Quick Tofu Fried Rice

Last week, I tripped while running….and broke my fall on my phone. I lost all my pictures from recent road trips, my cat and dog, and the pictures from this dinner date! Fortunately, I make this fried rice all the time for weeknight dinners, so the simple ingredients and time weren’t too hard to track down to remake the recipe for photoshoot (and Friday night dinner!) purposes.

I really only have two “go-to” starches for my easy week night dinners: potatoes roasted in a one-pan meal, and rice from an automatic rice cooker. Since I also have a lackadaisical attitude towards measuring ingredients (this blog has been a special challenge for my “pinch of this” attitude), I usually end up with more rice then I need. Luckily, that leftover rice can be turned into a delicious meal the next day! If you’re more disciplined with measuring ingredients than me, some cooked rice chilled for at least half an hour (sometimes I put it in the fridge) will dry the rice enough to be fried.

Like a lot of our other recipes, this one is versatile and can be used with whatever ingredients you have on hand. Different toppings that I have used in the past include peas, diced carrots or celery, ginger, and sriracha.


Ingredients

Fried Tofu

1/2 block of tofu – Use more if desired, though you may have to fry in batches

2 tbs sesame oil

Fried Rice

2 cups cold, cooked rice

2 tbs sesame oil

3 cloves garlic

3-4 tbs rice vinegar

3-4 tbs soy sauce

1 1/2 tbs ginger

1 tbs powdered porcini mushrooms (or 80z sliced mushrooms)

1/2 tsp white pepper (or ground black pepper)

Chile pepper, cilantro, lemongrass to taste (optional)

2 eggs

1 tbs sesame seeds, optional

Instructions

Fried Tofu

  1. Unpack tofu and “press”- I usually do this between two plates over my sink with a soda (or wine) bottle on top of the plate – something heavy! Press for about half an hour to remove excess liquid from tofu.
  2. Slice tofu into thin, bite-sized rectangles (about 1/2 in. thick).
  3. Heat sesame oil in wok or flat griddle over medium heat. Carefully arrange tofu on surface and use spatula to “squish” the pieces. It should make a shrill sound as the moisture is further removed (this is normal!). Repeat several times over 3-4 minutes, or until the shrill sound is less intense.
  4. Carefully flip tofu. It should be golden-brown. Squish with spatula for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan to a plate and set aside.

Fried Rice

  1. Add second part of sesame oil to wok and heat over medium-high heat. Mince garlic and saute until golden.
  2. Add rice and separate with spatula to spread evenly throughout pan. Fry for about 2 minutes. If using fresh mushrooms, add these now as well.
  3. Add 3 tbs of soy sauce and rice vinegar to pan and stir to coat rice. If necessary, add a bit more of each to fully cover rice (but give it a minute to absorb to be sure!)
  4. Add spices and stir throughout.
  5. Finally, stir in baked tofu and any additional vegetables until heated through.
  6. Create a well in the middle of the fried rice and add both cracked eggs. Allow to heat until the whites begin to become translucent. Scramble eggs throughout rice until fully cooked.
  7. Serve with sesame seeds for garnish as desired.

Salad Rolls with a Trio of Dipping Sauces

I remember one of the first times I thought I might be becoming an adult (I mean, still not 100%), it was after a particularly indulgent weekend full of gastronomic delights. It was at that point when I had the spontaneous thought: “Man, I really just want a vegetable.” That was a completely new feeling to me as anyone who knew my former eating habits could probably verify. Nowadays, it doesn’t take much to get that feeling again and I take pride in it. However, after weeks of the holiday season, hosting, attending parties (some people, not necessarily me), and partaking in all the scrumptious treats of the holiday season, it’s nice to get back to the routine of healthy meals for a little while.

