Kung Pao Tofu

Kung Pao Tofu

I’m not the hugest fan of chinese food because I don’t like the thick sauces but my husband loves the Kung Pao at our local Chinese spot (we always sub the chicken out for tofu). It is actually quite good because it has a lighter sauce. So I searched far and wide to find a recipe that would give a lighter sauce – FYI, you’d be amazed how hard it is to find a Kung Pao dish without a few table spoons of sugar in the sauce!!! I ended up finding a great recipe at Eating Well but subbed in my own veggies that I thought would be a better combo and made some modifications to the sauce, to give it that extra little kick.

Kung Pao Tofu
 
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Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 1 (14 oz) package extra-firm water-packed tofu, rinsed
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder, divided (can be found in the spice section of most grocery stores)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons oyster-flavored sauce, (0yster sauce works if you are not worried about a vegetarian meal)
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 2 cups broccoli crowns, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 2-inch strips
  • 2 cups sugar snap peas
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted roasted peanuts, plus more for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce, (omit or find gluten free soy sauce for gluten free recipe)
  • 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
Instructions
  1. Pat tofu dry and cut into ½-inch cubes. Combine with ½ teaspoon five-spice powder in a medium bowl.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook, stirring every 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk water, oyster sauce, cornstarch, chili garlic sauce and the remaining ½ teaspoon five-spice powder in a small bowl.
  4. Add broccoli, red bell pepper and snap peas to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Reduce heat to low, add the oyster sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 30 seconds.
  5. Return the tofu to the pan along with peanuts and stir to coat with sauce; stir in scallions and soy sauce (if using).

Serving Suggestion: Serve over brown rice or grain of choice.

Easy Weeknight Paella

Paella

Both my husband and I have spent quite a bit of time in Spain. And there isn’t anything that brings you back there quite like a good paella. Everyone knows we love Spanish food, so for our wedding we received everything from paella pans to bags of traditional spanish rice to saffron. I figured it was about time to give a homemade paella a try, so we turned on some Spanish guitar music and enjoyed this delicious meal. This is an incredibly easy dish, that is not too hands on so its the perfect crowd pleaser that allows you to chat with your guests while making the dish. Buen provecho!

Easy Weeknight Paella
 
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Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups (32 oz) vegetable broth
  • 2 cups valencia/paella rice (if you cannot find, you can use arborio)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 cans (15oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp spicy paprika
  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • 2 cups artichoke hearts, quartered
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon sliced
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a paella pan and saute the onion and garlic until the onion is tender and translucent. At the same time, heat the broth in a separate saucepan until simmering.
  2. Pour the rice into the paella pan and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the bell peppers, tomatoes and paprika and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the simmering vegetable broth and cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until almost tender and almost all the liquid has been absorbed.
  3. Stir in the peas and artichoke hearts. Salt and pepper to taste and continue cooking until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
  4. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

 

Zucchini Pasta

Zucchini Pasta

I was a little skeptical of this dish. I saw a picture of it and it looked amazing but as I started making it, I wasn’t quite sure 1. how it would taste and 2. if it would actually fill me up… I do not like being hungry :). Let’s just say, I was incredibly surprised how simple, delicious and filling this dish was.

Zucchini Pasta
 
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Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 packages of cherry tomatoes (16 oz total) – set aside a few raw for garnish
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 zucchini (or any summer squash), thinly sliced lengthwise (I use my vegetable peeler) and cut into ¼ in strips
  • ⅓ cup torn fresh basil, plus leaves for garnish
  • Chili flakes (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, basil, oil and salt and pepper. In a pan, sautee until tomatoes cook down and garlic is fragrant – 10 or so minutes.
  2. Toss with raw zucchini and garnish with basil, chili flakes and left over cherry tomatoes.

Tip: If sauce is not thickening, you can always add a little tomato paste – or just give it more time 🙂

Vegetarian Spring Rolls

So, next to bruschetta, spring rolls are one of my favorite things. I absolutely love the texture and the freshness. This was my first go at making them and I must say, I was so excited when I enjoyed these beautiful fresh spring rolls that I had made myself.

I did learn some lessons along the way. Rice paper isn’t THAT easy to find. You may be able to get it at Whole Foods or other specialty stores but you can also get it online. I ended up getting Three Ladies Brand. Play around with the sauce to your desire. I tried 2 different ones and didn’t love either so I kinda combined two different ideas to make it my own.

