Homemade Crispy Shake and Bake Tofu Tenders

crispy-tofu-tenders

Crispy Tofu Tenders with Homemade Honey Mustard

I have begun to experiment with tofu.

I don’t know why it took me so long to research safe tofu companies. I got in touch with Nasoya and was told their facility is free of dairy, eggs and beef. SCORE!

Let the tofu love begin!

I have made tofu at home three times in a little over a week. I have made a tofu and veggie stir fry twice. Yum!

Last night, I decided to try an old chicken recipe with the tofu.

The result?

Mmmmmm… even the 5 year old liked it! (covered in ketchup, of course, but hey- she ate it happily!)

This recipe comes from allrecipes.com.

I have modified the spices a bit. Feel free to change the spices to ones you and your family enjoy.

I also use homemade bread crumbs, but store bought breadcrumbs or panko would work well, too.

This breadcrumb mixture made more than enough for half a container of tofu. I think I could have used this recipe for the entire package, but I was hesitant to use all the tofu in case this didn’t turn out. But it did and my little family loved it!

So tonight, we are having the other half of the tofu and I’m making these crispy shake and bake tofu tenders again! Along with some garlic mashed potatoes and maybe some stewed fresh green beans. And some homemade vegan gravy for the taters and beans… Mmmm, mmm! I better hurry this post up so I can cook- it’s almost dinner time already!

Ingredients:

2 cups breadcrumbs
3 Tbs canola oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
pinch (or a peench as we say) of basil, dried parsley & dried oregano
***********************************************************************
2 flax eggs (2 Tbsp of ground flax and 6 Tbsp of water mixed together)

1 package of extra firm tofu, pressed between two plates for about 20-30 minutes (do this in advance and cut the tofu into strips like chicken tender sized)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Prepare your flax eggs in a medium sized bowl and whisk with a fork. When the flax eggs are gelled and gooey, they are ready.
  3. Take everything above the starred line and mix it together in a gallon plastic baggie- adding the oil last. I like to shake the dry ingredients together first and then add the oil.
  4. Dip one tofu strip into the flax egg and then put it into the seasoned breadcrumb mixture and shake. Place the tofu strip onto a parchment lined cookie sheet (foil works, too, but parchment gives you no stick to the pan-ness! 😉 )
  5. Repeat with each tofu strip. If you run out of flax eggs, you will need to make another one (1Tbsp of ground flax & 3 Tbsp of water)
  6. Bake for 5 minutes. Gently flip the tenders. Bake for 5 more minutes. Flip tenders. Bake for another 3-4 minutes, or until tenders are crispy.

Notes:
Serve as you would serve chicken tenders, with a sauce or ketchup. (SG loves it this way.)
The Huzz and I prefer these crispy tenders cut up and served in a bowl along with other food. (Like in a salad or with a pasta dish with the tofu standing in for the chicken.)

It totally looks like chicken- but it doesn’t taste like it. The flavor is all in the crispy coating, so don’t be afraid to spice it up in the bag!

I hope y’all enjoy these crispy shake and bake tofu tenders.   (I’m still working on getting my Southern back, y’all! I kind of lost it from living in Ohio and Iowa for so long!)

 

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Homemade Barbie Birthday Cake: Dairy & Egg Free

Y’all!!! I think I need a personal chef. Or a personal organizer. Or a housekeeper.

Because I just can’t do it all lately. Do you remember that I mentioned a few posts back that we moved to South Carolina? (From Iowa.)

We closed on our house on November 3rd. Birthday party for SG was scheduled for November 21st. That’s a lot to do in a short amount of time. And the next week was Thanksgiving, which I hosted and prepared almost everything for. And then Christmas.  Let’s just say: I’ve. Been. Busy.

So SG wanted a Barbie themed birthday party. I scoured Pinterest for ideas. I found some amazing ideas. I did not want her party to be a Pinterest fail. Nuh-uh.

I was determined to make her a beautiful Barbie cake. Like the Barbie in the cake kind. I was so nervous. I didn’t even practice the cake before her party. I wanted to and planned to, but ran out of time.

