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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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. 
  • 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. 
  • Sprinkle top of fish with Old bay and a small amount of EVOO, use your fingers to rub over entire filet. 
  • 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. 

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For the Scallops:

  • Using a Cast iron skillet, heat over high heat until hot. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. *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! 

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?  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: 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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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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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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