Friday, April 30, 2010

Mediterranean Orecchiette, Cooked Risotto-Style

How great is Groupon, right?

I came across a Groupon for Fox & Obel the other day, and my fellow Chicagoans know that it's an amazing gourmet market located conveniently (dangerously?) close to my office. As if I needed another excuse to shop there, the Groupon provided me the perfect opportunity to browse the shop and pick up a few things I needed. One of the produce treasures I came across was a pack of "heirloom peppers." I had no idea if they were going to be sweet or spicy, but I am not one to turn down a pepper of any variety, and certainly not an heirloom edition.

As it turned out, they were a variety of red bell peppers, but their thin flesh made them crisper and much sweeter than your average red pepper. They also had an intriguing, elongated shape, reminiscent of Cubanelles. If you happen to find them in your local market, definitely pick some up. They're a nice change of pace.

Among the other things I found at Fox and Obel was a box of Italian orecchiette, one of my favorite pasta shapes, but it's not always available at the regular supermarket. With a few other treats I had around, I had the perfect beginnings for a pasta dish, and I had been wanting to try cooking it risotto-style ever since I saw Mark Bittman do it on his blog a few months ago.

It's exactly what it sounds like - you add dry pasta to a base of oil and butter, and gradually add liquid while stirring, just like risotto - only instead of arborio rice, you use a short pasta. Just like with the rice grains (but to a lesser extent), the pasta releases its glutens slowly, thickening the sauce you cook it in and creating a rich base - all without having to add anything but the broth.

Despite the fact that this blog's subtitle is "How To Wine and Dine Daringly," I almost never share with you my adventures in vino. What a shame! Consider this my first step toward a remedy. We enjoyed this wine (photo above) with dinner, and at about $8 a bottle at Treasure Island, it was an absolute steal! In fact, I may just wrap this up and have another sip or two...or three....

Makes 4-6 servings

2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 heirloom red bell peppers, sliced, ribs and seeds removed
2 T. butter
~2 c. dried orecchiette pasta (or other small pasta, like shells or rotini)
zest and juice of one lemon
1 container (the box) low-sodium chicken broth
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
fresh chopped thyme
fresh chopped oregano
1 can artichoke hearts, quartered (not packed in oil)
~1/2 cup frozen peas
handful olives, halved (use good quality black or green olives, or a combination)
~15 shrimp, cleaned, peeled, and deveined (if using frozen, thaw first)


In a large Dutch oven or pot with lid, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper. Add a little salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook until beginning to soften. Add the butter and dried pasta. Stir unti the butter has melted and coated the pasta.


Add the chicken broth about a cup at a time, stirring almost constantly (the chicken broth should be at a steady simmer). Add the rest of the ingredients except the peas and shrimp, and continue to add the broth and stir.


Taste a piece of pasta. When it's just shy of al dente, add the shrimp and peas and the rest of the chicken broth, stir, and cover. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through and the pasta is tender but not mushy. Adjust seasonings if neccessary. Serve and enjoy!

Eat well and enjoy life, friends! More soon...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Vegetarian Stuffed Poblanos with Avocado Crema

There may not be anything more satisfying than serving tofu to a mixed crowd and having everyone love it.

Ok, ok, it certainly wasn't the star of the meal - in fact, it was cut into tiny little pieces and scattered amongst beans, rice, and Mexican delights of all varieties. But it was definitely in there! And let me tell you what - these stuffed peppers were freaking good. Ross and my friends Jess (of former roommate fame) and Mike (her boyfriend) agreed. It was a spontaneous Sunday night dinner that I look forward to revisiting tonight in the form of leftovers.

I had been really scared to try roasting peppers on the gas stovetop, for obvious reasons (fear of causing the Great Chicago Fire 2.0 chief among them), but it's actually a mellow process. I made sure there weren't any kitchen towels in sparking range, and just stood and watched the skin char. And the way it enhances the flavor of the poblanos - that's worth a little fear, my friends. In fact, you should only be afraid of not making this recipe - ASAP!


