Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tofu Stir Fry

For the last few nights, dinner has been some transformation of corned beef and cabbage leftovers- please note these weren't just any corned beef leftovers, but THE BEST corned beef ever that was prepared by my very own dad for the legendary annual Rezac's St. Patty's day party!  (Maybe if we are lucky, Dad might be willing to write a guest post describing the corned beef preparer process). 
Even though the traditional Irish feast was delicious, I was over meat tonight.  Tonight was to be devoted to lean, plant-derived protein.  Enter tofu, the only complete plant protein; complete protein refers to a protein that has enough of all the essential amino acids. 

I will admit that tofu is not typically my first choice.  The texture is a little crazy to me, so I made sure to squeeze out as much excess moisture as possible- I also added some corn starch to the marinade to help it get a little more crisp.  The great thing about tofu is, just like chicken, it can take on a lot of different flavors, so the trick is to let it marinade long enough to adopt the desired flavors. 
I chopped one block of extra firm protein and whipped up a zesty marinade that was kicked up in flavor with some ginger and red pepper flakes.  Let the tofu sit in the marinade for at least 30 minutes to absorb the yummy flavors.

Meanwhile, get started on your healthy fried rice.  You can use up leftover brown rice or make some ahead of time.  I heat some peanut oil in a skillet and added in the cooked rice.  This was a quick and easy fried rice, so I just mixed in a frozen pea and carrot mixture and hit the whole thing with some low sodium soy sauce. 

The fun part of fried rice is adding in the eggs!  After you've sauteed up your rice and it is nicely browned, push all the rice to the sides of the skillet so you have the middle of the skillet exposed.  Hit it with a little non-stick spray and crack your eggs in the middle of the rice. 

Use your spoon to begin to scramble the eggs. As the egg starts to set, you can slowly stir in the outer edges of the rice.

Continue stirring in your rice, until the egg is evenly dispersed.  To add a little extra flavor, healthy fat and protein, I also stirred in some peanuts.

Now it's time to move on to the tasty tofu!  I used a wok, but you could also use a large skillet.  Heat the wok over medium high heat.  Add your peanut oil, and when it's sizzling, throw in your tofu.  When the tofu is nice and browned on the edges, you can add in your desired veggies.

I added some sliced mushrooms and some cabbage.  Now, I would highly recommend using a bok choy instead of green cabbage.  However, as previously mentioned, I am helping my parents use up all the excess cabbage bought for their St. Patty's blowout, so I used regular green cabbage.  The great thing about stir fry is that you can use WHATEVER veggies you have on hand.
I served my fried rice and tofu stir fry with some pineapple slices... yum yum yum!

You can check out my recipes below.  However, I highly encourage you to substitute any veggies you like- broccoli, snow peas, thinly sliced carrots and onions would all work well.  You can also substitute seafood, chicken, beef or pork for the tofu.  Enjoy!
Healthy Fried Rice
1 Tb peanut oil (can substitute canola)
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup pea and carrot blend, defrosted
1 Tb low sodium soy sauce
2 eggs
2 Tb chopped peanuts
Black pepper to taste

Heat peanut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add in rice and saute for about 2 minutes.  Add in pea and carrot blend and cook, stirring, another minute.  Mix in soy sauce. 
Make a well in the middle by pushing rice to the sides of the skillet.  Spray the pan with a little non-stick spray and add your eggs. 
Stir the eggs with a wooden spoon and slowly stir in the rice until egg is evenly dispersed. 

Tofu Stir Fry
1 block extra firm tofu
1/8-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
1.5 Tb corn starch
2 Tb cold water
1 Tb honey
1 Tb peanut oil
1 Tb low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tb rice wine vinegar
1 Tb lime juice
1 Tb peanut oil
1 pint mushrooms (any kind)
3 cups thinly sliced bok choy or cabbage

Squeeze excess moisture from tofu.  Stir the red pepper, ginger and corn starch together then mix in the water.  When mixture is smooth, whisk in the honey, 1 Tb peanut oil, soy sauce, vinegar and lime juice.  Let marinade for at least 30 minutes. 
Heat the second Tb peanut oil over medium-high heat in the wok/skillet.  Strain the tofu from the marinade, but reserve the marinade to use later as sauce.  Add the tofu to the hot skillet and cook until browned on the edges, about 5 minutes. 
Add the sliced mushrooms and cook another minute until mushrooms slightly soften.  Add the bok choy and cook another 2-3 minutes until bok choy cooks down.  Add the remaining marinade and stir 30 seconds, then turn off the heat.  Serve hot with your fried rice.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Irish Carbomb Cupcakes

Earlier this month I mentioned it was National Nutrition Month and that we'd be making sure to point out the health benefits of the foods we blog about. Today, I'll do my best with this treat.

For Morgans' Parents annual St. Patty's Day Party, which is an event you definitely DON"T want to miss, I decided to contribute cupcakes. While searching for the perfect recipe, I found one on for Irish Carbomb Cupcakes.  They looked delicious and it turns out they tasted delicious too! I happen to love carbombs, so naturally I made these. If you haven't baked cupcakes yet, do it, it's so fun. Honestly, baking just makes me happy, which is actually health point number one! Part of being healthy is being happy! So find things that make you happy and do them. Note, I didn't eat an entire batch of cupcakes while making them or serving them but I enjoyed the process, it was relaxing and smelled wonderful!

For the cupcakes. I baked in steps. Step one was to preheat the oven to 350F and start making the cupcake batter. Note a few hours before I made these I layed out the butter and eggs so they could come down to room temperature. I put a little more guiness than the recipe called for but just a splash or two extra. Here's what the batter looked like.
While the cupcakes were baking I whipped up the ganache. I also added a tsp more of whiskey than what the recipe recommended.
By this time the first batch of mini cupcakes were done so I threw the second batch in and a batch of large cupcakes (just for variety). Once those were in the oven I whipped up the icing. I actually didn't add any extra bailey's, go figure!
Once the cupcakes are cooled off. I used the tsp measuring utensil to scoop out the insides of the mini cupcakes and the tbsp for the large cupcakes. I also used the rounded bottom to push down the soft inside to make more room for the ganache!
Then I topped these little guys with the bailey's irish cream icing. I used a cute icing tip that my sister and mom bought for me to make them extra festive. If you don't have piping bags or fancy tips it's A-OK. Just use a plastic bag, fill it with the icing and cut the small point of the bag of to use as a make shift "piping bag". I used to do this all the time!
Top with green sprinkles if you'd like extra decorations. I didn't but didn't get a good photo of it!

I prefer mini cupcakes because they help me satifsy my sweet tooth without over indulging. Plus they are way cuter! There is absolutely no problem with having a little something sweet once in a while. While Morgan and I typically make healthier versions of sweets like whole wheat flour cookies or used reduced fat cream cheese or less butter in recipes, this recipe was 100% full fat and it was yummy! :) Just make sure these treats only make an appearance in your diet once in a while! :)

I'll post a healthy recipe very soon :)