Easy Breezy Noodle Bowls

I. Love. Noodles. I know that I have argued that tacos and burritos are the world’s best foods, but noodles put up a very good fight for that title. Noodles are versatile AF! There are a million different kinds, all of which are the most fun to eat. There is nothing glamorous to slurping down a big bowl of noodles—perhaps it is the great equalizer we have all sought. Maybe noodles will bring world peace at last.

noodles1
gimme these right now!
A note on terminology: I don’t know if this is actually correct, but to me, a noodle is derived from rice, and pasta is derived from wheat. When people call pasta products “noodles”, I get a mild aneurysm, but then again, I never said I wasn’t compulsive.

I grew up a ramen fanatic, and I never grew out of it. I did, however, grow out of that MSG life. Health nuttiness and packaged food ne sont pas les choses qui vont très bien ensemble, très bien ensemble. I’ve been listening to Rubber Soul a lot lately, can you tell?

Unnecessary and ill-advised Beatles reference aside, my life’s mission is to eat noodles daily, and this is my go-to recipe when I come home from a long day at work and just want to gorge on something that won’t give me heart disease or diabetes #pieloverforlife. This recipe is also one of many in my personal give tofu a chance crusade, the sword I have chosen to fall on. Enjoy, my loves!

Easy Breezy Noodle Bowlsserves 2

prep time: 10 mins / cook time: 10 mins

  • 1 pkg udon noodles
  • 2-3  c. chopped broccoli florets (the broccoli shrinks when cooked!)
  • 1 pkg firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • soy sauce or tamari
  • sriracha
  • sesame oil
  • rice vinegar
  • cornstarch
  • sesame seeds
  • coconut oil for frying
  • agave, optional
  • ginger paste, optional
  • garlic, chopped, optional
  • chopped nori, optional
  • matchstick carrots, optional
  • matchstick cucumber, optional

To start, set a pot of lightly-salted water on to boil. When it reaches boiling, cook your noodles according to package directions. I buy frozen, so it usually takes about 4-minutes of cooking. Drain noodles and set aside.

Next, whisk together your soy sauce mixture. I use a few tablespoons of soy sauce, a squirt of sriracha, and a dash of sesame oil. Optionally, you can add ginger, garlic, and/or agave to this mixture to add more flavor to the final product. But this is the basic 10-minute version of this recipe, so fancy ingredients be damned!

Drain your block of tofu. Press out as much of the water as humanly possible, and then chop into cubes. This is a great guide to pressing tofu! Once cubed, toss the tofu in some cornstarch and pan fry in the oil of your choice—I like to use coconut for this. Fry the tofu until it’s golden on all sides—do your best with this, it’s hard to flip that many little pieces evenly! Then pour your soy sauce mixture over the tofu, toss in the pan until evenly coated, and then remove from heat. Save a little bit of the soy mixture—you’ll want to toss the broccoli in it later!

While the tofu is frying, get out your wok (if applicable) and start cooking your broccoli! I like to cook the broc in sesame oil, because it has such a great flavor. Heat the oil over medium heat, add the broccoli, and stir-fry! I like to let it cook in the oil for a few minutes, and then squirt in a little rice vinegar to help soften the broc (I’ve seen Hibachi chefs do this, so it must be the proper way, right?) After the broccoli has reached your desired texture, drizzle the soy sauce mixture over it, toss, remove from heat, and then proceed to assemble your bowls! Start with noodles, add broccoli, and top with tofu! Sprinkle the whole bowl with sesame seeds, and grab some chopsticks! You’re ready to eat a passably nutritious meal that kicks take-out’s ass any day of the week!


My favorite way to eat this is with an additional sprinkling of chopped nori and some cold matchstick veggies on top (carrots or cucumbers are the way to go). Also, everything tastes better if you eat it with chopsticks, so don’t skimp!

***

That’s it, honeys! I usually have all of these ingredients on hand, so this is a common throw-together lunch in my household. This is also a great starter dish for anyone who is looking to cut a little bit of meat from his or her diet. It’s packed with protein (and probiotics if you add the nori). The above method of preparing tofu ensures a nice crisp on the outside that will have even the most adamant tofu naysayer begging for seconds.

