vegetarian

butternut squash and caramelized onion galette

11:23:00 AM


Remember when I said I was posting another white-flour-and-butter dish his week?

This is, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the best way in the entire world to use flour and butter.

I know that’s a strong statement.

I love Smitten Kitchen for a thousand reasons, one of which is because everything I’ve ever made from that blog has been outstanding, but about 700 of those reasons are because of this specific recipe.

I am obsessed with this galette.


Now, I am not a baker. I hate working with flour. I hate the mess it makes. We own a stand mixer, but it lives in the cupboard above the fridge where I can't reach and I've never taken it down. I hate how I can make the exact same pizza dough recipe five times but because it happens to be raining one day or because my yeast is two days older than yeast I’ve used before, my dough turns out differently. Also, despite the recipes I’ve posted thus far that prove otherwise, I really don’t use flour all that often. I don’t make desserts much because I have zero self control, so we can go weeks without me noticing we’re out of flour.

I’ve made this galette 3 or 4 times now. It was so good the first time I made it that I actually made it as the main course of a special meal I cooked for my parents when they came over, because I really couldn’t think of anything better than this. I made an arugula and beet salad, a 44-clove garlic soup, this galette, and a delicious caramel flan for dessert. 

I’ve changed the ingredients before, like the type of cheese I used, but the last time I made this galette, I made it almost exactly to recipe. And it was perfect. Do you know how rare that is? It’s rare that I follow a recipe exactly as it’s written, because I egotistically always think I can make it better.

But there is something about this particular combination of textures and flavors that is a thousand percent spot-on, and for that reason, I might have to say this is my favorite recipe. The butternut squash is nutty and tender and roasted, the caramelized onions soft and sweet, and the fontina cheese is the precise type needed for this pastry. The flavor and moisture content work perfectly, and it melts so beautifully.  I’ve made it with other cheeses before, but they were either too soft or oily and got the crust a little soggy. Fontina is the way to go here. 

The only things I altered were the timing. The original recipe has you placing flour and butter in the freezer for an hour to ensure everything is very cold. I found an hour WAY too long for my butter, as it just became too hard to work with, and I had to wait for it to soften enough for me to work it back into the dough. Fifteen minutes worked perfectly for me.


The recipe also says you can caramelize onions in 20 minutes, which kills me. I want to find the person who can caramelize onions in 20 minutes. You can saute onions in twenty minutes, get them mildly darker in color, but you can’t get that very deep golden color and rich meltiness in 20 minutes. Nah, this process takes an hour. Which is A-OK, because that’s how long you have to refrigerate the dough.

The thing is, even though there are a lot of components to this little tart, it’s actually a super leisurely recipe to make, which is why I love it. It’s so great for a weekend afternoon if you’re doing other stuff, like housework or internet-ing or whatever. There are lots of pieces, but they’re mostly hands-off. After you make the dough, you can let it rest in the fridge for an hour and start on your onions and roast the squash. It’s easy to clean as you go since you’re not hurrying. 

This would be a fantastic Thanksgiving side dish, and pairs lovely with a nice green salad, and is really perfect for any meal of the day. I love it for a decadent breakfast.

I think I could open a bakery and serve only this beautiful, rustic galette, and stay in business forever.

butternut squash and caramelized onion galette

dough
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
¼ cup sour cream (I’ve used light sour cream and it works fine, regular is better)
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
¼ cup ice water

filling
1 butternut squash, about 1 lb, cut into ½-1 inch cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp butter
1 large or 2 small/medium onions, sliced thinly
salt and pepper
2-3 oz of fontina cheese, grated
½ - 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage

Make the dough: Combine butter and salt in a bowl, place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes. Remove bowls. Make a well in the center of the flour, add the butter to the well, and work it in with a pastry blender (I don’t have one so I improvised with my hands and a potato masher with decent results.) In another bowl, combine the sour cream, lemon juice, and ice water.Once the butter is worked in, make another well in the mixture, and add about half of the sour cream mixture. Using your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove these lumps and repeat with remaining sour cream mixture and flour. Pat the lumps into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour. Be careful not to overwork the dough. 

