Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spinach Tofu Soup (gasp, no meat?!)

Imagine if you will, I'm standing in the kitchen chopping, stirring, on autopilot thinking about work stuff, birthday cards, meal planning for lunch tomorrow, etc., while simultaneously trying not to cut my fingertip off (yes, that seriously happened) and someone comes meandering into the kitchen...

Person: Smells good!  Whatcha cookin'?

Me: Dinner.

Person: Is there any meat?

Me: No.

Person:  Aww maaaaaan!

Deja vu, anyone?  Happens to me at least once a week.  This is karmic retribution of course, because I used to run my mom through this very scenario all the time but I've come to enjoy meatless meals (not often enough since I married the quintessential meat-loving carnivore but still, I'm happy if I can get away with it at least once a week.
With rice..Kuen's fave.

A while back I made the mistake of decision to watch this episode of Oprah that featured Michael Pollan (of Food Inc. fame) filling my brain with all these things I almost wish I didn't know about food.  The episode also included a particularly graphic segment where Lisa Ling toured a Cargill cattle processing plant.  It was very, um, enlightening and I turned in to a pescatarian for about 4 months until I got pregnant w/ Kuen (and homegirl wanted MEAT).  I've turned carnivore since but it did leave an impression and I like to participate in Meatless Mondays.

I know we're a meat-heavy culture so I doubt you can get away with it too often but when you're feeling like a light meal and the carnivore(s) isn't/aren't around, make this soup.  It's not completely vegetarian because I like to use chicken stock but it can easily be made with vegetable stock instead and omitting the fish sauce.

This soup was my go-to through the fall and winter.  Surprisingly filling, so quick and easy, literally comes together in 15 min (if you have boiling water on hand) and made with fridge staples I always have on hand.
So du-li-shuus! Ta ta ta ta ta taaystay taystay" (name that song)

Spinach Tofu Soup
serves 2-4 (depending on whether it's a side or main)

3-4 cups baby spinach (arugula always works and I've tried kale too)
14 oz. package firm (or extra firm) tofu, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 whole scallions, sliced
1 tbsp miso paste
2 tsp organic chicken bouillon (I get the jarred stuff but you can sub canned chicken stock or bouillon cubes - enough for about 6 cups of stock, or use vegetable stock)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce (optional, omit for vegetarians)
fresh cilantro, garnish
salt & pepper to taste
6-8 cups boiling water (*if you don't have a hot water kettle, starting this first makes the dish come together more quickly)

Heat stockpot over medium heat with 1 tbsp oil, add minced garlic and ginger - stir/cook for 2 min until softened and fragrant.  Add spinach (or your favorite greens) and wilt, add tofu, stock and remaining ingredients.  Bring to a simmer.

Other optional ingredients:
1 c. frozen or canned corn, drained
1 c. rotisserie chicken, diced (if the carnivores get too restless)
1 c. ground pork, saute w/ fish sauce - lots of flavor, def don't forget the ginger w/ this addition
1 c. mushrooms, slice and saute before you add the garlic/ginger
any short cut pasta, cooked rice or quinoa

With mini shells, also awesome.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Week in Pictures

Finally starting w/ the warm weather - can't wait to soak up some sun this summer!
Food prep for the week..

Somehow we missed getting a picture of the actual cherry blossoms on my phone.
Standing by my favorite magnolia at UW.
I've become my mother - drying clothes outside on a nice day (yes, that's a broom).  
To be fair, I only get to do this for 3 months out of the year in the Northwest.
First time I've used ice cubes this year.  BTW, chopsticks make excellent stir sticks.
That pizza is my new bff.

I heard the Daytona's getting a TJ's distribution center - finally, you'll be able to partake in things like this!

Oscar must see himself more as the large menacing dog his shadow casts instead of his true self.

First batch of preserves this year..love strawberry season!

