My Blog on WCCO-TV: Bite of Minnesota

Monday, December 31, 2007

Holiday Wishes!

Happy New Year's Eve! Is it just me or does anyone have plans this New Year's? It just seems like nothing is going on. Although I work today, I look forward to getting out of here early, working out, and making some good dinner tonight!

I mentioned in my last post that Ryan graduated and we threw a party for him. Well, in the hustle of the day, I only got a pic of my main dish although we had a ton of food. The favorite item was lavash pizza with smoked mozzarella, proscuitto and arugula, which we served as an appetizer.

Although I couldn't get my stubborn dad to try my main dish, the rest of the family loved it. I made Roasted Butternut Squash and Greens Pasta. It was my first time making it in advance and for a large group. I roasted the greens and veggies the night before and reheated them in the oven while I cooked the pasta. Tossed everything together and voila!

Soon after Ryan's graduation, Thanskgiving came along. Ryan's mom took care of almost all the cooking, but I brought Candied Sweet Potatoes. Ryan's great grandma used to make these, so I tried to bring the memory back with my own version. I had never made this before, but let me tell won't only be a Thanksgiving dish! I loved the crunch of the marshmallows and of course the sweetness of the brown sugar and sweet potatoes together. This dish was such a hit, we were only able to package up a few bites to bring home with us.

Over the weekend, Ryan and I celebrated our 14th anniversary and had a fun day. It's been a long time since we've been able to tool around the city together on a weekend. We ran a bunch of errands, checked out a Greek grocery store in Minneapolis (and picked up a ton of cool items), and ate at one of our favorite organic/vegetarian restaurants, French Meadow. Mmmm...I love French Meadow! Ryan tried this thai tempeh sandwich and we're determined to figure out how to make it. Any recipes calling for tempeh to be mixed with thai spices out there?

Friday, December 14, 2007


The time has come...Ryan is graduating from college! I am so excited as it's been a long road, but well worth it. I'm throwing a party for him tonight with the help of his mom, so we're making food for 35 people. We decided to go with a pasta bar and an overall Italian theme. I've made the almond cookies and will pick up some gelato tonight. I'll take some pictures and post them for you all.

While Ryan was in school, he kept fueled up with these Energy Orbs from the Students Go Vegan cookbook. These are made with dates and cocoa powder. I rolled some in coconut and some in hemp seeds. They are really a great snack and just kept in the fridge for a pick-me-up.

Pizza has been a helpful meal on study intensive days. Ever since Ryan's mom loaned me the breadmaker, I've been stocked up on pizza doughs. I keep mine in the freezer and just pop them in the fridge in the morning to defrost. We've experimented with various herb crusts, whole-wheat crusts, spicy chili crusts and decided that we like the plain crust the best!

This pizza is half veggie pepperoni and half blue cheese and cherry tomato. Seriously one of my favorites.

So, now that neither of us are college students anymore, is pizza still a valid meal??

Monday, December 10, 2007

Jerk Tofu with Coconut Rice

One of the cool things about going to the Mall of America is you're bound to run into someone you know. Most of us Minnesotans stay clear of MOA around the holidays, but still try to sneak in visits when we know it won't be as busy.

Last Saturday was a prime example. We were in the process of getting hit with 7-9 inches of snow, so what better time to drive very slowly and carefully to the mall? Plus, Lush was having it's Grand Opening and giving away a ton of free stuff, so we HAD to go! Look for me and Ryan in the next Lush newsletter with our facial masks on :)

Imagine my surprise when I ran into a fellow food blogger,Catherine and her friend Courtney at H&M. We've been meaning to meet up again for awhile, but schedules get the best of us, so we were excited to see each other. Woo hoo! And, yes, that will probably be our last MOA visit until next year.

Onto the food...

Having some tofu I needed to use up, I reached for my trusty Vegan with a Vengeance and decided to make jerk tofu (rather than jerk seitan) and coconut rice.

I sliced the tofu pretty thinly, but kept it thick enough to not break. The marinade for this dish is very tasty without being too spicy. It really warmed us up on a cold night! The coconut rice is a nice touch, but lacked coconut flavor. I think it's due to using lite coconut milk instead of the full fat version, which is an okay sacrifice for me. I'd recommend making the jerk tofu again and maybe next time I could chop it up for topping on a salad or on a sandwich.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Leek and Butternut Squash Fettuccine

What a wonderful long weekend! We were able to spend a lot of time with family and also get a lot of work done around the house. I did quite a few craft projects and felt so relaxed. I'm eager to get back into the routine of a normal work week though.

