Friday, August 29, 2014

Honey Ginger Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry

Never doubt the beloved cast iron skillet. It is the best, most perfect nonstick pan, and is a healthy cooking choice. TRUST. I originally opted for my wok when making this, but regretted it as soon as the tofu was sticking like crazy to the bottom of the "nonstick" pan. I irritably moved the tofu to my cast iron, and everything was peachy again. I'm sorry my dear cast iron for ever doubting you.

Aside from the minor tofu meltdown, this stir fry was very successful. I love a good stir fry! They're super quick, making them perfect for a weeknight, and they're pretty easy to improvise. I used carrots and snow peas, but mushrooms (always say yes to mushrooms), broccoli, or asparagus would be awesome as well. Feel free to switch out the veggies in the recipe, and use whatever you have on hand!  To me, what usually makes one stir fry stand apart from another is the sauce, and this one is super! Full of fresh ginger and garlic, it's savory and delish. You may have a bit leftover, so don't be afraid to get creative. I'm sure it would be crazy good with fried rice, or on top of fish or chicken. Regardless, I'm sure you'll hoover this recipe, just like we did. 

Honey Ginger Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry

Notes: I used coconut oil in place of canola oil to make a healthier stir fry. Coconut oil has a high smoke point, making it work just as well as canola oil. Plus, it's tasty. I shredded the carrots, but I think I'll either chop them next time or use match sticks. Though they were pretty, the shredded carrots tended to clump up, and it was difficult to separate them.


For the stir fry
1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
2 tablespoons coconut oil
14 ounces extra firm tofu
2 cups chopped snow peas, or green veggie of choice
2 cups carrots, shredded, chopped or julienned-your call!
3 green onions

For the stir fry sauce
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh ginger
2 tablespoons honey (more to taste)
1/2 cup tamari, or low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar 
1/4 cup coconut oil


First, make the sauce. Puree all the sauce ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. Set aside.

Cook the rice according to package directions (remember, brown rice needs about 45 minutes of cooking time!). Cut the tofu into slices and press with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Wait a few minutes and press again-there's a lot of water in there! Cut the tofu slices into small cubes. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet (cast iron is dreamy here!) over medium heat. When the oil is shiny, add the tofu and about 1/4 cup of the stir fry sauce (watch out because the sauce and oil will splatter a tiny bit. Have a cover, just in case). Pan-fry the tofu until golden brown. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towel lined plates.

Return the pan to the heat and add the snow peas, try not to stir too much, as you want the veggies to get a little charred (at least I do!). When the snow peas are bright green and slightly charred, add the carrots and 1/4 cup of stir fry sauce, and toss. Arrange the veggies and tofu over the cooked rice, and cover with more sauce to taste. Sprinkle with the green onions.

Recipe Source: adapted from Pinch of Yum

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dairy-Free Coconut Caramel Ice Cream

This past Christmas, Chris gave me an ice cream maker. I wanted one for a while, so I was super excited! Since then, I've experimented a bit, making vanilla, chocolate, and raspberry cheesecake ice cream, as well as a strawberry lemon sorbet, but this was my first venture in making a dairy-free ice cream. Guys…this was the best ice cream that has come out of my ice cream maker!

Coconut milk has enough fat in it, making it a great substitute for heavy cream. Throw in some egg yolks, and you have a luxurious and rich ice cream. I'm all for regular ice cream (who isn't?), but sometimes all the cream can be too much for my tummy. I'm so happy to have found such a wonderful substitute! The coconut flavor shines and almost tastes toasted, and the caramel flavor reminds me of a rich dulce de leche. It's glorious. I think I'll try using this recipe as a base for future flavors. Chocolate coconut is an obvious choice, and I think coffee (swoon) would be another fabulous addition as well. I'll keep you posted on what flavors I try next!

Dairy-Free Coconut Caramel Ice Cream


2 cans full fat coconut milk
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Combine one can of coconut milk, the brown sugar, and the salt in a medium saucepan. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally so that the sugar dissolves. Once boiling, reduce the heat slightly and continue to cook until the mixture has darkened and reduced, about 20-30 minutes. The mixture should have thickened, resembling caramel.

While the caramel is reducing, beat the egg yolks in a large, heatproof bowl and set aside.

