Kitchen Adventures: Quinoa with Tofu and Basil

Or should I say basil with quinoa and tofu?  Basil is clearly the star of this dish, and the delivery of a massive amount of fresh basil from the Ward’s garden (thanks, Sarabeth!) inspired me to go this route in the first place.  This is by far the most complicated dish I’ve ever made without having to go to the store on the way home – a major accomplishment in my book, unlikely to be repeated anytime soon.

This dish is perfect for a summer night like last night – it’s refreshing, light, and doesn’t involve too much time over the stove.  And the way I portioned it, it makes six servings that will last me for lunch and dinner the rest of the week.  Less time cooking later, more time enjoying those late summer evenings!  What’s your go-to summer meal?  Here’s how mine came together (inspired by this post):

Quinoa with Tofu and Basil

  • 1 cup of uncooked quinoa
  • 1 pack of tofu (I used Trader Joe’s Extra Firm High Protein kind – better than I expected!), chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange would work), cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 20 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
  1. Start by cooking the quinoa – put 1 cup of uncooked quinoa along with 2 cups of water in a pot, and heat to a boil.  After boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.  If quinoa doesn’t seem soft by that point, add a cup of water and continue to simmer until water is absorbed – repeat as needed.  When soft, remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, heat oil over medium heat and then add tofu, stirring until lightly brown (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add onion and garlic to the pan with tofu – stir.  After about 2 minutes, add in peppers and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and basil to tofu and vegetables – then mix together with quinoa.

Serve it hot or cold, with grated Parmesan on top as desired.  (1 serving = 1/6 of the total = 7 PointsPlus)

You can adapt this to whatever you have around the house – tomatoes, squash, tempeh, etc. – the same basic recipe is a great start to any veggie and quinoa stir-fry.  Enjoy!

Want more quinoa?  Check out my quinoa and cheese recipe here!

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Kitchen Adventures: Lemon Blueberry Cobbler

Not only was it Pi Day this week (or “pee” day, as my European friends say it), it was my turn to make something tasty for Pie Day Friday at work.  Since we decided that “round things” qualified as pies whether or not they had a bottom crust, I tested this new recipe out on my colleagues.  Let’s just say we ate it all in one sitting and the inside of my lips are still blue.

This would be delicious with tea and homemade whipped cream – it’s sweet, but not cloyingly so, and just tastes really fresh, hot or cold.  I based my recipe off of this one, with a bunch of changes (especially in the spices, where they asked for cardamon which costs $18 at the store!!  I went for everyday spices instead, and never looked back).

Lemon Blueberry Cobbler

  • 2 cups fresh of frozen blueberries (one small bag of frozen did it for me)
  • zest from 1 medium lemon
  • juice from 1 medium lemon
  • 1/3 cup sugar (more, if you want!)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (double if you’re using frozen blueberries, they tend to give off a lot more liquid)
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F).
  2. Mix together blueberries, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and cornstarch with a spoon until well mixed.  Transfer to a round pie plate or baking dish.
  3. Sift together (or mix lightly) the dry ingredients, then add cream and mix until a dough starts to form.  The original recipe says to make this into five discrete dumplings, but I spread mine around like one big crust (less fighting!) and it worked really well.
  4. Bake at 400 for about 30-35 minutes, until the cobbler topping is cooked through and slightly brown.  (Mine took 45 minutes because my oven hates me.)

 

By the time it had cooled overnight, all the liquid was absorbed and it was really easy to transfer (and delicious when we ate it hours later!)  Eat and enjoy!

How did you celebrate Pi Day?  What’s your favorite kind of pie or cobbler?

Rethinking Risotto (part 2)

Since I made this risotto a few weeks ago, I’ve been planning to try another batch to see if its deliciousness was a fluke or if making risotto really can be that easy and amazing.  The answer: YES IT CAN!

