baked tofu nuggets

There are a lot of things I enjoy as an adult.

I like not having a bedtime or a curfew or any other authority figure telling me what to do.

I like being able to bring any type of beverage or food in my car, though now it indefinitely smells like coffee.

I like ice cream in the morning and York Peppermint Patties for lunch.

I like deciding how long "play time" can be.  I also like naps.

I like alcoholic beverages and grilled cheeses with tomato soup three meals a day.  I like having the freedom to write a blog where I can say saucy and sometimes questionable things about my personal life.  I also like using serious machines like ovens.

These imitation nuggets are seriously the bees knees.  They are warm and crispy and you'll be picking up the little pieces of baked bread crumbs with your finger tips.  Oh yes.  With just the perfect amount of smokey paprika flavor, these nugget babies are 100% vegan and 100% awesome.  Oh, and they can also be gluten-free.

Baked Tofu Nuggets

(yields 18 pieces, 4 servings)

INGREDIENTS:

1 package firm tofu, cut into nugget-shaped pieces

2 teaspoons olive oil

3/4 - 1 cup (about 2 slices of bread) breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

salt and pepper, to taste

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine breadcrumbs, paprika, garlic powder, and salt and pepper in a wide-dish bowl.

Place tofu nuggets in a large bowl and coat with 2 teaspoons olive oil, tossing with hands.  One by one, place each piece in the breadcrumb mixture, coating each side.  Repeat until all pieces have been coated -- there may be extra left over.

Place on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, remove from oven and flip each piece.  Place back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.  Serve immediately or store in a container for up to a week.

Enjoy!

Nutritional information (4-5 nuggets): 155 calories, 7.5g fat (2.5 mono, 3 poly), 13g carbohydrates, 11g protein

Oatmeal Cookie Granola

There are some things that are just awesome.

Coffee:  Preferably with cream and sugar.  Good friends:  Preferably those who buy you beer and make you stay out way past your bed time.  Trips to the beach:  Again, preferably with coffee and beer and friends.

Toilet paper. The Bee Gees.  Oxygen.  Oh, how we take it for granted.  And breakfast.  Breakfast that doesn't involve frying or hot, spattering oil.  Or boiling water.  Or preheated skillets that burn my fingers.  Or sharp knives.  I need a break from all that...  

Balance is key.  Case in point, granola is a mouthful of holy-heckballs-heaven.  All you need is a bowl and a pre-heated oven.

Here's what it comes down to:  A little cinnamon, raisins, honey and brown sugar.  Basically a love child between an oatmeal raisin cookie and a healthy breakfast.

If your instinct is to have it for dinner…  We are best friends.

Me thinks me got a plan.

Oatmeal Cookie Granola

(yields about 4 1/2 cups)

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups rolled oats

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons ground flax seed

2 teaspoons cinnamon

pinch of salt

1/3 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup raisins

PREPARATION:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, ground flax, cinnamon and salt.  Stir and set aside.

In a small bowl, measure out oil and pour it in.  Next, add the honey and then the vanilla.  Whisk together, then pour the wet mixture into the oat mixture.  Stir until all is evenly coated.

Spread the granola mixture onto the baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 30 minutes, stirring about 4 or 5 times so the mixture doesn’t burn.  Once done, remove from the oven and stir in the raisins.

Place on a flat surface and pat the mixture down with the back of a spatula or large spoon.  Let cool for 20 minutes, then break into clusters.

Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.  Enjoy!

Nutritional information (per 1/2 cup): 250 calories, 10.5g fat (1 sat, 4 mono, 4.5 poly), 36g carbs, 3.5g protein, 3.5g fiber

giving thanks

Thanksgiving:  It's never perfect.

It's really just an imperfect celebration.  If your family is anything like mine, you'll understand that cooking and cleaning and feasting together for the entirety of a day is very hard.  It's not enough to overcook a turkey or forget about the pie, but having literally no other place to escape to is basically the straw that broke the camel's back.

