Kitchen Adventures: Tasty Tofu

Kitchen Adventures: Tasty Tofu

Yes, it exists. I love tofu in any form, but this recipe is the only one I can make and want to eat the tofu raw, and a few pieces usually get sacrificed to “taste testing” before they can reach the pan.

All it takes is mixing a few items together:
2 tbps Mirin (a sweet Japanese seasoning made from rice alcohol – keep this in your cupboard for tons of recipes!)
1 tbsp sesame oil (hint: you can get this cheap at the Christmas Tree Shop! I use it basically every day.)
1 tsp Tamari (soy sauce)
1 tsp Teriyaki sauce (I used the low sodium version)

Optional:
Salt
Pepper
Chopped garlic

Cut up the tofu into small cubes and pour the sauce over the top. If you have time, try to marinade for an hour or two, stirring every once in a while. If you’re in a rush, just let this sit while you prep everything else.

You can either add the extra sauce to the pan after, or use it on a side dish – I threw mine, along with some extra Mirin and Tamari, over some asparagus I was cooking at the same time. Incredible!

What’s your favorite way to give tofu some flavor?

Kitchen Adventures: Autumn in a nutshell

An acorn squash shell, to be exact.

My obsession with simply-cooked acorn squash has me buying them in multiples every time I go to the store.  Settling down to one for dinner (or as part of dinner) is the perfect way to end a blustery fall day.

All it takes is a small acorn squash, goat cheese, and brown sugar.  Start by cutting the squash in half, and scooping out the seeds and the pulp with a spoon.  Then put both halves of the squash cut-side down in a small microwave-safe casserole dish (mine is about 10″ across) with 1/2 inch or so of water in the bottom.  The goal is to give the squash enough water to steam, but not so much that it will take a long time to get hot.

Cook on high for 5 minutes, then poke the outside of the squash to see if it’s soft.  My small squash tonight took 15 minutes to cook fully, but it’s a good idea to check every 5 minutes and then just add more time to the clock if it needs more.  The inside should be bright orange-yellow and the outside should be tender when poked for it to be done to my standards.

Remove from the dish, top with goat cheese, salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of brown sugar.  And voila – you’ve got dinner!  This is also really good reheated the next day, but I’ve only made it that far once and have succumbed to eating the whole thing every other time.  If it’s all you eat for dinner, you might be hungry later – this dish is only worth 3 PointsPlus (aka super healthy).

What’s your favorite fall food?

Rocking the broccoli casserole

When I think of winter-time family gatherings, I think of board games, cider, and broccoli casserole.  My friend Cody once called this dish a hillbilly’s perfect dinner, but if being a hillbilly is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Broccoli Casserole

Ingredients:
  • 20 oz frozen broccoli, thawed
  • 1 can reduced fat cream of mushroom soup
  • 3 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese (usually around one block)
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 gloves garlic (optional)
  • 1 bag ruffled potato chips – actual amount needed depends on the size of your pan
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Thaw/defrost the broccoli so it’s not frozen when you start.
  3. Stir everything other than the chips together in a bowl, mixing well.  Spread into a casserole dish – any size you want, depending on the surface area you want to leave for the chips.  (We did it in a huge pan so basically every other bite had chips on top).
  4. Top with crushed potato chips.
  5. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes – let rest for 5 minutes when done, as this comes out of the oven really hot!

Does your family have any crazy recipes that show up at group gatherings?  Anything with potato chips on top?

Marvelous Mocha Madness

I dare you to find a richer, more decadent mocha cookie than this one from Gourmet.  Kat and I made these munchies for her housewarming party earlier this year, and I recreated them this afternoon to bring to a bonfire tonight (I am daring myself to try them instead of a graham cracker in a s’more, though I may die from sugar shock…).

I used this recipe, with a few modifications:

  • I ran out of white sugar and had to use some brown, which was fine, but I should have gotten all the lumps out in advance because they were a pain to do while cooking.
  • I melted 2 of the cups of chocolate chips and only put 1 cup in before baking – last time, we melted all the chocolate and it was great, so I didn’t want to go to far with their 50/50 breakdown – these cookies are so rich, you don’t really need pockets of chocolate.
  • I tried to bake some in a mini-muffin pan because I ran out of baking sheets.  Major fail.
  • I used instant espresso powder – last time, we used actual espresso, which left a bit of a crunch in the final product.  This way isn’t necessarily better, it was just cheaper.  (I might even try it as a drink later…)
  • I ate way too much batter, and now I am stuffed.

What’s your favorite kind of cookie?

Kitchen Adventures: A new way to eat bacon

Yes, you read that right.  I have discovered my new favorite way to eat bacon, or as I like to call it, dinner.

A few months ago, Matt and I ventured out to a $1 tapas place where we first encountered an amazing bacon creation.  For a dollar a pop, these treats were pricey – but oh-so-worth it.  Tonight we embarked on a quest to recreate that dish, and did so super successfully.  I am now pleased to present to you…

Bacon-Wrapped Chili-Almond Stuffed Dates (ta da!)

Ingredients:

  • 16 dates (pitted, aka with the pits removed)
  • 16 almonds, roasted with no salt or seasoning
  • 8 pieces of bacon, sliced in half crosswise
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a pan, roast the almonds and chili with a dash of oil until the chili powder sticks to the nut.
  3. Stuff one almond inside each date  (it should be easy to slide it in where the pit used to be, but don’t stress if it’s not – just stuff the almond in somewhere and wrap the date around it).
  4. Wrap 1/2 a piece of bacon around each date and secure with a toothpick.
  5. Place this awesome little bundle on some tinfoil in a baking dish and throw it in the oven until the bacon is browned and crisp, probably 20 minutes.
  6. Serve either warm or at room temperature, and enjoy!

The result was delicious.  The chili really goes well with the saltiness of the bacon and the sweetness of the date.  These would be great at a dinner party or even as an appetizer for a smaller crowd – there’s no limit to how many or how few you can make at a time.

My two biggest tips: DO use tinfoil in the baking dish, even if it’s metal – it really helps contain the fat as things melt.  DO NOT try to skimp on bacon.  I used 1/3  a piece on a few and they came out looking supremely ugly.  The best part?  Ingredients for about 40 of these were less than $13, making them far cheaper than anything you could get at a restaurant.  If that’s not baconey goodness, I don’t know what is.

Cornflakes and Chicken?

You betcha!

This is my favorite fried chicken recipe (read: the only one I’m interested in making).  Cornflakes and peanuts combine to give the chicken tenders a great outer layer, and the pineapple salsa makes this dish feel fancy and perfect for a special occasion.  The roomie and I made this for Valentine’s Day and I enjoyed the leftovers for lunch.  This concoction is based on this recipe, another treat that was sent to my inbox a while ago.

Cornflake-fried Chicken with Pineapple Salsa

Ingredients:
For the  salsa:

  • 1 cup fresh pineapple (non-negotiable – pay the extra cost, you’ll be glad you did), cut into 1/2 inch or smaller pieces
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp red onion, chopped

For the chicken:

  • 1/2-2/3 cup dry roasted, unsalted peanuts, well chopped
  • 1/2-2/3 cup cornflakes, lightly broken up
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lb chicken tenders or breasts, cut into tender-sized pieces
  • cooking oil

Now there’s just four steps to success:

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