Main Dishes, Recipes, Soups, Tofu

Thai Tofu Ramen

So, last month I had a Rachael Ray Magazine recipe on my weekly menu plan. I was all excited to make Tofu Ramen Soup with Spinach, but then I saw that Hannah had made that very soup recently… and thought it was basically a flop. A good idea as a nod towards a healthified college classic, but a flop nonetheless. Good thing I found this out before I made it. Thanks to Hannah, I can present you with this amazing Thai-inspired Tofu Ramen.

Thai Tofu Ramen | The Pajama Chef

Each noodle-y slurp of this spicy, garlicky, gingery broth took me back to my sophomore year of college when, sick of dorm food, I enjoyed a steady rotation of ramen, easy mac, and oatmeal for lazy dinners or weekend meals. Prepared in the microwave, of course. Fortunately, this ramen has grown up and gotten much healthier, but still delivers in terms of ease, taste, and comfort.  Instead of just a salty bowl of meat-flavored noodles with a few dehydrated vegetables thrown in, this ramen has tons of personality–chunks of carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Spinach! Cilantro! Tofu! A little coconut milk to add a bit of creamy sweetness and balance out the spice… and ta da! You have an easy, flavorful soup that is darn near perfect comfort food.

Thai Tofu Ramen | The Pajama Chef

Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, including the scary fish sauce. This soup certainly comes together quickly and the fish sauce? Well, all I can say is a little goes a long way. Just stir it in quickly and ignore the smell, because you’ll love the taste! All the flavors go so well together, and definitely improve over time, so leftovers will be really coveted. At least they were here! Enjoy!

Thai Tofu Ramen [adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 ounce freshly grated ginger
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 7 cups low-sodium chicken broth [or vegetable broth]
  • 3/4 cup carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 1/4 pound mushrooms, sliced and cleaned
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 pound tofu, drained, pressed, and cubed
  • 4 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
  • 1 bunch scallions, minced
  • 3 packages ramen noodles [uncooked, broken, noodles only]
  • 3/4 cup lite coconut milk

Directions:

Heat oil in a medium pot set over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic, and crushed red pepper and saute for 1 minute until fragrant. Add chicken broth, carrots, celery, mushrooms, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.

Next, stir in tofu, spinach, cilantro, scallions, and ramen. Cover again and simmer 3-5 minutes until noodles are tender. Reduce heat to low and gently stir in coconut milk. Simmer for another minute or so until hot, then season with additional crushed red pepper or coconut milk as desired.

Time: 30 minutes.

Yield: 6-8 servings.

Desserts, Other, Recipes

SRC: Chocolate Mousse

First Monday in September! Even though it’s Labor Day, it’s still a Secret Recipe Club kind of day. 🙂 If you’ve missed past SRC posts, the premise is this: you’re assigned a different member’s blog every month. You visit their blog, choose any recipe you want, then make it and share it on your blog. Everyone else posts about their secret blog the same day. It’s fabulously fun to try out new blogs. If you have a blog, definitely check it out and consider joining! I highly recommend it.

This month I was assigned Veggie Grettie. This blog is written by Gretchen, who believes in food as the ultimate medicine. You can read her story here, and I suggest you do because her story is pretty inspiring, even though I don’t personally eat a completely plant-based or gluten-free diet. Gretchen has many awesome recipes, reviews, and educational posts on her site… it was so fun to peruse. Anyways, I must admit that I adapted the recipe I made from Gretchen’s blog… but simply because I already had regular milk, cocoa, chocolate, and sweetener at home and wanted to make this recipe right away. But do click over to the original to see her recommendations for ingredients. However, do not despair because [in my opinion] I did not change the biggest component of all from this vegan chocolate mousse recipe: TOFU!

Yes, that’s right. That smooth, creamy, chocolately mousse isn’t made with heavy cream or eggs, but rather a block of extra firm tofu. Whaaaat? And I promise you that you cannot taste any tofu at all. There is no tofu-y taste, no tofu-y texture, just a luscious chocolate dessert that can’t be beat. It’s fabulous!

Ben was a doubter when I told him about it. He thought it was weird, but since he’s such a great guy, he always is willing to try anything I make. 🙂 As I was dishing up this dessert last week, here are some of the names Ben came up with to call this dish rather than Chocolate Mousse:

  1. tofudding
  2. tofousse
  3. moufu

Which do you prefer? I actually like tofousse. Tofudding creeps me out, and moufu sounds like a character from a Disney movie.

But after a bite or two, here’s what I had on my hands…

He loved it! And when asked if he would have suspected tofu was in this dish had he not known, this was his reply: “when you put a chocolate dessert in front of me, the first thing that comes to mind is not tofu.” I think that about sums it up. I wish I had done a fake out test on him, but sadly I didn’t. However, you can! Because really, who would guess that this was a big bowl of anything but chocolate mousse?

It’s rich and creamy, while being fairly healthy and even vegan [if you want]. I’m so glad I got the chance to try this recipe from Gretchen… it is amazing and I hope you try it too! 🙂

Chocolate Mousse [adapted from Veggie Grettie]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, chopped roughly
  • 14 ounce package of extra firm tofu
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups skim milk
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons sweetener [I used half honey, half sugar]

Directions:

Melt chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, combine tofu, 1 1/2 cups milk, cocoa powder, and sweetener in a food processor or high powdered blender [like a Vitamix] and blend until very, very smooth. Be sure to stop and scrape down the sides as needed.

