Roasted Tofu with Vegetables.

Sometimes life gets kind of complicated.

Sometimes I like easy.

Step 1: Add 10 cloves garlic and 2 blocks of cubed tofu to pan.

Step 2: Add 1# green beans.

Step 3: Add 1# quartered brussel sprouts.

Step 4: Add 10 oz. halved mushrooms and 1 chopped onion.

Step 5: Drizzle with 3 T. olive oil + 1/4 cup lite soy sauce + a heavy hand of all-purpose seasoning.

Step 6: Bake until crispy and golden.

Step 7: Devour.

Yes.

Sometimes I like easy.

Roasted Tofu with Vegetables (recipe has been modified from the original version seen in Clean Food)

It doesn’t get much more simple than this one pot dinner.  The hardest part is waiting for everything to cook. 😉

On the side, I roasted some squash by simply cubing a peeled medium butternut squash, drizzling it with about 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. maple syrup.  A pinch of nutmeg finished it off, and I roasted it in the oven on the lowest setting (underneath the roasting tofu.)  It takes about 20-30 minutes for the squash so pop it in after dinner has been cooking for half of its time.  Enjoy!

  • 10 garlic cloves, peels removed
  • 2 pounds extra firm tofu, pressed (freeze it and then dethaw if you want it to have a “meatier” texture)
  • 1 pound green beans, ends removed
  • 1 pound brussel sprouts, quartered
  • 10 oz. baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • all-purpose seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash Original)
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Spray 9×11 inch cooking pan with spray.  Add garlic, tofu, green beans, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, and onion.
  3. Drizzle with oil and soy sauce.  Sprinkle liberally with seasoning.  Toss to combine.
  4. Bake for 1 hr, stirring every 20 minutes, or until vegetables and tofu are browned and crispy.  Serve and enjoy!
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Spaghetti Squash Casserole

So.

About that spaghetti squash.

And all those limitless possibilities.

Someone mentioned eggplant parmesan (and possibly pizza!)  Another mentioned spaghetti squash pasta.  And yet another pointed me in the delightful direction of FoodGawker.com (beware…this site is addicting.)

I considered all of these things, browsed through foodgawker.com and found myself standing in the kitchen with one smallish/medium split-open squash and a gazillion and one, deliciously fresh new ideas.

(Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!)

But.  It is Monday.  Let me (embarrassingly) admit to you what this means.

My fridge is semi-empty except for those back of the fridge veggies which need to be eaten ASAP.  There is a remaining 3/4 a bottle of marinara sauce somewhere on the side shelf, leftover from a quickie meal of English muffin pizza.  A block of tofu sits in my freezer.  For those emergency situations.

But sometimes, that’s all it takes.  A pinch of this.  A dash of that.  And the rest becomes history.

I put to use some mushrooms, a pepper and an onion…

…some frozen spinach…

(another absolute staple for those emergency situations!)

…and, of course, I used that block of tofu.

(which I sprinkled to death with italian seasoning)

The star ingredient (aside from the squash of course!) was this smoked mozzarella, which I found in the gourmet cheese section of my grocery store.

This is the first time that I’ve ever tried smoked mozzarella, and I’m forever in love with its romantic, smoky flavors.  I’ll bet it tastes awesome on pizza, sandwiches and quesadillas!

Almost there…

I put the 3/4 bottle of marinara to good use, figuring this casserole could an extra little bit of somethin’ somethin’.

Finally, the cheese was that final touch.

Voila!  And into the oven you go.

The casserole didn’t take long to heat up, once I popped it in the oven.  Just enough time to get the cheese melted and warm.

Just enough time to throw a simple salad together, complete with walnuts, cranberries, and a nice vinaigrette.

Just enough time.

Delicious.

And, just so you know, if you happen to have a hectic life (or one that is occasionally so,) where you never know when you might have to walk away from the oven, this meal is perfect for you.  While I was making my dietary research calls today, I was interrupted more than once with phone calls, where I needed to step away.

The meal practically cooked itself.

Also.

