Simple Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry

The tofu love fest continues!

Last post, I mentioned I have made a stir fry with tofu. It was just what my veggie stir fry recipe needed. The stir fry is good on its own. But the tofu bumps it up a notch and adds more protein.

The hardest most time consuming part of this recipe is chopping the veggies. To save time, I have started buying shredded carrots. It’s double the price of the regular carrots, but this Li’l Mama needs some easy in her life. Can I have the STAPLES  Easy button please???? 🙂

I digress.

You can use any veggies you have in your veggie crisper. I like to use chopped broccoli, shredded carrots, diced zucchini and diced red bell peppers. If you’re able to, you can buy the store bought chopped veggies (I’m feeling a little envious now…)

Here’s my little tip on the zucchini:
Cut it in half longways. Then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and the guts. Then chop or dice the ‘chini.  I didn’t do this for a long time and my zucchini was always mushy. I somehow figured out the scooping out the guts part and no more mushies!!!

Here’s another little secret. Sometimes I use rice and sometimes I use spaghetti noodles…and tonight I used penne noodles. Not very stir fry-ish, but I am all out of spaghetti noodles. For stir fry nights, I like to use spaghetti noodles every now and then.

I special ordered a case of safe spaghetti noodles and paid a small fortune to ship them… and they are LOST! 😦

Who needs $60 back anyway? $35 ish for the noodles. $25 ish to ship.

Ouch.

Note to self, always insure your noodles. 😉

Anyway, I mix up the rice and noodles to make the dish seem different.

Afterall, variety is the spice of life…

Or so they say. Who are they, anyway?

I digress.

Here’s how to make the food.

Chop some veggies and cook in a wok.

dscn2745

Veggies.  The steam always fuzzes up my pics.  Oh well.  🙂

Boil some noodles or throw some rice in a rice cooker.

Press some tofu and do a quick soy marinade.
Grill/sauté tofu ’til kind of crispy.

dscn2748

Grilled Tofu.  Mmmmm.

Throw it all in a bowl.

Done.

See? Simple.

tofu-veggie-stir-fry

Tofu & Veggie Stir Fry

Now, for the actual recipe.

Simple Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry

Ingredients:

  • Chopped and diced veggies of your choice (I use an entire head of broccoli, 2-3 zucchinis, 1 red bell pepper and at least a cup of shredded carrots)
  • Extra Firm Tofu, Pressed Then Cubed
  • Rice or Noodles
  • Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Pinch of Ginger Powder

Other Stuff Needed:

  • Wok
  • Grill Pan
  • Bowl with Lid

Directions:

  1. Drain and press tofu. Put tofu between two plates. Make sure to put a sheet or two of paper towels under tofu. Put something heavy on it like a big box of veggie broth. Leave it alone until step 4.
  2. Boil water in large pot and add noodles OR start rice in the rice cooker.
  3. Heat the wok on medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Add veggies and cook, stirring frequently. If the veggies seem to dry, add another tablespoon coconut oil. When the veggies seem mostly cooked, squirt (squirt! I love that word!) some liquid aminos all over the veggies. Sprinkle some garlic powder and onion powder over the cooking veggies, too. Stir.
  4. Tofu time! Take the tofu block and cut it in half. Cut the tofu into strips and then bite sized cubes. Take a bowl with the lid and squirt some liquid aminos in the bottom of the bowl. Add onion and garlic powder and a pinch of ginger powder. Stir with a fork.
  5. Add the tofu cubes, put on lid and shake the tofu around. (I use a pyrex bowl.) Squirt a little more liquid aminos and add another dash of garlic and onion powder.
  6. Heat grill pan on medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Cook until tofu has nice grill marks and is nice and brown. Squirt 🙂 a little more liquid aminos on the tofu as it is cooking.
  7. Serve as you wish. I put the rice or noodles as the bottom layer in a deep bowl, scoop in lots of veggies, and top with crispy tofu.

We also squirt! (heehee) a little bit more liquid aminos on the entire dish. There is no need to add salt to this dish because the liquid aminos does it for you.

Notes:
If you don’t have a wok, use a sauté pan. If coconut oil isn’t safe for you, sub a safe neutral oil, such as olive oil or something similar. If you don’t have a grill pan, sauté the tofu in a pan until crispy.

This has quickly become a family favorite. My 5 year old complained because she gobbled up her tofu immediately and wanted more tofu. My child loves it! And I hope you and yours, will, too.

