First things first: Yesterday was mi madres birthday, so HAPPY LATE BIRTHDAY to THE MOM! I am so stoked to give her her gift, but since she is my one blog reader reads my blog, telling you about it will have to wait.
This morning started out with another “Track Attack” workout with my brother and his friends. Let me give you a little background on these fellas and their deal. My brother and his bestie (boys can have besties…) are both very much into triathlons (both will be competing in a full iron man in November) and decided last year that the town we live in just does not have many activities geared toward fitness/outdoors, so they started a Triathlon training group. While they don’t have a huge membership base, they have gradually been adding more and more people, and I am so proud they have stuck with it! It is truly their passion, so for them to share their knowledge/passion with others is beyond cool!
Although I have ZERO interest in triathlons, I participate in their running activities (Monday and Thursday, long run and speed/track workout, respectively).
This morning, we completed close to 5 miles (they did 5, and i did a little under) consisting of warmup, drills (high knees, skips, side run, backward run, etc…which i was later informed is a variation of some “plyometrics”) speed work (400’s) and cooldown. It was a lot of fun (although i did shout out “I’m going to leave the Track to the BOYS from now on!!!!!!!!!!” at one point… ). It was a temporary “fit” though. Those boys are a riot, so time just FLIES out there.
In other news…after my incident on monday, i’ve for sure been taking the slow train to work. Although it takes a bit longer, I’ve been able to enjoy some of the scenery, and really take in the sights…including the following “seen on my drive” : 1) people picking their nose 2) crop dusters and the best…3) a “biker” in full on leather chaps.
Enough lolly-gagging…let’s get to the point of this post; some COOKING! More specifically, some VGCC!
Incase you are a new reader, and haven’t a clue what “VGCC” (Veg Girls Can Cook) is, it’s basically me and two of my best girl friends getting together at one of our houses (so far just Aspen’s) and cooking a healthy vegan meal together/catching up on life/having lots of laughs. You can read about our first documented VGCC (Eggplant-Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream) here.
Aspen and I met at the grocery store after work, and picked up the items we needed for our night of fun. We also ended up with some of these
i am *obsessed* with the seaweed and seasalt flavor...don't knock it til you try it!!
Some of these
Food Should Taste Good
and…..some of these
we had a "buy one get one"...so clearly we *had* to...
ok…we have issues….
Whilst getting our ingredients prepared, we snacked on chips (clearly the best thing to do before cooking a meal), caught up on life, learned of Aspen’s potential TV debut (more on that in the future!), shared clothes tearing stories, watched some “dating in the dark”….you know, typical Tuesday evening.
Let’s discuss these clothes tearing stories in a bit more detail though, shall we? I know this has happened to us all….no? really? eeeeks….maybe we should lay off the chips?
Aspen had informed me a few days prior that she had been getting ready for work, and just as bent down to fix her shoe…and she had a full on “Incredible Hulk” moment and flexed her way right out of her lovely Banana Republic work shirt. As much as it sucks to have clothes get ruined, i can’t help but think this was quite hilarious… I mean, it was obviously a defective shirt, because as she so graciously modeled the Hulked out shirt for us (and you guys…see below), there was no way she “outgrew” the shirt and tore it by any means other than poor fabric. Here, take a look. Not only am I AAL, but she is too…and not afraid to show it for the benefit of you readers…=0)
The Incredible Aspen
Toward the end of my college career, I was going out with a group of friends one evening. We were at a local hangout, and I was just sitting there minding my own business in my pair of favorite jeans when all of a sudden, things felt a bit drafty….well, my “favorite jeans” had a tiny little hole near the fly that over the course of that evening decided to become one giant rip in the crotch. After feeling a bit drafty, I looked down and a good portion of my leg was now visibly showing. Thank the high heavens I chose to be DD that night, and was able to hi-tail it home and change. Crisis definitely averted!
Have you ever had a nice little clothes tearing surprise!?
Now that we got the funny stuff out of the way, let’s get down to business:
First, if you should decide to make these…make sure to turn on an episode of “Dating in the Dark”….which was clearly a contributing factor to the success of this meal.
how ridiculous is this show? i was appalled by the men on it…jerks.
We will start with the Spring Rolls, since you can basically make and let them sit while you make the other hot portion of the meal (unless you have 6 hands, like us…then you do it all at once!)
I’ve always been way too intimidated to make these on my own, but absolutely LOVE them. They are such *fresh* and light items, and go great with a ton of other dishes! This recipe was great, but I”m more stoked about the fact that I made my own Spring Rolls! With rice paper, and everything!
This recipe for the Spring Rolls was found in the August 2010 copy of “Cooking Light“, but I found the recipe online for you all, here.
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 roll and about 2 teaspoons sauce)
- 8 (8-inch) round sheets rice paper
- 2 cups thinly sliced Bibb lettuce leaves (about 4 large)
- 2 cups cooked bean threads (cellophane noodles)
- 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
- 1 cup shredded carrot (about 1 large)
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 Thai chile, thinly sliced
****Aspen made a “peanut sauce” that we used in place of this. I don’t have the recipe, as she just sort of “winged it”…but I am sure I could talk her into it if you are interested…****
Step 1: Although the recipe starts with “preparing the rolls”, the real step one is getting prepared….which means boiling the water for the bean thread/cellophane noodles and rice paper along with getting the fillings prepared….so slice your veggies people!
slicing and shredding!
Step 2: Add hot water to a large, shallow dish to a depth of 1 inch. Place 1 rice paper sheet in dish, and let stand for 30 seconds or just until soft.
into the water goes the rice paper!
Step 3: Place sheet on a flat surface.
such a creepy item...