Feel free to use any kind of cheese.  Feta would be nice.  And mix up these veggies according to what you have on hand.  Summer squash or even butternut squash would make a unique, delicious change of taste.  Go with your gut feeling (and your fridge’s options) with this recipe.  Most of all, ENJOY! 😀

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

  • 1 small/medium spaghetti squash, cut in half and cleaned (scrape out the seeds with a spoon)
  • 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium green or red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-16 oz. package of baby portobellos or white mushroom caps, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 16-20 oz. bag of frozen spinach, dethawed and drained
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1-14 oz block tofu, drained and pressed (optional…add in chicken or lean hamburg/turkey if you prefer)
  • 1-2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 24-32 oz. jar favorite spaghetti sauce (I use Franceso Rinaldi’s no salt added sauce)
  • 5-6 oz. smoked mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Place cleaned squash cut side down on cooking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Place in oven for 30-40 minutes or until you can pierce through the skin easily with a knife.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp oil over medium heat in a large, nonstick cooking skillet.  Add onion and pepper.  Cook until firm but tender.  Add garlic, cook a minute more.  Add mushrooms and spinach and seasonings.  Taste and adjust salt as necessary.  Cook until mushrooms are tender.
  3. Transfer this mixture to a large, clean bowl.  Add 1 tsp oil to same pan and heat over medium.  Cut tofu into 1 inch cubes and add to pan.  Season with Italian seasoning and continue cooking until tofu is beginning to brown.  Transfer to veggie bowl and mix together.
  4. Once the squash is ready, use a fork to run down the insides of the squash, pulling it apart like “spaghetti.”  Squeeze out excess liquid.  Add to tofu/veggie mixture, add diced tomatoes and stir to combine.
  5. Place in a 11 x 8 baking pan coated with cooking spray, top with spaghetti sauce and cheese and place in 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melting and beginning to brown.  Serve with parmesan cheese at the table and a side salad.  ENJOY!
QUESTION: What is your favorite vegetable?  Least favorite?  I love most vegetables, with brussels sprouts being one of my faves.  But as much as I try, I’m not a fan of okra!!

your basic bowl of veggie soup.

If it’s raining where you live…

If you’re craving somethin’ warm and cozy…

If you’ve got yourself some veggies…

If you have a cup or so of veggie stock…

If you’ve got some beans or chicken or shrimp…

plus maybe some diced tomatoes too

If you’ve got yourself an awesome dad…

who brings you home a loaf of garlic roasted bread

And.  Well.  If this just so happens to be the case…

…then

…you have dinner.

Your Basic Bowl Of Veggie Soup

(serves 2 or 3, depending on types and amounts of vegetables used)

This soup isn’t fussy.  In fact, I never follow a standardized recipe when I make it.  I simply add a little of this and that as I go.  Feel free to use any spice or veggie combination that you desire.  Have fun with it!

  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stock, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 6-oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • a few handfuls of frozen spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a medium sized sauce pan, heat 1 tsp olive oil.  Add carrot, celery, and onion.  Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until tender but firm.
  2. Add zucchini, mushrooms, vegetable broth, water diced tomatoes and spices.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and continue cooking until tender.
  3. Add beans, spinach and salt and pepper to taste.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Continue cooking another 2 minutes or so.  Ladle into bowls, serve, and ENJOY!
QUESTION: Favorite soup?

Silly me.

Silly me.

It was 4 o’clock on a very warm, very summery afternoon.  I was walking barefoot across the cool kitchen floor.  Country music playing softly in the background.

Dad came in after a very long, very stressful day at work and plopped a large brown bag on the table with the same satisfaction as if he had just caught some meat out back.

“What’s that?”  Maybe I was expecting a puppy to pop out.  Or maybe that’s just my hopeless fixation on wanting a dog in my life.

“Corn.” Dad stated the obvious, as the green leaves started to shyly poke their heads out, as soon as the bag had settled.  Dad had been talking about buying some corn for weeks.  There is a farmers market nearby that throws away any and all corn that hasn’t been bought the very SAME day that it was picked.  Fresh, fresh, fresh.

“What are we going to do with it?” I asked.

Dad looked perplexed.  Oh.  Right.  Silly me.

Eat it raw and crunchy.

Or eat it grilled, letting the butter dribble down your chin.

Eat it shaved in your taco salad.

Or.  Make a soup, a stew, a chowder.  The real question is, what can you not do with corn?

I’ve been wanting to make a batch of Farmer’s Market Chowder ever since I saw it featured on the cover of Vegetarian Times.  The thought of roasting everything before it was added to the chowder, while letting the corn cobs steep in the milky broth had me swooning.

Yes.  Literally.

Swooning.

Corn is good in any way you decide to use it.  The important thing is to use it now, while it’s still young and fresh.  Preferably in the company of all kinds of other farm fresh produce.

And that is exactly what we did with this big brown bag of corn.  I popped off my flip-flops (or flip-flaps, as Memere would have said,) and settled right down to  bowl of Farmer’s Market Chowder.  Because that’s what you do with corn.

Silly me.

Farmer’s Market Chowder—slightly modified from the original version as seen in Vegetarian Times Magazine.

