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December 18, 2012 December 18, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston

Do you have a food that you always want when you’re sick? It’s probably something like noodle soup or mashed potatoes. Toast even. More recently in life this has become my sick go to food. I think I was sick when my dad came to town once and he dragged me down to the local Thai restaurant for the spiciest Laab we could get. My nose ran like crazy, my eyes watered and somehow I was feeling better already. You don’t have to go full blown spicy on this one to really appreciate it. The flavors are perfectly paired together. 

For me this is the perfect light meal. It is really satisfying and flavorful. You could even go in for seconds and not feel a twinge of guilt. 

It also can be a super classy appetizer that you serve to friends. Or a first course if you’re into that kind of thing. (I just pile all of the food one the table and people can eat what they want when they want.) Oh and you can just chop up the lettuce if you want and eat it salad style. That’s actually my favorite way.

I’m not making any claims to authenticity here. It’s vegan so that kind of changes the whole thing. And I wanted to include ingredients that are accessible to everyone (the exception MAY be miso paste. If you can’t find that i’ll have the substitute listed in the recipe.) It still captures the full essence of the dish and I’ve included something that no Laab would be complete without: toasted rice powder.  You can buy it at an Asian market but it’s just as easy to make at home. It adds a special toasty almost nutty flavor that feels essential. I tried it without the rice powder and it was still great – so if you want to leave out that step because you are in a hurry that will be fine. But – BIG BUT – it’s far better with it. So try it with the powder at least once.

Tofu Laab

serves 4

1 lb package extra firm tofu, drained and pat dry

5 cloves garlic, minced

2-4 serrano (or jalapeno) peppers, minced

6 green onions, sliced (you could substitute 1-2 shallots here if you like.) 

3 Tablespoons low sodium tamari

juice of 2 limes

2 teaspoons agave nectar (or raw sugar)

1 Tablespoon miso paste (or substitute 1 Tablespoon Tamari if you can’t find it) 

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/3 cup chopped mint

1-2 romaine lettuce hearts (the inner leaves) 

1/4 cup white rice

To make the toasted rice powder:

Set a large pan over medium heat and add the rice. You’re going to cook it until it is lightly golden and smells toasty. It took about 10 minutes. I suggest shaking the pan every minute or so to make sure that it is evenly toasted. Once golden brown take out and let cool. Grind the cooled rice in a coffee grinder, mortar and pestle, small food processor or with your hand blender (immersion blender.) You want it to be as fine as possible because large chunks will be hard on your teeth. I used the immersion blender with great success. You won’t be using all of it in this recipe but it stores well. 

  • Set a nonstick pan over medium high heat. 
  • Hand grate your tofu with the large sized grate holes (I don’t know the technical term here!) straight into the pan. 
  • Add in 1 Tablespoon tamari and stir. 
  • Cook until lightly browned. 
  • Add in the minced garlic and half of the green onions. Cook for about 1 minute longer.
  • Set aside to let cool. 
  • Now mix together the remaining 2 Tablespoons of tamari, lime juice, minced serrano peppers, agave and miso paste.  
  • Pour the mixture over the cooked tofu and add in 3 Tablespoons of the toasted rice powder. 
  • Mix the cilantro, mint and remaining green onions into the tofu mixture and serve with lettuce leaves. You can also chop the lettuce up and serve the Laab over it for a delicious salad. 

Nutritional information per serving :

 Serving size 1/4 Laab Mixture 

4 WWPointsPlus, 160 calories

, 5.5g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 18.6g carbohydrates, 4.3g fiber, 7.1g sugar, 13g protein

December 18, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston/ December 14, 2012 December 14, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston

This, is of course, not an every day kind of food. A treat! Processed foods just don’t usually do it for me but I’ve been craving bagels and cream cheese. I usually get jalapeno bagels but I find that they never EVER live up to my wishes. I want them to be SPICY. So I just decided to augment the cream cheese instead. 

Blending it up with just a touch of soy milk makes it super creamy and fluffy. It was ultra tasty. I say was because, well, we ate it all that day. 

(Also, yeah I realize that the peppers in the picture aren’t jalapenos.)

Also, I sometimes feel the need to put “VEGAN” in the title because I’m not sure that everyone that comes to this blog realizes that all of the foods here are vegan. It’s not in the web address or anything but it’s true, all vegan!

Vegan Jalapeno Garlic Cream Cheese 

1 container Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, brought up to room temperature

1 4oz can jalapenos, drained (not the pickled variety)

or

2 small jalapenos, minced and seeded if desired

2 cloves garlic

or

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 Tablespoons soy milk

  • Blend together until very smooth. I used my immersion blender but you could also use a small food processor or even whip it together with your electric mixer. 
  • Keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. 

December 14, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston/ December 10, 2012 December 10, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston

Can’t I just be crowned Queen of Soup now?

