November 3, 2009

Roasted Mini Tomato Pasta in Photos

Posted in Pasta: salad-like tagged , , , at 2:48 pm by jenniec00ks

grapetompasta 020This pasta recipe is SIMPLE and is great for many reasons aside it’s wonderful flavors.  It’s very low maintenance (in contrast to the orzotto I made at the same time!)  Tastes great hot or cold, keeps well for lunch the next day, and doubles easily for groups.

*As for the quantities listed of basil and garlic, plus or minus a bit won’t hurt. Adjust to your liking, I grabbed what was in the fridge.

Serves 3.

1 pint of mini tomatoes (grape, cherry, whatever)
~8 fresh basil leaves* see note above
~8 garlic cloves* see note above
8 oz short pasta (1/2 box, I used shells)
1/2 bag of baby spinach (~3 oz, but it could have used more)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (I really used a parm/romano blend)

1. Crack the garlic cloves but don’t remove the casing. You can do this by laying it on a counter and pushing it down with your palm, or laying a knife across it and hitting the knife (carefully) with your fist as if you WERE trying to remove it from the case.

2. Foil down a baking sheet (preferably with sides so that the tomatoes can’t roll off) and start the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Spread out the mini tomatoes (I used grape, 12 oz for $2 on sale) and the cracked garlic on the foiled pan. Drizzle them with the 2 tbsp (estimate!) of olive oil, salt, and pepper to your taste. Give ’em a little toss with a spoon to make sure everything’s covered.

grapetompasta 0014. Pop them in the oven for ~18 minutes, the tomatoes will burst in the oven so don’t be alarmed.  Also get a pot of water boiling about now for the pasta, as it has to come to a boil and takes ~7-10 minutes to cook depending on the kind you choose.  Cook the pasta al dente, but reserve a  half cup of the starchy water.

5. After you pull the pan out, use tongs to squeeze the garlic out of the paper into a bowl.  Then take a fork to them and mash them as best you can.

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6. Add a ladle (1/2 cup) of pasta water to the garlic.

grapetompasta 0117. Then toss the roasted tomatoes in with all the wonderful oil and juices from the pan. Not all of mine are wrinkley and burst because I pulled them out too early (~15 mins, so I recommend about 18 mins).

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8. Take a fork again and mash up the tomatoes as best as possible, doesn’t have to be perfect, the whole dish has a slightly rustic feel to it.

grapetompasta 014grapetompasta 0189. Throw the cooked pasta and the baby spinach in and give it a toss to let the heat of the pasta wilt the baby spinach.  Then tear up the basil leaves (no knife necessary) and add to the mix.  The picture to the left is obviously missing the greenery in it.

10. Top with the shredded hard cheese – I used a Parmesan/Romano mix because it was cheaper at the grocery store and I think it gives a good punch of flavor.


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YUMMMMM & healthy too!


October 12, 2009

Mushroom Spinach Lasagna

Posted in Pasta: baked tagged , , , , at 10:26 pm by jenniec00ks

food 005Finally!  The weather in Atlanta is super chilly and I need to use my heater, aka my oven!  So I made this super easy 9″x9″ lasagna that makes ~3 large portions.  It’s currently meat-less because I didn’t have any cooked chicken on hand this week.  I think it would easily feed 4-5 if some shredded chicken meat was added (just buy a rotisserie from the store, shred ~2 cups your favorite parts, I like a combination of white/dark meat.)

This is similar to my garlic alfredo recipe from a while back, but even easier, if you can imagine.  In a nutshell, this is mushrooms, frozen spinach, milk, cheese, and pasta.  But here’s a more exact recipe for those who don’t have much luck tossing arbitrary amounts of food in a pot 😉


2.5 cups of milk
12 oz. mushrooms, white or cremini, washed & sliced
1 cup of your favorite white cheese shredded (parm, romano, asagio, mozz)
1 box frozen spinach
6 lasagna noodles, I used the wider (~4.5 inches) no-boil kind.  If you only have the traditional kind, go ahead and boil 6-7 according to the time on the box.
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter, your choice.  I used 1 tbsp of each.
2 tbsp all-purpose white flour
Salt, pepper, nutmeg

1. Cook the spinach in the microwave per the box instructions.  Drain as best you can. Doesn’t have to be bone dry, no worries.

2. Mince the garlic and set aside to have ready.

3. Start heating your choice of fat (olive oil/butter) over medium heat in a saucepan (pot).

4. While your pot is warming up, slice up the mushrooms.  Drop them in after you’ve chopped a few so that they don’t have the chance to turn pink.

5. After all the mushrooms are in, toss the garlic in on top.  Cook for 6-7 minutes, until the mushrooms are softened and there’s quite a bit of liquid in the pot.

6. Add 2 heaping tablespoons of flour to the pot and stir.  It should absorb all of the liquid in the bottom of the pot and make the mushrooms sort of sticky.  Add a dash more if necessary.

7. Turn the heat up to medium high, and pour in the 2.5 cups of milk while stirring gently.

8. Stir until it boils, then turn the heat back down to medium and let simmer until it thickens a bit.  During all this stirring, season with a tsp of salt, pepper to taste, and dash of nutmeg.  Be careful, nutmeg can be overpowering.

9. Add 3/4 cups of cheese to the sauce and turn the heat off once it melts.

10. Put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of 9″x9″ pan, then 2 lasagna noodles.  If you have the narrower kind that you have to boil first, then you’ll probably need to tear them up to fit 2 in one layer.

11. Add a layer of sauce, then noodles, and repeat 2 more times.

12. Sprinkle the last 1/4 cup of shredded cheese on the top.

13. Bake in a preheated 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 35 minutes or until bubbly and brown.

Y’all enjoyyyyyyy!  ❤ Jennie

August 25, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce in Photos

Posted in Pasta: stovetop tagged , , at 8:53 pm by jenniec00ks

This recipe requires a few simple ingredients but yields a sweet sauce full of depth and flavor.  It’s roots are based from Rachael Ray’s Gemelli with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.  However, it does require a food processor in order to get the full incorporation of the bell peppers.  If you don’t have one, chop the bell peppers as finely as you can and try this recipe out anyway.

This serves 2-3 people, and for those who must have their meat – try pairing it with the spicy shrimp recipe to come!

2 fresh red peppers (see below for details/jar substitutions)
1/2 lb. of any kind of pasta you like, Rachael Ray uses spirals, I anything lying around
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 shallots
14.5 oz. crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine or chicken/vegetable broth

PS, click any picture for a larger view!

roastedredpepper 005I’m starting with 2 fresh red bell peppers that have been blistered under a broiler, peeled, and sliced which you can replicate for special occasions.  The whole process only takes maybe 10 minutes plus cooling time.  On the weeknights that you’re pressed for time, go ahead and start with some roasted red bell peppers in a jar.  I believe they’re usually packed in water with some preservatives, so you might want to give them a rinse before you start.  And if you’re using the jarred kind, I’d estimate about a cup sliced and 1/2 cup after it’s been pureed (8 oz? if anyone tries this, please report back!)

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We’re starting off high powered with the food processor to finely chop these bell peppers.  Use the pulse option – the roasted peppers will have a lot of water in them and we don’t want to make soup.  No more than 5 pulses should do the trick.

If you only have a blender (which is a staple in many college kitchens for frozen drinks, e.g. smoothies of course), you can add some chicken (or vegetable) broth or white wine to help it blend (no more than a 1/2 cup, less if possible, you can always add in but you can’t take liquid out.)  If you don’t have either a blender or a food processor, guess you’ll be working on your knife skills!

roastedredpepper 009roastedredpepper 010Speaking of knife skills, chop up a couple shallots and a couple cloves of garlic (more or less to your taste, I went a bit heavy on the shallots).  And before you tell me I can’t count, there were 2 smaller shallots inside each of the paper casing.  Heat up a tablespoon of oil on medium heat in a skillet/saucepan.  The skillet I used was clearly a bit large for this application.  Oops.

Anyway, after everything is chopped, toss it in the pre-heated pan and saute for ~2-3 minutes.  Then add the roasted red peppers and give it a stir.  If you had to add the liquid earlier (wine/veg broth/chkn broth) then let this simmer for ~4-5 minutes to concentrate the flavor.  If not, then saute the red pepper mixture (bottom right) for 2-3 minutes.  Right about now it should be smelling fantabulous in your kitchen.

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If you still haven’t added the liquid of your choice (wine/veg broth/chkn broth) it’s time do it now and let the liquid reduce for 2-3 minutes.

roastedredpepper 013We’re definitely going for flavor than to let the wine/broth water down the sauce.  The crushed tomatoes will provide plenty of liquid to create the sauce.  Speaking of which, time for the tomatoes to come to the party.

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Et voila! Dress up any pasta with this fantastic sauce!

August 13, 2009

Turkey and/or Veggie Lasagna in Photos

Posted in Pasta: baked tagged , , , , , at 9:09 pm by jenniec00ks

lasagna 047Phew.  I am blogging my butt off, and I have a BAJILLION pictures of this recipe.  So might as well take advantage of it, this will be a follow the pictures kind of recipe.  I did a turkey AND veggie lasagna, so my 9″x9″ dish was filled to the brim.  I was originally going to do 2 smaller lasagnas, but then I realized I cooked the turkey before the veggies, and therefore contaminated the pot and decided to throw it all together.


9 x 9 inch glass dish (9×13 would prob work, may need a lil more sauce)
1 box lasagna noodles (9-12, bake/no bake, up to you)
1/2 lb turkey
1 bell pepper (any color will do)
6-7 large mushrooms quartered, ~8 oz.
S&P to taste
5 cloves garlic
3/4 jar (~20 oz) of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup diced onion (or whatever you have around)
1 small container ricotta (15 oz? sorry it’s been a while)
1 large egg
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese or Italian white cheese blend*

* Don’t get the 2% or fat-free cheese, it just WON’T MELT!!  >O

Brown the turkey.

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For the vegetarians, cut the bell pepper (click for a link to my new basics posts to keep recipes shorter) and mushrooms into large chunks & dice the onion.

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Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan and toss the bell peppers in for a minute or two to give them a head start.  Then toss the mushrooms in and saute them for 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms are soft.

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With that extra room on the cutting board, finely dice the 5 cloves of garlic and add them to the pot.  Just as a refresher since I haven’t posted a garlic mincing basic – pull the cloves apart and lay them on your board.  Lay the knife flat on top of each and give the knife (not the blade side) a good whack with your fist.  Then you should be able to pull the paper right off.

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(Click the photos for a larger image.)

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Add it to the pot and give it a stir for a 1-2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant.  Then add about 2 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce (3/4 of a 24 oz. jar), sorry this amount isn’t more precise.  Also stir in the onions and cover the pan so the sauce can simmer and soften the onions.

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Time to boil the noodles and drain them according to the package.  Or you can skip this step by buying those no-bake ones – so long as you’ve got enough sauce, the no-bake ones are great because they save time, energy AND a pot while not missing any flavor.

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Last step is to beat the egg and ricotta together in a bowl – you can throw in any grated parmesean cheese for extra flavor if you’ve got it around.  Make sure this layer is mixed well!

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Finally, the layering.  Well, better get your oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit right about now.  We’re going to do pasta, ricotta, sauce, shredded cheese.  But we’re actually going to start with an exception, and put an extra layer of sauce on the bottom.  Some say to do it to prevent sticking, but it’s pretty much required if you’re using the no-bake noodles.  If you’ve got boiled noodles, I think it’s optional.

lasagna 033 Sauce at the bottom, still piping hot!

lasagna 034Noodle layer and half of the ricotta/egg mixture.  Don’t need to spread it all that evenly, it will melt in the oven and make a nice layer.

