanut sauce even though I am constantly thumbing through recipe ideas. They just always seem so daunting. Until recently I found one that didn't feel so lengthy and really looked doable. I snapped a screen shot on my phone for the ingredients and set out to grab the few extra things I needed at the store on Sunday which included hoisin and limes.

Of course I cannot find where I got the recipe exactly but I have it saved in my photo album on my phone and I'll be putting it down on this ol blog so we can all find it handy dandy next time we are craving it.

The other piece of this meal was that, per my recent inspiration, I wanted to add a sprialized element. I decided the meal would be a sort of Pad Thai using flat zucchini noodles, caramelized onions, sauteed bell peppers and crispy tofu - topped with scallions and lime juice for a fresh kick.

The sauce goes something like this:
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/2 a lime worth of juice
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil
2 teaspoons of sriracha or garlic-chili paste

The sauce I read also calls for 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 mashed garlic cloves - unfortunately my garlic has disappeared and I felt it was sweet enough with the peanut butter and hoisin not to need any extra sugar. Also on the list above I eyeballed everything but that is technically what it calls for. The way I made it was by placing the peanut butter in a large mixing bowl and popping it in the microwave to soften for about 10-15 seconds. Then I just added the rest of the ingredients and gave it a vigorous whisking.

Once the sauce was made I let it sit off to the side until I was ready to use it. I sauteed thinly sliced onions in one pan until they were golden brown and caramelized - while in another non stick pan I crisped up my tofu. I have found that with tofu, wrapping it in paper towels and letting the moisture drain out is really helpful for getting a nice seared crispiness on the outside - that and a non-stick pan. Once the tofu was done I set it off to the side on a plate while I sauteed sliced red bell pepper in the same pan - then I added the tofu back in a gave the pepper/tofu a quick toss in a tiny bit of hoisin and soy sauce.

Meanwhile in the onion pan I added the sauce and the spiralized zucchini and let it meld together into a perfectly dressed noodle dish.

I served up the peanut noodles first with the crispy tofu and bell peppers on top - finished with a palm full of chopped scallion and a wedge of lime.

It was seriously exactly what I wanted it to be which, if you cook a lot you'll understand, isn't always the case. Sometimes you picture a new dish one way and by the end it's something totally different. Not this one, it was exactly what I was craving and hoping for. It was hearty and super flavorful but all of the ingredients were pretty healthful - minus the sauce but hey sometimes you have to live a little -right??

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Squash Spaghetti & Meatballs

Squash Spaghetti & Meatballs... No I don't mean spaghetti squash I mean squash spaghetti folks. Spiralized squash to be specific, and it was Dahlicious.

I've never had much luck with making meatballs in the past, but with the recipe that I used on the turkey meatballs for this fab soup, I figured I'd give it a go with red meat. I combined veal, pork and beef this time and browned them in the le creuset before finishing them on a baking sheet in the oven. I browned the first batch of meatballs and had 3 large ones left so I just browned the meat as if making a bolognese sauce. I really didn't have everything I needed to make a sauce from total scratch so I used the rest of the jarred Rao's from last week and it was total perfection. As a side note, you don't have to be all fancy and use 3 types of meat, you could surely just use ground beef.

I've decided that with these spiralized veggies they are really great if paired with hearty sauce - first because they actually hold up quite well and second because they are so low in calories that if they are eaten with a really light sauce (like last night's shrimp scampi) you're left wanting just a bit more.

So this version was totally perfect for a freezing, or actually well below freezing winter night. It was comforting and totally filling but you could feel pretty guilt free about consuming hardly any carbs (minus the breadcrumbs in the meatballs).

