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Archive for the ‘Asian Food’ Category

Cashew Tofu

Today is Tofu Tuesday in my house.

I have a list of about 7 tofu dishes we love that I cycle through, and this one is my absolute favorite.

When I was a teenager in Missouri, I worked as a hostess at a popular Asian restaurant. They make a cashew chicken that I crave. Crispy white meat chicken battered and fried, topped with oyster sauce, and sprinkled with cashews and green onions. I practically lived off that cashew chicken during high school.

When I moved to Texas, I was heartbroken to discover cashew chicken here is completely different. It has sauteed chicken, a white sauce, and is loaded with celery. It simply cannot satisfy my craving. For the last 14 years I’ve had to settle with having my favorite food once every couple years during visits to my hometown.

I have tested and tested and tested various ways to make the sauce and have come up with one that satisfies my craving. The only difference is that at home, I prefer to pour it over crisped tofu instead of fried pieces of chicken. If you don’t like tofu, please, try this with chicken. It’s good. The only different prep for the chicken would be to batter it in flour to fry instead of the cornstarch I use for the tofu.

CASHEW TOFU
Downloadable PDF of Cashew Tofu

  • Press 1 16-ounce package extra firm tofu 1 hour or more before making the meal
    • Do this by draining the water the tofu is packaged in
    • Cut the tofu into 1-inch steaks
    • Place the steaks between paper towels – I use 6 paper towels topped with 5 tofu steaks, topped with another 6 paper towels, another layer of 5 tofu steaks, and another layer of 6 paper towels.
    • Top with either a large skillet or heavy pot
    • If using a cast iron skillet, as I do, place a layer of parchment paper on top of the paper towels to keep the moisture from harming the cast iron.
  • When ready to make the meal, chop:
    • 1/4 cup cashews
  • Toast cashews over medium low heat in a dry skillet – do not burn!
  • While cashews toast, chop:
    • 4 green onions
  • Set aside chopped green onions and toasted cashews
  • In a medium saucepan, combine:
    • 3/4 cup brown rice
    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1 Tablespoon butter (I use Smart Balance brand 50/50 butter)
  • Bring water to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes
  • While rice is simmering, prepare the tofu
    • Remove the pressed tofu steaks from the paper towels
    • Cut each into cubes
    • In a large bowl, combine:
      • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
      • 1 teaspoon dried garlic
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
    • Place cubed tofu in bowl and toss to coat with cornstarch mixture
    • In a large, deep skillet, heat:
      • 4 Tablespoons canola oil
    • Once hot, pour cubed tofu into skillet and cook over medium high heat until crispy and browned, about 17 – 20 minutes, separating stuck-together pieces and stirring periodically
  • While tofu is cooking, prepare sauce by combining in a small saucepan:
    • 1 cup chicken broth
    • 1 Tablespoon Tamari or light soy sauce
    • 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
    • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • Whisk ingredients together, then bring to a simmer over medium low heat until thickened
  • Once tofu is browned and crispy, pour sauce over tofu
  • Serve over rice, sprinkled with green onions and cashews

Cubed tofu in cornstarch mixture
Cubed, pressed tofu in cornstarch mixture

Chopped green onions
Chopped green onions

Toasted Cashews
Chopped, toasted cashews

Cashew Tofu
Cashew Tofu, served over brown rice

Yum, yum, yum, yum! I’m so excited I can make this anytime I want and satisfy my craving for that addicting cashew chicken I lived on as at teen. I usually serve steamed broccoli alongside, since it’s a family favorite veggie.

What is your favorite restaurant meal? Do you make a version of it at home?

Downloadable PDF of Cashew Tofu

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Some of my summer favorites:

Sweet Corn and Poblano Chilaquiles

1. Easy, but tasty breakfasts like poblano and sweet corn chilaquiles or a soft egg over pan-fried sliced turkey and a corn tortilla. After so many years of rushed mornings of smoothie breakfasts in the car while driving an hour to work, now that I have time to make breakfast every day and enjoy it, I take advantage. I’ve taken to eating breakfast on the front porch while the Pup hangs out, playing with his tennis ball and watching the neighborhood – one of his favorite past times. While the afternoons have been dangerously hot, the summer mornings have had a slight breeze and a comfortable temperature. I nice cup of hot Earl Gray spiked with a touch of lavender enjoyed on the front porch is a perfect start to my summer day.

Lunch

2. Easy no-cook lunches. From an easy smoked salmon spread on crackers or crusty bread to the simple summer sausage, sharp cheese, and seeded flat bread above, these lunches let me feed the family lunch without taking much time from my day so I can stay on task with my daily to-do lists. I have a habit of making to-do lists longer than I have hours in the day to finish them. With a side of fruit and cut-up veggies, lunch is done and I’m back to work.