Thanksgiving is theatrical.  It is melodramatic and loud, and in my personal opinion, is a day in which we use way to many onions.

Yet after taking these past couple of days to reflect on my circumstances and the moments in which I've found myself, I realized something:  If I were to make a list of all the things I could be thankful for, that list is undoubtedly longer than my list of misfortunes.

Thanksgiving is communal.  It is authentic and invites us into a time of sharing life together.  It provides us with an opportunity to build our presence with one another, and to be present.  And if I'm being perfectly honest here, it is a relative normalcy in the chaos that surrounds my life every day.  We just choose to celebrate it once every 365 days.

Last week, thanksgiving encouraged me to reflect on the past year, which brought peace to my present and allowed me to feel thankful for my future, which is completely unbeknownst to me.

Thanksgiving:  It is an imperfect celebration yet it is a time we set aside to be in community with each other with the intention of spending time together celebrating life through conversation, feasting, and yes, even shouting over who over-mashed the potatoes.

And if this past thanksgiving was any indication of what the few months ahead will bring, I can't wait for Christmas.

Banana Buttermilk Doughnuts with Nutella

Dear life,

Sometimes you can be ugly and stupid and mean and hard.  Sometimes you test my patience with crazy drivers and very rude people.  Sometimes you make me complain about doing something while I’m already doing it.  Sometimes you spit on my shoes.  Yes, life can be pretty nasty and sometimes it makes me feel meaningless.  

When this happens, I feel a strong urge to punch life in the face.  Or at least give it a dang shake to show it what’s what.  Because sometimes life is just plain sour and requires a lot from me.  Not just today, but everyday.

But while all circumstances are against me, I understand they will eventually come to an end.  When that happens, I'm allowed to exist in the beauty of the result.  And it makes me smile.  Chuckle, even.

Now that I’m smiling, let’s talk about these doughnuts.

They are a reminder that things are good:  They are warm and productive and full of color.  Full of family and friends, pets, feasts, cocktails, great conversations, and community.

I like spending time with those who motivate and inspire me and echo my desire to be an enthusiast in life.  To encourage me to embrace what I'm interested in with both arms.  To hug it, love it, and be white hot passionate about it.  To always gamble on the big things.

So…  Do you want to grab a doughnut?  I think Banana Buttermilk Doughnuts with Nutella will leave you smiling, too.  Life, take that.

Most Sincerely,

Katie

Banana Buttermilk Doughnuts with Nutella

(yields 10-12 doughnuts)

INGREDIENTS:

For the Doughnuts:

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 large egg

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 large bananas

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup Nutella

For the Chocolate Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3 to 4 tablespoons cream

pinch of vanilla extract

black jimmies

PREPARATION:

To make the Doughnuts:

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 325  degrees F.  Spray a doughnut baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar together in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, melted butter, and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold together.  Lastly, add in mashed bananas and Nutella, stirring together until all of the ingredients are well combined.

Use a small spoon to portion batter into the prepared doughnut baking pan.  Bake doughnuts for 13-15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into one of the doughnuts comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for five minutes before transferring doughnuts onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Glaze doughnuts when completely cool.

To make the Glaze:

In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and cocoa powder.  Add 3 tablespoons of cream and vanilla extract.  Whisk to combine.  Add more cream, a tablespoon at a time, until the glaze is thick but still pourable.

Dip each doughnut into the chocolate glaze.  Shake off some of the excess glaze then dip into a bowl ready with jimmies.  Allow to rest a few moments for the frosting to harden slightly.

These doughnuts are best served within two days of baking.  Enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Waffles

Spoiler:  This post ends with waffles.

As for the beginning:  I read somewhere that a clean and organized desk may contribute to healthy eating and conventionality.

I have an extremely messy desk.  Actually, I retract that.  I have an extremely messy life, so I'm assuming that means I don't follow conformity but I can however eat as much candy I choose to eat and I'm just super creative and lackluster about rules.

Just reading between the lines.  Though the reality of it is I spend most of my time doing my work sitting cross legged on the floor, which probably just means I'm in kindergarden.

