Saturday, September 24, 2011

Red and White Hearty Chili, Red Cabbage and Jicama Slaw, Greek Tomato Salad, and Classic Cornbread

Claire and I both had chili on our minds, with handfuls of veggies thrown in and turkey instead of beef.  We made two delicious versions, one white and one red. They both came together really quickly, which gave us time to come up with a few side dishes. Generally when Claire and I cook, we look through our refrigerators and our conversation goes something like  I've got red cabbage. I've got a lot of tomatoes.  I've got 1/2 a thing of jicama. We could make a red cabbage slaw.  Ok, what about tomato salad? That sounds good. I've got a little bit of feta cheese.  What about Greek tomato salad?  I have a recipe I've been meaning to try.  That will go great with chili.  Should we make cornbread too? I don't know if I'm a huge cornbread fan- the stuff from the box has that weird aftertaste. I have a from-scratch recipe.  Then we discuss our timing- this week for instance, we had a 1 1/2 hour window interrupted by various kid drop-offs and a teacher conference. So if the ingredients sometimes seem a little random, you might be onto something...

Served with Kale Chips. The phrase "Eat your colors!"
comes to mind, doesn't it?

Hearty Turkey Chili
Hearty and heart-healthy.  Unless you serve it with the homemade cornbread posted below, which you should.  Don't be nervous about the quantity of zucchini and mushrooms.  They cook down, and we didn't need to add water.  The mushrooms also gave the chili some depth, while the tomato paste also added a lot of flavor.  We chopped the carrots so finely that you couldn't even tell they were there.  I like putting carrots, pureed or diced into tomato-based soups/sauces because it adds a little sweetness and cuts the natural acidity of the tomatoes. 

1 lb ground turkey, browned
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c diced carrots (very fine)
2 c diced mushrooms
3 c diced zucchini
2 x14 oz cans of diced tomatoes
3 T tomato paste
1 T chicken base
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T smoked or Hungarian paprika
2 T chili powder
1 T coriander
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1 T honey
1/2 c frozen corn
2 cans white kidney beans, liquid included

Brown the meat, and add the garlic and onions.  Saute together, and add carrots.  Add the zucchini and mushrooms, saute and let them cook down for a few minutes.  During this time, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken base, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, honey, and spices.  Add the frozen corn and the beans. Salt to taste, let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Garnish with Greek yogurt, cheddar cheese, green onions, cilantro if desired. Serve with cornbread.  And hot sauce!

Hearty White Chicken Chili
This white chili, also known as stew, has three different types of meat in it, but it's PACKED with veggies and might even be, dare I say, healthy? Feel free to vary the vegetables.  I used a lot of what was leftover in my fridge from other meals- my baby carrots were on their last legs, and crying to be tossed in a soup. Top it with nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and don't forget the cilantro like I did.

1 lb. chicken sausage
4 slices turkey bacon
1 can white chicken breast, or 1 c leftover shredded rotisserie chicken
2 cans white navy beans (rinsed and drained)
1/2 c diced carrots
1/2 c frozen corn
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 c spinach, chopped
3 c cabbage, shredded
1/4 red pepper, diced
1/2 large onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
6 c water or broth
(salt to taste, but the sausage and bacon may have plenty, so taste first)

In a large stockpot, heat 1 tsp olive oil and add garlic and onions. Saute until translucent. Add the sausage and bacon, cook until the sausage is done.  Next add carrots and celery and saute for a few minutes, adding a little water if the pot starts to scorch. Add the canned or rotisserie chicken, followed by the cabbage, zucchini, and corn. Add the beans and the water, followed by the spices. Let the chili simmer on medium heat until it reduces, about 20 minutes. Add the spinach and red pepper about 10 minutes before serving.

Red Cabbage and Jicama Slaw
This is great as a stand-alone side dish, but also works well with pulled pork or BBQ chicken.  I had some on a slice of toast with Chevre cheese.  It was so tempting that a co-worker asked to try it.  Besides, how can you resist the beautiful color? Don't be worried about the quantity- it will reduce as the dressing sets in.

1/2 head red cabbage, thinly sliced with mandoline (about 4-6 cups)
1 jicama, julienned (about 1 1/2 cups)
This is even more vibrant the next day.
4 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal.