This week, Amanda and I wanted to share our go-to veggie filled recipes when we need a little nutritional pick-me-up. While I try to make pretty healthy meals on the regular, when I’m really feeling disgusting and bloated and a little too deep-fried, a nice salad roll is my favorite. They are light, basically a salad burrito and if you fill them full of veggies and lean protein, a little dipping sauce might not hurt if you don’t go overboard.

The beauty of these rolls are in their customizability. You can add anything you like and dip into anything you like. I have seen spring and summer rolls filled with everything from cooked shrimp and vermicelli noodles to mangoes and strawberries. If you keep these rice wrappers on hand, you can easily scoop up some leftovers you have in your fridge and let your imagination go wild. Below, I wanted to share the version I gravitate towards as well as a few dipping sauce options:

Spicy Pineapple Dipping Sauce

  • 3/4 cup pineapple puree
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tsp of sliced greens of green onions for garnish

To Make:

  • If you don’t have pineapple puree, blend together about 1 cup pineapple chunks (canned is fine) until smooth.
  • Whisk together all ingredients minus the green onions until combined.
  • Top with green onion slices.

Sesame Ginger Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp grated, fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1-2 green onions, chopped

To Make:

  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until well mixed and enjoy.

Peanut Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp grated, fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes

To Make:

  • Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined (the peanut butter might fight you for a second but it will come around) and it is ready to enjoy.

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My Salad Roll Ingredients:

  • Rice Paper Wrappers
  •  Butter Lettuce
  • Cooked Chicken
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Avocado
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • (But the possibilities are endless so go wild)

To Assemble: 

  • Gather and slice all your ingredients mise-en-place style so you aren’t fumbling for anything. I like my vegetables and proteins (although shrimp can probably stay whole) to be cut into strip for easier eating.Make sure you have a large bowl of clean, cool, water big enough to submerge the entirety of your wrapper at one time, and a flat, clean surface to build your roll.
  • Dip one rice paper wrapper into the water and allow to sit for 10-15 seconds.
  • Remove from the water, and try to shake off and excess. Transfer to your surface for assembly.
  • Place a small amount of your ingredients about 1/3  of the way up from the bottom of the roll not surpassing the halfway mark of the wrapper. Try to fill in as much free space as possible but be careful not to overstuff.
  • Once you have added all of your ingredients, fold the bottom third over your ingredients and then fold in the sides. Then roll the rest up just like a burrito. As you can see in my picture above, the rolling might not always be perfect, but try to keep it as contained as you can.
  • Enjoy immediately as a whole meal or as an appetizer with your choice of dipping sauces.

Wine Pairing: I know we’re trying to be healthy here, but come on. Sometimes you can have both right? While it would depend on your dipping sauce selection, I can’t help but feel that a light Rose might be a nice selection to the summery feel of this dish–which may also match with the peanut sauce nicely. Happy cooking!

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Slow Cooker Blackberry Pork

So, as you can probably guess from the picture, this is from one of our Distance Dishes dates this fall. However, this recipe is a year-round favorite! I included it in my family’s cookbook compiled for our last family reunion. Adapted from a roasted pork recipe, I like this for the slow cooker – not only does it give me time for chores while it cooks (or, more realistically, a nap!).

Ingredients

  • 2lbs pork tenderloin
  • 1 16oz jar seedless blackberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons dry red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Season pork tenderloin with salt, pepper, and rosemary.
  2. Lay pork tenderloin in slow cooker and pour over jam, honey, and wine.
  3. Cook on low for 4 hours.

Wine Pairing: I had this pork with the same wine I used in the recipe, which was a Cabernet Sauvignon. The fuller flavor stands up to the slow cooking process and the pork!