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Eggy Brekkie Tacos

If you’re anything like me, you often find yourself wondering, “How can I incorporate more tacos into my every day life?” Soft or hard, veggie or bean, I love all tacos indiscriminately (get your mind out of the gutter).

Breakfast tacos aren’t exactly a stunning innovation. The breakfast burrito is a restaurant menu staple for good reason—Tex-Mex and breakfast foods are a beautiful marriage of flavors. But it is my life’s mission to eat (specifically cruciferous) vegetables at every meal, and damn it, I will accomplish it!

These tacos are endlessly customizable, and a great way to pack some serious nutrition into your morning. Plus, everything tastes better in a taco shell. It’s literally science.

Cauliflower is my favorite here, but other veggie options include broccoli, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, or zucchini!

Eggy Brekkie Tacos

  • soft corn tortillas, taco size
  • 1-2 eggs (per person), scrambled
  • leftover roasted veggies (I recommend cauliflower)
  • salsa

Optional toppings might include: shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, bean dip, hot sauce, sauerkraut—if you can dream it, you can do it!

If you don’t have any leftover veggies (I seem to always have something in my fridge), toss your chopped veggie of choice in olive oil, salt, and black pepper, and roast until soft and slightly browned.

Scrambled your eggs and heat up as many tortillas as you plan to eat. I like to heat my tortillas over the open flame on the stove, but the microwave or the oven on a very low setting will work just as well. As soon as everything is piping hot, assemble your tacos by dividing the scrambled eggs and vegetables amongst the tortillas. For the less adventurous (read: messy) eaters among us, combine all desired ingredients into a bowl and top with the corn tortillas, chopped. Dig in!

There you have it: every food group before 10 am. Brb—gonna go whip up some more breakfast tacos!

 

This morning’s variation: spinach, black bean dip, salsa, scrambled eggs, beet & red cabbage sauerkraut, hot sauce

 

The “WTF do I make for dinner?” Dinner

I found myself in an incredibly rare predicament the other night: I had a ton of time on my hands, but zero chef-spiration! Usually it’s quite the opposite—I’m racing the clock to get a meal on the table and I have to edit my ideas down to what’s achievable in the span of an hour.

My malaise was so powerful that even after flipping through a few of my cookbooks (The First Mess Cookbook, One Part Plant, and Thug Kitchen) I was without direction. A lot of recipes sounded great, but I was always an essential ingredient or two off. I’m, like, the Dowager Countess of substitutions, but, like I said, I had zero creativity.

So, since time was on my side, I decided to make something that has evaded and frustrated me for years: polenta.

I know, I know. You’re like, “Chelsea, wtf? Polenta is two ingredients. Do you secretly suck at cooking, and you’ve been stringing us along with this psuedo-cooking blog for almost 2 years?” Ugh, shut up. I was the same way with rice (Martha Stewart recipe, bless up!). For me, it seems, the simpler the recipe, the more I struggle. Bake a pie from scratch? No problem, friend. Make quinoa? *frantically Googles instructions*

Polenta is a tricky beast. It’s technically easy to make, but making it properly is difficult and time-consuming. When I saw the cornmeal in my cabinet, I knew I had found my white whale. Combining this singular vision with a bunch of pantry staples, I embarked on making the least cohesive, yet most delicious dinner I’ve made in ages. And I thought I’d share.

Creamy Polenta with ‘Wino Forever’ White Beans & Roasted Veggies

  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 summer squash, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 onion of your choice, chopped finely
  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp butter (vegan butter or coconut oil will also work!)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup cooked corn, fresh or frozen
  • 2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 400, on the roast setting if you have it.

Start the polenta—I use this recipe. I’ll give some basic instructions, but I strongly recommend reading the Serious Eats recipe, as well as the accompanying backstory. I did not follow this recipe properly, which led the polenta to take twice as long to cook. Do as I say, not as I do. 

