Sesame Tofu with Yellow Beans + Ribbon Noodles

After baking Ginger Peach Muffins yesterday and these amazing Cinnamon Streusel Pancakes from Two Peas & Their Pod for breakfast this morning, I was in the mood for something savory for dinner tonight.

I was cooking for one tonight, so I threw together some simple Sesame Tofu with Yellow Beans + Ribbon Noodles. The concept is similar to the Red Curry Seitan with Yellow Beans + Ribbon Noodles Alex made last week, but the taste is totally different.

The tofu is deliciously salty without being over-the-top, but if you’re at all conscious or weary of your salt intake, I would recommend using low-sodium soy sauce or substituting some of the soy sauce with a low-sodium broth.

Sesame Tofu with Yellow Beans + Ribbon Noodles
Serves 3-4

1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp liquid smoke
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp cornstarch, as needed
1 1/2 cups yellow string (French) beans, trimmed and snapped in half
4 round “nests” Asian ribbon noodles
a few handfuls arugula
toasted white sesame seeds, to garnish

Thinly slice tofu lengthwise, then cut each slice into four rectangles. In a medium bowl or Tupperware container, mix together the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, liquid smoke, and garlic. Gently toss in the tofu until coated. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator 1 hour (or however long you can – the longer it marinates, the more flavor will infuse into the tofu), tossing at least once.

Preheat oven to 400⁰F. Lightly oil a baking sheet and transfer the tofu from the marinade onto the sheet. Bake tofu 17-20 minutes, flipping once, until firm and browned. Pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan along with the mirin and simmer until thickened, adding cornstarch as needed. This will become the sauce for the noodles.

Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add yellow beans and boil 2 minutes, then add ribbon noodles and boil another 2 minutes until cooked al dente. Drain and toss with sauce and arugula. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Ginger Peach Muffins

Oh yeah, I totally baked today.  Twice in one week!  Today’s baking adventure was Ginger Peach Muffins. The muffins themselves are light and fluffy, but the silky sweet peaches are the star. I advise getting all of your ingredients and baking tools out for these in advance, as there are quite a few. For instance, it pays to make the oat flour, melt and cool the butter, and set out your milk at room temperature before getting everything going.

The muffins are topped with sliced peaches that have been sweetened with honey, ginger and butter.  The ginger adds a lovely kick of spice, and I highly recommend eating the leftover slices right out of the skillet while you wait for the muffins to bake.

Ginger Peach Muffins
Makes 9 muffins
Adapted from Technicolor Kitchen

1-2 small, ripe peaches
1 tablespoon + 6 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup plain yogurt
Ener-G Egg Replacer for one egg (1 1/2 teaspoons + 2 tablespoons warm water)

Preheat oven to 350⁰F. Butter 9 holes of a muffin tin. Cut peaches in half and remove pits, then cut into 1/4-inch slices. Combine 1 tbsp butter, honey, and 1 tsp ginger in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir until melted and bubbling, then toss in the peaches. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small food processor, blend rolled oats until they resemble flour. Sift into a large bowl, discarding any large particles. Into the same bowl, sift and whisk together the all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate, smaller bowl, combine 6 tbsp melted and cooled butter, canola oil, milk, yogurt, Ener-G Egg Replacer, and 2 tbsp ginger. Fold into the dry ingredients with a spatula until combined (don’t over mix!). Scoop batter into the nine buttered holes of the muffin tin, then lay two peach slices over each muffin. Fill empty holes of the muffiin tin halfway with water to ensure even baking. Bake 25 minutes until muffins are lightly golden and peaches are caramelized. Let cool a few minutes before removing from the tin to cool completely.

Moroccan Parsnips + Carrots with Chickpeas + Feta

Simple dinner tonight, and it was delicious.  It had the perfect balance of spice from the chili-garlic sauce, sweetness from the vegetables, and creaminess from the feta that I absolutely inhaled it.

I’ve had this recipe laying around for so long that I have no idea where it came from.  The original called solely for carrots, but I had a few of these lovely farmer’s market parsnips that I thought I would throw in, as well.  I made a few other substitutions, too, based on what I had in the kitchen.  As is, this is a good recipe if you’re looking for a quick and flavorful dinner for one, but would also be great over some herb quinoa or as a side dish to accompany some Moroccan-spiced tofu and greens.

Moroccan Parsnips + Carrots with Chickpeas + Feta

serves 1-2 as a main dish or 2-3 as a side dish


4-5 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds

4-5 parsnips, peeled and sliced into rounds

2 tbsp canola oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp chili-garlic sauce

salt, to taste

2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Place the carrots in a small pot and cover by a couple inches with water.  Cover and boil 8-10 minutes until pierce-able with a fork, then drain.  Meanwhile, heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and saute 1 minute until sizzling.

Stir in chickpeas, cumin, coriander, paprika, parsley, and chili-garlic sauce and cook another 1 minute.  Add parsnips and carrots and toss well to coat with spices.  Add salt, to taste.  Top with crumbled feta and garnish with extra parsley.

Ethiopian Lentils + Split Peas with Green Peas + Potatoes

Wet plate!