The good news here is that my daughter really loves this soup. Those fat chewy udon noodles are SUPER kid friendly. I mean, don’t most kids like noodles?

This soup was a big hit with not only our family but friends as well. 

And I actually didn’t plan on making it. It’s kind of a hybrid that turned out AMAZING. I wanted to make another kind of udon soup but then I also wanted miso soup. I got both! (I love getting exactly what I want. I’m a bit spoiled like that.) 

So, about a couple of the ingredients here. 

First of all the udon noodles. I found them in our local Asian food market in the freezer section but then when I was at the regular grocery store I saw them. Doh! I had just never looked hard enough before. They are usually just flour and water. Maybe some salt. They keep them in the regular store by the refrigerated egg roll wrappers and yaki-soba noodles. 

Miso can also be found at the Asian market or at larger “health” food stores (Like Whole Foods or anything like it.) I used half yellow miso and half red miso. The lighter the color of the miso the less intense in flavor it tends to be. If you don’t use miso regularly then PLEASE don’t buy two tubs of it. Get the yellow miso and it will work wonderfully. I go through a lot of the miso paste so I have a couple of kinds at once usually. 

Miso Udon Soup

6 Tablespoons miso paste (I like a combo of white or yellow miso and red miso. Sometimes I go for all yellow miso)

2 Tablespoons low sodium tamari or soy sauce

6 cups water

2 – 8 oz packages fresh or frozen udon noodles (You can find these in an Asian market, or in large grocery stores by the egg roll wrappers. You

can

use dried but trust me when I say its not even close to the same.)

2 green onions, sliced thin

2 Tablespoons fresh grated ginger

2 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated on a microplane

3 cups of loosely packed greens such as spinach, kale, or mustard greens, sliced thin

Sriracha to taste! (I used about 3 tablespoons)

  • In a large pot over medium-high heat whisk together the miso paste, tamari/soy and the water. 
  • Add in the garlic and ginger. 
  • Bring up to a bare simmer. (I define this as a couple of bubbles breaking on the surface but not much more.) You don’t want it to boil.
  • Add in the noodles and cook until “al dente” Frozen noodles took about 5 minutes at the bare simmer.
  • Right  before serving stir in the green onions, greens and sriracha.  
  • Make sure that everyone slurps loudly while eating this soup. It’s the only way to do it! 

-Lovely optional additions: cooked sliced mushrooms, cooked mung bean sprouts, thinly sliced carrots, little squares of tofu, chickpeas, a few cilantro leaves, 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, thinly sliced zucchini

December 10, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston/ December 06, 2012 December 06, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston

I need to confess something right now: I’ve been eating like CRAP lately! Lot’s of sugar, lots of refined flours, bagels and some of that oh-so-evil-but-yummy Tofutti Cream Cheese. Ugh. I’m ready to clean things up and feel better about my choices. It’s time to add some freshness to my cold wet winter. 

I love summer rolls and I really don’t make them enough. The Mr. seemed to love them too and the babe? Well she doesn’t dig the wrappers yet so she just picked all of the veggies out. It’s so hard to tell with kids sometimes. I mean some days she eats EVERYTHING IN SIGHT. Some days she eats two grains of rice and 8 mandarin oranges and thinks she’s done. She’s still an awesome eater so I’m really thankful. Oh and she loves sriracha tofu so i’ll be making more of that!

For everyone that is terrified of rice papper wrappers I have news for you: It won’t kill you!

In fact, it’s even easier than you think. Oh, you can rip one or two but who cares? There’s more in the bag. And let me let you in on a little secret – you don’t soak them until they are soft. SAY WHAT?! Yeah, you don’t. Why? They get softer as they set so you just get them wet and then pile on the veggies. When you’re ready to wrap they are soft enough to work perfectly but not so soggy that they tear. There, I hope you can take a deep calming breath now and try these out. 

This is a great way to get in some extra veggies. You can add in any extras that you love like mushrooms, raw zucchini, peppers, cooked eggplant, etc. You can even leave the noodles out if you want it to be all vegetables (Oh I guess that means leaving out the tofu too but why on Earth would you want to do that? Soy-free? Try seitan or just some thick slices of cooked portabello mushrooms.)

Oh and so I just HAVE to tell you about the sauce. It’s good. TOO good. I kept “testing” it with my finger and yeah, even the spoon.  You could always substitute another nut butter for the tahini if you want… but this little twist is definitely worth trying once!

Oooh oooh and!!! AND!! You could thin out the sauce with a little bit of water and pour it over a salad. My mouth is watering at just the thought of that. 

I took some photos along the way to show you how to roll them because I was not sure that my directions would make as much sense as I want them to. 

You just lightly moisten your rice wrappers.

