Tofu Rice Bowls

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Everyone is familiar with memes, I’m sure. One of my favorite memes pertains to a tofu one that reads: “How to prepare tofu: Step one: Throw it in the trash. Step two: Grill some meat.” I loved that meme when I first saw it many years ago because I agreed, nothing could be better than a fresh grilled steak. Although tofu doesn’t have much flavor to it, I never disliked. Could just be a texture thing as to why some people dislike this protein. Meal prep has become popular among many Americans looking to live a healthier lifestyle and help in a grab and go for work lunch or a quick dinner. With the addition of Asian flavors in this recipe, it’s a meal you’ll want to prep often. First I want to give you a little bit of a background on why I’m working with Tofu.

Since July, I have made the decision to slowly decrease my consumption of meat. I’m not a vegan, nor am I a vegetarian but a Pescatarian. Food has been such a huge role in my life, I mean I went to Culinary school for Pete’s sake! Did I mention I’m also married to a Chef? So yeah, avoiding meat is by no means easy for me. I have a few reasons why I’ve made the decision to not eat (Processed) meat but the number one reason is health. I want to diminish my chances of heart disease, I want to lose weight and avoid any and all cancers, many of which are formed due to meat & dairy consumption. Trust me, I’ve done a lot of reading on this before I made the choice to switch my diet. I still continue to eat eggs (in a small amount), I drink Almond Milk over Milk (however if I am stuck drinking milk, it’s going to be whole milk) & maybe once a week I’ll sneak in a bite of pork or chicken off my husbands plate.

With the cutback on meat protein, I hadn’t noticed any bodily changes until recently. Pros: My energy levels are the same, If anything I have a little more energy.

I find my thoughts & memory have increased a bit.

I don’t feel like a pile of shit after I eat a meal. I’m happily satisfied. I’m able to eat less and get full faster. I’ve discovered that eating small healthy snacks (granola bar, nuts, fresh fruit & vegetables) through out the day helps keep me full so I’m not overeating later.

My clothes have definitely become baggy on my body. So something is working!

Cons:Β Β My digestion is getting used to the new protein intake finally, so I’ve been very gassy and bloated for a couple of weeks.

My taste buds seem to be a little off (might be lacking zinc) luckily that’s an easy fix with supplements.

Depending on where I’m eating, my choices can be very limited. Good thing I don’t do fast food!

I’ve had a lot of people tell me that what I’m doing with not eating meat isn’t healthy and that I’m not getting the correct proteins and vitamins needed to stay healthy. I’m sorry to break it to ya’ll but yes I am! The meat you eat has the protein you need because of what it eats (plants!). The only difference is my food doesn’t have crazy hormones injected into it, and is not only good for Humans but for the planet too. I am aware that a plant based diet may decrease the risk of cancer & disease, I know nothing is certain it will work.Β So I ask everyone that thinks I’m crazy and wrong for doing what I’m doing to take the time to do the research on the food you eat vs what I’m eating now and then tell me how my diet is gross.Β With all this said, any posts I put up from now on will be focused more on plant protein based meals. I would love to work on avoiding processed foods next, but one step at a time!

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Mise En Place:

  • 1 Cup Brown Rice
  • 1 Piece Fresh Ginger, sliced
  • 1 Pack Firm Tofu
  • 1/2 Cucumber, sliced 1″ cuts then cut in half
  • 1 Carrot, peeled then julienne
  • 2 Radish’s, sliced thin
  • 1/4 Yellow Onion, julienne thin
  • 1 Scallion, sliced thin
  • 1 Cup Spinach
  • 1 Garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 Eggs
  • S&P, TT
  • 2 T Fish Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 2 T Oyster Sauce
  • 1 T Sesame Oil
  • 1 T Rice Vinegar
  • 2 T Sambal
  • 2 T Brown Sugar
  • 3 T Butter
  • Canola Oil

Method of Prep:

  • Cook Rice according to directions on the bag. Add fresh ginger into pot as it cooks. Once rice is finished, spread on a sheet tray and place in the refrigerator to cool (I find this prevents overcooking).
  • Mix together in a bowl, sauces for the tofu Marinade: fish sauce, soy, oyster sauce, sambal, brown sugar. Slice tofu to preferred cuts, I chose thick matchstick shapes. Add marinade to tofu and let sit for 30 minutes before cooking.
  • In a bowl add cucumber, carrot, radish and onion. Mix together with rice vinegar and sesame oil. Season with S&P, TT, set aside.
  • Saute spinach in a little bit of oil & garlic, set aside.
  • Over medium heat, add a small amount of oil to a pan and begin cooking Tofu. About 4 minutes on all sides until lightly browned. Save the leftover marinade in bowl to be used as a sauce.
  • Once all the tofu is cooked, using the same pan, add reserved Tofu marinade. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Pour sauce into a bowl and set aside. Using the same pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and scramble the eggs.

