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Chopped Spinach Taco Salad April 5, 2011

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in lunch, quick meal, salad, vegetarian.
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I mentioned this salad briefly a few posts back, but since it is my meal at least 3 times a week, I figured it deserved it’s own post!  I make this for lunch a lot, packing all of the ingredients except the salsa, hot sauce, and chips into one container, and then mixing it all together right before I’m ready to eat.  It’s quick, easy, and really, really good.  I usually get three lunches out of one can of black beans.

Chopped Spinach Taco Salad
(serves 2)

chopped spinach taco salad

Ingredients:
3 cups chopped baby spinach
1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed well
Handful of grape tomatoes or one bigger tomato, chopped
1/8 cup walnuts, chopped
1/8 cup feta cheese
1/8 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 salsa
Hot sauce, to taste
Handful of tortilla chips, crunched up

Method:
Chop all of the ingredients, mixing in the salsa, hot sauce, and chips right before serving.

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Tofu Avocado Cheddar Wrap September 30, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in lunch, quick meal, vegetarian.
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3 comments

It takes a special recipe to make a combination of tofu, avocado, soy sauce, cheddar cheese, nutritional yeast and italian dressing taste like a million bucks, but this one does it.  The basis for this sandwich is a pan full of grit-style tofu, which I first made back in the veggie cobb salad post.  The key to the grit-style tofu is a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast:

nutrional yeast

Take the prepared tofu, chop up an avocado, top with some shredded cheddar (shredded white Vermont cheddar is amazing in this, but use what you have!) and italian dressing (I’m sure homemade would be preferable but Ken’s Light Northern Italian is a good stand-by) and wrap it all up in a nice fresh pita and you have a delicious, fast meal.

Tofu Avocado Cheddar Wrap
(Adapted from the Grit Cookbook)

Tofu Avocado Cheddar Wrap

Ingredients:

15 oz block of water-packed extra firm tofu
1 tbl olive oil
Soy sauce (a few shakes of the bottle)
Nutritional yeast (about 1-2 tbl)
1 avocado, chopped
2 fresh pitas
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbs italian dressing

Method:

Drain the tofu and press excess water out using a tea towel or paper towels.  Cut tofu into a small dice.

diced tofu

Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet, and add tofu.  Cook it, flipping pieces infrequently so the tofu gets nice and brown and crispy on the outside.  When tofu has browned (it takes me about 20 minutes to get it how I like it), turn the heat down to about medium-low and add a few shakes of soy sauce to the pan.  Stir the tofu around, making sure it all gets evenly seasoned.  Add one to two tablespoons of nutritional yeast to the tofu, again stirring it around so it is evenly coated.  It should look like the tofu below when you are done!

grit style tofu

Chop up an avocado, and put a portion of the prepared tofu in a pita, top with chopped avocado, shredded cheddar, and a little italian dressing.

open pita

Roll it up, and eat!

Grilled Chicken Pitas, courtesy of Dr. AP! July 13, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, lunch, meat, quick meal.
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2 comments

My brother and sister-in-law were in town staying with us for the past few days.  We spent one evening grilling a complete meal outside, with grilled chicken pitas, a HUGE zucchini from their garden cut up and grilled with some tomatoes (also from their garden!), and grilled potatoes/brussels sprouts.  I always find that grilling potatoes takes longer than anything else, so I’ve taken to cheating—I cut the potatoes and pre-cook them a little in the microwave, using one a steam-cooking bag.  Then I put them on the grill (or in the oven) for a shorter period of time to get them nice and crispy.