Then pile on the veggies, noodles and tofu. Push them closer to the edge of the wrapper that is closest to you. 

Roll the edge up and over the fillings.

Continue to roll it up. Roll it as tight as you can without making the whole thing burst. If it does burst just start over, no biggie. 

Sriracha Tofu Summer Rolls

Spring Roll Wrappers (Rice Paper)

– (8) You can find these in Asian markets, online or at large grocery stores. They are dry, thin and opaque. They are not the same as egg roll wrappers.

1 batch

Sriracha Baked Tofu (Click here for the recipe! It’s easy, fast and so worth it!) 

1/4 english cucumber, sliced into thin matchsticks

1 carrot, peeled and sliced into thin matchsticks

2 cups mung bean sprouts 

2 green onions, sliced

30-40 thai basil leaves

30-40 mint leaves

1/2 cup cilantro

1 avocado, sliced into 16 slices

2 cups softened

Bean Thread Noodles

 – Again you can find these in Asian Markets, online or in large grocery stores. You simply soak them in hot water until they are softened. Then drain and chop into manageable lengths if you like. 

Spicy Sesame Dipping Sauce

3 Tablespoons tahini

juice of 1 lime

2 Tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon red chile flakes

1 clove garlic, minced

  • Make the sauce: You can blend everything together in a small blender or by hand. If you love dipping sauce then plan on making a double batch. It’s addictive!!
  • Make the rolls: Slice up all of your vegetables, clean your herbs and get your bean thread noodles softened. Also cut your sriracha tofu into sticks.
  • Now! Get everything ready for rolling. Put everything in one area so it’s easier on you.
  • Fill a large bowl with hot water and dip 1 spring roll wrapper in it for just a couple of seconds. You want it to still be fairly stiff because it will soften as you go along. 
  • Lay the wrapper down and line up 4 basil leaves, 4 mint leaves, and a couple of leaves of cilantro.
  • Top with 2 slices of avocado, some noodles, a bit of carrot, cucumber, green onion and 1/8th of the sriracha tofu. 
  • Get ready to roll!
  • Fold the end closest to you up and over the fillings. 
  • Fold in the side edges. 
  • Now roll the rest of the way. 
  • Place it on a baking sheet covered with plastic wrap. 
  • Repeat with the remaining rolls.
  • You can serve right away or wrap the top with more plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day (they are best eaten within 3 hours but they are still pretty good after a day or so!)  

December 06, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston/ December 05, 2012 December 05, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston

If you couldn’t guess by now, I love spicy food! I looove sriracha. Doesn’t everyone? (Aww look at my bottle! I need to get some more, PRONTO!) If for some crazy reason you haven’t had it before it’s a spicy garlicy and slightly sweet and salty hot sauce that is pretty much addictive. It’s in a bottle with a green cap and a rooster on it. If you like hot sauce, you will love it. 

So let me tell you a little story (real little!) – I went to this grocery store which will be unnamed that had a great salad bar. The salad bar had some “Sriracha Tofu” and I piled some on my salad. “How exciting!” I thought. One bite though and disappointment quickly set it. It tasted so bland. How could this happen?! How could sriracha-anything taste bland? 

Fear. Fear, people. Because too many people are afraid to just embrace the spice. 

So check it out – no fear here!

It’s spicy as heck. It’s also amazingly flavorful. 

Also it’s easy. Did I mention EASY? If you look around this site you’ll see that I try to keep things as easy as possible. For my sanity and yours.

The only hard part is that you have to freeze your tofu and then thaw it out. Just chuck the whole package in freezer when you get home from the store. The morning you want to cook the tofu take the package out of the freezer and let it thaw. I know this seems unnecessary if you’ve never done it before. But look at the following pictures. It makes a WORLD of difference. The texture is completely changed by freezing.

Sriracha Baked Tofu

1lb firm or extra firm tofu (frozen, then thawed completely)

6 Tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce  (that’s 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons)

1/4 cup tamari (or soy sauce. I use low sodium)

  • Take your thawed tofu out of the container and squeeze it with your hands over the sink. It’s going to feel like a sponge so if you want to let your kids try it they might like it!
  • Slice the tofu into 1/4 inch slices. (I first cut my block in half and then cut into slices)
  • Mix together your tamari and sriracha is a large zip top plastic bag. Add in the tofu and gently squeeze it several times to get the marinade soaked into the tofu. 
  • Let it marinade from 20 minutes to a couple of hours.
  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the tofu on it in a single layer. 
  • Cook for 20 minutes on one side, flip and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until slightly crispy on the edges. 
  • Serve as a crazy spicy side, chop and add it to your stir-fry, add it to miso soup, or even make some sushi! 

OR make some super good Sriracha Tofu Summer Rolls with Spicy Sesame Sauce!

December 05, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston/