Wednesday, May 04, 2016

General Tso's Tofu

I've been going out to dinner a LOT lately (and will be going out to dinner a LOT in the next couple weeks, too) so to make up for it, I'm trying to make meals at home as much as possible this week. I somehow had everything I needed to make this. It's my favorite thing to order from Chinese takeout, but it's hard to find a restaurant that does it well. The tofu needs to be crispy or else it gets too saturated in sauce and is like eating a wet sponge. This recipe actually makes the tofu a very nice texture. Nice and crispy, nicely seasoned. I added some baby carrots, broccoli, and water chestnuts, and served it over rice. It was ok...


The problem is the sauce! It just isn't as flavorful as I'd hoped (even with extra sambal oelek!). I ended up adding a little sriracha. And by "a little," what I mean is this:


I would not make this recipe again. Sorry, guys.

General Tso's Tofu
Vegetarian Times, March 2015

1 pkg. firm tofu (16 oz.) drained
2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. mirin (rice wine)
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
2 Tbs. sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
4 tsp. mirin (rice wine)
2 tsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. sambal oelek chile paste, optional
2 tsp. vegetable oil
4 green onions, green parts chopped ( 1/3 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 cups steamed broccoli
2 cups steamed brown or white rice

To make Crispy Tofu: Cut tofu block into two broad slabs. Wrap tofu slabs in paper towels, and place between two cutting boards. Weight top cutting board with soup cans, and press 30 minutes. Unwrap tofu, and cut into 1-inch cubes.

Combine soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, oil, garlic, and ginger in resealable container. Add tofu, and toss to coat. Marinate 30 minutes, or overnight. (Tofu should absorb all liquid.)

Preheat oven to 350°F, and coat baking sheet with cooking spray. Sift cornstarch over tofu, and turn to coat evenly. Spread tofu on baking sheet. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until firm and crispy, turning several times to brown all sides.

To make Sauce: Whisk together broth, sugar, soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, sesame oil, cornstarch, tomato paste, and sambal oelek (if using) in small bowl. Set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add green onions, garlic, and ginger, and stir-fry 1 minute. Add broth mixture, and cook 1 minute, or until thickened. Stir in Tofu. Serve with steamed broccoli and rice.

Servings: 4

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Dark Chocolate Stout Cookies

I had a lone bottle of oatmeal stout in my refrigerator and decided to make these cookies. Even though it calls for Guinness, I decided my oatmeal stout would be a good substitute. Turns out it was an excellent decision. These cookies were delicious and fluffy. Not quite a brownie cookie, but definitely cakey. I thought they were okay when they came out of the oven, but the next day they were great. I ran out of cookies by 2:00 PM. Success!

Moral of this story: as long as it's a stout, use whatever kind of beer you want. I bet this would be even better with a milk stout or a chocolate stout!


Dark Chocolate and Guinness Cookies
Heather Christo

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup Guinness Stout
2 cups flour
1 cup dark cocoa
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
11 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare sheet pans with silpats or parchment paper.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until creamy.

Add the eggs and beat until fluffy.

Add the Guinness.

Combine the dry ingredients and add to the batter. Add the chocolate chips and mix well.

Scoop the batter onto the sheet pan, and bake the cookies for 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheet pan.

Yield: this recipe makes 24 very large cookies, but I made smaller cookies (and got about 50) and reduced the baking time to 9 minutes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Anzac Biscuits

If you've known me for a long time, you remember 5-6 years ago when I was going through the torturous infertility treatment process, which eventually resulted in no children and a divorce. During the whole thing, I developed an amazing support system on the infertility blog network and made some lifelong friends. One such friend is Ms Kate, who lives in Australia. I've never been to Australia. She's never been to America. We have exchanged boxes of food (yay Tim Tams!) and talk regularly on the internet. Seriously, the internet is incredible.

