Bacon Wrapped Dates

IMG_4701

Readers, sometimes I eat simply to pass time. Sometimes to console myself from stress or emotional turmoil, other times as an excuse to hang out with friends. Most of the time, I just eat because the food tastes good…that’s a good enough reason, right? Right???

Ah, well, there goes my healthy diet. At least with these bacon wrapped dates, I can say I was taste-testing for holiday parties coming up ahead. As far these little gems are concerned, that’s a more than good enough reason for stuffing my face with them by myself making a mini-preview batch. They’re so easy they totally debunk the idea of “x amount of effort = x amount of reward.” With minimal effort and big reward, the proportions are skewed in all the best ways. Make ’em. Stuff them with goat cheese and a whole roasted almond, or blue cheese, or maybe even some pimento cheese. I simply made a chipotle-sriracha-mayo dipping sauce and was satisfied.

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Servings: 10 bacon wrapped dates

Ingredients:
10 dried dates, pitted (easily found at an Asian supermarket)
5 strips of bacon

Directions:

1.De-pit all of your dates, meaning snip a vertical cut into the flesh of your date and take out the pit in the center.
2. Cut all of your strips of bacon in half, horizontally, to make ten smaller strips.
3. Wrap each date with a single half-strip. Tuck one end of the bacon strip over the other and then skewer through with a toothpick to hold everything together, making sure to go through both ends of the bacon so it snugly wraps the date without falling apart. If you don’t have toothpicks, which I didn’t have either, simply place the bacon-wrapped dates down on the loose ends tucked under each other so the whole thing stays together in the oven. While the bacon bakes, it will bake into shape around the date.

IMG_4683

4. Bake for 20-30 minutes in a 350°F oven. Let cool for a bit and enjoy!

IMG_4694

Chipote-Sriracha-Mayo Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:
Chipotle Cholula Hot Sauce
Sriracha Hot Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise

Directions:
Mix together mayonnaise, Sriracha and Cholula to taste. I probably used about 2 teaspoons of the hot sauces each.

Advertisements

A Quick Lunch, Miso-Soy Marinated Fried Tofu

IMG_4881

When it’s finals week, it becomes easy to forget your basic needs and difficult to peel away from the books – at least, during the 24-hour countdown before an exam. Sometimes, though, you have to remember to feed yourself. I mean, you should generally always remember, but I’m talking about during those last hours when all you want to do is cram as much knowledge into your brain before heading out to face the enemy your final exam. So when it finally hits you that all you’ve had for the past few days is shit food, red bull and one too many 5-hour ENERGY shots, take a lunch break. Come on now, I promise it’ll only take twenty minutes, and you know you deserve it.

This marinated tofu dish only requires you to cube up tofu, toss it with some sauces and garlic, and fry it all up in a pan. The sugar and honey will caramelize into crispy, sweet edges that are counterbalanced by the salt in the soy and miso and acidity from the vinegar. It’s easy, it’s quick, it’ll tide you over until you’re done studying. I tweaked a recipe from Food 52 according to the ingredients that I had at home, but feel free to follow the original, I’m sure it’s even more delicious (found HERE).

Miso-Soy Marinated Fried Tofu 

Ingredients: 
*You can really eyeball these measurements to the proportions you prefer

1 pound of tofu, cubed (my package was actually only 15.5 oz)
1/4 cup miso paste
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons sesame oil
2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons honey
3 cloves of garlic, minced
A large pinch of Korean red pepper powder

Directions:

1. Dry off your block of tofu with paper towels, pressing very gently as to not crumble the tofu. Then cube.

2. Mix together all the ingredients for marinade in a bowl. Then toss in the tofu and mix thoroughly.

3. Keep pouring the marinade pooled at the bottom of the bowl over the top of the tofu with a spoon to coat well.

IMG_4858

4. Heat up a little vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the cubes of tofu on each side until nicely browned. I also poured over the rest of the marinade in the bowl as it was frying. It does splatter and it fries up pretty quickly so don’t leave the pan unattended.

5. Serve hot with a few slivers of dried seaweed (nori) sprinkled on top or use it in a salad or stir-fry…any way you really want.

IMG_4880

French Onion Soup

When you’re lazy and unwilling to do work, make soup. It’s simple, requires minimal effort, and you can convince yourself that you’ll study for exams while the soup is boiling away. If you need further persuasion, look to your weather channel. Thirty-three degree Chicago weather? Yeah, I’ll take some soup thank you very much.

Make big batches, if you can. Freeze the leftovers and you’ll have hot bowls of comfort lasting you all winter.

P.S. These beautiful photos were taken by my dear friend Dan and his lovely Canon. And big news, I finally purchased my own DSLR a few weeks ago! Hopefully my future photos will be up to par with this kind of quality.

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

2 onions, sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf (you can get these at Whole Foods for close to pennies)
1 quart of quality beef broth
1 generous tablespoon and a half of flour
1/4 cup of unsalted butter
A few thick slices of french baguette, well-toasted
1/2 cup red wine (I skipped this but I definitely missed the depth of flavor it would have given)
Salt and pepper
Grated Gruyère

Directions:

1. Caramelize sliced onions in a big pot with butter, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. We put in the bay leaf and thyme now instead of with the broth so we can infuse those flavors into the onions. Also, don’t stir the onions too often, let them sit. They will do their own work. This process will take about half an hour until the onions are deep golden brown and completely wilted.

I was impatient so this was about the point of caramelization that I waited until. If you want deeper flavor, I suggest waiting even further until the onions become almost creamy and a medium brown, not tan.

2. After the onions have fully caramelized, add the wine and bring it up to a boil until the liquid has evaporated and the onions are “dry.” The alcohol will have cooked off and the wine flavor will remain, concentrated.

3. Discard the bay leaf and thyme, and stir in the flour on medium low heat. Cook for about 5-6 minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste.

4. Pour in beef broth and let simmer for another 8-10 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.

5. When you’re ready to eat, turn on your broiler. Place a small but thick slice of well-toasted baguette (I mean it should be sturdy piece of toast, not something lightly toasted) at the bottom of two bowls, respectively.

6. Pour over the soup, leaving about an inch and a half of space. Place these bowls in a oven-safe pan to catch any overflow. There shouldn’t really be any, but, who knows? I know I don’t want to be scrubbing off any spilt soup and onions. Then top with more slices of thick toasted baguette until the surface is filled. As you can tell, I like bread, but feel free to use less. Cover with as much Gruyère as your heart desires. I say be generous.

7. Place pan with soup bowls into oven and broil the top until the cheese is melted and gooey and delicious. Enjoy!

TIP: Another way of doing this without placing the bowls in the oven, if you don’t have oven-safe bowls, is to simply broil the bread and cheese in the oven until the cheese has melted, and then place the slices over the soup.