While the dough rests, make the caramelized onions. In a large pot, melt the butter, then add the sliced onions and salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deep brown and caramelized. 

Roast the butternut squash. Toss the squash pieces with oil and some salt and pepper, then spread out on a large baking sheet lined with foil (for easy cleanup). Roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until roasted and browned in spots. (I use the convection setting on my oven for this.) 

When onions and squash are done, combine in a large bowl with the shredded fontina and sage.  This is your filling.

Remove dough from fridge, and roll on a floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Then, transfer the dough to an ungreased baking sheet. (Do not do what I did once and try to assemble this on your floured surface and then try to move to a baking sheet. Assemble it directly on the sheet!) Pile on the topping in the center, leaving about a 1 ½ inch border around the edge. Fold the border over the filling, pleating it. The center will remain open, as pictured. Don't worry about it looking perfect - it's supposed to be rustic!

Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes (mine took 40). Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges. 

pasta/noodles

gnocchi with brussels sprouts and browned butter

9:30:00 PM




I admit the subtitle of my blog has felt quite irrelevant thus far. “I thought this was supposed to be, you know, sort of healthy…” And here I am with a recipe that involves deliciously light, fluffy dumplings made with white flour and a fantastic sauce with a base of, well, butter. All right, here’s the thing though. I’m turning 30 in a week, and although this isn’t really shocking news to me, I’ve been depressed the past couple weeks and have been cooking some less-than-healthy dishes. Also, I am going to be posting another white-flour-and-butter-based dish later this week, so… I’m getting this out of my system now.

Oh, yeah. Because I also have some bizarre delusion that I have to get all my bad habits out of the way before I leave my 20s forever, which partially explains the large-ish quantity of vodka and diet Cokes we drank at our favorite bar on Saturday night, followed by a massively large burrito from the place down the street, some of which ended up on our couch. No regrets. (Well, no regrets now that it’s no longer Sunday morning and I’m not lying on the couch hating myself.) 




Despite my depression and irrational ideas, I’m not actually logistically sad about leaving my 20s behind. What a whirlwind. In my 20s I graduated college, had five different jobs (and some internships), changed career paths entirely, lived in four places, adopted two kittens, met my Bob. I’m happy to be entering my 30s in a much more stable place than I entered my 20s! (I do wish I still had the ability to drink Vodka Diets without having a four-day hangover though, like I could in my early 20s.) 

So, in a week, when I’m officially 30, expect some healthier dishes. In the mean time, I’m going to justify this one by saying LOOK AT THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS THAT’S A VEGETABLE. If I’m a thousand percent honest, I’ll say the gnocchi is prooooobably better without the brussels sprouts, because I don’t like this amazing sauce being overshadowed. But that being said, make them on the side anyway because brussels sprouts are the best vegetable ever to grow. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but true things require repetition. 

Gnocchi dough
I love this gnocchi. I toyed with the idea of using white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose to make it a bit healthier, but that might be an experiment I’ll wait for next time. I think I read somewhere that no real Italian would ever dare use eggs in their gnocchi, but I don’t care because I’m not Italian and these are delicious.

I have never found a gnocchi in the store that I liked - I’ve tried the packaged variety you find near the pasta, as well as the frozen kind (which were actually worse) and they all have sort of a weird, off taste, or a gummy texture. I still use them especially with more “heavy” sauces (like pesto) where their taste is a bit more masked, but with a simple butter sauce, a homemade gnocchi really lets that potato flavor shine through.

And the sauce. There is nothing better than butter and sage. Nothing. And no, you can’t substitute dried sage. These little crispy leaves of buttery sage sprinkled on top - you need these in your life. 

PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD, do not use pre-shredded parmesan. Okay, maybe you can, as long as it’s actual cheese,  but please steer clear of the crap in the green canister. That is not parmesan cheese. That contains wood pulp. Don’t eat it. Eat cheese.


My rolling technique obviously needs some work, but they're delicious, so I don't care

The gnocchi is easily freezable. After shaping the gnocchi, freeze on a large cookie sheet lined with foil until hard, then transfer to a freezer bag. Then you can cook from frozen just as you would the regular gnocchi, it just might take an extra few minutes for them to float to the top. 