Anyway, my beautiful Kate posted on her Facebook the other day about baking some Anzac Biscuits. I was immediately inspired to make them for Cookie Monday. Anzac Biscuits, so named for the Australia New Zealand Army Corps, are made of oatmeal and coconut. Depending on how long you bake them, they can be chewy or they can be crispy. Most of the traditional recipes call for golden syrup, which is like our American corn syrup but made of cane sugar. I've found it before and used it long ago, but I haven't been able to find a jar of it in years. If you have some Lyle's Golden Syrup or something similar, look for a traditional recipe. But if you can't find it, use this Americanized version, which I found on Pinterest. It doesn't substitute corn syrup, because corn syrup is gross and doesn't taste very good. instead, it uses a combination of maple syrup and honey. This is AMAZING and tastes awesome. It mixes well with the brown sugar and everything caramelizes so beautifully during baking.

These are delicate little cookies and are VERY sensitive to the heat. All my cookies looked like they were burned or severely overbaked, and they weren't at all. It's all caramelized and delicious! It just looks burned. So probably they really will burn quickly if you're not careful. They're soft and chewy, and the coconut disappears into the batter (in a good way). These were very popular at work!


Anzac Biscuits: Chewy Oatmeal Coconut Brown Sugar Cookies
Averie Cooks

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons honey (golden syrup may be substituted)
2 tablespoons maple syrup (golden syrup may be substituted)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned whole rolled oats (not instant or quick cook)
Heaping 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 pinch salt, optional and to taste
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda

In a large, microwave-safe bowl melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.

Add the brown sugar, honey, maple, and stir to combine. (If you prefer drier cookies, reduce honey and maple to 1 tablespoon each)

Add the flour, oats, coconut, optional salt, and stir to combine; set aside.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, add the water and heat on high power to boil, about 1 minute.

Slowly and very carefully add the baking soda to the water. Use caution because it will bubble up vigorously. Stir to dissolve the baking soda.

Pour water-baking soda mixture over dough and stir to combine. Dough will look like streusel topping. Fluffy and loose, but when squeezed together, compacts to form a dough.

Using a medium 2-inch cookie scoop, form heaping two tablespoon mounds (I made 15). Place mounds on a large plate, flatten mounds about halfway with your palm, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 5 days, before baking. Do not bake with warm dough because cookies will spread and bake thinner and flatter, and these cookies are already prone to spreading and baking flat.

Preheat oven to 350F, line baking sheets with Silpats, or spray with cooking spray. Place mounds on baking sheets, spaced at least 2 inches apart. Bake for about 9 minutes, or until edges have set and will be just beginning to brown (the coconut in the dough is prone to burning so watch them) and the tops are just beginning to set, even if undercooked, pale, and glossy in the center. Do not bake longer than 9 to 10 minutes for soft cookies because they firm up as they cool; bake for 10 to 12 minutes if you like firmer, crisper cookies. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling.

Store cookies airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 4 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.

Yield: I doubled the recipe and got about 40 cookies

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Mexican Cauliflower Steak Sandwiches

I am all about cauliflower lately. Roasting it whole, ricing it, pan-frying slabs of it, etc. This is another unique recipe I found to continue using cauliflower. It involves quick pan-searing, then rubbing it with spices and roasting it. Then it goes onto a sandwich with some spicy avocado mash (let's not call it guacamole, because it isn't). Instead of lettuce, I used some kale. Other than that, I followed the recipe. It's pretty delicious.



Mexican Cauliflower Steak Sandwiches
Connoisseurus Veg

1 medium cauliflower crown
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Salt, to taste
2 ripe avocados, pitted and peeled
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 sandwich rolls, sliced open (4 to 6)
Shredded lettuce
Hot sauce (I usually use Tapatio)

Preheat oven to 400º.

Remove outer leaves from cauliflower and trim stem. Place on a large cutting board, stem side down. Starting at the center, cut into 1 inch thick slabs, retaining any florets that break off in the process.

Coat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, arrange cauliflower slabs and any stray florets in skillet and cook until lightly browned on bottoms, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until browned on opposite sides, about 2 minutes more.

Coat a large baking sheet with remaining oil. Arrange cauliflower on baking sheet and sprinkle with lime juice, garlic, cumin, ancho chili powder, salt and pepper. Bake until tender, about 15 minutes.