I even found a Barbie box on Pinterest. One for the kids to pose inside of for pics. I had to have it! I have my graphic designer brother to thank for the Barbie box. Way to go Uncle Josh!

Here’s how the Barbie box turned out:

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The Barbie box was inspired by these pins here and here.  In the end, we looked at a few pins and my brother did his own thang.

Each of our guests took pics inside the box. It was just adorable!!!

And the cake…

Well, I’ll just show it to you:

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I still can’t even believe we made this cake!!!!!!!!!!!! (Yes, it deserves that many exclamation marks.)

Here are the pins that inspired this cake:

This one from Cakes.com.

This one from The TomKat Studio.  This one had so many inspirations!

And also this one from Blissfully Sweet.

None of those cakes were safe for us, but I knew I could do it.  Or I could at least try my hardest!

In preparation for frosting the cake, I knew it was time to finally buy a nice icing set. I scoured Amazon and the reviews convinced me to purchase this Dessert Decorator Plus. This tool was crucial in the frosting of this cake. I highly recommend it.

We browsed several Barbies in the stores and SG decided on this Barbie:

SG's choice. I liked her for so many practical reasons: pointy ballet shoes are easier to poke her into the cake, her top and hair are pretty and most importantly, she is PINK!

SG’s choice. I liked this Barbie for so many practical reasons: pointy ballet shoes are easier to poke her into the cake, her top and hair are pretty and most importantly, she is PINK!

Here’s how I made the cake. I decided to go with our handy dandy and reliable wacky cake. Otherwise known as crazy cake or depression era cake. I made two batches. I made 4 round cake pans total. Two chocolate and two vanilla round cakes.

Wacky Cake
(Double this recipe.)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons of cocoa (for vanilla cakes, omit cocoa)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup oil (I use canola)
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (use 1 Tablespoon vanilla if making vanilla cupcakes)
  • 2 cups cold water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare your round pans. Grease with vegan butter and add a little bit of flour.
  3. Gently tap the pan to evenly spread the flour throughout the pan. Throw away the extra flour.
  4. Put dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon.
    Add wet ingredients. Beat well until blended.
  5. Pour mixture in the two round pans. Try to get the same amount in each pan. I eyeball it.
  6. Put the pans in the oven and bake.
  7. The round cakes will take approximately 20-35 minutes. I used convection bake and it baked two cakes in about 20 minutes. When I don’t use convection bake it takes a little longer. Set your timer for 20 minutes and add extra time in small increments if needed.
  8. Let cakes cool on a wire rack. Place a large plate on top of the cake and flip over. The cake should come right out. If not, you may have to gently prod the cake out.

We decided to wrap the cakes in foil and freeze them overnight. We did this because we wanted the cake to be firm for shaping it the next day.

The next morning, we unwrapped the cakes.

Here’s what we used to make the doll shaped cake.  This website was the one that convinced me I didn’t have to buy one of those big dress shaped cake pans.  I could use simple round pans to make my barbie cake dress, as I mentioned above.  Thanks for the Pinspiration!

I bought a cardboard round cake board from Party City. We wrapped that in foil. We put one round cake on the board, but used icing to “glue” it down. We put a light layer of frosting on top and used that as the glue to hold the next layer. We alternated chocolate and vanilla cake layers.

Here’s the steps with photos:

The frosting is the glue between each layer. This "cream cheese" frosting is dairy free and makes the cake even more scrumptious!

The frosting is the glue between each layer. This “cream cheese” frosting is dairy free and makes the cake even more scrumptious!

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We had to trim the puffiest part of each round cake except for the base and top layer.  Ok- I guess we trimmed 2 of the 4 cakes!

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Layer 3

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This was just tall enough for our Barbie.  Don’t forget to wrap her legs in plastic wrap!

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Barbie’s hips will be covered with frosting.

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The Huzz used the serrated knife to soften those hard angles.  We didn’t snap a pic of it before the frosting.

