Tag Archives: tofu

Easy Vegetarian Vietnamese Pho

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If any of you follow the weather or look at your smartphones at the weather map, you already know that it has been ridiculously cold throughout the country this week. With wind chills in the negatives and the highs in the single digits, this January weather has not made my morning commutes all that pleasant.

My coworker Rob and I ride the same bus in the morning, and our mean bus driver refuses to drop us off closer to work like other buses do. She has no pity for us and she isn’t a morning person. With our transit center in town being rebuilt, the buses are lined up across the street from it. Not a huge deal, except it adds about 2 minutes of walking to our normal walk to the office. Also not a big deal, except when it’s -6 degrees with a windchill of -20, so by the time you do get to the office, your legs are nonexistent, as is your face.

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And hey, I dress for cold weather. I live in Michigan, I’m not an idiot. But no matter how warm you dress, or how many layers you wear, or how tight you have your scarf, nothing can prepare you for that cold that hits your face gets when you step off the warm bus. Then when you get home your dog, who has a double coat and is made for weather like this, wants to play outside. And since the light is staying out longer each day, you feel guilt if you don’t play fetch with him in the backyard before you feed him.

Routine, people. I’m getting used to it. Cold weather. Also getting used to it. I have to come to terms with the fact that we most likely will not have an unusually warm winter like we did last year. Sad truth. But there are things you can do to help.

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And that’s to make soup. Not just any soup. Vietnamese soup or Pho. So that’s exactly what I did. I’ve never made pho before but I have had it and if I didn’t live in Ann Arbor – the city where hippies and yuppies coexist harmoniously – I might not be able to find decent vegetarian pho that isn’t made with meat broth. There are several places that make some decent pho around here, but I decided to try making it myself.

And you know what? It was PHOnomenal. See what I did there?

Try it. It’s delicious and while I did use a shortcut to make this version, it turned out great, reheated great (for REB after class), and kept me warm while watching Full House reruns. Don’t judge me. I’ll never tire of Uncle Jesse and the whole gang.

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Vegetarian Vietnamese Pho
 
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Easy Vietnamese noodle soup to warm you up this winter.
Author:
Recipe type: soup, noodle soup, vegetarian
Cuisine: Vietnamese, Asian, Soups
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 carton (4 cups) Vegetarian Pho soup base (Pacific natural foods brand or similar)
  • 1 small ginger root, peeled and cut into discs
  • 2 Serrano peppers (jalalpeno is fine), sliced into discs
  • 2 tablespoons Lite soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 12 oz. Shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed and sliced
  • 8 oz. (half a block) extra firm tofu, sliced thin into strips or squares
  • 8 oz. Stir fry rice noodles
  • 1 lime, sliced into wedges
  • Garnishes: cilantro, basil, Serrano peppers and lime wedges
Instructions
  1. Start by bringing a large pot of water to boil – about 20 minutes
  2. While the water comes to a boil, pour the entire carton of soup base into a large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Add the soy sauce, ginger discs and sliced Serrano pepper and heat through stirring occasionally.
  3. In a separate pan or skillet heat the olive oil.
  4. When it is hot, add the sliced mushrooms and cook until browned and tender, about 5-8 minutes.
  5. Remove the mushrooms, transfer to small bowl and set side.
  6. In the same pan, add the tofu slices and cook until browned on all side, another 8-10 minutes.
  7. When cooked, add the tofu to the simmering broth
  8. When the water is boiling, remove from heat and add the rice noodles. Let them sit/soak in the hot water for 8 minutes until softened.
  9. When done, drain and rinse noodles under cold water.
  10. TO ASSEMBLE:
  11. Divide noodles among all bowls.
  12. Ladle some of of the broth over noodles, enough to slightly submerge them.
  13. Top bowls with tofu slices and mushrooms (about 2-3 pieces of tofu per bowl, a few mushrooms)
  14. Add your garnishes and squeeze lime wedge before serving
  15. Enjoy!

 

What foods are keeping you warm this winter?

 

 

 

 

Sesame Tofu

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So I’ve been kind of bummed the past few days. It’s nothing major, but it still has me bummed. Due to class schedules of both REB and my sister-in-law, looks like the Vermont trip won’t be happening this year.

