Vegan Sweet and Sour Tofu

This is a simple recipe that requires little preparation and making the sauce can be done ahead of time. I never knew it was so easy to make sweet and sour sauce!

Ingredients:

Sweet and Sour sauce

  • 1 cup pineapple juice (if using a can of diced pineapples, save the pineapples)
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup (use more or less depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp water

Other ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1/2 large green pepper
  • 1 pkg of firm tofu
  • 1-2 tomatoes
  • 1 large carrot
  • sesame seeds

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients except for the cornstarch and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Whisk the cornstarch and water and add to the sauce.  Cook for another 1-2 minute until it thickens. Set aside.

While the sauce is cooking, prep the following ingredients as follows.

  1. Dice the tofu into bite sized pieces
  2. Slice the white onion and green pepper.
  3. Dice the tomatoes
  4. Cut the carrot into matchstick pieces.

Next heat up 1-2 tbsp of oil in a frying pan and pan fry the tofu until it is golden brown on all sides (you can skip this step if you wish, I just like the texture browning of the tofu brings). Remove tofu and set aside. Add more oil if needed and sauté the onion, green pepper and carrot until soft, approx. 5-10 mins. Add in the tomatoes, tofu, and 1/2 of the pineapples you saved earlier. Add the sauce you made ahead of time stirring until everything is consistently heated. Serve over rice and top with sesame seeds!

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Cordon Bleu: is meat wrapped around cheese (or with cheese filling), then breaded and pan fried or deep fried. (Wikipedia)

I’m not sure why I don’t make this meal more often as it is one of the easiest meals to prepare and serve. Key ingredients to this dish are incorporating tasty ham and good Swiss cheese.  For this recipe, I used cornmeal ham that is often served for breakfast and is precooked.  However you could also use prosciutto or a similar type ham.

Chicken Cordon Bleu with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Chicken Cordon Bleu with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts
cornmeal ham (or prosciutto, bacon)
swiss cheese
salt & pepper
2 eggs (whites only)
Panko bread crumbs
paprika
butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees C.  While the oven is heating, place the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of saran wrap and using a meat tenderizer, pound the chicken until it is 1/4 inch thick.  If you don’t have a meat tenderizer you could try rolling the chicken out with a rolling pin or carefully butterflying the chicken in half (but don’t cut it all the way through as you need it in one piece).  Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.  Thinly slice the cheese and add a layer to the chicken, leaving a gap from the edges of the chicken.  On top of the cheese, add thinly sliced ham and then starting at one end, roll the chicken and secure with toothpicks.  Use enough bread crumbs to cover both chickens and add about 1 teaspoon of paprika to the bread crumbs.  Dip the rolled up chicken into the egg whites and then cover in bread crumbs.  Place in an oven proof dish and add a small pat of butter on top of the chickens.  Bake for approx. 25 minutes or until juices run clear.  Before time is up, take the chicken out (approx. 5 minutes before it is done) and add slices of swiss cheese on top of the chicken and return it to the oven to melt.  Remove toothpicks prior to serving and pair with roasted brussels sprouts.

Spaghetti Squash with Diced Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Out of all the variety of squashes out there, spaghetti squash is my favorite by far.  If you’ve never tried it I highly recommend it.

Herbed Chicken with Spaghetti Squash Topped with Tomatoes and Goat Cheesse

Herbed Chicken with Spaghetti Squash Topped with Tomatoes and Goat Cheesse

Spaghetti squash is high in nutrients, including folic acid, potassium, vitamin A, and beta carotene and is low in calories (Wikipedia).  Once it’s cut open, it contains many seeds similar to a pumpkin that you scrape out.  The interior flesh is solid but once cooked, the flesh is easily scraped with a fork into strands similar to spaghetti.  It can be used as a substitute for pasta, salads, or side dishes like the one I’m going to describe below (apologies for the blurry photos).