4 large poblano peppers
2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1 can diced tomatoes and green chiles and all juices
1 can tomato paste diluted with equal part water
cumin (start with a few shakes, taste, and add as needed)
Mexican chili powder (start with a few shakes, taste, and add as needed)
dried oregano (start with a few shakes, taste, and add as needed)
salt and pepper
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 block extra-frim tofu, cut into 1/4" cubes and squeezed dry
juice of 1/2 a lime
~1/2 cup chopped cilantro
~3 cups cooked brown rice
~1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
grape tomatoes, in chunks, for garnish

Avocado Crema:
1 very ripe avocado
~1/2 cup light sour cream
juice of 1 lime
1/3 c. chopped cilantro
salt and pepper


If you have a gas stovetop, turn a burner on medium heat, and place a poblano pepper directly on the flame. Roast on each side until the skin is charred black and bubbly. (You can also just roast them in the oven on high heat or under the broiler, or in a grill pan.) When each poblano is blackened, place in a bowl or a tupperware container with a tight-fitting lid and let rest for about 15 minutes. Peel the skins off and discard.


With a sharp knife, cut a slice lengthwise down the poblanos and cut circularly around the stem of the pepper. Pull out the stem and seeds and discard. Meanwhile, cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stove.


Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Cook the onions, green pepper, and serrano pepper until beginning to soften. Add some cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and oregano. Stir and cook for a few more minutes. Add the can of diced tomatoes and the watered-down tomato paste. Add more seasonings, cooking and stirring occasionally.


Add the lime juice, beans and tofu, and add the rice after it's cooked. Stir to combine, taste, and adjust seasonings. Fold in the cilantro.


Preheat the oven to 375. Place the poblano peppers in a lightly oiled baking dish. Stuff each one with the rice/beans/tofu mixture. Cover each poblano with cheese. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melty.


Meanwhile, in a small pot, heat all the ingredients for the avocado crema over medium-low heat. Use an immersion blender to blend it until smooth. When the peppers are done, top each one with the crema before serving. Garnish with fresh tomato chunks. Serve and enjoy!

I think Ross put it best when he said, "I couldn't even taste the healthy." Really says it all.

Eat well, enjoy life, and more soon!

Anthony Bourdain and Basil-Oil & Asparagus Pizza

J'taime Tony! Ever since I read Kitchen Confidential a couple years ago, just about the time my love for all things culinary was really starting to blossom, I have had a growing obsession with Anthony Bourdain, the former chef-turned-travel-host and star of the Travel Channel's fantastic No Reservations.

If you haven't seen No Reservations, it's basically a raw, documentary-style travel show focused on Bourdain's travels around the world - Istanbul, Saudia Arabia, Singapore, you name it. It's wickedly well-written (by Bourdain himself) and compulsively watchable.

For lovers of the show (and all things Tony), seeing Anthony Bourdain on stage is a dream come true. He basically talks for about an hour, an hour and a half - very much in the style of his show, although sans bleeping - and then takes questions from the audience for another hour. He tells behind-the-scenes stories, but he also pontificates (hilariously) on everything from how not to piss off your host to why he thinks vegetarians are a-holes.

Perhaps most famously, he slaughters the Food Network and almost everyone on it (he is well-known for past diatribes against Rachael Ray, although he's left those jokes in the past since she sent him a fruit basket). He actually respects Ina Garten, Bobby Flay, Emeril, and Mario Batali (also one of his close personal friends) - but Sandra Lee: watch out. Tony no like. (And it seemed as though the audience couldn't agree more - we erupted in applause when he told tales of her "pure evilness." Actual quote: "Sandra Lee does to food what Hitler did to Poland." Cue audience hysterics.)

The thing I love about Anthony Bourdain is his deep respect for the sheer diversity of world cultures and the people who live, eat, and breathe those cultures every day. He urged us all to "be grateful, and try our best to be polite" as we explore all the world has to offer. That's a philosophy I can most definitely get behind.

Before I left for the show, I whipped up a sauceless pizza that captured one of Spring's best treats: asparagus. I dedicate a slice to the inimitable Anthony Bourdain. Cheers, Tony!


1 recipe hand-method pizza dough (or store-bought)
a few spoonfuls basil oil (recipe follows)
torn fresh basil leaves
small fresh mozzarella balls, halved
several asparagus spears, just the fluffy ends (reserve the rest for another use)
grape tomatoes, halved
freshly grated Parmesan
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes

Basil Oil:
~1/2 cup olive oil
~a dozen basil leaves, torn


Bring your pizza dough to room temperature and preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Make the basil oil: in a small saucepan, combine the olive oil and basil leaves over medium0low heat and cook until the basil looks fried. Strain the oil into a jar and discard the basil.