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We gave it a quick layer of frosting to prevent crumbs from showing through her “dress.”

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Barbie in all her glory!

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Barbie from another angle.

I started the frosting in the middle of Barbie’s dress in the front.  I made one rosette and kept going in a line horizontally until I went all the way back around.  Then I worked my way one row at a time.  When I got to to Barbie’s hips, I did a quick line around her waist to make sure the plastic wrap didn’t show.  I used 3-4 cans of Pillsbury frosting for her pink rosette dress.

We are so pleased with how the cake turned out.  SG was blown away and super happy!

I am thrilled to show the world that us food allergy mamas can rock it out!  FAM’s (food allergy mamas)- WE GOT THIS!

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter, Almond & Raisin Granola Bars: Dairy & Egg Free

Pure Deliciousness!

Pure Deliciousness!

I am slowly morphing into a woman who I don’t recognize. I never thought I’d be such a homemade person.

Ya know what? It’s pretty awesome! I am loving all of the new recipes and things I’m finding that can be homemade (mostly thanks to you Pinterest!).

It’s amazing what one can make from scratch: spice mixes, cakes, muffins, pancakes, pizzas, bread, “uncrustables”, dinner rolls, cook dried beans, dry shampoo, deodorant, gifts– and so much more. I’m not even “scratching” the surface here. 🙂

Some of that might make you scratch your head and wonder what’s the big deal? But when the Huzz and I got married, I did not cook. At all. Unless you call heating up those frozen bags of food for dinner or dumping a jar of spaghetti sauce over frozen ravioli cooking. And cakes and cookies? I let Publix do the baking for me!

So for this little lady… well, let’s just say, I’ve come a long way baby!

Last week I made these homemade granola bars. They were very good. My bars didn’t look like the bars in the photos. My bars looked much drier and not quite right. Still, they tasted great and inspired me to try them again with a little more tweaking.  (AKA more melted chocolate!)

I also made these AMAZING peanut butter bars. Man oh man! We were all “Mmmmmm-mmm-mm” and “Oh these are so GOOD!” while we ate them. (If you have a peanut allergy, try subbing your favorite peanut butter sub.) I will make these again! They do have a lot of powdered sugar, so this isn’t an every day treat. Still, this recipe also inspired me.

Last night, SG wanted a treat and we were all out of treats. I decided to try my hand at kind of recreating both of these recipes together. I didn’t even look at the recipes. I just threw in a little of this and a little of that. I didn’t write the recipe down either as I made it. This is my best guesstimate, as I only measured the oats.  I did write it down shortly after making the bars, so I think these measurements will work well.  The next time I make these, I’m using these measurements.

Chocolate Peanut Butter, Almond & Raisin Granola Bars:

Ingredients:

For the granola bar:

  • 2 cups of old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of Enjoy Life chocolate chips (for the granola mixture)
  • Handful of chopped almonds (omit for tree nut allergy)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of raisins
  • Honey

For the chocolate topping:

  • Approximately 1/3-1/2 cup of Enjoy Life chocolate chips
  • Approximately 1/4 cup peanut butter (or your favorite peanut butter substitute)

Directions:

  1. Use Earth Balance vegan butter to grease a medium sized pan. I have a brownie pan. It’s bigger than an 9×9 but smaller than a 9×12. I think any of those pans will work- it will just affect the thickness of your granola bar.
  2. Put oats, almonds & raisins in a medium sized bowl. Give it a quick stir.
  3. Melt the chocolate chips for the granola bar in a microwave in 15 second intervals. Check it each time so you don’t melt it so much the chocolate hardens- I think it’s called seizing.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate over the oats mixture. Stir well. (I started with 1/2 cup of melted chocolate and it wasn’t enough to coat the oats mixture so I quickly melted more chocolate. Use enough melted chocolate so that the granola mixture is just coated nicely.)
  5. Add the honey to taste to the granola mixture.  Mix well.   Honestly, I squeezed some in, mixed the granola mixture, tasted it, and then squeezed in more.
  6. Put the granola bar mixture in your greased pan. Use a potato masher to mash the granola bar down. The original recipe said this part was important because without the mashing, the granola bar would fall apart. Mash! 😉
  7. Add the chocolate topping ingredients to a small microwave safe bowl. Heat in the microwave in 15 second increments, until all is melted.  Stir until well blended.
  8. Pour the melted peanut butter and chocolate over the granola mixture. I poured it in little rows. Try to distribute it evenly.
  9. Take a spatula and smooth out the chocolate topping- going all the way to the edges.
  10. Pop in the freezer for an hour and then enjoy. Store it in the fridge. I have no idea how long this lasts because we’ve eaten almost all of it in less than two days.

