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Vegetarian

Imageon days when it’s ninety million degrees out, there’s little that can possess me to turn on my oven and start cooking. which is why yesterday, when it was at least 90 but the humidity made it feel more like 100, i whipped up an easy version of a salad i learned from my mom, and threw it into a taco. it’s basically some black beans, some corn, some salsa, and some cilantro. and that’s it! can you say EASY? i can.

i’m generally a bit wary of taking recipes from my mom, mostly because she’s kind of a health freak and i’m kind of, well, not. i prefer baking s’mores brownies over eating weight watchers “brownies” (let’s face it, they’re not the real thing). growing up, my house was full of things like rice puffs (cereal) and fruit leathers (snacks) and carrot sticks and apple slices and maybe a slice or two of cheese. we didn’t buy frosted flakes, or captain crunch, or fruit roll ups or shark bites (all things i desperately wanted). here’s the thing: when you’re in elementary school and everyone else is either buying lunch or taking out a PB&J at the table, and you’ve got a series of stacking tupperware containers filled with leftover chicken breast and maybe some brown rice, all you want is to fit in. when everyone else is eating shock tarts at snack time and you’ve got a fruit leather, all you want is to fit in. to the point where you’ll sneak away after piano lessons to the local convenience store and spend the entirety of your $20 allowance on junk food so you can eat it alongside your fellow students in school, and also in your bed at night when you’re feeling bad about yourself and you know a king size package of reese’s cups will make all your problems go away.

i don’t assert that my parents stringent healthiness (which, by the way, eased up as i got older) was what made me turn to junk food – on the contrary, i think most of it was that i was unhappy, and i ate to feed my sadness – but i do think i wanted junk food more simply because i was deprived of it. everyone else got oreos, i got fig newtons (which, to this day, i still believe are disgusting and should be banned from the cookie aisle), and at a time in my life when i desperately wanted to be thin and pretty and cool and popular and instead was chubby and mousy and un-athletic and unpopular, having health food next to all my friend’s “cool” snacks just made things worse. 

that being said, as i’ve gotten older and my self-esteem has developed a bit more (god, you could not pay me to go back to middle school – or elementary school for that matter), my relationship with food has gotten much healthier, and in turn, i’ve come to really enjoy healthy food. which, in my opinion, this recipe is. so long as you don’t eat ten tacos. everything in moderation, folks. 

The Recipe

1 can black beans 

1 cup frozen corn (though fresh corn would be even better)

1 cup chunky salsa (i get mine at trader joe’s)

3 tbsp chopped cilantro

corn tortillas (i get mine at trader joe’s)

shredded mexican cheese

to make, combine corn, beans, salsa and cilantro in a bowl. put a scoop of corn mixture on each tortilla, top with shredded cheese and garnish with a sprig of cilantro. for extra oomph, add some sauteed taco meat. 

 

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guys, i think i’m really on an asian kick. like, i might need to take a trip to asia sometime soon (except that i hear things are cramped and crowded and hot and potentially smelly and just the thought of a place like that makes my OCD-ness kick into high gear…oh wait, i just described most of new york city).

i came across this recipe for general tsp’s tofu on pinterest last week, and figured i might as well try it while i was on my whole “mix sesame oil and soy sauce and ginger and good things will happen” kick. what do you know? this stuff is GOOOD. and would be even better on some deep fried chicken pieces. no offense, tofu, you know i really like you a lot, but i think it’s better that we just be friends. chicken and i are in a serious relationship, and it ain’t complicated.

if you’re a vegetarian, you’re gonna looove this dish. if you’re not, you’ll love it too – just make it with shrimp or chicken. the sauce is made separately, so you can throw it onto whatever you want.

note: the original recipe calls for a good amount of sriracha, and i can’t handle spice – so i cut it down substantially, and just threw in a little squirt to my sauce. if you’re into spice, go for it, but buyer beware! that ish is on FIRE.

The Recipe

tofu:

12 oz extra firm tofu, cut into cubes (i buy mine at trader joe’s)

1 tbsp corn starch2 tsp vegetable oil (i use canola)

sauce:

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp grated ginger

2 tsp vegetable oil

1/4 cup water

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp hoisin sauce (warning: this stuff is like crack)

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp sriracha (i used just a squirt, remember)

additionally:

1 tbsp corn starch + 2 tbsp water

veggies of your choice

1 cup white or brown rice

to make the tofu, preheat your oven to 400 and toss tofu cubes with 1 tbsp of corn starch in a bowl. make sure they’re evenly coated on all sides. cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spritz with a layer of nonstick spray. spread your tofu cubes out on the baking sheet and bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and slightly crispy to the touch.  

meanwhile, cook your rice. white rice is generally a 2:1 ratio (two cups water to one cup rice). brown rice is too, but it takes longer to cook (usually around 40 minutes), so i prefer white in a pinch.

while you’re baking the tofu, make your sauce. cook your diced ginger and garlic in a medium saucepan for a few minutes, then add the other ingredients listed under “sauce” above and cook for another few minutes. mix the remaining water and corn starch in a tiny bowl, and pour it into the sauce mixture slowly. stir until it’s evenly integrated and your sauce is thick and slightly chunky. i know that’s gross, but that’s what it should look like. see picture. 

take out your tofu from the oven and toss it with your sauce. serve it over rice and top with a bunch of sauteed veggies. i chose zucchini and purple cabbage (i just sauteed them in a few teaspoons of soy sauce and sesame oil). throw some  sesame seeds on top and dig in.