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: Quickie Meal – One Pot Quinoa with Chicken, Vegetables, and Peanut Sauce

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Do you know what I want more than anything in the world?

I want there to be some kind of robot that will just follow me and my two girls around and continuously clean up after us. It seems that my entire day is spent cooking, feeding, and cleaning. And at the end of the night, when all I want to do is put on netflix and binge watch my latest show (any new ones??), I have a high chair covered with the remains of dinner, a kitchen counter covered with whatever snack my 3 year old has chosen before bed, and a kitchen sink filled with dishes.

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So my latest weapon against all this kitchen destruction is the one pot meal. The less pots, the less mess, the more time for netflix.

Enter this one pot quinoa. You have your protein, veg, and grain, all cooked together in one large pot and tossed with a creamy peanut sauce. Okay so you do need a small bowl to mix that sauce up, so we can call it a 1.25 pot meal if you want to get picky.

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This meal is easily customizable for the  whole family – I separated out the edamame and chicken for my daughter who wants everything divided on her plate (typical threenager) and gave her some extra peanut sauce on the side for dipping. As a side note, I find she will generally eat anything if she has a dip – that’s your free tip for the day. My husband and I enjoyed it all mixed together with a squirt of sriracha for some extra heat.

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Until my kitchen and dining room can magically clean themselves, get ready for many more one pot recipes!

Dara

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One Pot Quinoa with Chicken, Vegetables, and Peanut Sauce

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite sized pieces)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 red pepper (chopped)
  • 1 broccoli (chopped)
  • 1 bag of coleslaw
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2 Tsp ginger
  • 2 Cups frozen shelled edamame (thawed)
  • 1/3 cup cilantro (chopped)

Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tsp sesame oil

Note

If you wanted to make this a vegetarian dish you could substitute tofu for chicken and cook it the same way, or simply double up on the edamame. Other vegetables, like mushrooms, cauliflower, or zucchini, could be used in place of the red pepper and broccoli. If you like things spicy, top with a squire of sriracha.

Directions

1. Place chicken pieces in a large ziplock bag and add the 2 tbsp of soy sauce and cornstarch. Shake so all the chicken is evenly coated and place in the fridge to marinade for at least 30 minutes.
2. Heat a large wok or skillet over medium high heat and add canola oil. Stir fry chicken until browned and cooked through. Remove and set aside.
3. Add red pepper and broccoli and stir fry for about 5 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften. Add coleslaw mixture and continue to cook for another couple minutes. Add ginger, quinoa, and 1 1/2 cups of water and mix to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is fully cooked.
4. Fluff with a fork and add edamame and chicken and mix to heat through. Add peanut sauce and cilantro and mix to evenly distribute sauce.

 

 

How To: Quickie Meal – Chicken Meatball Banh Mi Bowls

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We already have a delicious banh mi recipe on the blog.

It’s of the more traditional sandwich variety, but untraditional in that it features tofu instead of meat. If you haven’t made it, you should. This version sticks to the meat, but instead requires a fork for eating rather than your hands. You all know I have a thing for food in bowls.

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img_0943You may look at the recipe and think it has quite a few components – meatballs, quinoa, pickled veg, and a sauce that has me licking my lips just thinking about it. But the reason this meal can still be a weeknight dinner saviour is that many, if not all the components can be made a day or two ahead of time. And even if you have a spur of the moment banh mi craving, it still comes together lickity split – a 35 minute meal for sure.

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One of the best parts about these bowls is if you have some toddlers or babies in your household with discerning palates, they can be deconstructed to fit everyones needs. My husband and I ate them as is, my 3 year old had the meatballs pre-saucing, quinoa, and only the pickled carrots, and my 7 month old ditched the fork and used her hands to shovel some smashed meatball pieces into her mouth.

Winner winner chicken dinner!

Dara

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Chicken Meatball Banh Mi Bowls

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish
From magazine Adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 Pound dark meat ground chicken
  • 1/2 Tbsp chicken broth powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp ginger (minced)
  • 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 lime (juiced)

Bowls

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup carrots (shaved into ribbons (use a vegetable peeler))
  • 1 cup radishes (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
  • 3/4 cups beef stock
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chile paste
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds (toasted)
  • 1 cup quinoa

Note

The meatballs, quinoa, and pickled vegetable mixture can all be made a day ahead of time. You can use turkey or beef in place of the chicken in the meatballs. Brown rice or barley would make a good substitution for the quinoa.

