Tofu Bowl with Kimchi

DSC_1643In 2012 Danny and I traveled to South Korea and fell in love with Korean food. All those pickled and fermented veggies are so addictive and so good for you (gotta take care of that micro-biome!).

This Korean-inspired tofu bowl provides an awesome combination of textures and flavors. Sweet, salty, tangy, spicy, creamy, crunchy… its all there. It takes a little bit of multitasking, but its totally worth it. And, if you get the timing right (I’ll walk you through it), it comes together in under an hour.

INGREDIENTS

14 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
3 tsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1-2 tbsp. fresh chopped ginger
1 and 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
1-2 cups kimchee
4 eggs (optional)
Sautéed Sesame-Ginger Kale

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking oil. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together both types of oils, soy sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, maple syrup, hot sauce, garlic, and ginger. Let the tofu cubes marinate in the sauce while the oven finishes preheating. Save the extra marinade.

Place the marinated tofu cubes on the oiled baking sheet, making sure there is some space between each one. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove tofu from the oven, and use a spatula to flip. Bake for 15 more minutes after flipping.

Start the rice right after you first put the tofu in the oven. Once you have the rice going, start on the kale (recipe available here). Once you have the tofu, rice, and kale done or nearly done, fry the eggs either sunny side up or over-easy. You could also poach the eggs if you prefer.

Plate by spooning tofu, kale, and kimchee over a mound of rice and topping with a fried egg. If it suites you, use the left over marinade from the tofu as a sauce.

Creamy Banana Smoothie

Creamy Banana Smoothie

This smoothie, invented by my brilliant friend Jake, is so creamy and rich it borders on milkshake. My partner actually said that he prefers it to a DQ cookie dough blizzard (after eating both back to back in the same day). What?! How?! I’ll tell you: frozen bananas and whole milk. Blended together they make an ice-cream-like base to which you can add any number of healthy treats. And Jake, in all of his wisdom, adds peanuts for crunch, kale for kicks, and oatmeal to fill his belly after one of his crazy 100-mile bike rides. The resulting creamy banana smoothie makes the perfect breakfast or post-workout treat. So go ahead, treat yourself to a breakfast milkshake. I mean smoothie.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 banana sliced into chunks and frozen
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp. salted peanuts
  • 1 large kale leaf (stem removed)
  • ½ tsp. of honey (or less if banana is quite ripe)
  • Pinch of salt

INSTRUCTIONS
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

SERVES
1 person

Rosemary Lemon Potato Salad

Rosemary Lemon Potato Salad

My Aunt Genevieve makes the tastiest food. She has all sorts of tricks up her sleeve and her cooking always inspires me to try new ingredients and flavor combinations. For example, in this recipe she uses Japanese-style soy sauce (Shoyu) and sunflower seeds to give rosemary lemon potato salad an unbeatable umami flavor. It’s the perfect side for a picnic or fall dinner in the yard. Thanks Auntie Genevieve, and please send some more recipes my way!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs. red potatoes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • 3 tbsp. Shoyu (substitute with regular soy sauce or Braggs)
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 3 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/3 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • About 1½ cups of chopped fresh kale

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop the potatoes into bite-sized pieces (skins on), coat with olive oil, and pop in the oven. Roast for about 45 minutes, stirring once half-way through, until crisped and brown. While the potatoes are roasting, whisk together olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice from about two lemons (about 3 tbsp. of juice), Shoyu, and honey.

Chop the potatoes into bite-sized cubes and add to the dressing. Sprinkle with rosemary, sunflower seeds, and kale. You can also add about a teaspoon of lemon zest for an extra zing. Combine all the ingredients and let the salad sit for about an hour so the potatoes and kale can absorb the dressing. That’s it!

SERVES
About 6 people

Rhubarb Cake

Rhubarb Cake

In Minnesota we make great use of the abundance of summer rhubarb. The tart stalks are particularly tasty chopped fine and added to desserts such as cakes, pies, and sweet jams. My mom’s rhubarb cake is a great example for how to highlight rhubarb and it is an all-around family favorite. Since I no longer crave super sweet desserts, in this version I tone down the sugar and substitute with honey. I also use whole-wheat flour for a more filling, wholesome treat. The leftover cake is great for breakfast, especially when accompanied by a cup of coffee or hot tea.

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup butter (softened)
  • 1 and ½ scant cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. allspice
  • ¼ tsp. cloves
  • 1 and ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups finely chopped rhubarb
  • ½ cup chopped nuts
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • About 3 tbsp. honey

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, blend the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Incorporate the egg, vanilla, and buttermilk. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, allspice, cloves, and 1 tsp. of the cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and combine. Stir in the chopped rhubarb. Pour the cake batter into a buttered baking dish.

Pour the nuts, coconut, and remaining 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon into a mixing bowl, drizzle with honey, and stir. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the cake. Bake for about 40 minutes.

SERVES
16 to 24 people

Creamy Avocado Dressing

Creamy Avocado Dressing

This dressing is versatile and nutritious. It is velvety smooth and develops a rich nutty umami flavor with the addition of nutritional yeast. It works well in salads with bulky roughage, such as kale or spinach, and pairs nicely with toasted sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, and cucumbers. You can also serve it as a dip with fresh veggies and crackers or spread it on a sandwich with whole wheat bread. Delish!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large avocados
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 6 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • 6 tbsp. water

INSTRUCTIONS
Scoop the meat of the avocado into a food processor or blender. Peel and add the garlic. Add nutritional yeast, salt, and citrus juice. Slowly stream in the water while processing/blending. Easy breezy.

