Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Buffalo Nuggets

Okay, so I have a confession.  I deliberately omitted the fact that these are made of tofu in the title of this entry.  I was afraid many people wouldn't want to check it out otherwise.  If I tricked you and you've made it this far, just hear me out.  (Shawna, that includes you.)  Just yesterday my grandma was telling me how the thought of tofu makes it too hard for her to eat it and I don't think she is alone.  Will someone please help me understand?  What is disgusting about soybeans?  Especially to people who are willing to eat the flesh of animals.  Even grandma had to laugh that she enjoys a good piece of head cheese but can't stomach the thought of tofu.  (I promise that is the last time there will ever be mention of head cheese on my blog.)

I have experimented with many ways of preparing tofu and have learned that the key is pressing it long enough to remove most of the water to keep it from falling apart or being mushy.  I was very happy with the way these turned out.  Great texture in the middle, crispy outside and the perfect amount of spice.  If you are a boneless chicken wing enthusiast, you need to at least try these.  Use your favorite buffalo sauce, dip them in a little ranch and then tell your friends how amazing they are.

Buffalo Tofu Nuggets

Extra firm tofu
buffalo sauce (I used Franks)
Panko breadcrumbs
ground flax seed
garlic powder
sea salt

First drain and slice the tofu into long strips, about a 1/2 inch thick.  Place them between a couple towels and place something heavy on them for 30 or more minutes.  For more specific instructions on how to do this, check out this page.

Cut the tofu into smaller pieces and douse with buffalo sauce.  Let it marinate for an hour or more.  The longer it sits, the spicier it gets!  Mix together the bread crumbs, flax, garlic powder and sea salt in a bowl.  Cover the marinated tofu with the bread crumb mixture.  Spray a cooking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until they are nice and crispy. 

They are perfect with a bit of homemade ranch dressing or in a wrap.  In a wrap they taste very similar to the Morningstar Farms buffalo chik'n wings. 

Now for dessert.  These cupcakes are from Alicia Silverstone's book, The Kind Diet and they have a great taste and texture for being healthier.  The kids can't get enough of these.  The way Harper says 'cupcake' is so adorable that I let her have two.

Here is the recipe as written in The Kind Diet:

Ingredients (makes 12):
2/3 cups soy or hemp milk ( I used almond milk)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup safflower oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch fine sea salt
1/2 cup (4 oz) Earth Balance
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup soy milk powder (I didn't have this so I just added a bit of almond milk to make it smooth.  It turns out the best if you put it in the fridge to thicken it up. I discovered this the next day when I dipped into the leftover frosting!)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a 12 cup muffin tin.
Combine the milk and vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes or until mixture starts to bubble. Add in the remaining wet ingredients.
In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients and then mix in the wet ingredients until no lumps remain.
Pour the batter into the prepared tins and bake for 18-22 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes and then let completely cool on a baking rack before frosting.
Directions for Frosting:
Use a mixer to cream together the butter and agave nectar until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and half of the cocoa powder. Mix on low and then combine the rest of the cocoa powder. Add in the soy milk powder if you have it and mix on medium-high until fluffy. If your frosting is a tad on the runny side you might want to refrigerate it for awhile before frosting your cupcakes.

If you like this recipe, check out The Kind Life

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A "heart"y breakfast

On a typical Tuesday morning the rest of the house is still slumbering when I leave for work.  This morning I was exceptionally noisy as I prepared myself for the day, hoping the family would wake up and we could share a Valentine's Day breakfast together.  Okay, so to be completely honest, I also wanted to make sure Sawyer was appropriately bathed, groomed and dressed for his first picture day at preschool.  (Anyone who knows my husband needs no explanation.)  
While Harper snoozed on, the boys were up and ready for the day long before I needed to leave.

And what did we have for breakfast, you ask?  I stayed up late making healthy strawberry oat squares.  They have homemade strawberry jam in the middle and just the scent of it simmering on the stove was worth depriving myself of much needed sleep.  I wanted to make something healthy to hopefully offset all of the sugar Sawyer will be receiving from outside sources today.  Of course, I cut them into hearts for a special touch. 

 We've been rehearsing our "picture day" smile!

Other than being picture day, Sawyer also celebrated Valentine's Day at preschool.  He spent the last week adorning plain white cards with Valentine stickers and stamps and writing his name on every last one of them.  Initially it was a daunting task, but by the time we finished he was begging to make more.  We also made homemade sugar scrubs for each of his teachers.  My sister made me an amazing orange scented scrub a couple months ago - when I found out how simple it was I figured it would be a fun way for Sawyer to tell his teachers how much he loves them.  They turned out so well so I thought I would share.  One is a vanilla brown sugar scrub and the other a lemon sugar scrub.  The best part is I already had all of the ingredients.  


Finally, I couldn't resist sharing this valentine Sawyer and Harper received in the mail yesterday from our little friend, Henry.  Harper carried it around most of the night!  Could this valentine (or this baby) be any cuter?!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sesame Couscous

I have been really into sesame lately.  In the last couple months I haven't touched a salad that isn't topped off with some variety of sesame dressing.  I've thrown sesame seeds into about every granola/bar creation I've made recently.  The kids will eat homemade sesame noodles as often as I'll make them, and trust me, it's often.  Let's just say I'm stocked up on all that is sesame.  Last weekend I came up with this recipe and loved it on the first try.  (As well as the second, which was the following day because we couldn't wait that long to have it again.) 

This is super quick and easy to whip up.  Try it and you may love it too...

Sesame Couscous
1 cup uncooked couscous
1 cup water
1 1/2 T sesame oil
1 T rice vinegar
2 T shoyu (or soy sauce)
1/2 T canola oil
1 T hot water
1 T sucanat (or other granulated sweetener)
1 zucchini, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup shelled edamame
toasted sesame seeds
sea salt

Boil one cup of water.  Add the couscous, cover and remove from heat.  Let it sit for 5 minutes.  In a separate pot, combine the sesame oil, rice vinegar, shoyu, oil, hot water and sucanat and heat on medium until the sucanat has dissolved.  Pour this mixture into a bowl and set aside.  Next, using the bit of oil that remains, add the zucchini and edamame to the pot and saute for about 5 minutes or until just slightly brown.  Fluff the couscous with a fork, add liquid mixture and veggies.  Finally top with sea salt and toasted sesame seeds.  


Monday, February 6, 2012

Coconutty Quinoa


I used to have an oatmeal obsession.  However, last summer I discovered quinoa for breakfast and oatmeal moved down a spot on my list.  I love the consistency of quinoa and I think it keeps me satisfied longer.  It's also fun to play around with different combinations.  Here is one I came up with that I make often.  

If you like oatmeal, you must try this!

Coconutty Quinoa

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water
1/4 cup coconut milk (refrigerated carton such as Silk, not canned)
1 heaping T natural peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla (or coconut extract if you're feeling particularly 'coconutty')
raw coconut nectar (or agave or maple syrup)
unsweetened coconut 

Add quinoa to boiling water and cook until most of the water is absorbed (roughly 10 minutes).  Add the coconut milk and stir.  After a minute or two, stir in the peanut butter and vanilla.  (I'm picky about the consistency, so at times I stream in additional milk to keep it creamy.)  Top with coconut nectar, coconut and pecans.  Serves two.