Tofu with Walnuts

3. Tofu crisped perfectly and tossed in a brown sauce with various mix-ins over brown rice. This one has chopped walnuts served over brown rice with peas. I’ve played with the seasonings for the cornstarch mixture the tofu is tossed in as well as the sauce to make different versions so we don’t feel like we’re always eating the same thing. I’ve used snap peas and carrots, the walnuts above, and just a couple nights ago used steamed broccoli. This meal is easy, versatile, light but filling – a great option the night after splurges such as pizza or burgers or steak fajitas, and tofu is super cheap (my grocer sells 16 ounces for $1.67!), making it way more affordable than Chinese delivery and much healthier (and tastier) made at home.

Halved Cherries

Peach halves

4. Desserts made from fresh summer fruits like peaches and cherries. My hubby, however, prefers something with chocolate! Can’t blame him, but I can’t let the fruits of summer go by without some desserts that remind me of the fresh produce and home-cooked dishes from my childhood at my grandparents’ house in Missouri. They had a wonderful garden!

Fried Green Tomatoes

5. Fried green tomatoes. Dipped in a vibrant sauce or stacked on a sandwich, I don’t care. Summer to me isn’t complete without fried green tomatoes. The fried green tomato BLT at Kerbey Lane Cafe is my favorite summer lunch. Ever. My homemade fried green tomatoes are dipped in a whisked egg then into a 1:1 mixture of flour and cornmeal seasoned with salt and pepper, then fried in canola oil in my iron skillet. It really only takes minutes for a small batch. Add ground cayenne or smoked paprika or oregano and other herbs to the cornmeal mixture to change up the flavor.

I could add coconut frozen yogurt, anything with mangos, cool smoothies on hot days, orange glazed beets, fried chicken, and summer veggies. Probably my favorite part of this summer has been the opportunity to change careers and spend more of my time at home with my family, something I haven’t had while working long distance from home since I married.

What are your summer favorites?

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Sesame Tofu

Sesame Tofu

I have a few dinner guidelines I try to follow each week:

  • One dinner featuring chicken
  • One dinner featuring beef
  • One dinner featuring tofu
  • Three or more dinners featuring fish/seafood

Though each week doesn’t always work out quite as planned, I feel these guidelines suit our family well. It helps me plan groceries. I always know to get one package of tofu, just enough beef for one meal, same for chicken, and then I usually stock up on salmon, tilapia, and whatever other fish is on sale or featured in a new recipe I want to try.

I am building my repertoire of recipes using tofu, and last week’s was SOOOO good that I made it again this week when we had the girls. They fully approved!

I am in love with this recipe I found online for sesame tofu. I adjusted the sauce ever-so-slightly to fit our preference and added a bit more to the cornstarch for more flavor on the tofu. I adjusted the oil, poured ALL the sauce over the tofu, and served over brown rice, topped with chopped green onions. YUM!

Pan-Fried Tofu
Crispy, golden, pan-fried tofu is ready to be coated in the sweet sauce.

SESAME TOFU
Downloadable PDF of SESAME TOFU

  • Drain water from:
    • 1 16-ounce package of extra firm tofu
  • Slice the tofu into 10 even-thickness slices.
    • Use either paper towels or kitchen towels to press the liquid from the tofu. The method I use is to place 6 paper towels in one layer on a cutting board, top with 5 pieces of the tofu, top with another layer of 6 paper towels, top with last 5 pieces of tofu, top with another layer of 6 paper towels, and top with something heavy (I use a large, hardcover cookbook – a heavy pan or dish will work fine).
    • Place in refrigerator until ready to use. I usually prep the tofu 1 – 3 hours in advance.
  • In a deep medium skillet over medium heat, toast:
    •  1/4 cup of sesame seeds
  • Once toasted, pour into a bowl and set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine:
    • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
    • 3 cups water
  • Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 30 – 35 minutes, or until rice is tender and water is absorbed.
  • While the rice cooks, prepare the sauce and tofu.
  • In a small saucepan, combine:
    • 1/3 cup honey
    • 3 Tablespoons Tamari sauce
    • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil, not toasted
    • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
    • 2 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
      • It has to be fresh for this recipe – makes all the difference! It’s easier to grate if it’s frozen, and it keeps in the freezer forever.
    • 2 large cloves minced garlic
  • Stir sauce with a whisk and heat to just a simmer, then keep warm.
    • The only changes I made to the sauce from this recipe was to eliminate the red chili flakes and decrease the ginger by 1 Tablespoon. I love the fresh ginger, but 2 Tablespoons was plenty for me. I also find it easier to grate the ginger rather than finely chop it, but whatever works best for you.
  • Remove the tofu from the refrigerator, removing the paper towel layers and discarding.
  • Cut the tofu into small cubes. I like mine much smaller than what most restaurants usually serve.
  • In a medium to large mixing bowl, whisk together the following:
    • 1/4 cup cornstarch
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Place the cubed tofu in the cornstarch and stir to coat all pieces.
  • In a deep skillet, heat over medium heat:
    • 4 Tablespoons peanut oil, or oil of your preference
  • Once heated, add the tofu, increase heat to high, and gently toss to brown.
  • Cook tofu until golden brown and crisp on all sides. I usually cook mine about 10 minutes or so.
  • Remove tofu from heat and pour sauce over tofu and stir to coat.
  • Add toasted sesame seeds and stir to combine.
  • Serve over rice and top with chopped green onions.
  • If you like it spicy, sprinkle on red chili flakes. I find everyone has a different tolerance for spicy foods, so I leave it out of the sauce and let each person sprinkle their preferred amount on their own portion.
  • If you prefer chicken, use the same recipe, but substitute cubed raw chicken for the tofu.