My in-laws have their time share every year during the 14th week of the year, which in normal cases would be April 1-5. That’s what we originally planned for. However, the time share folks consider a week to be a full Sunday-to-Sunday week, which in the case of 2013, was Jan 6-13. So long story short, week 14 of 2013 in their eyes is actually April 8-12. That’s REB’s last week of classes for his first term and my sister-in-law’s professor grades based on attendance and that week is a big one for her, too.

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I think REB and I might go some where else the first week of April though, just he and I, so we can still have time together (although we can’t seem to agree on any destination at this point :\). That part doesn’t have me bummed. What mostly had me kind of sad is that I wouldn’t get to see Vermont in the winter or have a full week with my family-in-law since my parents are overseas until mid-April. I’ve seen the place during peak week in the fall, but I’ve heard winters are just as gorgeous. But the great thing about time shares is we can go any year we want.

So the point of this post? I wanted something delicious to eat for dinner after my workout, and I was bored of wallowing, so I decided to make sesame tofu. REB and I have made variations of Asian dishes before, and we usually replace the meat with tofu. So far we’ve been pretty successful; the General’s tofu being the biggest successor.

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I think the sesame tofu either comes in first or ties for first. I see myself making this recipe more. It was slightly sweet, had a hint of spice and that dark smokey taste of the sesame oil really rounded out the whole dish.

The combination of flavors plus the fact I used a pretty new plate I found at Home Goods instantly made me feel better and stop having first world problems. The hug from REB when he got home from class didn’t hurt either.

Sesame Tofu
 
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Slightly sweet, a hint of spice and a dark smokey taste of sesame oil bring this whole dish together.
Author:
Recipe type: vegetarian, main dish, tofu
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 block 14-oz., extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup Lite soy sauce (or you can use tamari)
  • 2 teaspoons Splenda no calorie sweetener (or regular or brown sugar is fine; agave nectar or honey would be good too)
  • 1 tablespoon Mirin (or rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon pure sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons whole sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup scallion, chopped (about 2 or 3 stalks)
  • 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2½ teaspoons grated ginger (use less if ginger isn’t your thing)
  • 1½ cups broccoli florets
  • 2 teaspoons ground chili paste (Sambal Oelek brand or similar)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons of tofu marinade
Instructions
  1. For the tofu:
  2. Whisk soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and mirin in a shallow bowl until combined. Add cubed tofu and stir to coat each piece. Set aside and let marinade for 20-30 minutes.
  3. In a dry pan, add sesame seeds and heat until toasted and aromatic (about 3-5 minutes). Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  4. When tofu is ready, reserve 2 tablespoons of marinade, drain the rest and lightly pat the tofu to dry.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large deep skillet and wait for it to get hot. Add tofu cubes in batches and brown on all sides. Transfer to bowl of sesame seeds and toss to coat, and set aside.
  6. In the same pan, add the other tablespoon of oil and cook scallion, garlic and ginger until cooked through, about 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add the broccoli, chili paste and water and cook another 3-5 minutes.
  8. Toss the tofu back into the pan with the reserved marinade and cook everything together for another 5 minutes.
  9. Serve immediately over brown rice or quinoa.
  10. Optional garnish: finely chopped scallion, parsley or sesame seeds

 

Spicy Tofu Lettuce Wraps

When I stop to think about how I have something going on every single weekend between now and then end of October, the old me would have freaked out. However the new, positive, hip (yes, hip!) me is looking forward to having things going on during the weekends and people I will get to see!

Of course being busy on the weekends, just means I’m even busier during the week.
Knowing how busy the weeks to come are going to be, I’ve been trying to get grocery shopping done at the beginning of each week so we aren’t scrambling to get certain items each night for dinner. Menu planning is a simple concept, but you know what? It really works!

One of the items on the list was extra firm tofu. Sure, it’s a normal thing in our fridge all the time, but I was in the mood to make something delicious.

Enter tofu lettuce wraps a la PF Changs. …Minus the calories, fat, MSG and sodium.
Making ‘em homemade was ridiculously easy, healthy, spicy (duh), low-carb and full of protein!

The basic recipe is from Isa Chandra (the vegan queen of cooking!) and her cookbook: Appetite for Reduction – a must own! All the recipes in there are healthy, delicious and nothing over 400 calories per serving. Total win. And it just so happens that one of the things I’ve been wanting to do is try to cook from each cookbook I have. Challenge accepted.

Spicy Tofu Lettuce Wraps
 
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Recipe adapted by Isa Chandra
Author:
Recipe type: Low-carb, vegetarian, protein
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 15-oz block firm tofu, cut into small cubes
  • 2 teaspoons lite soy sauce
  • Cooking spray (optional)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, small dice
  • 1 small red onion, small dice
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce
  • 3 tablespoons mirin (rice vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
  • 12 Romaine lettuce leaves
Instructions
  1. Heat a large, deep skillet or pan over medium high heat.
  2. Add the tofu (you can spray some cooking spray if needed) and cook until starting to brown. Add the soy sauce, stir and continue to cook another 8-10 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. In the same pan, cook red pepper and red onion over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and Sriracha and stir.
  4. Add the mirin (rice vinegar) and cook 3-5 minutes. If you don’t have mirin, use sherry wine or white wine vinegar.
  5. Lastly, add in the hoisin and mustard and stir well.
  6. Toss the tofu back in and coat well with the sauce.
  7. Serve it up in lettuce leaves and enjoy!

These were so easy to make and so delicious and could be made vegan or gluten-free! You could easily substitute in your favorite protein like beef or chicken or whatever, too. Give it a try, I know you will love them.

Do you do weekly menu plans?

Healthy Italian

 

Hi everyone! I hope you all are doing well!

So the title isn’t a mistake. There is such a thing as healthy Italian food. Ever since I started my new low-calorie/low-carb diet, I’ve missed pasta a lot. I’m also really nervous to eat a lot of pasta because I’m afraid of portion control. While I think I’ve, for the most part, learned how to eat the right amount, and also not eat things like cream sauce and stuff, I’m afraid I’ll still eat too much. It’s a terrible, horrible feeling that I’m hoping one day passes, but still. It is a bit of a struggle and it’s more mental than anything, but I’ll get better about it. I’m sure of it.

In light of thinking healthy Italian, REB and I made tofu parmesan on Saturday night. I never was a big fan of chicken parmesan when I ate meat, but I wasn’t a fan of deep fried things. I’m still not big on eggplant parmesan either. However, I found this recipe on Eating Well for tofu parm and decided we should give it a shot! I’m glad we did!

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It was not only delicious, but it was under 300 calories per serving. Perfection. I wish there was more protein in it, but you can always add some extra sides to make that happen. We did change a few things for our tastes, but it worked great.

Recipe adapted from Eating Well

Tofu Parmesan

•1 14-oz. block firm tofu, cut lengthwise into four “steaks”
•1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
•1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
•2 teaspoon olive oil
•1/2 pound (one 8oz.-carton) baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
•1/2 cup onion (half a large onion), chopped
•1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
•1/2 cup total low-sodium marinara sauce
•1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated (can also use vegan cheese if you prefer)
•5 basil leaves, chiffonade

Method

On a plate, combine the Panko and Italian seasoning. Cut the tofu lengthwise into four “steaks” or pieces. Lightly season each side with garlic powder and salt (we didn’t use the full 1/4 teaspoon for each) and then dredge each side in the breadcrumb/Italian seasoning mix.

In a large deep skillet heat the olive oil and then add the onions and let them get translucent and slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Next add the mushrooms and let them sweat their liquid out and turn slightly brown, about 5-10 minutes.

Transfer the onions and mushrooms to a bowl. In the same skillet, which you may need to add another teaspoon of olive oil, add the tofu steaks and cook until it’s golden brown (about 3 minutes per side).

Turn the tofu, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, spoon the mushroom/onion mixture on each steak, top with a tablespoon or so of marinara sauce, then the mozzarella cheese. Cover the skillet and let the tofu continue to cook until the cheese is melted, about 2-3 minutes.

The last bit is just sprinkling some basil on top of each and serving it up! I’m glad we decided to use Panko instead of breadcrumbs. It made the tofu a little crispier. Note to self: find more recipes to use Panko! Like I said, this recipe is under 300 calories per serving and all delicious! Enjoy!

Have you had struggles with weight?
What are things you miss eating and have you found alternatives?

Tofu Piccata

Tofu piccata was on the menu tonight! Once again, we went searching in the great Internet space to find another recipe that used tofu and REB found a recipe featured in the Vegetarian Times. It was actually a recipe made with seitan, but we had tofu in our fridge (like we usually do) so we decided to use that. This recipe also called for soy margarine but we used real butter. You could absolutely use that though and make this entire meal vegan!

Back in the olden days when I ate meat, chicken piccata was a dish I ordered if it was on a menu at a restaurant. I have an absolutely love of capers. Any recipe that is vegetarian with capers will always get my vote. Why didn’t I think we should try making this with tofu? This recipe is ridiculously easy to make, too!

Here’s what you need:
•1/2 block of firm tofu (see below for preparation)
•All-purpose flour, for dredging
•Olive oil (4 tablespoons total, more or less)
•3 medium shallots, minced
•2 tablespoons capers, drained
•1/2 cup white wine (we used a dry Pinot Grigio)
•1/2 cup vegetable broth (I was hoping for low sodium, but they were out)
•2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
•2 tablespoons butter
•1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
•1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
•Salt to taste (I doubt you’ll need any – see below)
•1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

We had a lot of leftover sauce since we only made half the tofu, but that’s OK. You can reduce any portion of the recipe if you want. I didn’t want to skimp on flavors though ;)

Start by standing up the tofu block and then cutting in half, length-wise. Store the other half for a future recipe. Then cut that half into half.
Take two pieces of paper towel, put a piece of tofu between them, and press. You want to drain as much liquid out of the tofu as possible. Plus, this will help thin the tofu so it will crisp up better. Once you’ve done that, cut each tofu in half, diagonally so you’ll end up with four tofu triangles total.

Put a few tablespoons of all-purpose flour on a plate, dredge the tofu and shake off the excess.
Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over high heat. Let the tofu cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Once you’ve done this for all the pieces, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. We actually put them on some aluminum foil and put them into the oven to keep warm at 300°F.

This image shows one half that we cut into two more pieces

In the same pan, add more oil (about another 1 to 2 tablespoons) and heat up the shallots, garlic and capers and sauté for 1 or 2 minutes stirring frequently. Then whisk in the lemon juice and wine and let it cook for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 1 or 2 minutes. Whisk in the parsley, butter (you could use nonhydrogenated vegan margarine to make this vegan) and pepper. If we had low-sodium broth, I would say you might need to add 1/2 teaspoon or so of salt. However, since the capers and the broth are so salty, taste the sauce first and then use your judgment if you need more salt or not.

We served it up with some wild rice, poured the sauce over the tofu and nommed it up!

This was so delicious! Patting the tofu completely dry gave it a meatier texture. The capers were crisp and salty, and the wine and lemon together made for a wonderful fresh taste.

Now, I will say that I was a little conflicted about the amount of parsley. Ina Garten loves her parsley, but I think it’s kind of a garbage herb. For me, it’s used for garnish and sprinkling on a plate and not a main flavor of a dish. But even I can admit that when it warmed up, it did smell fresh. I probably would use less next time though.

Happy eating :)

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Tofu Marsala

We had some leftover tofu in our fridge, so we decided to make something with it that wasn’t Asian-themed. Our usual go to is to make General’s Tofu, but we had that last night, so we wanted to find a recipe that used tofu differently.

We found a recipe online for Tofu Marsala and it actually turned out really well! This was the recipe we followed the basic concept from. We didn’t use a whole block of tofu since we were using leftovers, but we made the sauce the same amount. I could have had that sauce entirely on its own, it was so good!

Here’s what you need!
•1 block of firm tofu (we used half a block) – cut into long rectangles about 1/2 inch thick. We actually made our 1 inch thick and it seemed to work fine
•1/4 cup all purpose flour
•1/4 cup corn starch
•1/4 teaspoon S&P each
•1/2 cup dry marsala wine
•1 cup vegetable broth (we used low sodium)
•8 oz. Cremini or Baby ‘Bella mushrooms, sliced (just a small container at the store)
•2 medium shallots, minced
•2-4 tablespoon of olive oil (more or less depending)
•1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (not ground)
•1 tablespoon tomato paste
•2 additional teaspoons corn starch (this will be used as a thickener to the sauce, separate from the 1/4 cup earlier)

First preheat your oven to 300F

Then we prepared our ingredients. We minced up the shallots and put them in a bowl. Then with a damp paper towel, we wiped off the mushrooms, took the stalks off, then sliced them up and put them in a bowl. Then we took the leftover tofu we had (half a block) and just it in half so we had two 1-inch pieces. It was kind of thick, but it was all good.

