How to: Make your Own – General Tso’s Tofu

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Yo. Meat lovers.

If ever there were ever a reason to start eating tofu, here it is.

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A perfect storm of intense flavour, perfect texture and…damn it, it’s just glorious. Trust me.

The inspiration behind this one is Dana over at The Minimalist Baker. Both Dara and I have been infatuated with this recipe since discovering it.  We’ve even inspired a few friends to try it, with resounding success!

My version is super close to the original, with a few less steps. Delicious: simplified *fist bump*

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When using extra firm tofu, to get the ‘meatiest’ texture possible, you want to remove as much moisture as possible. This is what wrapping in towels and weighting it will do.  However, if you need dinner on the table 10 minutes sooner, you can skip this step. Just pat the tofu dry before marinating.

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Ginger is one of my fave flaves. I’ve probably mentioned this a zillion times, but it’s totally worth mentioning again.  Freeze your ginger and grate it with a microplane. I don’t even peel it (👈🏻badass).  It’s such a quick and efficient way to use fresh ginger and there’s no waste, because you can just baggie-it and pop it back in the freezer for next time.

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I quickly realized this recipe requires a double batch at our house (pictured above). I’m guessing you’re gonna want to go that route once you try it, too. Maybe even triple-sies.

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Let’s talk about the cornstarch step.  I’ve tried the recipe with and without this.  Again, not totally necessary from a flavour perspective, but you’ll get some some nice crispy bits if you follow this step.

I found using a non-stick frying pan or a wok worked best to stir-fry the tofu.  When I tried using a non-non-stick (does that make sense?), it was kind of a sticky burny mess, even with lots of oil.

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I’ve left stir-frying the garlic and ginger right until the end.  When cooking at a high heat, these delicate flavours will burn quick and taste like hell when they do.  So no burning stuff, k?

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Once you add the marinade, it will begin to get thick and a little sticky and it will smell completely irresistible. Add the tofu, sprinkle on some seeds and eat the heck out of it. FAST. Before anyone else can.

Erin

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General Tso Tofu

Serves 3-4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Website Adapated from The Minimalist Baker's General Tso's Tofu

Ingredients

  • 1 package extra firm tofu
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch (divided)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (divided)
  • 1 bunch green onions (roughly chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Marinade & Sauce

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup liquid honey
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1.5 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic chili sauce (or more to taste)

Directions

1. Wrap tofu in a few layers of paper towel or a clean, dry dishcloth. Place wrapped tofu under a heavy pot or under a plate weighted with some canned goods. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Cut tofu into approximately 1" cubes.
2. To a large shallow dish, add ingredients for marinade and whisk to combine. Add cubed tofu and toss until all sides are coated. Marinate for at least 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. Transfer tofu, piece by piece to a large freezer bag. Reserve marinade and whisk in 1 Tbsp corn starch.
3. Add remaining 2 Tbsp of cornstarch to freezer bag, seal bag and toss to combine. Tofu should have a gummy coating.
4. In a large non-stick sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat, heat 2 Tbsp of the canola oil. Carefully add tofu and stir-fry for about 4 minutes, stirring and flipping tofu pieces to evenly brown on all sides. Remove tofu and set aside.
5. Add remaining canola oil and heat over medium-high. Add green onions, stir-fry for one minute. Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry for another 30 seconds.
6. Add reserved marinade, reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add tofu pieces and stir to combine and evenly coat tofu. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Serve immediately to enjoy the crispy tofu bits.

How To: Big Batch – Thai Carrot & Sweet Potato Soup

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Have I told you how I won the cookbook lottery jackpot?

Just before we rang in 2017, I found out I won not one, not two, but TWELVE cookbooks! Do you know how many cookbooks twelve is? A LOT! So much that they are all still sitting in a pile on my bedroom floor as we have absolutely no room to put them anywhere else. I think an Ikea run may be in order soon.

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So, I have started to try to always go to one of these new cookbooks when I need some dinner inspiration, instead of relying on the easy Mr. google. One of the cookbooks I have been loving lately is the new Oh She Glows Everyday. Every recipe I’ve made so far has been spot on, and this soup is no exception. And no, this is not a sponsored post. I seriously am just crushing hard on this cookbook.

