GIVEAWAY: EZ Tofu Press

Remember last week when I introduced you to a new tofu press?

I loved EZ TofuPress because it works quickly, gets a nice, even press on my tofu and is super easy to store.

I used mine again yesterday!

Awesome news: Ben at has generously offered to give a FREE press to a VeggieVore reader. Here’s how to win: 

Comment on this post, telling me why you need an EZ Tofu Press. On Friday, I will randomly choose a winner. Ben will ship your shiny new press straight to your house. Doesn’t get much easier than that!

So tell us…Why to you need a tofu press? How would you put it to use?

Good luck!

 

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Tomato Pie Remix

Let’s start with some eye candy. Gorgeous garden, anyone? 

Remember the client I have with the fabulous on-campus garden? Well the kale I took home in the winter was nice, but the summer bounty is the best kind of overwhelming.

They employ a gardener who comes in about three times a week to tend the plot and harvest. I never leave empty-handed. This go round, it was mortgage lifter heirloom tomatoes, which led to a craving for a true Southern treat: tomato pie.

I didn’t have the heart to go super-decant for day-that-ends-in-y cooking. I healthied up a tradition version quite a bit, starting with the crust.

I ditched the pastry and used breadcrumbs and beans to make a solid base. Then I tinkered with our favorite quiche recipe (courtesy of my mom’s sweet friend Diana). The result was equally fabulous for dinner and breakfast the next morning. Enjoy!

Healthy Tomato Pie (serves 4-6)

1 1/2 cups homemade breadcrumbs, unseasoned

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup canolini beans

1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1/4 cup reduced fat ricotta cheese

1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream

1/2 cup skim milk

1 tablespoon arrowroot starch

chopped fresh herbs (1 T green onion and 2 T basil for me)

1 large tomato, sliced to about 1/4 inch thickness, then drained on paper towels

1/2 cup feta crumbles

*Combine the bread crumbs, butter, beans and salt in the food processor or high speed blender. (I used 1/2 teaspoon salt, but my beans where made from dry and had no seasoning. You might need less if using canned.)

*Pulse until the beans/breadcrumbs/butter are integrated.

*Squish this mixture evenly into a 10.5 inch tart pan. Ta-da! Crust.

*Bake the crust at 350 for 10 minutes. Meanwhile…

*Use a high speed blender or hand mixer to combine the eggs, ricotta, sour cream, milk, starch and herbs. Blend well.

* Pour the egg mixture over the crust. Lay your tomatoes on top–extra points if they look artful–then sprinkle on the feta cheese.

*Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until the center is set.

I served Vore’s portion with a few simply sautéed shrimp. We each ate a quarter of the tart and didn’t feel a smidge guilty about the portion size.

Do you have a favorite recipe you’ve made more healthy? And what’s your favorite crust alternative? 

Blinding You With Science: The Tofu Press Edition

I was never the star of science class. English, maybe. Biology and physics? Not so much.

Stolen from Vore’s tool box, this marks the first time I’ve used a measuring tape in the kitchen.

I was interested in words and history, not dissecting a poor little frog or building a baking soda volcano. However…my mom is a pharmacist who thinks chemistry is the most interesting discipline known to man. Perhaps her love of lab work spilled over to me in a new form? I  heart food experiments!

That’s why I was super excited to receive a package from Ben who I met on Twitter, asking me to try out his EZ Tofu Press.

First things first, why do you need a tofu press? In case you’re new to the soy game, tofu comes water-packed. Ironically, water is an enemy of good tasting tofu. Less water = better texture. You’ve got to get the liquid out somehow. That’s where gadgetry comes in.

While I’ve got a tofu press in the cabinet, Ben told me his has a few notable differences: it’s more compact, dries tofu in less time and costs about half of the version I have at home. Now there’s an invention I can get behind! I decided to put tofu pressing methods to the test. The players: 

  1. Old school. Wrap the tofu in a kitchen towel. Place something heavy on top. Wait.
  2. EZ Tofu press. The “tofu vice.” Create tension between plates by tightening screws.
  3. Tofu XPress. A spring creates the tension in this self-contained box.