After writing this post, I’m sitting here saying, “Squirt, squirt, squirt, squirt!”  I don’t know why that word just tickles me pink.

Until next time, my friends.

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!)

 

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

We just wrapped up a rockin’ Barbie birthday party yesterday for our SG. She turns five next Saturday, but since her birthday always falls around Thanksgiving, we usually celebrate it a week early. All this to say I’m behind the ball for Thanksgiving prep because I was busy preparing for her party.

This morning has been my catch up time. Here’s what is on the menu for this Thanksgiving. And y’all, I better get to getting! The fam has agreed to a dairy, egg, beef & pork gelatin free Thanksgiving but that means I make it all. I gladly do it because it means I can relax around the safe food and know that my daughter won’t react to cross contamination. Totally worth it!

Menu for Thanksgiving 2015

Cutlets

Gravy  (I omit the onion now and add 2 teaspoons of onion powder- makes the gravy smoother.)

Ranch Mashed Potatoes

Simmered Fresh Green Beans (Rinse beans.  Snap off ends.  Snap beans in half.  In a pan, cover beans with vegetable broth.  Sprinkle some garlic powder, onion powder & Adobo seasoning.  Simmer until tender.)

Arroz con Gandules (No recipe yet.  My mom is going to teach me how this week!)

Dinner Rolls (Sub non-dairy milk and vegan butter. Use the bread machine to make dough on dough setting.)

Pumpkin Pie with Coco Whip

Cherry Pie and/or Apple Pie (I hope to make both.)

Buckeyes (If I have time and energy left!)

And if I can find an easy vegan carrot cake recipe, I’d love to make that. Does anyone have a good and safe carrot cake recipe to share?

Happy (early) Thanksgiving!  I hope you have a wonderful and safe day filled with love!

Above are the cutlets and gravy, dinner rolls, and cherry and apple pie.

Allergy Friendly Chickpea Cutlets

Chickpea Cutlets with Homemade Gravy over Baked Potatoes (mashed) and Grilled Asparagus.  Plant Strong Comfort Food!

Chickpea Cutlets with Homemade Gravy over Baked Potatoes (mashed) and Grilled Asparagus. Plant Strong Comfort Food!

I was very skeptical when I first made Isa’s Chickpea Cutlets from her website the Post Punk Kitchen. I thought cutlets made from chickpeas? How weird. But man, was I wrong!

I made a few changes to Isa’s recipe to fit our diet. In the end, my version doesn’t quite look like hers.  But that’s okay.  I think it’s because I don’t use vital wheat gluten.  I was nervous because I read through the recipe and comments and it seemed the recipe had to have vital wheat gluten. My HyVee carries it, but it is made in a facility that also processes milk. Can’t do it. Not safe.

So, I crossed my fingers and subbed plain ole unbleached white flour. And I made my own breadcrumbs from our frozen bread ends. I swapped the soy sauce for liquid aminos. And I’m just not a thyme girl. I kind of HATE it. I used poultry seasoning instead of thyme. The recipe called for sage and sage and poultry seasoning just go together in my mind. It worked!

As a matter of fact, these cutlets are AMAZING! They have become a family favorite.

These are also super budget friendly!!! I purchased my jarred glass of Randall’s Garbanzo beans for just 99 cents. We get 2-3 meals out of each cutlet batch. That’s 33 cents to 50 cents for our protein per meal. Our grocery budget needs a little breathing room, and these cutlets provide that.

I have found an amazing vegetarian gravy recipe that pares well with this recipe. I use vegan butter and liquid aminos in this gravy recipe. I also use an immersion blender to blend the onions in the gravy and make it smooth and creamy. My 4 year old has no idea there are onions in her favorite gravy. She doesn’t like onions. Hehehe!!! Click here to see the gravy recipe.

I’ve also discovered these cutlets make an excellent “Cutlets Parmesan.” That post is in the works.

For now, here’s how I make my new favorite food, chickpea cutlets.