Here is an awesome pasta dish made with whole-wheat fettuccine and a sauce made from pureed butternut squash and leeks. It also contained sage. With our herbs now moved inside, it was a perfect way to use the sage.

Next time, I would cut down on the heavy cream and use skim milk instead as the sauce was a bit heavy in fat. On the side, we sauteed broccoli and garlic, a "go-to" veggie dish for us.

Here's the recipe from The Cottage Gourmet:

Spinach Fettuccine with Leeks and Butternut Squash
(4 servings)

3 tbsp unsalted butter
4 medium leeks, halved and thinly sliced crosswise
1 medium butternut squash, diced in ½-inch pieces
¼ cup vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 lb. fresh spinach fettuccine
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, add leeks and cook for 5 minutes. Add butternut squash and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add vegetable broth, cover pan and steam the vegetables until just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and sage until mixed well, remove from heat.

Salt the boiling water and add fettuccine and cook until al dente, 3 minutes for fresh pasta or 10 minutes for dried pasta. Drain and return to the pot. Add the squash-leek sauce and the Parmesan cheese. Toss well. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer all to a large, warmed bowl or platter and serve immediately. Pass extra grated cheese for topping. For variety, try adding freshly ground nutmeg.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sesame Crusted Tofu with Stir Fry Veggies

Happy Thanksgiving to all you in the United States! I am so super excited for 4 days off of work. I plan to work on some sewing projects, shop for some craft projects, and do some general organization around the house.

We're only doing one Thanksgiving this year, which is nice as we typically do 2 Thanksgivings which results in Ryan and I being super stuffed and stressed out about spending equal amounts of time with each family.

This year, we're doing Thanksgiving at Ryan's parent's house. I'm making sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. Yum! Saturday is my sister's birthday, so we're heading over there for lunch and Tres Leche Cake, which I've never tried, but heard it's awesome.

Recently, I was flipping through some old Cooking Light magazines and came across a recipe for Sesame Crusted Tofu and realized we had the ingredients. We used Ener-G instead of the eggs. We made a veggie stir-fry out of random veggies we found in the fridge.

Everything turned out great and this was pretty quick and easy to make. Made for tasty leftovers too!

Again, Happy Thanksgiving...can't wait to see what everyone has to eat!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Crusted Tempeh Cutlets and Green Beans with Citrus Zest

Ryan and I have found our new favorite meal and it is so easy to make! We both really like tempeh, so when I got the Students Go Vegan cookbook, I was eager to try Crusted Tempeh Cutlets. First, you make a marinade and bake the tempeh in it. This step is super easy to do the night before. Then, when you're ready to "crust" the tempeh, you brush it with mustard, coat it in a cornmeal mixture, and cook them in a skillet until browned. These are awesome with barbecue sauce!

Sorry for the container pics, but I had already packaged them up for our lunches
when I remembered to take a picture.

Another easy recipe is the Green Beans with Citrus Zest. This recipe was in Food & Wine by Heidi Swanson. So easy and so yummy! You don't even need to steam these beans separately. I love the slightly different taste that this dish gives the green beans. Be warned that adding hot oil and water does make for a dangerous situation, so have your cover ready!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Swiss Chard Quiche & Sweet Potato Hash

In some of our final crop share boxes, we'd been receiving Swiss Chard. In one of the newsletters, there was a recipe for Swiss Chard Quiche Pie. I wasn't really sure an egg pie was going to be good, but thought I'd give it a try. We halved the recipe and quickly became addicted! We visited the farm and picked up some more Swiss Chard just so we could make this again. It's seriously some good stuff!

Here's the recipe:

Swiss Chard Quiche Pie

1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons oil
1 bunch Swiss Chard
6 eggs
1 cup shredded cheese
1 teaspoon salt
2 pie crusts

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brown onion and garlic in oil. Trim and chop chard, add to pan, and cook down until wilted. Beat eggs in a bowl; mix in cheese, salt, and chard mixture. Pour into pie crusts; bake until knife inserted into center comes out clean, 30-40 minutes. Makes 2 pies.