Gnocchi with Browned Butter Sage Sauce and Brussels Sprouts
makes 4 servings

ingredients
for the gnocchi
1 lb potatoes (russett, or I used small baking potatoes from our CSA)
3 egg yolks
½ cup freshly grated parmesan 
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

for the sauce
6 tbsp unsalted butter
about 15 fresh sage leaves
2 medium shallots, sliced thinly
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

for the brussels sprouts
cooking spray, oil, or butter 
about 12 oz brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced (I used the slicing blade in my food processor)
salt and pepper

for serving
freshly grated parmesan cheese, optional

Make the gnocchi dough:  Preheat the oven to 425, and roast the potatoes on a cookie sheet for about 1 hour - this will depend on the size of the potatoes, but you want them nice and soft. Let cool slightly - just enough so you can handle them, but make the dough while the potatoes are still warm. In a large bowl, use a potato ricer or mash them well with a potato masher (or whatever tool will get the job done) - you want the lumps out. Make a well in the center of the potatoes, and add the egg yolks, parmesan, salt, and pepper. Mix this together with your hands, then add ½ cup of flour over the dough, and fold dough repeatedly to incorporate, but don’t overwork or knead the dough. You want it to just come together and everything to be incorporated. Gradually add the remaining ½ cup flour in the same way. 

To test, roll a piece of dough into a rope. If it’s too wet, add some extra flour; too dry or crumbly, add a bit of water. 

To form the gnocchi, flour your work surface and hands lightly. Divide the dough in half (a bench scraper works great for this) and then in half again, and then once again, so you have 8 roughly equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll into a ½-inch rope. Then, cut each rope into pieces that are about ¾ inch long - this is another place I use my bench scraper. I cut each rope in half in the center, then continue cutting the pieces in half until the gnocchi are the size I want.

The beautiful part is that you can leave the gnocchi as is if you’re really sick of working with dough or you’re in a hurry. They will be lovely and fluffy but won’t look quite like classic gnocchi. The ridges are also meant to hold sauce better. If you want to form the ridges, you can roll each piece of gnocchi down the tine of a fork (there’s a good video demonstrating this here - the first technique she demonstrates is with a gnocchi board, which I assume nobody owns, but then she demonstrates the fork method.) 

Once all your gnocchi are ready, you can freeze them at this point (see the note above) or cook them. 

Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil, then add in the gnocchi. Let cook until they rise to the surface, then remove with a slotted spoon (it’s a nice idea to cut one open and make sure it’s cooked through.) I put them in a colander at this point and set aside while I make the rest of the ingredients. Save about a half cup of the cooking water for the sauce.

Make the brussels sprouts: Heat a large pot or pan over medium-high heat, add butter or oil or cooking spray, and once hot, add the brussels sprouts. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can either stir these into the gnocchi and sauce at the end like I did, or serve on the side.

Make the sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat (a light-colored pan is best so you can monitor the color of the butter) and  then add the sage leaves. Cook until the sage is starting to get crispy but not burned - watch this carefully! It will get a little crisper after it’s removed as well, so don’t overcook it. Remove the sage leaves with tongs and place on a paper towel to drain. Continue cooking the butter, add the sliced shallots, and cook until the butter is light brown in color and the shallots are soft. Remove the pan from heat, add the balsamic vinegar, and stir well. Add in the ½ cup of reserved cooking liquid, then add the gnocchi and brussels sprouts (if adding) and cook a couple minutes until everything is coated in delicious sauce.  Season with salt and pepper. Crumble the crispy sage (or chop) and sprinkle over the top of the gnocchi. Top with grated parmesan cheese.



poultry

curry bowls with chicken, roasted vegetables and greens

2:18:00 PM


Sometimes I like trendy things. No shame. I love mason jars, for example - super handy, I take my cold brew coffee in one every single day to work. (Finding out I could make cold brew changed my life. It is SO EASY. Just add ground coffee and cold water to a french press, refrigerate overnight, and in the morning you have perfect coffee. I went for so much of my life without knowing this.) 

