Tofu and Mr. Magic

I have a feeling my blog is going to turn into a record of what healthy foods I can get my boyfriend to eat. I turned him onto sweet potatoes with my soup, and recently, I actually got him to really like, let alone eat, tofu. With a different type of noodle than regular pasta. And with roasted veggies.

If you read my last post, you’ll know that he really only ate Taco Bell and pizza before I moved in. So this is all pretty amazing to me that he not only eats the healthy food I cook, but enjoys it!

So…Mr. Magic had tofu.

I posted about tofu a long time ago, but I’ll still go over the best way to prepare it. My dish was Asian inspired, so I did it a bit differently, but the standard procedure is the same.

The first thing you should do, no matter what, is to press your tofu. I happen to have a fancy tofu press but you don’t really need one. Plates and paper towels will do just fine.

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I pressed it for about 45 minutes, regularly tipping it to drain the liquid. You can press it as long as you’d like, but 45 minutes should be good enough.

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I roughly chopped some garlic. I wanted it to be chunky.

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I then diced my tofu. Now, for a recipe like this, go for extra firm tofu. Unfortunately the grocery store I went to only had firm so that’s what I used, but get the extra firm if possible.

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My marinade consisted of the chunky garlic, soy sauce, liquid smoke, and a touch of chili oil. I never measure stuff…I know, I know. If I had actual measurements I could probably publish a cookbook. Maybe someday…I just went with my gut 🙂

Marinate as long as possible. I think I marinated mine for about six hours. I did end up adding more soy sauce and liquid smoke about halfway through.

Later that evening, I set up for the rest of the meal prep!

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I love the crunch of fresh bell peppers, especially in summer with some hummus or on a sandwich. It’s just such a “fresh” taste. Mr. Magic won’t eat raw vegetables though….yet! 😀

So I chopped some onion, bell peppers, and mushrooms. I drizzled them with olive oil and sesame oil, and gave them a generous blanket of salt and pepper.

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I baked them at 425 for about thirty minutes. This was actually my first time roasting veggies like this. I would either lower the temperature or roast them for maybe twenty minutes next time because they shrank up pretty small.

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Now it’s time to cook the tofu. I heated up some olive oil in a skillet, and dumped in my savory chunks!

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I added some smoked paprika, a spot more of chili oil, and a little bit more soy sauce. Since this is tofu, you can continually taste test as it cooks without fear of food poisoning. Season it to your liking, then keep warm while preparing the noodles. I used soba noodles, which are made from buckwheat.

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Soba noodles only take about six-seven minutes to cook so…easy peasy!

Assemble in bowls, and serve with Chardonnay and chopsticks! Or your drink and utensil of choice. We just love unwinding with Chardonnay lol.

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Oh yeah, top with green onions!

So there you have it. This recipe is pretty easy to be honest, and great for a quick, healthy weeknight meal. And if my boyfriend loved it, I’d say pretty much anyone else will. Seriously, he is extremely picky.

This recipe was off the top of my head, so if you try it, I’d love to know how it turned out!

Until next time!

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Hot, Spicy, and Sweet

Hi everyone! I’m back again. No matter what, I will always return to my little blog.

So…during my most favorite, spookiest month of the year (also my birthday month), I finally have all the evidence that I am an actual, real kitchen witch with magical powers. How do I know this, you ask? Well, let’s start at the beginning.

When I moved in with my boyfriend (then friend of 13 years), He wasn’t home when I walked in. He had left the door unlocked for me before he got home later that evening. I walked into the cute little bungalow in the country and started looking around at my new dwelling. I instantly felt at home there. I walked into the little kitchen and my eyes went straight to the spice rack. And I found…..salt, pepper, Taco Bell fire sauce packets, and Papa Johns garlic dipping sauce. I sighed at the bachelor spice rack.

During the next few days I found out he had absolutely no liking for vegetables and existed mainly on Taco Bell and frozen pizza. I knew I had to make a change.

