Sweet & Sour and Delicious

December 8, 2010

It’s finals time. You know what that means. The next few weeks usually involve many late night cram sessions, 23 quiet-hours, and lots and lots of stress. The truly devout college kids lock themselves away in the study rooms of the library tower, a cup of coffee in one hand and a ridiculously thick textbook and highlighter in the other. But what happens at 1:30 AM when you’ve finished studying? You’re hungry and there are no options on campus. But don’t you dare pick up that phone and order crappy takeout.

MSG, anyone?

I’m proud to say that I’ve survived my undergraduate career (so far) without having to pull a single all-nighter and I haven’t succumbed to a Chinese takeaway dinner. I’ve found that planning ahead really helps, whether it’s getting by from week to week during the regular semester with two classes, jobs, clubs, etc or whether it’s during crunch time at the end of a semester.

One thing I like to buy that’s super cheap? Brown rice!

I bought this bag for $1.39 and there’s quite a few servings in there. What more could a cheapass broke college student want? Brown rice is one of those things I’ll make a big batch of on Sunday night and eat with steamed veggies and such during the week.

Obviously it’s not quite instant rice (brown rice takes 45 minutes to cook), but this recipe here really is all about planning ahead. In addition to letting the rice simmer for a good hunk of time, you’re also going to need to press some tofu. More on that in a minute.

Better than Takeout: Sweet and Sour Tofu

Serves 3-4 hungry, studious people

This ultra simple recipe is something you can make any night of the week. It keeps in the fridge wonderfully, and the leftovers only get better because the flavors have time to hang out. Trust me on this one, you’ll want to buy quality sweet and sour sauce. It costs a little bit extra, but it tastes amazing.

What you’ll need:

1 block of extra firm tofu, pressed

1 cup of brown rice, uncooked

1 onion, diced

1 cup sliced peppers

1-2 cups broccoli

a jar of good sweet and sour sauce

~1/3 cup of flour (optional)

The first step to this recipe is to make sure you’re done studying for the day. Why? Because you need to press your tofu.

What’s under there, hmm?

In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have put this on my printer.

That’s how I press my tofu because I’m too cheap to buy an actually Tofu Xpress or whatever they’re calling it these days. Who knew there was an actual use for textbooks?! 😉 Just kidding! I read them!

Let your tofu chill underneath your pile’o textbooks for as little as 15 minutes. I let mine sit for a few hours, only because I’d never pressed tofu before and wondered how firm that sucker really could be. Oh boy. Let me show you…

That hunk that’s missing was a “test slice” to make sure it was firm enough. 😉

How did I wait this long to press tofu? The texture was delicious. It made me fall in love with tofu all over again. I’ll eat the stuff straight up, and in its pressed form, it’s even better.

Once you emerge from your pressed-tofu-loving coma, let it marinade in about 3 tablespoons of your sweet and sour sauce for as long as you have time.

Heat up a pan and oil. If you have it, use sesame oil. If not, olive is fine.

Saute up your veggies and then add in your tofu and as much or as little sauce as you’d like.

Saucy.

Here’s where that flour comes in to play. I didn’t cook my tofu before my veggies because I didn’t want it extra crispy. You can if you want to – instead, I scattered in handfuls of flour until the sauce got thick and the raw flour taste had cooked out. I know it sounds odd, but it really worked.

Now you’re ready to devour!

And maybe study some more?

When you were in college, did you make late night runs to a local restaurant or fast food joint a lot?


I’m Addicted

August 5, 2010

I’m not ashamed of my addiction to that TikTok song by Ke$ha.

I’m sorry, really, I am. It’s just so catchy!

I’m also not ashamed of the fact that I put far too much lemon into my food, especially during the summer.

It’s just so refreshing!

Lemon in pretty much any dish is fan-freaking-tastic. It can brighten up anything from cupcakes to smoothies to savory dishes like scrambled tofu and even egg and dairy free quiche. Yup. I’m a lemon addict… but I hate lemonade. Is that weird?

Lemony Orzo with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pine Nuts

Sheesh. This baby needs a shorter name. I’ll just use an acronym for now. LOwRBNaPN. Yeah. I can so remember that.

You’re gonna need:

1 butternut squash

1 cup whole wheat orzo

1 lemon

1/3 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup basil, julienned

S&P to taste

First, find the least phallic-looking butternut squash you can.

I love these! Erm… I’m talking about the squash.

Don’t know how to prepare a squash? Click here.

Chop it into cubes, and then coat it in olive oil, salt and pepper. Throw them in a 375 degree oven for about an hour, or until they’re tender and cooked through.