In a separate bowl mix the flour, corn starch and salt and pepper. Rinse the tofu and pat it dry. Then dredge it in the dry mixture and shake off the excess.

Heat up some oil (about 2-3 tablespoons) in a large skillet over medium high (our stupid stove required it to be high :P) heat. Once it’s hot, put the tofu into the pan and let it cook on all sides until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes. Ours took about 5-7 minutes since we wanted it extra crispy). Transfer it to a baking dish and put it in the oven to keep warm. This was good we did this because I think it helped cook the tofu a bit more since ours was thicker than suggested.

In the same skillet, reduce the heat (if you need to) add more oil if needed (another tablespoon) and add the shallots and dried thyme leaves. Stir them constantly until they’re soft (about 2-4 minutes). Add in the mushrooms and stirring frequently, cook them until they’re tender and lightly brown (ours took about 5-8 minutes).

Then add in the marsala wine. The smell is unbelievable when it hits the pan. It’s a kind of a sour, pungent smell, but it smells so wonderful with the shallots and mushrooms! Stir and let the pan come to a simmer so the wine can reduce.

In a 2-cup measuring cup (one of those Pyrex thingies) measure out the two teaspoons of corn starch, the tomato paste and the vegetable broth and whisk. This creates a sort of slurry or thickening agent. Once you’ve whisked it, add it to the pan, stirring the mushrooms as you do. Let this sauce reduce and thicken.

We served it up with some store bought vegetable risotto, took the tofu out the oven and spooned the sauce over it.

There are definitely things we would change. While this was ridiculously delicious, I think next time we’re going to try it with tempeh or seitan. Both have more flavor from the get-go than tofu does. I mean, the great thing about tofu is that it will taste like what ever your flavor with it, but we wanted some kind of flavor from the beginning. We also think we’re going to mix in some herbs with the dredging mixture. And also use eggs and breadcrumbs for a more substantial crust. I think this recipe is technically vegan, but I think if we could create a better crust, it would be even more yummy.

But like I said, it was delicious!! Definitely give it a try and if you find some other way to serve it up, come back and share it! I’m just glad we have another recipe we can make to get some good protein!

What are some of your favorite recipes where you substitute the meat with tofu, seitan or tempeh?

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General’s Tofu

Much like the famed dish that stars chicken, this dish is the perfect one for vegetarians every where! It has a ton of heat, the sauce is smooth and man, is it good. We found this recipe online but jazzed it up a bit for our tastes.

Here’s what you need:
•1 block of extra firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
•2 1/2 cloves garlic, minced
•1 1/2 teaspoons ginger, some minced, some grated
•1/4 cup soy sauce
•1/4 cup water
•1/4 cup orange juice
•1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
•1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper (we LOVE spice, so we added more. This amount is totally up to you, though!)
•2 tablespoons vegetable oil

We served this with rice, so start by cooking some rice.

In a large, deep skillet coat the bottom with vegetable oil, about 2 tablespoons.  When it’s nice and hot, add the tofu and cook until brown on all sides.

While that’s happening in a 2-cup measuring cup (you know, like those Pyrex doohickies), measure out the soy sauce, water and orange juice. Add the corn starch, minced garlic, cayenne pepper and add some minced ginger and then grate some in there too, Stir it all together and finish cooking the tofu.

When the tofu has browned on all sides, reduce the heat to medium and add a few pieces to the sauce mixture to help warm it up to the temperature of the tofu. Then pour it all back into the skillet and then the magic happens. Almost instantly, you’ll see the sauce thicken into a beautiful glaze (ah, the beauty of corn starch! It worked in the 1950s, it still works today!). Let that reduce and continue to thicken for 2-3 minutes.

Serve hot over white (or brown) rice. Enjoy!

Mattar tofu

I make a lot of Indian curries. There is one that REB absolutely loves, called mattar paneer. However, I don’t make it that often since it’s pretty much the most unhealthy thing one could eat. Paneer is a type of cheese, similar to feta, but it’s really bad for your health. Not only that, but this dish also has sour cream in it, which in large consumptions, also not that great for the figure.