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We already have a very delicious and creamy Thai sweet potato soup that uses coconut milk to add that richness. This version has a different approach – almond butter. The almond butter gives this soup a deep flavour and velvety texture without the use of any cream or dairy. Kind of like the peanut butter in our sweet potato, white bean, peanut butter stew. I would imagine peanut butter would also make a great substitute for the almond butter if that’s what you have on hand. Or if you need it nut free, try sunflower butter – but I would try to find the all natural unsweetened variety.

The almond butter also adds a boost of extra protein and fat to this soup, making it more filling than the average bowl. I also loved the crunchy almond topping – but you could also leave it off and go with a super smooth bowl of soup if that’s more your thing. Me, I’m all about the textures!

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My new favourite thing when my girls are napping is to curl up with a cup of coffee, a snack, and a cookbook, or two, or three…

Dara

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Thai Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 4-6
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Soup
From book Adapted From Oh She Glows Everyday

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 Tbsp ginger (minced)
  • 1/2 Tbsp red curry paste
  • 2 Cups vegetable broth
  • 2 Cups water
  • 3 Cups carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 3 Cups sweet potatoes (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • cilantro (chopped)

Almonds

  • 1/2 cup almonds (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce

Note

The toasted almonds are also delicious tossed into a salad for some crunch. The soup freezes well - just portion in individual containers for a grab-and-go lunch or dinner.

Directions

1. Heat oil over medium high heat in a large pot.
2. Add onion and sauté for a couple minutes. Add garlic and ginger and continue to cook until onion is soft and translucent. Stir in the curry paste and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
3. Place almond butter in a small bowl with about 1/2 cup of broth and whisk to combine. Add the almond butter mixture, carrots, sweet potato, remaining broth, and water to the pot and bring to a boil.
4. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until sweet potatoes and carrots are very tender.
5. Using an immersion blender, puree soup in the pot until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with chopped cilantro and almonds.
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6. Preheat oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss almonds with soy sauce and spread out evenly on baking sheet.
7. Bake for about 10 minutes, until brown and toasted. The soy sauce will have dried up and the almonds will firm up as they cool.
8. The almonds will keep in a container on the counter for a couple weeks.

How to: Recipe Makeover – Mushroom Stroganoff

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I have been dying to share this recipe. I would be shouting ‘MUSHROOM STROGANOFF!’ from the rooftops if it was at all socially acceptable.

Short ingredient list. Cooks in under thirty. A monkey could make it.

That’s a classic triple threat, right there.

Wait. It’s also just-try-holding-me-back-from-eating-the-whole-pot delicious.

Quad threat.

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I’ve been holding this little recipe card in my pocket for a few weeks, since I tested it out in the same week I shared our recipe for Mushroom Bourguignon.

I figured, no one wants to be over mushroomed, Erin. Hold your horses. So I held on. And that was tough, because I think you need this in your life.

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Rich, creamy and savoury just like the classic beef version but with meaty cremini mushrooms instead. This would delight any vegetarian, I guarantee it.

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The combo of goat cheese and greek yogurt give it that signature stroganoff tanginess while doing double duty as a good source of protein.

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And the egg noodles?

Egg noodles for President.

That’s all I have to say about that.

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Just looking at this photo makes my salivary glands go bananas.

Guys, you’ve gotta make this one STAT.

Erin

Mushroom Stroganoff

Serves 4-6
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1.5lb mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1 package wide egg noodles
  • 1 Small package goat cheese
  • 1 cup 2% greek yogurt
  • 1 bunch green onions (sliced, white and green part separated)
  • 2 tablespoons parsley (chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Directions

1. In a large sauté pan over medium heat melt butter and add mushrooms, sautéing until cooked through and most of the liquid is evaporated. Add white parts of onion and cook for another minute until all liquid is evaporated.
2. Sprinkle flour over mushrooms and stir for 30 seconds until dissolved. Add beef broth, lower heat to medium-low and simmer for about 8 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook egg noodles per package directions in salted water. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking liquid when done.
4. Add goat cheese to mushrooms and stir until melted and evenly dispersed. Remove from heat, stir in yogurt, green onions, salt, pepper and parsley.
5. Add cooked noodles and toss with mushroom sauce, adding reserved pasta water slowly until desired sauce consistency is met. Serve immediately.