What you need:
1/3lb ground beef
1/3lb ground pork
1lb ground veal (the butcher didn't have ground veal so I had to buy a pre portioned package and ended up just using all of it)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3 garlic cloves
tomato sauce (jarred or homemade)
3 yellow squashes
Parsley (small palm full chopped)

In a large bowl beat 1 egg with a couple spoonfuls of water and add the breadcrumbs. Let that sit until its a paste (a couple minutes) then add the garlic, parsley, parmesan, and a bit of salt and pepper. Then add all the ground meat and give it a big mix. Form into meatballs - I ended up with 10 but only ended up using 7 as meatballs - the other became my meat sauce.

In a large pan brown them on each size with oil on high heat. Mine stuck a bit so I had a hard time keeping them in perfect shape but they mostly held up. After about 8-10 minutes browning I popped them in the oven on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce of choice to your browned ground meat

Toss in your squash spaghetti

While they were bakingI broke down the remaining three meatballs, browned them & added the Rao's sauce. I let it simmer lightly while the meatballs finished cooking in the oven and while my asparagus was roasting away in a foil package also in the oven. I boiled some water and dropped the spiralized squash in for about 2 minutes before transferring right into the pot of sauce.

It was super Dahlicious and hearty but I feel pretty good about almost no carbs in the meal. Also, my garlic suddenly just disappeared from my kitchen today so the meatballs went without - and actually they were still super tasty so if you aren't a garlic lover you would be just fine to omit it.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chicken, White Bean, Quinoa Chili

Chicken, White Bean, Quinoa Chili... The original inspiration - I mean Pinspiration - came from this Post. I read it before heading to the grocery store so I stocked up on the things I saw on the ingredients list as well as a few things of my own - here is the list of what I used:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 medium onion
1 green bell pepper
1 jalapeno
1 lemon
2 garlic cloves
Chicken stock
Salsa Verde (From TJs & this post last week )
Quinoa (From TJs - precooked near the rices in the freezer section)

Fisrt step was getting the chicken going and normally for a soup or chili I would poach the chicken in water but tonight I decided to use the most handy dandy option of broiling. I popped the breasts on a baking sheet with a drizzle of oil, salt and pepper into the oven on broil for 10-15 minutes on each side. Once it was done I gave it a quick chop/shred and tossed it into the chili.

And now for that Chili...

I started by sauteing 1 medium yellow onion, 1 green bell pepper, 1 jalapeno pepper (deseeded for less heat), all chopped up in my fab le crueset. Next I added a little salt and 1 lemon's worth of juice ( I didn't have lime otherwise that would have been just perfect) along with a couple spoonfuls of the Salsa Verde and a can of drained rinsed white beans. I gave it a nice mix then added in a couple cups of chicken stock and a sprinkle of ground cumin as well as 2 bay leaves. I let the concoction simmer for about 30 minutes and added in the shredded chicken. A few minutes before serving I steamed the TJ's quinoa and added it to the stew/chili/soup - gave it a big mix and voila. Topped with sliced avocado it was perfectly healthful yet filling and super Dahlicious. It was flavorful with the cumin and the salsa verde and jalapeno but could be taken in so many directions - for instance adding cilantro, or even a spicy chorizo perhaps.

Garlic, Bell Pepper, Onion, Jalapeno sauteing

White Bean addition

Stock, Cumin, Bay Leaves

This would also be really easy to make totally vegetarian by omitting the chicken - it would still be quite hearty! Enjoy this filling yet healthful take on the heavier dark meaty chili that we usually turn to this time of year when its below freezing outside!

Enjoy and check back later this week for new experiments in spiralizing!!

Oh and on a totally unrelated side note I have this super simple amazing breakfast at a place down the street that I have become totally obsessed with. It isn't genius, it isn't fancy, in fact it's not even a proper breakfast that they have on the menu it's actually just 3 sides I combine for 1 meal and I really need to learn how to poach an egg so that I can recreate this absolutely greatness at home. Dry rye toast, poached eggs, avocado with a squeeze of lime and salt - I mean COME ON.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Green Carnitas Tacos

Green Carnitas Tacos... I made a stop at TJ's this weekend to stock up on a few things I hadn't purchased in a while. I go through phases now where I don't pop into a TJ's for weeks on end and I totally end up craving something I can only get there. A few things I find particularly handy from TJ's include:

  1. Frozen already steamed rice - comes in brown rice, confetti rice, wild rice medley, quinoa etc
  2. Ready to eat shelled edamame
  3. Mexican Carnitas

That's just to name a few but the list is long. Anywho last week I needed a restocking on all of the above items and so off to TJ's I went.

