Archive for January, 2013
Tofu is tasteless. Really. That’s why I was a little nervous that my kids might not like it. So I came up with a bit of a strategy for introducing them to the mashed up soybeans. First, it had to be firm tofu cut into little squares. I was going to make the squares up myself but I was happy to find that firm tofu comes in pre-cut squares (and they were on sale this week). Second, I needed a sauce that would soak into the tofu and add a burst of flavor. Last, I wanted to put it in something that was already familiar. Tacos.
I ran across a recipe in a recent issue of Cuisine at home that seemed to fit all my criteria. I tweaked the recipe to pass along here. The recipe starts by having you make your own flour tortillas. I was all for DIY tortillas but let me tell you for the amount of work you put in, I’d suggest buying smaller flour tortillas instead and brushing them with sesame oil before toasting. Same flavor, a lot less mess (my youngest was covered in flour head to toe). I also added in fresh basil to give the filling a needed zing (Thai basil would have been even better, but you work with what you have, right?). It’s optional, but I recommend adding some fresh herbs into the mix–cilantro or even parsley would work here too.
Prep & cook time: 30 minutes or less (unless you make your own tortillas, in which case, it could be hours)
4 green onions cut into 1-inch pieces (I cut those in half too)
1/2 cup shredded carrots (had these out, totally forgot to use it)
1/2 red pepper cut into slivers
3 cups shredded Napa cabbage
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups firm tofu cut into squares
1/4 cup basil, cut into slivers (opt. but very, very good)
Small flour tortillas (often located in the refrigerator section at the grocers)
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
3 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. vinegar
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (opt.)
1/8 tsp. white pepper (opt.)
- Toast the flour tortillas in a medium-hot skillet, brushing them with sesame oil before adding them to the pan. Cook until warm and slightly crisped and place in a tortilla warmer or wrap in a clean kitchen towel until the filling is ready.
- Whisk together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
- In a non-stick cook pan or a wok (preferred) bring 1 teaspoon sesame oil to medium-high heat and add the eggs. Cook through and remove from pan. Slice into thin strips.
- Add another 1 teaspoon sesame oil to the wok and add the tofu. Cook until the squares start to crisp. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add 1/2 of the sauce. Cook just until the cubes are coated and remove from the wok.
- More sesame oil. Yup, add another teaspoon to a medium-high pan and then cook your veggies in this order: red peppers, carrots go first for about 2 minutes, then add the green onions. Wait a minute. Finally add in the cabbage, basil, eggs, and tofu.
- Now you have a choice: Do you kiddos like it saucy? If so, add the rest of the sauce, if not, serve it as a side. (I went less saucy myself.)
- Mix the vegetables together for about a minute and then use as a filling for the tacos.
- Serve the tacos alongside rice. (My kids liked adding the extra sauce to their rice.)
Kids’ reactions: Clean plates all around. None of my kids even noticed the tofu. My two youngest kids picked out each and every red pepper sliver, but not a piece of tofu remained. Even Mr. Squid was a fan. I even made tofu fried rice the next day.
“Mom, I can’t find the plates,” one of my kiddos asked the other day. “Have you tried opening the cabinet door?”
Yeah, you know you’ve been renovating the kitchen too long when your kids (well, me too) can’t find anything because there are actually cabinet doors–yes doors–to open and close.
My blogging time has been swallowed up lately with painting, but good news, I’m almost done! Here’s a few photos of my progress. Hey, if you hold your hand over the bottom part of the kitchen it looks done.
Look closely, here’s what’s changed so far:
- Countertops replaced
- Cabinets painted
- Hinges painted
- New handles for all of the cabinets
- Hood put in
- Hood vented to the outside of the house (my neighbors can thank me later)
- All new light fixtures
- New stove
- New fridge
- Trash compactor…gone
- Sink replaced (this one doesn’t leak)
- Floors refinished
Whew! More to come
Our scheduled has ramped up lately with basketball games, play practices (x2), homework projects–oh, and I’m squeezing in a little kitchen renovating. To fill in the gaps when it comes to snacks (uh, and sit-down meals) I’ve been making these smoothies for my kiddos. They’ve now dubbed them “monkey smoothies.”
The smoothies are packed with protein courtesy of the peanut butter and Greek yogurt. I’ve found that if my kids fill up on protein it gives them the energy they need to make it through our sometimes crazy schedule.
Prep time: I’ve got it down to 5 minutes
Servings: 2-3 depending on the size of your glasses
1 cup crushed ice
1/4 cup peanut butter (smooth, creamy, take your pick)
2 tablespoons Nutella or chocolate syrup
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/2-3/4 cup milk
- For the right consistency (another way of saying “so the peanut butter doesn’t get glued to the side of your blender), put the crushed ice, peanut butter, Nutella, and banana into your blender first. Pulse briefly.
- Add in the milk and pulse until smooth, then add in the Greek yogurt.
- Finishing touch–pour in the chocolate syrup or Nutella for a little sweetness. You can add more if you’ve got a child with a real sweet tooth, or skip it entirely.
- Serve in a glass with a lid on the way to volleyball/piano lessons/theatre class…
So 2012 was the year of bacon, cupcakes (or bacon topped cupcakes), kale, gluten-free diets, and locally farmed foods. What food trends will pop up in the New Year?
I’ve been looking through various sources online to see what’s in and what’s out (sadly, gourmet tacos may have had their heyday–except at my house, where they’re always in!).
Here are a few predictions from food industry insiders, along with a quick tip about how you can start being “trendy” right now:
SOUR. Yes, it’s the year of sour! (Fist pump here). My youngest will be thrilled. Santa gave her not one, but two bottles of pickles in her stocking and she couldn’t have been happier. Tip: Adding a bit of acidic twang to regular dishes is easy and instantly brightens the other flavors. I often squeeze a bit of fresh lime or lemon to dishes, smoothies, salads, just before serving.
SMOKE. Infusing everything from food to drinks with smoke is supposed to be big this year. We smoked our turkey this past Thanksgiving using hickory chips in our gas grill–tastE. Tip: Forget the bottle of liquid instant smoke which has a strange chemically taste if you ask me. I add a hit of Trader Joe’s Smoked Paprika to savory dishes.
VEGETABLES. Veggies are taking over the plate in 2013. They’re no longer stuck in the “side dish” category. We’ve been trying to add more vegetables on our dinner plates. Tip: Embrace Meatless Mondays and have an all-veggie meal once a week (or more!).
POPCORN. The kernels are taking over. Dig out your old air popper if you want to have a the “it” snack. Tip: I haven’t tried this yet, but it looks like fun–DIY microwave popcorn.
ELBOW GREASE. From theKitchn, my personal favorite ingredient for the year–elbow grease! Since I’m in the midst of updating my kitchen, I understand the appeal–and challenges–of using this ingredient. Tip: My old bathrobe serves as a quick cover when I have just a minute to paint. It’s easy to throw on over my regular clothes–and there’s nothing cooler than a woman in a blue-striped bathrobe with pink edges holding a paintbrush!