I made this tasty risotto the other night using Archer Farms four cheese risotto mix.  While the risotto was cooking, I cooked up some chopped onions and thawed frozen cauliflower with some garlic, oregano, and rosemary.  When the risotto had about 8 minutes left, I tossed in the veggie mixture, and finished with 1 tsp butter and 2 tbsp grated parmesan.  The result was perfecto (and I didn’t even burn my mouth on it!!)!  I have a few packets left (yes, I stocked up the last time I went to Target), and I’m already thinking about what I can throw into the pot next.

What’s your favorite risotto?  Have you tried any like mine here and here?

Rethinking risotto

Holy cookbook, Batman – I just had some of the best (and easiest to make) risotto of my life and it came from Target.

I picked up a pack of Archer Farms Wild Mushroom risotto at our local Target solely because it was $1.79.  I was skeptical of the instructions on the back, which skipped the steps one usually sees in risotto (warming up the risotto, adding water gradually and letting it absorb, etc.) and instead involved just boiling water, adding the risotto and seasoning packet, and stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Impossibly simple, right?  I started sautéing the risotto while I considered the recipe on the box.  About 2 minutes in, I decided that it was worth seeing if this crazy recipe worked – AND IT DID.  Here’s what I ended up with:

  1. Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Add risotto and seasoning packet to the boiling water and cook for 17-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Sauté 3 cloves of chopped garlic.  When lightly cooked, dd to the pot.
  4. Sauté 1 onion, chopped into small pieces.  When tender, add to the pot.
  5. Risotto done yet?  Cool!  Mine needed another 1/2 a cup of water  and enough time for it to be almost entirely absorbed.
  6. Add 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese and 1 tsp butter to the finished product – stir well.

That’s it!  Katie agrees – utterly delicious.  Just try not to burn your mouth on the first bite like I just did and you’ll probably enjoy it even more!

I have no idea what was in that seasoning packet so I’m not sure exactly how I would replicate this without the mix, but this approach definitely takes less time and resulted in one amazing dish.

Are you a fan of risotto too?  Check out my other recipe – goat cheese risotto with squash!

Rocking the broccoli casserole

When I think of winter-time family gatherings, I think of board games, cider, and broccoli casserole.  My friend Cody once called this dish a hillbilly’s perfect dinner, but if being a hillbilly is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Broccoli Casserole

Ingredients:
  • 20 oz frozen broccoli, thawed
  • 1 can reduced fat cream of mushroom soup
  • 3 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese (usually around one block)
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 gloves garlic (optional)
  • 1 bag ruffled potato chips – actual amount needed depends on the size of your pan
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Thaw/defrost the broccoli so it’s not frozen when you start.
  3. Stir everything other than the chips together in a bowl, mixing well.  Spread into a casserole dish – any size you want, depending on the surface area you want to leave for the chips.  (We did it in a huge pan so basically every other bite had chips on top).
  4. Top with crushed potato chips.
  5. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes – let rest for 5 minutes when done, as this comes out of the oven really hot!

Does your family have any crazy recipes that show up at group gatherings?  Anything with potato chips on top?

Victory over adulthood

I did it!

With the help of Katie and Nate and encouragement from Mom, I cooked my first chicken!

It was easy to make, in theory – take out the bag inside, rub with olive oil and spices (that you should prepare beforehand so you don’t have to touch anything after you start dealing with the chicken), cook at 375 degrees for 15- 20 minutes per pound until the inside is 190 degrees (a conservative estimate, since some websites say 165).  But in reality, the mess and the hassle of chopping up a full chicken – as well as the actual uncertainty about when it would be done – made it not entirely worthwhile. I’ll probably go back to tofu and salmon for my dinner staples.

Still, I’m glad I got to have this hilarious cooking adventure with my awesome friends, I got to cross this off my life list, and I am one step closer to eventually being able to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my family someday!

Plus, it went great with this holiday favorite, which I’ll tell you all about later this week: