Saturday, February 18, 2017

Creamy Tomato Soup

I have been trying to eat healthy again lately. Someone I know (not well) asked me if I was pregnant a few weeks ago, so I decided I needed to start making some changes again to my diet. She obviously has no filter and I probably wasn't wearing the most flattering outfit, but I really did gain at least 5 pounds over the winter holiday. I have been using a few recipes from the The Oh She Glows vegan cookbook, and I am loving them. This vegan creamy tomato soup recipe is one of the recipes I have tried and loved.  I added feta cheese as a garnish (you can find vegan feta cheese if you want to try it) along with some kalamata olives. You can also leave the feta out and use croutons as a garnish. Greg and I both think that this soup is comfort food. The other day he was eating a bowl of it, and he said "this soup is off the hook!" I don't think I have ever heard Greg describe anything as being "off the hook."

Serve it with toasted and buttered/olive oil brushed french bread. It's delicious! Enjoy.

Recipe for Creamy Tomato Soup

1/2 cup of raw cashews, soaked in water for two hours
2 cups of vegetable broth
1 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
A pinch or two of sugar (optional - if you choose to caramelize the onions)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 can of San Marzano peeled Italian plum tomatoes (28 - 32 ounces)
1 can of tomato paste (3 - 4 Tbsp.)
6 Tbsp. of sundried tomatoes in oil (with oil drained off)
1/2 tsp. of dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
a pinch or two of cayenne pepper
chopped kalamata Olives
Feta (optional - for garnish- you can find vegan feta)
Crushed red pepper flakes

Drain the water out of the cashews. Place the cashews in a food processor or blender with the vegetable broth and puree until smooth. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the onion and cook for 7 - 8 minutes, then add in the garlic and cook for an additional minute. *If desired, add a pinch of sugar in with the olive oil and onions and then cook for 15 minutes to lightly caramelize before adding in the garlic and cooking for one minute. Allow onion and garlic mixture to cool slightly. Add the plum tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, sundried tomatoes, and slightly cooled onion mixture to the blender or food processor. Mix until smooth. Pour mixture into the pot that you cooked the onions and garlic in. Heat over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Stir in the oregano, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and thyme. Continue to simmer over medium heat for 20 - 25 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls. Top each with a tablespoon of feta cheese (vegan or regular), sliced kalamata olives, crushed red pepper flakes, freshly ground black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.
This soup gets more flavorful and taste even better leftover the next day! Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Makes approximately 6 servings.

Recipe Adapted from: The Oh She Glows Cookbook

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Chocolate Silk Pie

This year, I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time. For the last several years, Greg and I have talked a lot about how we do not think turkey needs to be a part of a Thanksgiving meal. Nobody really talks too much about the turkey, but everyone always raves about the sides. A couple years ago, we were going to host my parents, but we ended up going out of town at the last minute. That year, we decided we would serve salmon instead of turkey when we hosted Thanksgiving. This Thanksgiving, we served pan seared chicken, salmon, candied sweet potatoes, spinach salad, and brussel sprouts. My mother brought green beans, stuffing, rolls, and cranberry sauce. I felt like our meal did not weigh us down or make us tired, so we were able to go heavy on the dessert. Instead of making an apple pie or pumpkin pie, I went with this decadent chocolate silk pie. It was declared by my mother as the best pie she has ever had (in her 70 years of life), and my in-laws absolutely loved it. Wendy was in heaven when she got her small slice of pie. After each bite, she said, "It's really good, mommy!" It is that good. If you want a true chocolate treat, try this pie. This may not happen to everyone, but I seriously could feel the endorphins being released from my brain with every bite that I took. This chocolate silk pie tastes really good, and it might even make you feel really good, too! Enjoy.

Recipe for Chocolate Silk Pie 

Pie crust
1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. of granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. of kosher salt
1 stick of very cold butter, chopped into small chunks
3 - 4 Tbsp. of ice-cold water
For the chocolate filling 
1 cup of heavy whipping cream, chilled 
9 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips)
3 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. of water
1 stick (8 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 Tbsp. of pure vanilla extract
Fresh whipped cream, for topping 
Chocolate shavings or ground chocolate, for topping (optional)

For the pie crust
Place the flour, salt, and sugar into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse briefly to just combine. Add in the very cold pieces of butter. Pulse several times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (about the size of peas). With the food processor running, slowly pour a tablespoon of the water through the feed tube. Continue to pour in more water, a tablespoon at a time. After you have poured in 3 tablespoons of water, add in the fourth tablespoon if the dough has not yet left the sides of the bowl. Allow the food processor to keep running until the dough completely leaves the sides of the bowl and forms into a ball. Carefully remove the dough from the food processor and wrap in saran wrap or seal in a plastic bag. Put into the refrigerator for 45 minutes. Roll cooled dough out into a 12 inch circle and put into a 9 inch pie pan. Trim and fold edges, then cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 30 minutes.
Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment paper to place over the pie plate so it covers the plates edges. Fill with pie weights. Place in over and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully remove the weights and parchment paper, and lower oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place the pie crust back into the oven and cook for another 8 - 10 minutes, watching carefully until crust is golden but don't let it burn. Allow to cool completely.

For the pie filling
Whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Place into an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. 
Melt the chocolate in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. Put the eggs, water, and sugar into a saucepan and gently stir together. Set over a pan of simmering water and use an electric hand mixer and mix on medium speed until the mixture is thickened and 160 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer (about 8- 10 minutes). Remove from heat and continue to mix on medium speed for about 8 more minutes (or until the mixture is cooled to room temperature and fluffy). Add the cooled chocolate into the egg mixture and mix on medium low speed until incorporated. Stir in the pure vanilla extract. Then add in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, blending well after each addition. Add in the whipped cream and use a spatula to gently fold in until there are no streaks. Spread the chocolate filling evenly into the prepared pie shell. Cover and place in the fridge to firm up before serving (at least 3 hours). Top with freshly whipped cream and chocolate. 
Recipe Source: Annie's Eats, which was slightly adapted from Cook's Illustrated Entertaining Spring 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Guess what? You need these chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes in your life right now. I bet it is dark when you are waking up in the morning and even darker when you are coming home after an exhausting day at work, and there is probably not too much that can get you out of your funk.  These chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes are here to help. Just like the cookie dough truffles, there is no raw egg in the cookie dough filling. The mixture is made up everything that is good in life,  like butter, brown sugar, condensed milk, flour, vanilla, and chocolate chips. 

I got together with a friend a few weekends ago, and we made these cupcakes for the first time. I had seen them before and thought about making them, but I always thought they looked too involved. Hey, they really are a little involved, but they aren't too tricky, and they are well worth the extra time in the kitchen.

So, what are you waiting for? Go make some chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes and put a smile back on that face. Enjoy!

Recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

For the cupcakes
3 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 2/3 cup of all-purpose flour
1 tsp. of baking powder
1 tsp. of baking soda
1/4 tsp. of salt
1 cup of 2% or whole milk
2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips

For the cookie dough filling
4 Tbsp. of unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 Tbsp. of light brown sugar, packed
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. of all-purpose flour
7 ounces of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup of semisweet chocolate chips (regular or miniature)

For the cookie dough frosting
2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cup of powdered (confectioners') sugar
2/3 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. of salt
2 Tbsp. of milk
2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract

Extra chocolate chips, for topping cupcakes

For the cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Put the butter and the brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and use an electric hand mixer to mix on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 - 4 minutes. Then add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and stir together. Add one third of the flour mixture into the butter mixture and beat on low speed, then add 1/2 cup of the milk and beat again on low speed. Continue alternating and end with the dry ingredients, mixing each time until just incorporated. Add in the vanilla extract and mix. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Divide the batter evenly into the paper liners. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

For the cookie dough filling
Once cupcakes are in the oven, make the cookie dough filling. Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix on medium high speed with an electric had mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Then mix in the flour, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover the bowl and put in fridge until mixture is firm, about one hour.

To stuff the cupcakes
When cupcakes are cooled, add in the cookie dough! Cut a cone-shaped portion (or use a spoon and scoop) out of the center of each cupcake. Fill each hole with a ball of the cookie dough mixture. Use all of the filling to stuff the cupcakes - the more you have, the better the cupcake!

For the frosting
Put the butter and brown sugar into a medium mixing bowl and use an electric hand mixer set on medium high speed to beat until creamy. Add in the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth. Add in the flour and salt and mix until just incorporated. Pour in the milk and vanilla extract and beat until smooth and well incorporated.

Frost the cupcakes, top with chocolate chips, and celebrate!

*Recipe makes approximately 2 dozen cupcakes.
Store cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Crispy Honey-Sriracha Tofu Tacos with Cucumber Mango Salsa (Vegetarian)

More tacos! I know you are excited! This summer I have made coconut fish tacos and steak tacos with smoked tomatillo salsa, and today I am bringing you these vegetarian crispy honey sriracha tofu tacos with a cucumber mango salsa. Hip hip hooray! How excited are you?

I recently went out to San Francisco to visit family, and I got to enjoy lunch at a favorite place, La Taqueria, in the Mission District of the city. It was hard to move in the restaurant and we had to circle like hawks to find seats to eat our food, but it was all well worth it. I tried the pork tacos there for the first time, and they were amazing. One thing that stood out about the tacos we ordered was that they were made with a double shell, with one crispy tortilla and one softer tortilla. We were given the best of both worlds, a soft taco and a hard taco all at the very same time! I tried the double shell method with these tofu tacos, but after trying a couple times, I found that the tastiest way to eat these is with one tortilla, baked in the oven to crisp up a bit. I think the best tortillas to use are* La Tortilla Factory white corn tortillas. They taste great, and they don't break! One of these days I am going to master the double shell method, though...

I topped these delicious tacos with cucumber-mango salsa, mashed avocado, and extra Sriracha sauce.  I was a little nervous about tofu in my tacos, and I was truly amazed at how good they turned out. Even if you are not a vegetarian, I am pretty sure you will find these tacos to be quite tasty. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for even MORE taco recipes!

*In the photos, I used a different tortilla than the La Tortilla Factory brand and the tacos were made with the double shell.

Recipe for Crispy Honey-Sriracha Tofu Tacos with Cucumber Mango Salsa (Vegetarian)

For the Cucumber-Mango Salsa
1 large, ripe mango, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and with the seeds removed, finely chopped
1/2 shallot, minced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced (with seeds removed)
Juice from 1/2 lime (save the other half for the avocado)
1/2 tsp. honey
Salt and pepper

For the tofu
12 ounces extra firm tofu, drained well, patted with a paper towel, and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
2 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce (plus a little more for adding to taco)
2 Tbsp. honey (plus a little more for drizzling)
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. of cornmeal
1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper - about 1/8 tsp.
3/4 tsp. Ancho chile powder
1/8 tsp. of sweet smoked paprika
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 - 2 Hass avocados
full-fat Greek yogurt
Good quality soft taco sized corn tortillas (I recommend La Tortilla Factory white corn)

Prepare the cucumber mango salsa. Toss the cucumber, mango, jalapeno, shallot, lime juice, honey, salt and pepper into a bowl and mix well. Cover and place in fridge until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 315 degrees. Place tortillas on a baking sheet. Rub a very small amount of olive oil all over each side and sprinkle one side with a pinch of fine sea salt. Set aside.

Put the tofu in a large bowl. Mix together the honey and Sriracha sauce in a small bowl. Pour over the tofu, and gently toss to coat well.

In another bowl, mix together the cornmeal, Panko breadcrumbs, flour, salt, pepper, chili powder, and sweet smoked paprika. Then pour 1/3 of the cornmeal mixture over the tofu, and toss gently. Add another 1/3 of the mixture, toss again. Finish with the remaining mixture and toss again to coat the tofu well. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat until hot. Then carefully add in the tofu. Cook, undisturbed, for a few minutes, then gently stir and flip over, a few at a time, until all pieces have been flipped. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes more, then gently stir again. Continue to cook and gently toss until tofu is crisped up on all sides. Add in a drizzle or two of honey, and stir. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle the tofu with salt and pepper.

While the tofu is cooking, place the tortillas in the heated oven. Cook for a few minutes, then flip. You want the tortillas to be a little crispy, but not hard. You want a very light crisp so that they still fold well without breaking. That is why it is important to buy good tortillas!

While the tofu and tortillas are finishing up, mash up the avocado. Squeeze lime juice over the avocado, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Assemble the tacos. Top each warm tortilla with desired amount of tofu, cucumber-mango salsa, avocado, and Greek yogurt. Add a squeeze of Sriracha sauce, if desired.

Recipe makes approximately 6  - 8 tacos. 

Tofu taco recipe adapted from: The Woks of Life
Cucumber-Mango salsa adapted from:  Oh My Veggies 

More taco recipes:
Potato, Chorizo & Goat Cheese Tacos with Smoky Aioli 
Simple White Fish Tacos
Paladar's Sweet Potato Tacos 
Coconut Encrusted Fish Tacos with Mango, Avocado Crema, and Sweet Chipotle Sauce
Steak Tacos with Smoked Tomatillo Salsa
Sweet potato tacos