For testing, I divided one block of tofu into three equal sections, which I measured for accuracy.

I placed the tofu blocks side by side, put 30 minutes on the timer and walked away. You can see the EZ Tofu Press in action here ————> FYI, it’s turned the wrong way!

I tightened the nobs 3 times during the 30 minute testing period. Curious for the results?

Dare I say #2 EZ Tofu Press is the flattest? While the Old School method kind of works, I knew one of the gadgets would win. The added pressure makes all the difference.

I’ve loved #3 The XPress for the time I’ve had it. It’s tidy and does a good job. But it does require thinking ahead. I usually put a block in fridge at lunch if I plan to use it at dinner. I’ve also noticed that my tofu often comes out lopsided. That’s always bothered me.

I like that the EZ Tofu Press works faster and gives me the control over where pressure is applied. I also like that it’s less expensive than the competition. I plan to make EZ my primary kitchen tool for drying tofu, which happens often in this house!

If you’re interested in learning more about EZ Tofu Press, check out this YouTube demonstration videoHave you used a tofu press? Do you have any tips to share?

“Clean Out the Fridge” Cherry Chutney

The start of something good.

Remember the cherry overload last week? I didn’t learn my lesson. Faced with a few stragglers in the fridge, I set out to create something a little different. Savory, perhaps?

Who’s ready to spice up dinner?

Tofu on the left, pork chop on the right. On the same plate for photo purposes only.

Cherry Chutney

1 medium shallot, diced

2 small jalapeños, diced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

15 cherries, pitted and sliced

1/4 cup red wine

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

*Sautee the shallot, jalapeños and garlic over medium high heat, until tender.

*Add in the cherries, and cook about 2 minutes more

*Booze time! Add in the wine and vinegar, then drop the heat to medium low. Let the contents simmer until the wine and vinegar have reduced to a thick sauce.

*Spoon over your entree and enjoy!

 

Waste not, Watermelon Margaritas.

I’m over at The Magic City Post today, dishing about my trip to Norwood Market at the Trolley Stop. I left you hanging…I bet you’re wondering what I bought?

An enormous, juicy watermelon, which I immediately commenced hacking.

*stabbing watermelon is strangely therapeutic.

I remembered why we only buy watermelon once a year. That stuff is prolific! For only $6, Snowman the farmer sent me away with a “tight” melon that sounded hollow when thumped.

Back home, I cussed girthy watermelon while cutting 5 gallon-size storage bags of cubes. Clearly, that’s too much for our family of two. Waste not! I went with my favorite tactic, freezing the heck out of it. Here’s how to use the icy treasures:

Frozen Watermelon Margaritas

2 cups cubed watermelon, frozen on a cookie sheet

1/4 fresh lime juice (about 1 big lime)

1/2 tablespoon orange juice concentrate

1 cup coconut water

1/4 cup tequila

1 tablespoon stevia, or to taste

*Add all ingredients to the blender and…you know…blend! You’ll have tall drinks for two.

What I love about my watermelon margarita: Absolutely no added sugar! This tastes so much like the concoctions I love at the Mexican restaurants, minus the tooth rotting/headache capacity present in most frozen drinks.

Bonus: leave the tequila out and call this a post workout recovery drink. Unless you like to drink after the gym. In which case I will not judge you.

What’s your favorite way to use frozen fruit? Do you have a go-to margarita recipe? Bottoms up!

4 Tips to Make Running in the Heat a Little More Breezy.

When it comes to exercise, I am a dabbler. On my laundry list of fitness pursuits once considered my absolute favorite thing ever: free weights, BodyPump, Spin, Yoga, Pilates, BodyAttack, KickBoxing, Boot Camp, HIIT and…running. I always come back to running.

While it’s my first love, injuries have taught me that I should be more of a 5-miles-a-couple-of-times-a-week runner, not a marathoner. I’m totally okay with that. Running is where I hit my zone. As my feet and breath fall into a familiar rhythm my brain gets a vacation. It’s like a drug. I need to run. But what’s a girl to do in this sweltering heat? Here are a few tips:

1. Morning, never afternoon. The earlier you get your tush out of bed, the more pleasant your run is going to be. First light is by far the coolest part of the day. Use it. Set your alarm early and enjoy your time outside.