So I’m loving this bowl trend. You know the kind, with some type of grain - rice or noodles or quinoa (if you’re a masochist, ahem), farro, bulgur, whatever - some type of protein, vegetables, and a nice dressing to tie it all together. 

Our CSA gave us mustard greens a while ago, and I had no idea what to do with them. For some reason, I was surprised they tasted like mustard. I’m brilliant.  But cooked down with onions and garlic and ginger and a little spice - super delicious. I originally made them this way as a side for lentil dal, and thought it would be super tasty in a bowl. It’s probably my favorite part. Aside from some deliciously marinated chicken pieces (I used thighs, but you can use breasts if you want), I tossed a bunch of our CSA vegetables with coconut oil and curry spices and roasted them, then topped it all off with a refreshing, mayo-and-yogurt based dressing.

I won’t lie, this takes a while and is probably best fit for a day when you have more time to cook. I’m insane so I made it on a weeknight, but there are a lot of components. You can make it easier on yourself by marinating the chicken the day before so it’s ready when you are. Making the dressing a day before is also a nice idea, as it’ll give the flavors some time to meld. 

Curry Bowls with Chicken, Roasted Vegetables and Greens
serves 4



ingredients

for the chicken
1 lb chicken thighs, cubed
1 tsp curry powder
2 tsp garam masala
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp canola oil

for the dressing
½ cup plain greek yogurt (I used 2%)
½ cup mayonnaise (homemade or store bought)
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper to taste

for the vegetables
about five carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
3 cups broccoli, chopped into bite-size pieces
5 small potatoes, cubed
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp curry powder, divided
1 tsp turmeric
canola or melted coconut oil as needed

for the greens
4 oz mustard greens, torn 
4 oz baby spinach
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
1 small jalapeño
1 small red onion
2 tbsp canola oil
salt and pepper to taste

for serving
1 cup uncooked rice (I used brown basmati rice)
sliced radishes (optional - I just used them to make it prettier and because we had them)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Marinate the chicken: Mix together the marinade ingredients well in a ziplock bag or container. Add the cubed chicken, toss to coat, and let marinate for at least an hour or overnight. 

Make the dressing: Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth, and place in fridge until ready to use.

Make the vegetables: Toss the carrots with a bit of oil and the brown sugar and the turmeric. Toss the potatoes with a bit of oil and a teaspoon of curry powder. Toss the broccoli with a bit of oil and a teaspoon of curry powder. Add salt and pepper to taste to all vegetables. Place all the vegetables on a foil-lined baking sheet (I used two) and cook until roasted and browned in spots, about 20 minutes. Check on them frequently - my broccoli cooked fastest, and I removed the vegetables that cooked faster as they roasted.

Cook rice according to package directions.

Cook the chicken: Spray a pan with cooking spray (or oil) and heat pan until very hot. Add the chicken and any remaining marinade, and saute until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, about 7-10 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

Make the greens: Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the mustard greens and cook for two minutes. Add the spinach and cook another 30 seconds or so. Drain in a colander.  
Chop your garlic, ginger, jalapeño, and red onion into very small pieces in a food processor. Set the chopped vegetables aside and place the greens in the food processor, puree until pretty smooth. Heat the oil in a pan or pot on the stove until hot, then add the garlic/ginger/jalapeno/onion mixture and saute for about 10 minutes or until tender. Add the greens and cook about five minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Assemble the bowls: Place about ¾ cups of rice in each of 4 bowls. Top with chicken, roasted vegetables, the greens, and then drizzle on the dressing. 

condiments

five-minute homemade mayonnaise

10:05:00 AM

Like many things we made this summer, this was the result of having lots of tomatoes. We are two people who both like tomatoes a moderate amount - not enough to eat them by themselves, but love them in a nice caprese salad or, of course, a BLT. We make the best BLTs because we use uncured Nueske’s Bacon which is pure amazing, our delicious fresh CSA tomatoes, bread baked fresh from Madison Sourdough Company, and this mayo.


