Techniques, Uncategorized

BONUS BLOG – Perfectly Textured Tofu

Welcome to our first BONUS BLOG! We plan to do these shorter blog posts occasionally when we have a dish or technique to share that will be used in other recipes in the future. Today, we’re talking about tofu! We will be featuring a few tofu dishes on Feet Up in the Dining Room, the first of which will be shared on Tuesday.

In our family, we eat a good amount of poultry and seafood but we also love to use tofu. Many people are put off by the texture, and I don’t blame them. If you were to just take it out of the container, drain it and cook it, you would have something that’s mushy and relatively tasteless. However, if you know how to make it properly, tofu can be a really excellent meat replacement for any dish!

Pre-COVID, we would have people over for dinner often. As many of our friends are strictly vegetarian or vegan, we have quite a few meat free recipes in our rotation. In fact, our former restaurant, Burrito Fresco, was known for being extremely veggie friendly as we made sure our non-meat options were up to par and delicious, not just substitutions.

Below, we share a technique for cooking tofu that Steven Michael has perfected over the years. Through a lot of trial and error, he was able to find a way to make tofu with the perfect texture, while keeping it healthy. It’s common for people to fry their tofu in an attempt to fix the texture, instead Steven Michael bakes it to avoid adding extra fat . This is just a technique and not a full recipe, however, this will be linked back to for future recipes starting with our next post this coming Tuesday, BBQ Tofu Bowls. We hope you enjoy!

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Pizza Burgers

After the disaster that shall hereto be referred to as The Peanut Stew Incident of 2021, we needed some redemption in the cooking department. Cue, PIZZA BURGERS! As Steven Michael pointed out, there is absolutely no way burgers, cooked like meatballs and topped with pizza toppings could be gross. And he was right.

When we say “burgers” in the DeLorme house, we are pretty much always referring to Turkey burgers with the occasional veggie burger. Steven Michael and I haven’t eaten red meat since 2006 when we stopped at Culver’s for butter burgers on a cross country journey (I’m sure we’ll talk more about that trip at some point). There was also that one time that I had dinner at my new boss’s house and his wife made traditional lasagna with ground beef and I was way too awkward to say no (plus I was starving and that $#!+ was delicious). Anyway, we’re just not beef people.

I need to point out that Steven Michael makes THE BEST tomato sauce on the planet. I’m probably a little biased because he is my sole source of sustenance but for real, it’s great. There are onions in it, so you know how I feel about that, plus it’s so easy to make that even I have done it successfully (gasp!). The first part of this recipe is for his sauce, slightly tweaked to fit being used for burgers. Also to fit the palette of a super picky 5 year old who won’t eat “chunks” and was eating pasta that night (“only the long tube shapes, not a lot of sauce, don’t let it touch my broccoli, only an even number of noodles” – toddler crap). I’m sure there will be a future blog featuring his regular recipe, but for these burgers, smooth sauce works.

Somehow, Steven Michael got the idea to cook burger patties like meatballs, boiled in a pot of sauce. TALK ABOUT A MILLION DOLLAR IDEA. We always use 99% lean ground turkey which can be a little dry, but not when it’s cooked in a vat of delicious liquidy goodness! I’m sure Steven Michael would prefer to use a fattier meat, but in addition to being an amazing cook, he’s also an incredibly supportive husband. I’ve been on WW (formerly Weight Watchers) for almost three years now, having lost about 70 pounds via diet and training for a half marathon. So, when substitutions can be made, he helps me reach my goals while still eating well.

I was sitting in the dining room salivating as I waited for this meal to be ready. The entire house smelled amazing, and I was tentatively hopeful I wasn’t about to be smacked in the face with horse stench (please see The Peanut Stew Incident of 2021). Finally, a plate piled with broccoli and a delicious looking burger was placed in front of me. JACKPOT. My burger had mozzarella and provolone as well as sautéed onions (obvi) and a ton of that delicious sauce dripping off the side. Steven Michael chose to top his with sautéed mushrooms. The beauty of these burgers is how customizable they are, literally any pizza topping will do the trick.

I knew as soon as I took that first ooey-gooey, cheesy, saucy bite that I was in for a treat. And so, a new DeLorme family staple meal was born. If you decide to make these at home, I would suggest cutting the burger in half to eat it. I did not and most of my cheese oozed over to one side (which was freaking delicious for a few bites), while Steven Michael cut his and had an even distribution. Also, make sure to get a hearty bun to be able to sop up that sauce (cough, crack). We used regular hamburger rolls and they were a little too flimsy.

REDEMPTION! TAKE THAT PEANUT STEW!

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Peanut Stew with Turkey Meatballs

Well, I promised this blog wouldn’t be all successful recipes and here we are. Right out of the gate, we have a failure. This was not disgusting but also … not good. It was edible enough, but no one was going back for seconds after choking down our first helpings. But look how pretty it turned out!

