Honey-Sesame Tofu

Yup, tofu.

I think tofu gets a bad rap. It comes off as being bland and uninteresting, but you’re not really meant to eat tofu all by itself. You should at least throw some soy sauce on it or something. You can totally do that. In Japan, I used to get a little container of tofu that came with its own packet/compartment of soy sauce. Combine them: instant snack/light protein. No big deal. If you like soy sauce. I suppose you could do it with ponzu sauce too, if you’re so inclined (I would, I like ponzu better than soy sauce).

Anyway. If you’re going to cook tofu, serve it with a sauce or something. It’s tastier that way, I promise. There’s no reason for tofu to not be good.

There’s also no reason to be scared of tofu (unless you’re allergic to it, then you’re totally justified in not going anywhere near it). Tofu is pretty easy to deal with. You do want to drain it of liquid though, as much as possible. To do this, I usually slice it into eighths on the short side and then place those slices on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. I cover the slices with more paper towels and place another baking sheet on top, weighing it down with whatever heavy stuff I can find (usually canned goods). Then I leave it there for an hour or two or until the paper towels are wet. It takes time, but it doesn’t take much effort, and it leaves you with a firm tofu that’s ready to absorb some flavor.

For this meal, I used this recipe. And I discovered why I don’t usually roast tofu in the oven. The texture was awful, rubbery and chewy at the same time. Way, way overcooked. Normally, I just take my eight tofu slices, dredge them in a little flour, and pan sear them until they’re browned on both sides. OR, if I’m putting the tofu in a stir-fry, I cube it and throw it into my pan for just a couple of minutes to get it hot and coated in sauce. Tofu just shouldn’t be cooked for extended amounts of time. It looses all of its silkiness.

The good news is that the sauce was really good. Like, really good. It went well with the roasted carrots I served with the tofu. And also with the forbidden rice on the side. So while I would never cook tofu the same way, I’d make this sauce again. If tofu just isn’t going to do it for you, it would probably be good with chicken or pork too. It was worth trying out the recipe.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5. Mostly for the sauce and for potential. I’d never had tofu that just turned me off so much though. But because I think the texture issue could be fixed just by cooking the tofu correctly, I’d be willing to give the sauce another try.

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Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Appetizers for dinner, why not? It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with dinner, so sometimes it’s good to break it up with something unexpected. Like breakfast for dinner or dip and chips for dinner or empty the fridge dinner or appetizers for dinner. We don’t do it often, but it shakes things up. In this case, an appetizer in the form of a dip came to the table and made a simple, easy dinner.

Even better, this is a spinach and artichoke dip that’s made in the slow cooker. It takes about 15-20 minutes of prep (depending on how trimmed you want your spinach), but then it’s two hours of throw it in the Crockpot and make sure it doesn’t burn. The recipe says to cook it on high for 2 hours, but I think my slow cooker runs hot. I did it on high for 30 minutes to get the cream cheese melted and the spinach wilted, and then turned it over to low to finish for 90 minutes. At the end of two hours, we had a creamy, cheesy dip that smelled delicious.

And it was delicious. I served it with pita chips and carrots, and then a couple days later, I found water crackers in the pantry that went wonderfully with the dip leftovers. It was a fairly light meal in terms of amount of food eaten, but sometimes that’s just what you need after a warm winter day.

The only catch was that Miss H refused to touch it, likely because of the prominent ribbons of unidentifiable green (spinach, ahem) that ran through the creamy cheese. I don’t think she’s ever had artichoke in her three years of life, and I’m not sure how much she’d like them if she tried them. Also, if you’ve never seen a spinach and artichoke dip before and it suddenly appeared on your plate, you might think twice about eating it too. I know I did the first time around, and I wasn’t even a toddler. No amount of explanation of its cream cheesy goodness would convince her to try it, but that’s okay. Maybe next time.

Rating: 4 out of 5. Nice change from the usual dinner fare, and super easy to make. Also, it was very tasty, and I’d definitely double it up (or even triple it) for a party. It kept as leftovers really well, so that’s a bonus. Will make again. This might end up being my spinach & artichoke dip go-to.