1/3 c red wine vinegar
1/3 c olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T honey or agave nectar, or 2 tsp sugar
pinch of dried oregano
pinch of dried basil
sea salt to taste
pepper to taste
2 T water
1 T Dijon mustard

Toss the veggies with the dressing and let it sit for at least 20 minutes.

Greek Tomato Summer Salad
This was a huge hit with Claire's family.  She thinks the feta cheese was what roped them in.  The dressing has fantastic flavor and would be good on a regular salad if you're sick of balsamic and olive oil. 

4 c chopped tomatoes
1 chopped bell pepper
1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 c red wine vinegar
1/2 c olive oil
2 pinches dried oregano
6 basil leaves, sliced
1 T honey
salt and pepper to taste

Toss veggies with dressing, and let sit for 30-45 minutes. Add the feta cheese before serving.

Claire's Classic Cornbread
This is really good.  It is sweet, but not cloyingly so.  And it doesn't have that weird aftertaste that the box mix has. Claire had tried many different homemade cornbread recipes, and adapted this one from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food, adding a little more moisture and frozen corn as well.  I agree that cornbread should have real corn in it for added texture and sweetness.  The kids loved it, especially the twins.

1/2 c unsalted melted butter
1 1/2 c lowfat buttermilk
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 T sugar
1 1/2 c fine cornmeal
1 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c fresh or frozen corn

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter an 8 x 8 inch baking pan. Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Whisk the melted butter together with the buttermilk, eggs, sugar, and corn. Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Pour the batter into the baking pan. Bake for 23-28 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let us know if you try our recipes, what worked, what didn't... We love hearing your comments. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Meatless Monday: Vegetable and Chevre Casserole

Another successful Meatless Monday experiment. The kids liked it, and Claire was pleasantly surprised- as much as we love our veggies, few people jump up and down at the prospect of veggie casserole, right? It's also great reheated!

Vegetable and Chevre Casserole
I got the original recipe for this from, which is a great meal planning site.  I tweaked it a little by adding chevre instead of feta, and adding TVP to give the recipe a little more substance. TVP is textured vegetable protein. It is low cost, and you just add hot water for a few minutes to reconstitute it.  It has the texture of ground meat, but not the flavor. I add a little balsamic vinegar to it to give it a little more flavor, and mixed into dishes, it adds texture and protein. The recipe works just fine without it, also.

1 box whole wheat penne pasta
1 medium onion, diced
2 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
2 zucchini, diced
4 tomatoes, diced
1 c green beans, diced
3/4 c packed basil leaves, chopped
2 c chopped spinach
1 c crumbled chevre cheese
1 c TVP (textured vegetable protein), reconstituted (optional)
1/4 c sunflower seeds
4 T balsamic vinegar
2 c vegetable stock or water
salt and pepper
1 c whole wheat bread crumbs
1/2 c parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta as directed, drain and place in 9 x 13 inch pan. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and add onions and garlic. Cook until translucent. Add carrots (these take longer) and saute, adding a little vegetable stock of water if the pan gets dry. Next add zucchini and saute for a minute before adding green beans.   Add tomatoes, basil leaves, and 3 T balsamic vinegar. Let simmer for a few minutes. Add the rest of the vegetable stock or water and salt and pepper. Stir in basil leaves and spinach at the last minute, and then pour over the noodles. Stir so that all the noodles are covered. Add 1 T balsamic vinegar to the TVP, and mix into the casserole along with the sunflower seeds. Crumble in the chevre and mix carefully.  Mix the bread crumbs with the cheese and sprinkle over the top.  Bake for 20 minutes covered, then 10 minutes uncovered so that the bread crumb layer is golden brown.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Baked Parmesan Chicken Tenders and Lemon Zucchini Noodles

Claire needed a week off, so Myndi, who has been taking care of my kids for nearly 5 years, helped me with this meal. The veggies are mixed in with the noodles, but I still like to serve it with a salad. It was a big hit with the twins, who kept asking for more "noo-noo" (noodles) and "bawk bawk" (chicken). Of course, it turns out that many of the noo-noo were ending up in hair and down shirts, but I'm pretty sure they got a good meal anyway. Bawk bawk!
That's homemade ranch dressing from the previous post.
You can use it as dip, too if you want.

Baked Parmesan Chicken Tenders
This recipe was adapted from It's easy to make and delicious.  My son dipped his chicken in ketchup.  If you have any leftovers, they are also great for a quick lunch or sandwich the next day!

1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, cut into palm-sized pieces of even thickness
1 egg
2 T Dijon mustard
3/4 c (whole wheat or panko) bread crumbs
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and oregano in a small shallow bowl. Whisk the egg and mustard with 2 T water.  Dip the pieces of chicken into the egg/mustard mixture, and evenly coat with breadcrumbs.  Arrange on baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until the chicken is done.
Crunchy hot delicious!

Lemon Zucchini Noodles
I really love zucchini noodles, which is good because I still have a lot of zucchini.  When mixed with whole wheat spaghetti, which can sometimes taste like corrugated cardboard strips, it adds moisture and a lightness without adding significant calories. I used a whole lemon with the zest as well, and happened to score some lovely grape tomatoes from Nicole at work, so I threw those in too.  This would also be a great Meatless Monday main dish or side dish.
I had to include this prep picture because it was so tantalizing.

1/2 package of (whole wheat) spaghetti, about 8 oz
1 medium zucchini (do not peel)
1 c grape tomatoes, quartered
1 1/2 c spinach, chopped
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, minced

Cook the spaghetti noodles as directed on the package. While you are waiting, zest the entire zucchini until you have a pile of zucchini noodles (see picture). In a large pan, heat 1 tsp olive oil and add garlic.  Stir and add zucchini, noodles, and lemon juice/zest. (The best cooking tool for this is a pair of long chopsticks, but failing that, try tongs.) Add the tomatoes and spinach, and toss in the pan for another minute until the spinach is wilted.

It looks like pasta and tastes like pasta, but it's half vegetables!

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Meatless Monday: Spinach Cheese Quesadillas, Easy Black Beans, and Spanish Rice

Quesadillas with beans and rice is almost a no-brainer, but the lack of green in the meal seems wrong to me. I will usually serve this with a little salad anyway, but adding the spinach and making the beans from scratch (although to make it quick, I used canned beans) really adds to the freshness and nutrition.  I also upped the health quotient by using whole grain tortillas and olive oil instead of butter.
I used non-fat Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of dill instead of sour cream.
This has the added benefit of increasing the protein content of the meal.

Spinach Cheese Quesadillas
I feel silly writing a recipe, but I do know at least one woman who did not know what a quesadilla was.  I explained that it was a grilled cheese sandwich, only instead of bread you use tortillas.  I buy my shredded cheddar in bulk, and then freeze it in small bags in 2 cup portions.  I also normally would add a little chopped mushroom to this, but mushrooms is on one of my kids' Don't Like List. Therefore, I'm not allowed to give him a hard time about it, so I leave them out for now. 

I used sprouted grain tortillas for these.
2 cups chopped spinach
(1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms, sauteed, optional)
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 scallion chopped
10-12 medium tortillas
small amount of butter or olive oil

Butter or brush olive oil one side of a tortilla and put in a frying pan, with the heat on medium. Sprinkle cheese, spinach, sauteed mushroom, and a little scallion. Do the same with one side of another tortilla and layer on top, greased side up. When the quesadilla is brown on the bottom, carefully flip over and brown the second side. Makes 5-6 quesadillas.

Black Beans
Holy frijoles, these are yummy! My twins LOVE beans and rice.  Can't feed them fast enough. If this is the case for you, make a double batch and use the leftovers the next day for lunch. The flavors meld together overnight, so they're even better reheated. If you want to REALLY make it from scratch, soak the beans overnight and cook for 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on how long you soaked the beans, etc.  Or you could use a pressure cooker or crock pot. It's really not difficult; just takes some planning.  

I added frozen roasted corn. So good.
  • 1 (16 ounce) can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, chopped or frozen corn
  • 3 T chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 T sherry or white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste

Saute the onion and garlic together in 1 tsp olive oil. Add red pepper, then beans.  Stir in balsamic, soy sauce, and sherry. Salt and cayenne to taste. Bring to a boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in cilantro right before serving. 