Here's a pic of the Swiss Chard and onion mixture:

Here's the final product:

I told you there would be another hash dish! This one was super easy from the Students Go Vegan cookbook. Basically you cook a diced sweet potato and then saute that with some onions, peppers and veggie burgers. It's awesome and I plan to make it again.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wild Rice and Tempeh Stuffed Squash

In our crop shares, we received a good amount of squash, which is fantastic because it can be kept for so long.

Ryan and I tried a recipe from our co-op that involved roasting acorn squash and stuffing it with wild rice, brown rice, tempeh and cranberries. All the ingredients on their own are great...but not so great all together. I couldn't quite pinpoint what was wrong with this dish. The tempeh and rice mixture tasted plain and the squash was almost a little bitter. In the end, we found the best way to eat this dish was to eat the rice mixture separately from the roasted squash.

It looks pretty though, doesn't it?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Roasted Fall Vegetable Hash

It is definitely the fall season around here. The trees have turned to the beautiful colors of red, yellow, and orange and the temperature has cooled. I just got back from Albuquerque and funny enough, it was colder there than it is here in Minnesota!

The fall season is being reflected in our cooking too. We've been doing a lot of squash, sweet potatoes, and grains. Our crop share has ended, which is always sad, but it just means we need to make different meals now.

Hash is a super easy and very filling dish to make. You'll see a couple more on here that we've made, but here's a recent one. This is Roasted Fall Vegetable Hash from Food and Wine magazine. I love brussels sprouts, so it was a good excuse to buy some and use them.

Here's the ingredients cooking: brussels sprouts, butternut squash, onions, apple, and some tempeh bacon (which rocks in this dish!)

Here is the final. Our sage leaves got a little frost bitten, but are still very good.

Roasted Fall Vegetable Hash (from Food & Wine)
(4 servings)

½ pound brussels sprouts, quartered
½ pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ pound thickly sliced bacon, cut into ¼ -inch dice (we used a package of tempeh bacon)
½ pound sweet onions such as Vidalia or Texas sweets, finely chopped
1 small Granny Smith apple—peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
10 sage leaves, thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup apple cider

Preheat the oven to 400°. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the brussels sprouts and squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables for about 20 minutes, or until tender.

In a large, deep skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the apple and cook until it starts to soften, about 2 minutes. Gently stir in the roasted brussels sprouts, squash and sage, then pour in the cider. Simmer over moderately high heat until the cider has almost evaporated, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and serve.

To make ahead: The vegetable hash can be refrigerated overnight.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Crispy Kale with Potatoes and PB&J Bars

Happy Monday! We had a rain-filled weekend, but at least the skies were clear for the ALS Walk around Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. We have been doing this walk for a number of years in memory of Ryan's uncle, Paul. Typically we are layered in long underwear and sweatshirts, but this year we were down to t-shirts and light sweatshirts! It was a nice change.

With items from our crop share, we made roasted potatoes, shallots, and kale with caramelized garlic dressing. The recipe goes pretty much as it sounds as you roast all of the items and then mix it all together with roasted garlic and red wine vinegar. It is good to roast the kale in a separate pan from the potatoes as they have different cooking times. It was served with some corn on the cob - yum! Overall, the kale dish was very good, but I wouldn't list it as a favorite. It is kind of weird to eat crispy kale.

I also made some Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars from a recipe by Ina Garten. These totally rocked and are uber addicting, but really filling, so it stops you from eating too much! I used natural peanut butter as I can't remember the last time I've bought Skippy or Jif. We used raspberry jam that Ryan's co-worker made from raspberries in her garden.

It's really easy to make as you made a peanut butter dough bottom, slather on some jelly, and then drop the rest of the peanut butter dough on top of the jelly. Top with crushed peanuts and put in the oven until golden and you're done!

Monday, September 24, 2007

My Special Birthday

Yep, it was my birthday recently (actually, on the 12th). Typically my birthday celebrations span over an entire week as it's hard to get everyone together at one time and I can spend my actual birthday with Ryan.