Chickpea Cutlets
(Adapted slightly from Isa’s Chickpea Cutlets. Click here for the original recipe.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 15/16 oz jar/can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 cup plain homemade breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup liquid aminos (or soy sauce if you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • 4 cloves garlic or 2 teaspoons of jarred minced garlic

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. If you use store bought breadcrumbs, skip to step three. If not, start with making homemade breadcrumbs. I usually use frozen ends of bread I keep in the freezer for just this purpose. Set the oven to Broil on High. I use 4 slices of bread. Watch them closely. The bread will burn quickly if let in too long. By too long, I mean 2 minutes on one side. I usually set a timer for 60 seconds. Check. If crisp enough, turn bread and set timer again for the other side. If the bread isn’t crispy enough, set timer for 20-30 second intervals. Once the bread is crisped enough, rip them into about four pieces each and put in a small food processor. Put all four slices in and grind and chop until the bread turns into breadcrumbs. This should make just over a cup. Measure out the cup you need and put it into a bowl.
  3. Add the flour, poultry seasoning, paprika and sage to the breadcrumbs and give it a good stir with a fork to spread the spices. If using store bought breadcrumbs, don’t forget to add them in this step.
  4. Use the same small food processor to grind up your fresh garlic. If using minced garlic, you can add it to the food processor with your chickpeas. Add the rinsed chickpeas to the food processor. I pulse it continually until it looks like tiny chickpea rocks. I hope that makes sense!
  5. Add the chickpea and garlic mixture to the dry ingredients in the bowl.
  6. Add the olive oil, vegetable broth and liquid aminos and stir with a fork.
  7. Use your hands to knead the mixture in the bowl a little bit. I do it for maybe 30-60 seconds.
  8. You need a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for this next step. I take blobs of the cutlet mixture and spread them out with my fingers into circle shapes. I try for a school cafeteria chicken patty shape. 🙂 The mixture is very sticky and doughy. But it all comes together in the end.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping the cutlets once after 15 minutes.
Uncooked Cutlets

Uncooked Cutlets. I usually get 11-12 of these per batch.

Uncooked Cutlets

Close Up of the Uncooked Cutlets

Here’s what my cutlets look like cooked on top of the noodles for “Cutlets Parmesan.” I’ll share that recipe in the future.

Cooked Chickpea Cutlets.  I forgot to take a close up pic of just the cutlets.  Sorry y'all!

Cooked Chickpea Cutlets in my Cutlet Parmesan recipe. I forgot to take a close up pic of just the cutlets. Sorry y’all!

The Huzz also thinks these will make great sammies. As soon as I buy some lettuce, we want to try these as sandwiches with lettuce, tomato and onions. Mmmm! Can’t wait.

These also freeze beautifully.  I love having these babies ready to go in the freezer.  It makes me happy. Happy is good.

And we certainly LOVE these! We hope you love these cutlets, too.

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

Vegan Queso Bean Dip: Dairy & Egg Free

I jokingly called this “Chip Dip” and it has stuck. Otherwise named by me as vegan queso bean dip… also known as my new obsession for my lunches.

It has just three ingredients: Daiya cheddar style block, salsa, & black beans.

3 Simple Ingredients

3 Simple Ingredients

And it’s SO, SO good!

Doesn’t this look yummy?

Yummy Vegan Queso Bean Dip

Yummy Vegan Queso Bean Dip

I’ve been making chip dip with just salsa and Daiya cheddar for awhile now, and it’s great that way, too. I wanted to bulk up my lunch by adding more protein, so a few days ago I threw in a cup of my frozen black beans. (I soak and cook my own beans so I keep them in the freezer in one cup portions.)

The beans were apparently just what my body needed, because I felt great all afternoon! I didn’t even need my usual afternoon cup of coffee.

This recipe is so easy and I’m just lovin’ it!

Today I measured the ingredients for the sake of this post, but I usually don’t measure. You can’t really mess this up.

Vegan Queso Bean Dip:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of safe salsa
  • 1 cup of black beans (drained if from can)
  • A few slices of Daiya cheddar style block, cut into small pieces

Directions:

  1. Add salsa, beans, & cheddar pieces to a pot.
  2. Heat until cheese is melted and the dip is well mixed and heated through. Add more cheese if the dip isn’t cheesy enough or add more salsa if it’s too cheesy.
  3. Serve as a dip with tortillas.
2 Cups of Salsa

2 Cups of Salsa

1 cup of Black Beans

1 cup of Black Beans

I started off with this much "cheese."  I later added another strip of Daiya to make it a bit cheesier.

I started off with this much “cheese.” I later added another strip of Daiya to make it a bit cheesier.

Ready to Heat

Ready to Heat

I like the dip to be about this color.  Yum!

I like the dip to be about this color. Yum!

Mission is our favorite brand for tortilla chips.  This is my favorite new lunch.

