Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Tofu Good to be True

February 22, 2014

I love desserts and snacks (who doesn’t?). Unfortunately, they are a perfect example of “too much of a good thing”. I’m always on the lookout for a healthy and tasty option which I can gorge on without doing much damage to my health. Of course, everything is best in moderation, and all rules are made to be followed, right? Well… one can dream.

tofu pudding

chocolate tofu pudding in a jar. everything’s better in a jar, right?

A runner friend who is interested in alternative diets, raw food, and vegan ultra athletes, recommended some recipes from Scott Jurek. I have had limited success with my friend’s previous recommendations but am always willing to try new things. Especially when the new thing is chocolate pudding with ingredients that are already in my pantry! An added bonus: this healthy dessert actually tastes good!

Chocolate Pudding

adapted from Eat and Run by Scott Jurek

  • 16oz tofu
  • 3 T cocoa powder
  • 3 T maple syrup
  1. Blend all ingredients until smooth.
  2. Chill for about 30 minutes.

Notes and Variations

It’s easy to get a bit crazy with the ingredients, particularly including only raw options. The original recipe adds chia seeds and suggests cacao nibs instead of cocoa powder. It also uses agave nectar which I don’t keep on hand but can be substituted with maple syrup, honey, or any other liquid sweetener you like. These additions probably add nutrition value which is more important for active ultra runners than it is for an office worker who sits at a desk most of the day.

The recipe also specifies using silken tofu, which I conveniently forgot the second time I made it. The pudding texture was extremely dense, almost like a concrete custard made at popular chain restaurants. Lucky me! I made a healthy version of a popular dessert for a fraction of the cost! If the mixture gets too thick for your liking, just add some water or liquid of your choice (almond milk, soy milk, lemon juice?).


Cold Chocolate Cravings

February 5, 2014

Salted caramel is all the rage these days, showing up on dessert menus and in drinks everywhere. A friend was recently excited to see salted caramel hot chocolate on the menu at Starbucks. Unfortunately, they made him a salted caramel mocha instead and he doesn’t like coffee. Frustrated and disappointment caused by the mistaken order stayed with me.

Months later, on a frigid night at home, I wanted a drink to warm me besides tea and remembered the salted caramel hot chocolate. How hard could it be to make? Caramel is just cooked sugar and I keep cocoa and powdered milk on hand for just such an emergency. (Yes, chocolate cravings constitute an emergency!)

caramel hot chocolate

the caramel solidified and the cocoa didn’t break up but it still tasted like heaven!

The good news is if you have the attention span to make caramel it’s easy! Although I didn’t have the patience to properly sift the cocoa and powdered milk so it had chunks of powdery magma but it certainly tasted good! I also added the bonus of some spices that are commonly used in Mexican or “Ancient” hot chocolate, my favorite flavor of the drink. All that was missing was marshmallows!

Ancient Caramel Hot Chocolate

inspired by a drink at Starbucks

  • ¼ c sugar
  • 2 T water
  • dash salt
  • 2 T cocoa powder
  • 2T powdered milk
  • 1 c water
  • dash cinnamon
  • dash chili powder
  1. Heat the sugar in a pan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Stir the sugar constantly once it is dissolved until it turns a caramel color.
  3. Just before the sugar burns, add 2 T water and stir.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in a dash of salt.
  5. Combine the cocoa powder and powdered milk.
  6. Mix 1 c water into the powder mix.
  7. Stir the caramel mixture into the hot chocolate mix.
  8. Mix in the cinnamon and chili powder.
  9. Garnish with a dash of salt and any other favorite hot chocolate toppings!

Notes and Variations

The really easy way to do this: have a jar of caramel handy, stir in some salt, add to hot chocolate. Making the caramel was definitely the hardest part. I wound up making a caramel hard candy which was kind of fun to dip in the hot chocolate and eat like a lollipop. My goal for next time is to get a proper caramel sauce made, then mix it into the hot chocolate.

The spices are my personal favorite. I love a rich, dark hot chocolate with a bite of spice at the end of it. I’m sure this would taste good with whatever your favorite hot chocolate flavor is. A few drops of almond extract? Mint syrup? Some alcohol? Whatever suits your fancy!

Easy as Eggs

January 24, 2014

Although I haven’t written about what I’ve cooked recently, doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking. Winter is such a great time for getting four dishes going at once, the oven and stove heating the room, steaming the windows, providing the warm comfort of home cooked nourishment. It was so comforting, in fact, that I shunned my computer, choosing instead to bury my hands under blankets while watching old TV shows.

In our third week of more-freezing-than-remembered nights, I have resigned myself to the cold and pushed myself to tackle the projects that I can’t leave alone in warmer temperatures. One of those projects is writing about cooking.

Many recipes strike me as too boring or easy to write about so I wait until I make something extravagant, then decide that it’s too complicated to outline every step. Sometimes the best place to start is the simplest.

Today at lunch I broke open an egg atop my salad and giggled with satisfaction. It was perfectly cooked to just past soft boiled. As a child, I grew to hate hard boiled eggs, with their cakey yolk that stuck to the roof of my mouth. Wanting to add eggs to my salad but not the way I knew them, I read up on boiling eggs in Joy of Cooking. Could this magic equation of “bring egg to a boil then simmer for 4 minutes” really be the key to not over cooking a boiled egg?

a taste ingrained since childhood, a skill learned in adulthood

a taste ingrained since childhood, a skill learned in adulthood

In my experience, yes, it is. There is still variance in the heat provided by the different stoves, the point at which you decide the egg is boiling, and I think I occasionally turn out a hard boiled rather than soft-ish boiled egg. But this formula seems to work and as I break the egg open with a fork to find that dark yellow jelly consistency in the middle of the yolk, transporting me back to childhood where I learned to eat a soft boiled egg side-by-side with my grandfather, I smile, cherishing the color and consistency as much as the memories.

Soft-ish Boiled Egg

inspired by Joy of Cooking

  • 1-3 eggs
  1. Place the eggs in a small pot, covered with water.
  2. Bring the water just to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Simmer the eggs over low heat for 4 minutes.
  4. Rinse under cold water, peel and enjoy.

Notes and Variations

The part I have yet to master is peeling the egg. There are rumors that adding 1T of vinegar to the pot at the start will help the egg separate from the shell. I have not paid enough attention to this variable to have a conclusion. There are also theories about putting the eggs in the fridge after cooking, running it under cold water, peeling it immediately versus after it cools… I can never keep them straight. I need to follow up on this with a detailed account of my experimentation.