Recession Chic

a down economy does not = ugly shoes

Dining In: Tofu Time! April 30, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 6:05 PM
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So, it has been a LONG time since I’ve cooked tofu from scratch. Seasoning and cooking tofu is a tedious labor of love, but I felt like it was time to try it again. This recipe for Sesame Tofu from BrokeAss Gourmet seemed simple enough, so I thought it would be the best first step┬áinto doing my own tofu again.

It wasn’t perfect. But, to be honest, I only let it marinate for 15 min. Since I only cooked half of the tofu, I look forward to how round two will turn out next week.

sesame tofu


  • 14 oz. extra-firm tofu
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds – if you could find them, I didn’t ­čśŽ
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil


Press the block of tofu in a clean dish towel to remove any excess liquid. Cut the tofu into slices. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic and ginger until well-incorporated. Place tofu pieces in the liquid. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes (up to 2 hours).

Combine flour and sesame seeds in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat.

While oil heats, dredge marinated tofu pieces into flour-sesame seed mixture until well-covered on both sides. Place as many tofu pieces as will fit comfortably into the hot oil and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side or until brown and crisp. Add a little more oil if necessary as you go.

Serve over jasmine rice.


Dining In: Orecchiette with Broccolini April 27, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 8:28 PM
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Almost ever Sunday evening I have dinner with my parents to catch up on what happened during the week/weekend and watch Desperate Housewives (I think my Dad likes the show more than my mom and I). Recently, my mom has fallen in love with red pepper flakes – like she adds it to EVERYTHING. So, I had to not just share this pasta recipe with her a few weeks ago, but cook it for a family dinner with just some minor substitutions.

Since my mother isn’t the biggest fan of grocery shopping, and I really love it, I swung by Central Market to get all the ingredients for the dish. The cost of everything is really quite cheap, so I decided to also add a pint of gelato (only $4.99 on sale).

Orecchiette with Broccolini

– serves 4 –


1 bunch broccolini (instead of regular broccoli)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 filets anchovy, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound orecchiette
1/2 cup grated Parmesan


1. Trim the ends off the broccoli, then cut off florets in bite-sized pieces and chop the stalks. In a large skillet heat the olive oil and add the anchovies, chiles, garlic, and broccoli stalks. Cook over medium-low heat until the stalks are soft.

2. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salty water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, adding the broccoli florets for the last 3 to 4 minutes of cooking.

3. Reserve some pasta cooking water, then drain. Add to the skillet and toss to coat, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the butter, half the Parmesan, and pasta water (if necessary) to moisten. Cook until the butter and pasta water meld into a sauce coating everything.

4. Serve with the remaining cheese scattered over the top

mmm pasta!


Dining In: Asian-Flavored Fish in a Pouch April 20, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 7:28 PM
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It’s been a while since I cooked fish or cooked for my friends…so I decided to kill two birds with one stone (or get everything I wanted in one night).

The recipe from Serious Eats caught my eye because of the cilantro, ginger and unique baking approach. Ashley contributed her now legendary asparagus and Kristy some light jasmine rice. Add two bottles of white wine and we had a fabulous girls night!

Asian-Flavored Fish in a Pouch

3 fresh fish fillets (I used Tilapia)
2 inch ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 scallions, chopped
1jalape├▒os, stemmed, seeded, and chopped (add another if it is a weak pepper)
1 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
Dash of sesame oil
Dash of soy sauce
Dash fish sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Salt and pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400┬░F. Lay the fillets, skin side down, on a piece of parchment paper that will easily fit them.

2. In a bowl, stir together the ginger, garlic, scallion, jalape├▒o, cilantro, canola oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, maple syrup, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Distribute this mixture on top of the fish. Wrap the parchment paper around the fish to form a packet; seal. Place in oven; cook 10 to 12 minutes.

fish in a pouch

3. Remove fish from the oven and unwrap. Serve over jasmine rice!

asian-flavored fish


Recession-chic food find in Laredo April 14, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 8:28 PM
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For Easter, my parents and I traveled south on I-35 all the way down to Laredo to spend the holiday with my brother. Before all the Easter Vigil activities, we all grabbed a late lunch of tortas at Yukon (a friend of my brother’s owns it) and did a little shopping. My brother was super excited to take us to a small organic market a friend of his discovered months ago. Much to my delight, the market was probably the most recession-chic thing I’ve seen so far this year.

Joseph’s Storehouse is an organic surplus market of sorts run by a local church filled with non-perishable specialty foods. Shelves of teas, varieties of oils, dressings, spices, pasta and more.

I felt like a kid in a candy store. It was like discovering your favorite grocery isle was all on sale. High quality olive oils for only $7 and risotto mixes for only 50 cents. Amazing!

Check out what all I got for less than $10.



Dining In: Polenta with Sicilian Caponata April 10, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 8:33 PM
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So, after a nice long weekend at the beach (a day of vacation on either end), there was little to no motivation for me to make it to the grocery store. Being back at work was jarring enough to kill any of my creative impulses that normally fuel my search for the perfect recipe. Therefore, I decided to get creative with my pantry.

What I found was a half-used box of polenta and a partially eaten jar of caponata in the fridge. Polenta often needs a lot of help in the flavor department, so the caponata seemed to be the perfect compliment. Check out the simple ingredients and directions below!

Polenta with Sicilian Caponata

  • 4 tbsp. dry polenta
  • 1 jar of caponata (I used the Alessi brand)
  • Parmesan cheese


  1. Prepare polenta according to box instructions
  2. Spoon polenta into a pasta bowl and top with generous helpings of caponata.
  3. Top with Parmesan cheese
  4. Give the dish a little suave in the microwave to warm the caponata and melt the cheese. Serve!

polenta with caponata