Roll out the pizza dough. Sprinkle your baking stone or pan with a little coarse cornmeal (to prevent sticking). Place the dough on the cooking pan. Spread a little basil oil over the dough's entire surface. Place the torn fresh basil leaves around randomly (as much or as little as you like - I used about 3 large basil leaves total).


Spread the asparagus ends, tomato halves, and mozzarella ball halves randomly around the pizza in a single layer. Grate Parmesan cheese over the top. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Drizzle a little more basil oil over the top. Bake at 500 until the edges are browning and the cheese is browned in places. Cut into pieces, serve, and enjoy!

Maple-Honey Peanut Butter Oatmeal

I so rarely share with you the simple things I make.

But I should. Because most people don't cook with an average of 15 ingredients per meal. Most of us just want simple ways to enhance the things we love to eat. And because I love to eat oatmeal, I wanted to share with you oatmeal my way.

This is so much more filling (not to mention unprocessed) than those cloyingly sweet instant oatmeal packets (although you could start with 2 packets of plain instant oatmeal and turn it into this recipe if those were all you had around). The protein from the peanut butter will keep you full, and the fiber in the oatmeal is what makes it such a heart-healthy breakfast option.

If you use quick oats and have the basic ingredients on hand, you can even whip this up before work -as long as you don't mind opening a few jars in your morning haze. This is the kind of hearty morning meal that won't leave your tummy rumbling by 10:15 AM. And I think we could all use a little more energy in the mornings.


1 cup water
1/2 cup steel-cut quick-cooking oats (or any quick oats)
pinch of salt
1 tsp. butter
~1 tsp. natural maple syrup
~1 tsp. honey
~1 T. natural peanut butter
freshly grated cinnamon (or jarred cinnamon)


In a small pot, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the oats and reduce heat to a simmer.


Stir in the rest of the ingredients except the cinnamon and cook until it's creamy - about 5 minutes.


Transfer to a bowl and top with the grated cinnamon. Enjoy!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Yogurt-Marinated Shrimp, Fiery Cauliflower & Indian-Spiced Sweet Potatoes

Someone stage an intervention. Because I think I'm addicted to serrano peppers.

How else to explain my constant craving for the lip-numbing heat, the crisp chili-ness, the slow burn? Serranos just make everything more delicious - bottom line. And I know at least one chef who would agree with me.

The British have a reputation for bland, boring food, but Jamie (like me) adds chilies to almost everything he cooks. And mainstream American curry powders have their roots not in India, but in the derivative Indian cooking of England. I hope that Jamie's uber-inspirational new show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, will inspire people around the country who have never so much as picked up a pan to try their hands at making healthy, unprocessed food in their home kitchens.

The show is fantastic - and if you don't catch it in its normal timeslot, every full episode is on Hulu. The amount of resistance Jamie gets from the people of Huntington, VA, is astonishing - but the way he overcomes every obstacle is truly amazing. It's a great show, and I hope that it's reaching the audience that needs to see it most (obviously, people like me are already on the home-cooking bandwagon).

And if YOU weren't interested in home cooking, you probably wouldn't be reading this blog! Hopefully these recipes will be more fodder for creating a great meal of your own - and don't worry, if you're sensitive to spice, you could leave out the serranos entirely and still have a great dinner on your hands. But if you're one of those crazies who can't quell the craving for heat, forget deseeding those babies and have a fiery field day, my friends.

The potato recipe would actually be a great way to indroduce kids to the complex flavors of Indian spices. They're sweet, creamy, and when you use a light hand with the spices, very mild and completely delicious. They'd be as at home on a Thanksgiving spread as they are on an Indian-themed plate.

The idea for marinating the shrimp in yogurt is based on the traditional preparation method for chicken tikka masala (funnily enough, people joke that it's the national dish of the UK) - the chicken is marinated in yogurt and then cooked in the tandoori oven before being stewed with vegetables. If you haven't ever had chicken tikka masala, find your nearest Indian restaurant immediately and try it - it's absolutely delicious. I don't happen to have a tandoori oven in my apartment, but the yogurt marinade gave the shrimp a tangy and complex flavor. The lemon juice thins it out, so only a little of the marinade sticks to the shrimp when you grill it, but the flavor really comes through.


