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It’s time for another Meatless Monday! This week I made Cooking Light’s Chili-Glazed Tofu over Asparagus and Rice. Wow, this dish has an abundance of flavor! Between the ginger, soy sauce, and hot chili sauce, my tastebuds were a tingling.

I only made two changes to the recipe. I couldn’t find a jar of minced ginger, but I found a bottle of ginger paste which served to open up my sinuses as soon as I removed the lid. Whew! I couldn’t find any boil-in-bag long grain rice, so I opted for brown rice instead.

Chili-Glazed Tofu over Asparagus and Rice

Allison Fishman, Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2004
Yield: 3 servings (serving size: 3 tofu pieces and 1 1/3 cups rice mixture)
Note: Cooking the rice and asparagus in the same pot of boiling water saves a little time.

Ingredients

  • 4  cups water
  • 1  (3 1/2-ounce) bag boil-in-bag long-grain rice
  • 2 1/4  cups  chopped asparagus (about 1 pound)
  • 1  tablespoon  peanut oil
  • 1  tablespoon  sugar
  • 2  tablespoons  rice vinegar
  • 2  tablespoons  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1  teaspoon  bottled minced ginger
  • 1  teaspoon  hot chili sauce with garlic (such as KA·ME)
  • 1  pound  extrafirm tofu, drained and cut lengthwise into 9 pieces
  • 1  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 3/4  cup  preshredded carrot
  • 1  teaspoon  dark sesame oil

Preparation

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Add bag of rice, submerging bag completely in water. Boil 10 minutes. Carefully remove bag from pan, leaving boiling water in pan. Add asparagus to pan; cook 1 minute. Drain.

While rice cooks, heat peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and chili sauce in a small bowl. Sprinkle tofu with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add tofu to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Add soy sauce mixture; cook 20 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Combine rice, asparagus, 1/2 teaspoon salt, carrot, and sesame oil. Serve tofu over rice.

Nutritional Information

Calories:   296 (26% from fat)
Fat:   8.4g (sat 1.1g,mono 2.8g,poly 2.3g)
Protein:   15.7g
Carbohydrate:   41g
Fiber:   4.9g
Cholesterol:   0.0mg
Iron:   3.7mg
Sodium:   913mg
Calcium:   126mg

Join me tomorrow when I return to the dark side (of nutrition, that is) with a double post of baked treats!

Daring Cooks sushi challenge

I have been wanting to make my own sushi for quite some time, but I hadn’t been able to muster up my courage. Lucky for me, I’m a Daring Cook. The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.

The challenge consisted of four parts: 1) sushi rice, 2) dragon rolls, 3) spiral sushi roll, and 4) nigiri sushi. After investing an hour and a half just to prepare the sushi rice, I vowed never to complain again about the wait at my favorite sushi joint.

dragon roll

Smoked salmon, cucumber, avocado…need I say more? Although my “dragon” has a face only a mother could love, I’m still proud of it. Who cares about looks when it tastes so good, anyway?

spiral sushi roll

The spiral roll was the most challenging of them all for me. Actually, I have a confession to make – I enlisted the help of my gracious husband on this one. I committed a rookie mistake and overfilled my spiral roll. I know, I know…less is more. But you should know how hardheaded I am by now.

nigiri sushi

I used sashimi grade tuna for both the spiral roll and the nigiri. The nigiri proved to be the easiest for me as it does not involve rolling, but rather a hand-shaped roll. Next time, I will forgo the thin line of wasabi on top of the rice that binds the sashimi to it. Let’s just say, husband and I will have no sinus issues for the next decade. 😉 I rounded out the meal with a little seaweed salad and some miso soup (thank you, Fresh Market!).

If you want some full on food porn complete with fantastic sushi recipes, visit Audax and Rose. As if that’s not enough to satisfy your hunger, check out the rest of the gang on the blogroll. Join me Tuesday for a very festive bundt cake that’s sure to get you in the holiday spirit.