This year Ryan was especially sweet. We've been so busy (my bro had a new baby!), so the idea of rush home-drive downtown-eat and drink tons-come home-passout wasn't so appealing this year. So, he surprised me by secretly taking the day off work and cleaning the house along with getting by birthday gifts ready. (sidenote: I was totally onto him. I knew it was suspicious that he made me breakfast and wasn't in a hurry to get to work. I was also suspicious when he answered his phone mid-day and I could hear that he was driving!)

So, when I got home from work, he was waiting for me all dressed up. He said he was taking me out for an appetizer and a drink close to our house. We went to Copper Bleu, a new upscale restaurant out here in the 'burbs. We then went home where he made me dinner and surprised me with our dining room table set with new dishes, water in wine glasses, and a new tablecloth.

It was all so perfect!! While I sat and drank ice wine, he made a surprise dinner of crab (again, Guy's Big Bite came in handy!) And he made a recipe I had picked out of the local co-op's newsletter. It had zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, spinach, soba noodles and tofu. Yum!

And, of course, dessert! This was a marscapone cheese, raspberry and chocolate cup. No, Ryan didn't make it, but it was still really good!

It was just so nice to be able to spend my birthday at home and with such a wonderful guy!

My birthday celebrations continued to be awesome as we went to my parent's house on Friday and had take-out and DQ ice cream cake (the first pic in the post). It was great to hang out at my parent's house without having to rush off to somewhere else.

On Saturday, we tried out a new restaurant with Ryan's family called FireLake. They pride themselves in using local ingredients and the food was wonderful. Ryan and I split the trout with grilled asparagus and shared some appetizers with everyone. I don't think I've ever had trout before, but I know I will again! We were having such a good time that after dinner was done and everyone had left, Ryan and I found a cozy couch and just sat and talked for another hour.
Next year is the big 3-0, so I'm sure I'll have some kind of party, but for now, I'll continue to enjoy my 20's for one more year!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Beer Battered Everything

Thanks for all the blueberry ideas, I'll have to put them to use!

Sorry for the blogger absence. I don't really have a good excuse. Just a bunch of typical excuses I could use (work, lazy, etc.), but I'm all about moving forward.

Has anyone been watching Guy's Big Bite on the Food Network? He strikes me as a nice guy, so Ryan and I have been tuning in and getting some good ideas. One was beer battered onion rings.

I love onion rings and used to make them from time to time at our La Crosse apartment. However, Ryan hated them and the smell they left behind. So, I'd have to time my onion making just right. Ryan would have to be at work all day and I'd make them with both our fans going and all the windows open. I'd have to take out the trash, do the dishes, light some candles and douse everything with Febreeze before he'd come home.

My onion ring making skills have improved over the years and somehow the smell has diminished too through using various recipes and techniques by Bobby Flay and Alton Brown.

So, recently while watching Guy's Big Bite, we saw the proper technique using beer. We just went on the Summit Brewery * tour, so this was especially exciting for Ryan. So exciting that he ran to the store to get all the ingredients.

Ryan made Beer Battered Onion Rings and Portabello Mushrooms:

We had batter and oil left over that we didn't want to waste, so he went on to make Beer Battered Fish, Onion Rings, and Green Beans the next day:

Let me tell you - it can be exciting making food like this, but I know it's not exciting (or healthy) for our bodies at all. I couldn't even look at anything fried for a couple weeks after eating this.

*Summit Brewery is a local beer made in St. Paul, MN. It's really good and they have some great varieties that come out throughout the year. Ryan's been trying to drink more local beer since it doesn't have to travel as far (less gas used, less emissions, etc.). Try it if it's in your area!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Blueberry Post Part II - The Food

So, after reading about all the blueberries we picked, now you're wondering what we did with all of them, huh? We did a lot with them!

First off, we gave a bunch to our families and we brought some to work. Everyone was so amazed at how much better they were than the ones from the grocery store. That's fresh and local for you!

Then, we used a ton for breakfast in yogurt and granola or just ate them plain. We also used them in smoothies with some of the strawberries I picked earlier in the year (picked 17 pounds of those, but forgot to take pictures).

We also made ice cream - yep, blueberry ice cream is so awesome! Speaking of icy treats, we made milkshakes with the blueberries too.

Almost immediately, I made blueberry muffins sprinkled with a rock sugar topping.