Step 4: Arrange 1/4 cup lettuce over half of sheet, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Top with 1/4 cup bean threads, 2 tablespoons sprouts, 2 tablespoons carrot, 1 tablespoon mint, 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, and 1 1/2 teaspoons green onions.
fill it up!
bean sprouts, my FAVE!
Step 5: Folding sides of sheet over filling and starting with filled side, roll up jelly-roll fashion. Gently press seam to seal. Place roll, seam side down, on a serving platter (cover to keep from drying). Repeat procedure with remaining roll ingredients.
my roll, sans carrots....i got better, i swear!
ok....so i had a *few* more FAILS....it happens!
2. To prepare sauce, combine sugar and the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until sugar dissolves. Serve sauce with rolls.
The second recipe was a bit more involved…so like the last cooking experience, I participated more in the photography….
Sweet Chili Lime Tofu with Wok Steamed Collards and Quinoa
The Sweet Chili Lime Tofu with Wok Steamed Collards and Quinoa recipe came from VeganYumYum (I’ve recently become obsessed with the iPhone app!!!). I was a little intimidated by this recipe as well because a) I am only a fan of Tofu if cooked *just* right b) same goes for Quinoa and c) i have never had collards….and was a bit nervous! This recipe turned out well though! I would for sure sub another “green” for the Collards next time though…perhaps broccoli or spinach?
Serves 2-3 (it says this, but we had a lot left….and I even took some to a co-worker the next day…I would say more like 3-4).
1 Block Tofu, extra firm, 14 oz
Sweet Chili Lime Sauce
3 Tbs Sugar
3 Tbs Reduced Sodium Tamari (or soy sauce)
1 3/4 Tbs Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 Zest of the Lime
1/2 tsp Red Chili Flakes (or 1-2 fresh hot chilies, minced)
1 Clove Garlic, pressed, optional
1/4 tsp Salt
4 Mint Leaves, chiffonaded
3/4 Cup Quinoa, rubbed/rinsed in cool water, drained
1/2 Zest Lime
2 Bruised Cardamom Pods, optional
1 Tiny Stick of Cinnamon (a broken piece of a larger stick), optional
1/4 tsp Salt
1 1/3 Cup Water
Wok Steamed Collards
1 Bunch Collard Greens, middle veins removed, washed
2-3 Tbs Water
1 Pinch Salt
1 tsp Lime Juice
Step 1: Combine all the ingredients for the quinoa in a pot that has a tight fitting lid. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, then turn off heat. Do not open lid. Let steam for 10 minutes before serving. (Note: We did this first, while the rolls were being rolled, and the rest of the recipe was being done…you don’t have to watch or do anything, so this is a good item to “pre-prep”).
Step 2: Prepare the sweet chili lime sauce by whisking all of the ingredients together until the sugar and salt is dissolved.
for both of us having never "zested" before...I'd say Meredith zested like a pro!
Step 3: Drain tofu and cut it into small triangles. slice the block into 8 rectangles, then each rectangle in half to make two squares per rectangle. cut each square diagonally to make four triangles per square. You can cut the tofu however you please, but a thinner, smaller shape will work best for this method.
Step 4: Heat a well-seasoned cast iron (I learned what “well-seasoned” meant…no THANK you!!!!) or non-stick skillet over medium heat. A 10″ skillet will fit all the tofu, so if you’re using a smaller skillet, you’ll need to do this in batches. In order to properly “dry fry” the tofu, you’ll need a pan the tofu won’t stick to even without any oil.
our clean non "well-seasoned" skillet, thankyouverymuch.
Step 5: Spread the tofu out in one layer in the pan. Using a spatula, press the tofu. The liquid will squeeze out and boil away, and the tofu will begin to turn golden. The more water that evaporates, the sturdier the tofu will be, so be gentle at first to prevent the tofu from breaking up. After several minutes, flip the tofu over and press the other side. After about 10 minutes of dry frying, you can turn off the heat and set the tofu aside for finishing later, or proceed to adding the sauce. (You might want to set the tofu aside before finishing in order to prepare the collards).
Step 6: To finish the tofu, bring the pan back up to temperature if it’s not already very hot. You want to heat the pan and the tofu over high heat, making sure the tofu is hot all the way through. Add the sauce and stir to coat the tofu. Turn off the heat. The sauce will bubble up, reduce, and form a glaze. If it isn’t bubbling up and forming a glaze, turn the heat back on high and cook until the glaze is.. well.. glaze-y.
it's getting hot in hurrrrrr....
My job was slicing the “Collards”….sure, leave the task of the “unknown veggie” to me…
I was quite amused by the size of these things...they're HUGE! (thatswhatshesaid)
Step 7: Stack the collard leaves on top of each other, 3-4 at a time, and roll. Slice the roll in 3/4 inch segments. Run your knife through the chopped collards to make smaller pieces, then add them to a wok with the water, lime juice and salt. Cover with any lid that will contain the collards and cook over high heat for 3-4 minutes until the collards are steamed and tender.
Let's Wok and Roll! (hardeeharhar)
some steamy action!
Step 8: For plating, arrange the collards atop of a bed of quinoa.
Quinoa, meet collards...
Add tofu over the top, drizzling any leftover sauce over the dish.
professional platers, obviously
Garnish with lime slices and mint leaves. We’re not THAT fancy! =0) Serve.
up close and personal
the spread...and Aspen!
the only picture where one eyeball isn't closed...and that's because it's covered! I'm also a professional at being awesome.
Well there you have it!
Both recipes got two thumbs up from me, and my “taste tester” co-worker!
Have you ever made Spring Rolls!? It was so fun, i felt like a real chef or something!
What’s the most “intimidating” food you’ve ever made? Of course this wasn’t the *most*, but it ranked right up there!