Grilled Sesame-Ginger Tofu over Vegetable Orzo

Guess I’m practicing for being in China, where my diet will consist of what I believe will be dumplings and porridge for breakfast and vegetable stir-fries with tofu and/or meat for lunch and dinner for 3 1/2 weeks. Actually… I sort of doubt that orzo will make an appearance. What can I say? We were out of rice…

Conclusion? Orzo or rice, I think I’ll be fine with the food.

Grilled Sesame-Ginger Tofu over Vegetable Orzo

Adapted from The Vegan Grill and my own concoction

Tofu: Serves 4

1 package of firm tofu (1 block)
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar (what I had on hand… originally called for rice vinegar)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 pressed cloves of garlic or 1 tablespoon pre-chopped garlic

Drain tofu and rinse with water. Fold up paper towels in quarters, making two soaking-up apparati and place on a cutting board. Put tofu on one, place other on top, and then put something heavy on top of that to press the remaining liquid out of the tofu. You may have to replace the paper towels after a time. I think I allowed them to press for a few hours.

Mix marinade ingredients.

Once pressed, slice tofu in half to get two equal slices about 1/2 an inch thick and then cut how you like–I made triangles.

Coat each piece in marinade and put into an airtight container to sit for 30 minutes or more.

Heat up a grill pan with some olive oil; have a large oil-spatter mesh cover at the ready. Place each marinade-soaked piece on grill and grill about 3 minutes per side.

Orzo:

1 box orzo
1 head broccoli
3 carrots
Onion, chopped roughly
Olive oil

Cook orzo according to package directions.

Chop up broccoli and carrots into small pieces. Heat up oil in a large nonstick pan and add onion, cook about 4 minutes until translucent. Add other veggies, stir and cover, cook until they are fork-soft and tender. (5-10 minutes). Toss with orzo.

To serve, place a bed of orzo on a plate, and topped with two tofu steaks.

This was so yummy! The grilled tofu wasn’t tough like I’ve had in the past (at school)–maybe because I used firm, not extra-firm tofu. It was very soft and easy to cut, which I liked. The broccoli and carrots were great counterpoints to the savory tofu, and the orzo base was delicious as well. All this needed was a dressing or sauce of some sort. Any ideas? I didn’t want to drown out the flavor of the tofu, but I also didn’t want to amp up the salt consumption by adding more soy sauce to the orzo. Maybe a peanut sauce?

Anyway, this made a delicious lunch! Totally going to be grilling more tofu in the future.

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Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Maybe I’ll just make a chocolate chip cookie using every nut butter. I’ve already done peanut butter. Cashew butter? Pecan butter? Walnut butter? Soynut butter (…ew…)?

Well if we keep having rainy 65° days in the middle of JULY that inspire me to both wear pink wool socks and turn on the oven, I just might.

And I mean… if they come out tasting like these… I don’t see why not.

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Pink of Perfection; makes 13-20 depending on size

1 cup almond butter (256 grams–if possible, measure right into the bowl using food scale! So much easier than measuring cups.)

3/4 cup raw sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt plus more to sprinkle on top

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli 60%)

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix everything but chocolate chips until thoroughly combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Place on parchment-paper (for easy cleanup) prepared pan, drop by rounded tablespoon or roll in balls and place. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on top of each one.

Bake for 10-12 minutes (I actually went like 15, but I think mine were a bit bigger).

Allow to sit at least 15-25 minutes to cool (firms them up).

Crumbly, melt-in-your mouth; the bottom firmed up nicely for some chew. The chocolate chips just brought them to the next level. Also, they are super-satisfying and will quench any craving for chocolate. All-in-all, a success!

Versatile Blogger Award

at350degrees, thank you for nominating me for The Versatile Blogger Award! It was so nice to wake up to this notification. I began cooking a variety of foods the summer after high school, and decided to take pictures to remember the pretty dishes. Upon searching for new recipes, I stumbled upon the world of food blogging, and the rest is history! I never thought I’d reach 100 posts nor have so many followers. Thanks for all your support!

Next,

Copy & paste the Versatile Blogger Award logo into your post.

Thank and link back to your nominator.

Divulge 7 facts about you!

Nominate 15 other bloggers for their own Versatile Blogger Award and comment on their blogs to let them know!

Seven Facts:

1. I love to draw. My first career ambition, when I was yay high, was to be an artist.

2. I used to despise running as a kid. Twice around the track (1/2 mile) left my calf muscles burning. Now I almost can’t live without running! My PR for distance is 10 miles, which I ran on my 21st birthday. I felt glorious.

3. Right now I’m looking at graduate programs focused on nutritional biochemistry. Here’s hoping I get in!

4. I play soccer at college, third division. It’s tough (lost my big toenail… twice) but so rewarding. I’m going into my senior year.