Spanish Rice
I may have mentioned before that I cook all my rice in a rice cooker. It's an old rice cooker that I've been using for over 20 years. I add enough water so that my second knuckle is covered when I lay my hand over the surface of the rice. It works every time, but makes it difficult for me to estimate how much water to write down in a recipe. So, I'm adapting the following recipe from
I used short grain brown rice. Long grain rice would give it
a more traditional look. Oh, and I stirred in some chopped
spinach at the end. See Laura's List for more on that.

1 1/2 c white or brown rice, uncooked
2 c water or vegetable broth
1/4 c chopped onion
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp dill weed
1 c salsa

Saute onion in olive oil until soft.  Add uncooked rice and saute.  Add oregano and dill weed. Mix in salsa. At this point, you can add the water and finish cooking on the stovetop, or transfer the whole mixture along with the liquids to a rice cooker to finish. Either way, it's ready in about 20 minutes.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

World's Best Turkey Burgers, Angel Hair Coleslaw, and Pear Chevre Salad with Cilantro Lime Tahini Dressing

We jazzed up Claire's amazing turkey burgers a little by adding more veggies to the burger mix, but absolutely no flavor was lost. Since I am on a little health kick, this works for me.  You may notice there is a little less fat in our recipes (at least for a few weeks) and that we have replaced refined grains and sugars with whole grain this and agave nectar. Don't worry-- we are not compromising on flavor, and the baked goods will be back soon enough.  We're already planning some great fall line-ups.  In the meantime, you won't be disappointed in this meal. And neither will your waistline.

It looks like melted cheese, doesn't it? It's roasted yellow pepper.
The cheese is IN the burger and oozes out when you bite in..

World's Best Turkey Burgers
Perhaps inspired by my spinach obsession, Claire has recently been trying to add more mushrooms to her daily fare.  So we've created a veggie-packed version of her original turkey burger by adding spinach, mushrooms, and carrots. The gouda and the scallions add such a great flavor that you won't need condiments. These burgers are moist and delicious! Served here with lettuce, tomato, and roasted yellow pepper.  This recipe yields about 6 burgers.  If you make a double batch, they freeze well for a quick meal later in the month.

1 1/2 lb. ground turkey
1/2 c grated gouda cheese
4 scallions, finely chopped
1/4 c dried whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 c Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 carrots, finely grated (optional)
1 -2 c spinach, chopped finely (optional)
3 mushrooms finely diced (optional)

Mix all ingredients together. Form into six generous 1 inch patties.  Place on the hottest part of the grill and sear until browned, about 1-2 minutes on each side.  Move to a slightly cooler part of the grill and cook until done (5-10 minutes). Serve on whole wheat buns.

Angel Hair Coleslaw
We both independently bought bags of pre-shredded cabbage at the grocery, totally on impulse.  We had to laugh at each other.  I have to admit, I was a little jealous because Claire found angel hair pre-shredded cabbage.  I realize that you can just buy a cabbage and then shred it yourself, but if you're going to make an impulse purchase, isn't it better to buy a bag of cabbage than a new pair of shoes or lipstick? We are living life in the suburban fast lane.  The angel hair cabbage really reduced quickly.  This is an original dressing. It was wonderful with the burgers, and would even be a great garnish for the burgers or just serve it on the side.  This recipe makes twice as much dressing as you need, so you can try it both ways!

1/2 c white balsamic vinegar
1/2 c olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T honey or agave nectar
pinch of dried oregano
pinch of dried basil
smoked sea salt to taste (or regular sea salt)
pepper to taste
2 T water
1 T Dijon mustard

Reserve half the dressing, saving for later, and toss the other half with:
4 cups finely shredded cabbage
1 carrot, finely grated
1/2 spinach leaves, chopped (for color!)

Whisk the dressing ingredients together and toss with the cabbage, carrots, and spinach.

Cilantro Lime Tahini Dressing a.k.a Sauce
We are on a salad dressing kick.  Salad dressing is easy and quick to make at home, and after you get used to the lightness and fresh flavor of homemade dressings, it's hard to go back to the stuff in the bottles. This dressing is adapted from Peas and Thank You by Sarah Matheny, and would work great on grilled fish as well.  If you're wondering what to do with all that extra tahini, try the hummus from last week!

1/2 c water
1/2 c tahini
1/4 c lime juice (use the zest too if fresh squeezed)
1/8 c dark soy sauce or tamari
1 T chopped cilantro
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp agave nectar (or sugar) to taste

Whisk together until combined well.

Pear Chevre Salad with Cinnamon Vinaigrette
We adapted the recipe for the dressing from Peas and Thank You by Sarah Matheny.  The cinnamon vinaigrette is a departure from the usual path, but it's such an interesting dressing that it's worth a try. This salad would also be great with candied pecans or walnuts, but we just used plain pecans today.  We thought this might also be good with bleu cheese crumbles or a sweet potato salad.

1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 T apple cider vinegar
3 T lemon juice
1/3 c agave nectar or pure maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c canola oil

Whisk all ingredients together, except for the oil.  Slowly drizzle the oil in while whisking vigorously.  Serve over fresh lettuce, with pear slices, nuts, and cheese crumbles such as chevre or gorgonzola.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mediterranean Zucchini Boats, Fresh Hummus, and Tabouli Salad

We still have a lot of zucchini, in case you can't tell.  We are also looking forward to the start of school, as Claire and I have found it significantly more challenging to cook at our usual pace and quantity with 6 kids running around. Not that having to pick out an occasional Nerf bullet out of a pile of chopped onions would break our stride at all. This collection of recipes is on the healthy side, with very little fat and lots of fresh vegetables and small portions of lean meat. We didn't leave out the flavor, however.  The leftovers from prepping the zucchini boats were nicely combined into a delicious pasta with whole wheat noodles. No one complained in our house.

Mediterranean Zucchini Boats
This is an original recipe. Cooking time can vary, depending on how soft you like your zucchini.  For a firmer texture, 35 minutes would probably do it. Serve this with the Creamy Greek Goddess dressing over the top.

4-6 medium zucchini
1 lb lean ground beef or chicken sausage
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 1/2 c cooked quinoa
2 cups spinach, chopped
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1 c low fat cottage cheese
1/4 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste (less if you used sausage)

Saute the garlic and onions until the onions are soft.  Add the meat and break up into little pieces until it's cooked. Add in the spinach.  Reserve about a third on an extra plate.  (This will be combined with the zucchini guts to make a nice pasta for the next night.)  In a medium bowl, mix the ground beef/spinach mixture (the 2/3 portion) with the cooked quinoa, egg, cottage cheese, and cinnamon. Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides or guts and reserve.  Thicker zucchini will mean a slightly longer cooking time, but less potential waste. Arrange the hollowed zucchini on a baking pan and stuff with the stuffing mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.  To make the zucchini more tender (or mushy), add a small amount of water to the bottom of the pan.  Serve with Creamy Greek Goddess Dressing drizzled over the top.

Creamy Greek Goddess Dressing/Dip
Using Greek yogurt significantly increases the protein content of this dressing.  If you like it more pourable, add a couple of tablespoons of milk, although I would let it set for a few minutes before you decide, as the high water content of the parsley and herbs tends to make it fairly liquid.  It's great on salad and as a dip, and in this case, a sauce for the Zucchini Boats above.

1 c non-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 T chives, chopped
1 T mint, finely chopped
2 T cilantro, chopped
2 T parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Blend in a food processor.

I had to convince Claire that we needed to make this.  She had a recent bad tabouli experience from which she is still recovering. This won her over in one bite, though, with its fresh lemon flavor.  I squeezed fresh lemon juice, so I used a bit of zest to give it an extra pop.   I'm pretty sure that real tabouli salad doesn't include cucumber, but we really liked the addition.