Add the second can of coconut milk to the coconut caramel and heat, stirring to integrate the caramel. When the mixture is very hot, but not boiling, temper the egg yolks: slowly whisk 1 cup of the caramel mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks. You want to heat the eggs slowly, so they don't scramble. 

Turn the heat to low and pour the tempered yolks back into the pot. Cook, stirring constantly, just until the mixture has thickened, 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Pour the custard mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's directions. Freeze for 4-6 hours before scooping and serving.

Recipe source: adapted from Real Simple

Monday, August 18, 2014

Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

One can never have too many chocolate chip cookie recipes in their arsenal. I whipped these up last month when my mom and I needed cookies. We were packing for our trip to California/I made her watch The Bachelorette (don't judge), therefore we had to have cookies. A true southern woman, my mom always has pecans on hand, so we of course needed a recipe that included them. I also wanted to experiment a little bit by adding a bit of cornstarch to the recipe. I remember seeing the addition of cornstarch in chocolate chip cookies on Apple a Day (making a mental note now to try her recipe), so I thought I'd add them here too. Since cornstarch is so light, perhaps that's what lifted them, or gave them a more delicate crunch on the outside. Regardless, these cookies were awesome. I'm embarrassed to say, we totally hovered the entire recipe by the next morning on one of our flights. Hey, at least we own it! Soft, chewy, crunchy, nutty…these cookies were amazing! Enjoy! 

P.S. we had a little too much fun with my mom's Mickie and Minnie salt and pepper shakers….or we were just excited about the possibility of going to Disneyland?

Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

Notes: we like a lot of vanilla in our chocolate chip cookies, so I changed the original amount from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon. If that sounds like too much, just stick with the teaspoon.


1 cup butter (2 sticks)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla (see note above)
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans


Cream butter and sugars together until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and cornstarch in a separate bowl and gradually stir into butter/sugar mixture.

Once combined, stir in chocolate chips and pecans.

Spoon dough onto ungreased cookie sheet (or one lined with a Silpat or parchment paper) in 1 tablespoon amounts.

Bake in a 375F oven for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Makes about 4 dozen cookies (For the record, I think I halved the recipe? I don't think we could've eaten 4 dozen cookies…or could we?).

Recipe source: adapted from Southern Bites

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Zucchini Fritters with Cool Lemon Yogurt Sauce

I've professed my love for fritters both here and here, yet I just don't think to cook them that often. It's a shame really, because I adore them, not to mention they're incredible quick to make, versatile, and filling! I really should make a mental note to make them more regularly. Will you help me remember? Thanks :)

These bad boys contain a few of my favorite things (ha! in the process of watching the Sound of Music for the first time...I couldn't help myself…it's currently intermission). Zucchini and arugula make my heart go pitter pat in the summer, I just love them both so much! Arugula and garlic weren't in the original recipe, but I thought a little extra green couldn't hurt, and who doesn't love garlic? I was right! The arugula added a bit of green peppery-ness that was wonderful and fresh, and paired with the cool lemon yogurt sauce? Heaven. Serve these with a small salad (or baked sweet potato like we did), along with some of fresh fruit, and you have one lovely summer lunch.

Zucchini Fritters

-when prepping the zucchini, squeeze as much water as possible out. You'll be surprised by how much water comes out of those suckers! It's crazy. 
-the original recipe for the yogurt sauce made a TON of sauce. We're not saucy people (heh), so I just used it as a guide and made significantly less, and just tasted as I went. Even still, I ended up with too much. I'll include the measurements below for proportions. Something to keep in mind!
-I used olive oil, but may try coconut oil next time, as it was a bit smokey. It wasn't a big deal, but I may experiment next time with and alternative.


1 pound (about 2 medium zucchini
1 teaspoon coarse or Kosher salt, plus extra to taste
2 scallions, split lengthwise and sliced thin
1/4 cup arugula, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Olive or another oil of you choice, for frying

Lemon Yogurt Sauce (see note above)
1 cup plain full-fat yogurt (can use Greek or regular, or sour cream)
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Pinches of salt
1 small minced or crushed clove of garlic


Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Have a baking sheet ready.

Trim ends off zucchini and grate them either on the large holes of a box grater or, if you have one, using the shredding blade of a food processor. 

In a large bowl, toss zucchini with 1 teaspoon coarse salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Wring out the zucchini in one of the following ways: press against the holes of a mesh strainer with a wooden spoon to extract the water, or wrap it up in a clean dish towel and wring the water out that way (I went with the latter).  This will save the fritters from  sogginess. 

Return deflated zucchini shreds to bowl. Taste if you think it could benefit from more salt (most went down the drain), add a little bit more if needed. Stir in scallions, arugula, garlic, egg and some freshly ground black pepper. In a tiny dish, stir together flour and baking powder, then stir the mixture into the batter.

In a large heavy skillet (cast iron always wins), heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop small bunches of the zucchini mixture onto the skillet only a few at a time so they don't become crowded and lightly nudge them flatter with the back of your spatula. Cook the fritters over moderately high heat until the edges underneath are golden, about 3-4 minutes. If you find this is happening too quickly, reduce heat to medium. Flip the fritters and fry them on the other side until browned underneath again, about 2-3 minutes more. Drain briefly on paper towels then transfer to baking sheet and then into the warm oven until needed. Repeat the process, keeping the pan well-oiled, with remaining batter. 

For the topping, stir together the yogurt, lemon juice, zest, salt, and garlic, and adjust the flavors to your taste. Dollop on each fritter before serving.

Do ahead: These fritters keep well, either chilled in the fridge for a better part of a week and or frozen in a well-sealed package for months. When you're ready to use them, simply spread them out on a tray in a 325 degree oven until they're hot and crisp again.

Recipe Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Quick and Easy Sandwich Bread

I'm starting the process of cleaning out my apartment by getting rid things I don't want to move with me to DC (!!!). I started by filling an entire box up with old magazines…Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Better Homes and Gardens etc. I was just getting ready to get rid of a Cooks Illustrated Magazine (which I didn't order…some mild drama with they're company! Grrr...), when I saw a recipe I must have missed before. It was an easy sandwich bread recipe that promised minimal kneading, no shaping, and could be ready in less than two hours. I was sold, and got to baking right away!

I can't tell you how many times I've tried to make my own sandwich bread. None of them were disasters, and all were eaten, though none were great. Usually the bread I bake is somewhat dense, even though it feels like I'm doing everything right! However, this recipe delivered. It made wonderful chicken sandwiches, and super crunchy toast. Plus, look at all those holes! So pretty. With the start of the school year coming up, give this recipe a go. It's so easy and quick, there's no excuse to not have fresh bread every week! :)

Quick and Easy Sandwich Bread

Notes: This is a very wet dough…do not be alarmed! That is why you should use a paddle attachment instead of a dough hook. A paddle lends itself to faster, more aggressive, kneading. I haven't tried making this by hand, so I don't know how it would turn out. Also, bread flour is a must. Since you're doing very little kneading, you need the extra gluten! Since the dough isn't shaped, you won't have that perfectly smooth top you find with shape loaves…a small sacrifice. 


2 cups (11 ounces) bread flour
6 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water (120 degrees)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water and a pinch of salt (I may try without next time, as parts of the loaf had an eggy taste. It wasn't bad, but I'm curious how it would taste without it)


In bowl of a stand mixer, whisk bread flour, whole-wheat flour, and yeast together. Add 1 1/4 cups warm water, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and honey. Fit stand mixer with paddle and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes longer. Remove bowl and paddle from mixer. Scrape down bowl and paddle, leaving paddle in batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let batter rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray. Dissolve salt in remaining 2 tablespoons warm water. When batter has doubled, attach bowl and paddle to mixer. Add salt water mixture and mix on low speed until water is mostly incorporated, about 40 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping down paddle of necessary. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth surface with greased rubber spatula. Cover and leave in warm place until batter reaches 1/2 inch below edge of pan, 15-20 minutes. Uncover and let rise until center of batter is level with edge of pan, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Gently brush top of risen loaf with egg mixture, if using. Bake until deep golden brown and loaf registers 208-210 degrees, 40-45 minutes. Using dish towels, carefully invert bread onto wire rack. Reinvert loaf and brush top and sides with remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter. Let cool completely before slicing.

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated January/February 2014
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