Ingredients
spaghetti squash
olive oil
salt and pepper

Tomato Layer
6-7 riped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 shallot
fresh basil

Topping
goat cheese
fresh tarragon (optional)

Spaghetti Squash Topped with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Spaghetti Squash Topped with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  While the oven is preheating, halve the spaghetti squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and membrane.  Drizzle olive oil over the prepared flesh and season with salt and pepper.  Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for one hour.  While the squash is baking, dice up the tomatoes, garlic, shallot and basil.  Over medium heat, add a bit of olive oil in a pan and add the garlic and shallots stirring until fragrant, approximately 1-2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes to the mixture and cook until the majority of the tomato juice is absorbed.  Remove from heat and add in 1-2 teaspoons of fresh basil.  After the hour is up, allow the squash to cool  to allow easier handling.  Using a fork, scrape the flesh and stir a bit to evenly distribute the olive oil, salt and pepper you added in the beginning.  Using a food ring, add half of the spaghetti squash, top with the tomato mixture and top it off with crumbled goat cheese and a few leaves of tarragon for garnish.  Slide the ring off and enjoy!

Crispy Baked Avocado with Lemon Aioli

 

Avocado

Crispy Baked Avocado with Lemon Aioli

Aioli: is a Provençal traditional sauce made of garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and egg yolks. (Wikipedia)

I love eating avocados for its’ rich creaminess and health benefits.  Avocados are packed with carotenoids that help prevent eye disease, packed with fiber, are high in monounsaturated fats that helps keep your blood sugar down, and also lowers cholesterol.  I usually enjoy avocados in guacamole or mixed in salads but my new favorite method is coating them in bread crumbs and baking it.  This is a healthy alternative to deep fried fries and can be served with a dipping sauce such as lemon aioli.

Crispy Baked Avocado (serves 2)

1-2 ripe avocados
1/2 Japanese Panko crumbs or normal bread crumbs
1 egg white (I only use the egg white as the yolk is high in cholesterol but you can definitely use the entire egg)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut the avocado lengthwise and remove the pit.  Cut the avocados into slices and gently scoop it out with a spoon.  Dip the sliced avocados in the egg and then coat in the Panko crumbs.  You can use normal bread crumbs and add seasonings but I like Panko crumbs for its’ crunchiness that compliments the creaminess of the avocado.  I don’t like to add seasonings to the bread crumbs either as I love the taste of avocados but you can definitely experiment with different herbs.  Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lay the coated avocados on top.  Place in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until they start to brown.  Remove and serve with lemon aioli.

Lemon Aioli

1/2 cup mayonnaise
zest, juice of one lemon
1 garlic clove, minced (or you can use more depending on your preference)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt

Whisk the first 4 ingredients together.  Add salt as desired.

Kale Chips

Kale

Kale

Kale is a leafy green you may overlook at the grocery store.  However there are many benefits to eating kale that should not be ignored.  Some of these benefits, according to Wikipedia includes being high in beta carotene (necessary for healthy skin, immune system and good vision) , fiber, vitamin C & K, rich in calcium and blocks the growth of cancer cells.  Kale also lowers cholesterol which is a bonus for me.

There are many ways to prepare kale.  You can saute kale as a side dish, blend in smoothies, pureed in soups and many more options.  My favorite method is baking bite size pieces of the leafy green tossed with a bit of oil and seasonings.  If you are addicted to eating potato chips this is a healthy substitute as once you start eating it, you can’t stop.

Kale Chips

1 fresh bunch of kale
olive oil
garlic powder or any other seasoning you prefer (paprika, seasoning salt, etc)

Kale

Kale chips with garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Thoroughly wash and dry the kale in a salad spinner or paper towel.  Remove the thick stems from the kale and tear the leaves into bite size pieces.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil and toss to coat.  Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spread the kale evenly so there is no overlap.  Season with desired seasoning and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the leaves start to turn brown but are not burnt.  Cool and enjoy.