It started because Bob said something to the effect of “Egh, I don’t want that fake light stuff” (referring to the Hellmann’s 35-calorie light mayo I used to stock in the fridge.) “Fine, I’ll Google how to make homemade mayo.”

I was under the impression that to make really good mayonnaise at home, it required painstakingly boring non-stop whisking and a very, very, very slow drizzle of oil. So this is what I did. And then Bob got up to help, because I was whining about how long it was taking and how much my arm hurt. And like half a century later, it was emulsified and beautiful and I was so excited. We were taking turns whisking and drizzling ‘cause, you know, POWER COUPLE. And then…  the mayonnaise broke. It got thinner and thinner and we lost our beautiful emulsification. Bob gave up in annoyance because he’d been helping me whisk for a serious half hour at that point, and we don’t even own a good whisk. Annnnd we both just wanted a damn BLT. I tried to save it. Ten minutes later, I’d dirtied the food processor AND blender in an attempt to rescue it. Then I watched some YouTube videos on how to save a broken mayonnaise. It involved, basically, starting over. Cracking a new egg in the bowl and adding your broken mayonnaise, drop by drop. Oh my god. 

BUT I SAVED IT, is the point. “I’m GOING TO SAVE THIS MAYONNAISE,” I told Bob, and he was like, yeah, okay, whatever, I just want a sandwich. 

So I did. I added it drop by drop back to another egg, whisked again. And an hour and a half after I started making mayonnaise, I had it. It was lovely. We had great BLTs.

Okay, so, getting to the point here: this is why this simple, five-minute mayonnaise made me extremely angry the first time I made it. Because I believed the lie for so long about the whisking. The people who use eyedroppers to add the oil so slowly so that it doesn’t break. 

FRIENDS. DO NOT DO THIS. 

Take your blender. Add some food. You will have mayonnaise in 30 seconds and it will be delicious. It will be free of weird additives, sugar, preservatives, and you control the salt and the flavor. It won’t have that “fake light stuff” flavor. Yeah, it has more fat and calories. But you can use it lightly and get lots of rich, delicious flavor. You can add roasted garlic (please do!) or raw garlic or mustard or chipotle chiles or sriracha. Make a aioli. Make a sandwich. Make a creamy salad dressing. Make a dip. Eat it with a spoon. (That’s pretty gross, but you do you.)

You can use other types of oil, but keep in mind that mayonnaise is basically just oil. So it will taste EXACTLY like whatever oil you use. If you like spreading olive oil on your bread, go for it. 


Five Minute Homemade Mayonnaise
makes 1 cup

ingredients
1 egg
1 cup canola oil, divided
½ tbsp lemon juice 
¾ tsp salt (adjust to taste)
pepper (optional)
a couple drops of mustard (optional)

To a blender, add ¼ cup of the oil and the rest of the ingredients. Blend for a few seconds, then slowly add the remaining oil through the opening at the top of the blender while the blender is running (it helps to partially cover the hole with your hand because it will splatter.) Blend until desired consistency is reached. 




bread

nut and seed loaf (or "the life-changing loaf of bread")

5:23:00 PM


I saw this bread recipe on My New Roots a few years ago and was instantly intrigued. After all, the creator of the blog described it as "life changing." It took me three years to make it because I never had all the ingredients at once. A few months ago I realized I had most - nuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds... and finally came around to making the bread. I can't promise that this bread will change your life, but it definitely changed my breakfast routine for a few weeks. I've made this bread three times now, and it's worth doing! 

I love the concept: A vegan bread based not on flour or yeast, but nuts, seeds, oats, and psyllium husks. It's gluten free if that's your thing (it's definitely not mine, but you do you) and vegan and, well, healthy as far as breads go.

It's also insanely easy to make. You dump a bunch of stuff into a loaf pan and bake. (I actually mix all my stuff together in a bowl because I feel like everything is incorporated better, but you can mix it in the loaf pan if you want.) 

My favorite way to eat this bread is with nut butter. I know, nuts on nuts on nuts. But one thin slice of this bread, toasted, with a spread of cashew butter or sunflower seed butter and a banana makes a lovely breakfast. And it is FILLING. A tiny slice of toast keeps me full for hours.