Mission is our favorite brand for tortilla chips. This is my new favorite lunch.

Not only is this a rockin’ lunch, but this would also be a great dip to bring to a potluck or to serve at the next big game.

I hope y’all enjoy this as much as I do!

P.S.  Did you notice the cute blue measuring spoon with the super long handle?  I recently bought them at Hobby Lobby and I LOVE them.  They are so much fun!  It’s the little things, ya know?

28 Days of Dairy & Egg Free Dinners

Dairy, Egg & Beef Free Recipes

Dairy, Egg & Beef Free Recipes

I have been working hard on this menu- on and off since early January.  It’s finally ready, y’all. Whew!

We had the roasted broccoli from Day 1 last night (see, I’m already off schedule!) and the Huzz declared it restaurant worthy!!! I’m going to start roasting broccoli, folks, instead of steaming it. It was SO good!

The Sticky Chicken on Day 17 (from Once A Month Meals) was another recipe the Huzz declared a hit. He said I could make it EVERY WEEK!  That’s high praise.  So, it’s making its way into this month’s menu again.  I love finding good recipes that are worthy of repeats and adding into my regular rotation of meals.  This one was SUPER easy to make, too.  Thanks Once A Month Meals!  (Can you tell I love OAMM?  I really do!)

  1. Garlic Chicken, Baked Potatoes & Roasted Broccoli
  2. Buffalo Ranch Chicken Wraps (use leftover chicken from day 1 & make homemade ranch)
  3. Mexican “Beef” & Beans Casserole (sub ground turkey, black beans & add 1 cube of sofrito)
  4. Easy Lo Mein (sub zucchini for snow peas & use safe spaghetti noodles & liquid aminos for soy sauce & omit Sriracha)
  5. Tangy Slow Cooker Pork Roast, Baked Potatoes & Roasted Carrots (make enough carrots for 2 days)
  6. Southwest Crispy Pork Wraps & Leftover Roasted Carrots (sub homemade “sour cream” & Daiya vegan “cheese”)
  7. Allergy Friendly “Beef” Enchiladas (sub black beans for beef & make this new enchilada sauce)
  8. Ranch Chicken Tenders, Ranch Mashed Potatoes & Buffalo Cauliflower Bites (make homemade ranch dressing {see link on day 2}, dip raw chicken strips in ranch and roll in safe bread crumbs, bake at 400 degrees until cooked through, about 20-30 minutes- I haven’t figured out the exact cook time yet)
  9. Flex Meal
  10. The Best Fried Rice & Homemade Potstickers (for rice: omit the egg, sub vegan butter, omit oyster sauce, sub olive oil for sesame oil.  for potstickers: sub garlic powder for garlic paste and sub olive oil for sesame oil)
  11. Easy Tuscan Bean Soup & Bread & Vegan Butter
  12. One Pan Enchilada Pasta (use homemade taco seasoning from 100 Days of Real Food, enchilada sauce from day 7 & Daiya “cheese”)
  13. Veggie Pizza
  14. Nana’s Ribs, Baked Potatoes & Grilled Asparagus- Heart Shaped Wacky Cake for Dessert
  15. Flex or Leftovers
  16. Pasta E Fagioli with Rosemary Olive Oil Drizzle (use fresh tomatoes)
  17. Sticky Chicken, Baked Sweet Potatoes & Roasted Broccoli (see link on day 1)
  18. Ranch Turkey Burger Sliders with Homemade Rolls, French Fries & Sautéed Zucchini
  19. Spaghetti with Ground Turkey & Bread & Vegan Butter (I use jarred spaghetti sauce)
  20. Garlic Chicken, Garlic Ranch Potatoes & Slow Cooker Southern Collard Greens (use link from day 1 for chicken recipe & sub homemade dry ranch mix- link on day 2)
  21. The Best Chicken Soup Ever (use leftover chicken from day 20, use fresh tomatoes, omit corn, sub zucchini or chopped carrots)
  22. Pineapple Fried Rice
  23. Leftovers- Hurray!
  24. One Pan Spicy Lemon Chicken & Tomato Pasta (sub Daiya mozzarella shreds)
  25. Loaded Baked Potato Soup
  26. Easy Chicken Tacos (sub 2 tsp of homemade taco seasoning instead of store bought packet- use link from day 12)
  27. BBQ Chicken Pizza
  28. Mojo Pork Roast, White Rice & Black Beans

There ya have it friends… our menu for the month of February. Happy eating!