In addition to the Carnitas I grabbed a jar of their Salsa Verde which is the perfect accompaniment. Not sure if I have mentioned on here before but my mom has actually been using this combo for YEARS to make quick burritos or even stuffed quesadillas at home.

This is a super simple meal that you can make as straightforward or as complex as you want and it really takes about 10 minutes.

What I used:

  • 1 package TJ's alrady cooked Mexican Carnitas
  • 1 Jar TJ's Salsa Verde
  • 1 Can seasoned black beans
  • Veggies (I used asparagus and red bell pepper because it's what I had)
  • Tortillas (I used little corn tortillas)
  • Garnishes - I used lime, cilantro, & avocado but sour cream, cheese, onion, pico de gallo would all be great if you have them
Of course I used my new Le Creuset because I'm obsessed but you could use any deep saute pan. Simply remove the carnitas from the package (usually it is in one large hunk) and shred it by hand. You could use a large knife and chop it on a cutting board or shred with a fork. I just do it by hand tearing into bite sized chunks and let is heat up in the pan over medium/high heat for a few minutes. You can get it crispy if you like it that way. Then add the whole jar of sauce, well eyeball it depending on your pan and how much sauce you want. I'm a saucy kinda girl so I like the whole jar in there. Then cover with a lid (or not) and let it simmer for about 10 minutes just to heat all the way through and absorb the flavor. I also used tongs to even break the pieces down smaller and shreddier (I think that should be a real word).

While the carnitas are simmering away on low heat, bring your black beans to a boil in a small pot and then turn down the heat to low as well. Additional at that point I sliced up a bell pepper and a bunch of asparagus and threw them on the grill pan to give them a char. Also right at the end I popped a few tortillas onto a baking sheet and in the oven at 350 degrees for a few minutes just to warm them.

Once everything came together in about 15 minutes I assembled. First the veggies and beans got their spot on the plate, then the tacos were stuffed with the green carnitas and topped with a squeeze of lime, a few hunks of avocado and a flurry of cilantro leaves. Voila!

Enjoy these Dahlicious bits of carnitas goodness!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Spiralized Pasta Fake Out

Spiralized Pasta Fake Out... This is going to sound horribly embarrassing to admit but I literally tossed and turned in bed last night unable to fall asleep because of all the spiralized veggie meal ideas that bounced off the walls of my brain. I couldn't contain my excitement.

I love pasta as much as the next guy, but the truth is there is almost no nutritional value in the white floury stuff that fills us with such delightful warmth. I have tried alternatives to feel better about my weekday pasta consumption - whole wheat, gluten free, spaghetti squash. But nothing has really sufficed, partly because whole wheat is really more calories and for me spaghetti squash just doesn't do that real pasta the texture justice I'm looking for. Anywho I have been wanting a spiralizer for some time, and since this seemed to be the Christmas of food pressies (no complaints over here!!) I was a happy camper this past December 25th when I tore into a beautifully wrapped box to see the Paderno Spiralizer staring back at me.

On the menu last night was Italian chicken sausages (form Whole Foods butcher section, better than the turkey alternative in my opinion), roasted portabello mushrooms, and of course spiralized zucchini & squash. Since this was my first experiment and a Tuesday night, I didn't go all out and make my own sauce, but rather used the holy grail of jarred sauces (Rao's) to toss my faux noodles in.

