Monday, February 26, 2007

Thai Peanut Pasta

This week, I'm on break, and my boyfriend is in midterms. (Ah - the joys of going to different colleges!) So, I'm relaxing, catching up, and trying to get ahead on homework, papers, and projects. He's frantically doing homework and studying for his break. This lends itself to long involved meals that I make by myself without help, and quick meals, well, that maybe I get a little help with (peeling carrots or something). Cooking is relaxing to me, and cooking together is just heaven. (Even, if I do take over in the kitchen, and all others can do are little things that I ask them. Many a friend has learned that trying to help without asking in the kitchen can lead to a very cranky cook. ^_^) Tonight, I reached back to a good, quick standby recipe that my mother used to make, with a bit of a twist.

Originally this recipe was for a cold pasta salad, but one night when I was little, my mom and I were really hungry, and didn't bother to wait for the noodles to chill. In doing so, we realized - hey - this is pretty good warm too! Now I make it that way more often than not, and I save the chilled version for the scorching heat of summer.

My mom used to make this recipe with chicken, marinated in some reserved sauce, but since becoming vegetarian, that has either been left out entirely, or left on the side (when someone besides me is making it!) However, I've been trying to incorporate more protein into my diet lately, and to convince my boyfriend that going veggie is easy, and protein isn't a concern. We're also both decent fans of tofu as long as it's prepared correctly, so I substituted it for the chicken. I think steamed Tempeh would probably work as well.

The recipe is based around a pre-made dry salad dressing packet, so if you have a moral objection to those, sorry!

Good seasons Asian Sesame dressing - made to packet instructions (oil, water, and vinegar added)
3 tbsp. chunky peanut butter
1 tsp-tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 tbsp honey (agave necter can be substituted for vegans)
1 cup shredded carrot
1 package super-firm tofu cubed
1 cup chopped red pepper (other colors would work, I just like the visual red creates)
1/2 cup chopped green onion or chives to taste
1 lb cooked angel hair

Combine made dressing with peanut butter, honey, and crushed red pepper. Drain the tofu (chop if not pre-cubed) and stir into the sauce to marinate while you get the rest of the ingredients together. (Over-night if you think about it, though while the pasta is cooking is time enough.) Start the pasta cooking. Peel and grate the carrot. Chop red pepper and green onion/chives. When the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot. Stir in the Sauce and Tofu, and recover for about 2-3 minutes, or until the tofu is warm (unless you're doing the cold salad version.) Then stir in the carrot, red pepper, and green onion/chives, dish up, and enjoy!

p.s For those who are still afraid of tofu, yet still wanting to cook vegetarian, chickpeas also work well as a replacement protein source ^_^

Frittata and Super Quick Garlic Toast

My newest cooking love has become the frittata. paired with a really nice salad, and a slice of whole wheat garlic toast is my favorite. I never make a frittata the same way twice. i often use it not only as a protein supplement, but as a way to clean produce out of my fridge. I have a basic plan, but in general, if i wan to use it up, it goes in.

I start with the eggs (of course) usually 4-6-8 depending on how many people i'm feeding, and what scale of leftovers i want. (I''m a big fan of leftovers)
After the eggs come a splash of milk of some sort- anything from heavy cream, to rice dream - and a bit of ground salt and pepper.
Next comes the ingredients that vary.
The first category of ingredients are the fresh herbs, I often have some on hand for other recipes, but i consider them so crucial that i will occasionally by them just for this if i'm out. a poultry rub pack of fresh herbs works great, since for under $2, you generally get a variety such as sage, rosemary, thyme, etc. I've vary partial to fresh parsley, basil, and green onion/chives as well.
next the dry herbs to make up for whatever fresh i didn't have. I always have basil, parsley and thyme, so if i don't have them fresh, they go in now.
Next come the veggies . . . lets see what i have. last night it was some leftover broccoli from making stuffed green peppers, and some french green beans, and some red onion left over from a salad. yum. i've also used peppers, leftover thawed frozen spinach, etc.
Cheese! i don't always use it, but i often do. Parmesan seems to be my favorite, though with some veggie/herb combinations i might try cheddar. or Gruyere if i had it left on hand.

once these are all mixed together (and nope, i don't cook the veggies first, not even the broccoli!) i put it in a pan w/olive oil on medium heat, and ignore it for 3-5 minutes. Then, if the pan has a non-oven-safe handle, i wrap it in a double layer of foil, and stick it in a 350 degree over for 10-15 minutes, or until it's firm and puffy and a little brown on top. then slide a spatuala around the edges, and dumping onto a plate. cut in to slices and enjoy with a salad (Giada's Tuscan Salad is my current favorite) and some toast.

Whole Wheat Vegan Garlic Toast
1-? slices whole wheat (vegan) bread.
soy garden vegan butter
garlic powder
dried parsley
nutritional yeast flakes

spread the "butter" on, sprinkle the garlic, nutritional yeast, and the parsley on, and stick it in the toaster oven on whatever setting you like!

Squash Enchiladas

Originally Posted on

so i talked about doing this a long, long time ago, and oh look - i finally am.

in may, after i fell, cracked 2 ribs, and sprained my wrist, i couldn't do, well, pretty much anything. including dishes. so i became the queen of massive, one dish meals, that could be microwaved on paper plates for the next week.

it was about this time that i got bored and Ta~Da, actually created my first recipe.

well, recreated.

See, I'm in love with the restaurant Seva, specifically their Enchilada Calabanza. I knew that the main ingredient in these enchiladas was Butternut Squash, and that it had the normal enchilada sauce, cheese, and green onion. but I was unsure about the rest.

So I began investigating. Looking up Squash enchilada recipes left and right on-line (because what else are you going to do with two cracked ribs but sit at home on the computer?) but nothing sounded exactly like what I remembered tasting. So I took a little bit from this recipe, a little bit from that, and this is what I came up with:

Squash Enchiladas

2 pkg frozen winter squash
1/3 tub light cream cheese
1 Tbsp cumin (guesstimate)
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp coriander
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp nutmeg
1 bunch green onion
½ pkg corn tortilla
2 cans mild old el paso enchilada sauce
1 can medium old el paso enchilada sauce
1 pkg shredded low fat cheddar
1 pkg shredded low fat cheddar jack

first, defrost the frozen squash, either by letting it sit in the fridge for 6 hours, or, microwaving it, 1 minute at a time, flipping it over in between until it is thawed. then pour off a bit of the excess water on the squash before putting it in a large, microwave save bowl. next soften the 1/3 tub cream cheese in the microwave, before stirring it into the squash. microwave the mixture in 30 second to 1 ½ minute intervals, stirring in-between until the mixture reaches a good consistency. (no longer runny, able to spoon it into tortillas) while that is thickening, wash and chop the green onions. once the mixture is a good consistency, stir in the chopped green onions and the spices. add more spices to taste.

now comes the part that sounds odd. corn tortillas have a tendency to crack when folded unless they are warm. therefore, the best way to use them is microwaved! i microwave 3-6 at a time until they are slightly warmer than room temperature (don't worry if they are warmer, as long as they're not too hot to touch, it's fine) and then spoon the mixture in the middle of one, role it up (both ends still open) and lay it seam-side down in the baking dish. repeat laying the next one down next to the first, almost leaning against it. continue until you have filled your baking dish and used up all the filling. next open your cans of enchilada sauce and pour them over the baking dish, making sure that every bit of the tortillas are covered. finally sprinkle your cheese evenly on top and pop the whole thing into a preheated 350 degree oven, and bake for 30 minutes or so (possibly more) until it is hot all the way through, and the cheese is nice and bubbly.