Nov 30, 2008

Pad Thai

I lurve this recipe. It's so easy and so tasty. It's also one of the "gateway" recipes I used to make Kyle kind-of-sort-of like cilantro. In reply to my email I was asked a few questions (is there something you can substitute for the ketchup? can you omit the cilantro? what other veggies would you add?), and I have since modified the recipe to include some of the suggestions. The original recipe did not have tofu or red pepper. Here are my answers, based on the original email:
"Don't omit the ketchup. The sauce doesn't end up tasting like ketchup, so don't worry. Cilantro is not necessary if you hate it. However, Kyle hates hates cilantro and I added about 1/8 of a cup really finely chopped and he was OK with it. I think it makes it better because the cilantro is cooked a bit. But if you hate cilantro, then no point in buying it, right. I wouldn't add other veggies... pad thai is usually pretty simple. Maybe some chopped red pepper. And I"d probably add protein next time by frying up some tofu, chopped into small cubes... right now it's pretty protein poor. If you're not into tofu yet, this is an OK way to cook it to start getting used to it: Chop it up until small cubes - about 1-2cm on each side. Marinate it in a little bit of soy sauce, garlic, ginger and veg broth for as many hours as you can. Then dump the tofu (sans soy sauce) into a frying pan with sesame oil.. Fry the tofu until it's brown and crispy (this might take a while). Then add it to the pad thai in the last step when you're adding everything else. Even people who don't really like tofu tend to like it when it's prepared that way."

Pad Thai
Effort: med-easy
Ingredients: pretty common (rice vinegar and rice noodles would be the only difficulty)
Cookbook: I can't remember where I found this recipe, and I've made modifications anyhoo

8 oz rice noodles, uncooked (I just used one package of rice noodles)
1 block tofu, cubed (1/2 " cubes work well)
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tbsp each reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
1 tbsp + tsp sesame oil, divided (+ extra for sprinkling)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup diced red onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup bean sprouts (i usually omit these and it still tastes good)
1/2 cup grated carrots (i usually add more than this)
1 red pepper, chopped into med-small dice
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

- If you are can plan ahead, chop tofu and then marinate it in a bit if soy sauce, garlic, and lime juice for several hours (or overnight).
- Cook noodles according to package directions (usually this involves pouring boiling water over them and letting them sit for 3 minutes). Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again. Sprinkle with sesame oil to help prevent sticking. Set aside.
- Saute tofu over med-high heat in 1 tbsp sesame (or chili) oil until it starts to take on some brown colour. Set aside.
- To makes sauce, combine ketchup, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, vinegar, 1 tsp sesame oil, and crushed red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat veg oil in a large, non-stick wok or skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook and stir until onions are tender, about 3 minutes. Add sauce and bring to a boil. Add the tofu plus all of the vegetables (bean spouts, carrots, green onions, red pepper and cilantro). Mix well. Add noodles, mix, and cook until noodles are heated through, about 2 minutes.
- Sprinkle individual servings with chopped peanuts.

Pizza Pasta

I'm a big fan of "slop-in-a-pot" type recipes, where the ratios and amounts of different ingredients are suggested, rather than fixed. This is one of those recipes, which explains why I don't give measurements. I make it veggie-based but it can easily be made to simulate meat (use fake pepperoni/ham on top, or put Yves veggie ground round in the sauce) or fully meaty. I'll take suggestions for pizza toppings, because I'm getting pretty bored with my usual.

Some example combinations:
- Mediterranean: Prepare as below. Top with black olives, feta, oregano flakes, red and green peppers
- Spicy: Mix fresh minced garlic and chopped up hot peppers with the sauce before adding to the pasta. Top with chili flakes, red and green peppers, green olives, and a sprinkling of cheddar cheese.


Pizza Pasta
Effort: super easy
Ingredients: super duper easy
Cookbook: an ex-boyfriend's mother + a recipe card

Pasta (I like rigatoni, but medium-sized shells, penne, or macaroni would also work. Use as much or as little as you like - leftovers make good lunch)
1 large can/jar of Pasta/tomato sauce (add lots of oregano and basil to make it zippy)
Mozzarella cheese, grated
Possible toppings:
Green/red peppers
Hot peppers/jalapenos
garlic/roasted garlic
fresh basil leaves, chopped
extra cheese (feta, parmesan, cheddar, goat)
chili flakes
oregano flakes
shredded spinach
small broccoli florets

- Cook the pasta and drain.
- Mix the pasta with the sauce - make it nice and saucy because baking it will dry it out (if you're adding fresh crushed garlic, it might be good to add it in with the pasta and sauce or else you'll end up with concentrated bites of garlic once it's all cooked).
- Pour the pasta&sauce into a baking pan (you want the pasta to make a layer about 2 inches deep)
- Top with mozza cheese (variation: add half of the cheese to the pasta and sauce in the stage when you're mixing together, and then top with the other half)
- Top with your favourite pizza toppings (mushrooms should go under the cheese to avoid drying out too much)
- Bake at 350 until cheese is melty and veggies seem cooked (around 20 min is good, but more is probably better. You can also broil in the last 2 minutes to brown up the cheese a bit).
- Serve with garlic bread, because garlic bread is delicious.