In a large pot, warm the water over a high heat. Whisk in the cornmeal. Bring the pot to a boil, and let boil/simmer, stirring consistently, until the mixture begins to thicken and “spit”. Then lower the heat and let cook for about an hour longer. Make sure you’re stirring frequently! When it’s thick enough that you can pull it away from the pan with your stirring implement, it’s ready to be seasoned with salt and butter. Stir and then serve.

While the polenta is simmering away, steam your corn for a few minutes, until soft. Set aside. Chop your onion, zucchini, squash, and cauliflower, and place them in a glass baking dish. Toss them in a tbsp of olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Stir at the 15 minute mark, and add more olive oil if they’ve dried out. Roast until they reach your desired doneness, browned on the outside, about 30 minutes.

While the polenta and veggies are cooking, start your beans. Drain and rinse 2 cans of white beans. Set aside. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for a minute or so, until fragrant. Add beans, and toss to coat in the oil. Once the beans are warmed, add your white wine, hot pepper flakes, and bay leaf. Simmer together for 5 minutes, or until the alcohol has cooked off. Add butter and veggie broth, stir, and let simmer for 20 minutes, or until the beans start to fall apart and the liquid has reduced to a gravy-like consistency. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Remove bay leaf before serving. When finished, the beans have a surprisingly meaty taste!

Stir the corn into the polenta before serving!

Plate the meal in layers, starting with a bed of polenta, piling on the veggies, and topping with the beans and “gravy”. Finish with a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper. Dig in and enjoy!

**There’s a way to make this so that everything finishes at just about the same time. But I’m more of a renegade chef, plating on the fly.

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Always serve with La Croix, obviously.

It’s not the most beautiful meal (lots of yellow and beige) but it is to-die-for delicious! It made a huge batch, so I got to enjoy the leftovers for days to come. For non-veg folk, it might seem odd to eat beans & vegetables for dinner, but trust me—all of your essential food groups are represented, and if I’m not mistaken, this meal is gluten-free!

BRB, fantasizing about making this again.

—DellaBites

 

Sex-y Corn Chowdah

Corn chowder is flipping delicious. Actually, you can put any creamy soup in a bowl, call it chowder, and I will love it, but that’s another issue entirely. #gordo


The only problem with this arguably perfect food is that it is often full of cream and butter, which in moderation are aces, but don’t exactly make for healthy nightly fare. Well, no more. I have created a chowder that is both vegan and made out of six vegetables!

All the veggies / who independent / throw your hands up at me!

I’m really sorry about that. Every time I’m passionate about something, I start helplessly paraphrasing Beyoncé. Six vegetables,  though! Now are we getting the title? Where my AP Latin nerds at?

Anyway, here’s my foolproof corn chowder recipe!

Sex-y Corn Chowdah

  • 4 cups corn kernels (fresh is best, frozen will do)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 large russet potato, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large organic carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped (the green parts)
  • salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • juice of half a lemon

Some like it hot…for extra zazz, add 1/4 tsp. of cayenne pepper, or a tablespoon of pimenta moida in with the garlic. Highly recommend.

If using corn cobs: lightly grill or roast the cobs. Let cool and cut the kernels off the cob.

If using frozen corn: measure out 4 cups. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the kernels out, drizzle with olive oil and dust with salt. Roast at 400 degrees for a few minutes, until the kernels start to brown.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the onion and celery. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt and stir. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Next add the carrot, bell pepper, and potato. Cook for another few minutes, adding black pepper and more salt if desired. Next, add the garlic, 3/4 of the corn, and dried basil. Stir and cook until the garlic becomes fragrant. Next, add the broth and let simmer for 10 minutes, or until the potato is fork tender. Remove the pot from heat and blend the soup with an immersion blender until creamy. Once blended, return the pot to low heat and add the lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 of the roasted corn. Simmer for a few more minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Turn off the heat and add the chopped scallions. Stir around and then taste to see if more lemon juice, salt, black pepper, or basil is needed. Serve immediately and top with more chopped scallions, shredded cheddar cheese, or sour cream if desired. Happy snacking!

 

**Recipe is loosely adapted from the Thug Kitchen Cookbook. Credit where credit is due!