You’ve seen tofu at restaurants. You may have already eaten tofu yourself. Tofu is just about everywhere these days. Tofu is a soy product that is one of the easiest and healthiest food to cook. It’s packed with protein and has such a mild flavor that you can influence it’s flavor profile however you want. If you want to make restaurant-quality (a.k.a. really tasty) crispy tofu at home, there are a few steps you need to take.
Slice open the package and cut the tofu into thick rectangles or cubes. Lay each piece on a dish towel or layers of paper towels, then place another dish towel or paper towels on top of the tofu. Set a cookie sheet on top to squeeze some of the moisture out. You shouldn’t have to go to extremes here, because you purchased extra-firm tofu.
2. Make the surface of your tofu as dry as possible
Like anything you cook in hot oil, you want to make sure you’re not adding any unwanted moisture to the pan. Dry, dry, dry your tofu. Wipe it dry, or better yet toss your tofu in corn starch. I’ve cooked tofu both ways and to me the only difference between the two are that adding corn starch to your tofu prevents dangerous and unpleasant sputtering.
3. Use a cast-iron skillet to pan fry your tofu
If you want crispy tofu, you really need a pan that has an evenly heated surface area. For me, that is my seasoned cast-iron skillet. Add a layer of oil, heat it up, and gently drop your tofu in. Fry all sides of the tofu until golden brown and crispy.
Boom! Extra crispy tofu. Just remember, if you plan to use your tofu in a stir-fry or with something saucy, set the tofu aside first. Then cook all of the remaining ingredients and add the tofu back in at the last minute so it remains crispy as long as possible.
Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch thick rectangles and pat dry with a kitchen towel or paper towel. Toss the tofu in cornstarch until coated. Heat oil in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat, until the oil is just shimmering. Carefully place the tofu pieces into the oil. Lightly fry the tofu until golden brown on one side, then flip with a slotted spatula. Once golden brown on both sides, drain the tofu on a paper towel and set aside. Lower the heat of the pan to low and wait a few minutes.
In the same oil, add the onions. Fry lightly until the onions turn soft and transparent. Take care not to burn them by maintaining the heat at low to medium-low. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring to prevent burning.
Add the turmeric, coriander, chilli, salt, and tamarind paste and fry for about a minute. Then add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, sri racha (if using), beans and edamame and cook until the tomatoes break down and the oil separates from the sauce, about 5 minutes. Taste the beans, the beans should be more than half cooked at this stage. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning as needed.
Finally add the fried tofu and mix well. Simmer for a minute to reheat the tofu, remove from the heat, garnish wtih green onions and serve warm with rice or rice noodles.
This is my new favorite, quick and easy snack or side dish. This couscous salad is packed with bright flavors from the lemon, basil and fresh vegetables. It’s also light and refreshing, perfect for these warm days ahead of us. Plus it keeps for awhile, so you can prepare it ahead of time for parties.
I didn’t have any chickpeas or garbanzo beans on hand, but I bet a can of these would make this couscous salad more filling and packed with protein.
I love mashed potatoes. Love love love love them. Heck, I’m so in love with mashed potatoes that I would marry them if it were legal in this state.
Hi, I’m Mrs. Mashed Potatoes. How are you doing today?
Unfortunately, like many foods that I love, mashed potatoes are not very health conscious. Especially after I add loads of butter, heavy cream, cheese and sometimes bacon to them (yum). These Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes have the same smooth texture as mashed potatoes and the taste is so spot on that it’s close enough to make low carb dieters or Paleo dieters happy.
Plus you can eat seconds without feeling guilty. I like that.
I prepared these “potatoes” in a food processor. If you prefer chunkier “potatoes” simply mash the cauliflower with a potato masher and fold in the ingredients instead. Top with chives (or whatever you like putting on your taters) and you’ve got an all-star side dish.
With all of the recent tragic events it’s really made me sit back and count my blessings. America is supposed to be a nation of nations, where people come to be free and thrive and build better lives. What is happening lately? Too many public shootings, then Newtown and now the Boston Marathon. As one of my friends put it, it’s like the pendulum has swung and we’ve all become vulnerable. I can’t imagine what all of the victim’s families must be going through. I feel so helpless. America needs to unify again and make a come back. Anywho my heart goes out to everyone in Boston this morning.