If that's the case, let's switch to waffles and maple syrup.  Child like things.  Because I'm unconventional and I can do that.

It's an apple and cinnamon sort of thing that's perfect for the things you're about to do amongst falling leaves.  We're being kids after all.

Waffles need something special.  Like say, cinnamon, applesauce, and a teensy weensy bit of sugar.

In short:  It’s what would happen if James Taylor wrote songs about New Hampshire.

Apple Cinnamon Waffles

(yields 6 waffles)

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups white whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

pinch of all-spice

1 egg

1/2 cup applesauce

1 1/2 cups milk

waffle iron

PREPARATION:

Pre-heat waffle iron.  Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and spices together in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, beat egg with a whisk.  Stir in applesauce and milk.  Slowly add flour mixture to the bowl with the wet ingredients.

Spray waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray.  Pour waffle batter onto hot waffle iron and cook until golden brown.  Serve warm with butter and warm syrup.

Enjoy!

Sausage, Jalapeno & Garlic Cheddar Grilled Cheese

I was warned.

I was warned to be careful when I chopped jalapeños.  I was warned that they are very hot and whatever surface they touch leaves behind a trail of spice.  I warned my mom to not eat the cheese off of the cutting board where I, prior to cutting the cheese, had sliced the jalapeños.  She didn't listen.  And she doesn't like spicy things.

I was warned that if I sliced these peppers I should not touch my eyes.  I was warned but I didn't listen.  And I rubbed.

Oh man, it was bad.  Really bad.  I almost lost an eye.

But grilld cheez.  Let's talk.

There isn't one person I know who doesn't undoubtedly not like it.  There I said it.  So when it's clear that your new boyfriend's friends do actually hate you, sweet talk 'em by offering to make grilled cheese.  Same goes for those new in-laws or that terrible new boss.

First thing's first:  Buy some specialty cheese.  Do it just this once.  I personally dig garlic and herb cheddar.

Next, the meat:  Cow meat, pig meat, chicken meat, turkey meat. Light, dark, or bacon.  I usually go with sausage.  I'm telling you, this is a real man's meal.  Add a tomato or two for show then throw on the jalapeños.  It's a must.

But don't give this grilled cheese to anyone who doesn't deserve it.  Except for your boyfriend's friends.  Or those in-laws or horrible boss.  It works wonders.

Sausage, Jalapeño & Garlic Cheddar Grilled Cheese

(yields 2 sandwiches)

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon olive oil

meat leftovers (sausage, fresh turkey, chicken, beef)

1 medium jalapeño, sliced

4 slices whole wheat bread

3 tablespoons butter, divided

2/3 cup garlic & herb cheddar cheese, grated (or cheese of choice)

1 fresh ripe vine tomato, sliced

PREPARATION:

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Once sizzling, add meat if it needs cooking time.  Add sliced jalapeños to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally as to not burn the peppers.

Meanwhile, lightly butter one side of each bread slice.  When cooked through, transfer meat and peppers to a dish.  Place 2 of the bread slices butter-side down in pan.  Turn heat to low.

Sprinkle  a layer of cheese on each slice, then add the meat.  Any meat.  All meat.

Distribute the jalapeños evenly, then place sliced tomatoes on top.  Add another layer of whatever cheese is remaining, then top each sandwich with the bread, butter-side facing up.

Cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until the bottom piece of bread is golden brown.  Flip each sandwich, one at a time, to the other side while keeping the sandwich intact.  Cook the other side for another 3 minutes.

Once cheese is melted and the bread slices are golden brown, remove each grilled cheese from the heat.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Double Chocolate Pumpkin Bread

October came and went too quickly.

We're now well into November in the thick of large sweaters, wool socks, and mega changes in air temperature.  I recently bought a new scarf.  I'm trying to woo cool air with my attire choices.

There's no need to be coy, quiet, or discuss anything sotto voce.  Today, I woke up and showered, ate eggs, made coffee, did the dishes and even attempted to whistle a little bit.

