Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Not Your Vegan's Tofu

Oh Tofu.. I have nightmares of eating "scrambled eggs" made from tofu as a kid at my Grandparent's house. I'm pretty sure they even added it to pies! I told my little self that when I get older and make my own food, it will NOT be tofu!
But then my brother decided he'd make life a little more interesting and become a vegan. Yes, a vegan... no animal anything! Not even leather clothing! And tofu was reintroduced to me at an older age. And then I got married and introduced it to my husband and now my children. I am still very leary of this spongy-like protein. It's just strange and honestly most of the time lacks flavor. So why am I posting a tofu recipe.. well because it's GREAT ONE! Full of flavor, veggies, great with rice and dare I say, egg rolls.. Oh and did I mention there's beef in the recipe?! WHAT?!?! Beef and tofu together! Try it! It might change the way you feel about these odd little bricks.

Spicy Tofu Stir Fry

16oz firm or extra firm tofu
1lb ground beef
1clove/1tsp minced garlic
1tsp minced ginger (from the jar)
1 bag of stir fry veggies OR keep it simple and just do 1cup frozen peas
1/2cup general tsao stir fry sauce (From Trader Joe's)
1tbsp soy sauce
1tsp sesame oil
2 green onions sliced

Heat a large skillet pan or wok to medium. Brown the ground beef.

While the beef is cooking take out the tofu from the package. Lay it on a few paper towels. It's helpful to slice it long ways before putting on paper towels. Then place a few more paper towels on the top of the tofu. Press down on the tofu to help get the extra moisture out of it. You can always place an empty pan or something else heavy on top of the tofu and keep it there until ready to dice it.

Once the beef is brown put in the garlic and ginger. Stir that around a little bit, then put in your veggies. Stir fry them until they are just slightly crunchy.
Dice the tofu into little squares. Add them to the pan. Then pour in the sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil. I try to pour most of the sauce on the tofu- not sure if that really helps or not. Cook for 2 minutes or so until tofu is warm! Serve over rice, if desired, and top with green onions.

The 1/2cup of sauce is not too spicy for my kids especially with all of the veggies in it. My husband and I add extra sauce to ours once on the plate to get a little more heat!

Enjoy! And let me know if you are brave enough to try tofu for the first time! Would love to hear what people say about this recipe!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Comfort Soup

It seems as though my kids can't stay well this year! It's one cold after another, croup, stomach bugs.. Just when everyone is snot free and we have a few days to play one of them catches something and we're back at being stuck at home.. waiting it out..
So a staple in our house this "winter" has been soups. I remember my friends talking about just throwing soups together out of whatever they had on hand! This blew my mind! I was in such awe of them! Then tried it a few times and it really is so easy!
We normally make our own broth. We made a ton from our turkey from Thanksgiving! Just froze it and then pull it out when needed. We had a huge turkey this year and had a TON of leftovers. So we have little baggies of that frozen too. But this wonderful comfort soup can be made with whatever you have on hand! That's the wonderfulness of it!! Plus there are no measurements, just some pouring and shaking!

Here is how I usually make mine (now that I am an expert and all!)

Broth- normally chicken or turkey- Probably the same amount as a box of broth from store (easy to keep those on hand too)
Meat- again normally turkey or chicken leftovers, cut up
2-3 carrots- diced very small
1/4 of an onion- diced very small
2 cloves of garlic
Pasta, I love using the mini pasta or breaking up spaghetti noodles really small too
a handful of frozen peas
a potato- peeled & diced small
a few dashes of paprika
dashes of dried basil and oregano (my little guy has texture issues with these in his soup so I leave them out now)
and that's my normal comfort soup... Again it all depends what I have on hand. I've thrown in beans, bell peppers, celery, broccoli.. the combinations are endless. We always add saltine crackers to ours and if we have it on hand some chopped cilantro too. Toppings are just as endless as what goes inside the soup! And buy making your own broth or buying the low sodium you can monitor your salt intake too!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Yogurt Muffins

I absolutely LOVE to bake! Not saying I'm talented or anything, just love it! Muffins, cookies, cakes.. love it! I really do enjoy throwing together super yummy muffins. They don't always turn out super yummy but these always seem to turn out great!

When you bake low fat things you try to stay away from butter and certain oils (depending) Two of the best substitutes for oil/butter in baked goods are mashed bananas and applesauce. I notice that mashed bananas sometimes don't keep the item as moist as I'd like it. I normally always use applesauce- I sometimes split the oil called for in half and then add half applesauce half oil.. I was out of applesauce last night so this batch of muffins were made with the Smart Balance canola oil. I made blueberry muffins last night. You can choose any flavor combo you wish. I've done fresh strawberries with banana yogurt! I think a cranberry orange would be really good! (orange yogurt with added dried cranberries!)

