Saturday, January 12, 2019

Tofu, Broccoli and Sweet Potato Yellow Curry

My sister and I decided that we would embark on one month of clean eating this month. No sugar, no alcohol, minimally processed, no dairy, no white flour, no white rice and no bread or pasta. To be clear, this is NOT a New Year's resolution as I personally find those to be silly fodder and a great way to set people up for failure. What motivated us was not the start of a new year, but a desire to improve our energy levels and reduce the environmental stress on our bodies.

My sister will be the first to admit she is lazy when it comes to her diet and cooking. She would rather not eat at all than to be committed to the kitchen. This is very interesting to me as she always cooked for her kids growing up. Thankfully I am more than willing to take on the kitchen in all its glory. It has been a very long time since I have been motivated and excited to be in the kitchen, so this challenge has been good for my spirit as well as my body. I'll stop waxing philosophic and get to what you came here for...the food.

I love curry. I love making it myself even more. This gives me the freedom to add the veggies I love the most and leave out all the stuff that I usually pull out (think bamboo shoots). I scoured the internet for the perfect recipe and found elements from different recipes that sounded good, but just not quite what I was looking for in a curry. I'm not afraid of healthy fats. If you are, this might not be the recipe for you. It is full of colorful veggies and lots of flavor. This recipe is not as saucy as a lot of curries I've experienced in my culinary travels. This was by design as I wanted a version that could hold up on its own with or without rice. I went for no rice myself.  Feel free to sub your favorite veggies, but I recommend leaving the sweet potatoes as they add a beautiful creaminess to the texture.


Tofu, Broccoli and Sweet Potato Yellow Curry

4 Servings

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/4 inch cubes
3 tablespoons coconut oil, separated (more if needed)
12 oz package of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1-2 tablespoons non-GMO corn starch or arrowroot powder
1 medium yellow or brown onion, diced
5 cloves minced garlic separated
3 tablespoons hot yellow curry powder (use milder if you aren't a fan of heat)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 - 1 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
pinch cayenne pepper
1 can coconut milk (you can use light if you are fat conscious)
1/2 cup rich vegetable broth
2 heads broccoli, cut into bit sized florets
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro, chopped (optional)
Sriracha or sambal olek (chili sauce) to taste

Preheat oven to 350. On a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet toss diced sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Bake until softened but not mushy (check at about 15 minutes cook longer if needed). When they are done, remove from oven and set aside.

While the sweet potatoes are baking, pat the cubed tofu dry. Toss in corn starch to lightly coat. In a large skillet melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil over medium heat. Saute the tofu cubes until golden brown (turning half way through to brown evenly). You may have to do this in two  batches and add more oil depending on the size of your pan. Gently transfer tofu to a paper towel lined plate. 

In the same skillet melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Add onions and saute until they are softened and slightly translucent. Add 1/2 of the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add dry spices and saute until fragrant (approximately 30 seconds). Pour in coconut milk and vegetable broth. Reduce heat to a low simmer. 

In another large skillet, saute the broccoli and peppers until they are al dente and bright in color, about 7 minutes. Add remaining garlic and saute for about 1 more minute being careful not to burn the garlic. Remove from heat. 

Add the tofu and the sweet potatoes to the onion/coconut milk mixture and heat through, about 3 minutes. Stir liquid mixture into the broccoli/pepper mixture and stir until combined. Cook slightly longer until all ingredients are heated (maybe another 3 minutes). Stir in cilantro if using. Ladle into 4 bowls on its own or over brown basmati rice. Season to taste with Sriracha (optional).

I hope you enjoy my foray into the world of curry. If you try the recipe, please leave a comment to let me know how it came out and how you liked it. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Instant Pot Smoking Hot Salsa

I got a new toy during Amazon Prime Day the giant Instant Pot! The Arizona summer heat has got me dreading any heat in the kitchen at all. I'm hoping this will motivate me to get back to the kitchen as I love playing with new toys.


To get the party started I was feeling a little spicy and saucy. For years I've cheated and used canned tomatoes to make my salsa. I don't like being a cheater, so I'm excited to be using fresh tomatoes and making my own salsa truly from scratch. This is also a great way to control sodium if you are watching it.

Let's get down to the business of throwing down the recipe.