Go play outside for a half an hour! 🙂

But don’t go too far, because just before the squash is done cooking (about ten minutes beforehand), you’ll want to put on a pot of water to boil. Once it’s bubbly boiling, add in your orzo.

Zest your lemon, then squeeze the juice. Immediately put about half of it into the bottom of a large serving dish. Chop your basil and also put about half of it into the bowl. Once your orzo and squash are done, trow them in there too. Top with pine nuts, the remaining basil and lemon juice, and lemon zest.

I think I got my family addicted to this dish.

Proof:

Now if I could only get them to like Ke$ha…

What’s your guilty pleasure?

T is for…

June 25, 2010

…trips to Trader Joe’s…

…Twitter…

Follow me @ southernbritish !

…touch-ups…

…tomato soup…

Creamy Tomato Soup

2 lbs of tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 celery ribs, diced (use the leafy green bit!)

1 can of no-salt added White Tuscan beans (or any other soft bean)

1 can of coconut milk

1 cup vegetable broth

S&P to taste

1 cup basil, packed

Saute your onion and add in the garlic. You know how to make soup. In goes the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery. Let them cook down and then add in your tomatoes, about three quarters of your basil, and  the beans. After those have cooked for just a few minutes, toss in your coconut milk and vegetable broth. Let your soup simmer for about an hour, until the beans are very soft and easily fall apart.

Once your soup has cooled, you can put it in a blender and cream it up. You could also use an immersion blender right in your pot, if you have one.

Garnish with the rest of your basil and a little bit more coconut milk if your little heart desires.

T is also for…

…taters…

Sweet potato cheetahs, inspired by the fabulous Kailey!

Sweet potato cheetahs are for reals the best thing eva.

Just take a sweet potato, slice it into half moons. Sprinkle it with S&P and whatever seasonings you like. I use basil for savory and maple syrup and cinnamon for sweet. Spray with non-stick (or use oil) and roast in your oven for about 45 minutes, or until cheetah-ish. I put mine under the broiler for the last few minutes to get them extra crispy.

and, most importantly, T is TGIF!

How did you spend your Friday?

Ahhh! Real Monsters?

June 25, 2010

Okay, not a real monster… a GREEN monster!

Lookin’ classy in a wine glass.

These have been floating around the blogosphere for a supa long time, and I finally decided to try a Green Monster last December because I saw a picture of it on Caitlin’s blog and she swore you would only taste the banana and not the spinach.

I’ve never looked back.

2 cups baby spinach, packed

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup vanilla almond milk

1 banana

1 scoop peanut butter

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)

Whizzed up with ice ice, baby in the blender until smoothie like.


How do you make your Green Monsters?

Also – I’m in search of some protein powder, does anyone have any suggestions? I’m partial to vanilla. : )

Technically speaking

June 21, 2010

Technically speaking, I should be doing my summer coursework. It starts on Thursday but I’ve already been assigned an essay, two chapters of reading, and two quizzes. Hey, I did the essay…. it was an “about me” paper. 😛

Instead of working hard, I hardly worked. I elliptical-ed my heart out and then did this in the gym’s bathroom:

And left this at the gas station:

Technically speaking, it’s probably vandalism. Encouraging, fabulous, wonderful vandalism.

(If you’re wondering what these post-its are, they’re a part of Operation Beautiful and I highly encourage you to visit the site and help spread the love. You know you want to.)

And then, because it’s Father’s Day and all, I did something nice for mi padre and made him epic banana bread. It’s one thing I can make that both he and I will eat. Because technically, he doesn’t know it’s vegan.

The Best Banana Bread You’ll Ever Have

You’ve probably heard that claim before on other recipe sites, but I’ve got the goods to back it up. Trust. This recipe is not only delicious, it’s fat free (the only fats that occur are natural), whole wheat, dairy free, and contains no refined sugars.

Whatcha gonna need!

The wet ingredients:

5 ripe bananas

1/2 cup maple syrup/agave nectar blend

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

The dry ingredients:

2 cups of whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

a sprinkle of cinnamon

Sift all of the dry ingredients together until they’re combined. Or if you don’t wanna dirty up a sifter, because it’s a pain to wash, combine the dry ingredients with a whisk or fork.

In another bowl, take out your anger. Mash up all the wet ingredients. I like it to be a kind of chunky consistency so that you can tell it’s banana bread and not unidentifiable loaf.

Next, combine the wet and dry ingredients together and mix until they are just combined. At this point, you could add in anything else you might want. Chocolate chips, walnuts, blueberries, or even peanut butter would be particularly delicious.