For another breakfast goodie, I made blueberry cornmeal pancakes. Totally not the healthiest recipe as it uses eggs and butter, but I plan to modify it in the future.

I also HAD to make a blueberry pie! Ryan and I served this with vanilla ice cream. I was tempted to make another pie, but figured I'd wait until apple season.

As you can imagine, there were still a lot of blueberries left, so they are all in the freezer in foodsaver bags. It's great to have frozen fruit around to throw into dishes!

Now that you see what we did with our blueberries, what would YOU do with 20 pounds of blueberries?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Blueberry Post

I have almost all my pictures from my camera now on my computer. Woo hoo! Ryan and I went blueberry picking back in July and now I can share with you.

We were really surprised at how fast the local farm ran out of blueberries. Imagine my sense of panic when I found my first and second choice were sold out! I did some further research and found Rush River Produce in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin. It's located on the way to La Crosse (where we went to college), so we knew it would be a beautiful drive and it's only about 1 hour from our house. Well, it's only 1 hour from our house when you have the right directions. OOPS! So, we enjoyed the driving adventure through the bluffs of Wisconsin.

Rush River has 9 acres of blueberries, so there were plenty for us to pick. It was great because we really felt no one was competing for "the spot" and we could sit back and enjoy. If you look really closely, you can see the blueberries on the bushes.

There were tons to pick, both on short bushes and tall bushes. We found that many people came and went, hopping from bush to bush looking for the biggest, blueist blueberries. Our technique was totally the opposite. We picked every single blueberry from the bush before moving on because they are ALL good!

So, after over 2 hours of picking, we had picked over 20 pounds of blueberries. I'm sure at least an additional 5 pounds went into our mouths during the 2 hours.

We spent another 45 minutes just dinking around on the farm. They also sell currants and gooseberries, but I think we were too wiped to pick anything else. I'll leave you with a picture of one of the cool wood carvings that was hiding behind the barn. I can't tell if this guy is getting out his aggressions or worshipping the sun.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Corn Chowder

Great news on the Lazyman Triathlon front...we finished! Our deadline was Sunday, but we spent about 2 hours in the gym on Saturday running and biking to finish our goals. We would have preferred to finish outside, but considering it's been raining for the last week, we had to stay inside.

We did manage to try the Corn Chowder from Vegan with a Vengeance. It was pretty good, but I felt like I needed a crusty roll with it and there was no crusty bread in sight! We were able to use our immersion blender for this recipe, which came in very handy.

I better get back to work as I just took a quick break to get a posting up. Have a great week!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Thai Noodles with Tofu

In an effort to use up some more of our cabbage, I searched for some cabbage recipes and came up with this one:

Thai Noodles with Tofu

The cabbage and carrots in this dish supply 126 percent of your daily vitamin A, key to maintaining healthy eyes.

1 package (2 oz) rice noodles
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup julienned carrots
1/2 cucumber, peeled, quartered and sliced lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 lb. pressed extra-firm tofu, broken up in pieces
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoon fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon Asian chile paste
1 tablespoon peanut oil

Bring lightly salted water to a boil in a medium pot; cook noodles 3 minutes. Place cabbage in a colander and drain noodles over cabbage; immediately rinse with cold water. Drain again. Toss cabbage and noodles in a bowl with carrots, cucumber, pepper, and scallions. Whisk basil, mint, juice, vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, chile paste and oil in another bowl; drizzle over noodle mixture.

Meanwhile, break tofu into pieces and toss with flour. Heat a skillet over medium heat and lightly fry up tofu in a little bit of olive oil. Divide noodles into 4 bowls and top with tofu.


This dish tasted incredibly light and fresh and was so easy to make! It's my first time dusting the tofu with flour before frying and it made for a nice crispy crust. I plan to do this again in the future.
I did make some changes to the original recipe. I substituted tofu for chicken, eliminated the cucumber (Ryan hates them!) and used soba noodles instead of rice noodles (we were out of rice noodles). Yum yum!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Crop Share #4 & Bridge Disaster

We are okay. We were not on the bridge. Our families are okay. It can't be denied that a major bridge collapsing is completely horrible and will disrupt lives (and traffic) for years to come. The rescue workers are continuing their efforts to find bodies in the river.

