Category Archives: Fun & Practical

Tofu With Broccoli & Brown Sauce

This recipe is my alternative to Chinese takeout. It has all the flavor and fun of your favorite take-out without the added grease, not to mention that it has loads of extra veggies. If you want to skip straight to the recipe, I have it below. Otherwise, checkout the video above to get my step-by-step cooking demo.

As I mention in the video, this is what I like to call a “Friday night” sort of meal, meaning that there are a few extra steps, and it may not be the best recipe to test out for a quick weeknight meal. It’s certainly not complicated, but I would give yourself a little extra time. This dinner with a movie rental or board games is pretty much the perfect recipe for a fun family night in.

Tofu With Broccoli and Brown Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 blocks (14 ounces each) of extra-firm tofu
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy or tamari sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 medium sized onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • large bunch of broccoli, cut into medium sized florets
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons high heat cooking oil
  • 2 to 3 scallions, sliced

Instructions

  1. To press the tofu, wrap the tofu in a paper towel and/or kitchen towel. Place a cutting board and a couple of cans of beans (or other heavy object) on top of the cutting board. Allow to sit for about an hour.
  2. While the tofu is being pressed, prep your remaining ingredients.
  3. To make the marinade, combine the broth, soy sauce, brown sugar and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
  4. Once the tofu has been pressed, slice into even cubes and place on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  5. Lay the sliced tofu out into a single layer and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes until the tofu is beginning to brown, without being crisp.
  6. Place the baked tofu in a glass dish and pour the marinade over the tofu. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, in medium sized pot filled with boiling water, blanch the broccoli florets for 2-3 minutes. They should be bright green, crunchy, and NOT cooked through. Set aside.
  8. Remove the tofu from the marinade. Stir in the cornstarch into the marinade and set aside.
  9. Warm your wok over medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to the bottom of the wok and spread around.
  10. Add to tofu and cook until lightly browned (about 5 minutes).
  11. Remove the tofu from the wok and add 1 additional teaspoon of oil.
  12. Add the sliced onions and cook until soft and beginning to caramelize. Next, add the minced ginger and garlic and sauté until fragrant (just about a minute), being careful not to burn the ginger and garlic.
  13. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until soft and browned. (Note: you may need to add a tablespoon or so of broth if your veggies start to burn or stick to the bottom since the recipe calls very little oil)
  14. Add the blanched broccoli and tofu.
  15. Give a quick stir to the sauce to make sure the corn starch is well incorporated and pour over the stir fry.
  16. Mix to combine and cook for an additional 5 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken slightly.
  17. Serve over steamed rice and garnish with sliced scallions.
http://www.thefamily-table.com/tofu-with-broccoli-brown-sauce/

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I’ve been working on my first detailed nutrition video for the last few weeks. I was forced to take a bit of detour. If you are a believer that the universe works in mysterious ways, you will definitely want to check out the upcoming  video. . . It’s a little story about vitamin B12 and how I had to take my own best advice!

I’d love to here about how your family celebrates the end of a busy week. Stay tuned for my B12 story and of course, send me your questions, concerns, and comments.

With love,

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Anatomy of a Rice Bowl: A Simple & Tasty Dinner Time Solution

 

If you are anything like me, by the end of the week, you are running out of ideas, inspiration, and maybe even food! The concept of a rice bowl is hardly new one. But, I will tell you that it is such a brilliant way to put together dinner, that it has become a staple in our household. In the video above I review the basic anatomy of a rice bowl and below are 5 great reasons that you should make them a part of your regular rotation:

  1. It appeals to even the pickiest of eaters. Everyone makes their own bowl, so they decide how much of each thing goes in their bowl.
  2. The possibilities are truly endless. You can stick to your tried and true favorite items or you can let a particular cuisine (Italian, Indian, Thai, etc.) guide you to a special adventure.
  3. You can make things ahead of time. This is a great plan ahead meal. Cook rice, beans, and even veggies ahead of time, and simple warm and add condiments or fresh herbs when you are ready to eat.
  4. Makes great use of odd and ends. If you have a few carrots, some zucchini, half a cabbage, really whatever remnants lay in your refrigerator or pantry, the rice bowl is a great way to put all of those stragglers to good use.
  5. Leftovers. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, leftovers are the BEST! Depending on how much you make, you can get a whole other dinner out of these rice bowls, or they make a terrific lunch. I purposefully cook extra beans and grains so that I have plenty of lunch time options ready throughout the week.