SERVES
6 to 8 as a salad or dip

Summer Veggie Bake

Summer Veggie Bake

This recipe is a lesson in patience, and it is absolutely worthwhile. Pick up a couple cold bottles of white wine, invite your closest friends, and start chopping. It’s time for Summer Veggie Bake therapy.

My sweet friend Mayme taught me this recipe over five years ago. At that point in my life, I only barely understood the value of patience, and was totally unable to exercise patience without support from others. I remember waiting in frustration for the onions to caramelize, and then anxiously again for the veggies to bake. 2 hours just seemed like a ridiculous amount of time to spend on dinner. But in the meantime we told stories, played card games, and had a beautiful evening. When the dish was finally done it tasted like heaven. Summer Veggie Bake has lessons to teach. Check it out.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 large sweet onions
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tsp. paprika
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 or 5 zucchini
  • 3 or 4 large tomatoes
  • A ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2/3 cup roughly chopped basil
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop the onions and place them in a large sauté pan with the butter, olive oil, rosemary and a little salt to caramelize. This takes about 45 minutes. You can start the onions on medium-high heat to get them going, but be sure to turn them down to low after about five minutes. Stir occasionally.

Toast the breadcrumbs in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop the garlic. Mix the caramelized onions with toasted breadcrumbs, chopped garlic, paprika, and Parmesan cheese. Add more olive oil if the mixture seems overly dry.

In a deep baking dish, layer zucchini, tomatoes, and sliced fresh mozzarella. You can really add or substitute with any veggies that roast well. Sprinkle each layer of mozzarella with basil, olive oil, and a generous amount of salt and fresh cracked pepper. Top the layers of veggies and mozzarella with bread-parm-onion mixture. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes on 350 degrees.

Sautéed Sesame-Ginger Kale

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Let’s just be honest about kale right now. It’s good for you, so you feel good about eating it. It can be delicious, but only when prepared properly. When prepared raw in a salad it can be woody and dry. When cooked it can become soggy and sad.

This recipe does kale right. By briefly sautéing the kale with garlic it becomes soft and flavorful but maintains some of its structure and crunch. Stock and fish sauce give the dish just right amount of salt and are balanced out with rice vinegar and sesame. Yum!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil or peanut oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large bunch of kale
  • 3 large carrots
  • ½ cup of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp. fresh grated ginger*
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

INSTRUCTIONS
Chop the garlic and de-stem the kale. Tear the kale into small pieces and rinse in a colander. Peel and shred or thinly slice the carrots.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes until garlic is soft but not brown (you may need to lower the heat to prevent browning). Add the kale, carrots, and stock and raise heat to high. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover and add ginger and fish sauce. Continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in rice vinegar and sesame seeds at the very end.

SERVES
3 to 4 people as a side

* ½ tsp. dried ginger can substitute in a pinch, just be sure to add it towards the end of cooking with the vinegar and other ingredients rather than at the beginning.

Lentil Salad with Feta & Balsamic

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I am totally addicted to this lentil salad. Maybe it’s that punchy garlic-balsamic dressing, or those cute little French lentils with the creamy interior, or the burst of sweetness from the grape tomatoes that has me hooked. But mostly likely it’s the combination of all of the above.

I really recommend using fresh ingredients for this recipe – i.e. garden fresh tomatoes and parsley, fresh feta from the cheese counter, etc. Believe me, it makes all the difference. And you don’t have to feel bad spending a couple extra bucks on fresh produce, because the recipe is quite affordable otherwise. Make it on Sunday and you have lunch for the week!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 and ½ cups French Lentils
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 and ½ cups grape or cherry tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup kalamata olives
  • ¾ cup of crumbled feta cheese

INSTRUCTIONS
Fill a medium saucepan about halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add the lentils and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop or better yet press the garlic and add to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and salt. Finely chop enough parsley to fill a cup. Half the tomatoes and quarter the olives.

After 20 minutes of cooking, drain the lentils and let them cool for about 10 minutes. Give the dressing another quick whisk and add the lentils to the bowl. Gently combine the lentils and the dressing. Mix in the tomatoes, parsley and olives. Lastly, once the entire salad has cooled to room temperature, crumble in the feta cheese and give the salad one final stir. The salad can be eaten right away, but the flavors will enhance if you let it sit for 30 minutes or more.

SERVES
About 6 people

Poulet Curry Salad

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This curry chicken salad is simple, creamy, and fresh. In this recipe, inspired by my mom’s French-Canadian heritage, whole-roasted curry-rubbed chicken pieces make the perfect foundation for a rich and comforting sandwich. Throw in some sliced grapes for sweetness, roasted cashews for crunch, and chutney for an extra kick. Best lunch ever!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large chicken breasts (bone-in skin-on)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • About 3 tbsp. curry powder
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp. chutney (mango and peach are great options)
  • ½ cup roasted, chopped cashews
  • 1 cup halved grapes

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and curry powder. Drizzle with olive oil and rub spices and oil into the skin and meat. Flip the breasts and apply the same treatment to the other side. Note that you won’t use up all of the curry powder at this point, just enough to cover the chicken pieces. Pour chicken stock into the baking dish and bake for about 40 minutes.

When the chicken is done baking, spoon about a half-cup of the broth/drippings into a large mixing bowl and place it in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, let the chicken cool. This is also a good time to slice the grapes and roast and chop the cashews.

Remove the partially congealed broth from the fridge and whisk in mayonnaise, chutney, and remaining curry powder. Shred the chicken pieces with a fork or your fingers and add to the dressing. Add grapes, cashews, and salt and pepper to taste.

SERVES
About 6 people (as a sandwich)