This bread is not without limitations. I wouldn't make a sandwich with this bread. For one thing, it's a dense and very chewy bread with strong flavors that tend to overpower more subtle flavors. I did try to make it into avocado toast because I'm trendy (and I love avocado toast with every tiny bit of my soul) but it just didn't work quite right. I've also eaten it with an egg on the weekends when we didn't have any other carb handy to go with an egg, and it's just a little too overpowering for that, too. 

The author of the recipe described eating it with hummus, vegetable pate, and pesto  - I've not tried it with any of these things, but I don't doubt it's tasty.

I have made this bread exactly to the recipe every time I have made it, with the only exception being using various nuts in place of the almonds. I used the same quantity of mixed nuts last time I made it, and I have to say, I sort of prefer the almonds-only: they don't get soft in the bread, they stay nice and crunchy (my cashews got quite soft. Still tasty, just a different texture.)

The only other change I've made is cooking it in a normal metal loaf pan as opposed to a silicone pan, since I don't have one. Cutting a piece of parchment to fit inside the pan works just as well.

If you read the comments on the original post linked above, you can find ingredient substitutions other people have made, because I really can't answer those questions as I've never tried anything but something very close to the original recipe. (Be prepared to get a bit of a headache, though, if you read the entirety of that comments section. There is a difference between being really health-conscious and being so preoccupied with "anti nutrients" and oozing every last bit of nutrition from your food that it seems like you're wasting your damn life. But that's my own opinion.) 



nut and seed loaf from My New Roots
makes 1 loaf

ingredients
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup almonds, hazelnuts, or mixed nuts
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 tbsp chia seeds
3 tbsp psyllium husk powder
1 tsp fine grain sea salt
1 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp melted coconut oil or ghee
1 1/2 cups water

Line a metal loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit in the pan with the sides of parchment hanging over the sides (so you'll be able to lift the bread out of the pan easily.) Alternatively, use a flexible silicone pan.

Combine the seeds, nuts, oats, salt, psyllium husk powder in a large bowl and mix well. 

Combine the wet ingredients (maple syrup, coconut oil, and water) and add to the dry.

Mix very well until everything is well-combined and wet. Let sit out at room temp for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours. To test if it's ready, lift the parchment paper and see if the bread sticks together well (or pull at the sides of your silicone pan to check). 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake on a middle rack for 20 minutes.

Carefully remove the bread from the pan and invert the loaf. (Of the three times I've made this, I've only broken the bread once and kind of mashed it back together. Do this carefully.) Place the bread upside down directly on the oven rack, and cook for another 30-40 minutes. 

Let loaf cool completely before slicing. 

Store in the fridge. I've eaten it for up to a week.

Recipe from My New Roots

pasta/noodles

spicy stir-fried noodles with tofu and baby spinach

1:23:00 PM

I love noodles. Growing up, my favorite food was Chinese take out. I have yet to find a really, legitimately good Chinese restaurant in Madison, but the chicken with broccoli from Chang Jiang was my favorite. Even now when I order Chinese food, which is rare, I like to get a side of the vegetable lo mein.


When I very first start cooking, I was heavily into Asian flavors, because I didn't really know what I was doing, and it was easy for me to pull together a stir-fry very quickly. I think the first thing I really cooked from a recipe when I was in college was a spicy sweet and sour chicken, and I loved it so much that I ate it pretty much every week. Now that I have more time in my day to cook, I've expanded quite a bit in my culinary escapades, but I always love coming back to simple Asian-style (well, Americanized Asian) combinations.

I make this a lot toward the end of the week when we're running low on groceries, because tofu lasts a long time in the fridge, and you can add whatever vegetables you have leftover. The original recipe called for bok choy, but I'm not a huge fan, so I like to substitute spinach. But any sauteed vegetables would be good in this! Carrots, snow peas, broccoli - all would be good.

