Pad Thai for Two (Three?)

>> Friday, September 30, 2011

Hey. Stephen here again. I don't know if you can tell, but I've been helping out more lately. Around the house. On the blog. In the kitchen. Today I want to share with you a quick dinner we've developed a regular craving for. It's one that's simple enough for me to prepare easily by myself.

Easy on the wallet, too. Each serving (two huge ones) comes in at around $2.50.

What you'll need . . .
  • 1 box of A Taste of Thai Pad Thai for 2 (no, this is not a sponsored post, we really just like this stuff and want to make you aware of it!)
  • 1/2 block firm tofu
  • Bunch of green onions
  • 1-2 carrots
  • Unsalted peanuts
  • Fresh basil

I always start by frying the tofu. Our best method?
  1. Cut the tofu block in half. Store half in the fridge in a plastic bag. Some people choose to store tofu in water. We never do that.
  2. Drain the other half by first placing it onto a plate and sopping up a bit of moisture with a couple paper towels. Then, put another plate on top and something weighty on that (like a tea kettle with some water in it). Let press for a few minutes. Drain excess moisture.
  3. Then cut into large or small cubes -- whatever you like best.
  4. Use a large, flat pan over medium-high (you want it hot, but not burning) heat with a few tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil in it. Let the oil heat up. I always toss on a small piece of tofu to see when it's "ready" to cook. The tofu entering the pan should make the oil sizzle, but -- again -- not burn.
  5. Once the oil is ready, put all the tofu into the pan. Cook until browned on one side, then flip each piece and try to get all sides browned. (Sometimes I'm lazy and just brown 2 sides.)
  6. When done, put tofu atop a paper towel on a plate to soak up excess oil. Then set aside while you prepare the rest of the meal.

  • The box instructs on how to cook the noodles, so I won't cover that. But you'll want your green onions chopped and your carrots sliced very thinly.
  • After you've cooked the noodles, you can toss them into that pan you fried the tofu inside -- hopefully there's still some oil left in it. If not, add more.
  • Add the green onions and carrots. Cook until everything is nicely heated -- veggies should still be a tad crisp, definitely not over-done and soft.
  • You'll add the sauce that came with the meal, too. Cook so everything is heated.

At this point, you'll add the tofu to the meal. And after that, you'll divide into two generous servings and garnish with chopped peanuts and basil leaves.

It's that simple.

We used to live where there were at least five Thai restaurants within five or ten minutes of our apartment. Now, not so much. We miss it. But we're glad we tried this grocery store find (which -- happily -- is now lower in sodium AND gluten-free) because it's relatively authentic tasting and cheap.

(And if it saves me from driving over an hour to satisfy my wife's cravings for Thai food during pregnancy, you KNOW it's a keeper!)

Pssst: Be sure to check out Ashley's 31-Week belly shots today on (never home)maker, baby!

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Jazzed-Up Cornbread

>> Thursday, September 29, 2011

After drooling over Ashley's (Edible Perspective) awesome cornbread recipes last week, I had the stuff on my brain. For sure. And even without discussing it with Stephen, he must have picked up on it, too. Last night, he just HAD to have cornbread. He wouldn't stop talking about it.

Our favorite recipe is derived from one in some worn church cookbook I found second- or third-hand at a yard sale several years ago. But I had changed it to make it vegan and jazzed it up a bit by adding real corn and peppers when I was in college.

Problem: We're out of egg replacer, applesauce, AND flax right now because we skipped the grocery store this week.

Solution: Use an egg. Otherwise, this recipe is vegan.


What you'll need . . .
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg or your favorite replacement
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 can corn
  • 2 hot peppers, seeded and finely chopped

Method . . .
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a standard loaf pan with Earth Balance or butter.
  2. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the maple syrup, egg, almond milk, and oil.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until everything is moistened. Don't over-mix.
  5. Fold in the corn and peppers. Pour mixture into loaf pan.
  6. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. You may wish to cover the loaf with tin foil in the last 15 minutes or so to eliminate excess browning. Loaf is done with a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  7. Baker beware: It's tricky to tell when the loaf is done. However, if you cut into it and still find the insides are goo-py, just return to the oven. No harm done.