5. I do research on bacteriophage and E. coli (a non-pathogenic strain, of course) while at school. I like being in the lab with music blaring… it’s kind of relaxing (even though it can be very frustrating).

6. I love being in the ocean and diving headfirst into the waves before they crash.. or mid-crash, as is often the case. I also hate tanning just to tan and will hide in the shade of the beach umbrella whenever I’m not in the ocean.

7. I AM GOING TO CHINA!!! For 3.5 weeks. In 4 days. To teach English to kids in a rural area of the Hunan Province. I am so excited/apprehensive/nervous/excited. Speaking of China, I am 1/2 Chinese and 1/2 Scottish, Irish, English and German.

Fifteen Blogs:

Made by Mike, blogturtle, Emily Cooks Vegan, Acorn in the Kitchen, A High School Foodie, A Lot on Your Plate, Homemade with Mess, Meet Your Treat, The Goodie Plate, Spoonful of Sugar Free, Whole Wheat or Bust!, Save the Kales!, ChocolateCoveredKatie, Illustrated Bites, Food is My Life, Maggie’s One Butt Kitchen

Mini and Mini-er Blueberry Cream Cheese Pies

My friend and I also made blueberry cream cheese pies, with a recipe adapted from Pillsbury. While the little Pillsbury man is cute, I never have nor never will eat any of their products. We ain’t nutrition majors/minors for nothin’!

he overflowed =o

So we kept the filling but lost the refrigerated biscuit, using instead filo dough (phyllo dough? So many spellings) for mini-mini little pies and then homemade graham cracker crusts for bigger-yet-still-individual pies.

Both were absolutely delectable.

Mini and Mini-er Blueberry Cream Cheese Pies

Adapted from Pillsbury; makes 15 mini-er pies and 12 mini pies

Streusel:

6 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup raw sugar (gives a great crunch)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed

Blueberry filling:
3/4 cup raw sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
4 cups fresh or frozen (or both) blueberries
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Cream cheese filling:
1 package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
Crusts:
1 package pre-made phyllo dough mini crusts
1 package graham crackers (like… 8 I think)
Some butter–2-4 tablespoons
Heat oven to 350°.
Streusel: mix flour, sugar, and zest. Cut in butter using two knives until crumbly.
Blueberries: In a saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch. Gradually stir in water. Cook, stirring, over medium heat about 10 minutes or until thickened. Add about half the blueberries. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 10 minutes or until the mixture returns to a boil. Stir in lemon zest and lemon juice. Add remaining blueberries; stir gently. Set aside; let cool.
Cream cheese filling: Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth; set aside. Alternatively, you could probably let the cream cheese get to room temperature and whisk it; we didn’t think ahead.
Crusts: Arrange phyllo dough mini crusts on a pan covered with aluminum foil. For graham cracker crusts, either put graham crackers in a plastic bag and have at ’em (crush them) or food process them. Add melted butter until press-able. In a 12-cup muffin pan, lined with paper, press graham cracker into the bottom of each cup.
Fun part: Add a dollop of cream cheese mixture, then 2 spoonfuls of blueberries, and finally a sprinkle of streusel on top to each prepared crust. Adjust your measurements accordingly.
Bake 20 minutes. Chill in fridge for as long as you can stand it (a few hours or more is optimal).
Here are my friend and me! Sarah’s specialties include spicy salsa, cake pops, potstickers, cheesecake, garlic bread, and waffles like none otha. She even gets paid. (hint, hint, anyone?) We have made pasta with grilled chicken, tomatoes and basil, potstickers, salsa, and chocolate-chocolate chip waffles in the past. This day we made pesto pasta sans broccoli for dinner with garlic bread, and these cheesecakes for dessert.
The cheesecakes/pies were delicious–both of them! The larger ones took a little maneuvering to get out, but the graham cracker crust was perfect. Lemon and blueberries are one of the best combinations–paired with cream cheese and streusel, what’s not to love? Also–holla–I did not spill ANYTHING on my dress.
Somebody definitely enjoyed them.

Grilled Pizza Margherita

I have always been curious about grilled pizza since I first saw a recipe a few years ago.

So when my friend and fellow cooking-enthusiast came over, we decided to experiment!

It’s pretty easy. Inside, roll out the pizza dough. Sprinkle cornmeal on a wooden paddle and transfer dough onto that. Then, carefully transfer onto a hot grill. Cook. Take out, flip over, and sprinkle toppings on the cooked side. Return to grill to cook the uncooked side. Serve.

Okay, I lied. In THEORY it’s easy.

We had trouble getting the pizza to go on the right spot on the grill (think burned spots) and we cooked it a bit too long (7 minutes = dried out dough).

Also, using a tomato sauce or ricotta would have been a better idea than just mozz. I don’t know what I was thinking.

