Category Archives: Recipes

Lazy Cajun Tofu Bowl

Lazy Cajun Tofu Bowl

We all have those nights where we just want to throw something on the table in under 20 minutes and get it in our bellies.

On those nights, if I can resist the urge to just order in, I throw together this treat- my own lazy Cajun tofu bowl. It’s vegetarian/ vegan and filling and spicy and keeps me from shoveling down a tray of nachos or pizza. Here’s how to make your own:

Ingredients:

One 14 oz package extra firm tofu

One large can Southern Style collard greens or mixed greens (if you’re a strict vegan or vegetarian, check the label- many brands offer a meat broth version and a vegetarian version)

1 1/2 cups of rice (I used leftover “forbidden rice” from the fridge, but any rice you have around will work- even the leftovers from Chinese)

Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning

3 tbs. oil (I used coconut, but vegetable or olive would work)

Optional: capers, hot sauce or Sriracha sauce

 

Remember, the goal here is to get it on the table. No fancy preparation, unless you feel like it!

– Cook your rice. If you are using leftovers like I did, just heat what you have. See, you’re already saving time!

-Heat the collard greens (leave in the liquid) in the microwave for four minutes. Drain. I like the seasoning in these.

collard greens

-While that’s cooking, pop open the tofu, dry it off with a paper towel, and cut into cubes. Sprinkle the cubes with your magic weapon:

Tony Chachere photo

Yep. It’s Creole, not Cajun. Those are different. We’re being lazy here.

-Heat a large skillet on medium and add your oil. I like the subtle flavor that coconut oil adds, but any kind will crisp up your little tofu buddies. Add the  tofu cubes and sautee’ for about 3 minutes on each side. I like mine a little crispy, so I usually go for five. They look like this:

tofu cooking

-And that’s it. I layered a giant helping of greens, then the rice (I love the black rice against the greens), and top with tofu. If you’re a spice fiend like me, drizzle with Sriracha and if you have a bottle of capers in the fridge, sprinkle a few on top to make yourself feel fancy.

Eat up. According to the LoseIt app, the whole thing rings in at 3 servings, 588 calories each. I couldn’t even finish my whole bowl.

 

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Take Heart

heart nail

 

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and with it, there are hearts on every surface. But February is also National Heart Month and a great time to think about how to treat that ticker better and give it a long life. In November, I had the honor of walking with Team Jenny at the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk here in Pittsburgh. It was a cold. blustery day but it was hard not to feel inspired seeing the teams walking in honor of family members, friends, and to raise money for complete strangers. In addition, I met some amazing Jenny Craig success stories- women who had changed their lives by getting moving and taking their health to heart (pun alert!).

See- here’s the team, shivering and ready to hit the road!

Team Jenny

Since we’ve been eating healthier around here, The Lady is dropping pounds like crazy and heading to the gym to get her sweat on regularly. I’m working a lot these days, but I’ve been walking to the office in the evenings, and I’ve had the benefit of some heart-healthy meals from her strict attention to detail! My friends at Jenny Craig sent over some heart healthy tips that I wanted to pass along and a delicious recipe:

o Add a Pop of Color: Fill your plate with foods rich in water, fiber and protein and lower in fat. This principle known as the Volumetrics® Approach to eating allows you to eat more food, feel fuller and add nutrients with fewer calories. For example, mixing non-starchy vegetables, such as tomatoes, broccoli and peppers, into your pasta dish will lower the calorie density and enlarge your portion.

o Move More: Physical activity is a key component to weight loss success and keeping your heart healthy. Increasing your level of activity will not only help you to burn calories, but it will also reduce stress. Try integrating physical activity into your lifestyle so that you’re exercising without even knowing it – run around with your children, park further away from the door or take the stairs. You can even do body weight exercises in your own living room during commercial breaks of your favorite TV show. Just move more!

o Manage Your Portions: You can still eat the foods you love, but when preparing meals just be mindful of how much you’re piling on. If you use the plate method, 1/4 of your plate will have a serving of a starch, 1/4 will have a protein and 1/2 will have vegetables, which you can pile as high as you like (without additional fat). Remember the first bite tastes the best, so no need to eat too much.

o Join a Heart Walk: Join Team Jenny at one of the more than 300 Heart Walks across the country this year! Make the commitment to join a Heart Walk and take a stand in the fight against heart disease and help save lives. Not really sure where to begin? Take it slow! Just remember to start with a 5-minute warm-up and finish with a 5-minute cool-down every time you work out and be sure to stay hydrated. Click here to learn more about how you can join Team Jenny at a Heart Walk near you.

o Break for Breakfast: While it may seem like just a little meal you skip at the start of your daily routine, breakfast is truly the most important meal of your entire day. Not only does it help to boost your metabolism, it also keeps your blood sugar stable throughout the day. So the next time you’re moving a mile a minute, take a moment to slow down and grab a healthy bite in the morning. Your heart will thank you later!

 

Try this simple, heart healthy recipe the next time you’re making breakfast. This dish also incorporates the Volumetrics® Approach (exclusive to the Jenny Craig program), by including fresh veggies. This principle, founded by Dr. Barbara Rolls, Professor of Nutritional Sciences and the Helen A. Guthrie Chair in Nutrition at Pennsylvania State University, allows one to eat more food and feel fuller on fewer calories by choosing foods rich in water, fiber and protein and lower in fat.

Jenny Craig’s Spinach & Green Chile Omelette

spinach-green-chile-omelette

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

4 egg whites

1/2 cup nonfat milk

salt and pepper to taste

1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies

1 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/3 cup shredded spinach leaves

2 Tbsp. fat-free sour cream

nonstick vegetable spray

 

Directions

1. Spray large skillet with nonstick spray and heat over medium heat.

2. In a large bowl, whisk egg whites, milk, salt and pepper.

3. Cook the egg mixture over medium-heat for about 3 minutes or until sides start to set.

4. Place green chilies, bell pepper and spinach leaves on one side of the egg mixture and fold in half.

5. Cook for an additional minute, or until vegetables are soft.

6. Cut omelette in half, top with sour cream and serve.

 

For more information on Jenny Craig, visit: http://www.jennycraig.com/. And, don’t forget to visit http://www.jennycraig.com/heart-walk to learn about how Jenny is supporting the American Heart Association’s My Heart. My Life. ™ initiative. Here, you will soon be able to sign up for the American Heart Association’s Heart Walks taking place in over 300 cities through 2013.

(SPONSORSHIP NOTE: I have received no compensation for this post or the included content.)

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Sometimes You Need A Muffin

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

I woke up this morning with a case of the sniffles. I refuse to call it a full-blown cold, because I need denial to function. After a sudden three-inch snowfall, I also needed a muffin. Not just any muffin- I needed a donut pretending to be a muffin.

In a Pinterest frenzy one day, I came across this delicious looking gluten-free banana chocolate chip donut recipe from Janie’s Kitchen. Since we can have gluten and I don’t own a donut baking pan (yet), I whipped up the slightly altered, lazy, sloppy, less healthy recipe below into some heavenly warm muffins in a jiffy and knocked back two with a milk chaser before bed. Take that snow and sniffles!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Mashed Ripe Banana (Roughly 2 small bananas)
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup Butter (Melted)
  • 2 Eggs (Room Temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup Chocolate Chips (I used a bag with half peanut butter chips, because YUM)

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 325F
2. In a large bowl, stir mashed banana, sugar and greek yogurt with a fork.

Mix until incorporated.

3. Add melted butter, eggs and vanilla extra and mix.
4. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the batter and mix

until just incorporated. Do not over mix!

5. Using a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips.
6. Grease muffin tins or use liners (I only had six

liners, so I did half of each- so fancy around here).

7. Bake for 15-20 minutes- they should start to get a

little golden on top and a sharp knife will come out clean

if you poke them in a non-chips region; they look a little

lumpy on top, but that’s what makes them delicious.

8. Makes 12 muffins- I filled the tins all the way to the top-

they only rise a little bit.

9. If you end up with some spare batter and can’t wait 15-20

minutes, put on your flannel pajamas and throw it in a mug

in the microwave for five minutes, then eat that with a fork.

I am not recommending this lifestyle, but you have to do what

you have to do when you have the sniffles.

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More Veggies in My Face

Another recipe success in our week of vegetarian meals- this one makes around eight servings, but we polished it off in two days. It was just that delicious. This would also be a great dish to take to a potluck brunch if you can get it out of the house without eating all of it first. Also, since I made it the night before, The Lady only had to pull it out of the fridge and pop it in the oven- dinner waiting for me when I got home from work! We added a side salad for extra veggie chomping.