The grilled chicken pitas were a big hit with everyone eating them.  Adam grilled the chicken breasts on aluminum foil to capture the juices (and keep the juices off my veggie dog!!  ha!) and the resulting product was, by all counts, tender and flavorful.  He used a few shakes of Frankenmuth Chicken Seasoning, shown here, on the meat:

Frankenmuth Chicken Seasoning

Here’s Adam’s recipe:

Grilled Chicken Pitas

grilled chicken pitas

Ingredients:

Four boneless, skinless, trimmed chicken breasts
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Frankenmuth chicken seasoning
4 pita breads
Chopped green leaf lettuce
Diced tomatoes
Shredded cheddar
Ranch dressing

Method:

Season the chicken with a little olive oil, salt & pepper, and Frankenmuth chicken seasoning.  Grill on a piece of aluminum foil, flipping occasionally, until the chicken is white in the middle and cooked throughout.  Slice the grilled chicken into strips and serve in a pita with lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese, and a little ranch dressing.

Veggie Cobb Salad, and My Favorite Way to Cook Tofu June 30, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, lunch, salad, vegan, vegetarian.
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5 comments

I made veggie cobb salad for dinner last night.  This was monumental because it marks the first time in my LIFE I have ever hard-boiled an egg.  Remember when I told you I couldn’t really cook an egg?  That didn’t only apply to fried eggs…it applies to every kind of egg a person might want to eat.  But I did it.  And it turned out magnificently, or so I’m told.  I didn’t eat it.  But Ryan did, and I saw it, and it looked like a hard-boiled egg should look.   My salad is the one pictured below, sans egg.  This post isn’t really about boiling an egg, though.  It’s about my hands-down favorite way to cook tofu, and a salad you can make using the tofu.

The Best Way to Cook Tofu. (modified from the Grit Cookbook)

grit style tofu

Ingredients:

15 oz block of water-packed extra firm tofu
1 tbl olive oil
Soy sauce (a few shakes of the bottle)
Nutritional yeast (about 1-2 tbl)

Method:

Drain the tofu and press excess water out using a tea towel or paper towels.  Cut tofu into a small dice.  Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet, and add tofu.  Cook it, flipping pieces infrequently so the tofu gets nice and brown and crispy on the outside.  When tofu has browned (it takes me about 20 minutes to get it how I like it), turn the heat down to about medium-low and add a few shakes of soy sauce to the pan.  Stir the tofu around, making sure it all gets evenly seasoned.  Add one to two tablespoons of nutritional yeast to the tofu, again stirring it around so it is evenly coated.  It should look like the tofu above when you are done!

Veggie Cobb Salad

vegetarian cobb salad

Ingredients:

1 block’s worth of grit-style crispy tofu
4-6 veggie bacon strips (I buy Morningstar brand)
2 chopped tomatoes
1 diced avocado
A few cups of chopped romaine, leaf lettuce, or other greens
Cheese—blue cheese is good, or shredded cheddar
A hard-boiled egg, if you wish!

Method:

Once your tofu is prepared as described above and your veggie bacon has crisped up in the skillet, all you really need to do is chop the veggies up & arrange in a cobb-esque fashion.  🙂

Slightly Spicy Spaghetti Squash May 21, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, lunch, vegan.
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I’ve had a spaghetti squash sitting around the kitchen for a few weeks now, and figured I shouldn’t push my luck on how long I thought it might last. I meant to use it during my no-grocery-shopping week earlier this month, but I never got around to it.  So the spaghetti squash was still sitting around, and I decided to make something of it last night. (Side note: that week was a success. I didn’t enter a grocery store until the following Sunday, and we made all meals except one at home that week. Since we were spending Friday night of that week cleaning the basement–everyone’s idea of fun, right?–I though we deserved a pizza dinner and we ordered in from Strawberry Moon.)

I am not going to get into how to roast a spaghetti squash here.  Many people have posted step-by-step instructions with pictures on the internet, and I don’t really have anything to add that would differ from what I’ve seen out there already.  I will point you to the directions I used:  How to Roast a Spaghetti Squash. I roasted mine at 400 for about 40 minutes, following the directions in that link.

