Friday, January 28, 2011

Big Night

At about noon yesterday I realized something quite exciting...that night was the first night I didn't have plans, have to study or work on essays in weeks! I had absolutely nothing to do! Sometimes when you feel like you're constantly running from one thing to another (I feel this way often) it is so nice to have a night with absolutely nothing planned. But of course, being the type-A that I am, I immediately started planning my night. Pat would be gone until late evening because he had several meetings, I was out of work at 3:30 because I'd gotten in so early, so that left hours of time to myself. How will I entertain myself? A couple years ago the answer to that question would have been Thirsty Thursday! But now, all I wanted to do was cook! I had my appetizer, entree and dessert planned by the time I left work. I made it back to Nashua in record time, stopped at Trader Joe's to stock up on some ingredients, and then hit the gym for a six mile run. 

I got home at 6:45 energized, starving, and sweaty. After showering, I got to work in the kitchen.

Tonight's Menu:
Appetizer: Broccoli Hummus with Baked Pita Chips and Carrots
Entree: Tofu and Mushroom Marsala
Dessert: Salted Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yes, that's a lot of food to make for myself and eat myself, but I'd managed to work up quite the appetite on the ride home and treadmill.

Broccoli Hummus

I've been meaning to make hummus for a while now that I have a food processor, but hadn't gotten around to it. For this I used all of the typical ingredients of hummus, but added broccoli, halved the oil, and didn't use tahini (Trader's didn't have any and I didn't feel like going on a quest for it). Pat and I are a little bit obsessed with broccoli and have it almost every night with dinner. I thought that adding broccoli to my hummus would be a fun new way to incorporate it into a meal.

This is so easy to make - just throw all of your ingredients into the food processor and continue to process until it reaches the desired consistency (several minutes).

  • 2 cups raw broccoli
  • 15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chick peas)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste (I didn't use any, didn't think it needed it)
I also made some whole wheat pita chips to have with the hummus.  This came out to be so delicious! The garlic and lemon add a lot to the taste of this dip - it was a wonderful snack to have as I made dinner, and good for you, too! I can't wait to use this in a sandwich this weekend.

Tofu and Mushroom Marsala

I've never made Marsala before, but Pat has made me chicken Marsala several times and I've always loved it. When I saw a recipe for tofu Marsala I couldn't wait to try it! This meal came together very quickly but tasted as though someone had spent hours in the kitchen (well I did, but this dish only took about 30 minutes from start to finish!).

In a large pan heated on medium, saute minced garlic in olive oil until fragrant.
Add bell pepper, oregano and salt. Saute for about 5 minutes.
Turn the heat to high and add Marsala and tofu, cook for 4 minutes (I wanted the wine to reduce more so it would be less liquidy, so I cooked about 5-6 minutes).
Turn heat to medium-high and add mushrooms and tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat and stir in basil.
Serve in bowls with freshly grated Parmesan on top, and crusty bread on the side (I bought Ciabbata rolls from Trader Joe's that were perfect for this).
This was so good - definitely one of the best tofu dishes I've made. I love the basil and Parmesan cheese with the tofu, and all of the flavors blended really well together. As I said, I wouldn't have thought to make tofu in a Marsala dish, but it worked so well!

This is from Serious Eats - their recipe serves 4 but I cut mine down to serve 2.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup Marsala cooking wine
  • 1/2 package firm light tofu, pressed and cut into strips
  • (1/2) 15 ounce can diced tomatoes (I used Trader Joe's fire roasted tomatoes for some spice)
  • 5 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • Parmesan cheese (to grate on top)
  • Crusty bread or pasta to serve with
  1. In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add bell pepper, oregano, and salt. Saute 5 minutes.
  2. Turn heat up to high. Add Marsala and tofu and cook 4 minutes, so wine reduces a little (I cooked 5-6 minutes so it reduced more).
  3. Turn heat to medium-high. Add mushrooms and tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in basil. Serve in bowls with crusty bread or pasta.

Salted Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love anything that combines salty and sweet, so I had a good feeling about these cookies. They did not disappoint! Though they look more like little dough balls than cookies, the taste is outstanding...and its impossible to eat just one. I also love that this recipe uses whole wheat flour instead of white...and that there's oats in them!

In a medium bowl, mix oats, flour, and baking powder.
In a smaller bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, and syrup.
Add egg and vanilla - mix thoroughly.
Combine dry and wet ingredients.
Roll dough into balls. Place on baking sheet covered in parchment paper and sprinkle with sea salt (don't be shy about the salt!). Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.
I wish I'd flattened these a bit before cooking because they maintained their ball shape. I'd forgotten the difference between brown and white sugar - the white sugar allows the cookies to spread, whereas brown sugar usually maintains the original shape. So though the shape isn't perfect, the taste was!! These go so well with a cold glass of milk. For you nut lovers out there - definitely include nuts if you have them. The added crunch is great!

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4-1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I used 1/4 cup because I only added to half the batter, use 1/2 a cup if adding to all of batter)
  • sea salt
  1. In a medium bowl, mix oats, flour, and baking powder. 
  2. In a smaller bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, and syrup. Add egg and vanilla - mix thoroughly.
  3. Combine wet and dry ingredients.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts.
  5. Roll dough into balls. Place on baking sheet covered in parchment paper and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.

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