Monday, August 30, 2010

Hoisin Tofu Skewers

"Can I have another piece of tofu, mom?" My almost-5 year old son uttered these words last night. (After having already devoured a real meat cheeseburger, so it's not like I had to starve him to get him to try it.) So I think it goes without saying that this is a good recipe. It's adapted from a hoisin salmon skewer recipe that was part of the "50 Kebabs" insert in the July/August 2010 Food Network magazine. Lately, when we're not in a hurry, my husband has been firing up the charcoal grill, which is what I used for these last night, and really, they were twice as good as they had been on the gas grill. Absolutely delicious.

The first time we made these, my son did the skewering. He decided that it was the second slimiest thing he had ever done, #1 being scooping the guts out of a pumpkin. He cracks me up. But I guess slimy doesn't equal bad to a kid, because he wanted to do the skewering again this time.

1 block tofu
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon each of:
- soy sauce
- rice vinegar
- honey
- olive oil

1. Put the tofu in between two plates and weigh it down with cans (or anything heavy) for a little while...say, 45 minutes...just to get it good and squeezed out.
2. Meanwhile, combine the other ingredients.
3. Slice the tofu: I sliced it 3 by 2 and then through the middle, for 12 pieces which fit nicely on 3 skewers.
4. Combine with the marinade. I don't know if you need to let it sit or not, but if you have some time, let it marinate for a while. (Note: I had some extra marinade, you might be able to use 2 blocks of tofu, or throw in a few veggies.)
5. Skewer it lengthwise (if using wooden skewers, soak them in water for like a half hour) and grill until it's golden and just a little bit crispy.

Serve with brown rice and a salad. You'll feel so nice and healthy after this meal. :) It would probably also go great with the grilled green beans that I posted last summer.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Orange Chocolate Iced Brownies

I’m posting this recipe at the request of several coworkers. (And I use the term “recipe” loosely since much of this comes from a box.) Yesterday was my birthday, and to ease the pain I brought into work some brownies based one of my most absolute favorite flavor combinations: orange & chocolate. I think this love developed when I lived in England when I was twelve. Terry’s Chocolate Oranges may not have been available in the U.S. back then, but I remember my parents always bringing one along as our lunch treat when we would go on weekend sightseeing excursions…yum…

Maybe someday I’ll start making brownies from scratch, but at this point in my life, the convenience and cost of a box can’t be beat. :)


“Family-size” box dark chocolate brownie mix
1 teaspoon orange zest (about one orange worth)
1 teaspoon orange extract

1. Follow the instructions for “fudge-like” consistency, add the orange ingredients, and bake in a 9x13 pan.
2. Let the brownies cool a bit before adding the icing.


1¼ cups sugar
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons half & half
1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon orange extract

1. Combine sugar, butter, and milk in small saucepan.
2. Cook and stir until boiling.
3. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
4. Remove from heat, stir in orange extract and chocolate chips until melted.
5. Pour over brownies immediately. Cool thoroughly before cutting

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Confetti Spaghetti

One of my best friends from high school, Amy, and I used to make this variation on pasta primavera all the time. It was one of the few dishes for which we actually used a recipe. We spent a summer waitressing on the coast of Maine, living in a tiny apartment above a family friends' garage (ahhh...memories!) and during that time we made up most of our kitchen creations ourselves...but this recipe was worth following...

And now, what feels like a lifetime later, I've put it to the kid-0-meter test: and it passed. Both the 1 yr old and the 4.5 yr old ate it happily. Pasta plus some of their favorite veggies (the little girl hasn't met a pea she didn't love, and the boy has recently declared a love of red peppers...after a year or so of vehemently not liking peppers in general), plus soy sauce, plus cheese...what's not to like??? This photo does not do it justice, hopefully I can do better next time, but for now, here it is.

I like this particular recipe because it's a little different than most pasta primavera dishes you'll's not quite Italian-tasting (because of the soy sauce), and yet it's not quite Asian-tasting be the judge. It yields a LOT...invite friends over or be prepared for leftovers.

This is a Moosewood recipe, from the old version of The Enchanted Broccoli Forest (before they took all the butter out of the recipes)...and here it is:

3 tablespoons each: butter and olive oil
1 cup minced onion
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 stalks broccoli - chopped
2 cups small cauiflowerettes
1/4 pound mushrooms, chopped
2 cups frozen peas
1 medium-size red bell pepper, diced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pound spaghetti or linguine
4-6 scallions minced (OPTIONAL: I left out for the kiddos)
1 packed cup finely-minced parsley (OPTIONAL: not sure I've ever used this, though it would be good)
2 packed cups grated cheddar

1. In a large, heavy skillet, cook the onions and garlic in combined butter and olive oil with salt, pepper, and basil, until the onions are soft (5-8 minutes).
2. Add broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Let cook until the broccoli and cauliflower are just tender (8-10 minutes).
3. Add peas and diced red pepper. Stir and cook over medium heat for just a few minutes - until the peas and peppers are just heated through. Remove from heat, and stir in soy sauce.
4. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, put into a large bowl, and immediately add the saute with all its liquid. As you toss the mixture, sprinkle in the cheese and scallions and parsley (if using). Serve while hot!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Grandma D's Easy Mac and Cheese

Keeping with my comfort food theme, here's a simple, kid-approved side dish. My mom brought this to the Lake when she and my dad visited us there on vacation this past summer. Everyone knows that food tastes better: 1) when someone else cooks it and 2) when you're on vacation. So this recipe already had 2 things going for it...but I made it again at home, myself, and it was still good! I tried to make it a little healthier this time by using whole grain pasta, but I think some things are better just kept as good old fashioned comfort food. Back to plain old white pasta next time...

1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
3 cups cooked macaroni, elbow or spirals
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

In saucepan, cook onion in butter until tender. Blend in soup and milk; add macaroni and cheese. Heat until cheese melts; stir occasionally. Makes about four cups.

Katie's Baked Sweet Potato Fries

This post is a plug for my friend Katie's new blog, and a shining endorsement for her sweet potato fries (and she actually made up the recipe herself, not like my blog here where I just steal other recipes and make a slight change or two...). I made them tonight and they were absolutely delicious. I ate about one and a half sweet potatoes worth and could have kept going, they were that good. Now I just need to get my son to start liking sweet potatoes; I made a few for the baby with just olive oil, salt, and brown sugar...she seemed to like them, but my son didn't want anything to do with them. Then he tried one of the fully loaded ones and instantly declared it "too spicy." Crazy. Oh well, more for me.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Very Creamy Potato-Cheese Soup

If it's not already, January should be "National Comfort Food Month." Or February. This soup is comfort food at its finest; I make this recipe a few times every winter (or fall, if I can't quite wait until winter). The recipe is from one of the Moosewood cookbooks (with a few adapations), I'm not sure which's one of the recipes that I copied from my mom's cookbooks before I moved out on my own after college. I've been making it for a looooong time. The last time I made it, my son originally claimed he didn't like it but then when I was eating the very last bowl, he asked for a bite and then proceeded to eat the rest of it. This weekend, he ate two helpings of it at lunch, so I guess that qualifies it as kid friendly.

3 tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped onion (1 large)
1 large garlic clove, minced or pressed
2 large and 1 medium potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
3 cups vegetable stock or water (I usually use 3 cups water plus one vegetable bouillon cube)
1 teaspoon dried dill
4 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (3 ounces)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, saute the onions in the butter until the onions are translucent. Add the potatoes
and carrots and saute for 5 to 10 minutes longer. Add the stock or water and dill and simmer until all the vegetables are tender.
Remove about a half cup of chunks of potato, set aside and chop them up a little bit more.
Add cream cheese and milk and blend with a hand blender. (If you don't have a hand blender, you can do it in a food processor or blender, but it's a huge pain to do it that way...I highly recommend hand blender if you ever make cream soups...) Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cheddar cheese and reheat gently. Add the extra chunks of potato.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lentils Monastery Style

Happy New Year...

I have so little free time these days, that it takes some encouragement for me to get anything new posted, as much as I enjoy doing it. The credit for my motivation this time goes to my friend Katie from work; she and her boyfriend have resolved to eat more vegetarian this year and so she was looking for some new recipes. The credit for this recipe goes to my Aunt Ellen. After having this dish a couple times at her house, I finally asked for the recipe because I thought it was sooooo good. Turns out, it's super easy, too. And hopefully pretty healthy, as well, though her handwritten recipe didn't come with any nutrition info. Served with a simple green salad and some corn muffins, it makes for a perfect wintertime vegetarian comfort meal, in my opinion...

1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
3 cups stock or seasoned water (I usually use water plus one Knorr's vegetable bouillon cube)
1 cup dried lentils (rinsed)
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (not drained)
1/4 cup sherry
1 cup grated Swiss cheese (or as my 4 year old son calls it, "mouse cheese")

In a large pot, saute the onions and carrot in the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and marjoram and saute 1 minute more. Add stock, lentils, salt to taste, parsley, and tomatoes. Cook on low in covered pot until lentils are tender (45 mins-1.5 hrs). Add sherry. Put grated cheese in a bowl and ladel the lentils on top.