After inevitably failing, I then chose to bake pumpkin bread.  If such a failed achievement doesn't call for a loaf of chocolate bread baked fresh from the oven, I'm not sure anything will.

Introducing Double Chocolate Pumpkin Bread.  Trust me, you care.  It’s not every day you find yourself seeking a reason to just flat out eat excessive amounts of dark chocolate.  Yet here you are.

Maybe it’s because summer’s over and frankly there's no need to worry too much about an expanding waistline.  Maybe it’s because it’s Sunday.  Maybe it’s because it's fall or because you like logs of chocolate.

Obviously it's everything I just said.  Oh holly heckballs yes.

This Double Chocolate Pumpkin Bread should be great for any post-dinner fireside rendezvous you have planned for autumn.

Just add some nice whiskey and bearskin rug.

Double Chocolate Pumpkin Bread

(yields 1 loaf, 10 servings)

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 to 2 cups white whole wheat flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

pinch of all-spice

1/2 cup cane sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree

8 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

1/4 cup milk

3.5 ounces (100g) milk chocolate, shaved or chopped

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray or grease with butter.  In a bowl, mix together flour, oats, cocoa, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and other spices, then set aside.

Add butter to a large microwave-safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds.  Remove from microwave and let cool.  Stir in brown sugar and beat in eggs, one at a time.  Lastly, stir in pumpkin.

Meanwhile, chop chocolate into pieces of all shapes and sizes.  Add to pumpkin mixture.  Pour into the dry ingredients, then stir in vanilla extract and milk.  Whisk everything together until batter is completely smooth.

Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until center is set and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove bread from oven and let cool completely before cutting.

Serve with whiskey and a bearskin rug and enjoy!

Browned Butter Maple Granola with Almonds & Pumpkin Seeds

Oh breakfast.  I can't even take you right now.

I'm a girl of repetition and routine.  Once I like something, I tend to utilize it and obsess over it for months until I've launched it into the ground.  It's with songs mostly, but it's also a similar tune with breakfast.

Exhibit A:  When I wake up and the first thing I do is make a pot of coffee.  The next most recent obsession:  Avocado and egg on toast with fruit.  I've been consuming this for the past 12 weeks.  I don't know what it is, it just works.  Why change it?

But three months is a long time to obsess over something, even when it is ultimately the breakfast of champions.

I don't need it anymore.

Cue:  Granola.  It may be as old as the ages, but its adaptability is simply timeless and so is its taste.  With just a few ingredients, I swear everything in the world seems just right.

The flavor of browned butter with maple syrup and orange juice is out of this world.  It's light and sweet but not too overladen with sugar.  Granola, almond milk, a spoon?  It's all good.

My oven smells so good right now.  I spoil you guys rotten.

Browned Butter Maple Granola with Almonds & Pumpkin Seeds

(yields about 5 1/2 cups)

Adapted from this recipe

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, roasted

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1/2 cup raisins

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

pinch of salt

6 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup orange juice

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, flax seed, raisins, spices, and salt and stir together.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over low-medium heat.  Add in brown sugar and stir together.  Pour in maple syrup, then orange juice.  Bring to scolding (slight boil) and stir occasionally until sugar dissolves.

Pour mixture over oats and stir until all oats are covered.  Spread granola evenly onto prepared baking sheet (I usually pack it tightly together and then let it bake so clumps form).

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring granola occasionally to cook all sides. minutes.  Let cool a bit, then break into clusters and store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Hey Autumn.

I've been really enjoying you this fall.  I've been wearing lots o' wool socks and extra large sweaters.  I've been listening to new music and drinking apple cider with a splash of whiskey.I've been excited about apple recipes and pumpkin recipes and anything with molasses.  I've been looking forward to the chilly weather and cuddling by the fire, preferably accompanied by a bearskin rug.

And right now, I'm dying to tell you about this pumpkin ice cream.

It does't have too much cream, doesn't have too much sugar, but has just the right amount of pumpkin.  A win on all accounts.  You're welcome.