Protein tip:
Both pasta and cheese cheese have quite a bit of protein. You could also add some veggie ground round to the sauce (found in the produce section of a grocery store). it makes a pretty good substitute for ground beef and adds loads of protein. I recently tried veggie sausage and it was really bad, so I'd stay away from that. There is also veggie pepperoni but if you're still eating meat, you'll probably want to avoid any simulated deli slices since they only start tasting good once you haven't eaten meat for a year or so.

curried vegetables

My attention was drawn to this one because it looked so simple - it uses frozen vegetables! Most of the meals I cook take a long time to make because of all the chopping, so it was nice to have a shortcut. And I think frozen vegetables are healthier than canned ones. I don't normally like raisins, but they provide a nice sweet complement to the other flavours, so I'm actually quite pleased with how it turned out. Enjoy!

Curried Vegetables
Effort: very easy
Ingredients: common
Cookbook: favorite brand name Vegetarian cooking 1997

1 package of Rice a Roni herb & butter (I couldn't find this variety, so I used Uncle Ben's fast and fancy wild rice and herbs - it was good too.)
1/3 cup raisins (i might reduce this amount in the future)
2 tbsp margarine or butter
1 med. onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp curry powder
1 package frozen carrot, broccoli and red pepper veg medley (I used "california mix" with broc. cauliflower and carrots, while adding fresh red pepper and a few sliced mushroom. I'm sure most variations and combinations would be OK)
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted (optional)

1. prepare rice-a-roni as package directs, adding raisins with contents of seasoning packet (or with Uncle Bens, I waited until the water was boiling before adding raisins)
2. Meanwhile, in 3-quart saucepan, melt margarine over med. heat. add onion and garlic; saute 3-4 min. add flour and curry powder; cook 30 sec, stirring frequently.
3. add frozen vegetables, water and salt (If using fresh veggies, consider adding them slightly before the frozen ones). cover; bring to a boil over high heat. reduce heat and continue cooking 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Serve rice topped with vegetable mixture; sprinkle with almonds. (note: I bought slivered almonds from bulk barn and then toasted them in a frying pan on medium heat for a few minutes. yum)

You could serve this with some yogurt, if you were so inclined.
Also, it says it makes 4 servings, but I think that might be child-sized servings. If I made this again and wanted actual 4 servings, I might make an extra 1/2 cup of rice, plus add a few more veggies, to bulk it up.

taco salad

Taco Salad
Effort: med-easy
Ingredients: common
Cookbook: Student's vegetarian cookbook, Carole Raymond 1997, 2003

1 tsp veg oil
1 cup frozen corn
1 tbsp water
1 tsp ground cumin
1 med avocado, fairly ripe
1 tbsp lemon/lime juice
1/2 med. tomato, chopped
2 tbsp chopped green onion (including green part) (Nic: I prefer more onion)
2 cups salad greens, torn into bite-sized pieces
Baked tortilla chips, crumbled (I like those yellow corn ones, rather than Tostidos, for this recipe)
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (this can be omitted, but it makes it taste extra good)
tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)

- in small pan, combine oil, corn, water and cumin. cover and cook on med. heat for 3 min. uncover and cook for 1-2min until water evaporates. set aside.
- slice avocado lengthwise and remove seed. cut lengthwise and crosswise slices in the flesh, making a grid pattern. scoop avocado cubes out of shells and into med. sized bowl. stir in lemon juice. add corn mixture, tomato, and scallion.
- spoon salad onto handful of greens. crumble a handful of baked tortilla chips and sprinkle them on top. toss on cilantro and a shake (or more) of Tabasco if desired.

fiesta burrito bake

On November 5th, 2007, I sent out an email to some friends and family stating that I was starting a recipe mailing list. The first two recipes I sent out were Fiesta Burrito Bake and Taco Salad.

Fiesta Burrito Bake
Effort: easy
Ingredients: common
Cookbook: favorite brand name Vegetarian cooking 1997

1/2 envelope Club House Marinades seasoning - Tex Mex flavour
1 can refried beans
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup water
10 (6") flour tortillas (get whole wheat and it's healthier)
1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped (I usually omit the tomato)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

- Preheat oven to 375 F
- in small bowl, combine seasoning powder, beans, sour cream and water. Spoon bean mixture onto tortillas, then roll.
- In a 13 x 9in. baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, arrange rolled tortillas; top with tomato then cheese.
- Bake covered for 15minutes. Remove cover and continue baking until cheese is melted and tortillas are heated through.
- serve, if desired, with shredded lettuce, sour cream and guacamole

Nic's comment: goes really well with "taco salad".

what is this blog about?


For a few months now, I have been emailing recipes to my friends and family. I've had it in the back of my mind that a blog would work better, especially for cross-referencing the different recipes, so I finally got around to creating one. So #1: this is a place for me to post recipes that I've sampled and decided are worth sharing.
Also, as most people who know me have already realized, I'm a bit of an eco-nut. This blog will #2: give me a place to comment, rant, and rave about various environmental topics. Furthermore, I've recently become very concerned over my consumption and how much waste people produce. I'm on a personal conquest to reduce waste in various ways, such as reusing and mending items that would otherwise be thrown out. So I will #3: post stories, comments, and how-to's on my quest to reduce waste.