Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

Spinach Omelet

August 14, 2014 Leave a comment

Tonight I tried my hand at making a healthy and tasty recipe. Thanks to getting the calorie counts was a snap. We gobbled it up too fast to get pictures!


1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 roma tomato, diced
4 egg whites
2 eggs
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp grated parmigiana cheese
1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
pepper to taste

In a large non-stick skillet, sauté onions on low heat until they start to turn transparent. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Transfer onions and spinach to a separate bowl and add tomatoes.

In a bowl, mix egg whites, eggs, salt, water and parmigiana, Pour into skillet and cook covered over low heat until eggs begin to firm up. Sprinkle mozzarella on top of eggs and then spread spinach mixture on top. When eggs are mostly set, fold or scramble omelet. Cook to desired doneness; I like the outside to be lightly browned.

Yields: 2 servings, 390 calories each. Serve with toasted Italian bread (60 calories each).

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The Brave Little Toast

June 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Toast has probably been around for as long as there were people well-fed enough to let bread get stale, and other people hungry enough to want to find a palatable way to eat it. Toasted bread also holds together better than the fresher, fluffier stuff, making it good for transporting soups and dips from bowl to mouth. So it’s not surprising that over time it’s appeared in many popular forms:
Read more…

Categories: Essays, Recipes Tags: , ,

Pressure Cooking

February 14, 2010 2 comments

I’m pretty comfortable in the kitchen, but occasionally I manage to forget that (1) I have three hungry kids waiting for me at home and (2) I haven’t gone shopping lately, which tends to make me anxious about preparing dinner. Ordering pizza is always an option but, in the interest of inflicting a death of a thousand cuts upon the debt monster, I prefer to reserve pizza and take-out for special occasions or emergencies.

It was on one of these brain-addled evenings that I was checking the larder when I got home. There are certain ingredients I try to keep on hand at all times for such situations; one of these is broccoli, which holds the honor of being the healthiest food that is also enjoyed by every member of my household.

A few other staples I had were eggs, milk, cheese and frozen pie shells — I know that pie crust isn’t that difficult but I have a hard time tolerating the mess — making broccoli quiche another option. But that would have taken about an hour and a half to prepare, bake and cool, and I don’t like pushing the evening routines too late, both for my kids’ sakes and mine.

Digging deeper, I found a few boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese — actually the Wegmans equivalent — but it’s one of the foods the kids can prepare by themselves when I can’t get home in time. Besides, it’s not a comfort food I grew up with — macaroni were made either with sauce or garlic and oil, never powdered neon-colored cheese — so I’d prefer to declare a pizza emergency than go the box-dinner route.

Fortunately there were also a few cakes of extra-firm tofu in the fridge and several packets of ramen noodles in the pantry, meaning I could make another family favorite: tofu and broccoli stir fry with ramen. I tend to avoid this dish on weeknights because I usually get too OCD about the preparation to do it quickly. But on this evening, I was pretty motivated and managed to throw it together efficiently (though accidentally leaving out the garlic) with a minimum of mess, stress and grumbling. In the end, there was good food that everyone liked, ready at a reasonable hour, without spending lots of extra money.

Tofu Broccoli Stir Fry

3 broccoli crowns
1 red or green bell pepper
1 medium onion
1 pound extra-firm tofu
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
5 packages any flavor ramen noodles (throw away the flavor packets unless you have kids, in which case put one packet at each place at the table)
.25 mg Xanax (optional)

juice of 1/2 medium lemon
3/4 cup soy sauce
2 cubic inches fresh ginger, grated
1 medium clove garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons honey

If you opt for the Xanax, take it first with a tall glass of water. This will help keep things under control later on when you have to clean up the mess, set the table, and serve the food before the noodles get gummy and the vegetables get limp.

Mix the marinade ingredients together with a whisk or fork.

Drain tofu and cut into cubes about a half inch on each side. I try to keep the entire block intact when I cut it so I can put it back into the plastic package it comes in, and then pour the marinade over it. If this is too anal-retentive for you, just toss the tofu and the marinade into a plastic ziploc bag and shake it up.