Note: The next time I make these, I’m going to add some Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax cereal to the chocolate and peanut butter mixture once it’s melted, but before I pour it on the granola bars. I think it will give it a nice crunch.

The family’s take? They loved it! The chocolate and peanut butter topping elevate the granola bar to tasting a bit more like a treat- while the oats, peanut butter, almonds and raisins make me feel good about giving this treat to the 2 most precious people in my life.

Cheers to learning how to make everything from scratch, Allergy Mamas! (And Papas)

We can do it!

Homemade granola bar

Homemade granola bar

Granola bar with four year old bite marks.

Granola bar with four year old bite marks.

Our Favorite Easy & Budget Friendly Meatless Meal

This super easy dinner has quickly become one of our favorite meatless meals. I won’t drag on about a cute little story— let’s get to the “meat” of it. 🙂

The easy dinner is rice, refried beans and roasted broccoli. Simple, homemade and oh so yummy!

Rice, beans & broccoli

Homemade refried beans, prepared in advance and frozen.

Rice made in the rice cooker.

Fresh, roasted garlic broccoli.

EASY!

I make my refried beans in advance and ALWAYS keep some in my fridge. When I use the last bag of frozen beans, I make another batch. It’s seriously the easiest recipe ever. Soak the beans, throw them in the crockpot with just a few spices, an onion and water, cook and blend. Easy peasy. Click here for Ally’s recipe on her blog. (I omit the cayenne.)

For this dinner, I use 2 cups of refried beans.

Homemade frozen refried beans.

Homemade frozen refried beans.

I also use my rice maker to cook our rice. Easy peasy. I love my rice cooker!!!  Click here to see the exact the rice cooker I have.

As soon as I start the rice, I start prepping the broccoli.

I was inspired by this recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen. I made a few small changes- I don’t measure the olive oil. I drizzle some olive oil until the broccoli looks just coated. And I usually use 4 cloves of garlic, rather than 6-8 cloves. I love that I don’t need to measure anything for the roasted broccoli! Just toss stuff in and roast. I also roast at 400 degrees or sometimes even 415 degrees for usually 15 minutes. Easy peasy.

This does not take long to prepare.

This does not take long to prepare.

Broccoli ready for the oven.

Broccoli ready for the oven.

Those dark spots are the best part!  The Huzz says this tastes restaurant worthy!

Those dark spots are the best part! The Huzz says this tastes restaurant worthy!

While the rice is cooking and the broccoli is roasting, I defrost and heat the frozen refried beans.

I serve the beans over the rice with the broccoli on the side.

Not only is this a delicious dish, but it’s very budget friendly.

Dried beans: affordable

Rice: affordable

Broccoli: affordable

Lately, I’ve been buying our broccoli from Aldi’s and it’s such a great deal.  The last pack of broccoli I bought from Aldi was $1.39.  The entire bag of bagged dried pinto beans was about a $1.  I think I maybe paid $1.30 for an entire bag of rice.  I used 2 cups of the cooked beans (I think the recipe for 1 pound of beans yields 6-7 cups of cooked refried beans) and rice.  Maybe 32 cents for the beans and a cup and a half of dried rice (maybe 40 cents tops?).  I’m guesstimating.  Wet finger in the air…  $2.11 for the entire meal!  Super budget friendly!  (I didn’t add the cost of garlic because I always have garlic lying around the pantry.)