Average Time: 30 minutes

Yields: 8 spring rolls

Ingredients

Peanut Sauce

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

2 Tbsp brown rice vinegar

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/3 cup – 1/2 cup hot water

Spring rolls

8 sheets of rice paper

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 package (14 oz) organic extra firm tofu, drained

2 Tbsp tamari

1 small head of red cabbage, shredded

2 carrots, shredded

1 bunch of basil leaves, stems removed

1 bunch of mint leaves, stems removed

Directions

1. Combine peanut butter, vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and 1/4 tsp salt in a medium bowl. Thin with hot water (varies depending on the consistency you want your sauce).

2. Slice tofu into strips (approximately three inches long and 1/2 in by 1/2 inch). Preheat a saute pan with olive oil. Saute the tofu flipping occasionally until cooked to your desire. Add the tamari once the tofu is partially cooked. I prefer my tofu slightly toasted so I cook on a higher heat for a longer time each side.

3. Prepare a bowl filled with hot water. Dip rice paper in hot water until it starts to lose its stiffness and feel rubbery. Place rice paper on work surface and let sit 30 seconds. Layer ingredients on the third of the paper closest to you. Fold bottom of paper over ingredients. Fold sides, roll up (like you would a burrito) and place seam side down on plate.

4. Slice in half and serve with a side of peanut sauce.

Crock Pot Jambalaya

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This is one of my favorite crock pot dishes. Very little prep time and you come home to an absolutely delicious meal!

For updated recipes and photos check out The Simple Kitchen!

Average Time: 10 minutes prep, 4-8 hours cook time

Serves: 6

Ingredients

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 red bell peppers, chopped

1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted with green chilies)

1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, drained

1 cup long grain brown rice

1 Tbsp hot sauce

2 tbsp fresh thyme, minced (or 2 tsp dried)

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 Tbsp spicy paprika

2 C water

3 tbsp fresh parsley, minced

Directions

1. Place onion, garlic, celery, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, rice, and beans in the crockpot in that order.

2. Add hot sauce, thyme, salt, pepper, paprika and water.

3. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours or on high for 4-6 hours.

4. Once it’s finished cooking, toss in parsley and stir until well combined.

Serving suggestion: Serve with brussel sprouts or vegetable of choice. To make a non veggie version of this, add in sausage during step one and/or throw in shrimp and hour before it is done cooking.

Photo Credit: Aine Carlin

Sesame Crusted Tofu Stir-Fry

I cook with tofu a lot so I am always looking for ways to make it a little more fun! I’ve baked, breaded, marinated but this was my first time crusting with sesame seeds and I was very pleasantly surprised. I modified based on the veggies I had in the house, but the idea for the recipe goes to Eating Well.

Average Time: 50-60 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

Tofu and Marinade

1 package (14 oz) extra firm tofu, drained

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated or minced

1 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce

1 tsp mirin

1tsp chile-garlic sauce

1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil (regular sesame oil or just olive oil will work as well)

Sauce

1/2 cup water or vegetable broth

3 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp mirin or sherry

2 tsp chile-garlic sauce

2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp toasted sesame oil (regular sesame oil or just olive oil will work as well)

Stir-Fry

2 Tbsp sesame seeds

1 Tbsp olive oil, divided into 1 tsp and 2 tsp

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

1 1/2 lbs bok choy, trimmed and very coarsely chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

1 bunch broccolini, sliced

1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

Directions

1. Combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce, mirin, chile-garlic sauce and oil in a bowl. Cut the drained tofu into 1-inch cubes. Add to the marinade and toss to coat. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

2. To prepare sauce: Whisk water (or broth), soy sauce, mirin, chile-garlic sauce, cornstarch and oil in a small bowl. Set aside.

3. To stir-fry tofu & vegetables: Toss the tofu with sesame seeds in a large bowl. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook, turning often, until golden and crusty, 8 to 10 minutes. Cover and keep warm.

4. Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add vegetables; cook, stirring, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

5. Make a well in the vegetables; whisk the reserved sauce and add to the center of the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring, until slightly thickened. Toss the vegetables with the sauce. Transfer to a large shallow serving bowl and top with the tofu.

Serving Suggestion: Serve over top of quinoa, brown rice or grain of choice.

Vegetable and White Bean Stew

Vegetable and White Bean Stew

I will always give credit where credit it due. I work until 8 on Mondays, so that is my husband’s night to cook. He whipped this one up and it was awesome. However, the real credit goes to Jules of Stone Soup. Thanks Jules!