He got sick one day, and I instantly jumped at the opportunity. I got all the ingredients for my chicken soup recipe, which includes a very simple variety of chicken soup recipes: onion, garlic, carrots, and celery. A simple mirepoix. When I served it to him, he took a small sip, and emitted a sound someone makes when they indulge in extremely fine chocolate. He ate the whole thing and admitted that he loved it, vegetables and all.

Throughout the next few months, I made it my mission to slowly introduce vegetables into his diet. Then, during one trip to my parents’ house, I saw on Facebook that he had attempted his own soup, of JUST veggies! My plan was working.

I made a vegan broccoli cheese soup. He devoured it.

Then we bought a new house and cooking went on the back burner as we packed and tried to blow through leftovers and frozen food before moving day. And then when we did move in, we became so busy unpacking and organizing, cooking was still a bit on the back burner. I slowly got back into it, making the chicken soup he loves so much soup, then making Phillies that he loves even with bell peppers in them. Then I decided to try spinach. I made Mediterranean lamb wraps with spinach, feta, and kalamata olives. He took a bite and hugged me. I decided it was time…time to see if I could make him like one of his most detested vegetables: sweet potatoes.

Now, I LOVE sweet potatoes. I love how gnarly they can look, I love the way they smell, how they come into season in the fall, and how a bowl of warm sweet potato soup on a chilly fall night can warm the soul (Just kidding, it’s still 90 degrees in SC lol).

So last night, I set forth. First of all, I decided to add bacon to my usual sweet potato soup recipe because I knew it would gain points with him.

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I got some nice, thick cut bacon and it was already filling the house with fine bacon-y scent when he got home from work. I knew I had his attention already, and calmly explained that I just wanted him to try it, and had gotten him a pizza as a peace offering if he truly hated it. He agreed to my terms.

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I was getting excited for sure but I could see the skepticism on his face and he popped in and out of the kitchen. I added my herbs and spices, immersion blended it, and let it set until we were ready to eat. I broiled some baguette with olive oil and salt and pepper, handed him a spoon, and waited on the moment of truth.

He LOVED it! I jumped up and down at my success and giggled at the fleck of soup stuck in his mustache. I had gotten my boyfriend to eat sweet potato. Kitchen witch, magical powers, confirmed!

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I only have a phone camera so I know my photos aren’t the best, but here it is all served up with bacon, parmesan, and crusty bread. We devoured it with some Chardonnay while binge watching Frasier on Netflix.

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Then I fell asleep on the couch because I was pinned down by our 75 pound American Bully. So…a wonderful, successful night!

This soup is warm, spicy and sweet. When it does finally cool off outside, it’s going to be a staple in our home!

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Three sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

Chicken broth

Chopped onion and minced garlic

Olive oil

Thyme, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and salt to taste

Cooked and chopped thick cut bacon (optional)

Parmesan (optional)

Cook the bacon and set aside.

Peel and chop the sweet potatoes.

Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil in a large pot. Add chicken broth and sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil until the potatoes are soft. Remove from the heat and immersion blend until silky. Stir in herbs and spices to taste. Serve topped with the bacon and Parmesan if desired, and enjoy!

Frugal Meals: Veggie Soup

I realized I had a some veggies that were about to go bad on me. I don’t like wasting food, especially in the predicament I currently find myself in, so I thought hey…lets throw them all in a pot and see what happens!

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I chopped up some carrots, onion, garlic, and asparagus and opened a can of chickpeas to round it all out.

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Then I sauteed them all in a pot. Onions first, then carrots, then the asparagus, and the garlic was last because garlic burns so easily. I then added salt, pepper, dill, and rosemary. Oh, and a touch of turmeric.

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Then I put this baby in there. I let it boil then simmered for about 15 minutes.

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Then I had a soup that lasted me a few days, and it was healthy!

It’s been tough being unemployed. I’ve been a little afraid to put myself back out there, while being even more terrified of the coming months. Will I have enough money to keep this roof over my head? To keep my power on? My internet? It’s rough trying to stay positive in a time like this, but it’s times like these that positivity is one of the most essential tools to have.