Beans and rice.  Rice and beans, baby!  (That’s for all of our Financial Peace University friends!)

I hope you enjoy our favorite budget friendly meatless meal!

17 Affordable Dinner Ideas

Budget Friendly Pineapple Fried Rice with Ham.  I now omit the ham and it tastes just as good!  This recipe makes a lot!

Budget Friendly Pineapple Fried Rice with Ham. I now omit the ham and it tastes just as good! This recipe makes a lot!

Our grocery budget is a monster.  Do y’all food allergy parents know what I mean?  I mean, it’s CRAZY!  And ya know what makes it even crazier?  We don’t even eat extravagantly.  Our safe foods are just THAT expensive.

I sat down and tried to brainstorm the most budget friendly tried and true recipes I could think of.  We are in Financial Peace University again as table leaders and really have budgeting on the brain.  I really want to cut our grocery bill each month.

My recipes might start looking a lot like these from now on since I’m trying to trim the giant grocery bill.

(These prices are what I pay at the grocery store and I don’t price out every item in this list.  Some are just my best guesstimates.)

If you want to get ahead of the menu planning game and like freezer cooking, the recipes that have stars are freezer friendly.

Meatless

  • Pineapple Fried Rice (1-2 pineapple cups {$1}, 2-3 carrots & 1-2 zucchinis {$2.50}, omit ham- can get 2 dinners from this & possibly 1 lunch)
  • Veggie Pizza** (1/2 bag Daiya {$2.50}, 1/3 green pepper {33 cents}, 1/3 green onion, olives)
  • Refried Beans, Rice & “Cheese” Burritos**
  • Rice & Beans (and maybe fruit to round out the meal)
  • Bean & “Cheese” Quesadillas (use homemade refried beans or black beans)
  • Veggie Spaghetti (1 zucchini {$1} & 1 carrot, sauce {$2.50} & noodles {$1}- can get 1 dinner and 1 lunch from this recipe)

Chicken

Turkey

  • Picadillo (1/2 pack ground turkey {$1.50} & rice)
  • Picadillo Tater Tot Casserole (1/2 pack ground turkey {$1.50} & approximately 1/2 bag of tater tots {$1.50})
  • Spaghetti (1/2 pack ground turkey {$1.50},  sauce {$2.50} & noodles {$1}- can get 1 dinner and 1 lunch from this recipe)

The chicken tacos are probably the most expensive dinner on this list because of the type of chicken we like and because of the fresh toppings.  I can plan another dinner or two that also uses those fresh produce ingredients like nachos or soup and salad night.  That helps lower the cost of the grocery bill & helps fresh produce not to go to waste.  I can also stretch the budget by stocking up on the chicken when it goes on sale.

I also buy dried beans.  It’s easy to soak and cook the beans.  I think I get 6-8 cups from one bag of dried black beans (my memory is a little fuzzy on this number.)  The beans cost $1.18.  Much cheaper than canned!  I freeze my beans in one cup portions and pull them out as needed.  A quick defrost in the microwave and the beans are good to go!

Do you have some food allergy & budget friendly dinner ideas?  Please share in the comments below.

Thanks!

Sautee chopped carrots & zucchini in olive oil until tender.  Add spaghetti sauce & serve over noodles.

Sautee chopped carrots & zucchini in olive oil until tender. Add spaghetti sauce & serve over noodles.

Picadillo Tater Tot Casserole

Picadillo Tater Tot Casserole

Puerto Rican Black Beans

Arroz con Pollo topped with Puerto Rican style black beans

Arroz con Pollo topped with Puerto Rican style Black Beans

I love having a little taste of my Puerto Rican roots here in Iowa.  I had to learn how to cook like my mom since we live so far away from my parents.

This is my can free and dairy free version of my mom’s Puerto Rican Black Beans recipe.  You can easily sub red beans for the black beans.  I soak and cook my own black beans because of my nickel allergy (no canned foods.)  I also omit the ever so popular “Jamon” seasoning from Goya because it contains milk… what???  I found a way to make this recipe work for us.

