I make: Mapo Tofu

When I found this recipe in Cooking Light Magazine, I welcomed the change since the only other Asian recipe we make involving ground pork is our Ground Pork with Green Beans. Is it weird that we don’t make a lot of Asian food?? Anyway, this recipe is traditionally made with soft tofu, but my preference is medium-firm because it holds up nicely while cooking and is soft enough when eaten. Also, though I love eating spicy foods, my stomach can’t handle that much heat anymore so the recipe, as is, might be too tame for some people (you can tell by the picture below since the sauce isn’t BRIGHT RED).

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine (April 2010)

(yields ~6 servings)
Ingredients:

Meat
1 lb ground pork
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried sweet basil
1 tsp less-sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tbsp minced ginger
1 (14 oz) package medium firm tofu, drained

Sauce
2 tbsp Sriracha (increase as desired)
1 1/2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp black bean garlic sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp less-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp chili oil (increase as desired)

White rice
Scallions for garnish

Directions:
1. Place tofu on paper towel; cover with paper towel. Top with heavy skillet and let stand 30 minutes. (One reason why medium firm tofu works better vs. soft tofu, plus I just prefer firmer tofu anyway). Cut tofu in 1 inch cubes.
2. Season meat: Combine all ingredients under “Meat” section. Let rest for 10 minutes.
3. Sauce: Combine Sriracha through sugar in one bowl. Combine chicken broth through chili oil in another bowl; whisk until smooth.
4. Heat canola oil in a large skillet (or wok) over medium heat.
5. Add garlic and ginger; stir-fry for about 2 minutes.
6. Add pork; stir-fry for 5 minutes or until almost cooked through.
7. Add Sriracha mixture; combine thoroughly and cook for 1 minute.
8. Add broth mixture; bring to a boil and cook until sauce thickens.
9. Stir in tofu.
10. Serve over white rice and garnish with green onions.

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No beauty shot this time – just straight out of the wok, but you get the point 🙂

Note: I changed the ratio of tofu to ground pork because Henry specifically requested less tofu.

Bon appetit!

I make: Roasted Chicken Breast

This recipe is one of my favorites and one that I make most often. It’s quick, easy and the chicken breasts always come out so flavorful and juicy. I’ve also used the marinade on chicken thighs and they’ve turned out just as delicious.

Adapted from The Fine Cooking, The Best of Chicken

(yields ~ 4/5 servings, 1 chicken breast each)
Ingredients:
1 pack of bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts (the ones I buy come in 5)
6 tbsp dijon mustard (I like to substitute 1 or 2 tbsp of honey truffle mustard if I have it available)
6 tbsp olive oil (I use Stonehouse Roasted Garlic Olive Oil)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
(Additional kosher salt/pepper before baking)

Directions:
1. Whisk together mustard, olive oil, balsamic vinegar until smooth. Marinade chicken breasts for at least 6 hours – for me, it’s usually about 8.
2. Preheat oven to 400°.
3. Bake chicken in the middle rack for 20 minutes. Baste chicken with its own juices.
4. Continue to bake for 10 minutes. Baste again.
5. Continue to bake for 10 minutes. Baste again.
6. Continue to bake for 10 minutes.

THAT’S IT!

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Bon appetit!

I make: Bacon and Chicken Mac n’ Cheese

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Can you believe this is May?????

We usually pack up our snowboards and gear in April, but this year, the stars aligned (MVP12 season pass + cheap condo) and we spent this past weekend in Mammoth with a couple of friends.

Henry and I wanted to shop for groceries before we left for Mammoth so we had to make a game time decision on what to make for dinner (breakfast is so much more simple!). Our friends suggested pasta and the first thing that popped into my head was spaghetti bolognese. I totally would have went with that if I hadn’t made it for lunch earlier in the week; my stomach just can’t handle that much acidity 😦 So, we went with mac n’ cheese instead. You can’t go wrong with mac n’ cheese, am I right??

