Okay, yet another tofu post. Whoa, whoa – let’s just stay calm here.
You can use tofu with Mexican seasonings to make excellent tacos, all the more excellent if you use fresh tortillas griddled for the occasion. The tofu tastes great with all the seasoning, provides nice crunch and chew, lasts forever in the fridge and is extremely low in fat and high in protein and calcium. And that’s not even mentioning any advantages from an ethical or environmental perspective (if there are any – again, I’m not mentioning it).
Keep calm and taco on?
I’ve used chorizo seasonings here (ancho chili powder, achiote for color and flavor), but really you could use any chili powder or even taco seasoning from a packet; the ancho’s just a bit more authentic. I’m reluctant to call this “tofu chorizo” because is it really chorizo without the fatty, fatty meat? Anyway, I don’t like to think of this as fake meat any more than I think of chocolate peanut butter tofu pudding as fake dairy. Let’s just call them tofu tacos.
Tofu is its own thing and – deep breaths – it can be delicious.
- 1 lb extra firm tofu (not silken)
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil or butter (or combination)
- 1 Tbsp chili powder (preferably ancho)
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- ¼ tsp achiote powder (optional)
- taco toppings: avocado, sour cream, hot sauce, cheese, etc.
- Blend half of the tofu in the Magic Bullet and crumble the rest roughly with your fingers.
- Add oil/butter to pan over medium-high heat and add tofu and spices (chili powder, oregano, cumin, garlic, achiote). Cook, stirring frequently, until tofu gives up all its moisture and begins to get brown and crunchy.
- Add tofu to tacos with toppings and serve.
What is pesto? That’s one of life’s great questions, isn’t it? No! Pesto is Italian for paste (I’m told) and the classic basil pesto (Genovese) is just the tip of the iceberg. Hmm. Or… the tallest on a five-man basketball team. And every team needs a point guard…?
Okay, that didn’t make any sense, but what does make sense is this delicious fennel pesto. You roast fennel in the oven to bring out its mellow yet distinctive anise-y flavor, as well as to draw out its water, then you make a pesto that’s every bit as flavorful as the classic, but distinctly different.
This pesto has a nice, complex flavor, and the fennel adds a fair amount of substance, too; I doubled the amount of fennel from the recipe below and halved the oil and was happy with the results, though it was admittedly less delicious. If you can snag some late-season farmer’s market tomatoes to go along with it, by all means, go for it. I used some pretty, gold cherry tomatoes with this and some shrimp for flavor and protein.
I don’t need to tell you that the Magic Bullet is made for pesto. OK, maybe I do: the Magic Bullet is made for pesto. Blend away.
(Adapted from Serious Eats)
- 1 fennel bulb,
- chopped fronds from 1 fennel bulb
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- salt, to taste (but don’t skip it completely)
- Mix fennel bulb with olive oil and roast in oven at 400 degrees until brown, about ten minutes. If you like, add almonds halfway through to get them roasted too.
- Blend everything in the Magic Bullet. Add salt to taste.
- Serve with pasta, with tomatoes and/or bacon if you like.
I discovered a delicious new smoothie recipe that I want to share with you guys! I call it the Carrot Cake Smoothie. Unlike most smoothies made with a lot of fruit, this smoothie contains little fruit and, therefore, less sugar! Its flavor comes from the cinnamon and nutmeg, which blend perfectly with the carrots, pecans, and milk. The banana adds some texture and a bit of natural sweetness. Don’t forget the raisins! Those are a must in any carrot cake recipe.
Carrot Cake Smoothie
- 1/3 cup chopped carrots
- 1 Tbsp chopped pecans
- 1 tsp raisins
- 1/2 cup milk (or almond milk)
- 1/2 banana, frozen
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- Add all ingredients to a Magic Bullet cup and blend.
- Top with shredded carrots, raisins and chopped pecans for garnish.