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I hope you will give these rice bowls a try. I am still experimenting with the production parts of these videos and am hoping to do more cooking videos in the future. As always, I welcome your questions, feedback, and suggestions for upcoming topics.

With love,

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A Pantry Makeover: Setting Yourself Up For Success

 

I’ve always been a bit of an organizer and a lover of office supplies. A while back I did a massive pantry overhaul, and these two traits came in quite handy. In this video, I’ll share with you some simple tips and tools that can help you to get your pantry in tip-top shape.

Here’s a quick recap:
Step one: clear out your pantry.

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Step two: sort through all of your items (the storm before the calm!).

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Step three: gather your materials and start re-filling your pantry (I love my label-maker and like to save labels for instructions and expiration dates!)

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Step 4: sit back and enjoy — but don’t forget to re-fresh from time to time:)

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With a well stocked (and organized!) pantry, the sky is the limit with what you can do. For instance you could make this cinnamon oatmeal with vanilla raspberry compote or this Moroccan couscous with toasted chickpeas?!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini pantry makeover. Please share your questions, concerns, or suggestions for topics you would like to hear about below.

With love,

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Not Just for Tuesday Gobi Tacos

This is a bit of crazy recipe, and I kind of like it that way. The dish has it’s origins in two cultures and I went ahead and added a third. Gobi Manchurian is a fusion of Indian and Chinese cooking. I remember decades ago when my family traveled back to India for a visit, we were taken out for a very special dinner. The menu featured this Indian-Chinese fusion cooking and it was delicious. Years later, on another trip to India, I tried Gobi Manchurian for the first time. It’s one of those dishes that just sort of haunts you in the best way possible. You go searching for it without much luck, and it remains a fond travel memory.  You can imagine my giddiness when a few years ago, I found a recipe on line at Show Me the Curry (a great Indian cooking website with video tutorials) and tried my hand at making it.

I’ve made the recipe several times and my family truly LOVES it. It’s savory and spicy and just plain delicious. I highly recommend you check out the original version.  The traditional version calls for deep frying of lightly battered cauliflower. It turns tiny florets of cauliflower into crispy little bundles ready to hold a glorious sauce. I’m not a huge fan of frying, and in fact, I think this is the only recipe for which I have ever deep fried a food! You can find baked versions of this recipe on line and I have tried them in the past. I ran into the problem of the batter becoming quite soggy and decided to do away with it all together and simply roasted plain cauliflower. The spicy, sweet and sour flavors are all there without the hassle, not to mention that it’s much more nutritious.

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It’s traditionally served as an appetizer or snack (think bar food) but my family really does love it so much that I thought it might be tasty stuffed into a tiny little taco. So, that’s just what I did.

Not Just for Tuesday Gobi Tacos

Ingredients

  • 2 medium cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a little extra for spraying
  • 1 medium onion,finely chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of ketchup
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons of red chili sauce (I like Sambal Olek -- 1 tablespoon would be pretty mild and 4 is definitely hot!!!)
  • 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons corn starch
  • 6 tablespoons of water
  • corn tortillas
  • garnishes such as shredded cabbage, limes, green onions, cilantro

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into small, bite-sized florets. Spray with just a bit of olive oil (feel free to omit if you prefer) and lay them in a single layer onto a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Roast the cauliflower for about 20 to 25 minutes until cooked through and slightly browned.
  4. While the cauliflower is roasting, in a sauté pan warm the oil over medium heat. (Note, I haven't tried this recipe without oil, but you can certainly try a no-oil sauté with vegetable broth. The oil helps to carry and combine the flavors).
  5. Sauté the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent and lightly browned.
  6. Carefully add the ketchup and chili sauce (it may splatter). Cook this mixture for several minutes until the oil starts to separate a bit.
  7. Next, add the tamari (or soy sauce) and white vinegar.
  8. In a small bowl, combine the corn starch with the water and make a slurry.
  9. Add the slurry to the sauté pan, mix in, and cook for a minute or two until it thickens.
  10. Once the cauliflower is nicely roasted, add it to the pan and mix in gently until the florets are nice coated.
  11. Spoon the mixture onto corn tortillas and garnish with your favorites.
http://www.thefamily-table.com/not-just-for-tuesday-gobi-tacos/

