Tag Archives: Tofu

Lovely Luau

My awesome and amazing girlfriends threw me a luau-themed birthday party!  This was a perfect way to forget the dreary January weather and post-Christmas blues.

It’s not a luau without cheesy tropical drinks.  I made 2 pitchers of Bahama Mamas using orange juice, pineapple juice, Sierra Mist, sliced oranges, lemons, and limes.  I added Malibu coconut rum to one pitcher; the other pitcher remained Virgin Mamas.  I bet you can guess which pitcher was more popular.

My favorite Bahama Mama helped me garnish each drink with an orange slice, a maraschino cherry, and a drink umbrella!


My friend Matt is a very talented self-taught vegan chef, and he made carrot-ginger soup!  He said he found it on a Hawaiian lady’s blog.  I’ll have to ask him for the link.  It was full of warming spices, perfect for a winter’s eve luau.  We had that with some King’s Hawaiian rolls, provided by Kate.  I love those.

I hate to say this, but it wouldn’t be a Hawaiian party without some Spam.  Thanks to Sara and Marc for balancing out the vegan offerings!

I made some Hawaiian Fried Rice.


Jenny made me a heavenly glazed mango-coconut-macadmia loaf:

And Sara made a decadent chocolate-macadamia pie.  So, yeah, my friends rock.  I couldn’t be luckier.  And now they all have birthdays coming up, so it’s time to start planning!

“I’m Tiki Man, and I approve this fried rice.”


1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil: $0.04
canola oil: $0.06
1 lb firm tofu, diced $1.99
1 medium red onion, finely chopped: $0.79
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped: $1.43
1 small yellow bell pepper, fine chopped: $1.43
1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped: $1.19
1 medium carrot, finely chopped: $0.08
5 cups cooked jasmine rice: $2.33 (I used the frozen kind from Trader Joe’s; would have been a lot cheaper to cook it the old-fashioned way)
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce: $0.05
2 tablespoons oyster sauce: $0.30
1 tablespoon sambal oelek: $0.12
1 cup diced pineapple: $3.49 (I used more than a cup, and it was the fresh stuff, already cut.  It would probably be cheaper to use canned OR hack up a pineapple yourself.)
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped: (I omitted these to keep it cheap)

= $13.30 for a HUGE wok-ful!

/12 servings




Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant: San Francisco

I was in San Francisco last weekend, and my boyfriend—knowing my love of good, greasy, American Chinese dishes— found for me a Chinese restaurant that serves vegetarian versions of classics like Lemon Chicken and Beef with Broccoli: Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant.  It was wonderful.  We had trouble narrowing down the menu of over 100 dishes—all vegetarian.  The waitress was an adorable young lady and super helpful; she recommended some of her favorites.

Noor really wanted to try the Veggie BBQ Pork Appetizer.  The thin strips of seitan in a sweet/hot sauce had a convincing texture.

The Sweet & Sour Chicken did not disappoint.  Crispy deep-fried nuggets of faux meat in sweet red sauce with pineapple, peppers, and carrots.  It was like a blast from my pre-veg past!

We also went with the Fresh Mushroom w/ Fried Soft Tofu & Vegetables.  This dish had four different types of mushrooms: black, enoki, golden, and white!  The other veggies (broccoli, snow peas, carrots, etc.) were fresh and crisp.  The tofu was light, and the sauce was super savory.  It had an umami factor that tasted just like chicken broth to me.

I was starting to get full, but the waitress did not ask us IF we wanted to order dessert.  She asked, “Would you like to order dessert now or later?”  When I explained that we didn’t need dessert, this sweet young lady gave me a death stare that would put any grandmother, teacher, or military drill instructor to shame.  Then Noor chimed in, explaining that he is half Indonesian and had noticed that they had fried bananas on the dessert menu.  And so it was decided.  We ordered them with vegan vanilla ice cream (!), and they were glorious.  This picture really does not do justice to these creamy, sweet delicacies wrapped in light, crispy batter (actually all of these pics were taken on my phone).  I fully admit that I was wrong; the waitress and Noor were right.  If you go to Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant, you MUST order dessert, no matter how full you are or how many chocolates you have back at your boyfriend’s apartment.