My family was very shaken up yesterday as my dad would have been taking that route to table tennis last evening, but decided to stay at work a bit longer. It is amazing to hear all of the stories from the locals here who just narrowly missed being on the bridge and those who survived. The news agencies have been doing a fantastic job on coverage and you can find up to date information here and here.

I finally uploaded pictures so I could post more on our crop share. Here's our 4th crop share (yeah, I know, I'm seriously behind). We're getting more color as the summer continues!

It contained:

Salad mix
Parsley, thyme, cilantro and dill
Carrots - both orange and yellow
Kohlrabi (similar taste to broccoli)
Fresh basil - multiple varieties
Spring onions

Monday, July 30, 2007

Millet & Black Bean Stuffed Peppers

Happy Monday! The humidity died down here in Minnesota, but the heat is still here, so it's very enjoyable. Ryan and I were able to continue our adventurous bike rides throughout Apple Valley and conquered 9 miles on Sunday. Nothing outrageous, but still racking up the miles for the lazyman triathlon.

Speaking of lazy...I still haven't uploaded any pics to my computer from my camera, so I'll talk about something we made a couple weeks ago - stuffed peppers!

I used Isa's recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance for Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers. I could have sworn that I had quinoa - why wouldn't I? But, I was wrong as I only had quinoa flour. Argh, time to break out the millet. So, the peppers were stuffed with millet, black beans, tomatoes, and some other goodies that I can't remember.

The recipe made a ton and we even cut down the recipe. We tried to eat as much as we could, but in all honesty, we weren't too into this dish. Ryan even used it to fill tacos, so we did try to eat it all! Maybe it was the millet, maybe it was the blah tomato sauce. Either way, I think I'm sticking with my mom's stuffed peppers recipe for the future.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

BBQ Ribz

It is hot and humid here in Minnesota - we're just hoping the rain breaks this awful weather.

Ryan and I are doing the Lazyman Triathlon again this year although we started a couple weeks later than the YMCA does. This weather makes it really difficult to do any running or biking outdoors so we've taken the workouts inside for awhile.

I need to catch you all up on the crop shares we've been getting, but I need to get the pics from my camera to my computer sometime soon. We've been enjoying sweet corn, raspberries, and even orange watermelon!

Awhile back, we tried to make Fat-free Vegan's ribz. Here they are in the pan after baking.

As you can see, I couldn't get the mixture to fill the whole pan, but that didn't seem to matter in the grand scheme of things. Here they are sauced:

And here is the entire meal composed of sauteed Swiss Chard and onions from our crop share and some carrots that were steamed in foil on the grill.

Partway through dinner, I started thinking that the leftover ribz needed to go back on the grill for a little while before packing them for lunch tomorrow. Well, I completely forgot about them and they were totally charred by the time I remembered. So much for ribz for lunch!

I'd make these again - the texture was really good and a great way to eat BBQ sauce. They were really easy too!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sweet & Sour Tofu and Broccoli

Mmmm...mmmm..mmm...this dish is awesome! Since I've been tuning into Vegan Yum Yum's blog lately, I was super excited to find this recipe for Sweet & Sour Tofu and Broccoli. I've never used only cornstarch for "breading", but it made for a super crunchy crispy coating.

We also steamed up some broccoli from Gardens of Eagan (that's where our farm, Loon Organics gets their broccoli for our crop share) and threw in some almonds. Now, this recipe did take some time to make since we fried the tofu in batches, but it was well worth it. You could easily substitute any green veggies in this like asparagus or green beans.
Here's the modified recipe:

Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu
(4 servings)

1 lb. extra-firm tofu
2 tsp Ener-g Egg Replacer + 4 tsp water, mixed
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup peanut or canola oil
Sesame Seeds for garnish
½ cup sliced almonds
1-2 cups steamed broccoli

3 ½ tbsp seasoned rice vinegar (you can eyeball the ½ tbsp)
¼ cup water
2 tbsp + 2 tsp Sugar
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp molasses
¼ tsp ginger powder
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water

Slice the tofu into triangles or small cubes. Toss tofu with the egg replacer/water mixture until coated. Then toss in cornstarch until each piece is coated and dry, adding more cornstarch if needed.

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok.

