Tag Archives: quick

Totally Tubular Tofu Scramble!

15 Feb

If I said you had the body of an all-natural, organic-living, animal-loving, environment-nurturing, whale-saving sex machine,
would you hold it against me? Please?

-Vegetarian pickup lines, via VegNews Magazine

tofu scramble

Oh my goddess… I am in love with this breakfast. And this video:

Shit New Age Girls Say

Actually I love all the videos in this series, but making a tofu scramble for breakfast is something my five-years-ago self never thought I’d do, and makes me feel well on my way to becoming a New Age Girl.

Even worse, I’ve taken to adding kale to this scramble. KALE! I know, right? This is the green I’ve been seeing touted everywhere, and diligently avoiding. It’s bitter and thick and ruffly and way too nutritious to taste good. But in this scramble, it’s actually not half bad. So… baby steps.

kale, mushrooms, onion

I like to start out by sauteing whatever veggies I have on-hand. Current favorites for this scramble are kale, mushrooms, onion and garlic, but you can add in whatever veggies, herbs and spices sound good to you.

Next, I brown some extra-firm tofu, like so:

browned tofulooks like chikkin

Then I mix it all up with a sauce of nutritional yeast (for cheesy flavor and a kickin’ dose of nutrients), cumin, thyme, turmeric, salt and pepper, and garnish with fresh tomato and avocado.

tofu scramble

This scramble makes a hearty and satisfying meal any time of day. So get crazy, mix it up, and let me know what you think!

RECIPE – Tofu Scramble

Adapted from the Post Punk Kitchen
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side.

Sauce:
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons water

Tofu:
2-3 tablespoons neutral oil, divided
1/2 red onion
1 pkg mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3-4 leaves kale, torn into bite-size pieces
1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained

Garnishes:
1 roma tomato, diced
1/2 avocado, cubed
handful of sliced almonds

First stir the spice blend together in a small cup. Add water and mix. Set aside.

Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat. Saute the onion and mushrooms for about five minutes, then add in kale and garlic and saute for another two minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

In the same pan, break the tofu apart into bite-sized pieces and saute for about 10 minutes, using a spatula to stir often. Get under the tofu when you are stirring, scrape the bottom and don’t let it stick to the pan, that is where the good, crispy stuff is. Brown the tofu as uniformly as possible.

Add the sauce and stir gently to incorporate. Add the veggies back into the pan and cook to warm through. Serve hot.

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VegWeek Day 6, Easy Banana Oat Bars

30 Sep

“None of us like to think that we can’t trust the institutions we’ve grown up with, but being a truly healthy person means exploring important issues deeply and thinking for yourself.”
-Alicia Silverstone, The Kind Diet

VegWeek_2011The Kind Diet is a book I happened upon at Borders a few years ago, but am just now getting around to reading. And so far, I love it. This is going to be a library-to-own book, for sure. I know some people feel that celebrity activists are annoying, that movie stars have no place talking about politics, or whatever. And to them I say, psshaw. Celebrities are people, too. (Yes, really!) If someone is passionate about a cause and can use his or her fame to make a significant impact in the world, I am all for it. Alicia Silverstone joins hundreds of celebrities in the vegan cause, people like Kelly Clarkson, Bill Clinton, Ellen Degeneres, Leonardo DiCaprio, Melanie Griffith, Paul McCartney, Alanis Morisette, Kevin Nealon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Joaquin Phoenix, Liv Tyler, Barry White, Kate Winslet, and many others. Her book is worth checking out, and here’s why.

kind-diet

The Kind Diet is a great intro for those who are new to vegetarianism. Silverstone presents the issues in a systematic and comprehensive way, while keeping the tone relatively light. She writes in the conversational, friendly way you might expect from her. Of course, the decision to go veg is a big deal and not to be taken lightly. It’s not a fad diet, it’s a lifestyle change, and I feel that concept honored throughout this book. Silverstone offers gentle advice for people at every stage, whether “flirting” with changing their diet, ready to go vegan, or onto the “superhero” lifestyle (macrobiotic). She also provides fab recipes for each stage, a breakdown of commercial vegan products, and a primer on natural sweeteners.

Alicia-Silverstone-cookieThis is the adorablest picture in the front of the book.
And yes, dessert recipes are included!

Silverstone describes her transition to veganism and then the macrobiotic diet this way:

“I noticed that my whole body felt lighter. I was more vibrant and spunky. I felt like my heart had sort of opened a bit and my shoulders could relax, as if an overall softening had taken place. I no longer carried heavy animal protein in my body, which takes tons of energy to digest. Plus, I didn’t have the heaviness of the suffering in me; frightened animals produce lots of cortisol and adrenaline right before slaughter, and we can become stressed from eating their meat.”
-What’s so kind about dieting?, p. 10

I’ve read about this heart-opening, compassion-growing experience in multiple places now, and I have to admit, the idea is incredibly alluring. Who doesn’t want to be a more peaceful, loving version of themselves? The thought of eating the pain and suffering of animals also resonates more than any excuse I can make for eating meat. Check this book out. Let me know what you think.

You can listen to Alicia talk about her inspiration for the book here:

Easy Banana Oat Bars

Recipe Source: Adapted from The Kitchn

When I came across this recipe last week, I knew I had to try it ASAP. It’s so ridiculously easy, and so natural, so good for you! There’s no added, refined sugar, but plenty of natural sweetness coming from dried dates and super-ripe bananas. And I was happy to discover, the two combine to create a really fantastic, slightly gritty chewiness and substance that is oh-so-satisfying.

ingredients

There aren’t too many ingredients, at least not for me, but you can add or subtract from these however you see fit. The recipe below is my adaptation of the Kitchn’s adaptation. It can be adapted further still!

banana-oat bars

These bars are great for breakfast-on-the-go, an after-school snack, a little fuel before a workout, or a not-too-guilty dessert.

Makes one 8×8-inch pan.

2 large, very ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1/4 cup pitted, chopped dried dates
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Cinnamon and nutmeg

Heat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 8×8-inch square baking dish with coconut oil or other fat.

Peel the bananas and mash their flesh in a medium mixing bowl. Mash very thoroughly until no large chunks remain; the bananas should be essentially liquid (a small food processor or hand-held blender works well for this). Mix in the vanilla extract and salt. Then stir in the oats, flax, dates, nuts, and coconut.

Pat the thick mixture evenly into the baking pan. If desired, sprinkle the top lightly with nutmeg and cinnamon. Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges just begin to crisp up.

Place the baking pan on a rack to cool. When the pan is mostly cool, cut into bars and enjoy with a glass of milk or tea.

VegWeek Day 1, Breakfast Quinoa

25 Sep

VegWeek - Pledge to go Veg, Sept 25-Oct 2, 2011

It’s that time of year again, time for Veg Week! Since last year’s blogs, I’ve grown to love veggies in a big way, learned to eat more simply, and simply eat less. I’m still firmly in the “flexitarian” bracket, but more conscious than ever. I have gotten to the point where eating meat more than once a day feels weird. I’d like to get down to eating it once or twice a week.

The thing I really struggle with, though, is dairy. Dairy in all its many forms – butter, heavy cream, yogurt, and cheese (okay, and the occasional ice cream) are staples in my diet. I have a sneaking suspicion that I don’t process them well, but with the exception of almond milk, the vegan alternatives haven’t really interested me. So to challenge myself this week, I’m going to do just that – go vegan.

Besides recipes, I’ll be sharing useful websites, books, documentaries, and other information about animal rights and the vegetarian lifestyle. I’ll also be sharing resources on humane farming, for those who want to make conscious choices but aren’t ready to go vegetarian yet.

Finally, a big hearty thanks to Animal Protection and Rescue League for sponsoring San Diego’s VegWeek! Check them out online or make friends on facebook. You might want to sign up for their daily VegWeek newsletter or join the facebook event, and you can also support them by shopping/donating at their awesome thrift store!

I’m so honored to have recently met some of the great people who make this organization happen. Your passion, love, and kindness move me.

piggie piglet

Image by whiskersnaps.com, via cute overload

Breakfast Quinoa

To kick off VegWeek, I thought it would be appropriate to share a recipe that kicks off a lot of my mornings – breakfast quinoa. Like the Wheat Berry Breakfast Bowl I blogged previously, this concept is versatile and can be applied to any number of grains. I like quinoa for the nuttiness and the texture. Plus, it’s super quick-cooking and I can make it fresh before work.

Here’s what I do for about 4 servings:

Boil 1 1/2 cups water
Rinse 1 cup quinoa
Turn heat down to low, add quinoa
Cover and simmer for 15 minutes

quinoaI buy it in bulk.

Next comes the fun part – add-ins! I mix and match ingredients from the following categories:

*lube*
vegan margarine, almond milk, nondairy yogurt, peanut butter, almond butter, fruit preserves

*sweetener*
honey, agave nectar, brown sugar

*spices*
cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, orange zest

*nuts*
walnuts, pecans, slivered almonds

*fruit*
fresh – blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, banana, mango, kiwi, apple
dried – raisins, cranberries, apricots, currants, dates apples

Here are a few of the concoctions I’ve devised so far:

Red, White & Blue

red white & blue quinoa - strawberries, blueberries, bananaspat of butter, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, strawberries, blueberries, banana

Banana Bread

banana nutplain yogurt or almond milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, banana, walnuts

Apple Cinnamon

apple cinnamon quinoaalmond milk or heavy cream, apple butter, sauteed and fresh apples

Trail Mix Quinoa

trail mix quinoaalmond milk, vanilla extract, agave nectar, cinnamon, dried cranberries, walnuts, shredded coconut, mini chocolate chips

yet-to-be-photographed…

Maple-Date-Pecan

plain or vanilla yogurt, maple syrup, nutmeg, chopped dates, chopped pecans

Tropical Quinoa

coconut milk, sweetened flaked coconut, mango slices, chopped macadamia nuts

Chocolate Chip Cookie Quinoa
(okay, maybe not for breakfast…)

plain yogurt, vanilla extract, brown sugar, mini chocolate chips, walnuts

Lunchtime Quinoa Salad

22 Jul

Hey! This is an impromptu post because I was excited about my lunch today, and because I’ve been terrible at blogging lately. As such, I don’t have any pictures to share with you. But I hope this might inspire you with a break in the doldrums that can be packing a work lunch.

eat your veggies!
(Ah, what the heck, here’s a picture I stole from the interwebs.)

What I prepped for myself last night might well be called a “fridge-cleaning salad,” because I used almost entirely ingredients I had leftover from other cooking ventures. Here’s how it went:

quinoa – cooked fresh, since I always keep some on-hand from bulk bins
feta cheese – leftover from frittatas and salads
walnut oil, lemon zest, and black pepper – always on-hand
pine nuts – about 1 tablespoon left in the bag
black olives (sliced, from a can) – leftover from a frittata
cherry tomatoes – bought fresh
carrot – bought fresh
cilantro – bought fresh
red bell pepper – leftover from frittata and a tuna salad
onion – leftover from who-knows-what
jalapeno – leftover from a tuna salad

I have a tendency to get bored with cold, lettuce-based salads, so I really enjoyed using quinoa as a base this time. I nuked the quinoa for about 40 seconds and the veggie-feta mixture for about 10, just to remove the refrigerator chill before combining them. Quinoa is a great source of protein and fiber, as well as gluten-free, so it’s primo vegetarian fuel.

quinoaThis site has even more info about quinoa!

My cooking method is to boil 1 1/4 cups of water, then turn the heat to low and add in 3/4 cups of quinoa. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. I used about half the quinoa in this batch, and the other half I’ll probably prep for breakfast (another blog to come in the future!).

veggie loveMuch to my delight, this made a yummy, healthy, and very filling salad! And it was good geeky fun to see how much I could throw into it. I’m sure I will be making more salads like this in the future.

If you decide to try this out, I’d love to hear about your concoction in the comments section! 🙂

Easy Breakfast Frittata

23 Jun

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.
-Mark Twain

Recipe Source: Adapted from Stone Soup

French pastries

I went on vacation this month. Two weeks in France. I walked a lot there. I slept very little. And I ate A LOT. Among the few French phrases I know are joie de vivre and bon vivant, and I decided to practice them whole-heartedly. But two weeks of a diet rich in croissant and pastries (have you seen the pastries over there?!!), and a notable lack of fiber, fruit and vegetables takes its toll, so like all good moderates, I am now doing my post-vacation penance.