Moving from my darker rant to something that always lightens my mood: Fresh Pesto.
Pesto is one of my favorite sauces to add to a dish of steaming pasta. I wanted to add some more nutrition to my bowl and thought it might be fun to incorporate broccoli into the mix too. As it turned out, many other foodies and bloggers alike have had this same idea of pureeing broccoli into a pesto. However, most of them omit the basil completely. I decided to make a hybrid.
We have also added whole wheat pasta to our regiment. Although I don’t use it 100% of the time, I try to at least incorporate at half and half mixture to our pasta dishes. I’ve found that some wheat pastas are a bit “wheatier” than others and may take a bit of adjusting to if you are used to all white, smooth flour pastas. Mixing wheat and white pastas are a great way to start.
I really loved the texture of this sauce. If I were going to add anything to this recipe, it would be a bit of fat from either heavy cream or greek yogurt. Either would work great.
2 tablespoons pine nuts (or your favorite nuts to use in pesto)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped, for garnish
grated parmesan, for serving (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, chop the broccoli into florets. Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the tough outer skins of the broccoli stem and chop the stem into 1/2-inch discs. When the water is boiling, add the broccoli florets and stem to the water to boil until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Remove broccoli to a bowl, leaving the water in the pot.
Maintain the water at a boil. Add the pasta to the pot and cook according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta well. Set aside.
Return the pot to the heat. Add the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and cook 1 minute more. Return the cooked broccoli to the pan and cook 1-2 minutes to heat through. Season with pepper to taste.
Transfer the broccoli mixture, fresh basil, lemon juice, black pepper and nuts to a food processor. Pulse in short bursts, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture is finely chopped. Add a bit of pasta water to thin out the sauce until it is smooth and creamy. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary. In a large bowl (or in the pot), toss the pasta with the sauce. Serve with chopped tomatoes and freshly grated Parmesan if using.
Wow, it is snowing here AGAIN in Colorado today! It’s supposed to keep snowing for the next three days. Usually I would be ready for Spring to arrive weeks ago, but because Colorado has been so prone to wildfires the last two summers, I am thrilled that we are getting some late minute precipitation before thunderstorm season. This probably isn’t enough snow to really help that cause, but I can hope!
Because it has been so snowy lately, I made this vegetable soup to warm us up. This soup is packed with vegetables and reminds me that Spring is right around the corner. I can’t wait to pick out fresh produce from our local Farmer’s Market. It’s one of my favorite things to do on Saturdays when it’s sunny and warm outside.
Anywho, I added some cheese tortellini to our soup pot because we love tortellini in soup (plus it makes this soup that much more filling). If you are trying to keep this Vegan, simply use Vegan tortellini or noodles to add a bit more body to this soup or omit the noodles completely. Your choice!
In a dutch oven or soup pot, saute the carrots in the olive oil over medium heat. After a couple minutes or so, add the onions and celery. Cook for another 2 minutes and add the garlic, stirring for a minute until fragrant.
Add the broth, thyme, basil, poultry seasoning, chives, salt and pepper, and red pepper if using. Add the corn, peas or edamame and spinach. Bring the soup to a boil then lower the heat. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, or until the carrots are softened.
In the mean time, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Salt the water then cook your tortellini according to the package directions (boiling for 2-5 minutes).
Add the can of tomatoes to the soup and the cooked tortellini. Gently combine, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary and serve hot, preferably with freshly baked bread for dipping.
Most girls like flowers. I like food. Bring any combination of these foods to me and I am yours. Forever. Or at least until I am hungry again.
These homemade chips speak straight to my heart. They are perfectly crisp, perfectly seasoned, and perfectly addicting. Yep, they’re pretty darn perfect. I don’t know why I buy potato chips to be honest with you (oh wait, yes I do… it’s because I’m lazy). At any rate, these are easy to make and great for parties (or yourself).