While oil is heating, mix sauce ingredients except for the cornstarch/water into a small sauce pan and whisk over medium heat until sugar and salt is dissolved. Add cornstarch mixture and whisk until the sauce thickens. If you leave the sauce unattended now it will thicken and burn, so keep an eye on it. When thick, turn off heat and set aside.

Place tofu in the hot oil, being careful not to burn yourself. You don’t want the tofu to be crowded or the pieces will stick to each other, so fry it in batches if needed. Fry for 3-5 minutes until golden on the bottom, then gently turn and brown the other side. When tofu is almost done frying, add almonds and fry until very lightly browned.

Drain tofu and almonds from oil (in the sink like you’d drain pasta, being very careful), and place tofu, almonds and broccoli in a large bowl. Pour sauce on top and gently toss to completely coat. Sauce should be thick and sticky - it shouldn’t pool at the bottom of the bowl.

Top with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Crop Share #3 & Beet Salad

Happy Monday! I'm back from Chicago, where I was there for a convention from Tuesday evening until Sunday afternoon. It was a lot of work, a lot of fun, and not a lot of sleep! I unpacked last night, but still working to get back in the swing of things, which includes blogging.

Here is our 3rd crop share which includes:

Salad mix
Snow peas
Green garlic
Garlic scapes
Dill (ick)

Using the beets, we made a beet salad on top of arugula with a blue cheese vinaigrette.

Beet and Arugula Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing
(4 servings)

3 bunches fresh arugula, washed and trimmed
¾ cup crumbled blue cheese
¼ cup champagne vinegar
½ cup olive oil
2 cups beets, peeled, diced and cooked
½ cup thinly sliced celery
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ cup toasted walnut pieces

In a bottle or bowl, whisk vinegar and olive oil together. Add ½ cup blue cheese and combine. In a large bowl, toss ½ cup with arugula and arrange on salad plates. In the same large bowl, toss beets, celery, salt and pepper with remaining dressing; spoon over arugula. Sprinkle each serving with walnuts and additional blue cheese.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Crop Share #2 & Ginger Glazed Turnips

Crop Share #2 contained:
Garlic Scapes
Green Garlic
Sugar Snap Peas
Snow Peas
Pea shoots
Baby swiss chard
Salad Mix

So, we went ahead and used a recipe that our farmers provided for the turnips.

*I really don't know why this picture looks upside down...if I flip it over, it still looks upside down!

Ginger-Glazed Young Turnips with Cider and Raisins

½ tsp salt plus a dash, divided
1 bunch young turnips, trimmed
¼ cup sugar or honey
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
1-2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
2 Tbsp cornstarch
¼ cup apple or grape cider
½ cup raisins
2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
finely chopped crystallized ginger (optional)

Bring 2 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add dash of salt, then the young turnips. When water returns to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer turnips gently until tender, but not mushy 10 minutes at most. Remove the pot from heat and transfer turnips to a dish to cool. Meanwhile, transfer ½ cup of hot cooking water to medium pot. Stir in sugar or honey, vinegar, and ginger to taste. Add ½ tsp salt.
Combine cornstarch and cider in small glass or bowl; let stand until cornstarch is dissolved. Slice turnips to desired thickness. Place pot with ginger mixture over medium heat. Stir in cider mixture and adjust heat so ingredients simmer. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove pot from heat; stir in the raisins and sliced turnips and continue to stir for 2 minutes, until the mixture reaches a thick, gravylike consistency. Stop stirring and let stand for 2 minutes.
Garnish with parsley and crystallized ginger.

Overall, I'm not sure that I'm too interested in turnips. This was a great way to use the turnips, but I doubt I'll ever have a craving for them.

Monday, July 2, 2007

2007 Crop Share #1

Happy 4th of July week! Wednesday is such an unusual date for a holiday and hard to predict work patterns. This morning, I got to work at 8:30am and as I was pulling into a closer than normal parking space, I thought to myself, "Sweet! I got here earlier than a ton of people! I rock!" only to realize shortly after that the reason I got a closer spot was because of the holiday. Then I got a bit sad, thinking, "Shoot, everyone else but me took the week off. Darn it!" You have to understand, a parking spot can be an opportunity for excitement or disappointment. My company employs 7,000 people in our facility and we only have surface lots. We even have a shuttle running year-round to one of the lots because it is so far away. I'm looking forward to parking this week :)

Someone asked me how Pink Martini was...they were awesome! It is a 14-person group that play music from all over the world. The instruments were fantastic, especially the percussion team. At one point, they were playing the whistle and the bongos at the same time. If Pink Martini is at your local orchestra hall, buy tickets!!

