Friday, July 30, 2010

Tofu and Egg Noodle Stir Fry

Last night, while I was doing laundry, giving Noodle a bath, cooking dinner and finishing my store video (which took WAY longer than I though it would... like WAY longer!) Honey got caught up here at La Pure Mama. He doesn't normally read it so when I say, 'did you see what I wrote about [insert meal here]... he he he'. I am usually greeted with a blank expression because he has no idea what I'm talking about.

When he was done he said 'I just read your blog... that last post? about the brussel sprouts? you're right, I AM trying to be famous.' Of course I responded with an 'oops' because I didn't think he would read it at all. Luckily for me that catapulted him in to help mode; he insisted (I mean, INSISTED) on taking all the pictures for this blog post. I said ok and then proceeded to TRY to micro manage the angles, lighting, etc.. He wasn't letting me near the camera; even when I tried to take it out of his hands.


So I finally said, 'ok, you do it all and I'll put on the blog that you took the pictures so if they're really bad it's your fault; of course, if they're really good (which they always are) that will also be your fault.' He laughed but I'm the one with the last laugh because I know he does a good job with pictures; always! And that means that now he will have to take pictures for me always! Ha! score one for me!

Anyway, this stir fry was really simple and didn't take a lot of time. I purposely did not stir fry the veggies for very long, as you will see. I wanted them basically raw but slightly warmed up. It was super delicious; I couldn't keep out of it so I proceeded to eat and eat and eat until I made myself sick. It was really good :)


Need:
1/2 package long egg noodles (like spaghetti or soba style... find them in the asian section)
1/4 cup tamari
1 Tablespoon agave nectar
4-5 small cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh chili paste
dash salt, grind pepper
1 cup matchstick carrots
1 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced thin (about 8-10)
2 cups sugar snap peas, de-ended and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 package baked tofu, sliced into strips
1/2 english cucumber, sliced thin
Cilantro leaves
3 green onions, chopped
Sesame seeds

Do:
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; add egg noodles and cook accordingly. Note: I let mine go so they were very al dente; I suggest doing the same. Add'l Note: if you want to cook the whole package, do it! They save well in the kitchen or you can double your veg and make a lot of left overs... it's really good cold!

In a shakeable container (mason/kerr jar, dressing shaker, etc...) combine the tamari, agave nectar, garlic, olive oil, chili paste and a dash of salt and 'grind' of pepper. Cover with the lid and shake it up; really give it a good long shake. Then set it down, but while you are doing the rest of the steps, continue to intermittenly give it a good shake.

Slice all your veg and set it aside. At the same time, grab a wok and turn it on medium heat. Note: a regular pan will work but a wok is so much easier for dishes like this.

When your noodles are done, strain and transfer to the hot wok. Add the contents of your jar that you have been shaking and use your tongs to incorporate.

Once well incorporated, add your tofu and all the veg all at once and stir to incorporate. Let cook, stirring constantly for only about 3-4 minutes at the most then turn off the wok. Note: the veg should be basically raw, just warmed up a bit. It gives great crunch, maintains their nutrients and makes the dish a killer leftover candidate.


Serve:
In a bowl or on a plate... start with some of the noodles; using your tongs pile them neatly on your plate. Then go through and gather the 'goods', making sure each plate has a good amount of tofu and all the veg.



Top with some sesame seeds, cilantro leaves, cucumber and green onion and you are ready to eat!


Enjoy!
Tofu

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Slap Yourself in the Face Spicy Brussel Sprouts

Ok, now I know pretty much everybody in the world hates brussel sprouts but I don't! I actually really like them... when they're cooked right, of course. I can completely understand despising the sweet little baby cabbages if you remember them being steamed to the point ot disentegration; we're talking like steamed for an hour. That could turn anyone off.


My mom, whom I learned everything from made some kick a brussel sprouts many many years ago using a pepper infused oil. She sauteed them with that and just a bit of salt and pepper until they got all crusty and brown. Then you take a bite and they were crispy and fresh with the bite of the oil... uh. I still have dreams about those brussels. But let's not get too carried away...

I have spent the better part of my adulthood obsessively trying to recreate those brussels that stole my heart so many years ago. Alright, I won't go overboard, I haven't stressed out about it that much. Probably because I can do it and they're good but they aren't the same. So in classic 'moi' fashion, I decided to make my own version of spicy brussels.

This one is spicy... if you're a spice pansy (no offense... my mom is a spice pansy), you may want to dial it down a notch. Us Northwestern Sheens (and at least one Cali one too) have buns of steel and lurve our spice so I went all out. It's also really simple so you can cook it up and add it as a fantastic side dish to your main.