This place is not fancy, but it is damn good.  The menu has enough variety and integrity to please just about anybody: from the most militant vegan to the most diehard omnivore.  The fare is hearty, and the service is friendly, but it was the attention to detail that impressed us the most.  For example, the hot tea is complimentary, and when we both ordered water they brought us a quart-sized bottle of cold, lemon-flavored water.  The home-cooked food and homey atmosphere are a bargain; our meal came to less than $40 for an appetizer, 2 entrees, and a dessert.  I’m so happy that I have all summer in San Francisco to try more of the wonderful dishes at Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant (and I promise to take some better photos next time 😉 )

Baked Potatoes with Pesto-Tofu Cream

This is from a cookbook called The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman, which was a belated Xmas present from my awesome friend Jesi. When I saw this particular recipe, I knew that I needed to try it ASAP.  It did not disappoint.  The tofu mixture has a creamy, comforting texture, and the fresh flavor of the basil is a lovely counterpoint to the earthy potato.

It makes enough to fill about 12 potatoes (more like 8 for me since I used less tofu), but the authors point out that you can also use it on sandwiches, pasta, or as a dip.  This is one of those things that tastes even better the next day, after the flavors have a chance to marry.

This is super easy to throw together.  Just grab a potato or two.  Stab it with a fork a few times.  Rub the skin with a bit of oil, and throw it in the oven at 375 degrees about an hour before you want to eat.  Meanwhile, blend in your food processor:

  • 19 ounces firm tofu (I used a 12-ounce box of firm silken tofu)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder (I omitted this because I was out)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons agave nectar (I will omit this next time…I thought it was too sweet)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (I used dried)

Then cut your potato open and fill it with about 2 heaping tablespoons of creamy pesto deliciousness!

  • 12 ounces silken tofu: $1.99
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil: $2.50
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar: $0.32
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil: $0.20
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes: $0.02
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled: $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard: $0.04
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice: $0.25
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme: $0.05
  • 8 potatoes: $1.99

=$7.46/8 servings


Golden Mushroom, Pea, and Asparagus Risotto

My good friends Brandon and Chai were visiting from New York last weekend, and I had the honor of making dinner for them!  I put a lot of thought into what to make.  I wanted to avoid Asian cuisines, since they already get a lot of that in New York (and in their own kitchen).  I wanted to make something hearty and comforting but also something more special than pasta, so I eventually settled on my favorite risotto recipe:


I used a little bit of white wine vinegar mixed with some broth in place of the white wine and omitted the fresh dill.

Also, here’s an old picture of the same recipe from when I first made it, a couple of years ago.

  • 3 ½-4 cups vegetable stock: free (homemade)
  • 1 lb asparagus: $1.99 (on sale at Whole Foods)
  • 1 cup onion: $0.25
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil: $0.10
  • 1 ½ cups cremini mushrooms (I used 1/2 pound): $1.99
  • 2 tablespoons garlic: $0.10
  • 1 cup arborio rice: $0.66
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar: $0.10
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron thread: $0.33 (on clearance at Target a while back)
  • 1 cup frozen peas: $0.43 (edamame would be good too)
  • 13 cup nutritional yeast flakes: $0.80
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped parsley: $0.59


…so I fed 4 people and had leftovers for less than the cost of one meal in a restaurant.

$7.34/6 servings


I served this with a side of Lemon-Pepper Baked Tofu:


…but, alas, I failed to snap a photo before we gobbled it all up!

  • 1 lb extra firm tofu: $1.79
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil: $0.03
  • 1 teaspoon Braggs liquid aminos (or soy sauce): $0.02
  • 2 garlic cloves: $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons lemon pepper (with salt): $0.10

=$2.04/4 servings


…so the meal as a whole came to $1.73/serving.