Thanks again to Ashley for the inspiration. Now we just need to figure out what to do with all these peppers. Any ideas?

Hot sauce, maybe?

(On a side note, we've received a few emails from people frustrated at our recent lack of vegan recipes. I just wanted to remind trusty readers/let new readers know that we're not vegan. We love to bake and cook vegan foods, but our recipes reflect our everyday eating, which is primarily basic vegetarian. That being said, we'll make an effort to post more vegan stuff in the coming months!)

I love the fall weather. Leggings and flip-flops!

However, taking photos of the foods we're making is getting challenging and requires me to immediately get my camera out after work, head outside, and snap away. Most often, I head to our favorite spot:

Also: I finally got my butt into gear and posted a video post on (never home)maker, baby! If you're interested, it's a quick run-down of what's going on now that I'm 31 weeks pregnant. OK. As of today, though, I'm actually 32 weeks pregnant.

That's eight months. As in the start of eight out of nine months. Ahhh!

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!


Great Garbanzos

>> Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hey, all you crazy ninjas -- Stephen here! Ashley's feeling sluggish today, so I've taken on the posting responsibilities. When presented with the challenge of coming up with a topic, I didn't need to think for very long at all.

Today's focus? Garbanzo beans (chickpeas).

One of my favorite snacks in a rush is a half cup of rinsed garbanzo beans with a couple drips of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. And it seems the leftover beans always find their way into our meals.

  • They're delicious.
  • They're high in fiber and folate (shout to the pregnant women!).
  • They're a great source of protein for vegetarians.
  • They're cheap and readily available in canned or dried form.
  • There isn't a single spice -- at least we've found this to be true -- you can't toss in with them.
  • You can use them in almost any recipe. Seriously!





PUMPKIN MAC 'N CHEESE -- with garbanzo puree





CHOCOLATE-PB HU-MOUSSE -- Ashley's favorite

Today on (never home)maker, baby! -- learn how we jazzed up cheap-o, $5 Target poster frames for our nursery art. For super easy instructions, head this way . . .

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Nutella Mini-Chip Cookies

>> Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's been a while since I've baked with Nutella. My mother-in-law gave us a jar last weekend when we were home for my baby shower. (Thanks, Kathy!) I melted some into my oatmeal a couple times and then left the jar alone for a few days. When I went to make cookies with it Thursday night, it was almost all gone!

Apparently Stephen acquired a sweet tooth for the first time in his life and had been eating spoonfuls of it all week. Maybe he's trying to catch up to my 31-week preggo weight gain.

Still, with only two tablespoons left, I had just enough to make these:


What you'll need . . .
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 tablespoons butter or Earth Balance
  • 2 heaping tablespoons Nutella
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 generous pinches coarse salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg or substitute Ener-G Egg Replacer for 1 large egg
  • 1 cup Ghirardelli semi-sweet mini-chips

Method . . .
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. (Recipe makes one sheet of small or large cookies.)
  2. Cream together the butter/Earth Balance, Nutella, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Make sure the Nutella gets well incorporated by scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  3. Add in the egg or egg replacer. (For my cookies -- though I know they aren't vegan -- I chose to use the egg replacer. The texture is great. But I'm sure an egg would work well, too.)
  4. Add in the baking soda and whole wheat flour. Then stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop heaping tablespoon amounts into your palm, roll, and flatten. Place on cookie sheet. Or scoop larger amounts, roll, and flatten. Just depends on if you want big or small cookies.
  6. Bake for approx. 10 minutes -- until golden brown.

This photo shows how you can tell what's "golden brown" on an already brown cookie. Also, I know sometimes it's confusing that we use a non-vegan ingredient like Nutella with Earth Balance or egg replacer. We don't bake this way for a specific reason. Sometimes, it's just habit. Plus, we don't keep items like butter around. Always feel free to substitute in what you have in your cabinets.


