Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Alas, only human: Spicy Thai Tofu Salad

Hey there.  I have to write something.  I feel like writing and I've fallen way behind on posting.  The trouble is, just about everything I've cooked in the last two weeks is either a tried and true (and previously posted) favorite or something new that needs tweaking before posting.  The tweaking ones are kind of getting to me.  I'm just a little out of sync with finding recipes and adding the ingredients to my shopping list on my phone and actually getting to all the right stores to buy what I need or maybe thinking I have something in my fridges, freezer or pantries (notice all the plurals there:  indicating abundance and not real problems) and being wrong.  Got to get on my game.  It's going to happen, just not in a timely manner to write about big successes and amazing new things.  So there you have it, even a food blogger can have a bit of a slump.  Hope that makes you feel better.

I've baked twice this week after realizing I was out of butter (how is that possible?  I buy the 4 pound package of unsalted Land O Lakes at Costco, but apparently not recently) and was kind of meh on both of those recipes.  Blueberry oatmeal bread was one of those things where I swore I had everything (does not use butter, but lesson learned that whole flax is not a good substitute for wheat germ) but did not.  The oatmeal snickerdoodles did not call for chilling the dough, but clearly needed it and I did not have the time so they became bars and still need some adjustments.  See?  Fail whale in my kitchen.

Today for lunch I had a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich at 10:00 am because I was so hungry after spinning and headed to lulu to work at 10:30.  Yesterday for lunch I made my very favorite avocado toasts and fixed two complete dishes to have in the fridge for Sara to eat since I was closing and wouldn't be home for dinner. The farro "risotto" with peas and asparagus was pretty yummy, but needs more garlic, or more cheese or more perfectly cooked peas.  I'm not sure, but something was missing.  The spicy Thai tofu salad was much more successful so it's a first try keeper and I'll make a few adjustments for your enjoyment.  One day cooking up a storm and the next it's pb&j (which I really love).  And so now you know what should be very obvious by the inconsistency of my posting this past year, I'm really quite human.  I'm a good cook and a respectable baker, I can take decent pictures but now need reading glasses to do it and I can write like I enjoy it.   But somedays, I struggle just like the next guy.

This dish is good warm or cold (if you like tofu).  Use what vegetables suit you, but this is a pretty classic combination.  Remember to leave 20-30 minutes to press the liquid out of your tofu before marinating it for another 20-30 minutes.  Marinating tofu will convert you if you think you don't like tofu.  Yummy.

Spicy Thai Tofu Salad


4 thinly sliced scallions, white and the tender green parts
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 C tamari or low sodium soy sauce
1/2 C seasoned rice or sushi vinegar
2 T light brown sugar
1 T lime juice
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes


1 15-ounce package extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and cut into cubes or slices
4 oz. whole grain thin spaghetti/angel hair pasta/soba noodles, prepared as directed on package
1 T toasted sesame oil
2 carrots, peeled into ribbons
1 cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 C chopped fresh basil leaves
1 C fresh bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
optional garnishes: chopped peanuts, mint leaves, sliced scallions

Drain tofu and slice horizontally.  Arrange slices on a towel lined cutting board or baking sheet.  Cover with more towels (tea towels or paper towels).  Place heavy pan on top for 20-30 minutes to squeeze out excess liquid.

Whisk together all dressing/marinade ingredients in a small bowl.  Cut pressed tofu slices into smaller pieces if desired and place in a ziplock bag or dish with half of the dressing/marinade.  Toss to coat and marinate for 20-30 minutes.  Reserve the other half of the dressing/marinade for the salad.

Prepare your noodles and drain.  Toss with a little cool water in your colander to keep them from sticking together.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add tofu and cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Toss noodles, tofu, carrots, cucumber, bean sprouts and basil together with reserved dressing in a large serving bowl or layer the salad in individual bowls and pour over the reserved dressing.  Top with garnishes as desired.

Can be served warm, room temperature or cold.

Serves 4

tofu after one flip

my salad (note that I don't mind things in big pieces,
but feel free to slice cucumbers thinner and cube your tofu)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Yoga community love: almond flax chocolate power bars

Trying something new with this post;  using the Blogger App on my iPhone while "out of the office". Pretty sure auto correct and I will tangle over the next hour or so as my thumbs fumble across the keyboard without actual keys.  But mid way through vacation I should be able to find some patience with myself and my limited iPhone typing skills. 

Last week some of my favorite people worked together to launch Spincycle and a new location of The Yoga Studio in one amazing space. I love our yoga community in Indy and I love my job for connecting me to so many beautiful people and practices.  The week started with Amanda's 5:45 am get your week started right spin class and ended with Tiffany's challenging evening vinyasa class / lulu party.  In between, Sharon's super motivating spin class left Sara and I ready to take on just about anything.  