Yogurt Muffins

2cups flour
1/2cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (love adding both white and brown sugar in baked goods!)
1t baking soda
1t baking powder
8oz yogurt (I only had 6oz yogurt so I added 2 oz of milk to make it moist enough to mix)
1 egg
1t vanilla
4tb oil or applesauce
2tb lowfat milk (add more if needed to mix dry ingredients)
2cups fresh fruit -chopped if needed


1/3 cup brown sugar
2tb flour
1/8t cinnamon (or a few shakes)
1tb soft butter (it is needed sometimes!)

Preheat to 350

Mix together flour, sugars, baking soda, baking powder. In separate bowl mix together yogurt, egg, vanilla, oil, milk. Then add dry ingredients to wet ingredients- Mix then add fruit at the end.

Mix topping ingredients into separate bowl. Use a knife to cut the butter so it blends with the dry ingredients.
Pour into cupcake liners 3/4 way full. Top with a little of the topping. Check after 20mins. Insert toothpick, when it comes out clean they are done!

Mine made a little over 12 muffins last night. I went ahead and baked 12 muffins then instead of baking a few extra, maybe 2-3, I lined a mini cupcake pan and added two drops of orange extract to the leftover mix and baked the little ones with orange flavoring! SO yummy!! I cooked the mini's for about 10mins. Think 12 would probably be perfect. Next time I will make the whole batch with the orange extract. Probably still keep it at a few drops of the extract for a whole batch.

Try them out and let me know what combos your family loves. We've already eaten way too many of them this morning!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Healthy Descions 2011!

Well last night was one of those dinner nights where I was so excited to try a new recipe from my new cookbook "Quick and Easy Cookbook" from the American Heart Association, but of course we were out of the house way past dinner time. And you find yourself contemplating stopping at a certain pizza place and not making dinner. But thanks to the new year and our pack to feed the kids healthy foods we ventured home to make dinner- Kids screaming in the car and all!
I had already planned on making these oven baked fish nuggets and some cauliflower to go along with it. The plan was to stop at the store for the ingredients we didn't have on hand but of course figured there wasn't time for that before major meltdowns! Figured I'd give them a try anyway. (Explain my adjustments along the way- but will type the original recipe)

Crispy Cereal Fish Nuggets

1lb white fish fillets (I used Maui Maui from Trader Joe's that was already cut up)
2tb skim milk (we keep 2% in our house)
1/4cup Parmesan cheese (we did not have.. so sad :-( Think this would have made them great! Any shredded cheese would be good I think..)
1/4cup cornflake crumbs or bread crumbs or panko
1/2t paprika- I used about 1full teaspoon because I ended up with more cornflakes.
A few shakes of garlic powder, onion powder, and dried basil- I add these to almost every recipe I make!

Preheat oven to 450.

Rinse fish and pat dry. Cut fish into bite-size pieces. I notice kids eat smaller pieces better than larger ones, so I always try to keep theirs small.

Beat together egg and milk in a shallow bowl.

Toss cheese, crumbs, and seasonings into ziploc bag.

Coat the fish in the egg mixture until well coated. Take out a few pieces at a time and toss it in the bag with the crumb mixture. Pull them out with a fork and lay them on an oiled or foil lined baking sheet. Then repeat until all fish is coated in crumb mixture.

Bake in oven- check it every 5minutes. Mine took almost 15 last night due to some of the larger pieces I had. But the small pieces I used for the kids were done at the 5min mark.

The recipe comes with a Lemon Tartar Sauce- I didn't make due to lack of ingredients, but am looking forward to making it next time.

1/2cup of fat free mayo
2tb finely chopped dill pickle
1t lemon juice
1t grated lemon peel

Mix together and keep in fridge until ready to serve fish.

(Nutrient Analysis- per serving. Calories 191kcal, Protein 26g, Carbs 14g, Cholesterol 64mg, Sodium 739mg, Total fat 3g (saturated fat 1g, poly 1g, mono 1g) )

Feel good starting the New Year off without stopping at a certain pizza place! It wasn't the most put together meal and between steamed cauliflower and mashed potatoes it looked a little blah on the plate but it tasted good, was healthy and the kids ate it!


Monday, January 3, 2011

I'm Back!

Well it's been over a year! Little guy is older now and I think 2011 is a better time than ever to try this blogging thing again. (so hard with two under 4 running around!)
We are in the process of buying a house and between keeping up with my kiddos, still trying to make sure the fam eats healthy- let's throw home improvement into the CHAOS! We have a few weeks left until the house is officially ours! The list of DIY projects keeps getting longer and longer. Time will tell on what we actually attempt to do ourselves and what gets hired out.
So excited for what this new year will bring my family!
Feel free to join the journey with us!