The spiralizer was super easy to use once I figured out where to place the attachments - which wasn't difficult but my excited hands were moving faster than my brain so it took me about 6 minutes to actually get it set up just right. But once it was in place the pasta flowed! You basically give the veggie a good rinse & dry, then cut off the rounded ends so its flat. You push one end into the pokers (that's how it's held in place) and then you just slide it up to the blade and start turning the handle. Voila, in seconds there are beautiful strands of thick spaghetti like curls covering your counter.

They were pretty soft already so it would have likely been fine to just toss them with the sauce in a saute pan, but I figured I'd try the boiling technique so I threw them in boiling water for about 1-2 minutes then drained and tossed in sauce. Literally that was all. So fab.

The rest of the meal was easy, I pan seared the chicken sausages then steamed them with the lid on for another 10-15 minutes until cooked through. The portabellos got a little drizzle of olive oil and balsamic on each side and roasted in the oven for about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees. The meal took about 30 minutes in total and was insanely healthful as well as low in calories - yet I totally felt like I was eating hearty spaghetti and pork sausage.

I don't have kids, or anyone I'm trying to trick into eating veggies, but seriously if you used just the yellow squash I think some serious trickery could take place here. The zucchini might give it away, however if you peeled off the dark green skin you could probably even get that past them.

The spiralizer that I used doesn't require any electricity or major cleaning or set up and was so fast and easy I would totally recommend getting one if you like the sounds of it. More to come from my new toy but for now enjoy these pics!

In all her glory!

1 squash and 1 zucchini were plenty for 2 people



Chicken sausage, portabello, "pasta"

And since you don't feel gilty about the real pasta you can just pile on the cheese!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Turkey Meatball Soup

Turkey Meatball Soup... First off, Happy New Year all! It is an absolute winter wonderland here and there is just no end the desire for comforting warm soups and stews. A while back I found a particular soup recipe which I pinned because it looked like something I'd love and for whatever reason tonight was the night I decide I just HAD to have it. After a quick trip to Whole Foods for a few necessary ingredients I started out to make this wonderful soup I found on Smitten Kitchen.

I took a few liberties to make it my own of course, subbed Kale instead of Escarole (I love escarole but the kale looked good, was handy and on sale), I used white beans instead of orzo (better option in terms of more protein), and I used both thigh and breast meat ground turkey instead of all white meat.

Here is what I used:

  • 1/2 lb ground white meat turkey
  • 1/2lb ground dark (thigh) meat turkey
  • 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2 32oz boxes of chicken stock

In a mixing bowl whisk the egg with a couple tablespoons of water and then add the breadcrumbs and let it all soak together for a few minutes so it becomes somewhat of a paste. Then add the salt, pepper, parsley, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Give that a good mix (SK didn't mention doing that first but that's how I did it and it worked for me before adding the turkey meat). Next, mix it all together with the turkey meat, both light and dark meat.


Form the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs and place them on a baking sheet to cool. I would say this made about 24 meatballs for me, I used most of them in the soup and ended up cooking the last 6 of them in the oven as an experiment on the side.

Place the meatballs in the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes.

While they're chilling dice the carrot and add it with the chicken broth to a large pot and bring to a boil. At this point I added a little salt, pepper, crushed dried basil, and a few bay leafs and then let it simmer for about 20 minutes while the meatballs were still chilling. I also took that time to chop up the kale.

Once the meatballs were ready I put them in the simmering broth one by one with a large spoon and let them cook through for about 10 minutes. Then I added the rinsed drained white beans and kale and let the whole thing simmer lightly for another 10-15 minutes until the meatballs were thoroughly cooked through.

I served it up pipping hot topped with a liberal sprinkle of grated Parmesan which added a wonderful extra nutty saltiness.

It was so Dahlicious and really quite simple yet made totally from scratch (besides the stock). It felt hearty and filling but incredible light and healthful with all those veggies and lean protein. Not to mention, the extra meatballs I popped in the oven at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes - they were perfect. The meatballs have a really nice silky texture and proved to be quite flavorful - I would definitely recommend trying this one out - Enjoy!