Jan 13, 2009

News, no recipe

Photo: Completely irrelevant, but pretty hilarious, photo of my cat Darwin acting as "Jabba the Cat"

I don't feel up to typing out a recipe right now, so I'll try to do that later in the week. In the meantime, I do have some news items.
  1. I have a job! I have a 3-month contract working for a professor at the University of Windsor. It's full time, and it has possibility of extension afterwards. I'm identifying aquatic insects half the time, and analyzing data the other half. That may not sound interesting to most of you, but I'm very excited about it.
  2. I am taking a graduate course in GIS (geographic information systems). I'm pretty excited about that too, since it's a pretty useful skill to have for environmental, ecological, and conservation work.
  3. I've been talking to a professor at Laval University, in Quebec, about possibly doing a PhD. This particular position is much closer to the kind of research I'd like to do in the future.

So, as I always seem to do, I'm again making the excuse that I don't have time to cook or post recipes. I've tried to turn to "quick" meals, like ones that you can just throw in a crockpot, and I'm getting 50% or less success. I stuck veggies, chickpeas, and a few spices in the crockpot this morning hoping to come home to a delicious meal. It was Oooookay, but there was something "off" about it, so I won't try that again with this particular recipe. I'm still taking pictures all the time... I just need to find the time to type up the recipes. I also spend a bit of time editing the photos to make them look decent, since the lighting in our kitchen is quite poor. So the whole posting thing is time consuming!

In any case, here's a list of the recipes I've posted:
Hot Channa and Lazy Naan
Mom's Caesar Salad Dressing
Gingery Squash Soup
Sesame Tofu
Picante Pasta
How to Peel Tomatoes
A Delicious Mix of Pureed Vegetables
Some nutritional information on Iron
Pad Thai
Pizza Pasta
Curried Vegetables
Taco Salad
Fiesta Burrito Bake

I've also been trying to label each recipe with a set of tags. There's a list of tags at the right hand side so that you can click on a tag and find all recipes tagged with that word. Seems useful, no? At least once I have lots of recipes on there, anyways. You'll also be able to quickly realize that: a) I like Indian and Asian foods best; b) I like easy or very easy meals; and c) I enjoy tofu. If you can think of a tag that would be useful/informative, please suggest it in the comments section of the blog.

Jan 6, 2009

Lazy Naan

In my Hot Chana recipe, I said I'd post a recipe for lazy naan. Well here it is.

Naan, in it's very literal sense, is a flatbread that's been cooked in a tandoor, or clay oven. It's delicious and doughy and stretchy and a little bit toasted on the outside. You basically rip pieces of it off the big piece and then use the bread to grab a bit of food (mainly Indian, for us) and then stuff the whole thing in your mouth. It's a bit messy but that's just the way it goes.

Now we don't own a tandoor, and sometimes we're too lazy to make puri or chickpea pancakes, flatbreads that don't require a tandoor. So instead, we've got a lazy flatbread that we call naan. We buy a bag of pitas (any kind of flatbread will do, basically, but we like those greek style pitas. the nice thick ones. we buy ones that actually are called 'naan'), and cover them in a butter/margarine mixture and then toast them in a frying pan. So easy. The following recipe is for 4 pitas.

Lazy Naan/Flatbread
Effort: very easy
Ingredients: pretty easy

  • 4 flatbreads of some kind
  • ~1/2 - 1 tbsp margarine or butter (if butter, soften a bit)
  • sprinkle of tumeric (less than 1/4 tsp)
  • sprinkle of cumin (less than 1/4 tsp)
  • sprinkle of garam masala (less than 1/4 tsp)
  • sprinkle of cayenne pepper (less than /1/4 tsp)
  • any other spices you think would go well

  1. Mix the margarine/butter with the spices until nice and uniform and soft
  2. Spread the mixture on each side of the pitas
  3. Fry each pita on medium to medium-high heat until slightly toasty and brown on both sides (flipping halfway through).