Instant Pot Smoking Hot Salsa

Makes about 1 quart

6 large tomatoes, cored and diced small (seeds intact)
1 medium sweet yellow onion
2 fresh Serrano chiles, seeds removed, finely diced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 - 1/2 cup cilantro (measured before chopping) chopped

Add all ingredients except for cilantro to Instant Pot inner pot, stir to combine. Set for 30 minutes on manual/steam setting. Let cool to room temperature. Depending on the liquid content of your tomatoes you may want to drain off some of the excess liquid. Stir in chopped cilantro. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. The flavor gets better with time.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Fajita Marinated Grilled Veggies

This past week the local Sprouts had organic bell peppers on sale, so I bought a bunch. I love to eat them straight up with hummus, but not THAT many in a week. I decided to have a little dinner party and thought it would be a beautiful idea to find a way to incorporate my buy into the dinner. I had pineapples to use up and my sis was trying to find a use for some soy curls she wanted to use.

I remembered the Courico Tacos with Grilled Pineapple Salsa from Isa's Vegan Brunch. What a perfect way to use both! So the main course was set. We are all trying to recover from the carb loaded holidays, so I did not want to make rice or chips to go with the whole kitten caboodle. It is 70 degrees in Arizona this week, so I had not qualms about firing up the grill, but these can be made in a grill pan as well. These veggies would be delicious with any latin style dish. Heck, they are good with anything really.


Fajita Marinated Grilled Veggies

Makes 4 Generous Servings

Marinade Ingredients

1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 up avocado oil (or other mild flavored oil)
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ancho Chile powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke

2-3 large red, orange or yellow bell peppers, core and veins removed, cut into quarters
2 fresh papilla (poblano) peppers, core and veins removed, cut into quarters
1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds, peeled

Whisk marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Place peppers and marinade in 1 gallon ziplock back (or non-reactive container of your choice). Marinate for at least an hour up to overnight turning/stirring 1/2 way through.

Preheat grill to high. Spray onion slices with thin layer of oil. Place onion slices and peppers on grill. Brush onions with marinade. Grill for approximately 5 minutes per side, making sure peppers are slightly charred and onions have good grill marks before turning. NOTE: Turn onion slices carefully to try to keep intact. Brush second side of onions with marinade.

Serve immediately. Great reheated on sandwiches, in salads on omelets, etc.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Emergency Golden Gravy - Happy Thanksgiving

This year I am starting some new traditions. I am spending Thanksgiving with some of my friends with whom I have not previously had the pleasure of sharing this day of gratitude. I'm very grateful to be included in the celebration. I suspect we will be tipping back a few. This can often lead to monumental kitchen fails, so I prepped early.

I have been charged with the delicious task of making the mashed potatoes and gravy. I'm going to be making a Yukon gold mash with roasted garlic. I decided I would make dueling gravies. I started off with one of my personal favorites: Cajun JalapeƱo Gravy.  I broke a very important rule and didn't taste the jalapeƱos before adding them. Holy crap!!! They were so freaking hot my hands are still burning a couple of hours later. While I love hot stuff, I modified the recipe to make it a little less "burn your face off hot". The upside is the batch ended up being larger than the original recipe.

Fearing it still may be too hot for some of the milder mannered guests, I set out to make one of my favorite "normal" gravy recipes: Golden Gravy from Yellow Rose Recipes. I'm in a bit of a panic because I cannot find my copy and it is out of print. YIKES! I'm going to be tearing up the house this long weekend to try and find it. In the mean time, I had to come up with an on the fly substitution. Hence the title of this post. I am happy to report this new version turned out great. I think this may be my new favorite non-spicy gravy recipe! I'm excited to share it with you and grateful you are reading my blog as I haven't posted since last year! Enjoy and have a beautiful Thanksgiving. 

Emergency Golden Gravy



Makes Approximately 3 Cups

1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)

5 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter
5 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 medium yellow onion, diced small (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth

Combine dry spices in small bowl and set aside. 

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Once melted, whisk in flour making sure to scrape sides of pan to incorporate all flour. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning, until light brown. Stir in onions. Cook for about 5 minutes until softened, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Stir in spices and cook until fragrant, approximately 1 minute. Stir in nutritional yeast until combined. Cook for 1 minute. Whisk in vegetable broth. Simmer until thickened, about 5-10 minutes.  Once thickened, transfer to blender and blend until smooth. Gravy can be served immediately or refrigerated for up to 3 days.

