Pizza cups

As part of my efforts to make H’s school lunches more interesting (and make the cafeteria food less appealing), I have been on the lookout for fun, creative things to pack. Sometimes that means making it for dinner the night before, with enough left over to pack in the Laptop Lunchbox. Last week, H was mildly chagrined that he did not get to have cafeteria pizza for lunch, and reported that he’d cajoled his new friend Jeffrey into sharing a pepperoni with him.

Enter the pizza cup. I had seen a recipe for them in Everyday Food, and again a few days later on The Kitchn. I decided to follow their lead (if not their recipes, except for cook times) and give pizza cups a whack.

I started with Pioneer Woman’s pizza crust recipe, one I’ve been fussing with for a few months (I can never seem to get it thin enough when making regular pizza; turns out rolling it out rather than pressing it with your fingers is the key). After I rolled out the crust, I cut it into various shapes and placed the dough into a muffin tin:

For the sauce, I took a 28-ounce can of peeled whole tomatoes, a small can of tomato paste, and dumped them into a pot with a generous shake of Ana’s Herbs and about a quarter-cup of water. I let that simmer for a while (I don’t know how long because I was actually working! on my dissertation! multitasking win!), then turned off the heat for an hour or so while I did other things. I put the whole shebang in the blender and hit “puree” (causing the children to run into the kitchen and inquire excitedly as to what kind of smoothie I was making). Then I spooned the sauce into the cups:

On top of the sauce, I put mozzarella. The bottom row is just cheese, the middle two rows have pepperoni and black olive, and the top row has broccoli (not recommended):

Bake at 450 for 12 minutes and let cool for a few minutes. Serve with a green salad or some steamed broccoli.

These were pretty tasty. I feel like I could have rolled the dough thinner because the bread-to-sauce-and-topping ratio was less than ideal. Or I could have folded over the little flaps and made little calzones (and thereby worked in more sauce/toppings). But I think they’ll be a nice, fun, filling lunch for my boy.

Turkey meatloaf

My son, my first baby, my darling boy, started kindergarten this week. As a result, I’ve tried making healthful adaptations of some of his favorite meals (on Monday I made these; they were not close enough to the deep-fried cognate and therefore didn’t make it into his lunchbox. They are lovely sliced up on a Big Salad for Mommy, tho) in an attempt to have tasty leftovers to put in his Laptop Lunchbox.

One of his favorite meals from his preschool was meatloaf (“with sauce!”), so when I found this turkey meatloaf recipe in Lunch Lessons, I was eager to try it out.

Turkey Meatloaf
adapted from Lunch Lessons

1/2 c yellow onion, diced small
1/4 c shredded carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T canola oil
1 lb ground turkey breast
1.5 lb ground turkey thigh
1 t chopped parsley
1/2 c panko
3 eggs
1 t kosher salt
a half-dozen cranks of the pepper mill
3 T ketchup

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.
Saute onion, garlic, and carrot in the oil until soft.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Combine the sauteed ingredients with the turkey, parsley, panko, eggs, salt, and pepper and mix well.

Pack the mixture into the loaf pan, coat top with ketchup, and bake about 45 to 60 minutes.

The verdict? It was DELICIOUS. The only problem was that when I took it out of the oven after about 55 minutes, assuming it was done, I was dismayed to discover that it was raw, raw, raw in the middle. So, with my family sat at the table, waiting for their dinner, I was forced to nuke our slices for four minutes!!! I put the rest of the loaf back in and baked it for another 20 minutes or so. It went nicely with some green beans sauteed in canola oil with garlic, salt, and slivered almonds.

Sesame baked tofu

My current dissertation chapter deals with veganism and the ways in which certain subcultures politicize it as a way to represent their particular “communities of meaning.” While I will never, ever give up cheese and ice cream, I do agree that meat consumption — especially that of beef — is unethical in terms of its environmental impact and its unsustainable use of resources. Which means that while I’ve been working on this chapter, I’ve been eating a lot more tofu and other vegan/vegetarian dishes. (I did the same thing when my dissertation dealt with disaporic Indians and their use of food/recipes in literature: I ate a lot of samosas, which probably correlates to my recent return to Weight Watchers!)

The deli at Wheatsville Co-op has this really delightful sesame baked tofu that it sells for $2.25 a slice. Since I adore it and one slice is roughly the price of a block of tofu itself, I decided to try it at home. The Wheatsville version is slightly nutty with a wee bit of heat, with a not-too-soft interior and a nice, golden exterior that yields nicely to the tooth. Let’s see how we go!

First, I made the marinade:

Then I took the drained, sliced tofu and drenched it good:

Then I placed the tofu in the container with the marinade and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours. When I got back home, I preheated the oven to 400, put the tofu on a baking sheet and sprinkled it with white sesame seeds:

Ack! Do you see my fatal mistake? I should have put some sort of foil boat underneath and around the slices, or better yet, I should have put the tofu on a pie plate, because the excess oil from the marinade ran off the baking sheet, onto the bottom of the oven, started smoking and turned our house into a beeping, hazy, smelly pit. Boo!

Fortunately, Matt had the grill fired up to cook some steak and chicken, so I made a foil boat for the tofu and asked him to finish off the tofu outside. When he brought it in, it looked like this:

I ate a slice while it was still hot and it was quite tasty. However, it lacked the nuttiness of Wheatsville’s version and had an overbearing note of tamari. It had the nice exterior, but was a little soft on the inside, like an undercooked quiche custard. Next time I will dial back the tamari and maybe not soak it in the marinade for a few hours? I don’t know. I’m open to suggestions.

Sesame Baked Tofu

1 package extra-firm tofu, drained
3 T sesame oil
1 splodge (1 T?) stone ground mustard
2 T rice vinegar
2 T tamari (will definitely use less next time)
1 splodge (1 T?) honey (note: if you are vegan, you can substitute agave nectar here)
1/4 t chili powder (will probably dial this up next time)
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 fat garlic clove, minced
1 T white sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400. Mix marinade. Slice drained tofu and dress it with marinade. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 20 minutes, turning the slices over halfway through cooking.