Vietnamese chicken pho

The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

The husband was off dominating on some folks at the final SCRCS mountain bike race of the season (#1, baby!), so what better way to welcome him home than with a big pot of chicken soup simmering away on the stove. I wanted to like this soup, really I did. The toasted spices smelled amazing, but the finished product…meh. I found myself looking for carrots, celery, something, anything. I guess I’m a traditionalist when it comes to chicken noodle soup.

Vietnamese Chicken Pho

Preparation Time: 45 cooking time + 15 minutes to cook noodles based on package directions
Servings: Makes 4 servings
Ingredients:
For the Chicken Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
½ onion
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce
1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)
Accompaniments:
2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Hoisin sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice
Directions:
To make the Chicken Pho Broth:
Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

I added Sriracha chili sauce to the broth and that helped, but even so I doubt I’ll make this again. No offense, Jaden! Please do not let my lackluster review deter you in any way from trying this for yourself.

Remember to visit the blogroll to see what the other Daring Cooks thought and come back tomorrow for some sweet ‘tater biscuits. Oh, yeah!

My brother-in-law arrived in Mobile yesterday so you know what that means – we had to celebrate my birthday one more time. I know, I know…I really need to get over this birthday thing, but I’m an only child so what can I say? At any rate, when he visited us last month, Mike inquired about Fuji San. Kevin and I have driven past it many times, but never thought much about it.

So, last night we decided to give it a try. Kevin and I ordered the red dragon (tuna, asparagus, and fried shrimp), spicy tuna tempura, smoked salmon ngiri, and the rainbow roll (tuna, avocado, salmon, and snapper – very pretty). Kelly and Mike ordered seaweed salad, the black dragon, spicy tuna roll, and the special (unfortunately, I cannot recall the name of it).

Don’t let the drive-thru sign fool you, this is some seriously good sushi. The service was on the slow side, but everyone was very courteous and appeared to be working dilligently.

We even got dessert on the house – green tea ice cream and vanilla ice cream. The ice cream was quite unusual having a gelatin-like outer layer with an ice cream center. After a little googling, I discovered this was most likely Japanese mochi ice cream. So what exactly is mochi? According to Wikipedia, mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice pounded into paste and molded into shape. While I didn’t dislike it, I didn’t like it enough to eat more than two bites.

This merely whetted our appetites for a frozen treat, so we headed downtown for gelato at Serda’s. I enjoyed the biscuit tortoni gelato – rums, cream, and coconut cookies…well, that just had my name written all over it! Kevin ordered the caramel banana praline while Kelly had the European brut and Mike chose the vanilla with cookie dough. All were fabulous, but the biscuit tortoni is my new fave.

Trying a new restaurant, being introduced to new flavors, and good times with family, does it get any better? Not if you ask me. So, has anyone tried a new restaurant or food lately?

filling the potstickers

Jen over at Uses Real Butter chose this month’s Daring Cooks challenge, Chinese potstickers. I must admit, I was more than a little intimidated by this endeavor, but I am so glad I did it. I actually got somewhat proficient at pleating the dough.

Can you guess which one was my first attempt?

Can you guess which one was my first attempt?

I halved Jen’s pork stuffing recipe and ended up with 30 potstickers. I chose to fry them and serve with the dipping sauce Jen recommended: 2 parts soy sauce, 1 part vinegar (I used red wine vinegar), a few drops of sesame oil, plus some chopped green onions and minced ginger.

Be sure to checkout Jen’s guide for creating perfect potstickers. Her step-by-step instructions were invaluable to me. Thanks, Jen, for sharing your family recipe with us! Get the recipe here. I hope you’ll try these for yourself. It’s always fun to learn a new technique! Check out the blogroll to see what other Daring Cooks are up to.

Wanna see what else I’ve been working on today? Sorry, you’ll have to wait just a little longer. I’m such a tease! Oh, okay, I’ll give you a hint: it’s fruity, cold, and sweet. Come back on Tuesday and I’ll end the suspense. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

"Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity." ~Voltaire

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