How To: Stock Your Pantry with Walmart.ca Grocery Pick Up & Make Quinoa and Chickpea Bowls

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I pride myself in my meal planning abilities.

Not to toot my own horn, but I think preparing food for the upcoming week and planning each night’s dinner is one of my best skills; that, and juggling.

But raise your hand if you feel life has just become busy with a capital ‘B’? I can imagine seeing a lot of raised hands. So there are definitely weeks where the weekend meal planning session falls to the wayside. How then, are you expected to get a healthy and Instagram-worthy meal on the table? Enter, “your pantry.”

Having a well-stocked pantry is key for creating easy and healthy everyday meals. Getting dinner on the table is way less daunting when you know you already have over half of the ingredients on hand. So, when we had the opportunity to partner with Walmart Canada on a new program that would give all our How To Eat friends a little help in this department, we jumped right in.

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Go to Walmart.ca using your computer or the Walmart Canada app, add your selections to the cart, click on your pick up zone and boom – your order is ready faster than ordering takeout. The minimum purchase is just $50. The four downtown Toronto pick-up locations are conveniently located at Yonge & Davisville, Yorkville, Leslieville, and Harbourfront. Simply choose your preferred location and pick-up time, with as little as one day’s notice or same day if ordered before 11 a.m., add in a $3 service fee and you are done.

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Way back when we were blogger newbies we shared our top 15 pantry items. We are now four years older and wiser and have created an updated list of our top 10 pantry must-haves. When I used the Walmart app to order my pantry essentials, I found the system not only easy to use, but extremely affordable. My pantry items accounted for just $34.90 of my total order. And don’t forget, price matching!

You can also save your pantry ‘favourites,’ so when you run low and need to restock, the items are easy to access and add to your cart. Also, when preparing your oder, everything in your cart will remain there, even as you log in and out throughout the week. It’s a living shopping list you can build on!

Top 10 Pantry Essentials

  1. Canola oil – I love the versatility of canola oil. It’s perfect for high heat cooking and is also a neutral flavour in salad dressings and baked goods.
  2. Apple cider vinegar – There are a lot of great vinegars out there, but this is my go-to. I love the subtle sweetness it adds to dressings and sauces.
  3. Chickpeas – These are a great way to bump up the protein in any salad or stir fry. They are also delicious as roasted for a snack or mashed into a sandwich filling.
  4. Quinoa – It cooks in 15 minutes, has more protein than any grain, and is just as delicious for breakfast as it is for dinner.
  5. Peanut butter – Go for the all natural kind that actually tastes like peanuts. Loaded with good-for-you fat, it’s the perfect snack or breakfast and when added with some soy sauce, makes for a delicious sauce.
  6. Maple syrup – Buy the REAL deal here. Perfect on pancakes and in salad dressings and can be used interchangeably with any other liquid sweetener.
  7. Whole wheat pasta – You get the added bonus of extra fibre and having a box in your pantry means you are always 10 minutes away from dinner on the table.
  8. Dried fruit, nuts, and seeds – Raisins, apricots, dried cranberries, or any dried fruit for that matter can jazz up a salad or an ordinary bowl of oatmeal. Toss some nuts into a salad in place of croutons for some crunch or just toss ’em in your mouth for a snack.
  9. Canned tuna – Choose light tuna for lower mercury levels.
  10. Spices and herbs – salt & pepper are a must, but having some other key spices can take an ordinary dinner to a new level. Essentials for me are cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, curry powder, oregano, cinnamon, and thyme.

While this isn’t a comprehensive list, you can easily add some fresh ingredients to these staples and create delicious and healthy meals. All of these products are available online at Walmart.ca and at such an affordable cost. Note, if for some reason they are out of one of your essentials, they will gladly choose an appropriate substitution for you.