I’ll be honest, today was kind of exhausting. There was a staff meeting this morning at our second shop, and I was chosen to miss out and run the other shop by myself for a few hours while it was taking place. Surprisingly, I didn’t set the place on fire, didn’t run out of anything and only broke two coffee mugs (oooops!). And I made bank in tips. All in all, it was great, but I will be happy not to have to do it again for quite some time. In other news, it’s been kind of a gloomy day. It’s comfortable enough that a light sweater is sufficient outdoor attire, but the sun has been hiding behind the clouds for most of the day. My boyfriend had been putting off making this recipe for a few days because it requires multiple steps and ingredients, but frankly, it was just the sort of comforting meal I was looking forward to having tonight. That meal was Ethiopian Lentils + Split Peas with Green Peas + Potatoes. You can find the recipe over at Vegan Dad, one of my favorite online blogs from my days as a vegan. The boyfriend wasn’t a fan, but I thought it was delicious. The only substitution made was a combination of green split peas and brown lentils in place of the yellow split peas. The berbere seasoning used was homemade previously from a different source, and all of the fresh vegetables used were from either the farmer’s market or local co-op. I would definitely recommend making this dish.

25 Years + Red Curry Seitan with Yellow Beans + Ribbon Noodles

Yesterday I turned 25 years old.  As I expected, it really wasn’t anything special, but I did manage to obtain a free birthday coffee from a new shop I hadn’t been to before and my boyfriend treated me to dinner at my favorite Chinese restaurant and a pint of local ice cream for desert.

Tonight, my boyfriend made dinner for us.  He is a cook for a living, so I can generally expect good things to come out of the skillet on the nights he cooks.  At the beginning of each week, I like to put together recipes for the entire week, including small meals for myself on nights when he works late, breakfasts for the two of us on mornings I don’t have to work, and larger meals for him to cook on his nights off.  I love writing up recipes so much that he rarely ever has the chance to come up with his own.  But at least if whatever he ends up making doesn’t turn out, he can blame it on my recipe, and depending on how much of the recipe came from my own mind, I have the opportunity to blame it on someone else in the cookbook or internet-recipe-world.

On the menu tonight was Red Curry Peanut Butter Seitan with Yellow Beans and Ribbon Noodles, which I adapted from Fuss Free Cooking.  I changed the chicken to 1 pound of homemade “chicken” seitan, the bag of pre-cut Asian veggies to 2 cups of yellow beans from the local farmer’s market, and the Hokkein noodles to some dried ribbon noodles we bought from an Asian grocery in Milwaukee.  When it comes down to it, it’s kind of a different recipe, but the inspiration was definitely there.  I used black sesame seeds to garnish, but cilantro would have been good if I’d had any, and it probably would have been good with some chopped peanuts, too.

Overall, this recipe was a success.  I was a little worried about it, but now I realize how silly that was.  I mean, it combined two of my favorite things: red curry and peanut sauce.  How could it not be good?

Inaugural Post : Rum-Spiced Banana Bread

Last night it finally cooled off here in Minneapolis.  Since moving here from Milwaukee five weeks ago, the weather certainly hasn’t been unbearable, but we have had a few hot days and it’s nice to feel the cool autumn air rolling in.  One of the things I love about the Midwest is the changing of seasons.  I feel more appreciative of everyday, whether it be because it’s pouring rain outside and my favorite movie is on HBO or because the leaves have started to fall from the trees and the only sound I hear on my walk to work is the crunching of them underfoot.  That said, today I turned off the air conditioning and opened the windows with the hope of keeping it that way until my apartment building turns on the heat.  I love the fresh air (even though my sinuses do not) and my cat is happy to lay her chubby body in the tiny sliver of open window ledge.  It’s also cool enough in my apartment that turning the oven on to bake banana bread is actually a welcome source of warmth.

I rarely ever bake.  In fact, I could probably count on two hands the number of things I have ever baked, and the list would narrow down to one hand when counting the things that actually turned out.  Every once in a while I decide that I’m going to start baking more, which generally means a holiday desert and maybe a tin of muffins a couple weeks later.  I’ve made this decision again, but have become self-aware enough not to believe that I’ll actually follow through.  So don’t be surprised if you don’t see another baked goods recipe for six months.

While I feel capable of throwing together a complete meal on the fly (or at the very least with little outside help), baking recipes are not something I feel at all confident in concocting without precise directions from a pre-written recipe.  Nonetheless, I enjoy adapting baking recipes to fit my needs.  In this case, I adapted an already adapted recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I substituted 1/4 tsp vanilla powder for 1 tsp vanilla extract, used spiced rum instead of bourbon, and threw in about 1 tsp of molasses.  I also nixed the egg and used commercial Ener-G egg-replacer, which seems to me to be a rather unnatural product, but the fact is that I’ve had a box of it in the cupboard forever and it makes the most sense for me to use it up as opposed to simply throwing it away.  But feel free to use your choice of egg, applesauce, or whatever… or just leave it out altogether, as bananas themselves are often used as a replacement for eggs.

This bread smells so good while it’s baking, and since the batter contains no raw eggs, feel free to lick the spoon (and the bowl).  It’s not as sweet as I expected it to be and the loaf came out rather stout, but it wasn’t a total failure.  I was probably a bit too impatient in slicing it after it came out of the oven, which is why it looks crumbly, but hey, I’m new to this baking stuff.  Overall, I’m content with the results, although I do feel like it wasn’t quite right and therefor am not going to post the recipe.  Still, I will enjoy it for breakfast for the next few days.