Need:
14 brussel sprouts
dash olive oil
2 Tablespoons dried shallots
Salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh chili paste (for SPs, dial it down to 1 Tablespoon)
1 Tablespoon agave nectar

Do:

Wash your brussels, cut the butts of and slice in half lengthwise.

In a sautee pan, heat your dash of olive oil. You don't want too much because you want the brussels to get a little crusty.

Add your brussels and shallots to the pan. Stir to incorporate, dash with some salt and pepper and let cook about 5 minutes on med/high heat.

Add your chili paste and agave nectar. Stir again to get everything combined and let cook another 5-7 minutes.


When your brussels are barely soft yet a little crispy on the outside turn off the stove; you're ready to serve! Note: the barely soft thing is key! Over cooked brussels are at the top of my list of things I don't like; and I don't like very many things!

Serve:
Pile them on as a side dish to whatever you're serving and enjoy the spicy little sweeties! The shallots offer a little bit of crunch, similar to what bacon would do, I imagine and the brussels, perfectly cooked with the spice are just plain fun to eat!


See the silver beauty in the back? Remember that one? That was the green potatoes from the other day. I must be on a green kick... everything green is just so good!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Green Potatoes

I don't know, I was just in the mood for something really... 'homey' last night. Not like saggy pants or a bandana, just something comforting and filling to eat. Translation: something with a lot of carbs in it. My extended family's version of this is macaroni and cheese with fried potatoes. They love it! I can't go there but I totally understand the comfort food trigger.

So I was wandering the grocery store trying to think of how I could incorporate what I had at home with whatever I was going to buy. I was so uninspired that I actually thought I would pick up a magazine and randomly select a recipe. It was at that moment that I said to myself, 'self? twice baked potatoes!!'


Now, I am not normally a potato gal unless it comes in the form of a french fry of course. But for some reason a giant baker potato, twice baked sounded fun. Perhaps it is because I spent the weekend on Samish Island and to leave or arrive you have to pass through fields and fields of potatoes. It's like, potato central; the kind of place that makes you want to dream about potatoes and then, subsequently, eat potatoes. Hence, this post.

Of course, I can't do anything normally AND I wouldn't dare taint my sweet little potatoes with something as nasty as bacon so I tweaked it a bit and incorporated things I have at home which just so happen to be GREEN. We eat a lot of green things in our house. Plus if you didn't notice (which I'm sure you did) I changed my blog layout so I could also say that this meal is a celebration of the 'coming out' of my new green blog look :)

Here is my 'slightly more mature' but no less snarky or delicious version of a twice baked potato:

Need:
4 large-ish baker potatoes
5 garlic scapes, chopped
8 shitake mushrooms, chopped fine
2 heads broccoli, de-stemmed and cut into small florets
1 anaheim pepper
Truffle salt
pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small package chevre
4 green onions, chopped
Tofutti sour cream

Do:
Turn your oven on 400 and wrap your clean potatoes in tin foil. Put them in the oven and let them bake for about 45 minutes or until soft. Remove from the oven and then turn the oven down to 375.

While your potatoes are cooking, you have the perfect opportunity to chop all your veg and have a glass of wine!

(yes, I realize that I said I was having wine and here is a picture of a beer... it wasn't mine.
Honey just HAS to get into my pictures! I think it's his way of trying to be famous)

In a pan, heat some olive oil and sautee your scapes for about 3 minutes. Add the shitakes to your scapes, mix and let cook another 3 min. You may need to add a little more oil.

Once shitakes are soft, add the broccoli and anaheim pepper to the mix. Sprinkle with truffle salt and a little pepper, combine well and let cook for about 6-7 minutes.

At this point, turn off the heat, cover and let sit.

Back to your potatoes... open the tin foil and remove the potatoes. Be careful please; I went ahead and burned my hand just for you, so I would be able to honestly tell you how hot they are.


Carefully slice each potato in half length wise. Note: you want to salvage the skin, so go slow and be careful (that's what she said). Once in half, gently (GENTLY) scoop the meat out of the middle potato, leaving a good wall so they remain structurally sound. Put the meat in a bowl.

Put the potato shells back into the tin foil and fold down the edges so it makes a cute little tin foil boat. Put these boats on a cookie sheet, for easy transfer.

To your bowl of meat, add the contents of the sautee pan. With a potato masher, mash it so the potato meat breaks up and everything incorporates.