Pan seared fish w/ garlic and capers fried in lemon butter. Perfect warm spring dinner.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

My Updated Pizza Obsession

I have never been much of a bookworm.  Gabe, on the other hand, could live with his nose in a book and be happy.  He once spent a several hundred dollar Amazon gift card he got for Christmas by the following March - all on (you guessed it) books (several of which he still hasn't read - but that's another story for another time).  Oh, and my mother-in-law is literally (see what I did there?) a librarian so it's not really a surprise he has this love of books and reading.  But the man has some sEEEriously dry reading interests..in my most humble opinion, of course.  Topics of most interest include: history, military history, sci-fi, teen fiction, romance, etc.  Ok fine, I added in that last two but of the lot I would choose them over the other three - gun to my head.  Sharing a Kindle w/ him is a kinda hilarious because it looks something like: 

  • Lions of Kandahar
  • Foreign Devils on the Silk Road
  • Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic
  • Fifty Shades of Grey
  • Hannibal Crosses The Alps
  • Bossypants

Would love to see what sort of suggested readings he gets from Amazon.  Yes, you picked out my two books on that list and yes, I like literary junk food.  

Did someone say food?

Carby, carby goodness.

Uhh, right.  I can't say I have the type of attention span to get lost in a military history book about Prussia and forego sleep to do so.  I'm practical.  WHAT is for dinner tonight?  What is the best cooking oil to use for what?  Where did you go in Portland that I can't leave without stopping by for a doughnut?  That is useful information (to me).

Mmmmm, mushrooms..

Anywho - we eat this deeelish pizza for dinner all the time.  A little something like 4 years ago I posted about this pizza and how I love it and wanted to marry it b/c it was all that.  Well, I have a new pizza recipe in my life and I'll never look back. 

This picture is so fake, you know I had like 4 more slices of pizza.

Found this amazing recipe on Smitten Kitchen - another one of my favorite blogs and I've been making it a few months now, life has changed AGAIN.  Sorry PW, I still love you but this pizza is way better and still so easy to make.  It is the closest thing to take-out pizza I've been able to recreate at home.

She even gives all the options on when to start the dough - whether overnight, morning of or afternoon of times to start it.  Yes, it does need to rise but it's really painless, promise.  It's called LAZY Pizza Dough for Pete's sake.

Overnight - 22 hr rise
All-Day - 12 hr rise
Part-Day - 8 hr rise

These rise times are approximate and definitely work +/- a few hours.

Lazy Pizza Dough
from this recipe on Smitten Kitchen
makes a half sheet pan pizza

3 cups AP or bread flour (I use bread)
Slightly heaped 1/8, 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast (for OvernightAll-Day, or Part-Day Schedules respectively, above)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 cup room temp water, plus an additional tablespoon or two if needed (I almost always need it)

Throw everything in to a mixing bowl and mix until your arm falls off.  Or get a stand mixer and mix w/ the dough hook attachment for about 10 min.  When finished mixing, cover the bowl w/ plastic wrap (I use the same bowl I mixed in because, ya, I'm lazy).  The dough will be very sticky and shaggy.  I always put a ring of olive oil around the bowl for fun.  

I almost always make this with either the all-day or part-day, stick it in a (cold) oven w/ the oven light on to proof (rise).  

When the dough is finished rising, (take the dough out of the oven if you're using it to proof and) preheat the oven to 550 degrees and prepare the pan you'll be baking the pizza on (I don't have a fancy pizza stone so I just use a 1/2 sheet pan) by dusting it with a liberal amount of cornmeal.  Sprinkle the dough (and your hands) with flour and use a spatula to scrape the it out of the bowl.  Stretch the dough to fit the pan (don't roll it out!) and make sure there are no sticky spots underneath by sprinkling with more cornmeal until it moves freely when you shake the pan.  

Bake w/ your favorite pizza toppings for about 10-15 min until the cheese is nice and bubbly, enjoy!

Killing me softly.


I've since changed my mind about fresh mozzarella much due to the fact that, after reading the Smitten Kitchen posting about pizza, I agree the aged mozz is much better for pizza.  It comes out nowhere near as soggy and I still get a great flavorful cheesy topping.  I love the Trader Joe's Whole Milk Mozzarella hunk and grate it myself.  Furthermore, I haven't had the patience to add another step to the pizza by doing what she does w/ the canned tomatoes - I just used Trader Joe's jarred pizza sauce.  The sauce is really good but a tad on the salty side so I never need to add any other seasonings to the toppings.  Hope you try it!  And if you do, tell me how it turned out!