Sesame Tofu

I served this with broccoli I roasted in the oven at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes – the same amount of time it took to cook the rice. Even though it’s over 100 degrees in Central Texas, my kids will eat their weight in roasted broccoli so I don’t mind turning on the oven. Besides, we’re probably the only family in the neighborhood who keeps our AC no lower than 77 degrees anyway, because we’re all too cold with any setting lower.

Downloadable PDF of SESAME TOFU

Do you have any guidelines for meal planning in your household?

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Thank you to my new subscribers! I’m looking forward to sharing my recipes with you! Feel free to leave comments about what you like, don’t like, or anything else. I’d love to chat with you about food!

I have been thinking a lot about Joplin and the folks there who lost everything. If you haven’t donated yet, please consider it. I’m from the town just south of Joplin, and spent countless hours driving the streets that are now destroyed. I’m lucky; all my family and friends are safe, but so many others lost their family, their friends, their houses, their cars, their jobs…I can’t even imagine. I am now more acutely thankful for being able to simply cook my family dinner in our own house. And speaking of dinner, last night’s was awesome!

Tofu Stir Fry

While eating this dinner last night, my two stepdaughters declared me the “best cook ever.” I think that means it’s a worthy meal 🙂

They were in love with the tofu, and I have to say, I finally know the trick to making crispy, flavorful tofu! I have followed countless suggestions people gave me for cooking tofu, but subbing tofu for beef in a recipe I found online is what did the trick. Below is my adaptation of the best easy beef and broccoli stir fry recipe.

TOFU and VEGETABLE STIR FRY
Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry (downloadable PDF)

  • Drain 1 package of extra firm tofu. Cut block of tofu into thirds. Double-fold a kitchen towel, line the tofu on the towel, then cover with the ends of the towel. Press gently to squeeze excess water out. Repeat with a dry towel, placing a large, heavy cookbook on top this time to press more water out for about 20 minutes, or while you chop the veggies.
  • Chop 1 head of broccoli, about 5 medium carrots, and 1 yellow onion into bite-sized pieces.
  • Rinse about 2 handfuls of snow peas or snap peas (I had snap peas on hand, so that’s what I used).
  • Cut the squeezed tofu into cubes and place in a large bowl.
  • In a small bowl, mix 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, 2 Tablespoons water, 1 teaspoon dried garlic, and 1 teaspoon soy sauce until well blended.
  • Pour cornstarch mixture over tofu cubes and toss to coat. Set aside.
  • Start cooking your preferred rice according to package directions. I used 1 1/4 cups dry brown rice to 2 1/2 cups water and it was the perfect amount for the amount of stir fry.
  • Heat 3-4 Tablespoons olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Pour in cubed tofu and stir, cooking until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes.
  • Remove tofu and keep warm.
  • Heat another 1 Tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium heat.
  • Add chopped onion and cook a few minutes.
  • Add 3 cloves minced garlic and cook another minute.
  • Add broccoli, carrots, and snow peas or snap peas.
  • Add 1/2 cup water and cover, letting veggies steam about 4 minutes.
  • While veggies are steaming, mix together the following in a medium bowl: 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup water, 2 Tablespoons brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger.
  • Once veggies have steamed and water has evaporated, pour soy sauce mixture over veggies, and cook 2 minutes until bubbly.
  • Add the tofu and heat through.
  • Serve over hot rice.
  • Sprinkle with crushed red pepper, if desired.

Tofu Stir Fry

B had seconds, E picked out extra tofu for seconds, and Hubby immediately claimed all the leftovers for his lunch the next day. It was that good. And good enough for the girls to tell me I was the best cook ever. That is music to my ears. Especially when they’re scarfing down broccoli, onions, carrots, snap peas, and tofu with brown rice while saying it! 😉

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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