Archive for October, 2010

Another Tofu Trial

I LOVE pumpkin bread.

Breakfast was some left-over pumpkin bread from this weekend and it was still so moist and good! I’ll be sad when it is gone ūüė¶

 

Last night I enjoyed cooking a meal for one-after work and after a great run with Daisy.

The weather was perfect and lately I have felt pressured to¬†squeeze in a run after work more often than not because I know it won’t be long before my workouts will take place in the gym, thanks to daylight saving time. With Chris still on his drive home from Baltimore, I decided to give a tofu recipe a whirl.

Chris is pretty good about eating whatever I make-but I think he still may be on the fence about tofu. I thought this recipe was going to be a slam-dunk but it STILL was lacking a bit in flavor. Maybe it was me? Maybe it was the brand? I’m not sure-but I want a tofu recipe that packs a punch!

I really liked the switch from Asian flavor to French but I was expecting a bit more finesse.

Panfried Tofu

Ingredients:

  • 2 (14-ounces) packages soft tofu (not silken)
  • 6 large eggs (4 hard-boiled and 2 raw)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (2 tablespoons)
  • 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
  • 1/3 cup tarragon leaves

 

Directions:

Cut each tofu block lengthwise into 3 equal pieces. Drain on paper towels.

Peel hard-boiled eggs and halve lengthwise. Remove hard-boiled yolks and place in a food processor. Thinly slice whites crosswise and reserve.

Add lemon juice, water, mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to yolks in food processor. With motor running, add 1/2 cup oil in a slow stream, processing until emulsified and smooth and scraping down sides as needed. Transfer to a bowl and stir in shallot, parsley, and capers. Reserve 1/4 cup dressing for serving.

For salad-gently toss with arugula, tarragon, and egg whites. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, lightly beat remaining 2 eggs in a medium bowl. Pat tofu dry and season both sides with 1/2 teaspoon salt (total). Coat tofu with egg, letting excess drip off, then fry, turning once, until golden and heated through, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain briefly on paper towels, then serve with salad and reserved dressing.

On a completely un-related note: my birthday gift from Chris’s mom was “Style” by Lauren Conrad and I was delightful to get it when he came home last night. I could not ask for better in-laws and am so happy to be marrying into the family I am! Thanks so much¬†Jane (and Michelle!)

Naturally being an impatient person-I’ve combed through most of this book. 3 things that I noticed that could be helpful for anyone interested in picking up this little manual are as follows-

1.) There is an entire section on editing your closeet-can’t wait to purge this weekend!

2.) How to fold, hang and store pieces so that they last longer! Great tips!

3.) Daytime and Evening looks on make-up-along with of course staple pieces every girl must own.

Just thought I’d share!

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One GIANT Sabbatical.

Is there anyone left coming to this blog after my insanely large sabbatical?? I promise I have a valid excuse. I misplaced my camera cord so therefore, I¬†wasn’t able to upload any of my pictures. Over the weekend I spent time looking for it and thankfully it turned up! Without bombarding you with a day-to-day¬†detail of all food-I’m just going to run through the highlights of what’s been going on this past week and a half.¬†Ready everyone? Deep breaths…

Last Monday¬†night we did have Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-dried Tomatoes, it was good but not as good as I hoped. It lacked in flavor so I’ll have to come up with some spices to add to this dish. For as fattening as it was, it needed to at least be great-and it wasn’t.

Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Recipe courtesy of the Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 ounces each), halved horizontally
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded provolone (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan (4 ounces)
  • ¬†

    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 400. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta, and return to pot.

    In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.

    In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Off heat, gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.

    Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes; sprinkle each with cup Parmesan.

    Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

    Prepare through step 4; let cool. Cover tightly with foil, and freeze, up to 3 months.

    Preheat oven to 400, and bake (still covered in foil) on a rimmed baking sheet until center is hot, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil; bake until golden, about 15 minutes more.

    Moving on to Tuesday, the Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa and Garlic mashed potatoes was¬†much better and easier. This adds up to a “win” in my book. My avocado unfortunately wasn’t the freshest but where that lacked, the chicken made up in flavor.

    Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa

    Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart (apparently I was on a kick)

    Ingredients:

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 Hass avocado, pitted and cut into chunks
  • ¬†

    Directions:

    In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cayenne; rub all over chicken.

    In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add chicken, and cook until browned on the outside and opaque throughout, 8 to 10 minutes per side.

    Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine onion and lime juice; set aside. Just before serving, fold avocado chunks into onion mixture; season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken topped with salsa.

    Wednesday we ended up skipping the mini-deep dish pizzas and had a frozen pizza instead. I stayed late at work and only had time to scarf something down before going to the NC Music Factory’s Haunted House. Chris and I had a blast! We met up with some friends beforehand at the Black Bear Saloon and after a few drinks attempted the haunted house. It wasn’t that scary but it had been years since I’ve really enjoyed Halloween traditions and this was a great night-totally worth the $8 tickets.

    Thursday¬†was the family dinner at Mama Ricottas¬†and I apologize¬†for the un-pictured special but it was just too good to document. I dove right in to the pasta with carmelized onions, apples and bacon. I didn’t even have leftovers, which was really sad, but that is how good it was. Another great night with family and food.

    Friday I was supposed to have steak and rice cuban-style, courtesy of my best friends father but she ended up having to cancel her trip to Charlotte ūüė¶ I miss seeing her and her husband and new baby boy, but I think they are coming up the first week in November. Friday and Saturday night were spent at home in resting in preparation for the huge Sunday plans I had.

    Chris has been out-of-town¬†doing research at John Hopkins in Baltimore so Sunday I was left to hang by myself. Luckily for my birthday my uncle Kenny gave me his Panther’s tickets and they were great seats! I grabbed my friend Jane and made a day of it-and it wasn’t half bad.

    Beforehand we were able to attend the Charlotte City Club for an 11:00 brunch and it was so nice! I love going there when I get the opportunity but it’s few and far between because they have an exclusive membership. Thankfully my uncle pulled some strings and we were able to go. The food was on point and the service was even better.

    Later that night I had a few ladies over to my house to have a pumpkin carving party! This is one of my favorite things to do during the fall. It gives us a good excuse to get together, drink some wine and enjoy the season’s festivities. There was such great food there too! Pumpkin break, cookie cake amongst other munchies.

    (Jess with her cute little pumpkin!)

    Somewhere in between all of this madness I also made this dinner-which I had to write about. The corn-torilla scrambled dish was so good and filling and the black bean cornbread went perfectly! Chris and I were stuffed for hours, and it was exactly what we wanted for comfort food.

    unfortunately I did not have the right pan to make this dish (thank goodness for our Macy’s registry!) but it still turned out so good. I love cornbread!

    Corn Tortilla Scrambled

    If you would like the recipe to this, just let me know! It was quick and easy and would be a good breakfast as well!

    As for last night, it was Monday night TV and sister time. My sister Kate always comes over so I can feed her and watch our Monday night shows. Unfortunately she does nothing for building my culinary skills because she is such a picky eater. I’ll have to keep that in mind when doing the meal plan. I give you…pasta with marina and meatballs…

    No meal plan for this week! I’m trying to get creative with the food left over in my fridge and pantry and Chris comes back tonight. Thursday we are going out to dinner for my birthday but it’s a “mysterious” location. I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted!

     

     

    Meal Plan-week of October 18

    It’s fall and I’m cold already so I have been yearning for crock-pot recipes and apple crisp STILL! Even though I thought I satisfied my craving last week. This week’s meal plan is going to have a lot of comfort food on it, so stay clear if you aren’t trying to pack on some much-needed winter poundage.

    Monday- Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-dried Tomatoes

    Tuesday-Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa and Garlic mashed potatoes.

    Wednesday- Mini Deep Dish Pizzas (Wasn’t able to make them last week)

    Thursday-Dinner out @ Mama Ricottas

    Friday-Steak and Rice with plantains courtesy of Mr. Moreno!

    Saturday-Jimmy Fallon’s Crock-Pot Recipe with black bean cornbread

    Sunday-TBD

    On to Baking Items for the week~

    -Lemon Cream Scones for breakfasts!

    -Pumpkin Bars…just cause.

    Fall BBQ

    For someone who hasn’t entirely grown up in the south, I discovered a truth this weekend. The best bbq¬†comes from a good ol’ fashioned southern get-together.¬†It’s not the franchise down the street but the¬†old man who has been making his own “special sauce” for years. A man who doesn’t think to bottle and market his unique sauce, but is just down-right proud to be able to make it for large quantities of people and call it his own. I had the best bbq this past weekend at a fundraiser I volunteered at where the proceeds went to help Loaves and Fishes and Crisis Assistance.