This soup has a lot of steps, but it comes together relatively quickly if you’re able to start one step while the other one is still cooking.  Also, don’t feel that you need to be strict with this recipe.  You can easily substitute any of the vegetables (aside from the corn, of course) for another.  Sweet potatoes were used in the original recipe and you can easily substitute any type of herb for the basil and chives.  Enjoy!

  • 5 large ears corn, kernels removed and cobs reserved
  • 2-1/2 cups low-fat milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, plus 3 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 3 cups chopped sweet onions
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 12 oz. red skinned potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 lb. green beans, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
  1. Combine corn kernels, milk and crushed garlic in saucepan.  Run back of knife down cobs to release milk and pulp into saucepan, add cobs to pan.  Bring to a boil.  Remove pan from heat, and let steep.
  2. Heat butter in Dutch oven over medium-low heat.  Add onions, cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add minced garlic and paprika and cook 30 seconds.  Stir in vegetable broth and cook 30 seconds.  Add 4 cups water and remove pot from heat.
  3. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Add potatoes, saute 8 minutes or until browned; transfer to Dutch oven.  Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to same skillet, add green beans, and saute 3 minutes.  Transfer beans to plate.
  4. Bring mixture in Dutch oven to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes.  Add green beans, and cook 4 minutes more.
  5. Remove corn cobs from milk mixture and discard.  Stir milk mixture, basil and chives into chowder.  Season with salt and pepper if desired.  Sprinkle with additional herbs for garnish, and enjoy!
QUESTION: What summer vegetable are you loving right now?

The problem with being sort of (kind of) semi-employed.

As soon as I graduated from college with a degree in nutrition, I entered right into a 10-month internship.  People wanted to know how much I was getting paid.  (Secretly, I kind of liked the shocked faces I received when people learned that I was the one doing the paying, not the other way around!)

And then I graduated from my internship.  And people immediately wanted to know if I had a job.  When (where?) was I going to move out of my parents’ house?  And what kind of job was I seeking out?  What did I want to see in my future?  Was I dating?  And, while I was at it, what is the purpose of life?

Honestly, these questions make me feel slightly uncomfortable.  Mostly because I just don’t know how to answer them.

First off.  Yes, I have a job.  But it’s not really a full-time job.  I’m getting paid for making research calls.  It goes something like this.  “Hi, my name is Sarah, and I’m calling from such and such a study.  How are you?  I’m just calling to collect some dietary information from yesterday.”  And then I walk them through the process of portion sizes and various brands, all while making sure I don’t give any biased information or recommendations.

And I kind of, in a geeky sort of way, enjoy it.

But usually when I explain this to people, they want more of an answer.  Okay, so I’m working part time making research calls.

What else? 

The truth is.  I’m still looking.  And as I’m sure many of you know and understand, job hunting is a job in and of itself..

As is cooking for the family.  Filling out resumes.  Making research calls.  Studying for the RD exam.

Not to mention, I have no idea what kind of job I would like to do at this point.  I’m pretty much set on taking any sort of clinical position, although in the long term, I’d like to have some variety and spice.  A little freelance writing, maybe.  Counseling.  Teaching a few gym classes.

Cooking would be nice.

Who knows?

All I know is that this whole indecisive, awkward, not really sure kind of answer is the problem with being sort of (kind of) semi-employed.

Yes.  This is the absolute problem of being busy, swamped, and crazy, without really knowing how to explain myself.

In the meantime, I’ll keep on job hunting.  And studying.  And working like crazy.

(And no, I’m not currently dating.  I’m in no huge rush to move out before finding a good, steady job.  And while I have some idea of the purpose in life, this would take more than one post to discuss.)

So, as always, I will continue to cook.  Because this is one thing that will always make complete sense.

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp and Vegetables as seen at EatingWell.com

(Serves 4)

Use this flavorful combination of shrimp and vegetables to top your linguine, brown rice, whole wheat couscous or quinoa.  And make a double batch if you’re planning on leftovers!

  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 large red bell peppers, diced
  • 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound raw shrimp, (26-30 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, asparagus, lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl; cover to keep warm.
    2. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk broth and cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth and add to the pan along with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened slightly and the shrimp are pink and just cooked through, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat. Stir in lemon juice and parsley. Serve the shrimp and sauce over the vegetables.
    QUESTION: What are you currently doing for a job?  Do you like it?

the effects of warm weather.

The heat and humidity have packed up and left, being replaced with a cool, dry breeze that makes you feel as if you’ve just jumped out of a very hot steam room, right into a cool shower.  Refreshing.  Absolutely.

And this is a very good thing.  Yes.  The temperature switch came just in time.  Why, you ask?  Well.  The heat does funny things to me.