Average Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

2 cans (14oz) white kidney beans

2 cans diced tomatoes

4 medium zucchini, sliced

2 Tbsp smoked paprika

1 bag washed baby spinach

Directions

1. Place beans and their canning liquid, tomatoes and their juices, zucchini and paprika in a large saucepan.

2. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes or until the zucchini is soft.

3. Add spinach and continue to cook, stirring until the spinach is just wilted. About 1 minute.

4. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

5. Sever drizzled with peppery olive oil.

Serving Suggestion: Serve over quinoa, rice, cous cous or with your favorite bread or pita.

Butternut Squash, White Bean and Spinach with Pesto

Who doesn’t love a good pesto? And why not load it up with some great veggies instead of pasta all the time? I invented this one myself and it turned out quite yummy!

Average Time: 20 minutes – 1 hour depending on prep work

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients

2 lbs of butternut squash, cut into cubes

1 can (15 oz) of white kidney beans, drained

1 bag of baby spinach

2 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved

3/4 cups of homemade pesto, or premade pesto. Homemade pesto can be done ahead of time.

1/2 cup of quinoa, made according to package directions

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast squash for approximately 40 minutes or until a fork can easily poke through. This can be done ahead of time.

2. Coat a pan with olive oil spray. Saute beans until warm, about 5 minutes.

3. Transfer the squash to a pan sprayed or coated with olive oil. Sautee for approximately 3 minutes and then add spinach. You may want to cover with a lid so that the spinach has a chance to wilt. Sautee until spinach is slightly wilted.

4. Add the tomatoes and pesto. Stir until well combined, approximately 5 minutes.

5. Dish quinoa in a bowl and transfer vegetable mixture to serve over pesto.

Serving suggestion: Can also be served over pasta or any grain of choice.

Warm Garbanzo and Quinoa Salad

This is great for a side or can even be a dish all on its own. Between the spinach, quinoa, and garbanzos this is a powerhouse of fiber and nutrients. Easy enough to make of course. This recipe and image are courtesy of Women’s Health.

Average time: 25 minutes

Serves: 4 as a side, 2-3 as a main course

Ingredients

1 cup of quinoa (can use whole-wheat couscous as well)

2 cups of vegetable broth (optional)

1 1/2tsp chopped garlic

2-3 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced

2 carrots, grated

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 (140z) canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 bunch scallions, chopped

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 Tbsp white-wine vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

6 c fresh spinach leaves, cleaned and dried

3 0z feta crumbled feta (optional)

Directions

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Suggest using vegetable broth but may use water as well.

2. In a food processor, purée scallions, gradually adding oil, vinegar, salt, and black pepper to taste. Process to a thick consistency.

3.  Coat a sauté pan with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Add garlic, zucchini, carrots, and pepper. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add beans and sauté until heated through.

4. Add scallion mixture and quinoa to sauté pan; heat through. Let cool slightly.

5. Mix spinach, garbanzo bean mixture and feta (if using) in a bowl using tongs or salad spoons to toss.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

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This one is a little more time consuming but well worth it! I got this recipe from EatingWell.com

Ingredients

3 large dried pasilla, ancho or new mexico chilis

1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, preferably fire roasted

2 Tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil

1 white onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and diced

4 cups vegetable broth

2 cups water

1 package (14 oz) extra firm tofu

4 cups chopped chard, spinach or kale

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 ripe avocado, cubed

2 cups homemade tortilla chips

Directions

1. Holding the chiles one at a time with metal tongs, quickly toast them by turning them an inch or two above an open flame for a few seconds until the aroma fills the kitchen. (Alternatively, toast chiles in a dry pan over medium heat, pressing them flat for a few seconds then flipping them over and pressing again.)

2. When cool enough to handle, stem and seed the chiles, break them into pieces and put them in a blender along with tomatoes and their juice. (A food processor will work, though it won’t completely puree the chiles.)

3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 6 to 9 minutes. Scoop up the onion and garlic with a slotted spoon and transfer to the blender with the tomato mixture. Process until smooth.

4. Return the pot to medium heat. When quite hot, add the puree and stir nearly constantly until thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 6 minutes. Add broth and water. Bring to a boil, then adjust heat to maintain a simmer.

5. Drain tofu, rinse and pat dry and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook in a single layer, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes total. Add the tofu to the soup and simmer for 30 minutes.

6. Add chard (or spinach or kale) to the soup and season with salt to taste, depending on the saltiness of the broth. Cook, stirring, until the greens are wilted, about 2 minutes, depending on the type of greens.

7. Ladle the soup into 8 soup bowls. Divide avocado, tortilla chips and cheese (if using) among the bowls. Serve warm.