    We had all the fixins’ including beans and slaw….

    …and I don’t eat “slaw” but I must say the smell of fresh cilantro in this particular slaw made it impossible not to taste.

    By the time the fundraiser was done I had raved so much to Mickey “the sauce master” that he secretly passed me a ketchup bottle filled with enough sauce to make this girl happy throughout the season. I felt special.

    Sunday I kept in line with the “no cooking”¬†marathon and ordered in our favorite Sunday night take-out, half price hibachi. There is a restaurant right around the corner from our house that has the most amazing food and daily specials, I have no idea how they stay open. For $10 you can get all this:

    A nice salad with ginger dressing to start your meal off…

    Some yummy miso soup

    The main course which includes the most delectable little sugar carrots along with rice, chicken and veggies with a side of shrimp sauce and a drink. DANK.

    This week ¬†it¬†is my mission to start eating out¬†less for lunch. I decided¬†to invest in a lunch bag and some new Tupperware. The plastic bag just hasn’t been cutting it and¬†after tallying¬†up how much I was spending¬†during the week on lunches I was quite appalled by¬†my actions. ¬†In classic Claire fashion I ended up picking a¬†cute lunch¬†bag¬†because there’s nothing like the ¬†promise of buying something new and shiny¬†to give you the¬†ultimate motivation to stop spending money. If that makes sense to anyone other than me…

    P.S. I’ve started a new obsession with Tuperware-beware.

    What can’t I take to work now???¬† ūüôā

    Do you find it hard to pack meals for your work day? How do you go about preparing your lunches and snacks? What are your favorite things to pack for a lunch?

    IT’S ARRIVED!!!!!!!!!

    The Produce Bible has arrived! My very sweet, soon-to-be, but already feels like, sister-in-law bought me the coveted Produce Bible for my birthday ūüôā THANKS MICHELLE! I love getting birthday presents early!

    I can NOT wait to dive into this tonight in bed! I want to learn so much more about produce and farmer’s markets and what exactly you do with a kumquat. The book came in perfect time because I had an exciting vegetable and fruit day yesterday…

    For lunch I had Panera’s¬†Mediterranean¬†veggie sandwich with some tomato soup and an apple for dessert. The sandwich included Zesty Peppadew¬†piquant peppers, feta cheese, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and cilantro Jalape√Īo hummus¬†on Tomato Basil bread. It was delish.

    Who would have thought that I would ever be eating a sandwich with no meat? Moving on, for dinner I was anxious to try baked eggs in tomatoes and I thought it would pair well with some Tilapia.

    For the baked eggs you want to take a melon baller or spoon and gut the beefsteak tomato, leaving only the membrane.

    Then you want to fill it with the egg mixture (I did 3 eggs for 2 tomatoes and added in some herbs along with some Gruyère cheese, the recipe called for chives and parmesan cheese.)

    The oven was set to 350 degrees and the side dish took about 45 minutes for the eggs to set. Serve while hot!

    Be extra careful not to cut the tomato membrane, otherwise it will look like this:

    Tilapia Recipe

    Ingredients:

    • Tilapia-4 fillets
    • salt-1 teaspoon
    • black pepper-1/2 teaspoon
    • all-purpose flour-1/2 cup
    • olive oil-1/2 cup
    • unsalted butter-2 tablespoons
    • capers-2 tablespoons (drained)

    Directions:

    Salt and pepper the tilapia fillets and refrigerate for at least a 1/2 hour.
    Spread the all-purpose flour across a plate.
    Take a tilapia fillet and gently pat each side into the all-purpose flour. You’re looking to lightly coat the tilapia fillet.
    Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a sauté pan and add the lemon slices. Fry for about 5 minutes and remove.
    In batches fry the tilapia fillets in the lemon infused olive oil for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Place on your serving dish.
    Increase the heat of the sauté pan to high and add the unsalted butter and capers.
    Gently stir for about 2 to 3 minutes.
    Spoon the sauce over the tilapia fillets and serve.

    For breakfast this morning I was craving and I mean CRAVING a smoothie. It’s been a while since I made a banana and strawberry smoothie for an “ode to the produce bible”-I revisited¬†my favorite breakfast (on the go) today!

    Do you incorporate enough fruits and veggies in your diet? What are your favorite recipes? I know I could do better but it helps to find great recipes to incorporate the everyday veggies into something more unique and delightful! ūüėČ

    Dessert has 2 S’s…like 2 Scoops of ice-cream please!