Directions

Meatballs
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Mix all ingredients together and form into small balls. Place on baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, until cooked through.
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3. Place quinoa and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to low. Simmer for about 12 minutes, until all the water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked. Set aside.
4. In another saucepan, bring vinegar, water, and sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and add carrots and radishes and stir to coat. Let the vegetables sit in the liquid for 20 minutes. Drain and add cilantro and mix to combine. Set aside.
5. In a large skillet over medium heat combine stock, soy sauce, chile paste, and peanut butter. Add meatballs and toss to coat. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes until heated through. Remove meatballs and continue to cook sauce uncovered for another 2-3 minutes, until thickened.
6. Divide quinoa evenly among four bowls. Top each bowl with 3-4 meatballs, the pickled vegetable mixture, and additional sauce. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and dig in!

How To: Healthy Side – Spicy Coconut Curry Noodles

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I had a lot of trouble writing this post. Why?

Because really all I want to say is, GO MAKE THESE NOODLES NOW!

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Sure, I could write about how they are creamy, spicy, and sweet all at the same time, they make the perfect side for just about any protein, and they come together in literally 10 minutes and in one pot.

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But really, all you need to know is they are delicious and are just as good hot as they are eaten cold standing over the stove, not that I would know anything about that.

Make them!

Dara

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Spicy Coconut Curry Noodles

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish, Side Dish
Website Adapted from Shutterbean

Ingredients

  • 8oz rice noodles
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp red curry paste
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro (chopped)
  • 10 basil leaves (chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut (toasted)

Note

These noodles are great on their own or as a side for grilled chicken or tofu. If you like things extra spicy, top with an additional squirt of sriracha.

Directions

1. Cook rice noodles according to package directions and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan whisk together coconut milk, tomato paste, fish sauce, sriracha, red curry paste, and salt.
3. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add rice noodles to pot and stir to coat in the sauce. Add cilantro, basil leaves, and toasted coconut and mix to combine. Top with additional coconut and cilantro, if desired.

How To: Quickie Meal – Asian Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing

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The classic Chinese chicken salad.

The one featured on every chain restaurant menu. It always sounds so good with the supposed crispy noodles and tangy dressing, but then you take a bite and you either have a way too sweet dressing, overcooked bland chicken, or a salt explosion in your mouth.

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This Asian chicken salad has none of the above. Instead you have delicious and flavourful tender chicken pieces, crunchy cashews, loads of fresh and sautéed veggies, and a perfectly balanced, delectable peanut dressing. And just in time for this incredible spring weather we’ve been having. FINALLY! You know I actually got burnt on a walk last Friday?

Not only is this salad about a million times healthier and tastier than the usual restaurant variety, it also comes together in no time at all. Quick enough for a mid week dinner and refined enough for a Saturday night meal.

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I’m normally drawn to that crispy rice noodle and canned mandarin orange salad too – but after one bite of this salad I’ll take my homemade version over the mundane chain variety any day!

Dara

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Asian Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing

Serves 4
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Salad
Website Salad adapted from How Sweet Eats and dressing adapted from Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas (chopped)
  • 2 red peppers (chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut in pieces)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 large or 2 small romaine hearts (chopped)
  • 1 mango (peeled and chopped)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup frozen edamame beans (defrosted)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup grated carrots

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 Tsp sesame oil
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 1/2-1 Tsp sriracha
  • 3 Tbsp hot water

Note

This salad is extremely customizable - add as much or as little of all the ingredients as you would like. I like a salad with lots of stuff in it so I load it up. You will have extra dressing so save it in the fridge for future salads or use as a dipping sauce for veggies.

Directions

1. Pre-heat a large non stick skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil. Add peppers, snap peas, and garlic an mix to coat. Add cashews and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until they start to blacken and soften. Remove and set aside.
2. Spray the same skillet with cooking spray and add chicken. Season with salt and pepper and cook until just cooked through. Add soy sauce and mix to coat. Remove and set aside.
3. In a large bowl add romaine, carrots, edamame, and mango. Add pepper mixture and chicken and toss. Pour dressing evenly over salad and toss again to coat evenly with dressing.
Dressing
4. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine. If you like things a little spicier add some extra sriracha.