Vindaloo Spiced Breakfast Tacos

As you know, Amanda and I recently took a little run-cation to Nashville where we enjoyed the best experiences the city had to offer and of course the best food. I quite enjoy researching a new town and seeing what restaurant I would be sorry to miss while visiting. When I came across the Chauhan Ale & Masala House in my research I knew I was in love. If you’ve seen these posts, you definitely know that we both have a favorite place in our hearts for both Indian cuisine as well as brunch, and this place does….BOTH!? I had to go. Not even realizing this restaurant is co-owned by the James Beard Award winner Maneet Chauhan, we made our reservation as soon as we could for a nice, lazy Sunday brunch to help our legs heal from the beating the previous morning. While choosing just one thing from the menu was difficult, I chose the Breakfast Parantha Taco and it was absolutely wonderful. It was a flaky Malaysian paratha flatbread with vindaloo sausage, scrambled eggs, provel cheese, kachumber and mango-mint chutney. My only regret is that I could not enjoy more dishes from this restaurant but I knew I wanted to take this idea of a dish home with me.

Paratha/Parantha is an Indian flatbread that does seem some variation across regions. I did make my own for this recipe since I like to go as little store-bought as possible for these posts at least in initial tests. I used a recipe from my favorite cookbook, Hot Bread Kitchen (check them out–they’re pretty cool), and let me tell you–these were unbelievably delicious. However, making them involved a lot of brushing with butter (see previous sentence about deliciousness), folding, rolling, and more brushing, then folding, rolling, then brushing, then cooking–it was a lot. I was pretty exhausted when i finished the batch. So, if you’re a flatbread expert, have at it (I mean, I don’t regret the results)! Otherwise, grab some tortillas.

You’ll notice I did not make my own mango-mint chutney but I have included recipes below for Kachumber (which is delicious on its own) as well as an Indian spiced sausage, which I found to be the real star. Now, there are scrambled eggs involved with this one but I have not included a recipe. While I prefer my scrambled eggs Gordon Ramsay style, not everyone does (much to my embarrassment when I tried to make Amanda these style eggs while visiting). It seems as though every chef has a slightly different technique for “perfect scrambled eggs” so you go with the technique most suited to you whether that be creamy, fluffy or any texture in between. Once you have all these elements ready, you can’t go wrong with a delicious taco and an extremely enjoyable brunch. Enjoy!

Kachumber Salad Topping:

  • 1/2 medium cucumber, seeded
  • 1/2 beefsteak tomato, seeded
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • 1-2 small green Serrano chiles, seeded
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste

To Make:

  • Dice the cucumber, tomato, onion and chiles as evenly as possible. Roughly chop the cilantro leaves.
  • Combine all ingredients including everything you just chopped so beautifully into a small bowl and allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  • Then this is ready to serve on its own as a salad, but also the delicious topping for our breakfast.

Vindaloo Breakfast Sausage Crumbles

  • 1 lb ground sausage meat of your choice
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1sp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • Salt & pepper to taste

To make: 

  • Combine all spices except for salt and pepper in a small bowl so it is easier to add to the meat.
  • Place meat into a small skillet/saucepan and pour in spice mix. Brown the meat and ensure the spices are well combined while cooking (your kitchen will smell amazing).
  • Salt and pepper to your liking and once everything is evenly browned the sausage is ready to top your taco!

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Other Taco Fixin’s:

  • Scrambled Eggs to your liking (seems like every chef has an opinion these days on the perfect way to cook)
  • Flour tortillas (or paratha if you can get/make it)
  • Crumbled feta or shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Assembly: 

  • Although I think this part probably self-explanatory and customizable, here’s what I like: I like to add about 2 eggs worth of scrambled eggs on top of my tortilla, top with about 2 tablespoons of sausage, 2 big tablespoons of kachumber and top with cheese.
  • You will have leftover toppings unless you’re cooking for a brunch party (jealous!), so I’d recommend looking into making some freezer burritos for later enjoyment. It’s pretty easy–assemble, roll, wrap well with plastic wrap in a freezer bag and freeze. To reheat, remove plastic wrap and wrap in a paper towel. Then, microwave on high for 2-3 minutes.

Wine pairing: Well, if we’re doing brunch, have a mimosa! Although any aromatic white wine would also be good–and what I had when I had this for dinner.