2. Visor, not hat. My outdoor runs aways include a visor. Always. I need something to keep the sun and sweat out of my eyes. Hats keep heat in. Visors let heat out. Embrace your inner tennis mom and buy a visor.

3. Water, never soda.  I first swore off soda in the midst of sweltering two-a-days for softball. (I pitched for a highly competitive traveling team. I’ll tell you more about it sometime.) I used to drink Sprite, but found that it made me sick on the playing field. I gave up soda then, and haven’t ever picked the habit back up. Ditch the can. Drink loads of water.

4. Get the most bang for your time. Logic tells you that it’s not ideal to train for a marathon in 95 degree heat coupled with 95 percent humidity. Unless you hail from somewhere far north of sweet home Alabama, save your ridiculously long runs for the fall.

Instead of adding time, use the summer months to add intensity. Yesterday, I ran 4 miles through the neighborhoods that surround our local high school. I used the last ten minutes I had allotted as exercise time to sprint the stadiums. You can also knock out a 40-yard dash, kill some burpees or turn the sideline benches into the most wicked step machine you’ve ever used. Get creative, get your heart rate up.

Do you run in the summer? Care to share any survival tips? 

Chocolate Covered Cherry Yogurt Mix-In

Did anyone else get sucked into the one-day sale on cherries at Whole Foods last week? I mean–at $1.99/pound they were something like 75% off. And they had a team member dressed up like George Washington encouraging me to taste the sweet little things.

I bought too many cherries, I cannot tell a lie.

Two and half pounds later (only $5!) I am swimming in stone fruit. This gives me full rights to experiment in the kitchen. May I present to you, experiment #1?

This is one of my happy accidents. The recipe started as a stab at an energy bite. I discovered quickly that dried cherries might work in that application, but the raw version is far too juicy. I mixed my planned ingredients together and landed on more of a syrup.

That’s when it occurred to me: “Veggie, you love flavored yogurt, but never buy it because of the added sugar. Here’s an opportunity to create all natural cherry yogurt.”

Instead of fruit on the bottom, make your own flavor and mix it in from the top. I’m enchanted. I may never eat plain Greek yogurt again.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Yogurt Mix-In

1/4 cup raw cashews

3 dates

10 cherries, pitted.

1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder

stevia, to taste

*Add the cashews and dates to a food processor or high speed blender. Process to a fine meal.

*Add the cherries and protein powder, pulsing until well incorporated. You should have a dark brown syrup with a few cherry chunks.

*Add one tablespoon of the syrup to flavor a 6 oz container. Mix in stevia, if a sweeter yogurt is desired. One batch of the syrup will flavor 2 cups of yogurt.

What’s your favorite way to spice up plain yogurt? And what fruit or veggie have you bought far too much of lately?

Let Them Eat (1-year anniversary) Cake.

Has it really been a year? 365 days ago I walked down the aisle and said “I do” to the most perfect man I can fathom. We gutted out the ceremony. (Nerve wracking!) Then we danced. We toasted. We mingled with family and friends. And we ate this cake:

After two hours of our brunch reception, Vore and I made a run for it. We didn’t stop until we got to Atlanta–two hours away. We were staying near the airport, where we would jet off to our honeymoon early the next morning. Neither of us had eaten more than a couple of bites all day and we were famished.

I was a post-wedding vision. My hair was still plastered in a now messy up-do. I had false eyelashes and sore feet. Too tired to care, Vore and I needed the easiest fix possible. We walked to a nearby sports bar and partook of what might be the worst meal I’ve eaten.

But when we got back, there was glorious wedding cake waiting. Huge slabs of it. German chocolate for the groom and vanilla butter cream for the bride. We finished every bite, and I can say with all honesty that nothing ever tasted so sweet.