And just in time for snow.  Time to find that bearskin rug.

Pumpkin Ice Cream

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup milk

1/2-3/4 cup cane sugar

2 egg yolks

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon all-spice

pinch of cloves

2/3 cup pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ice cream maker

PREPARATION:

Place ice cream bowl in the freezer at least 24 hours prior to using.

In a saucepan over medium high heat, stir together cream, milk, and egg yolks until gently boiling.  Reduce heat to low and pour in sugar, spices and salt.  Stir in pumpkin puree and continue whisking for another few minutes.  Lastly, stir in vanilla.

Turn off stove and remove the saucepan from heat.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour, stirring it occasionally, until the mixture cools.

When the mixture has cooled and the ice cream maker is ready, pour mixture into the basin of the ice cream maker.  Prepare according to ice cream maker's instructions, mixing for about 25-30 minutes.

Transfer ice cream to a freezer-safe container or loaf pan and and freeze to harden for 1-2 hours before serving.

Rustic Country Bread

Life moves pretty fast sometimes.

Summer has been over for quite some time but for some reason unbeknownst to me I'm still craving iced coffee and missing the beach.  But the reality is this:  October is over, which means that it's November, so in other words December is here and I haven't even started my holiday shopping.

It's got me thinking about "slow living".

I'm no ace at it.  No one ever said slow was an effortless state of being.  Because it isn't easy living.  It takes work.  Let me rephrase that:  It takes very hard work because it involves going out of your way to change the speed at which you race, the companions you choose to travel beside you, the path you will walk along, and sometimes even the destination you'll be led to.

Slow living isn't slow and easy.  But we need to carve out moments of rest and peace.  Moments of thoughtfulness and stillness;  moments that create the vibe of slow living.  Because slow effort involves patience.  It involves precision.  It involves attention and detail.  It has a pay off.

Fresh bread.  It has it's place.  It reminds us of the importance of conscious retreat because it encourages us to tread through the steps carefully, taking the time to gather our thoughts and our hearts.  It reminds us of how to treat our hearts and your loved ones:  with patience, care, a little time to rise to their potential and a bit of salt for good measure.

Rustic Country Bread

recipe from King Arthur

(yields 2 to 3 boules)

3 cups, or 680 grams, lukewarm water (100 degrees F - 105 degrees F)

6 1/2 cups, or 907 grams, white or whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast

a few pinches of garlic powder

additional herbs and spices

PREPARATION:

Combine water and yeast together in a large bowl, stirring consistently until combined.  Incorporate the measured flour slowly until all is mixed together and forms a very sticky, rough dough.  Either use a stand mixer on medium speed, a big spoon, or your hands to form the dough.

Next, let the dough rise.  Place a towel under the bowl and use another towel or lid to cover the top.  Let the dough rise for at least 2 hours up to 8 hours.  When ready, remove the towel and knead the dough for 3 to 5 minutes using your fingertips and knuckles.

When done, transfer dough to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours, even up to 5 days (the longer the dough remains in the fridge, the tangier it'll taste). Over the course of the day, the dough will rise and fall.

When you're ready to make the bread, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and grease your hands with butter or a little bit of oil.  Pull off about 1/3 of the dough or about the size of a softball - a 14-ounce to 19-ounce piece if you have a scale.

Place the dough on a floured surface and round it into a ball.  Knead for 3 to 5 minutes and mold piece into what shape you'd like.

Place the dough in a cast iron skillet for a boule-shaped bread or on a piece of parchment paper if you're using a baking stone.  Sprinkle a light coating of mixed spices on top to before baking.

Preheat oven (and baking stone, if using) to 500 degrees F while the dough rests.

When ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2-inch deep.  Place the bread in the oven an bake for 20 to 25 minutes with the lid on.  After 20 minutes, remove the top, drop the temperature to 450 degrees F and cook for another 20 minutes.

Remove the bread from the oven and cool on a rack.  Repeat baking steps until all the dough is used up.

Store leftover bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.