While cauliflower roasts, place avocados in medium bowl and mash well with a fork or potato masher. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, tomato, onion, jalapeño, salt and pepper.

Stuff rolls with cauliflower steaks and top with guacamole, shredded lettuce and hot sauce.

Serves 4

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Tuna Pan Bagnat

First of all, let's discuss Cookie Monday this week. I made Brown Butter Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies again and people enjoyed them. Yum! There's a good picture on the original post, but here's one from this week:


Now I will tell you about a sandwich I made this week. The farmer's market has officially opened, so I bought a great baguette and of course had to have a sandwich. I had everything I needed to make this tuna sandwich, so I did! You make all the components, stuff it into the bread, and then wrap it up for awhile to let everything blend together.

Here is my wrapped sandwich.


I have made similar recipes before and really enjoyed it. I really liked this one, too. I would make this again.


Tuna Pan Bagnat
Cooking Light, March 2009

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped pitted nicoise olives
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces premium tuna, packed in oil, drained
1 hard-cooked large egg, chopped
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces whole-wheat French bread baguette
1 garlic clove, halved
1 cup thinly sliced plum tomato (about 1)

Combine first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine basil and oil; stir with a whisk. Cut bread in half horizontally. Hollow out top and bottom halves of bread, leaving a 1-inch-thick shell; reserve torn bread for another use. Rub cut sides of garlic clove over cut sides of bread; discard garlic. Drizzle basil mixture evenly over cut sides of bread. Spoon tuna mixture on bottom half of baguette. Arrange tomato slices over tuna mixture. Cover with top half of baguette. Wrap filled baguette in plastic wrap, and let stand for 20 minutes. Cut filled baguette into 4 (3-inch) equal portions.

Serves 4

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Tater Tot Breakfast Nachos

Tater tots. Tater tots made into nachos. Tot-chos.

Breakfast toppings, in addition to nacho toppings. Breakfast tot-chos.

I feel like this is a sufficient description, and thoroughly explains why this was the best dinner ever.


Tater Tot Breakfast Nachos
I Am A Food Blog

1 package tater tots
Eggs, as many as desired
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 jalapeño, sliced
Sliced green onions
Chopped cilantro
Sriracha or hot sauce, if desired
Sour cream, if desired

Bake the tater tots on a lined baking tray according to the package. While baking, fry eggs sunny side up and set aside.

When the tots are done, remove from the oven and top with cheese, jalapeños and green onions. Bake until the cheese is melty and delicious. Remove from the oven and top with sunny side up eggs, cilantro, hot sauce and sour cream. Enjoy immediately.

Serves 4

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Strawberry Dump Cake

Last weekend, my friends decided that we were going to have a cookout at my house, because I am the only one with a grill. Everyone showed up with stuff to barbecue, snacks, guac, and drinks. I decided to make a cake at the last minute, so I picked this ridiculously easy cake recipe. I still have a bunch of strawberries in the freezer from the farm and from my garden last summer, so I used those.

This did not turn out how I'd expected, but it still tasted good. If we call it a "cobbler" rather than a "cake," it's a little bit more acceptable. In theory, the liquid from the strawberries is supposed to mix with the cake mix and create a cake. It doesn't quite work like that. Not really sure why. But, it was a tasty and worked well as a last-minute dessert.

Sorry for this picture. I was hungry.


Strawberry Dump Cake
Magnificent Mayhem

1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
Frozen Strawberries (slightly thawed)
1 Stick Butter (OR 1 can of Diet 7up to make it lighter)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Soften the butter either by leaving it out for a little bit or by sticking it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. You don't want to completely melt it-just soften it.

Mix the dry cake mix with the butter. (Or pour about 3/4 of the can of diet soda in a bowl with the cake mix.) Mix with a fork until crumbly.

Place strawberries in a greased baking dish.

Pour cake/butter mixture over berries evenly. (Note: The amount of strawberries and the size of dish you use is determined by your preferred strawberry to cake ratio.)

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. (Note: Baking time varies, depending on how thawed the strawberries were.)