Many times, Steven Michael will find a recipe online and use it as a jumping off point to cook something for the family. He will take the base recipe and tweak it in the process of making it to fit our palettes. We love ethnic food, so when he found a recipe for Peanut Stew with Chicken Meatballs, we decided to give it a try. The original recipe was similar, but called for more spicy ingredients and, as I’m a complete wuss when it comes to heat, Steven Michael made this mild for me. Honestly, I don’t think all the spice in the world could have saved this one. Unless, it was so spicy you lost your ability to taste and just assumed it was delicious. He also substituted ground turkey instead of chicken for the meatballs and spinach for kale, but let’s be honest, that’s an improvement. Kale = eww.

We had really high hopes as the cooking process began. He started with the meatballs as I got out my pad and pencil to document the recipe and propped my feet up on the chair next to me.

I’ll admit, I was excited to try the meatballs because they had big chunks of onions and garlic in them. If I had to name a single ingredient that gets me super pumped to eat a dish, it would be freaking onions. Full disclosure, I “hated” onions for over half my life because my mother hated onions. As a kid, I constantly listened to her order everything without onions (or tomatoes), and so I assumed they must be gross. WRONG. There was a time when I would lie to waiters and tell them I was allergic to them to make sure they didn’t forget to remove them from my food. That worked out pretty well for the most part, until a super concerned waiter at a BBQ place informed me that I couldn’t have the BBQ sauce because it was cooked with onions in it. That lie really came back to bite me in the ass. I awkwardly explained that BBQ sauce onions were just fine, just not other onions (cough cough). Fast forward to a few years into dating Steven Michael, when he forced me to try onions and BAM! Life changed.

Sorry, I got a little off topic there … back to the stew. Once the meatballs were in the oven and smelling great, Steven Michael moved on to preparing the Peanut Stew. This is where things get weird. At first, the kitchen smelled amazing as the onions (yay, onions!) and other veggies were being sautéed. Then, very slowly, it started to smell like the barn at my Aunt Marion’s horse farm that I used to visit as a child. Not a good sign.

When the stew was plated and ready to eat, Steven Michael and I looked at each other, counted to three and took our first bites. Nope. Despite being full of highly flavored ingredients, the end result was bland AF with an undertone of gross. As I said earlier, it wasn’t inedible, it just wasn’t enjoyable. The bites with a little bit of meatball and an actual peanut in them were almost good. Almost. We ate our bowls, and immediately went to the cupboard to find something tasty to cover the blah.

I know I just spent six (well, five if you don’t count my onion rant) paragraphs telling you how bad this was, but I don’t want to discourage you from trying it for yourselves. Do what Steven Michael did and use this as a jumping off point to create your own version of this (horrible) meal. There is definitely a way to make this delicious, we just didn’t hit a home run this time. If you do, let us know how it went!

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Nice to Meet You!

Hello, Reader! As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, this is not your average food blog. I can’t cook … at all. But I can eat … a lot. By sheer luck, I married a man who loves to cook, and just happens to be exceptionally good at it. This blog is meant to be a fun, lighthearted commentary on my husband’s cooking, while I don’t help at all and watch from the dining room. Take a seat!

We are Bitsy and Steven Michael DeLorme, adorable couple extraordinaire. Nice to meet you! Before we get into all of the food stuff, let’s get to know each other. Steven Michael and I have been married for ten years, and live in Western New York with our five year old son, Ellis. He’s like, totally the cutest.

Love in an elevator!
Steven Michael and Ellis

When we’re not cooking and documenting our successes/failures for your enjoyment (I use “we” lightly as I don’t cook a thing), Steven Michael is a Wholesale Baker and I am a Telecom Circuit Design Engineer (sounds fancier than it is, I promise). That is our life now, but once upon a time, Steven Michael and I owned a truly amazing restaurant called Burrito Fresco.

We were open from June of 2012 to November of 2016, some of the best years of our lives. Steven Michael was in charge of all of the food (clearly), while I focused on the customer experience out front. After realizing that we couldn’t be the kind of parents we wanted to be while each working close to 90 hours a week, we closed when Ellis was a year old. It was a tough decision, but ultimately the best we could have made for our little family. Through the restaurant, we have made some life-long friends in our former employees, so really, our family grew by much more than one little baby.

Though we no longer own the restaurant, we do have some more projects in the works including a cookbook featuring the recipes from Burrito Fresco, and this food blog, featuring my lazy ass sitting in the dining room watching Steven Michael cook. And that brings me to why we are starting this blog. Steven Michael is an excellent cook and the virtual world deserves to see his food. And I am bored. Feet Up In The Dining Room isn’t just a clever name, it is what I am literally doing every night as my husband cooks away in the kitchen. So we thought, why not give me a job documenting and sharing his creations? Soon, this blog will be filled with recipes and stories both good and bad. Rather than hiding our failures, we’ll be sharing and laughing at them with all of you. Be glad this wasn’t around for The Pumpkin Alfredo Incident of 2008. The memory still makes me want to hurl. So put your feet up and relax with me as we do absolutely none of the work, but reap all of the delicious benefits!