This is yummy served over plain white rice or with arroz con pollo.

We are huge Dave Ramsey fans.  He talks about eating beans and rice, rice and beans.  This recipe definitely elevates the beans!  Give it a try.  It’s budget friendly, especially if you soak and cook your own beans. And y’all food allergy parents know we need to save money where we can, because living dairy, egg, & beef free “ain’t cheap!”  🙂

Puerto Rican Black Beans 

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1.5 cups of cooked & drained black beans OR 1 can of drained black beans
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled & chopped
  • 2 cubes of sofrito
  • Tomato sauce
  • Green olives
  • 2 tsp olive juice
  • Adobo (seasoning found in the Spanish foods aisle)

Directions:

  1. Boil the potatoes until tender in a medium sized pot. Pour out quite a bit of water and reserve for use later.
  2. Add black beans and tomato sauce. There is not a measurement for the tomato sauce. I would guess I pour in 3-4 ounces of tomato sauce. Eyeball it. If there is not enough liquid, add a bit more tomato sauce and reserved water. The beans and potatoes need to be just covered in liquid.
  3. Add the sofrito, green olives, and olive juice. Add a sprinkle of Adodo seasoning.
  4. Let simmer until the water and tomato sauce thicken. Stir as needed. Add reserved water if the bean sauce gets too thick. Add a little more tomato sauce and smash a potato or two if the bean sauce is too thin. This recipe is a taste and see and adjust kind of recipe.
  5. Serve beans over white rice.

Homemade Dairy Free Chocolate Push Up Pops

Most dairy free ice cream I’ve found uses canned coconut milk. That’s a big problem for me. With my nickel allergy, canned foods are a no-no in my diet. Add to that no dairy, eggs, or beef for SG, and well, I’ve never attempted homemade ice cream, fudgesicles or anything with canned coconut milk.

So, I usually skip over dairy free recipes using canned coconut milk… and then I found SO Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk in a BOX!

Hip, hip, hooray!!!

Hip, hip, hooray!!!

Hip, hip, hooray!!!

Okay- can you tell I’m excited? And doesn’t this look divine?

Dairy Free Fudgesicle

Doesn’t this seem like a good recipe to share in the summer?

We live in Iowa, it’s the dead of winter and it’s been anywhere from highs of -3 to the 30’s. Yes, it’s COLD! If we’re snowed in and cooped up, why not enjoy tasty treats? That’s my philosophy, anyway. 🙂

Here’s how I made dairy free fudgesicles/chocolate push up pops.  You can call them either.  Since I used push up pop molds, I’m going with the push up pops name.

Dairy Free Chocolate Push Up Pops:
(adapted slightly from this recipe at The Creekside Cook)

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients in a blender. Blend until well mixed. Taste. If not sweet enough, add more honey. The original recipe uses 2 tablespoons of honey. I started with that and ended up adding LOTS more honey. I *think* I used at least 4 tablespoons of honey, if not more. The original recipe also suggests using maple syrup or honey. I think next time I’ll try the maple, just for fun.
  2. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze until solid. (I used these pushup pop molds because they work well for SG)

This recipe yielded 4 push up pops plus a little extra that ended up in my other not so reliable popsicle molds.

Delicious Homemade Fudgesicle.  Definitely use a bib with this for little ones!

Delicious Homemade Fudgesicle. Definitely use a bib with this for little ones!

The coconut milk box costs me $2.39. The rest I don’t really factor in because I always keep them in my pantry. $2.39 for 5 homemade popsicles is a lot cheaper than the “safe” store bought counterparts! That’s 48 cents per push up pop!

Y’all know our food allergy brands are expensive enough- so it’s nice when I can save some money.

And isn’t homemade always better?

I hope y’all enjoy these as much as SG did! I only licked the spoon because I didn’t want to take away from her treats. I think it’s time to buy more push up pop molds and make a big ole batch of these babies!