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:  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. 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. 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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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. 

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! 😉

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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!

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Cauliflower Steaks

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It’s a well known fact that fresh is always better than frozen products. When it comes to vegetables though, the shelf life for them being fresh and kept in the fridge goes faster than I can keep up with in my back and forth work schedule.

During the slow winter months, also knows as our off season at the Country Club, I try to use this free time to do a lot more cooking at home. The only thing I wish this side of Cleveland would offer is more farmers markets. I would much rather spend my money there than at the grocery store any day. Even though I’m doing a lot more cooking at home, I’m still watching how much produce I bring home. I can only use up so much of it at one time during the week. Like I said, fresh vegetable always seem to wilt or rot on me before I get to using them.

I’ve always had a liking for cauliflower, raw or cooked didn’t matter to me. A fellow co-worker mentioned how she will make roasted cauliflower for her 2 little kids at home. She roasts it in the over with oil, salt and pepper and then sprinkles loads of Parmesan cheese and tops it with fresh made pesto, she really talked the roasted cauliflower recipe up. I figured if 2 kids under the age of 6 will eat it, it’s gotta be good. Usually I steam cauliflower so I was ready to try something different with roasting it. I took the basic ingredients: salt, pepper, and EVOO and added a few more spices to it to really make the flavor pop. The recipe makes the best entree, or side dish, you choose.

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Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time: 25 Minutes

Mise en Place:

  • 1 Head of Cauliflower, stem & leaves removed, cut (You will get 3 steaks out of 1 head)
  • 1/2 Cup EVOO
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning Blend
  • S&P, TT

Method of Prep:

  • Heat Oven to 350
  • Once cauliflower is cut, place on a sheet tray
  • In a small bowl mix together EVOO & seasonings
  • Using a pastry brush, brush oil over the front and back of cauliflower, brush along the tops and sides as well. Season with S&P.
  • Place in the oven and roast for 10 Minutes. Turn over and place back in the oven for an additional 15 minutes or until tops of cauliflower are golden brown.
  • Enjoy!
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Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

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Whats not to love about a classic plain cheesecake!? If made right, you don’t even need the fru fru additions of fresh fruit and whipped cream. I make at least 1 cheesecake every year, depending on the occasion will determine the flavor I choose to make. With autumn in full effect, I wanted to make the one pumpkin flavored dessert I make each year. Last couple of years I’ve made a pumpkin roll and decided this time to make a pumpkin cheesecake. I get that pumpkin spice is over rated and over used, but I promise you this pumpkin swirl cheesecake via Juniors Cheesecakes will have you begging for more.

If you’re not familiar with Juniors (I wasn’t either, my Husband told me about them) they are known for the home of New York’s best cheesecake. You haven’t really lived until you’ve had Cheesecake at Juniors. Unless you plan on traveling to NYC anytime soon, using one of these recipes to make for your own is the closest you’ll get to the best cheesecake. Believe me when I say Cheesecake factory is good, but this is so much better! It has been voted number 1 cheesecake in NY for over 45 years, that’s saying something!

This recipe was borrowed from the Juniors website. Check out the site for other tasty treats and history! (Graham cracker crust is my own)

Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Total Time: 1 day.

Yield: 1, 9″ Round cake pan

Graham Cracker Crust:

-1 1/2 Cups Ground Graham Cracker crumbs.

-1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar

-6 Tablespoons Butter, melted

 

-Combine all ingredients and mix until well incorporated.

-Press mixture into 9″ pie plate.

-Place in the oven @ 350 degrees and bake until lightly browned. Remove and allow to cool completely.

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For the Cheesecake:

Mise en Place:

Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese (use only full fat), at room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs
3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 cup canned pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more for sprinkling

Method of Prep:

1. Bake off graham cracker crust if you haven’t yet done so.

2. Put one package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl down several times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each one. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 1/3 cups sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Beat in the cream just until completely blended. Be careful not to overmix!

3. Remove 1 1/2 cups of the batter and set aside. On low speed, blend the pumpkin and the 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice into the remaining batter. Gently spoon the pumpkin batter on top of the crust. Using a teaspoon, drop the white batter in small spoonfuls on top of the pumpkin batter, pushing it down slightly as you go. Using a thin, pointed knife, cut through the batter a few times in a “figure 8” design, just until white swirls appear.

4. Place the cake in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1 inch up the sides of the springform. Bake until the edges are light golden brown and the top has golden and tan swirls, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 2 hours (just walk away-don’t move it). Leave the cake in the pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cold, preferably overnight or at least 4 hours.

5. Release and remove the sides of the springform, leaving the cake on the bottom of the pan. Place on a cake plate. Pipe whipped cream rosettes around the top edge of the cake. Lightly sprinkle the cream rosettes (page 26) with a little pumpkin pie spice. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice the cold cake with a sharp straight-edge knife, not a serrated one. Cover any leftover cake and refrigerate, or wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.

The Junior’s Way
For this cake, the bakers use canned pumpkin, the kind that’s 100-percent pure pumpkin purée, not canned pumpkin pie mix. This works better than cooked fresh pumpkin because the moisture and flavor are consistent, cake after cake.

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Apple Butter

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Autumn, the years last loveliest smile. Were already half way through the season but it really hasn’t felt much like fall here in N.E Ohio in the last month with the unusually warmer weather we’ve been having, hey I’m not complaining though!  This week, the temperature finally started to dip back into the lower 60s with heavy clouds and even a little rain fall here and there. The crisp air is comforting as I warm up around a fire pit with a hot hazelnut latte from Starbucks in my hand and watch as the wind throws the leaves onto the ground. The sound of leaves crushing beneath my brown leather boots is a lovely reminder that its okay to let things go and to just breathe and have patience for whats to come in the near future.

I didn’t have much opportunity this fall to work with the seasonal produce. I finally made time to swing by my favorite fruit stand up near my Grandparents home in Port Clinton and grabbed a heavy bag of the best looking Gala apples a girl could pick. The first thing that came to my mind that I haven’t made before in the past was Apple butter. Of course I made apple pie as well, however that recipe is one everyone should already have.

This smooth, puree that spreads better than butter is super easy to make and goes great on pancakes or even a piece of toast. Heck, it’s even good enough to eat it off a spoon like peanut butter! However you choose to enjoy it, this recipe is worth making. If you’re looking for gift ideas to your friends and family for the holidays, which are just around the corner, why not make a large batch and can it up in a fun gift basket with pancake mix and other breakfast essentials; Just a fun idea!

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Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Total Time: 50 Minutes

Yield: Makes 4, 8oz Jars

Mise en place:

-8 Gala Apples, peeled, cut in medium chunks, seeds removed

-1 Cup Apple Cider

-1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar, divided

-3/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

-1/4 Teaspoon Allspice

Method of Prep:

-Bring apples, cider and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil in a dutch oven over high heat. Cover leaving lid slightly ajar, and boil 20 minutes or until apples are tender and most of the liquid had evaporated; Stir every 5 minutes.

-Process cooked apples and cooking liquid in a blender until smooth. Return mixture to dutch oven. Stir in cinnamon, allspice and remaining 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat.

-Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered stirring often, 15 minutes or until thickened.

-Cool about 45 minutes. Spoon into airtight containers and refrigerate up to 2 months or freeze up to 6 months.

**Mix in 3 Tablespoons of Pumpkin puree to make a pumpkin apple butter!

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