On the side here, I have spicy brussels sprouts. No recipe really, though I may make a separate post sometime with more exact instructions, because they are delicious. We got these brussels sprouts in our CSA, and they were very loose and leafy. Brussels sprouts are my favorite vegetable. My dad used to boil them, mash them, and give them to me with salt and butter, and for some reason I thought this was delicious. I'm a little more sophisticated with my brussels sprouts these days, but these ones are easy: just toss some sliced brussels sprouts with a bit of oil, sriracha, and a small amount of honey. (I did these ones whole since they weren't compacted like normal brussels sprouts.) How much of each ingredient depends on your taste, spice tolerance, and amount of sprouts you have. Roast in a 400 degree oven until they are getting browned and crispy (this was a very short amount of time for mine, about 5 minutes, as they were so leafy.)





spicy stir-fried noodles with tofu and baby spinach 
serves 4

Ingredients
for the noodles

1 package of extra-firm or super-firm tofu (usually 12-14 oz)
cooking spray or oil
1 lb of fresh Chinese lo mein egg noodles (I find these in the freezer of my Asian aisle at my store. 8 oz of dried lo mein noodles would also work.)
toasted sesame oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
a few handfuls of baby spinach, bok choy, or vegetables of your choice, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp sugar
1-2 tbsp garlic chili paste (sriracha would also work) - adjust for your spice tolerance!
juice of 1 lime (about 2 tbsp)
2 tbsp black bean sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce (dark soy sauce is delicious here if you can find it!)
salt and pepper to taste

for the brussels sprouts
brussels sprouts
canola oil or sesame oil
rice wine vinegar
sriracha
honey
salt and pepper
(quantities depend on your taste preference and how many sprouts you have)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If you have a convection oven setting, use it! Start by draining the tofu. To do this, slice it into about eight equal pieces, and lay them flat on several layers of paper towels (or a clean dish towel.) Top with more layers of paper towels and lay some heavy stuff on them - I usually use a heavy skillet, but anything works! Let drain for about 20-30 minutes. Replace the paper towels if they become soaked through.

Once tofu is drained, cut into cubes or rectangles. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment, spray with cooking spray or oil, and add the tofu cubes. Toss them with a little bit of oil also (or spray with cooking spray) and salt and pepper. Bake until tofu is crispy. In a convection oven setting, this will happen quite a bit faster than a regular oven. (It takes about 15-20 minutes if I use the convection oven, about 30-40 on a regular oven, so check regularly as ovens vary.)

While tofu is cooking, make the sauce. Combine sugar, chili paste, lime juice, black bean sauce, and soy sauce.

Cook noodles according to package directions. This will vary greatly depending on your noodles and whether you use fresh or dried. Many Asian noodles will have two sets of directions, one is usually for "stir frying". Follow that one! You don't want to overcook the noodles or they will turn mushy once you stir-fry them, so err on the side of underdone. Save about a cup of the cooking liquid before draining! 

If you're using vegetables other than spinach, saute them now in a bit of sesame oil until crisp-tender. Set aside.

Heat a couple tbsp of sesame oil in a pan and add the garlic. Saute for 30 seconds, then add the sauce, noodles, about a half cup of the reserved cooking liquid, and any vegetables you've cooked.  Saute until everything is heated and the sauce thickens. Add in the spinach until it wilts. Lastly, add the crispy tofu and cook until heated through. If sauce is too thick, add a bit more reserved cooking liquid.

For the brussels sprouts: Remove tough outer leaves from sprouts and discard. Cut off the stems. Slice in half, or you can cut each sprout into several slices - whatever you prefer. Place sprouts in bowl, drizzle with some sesame or canola oil. Add a few splashes of rice wine vinegar, sriracha, and a drizzle of honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees until they're browned and getting crispy - the exact time will depend on how big the sprouts are. Typically it will take between 10-20 minutes.


Noodle recipe adapted from Cooking Light





beef

shredded steak tacos with corn and tomato salad

12:17:00 PM

Delicious with a nice cold beer.