12-15 medium sized shrimp, cleaned, peeled, and deveined (if frozen, thaw)
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
several dashes curry powder
a couple dashes cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
juice of one lemon

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
2-3 T. butter
~1/2 cup milk
cayenne pepper
salt and black pepper

2-3 T. olive oil
1 head caulifower, cored and cut into florets
1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 medium sweet onion, cut into chunks
2 serrano peppers, minced, with all seeds (for less heat, remove seeds and/or leave out serranos)
salt and pepper
a few dashes curry powder
~1/3 cup water


In a bowl with a lid, mix all the ingredients under the word "shrimp" (except the shrimp, haha) together in a bowl. Place the shrimp in the marinade and make sure they're all covered. Marinate for 30 min to an hour in the fridge.


Boil the sweet potatoes until very tender. Drain. Pass through a potato ricer (or you can skip this part and just mash them with a fork in the pot you boiled them in) and add in the milk, butter, and spices. Set aside and keep warm.


Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet with a lid. Add the bell peppers, onion, chilies, and cauliflower. Add the seasonings and curry powder. Cook until veggies are beginning to brown at the edges. Add the water and cover and cook until the cauliflower is tender.


Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Cook the shrimp, flipping once, until cooked through (about 2 minutes per side). Serve with the potatoes and veggies.

I hope I've helped inspire you to stay in and cook fresh! Check out Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution - maybe over a big dish of spicy sweet potatoes. Eat well and enjoy life! More soon...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Three-Pepper Thai Pesto Noodles

One sad, lonely photo. That is all.

That's simply all I could muster. In an apartment with no less than four digital cameras, two photo-enabled cell phones, one small video camera, and two laptops with built-in camera lenses, I could only manage one photo of this delicious, spectacularly indulgent vegan dinner.

I searched high and low for batteries, memory cards, matching computer-connection cords, and all the digital accoutrements needed to take and upload photos, but everything was scattered, missing, misplaced, or broken (all within 400 measly square feet, lest we forget). *Le sigh.* At least my old, decrepit batteries in one camera held out for this photo - the AA's swan song.

If I had a few more lovely photos to break up my commentary, I'd share with you all about how traditional pesto gave way to an Asian pesto inspiration, but you can Google pesto and see for yourself. Sparse though the evidence may be, this was a craveable meatless Monday creation. And I realized, mid-bite, that it was not only vegetarian, it was vegan as well (bonus for me and my planet!).

If you've never made pesto, or are trying to eat more conscientiously, or if you simply delight in an overabundance of cilantro, I urge you to make this pesto* posthaste. And then try not to have seconds.

NOTE: If you are sensitive to spicy foods, as mentioned, watch your serranos, and if you're a total wuss, substitute green bell peppers for the Cubanelles. Trust me.

Makes 5-6 servings

PESTO (makes about 2 cups - you'll have some leftover):
1 bunch cilantro, stems trimmed off
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems trimmed off
1/4 c. toasted sesame oil
1/3 c. olive oil (you could use less - I just eyeballed it)
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
big handful roasted salted peanuts (about 1/2 cup?)
1/3 cup (about) roasted unsalted cashews
several vigorous dashes soy sauce
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 lemon
a few vigorous dashes rice vinegar
2 T. honey
~1/3 c. water (more or less as needed)

1 T. toasted sesame oil
1-2 tsp. olive oil
1/3 block extra firm tofu, cut into chunks, moisture squeezed out
1 red bell pepper, in big chunks
1 medium sweet onion, in chunks
2 cubanelle peppers, halved and sliced
2 serrano chilies, halved and sliced, with seeds (if you're sensitive to spice, remove all seeds, or leave out serranos altogether)

1 package rice noodles (or, if you're dumb like me ran out of rice noodles, use 1/3 rice noodles and 2/3 whole wheat spaghetti - cook them according to package directions and in two separate pots).
small handful peanuts and cashews for garnish (optional)


Combine all ingredients under "PESTO" in a blender. Blend on high until mixture forms a smooth, creamy pesto sauce. My blender is a 7-year-old, $8 blender from Wal-Mart, so it took a little prodding till it would really get going, but just push stuff around in there until it all gets mixed. Set aside.