Help scale

Incidentally, I stumbled upon this article – Your Summer Swimsuit Strategy – on my first day back home. I highly recommend it for a good laugh to combat the imminent beach-body insecurities looming on the horizon.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be practicing a low-carb, low-sugar diet. Low processed foods, really. My thinking on this method has changed somewhat since I followed the South Beach Diet a few years ago, especially with the reduction of animal products in my diet. This time around, I’ll be focusing on vegetables, legumes and nuts, with the occasional egg or cheese product added for protein/flavor, lean meats such as chicken or fish a few times a week, rare splurges of bacon, and fruit reserved for breakfast and dessert.

Low-carb dietI recently came across this simple breakfast idea from Jules at Stone Soup, a frittata that is baked in the oven rather than over the stove. It’s incredibly easy to make and the flavor combinations are endless. She uses a springform pan and four eggs, which makes enough frittata to feed me for almost a week. Sadly, my springform is old and doesn’t spring open anymore (not to mention a bit rusty), but I’ve found that a glass pie dish works just as well.

I like to use 2-3 add-ins, with everything finely diced so that I can eat this easily at my desk with just a fork. This morning’s frittata was made of garlic and shallots, sauteed together for about 5 minutes with a bit of butter; mushrooms and bell pepper I threw in raw; and a handful of parmesan and spices. As you can tell from my ingredient suggestions below, I treat this dish basically like a crustless quiche. I’m not sure if it’s still by definition a frittata with these mix-ins, but it’s my blog and I can do what I want so there.

frittata ingredients

A few fillings you might want to try ~

meats such as ham, bacon, turkey, or sausage
onions, red or yellow, or shallots – raw, sauteed to translucence, or carmelized, or fresh diced scallions
fresh veggies such as tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, or bell peppers
packaged veggies such as olives or sun-dried tomatoes
cheeses such as feta, parmesan, or pepperjack
herbs and spices such as oregano or herbs de provence

frittata slice

RECIPE – Easy Breakfast Frittata (the basic method)
serves 2

I’m so glad I discovered the trick of baking frittatas in a spring form pan, as opposed to the old school high maintenance frying pan method. So much easier to mix the egg with your flavouring then pop in the oven to bake for 15 minutes while you do other things. My type of dinner.

Feel free to play around with the filling. Tomatoes are lovely, as are different cheeses, canned chickpeas work a treat or fresh asparagus in the spring. So many possibilities.

2 zucchini (courgettes), sliced into rounds
4 eggs
2 handfuls grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200C).

Heat a large frying pan (skillet) on a medium heat. Add a little olive oil and cook zucchini, stirring occasionally until they are tender.

Combine eggs and parmesan and season.

Line a 20cm (8in) spring form pan with baking paper and grease the base and sides with butter or oil. Spoon the zucchini in then pour over the egg mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and puffy.

Celebrating one year of the blog (and Earl Gray teacookies)

18 Mar

Recipe source: The Kitchn

On this day last year, I unceremoniously published my first post on Spork, with no introduction, no mission statement, and very little notice to family and friends. I had just lost my job and had time on my hands. The photo quality was horrible and the layout was wordpress default. I wasn’t sure where I was going with this or how long my newfound hobby would last.

And over the past year, this blog has inspired me in so many ways. I’ve been driven to improve the quality of my photography (and photoshop skills – with a long way to go), and been drawn to books and the example of other blogs on food presentation. I’ve loved the challenge of posting a variety of recipes, and planned my own meals around what I think the blog could use. Through the “veg week” theme, I learned to have a more plant-friendly mindset, and have decreased my consumption of animal products ever since.

As I discovered gorgeous new food blogs on a near-daily basis and connected with other bloggers on twitter, a whole world of food enthusiasts unfolded before me. I’ve been inspired by the passion and creativity I’ve seen on these other sites, and how a lot of these bloggers are making a living sharing their love of food with the world.

I still feel that I am but a small blogger, with a free wordpress account, hardly known amid the sea of cooking content on the web. But I love my little hobby nonetheless, and I’m so grateful for all the feedback I have received – from friends in person, from comments on facebook, from my grandmother who is my #1 fan, and from the occasional stranger who finds me on twitter.

