Recession Chic

a down economy does not = ugly shoes

Cold Tofu Noodle Salad May 23, 2011

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 8:19 AM
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As a vegetarian cook, I regularly work with tofu to create Asian food at home. A lot of non-vegetarians get freaked out by tofu, but I truly believe more people would like it if they had properly prepared tofu. Over the past year I’ve discovered that baking tofu with a little sesame oil and soy sauce marinade is a fool-proof way to season tofu and create the right texture. From there you can toss the tofu in with any stir-fry or noodle dish and complete your meal.

The other week, as the Texas heat started to kick into high gear, I wanted to create a cold Asian dish with tons of flavor and just a little spice for dinner. I started with this recipe for curried udon noodles and added a jalapeno and chili sauce instead of a red chile. For the noodles, it’s always worth a special trip to an Asian market if you can make it happen. The texture and thickness of the noodles is so much better than what you often find in the Asian section of your grocery store. I saved back some of the sauce in step 4 to add when combining the noodles with the baked tofu. I chilled the tofu and noodles for about an hour and let it come almost to room temperature before serving.

A simple, flavorful dish that was great that night and even better later in the week for a lunch leftover meal.


Dining In: Tofu Fried Rice December 4, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 5:21 PM
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This year I have discovered many things…but, when it comes to cooking, I’ve found that I can cook more than pasta. Asian food at home isn’t too hard, and fried rice has been a fun new dish that I’ve added to my repertoire. For me, there are a lot of similarities with this dish and a pasta meal: carb base, veggies, protein and stock seasonings that always seem to work.

After spending almost a week in the Midwest over Thanksgiving, I had my fill of green beans, potatoes, rolls, more potatoes and some fantastic mac and cheese. I knew that for my recipe this week I wanted to shake my palette up. After only a short time browsing the posts of my favorite food blogs, I came across this recipe from Playing House for Veggie Fried Rice. I was shocked, not by the recipe, but that I hadn’t thought of it sooner. I loved making my crab fried rice, but finding lump crab meat can be challenging (especially the price!). So, adding more veggies and tofu instead of crab seemed like the perfect low, low budget version.

When I actually prepared the meal, I didn’t even reference a recipe. But, I did use Amy’s blog to help find the right ingredients.


  • 1 cup uncooked white rice (yields about 3 cups prepared)
  • 1 package firm tofu, drained, towel dry, diced in cubes
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbs chopped pickled ginger
  • 1 package mixed frozen veggies (corn, carrots, peas, etc.)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • green onions (both green and white parts)


  1. Cook the rice according to the directions on the box, and set aside to cool. Also, prepare the frozen veggies according to the directions on the bag.
  2. Warm 2-3 tbs. vegetable oil and 1tbs. sesame oil in a large saucepan. Once heated, add in half of the tofu to fry. Sprinkle soy sauce on tofu to flavor and be sure to fry each side. Once done, place cooked tofu on a paper towel. Repeat for the other half.
  3. Add another 2-3tbs. of vegetable oil to the same pan and warm with the garlic and ginger. Add the rice and soy sauce and fry for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Incorporate the cooked veggies and diced red bell pepper, adding soy sauce as needed. Then add the fried tofu to heat up the entire dish. Right before serving, top with green onions.


Dining In: Homemade Hot and Sour Soup November 19, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 2:28 PM
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I didn’t always love hot and sour soup. Growing up I opted for egg drop when we would go out for Asian food, but my dad always seemed to order at least a cup of hot and sour soup. If it was on the menu, he would give it a whirl — most often with general disappointment in it. Now, my dad is very particular about his soup…it’s never hot enough for him. Sometimes he may comment on the flavor, consistency, but ALWAYS the temperature. When my mom fixes soup she will often warm the soup bowls and microwave my dad’s portion before serving it to him. Anyone who has shared enough meals with my dad is well aware of his temperament when it comes to soup.

So, back to hot and sour soup. Later in life I decided to give it a whirl and really liked it. Like my dad, I love to order it whenever I get the chance; however, I do not fuss as much about the ‘hot’ part of the soup.

When I came across this recipe for an easy hot and sour soup, I knew it was time to try making this delicious soup myself. I made a few changes to make it vegetarian, but it truly is an easy soup to make. Don’t be intimidated!


  • 3 fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 package firm tofu, cut into 1 inch strips
  • 1 can bamboo shoots, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Sesame oil
  • 1 scallion, minced


  1. Lightly steam the mushrooms in a bowl of hot water. Cover, and set aside for a few minutes. Remove the mushrooms and slice thinly. Reserve the mushroom liquid.
  2. Pour the stock and soy sauce into a large pot along with the salt. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. When it reaches a boil, add the sliced mushrooms, the mushroom liquid, and bamboo shoots. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Toss in the tofu, pepper, and vinegar. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
  4. Whisk together the cornstarch with 4 tablespoons of cold water. When pot is boiling, add the cornstarch slurry and stir well until thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the egg. Stir gently until it is incorporated.
  5. Serve the soup with a drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkling of scallion.

As you can tell from the above photo, my wonderful parents joined me for dinner. My dad graciously picked up some spring rolls from our favorite Thai place and a couple bottles of Pinot. He loved the soup (you can see the steam rising from the bowls)!


Dining In: Tofu and Green Bean Stir Fry September 28, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 3:42 PM
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This dinner was from another great find from the food blogs earlier this year.

The sauce is light, yet flavorful, and does a great job seasoning the tofu (a challenging task). The whole process only took me 30 minutes, and I just added some brown rice to make the meal complete. The recipe makes three generous servings, but it is really good leftover.


  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package (14-ounce) firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon Canola oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4 pound French green beans, ends removed
  • 1 red bell pepper, stem removed and thinly sliced


1. Whisk together the vegetable broth, fish sauce, chili garlic sauce, and sugar in a large bowl.

2. Heat a large skillet and then add the oil and the onion. Cook, stirring constantly, until the onion begins to soften. Then dump in the beans and cook, continuing to stir, for about 2 1/2 minutes.

3. Pour in the sauce, the red pepper, and the tofu. Stir occasionally, and cook for 3 minutes. Cover for a quick steam to make sure the beans are fully cooked.



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 stepĀ into 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 šŸ˜¦
  • 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.