Adventures in cubed food, part 2

I tried another new recipe last night: Moroccan-Spiced Sweet Potato Medley. It was pretty interesting...the flavor was really different from anything I've ever eaten or cooked, and it was a nice change. Here's my tweaked version of the recipe if you'd like to try it:

2 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed w/ garlic press (I just used a spoonful of the pre-diced garlic from a jar)
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled & cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 (14oz) can of stewed tomatoes
1 box couscous (the recipe called for bulgur but I couldn't find it)
2 cups water
1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup dark seedless raisins (or even more if you want - I think the raisins really made this dish)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, chopped (I think 1/4 c. would be fine too, maybe even preferable...when I ate the leftovers for lunch today, they were a tad too cilantro-y)

1. In nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add onion and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, coriander, cumin, salt, and cayenne, stirring, 1 minute.
2. Add potatoes, tomatoes, and water; heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, prepare couscous according to package directions (start about 5 minutes before potato mixture is done).
4. Once the potato mixture has simmered for 20 minutes, stir in beans, raisins, and cilantro; heat through.

I guess pretty soon I'm gonna have to change the title of this blog to My So-Called Food Blog, because that's all I seem to be writing about these days. There's actually something really big that is (hopefully) about to happen in my life, and as soon as its a done deal I'll write all about it. But in the meantime, I hope my adventures in cooking are somewhat interesting to read about and maybe even try at home. I saw an article today about how its cheaper to be a vegetarian, so even if you are a meat-eater (like me!), these dishes might be worth a try if you're trying to save a buck or two.

Tofu stir-fry recipe

A couple people have asked for this recipe, so here it is! I got it from one of my favorite cookbooks, Good Housekeeping Vegetarian Meals, and it was supposed to be made with snow peas and bean sprouts. I went to 2 grocery stores to find the snow peas and bean sprouts, and neither of them carried these items! So I used a bag of fresh stir-fry mix instead, and I'm so glad I did because the broccoli really adds allot to this dish (plus, it cut way back on prep time).

2 packages Oriental-flavor ramen noodle mix
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 package extra-firm tofu (press as much water out of it as you can, then cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
1 bag of fresh stir-fry mix (find it in the produce section; mine had broccoli, snow peas, & bean sprouts, but any mix is fine)
4 green onions, cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots (or more if you like allot of carrots like I do)
1/2 cup bottled stir-fry sauce (if you're a vegetarian, be sure to read all the ingredients...some of the stir-fry sauces I found had oyster juice in them)

1. Cook ramen noodles (reserve flavor packets) for 2 minutes. Drain noodles, reserving 1/4 cup of noodle water.

2. Meanwhile, in a wok or a big nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Add tofu and cook, stirring often (but being careful not to break it up), until browned, 5-6 minutes. Add bag of stir-fry mix and green onions; cook, stirring frequently (stir-frying), until veggies are tender-crisp, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the carrots, stir-fry sauce, and contents of 1 flavor packet to taste (this is optional...if your stir-fry sauce has allot of salt, you can probably skip the flavor packet); cook until carrots are tender, about 2 minutes.

3. Add noodles and reserved noodle water to pan; cook, stirring, for 1 minute to blend flavors. Enjoy!

Adventures in Tofu

I don't know if its because it finally rained this week for the first time in forever (we're in the middle of the worst drought we've had for 100 years) and the air feels crisp and a little cool a night, but I've got that Fall feeling. You know the can feel the change in the air and you know winter is just around the corner so you take full advantage of being able to still do things outside (or even have the will to leave the house) while you still can. That's sorta how I feel, except its not fall...its the middle of summer and our yearly beach trip is still a month away. Its a good feeling, though. I've got lots of little projects and challenges for myself brewing in my head, and they're all good and long overdue. And I really need to follow through with them, which is why I'm not quite ready to advertise them yet. I have a tendency to make drastic decisions about how I'm going to live my life from now on ("I'm going to start exercising 3 days a week from now on" or "I'm going to start painting every Saturday from now on" or "I'm going to stop watching so much TV from now on"). Its exhausting and I never follow through completely and I end up just feeling embarrassed and regretting that I had to go and tell everyone about it and then fail. So today I'm trying a new approach. I'm not going to blab my new plan until after I've succeeded at it for at least a week (and then I'll write about it).

And speaking of succeeding with a plan, today was my 11th work day in a row to not eat pb&j and pretzels for lunch :) I've been really trying to experiment with food, and branch out from my old habits, and I really appreciate everyone who gave me suggestions of new meal ideas - thank you!! I've tried allot of your suggestions, and I've also been inspired to try something for the first time: Cook Tofu. I order tofu quite a bit at restaurants (home-style bean curd and inari are my favorites), but I've always been afraid to make it at home because let's be honest...tofu that isn't cooked the right way can be like eating a soggy sponge. Well, tonight I finally bit the bullet, and turned this:

...into THIS!!!

It turned out to be a delicious meal and a beautiful plate of food. So glad I finally gave tofu a shot. Okay that's enough for tonight. Until next time...

I mean...

...come on. Could she BE any cuter??

menu overhaul

Do you ever get tired of food and just eating in general? And not because you want to lose weight or save money but because absolutely NOTHING sounds good anymore? The things you used to love to eat -- chips, pizza, Jimmy John's subs, pb&j sandwiches, spaghetti -- sound awful and you'd sooner just eat nothing than eat any of those things one more time? Well, this has happened to me, and its frustrating. I know I have only myself to blame because I tend to eat the same things every day for months or even years until I can't stand the sight of them anymore. For example - almost every[work]day for the past year I have eaten a bowl of generic frosted mini wheats for breakfast, a pack of peanut butter crackers for a morning snack, and a peanut butter & honey (or jelly) sandwich, apple, and pretzels for lunch - and I can't take it anymore! So after throwing a mini-fit on Friday night about running out of ideas for meals, I sat down for several hours on Saturday and looked at cookbooks and magazines and brainstormed about new and fresh meal ideas. And thankfully, I came up with some good ideas and headed to the grocery store to stock up on all sorts of goodies. Let me tell was such a relief to heat up a homemade burrito for lunch today instead of choke down another pb&j :)

Does anyone have any other suggestions for inexpensive & vegetarian dinners, lunches (that are easy to take to work preferably), and snacks to make at home?

Book Club Dropout

Well, I just ditched my first book club. In an effort to broaden my horizons and create some friendships at work, I joined a 1-time-only book club about a month ago. I wasn't thrilled with the book choice (In the Wake of the Plague), but I decided to give it a shot anyway. As you can probably guess, the book was awful, and impossible to get through, and finally I just realized that I'm not in school anymore so if I'm hating a book there's no reason why I can't just stop reading it. So that's what i did! And it felt good :) I also learned a valuable lesson: just because a book's cover quote calls it "lively and provocative" doesn't mean it is either of those things. Now if I can just find a book club that wants to read a novel with great character development...


I've gotta share this riveting McDonald's article that my friend Ben passed along to me. It is entertaining, enlightening, and disgusting. Be sure to read all 3 parts, too, because there's a commercial on the 3rd part that you won't want to miss (its from 1985 and features "George Costanza dressed like Don Johnson and dancing like Fred Astaire", all to promote the McDLT...just another prime example of why the 80's were so special). Enjoy!

Happy 4th!!

I love fireworks, but Ruby sure doesn't. They scare her to death, and she's been hiding from them all day long...

Poor thing :)