If it’s too thick, add a bit more water to the batter – but not too much. You want it thick like pancake batter. You may also want to add more agave or maple syrup if you like it sweet. I felt a little fruity today so I toped my loaf with another banana that was almost on its way out.

Grease a loaf pan and put yo bread into your oven, which you most definitely didn’t forget to preheat to 375 degrees. Let it bake for an hour, checking occasionally. Use the oven light instead of opening the door.

Once it’s done, you’re gonna wanna bust that bad boy outta the pan immediately, but don’t. Let it cool before you transfer it to a plate. It’s hard to resist chowing down on this sucker straight from the oven…. go for a walk while you wait! Come back and your casa will smell like pure deliciousness.

Worth the wait.

Technically speaking, it’s so good it should be illegal.

Becuase 10 out of 10 non-vegans approve of this message dish, It wins this:

Technically speaking, that was the worst pun ever.

PS – bloggers in CLT, wanna have a meetup sometime soon? 🙂

I’m Blue

June 17, 2010

Check out those bangin’ 90’s graphics!

Yep. That’s stuck in my head now because I made blue food for lunch yesterday.

Blueberry Quinoa with Chickpeas

1/2 cup quinoa, dry

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup blueberry juice (I used Naked brand)

1/4  cup slivered almonds

1/2 pint fresh blueberries

1/3 cup raisins

a dash of vanilla extract

a quirt of agave nectar, maple syrup, or honey to sweeten (to taste)

1/2 t cinnamon (or more , depending on your taste)

a pinch of salt (to taste)

First, toast your quinoa in a pan. It’s like toasting nuts. Don’t add any oil, and just let the quinoa heat up and become golden brown. Just move them around every so often to make sure they’re not burning. When you can smell it getting all toasty, add in your almonds and let them toast for just a moment, too. They may begin to pop like popcorn – if that happens, turn your heat down. After about three more minutes of toasting, add in your water, vanilla, and blueberry juice.

Once your liquid is in, you want to actually cook the quinoa. Cover the pan, bring it up to a boil and then put it down to a steady simmer. You want the quinoa to absorb all of the liquids and become fluffy. Add more liquid if you need to.

When the quinoa is cooked, add in your cinnamon, chickpeas, raisins, and blueberries.

Cover and let it heat through.

Serve, garnished with almond joy.

It sounds like it’s an odd dish, but the flavors really work well together. The chickpeas absorb the blueberry flavor and combined with the quinoa you’ve got a wonderful source of healthy, complete protein. This could be enjoyed warm or cold, as brekkie or not.

Da ba de da ba daaaai.

I remember this song all too well. I used to play it in the car on my supa-awesome handheld CD player over and over again. I was so cool. But now I’ll never look at blueberries the same way again.

What’s your favorite 90’s song?

“I get up in the morning, I make myself a bowl of instant oatmeal, and then I don’t do anything for an hour, which makes me wonder why I need the instant oatmeal. I could get the regular oatmeal and feel productive.” -Mitch Hedberg

Strawberry Banana Overnight Oatmeal

1/3 cup oats

1/2 cup vanilla almond milk

1/2 cup water

1 banana

1 cup strawberries

a splash of vanilla extract

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 t xanthan gum (optional)

In a blender, add everything but the oats. Blend it until smooth, like a smoothie. In a bowl, combine it with your oats, stir, and let it sit out overnight. If you want to make it extra creamy, use strawberry or some other flavor or soy/coconut milk yogurt instead of water or almond milk.

It’s like a smoothie + oatmeal! This is a very cool, refreshing breakfast for a hot summer day. Oats are regular dorm eats for me during the academic year, when I don’t dare go to the caf for breakfast. In fact, in my entire undergraduate career, I haven’t been to the caf for breakfast once. I usually just nab as many apples and bananas as I can and stuff them into my bag. Hey, it’s not technically stealing – it’s paid for in that hefty dining bill.. 😉

What’s your favorite corny joke?

….and put it on the tofu!

It sure feels like summer here in the south. I went to the airport to pick up She Who Must Be Obeyed (AKA Mum) and my sissy and the temperature was 100 degrees. No bueno. I could totally be a snowbird when I get old, and spend my summers in the mountains and winters at the beach. But since I can’t do that yet, I’ll just have to get used to the heat and survive with a tropical dish.

Lemon Coconut Tofu

Ingredients for 1

You’ll need:

1/5 block of tofu, or however much ‘fu you want

1/4 can of coconut milk

1 lemon

1 lime

S & P

sesame seeds for garnish

First, take a small bowl and mix together your coconut milk, lemon and lime juice, and the zest of the lemons and limes. Add salt and pep to taste, and then marinate your tofu in that for a few hours before you cook it.