It's pretty funny to me that the first recipe post I'm making involves a crockpot. Here's a not-so-popular secret: I generally hate the crockpot. To me, the crockpot is the antithesis of freshness. All the elements blend together to create a meal that has the same texture and flavor throughout. I find the food boring, the vegetables mushy. I also associate it with winter, not summer - weird, since most people want to use their slow cookers in the summer as to not heat up their house. I just don't want stew in summer. So, that being said:

These tacos! 

 The day before we made these tacos, Bob and I went to Taste of Madison. We're usually out of town over long weekends, and I hadn't been to Taste in many years. What I did discover was that I wanted a lot of tacos. A couple tacos and tamales later, and I was disappointed. Even places that we've eaten at before, and that we know to be good, just didn't do it for me this time.

So, my first thought when we ate these were that they were better than any taco we got at Taste of Madison, and then I felt good about myself.

The first time I made these tacos, I nearly killed myself by adding waaaay too much chipotle chile. I can handle a moderate amount of spice, and Bob loves it, but they were so hot I couldn't taste the other flavors. This time, I dialed it back a bit and they were perfect.

Bob threw together the corn and tomato salad due to an abundance of both ingredients in our CSA. I am so sick of tomatoes right now it's unreal, but they're finally dwindling down in our CSA. They were delicious, but eating them every day is exhausting. We managed to get through the whole summer without having to can our tomatoes, so that's how many we've eaten. The salad adds an awesome freshness, but you could replace it with something else, particularly if you're making this outside of summertime and these ingredients aren't fresh. They're good with just onions and lime juice, or maybe some cabbage or lettuce.

The salad is also great on its own, or as a salsa with chips, or with bread. 


shredded steak tacos with corn and tomato salad
serves 4-6

ingredients

for the tacos
canola oil for browning beef
about 1.5 - 2 lbs of chuck roast 
1 white or yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, diced
1 tbsp oregano, dried
1 tbsp cumin, ground
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3/4 cup beer (can substitute broth)
2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped (adjust to your spice tolerance!)
the juice of 2 limes (about 1/4 cup)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

for the corn and tomato salad

3 tbsp vinegar (we used white wine vinegar, but apple cider vinegar would work too)
1/4 cup good-quality olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
fresh sweet corn, 5-6 ears 
2 cups halved grape tomatoes, or chopped tomato
1 avocado, chopped
8 oz fresh mozzarella, chopped (or get those cute little balls of mozzarella!)
4-5 scallions, chopped
fresh basil to taste 

for serving
corn tortillas (can use flour if you prefer)
fresh limes, cut into wedges
cooking spray or oil
salsa, sour cream, lettuce, or any other toppings you like

Trim the fat from the chuck roast and cut into one-inch pieces. Pour a small amount of canola oil into a large pot or pan and add beef, turning to brown on all sides (about 10 minutes). Add the onion, cook about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, oregano, cloves, beer, chipotle chiles, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper. 

Transfer mixture to a slow cooker and cook on low 8-10 hours, or high for 4-6 hours. 

Remove beef from pot, shred with two forks and remove any remaining fat. Place meat back into crockpot with juices. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed.

To make the corn and tomato salad, make an easy dressing by combining the vinegar and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cut the fresh corn off of the cob into a large bowl, and add the tomatoes, chopped avocado, fresh mozzarella, scallions, and basil. Toss with dressing.

Preheat the broiler to 550 degrees. Place your corn tortillas on a cookie sheet, spray with cooking spray or brush with oil, and broil just until they are starting to get crispy and browned (watch them carefully!) Flip and broil the other side for a minute. (Alternatively, heat the tortillas on a pan on your stovetop - I just find it faster to warm a lot at once in the oven.)

Assemble the tacos by placing shredded beef on the bottom of the corn tortillas, topping with the corn salad, and a fresh squeeze of lime. Serve with beer!


Beef recipe adapted from Closet Cooking
Corn Salad recipe adapted from Food Network

saltwater

8:39:00 PM

Hello, and welcome!

I'm excited to finally join the thousands of other people who decided they had something to say about food. I think another food blog is exactly what the world needs!

Seriously though, I love sharing the things that we make and how to make them, and I love encouraging people to use their local resources to make great meals for themselves and their families. 

Head over to the about page for more information, and enjoy!

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