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A few of notes. You could use homemade ketchup or perhaps even tomato paste if you didn’t want to use store-bought ketchup. However, I find that the ketchup (Whole Foods makes one that I like) adds just a hint of sweetness that really makes the dish. If your sauce is done before the cauliflower is done roasting, just pull it off the heat and rewarm when you are ready. If you are concerned about the spice level for little ones (the joy of this dish is the spiciness!), don’t mix in all of the cauliflower into the sauce. Instead, you can drizzle just a bit of sauce onto the cauliflower to give it a little flavor without all the heat. Be warned, this recipe makes quite a bit of cauliflower. I don’t mind, though, because the leftovers are delicious. You could certainly eat them with tortillas and garnishes, but you might even just add them to whatever greens and veggies you have on hand for a quick lunch on the go. I added mine to some leftover rice and beans that we served with our tacos, shredded purple cabbage, and kale.

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I think having fun with your food and combining cultural cuisines can be a great way to introduce your kids to different flavors. I also love learning about the origins of dishes, especially ones like this that seem to have such a cultural history. I found this article on the CNN Travel website that talks about the history of Indian-Chinese food, and all of a sudden, I’m wanting to go back to India….

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Southwestern Black Bean Burgers & A Guide to Homemade Veggie Burgers

I’m a huge fan of veggie burgers. They’re satisfying, can be packed with nutrients and usually please the pickiest of eaters. Veggie burgers found in the frozen section of your grocery store are often filled with complicated, highly processed ingredients and fillers. When you make your own, not only do you control the ingredient list, but the flavor as well.

There’s a basic formula for veggie burgers that can make it less intimidating to make your own. Unlike baking, the measurements don’t have to be precise and a little bit of “winging” it is not only acceptable but encouraged. By swapping out the veggies and spices, the possibilities are endless. Below is a simple “formula” that you can use to make your own custom creations.

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The best way to plan your veggie burgers is to think about the ingredients you have on hand or the style of food you want to eat. The combination of ingredients should make a patty that will hold together well but not be too mushy. It’s important to taste the mixture before making your patties to ensure that they are seasoned properly. Letting them chill in the fridge for a while allow them to firm up a bit. The burgers can be pan fried, baked, or even grilled.

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Southwestern Black Bean Burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 15 ounce canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 medium (or 1 small) onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • (optional) pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl combine the ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water and set aside. The mixture will become slightly gelatinous while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
  2. In a sautée pan warm the olive oil over medium heat (feel free to omit the olive oil and dry sautée if you prefer)
  3. Add the onions and peppers and sautée until slightly browned.
  4. Add the cumin, chili powder, optional cayenne and salt. Stir through and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant and the spices are cooked through a bit.
  5. Cool the vegetable mixture slightly until it is cool enough to handle with your hands.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the vegetable mixture with the beans, rice, cilantro and ground flax seed "gel". Using a potato masher works quite well here. Mix until well combined.
  7. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
  8. Either by hand or using an ice cream scooper and ring mold, form into patties. Depending on the size of your patties you should get roughly 6 to 8 servings. Don't make them too large; otherwise, they may fall apart when cooking.
  9. This next step is optional but if you have the time or are making the burgers ahead of time, place the patties on a sheet of parchment paper and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  10. When ready, pan fry the patties over medium heat and with a scant teaspoon of olive or grape seed oil. Cook on each side for about 4 to 5 minutes until golden brown on each side. Alternatively, you can bake at 450 degrees on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, flip on the other side and bake for another 8 minutes or so.
  11. To serve, top with your favorite condiments (on top of a bun or salad greens) and maybe even with some oven baked fries.
http://www.thefamily-table.com/southwestern-black-bean-burgers-a-guide-to-homemade-veggie-burgers/

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These Southwestern black bean burgers come together easily and freeze well. In fact, you can easily double the recipe so that you have a batch on hand for those lazy summer days where you would rather be at the beach than in the kitchen.

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