Friday, February 18, 2011

The Savory

Yesterday, I was all about the sweets but today, it is all about savory meals.
First up- how to transform leftovers.
On Valentines day, my mom cooked up steak that we got at Costco. Obviously, the Costco packages are huge so we had more than enough to go around. On the side we had a warm spinach and green bean salad with feta made by me plus a simple baked potato.
I haven't had a plain ol' baked potato in so long! I topped it with Greek yogurt, seasonings, Brummel & brown butter, and green onion.

We had two and a half huge steaks leftover so I made Philly cheese steak sandwiches. For five sandwiches I used a quarter of a huge onion, one red bell pepper, a bunch of mushrooms, one slice of provolone cheese for each sandwich, and 1 1/2 (huge) steaks.
I sauteed the sliced veggies in olive oil with a dash of oregano and salt/pepper and then added thinly sliced steak at the end to brown just a bit. I broiled wheat hoagie rolls in the oven to give them a quick toast, put all the toppings on, placed a slice of cheese on top, and broiled again until all the cheese had melted.
Topped with a couple dabs of ketchup!
Yummy!! We really extended the amount of beef because I used a bunch of vegetables. The flavors are so simple but when combined they created magic! I could probably have this sub 5 days in a row and not get tired of it..and that's saying something.

The last huge steak was utilized in yet another veggie stir fry.
Served on top of quinoa, with a couple vegetable egg rolls on the side (from Costco!) If you're wondering how to do an easy stir fry, this post might help.

We got three great, completely different meals out of one package of beef! I love utilizing leftovers :D
Speaking of leftovers, remember when I bought that huge package of fresh mozzarella at Costco for my tomato and mozzarella bruschetta? Well I've been utilizing that too!

First, I got the bright idea to make a margherita style pizza for lunch using a whole wheat pita as the base.
I put the pita in the oven as it was heating up (set to broil) while I prepared the rest of the ingredients. This way it would be crispy despite all of the moist ingredients. Topped with pesto as the base, a lot of fresh mozzarella (maybe too much?), tomato slices, salt, and pepper. I put it back in the oven for a couple minutes and BAM.
 In less than 10 minutes I had delicious, oozing goodness for lunch..on a school day!
Cut into four for maximum eatability-
Oh yes. Absolutely amazing.
I would pay big bucks for this at a restaurant :D

The second way I utilized the fresh mozzarella was in Tofu Parmesan!!
My mom and I were in a rut as to what to eat for dinner when I remembered that we had a block of tofu in the fridge. Since she was averse to eating it just by itself (like baked tofu, or something) I went to the internet for tofu ideas. This recipe was number one on All Recipe's top tofu recipes so I knew it had to be good!

I used the recipe as a guide, but didn't really follow its directions.
Here's my adaption:

1/2 cup whole wheat Italian bread crumbs
5 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, divided
2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, well beaten
1 (14 ounce) block firm tofu
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 clove garlic
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (or fresh, if you got it!)

In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon oregano, salt, and black pepper.

Press tofu for 15 minutes or more to get some of the water out. Slice (knife parallel to shorter end) into 16 slices that will be around 1/4 inch thick.

Dip tofu slices into egg mixture, and then into bread crumb mixture and place on a well greased cookie sheet. Spray the slices with additional cooking spray.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until golden and crisped, flipping half way through.

Combine tomato sauce, basil, garlic, and remaining oregano. Place a thin layer of sauce in an 8 inch square baking pan. Arrange 8 tofu slices in one layer in the pan. Spoon half of remaining sauce over tofu, top with remaining 8 slices of tofu (this time rotate the slices so they are perpendicular to the first layer's slices).

Top with the rest of the sauce, mozzarella, and remaining 3 tablespoons Parmesan.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. 

 My directions are kind of exact, but this is how I got a really, really good Tofu Parmesan so I think it's best I share what I did exactly. Between the three of us, we ate the whole thing. The breaded tofu tastes SO good and I bet could fool some people into thinking they're just eating chicken. The recipe as written on All Recipes would definitely not have worked as well (I noticed most of the reviewers did not follow the directions either) so I'm glad I changed it up.

I served it with whole grain bread and salad. I made a garlic butter with Brummel & Brown mixed with a bunch of goodies like fresh garlic, garlic powder, Italian seasonings, and salt. I felt so Italian with this meal :P

And yes, I would go so far as to say this is the best tofu dish I have ever made. It was really easy to make, too!
The other day, it was just me and my mom for dinner so I suggested to her that we try out one of the Annie's Mac and Cheese boxes that I bought at Sprouts a while ago. I was intrigued by a boxed mac and cheese (that used to be a childhood staple) that had a great ingredient list, used whole wheat pasta, and was white cheddar instead of orange! 
Even though I should have just made the box as directed so I could see how the actual product tasted, I wanted to spice it up a bit. Especially since my mom isn't a fan of mac and cheese so I wanted to give it a bunch of flavor. I doctored it up by added hot sauce, creole seasoning, cayenne pepper, pepper, red chili flake, and salsa. Yes, we like things spicy over here in Texas :D

Also, to bulk it up so it's not just pasta, I added two "Jumbo" sized veggie dogs from Light Life. I just cut them into bite sized pieces and sauteed them with a little olive oil so they could brown up a bit before being added to the pasta.
The verdict? This pasta is yummy! I tried a bite before I went all spice crazy and it tasted great. The veggie dogs worked out really well in this, too. The only thing I could find wrong with it is that it needed a lot more milk then the box said to use; the pasta wasn't very saucy. After I added more milk it was perfect. I probably wouldn't buy this again solely because I would probably never use it..I like creating meals so I always have ideas of what to eat. But for someone who is stuck in a rut or needs something to feed their kids, this is definitely a great choice.

And to keep the pasta trend going I have one more dish I would like to share...
Whole wheat orzo salad!
I used this recipe from How Sweet It Is that is a whole wheat orzo salad with grilled chicken and sweet and tender roasted vegetables. Jessica's recipe is super simple but creates such complex flavors. I will be making this again and again!

Whole Wheat Orzo with Grilled Chicken and Roasted Veggies
2 cups whole wheat orzo (uncooked)
3 grilled chicken breasts, chopped into pieces. (I used two large ones)
1 tomato (I used two plum tomatoes)
1 green pepper
1 red pepper (I also added some more bell pepper)
1 vidalia onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425.
Chop veggies and garlic into slices and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes, tossing vegetables occasionally.

Cook orzo according to directions. Drain, and place in a casserole dish. Add chopped grilled chicken on top. Add veggies. Mix pasta until everything is combined.

Sprinkle Parmesan on top. Toss a few times to incorporate. Serve hot.
I was a little heavy handed on the vegetables; who wants to miss out on all that caramelized goodness? I served the pasta salad on top of spinach because I thought the spinach would go really well with it.
Goodness gracious I loved this pasta dish. The tomatoes took on an almost sun-dried tomato flavor from the roasting and the balsamic vinegar glazed each and every vegetable with sweet goodness. I ended up having some leftovers with a couple cups of fresh spinach wilted down and mixed into the pasta and it was such a great addition! So next time, I will probably wilt a pound of spinach and mix it right into the pasta with all the rest of the veggies. Thanks so much for this amazing recipe, Jessica!


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