NOTE: If you like a thinner gravy, reduce flour and EB by one tablespoon.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Marsala Mushroom and Quinoa Soup

I have been eating out so often over the past year. I'm actually quite tired of paying the prices, adding the calories and feeling sluggish. I'm recommitting to my love of cooking and hopefully blogging more often.

While I've been on this eating out tear, I have still been shopping in hopes that I would get by butt back in the kitchen. Fresh foods were rotting in my veggie bins and it was really bugging me that I was being so wasteful.

This particular week I had some beautiful cremini mushrooms teetering on the brink of going bad and I had some leftover cooked quinoa. It's almost the end of cool weather here, so I thought soup should be on the menu. I've always been a fan of Marsala sauces and I happened to have some in my pantry. I looked around to see what else I had in the kitchen so I didn't have to run to the store. I think you'll like the results.


Masala Mushroom and Quinoa Soup

Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons avocado oil (or other neutral flavored oil), separated
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, small dice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons marsala wine
3 cups vegetable broth
2 teaspoons Braggs Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish.

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat add 1 tablespoon oil, carrots, onions and brown sugar. Saute, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes until onions are caramelized and soft. Add remaining tablespoon of oil and mushrooms. Saute until mushrooms release their liquid. Add thyme, black pepper and salt. Increase heat to medium. Saute until liquid is just about gone, approximate 7 minutes. Deglaze with marsala wine. Saute until liquid is about gone again, about 5 minutes.

Add vegetable broth, Braggs and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. Add cooked quinoa and heat through. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Friends in the Kitchen NYE Appetizer - Root Vegetable Cakes with Dirty Rice Rolls and Spicy Sweet Aoili

Every year we do our New Year's Eve dinner, I get super excited to see what will come out of the creative minds and kitchens of my friends.

A little backstory...and certainly my intuition and interpretation. I believe that there are very few coincidences and that we have a lot more history than we are aware of. It seemed an odd coincidence that my friend Jerry and I were introduced by an old high school buddy of mine. After we became friends it became crystal clear that this was no coincidence. When Jerry and I get a chance to talk food and collaborate on an amazing meal I know that we have known each other for a very long time. He get as obsessed as I do with bringing something exciting to the table and I feel I could talk to him for days about gardening, food, cooking and life. 

So every year when we start planning our NYE party, I am like a little kid waiting to see what he is going to create. This year was extra awesome, because I got to help him plate.


Keeping with the cajun/creole theme and his incredible creativity, the appetizer was a festival for the taste buds. I wish I had a recipe, because it was that good. He is iron chef-like and just goes to town creating...which does not include stopping to write things down lest the creative process be hindered.

I do know that the earthy root vegetable cake was created with beets, parsnips, carrots and damn I'm not sure of what finally made it bind. It was truly on the fly. The collards were stuffed with an incredible spicy dirty rice. I could have eaten bowls full of the rice alone. The piquant pepper hit all of the regions of taste buds. It was drizzled with a spicy sweet aioli. The pictures barely do it any justice. His wine pairing of a fruit forward but dry syrah was amazing. 



Tell me this isn't a great way to start the night! 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Year's Eve Fabulousness, Festivities and Food!!!

For me, 2015 was the year of work. I spent the year learning, learning and learning more about my new position at work. I love my job, but I let it take over most of my time and energy. The blog, my waistline and my kitchen creativity took the biggest hits. I am happy to say that 2015 was also the year of the kitchen remodel (I will post about that later). Most of the remodel is complete and it is re-igniting my passion for cooking and entertaining (and hopefully blogging).

Last year was the first time in many years we didn't host our 4 course wine tasting dinner and it was sorely missed. I have vowed to do everything in my power to make sure that doesn't happen again! It is always the best way to ring in the New Year: great conversation, great friends and of course amazing food.

This year I originally told everyone to go vegan rogue without a theme. I did mention that I was going to make something cajun/creole, but really had no idea what I was going to make. We lost the Cajun master Paul Prudhomme, so I felt my choice was a very fitting tribute. The table-scape had a Mardi Gras vibe.


I'm going to give you a teaser today and post the menu. My next posts will feature the actual food. Commence drooling!