(yields 4 servings)
Ingredients:
8 oz uncooked Cavatappi (do NOT substitute elbow macaroni!!!!)
3 slices maple bacon
8 oz boneless, skinless chicken thighs – cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 cup shredded four-cheese Italian blend
1 cup shredded Parmesan
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Cooking spray
1 cup shredded Colby-Jack cheese

Directions:
1. Cook pasta in large pot; drain.
2. While pasta cooks, cut bacon into small pieces and cook in large non-stick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and place onto paper towel covered plate. Reserve about half of bacon drippings.
3. Increase heat to medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to bacon drippings and cook until browned and done (about 5-6 minutes).
4. In medium size bowl, combine milk and cream of mushroom soup. Set aside.
5. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 2 minutes.
6. Gradually add milk/soup mixture and stir with whisk. Bring to a boil and cook until thick. Turn heat down to low and let sit for a few minutes.
7. Add Italian cheese blend and Parmesan cheese, onion powder, garlic powder and salt. Stir until cheese is melted.
8. Preheat boiler.
9. Coat baking dish with cooking spray. Pour in the pasta, chicken, bacon and cheese sauce. Mix together so that the sauce is well incorporated. Sprinkle evenly Colby-Jack.
10. Broil for 3 minutes or until the Colby-Jack cheese is melted.

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DEVOURED

We made two containers full and that was all that was left. Proof that you can never go wrong with mac n’ cheese… especially when bacon is involved.

I’ve also made this recipe with chicken breast and it tasted just as good. If you want a more high-end mac n’ cheese, substitute the Italian cheese blend with a combination of smoked Fontina and smoked Gouda – they’ll definitely take the mac n’ cheese to another level of deliciousness!!!!

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Official beauty shot

Bon appetit!

I make: Salisbury Steak

When I think of salisbury steak, two images immediately pop into my head:

1) hungry man dinners
2) elementary school lunches

Not exactly selling points, right?

Well, seeing the recipe in the December issue of Cooking Light was enough for me to try to make it myself (you can find the recipe in the “Dinner Tonight” section).

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

(yields ~ 4 servings)
Ingredients:
1/3 cup grated onions, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground sirloin
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
8 oz baby portabellas (I cheat and buy pre-washed/pre-sliced)
1 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
1 1/2 tbsp Wondra flour
1 tsp red wine vinegar

Directions:
1. Combine 1/4 cup onion, pepper, salt, garlic, soy sauce and beef. Shape into 4 (1/2 inch thick) patties.
2. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Add patties and cook each side until browned (~3 min).
4. Remove patties and add butter to the pan. Saute mushrooms and remaining onions in melted butter (~6 min).
5. Sprinkle flour into the mushroom mixture and cook for about 1 minute. Pour in broth and bring to a boil. Gravy should thicken up in about 10 minutes – stir to ensure no clumps.
6. Add patties, vinegar to pan and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

I really loved the mushroom gravy – it was the best part of the recipe! The vinegar enhances the gravy’s earthy/beefy flavor. Even though I adjusted the original recipe, I still think the patties needed more seasoning. Oh, and make sure you don’t form the patties thicker than 1/2 inch. Otherwise, the steak/gravy ratio will be off and that’s a bad, bad thing. Or you can just make extra gravy 🙂

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Bon appetit!

I make: Red Velvet Cupcakes

I measured out all the ingredients before I realized I left my mixer attachments at my friend’s apartment. I didn’t want to just quit and throw everything away so Henry and I sucked it up and mixed everything by hand!

These babies turned out soooo yummy; you can really taste the love and hard work that we put into it.

I guess it’s true – anything is possible with a little bit of elbow grease.

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Adapted from Paula Deen’s recipe

(yields ~21-24 cupcakes)
Cake Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tbsp red food coloring
1 tsp white distilled vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Frosting Ingredients:
8 oz. packaged cream cheese, softened
1 cube butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions:
1. Position rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Line 2 (12 cup) muffin pans with Reynolds foil baking cups – I recommend the foil ones because the oil from the cupcakes can soak into the paper cups. (BTW, I only had enough batter to fill 21 cups)
3. In medium mixing bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder.
4. In large mixing bowl, use electric mixer to gently beat together the wet ingredients: oil, buttermilk, eggs, red food coloring, white distilled vinegar and vanilla extract.
5. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
6. Pour batter into each baking cup until 2/3 full. Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes using a toothpick to test doneness. Remove from oven and let cool.
7. For frosting: in large mixing bowl, use electric mixer to beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract together until smooth. Add sugar (1 cup at a time) and mix at low speed until fully incorporated. Increase speed to high until frosting is light and fluffy.
8. Once cupcakes have completely cooled, use butter knife to frost.

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I should have took off the foil. Oops!

Bon appetit!