How to Assemble:

  • First add rice, next eggs, then tofu. Pour a little bit of marinade over entire bowl. Garnish with pickled vegetables and sliced scallion.
  • Enjoy!

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Stuffed Flounder with Scallops

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A few reasons I don’t prepare much seafood dishes at home:

-It’s expensive to buy

-I live in Ohio and don’t have the best access to fresh, local seafood (I lived in South F.L for 2 years and was spoiled by fresh off the boat seafood)

-Much of the seafood in the decent shops are far overpriced for what you’re getting and most of the seafood has been improperly cut up and it just doesn’t look the best to spend the money on.

I’m just vert picky when it comes to seafood. I’m also careful when ordering it while out at a restaurant, for example i’ll never order seafood on a Monday, I’ll also not order it at a place like Applebees (yes offence). There’s nothing worse than overcooked or old seafood!! Trust me, it’s hard to find places that offer the best seafood for an affordable price around here. Maybe I’m just being pretentious but I know good food.

It’s been a while since I’ve last had some good seafood so my friend and I randomly decided to make fish & scallops at home, rather than go out and spend a lot for sub par seafood. All together this meal cost around $30 to feed 2 people. Unfortunately the items pictured above were all purchased from out local grocery store so don’t judge me for using {frozen} Flounder and pre-made crab cakes. If you have access to fresh fish and crab meat, please please use that over what I used. Event though I didn’t use the freshest ingredients, this recipe still came out delicious!

Mise en Place:

  • 1 Pack (4) Flounder Filet’s {Fresh or frozen}, thawed
  • 2 (6oz) Crab Cakes, uncooked {Google recipe if you don’t have one} or buy pre-made from the store
  • 8 Small Scallops
  • EVOO
  • S&P, TT
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter

Method of Prep:

  • Turn oven to 350
  • Cover a sheet tray with foil, apply non-stick spray
  • Sprinkle a thin layer of salt & pepper on foil. Season both sides of the flounder filet’s with s&p, place skin side down on tray {placing 2 filet’s side by side}.
  • Top Flounder with 3 ounces of crab cake mix, press down onto filet to so it makes for easier rolling.Β 
  • Take the top of the 2 filet’s and roll down (so the flounder is folded over mix). Take 2 toothpicks and insert into filet’s to keep them from unwrapping during cooking.Β 
  • Sprinkle top of fish with Old bay and a small amount of EVOO, use your fingers to rub over entire filet.Β 
  • Place in the oven and cook for 12-15 minutes or until fish is cooked all the way (Should feel firm to touch)
  • Use a fish spatula to remove from tray. If you don’t have one, substitute a firm spatula and carefully remove avoiding to break up the fish.Β 

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For the Scallops:

  • Using a Cast iron skillet, heat over high heat until hot.Β 
  • Add 1 Tablespoon of Evoo to pan, reduce heat to medium high (if pan begins to smoke, remove from the heat and let cool down for a minute before adding scallops)
  • Season both sides of the scallops with S&P, place into pan over medium high heat and allow to cook for 4.5 minutes or until the bottoms begin to turn golden brown. (about 2 minutes into cooking, using tongs, lift up scallops from pan to prevent them from sticking)
  • Once bottoms of scallops look golden brown, turn over and push them up to the top of the pan. Reduce heat to low.Β 
  • Add in butter and using a large spoon being to baste the scallops with butter for 2 minutes. Remove scallops from pan and place on top of a paper towel to soak up any moisture.Β *Note: Add in Crushed garlic cloves (skin on) and 1 sprig of fresh Rosemary and Thyme for additional basting flavor**
  • Serve fish and scallops with choice of sides. Take the remaining crab cake mix and cook off into mini crab cakes for an appetizer, or serve as a side option!
  • Enjoy!Β 

Homemade Fajita Seasoning

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I’ve been in the hospitality industry for over 10 years now. I started in the back of the house ( kitchen) as a line cook and moved my way into the front of the house (dining room) as a banquet captain where I continue to grow in my career as a hospitality professional.

