Tag Archives: cooking

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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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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Make Something 2012

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In 2012, in order to maintain my creative sanity, I’m hoping to make something every day. Today, I made a traditional lucky dinner: pork, sauerkraut, black eyed peas, collard greens, and buttermilk cornbread in my giant iron skillet. It’s a start.

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With 8, You Get Pie

Thanksgiving this year is a little bit off. The gang I’m cooking for, all seven of them, had various obligations, work schedules, visitors, etc. to wrangle on the actual day, so on Sunday we’re gathering at my place for Thanksgiving Part Two: Turkey’s Revenge. A full feast will be prepped and served, including cocktails, to-go leftovers and Steelers football on the television.

The menu, not for the faint of heart, includes:

Homemade spinach dip

Cheese straws

Blue cheese & honey bruschetta

Two turkeys- 15 lbs. and 10 lbs. (thank you tiny oven)

Gravy by the vatful

Stuffing (in and out of the bird- Stove Top and cornbread homemade)

Honeyed baby carrots

Green bean casserole (with and without mushrooms)

Sweet potato casserole

Cranberry sauce (canned- yes, please)

Crescent rolls, cheese straws, dill bread, cornbread muffins, buttermilk biscuits, and sourdough rolls

Corn pudding

Blueberry salad

Fried corn with bacon

Mashed potatoes (10 lbs. of yukons)

Baked macaroni and cheese

Pole beans

 Sweet potato butter

Homemade fudge

Pumpkin pie with ice cream and whipped cream

My famous Godiva Chocolate Pie

And beer, Asti, eggnog, rum, and Irish coffees.

All of this will prepared by yours truly, in my 5′ x 10′ kitchen on the two feet of counter space. Last year, you may remember, involved a slight scalding incident I’m hoping to avoid in this year’s kitchen plan.

Dinner’s at three on Sunday. See you all then!

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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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The Thanksgiving Menu

I’ve become the family Thanksgiving cook around here for the in-laws after several years of team-cooking the meal alone with my ex as experience. And to be honest- I love it. I spent six years unable to go home for the holiday due to money, where I had to be a guest at other people’s meals. And it’s never really the same. The dishes may be the same, but if you baste with butter and your hosts brine with citrus, it’s not the same. My mother, bless her heart, is not much of a cook. She can whip up anything that comes pre-packaged just fine and I was raised fairly sane eating Stove Top stuffing and canned veggies and a purchased turkey breast from Honeybaked Hams.  Now, my Granny (Tennessee, born and raised): that woman can cook! So, I’ve tried to be the Southern cook of the family… and done ok so far!

This year’s Thanksgiving menu:

  • A 19 lb. turkey, brined overnight and roasted all day
  • Stuffing (inside the bird and out)
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Mashed potatoes from scratch
  • Broccoli with cheese sauce
  • Gravy
  • Crescent rolls
  • Honeyed carrots with brown sugar
  • Green bean casserole
  • Fried corn with bacon
  • Corn muffins
  • Homemade baked mac and cheese (if I get ambitious)
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Homemade pumpkin pie (with real pumpkin)
  • Chocolate cream pies
  • Appetizer- spinach dip and toast points

and I think if you ask the fiance’, football is on the menu as well 🙂

We need traditions- maybe I can convince everyone to play a few rounds of nickel poker? Or watch the parade? Or go on a long walk after dinner? Or help put up the silly little Christmas tree?

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