Makes 1 smoothie
This recipe is inspired by a friend of mine who loves curry more than anyone I know. He sprinkles curry on just about everything and always eats with it by his side at the dinner table. Curry pairs very well with carrots and I found that this creamy carrot soup tastes even better when it is spiced up with some curry powder. The secret to the nice texture of the soup is the addition of one small potato. Top the warm soup with a cold dollop of tangy yogurt to complete your dish.
Curried Carrot Soup
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 small potato, peeled and chopped
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp curry powder
- Optional: dash of cayenne pepper (if you like it hot!)
- Plain yogurt, for topping
- Heat a pot over medium heat and add the butter.
- Add the chopped onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the carrots and potato, then the spices.
- Mix the vegetables well with the spices, then add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
- Cover and turn down the heat to medium-low and cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the lid and let cool for 10 minutes.
- Transfer the soup once cooled to a Magic Bullet cup and blend until puréed and smooth.
- Transfer back to the pot and reheat.
- Serve warm with a dollop of yogurt on top.
Makes 4 cups
As fun as it is to try new things while cooking, there’s also a lot of value in having Ye Olde Weeknight Standards. You may be the most energetic person in the world, but if you’re working a job, you probably aren’t cooking adventurously every night. On nights when you aren’t feeling so “up to it,” you can have Thai takeout, eat a pasta roni, or order a pizza, but you’d probably feel better – about yourself or about what you just had for dinner – if you cooked something cheap and healthy. To wit (to wit!), it’s especially great to have weeknight standards in the back of your brain that you can whip up with little shopping, no prep and almost no work.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any such dishes to offer you here, so you’d best be served by clicking somewhere else. Or just order those drunken noodles.
This is actually a really great weeknight dinner; it comes together in maybe 15 minutes and is pretty healthy, even though it contains both pasta and sausage (and hence is satisfying). The Magic Bullet does a great job of bringing a burst of freshness to the dish, just don’t leave out that basil topping.
Gnocchi with Sausage, Cherry Tomatoes and Basil
(Adapted from The Kitchn)
- 1 lb gnocchi (uncooked)
- 3 links chicken sausage, any kind, sliced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- leaves from 4 or 5 springs fresh basil
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
- Cook gnocchi in heavily salted water, 3 minutes or until beginning to float.
- In large pan, preferably with sloped sides, heat a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring once, until browned. Push the sausage to the side.
- Add the tomatoes and cook until tomatoes start to blister and brown. Stir in cooked gnocchi.
- In Magic Bullet, chop leaves of basil with a dash of olive oil, stopping to shake container to mix up the basil. When all basil is processed, add to pan and stir everything together and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve, parmesan cheese optional.
I know, I know. “Low-fat.” Very 1990s. But. But. What if I were to offer you a simple way to lighten up one of life’s great pleasures? Would that be so wrong?
Not diet food, exactly, but here’s a lighter version of ye olde bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese.
Of course, the Magic Bullet takes well to making spreads of all kinds, and my colleague Kristianne has a great recipe for herbed salmon spread. Here I offer you a similar, but slightly different take: a low-fat version of smoked salmon spread, made with neufchatel cheese, which really is indistinguishable from regular cream cheese, if you want my humble opinion. If you’ll hear me out, here are the advantages: you can make a low-fat cream cheese spread with all the flavor of bagels and lox, but using much less lox and lower calorie cheese. Just try it before you throw something at me. Please?
If you do try it, you’ll discover a lighter, delicious version of a classic. Deal with it.
Low-Fat Smoked Salmon “Cream Cheese”
- ½ package neufachatel cheese (4 oz)
- 4 oz smoked salmon
- fresh chives (optional)
- Add smoked salmon to Magic Bullet and pulse one or two times. (Be careful not to overmix.)
- Add cheese to Bullet and pulse a few times. If necessary, open up Bullet and mix with a knife or spoon.
- Serve on a bagel.
This panini is made with a homemade sun-dried tomato pesto spread on ciabatta bread with turkey and mozzarella cheese. I personally prefer hot sandwiches over cold and I love experimenting with new, hot sandwiches.
