Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tofu and Asparagus Bowl

Having a vegan husband is a challenge. Our kids are very eager to eat protein of animal origin. They are the type to ask, "Mom, can we have steak tonight?"  I see myself as a flexitarian, eating a bit of everything doesn't harm my body or my foodie soul, although I tend to load my plate with more vegetables than anything else.

So my husband is the one who feeds my alternative creativity in the kitchen. I am happy to do that — he is a happier and healthier man since adopting some changes suggested by Forks Over Knives. And this time his dish was so beautiful that even the kids wanted to try ... and would have eaten more of they could.

They liked it so much that they asked me to post it here. For the 8-year-old, the secret of the food success was the juice of the dish. For the 6-year-old, all was good.

Tofu and Asparagus Bowl

Go for non-GMO extra-firm tofu. For this recipe I used Whole Foods 365 Brand, and the result was quite good. 

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 block extra-firm organic tofu, cut in 1-inch cubes
6 to 10 asparagus stems, cut diagonally
1 ripe tomato, diced
1 spring onion stem, cut diagonally
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon basil, folded and cut in strips (chiffonade)
1 tablespoon snipped chives
Kosher salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add tofu and increase heat to sear the cubes. Add asparagus, tomato, and spring onion. Stir-fry for 5 minutes.

Lower heat and let it sweat for about 5 minutes. Now add the minced garlic and stir. After about 4 minutes, remove from heat and add basil.

Serve over a bowl of basmati or jasmine rice. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Garbanzo, Zucchini, and Tomato Salad

The kids are savoring freedom from school and schedules, and I am too. I still have work, both professional and the unpaid domestic kind, and I'm a little envious of their lightened responsibilities. So I'm trying to lighten my own. This no-cook vegetarian salad is one way to make life easier for myself.

I often cook my own beans, but for the sake of simplicity I just open up a can of garbanzos for this one. If you're lucky enough to have a garden, you can probably harvest the zucchini, tomatoes, and herbs from your own back yard. I like the crunch of raw zucchini, which picks up just a little bite for marinating in the dressing for anywhere from an hour to a full day.

With just a few minutes of chopping and stirring early in the day, you're free to enjoy a lazy summer afternoon. Come evening, pull this out of the fridge, toss in some herbs, and serve with crusty bread.

Garbanzo, Zucchini, and Tomato Salad

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
zest from 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
2 small zucchini
1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups cooked beans)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 cloves garlic
chopped fresh herbs to taste, such as basil, thyme, mint, or lemon balm

In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and lemon zest and whisk to blend dressing.

Trim ends from zucchini and quarter lengthwise, then cut into 1/4-inch-thick quarter-moons. Add to bowl with dressing, along with drained beans and quartered cherry tomatoes. Peel garlic cloves and cut in half and add to bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir salad to distribute dressing and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour, or chill in refrigerator up to one day. Stir in fresh herbs just before serving.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Kale Chips

My kids love kale! Yay!!! We'll... the truth is...

I mean, they love kale chips. Loaded with olive oil, garlic, and sometimes a bit of salt, those crunchy leaves are the ideal treat. My 6-year-old kindergartner loves it so much that he asked me to roast three full bags of fresh kale, planted and harvested by the students at school, to share with his friends. I was tired but enthusiastically spent 40 minutes in front of the oven on a hot night preparing their treat.

He told me that they all loved it so much. And I could believe it... See the photo below with the leftovers in the huge bowl?

I've been working with this recipe for years, and possibly every mom I've met in California has her own version. The important part is that kale is a wonderful source of nutrition and is the perfect pairing for black beans (see this classic Brazilian recipe here) and other vegetables. Or enjoy these chips on their own, as a wonderful snack.

Kale Chips

My favorite way is to make these is with green or purple kale. But dinosaur (a.k.a. Lacinato) kale works too. Make sure to get rid of the overly moist stems and leaf ribs and use just the shredded leaves. You also might want to use an olive oil sprayer.

kale leaves, washed and dried
extra-virgin olive oil, enough to spray or coat the whole batch
garlic powder
salt to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread kale leaves evenly on sheet and spray with olive oil (or drizzle olive oil over the leaves and invite little hands to mix the leaves with the oil). Sprinkle kale with garlic powder and, if using, some salt.

Roast for 5 minutes, then open the (HOT!) oven and use long tongs to turn the leaves to make sure they roast evenly. Roast for 5 more minutes and check. If the leaves aren't crunchy enough for your taste, roast just a bit longer. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Last-minute gifts to make for teachers

Some of our young friends are already out of school, but we have a few more days to go. This weekend we'll be making gifts for our teachers. My kids like to make treats for the real teacher's pets — one will get a jar of Good Dog, Bad Dog Biscuits, and the other a jar of tuna-catnip cat treats. As for our hardworking teachers, here are a few of our favorite gifts to give:


  • Meyer Lemon and Poppy Seed Mini Cakes: Muffins meet cake in these perfumed little treats.

  • Brigadeiros: Another slightly messy one, but messy stuff is usually the most fun. These delectable little candies disappear at parties — give a tray in little paper cups.

20101209_spiced nuts_1

  • Best Spiced Nuts: Garam masala and Sriracha give these irresistible nibbles a nice kick.

  • Citrus Salt: Put lemon, lime, and orange rinds to good use in a terrific finishing salt.



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