Tofu Rice Paper Rolls

As usual, I have been making lots of Heidi Swanson recipes lately. I have had rice paper in my cupboard since the last time I made rice paper rolls from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. Rice paper is a little tricky to work with at first, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes pretty fun. The first time I made rolls, the first few were just awful. But now I seem to have a bit of muscle memory, as even my first rolls in this batch came out nicely.

Spring Rolls 003

Rather than re-typing the recipe, I’ll just send you to Heidi’s original post, where she has in-depth instructions and a nice tutorial. I used maple syrup in place of brown sugar on the tofu, and sliced cucumbers instead of lettuce. She’s right – no dipping sauce is needed. They’re excellent as they are.

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Friday Night Pizzas

I apologize up front for the really crappy pictures in this post. With these amazing pizzas coming out of the oven, I couldn’t be bothered with taking nicer photos!

I absolutely adore Friday nights spent with good food and wine on the couch. That party bug that used to tell me to go  out every Friday night has apparently died because I no longer have that urge. I haven’t had it, in fact, for a while – ever since I started that 9-5 job a few years ago that required me to get out of bed at the ungodly hour of 7 am on Fridays. Who has the energy to go out after that? Not me, that’s for sure. Plus, I started to really enjoy waking up earl(ier) on Saturdays to do things like go for a run or get work done. Adulthood, I suppose.

So, equipped with some $13 Pinot Noir (which was really quite good), a movie, and these awesome pizzas, my Friday night was destined to be great.

There isn’t really a recipe here… I bought my multi-grain pizza dough (with flax seeds!) from Whole foods and randomly piled on toppings. A few key items for these pizzas: 1) 3-4 toppings, MAX; 2) garlic(!); 3) a super hot oven + pizza stone; and 4) high quality ingredients. I divided my dough into two smaller balls and then made half-and-half pizzas on those two rolled out doughs. I drizzled this spicy olive oil as a base for each pizza, then added toppings.

I think Pizza 1 turned out to be my favorite. Spend the time looking for good quality canned San Marzano tomatoes that have no preservatives – read the label, it should only include tomatoes (and maybe a basil leaf). They taste incredibly fresh… I could have eaten this pizza without the cheese, even!

Pizza 1

hand crushed san marzano tomatoes
kalamata olives
fresh mozzarella balls
garlic slices

Pizza 2

proscuitto
goat cheese (chevre) chunks
garlic slices

Pizza 3

fresh heirloom tomato slices
fresh mozzarella balls
artichoke hearts
kalamata olives

Pizza 4

shitake mushrooms
dinosaur kale shreds
goat cheese (chevre) chunks
garlic slices

To bake, crank up your oven as high as it will go – mine goes to 550 – and let your pizza stone warm up. If you’re not using a pizza stone, crank up the heat anyway. Pop the pizza in the oven for 5-7 minutes depending on your heat levels. To cut them up, I find it helps to let the pizza rest for a few minutes to allow the cheese to set a bit.

Chia Seed Pudding

A while ago I found a huge jar of chia seeds at Walgreen’s. Without fully realizing how expensive chia seeds usually are, I bought the jar for $5.99. A few days later, perusing the aisles at our local Jewel grocery store, I found the exact same jar for $17.99. Yes! I couldn’t believe it and thought I had found the steal of the century – from then on, I would only buy my chia seeds at Walgreen’s.

Just today, however, I went back to Walgreen’s to stock up on more chia seeds. Lo and behold, not a single person in that store knew what I was talking about. “Chia seeds? Like for the chia pet? We only get those around Christmas.” That must be it – I must have bought that jar around Christmas. But really? Now I cannot buy my jar of $5.99 chia seeds? Guess I won’t be making this recipe again until next Christmas… which is really a shame because it’s so darn good!

If you’re new to chia seeds, they create a gel when submerged in liquid. The gel can either be really gross, or you can use it to your advantage and make this tapioca pudding-like concoction. Super healthy and perfect as either breakfast or dessert! Play around with zest combos – lemon, lime, orange, or others – and try different fruits on top, too. And stock up on chia seeds around Christmas time!

Chia Seed Pudding

adapted from Food & Wine magazine

2 1/2 cups vanilla or plain almond milk
1/2 cup chia seeds
3 tablespoons agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon lime zest

Combine all ingredients in a 1-quart mason jar (or two smaller mason jars) and shake well to combine. Let sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight, stirring and reshaking the mixture every once in a while. Serve with fresh cut fruit.