Monday, July 26, 2010

Meatless Monday: Peanut-Sauced-Veggie Lettuce Wraps

Today was marked by a severe hangover. A mac 'n' cheese hangover.

One of my dearest friends requested that I cook "mac 'n' cheese two ways" for her boyfriend's birthday, and, as that meant I myself would be invited to enjoy the feast, I was only too happy to oblige. But after a couple hours of sauce-tasting and cheese-nibbling, followed by the meal itself (followed by - brace yourself - cheesecake), I was feeling...less than svelte.

Enter Meatless Monday. I was thrilled that after I tallied up the ingredients for this dish, it turned out to be vegan! I figure that after the dairy damage I did last night, a purely plant-based meal was called for. Nonetheless, what a voluptuous tasting meal it was!

The peanut sauce and tofu give it a lush richness, while the crispness of the lettuce and serving the rice cold make it totally summer-worthy. This would be dynamite with chicken instead of tofu, and if you wanted to skip the zillion-ingredient peanut sauce, a nice bottled Asian stir-fry sauce would be a dandy switch as well.

My continued apologies, dear readers, for my sporadic posts! I have vowed to cook up a storm from now till I head to Mexico in two weeks - it's simply the only way I won't sink my surfboard! To your health!


Peanut Sauce:

2 T. sesame oil
several big spoonfuls natural peanut butter
big squeeze of honey
squeeze of Sriracha
a few vigorous shakes tamari or soy sauce
juice of one lime
several vigorous dashes rice wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
cilantro, chopped


1 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
shelled edamame
broccolini, chopped
2 carrots, sliced thinly on the bias
1/3 block tofu, in small chunks

Lettuce leaves from one head of iceberg
cooked white or brown rice, cold or warm


Make the sauce: whisk together all ingredients and set aside.


Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Squeeze excess moisture out of the tofu with paper towels, and cook the chunks in a dry pan until golden brown on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.


Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and carrots to pan. Cook until onions get lightly brown at the edges. Add the broccolini, tofu pieces, and peanut sauce.


Serve the rice and lettuce leaves alongside the veggie mixture. Place a little rice and veggies in each lettuce leaf, roll up like a burrito, and enjoy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lemony Rockfish, Jeweled Couscous & Wilted Spinach

Somebody has a case of Summertime Fevaaahh, baby!

Oh yeah. That would be me. How can I stay inside on the internetz, blogging away, when I could be outside playing volleyball (terribly), paddleboarding (dangerously), visiting the Chicago Greenmarket (hungrily), or patio drinking (heavily)?

So I apologize for my less-frequent posts (or, for those of you who hate seeing it pop up in your newsfeeds coughjerkscoughcough, you're welcome). But the sun has been out! The bikini has been on! And the fun just hasn't stopped!

Yes, I've been cooking. But I've also been wolfing down whatever I've made in attempt to return to the glorious agenda of summertime activities as quickly as possible. Until I get my blogging act together and give the people more posts, please enjoy this light, healthy, summery and delicious fish dish! (Warning: this makes a boatload of couscous - which bodes well for all your BBQ and potluck picnic needs.)


2 rockfish (or other white fish) fillets
flour for dredging
olive oil and butter (don't be a wimp about it)
a couple cloves of garlic, minced
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper
parsley for garnish

1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 large shallot, minced
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
roasted red peppers, drained and cut into small pieces
kalamata olives (no pits)
cucumber, small dice
fresh chopped parsley

lots of spinach (I used a 10-oz bag)
olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper


Heat a skillet. Add some olive oil and butter. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Meanwhile, pat the fish very dry. Dredge it lightly in the flour and tap off the excess. When the oil and pan are very hot, cook the fish until it's brown and crisp on one side. Flip it and cook until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove from pan and set aside. Deglaze the pan with the lemon juice, then pour the pan sauce over the fish.


Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a pot with tight fitting lid. Cook the couscous according to package directions. When it has absorbed the water, stir in the cucumbers, peppers, capers, and all the rest of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.


In another pot, heat a little more olive oil. Put the spinach in and cover it. Wilt it down to your desired level of wiltiness. Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice. Serve the fish with couscous and the spinach. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Peanut Sauce & Veggies

Yet another reason to keep a well-stocked pantry: the ability to make peanut sauce at a moment's notice.

This sauce has a similar flavor profile to Pad Thai: salty, sweet, sour, and spicy. All its components are long-keeping, so once you buy them, you'll have them until you run out, and can make this easy peanut sauce again and again. I pour it over soba noodles, tofu, use it as a base for stir-frying veggies - it's really versatile.

It tastes just right on shrimp, and it's rich enough that a light meal of just shrimp and an Asian-inspired veggie mix is completely satisfying - especially on a sweltering summer night.


about 1 lb. raw peeled and deveined shrimp
1 red onion, in large chunks
1/2 pint grape tomatoes
1 bunch fresh bok choy, cut into pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, in chunks
big handful sugar snap peas
handful fresh cilantro, chopped
sesame oil
salt and pepper

big scoop natural peanut butter
about 1/3 cup tamari or regular soy sauce
squeeze of Sriracha
a few tablespoons brown sugar
several dashes rice wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
juice of one lime
1-2 T. sesame oil



Whisk together all the peanut sauce ingredients and set aside. Create the skewers: if you're cooking them on an outdoor gas or charcoal grill, soak the skewers first for about 30 minutes. If you're cooking them on a grill pan, no need to pre-soak. Place shrimp, some onion, and grape tomatoes on the skewers, alternating each ingredient.


Preheat a grill pan over medium high heat. Also preheat a pan for the veggie saute. When the pan for the veggies saute is hot, add some sesame oil, then add the veggies, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until veggies are crisp-tender.


Cook the skewers on the grill pan, spooning or brushing the peanut sauce onto them. Flip each skewer and cook on the other side until the shrimp are cooked through. Serve and enjoy!

Hope you're having a delicious, relaxing summer! More soon...
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