Monday, November 30, 2015

Ginger Infused Thai Coconut Soup

Heaven, 100% pure heaven in a bowl!!  That's how I am describing this soup.  It is amazingly delicious, warm, comforting, flavorful, bright and just plain yummy. The crispy tofu blew me away and added so much flavor- do not omit the tofu!!!! I marinated it for hours before I pan fried it so it added a lot of seasoning to the soup.

This meal was so fast to prepare.  Monday nights are my hard nights because all the kids have activities after school and I don't have a lot of time to make a fancy dinner.  I took this easy recipe and made it even easier by using pre-chopped onions from the produce department and pre-cooked frozen brown rice. I even found tofu that was already cubed!!!! My supermarket didn't have lemongrass, so I substituted it with lemon zest from one whole lemon - it was perfect.

This made enough for two adults to have a very satisfying meal.  It would be more of a side dish for four or more people.

Thank you to the blog Sobremesa for this amazing recipe. Here it is verbatim:

 2 tsp coconut oil, divided
1 package of extra firm tofu (I used already cubed tofu to save time)
¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp agave (I never use agave - substitute pure maple syrup or honey)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 yellow onion, diced (I used pre-chopped onions to save time)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into thin coins
1 bunch scallions, chopped and divided into two piles
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 stalk lemongrass, leave whole and cut an x in the bottom of the root end (this will help release the lemongrass flavor) (I used the zest from one whole lemon)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 can full fat coconut milk
zest and juice on 1 lime

cilantro, chopped
peanuts, crushed
4 cups cooked rice (I used pre-cooked frozen rice)

Cut tofu into cubes and place them in a medium sized bowl. Mix tamari, agave, and sesame oil together in a small bowl. In a large dutch oven or soup pot heat 1 tsp coconut oil over medium heat. Pour tamari mixture over cubed tofu and toss to make sure each piece is evenly coated.

Add tofu to the hot pan and brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside.

Heat the remaining 1 tsp coconut oil. Add onion and carrot and cook until soft and fragrant. Add half of the chopped scallions (reserve the rest for garnish), garlic, ginger, and lemongrass. Cook for 2-3 minutes until very fragrant. Add the stock and coconut milk and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove lemongrass from pan and toss it. Season the soup broth with salt and pepper to taste and add the lime zest and juice.  Place a serving of rice in each bowl, pour the soup broth over the rice, and top with tofu, scallions, cilantro, and peanuts. Enjoy!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Brussels Sprouts & Quinoa Salad with Sweet Orange Dressing

I absolutely love Brussels Sprouts - I just love 'em! And if you don't,  then I guarantee you've only ever had them boiled - which makes them grosser than gross, so I totally understand your disgust. Roasted Brussels are the best and believe it or not, I love them raw, too. This salad calls for raw Brussels which certainly makes life easier. And what made my life even easier than that was that I bought my Brussels already sliced. AND easier still, I bought my quinoa pre-cooked in the frozen section. So, this little dinner took me under 15 minutes to throw together. Now imagine how simple this little dish will be to serve on Thanksgiving! I'm doing it!!! One side - DONE!

One thing to note - I wasn't sure what type of cheese to use in this salad. I just love blue cheese and how it pairs with apples and walnuts, so I went with blue. But, I know not everyone is a big blue cheese fan, so I tried a couple of bites with feta, too. I liked the feta, but I prefer the blue cheese. So, just go with your gut on the cheese. Or leave it off all together. 

  • 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, rinsed and ends trimmed, then halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (I bought these pre-sliced- saved me tons of time!)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (I buy it precooked in the frozen section- so easy!)
  • 1 crisp apple, finely chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries OR fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted on 400F for ~ 6 minutes
  • crumbled blue cheese OR feta cheese (your preference), optional
  • salt & pepper to taste
  •  sweet orange vinaigrette (see below)

Orange Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice (about 1/2 a juicy orange)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 - 2 Tbl pure maple syrup or honey (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • pinch of salt and pepper
Pre-cooked frozen quinoa makes this dinner easy


To Make The Salad:

Toss all ingredients together (except the cheese) until combined.

To Make the Sweet Orange Dressing:
Whisk all ingredients together until combined.

To serve:
Pour dressing on salad (it's okay if you pour on an hour or so before and let it marinate). Toss and serve. Sprinkle cheese, if using, on top of each serving. Enjoy!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

The ingredients in this recipe are not for the faint of heart......this meal is some hardcore, healthy cooking. But, trust me- please, please trust on this - this "lasagna" is absolutely, completely, 100% deliciousness!!!! You really need to try it for yourself to believe me. It is tasty, filling, comfort food at its best. My 9-year old son DEVOURED it and then begged for more. He asked me if I could put it in his lunch tomorrow, too! And there was no trickery here.....he asked me exactly what was in it and of course, I told him. My husband loved it also (I added shredded rotisserie chicken to his) and had two giant servings.

This recipe comes from one of my absolute favorite blogs on earth, Minimalist Baker. I know I re-post her stuff constantly - I can't help myself. She's just amazing!

Here is her recipe verbatim:

  • 2 large spaghetti squash (~3-4 pounds each) <I only used one squash and it fed three people, plus left overs>
  • 3-4 Tbsp (45-60 ml) extra virgin olive oil, plus more for squash
  • Sea salt + black pepper, to taste (~1/2 tsp each), plus more for squash
  • 2 lemons, juiced (~1/3 cup or 80 ml)
  • 12 ounces (340 g) extra firm tofu, drained and pressed dry for 10 minutes
  • 3 Tbsp (9 g) nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup (30 g) fresh basil, packed
  • 1 Tbsp (3 g) dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup vegan parmesan cheese, plus more for serving <I used REAL Parmesan>
  • Vegan Parmesan cheese <I used REAL Parmesan>
  • 25 ounces (708 g) favorite marinara/red sauce <I only ever buy Rao's Marinara>
  • optional: Fresh basil, chopped
  • optional: Red pepper flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with foil.
  2. Carefully halve your spaghetti squash lengthwise using a sharp knife. I find the best way is to pierce the skin with the very tip of the knife and push it all the way through to the other side. Rock the knife back and forth to cut one half all the way through, then repeat on the other side.
  3. Use an ice cream scoop (or sharp spoon) to scrape out the seeds and most of the stringy parts. It should appear pretty clean.
  4. Brush the interior with oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place cut-side down on baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, or until a knife easily pierces the skin and flesh. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly. Also reduce oven heat to 375 degrees F.
  5. In the meantime, add all tofu filling ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse to combine, scraping down sides as needed. You are looking for a semi-pureed mixture with bits of basil still intact.
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt and pepper for flavor, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, and lemon juice for brightness.
  7. Once fully baked and slightly cooled, use a fork to scoop out spaghetti squash into fine strings. Set aside.
  8. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch (or similar size) baking dish and lay down 1/3 of the squash. Top with several spoonfuls of tofu ricotta, then pour on a layer of marinara sauce. Repeat until all ricotta filling and marinara is used up - about 3 layers. Make sure the top layer is sauce.
  9. Loosely cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees F. Then remove foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the top is golden brown. Cover with foil if the squash is browning too quickly.
  10. Let cool briefly, then serve with desired toppings (listed above).
  11. Best when fresh. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Reheat in a 350 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until completely warmed through.