Slightly Spicy Spaghetti Squash

spaghetti squash

Ingredients:

1 spaghetti squash
For the sauce:
1/2 onion
1 jalapeno
1 can diced tomatoes (or a few big fresh ones)
For the topping:
1/2 chopped red pepper
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 cup chopped kale or spinach
salt and pepper

Method:

Roast the spaghetti squash as described in the link above.  While it is roasting, prepare the sauce and the veggies.  Since the squash takes about 40 minutes to roast, start the sauce and veggies about 15-20 minutes after putting the squash in the oven.

For the sauce: chopped half an onion and one jalapeno.  Saute them in a little olive oil until they are soft and cooked through.  Place them in a blender or food processor along with one can of diced tomatoes or a few fresh chopped ones, and some salt and pepper.  Blend it thoroughly, and return to low heat on the stove.

For the veggies: stir-fry the red pepper and broccoli until the broccoli is bright green and the peppers are tender-crisp.  Add the kale or spinach and cook for another few minutes.  Add salt & pepper/any other spices to taste.  Serve the sauce and veggies over the squash, adding some shredded parmesan if you’d like!

How I almost burned down the kitchen right before Lost came on May 5, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, lunch, salad, vegetarian.
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I was excited about dinner last night.  A friend at work had sent me a recipe for quinoa cakes, and I decided that would be the base of the night’s meal.  I had planned a nice salad with grilled halloumi cheese and green beans, and thought some soup would be perfect to round out the meal (while using up two more cans of diced tomatoes from my cabinet).

Once everyone arrived, we sat down in the living room, mere minutes from the time Lost was going to come on.  I started to smell smoke, but figured it was our neighbors to the left burning something on their grill again.  A minute later, Ryan said, “I think I smell something burning” and we all looked down the hallway toward the kitchen to see smoke billowing out into the hallway, right ONTO the smoke detector, which never bothered to go off.  Good thing we have that. I raced into the kitchen  and found the stovetop up in flames from a burning oven mitt left on a too-hot-still burner.  I smacked the flames out with a towel, yelled at Toby to stop eating falling ashes, and Ryan took the charred mess outside to hose it off and stop the smoldering fibers.  By this time, the smoke had filled our entire house with thick air and a campfire aroma (which is still lingering this morning). Jokes were made about the Smoke Monster visiting our house, fans were brought out, all the windows were opened, and we continued to eat.

burning oven mitt

Here’s a recipe for quinoa cakes.  I modified it from the original to add cheese and baked them instead of frying.  Come to think of it, this meal might have been one of the healthiest we’ve eaten on a Tuesday in a while.

Update: I had two plain leftover quinoa cakes for lunch today.  I smeared some tomato paste on them, sprinkled a little mozzarella on top, and heated them up, and they were delicious!  Next time I’ll make extra cakes just to eat them the next day.

Baked Quinoa Cakes with Spring Halloumi Salad

quinoa cakes with salad

For the quinoa cakes:

3 cups water
2 cup quinoa
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper (at least 1 tbs each)
Herbs/spices if you’d like
Cooking spray

For the salad:

1/2 lb green beans, cut into approx. 1 inch segments
1 bunch kale, rinsed and cut into bite-sized pieces
2-3 tbs fresh dill
1/2 halloumi cheese, 1/2 inch dice
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbs olive oil

Making the quinoa cakes:

  • Bring water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan.
  • If needed (I’ve found Trader Joe’s quinoa doesn’t need washing but Costco’s does), wash quinoa in 3 changes of water in a bowl, then drain well in a fine-mesh sieve.
  • Stir quinoa into boiling water and return to a boil, then simmer, covered, until quinoa is dry and water is absorbed, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool, stirring occasionally until cooled off, about 10 minutes, then stir in eggs, parmesan cheese, salt & pepper, and additional herbs/spices, if using.
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly spray a 1/2 cup dry-ingredient measuring cup with cooking spray. Pack enough quinoa into measure with a rubber spatula to fill it two-thirds full. (If spatula becomes sticky, dip in water.) Unmold onto baking sheet and gently pat quinoa into a 4-inch-wide patty with spatula. Form the rest of the quinoa cakes the same way.
  • Cook for 20 minutes at 400, flipping once if you want.