I made a variation of the dish last night and substituted tofu for the paneer. It worked like a charm. I couldn’t cut out the sour cream, but using light, or fat-free works just as well. I’m sure you could even use milk instead of cream. However, the sour cream adds a tang that sort of brings the whole dish together.

If you do want to use paneer, you can buy a frozen block from any Indian grocery stores. Some even come already cut up into cubes for your convenience. If you want to make your own paneer, that’s not too hard either, but it takes a lot of time since…well, you’re making cheese from scratch. Ha.

Maybe I’ll post something on how to do that another time. Let’s make some curry though!

What you’ll need:
•1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil (1/2 for the tofu, 1/2 for the curry)
•1 1/2 cups firm tofu, cut into cubes
•2 cups pureed Roma tomatoes (maybe not pureed, but chopped up pretty finely)
•1/2 cup chopped onion (not pictured)
•1 tablespoon grated ginger
•1/4 teaspoon minced garlic (don’t need a lot in this dish!)
•1/3 cup fat-free or light sour cream
•1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (not pictured)
•1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
•salt to taste
•2 curry leaves
•1 cup frozen peas
•1/2 cup water (not pictured)
•1/2 teaspoon tamarind concentrate (not pictured)

Let’s talk about the garam masala. I’ve mentioned it once before I’m sure, but it’s the most common spice used in almost every Indian dish. It’s essential, it’s fragrant, it’s delicious. You make it by simply dry roasting several spices and then grinding them to a fine powder. I’ll have to make another post one day about how to make garam masala from scratch.
But for now, I have a mom who loves me dearly and made me this entire jarful of garam masala.
It’s OK to be jealous. Buying store-bought masala will never compare to the depth of spice and flavor of doing it yourself.

OK, enough spice-talk, let’s get cooking…

Start by preparing your ingredients, and puree or roughly chop two Roma tomatoes. I love Roma tomatoes. They’re tangy, juicy and de-li-cious! I have a mini food processor for this kind of task. You could just as easily use a blender to help you out, too. Or, if you don’t have either, warm up the tomatoes in the microwave for a few seconds, then use your hands to smush them. Yes, smush is a word. Use it. It works.

Put 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a shallow skillet or frying pan and wait for it to get screaming hot. Then, carefully place the tofu pieces (or paneer if you do want to use that) into the pan. It should start sizzling! Cook the tofu for about 4 minutes or until golden brown.

Like so. I had two batches I had to pan-fry, but they each took about 4 minutes for each side to get brown. Once of the tofu (or paneer) is cooked, transfer them to a plate with a little sprinkling of water on the bottom. This will help keep the tofu (or paneer) moist while you continue cooking.

In a saucepan, heat the other 1/2 tablespoon of oil and let it heat up a bit on medium-high.

Add the onions and the turmeric. Let them cook about 2-3 minutes (shouldn’t take long if your pan is hot!)

Next, add the garlic (very little!) and the tomatoes. You can also grate the ginger at this time. Give it a good stir and let it cook another 5-7 minutes. The juice from the tomatoes will help create a gravy, or masala as we call it.

Once that’s cooked a bit, stir in the sour cream. The color will turn a lot lighter and at this point you can add some salt (1/4-to-1/2 teaspoon). Also, add in your garam masala.

Add in the frozen peas and raise the heat a bit, since the peas (being frozen) will cool the down the dish. Add in the water (not more than 1/2 a cup). Cover and let the curry come to a boil.

Once it’s come to a boil, remove the lid and add in your tofu (or paneer).

If you are using paneer and not tofu, you must be careful not to break apart the paneer when stirring it into the dish. Since I used firm tofu, it was pretty good at holding its shape.

Add in the curry leaves and the tamarind concentrate. Tamarind concentrate is used in the tamarind chutney when eating samosas. It also adds a tang and burst of flavor when added to any curry dish. You don’t need a lot, since the flavor is so strong. Another bonus is that it helps to thicken the curry.

Cover the pan and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Give your curry a taste. You may need to add more garam masala, ginger or salt depending on how spicy you want your dish to be.

Serve it hot over cooked basmati rice.

Nomlicious. Enjoy!

Stir Fry on the Fly

Being vegetarian can sometimes be hard. Since we don’t eat meat, we have to find other ways to get protein into our diets.

Good thing we love tofu.  (^_^) Tonight REB and I felt a little Asian (a little easier for me than him. Bahahaha) and made a super easy tofu stir fry for dinner. If you’re not a big fan of tofu, you can of course use chicken, beef, pork, whatever you want.

What you’ll need:

For the stir fry:

•1 cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced – we just used one medium red bell pepper
•1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
•1/2 package of firm Tofu – this specific tofu we used was actually made and manufactured here in A2! All about supporting our local people!
•1/2 bag of frozen stir fry veggies
•2 cups brown rice (get that going before you start making your stir fry. Even with my awesome rice cooker, it took about 40 minutes for the brown rice to cook. It takes a lot longer than regular Basmati white rice)

For the sauce:
•1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
•1/2 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
•1 tablespoon minced garlic (I have the jar kind. Feel free to use fresh though, if you’d like!)
•1/2 tablespoon grated ginger (give or take. I love ginger)
•1 1/2 teaspoons Siracha (about 4-5 good squirts)
•3 tablespoons peanut butter
•1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
•1 1/2 teaspoons honey (I love my honey bear!)

Now, we didn’t have any peanut butter. …But we did have peanuts and we did have vegetable oil. So we used about 1/2 cup of dry roasted peanuts and about 1/2-to-1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Then we used my handy dandy mortar and pestle and ended up with this:
Prettttttty amazing!

Along with peanut butter, I loooove ginger. I’m pretty sure I’m having a secret affair with ginger (and garlic…….and Siracha. I’m thinking of seeing someone about this…). REB tells me that ginger looks like little babies or humans.
Hmmm, he may be onto something here…

Here’s a tip about ginger. If you buy a bunch of it and aren’t sure if you’re going to use it all within a week, have no fear! Peel the ginger and cut it up into medium-size pieces (like the one pictured above). Then you can put it into a food storage container and put it in the freezer. It’ll keep for up to a month! Then when you’re ready to use it, take out a piece, let it sit on the counter for about 5-10 minutes, then you can cut it, or grate it, and use it in your recipes! The more you knooooowww!! -star-

OK, enough rambling, let’s get stirring already!

Like I said earlier, get your brown rice going before you start making the stir fry. You can, of course, use white rice, but brown rice is high in fiber, the oil in it is very low in cholesterol and it’s vitamin-rich!

Heat a large, deep skillet on medium high. Put about 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil on the bottom of the skillet and wait for it to get warm. While that’s happening, cut the tofu into 1-inch strips about 1/4-inch thick. You don’t need to use the entire tofu container! You can use half, and store the rest to be used at another time.
Carefully place each tofu piece in the skillet. Be reaaaaally careful because the pan will be hot! But you want that kind of heat.

So while that’s spittering away, make the sauce:
Pour the vegetable oil, minced garlic, grated ginger and Hoisin sauce into a small bowl. If you’ve never had Hoisin sauce before, it’s got the consistency of ketchup so it’s a little thick, but it’s really sweet and savory in taste. A must-have in Asian cuisine!

Next, add the honey, Siracha and the peanut butter. Give it a good stir.

Last, add the soy sauce (since it’s your salt ingredient) and stir. You may need to grate more ginger into the sauce, which you know I fully support. Stir the entire sauce and taste it. It should be sweet and spicy, which ours was. You shouldn’t need to add any salt to this sauce since the soy sauce more than makes up for it.

Don’t forget about the tofu!

You want the tofu to be golden brown. This will take about 4-5 minutes on each side

Transfer the tofu to a plate that has a little water on the bottom. This will help keep the tofu moist while you continue making your stir fry

In the same, hot skillet, add in your red bell pepper and red onion. Let them cook for a few minutes so the onions start to get translucent

Add in the frozen veggies and let them heat through – will take about 5 minutes or so

Scoot the veggies to the side of the skillet, making a little “hole” in the middle. Pour in your stir fry sauce

Stir the sauce around to mix all your veggies. Since you’re keeping the skillet on higher heat, it’ll start kind of bubbling away – you want this!

After about another 5 minutes, add the tofu back into the skillet

Carefully stir it into your stir fry. You want to be careful so the tofu won’t break apart. You shouldn’t really have to worry about this too much with firm tofu, though. If you’re a fan of silken or soft tofu, you’ll want to be extra sure not to tear or mush it up while stirring!

Serve it over brown rice and…om nom nom nom!

Told ya it was easy!