In a heated non-stick pan, cook your tofu. Make sure the pan is hot so that you’ll get a really awesome sear and a crunchy crust on the tofu. After you’ve got that going, add in your marinade.

If it does what mine did, it will bubble up like crazy. So watch yo self.

Let that cook for a few more minutes for the flavors to marry, and then serve it over coconut jasmine rice.

To make coconut jasmine rice, simply cook it the remainder of your can of coconut milk and a little bit of water. The more water you add to it, the stickier it will be.

Now I just need some Colbie Calliat and another beach to lay on.

What’s your favorite summer flavor? Do you have any “summer songs?”

Nutty Pesto Pizza

June 14, 2010

Today was a day for culinary experiments as well as epic cuteness.

Exhibit A:

A bathed puppy looking very Mother Teresa-ish.

“Please, someone adopt me!”

Hey, after a week and some change of romping at the beach and digging in sand, this dog was in dire need of a bath. And after spending a good 50 minutes elliptical-ing (thanks to Say Yes to the Dress) and 30 minutes of weight training, I was, too. But, more importantly, I needed refueling. I needed something yummy. I needed carbs.

I’m one of those people that just wants to eat an entire loaf of bread after a workout. Good, crusty, chewy bread. But I didn’t have any bread except in the form of frozen pita (and I wasn’t willing to wait hours for it to defrost) and a pizza crust. You can guess which one I went for.

Gone Green Pizza

This pizza sneaks in a good amount of green veggies. There’s spinach as well as zucchini, cucumber, and avocado. Post-workout protein (as well as omega-3 fats) came in the form of pine nuts, tofu, avocado, and the 100% whole wheat crust. There are some good carbohydrates for energy as well as a healthy amount of good, unsaturated fats. Most importantly, it was absolutely delicious. I used a ton of spinach (because the bag was on its last limbs) and a whole lot of basil because I love the flavor it gives. The avocado makes it creamy and I just added the cucumber because it was something else green! This recipe could easily cover a whole or a half of a pizza, I did half and put the remaining pesto in the fridge. It will keep well for a few days if it’s in a sealed container. Just add more tofu and pine nuts to the topping if you’re making a whole pizza.

This pesto is high in fat, yes, but fat is nothing to fear, my friends! Please make no mistake about it. All of the fats in here are healthy and natural fats. If you want to to omit the avocado, feel free to do so. However, I feel a post on the benefits of dietary fats coming…

What you’ll need for the pizza/toppings:

1 whole wheat pizza crust

1/5th of a block of extra firm tofu, cubed

a handful of pine nuts

What you’re gonna need for the pesto:

1 8oz bag of baby spinach

1 zucchini, steamed

1/2 an avocado

1 cucumber, chopped

2 cups basil, packed

3 T good olive oil

a handful of pine nuts or cashews (optional)

S & P

To make the pesto, simply place all of the goodies in the processor and whiz it up. Steam, microwave, or roast your zucchini and then dice it before putting it into your processor. It helps to find a zuke as big as your head.

Stream your olive oil in while your food processor whizzes along. You really only want to use enough olive oil to prevent the pesto from being too dry. Don’t stop till you get enough until it is smooth, almost paste-like. You may have to turn your food processor off a few times and wipe down the sides to make sure everything is incorporated.

Spread your delicious pesto onto your crust.

One half of this pizza was the mean green vegan side. Dad’s side was an experiment. I mixed sour cream with dill and lemon juice and used that as a sauce, then piled on some smoked salmon and more fresh dill. Apparently it was good, but I wouldn’t know. The whole being a vegan thing kind of gets in the way. 😉

Back to the good stuff!

Place cubes of tofu and the rest of your pine nuts on the pizza, then bake it at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or whatever it says on the back of your crust package.

And now it’s time for me to get my own shower. Hopefully no one will show up with a camera and take pictures of me in a towel afterwards. Now I know how Puppy feels…

What’s your favorite post-workout meal? Do you ever crave anything specific?

Blueberry Failcrepes

June 13, 2010

You would expect this to be super awesome, right?

I mean, it’s blueberries…

…and whole wheat-y goodness (1 cup)…

…with a flax egg…

(1 T of ground flax + 3 T water, mix until gelatinous)

combined with…

1 C almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla and more bloobs.

You’d think making crepes was easy, but it’s harder than it looks.

It went from a nice, thin layer of awesomeness to this…

PLUS enough smoke to set off the fire alarm.

What an epic failcrepe.

What’s your latest cooking fail? What’s your most embarrassing one?