Bok Choy, Napa and Tofu Stir Fry

stir_fry

We’ve been getting lots of bok choy and Napa cabbage from our CSA and they make for a good stir fry. We also added to this one onions, carrots, cashews, tofu, and even a little broccoli from our garden. You can stir fry almost anything you have on hand though. It’s all in the sauce. This is a recipe that we and the kids liked that’s adapted from the Beefy Asparagus Stir Fry recipe in Isa Does It. Just whisk all this stuff together in a bowl then add to your stir fried veggies at the end:

1/2 c. water

1 Tbs. cornstarch

3 Tbs. soy sauce

3 Tbs. hoisin sauce

1 tsp. sriracha (more to taste)

2 Tbs. lime juice

1 Tbs. agave

1 Tbs. sesame oil

1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

We often serve our stir fries over brown rice and sprinkled with sesame seeds. And with the kids, we make everything very mild but I do enjoy some extra sriracha on top too!

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Ethiopian Hand Pies with Collards

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We recently made an Ethiopian feast for dinner and Darlene had the fabulous idea to turn the leftover tofu wat into hand pies (or calzones if you like). Every culture has some sort of hand pie, though I’m not sure if you’d find something like this in Ethiopia. Regardless, they were awesome! Check out one of our previous pizza posts for a link to and discussion of the dough recipe. I don’t have a recipe for the tofu wat because I made it up as I went along but Google it and you’ll get some ideas. You could really fill these with anything though.

We had these hand pies with some beautiful collards from our Bellair Farm CSA. It’s so exciting to be starting off the CSA season again and we hope to showcase more of the beautiful produce we’ll be getting each week in our share. Our go-to method for collards is simply to chop a bunch of them into bite-sized pieces (removing any thick stems), then saute in a little olive oil for a few minutes. Then we add a minced clove of garlic, saute for another minute then add lemon juice. (The juice from half a lemon is about right for a large bunch of collards.) I also like to add a little sweetener – 1/2 teaspoon of agave or sugar does the trick.

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Spring Rolls

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Do you only have spring rolls when dining out at Chinese or Thai restaurants? Why not make them at home? It’s not as hard as you might think. The hardest part for some might be finding the spring roll wrappers but if you have an Asian market nearby it’s likely you can find them there (they’re in the freezer section of our local Asian market). We posted about spring rolls many times on our previous blog and this post has a bit of a recipe and some instructions for wrapping. It’s mostly cabbage, usually carrots, plus whatever else you want to throw in – tonight that happened to be tofu and kale. The key here is that if you’re nervous about or otherwise turned off by deep frying, well there’s another way. We deep fry these on occasion but they come out pretty good just by rolling them a little flat and frying in a shallow pan with a generous amount of canola oil. You can try baking them too.

It’s nice to have a good dipping sauce to go along with these and our usual recipe is to whisk together 1/3 c. apricot jam, 2 Tbs. soy sauce, 1 Tbs. rice vinegar, and 1 tsp. sesame oil. They can be a meal by themselves or you can serve them with some noodles or fried rice or whatever else suits your fancy.

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It had been quite a while since we made spring rolls but they used to be a regular go-to meal and I think they may become so again because they’re so delicious!

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Using what you’ve got, Part 1 – Just throw stuff together

While we love thumbing through cookbooks for new recipes to try (or pulling out our old favorites), the reality is that we just don’t have the time to do that very often. We’ll certainly post here about cookbooks or recipes we’ve found that we really like but our day to day meals are often whipped up on the fly with whatever we have on hand. I’ll admit that I tend to be one to cook more from recipes but Darlene is a master of cobbling together whatever we have in the fridge and the pantry and making it into a great meal. She’s taught me that meals don’t have to be elaborate to be satisfying and nutritious. Let’s take a look at a couple of recent examples of what I’m talking about. First up, the bowl (or plate in this case), which generally consists of a grain, a vegetable and some beans or tofu (or both) with a sauce or dressing of some sort.

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Here’s what’s on the plate, along with some ideas for how you could change it up.

  • Brown rice. We often cook a big pot of brown rice on the weekends and use it for a couple of meals during the week but if you haven’t done that and you don’t have the time to cook brown rice, how about quinoa?
  • Black beans. Just plain ‘ol beans that we cooked in our Instant Pot. Don’t have a fancy schmancy pressure cooker? No worries, just open up a can of any beans you have on hand.
  • Tofu, diced and fried in a little olive oil. You could leave this out entirely but if was a nice addition here.
  • Roasted butternut squash. A baked sweet potato would make a fine substitution, or change it up entirely and use steamed broccoli or roasted brussels sprouts or sauteed kale or any other vegetable under the sun. If you’re really in a rush, microwave some frozen broccoli. We almost always keep a bag of frozen broccoli on hand to add to a quick meal and frozen vegetables are still very nutritious.
  • This was all tied together with a ranch style dressing from Terry Hope Romero that Darlene found on-line. We almost always make our own dressings and you should too, if for no other reason than you’ll save money. Dreena Burton has quite a few dressing recipes in her cookbooks, as does Isa. And if you don’t want to go to the trouble of looking for a recipe just whisk together some olive oil, cider vinegar or lemon juice (or both), a bit of prepared mustard and salt and pepper to taste.

Here’s another example of throwing stuff together for a quick, satisfying meal – burritos.

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We almost always have tortillas on hand because the kids love burritos and quesadillas. And while there’s no shortage of burrito recipes available, I don’t think I’ve ever followed a recipe for a burrito. Here we have the black beans and rice again, cooked beforehand and at the ready, along with avocado, mango salsa and cashew sour cream. You could certainly use salsa from a jar and we do so regularly (especially in winter with a dearth of fresh tomatoes), but here Darlene made a nice quick salsa with a small can of diced tomatoes (drained), some frozen diced mango, diced onion, plus a little oil, cider vinegar, oregano and salt. For the “sour cream” we used the Cashew Crema recipe from Viva Vegan! and it’s very similar to this one from Oh She Glows. (One tip on this front: if a recipe calls for soaked cashews but you don’t have any that have been soaking, you can boil them for a few minutes and get similar results.)

Hopefully this post has inspired you to move beyond cooking from a recipe and into whipping up a quick meal with whatever you have on hand! (Just remember to always keep rice in your pantry and you’ll be well on your way.)

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Fried Rice

We wrote about this many times on our previous blog and it’s still a go-to meal when we need something quick and/or when we need to use up some leftovers. In this version I stir-fried onion, carrot, beet greens, tofu, garlic, ginger and cashews, then threw in some roasted asparagus left over from last night’s dinner. Once all that stuff was happy I added about 3 cups of cooked brown rice, then about 2 tsp. of sesame oil and 1/4 c. of soy sauce (we use the Trader Joe’s variety that’s fairly low in sodium). And that’s it. Delicious. The kid ate a big bowl of it too so that’s an added bonus.

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Wraps

This is a fairly common (and quick) meal around here: rice, vegetables (maybe some tofu too) and a sauce wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. In this case we fried tofu, onions and carrots together (salt and pepper is all you really need for seasoning but if you want something more add whatever you like). We also sauteed some kale, then wrapped all that up with rice and a lemon tahini dressing. Which reminds me. Never buy salad dressing in a bottle. Make it yourself. But that’s another post.

wraps