Heat the sesame oil in a pan. Fry the tofu on all sides until golden brown. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add a little olive oil to the pan (and the remaining sesame oil) and add the onion and bell pepper. Cook until lightly browned at the edges.


Add the Cubanelle and serrano peppers to the peppers/onions. Add a little salt and pepper. Cook until the cubanelles and serranos are softened and beginning to brown lightly in places. Meanwhile, boil the noodles, drain, and set aside (try to time it so that you're ready to toss everything together as soon as the noodles are done).


In the pot you cooked the noodles in (off the heat), toss the noodles with 1 to 1.5 cups of the pesto and the peppers mixture. Transfer to plates or a serving dish. Top with the fried tofu and some extra nuts for garnish. Enjoy!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Potato Gnocchi with Bacon & Pea Cream Sauce

For Christmas, Ross and I bought each other gift certificates. I got him a massage at a spa, and he got me cooking classes at the Chopping Block, a local cooking school and gourmet store. I was ecstatic (truth be told, I felt a little outdone). The hardest part was picking out a class to begin with - a culinary tour de Argentina? Basic Knife Skills? Advanced Meat Cutlery?

Soon enough, my pasta tooth swayed me: I'd take a gnocchi class. We would learn to make gnocchi three ways, with three different sauces. I showed up on a cold February night with the attitude of the fiercest Top Chef contestant (I tend to forget that not everything is a competition). I showed up prepared to sharpen my skills (and maybe even suffer some Gordon Ramsay-style berating) and, to my surprise, it was immediately apparent that the class was supposed to be (gasp) fun.

In fact, I was surprised to see that I was the only one in the class that had come alone. It was about 90% married/engaged/dating couples and 8% other pairs - friends, coworkers, etc. And then there was me. So I did what any savvy single(ish) girl would do. I ordered a bottle of red and made friends! The class ended up being great, and the gnocchi were amazing. It only took me 2 tries to really get the hang of it at home, and I'm really, really glad I learned. Because this gnocchi is life-changingly delicious. Light, fluffy, potato-y - and with a few tips, not that hard!

A few tips that I picked up from

1. Don't use too much flour. It makes your gnocchi heavy and gluey.
2. Don't boil them - cook them in simmering water.
3. Treat them very gently - like little pasta babies.
4. Don't overboil the potatoes - if they absorb too much water, they'll be hard to work with.


2 large Russet potatoes
handful of all-purpose flour
salt and pepper
grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 lb. bacon, cut into smallish chunks
olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 c. white wine
1/2 c. chicken broth
8 oz. heavy whipping cream
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
frozen peas (a good handful or two)
fresh oregano, chopped
grated Parmesan for serving


Boil the potatoes with the skin on, whole, until easily pierced with a fork, but not overly soft. Peel them while still warm and push through a potato ricer into a large bowl. Sprinkle salt, pepper, Parmesan, and a little flour over the top. Mix together until the dough just comes together, adding more flour if needed, little by little. Turn out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead until the dough forms a sturdy ball, but is still quite pliable. Don't over-add flour.


Using a little more flour on your work surface, cut off chunks of the dough and roll them into about 1" wide tubes - just like making a Play-Doh snake. Use a knife or pastry cutter to cut them into 1-inch chunks. Set aside on a platter until ready to coo. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a simmer - not a boil.


Add the gnocchi, about 10-12 at a time, to the simmering water. Cook them until they float, then remove them gently with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate, making sure they aren't crowded and sticking together. Continue this in batches until all gnocchi have been cooked. Set aside and cover lightly with parchment paper.


In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, cook the bacon until crispy, draining fat as needed. Scoop out the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon, leaving a little fat in the pan. Add a little olive oil and cook the shallots until soft and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping all the brown bits up from the bottom.


Add the chicken broth and raise the heat until it's simmering. Add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, and cream. Simmer until it's thickened a bit. Stir in the bacon and peas and cook for a few minutes. Reduce the heat and stir in gnocchi. Transfer to plates or serving bowl, top with parmesan, serve and enjoy!

