Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cheesy, yummy lasagna

Comfort food is something we all need once in a while. I needed some comfort food Sunday night. Typical comfort food for me is thick, hot, cheesy Italian food, maybe because my family is italian and it brings me back to my roots. I remember Sunday dinners at my grandma's. We would walk in, and her house would smell like gravy, and there would be bread everywhere, and all my aunts and uncles and cousins would be there. we would all sit at her dining room table under her replication of the Last Supper and eat and eat. All her food was covered with meat, and were my grandmother alive, she would probably not love the fact that I no longer eat meat. Indeed, my uncles tease me for it every time I see them (though they are very accommodating).

So enough blabbing, time to start talking about the food! This really hit the spot for both me and EJ.

From Food pics


1 package lasagna noodles
1 tub ricotta cheese (part-skim)
2 packages shredded mozzarella cheese (part-skim)
2 eggs
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 package fresh spinach
1-2 jars tomato sauce

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Start a large pot of boiling water. Add a couple tablespoons of salt to it.
3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine ricotta, eggs, 1 package mozzarella cheese, and spices. Mix well. I like to use my hands, though this can get cold!
4. Place lasagna noodles in boiling water.
5. When the noodles are done, strain them in a large colander. Rinse them with cold water or else they will be too hot to handle.
6. In a large casserole dish, spread a little tomato sauce along the bottom (1/4 inch thick).
7. Layer lasagna noodles, ricotta, spinach, and more sauce. Repeat until the top of the dish is reached or you run out of ingredients. The top layer should be noodles, tomato sauce and the other package of mozzarella cheese.
8. Cover the dish with tin foil. Bake 25 minutes.
9. Remove in foil, bake another 10 minutes.
10. Serve and enjoy!

**NOTE: unexplained happiness and love for all things may be a side effect.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Berry Berry Strata

This dish is so easy and tasty. Its also perfect when you have to feed a bunch of people - not too much prep work results in a lot of food!

From Food pics


4-5 large croissants, broken into bite size pieces
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/2 cup fresh berries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries or halved strawberries with stems removed
1 cup milk
12 large eggs
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Spray a 13 X 9 baking dish with oil. Take MOST of the croissant pieces and spread them evenly on the bottom of the dish.

2. Mix ricotta with cinnamon and white sugar. Dollop about half of the ricotta over croissants as evenly as possible.

3. Combine berries and spread half of them over the ricotta. Layer the rest of the croissants, then ricotta, then berries.

4. In a large bowl, combine eggs, oj, brown sugar and salt. Pour egg mixture over the berries, ricotta and croissants in the casserole dish. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate at least an hour (or overnight).

5. Cover with tin foil, bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Remove foil, bake another 10 minutes or until the eggs are done. (note: this can be made in different size pans, deeper pans will require longer baking times).

From Food pics

From Food pics

Monday, September 8, 2008

Tofu Stix


I bumped into this recipe online, while I was searching for recipes for panko bread crumbs. These are Japanese bread crumbs, and i fell in love with them when my favorite sushi place started breading their teriyaki tofu with them. Tofu Stix aren't the most healthy snack, but they are pretty damn good.


1 package extra firm tofu, drained
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp onion powder
1.5 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1-2 tsp salt
1/5 tsp ground black pepper
1 package soft silken tofu
1 cup soy milk

1. In a blender, mix the silken tofu and soy milk. Pour mixture onto a plate. (you might not be able to get all of it on the plate, just add some of it, and as it depletes, add more.

2. On another plate, mix the bread crumbs and all other dry spices. Again, you might not be able to fit everything on the plate, just keep adding it as it depletes.

3. After the tofu is finished draining, cut into sticks 1/2 inch thick. (about the size of mozzarella sticks).

4. Bread each stick by covering it in the silken tofu mixture and then covering with bread crumbs. Set aside until all are finished. (Be careful, they break very easily).

From Food pics

From Food pics

5. In a large skillet, heat about an inch of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the stix. Cook until they are brown on the underside, then turn over (about a minute or two, depending on how hot the oil is). You don't want the oil to be too hot, because they will burn on the outside. Cook the stix until they are evenly browned on all sides.