    So in my last post a family friend pointed out that my college education was lacking in the fact that I spelled “dessert” like “desert.” Yes, I do know the difference…wait for it…

    This is a desert:

    This is a dessert:

    My cute sister Sawyer let me know that the way she remembers that dessert is spelled with 2 S’s is to think about wanting 2 scoops of ice-cream! She’s adorable, isn’t she? Actually, adorable isn’t the right word because she is growing up so fast! She’s turned into quite the young lady…

    (Yes, that is a real dog…our dog Lulu and yes, she’s wrapped in an American flag because my dad’s hobby is photography and sometimes he makes us do things like this :))

    It’s embarrassing when you put yourself out there (in a blog) and realize that you made some sort of spelling mistake or after going through your blog-roll, realizing so many blogs out there are better than yours. It’s intimidating to see pictures taken with nicer quality cameras, better design ascetics as well as other¬†bloggers who have backgrounds in writing and literature, making their posts leap off the page! I got¬†the blogging bug¬†after falling in love with all the blogs that I try to visit regularly. How can someone not fall into a desire of reading about food, exercise, wine and¬†life in general, all from an educated and strong woman? They fascinate me and lift me up…

    Another thing that really¬†lifts me up, both physically and emotionally, is¬†a great shoe find! During lunch I hit up TJ Maxx with my mom and friend from work and found these lovely’s…

    Anne Klein for $29.99! Originally $79.99-can’t beat that with a stick my friends! I’ve been on a shoe kick lately and have almost completely replenished. For a while there I had dwindled down to only having a few good stilettos left. But enough that, on to dashing….

    Yesterday’s run was 1 thing: AWESOME. I am really enjoying running on trails lately. It keeps things so much more interesting and I’m hoping all the hills, twists and turns will help my time with the road race. On Tuesday’s I’ve been getting together with a few avid runners from work and last night we covered some major terrain. We ran until it was almost pitch black-covering about 7 miles. I’m still on a bit of a runner’s high from having so much fun.

    When I got home I was ready to make some tilapia for dinner¬†but Chris had forgotten to take it out of the freezer. He already had a frozen pizza ready to go and the oven preheated which I thought was too premeditated for him to have “forgotten” but¬†I gave in,¬†forced a salad on him and shared 2 pieces of his pizza for dinner.

    A hot shower and into bed I went! I’m not even sore today which is even better! ūüôā

    Bagged It!

    Last night I will admit that I “bagged” dinner. It’s pretty rare these days that I will take something frozen and heat it up for dinner but I couldn’t resist picking up some Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken. It’s really good for a frozen meal and I’d like to think that with a side of edamame beans, eating it every once in a while is OK. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare with rice and the beans just needed boiling. Not exactly my top post on “dining” but hey-it was Monday, I was tired and this was still so good.

    TJ’s Mandarin Orange Chicken

    I heated the chicken and the sauce up in our wok and boiled the beans for 5 minutes. I had some sesame seeds on hand so I added them to the mix. Easy Peasy! I had plenty of beans leftover so I decided to take them with me for a snack at work. These will come in handy this afternoon!

    I’m going to take extra precaution with what I eat today as well as drinking plenty of water. I have my weekly Tuesday night run with some people from work and the last thing I want is to look like a wimp. Generally the group will do a long 6 mile run at the park where the trails are anything but flat.

    I was feeling dessert last night….

    The seasons have officially clicked and therefore I have been craving some apple crisp. I love love¬†love this dessert. It might be my favorite. It’s easy to make and so satisfying. I tried out a new recipe but I have to say I like this one better.

    Warm Apple Crisp

    (Recipe from The Food Network)

    Ingredients:

    • 6 McIntosh apples, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 1/2 lemon, juiced
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
    • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup flour or fine graham cracker crumbs
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 stick butter
    • 1 pint vanilla ice cream

    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a 9 by 12 baking dish, combine apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. In a small bowl, mix flour or graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and butter together using the tines of a fork and your fingers, working until even, small crumbles form. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples and bake 15 to 20 minutes until apples are just tender and topping is golden brown. Top dishes of apple crisp with small scoops of vanilla ice cream. YUM!

    One last thing that was bagged last night was the Braves by the SF Giants! They now are progressing on to the NCLS where they will play the Phillies! Sorry to all my Georgia friends but GO SAN FRAN!!

    (photo source-SI.com)