In order to keep myself sane, I’ve been playing around with creative ideas. I’m going to try and integrate this blog with my Etsy shop, along with another idea I have that is in the early stages of development.

So…keep hanging out with me, perhaps you’ll see some cool stuff!

Thanks everyone, much love!

I did it again!

I am the worst blogger ever.

Things have been so super hectic around here…two weeks ago we went on a camping trip, followed immediately by my company implementing a TON of new changes, so that’s been fun/challenging, I have more cross stitch commissions, and just a lot of stuff has been going on I have barely had time to breathe let alone blog.

But I wanted to at least talk about the camping trip!

We left early Friday morning, packed up the car with our backpacks, tent, and dog, and started the five hour journey to Pisgah National Forest.We were the first ones of the group there, so we settled into the last campsite available. Unfortunately, it was littered with trash, and one hollow tree stump in particular was obviously used as the previous camper’s toilet. Gross.

People began showing up, we got our fire started, and let the good times happen! My boyfriend grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains and he’s used to backpacking – where you pack super light. We also were only going to stay one night but that turned into two, so our rations did not last us very long at all. Luckily the people we were with all brought more than enough and were very willing to share.

The first night was rough. Our tent leaked and it down poured. Justin has a mummy bag so he was fine, but I was very cold in my regular sleeping bag because that’s where the leak was.

But the next day I pushed through and warmed myself by the fire and had freeze dried bacon and eggs.

The second day a hiking trip was planned, but I really just wanted to sit around the fire so two other ladies and I stayed back and drank beers while we stuffed easter eggs for the kids that were with us. It was super fun, although I learned dark chocolate and beer don’t mix too well.

Everyone returned and we were all still hanging out, but as the sun fell, a bitter cold followed.

I stayed huddled by the fire, but once it was bedtime, I crawled into my sleeping bag with my pants on, a tank top, t shirt, flannel, and coat, but I woke up around 5:45 AM frozen to the bone. I actually started to cry because I have never in my life felt that kind of cold before. Once it was light enough, I pulled my sneakers on and got as close to the fire as I could. I didn’t feel warm again until halfway through the ride home, when I made Justin crank the heat in the truck.

I was cold, dirty, and aching in places I didn’t know existed, but I loved it. While I need better gear, I wouldn’t mind living in a tent once I master the art of using the woods as my bathroom. Cooking over a campfire, being able to see tons of stars, listening to the owls and birds and crickets…it was amazing.

I loved being so close to nature. I’ve been spoiled working at home in the luxury of my apartment, and it’s nice to be humbled by the earth and the elements.

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Home

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Justin in his hammock with our beautiful dog

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Cooking over the fire

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I cannot wait for our next camping trip! I loved everyone and had a blast! Maybe we will try camping on the beach next!

Whoops!

Ugh! I hate when I accidentally take a hiatus!

It’s not that I forgot about my blog or anything, I just randomly got like super, super busy. Work exploded, the apartment exploded, desperately trying to get organized, cross stitch commissions, binging on Z Nation and being a couch potato… you know how it goes.

Anyways, I’ve had some ideas bouncing around in my head. More ways to live simply and organically.

My whole life I’ve been drawn to plants and herbs. Growing up, I didn’t have very many friends so I usually found myself in the kitchen with my VERY Italian mom while she cooked. I learned a lot about homemade food preparation, safe handling methods, flavor profiles, etc. This came in handy once I was on my own (I’ll never forget the time my older sister called from college asking how to boil water…-sigh-) because I was able to make things last longer, which was awesome during the broke art school days.

Lately the interest has been sparked again. I really want to be able to use plants and herbs for more than just flavoring foods. I want to have the knowledge and know-how to use them medicinally. I’ve been on Pinterest almost all morning, reading about Herbology, and I cannot wait to start learning more!

So be prepared for more posts about herbs and their healing powers and properties. I’m really excited, I want to buy like every single book on the subject. I know I already have some books at my parents house, so I need to hold it together and not spend too much money until July when we make the six hour car ride down there, and I will happily rummage through boxes of my old stuff to find them.

Happy Sunday everyone!