If you're nervous to try gnocchi at home, don't be! Google some how-to videos and get cooking. Since they're really just potatoes and flour, even if you screw them up, it's not like you'll have to break the bank to throw them out and start over again. And if they turn out great, they may have everyone around you (including your feline roommates) opening up and begging for a bite.

There's really nothing more satisfying than eating a tender, handcrafted gnocchi that was handcrafted by - YOU! Good luck, eat well, enjoy life, and more soon!

Meatless Monday: Chinese Tofu Stir-Fry

Meatless Mondays. And no, this is not yet another excuse to employ alliteration (although just about any excuse will do). Meatless Mondays is a nationwide initiative spearheaded by the John Hopkins (never heard of 'em) school of Public Health to try to reduce Americans' meat consumption by 15%.

One day a week without meat? But why?!

*Sccccrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech* [That's the sound of me dragging my soapbox into place.]

You can reduce your risk of heart disease. Reduce our fossil fuel dependency. Save money, water, energy, and - let's call a spade a spade - cute little animals. I could go on. But why take my word for it? Check out all the details on

I let the 3/4 rule guide my diet: I try to make sure 3/4 of my diet is plant-based. So Meatless Mondays aren't a big stretch for me. I look forward to eating meatless meals, not only for all the reasons Johns Hopkins says I should, but simply because I enjoy plant-based foods (although admittedly, I like them best when smothered in cheese). But as for a certain - ahem - live-in boyfriend, Meatless Mondays might as well be called I'm-Still-Hungry-Where's-The-Meat Mondays. Unlike the fine folks working in public health, Ross didn't exactly jump up and down when I told him I'd like to institute MM's in our household.

In fact, fresh off a trip to the gym, Ross was no doubt fantasizing about animal flesh the entire bus ride home, while I, meanwhile, lovingly drained and pan-fried tofu for our dinner. But he kept a positive attitude and had faith that I could make any meal - even a vegetarian one - pretty tasty. I'd like to think he was right.


1 T. toasted sesame oil
1/2 block extra-firm tofu, cut into thin-ish 1" square slices
1 more T. sesame oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium bell peppers, cut into chunks
1/2 head cabbage. sliced thinly
1 bunch broccolini, cut into 1-inch pieces
handful roasted unsalted cashews
splash of wine OR juice of one lime OR 1/4 c. water OR 1/4 c. vegetable broth
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
about 1/3 c. soy sauce
about 3 T. hot sauce (or to taste)
several vigorous shakes of seasoned rice vinegar
a few big drizzles of honey
salt and pepper to taste (season at the end only if needed)
cooked brown rice for serving


On paper towels, press the tofu down, squeezing out the water. Meanwhile, heat 1 T. sesame oil in a large pan. When tofu is dry, cook in the oil over medium heat until crisp and golden brown on one side. Flip each piece individually and cook until the other side is crisp and golden brown.


Add the rest of the sesame oil to the remaining oil in the pan, then add the onion, cabbage, and bell peppers. Cook for a few minutes, until beginning to soften. Add the wine (or alternate acid/liquid). Cook for a few more minutes, until liquid is almost evaporated. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, hot sauce, honey, garlic, broccolini, cashews, and tofu. Cover and cook until broccolini is crisp tender. Uncover and let some liquid evaporate.


Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve over brown or white rice. Enjoy!

Ross' Comments:
"It tasted delicious even though it had negative calories. I think I lost weight while eating it."

Ha! Negative calories? If I knew how to make delicious food that actually took away calories as you were eating it, I'd already have a Food Network show (not to mention line of stylish cookware), my friends.

I usually don't espouse the nutritousness - or lack therof - of my recipes, mostly because I'm no dietician, and far be it from to guess how many calories, fat grams, etc., are in my dishes. However, just to make you feel even better about trying this meatless meal: the fat in this dish is mostly good fat, from the cashews and sesame oil (fat helps you feel full even if you're not eating animals). The cashews and tofu have a good amount of protein; the bell peppers are little Vitamin C bombs, and broccolini has calcium and iron. The brown rice has fiber (as do all the veggies), and the soy sauce helps to unlock all of rice's nutrients (yes, rice has lots of nutrients!). And that's just the tip of the delicious stir-fry iceberg.

Happy Meatless Mondays, friends! Eat your veggies and live well :-) More soon...
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