1/4 c bulgur wheat
1/4 c warm water
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, and cut into small chunks
1 1/2 large parsley bunch, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 c lemon juice with diced zest
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c olive oil

Soak the bulgur wheat in the warm water for an hour while you get everything else ready. (If you're in a hurry, stick it in the microwave for a couple of minutes.) Mix the bulgur wheat with the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

I used to always make my own hummus, in part because once you buy a jar of tahini, you are somewhat obligated to keep making hummus until the tahini is all gone. I've gotten out of the habit, but store bought hummus often has a weird flavor, and a lot of extra added fat. Actually making hummus is so easy and inexpensive that it's silly not to try it at least once. You will be a convert, I promise.  The garlic can be increased if you like the hummus spicy, and if you aren't interested in talking to people for the rest of the day.

2 cans chickpeas, drained, but with the liquid reserved
1/3 c lemon juice with a little diced zest
2 T tahini
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
paprika and chopped parsley for garnish

Blend all ingredients except the chickpea liquid and the garnish in batches in a small food processor. Or all at once in a big food processor.  Keep blending until it is creamy, adding reserved liquid as needed until the desired consistency is reached. Scrape out the hummus into a bowl and garnish.  Serve with veggies or pita wedges, or use on sandwiches.

Zucchini Guts Pasta
This pasta was created to eliminate any waste from the Mediterranean Zucchini Boats above. Some family members voted it better than the boats. It's got tons of zucchini in it, as well as chopped spinach, and we used whole wheat pasta!

2 c meat stuffing, reserved from above recipe (approximate)
2 c zucchini innards, chopped
2 c chopped spinach
1/4 c basil leaves, chopped
1/4 onion, diced (this was leftover so we added it!)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T chicken base + 1 c water, or 1 c chicken stock
4 c cooked whole wheat pasta noodles

In a large saute pan, add 1 tsp olive oil and then saute the garlic and onions until the onions are translucent. Add the zucchini, and saute until it is cooked.  Mix in the meat, spinach, and basil leaves. Add the base + water or stock, and add the noodles last.  Stir until everything is mixed in evenly. Top with shredded parmesan if desired.

Claire holding my twins.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

HomestyleTofu and Scallion Stir-Fry and Asian Cucumber Salad

This is what we had for lunch when we made the Faux-fried Drumsticks and Zucchini Corn Cakes.  No leftovers, except a little rice.

Homestyle Tofu and Scallion Stir-Fry
I saw a lovely picture on Mark Bittman's blog for something similar.  My version has a little ground beef in it, for flavor only.  This makes a great Meatless Monday meal- just leave out the ground beef and substitute water for chicken stock.  The extra stock/water and cornstarch is what makes the sauce, which kids love to mix in with their rice. I use short grain rice which is nice and sticky. I made a double recipe, and there was not one square of tofu left. 

1 box of extra firm tofu, drained and cut into small squares. ( I let it drain for a few minutes on a paper towel to minimize excess liquid)
1/4 lb. ground beef (this is just for flavor-leave out for meatless option)
(Optional to mix in with ground beef: 1 tsp rice wine, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp sesame oil)
1/2 c frozen peas
4 scallions, chopped
1 T minced garlic
1 T minced ginger
2 T soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 T canola oil
1/4 c cornstarch
1/2 chicken stock or water

Heat a tiny bit of the oil in a large saute pan or wok. Add a pinch of garlic and ginger (reserve most of it). Cook the ground beef (with optional mix-ins if you desire) until done. Remove from pan and set aside. Add rest of canola oil to pan, then add tofu squares. DON'T TOUCH THEM FOR A FEW MINUTES!  Once they are brown on one side, flip them over gently to brown, and add the rest of the ginger and garlic. Throw in the frozen peas, and add the ground beef mixture.  Stir. In the meantime, add liquid to the cornstarch and stir so there are no lumps.  Add this cornstarch/stock mixture to the pan a little at a time and stir.  The sauce will thicken as it boils. When the sauce is thickened to desired consistency, add scallions, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Add more cornstarch/stock mixture if needed. Serve with rice.

Asian Cucumber Salad
I used my new mandolin slicer for this one. It is awesome.  Beautiful, even, and thin.  I got mine for under $15 at Target, and it works great.
You can see how I forgot the sesame seeds. Oops.

2 cucumbers, sliced very thinly
1/4 c rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
sprinkle sesame seeds
1 T canola oil

Mix vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and drizzle in the oil while whisking. Mix in with cucumbers. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

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