Nutella Pie with Strawberries

Nutella-Pear Oatmeal

Vegan, Gluten-Free "Nutella" Balls

Nutella Ice Cream

Nutella Brownies

Rich Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Nutella-Pumpkin Frosting

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries Smoothie

And if you're keeping up on baby-related posts, today on (never home)maker, baby!, I wrote all about meeting my pregnant running goal. What's next?

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!


Summer Squash Pancakes

>> Thursday, September 22, 2011

Third trimester exhaustion is REAL, people. Granted, it's been a busy few days . . . but I can't seem to keep my eyes open this morning. Dinners have been fast and easy as a result -- more time for napping. Or not.

These summer squash pancakes are made with squash from our garden. They also come together in less than five minutes.

You need not use summer squash if you have another type on hand. Zucchini would work beautifully. Or you could even get exotic with it. Remember the opo squash we bought last year?

It was HUGE!

Anyway, I love making savory pancakes on nights when I just don't have time to whip up a more proper dinner. And it's easy to adapt your favorite breakfast/sweet recipe for this purpose. This one, for example, is a variation on our Wheat and Oats Pancakes.


What you'll need . . .
  • 2/3 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup white flour (or you can use all wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded summer squash (rinsed and peeled first)

Method . . .
  1. Whisk together the flours and baking powder. Add in the egg and almond milk. Mix well.
  2. Fold in the summer squash shreds and black pepper.
  3. Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Grease a bit with some olive oil.
  4. Drop half cup to three-quarters cup amounts of batter on the pan. Cook on each side until browned.
  5. Top with cheddar cheese, sauteed onions, or savory jelly. Blame pregnancy, but I even added a little maple syrup!
  6. You'll also notice that we added some tomato slices -- also from the garden -- during the cooking process.

Leafy Green Pancakes

Corn Pancakes and Pan-Browned Brussels Sprouts

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Refinishing Our Salvo Table

>> Wednesday, September 21, 2011

As I wrote in our baby update last night, this week is our big week for baby classes. They meet half an hour after I get home from work until nearly 9PM. And now that I require nearly 10 hours a night of sleep to feel normal . . . there's been little time for blogging or much else.

On weekends, we've still been working on our first floor makeover project. We're always on a tight budget, so when we found this cool side table/magazine holder at the Salvation Army for $3.99, we knew exactly what to do.

It was pretty chewed up, by the way.

Otherwise, solid. Nothing a few cheap supplies and (semi-)hard work couldn't fix.

After giving the entire piece a good sanding with some medium-grade sandpaper, I filled in all the cracks, scratches, and chew marks with wood filler, smoothing over with a palate knife from time to time. My work wasn't incredibly precise because I'd have to sand it smooth again anyway.

More sanding . . .

But really, that's the hard part. Once it's all roughed up, filled in, and sanded smooth, a good quality spray paint is all you need to make it look like new. We chose a vibrant plum color for some fun against our newly dark grey walls.

Note: Preggos and others should consider wearing a mask.

In no time at all, it started looking great. But we applied only a thin layer to the entire thing -- using swift, quick sprays versus keeping our finger on the trigger the entire time -- then left it alone to avoid drips. After a couple hours of drying/more coats, it was covered uniformly.

Total cost of the project with supplies (many of which we already had hanging around our basement), paint, and all came in around $10. And you can follow this exact same simple method to rehab most thrifted furniture finds.

Grace emailed us and asked if we could have a before and in-progress shot of how our first floor is looking. I love how much more dramatic the changes seem when you place these pics next to each other!

Back in 2008:

After exposing the wood floors:



So far in 2011:

It's coming along nicely. We appreciated your curtain suggestions, but still haven't settled on anything. We're also in need of some more colorful pillows (which I plan to make myself). Just wish we had more time to work on it!

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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