So if you are having a party after a hot vinyasa class you probably should show up with something with a solid nutritional pedigree.  But since since it"s a party you can throw in a little chocolate. 

This recipe is from a party after a rooftop yoga class with another group of favorite yoga friends.   Yoga friends overlap in some amazing ways to make up one very inspirational community.  This power bar recipe is vegan and crazy delicious.  The bars need to be refrigerated. Thy warm quickly ad maybe some day I will figure out the twist needed to make them a bit sturdier and more portable. 

Maybe you don't have Stevia or agave nectar in your pantry, but they are worthy additions. If you have Celtic sea salt, I will be very impressed.   I did not have I but live using it now that it's part of my cooking and baking arsenal.   When I made these last week, I did not have almonds in any significant quantity (unusual), but I did have a big bag of hazelnuts (more unusual).  I had plenty of chocolate chips, but I also had a nice block of Callebaut milk chocolate that really I just wanted to nibble a bit and knew it would make the bars really good.  So use what you like.  Give it your own twist.  Then just try not to eat half the pan.  Tempting!

Almond Flax Chocolate Power Bars

2 C almonds 
1/2 C flax meal 
1/2 C unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 C creamy natural almond or peanut butter
1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt
4 drops Stevia
1/2 C coconut oil
I T agave nectar (or more to taste)
1 T vanilla
1/2 C chopped chocolate or chocolate chips (pick your favorite)

Process the almonds, flax meal, coconut, nut butter and sea salt until combined about 30 seconds.  Over very low heat melt the coconut oil in a small pan. Add coconut oil, stevia, agave nectar and vanilla to processor and pulse to blend into a paste.  Add in chocolate and pulse to combine.  Press mixture into an 8x8 or 9x9 pan and refrigerate at least an hour. It into bars and serve. 

Makes 16-20 bars

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

salads to share: "Boulder" Salad: aka bulgur salad with apricots and pistachios

It's time to make big bowls of delicious things to serve for Mother's Day, graduation parties, showers, cookouts, concerts and all the other warm weather bring a dish to share functions.  I made this creative salad from Fine Cooking for just myself and my BFF who stopped by when she was on this continent last week (so fun).  It's a bit much for two, but great for 8-12 or more.  It's a side dish for anything, but you could toss in some chilled or grilled shrimp or diced or shredded rotisserie chicken and maybe even add a little feta cheese to make it more of a main.  So, I had a great big bowl of it in my fridge and realized we wouldn't be home to finish it since we were off to pick up Sara who is now half way through with college at Duke!  I called my mother-in-law and asked if they would like some yummy bulgur salad with apricots and pistachios and if so, I could walk it over after cutting our lush May green lawn.  Love this time of year.  Well, usually this time of year is further in bloom, but we have caught up to the vivid saturation of green.  Love.  Anyway, I walked it over and she asked me why it was called "Boulder Salad".  Ha.  If you know me you know I might talk way too fast to actually understand and or be multi-tasking while on the phone which never helps with the clarity.  And now we will just rename this Boulder Salad because after visiting Boulder, Colorado last summer while moving Kelly out to California I can honestly say you might be served a salad just like this in Boulder.  And maybe someday I'll be the one serving you.  Would live in Colorado in a heart beat.  

Note that if you're gluten-free, quinoa would work perfectly here.  So would other whole grains and even orzo.  Just prepare them according to package directions and toss with the other ingredients.

Boulder Salad

2 C bulgur (I bought the little package from Trader Joe's which is quick cooking)
kosher salt
1/2 C olive oil
1/3 C minced sweet, yellow or red onion or shallots
1 T minced garlic (3-4 cloves)
1/2 C chopped dried apricots (Costco's big bag has way too many, but they are lovely)
1 C coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3/4 C coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 C coarsely chopped fresh mint
1/2 C chopped roasted, salted pistachios
1/3 C fresh lemon juice (2 large lemons)
freshly ground black pepper

Prepare bulgur or other grain as directed on package with salted water (when done, drain if necessary).  Meanwhile, heat 1 T of olive oil in a small skillet and cook the onion until tender, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the garlic until fragrant (about 30 seconds-1 minute).  In your large serving bowl add the remaining ingredients and toss together tasting for salt and pepper.  Refrigerate up to 4 hours for the freshest herbs, but it will keep for a few days covered and refrigerated.  Warm to room temperature for serving.  

ingredients (half batch)

ready to toss

so pretty and delicious