Ryan and I have been enjoying our local crop shares and so far we have received three, but I need to upload a bunch of pictures, so Crop Shares #2 & #3 are still on my camera. Here's the first one:

Crop Share #1 included:

Green garlic
Garlic scapes
Lettuce mix
Head of lettuce
Sugar Snap Peas

Of course we made salads!

Mine was a Taco Salad

Ryan's was more of a Waldorf Salad, but missing a couple ingredients.

I pick up our 4th crop share tomorrow. We should be getting some new items in addition to all the great greens!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ying Yang Salad with Peanut-Sesame Dressing

We've had 2 crop shares so far and I really need to get those pics uploaded to my computer and report all the great greens we've been eating. Yum! Until then, here's another dish we made while on blogging hiatus.
Yet another success from Real Food Daily. Ths is a salad of napa and red cabbage with ginger baked tofu tossed in peanut-sesame dressing. I was a bit nervous with this dish because Ryan is not a fan of cabbage. However, I was happily surprised that Ryan loved it! I would love to try this recipe out on my sister. She loves the bok choy salad I make and I feel that this is kinda a twist on it. We'll see if she'll venture into tofu-land.
I'm excited for this weekend. Ryan scored us tickets to Orchestra Hall and we're going to see Pink Martini on Saturday night. Not that I know much about them, but from what I've heard, I'm all ears! Other than that, I plan on resting a lot. I came down with a stupid cold that is draining all my energy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tempeh Loaf with Miso Gravy & Mashed Parsnips

Ok, so this didn't turn out very loaf-like! It turned out more like a tempeh hash dish, but was still great. It is made of tempeh, miso, veggies and herbs.

We also made Miso Gravy. The miso really made the gravy tasty and it was served over mashed parsnips and potatoes. It was another one of those really involved meals, but very worth it as it's a "feel-good" meal. Everything is from the Real Food Daily cookbook. We love this cookbook, but it takes a bit of work to put the dishes together. As with anything, after awhile, we get the hang of it and things come together much more quickly.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Barley Pilaf with Carrots and Snap Peas and Tofu *with recipe!*

Hello, hello. We have returned from Vegas and had a ton of fun. We went 7 years ago and never really thought we'd visit again. Not that Vegas isn't great, it's just that there are so many other places in this world that we want to visit too. However, when faced with a decision of where to go on vacation and not wanting to spend a lot of money or time, we decided to go to Vegas again. It was a great decision.
We stayed at the Monte Carlo, which has a fantastic pool. We laid out and swam for a couple hours each morning. We met up with a friend of ours who is living down there this summer and got to do some drinking and dancing. We also went to a show, Le Reve, at the Wynn, which was an amazing display of the strength and beauty of the human body. Our schedules are so out of whack as we were staying up until 4am every night, then sleeping 4 hours and doing it all again the next day. Trust me, we're usually in bed by 10:30pm and up at 7am. I need my sleep, so I was amazed that we made it through!

We're excited to be making some healthy foods again. Here is some more backlog from when I was MIA from blogging:
I found the recipe! It was originally from Cooking Light, but didn't include carrots or tofu.

Here you go:

Barley Pilaf with Carrots and Sugar Snap Peas
(4 servings)

1 tsp olive oil
1/3 c. finely chopped celery
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 1/3 c. vegetable broth
2/3 c. uncooked quick-cooking barley
½ c. sugar snap peas
6 tbsp julienned carrots
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 lb. baked tofu

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add celery and onion; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add broth, bring to a boil. Stir in barley; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until tender.

Stir in peas, carrots, tofu and black pepper; remove from heat. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.
I cannot remember where I found this recipe, nor can I find the recipe at this moment. We first made it as a barley pilaf with some veggies. It turned out so-so. However, after we added some baked tofu, it made it a different dish as I felt there was now more substance in it. Perfect for a summer salad or a lunch. The pilaf was topped with toasted pine nuts.
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