Think about making your own potato chips instead of popcorn the next time you get the munchies. If you’re not a fan of BBQ chips, you can add your own seasonings. Get creative – salt and vinegar, parmesan and garlic, salt and pepper, garlic and cayenne, mustard and ketchup (do I still have your attention?). Hell, even the purist salted chips will please a crowd. Just make these already!
oil for deep frying (vegetable, canola or peanut oil)
Small amounts of paprika, garlic salt, onion powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, ground mustard and sugar
Wash, scrub and peel the potatoes (leave skin on, if you want extra dietary fiber). Using a very sharp knife, cut potatoes into very thin slices (about ¼ - ⅛ inch rounds) and soak them in a bowl of iced water. Place the bowl in your refrigerator for 30-40 minutes. This will help to remove all the starch from the potatoes, making them ready for deep frying – make the chips crispier. You can also use a mandolin or blade attachment of food processor to slice potato paper thin.
In the mean time, combine all seasoning ingredients into a small bowl and set aside.
Remove, rinse a few times (water must be clear in the last rinse) and let drain completely. Then lay flat on kitchen towels and pat dry (the dryer the better because hot oil and water do not like each other).
Heat oil in a deep fryer or a large saucepan until the oil reaches 350˚F. Gently lower potato slices into hot oil in small batches and deep fry for 3 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, shake off excess oil and drain on paper towels to remove the rest of the oil. Then transfer them to a big bowl. Dust with BBQ seasoning immediately while the chips are still hot so that the flavor adheres to the hot oil.
I have the Mister Rogers’ song, “Won’t you be my neighbor,” stuck in my head.
Why? Well, do I really need a reason? Okay, I do have a reason. Our friends recently moved into the neighborhood! I wanted to do something special for them, modern JELL-O mold style (except without the mold). Are you still following me?
I decided that a 6-pack of brewskis and homemade beer snacks would do the trick. I made these sweet and salty almonds to start. I’ll be honest, these were kind of a pain in the foot to make. As you can guess, syrup can become a sticky mess when baked but the end result is completely unique and tasty and worth the mess. Just make sure you put some aluminum foil on your baking sheet and everything will be okay. You’ll end up with sweet maple/molasses and salty soy flavored almonds – a nice accent to any beer that you are drinking.
Heck, grab another beer while you’re at it. You’ll need something to wash down all of the almonds you’re about to eat.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread almonds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until lightly toasted and fragrant, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and lower the temperature to 300.
In a medium bowl, combine tamari and maple syrup. Add almonds, and toss until thoroughly coated. Line your baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly cover the baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread almonds evenly on sheet.
Roast in oven until deep brown, about 3-5 minutes. Immediately transfer to a clean baking sheet and spread almonds out, separating so nuts don't touch. Let cool before serving.
Recently I have become a smoothie addict. Maybe “addict” isn’t the best word to use. How about a smoothie mad scientist? Yes, that’s much better.
I put all sorts of crazy items into my smoothies. I’ll add the usual fruits (bananas, oranges, berries, etc.) and vegetables (carrots, spinach) but then once in awhile I will add odds and ends of leftovers into the blender. Leftover couscous. Leftover refried beans. Leftover green beans. Leftover whatever else I want to get rid of. I know, it’s weird, but really you can’t taste any of these oddities. You only taste the sweet fruit. I do this not only to use up some of my odd ingredients in my fridge, but to add more nutrients to my smoothie as well. I don’t take vitamins so my smoothies are my main source of nutrition in the morning.
I hold back my smoothie ingredient madness only when I have to serve my smoothies to other people. This is my favorite “safe” combination to use. The flavor is awesome and it has just the right amount of thickness too. Now if only my guests would be more open to experimenting like I am. Maybe they wont notice if I put this slice of pizza in here… 😉
I would like to note that I use whole strawberries in my smoothies. This is a personal preference. Most of the nutrients on a strawberry are in it’s hull (the green stem thing) and when it’s blended in with all sorts of other sweet fruits, you won’t notice a difference in flavor or texture.
Splash of fruit juice (about 1/8 cup or so), I like cranberry but any fruit juice works!
