Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Pasta Salad, with a Twist

I've blogged about my pasta salad before. Not to toot my own horn, but that pasta salad is pretty darn delicious. I've brought it to countless potlucks, cookouts, and parties, and it's always a hit.

That being said, it is a pasta salad. Pasta salads are usually something I crave in the summer time, not the dead of winter. But for some reason, I had a hankering for pasta salad the other day.

Now, my pasta salad recipe is not complicated: it's basically just pasta, fresh veggies, canned chickpeas, and a dressing made of Vegenaise, Italian dressing, salt, pepper, dried dill, and dijon mustard. Pretty basic stuff.

Until you realize:

You have no Italian dressing.

You only have a couple of tablespoons of Vegenaise.

You don't have the required veggies.


I would not be deterred. And I sure as heck wasn't making a trip to the grocery store!

No bell pepper? No problem...I just used some jarred roasted red pepper.

Not enough tomato or celery? No problem...I just used what I had. I added extra cucumber to make up for it.

No dressing? No biggie...I just made a batch of the Mediterranean Olive Oil and Lemon Vinaigrette from Veganomicon. I mixed this dressing with the last bit of Vegenaise and dijon mustard. Worked like a charm!

I mixed everything together and then served it on a big bed of baby arugula for some extra greens.

I love it when an experiment turns out well!

Friday, March 9, 2012

CCK's Flourless Chocolate-Chip Cookies

Sometimes, a girl's just gotta have a chocolate chip cookie.

Like, now.

I don't want a dozen cookies. I don't even want half a dozen cookies.

Okay, maybe I do want half a dozen cookies.

But really, I just want a cookie. In my mouth. ASAP.

Fortunately, that's why we have Chocolate-Covered Katie.

Her Flourless Chocolate-Chip Cookies take mere minutes (minutes!!) to make - a few minutes to throw everything together, and only 6 minutes to bake. That's it, folks. You want cookies in a jiffy? Go see Katie.

And loooook:

Her recipe makes a half-dozen cookies.

Perfect! Three for three, three for my hubby. My son had already gone to sleep, so no cookies for snooze, you lose, buddy!

I totally would have shared, though. If there had been any left, that is :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Penne with Marinara Puttanesca, Spinach, and Garlic Bread

There are some nights when I am just too tired, too unmotivated, too whatever to cook. These are nights when I should really just get some takeout. And then I remember something:

You're vegan.

And you're cheap.

The end.

Takeout just isn't on my radar anymore.

Fortunately, I always have some pasta, canned tomatoes, frozen veggies, and frozen bread on hand.

Voila, dinner is served.

The sauce is Marinara Puttanesca from Appetite for Reduction. It's simply canned crushed tomatoes, kalamata olives, capers, and spices, and it takes mere minutes to make. Even a tired Mommy can throw this dinner together in 20 minutes.

While the sauce was simmering, I boiled the pasta (I used brown rice penne from Trader Joe's), cooked the frozen spinach, and broiled some garlic bread (whole grain bread, Earth Balance, garlic salt, and Italian seasoning). Easy peasy.

It's delicious, nutritious comfort food that you can whip up in minutes. Believe me, if it were any harder, we would have been eating cereal for dinner :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Broiled Blackened Tofu with Caesar Chavez Dressing

Doesn't that look good?

For last night's dinner, I made some Broiled Blackened Tofu and Caesar Chavez Dressing from Appetite for Reduction. Now, the dressing, I love. I don't just mean love, I mean luuuuuuuuuurve this dressing. I told my hubby I could take a bath in this dressing. I've made it several times, and it is always fabulous. The tofu, on the other hand, was another thing.

My reaction was (verbatim): "Ugh. I hate when tofu tastes like tofu."

Don't you?

Tofu shouldn't taste like tofu. Tofu, right out of the container, tastes gross. It's got a weird texture and unpleasant flavor. However, if you treat your tofu right (by pressing it, marinating it, and the baking/frying/otherwise cooking it), tofu is pretty awesome. I don't know about you, but I prefer my tofu to be awesome.

I hate to say it, but as much as I luuuuurve AFR, I did not luuuuuurve this tofu recipe.

The tofu is simply sliced, dipped in soy sauce/olive oil, dredged in blackening seasonings, and broiled for 12 minutes. That's it - no pressing, no marinating. I did press my tofu anyway, just because it makes the texture much better. But without any kind of marinade, there was no way of infusing flavor into the tofu. And that left me with unawesome, tofu-y tofu. Blech.

It did look pretty coming out of the oven. Some pieces definitely had more of the blackening seasoning than others, but they all were seasoned. Unfortunately, the inside was still soft and TOFU-Y!!

I sliced up the tofu and put it on top of some raw baby spinach, chopped cucumbers, and steamed veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, haricot verts, green peas). I drizzled the dish with plenty of the Caesar Chavez dressing, which was the best thing about the dish, unfortunately.

So I was kinda bummed that this dish didn't turn out so well. I think I'll stick with marinated and baked tofu from now on.