Mom's Caesar Salad Dressing

(Originally emailed June 2, 2008)

Kyle and I have been in a bit of a recipe rut lately. I've recently started going to the gym (yay step class!) and so we don't have as much time to cook in the evenings. We therefore haven't been all that adventurous with our meal choices. However, I have started taking pictures of some of the recipes I have sent (or plan to send) out, so you can look forward to some photos to go along with my recipes. I also plan on putting these recipes on a blog for easy reference, but I'll still email them all out.

Anyhoo, I love Caesar salad, and the one I love best is my mom's homemade Caesar salad. A few weeks ago I got the recipe from her so I'm sending it out to you. Also, if you're looking for it, there is such a thing as vegetarian worchestershire sauce. It's the store brand at A&P. I think that's Equality brand?

Photo: Caesar salad, mom-style, with simulated bacon bits

Mom's Caesar Salad Dressing
Effort: very easy
Ingredients: easy
Source: my mom

1/3 c olive oil
1/3 c vegetable oil
1/3 cup white vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic
couple shakes of salt (add more if tastes flat)
1 (raw) egg
dash lemon juice
couple dashes worchestershire sauce

Blend for 5 minutes in a blender until homogenized and frothy. Pour over bite-size romaine lettuce pieces, and top with loads of Parmesan cheese (I like the Kraft dried stuff here, but fresh stuff could also be a good garnish on top). Mix together and serve. Of course you could always add extra ingredients, like croutons or simulated bacon bits (like photo) or slices of lemon, but I like to keep it simple. Add more or less garlic and lemon juice to your taste. I like serving this with pasta.

After emailing this recipe out, I received a tip: if you're looking for a healthy oil alternative... try grapeseed oil.. I bought some yesterday infused with garlic, and another one infused with lime... its incredible, healthy for you, and has a very high smoke point so it pretty much doesn't burn! great for salads.

Jan 1, 2009

Update & Gingery Squash Soup

I hope that everyone's holiday season has been going well!
I haven't been sending out /posting recipes for many reasons:
  1. I've been busy and/or lazy with the Holiday Season
  2. Kyle and I have both had bad colds, resulting in us being less than enthusiastic about cooking and trying new recipes. And when we don't try new recipes, I don't have anything to send out in emails because we rely on the same 15 recipes.
  3. Normally we shop once a week, but since we don't really like walking for 45 minutes in the cold, we've dropped it down to once every two weeks. This results in us trying fewer new meals and eating more ready-to-eat meals. And then it snowed one week and we were sick so we didn't go shopping for 3 weeks (maybe even 4???)
  4. Kyle doesn't get home until 6:30, so I end up doing most of the cooking myself (I still only have a part-time job in my old lab, so I make my own hours and come home by 3pm). I don't really enjoy cooking for 1.5 hours on my own, so I'm less likely to try new meals.
  5. Of the new recipes we have tried, I still feel like they need a few tweaks before I send them out. Some of these recipes include:
    • cream of mushroom soup: I combined two different recipes and got to use our brand new food processor (Christmas gift!) and it was OK but not creamy enough and had waaay to much thyme
    • mashed russet & sweet potato: I loved this one but Kyle was bored by it. The major problem was that the potatoes took too long to bake - i don't like running the toaster oven for 1 hour just to bake potatoes - and we ended up with chunks in the mash because we got impatient. I'm currently trying to find a way of baking potatoes in a way that takes less time and energy
    • gingery butternut squash soup: I'm starting to wonder if maybe I just don't like squash soup all that much because I seem to find problems with just about every soup I make. I'm giving up on this recipe and posting 3 recipes below and you can pick your fave.

Instead of trying new recipes, I've focused my energy elsewhere. I've been trying to photograph every meal we eat, as well as some of the steps in the preparation stage. Also, I've been updating the blog by slowly working through the photos, where I'll add an older recipe to my blog once I have a photo to go with it. No photo for this recipe, but just picture yellow blended soup ;)

Gingery butternut squash soup: Lauren's version

1 onion (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (pressed)
2 T fresh ginger (minced)

Saute with 1 T olive oil until onion is cooked.