6. As they come out of the skillet, place them on a plate with several paper towels (to absorb the oil). Serve hot with your favorite marinara sauce.

From Food pics

Thursday, September 4, 2008



Traditionally, shumai are prepared with either pork or shrimp. They are these adorable little dumplings and can either be fried or steamed. I've played around a bit trying to make a vegan version, and my faithful taste tester says the shumai pretty good. I like them, too. Below is a recipe, and I've included instructions on frying and steaming them.

From Food pics

(they look like little soldiers of delicious, don't they?)

From Food pics


gyoza wrappers (these are cool because they can be frozen)
1 block soft tofu - drained
1 handful fresh spinach - chopped
4 green onions - chopped
1/2 cup white onion - chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
pepper, to taste
1 tsp shredded ginger root
1 tsp miso paste

1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients (except gyoza wrappers). I use my hands, and mix them as much as possible.

2. Take a gyoza wrapper. If they were frozen, they are easier to peel apart if they are thawed a few minutes. Put the wrapper on a flat surface and wet the edges. Put a spoonful of the tofu mixture in the center of the wrapper.

3. Wrapping is a lot easier than it looks. Just pull up 2 sides and seal them together with water. Then pull up the two other sides and seal them, so it sort of makes a square (or at least has four corners. Try to push the open parts in so they are closed, and seal with water. If there are parts of the wrapper that stick up, press them so they are flat. The finished shumai looks sort of like a rose.

Now you need to decide if you want to fry it or steam them. I think they are excellent both ways and how i cook it depends on the audience. If I'm going to a party, I'll fry them, but if its for me and ej i usually steam them, or do half and half. It also depends on if i feel like I deserve fried food.


I heat 2 inches of vegetable or canol oil in an elecric wok, but a skillet works fine. Put the shumai in the hot oil, cooking for ~10-15 minutes. They should be brown on all sides. You may have to turn a couple of times while cooking.


I use a wire colander and a pot of water. Not sure if its the best way, but it seems to work ok. So I boil some water in a pot and put the wire colander in it. Make sure the water itself isnt touching the bottom of the colander. Put the shumai in the colander (i can only do 3-4 at a time - make sure they aren't touching each other). Cover the shumai with a tightly fitting lid. Steam for about 20 minutes, turning halfway through. Its hard to tell when they are done, but the top part should be soft and not tough.

I like to serve the shumai with soy sauce mixed with honey or agave nectar (if vegan).


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

gnoc-gnoc-gnocchin' on heaven's door

(aka gnocchi florentine)

I love this dish because it is easy to make and versatile, plus I almost always have the ingredients on hand in the pantry. It's not vegan but can very easily be made vegan (see? versatile!). Just sub vegan pesto (or leave the pesto out all together) and don't add the romano cheese at the end. Voila! Vegan gnocchi. I've never made my own gnocchis, but it is a project I would love to take on - I hear its easier than making other pastas.

Gnoc-gnoc-gnocchin' on heaven's door

(aka gnocchi florentine)

From Food pics


1 package dried gnocchi (frozen works too)
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2-4 basil leaves, shredded
2-3 tbsp pesto
2-3 tbsp alfredo sauce (optional)
pecorino romano cheese, shredded
2 handfuls fresh spinach

1. Heat a large pot of salted water. Once boiling, add gnocchis. These only need a few minutes to cook, so keep an eye on them. You can tell they are done when they float on top.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add minced garlic, saute for 30 seconds. Add the diced tomato and cook for a few minutes. The tomato should be letting out its juices and beginning to turn into a paste. Add pesto and basil. Saute mixture until a paste is formed.

3. Add alfredo sauce and mix well. Mix in the spinach a little at a time. The heat of the sauce will wilt the spinach. Don't let it completely wilt - the heat of the gnocchis will finish it.

4. Strain the gnocchis over the sink in a colander. Add to the skillet.

5. Using a wide spatula, combine the gnocchis with the sauce and the spinach. Everything should be covered and the spinach should be softened/almost wilted.

6. Serve, and sprinkle with shredded cheese for a garnish.

From Food pics