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Sauce, again.  I had veggies + meat in the sauce, but you might want just one or the other.lasagna 037Shredded cheese!

Then we do it again, but use up all the ricotta you’ve got left.

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Then the final layer of pasta, sauce, and shredded cheese for the topping:

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Pop this heavy sucker into the oven for ~45 minutes (uncovered!) or until the cheese is golden brown.  I put it on a foiled sheet pan in case anything boiled over, it didn’t mess up the oven.

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w00t! Golden brown! Time to eat!

August 12, 2009

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies in Photos

Posted in Dessert tagged , at 10:35 pm by jenniec00ks

So as I’m on a baking kick, here are my all-time go-to cookies!  They’re super simple, and I originally found them from food network but usually make a half batch and cut back the vanilla a touch, I find they turn out much better.  Tthis is the full recipe by the way, it makes a TON (I’d approximate over 2 dozen hefty cookies…but you’ll see)

2 sticks butter (1 cup), softened a bit (let them sit @ room temp for a bit).
3/4 cup white & brown sugar (each)
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt, cinnamon, baking soda
2 cups oatmeal
1 tsp water, vanilla extract
1 cup raisins, gold or black, whatever floats your boat.

***Alternatively, you can go with 3/4 cup raisins and 1/2 cup of walnut pieces. I personally enjoy a walnut-raisin combination much more.  If you’ve only got whole/half walnuts, put ’em in a bag and whack ’em with something tough – a rolling pin, cookbook, meat tenderizer, whatever you’ve got around.

Use an electric mixer (on low) on both the sugars and slightly softened butter until they become one big pile of paste.  This procedure is called ‘creaming’ the butter and sugar together.

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Before - butter & sugars

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After - a nice creamy looking paste

Don’t toss those beaters from the electric mixer yet!  Add in the 2 eggs and beat it a little more, just ’til it’s incorporated.  Then you can ditch the electric mixer and use a spatula to stir in everything else EXCEPT the raisins, water, and vanilla (that’d be the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda & oatmeal).  The oatmeal and flour will really dry up the mix, so make sure you keep stirring until everythings incorporated.  It might take some muscle, but I’m sure you can do it!

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Finally, add the rest of the ingredients: the raisins (walnuts if you’re going that way), water, and vanilla.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit while you drop spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet – doesn’t need to be greased, these things are loaded with enough butter they won’t stick.  Bake the cookies anywhere from 10-15 minutes until your home smells good and the cookies are a touch brown on the edges.  =)oatmealraisincookies 004

Well…drop spoonfuls if you want traditional single serving cookies.  I am lazy sometimes, so I dump the whole batch onto a sheet pan and spread it out with a silicone spatula.  Then I either cut it afterwards into squares or cut it into a cute shape (like my favorite mushroom shaped character, see below!)

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PS, you can use margarine if you want.  Yes, it probably has trace amounts of trans fats from partially hydrogenated oil.  But it’s probably less than half the price of real butter.  Take your pick, as they say in designing embedded systems, everything’s a tradeoff.

Red Velvet Cupcakes in Photos

Posted in Dessert tagged , , at 8:54 pm by jenniec00ks

Hey y’all. So I’ve been relocated to Atlanta, Georgia and it’s different. Anyway, I’ve got a few days before school starts so I’m going to try to catch-up on my blogging! As requested, red velvet cupcakes are up first. I brought some of these to work, and one co-worker exclaimed “it’s like a heaven in my mouth” and another exclaimed “it’s an all-day sugar rush,” so let me assure you, these things are SWEET.