Add all ingredients into a blender. Add a few ice cubes if you are not using frozen pineapple. Blend on low until all ingredients are mixed together. Add another splash of juice if the mixture seems too thick. Blend on high for another 10 seconds or so. Pour into a glass and enjoy!
Image from She Wears Many Hats. I took pictures of my smoothie (looked just like this but with a pink straw instead), uploaded them, but failed to find where they went on my computer. They just… disappeared. Off of my camera too. Damn photo goblins. Anywho, thanks SWMH!
Shakshuka is an Israeli dish that is typically enjoyed for dinner. Glorious and historic Israeli is on my to visit list, but so far I’ve only visited that beautiful land in my dreams. I’ve seen quite a few tv specials on Israeli cuisine and this particular dish always catches my eye.
Traditionally, Shakshuka is an egg dish with tomato sauce. I added spinach and a touch of cream to mine. Talk about heavenly! I love the combination of runny eggs, tomato and cream together. All of the flavors merry together well, but the key player in this delicious mess is the bread. The bread is your vehicle to dunk and soak up all of the tomato goodness!
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Buttered, toasted French bread or warm pitas, for serving
Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and sweated, about 3 minutes. Add jalapeño and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.
Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with the spinach and 1/2 cup water, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.
Add the cream and mix through. Add the Parmesan or Feta cheese, then crack the eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce’s surface. Note: Pop the yolks if you do not like runny egg yolks. Cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 4-5 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with a bit of salt, parsley and serve with toasted French bread or pitas, for dipping (this is a must!)
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Are you making anything for your sweetie?
Our Valentine’s Day tradition between my Mister and some of my friends is to attend some sort of violent sport each year. For some reason I always feel compelled to celebrate this Hallmark day even though I don’t consider myself a mushy romantic. A few years ago we attended a hockey game, found it wasn’t violent enough and attended a LaCrosse game the years following. Now V Day is something I look forward to every year for that very reason. Go sports!
Now, you’re probably wondering what violence has to do with this cucumber salad recipe? Good question. I’ll have to get back to you on that.
This cucumber salad is a great accompaniment to any heavy entree. It is light and refreshing with pops of crunch from the red onion. I made it even lighter (healthier) by using greek-yogurt and fat-free sour cream. The important thing to remember about making cucumber salad is that cucumbers have a lot of water in them. You want to remove as much water as possible before combining all of your ingredients or else your cucumber salad will turn out very watery (and nobody likes a watery salad).
Mix the cucumbers, onions, and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Pour them into a colander and suspend it over a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. Discard the liquid that collects in the bowl.
When the cucumbers are ready, roll them up in a paper towel and press the towel lightly to remove most of the liquid. Place the cucumbers, yogurt, sour cream, vinegar, dill, remaining salt and pepper into a bowl. Toss well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld. Taste and add additional seasonings if necessary. Serve chilled.
I love poached eggs. I really, REALLY love poached eggs. I love dipping buttery toast into runny egg yolks and gobbling it all up. I could eat the stuff all day every day, but then I wouldn’t have anything to post on here! So to avoid blogger monotony I came up with this creamy eggs florentine.
Combine a poached egg, creamy spinach hollandaise sauce, fresh tomato and crispy toast and you have one happy foodie. Okay, now that I’m done blogging about this, I’m going to make another batch for myself.
Howdy and happy Groundhog’s Day to you! This isn’t really a Groundhog’s Day inspired recipe (who eats groundhog anyway?) but I had a plethora of oats and almonds in my pantry that inspired this recipe instead.
I bought some fresh strawberries and these vegan strawberry bars were born! I love that this recipe uses real fruit instead of jam. That makes it healthy right? Okay, not really. There is plenty of sugar in these bars, but they are completely dairy and egg-free, so that helps.
Usually when I read those words (“dairy-free” and “egg-free”) I instantly connect it to being tasteless. I know, that’s a shameful thing to do but I am a bacon-lover at heart after all. Have no fear though, because the fresh strawberries with the texture of the crumble really are a winning combination that does not lack in flavor one bit. I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!