Add your chevre, in little pieces, to the whole mix and combine well. Add a little more truffle salt and pepper, stir again and begin your scoop...

Scoop the mix into each potato shell, start with a little and gently pack it down then add another layer etc... until you have a huge mounding potato. Note: you should be able to use all the filling.


Put the cookie sheet of loaded potatoes into the oven and let cook for another 10-15 minutes. Remove and you're done!


Serve:
You can either serve it in it's little silver tin foil boat or take it out... I'll leave that up to you! But do make sure to top with a little Tofutti sour cream and a lot of chopped green onions!

You can serve these as a side or as a main dish. I served them as a main dish with a side of slap yourself in the face spicy brussel sprouts. I also served them with a side of Master Chef, which premiered tonight. I watched to root on fellow blogger and extraordinary chef, Azmina at Lawyer Loves Lunch. I can't wait for next week!!


These potatoes are hearty and healthy, really flavorful and fun to look at because they are... green!

Enjoy!
Potato

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Curried Fig and Potato Salad

It is so hot outside! I have never felt more unmotivated to be in the kitchen. We don't have air conditioning which is ok normally. I mean, we live in the Northwest so it basically rains about ten months out of the year. Summer finally decided to show its face and it's showing it well. I am definitely not complaining about the sunshine but I do feel a little guilty that I don't want to be in the kitchen. At all. It's too nice!

So I came up with a little salad we served with some vegan 'dogs'. Tofutti is where my heartstrings lie. kielbasa, sun dried tomato, brat... delish. In fact, my dear friend Abby was at a recent beer tasting event and she mentioned something about cooking the sundried tomato 'dogs' in beer. I told her she'd have an automatic guest post so do it; now.. are you reading?. :)


This salad was simple and really bold in flavor. Honey wasn't too sure what to think of it because it doesn't 'look' like it tastes. But trust me... it's delicious and lovely on a hot summer day when the last thing you want to do is look at a stove or oven.

Need:
1 1/2-2 sweet potatos, cubed
6-8 figs, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped fine
1/4 cup shaved almonds
8-10 fresh basil leaves, julienned
For the dressing:
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon curry salt (or regular sea salt with a pinch of extra curry)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Do:
Peel and chop your sweet potato into small bites. Boil in a pot of salted water until JUST tender. Note: they cook really really fast so keep your eye on them and a fork to test nearby.

In a container with a lid, such as an old Kerr jar or jelly jar, combine all ingredients for dressing and shake really really well. While you are preparing the rest of the salad, pick up the jar and shake it every once in a while.

Chop your figs, celery, green onion and carrot and put it in a big bowl.

When your sweet potatoes are done, drain them from the hot water and blanch them in ice water to stop the cooking process. Note: if you want to make this a hot salad, simply skip the blanching step.

Add your sweet potatoes to the fig mix making sure to keep an eye on sweet potato ratio vs. other stuff. You want the sweet potatoes to be equal to the bulk of the other stuff, not more.

Give the mix a little toss, shake your dressing one more time and then add the dressing. Note: don't pour it all on at once... start with half and see how far that gets you. There is nothing I dislike more than an over dressed salad.

Julienne your basil and add it, along with the almonds to your salad. Give it a light toss; just enough to combine but not move all the nuts and basil to the bottom of the bowl.

Serve:
You can let this one sit in the refrigerator so it's a great make ahead salad. It is also lovely freshly prepared. Goes great with anything from tofurky to burgers to the other stuff...


Enjoy!
(and get out there and play in the sunshine!)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ooh! A Blog Award!

Hello insomnia, nice to see you again. It's been a while since we have had some time together and I have to say that this visit was quite productive. Normally I curse you; however today (tonight??) I have been incredibly productive...

New blog format? Check!
Picture editing? Check!
Catch up on reading all my favorite blogger's posts? Check!

Since the passing of my sweet puppy I have been seriously slacking on reading my favorite blogs so imagine my surprise when I popped over to Simply Healthy Family (one of my new favorite blogs) and saw that Gwen had passed on her Versatile Blogger award to a bunch of great blogs including little old La Pure Mama!


Thank you Gwen! I love reading your blog and I am so honored that you enjoy mine!

This is my first ever blog award so I'm following 'the rules' which Gwen ever so kindly listed for us newbies. You're supposed to 1. Thank the person who gave it to you 2. Share seven things about yourself and 3. Pass the award on.