After chocolate has melted, stream in with other ingredients, and continue to blend until smooth. Mixture will be warm and not quite the consistency of pudding. If it seems too thick, add up to another 1/2 cup of milk.

Place in a covered container and refrigerate at least several hours to thicken completely.

When ready to serve, spoon or pipe into individual bowls. Top with berries, whipped cream, spinkles, or my personal favorite, Trader Joe’s Sugar, Chocolate, and Coffee Bean Grinder.

Time: 15 minutes preparation, plus time to chill.

Yield: 4 1/2 cups.

Be sure to check out other posts from today’s SRC reveal. Happy Labor Day!

Main Dishes, Recipes, Tofu

Balsamic-Honey Couscous Salad

couscous saladSo, last Monday, January 10th, I began training for my second marathon. I’m running the Cleveland Marathon on May 15th [eeeek!]. I ran my first marathon, the Cincinnati Flying Pig, in May 2008 with a time of 4:07:27. While it was a great experience, I definitely have room for improvement. Over winter break, I worked hard on putting together a training schedule that would work with my schedule and provide me with challenging workouts so that I can run my best in May. I also made a few nutritional goals to help power me through to a great race.

  1. Cut out soda during my training week. My training schedule has me working out Monday-Saturday. I love Diet Coke and though I am not a huge soda drinker [usually I will drink a can 4-5 times/week], I know it’s not good for me. It’s easy for me to replace water with soda and to ensure that I drink enough water everyday, I decided to cut out soda during the week. After my long run on Saturdays [and on Sundays] I can drink some soda–provided I get enough water first! I used to do this during cross country and track seasons in high school and college and found it helpful.
  2. Eat protein at lunch. It can be really easy for me to just eat a lot of carbs for lunch [pasta or a bagel, anyone?] or to just eat a lot of side dishes. Consequently, I have resolved to make one special lunch entree each week that contains protein. So far, I have enjoyed new varieties of tuna and egg salad that I hope to post soon!
  3. Eat more veggies. I love eating fruit and I like eating veggies. But it’s easy for me to eat a lot of fruit because it’s sweet–I’ll even eat it as dessert sometimes. Veggies though? Not so much. You can only eat so many raw carrots. So I’ve decided to make our Mondays meatless! Yes, I know I’m jumping on the meatless Monday bandwagon pretty late, but eating a meatless meal one day per week is a) not that hard; b) forcing me to be a bit more creative; and c) pretty tasty. Here’s the latest!

bowl of couscousThis Balsamic-Honey Couscous Salad is a great main dish for a lighter weeknight meal or a quick side dish that is nice enough for company. I love how bright and flavorful it turned out. The dressing definitely makes the salad go from bland to a-m-azing! Although I used broccoli and a pepper/onion mix, any vegetables could really be used, so pick and choose amongst your favorites. Tofu is a suggested addition to this salad and really does make it very filling; even my meat-lover of a husband agreed with that! Enjoy!

Balsamic-Honey Couscous Salad [a Pajama Chef original]

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat coucous
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped peppers and onions [or fresh–all the peppers at the store looked blah so I used frozen]
  • 1 pound tofu, optional
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes

Directions:

If desired, begin by cooking the tofu. I like using Emily’s method at the Daily Garnish. Then, steam the broccoli and peppers/onion mix over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Finally, prepare couscous according to package directions [usually combine 2 cups of water and  1 cup of couscous; bring it all to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes or until water absorbs]. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss to combine.

Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. Stir together olive oil, honey, and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Add the garlic, sesame, and chili flakes and whisk until emulsified.

Pour dressing into couscous and veggies in a slow steady stream, and then toss once more until dressing is fully incorporated. Serve warm.

Click here for the printable version: Balsamic-Honey Couscous Salad

Question of the Day: What goals are you shooting for this year?

Main Dishes, Recipes, Tofu

You, Too, Can Like… Tofu! In Tofu Shrimp Bowls, that is.

…TOFU!

You don’t have to be a vegetarian. Or a vegan. Or really weird. Or any of the excuses you’ve made over the years for avoiding tofu.

If this guy… this bacon loving man likes tofu…

Ben and tofu
Yes he does!

…then you can too!

Tofu Shrimp Bowls
Especially when it looks like this… so pretty! And get ready–it tastes even better!

It’s not slimy. It’s not smelly. It’s not mushy. I promise!

Just give it a try… these tofu shrimp bowls I made the other night don’t really have a recipe, per se, but here’s what I did.

Tofu Shrimp Bowls

Ingredients:

  • 1 block tofu
  • 8 ounces cooked cocktail shrimp
  • 1/2 cup frozen lima beans
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cooked rice
  • 1/3 cup water

Directions:

Prepare tofu according to The Front Burner Blog’s tutorial. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, place water, shrimp, lima beans, and peas. Season with salt and pepper and let simmer until heated through. Prepare your rice according to package directions, and combine rice, shrimp/veggie mixture, and tofu in a bowl to serve. Enjoy! We found everything very flavorful on its own, but you could experiment with soy sauce, teriyaki, etc. if you’d like an extra boost of flavor!

Question of the Day:

On a scale of 1-10, how do you feel about tofu? 1=EWWWW gross, I’d never eat it if I was starving in the desert and 10=tofu is the BEST thing EVER!!!!! I’m about an 8… I won’t go so far as to say it’s my absolute favorite food ever, and I wouldn’t eat it once a day [or once a week even], but I’ll eat it a few times a month.