3 granny smith (or similarly tart) apples (peeled and cubed)
1 medium or large butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
2 potatoes or sweet potatoes (cubed)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Add to pot and bring to boil. Simmer until squash and apples are tender. Puree in blender or food processor.
Salt and pepper to taste. Jay likes to add hot sauce to it too.


2 onions (chopped)
2 tbsp fresh ginger (peeled and minced)
In a large soup pot, saute in 1 tablespoon oil until onion is translucent

2 apples (peeled, seeded, chopped)
1 butternut squash (peeled, seeded, cut into cubes- you can substitute 2 cups of cooked winter squash here too!)
4 cups/1L chicken (sub veggie if you want) broth

Add to large soup pot and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer until squash and apples are tender. Puree in blender until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley...and enjoy!!!!

(I like to add a splash of soy milk just for consistency too.....)

Not as Gingery Acorn Squash Soup: Nic's version
(I had tried making the above versions but had a disaster where I let it cook all night and it tasted grooooosss. So I was kind of wary to try it again. Instead, I used their recipes as a base and used up some things that were in my fridge, like a really old granny smith apple, a half going bad sweet potato, and some shriveled ginger. Sounds good, eh? Hehe... I found that the ginger taste of the soup was really mild, which may relate to the fact that the ginger was no longer fresh. I also found this soup very starchy and thick, which may relate to the potatoes and maybe also to the type of squash. Adding water helped if I found it too thick, and I actually liked it - until my 4th day in a row of eating it!)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger (peeled and minced)
  • 1 apple (peeled, seeded, chopped)
  • 1 acorn squash (peeled, seeded, cut into chunks)
  • 1 russet potato
  • 1 half medium sweet potato
  • 4 cups veggie broth

  1. Saute onion and ginger in oil until onion is translucent
  2. Add apple, squash, potatoes and broth and bring to boil. Simmer until veggies are tender
  3. Let cool a bit and blend in a blender or food processor.

*** Energy saving tip: When I know that something has to simmer for a while, I usually turn the burner off a few minutes before I want it to be done. The burner usually stays hot for a couple of minutes so the soup will stay boiling/simmering for that time. Plus with a soup as large as this, it really retains its own heat so it will continue to cook a bit long after you turn off the heat. Plus, you have to let it cool before you can blend it anyways, so you might as well turn off the burner as soon as possible. ***

Sesame Tofu

(Originally emailed March 19, 2008.)

I stumbled across this recipe online and Kyle and I loved it when we first had it. It was a little overpoweringly sweet, so we've reduced the amount of honey in it. Also, serving it over more rice helps cut the sweetness. It's very quick and simple, which I like. It's also pretty healthy if you serve with broccoli and brown rice. Tip: If you're serving it with rice (and I suggest you do), make sure to start the rice just before or right after you start pressing the tofu, or your tofu and sauce will be done and your rice won't (this is especially true with brown rice)!

Photo: Sesame Tofu with broccoli and brown rice

Sesame Tofu
Effort: very easy and pretty quick too!
Ingredients: Easy
Source: Jewish Vegan and Whole Foods Market

Serve with steamed bok choy or broccoli, sautéed watercress or eggplant, and brown rice.
Note: this is the original recipe. Try it out and then decide how to tweak it for yourself (e.g. we use less honey)

  • 14 ounces / 1 block extra-firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch or flour for dusting
    canola or corn oil for frying
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • 3 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1/2" pieces \

  • 1/3 cup honey (we reduced it to about 3 tbsp)
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil (not toasted)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 1–2 teaspoons red chili flakes

  1. Wrap tofu with paper towels and place on a cutting board. Put another cutting board or heavy plate on top to press out liquid about 20 minutes.
  2. Stir together sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer sauce while you cook tofu.
  3. Dry drained tofu with paper towels and cube. Dust very lightly with corn starch or flour.
  4. Heat <1cm>
  5. Serve with remaining sauce for dipping or to drizzle over vegetables.