Overnight Asparagus Mushroom Strata (via AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons butter, or as needed
1 3/4 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
5 English muffins, split and toasted
1 cup shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 onion, finely chopped
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
Directions:
1.     Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, and cook and stir the mushrooms until their liquid has mostly evaporated and the mushrooms are beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Set the mushrooms aside.
2.     Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish, and arrange 8 muffin halves, cut sides up, in the bottom of the dish. Stuff pieces of remaining muffins into the spaces between the halves. Spread 1 cup of Colby-Monterey Jack cheese over the muffins in a layer, and distribute the asparagus pieces, mushrooms, red pepper, and onion over the cheese.
3.     Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, dry mustard, and black pepper in a bowl, and pour the egg mixture over the muffins and vegetables. Cover the dish, and refrigerate overnight.
4.     The next day, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
5.     Remove the casserole from the refrigerator and let stand for 30 minutes. Spread 1 cup of Colby-Monterey Jack cheese in a layer over the casserole.
6.     Bake in the preheated oven until a knife inserted near the edge comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into squares.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2012 Allrecipes.com

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Vegetarian Chili Feast

After two weeks visiting the family in the South and cramming every piece of fried meat and glass of booze that I found into my face, I need a vegetable. In fact, I need all the vegetables that I can fit into my face. Since we returned to crisp fall weather in Pittsburgh and farmer’s market day, plus an empty refrigerator, I whipped up a big vat of vegetarian chili for our first night back. My recipe is slightly modified from this one, based on what we bought and a shortage of kidney beans at Trader Joe’s. We topped it off with sour cream and little shredded cheese and were stuffed. Plus, now we have lunch leftovers for the next few days.
 
Two-Bean Spicy Vegetarian Chili
 
Ingredients: 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 3 teaspoons roasted, diced garlic (or 3 cloves)
  • 3 small very hot peppers, diced in tiny bits
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 2 beefsteak tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained
  • 2 15 oz cans black beans, drained
  • 1 15 oz. can corn, drained
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
Method: 

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, bell peppers and garlic and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until vegetables are softened but not browned. Add hot peppers, oregano, cumin, chili powder and salt. Stir to blend. Add canned and fresh tomatoes and 4 cups water. Gently simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Add beans and corn and simmer an additional 30 minutes. Garnish individual bowls with sour cream, cheese, or green onions, if desired.

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Farmers’ Market Findings

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One of my favorite parts of summer is heading to the weekly farmers’ market. In Pittsburgh, they are scattered through the city parks and were originally organized to add some fresh local produce to the diets of locals on food stamps. They still accept food stamps, but have been opened to the public and keep the same low prices.

The abundance pictured here is thirty dollars worth of fruit and veggies grown within forty miles of my house. Since piles of green tomatoes were cheap, I whipped these up. I really enjoy this recipe, but cheated a bit. I skipped the bread crumbs and just used cornmeal straight. And because I never have buttermilk in the house, I used an old Paula Deen trick- a capful of vinegar in regular milk, stirred and left to curdle a bit for five minutes.

These green beauties fried up nicely, and with a huge green salad and a little honey mustard, I loaded up on flavor and vitamins.

20120730-220820.jpg

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Hey, Big Spender

Gluttony is a periodic deadly sin I dabble in. Now that the fiance’ is working again, he brought home his first paycheck and there’s a little extra money laying around. As soon as he left the house, I hit project mode. All of the cookbooks got dragged into the living room and I furiously started flipping through, jotting down ingredients and possible menus. He had requested simple spaghetti and meat sauce for dinner tonight, so I scooped up the basics. And then I started thinking ahead.

His mom emailed the recipe for Tomato Soup Pie (a home cooked favorite of his). I dragged out the New York Times recipe for Crusty Macaroni and Cheese that always hits the spot on a cold day. The Paula Deen cookbooks came out for banana bread and peach cobbler. A gourmet recipe from epicurious for corn cakes. Betty Crocker cookbook recipes for sausage and rice casserole and chicken sour cream bake. I lugged home enough groceries from the store to feed an army and made plans to cook lots and freeze it.

By the time I got home from the store I was dizzy from hunger and from carrying it all four blocks. And I lost a little of my momentum. But I have food in the house. Real, not prepackaged food. And if I can turn off The Devil Wears Prada (which I’ve watched 1,000 times), I may actually get the spaghetti finished before he comes home. With a big salad and garlic bread.

I spent more than I should have on all the ingredients. We haven’t quite caught up on all the bills yet- things are still tight in the money department. But, we can eat real food for a couple of weeks now and I suspect we’ll all be a little less grouchy around these parts if we have full warm stomachs.

It’s going to be 9 degrees tomorrow. And I will be in my steamy kitchen stirring and baking and in my fuzzy slippers. Now that’s a Sunday to die for.

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