As a Chef, the greatest question I was asked, was what’s your favorite thing to cook? Β I’ve always had a passion for ethnic cuisine particularly Indian and Thai. I’ve become proficient in learning to cook the above regions, however those styles of food require a great deal more prep time, and ingredients into each dish. Leading to the decision of looking for a meal to prepare in 30 minutes or less, i.e Tacos.

I would say at least 70% of my diet revolves around tacos, chips & salsa (Tex-Mex) followed by the other 30% of rice based dishes in Indian, Thai and even Chinese cuisine given the time and cash money needed to prepare the more complicated recipes. I’ve always said the ways to my heart are as follows: 1.) Buy me tacos 2.) Make me tacos 3.) Be tacos. I guess you could say I’m basic! My all time favorite taco would have to be blackened Mahi Mahi but seems that I live in Ohio and can’t get the good fresh Mahi I was spoiled with having access to in South Florida, I’m going to settle with Skirt Steak tacos, which lead me to this recipe of {Steak} fajitas. I’m a firm believer that the best food is made from the ingredients that go into the dish starting with the seasonings. I’ve developed a recipe for a [common] fajita seasoning to first rub onto your steak and let sit for a minimum of 1 hour before grilling and making into a taco. Please feel free to adjust the measurements to your liking, I went a little heavier on cumin & paprika based on my taste liking. I find the best way to test your seasoning before rubbing it onto the final product is to take a very tiny spoonful to taste. From there you should be able to decide what you may need to add more of.

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Mise en Place:

  • 1 LB Skirt Steak
  • Tortillas of choice
  • Fajita toppings of Choice (Sour Cream, Shredded Cheese, Diced Tomatoes, Guacamole, etc
  • 1 Lime, cut into wedges
  • 1 Teaspoon Olive Oil

For the Seasoning:

  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Hungarian Paprika (Smoked works wells too!)
  • 2 Teaspoons Chili Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin

Chimichurri Sauce:

  • 1/2 Bundle Cilantro removed from the stems
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • S&P, TT

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Method of Prep:

  • Mix all spices into a small bowl until well incorporated. Taste and adjust if needed.
  • Place raw skirt steak into a large bowl. Rub well with seasoning mix on both sides. cover and chill in refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour up to 1 day.
  • For the Sauce:Β Add all ingredients into a vita mix (blender) and blend until mixed well, approximately 2 minutes on a lower speed, Set aside.
  • Add olive oil into bowl and rub over coated steak.
  • Toss steak onto a hot grill or sear in a pan over medium heat for 3 minutes on each side.
  • Allow meat to rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes before slicing.
  • Cut across the grain and serve in flour or corn tortilla shells. Add toppings of choice and garnish with chimichurri sauce.
  • Enjoy!

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Pear & Pecan Crumb Bars

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After being gone for a few months of blogging, I’m back! not like i’ll have a new post every week back, but i’ll aim for at least 2 a month and hopefully be able to keep adding more from there.Β 

If you enjoy most of my blog posts, you should follow me on Instagram @Theamanda.lassiter & like my facebook page: facebook.com/driven2eat

Were a few weeks shy of the official start of pear season, but so far many of the pears I’ve eaten have been fantastic! A nice fresh pear on it’s own cut up makes a great snack therefore, I don’t do too much with pears in recipes. I picked up a few pears that were a little unripe for my liking. They had a very starchy mouth feel & very little natural sweetness. To be fair, the pears weren’t pleasant to eat and I didn’t want to just throw them out. It took me two (2) days to think of how I could utilize the pears without wasting them. A few ideas that came to mind: infusing them in vodka, poaching them for a salad, or even blending them up for a smoothie…All basic ideas. I was pondering all this over a cup of coffee when a major sweet tooth & hunger craving hit me. I thought, what pairs well with coffee? Suddenly I thought about coffee shops and some of the menu items they offer. Soon after, the idea of coffee cake (duh) came to mind. Just like that, I played around with a few ideas & took the concept of a (apple) crisp and substituted pears, added more flour and some nuts, resulting in what I am calling a crumb cake (bars).

These are get them out of the house right now bars (They’re that good). This recipe is composed of three (3) parts: Shortbread crust on the bottom, cinnamon poached pears in the center, and a nut crumble on top make the perfect dessert for your coffee, day & night! Don’t be afraid to top with ice cream or drizzle with caramel sauce, I wont judge! πŸ˜‰

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Mise en Place:

For the Crust:

-1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, Softened

-1/4 Cup AP Flour

-1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar

-1/2 Cup Pecans, Chopped

-1/4 Teaspoon Salt

For the filling:

-3 Pears, Peeled & Diced Small

-2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar

-1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon

For the Topping:

-1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, Softened

-1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar

-1 Cup AP Flour

-1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

-1 Cup Chopped Pecans

-1/4 Teaspoon Salt

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Method of Prep:

-Spray a 9×9 pan (I used a bread pan instead for a thicker, pie like crust on my bars). Preheat over to 350.