For example—and I think you will agree—it’s not entirely normal to laugh hysterically while making silly poses for no apparent reason in the middle of a frisbee game.

(although it WAS kind of fun)

And, it is very unlike me to wake up grumpy in the morning.

It’s not normal for me to laugh so hard that I cry, ending up in a fit of hiccups.

Well.  Okay, okay.  This actually, honestly, really is kind of normal.

It’s not normal for me to not have an appetite.  To want nothing to eat but salads and yogurt and ice cream.

That’s not to say that I couldn’t eat ice cream every day of my life and not be happy, of course.

And it’s completely unacceptable to always wake up with frizzy hair every. single. morning.  Not even the blow dryer and flat iron with a gazillion products could have protected me this week.

Thank goodness for hair ties and hats.

Yes.

The cooler weather came just in time.

As did breakfast.

I love oats after they’ve sopped up all the liquids and delicious flavors!

I have been eating breakfast out on the deck every single morning this past week.  There’s something special about dining al fresco with nothing but chickadees, robins, and the little black cat next door for company.

A deliciously refreshing start to my day.

This weekend has been a pretty active one.  I went canoeing and swimming on Friday.  Biking (for my first time this YEAR) on Saturday.  And hiking yesterday.

I think today I need a nice long walk and some yoga to stretch out those hamstrings and arms. 😀

Spicy Breakfast Cookie (serves 1)

  • 1/2 cup uncooked, old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 banana, mashed (save the other 1/4 for a topping)
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. crushed flax
  • plenty of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves (adjust to preferences)
  • pinch of salt (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. milk (as needed)
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together oats, banana, peanut butter, flax, spices, and salt if using.  Add small amounts of milk, if batter seems too dry.  Smash well with a fork.
  2. Transfer batter to a plate and spread out to the edges, creating a “cookie pattern.”  Cover plate and refrigerate overnight.
  3. The next morning, uncover, slice the rest of the banana on top and serve.  Top with coconut or sliced almonds if desired.  ENJOY!

QUESTION: Are you a cold weather person or a warm weather person?  I’d much rather be pleasantly cool than too hot.  But I also hate being cold.  I’m horribly picky! 😀

on the road again.

I was one busy girl today!

I spent the better part of my afternoon making use of any and all foods that might potentially go bad in the fridge while we’re away on vacation.  There was one half of a butternut squash, which I roasted into a state of absolute caramelization.  The cantaloupe was cut up, the summer squash and onions were sauteed and drizzled with a light pear vinaigrette, some brown rice was cooked for tonight’s dinner, and the basil from my herb garden was turned into a pesto-styled hummus for tomorrow’s lunches on the go.

And.  Lastly. The whole wheat pumpkin raisin muffins.  Those were just because.  I think I’ll pull them out for Sunday morning’s breakfast.

After this was all finished up, I went to work on putting together my snack bucket, which is a compilation of nut butters, calming teas (caffeine free of course!) granola bars, honey, amazing meal (in case I crave some nutrients!) and other such necessities.

By the time night rolled around, I realized that I was tired but hungry.

I must be on a “taco” kick, because I went with a vegetarian taco salad tonight!

The mix was messy, not overly spicy and drenched with flavor.

I topped it all off with a dab of greek yogurt, some tortilla chips and a handful of chopped cilantro.  It was light and cool and the most perfect dinner to unwind with after a long day of cooking and packing.

Tomorrow I’ll be driving through Canada!  I’m going to try and get a good nights sleep tonight, as my body seems to require a little extra sleep without that caffeine boost that its been used to (speaking of which, I’ve recently discovered that I am indeed a nap person!)

I’ll see you when I get back! 😀

Vegetarian Taco Salad–recipe slightly modified from the original version as seen on EatingWell.com.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels or frozen, thawed
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked long-grain brown rice
  • 1 15-ounce can black, kidney or pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup prepared salsa
  • 2 cups shredded iceberg or romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely crumbled tortilla chips
  • Lime wedges for garnish

PREPARATION

  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and corn; cook, stirring, until the onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Coarsely chop 1 tomato. Add it to the pan along with rice, beans, chili powder, 1 teaspoon oregano and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the tomato cooks down, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  2. Coarsely chop the remaining 3 tomatoes. Combine with cilantro, salsa and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oregano in a medium bowl.
  3. Toss lettuce in a large bowl with the bean mixture, half the fresh salsa and 2/3 cup cheese. Serve sprinkled with tortilla chips and the remaining cheese, passing lime wedges and the remaining fresh salsa at the table.
QUESTION: Do you usually pack lunches and snacks for road trips?  What are some of your favorites?