Now, I have given a lot of thought to the seven things I should tell about myself... and I have come up with nothing! I'm going to do my best but bear with me; I'm really not that interesting :)

1. For some reason I just don't check my phone messages. Like, ever. People call and leave a message and I couldn't tell you why but I just don't check my voicemail. Honey keeps saying I should just leave a greeting that says 'if you really want to get a hold of me, text me.' He's probably right... I'm much better at responding to texts.

2. I have an unexplainable love for office supplies; paper, pens, scissors, tape, you name it. My mom always thought I should be a school teacher because I love paper so much.

3. I am going to Italy in October! The whole fam-damily is packing up for a two week trip to Italy and I am super excited to 'blog from afar' about all the wonderful things we will see/try. Truffles, here I come.

4. I graduated from Western with a degree in communication. I confess, at the time, I chose communication because it was the only major that didn't require statistics; turns out communication and I couldn't be a better match!

5. I am a paralegal by day. I work for my family's CPA firm doing estate planning, small business start-up, probate, etc... Some may think it is a boring field of law but I find the process quite interesting. I also juggle that job with being a mama to my sweet Noodle Nose.

6. I am a car pig. I don't want to be but unfortunately it is genetic and my mother has passed it to me. I am also afraid I have passed it on to Noodle; the things he 'needs' in the car are the reason it's so messy! Honey said he and Noodle were going to take it to be detailed for our anniversary, but he never made good. Lame.

7. I can't stand sneezing; hearing people sneeze OR doing it myself. It's like nails on a chalkboard. Ugh; just thinking about it gives me the chills. Unfortunately for me, my mother sneezes a lot and when she gets started, she can't stop. It's like torture :)

Ok, that was hard!! Now for the easy part: passing it on. In no particular order, these are some blogs that I adore for one reason or another:

Well, I do just love reading Gwen's blog at Simply Healthy Family, but I'm not sure if I'm allowed to 'give it back.' :)

Chef Dennis at More Than a Mount Full because he is always coming up with great recipes and he seems to be so genuine with the girls that he teaches. I think he would be one of those teachers that you never forget from school.

Lazaro at Lazaro Cooks! because he is super creative in the kitchen, his pictures are gorgeous, there are always great guest posts and he is a very conscientious blogger; appreciative of people's comments and complimentary himself.

Sarah at Baking Serendipity because her creations make my mouth water every time I read her blog. Plus, ever since I first started reading her blog I have been convinced that if we lived in the same town we would be friends. :)

Noelle at An Opera Singer in the Kitchen because she inspires me to eat 'raw' more often. Raw is something that has always been rather mysterious to me, but her blog de-mystifies it for me; plus it all looks so good I want to eat everything!

Thank you again to Gwen and thank you to the blogs I have passed it on to, for being inspirational in the kitchen and blogosphere :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Foodbuzz 24x24: Oil Done Right...


A How-To On Creating Your Very Own Flavored Oils
(oh, and a tasting too!)




This month's Foodbuzz 24x24 theme is 'gulf inspired'. Normally participants receive $250 to execute their meal; this time, instead of receiving $250, Foodbuzz is going to donate it to the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) to assist with the devastation that is affecting the gulf so terribly.
We spent Saturday out in the sun testing out our amateur mixology skills with a variety of ingredients, the base being olive oil, of course. The oil creating was laid out like this: there were four stations representing the four main areas affected by the oil spill. Each of those stations had their containers, mixing utencils and olive oil; from there they wandered through the plethera of ingredients that were provided, choosing ingredients that they wanted to use in an oil that would best 'fit' their state 'theme'.


Loosely, the state themes were:
Louisiana - Cajun
Mississippi - Barbecue
Alabama - Tomato... green or sundried
Florida -  Tropical

We started in the morning, so the oil would have time to infuse. Then when each 'state' was finished with their oil, they brainstormed what type of dipping aparatus they would like to have to go along. Originally I was going to have everyone make something but then I decided to let them choose whether or not they would make something or buy it.


So off we all set to either make our starch from scratch or go buy it... we made and bought and, ahem... went out for mimosas while our oil infused! Later that evening, we all came back and made a lovely 'spread' of everyone's oils and starches. Some teams decided to make more than one oil because they are over achievers who were so into it they just couldn't stop. Good job guys!

As we tasted each oil, we had the team member(s) describe what was in it, their inspiration/why they chose to do the oil(s) that they did, etc...

Louisiana
Sassy Spicy Cajun Infused Oil AND 'Sausage' Infused Oil

Sassy Spicy Cajun Infused Oil
Need:
1 clove garlic
1 small onion round
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper corns
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon smoky salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Do:
Combine everything but the extra virgin olive oil in a sealed container. Add olive oil, mix lightly and let sit for at least six hours. You can let this one infuse for a few days if you want the flavor really bold.

Serve:
Use for dipping, cooking or finishing a spicy meal. Would be great with fish or vegetables or used to finish pasta. Enjoy!

'Sausage' Infused Oil
Need:
1/8 teaspoon fennel
1/8 teaspoon sage
1/8 teaspoon rosemary
1/8 teaspoon marjoram
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
Pinch sea salt
1/4 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 to 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Do:
Combine all dry ingredients in a sealed container. Add olive oil, give it a light stir and seal. Let infuse for at least six hours before serving. This one can infuse for up to a week if you like.

Serve:
Dipping, cooking, finishing... it was quite flavorful and great with crostini. This would also be a great oil to use in a pizza dough or other bread recipe. It will have your 'eaters' saying... what IS that? In a good way, of course.

Mississippi
Smoky Spicy BBQ Infused Oil

Need:
1 Tablespoon smoky salt (salt infused with liquid smoke)
1 whole serrano pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Do:
Combine salt and serrano in a sealed container. Add extra virgin olive oil, seal and let sit for at least six hours. Again, you can let it go for a few days to make the flavor really bold.

Serve:
Dipping, cooking, finishing! It's spicy yet smoky so you can use it on items you will be grilling to deepen the smoky flavor.


Alabama
Roasted Tomatillo Infused Oil AND Spicy Jalapeno Infused Oil


Roasted Tomatillo Infused Oil
Need:
1 tomatillo, roasted (see below)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Do:
Clean your tomatillo and then roast it on the grill with the shell on. Continue turning the tomatillo so it doesn't get too 'roasted' on one side. When done (about 10-12 minutes) remove and let cool.

Put tomatillo in sealed container and add extra virgin olive oil. Let infuse for at least six hours before serving.

Serve:
Dipping, cooking finishing! This one is pretty light but would be great over veggies or rice.


Spicy Jalapeno Infused Oil
Need:
1 serrano pepper, whole
1 habanero pepper, whole
1 jalapeno (pref. red), whole
1/2 to 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Do:
Combine all peppers and oil in a sealed container. Cover and let infuse for at least six hours.

Serve:
This one is particularly good for dipping; especially with bread. It would be fun to try dipping a 'sweet' bread into it, to cut the spice. It is also great for cooking, especially for sauteeing brussel sprouts...mmmm

Florida
Orange Citrus Infused Oil AND Cuban Infused Oil


Orange Citrus Infused Oil
Need:
3-4 fresh orange peels
1-2 fresh lime peels
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Do:
Combine orange peels, lime peels and olive oil in a sealed container. Let infuse for at least six hours before serving.

Serve:
Dipping, cooking, finishing! This one is also great drizzled over a light pasta dish or even a yummy citrus dessert, such as a lemon bar.


Cuban Infused Oil
Need:
1/8 teaspoon clove
1/8 teaspoon dry ginger
1/8 teaspoon coriander
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon pequin chiles
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon peppercorns
1/8 teaspoon garlic
1/8 teaspoon fenugreek
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 to 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Do:
Combine all dry ingredients in a sealable container. Add olive oil, give it a light stir and let infuse for at least six hours. This one can also go up to a week if you choose.

Serve:
It's great for dipping or sauteeing vegetables. The spice and flavor lend really well to zucchini or even fried green tomatoes. It's a simple way to add flavor to whatever you are cooking.



In keeping with the 24x24 meal theme, I created a little booklet for everyone that had some information on the situation in the gulf, rescue efforts and additional resources they could easily find and pass on.

Originally I was going to have the oil recipes pre-decided and printed in the booklet; but then I thought it would be more fun to have each state team come up with their own so I provided little note cards for them to list their ingredients so each person could take one home along with their notebook.

While we tasted, socialized and discussed, we were also able to enjoy some delicious 'themed' beverages including sweet tea and mint juleps (recipes coming soon).


At the end of the day, it was a fun and educational event. Being Northwesterners, we are not affected by the tragic oil spill in the gulf; however that doesn't mean that we should not be educated and I am the first to admit that I did not know much more than generalities coming into this project. Making the booklet and sharing what I learned with my friends and family was a huge eye opener to me and them. I encourage everyone to do a little research and become educated on what is happening down there.


Foodbuzz, thank you again, for the opportunity to be a part of this event!



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