So there are these books that I enjoy when I have a quick cake/cupcake to make, they’re called “The Cake Doctor.” The concept is simple, start with a box cake and add a few special things to make them decedent.  I got the red velvet cupcake recipe from Cupcakes: From the Cake Doctor – originally posted here.  This makes 24 regular cupcakes, so you’ll need a muffin pan (or 2) and those paper liners.  I only had a muffin pan that would hold 12 cupcakes, so I used these stand alone heart-shaped foil ones I had.  I believe they were discontinued by Reynolds.   Anyway, without further ado:

1 package (18.25 oz) plain German chocolate cake mix
1 package (3.4 oz) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup low-fat sour cream (I found an 8 oz container)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Red food coloring*
3 large eggs
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

*The original recipe calls for 1 whole bottle (1 oz.) but I found this was way too much.  I think .5-.75 ounces should be just fine for a dark red.  Also be careful, this red stuff is a pain to clean up; so if you don’t want to hassle, skip the red.

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Here’s a simple grouping of the ingredients, piled together.  Lump everything into the bowl except for the chocolate chips and blend w/ an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds so nothing goes flying onto your counter/floor.  Scrape down the sides so you get it all and mix some more on medium-high for 2 minutes.  The batter will be pretty thick – mine is bright red since I used 1 whole oz.

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After it’s all nicely mixed, fold in the cup of chocolate chips with a spatula.  If you’re not into the super sweet, I don’t think it would hurt to cut this back by a bit too.

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By the way, by fold, I mean gently stir.  Pull your spatula down the middle and run it in a semi-circle along one side of the bowl – I drew some skimpy blue arrows on the picture in paint to give you a better idea.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Farhenheit while you load up the cupcake liners.

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Then pop ’em in for about 20 minutes.  They’ll look darker and cracked, something like this when they’re done:

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As you can see, I overfilled my heart ones a bit.  They got a little sloppy.  Meh.  I ❤ you anyway.  The cake doctor recommends a white chocolate peppermint cream cheese frosting, which sounds equally decadent, however, it is far more complicated than I wished for at midnight on a weeknight.  So I went with just a bit of pre-made cream cheese frosting, but a very very slim layer.  They didn’t need much, if any at all.  I had one for breakfast, with lunch, and after dinner.  I hope you ❤ them as much as I did.


June 19, 2009

Garlic Spinach Alfredo

Posted in Pasta: stovetop tagged , , at 12:14 am by jenniec00ks

salmonalfredo 001


So I forgot to take pictures while I was cooking again – but here’s the quick and dirty of what I made for dinner tonight:

Makes ~3 servings (Vegetarian suggestions/changes at the end!)

7 large garlic cloves
1/2 stick of butter (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup of flour
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 box of frozen spinach (10 oz.)
Dash of nutmeg, S&P
1/4 cup of mozzarella or Italian blend shredded cheese (optional)
1 package of smoked salmon (4 oz. – taste for saltiness first!  You’ll be surprised)
8 oz. long pasta (spaghetti was good)

1. Get the pasta on to boil for however long the box says (I did al dente spaghetti for 10 minutes).  Drain well when ready.

1.5.  Pop the frozen spinach in the microwave and cook according to the box.  Something like 5 minutes on high sounds about right.  Squeeze and drain off as much water out as possible with a fork.

2. Melt the butter on medium-low heat.  I used my typical 10″ saucepan thingie.

3. While the butter is melting, finely chop the garlic.

4. Once the butter is melted, add the garlic.  Cook for about 5-6 minutes, until the garlic is very fragrant.

5. Add the 1/4 cup of flour to the saucepan and stir.  You’re making a roux and it should be very clumpy and pasty looking.  No worries, we’ll smooth it out soon.

6.  Pour the milk slowly into the pan (over about 30 seconds time window), stirring as you go.  Try to mash up the roux pieces as you pour.

7.  Stir the alfredo sauce constantly, making sure the roux is completely dissolved (the chunks left will be garlic of course).

8. Add the dash of ground nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.

9. Add the cheese if you desire, and stir.  This should thicken up the sauce considerably.  Turn the heat off after the sauce coats the back of the spoon (i.e. dip the spoon in, run your CLEAN finger on the back, the sauce should not encroach over the area where you just ran your finger).