Making the salad:

  • First, cook the halloumi. Cut the halloumi into bite-sized pieces (1/2 inch or so) and place on grill pan or skillet over medium.  There is no need to add extra olive oil or use cooking spray; the cheese has enough oil in it to grill nicely by itself.  Cook the halloumi over medium heat until golden brown, then flip to cook the other side.
    • Note: We have a grill pan with a press from Target that is probably the most-used pan in the house, and perfect for this purpose.  If you don’t have a grill pan, any sort of skillet will do.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add kale, and cook until leaves are bright green. Add green beans and salt and pepper, cook until green beans are bright green.  Add halved cherry tomatoes, dill, and pre-cooked halloumi chunks, and cook just until tomatoes start to soften a bit.  Remove from heat and serve alongside the quinoa cakes.

Spinach Artichoke Pie April 28, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in breakfast, dinner, lunch, vegetarian.
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Yesterday morning, I got a very sweet email from a friend of a friend, who had been sent a recipe I made last Tuesday.  It was a spinach artichoke pie (which I accompanied with roasted red pepper feta rice from Closet Cooking—AMAZING!!) and she and her husband really enjoyed it. She asked if she could post the recipe on her blog, and I happily said yes.  She asked if I had a blog she could link back to, and I didn’t…buuuut, the whole exchange got me thinking, maybe I should have a blog!  So, here we are.  And here’s Karen’s post about the spinach artichoke pie that got this whole thing started.  Thanks, Karen!  Head over there for the recipe, and be sure to check out the roasted red pepper feta rice, too.  It was really THAT GOOD.

Raw Kale “Fattoush” Salad April 28, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, lunch, salad, vegetarian.
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For last night’s dinner, I made a vegetarian lasagna using a recipe found at the Amateur Gourmet community blog. (By the way, that lasagna lived up to its title. It was not as heavy as a typical white lasagna because there’s no bechamel sauce involved.  It was time-consuming to make, but 100% worth the wait!  I made it exactly as described, so head over there for the recipe.  Now, back to the salad….)

I bought a few bunches of kale over the weekend, and wanted to start using it up, found a few about-to-go-stale pitas, dill leftover from a recent spinach pie, put them all together, and this salad was born!   It was tangy, fresh, and delicious.  If you keep the feta and pita separate, this salad holds up really well in the fridge for lunch the next day!

Raw Kale “Fattoush” Salad

Ingredients:

1 large bunch of fresh kale
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper (at least 1/2 tbs of salt; pepper to taste)
Sumac (to taste; as much as you want)
2 chopped tomatoes
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
1 thinly sliced cucumber
½ cup feta
For toasted pita:
3 pieces of pita bread
Olive oil
Sumac
Sesame seeds
Salt

Method:

Wash the fresh kale, removing the leaves from the main stem, and cut or chop into small, bite sized pieces.  Spin or pat the kale as dry (doesn’t have to be completely dry).  Put the kale into a large bowl, pour the juice of one lemon on top, sprinkle the salt, pepper, and sumac on top, and mix it all up very well.  The lemon juice and salt will soften or “cook” the kale and make it easier to eat.  Let the kale/lemon juice/spice bowl sit while you prep the other ingredients.

For the pita:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Tear three large pitas into small pieces (like you’d see with pita chips you’d buy at a store).  Toss them in a large bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, some sumac, sesame seeds, and salt & pepper.  Spread the pieces out evenly on a large baking sheet.  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 5 minutes.  They burn quickly after that, so be sure to keep an eye on them in case they need to come out early.

Once the rest of the ingredients have been chopped, sliced, and prepped, mix them in the big bowl with the kale. Serve with pita chips crumbled over top.