The other day, I was at a deli during my lunch break and “sun-dried tomato pesto” caught my eye on one of the sandwich menu items. Too bad it has a lot of other stuff I didn’t want! I decided not to get it, but the pesto sounded so good, I thought, if only they made one with just some turkey and mozzarella! It sounded so good, I decided to make it at home myself. If you have any extra basil, this quick lunch recipe is a great way to use it before it goes bad!
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Panini
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes
- Salt and pepper, as desired
- 2 slices turkey breast
- 1 slice mozzarella cheese
- 2 slices ciabatta bread
- Preheat an indoor grill or skillet.
- Wash basil leaves.
- Add all ingredients listed above up to the salt and pepper to a small Magic Bullet cup with the flat blade and blend together until well mixed.
- Add more oil, salt and pepper as needed.
- Spread the pesto onto the two slices of ciabatta and add the turkey and mozzarella cheese.
- Cook on an indoor grill or skillet until the cheese is melted and the outer bread is toasted.
Makes 1 panini
Heading out for a walk outside to enjoy the leaves turning the brilliant colors of fall? Blend yourself a pumpkin pie smoothie to take on-the-go! Taking the kids trick-or-treating tonight? Enjoy this together before heading out, so you’ll both be less tempted to indulge! Top it with some whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon for an extra special treat.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
- 3 Tbsp canned pumpkin purée
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 ice cubes
- 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt
- 1/2 tsp honey
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Whipped cream, for topping
- Add all ingredients to a Magic Bullet cup and blend.
- Top with whipped cream and cinnamon.
Makes 1 smoothie
A few months ago, I told you how to make not-creamy Caesar salad dressing. I know, you have been waking up in the middle of every night since then, your heart pounding, thinking: What if I want my dressing creamy?! Is that even possible?!
The answer is yes and it’s even easier to make than not-creamy dressing.
The secret to not-creamy dressing: you use a whole egg, not just an egg yolk. That’s it! If it seems like it should be more complicated than that, I have this for you: nothing. Nothing at all. Don’t overthink it.
I made this with the same salt-soaked tofu as last time: fifteen minutes in heavily salted water, then sliced and cooked until crispy in a bit of vegetable oil.
All of which raises the question: why would you want not-creamy Caesar dressing when you can have creamy Caesar dressing just as easily?
I leave that up to you.
Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing
- 1/2 cup olive oil (or use a mixture of olive and vegetable oil)
- 1 whole egg, NOT just the yolk
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tin anchovies
- 1 small hunk of parmesan, cut into cubes, with more for serving
- 1/2 juice of a lemon
- 3/4 tsp dijon mustard
- Add parmesan to your Magic Bullet large cup with the cross blade. Blend until grated. 2
- Remove and set aside most of the cheese, but don’t clean the cup.
- Add garlic cloves to Bullet and blend until roughly chopped.
- Add 1/2 tin anchovies, egg yolks, olive oil, lemon juice, and mustard to Bullet.
- Blend until well emulsified.
I have a thing for mini desserts. Perhaps because they make me feel less guilty? These mini cheesecakes are my latest favorite – have you ever tried something that is both salty and sweet? If you haven’t, it is really addicting. The sprinkled sea salt and caramel on top of these cheesecakes is just heavenly.
I love making these for parties, because they’re not a messy dessert and everyone can just eat them in their hands. You can make them up to 2 days ahead of time and keep them chilled in the refrigerator until ready to serve (you can also freeze them!).
Salted Caramel Cheesecakes
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 3 Tbsp butter, melted
- 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2/3 cup plain yogurt
- 12 ounces light cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 10 caramel squares
- 2 Tbsp milk
- Sea salt
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
- Mix graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl until all the crumbs are wet.
- Press into a greased muffin pan, then bake for about 7 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients to a Magic Bullet cup and blend until well mixed.
- Pour into the pre-baked graham cracker cups and bake for an additional 16 minutes.
- Turn off the oven and let cool with the oven opened for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven.
- Once room temperature, chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
- Melt the caramel and add the milk in a double boiler. Stir well.
- Spoon the caramel onto the cheesecakes and top with sea salt.
Makes 10 cheesecakes