-Using the paddle attachment in your mixer, begin creaming your butter & sugar. Slowly add in the flour, salt and pecans. Press the crust into your pan and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

-While crust is baking, start on the filling. Add diced pears into a medium sauce pan. Cover with water. Cook over medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes or until pears become translucent. Drain well.

-Next, start the topping. Cream the butter & sugar. Slowly add in the rest of the ingredients. The mixture should become crumbly.

-Take drained pears and add them into a mixing bowl. Add in cinnamon & sugar. Stir well.

-Remove crust from the oven. Carefully add pears (try to avoid getting extra liquid from the pears onto the crust).

-Add crumb topping. Bake for an additional 22-25 minutes or until the topping becomes golden brown.

-Cool completely in pan before slicing. (*Freeze up to 3 months if needed)

Enjoy!

pear crumb cake

Honey & Lavender Oatmeal Soap

If you’re following me on Instagram @Amanda_manda12 you may have seen me post a sneak peek 2 weeks ago for homemade soap. It took me a few days just to figure out what scent of soap I wanted to do. I threw down a few ideas from Pumpkin Spice, Coffee & Cardamom to Blueberry Banana and French vanilla until my husband asked me if we were going to be eating the soap? I realized I was getting a little to crazy on “flavors” and decided to keep it simple.Β  I went with 2 very common natural soap scents and that is Honey & Lavender.

I’m always looking to try something new and have never worked with or used Goats milk soap before (I’ll explain the minor difficulties I came across as I get into the method of prep section). If you’re new to Raw Goat milk, one fact is, it’s very benefiting to your skin. Goat milk soap is excellent for people with dry, sensitive skin or conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Some of the benefits goat milk contains is: Alpha hydroxy acids (lactic acid) which helps in removing dead skin cells from your skins surface, keeping your skin looking smoother and younger. Vitamins: particularly high in Vitamin A, which is necessary in repairing dead skin tissue and maintaining healthy skin. Cream: The cream that is present helps boost the moisturizing quality and will not dry your skin out like most other soaps particularly in the winter months.Β  Minerals: Selenium is believed by scientists to have an important role in preventing skin cancer. This can also help prevent damage to the skin from excessive time in the sun. As for the other 3 ingredients, I chose Raw Honey because it is full of antioxidants, moisturizing, and naturally antibacterial, also great for giving your skin a little glow and slowing down aging. Lavender: reduces anxiety and stress, improves sleep, restores skin complexion and reduces acne. Lastly, Oatmeal: Yields clean and clear skin, removes dead skin cells, tackles oily skin, a natural defoliant and is also good for sensitive skin.

So as you can see, this soap is probably one of the best things to use on yourself for healthy, younger looking skin. I found that this soap has its own kind of a natural soapy like scent, but I recommend adding a dash of essential oil to make it extra delicious! I haven’t had the opportunity to use this soap on my face yet, but it’s great for hand washing! You can happily make your own soap from scratch if your feeling spontaneous, but I’ve seen fight club and that’s enough for me to start soap making by using a pre-made base which can be found online or in craft stores for under $10/pound.

 

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4 Bars of Soap/1lb

Mise en Place:

  • 1 Pound Block of Goats Milk Soap Base
  • Essential Oil of choice (I used French Vanilla)
  • 3 Tablespoons Raw Honey
  • 1/4 Cup Oats
  • 2 Small Sprigs fresh Lavender, removed from stems
  • Soap Dye, optional (If you want a colored soap)
  • Soap Mold

Method of Prep:

  • Cut up the soap base into small cubes. Toss in a microwavable dish and melt for 30 Seconds. Stir and repeat until melted (I melted half the block first then added the second half and melted together).
  • Once the soap is completely melted (this part is tricky and you need to work fast as the longer the soap sits it begins to quickly solidify and you will have to melt again) Add in all the ingredients and mix until incorporated. Add in Coloring and mix.
  • Using a lightly greased soap mold, pour soap base in (If soap is beginning to lose it’s melted texture, toss back into microwave. I had to do this a few times because of how fast it was hardening).
  • Allow to sit in the molds at room temperature, untouched for a few hours until it is hardened again.
  • Take a shower ya filthy animal & ENJOY!!!