Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rest Day Meant Kitchen Time

Check It Out
Here's some fun Hump Day news to share with you. The lovely Kris Britton from iheartwellness has started a new networking site for bloggers. It's such a great concept for the blogging community. The site is called Skinny Girl Fat Passion.

Before the start up, Kris asked me if I would like to do a post for the site to talk about why I blog and perhaps some tips for new bloggers. I was really and truly honored that she thought of me. I would love for you to check out my post "Why I Blog" but also check out the site itself! 

Much Needed Rest Day

So, today was an unplanned rest day. My body decided to slightly revolt on me today. My legs are still trying to get used to my increased running I do believe. Also, I have some nice DOMS going on from chest, triceps, and shoulder workouts. I felt tremendously fatigued, which is really not normal for me. I was experiencing an after lunch slump all day. Again, not normal at all. I almost never experience that "gonna fall asleep upright" experience even when running on no sleep. So, rest day. Did that stress me a bit? Yep, only because it threw my "schedule" for a bit of a loop. But I'll deal.

Rest Day Means Kitchen Time
Warning: recipe bonanza about to occur.

I will say that the rest day gave me the opportunity to spend a bit more time in the kitchen on dinner than I normally have time for. Right now the fridge is stocked and there are a few things that need to be used ASAP. I had 1 Japanese eggplant that was headed south and 2 white eggplants that finally grew (and weren't eaten by an animal) from the garden. I was thinking eggplant lasagna, but I needed a vegan filling. I have never tried making a vegan ricotta, so I did a bit of searching online and came up with an Italian Tofu Ricotta to use with my Vegan Spinach Eggplant Lasagna. I also whipped up a fairly quick, and mighty tasty Any Day Spaghetti Sauce. This is not "The Family Recipe" mind you, but it really turned out great and would also work as a pizza sauce if you let it simmer and thicken longer.

Once I got in the kitchen and started prepping, I quickly had to come up with a plan B as the Japanese eggplant was too far gone. Drats. Luckily, I had 2 large zucchini in the fridge that I could use. So, this recipe ended up being versatile (thank goodness).

Italian Tofu Ricotta

Ingredients:
1 package extra-firm tofu
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp finely minced red onion
2 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 tsp dried parsley (I was out of fresh)
To taste: sea salt, cracked black pepper
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Splash red wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar would also work)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup raw cashews (soaked at least 30 minutes)
Water to puree cashews (maybe 1/4 cup)

Directions:
Drain and rinse cashews then blend with water until smooth (slowly add in water to desired consistency).

Crumble tofu in large bowl. Add in all ingredients minus the cashew cream. Mix well then stir in the cashew cream. Re-season if needed.


Any Day Spaghetti Sauce

Ingredients:
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
1 tbsp minced garlice
To taste: salt, pepper, oregano, parsley, basil, red pepper flakes
3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
3 oz tomato paste

Directions:
In large sauce pan, saute onion and garlic until soft. Add in reaming ingredients minus paste. Allow to simmer approximately 15 minutes then stir in paste and let simmer and thicken another 15 minutes.
 
Vegan Spinach Eggplant Lasagna

Ingredients:
3 Japanese eggplants, thinly sliced strips (or zucchini)
1 recipe Any Day Spaghetti Sauce
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 recipe for Italian Tofu Ricotta (or recipe of your choice)
To taste: salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, red pepper flakes
Daiya Vegan Mozzarella

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place eggplant strips on baking sheet and bake until crisp (optional).

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, slightly smash the cannellini beans then add in the spinach and season.

Place thin layer of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish. Add one layer of eggplant, top with "ricotta," bean and spinach mixture, then sauce. Repeat at least once more. Top with Daiya Vegan Mozzarella or a vegan parmesan (optional).

Bake approximately 25 minutes.
 
 
So, now the verdict. The Italian Tofu Ricotta was good. I do think that pine nuts would have been a better option than the cashew cream perhaps, or maybe a combination of the two. Also, the zucchini was fairly flavor-less. If you do use zucchini, I would suggest adding some seasonings or possibly breading with panko. I liked the added texture from the white beans. I think two cans blended with a smidge of white wine would have been good, or perhaps mixing them with the tofu ricotta. It seemed to be missing a "tang" so perhaps the addition of sundried tomatoes or capers would be good.