But all in all, it was pretty good. Basil from the garden gave it a beautiful aroma. It was a fun experiment. I think a bigger wooden paddle is in order–the second pizza kind of folded when I tried to put it on the grill. But I am going to try this again!

Peanut Butter-Greek Yogurt Pies with Oreo Crust

This couldn’t be easier.

Zero percent plain Greek yogurt. Mix with peanut butter. Spoon into premade oreo crusts. Chill (that’s the hardest part).

Warning: Gets better the longer it chills.

Warning: Kinda addictive.

Peanut Butter-Greek Yogurt Pies with Oreo Crust

Adapted from little bitty bakes; makes 12 pies

12 Oreos or other chocolate-sandwich cookies (I used Bloomeos)

2.5 tablespoons melted Earth balance or butter (maybe more, I was kind of winging it)

About 2.5-3 cups 0% Greek yogurt

About 1/2-2/3 cup smooth natural peanut butter

Put cupcake liners in a 12-cup muffin tin.

Pulse the oreos in a food processor until crumbly. Add melted Earth balance. It’ll still be kind of crumbly but pressable. Put about 1.5 tablespoons in each paper liner. Using the back of the spoon and/or fingers, press the mixture to the sides to make little crusts. Place in fridge/freezer to chill. My crust was still pretty crumbly, so I’d probably add more margarine next time to make it sticky. But it didn’t hurt the end result (i.e. spooning into my mouth).

Next, combine the yogurt and peanut butter thoroughly. Now, I thought it was delicious just pb & yo, but a little honey wouldn’t hurt.

Fill up each pie with the pb/yo filling (as best you can–the oreo likes to stick to the yogurt, which doesn’t spread so well) and put in fridge to chill at least 6 hours (the longer it chills, the firmer and better it gets!)

Eat!

So yummy. Seriously, you don’t need sweetener in the filling–the oreo crust is more than enough.

Peanut butter mixed with yogurt. Sounds weird, but really tasty! You could forgo the crust and just eat it like a dip with apples. Personally, I like the crust. Then again, I really like oreos.

Just go make it already. Yum.

Graham Crackers… and the Subsequent Indoor S’more

Yes. Easy peasy, homemade vegan graham crackers.

And ∞ times better than those store-bought.

Perhaps less shelf-stable, but really… I’ll take that over additives and preservatives any day!

Graham Crackers (vegan)

Adapted from Post Punk Vegan Kitchen

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a light colored baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Make a well and add the oil, molasses, and vanilla, whisk a little, and then mix well into the flour mixture until combined and crumbly. Drizzle in the milk and stir to combine. My dough was pretty wet, but it worked well.

Place the dough onto a piece of parchment paper on a flat surface and mold into a rectangle. Cover the dough with saran wrap, and then roll out to 1/8″ thick with a rolling pin. The saran wrap keeps the dough where it belongs and not stuck to the rolling pin.

Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into squares/rectangles whatever size you would like your graham crackers to be. I am the queen of non-uniform cutting, and I think I ended up with 16 or so total crackers of varying dimensions.

Re-flatten the extra edge pieces and cut out more squares. When there’s too little dough to make a proper graham cracker, eat it (yum) or bake a taste-testing piece.

Spray a thin spatula with PAM to transfer the cut outs to the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Prick each cookie with a fork, 2 columns of 4 pricks or whatever looks good.

I don’t think I rolled mine thin enough because 14 minutes was still kind of soft, but with crispy edges. I would say 12-16 minutes depending on thickness and how crunchy you want them!

Let cool completely on the baking sheet.

These were delicious, yada yada yada, crunchy and graham-y, okay let’s get onto the GOOD STUFF…

Like s’mores, indoors! Yippee!

Well, I suppose I should try to not be hypocritical about the fact that I just touted my lovely graham crackers for not having icky ingredients, when I go ahead and use store-bought marshmallows that have who-knows-what (actually, blue 1, artificial flavor, and tetrasodium pyrophosphate, among other ingredients). But homemade marshmallows are an adventure for another day.

Anyway.

To “roast” the marshmallows indoors, this is what I did:

1. Place 1 graham cracker on baking tray.

2. Place desired amount of chocolate (about 3 squares) on top.

3. Place 1 large marshmallow on top of that.

4. Broil, close to the heat source, for 3 minutes or until it starts to smoke a little. Watch it!

5. Top with another graham cracker.

The melty chocolate did my garnishing work for me!

These graham crackers were perfect because they were just a bit softer than regular crackers–so they were much easier to bite into and much better for squooshing the marshmallow down, instead of cracking and breaking into pieces–not very attractive.

Note: serving size in photo is smaller than reality. (I ended up assembling–and eating–two. Good thing I like to run!)

Perfect when nary a campfire can be found.