I decided to take my now perfectly stocked pantry for a whirl with this delicious quinoa and chickpea bowl.

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This recipe comes together in no time at all using mostly pantry ingredients you already have on hand. Because you already have gone online and stocked your kitchen with this list, right!? Good.

Chickpeas, quinoa, and peanut butter – three of my kitchen pantry must-haves – form the base of this vegetarian bowl. Apple cider vinegar and maple syrup help form the sweet and creamy peanut dressing.

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All I’ve added is some fresh baby spinach and roasted sweet potatoes. While this bowl is a complete meal on its own, you could also throw in some canned tuna, any leftover grilled meat or fish, or some roasted tofu to up the protein. Any leftover veggies you want to use up in your fridge could be tossed in as well. Make a large batch on the weekend, and you have lunch or dinner set for the week ahead.

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Whatever you do don’t forget the sauce – it just turns this bowl of grains, beans, and veg into one of those oh so trendy Buddha bowls found at every vegetarian restaurant these days. Except way more affordable, healthful, and delicious.

You are only one click away from having this meal on your table. So what are you waiting for?!

Dara

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Quinoa Bowl with Chickpeas, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Spinach and Peanut Sauce

Serves 4
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 Cups water
  • 2 sweet potatoes (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 5oz baby spinach
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 cup all natural peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup

Note

While I've assembled these bowls individually, you could also toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl and store in the fridge until you are ready to eat. It will keep in the fridge up to 5 days. The quinoa, sweet potatoes, and peanut sauce can all be made a day or two ahead of time.

Directions

1. Place quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until all the water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked, about 12-15 minutes. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rub sweet potato with canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.
3. Divide quinoa among four bowls. Top with spinach, roasted sweet potatoes, and chickpeas. Drizzle peanut sauce over top and dig in!

This post is sponsored by Walmart Canada as part of the Walmart.ca Grocery Pick-Up program. In exchange for this post, I have received perks in the form of products and/or compensation. All opinions on this blog are my own.

 

How to: Make a Chicken Soup for Cold Season

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Anyone else feeling like this cold and flu season has been particularly brutal?

Granted, my daughter is spending her first year daycare, too. Also known as the world’s biggest germ factory.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised it’s been cold central around here.

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When my nose is raw and my throat lumpy, all I want is a magical cure for my dulled taste buds.

This soup is some seriously heartwarming shit.

Like it will satisfy your soul, people.

Ginger and lemon give it a bright, zingy flavour and turmeric, a spice that can be found on many a 2017 food trends lists, is your anti-inflammatory and antioxidant friend.  It also gives it a pretty colour.

Of note, I tried to find credible, scientific evidence supporting turmeric’s ‘super food’ status with little success. There are only a small number of human studies that exist, with an even smaller number of double-blind placebo controlled studies (the gold standard in scientific research) to support the many many MANY claims being made about its power to cure everything from acne to cancer to Alzheimer’s.

Big picture, guys: Eat a variety of whole, unprocessed foods & focus on vibrant colours (ahem…turmeric) and you’ll get plenty of anti-imflammatory goodness.  Dieititian hand to heart.

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Now, back to this fan-bloody-tastic soup that takes 30 minutes start to finish.

30 minutes for soul satisfaction? Pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

And it might even cure your cold.

Erin

Chicken Soup for Cold Season

Serves 4-6
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 35 minutes
Website Adapted from Soup Addict

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 Small onion (diced)
  • 2 celery stalks (sliced)
  • 2 Medium carrots (sliced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked cubed or shredded chicken (rotisserie chicken is an easy option)
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Note

I found Israeli couscous at my local bulk store, but feel free to use your favourite pasta shape in this soup.

Directions

1. In a large pot, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes until softened.
2. Add garlic, ginger and turmeric and cook, stirring for another minute.
3. Add broth, chicken and couscous and simmer for 10-12 minutes until couscous is cooked through. Add lemon juice along with salt and pepper to taste. Serve!