After a year hogging space in the parental freezer, Mom was thrilled to send the toppers back to our house. (Dad said he didn’t know there was a flavor called “that damn cake.”)

Today, Vore and I ate like a bride and groom again. We sliced into the cake with trepidation, and were surprised and how well it held up in the freezer.

Perhaps the frosting was a touch mealy? Maybe the bride’s cake was a smidge dry? Without the critical eye, I’m not sure we would have noticed.

Friends, that “damn cake” fared well.

If you’re married, how did your cake taste on your first anniversary? Does anyone have any great tips for storing a wedding topper? Ours was wrapped tightly in lots of Press-N-Seal and stored in a tupperware container.

“Forget the Frier” Okra + Creative Croutons

Would you believe that this okra was made in oven? There was nary a frier in site.

Fried okra is crunchy and oh-so-popable. Served up with ketchup, the good stuff makes you turn down french fries. But the oil! The calories! And never mind the no-fry clause of Veggie-Vore House Rules: Frying is messy and bad for you. Onion rings or beignets are a treat you eat occasionally in restaurants. Never fry at home.

Let’s bake that okra, shall we?

Oven-Fried Okra

3-3/12 cups fresh okra, cut to bite size pieces

1/4 cup Kefir or buttermilk

1/4 spelt flour or flour of choice

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup egg white

3/4 cup cornmeal

*Preheat the oven to 425.

*Toss your naturally slimy okra in Kefir to get it extra sticky.

*Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a large zip top bag. Add the okra and shake to distribute. If you like, say “it’s shake-n-bake and I helped!”

*Dip those coated pieces in the egg white, a few at a time.

*Place the cornmeal to another zip top bag or, if you’re feeling funky, a paper sack. Add the okra and shake again.

*Put a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spray it lightly with olive oil or cooking spray.

*Spread your coated okra on the sheet and lightly spray the tops with oil. Bake at 425 or approximately 25 minutes, turning once during cooking.

I’ll leave you with one last tip…

What do you do with the leftovers? Let the okra play the role of a crouton on your salad. It’s delicious!

I’m curious–what do you bake that most people fry? And do you have a creative way to repurpose for leftovers that others might trash? 

RI-Laxing.

I’m almost done with the vacation postings. Promise. We’ll be back to regularly scheduled food stuff in no time, but I just couldn’t resist sharing the fun we had in Rhode Island.

If you missed it, we’ve discussed:

Eating in Rhode Island<—Where we find quirky fun stuff

Fun stuff to do in Boston<—Where we get all historical

Boston Food Picks<—Where we research, then stuff face

Our activity list in Rhode Island wasn’t quite as adventurous as our jaunt to Boston, mostly because Vore was in Providence for business. Both of us actually had to work a little.

But good times were had. We started in Newport, touring guilded age mansions.

Of all the gorgeous castles homes in Newport, a handful are open to the public. We visited Rosecliff and the Breakers. As you can see above, it was rainy. And windy.

We were given a headsets for a self guided tour at each home. The tapes are filled with trivia and fun facts about the owners and the era. The houses are rich with history; absolutely worth a visit.

Thankfully, the rain subsided while we were inside. We were off to The Cliff Walk. 

This was perhaps our favorite adventure of the entire trip. The trail snakes along behind the mansions, both public and private, and provides gorgeous views of the craggy coastline. We walked all 3.5 miles of it, and the the entire way back. I wore sandals. Stupid is as stupid does.

Back in Providence, I was left alone for a few hours. I took a taxi to the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson and Wales. 

This was a treasure trove of culinary memorabilia. Current exhibits include the history of diners, the state fair, cooking instruments, and my favorite…presidential menus. What was served at Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration? You’ll have to visit the museum to find out.

While in Providence, we also trekked up the super steep College Hill to visit Brown University, a lovely place. We discovered Thayer Street and ate cannolis in Federal Hill. We snagged lunch from a food truck and got funky in DownCity art district. That’s where I got an awesome souvenir t-shirt in Craftland. It reads “Don’t mess with Rhode Island either.”

Take that, Texas. Our trip revealed that the little guys are pretty awesome, too.