Earl Gray teacookies

So in the spirit of Spring and renewal, here is a recipe for a teacookie I love, from one of my favorite cooking blogs. This is called an ‘icebox cookie’ because you can freeze the dough and cut off just as much as you want to bake at any time. It’s a great way to have fresh cookies without having 42 fresh cookies, all by yourself. 🙂

Earl Gray tea

You can make this recipe with any type of tea you like, but I really enjoy the citrusy flavor of Earl Gray that shines through this cookie. In her notes, Ms. Durand recommends using the tea from teabags rather than loose-leaf, saying that it’s surprisingly more flavorful.

food processor cookie dough

The dough takes about two minutes to whip up in the food processor – score!

Earl Gray cookie dough

Once the dough has a nice, crumbly texture, you will turn it out on a sheet of wax or parchment paper and form it into a log. Chill for at least 30 minutes, or until you are ready to bake. The cookies will crisp up beautifully in a 375-degree oven after about 12 minutes.

I'm a little teapot, short and stout :)

Enjoy with a piping hot cup of tea. Hmmm… I wonder what flavor you’ll choose?

RECIPE – Earl Grey Tea Cookies
makes 2 dozen

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon Earl Grey tea leaves*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 375°F. Pulse together all the dry ingredients in a food processor until the tea leaves are pulverized.

Add vanilla, water, and butter. Pulse together until a dough is formed. Form the dough into a log onto a piece of wax or parchment paper. Wrap the paper around and roll the log smooth. Freeze now, or chill for at least 30 minutes.
When chilled, slice the log into 1/3 inch thick pieces. Place on baking sheets and bake until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.

*One would think that expensive loose leaf tea would be best in this recipe. But I’ve actually gotten the best flavor with tea from cheap bags that I’ve ripped open. I think the leaves are more fine and flaky.

Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts & Tomatoes

29 Dec

Recipe Source: Pioneer Woman

This recipe defines comfort food for me, and is incredibly easy to make. So easy that the Pioneer Woman admitted to embarrassment for posting it on her blog – but I have no such shame! This is what she calls a “pantry recipe,” meaning that you quite likely already have all or most of its ingredients in your pantry.

The combination of creamy and tart flavors is what I think really makes this dish. To start, you will cook a pound of spaghetti in a pot of slightly oiled, salted water according to package directions.

While you’re waiting for the pasta water to boil, melt butter and olive oil in a large saucepan and saute onion and garlic until they become fragrant, a few minutes. Then add in a can of drained, non-marinated artichoke hearts.

drained artichoke hearts

I like to break them up with my hands a bit to disperse them through the entire dish. Next add in a can of diced tomatoes, with their juice, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

canned tomats

Reduce heat and pour in heavy cream and broth. The original recipe doesn’t call for meat, but if you’d like some chicken, you can add a cooked, diced breast at this point to heat through. In general, I like to use chicken stock when I’m cooking with chicken, and vegetable stock for fully vegetarian, non-meat dishes. I don’t think this is really a “rule” that exists anywhere, but it’s my personal rule as I’ve come to appreciate vegetarian meals more. To season, fresh-grated nutmeg adds a special twist (or dried ground is fine too) in addition to salt and pepper.

parmesan-asiago cheese blend

The last step in this recipe is to douse it with grated parmesan cheese. Surprisingly, on the day I went shopping, a flaky parmesan-and-asiago blend was more affordable, so I used it instead. The blend achieved a gooey-melty-cheesy fabulousness that I don’t remember getting with the grated stuff, so I think I’ll make it a staple in the future. It’s also nice to serve on your side salad.

Just before serving, top with diced chives or another fresh green herb of your choice and enjoy!

Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts & Tomatoes

RECIPE – Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts & Tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1 14.5 ounce can artichoke hearts (non-marinated), drained
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth, more as needed
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste
1 pound thin spaghetti
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives or other herbs

Cook spaghetti till al dente. Drain and set aside.

Melt olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add artichoke hearts and tomatoes. Stir and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to low. Stir in cream and broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle in nutmeg. Cook over low heat until heated through, then turn off heat.

Place drained pasta in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 cup Parmesan. Pour sauce over the top. Add chopped chives. Toss lightly to combine and coat; add a tiny bit of reserved pasta water if sauce seems too thick.