10.  Add the drained spinach, drained pasta, and smoked salmon pieces to the alfredo sauce.  Toss and serve!


Just a few notes, if your sauce turns green, then you just didn’t drain the spinach very well.  No big deal, try again next time.  It won’t damage the taste at all.  Secondly – WATCH your sauce once you get the milk in.  After about 3 minutes it should start to thicken up, and once it begins to thicken, it will get very dense, very fast.  Get it off the heat if it looks like your sauce is turning to solid.

For my vegetarian buddies, omit the smoked salmon, and cook 8oz of quartered white button mushrooms (or creminis for an extra punch of flavor!) before you start step 2 (the butter).  The mushrooms will give off some water and darken your alfredo sauce, so you want to cook them separately and add them in at the end in place of the smoked salmon.  salmonalfredo 002

May 27, 2009

Chili Pasta in Photos

Posted in Pasta: stovetop tagged , , , at 8:47 pm by jenniec00ks

chilipasta 008So this past Memorial Day weekend I was at home with some big appetites to feed.  This recipe will feed 4-6 people.  The picture on the left was taken after 2-3 helpings were gone.  Most all of my other recipes are really designed for 2 servings (I eat one for dinner and bring the other to work the next day).  While this recipe can be enjoyed piping hot, it also tastes great at room temperature; and can easily be made in proportions to feed an army.

My mom found the original recipe in a Cooking Light magazine, but here’s how I made it.

ChiliPasta 001


1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 box of wagon wheel pasta
8 oz. can of tomato sauce
14.5 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes (they’re becoming more common these days)
1 cup chopped onion (1 medium white)
1 can of pinto beans (~14 oz?)
2 cups water
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp chili powder*
1 tsp ground cumin*
1 tsp dried oregano*

* Don’t forget – if you don’t keep these spices on hand, try to find bulk bins that seem to be growing more popular at local grocery stores. I get mine from HEB, Sprouts, or Central Market.

For this recipe, you’re going to want to use a saucepan that you have a cover for.  If none of your pans have a cover, you can use a large piece of foil if you must.

ChiliPasta 002Add a teaspoon of oil over medium heat and add the onions, garlic, and ground turkey.  I really like the taste and lack of fat in ground turkey – but if you must use ground beef that’s any less than 96% lean, you probably don’t need the oil to begin.  And you probably should drain the fat after this step.

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Anyway, season this mixture with salt and pepper to taste if you’d like.  Cook until the turkey is fully cooked (see above).  Then add the oregano, chili powder, cumin, fire roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, and the pinto beans.  Give this a stir for ~1 minute.

ChiliPasta 004Then add the 2 cups of water and 1/2 the box of pasta.  Let this come to a simmer, cover the pan, and turn the heat down to low (enough to keep a simmer though).  Let this bubble for about 18 minutes or until the pasta is soft.

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Dish into bowls and top with your favorite cheese – I had a cheddar and monterey jack blend on hand and it blended well with the flavors.  As a side note, you can double the chili powder portion to 4 teaspoons of chili powder if you like it spicy.

Bon appetit!

Bon appetit!

May 26, 2009

Simple Chunky Guacamole inspired by Ellie Krieger

Posted in Appetizers tagged , at 10:53 pm by jenniec00ks

rocketsfood 006So back when the Houston Rockets were in the NBA playoffs, I promised my best buddy that I’d watch the game with him and make some “game” food to go with our beer (Shiner Blonde and New Belgium Sunshine Wheat). I tried a chunky guacamole in a restaurant recently and decided I liked it a lot better than a smooth creamy one. Here’s Ellie Krieger’s recipe which inspired me, but I adjusted the amount of ingredients to suit my tastes.  I also didn’t take pix the whole way through, but here’s the recipe.