Erin brought wine and lovely desserts from Eden Alley!  Thank you, Erin!  It was a lovely evening.  I can’t wait to see B & C again!

Ramen: All Fancy and Grown Up!

When I was a freshman in college I spent Thanksgiving break with my Uncle Mike and Aunt Julie.  I jokingly told them that I was hoping to get a case of ramen noodles for Christmas.  They laughed, but lo and behold: Julie came back from Costco the next day with TWO big multi-packs of ramen for me: one chicken and one beef!  I was set for weeks!

However, if Julie had shown up to my graduation with a gift of ramen, I would have been less thrilled.  In fact, if she had told me at that point that I would one day be eating ramen again voluntarily, I would not have believed her.  I’d had too much of a good thing.

Now time has passed, and as an adult I realize that ramen can be much better than the crap I nuked in my dorm room way back when.  Recently having a really good bowl of ramen at Sapporo in New York has inspired me to experiment with the possibilities again.

Ramen means noodle soup.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be instant.  That said, my local Asian market has a whole aisle of instant ramen noodles, many much tastier than the Maruchan or Nissin brands you can buy at the grocery store.  Be careful: some of them are SUPER spicy!  Recently I went in after work and looked for varieties marked “vegetarian.”  I found several and chose one from Taiwan that was “Steam Mushroom Flavor.”

It was $2.59 for 4 servings.  I also picked up a pound of tofu for $1.29 (the cheapest in town).  When I got home, I prepared my ramen in the microwave and then added:

  • about 1/8 pound of tofu: $0.16
  • about 1/4 can of corn: $0.15
  • about 1/4 cup frozen spinach: $0.07
  • a handful of sliced mushrooms: $0.33

Then I microwaved the bowl for another minute or so, until the veggies were lightly steamed.  Then I added

  • a dollop of chili sauce: $0.02


Granted, that is a lot more than the $0.25 or whatever for the plain ramen straight from the grocery store.  However, the benefit far outweighs the cost here, because I actually got some protein and vitamins with my ramen, plus extra flavor and textural variety.  And that’s still pretty darn cheap for a meal: cheaper than eating out anywhere.

If you try this at home, use whatever veggies happen to be taking up space in your produce drawer.  Just about anything would be good.

Then pop in your favorite movie from college…

OR may I recommend Tampopo?  It’s a Japanese “ramen western” with different vignettes: all related to food and all hilarious.  It’s one of my all-time favorites.

I’m glad to have ramen back in my life.  What’s your favorite way to eat ramen?  Leave me a comment.

Tofu, Mushroom, and Pea Shoot Stir Fry

Here’s a creation that I meant to blog before leaving for California:

If you remember my post from my first trip to California this summer, then you can imagine how excited I was to find pea shoots at Trader Joe’s here in town.

First I thought of stir-frying them with some sliced garlic, like they do at Ton Kiang in San Francisco, but then I decided to make a whole one-dish meal out of them by stir frying them with some tofu and mushrooms, also inspired by a dish at Ton Kiang.

I started by sauteing in a large wok:

  • 1 tablespoon fresh, minced ginger and
  • 3 cloves sliced garlic in
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Then I added:

  • 1/2 pound cubed firm tofu

and stir fried it over medium-low heat until browned, about 20 minutes.  Then I threw in

  • 1/2 pound sliced shiitake mushrooms:

and stir fried until tender, about 5 more minutes. Finally, I added:

  • 4 ounces pea shoots
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

…and cooked it for another few minutes, until the pea shoots were just wilted.  I served this over brown rice with a nice, hot cup of green tea.

This was a super simple but satisfying combination of flavors.

  • 1 tablespoon fresh, minced ginger: $0.25
  • 3 cloves sliced garlic: $0.15
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil: $0.13
  • 1/2 pound cubed firm tofu: $0.90
  • 1/2 pound sliced shiitake mushrooms: $2.69
  • 4 ounces pea shoots: $2.49
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce: $0.18
  • 1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar: $0.04
  • Brown rice: $0.65

= $7.48/4 servings


Try getting take-out for that price!