Cut broccoli into florets and stem chunks. Florets should be no larger than about an inch across, stem pieces roughly 1/2 inch cubes. Steam until bright green and still firm but not crunchy. You should be able to pierce it with a fork, but with significant resistance.

Slice the onion and pepper into strips about 1/2 inch by 2 inches. You can also use carrots, celery, bok choy, pretty much any firm vegetable, just cut the pieces about the same size. Or you can leave these out entirely and just use more broccoli, it’s up to you. Put the veggies aside. You’re done with the prep, so rinse the cutting board so you don’t get food chunks running around the dishwasher. And make sure you scrape the inside of the garlic press because you know how icky it is to empty the dishwasher and find soggy washed garlic inside the press.

Put up a big pot of water for cooking the ramen. By the time it boils, you should have the stir fry part done.

Heat oil in large frying pan or wok. Drain off marinade into a bowl, and mix in the cornstarch. Pat the tofu dry with a paper towel to avoid splattering oil when you drop the tofu into it.

Stir fry tofu for a few minutes until it starts to brown a little — you’ll need the heat pretty high or else you’ll just be sauteeing it. Add the cut up veggies and continue to stir fry until the onions start to get translucent. Add broccoli, lower heat to simmer. Add the marinade, stir and cover.

Serve with ramen. It’s good with rice too, but then you should make sure you start the rice before steaming the broccoli or else you’ll end up with soggy vegetables and nobody likes soggy stir fry. You’d end up throwing the whole thing out and ordering pizza after all.

Categories: Essays, Recipes Tags: , , , , ,

When life hands you bananas…

January 24, 2010 11 comments

I like bananas, but only when they’re yellow. If I eat one when there’s any green to it at all, I know I’ll be punished for my impatience by a hard and bitter fruit. On the other hand, ripe bananas have something in them that tickles my throat — when I was a kid, they used to make me cough — so I probably have a mild food allergy. Still, they’re a very healthy, inexpensive and versatile fruit so I usually like having them around. But being a cheapskate I hate having to throw away the brown ones which have passed their window of attractiveness, which is why I’ve always been a big fan of banana bread.

I always thought of banana bread, and its cousins carrot cake and zucchini bread, as the “stone soups” of quick breads. I mean, looking at most of these recipes, each of these would probably taste just fine without their eponymous ingredient.

Some years ago when I was a UU youth advisor, I was looking for a snack to bring to a overnight event and saw all these brown bananas in the kitchen. Knowing that there were vegans in the group who generally chose to abstain from most baked goods — all of my own baking included milk and eggs — I wondered if I might be able to find something in one of my hippie cookbooks (I’ve flirted with vegetarianism and veganism for years, but haven’t managed to work up the discipline, leaving me a hardly worth mentioning lacto-ovo-pescatarian).

My hippie cookbooks failed me, and there was no internet yet to speak of, so I was forced to improvise. Amazingly, I found this vegan chocolate cake recipe in — of all places — the Betty Crocker cookbook that had been left behind by an old roommate who probably used it mainly for its instructions for cooking meats and potatoes. Anyway, it turns out this recipe uses the science fair volcano technique — baking soda and vinegar — to get the cake to rise. With a little trial and lots of inedible error, I managed to figure out how to use the same method to make the eggless, milkless banana bread that for years has been my default pot-luck contribution. I get lots of requests for the recipe, so here it is:

Redlami’s Vegan Banana Bread

redlami's banana bread

3 – 1/3 cups flour*
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cider vinegar
4 mashed ripe bananas
1 cup chopped nuts (optional; some people like nuts in it but I don’t)

Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Combine and pour into three lightly greased loaf pans, or one 13×9 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes, or until dry toothpick comes out clean.

Variation 1: Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread
After mixing all the batter, separate out about a third of it, mixing in 1/4 cup cocoa. Pour the plain batter into a 13×9 baking dish, then add the cocoa mixture on top, swirling it in with a knife. Bake as usual.

Variation 2: Spiced Banana Bread
Add the following to the dry ingredients: 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1 cup raisins.

*I don’t claim it will make it healthy, but if you’re looking to cut down on the guilt, whole wheat flour works just fine.

Categories: Essays, Recipes Tags: , ,