So 2 big things about working with avocados – one is to work quickly and get some acid (lime or lemon juice) on them so that they don’t brown.  The second is that when you store guac or avocados, push the plastic wrap flat on the surface of the guacamole so that minimal air (oxygen is really what we’re concerned about) gets in.  Following these two steps allowed me to keep the guacamole fresh tasting for 2 full days!

3 small hass avocados – a little over a cup diced rather small – about 1/2″ pieces.

1/4 cup of red onion, finely diced

2 tablespoons of lime juice

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl just until their combined.  You can mash it together with a fork if you’re not as keen on the chunkiness as I am.  I served it with Tostitos Scoops.  I’d say this makes enough for about 3-4 people to snack on, triple or quadruple it for parties.

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Let me know what you think – I know there are many people who do guacamole *their* way that have a lot more ingredients than this.  I really like the clean taste of this recipe, but I also haven’t tried too many others.

Tofu & Broccoli in Photos

Posted in Asian Inspired tagged , , at 10:20 pm by jenniec00ks

Tofu is what's for dinner!

Tofu is what's for dinner!

So lately, I became very interested in tofu recently since it had a lot of protein for not a lot of money.  It also makes for a quick weeknight recipe because you can buy the tofu in advance (a few days) and it doesn’t take any time to thaw (since you keep it in the fridge).

Here’s what you’ll need for two dinner helpings:

1/2 white or yellow onion
1 small broccoli crown
1/2 package of tofu (~6oz?)
~1 cup of white long grain rice (I use a bit less)
2 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of oyster sauce
Water & canola (or vegetable) oil (but I assume you always have these)

So if you’ve got a rice cooker, rinse/wash the rice with water (twice should do it), toss the rice and 2x the amount of water in the pot, and let her rip until it’s done.  My rice cooker broke a little while back and I haven’t bothered to replace it.  So I wash the rice, put the rice and 2x the amount of water in a pot, cover it and let it come to a boil on high heat.  As soon as it comes to a boil it’ll make starchy bubbles up to the lid; then I know it’s time to turn the heat down to low and let it simmer (covered) until the water is pretty much gone – I find it’s about 10-13 minutes after it comes to a boil.  It’s kind of like putting pasta on to boil, I start it before the meat/veggie part of the dish and hopefully it’s ready when I’m done.  Also, I use a nonstick pot for easily cleanup.

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First, we’re going to marinate the tofu in little pieces (~1/2″ cubes) in the 2 tablespoons of soy sauce in a shallow bowl. I am using extra-firm tofu so that it holds it’s shape in the frying pan; but the extra-firm tofu is still easy enough to cut with a butter knife. I make a few slices in each direction (think x, y, and z planes) to wind up with 1/2″ cubes (see below).

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Toss the tofu around in the soy sauce.  I used a mixture of a light soy sauce and a dark mushroom soy sauce.  Let it marinate on the side for a few minutes while you chop and cook the broccoli and onions.  When cutting up a broccoli crown, I like to cut where the florets naturally stem off.  I rotate the crown and just cut where ever I see an opening – it goes something like this:

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As you can see, the earliest cut florets cut are the largest, so I trim them up a bit to match the smaller cuts of broccoli (like the ones on the bottom of the cutting board).  Then I chopped up the onion in rather rough, large dice (cut it however you like, really).

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Time to toss everything together in a hot wok/frying pan – medium-high heat with about a tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil.  Really any oil that can take high heat will do, even an extra light olive oil.

tofubroccoli 031Onions and broccoli need to go in first after the oil is heated.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Keep them moving around the hot pan (so nothing burns) until the broccoli is fork tender, about 10 minutes.  Then it’s time to add the tofu.  After the tofu’s been tossed around for about 3 minutes, I like to add some extra flavor by pouring in a tbsp of oyster sauce and a splash of water (1/4 cup?).  I stir that in for the next 3-4 minutes, then pull everything off the heat.  I like to transfer the food into a bowl so that it doesn’t keep cooking too much in the hot pan.

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Getting the tofu in

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1 tbsp oyster sauce + splash of water



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