Monday, January 14, 2013

Holiday Break to 2013

Over the holiday break I cooked one thing. ONE. This is quite strange and I'm still trying to figure out where the two holiday weeks went and what I actually ate during that time? Now that I am getting back into the swing of things I've gone into cooing "almost" overdrive (almost being the operative word).

I must have been inspired by the dish I made for Christmas dinner. Once again it's from Love & Lemons, a blog I absolutely adore. I made the dish named Sweet Potato Surprise, and surprise, it  was delicious. Other than that, cooking has been non-existent in my life - pretty much the world ended for me on apocalypse 12/21, whatever.

But now it's 2013 and I've started fresh, sort of. Here are two of my favorite things I have made so far (don't worry my bean fiasco is staying out of this post completely) :

Buffalo Tofu with Quinoa

I always drool a little when I am around buffalo wings, I can't explain it, just happens. I've seen buffalo tofu but never thought to actually pursue it as a cooking adventure, till now. Typically people use Frank's hot sauce as a base for buffalo sauce but pssh why do what everyone else is doing when I have an entire bottle of siracha in the fridge? As for the tofu - I used the packages that you find on the shelf instead of the refrigerator section. This kind of tofu is definitely better for smoothies, it is just way too smooth and falls apart easily - even if it does say firm. Freezing these little boogers might be a good idea, freezing any tofu to get a nice texture is a good ida actually.

You guys are going to hate me for this recipe and I don't have a picture of the dish because, well, I was hungry and I ate it.

  • 1 package firm tofu 
  • Squirt or two of siracha sauce
  • Half a stick of butter
  • a couple splashes of white wine vinegar
  • Sprinkle of nutritional yeast *optional
I sauteed the tofu over medium heat, which ended up in a huge crumbly mess almost instantly. A good thing to remember with tofu is to not get too overanxious about flipping it. Keep it on one side without disturbing it for a good 5 -7 minutes, especially if you are striving for a more brown crunchy style. While the tofu was cooking I melted the butter, added the siracha and vinegar and whisked it around, adding a little bit more here and there to give it the flavor I wanted. I apologize for the lack of measuring - maybe one day I will figure all that out. Once the tofu was cooked to satisfaction I added the sauce to it and sauteed it for a bit more. At first I wasn't sure if adding the nutritional yeast was a good idea, so I took half of the buffalo tofu and put it on some cooked quinoa. I sprinkled some ny on the second half and tried it, pleased that it actually enhanced the flavor and made the sauce a bit thicker. 
The only thing missing from this dish: a sprinkle of blue cheese crumbles, which would have made it even more delicious.

Yummy Fudgey Brownie Cupcakes 
This tasty treat was inspired by a recipe I found on Pinterest: "Skinny Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies" via Sally's Baking Addiction blog. However, I made half the recipe found on this site which turned the brownies into cupcakes and I made frosting instead of incorporating the swirl. 
  • 1/4 + 2 Tbs vanilla yogurt 
  • 2 Tbs almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and throw all the above goodies in a blender or food processor. SO EASY!

The blended mixture will be pretty thin, but no need to worry. Pour the batter into a cupcake pan, or if you make the full recipe, a cake pan. Bake for 25 minutes. These babies come out super fudgey and may seem uncooked, but as long as you do the toothpick in the middle trick everything should be fine. 
Let cool. 

Vegan Homemade Peanut Butter Frosting

I keep stressing homemade because I actually used homemade peanut butter as the base. Let me tell you something... I am NEVER going back to store bought peanut butter again. Do you know how easy it is to make peanut butter? Throw some peanuts in a food processor and turn it on. That's pretty much it besides some side scraping every now and then. 

Once I had my peanut butter made I added 1 Tbs of vegan margarine, 3 Tbs almond milk, and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and whisked all the ingredients together. Depending on how think or sugary you want your frosting, you can add more or less of the milk and powdered sugar. 

So good you guys, so good. 

Unfortunately, the next couple weeks are going to be absolutely insane, so who knows how much creative and adventurous cooking I will actually be able to do. Thanks for reading. xoxo 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What happens when you don't read package labels

So here is a funny story. Today I made 2 lbs of pinto beans, yes 2 lbs.
Why? Not because I wanted to have 2 lbs of beans readily available to me for months...but because I didn't read a darn label. I have had this bag of pinto beans in my pantry for about 4 months and have been waiting for the perfect time to cook them in my crock pot. For some reason I kept putting it off, until today - well technically last night. After scouring the interweb for a pinto bean crock pot recipe and coming up rather unsuccessful (in terms of measurements), I just decided to go for it. One very important thing to remember is to soak your dried beans overnight before cooking them. So la de da there I went pouring the entire bag of dried pinto beans into a pot of water, without reading the label to see the quantity of beans I was getting ready to prepare.

This morning, still groggy from sleep, I get ready to load up my crock pot with the soaked beans. It was during this time when I realized I had soaked an excessive amount of beans and all of them would not fit in my crock pot.  This is then when I checked the bag and saw the big 2 lbs... DUH!

So here I am, now wide awake, hustling around before I have to sign on to work to figure out what I am going to do with all these beans....

This whole situation may make me sound a bit silly, but there is good news to this post. I have a lot of beans! Just kidding. I decided to cook half the beans in my crock pot (as originally planned) and the rest on the stove. Now I can compare and share the difference between the two.  I knew that I could at least freeze one batch of beans and not have to eat the entire 2 lbs for the rest of my life... or the next 2 weeks, however long it might take.

Cooking dried beans on the stove only takes 1 hour, which is somewhat of a positive. Dried beans are cheap, and an hour isn't that long in the big scheme of things. However, a lot of people don't work from home and have the ability to keep an eye on boiling beans... so stovetop beans are not the best idea for your average office-working individual.

Crock pot beans on the other hand take 8 long hours... which is horrible when you are stuck at home starving because you smell delicious garlic seasoning simmering away. The crock pot is good to cook things overnight, or while you are at work.

Taste & Texture:
Unfortunately I didn't season my two different versions of beans the same way, but from what I can tell there really isn't a difference in taste between the two cooking methods. Texture on the other hand, might be a different story. The crock pot beans seems to be a little softer, which makes sense since they were simmering so long. I would say that stove top beans have a texture more of beans that come in a can. If you want to make some refried beans, you might want to consider using the crock pot style.

** By the way - I used about 4 cups of dried pinto beans in my crock pot, and added water leaving about an inch between the beans and the top of the water. I cooked these babies for about 61/2 hours on HIGH.

Now that there are beans galore the next step is to figure out what else to do with them. Tacos, nachos, 7 layer dip!, mixed with quinoa, rice or cous cous and even just plain jane. Maybe something else a little more creative and un-mexican food related?  Freezing a good portion seems like a good idea though, unless I want to go into bean overload {insert any and all bean, tooting related jokes here}.

Moral of the story: Read the packaging, figure out how much you are actually cooking before starting the whole preparation/cooking process. Seems simple enough, but also easy to forget when there are 1,239,235 other things on your mind.