Recharge in Asheville + Crispy Tofu Taco Tostada’s

      Since beginning my journey into culinary school and my quest to become a pastry chef, sleep and relaxing have become a thing of the past, a distant memory. Sleeping till 7 AM is a dream come true these days and getting home before 8/9 is a Godsend! Needless to say I stay fairly busy. However, every now and then, no matter how much I LOVE my crazy busy life, I just need to get away. A fresh perspective on life and new inspiration for food (yes the first thing I think about when going on a trip is places to eat and new ideas for meals) is needed, along with a little relaxation. So where do I go when I need recharging? Asheville, NC!

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      Asheville is my safe haven, my true love, and my tummies sole mate! Oh yes my tummy has a sole mate and lover extraordinaire. If I didn’t go hiking all day or practice yoga at the Asheville Yoga Center, I would easily gain 50 pounds in one trip. I mean who can resist an entire box of vegan and gluten free dark chocolate truffles at the Chocolate Room? Or mini almond butter Recess made with dark chocolate from a chocolate shop in downtown? Oh, how could I forget the Laughing Seed Café on Historic Wall Street? I ate here every single day, sometimes twice a day while in Asheville. Seriously, with dishes like these wouldn’t you?

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{Jalapeño Onion Fries, Indian Pakoras (not pictured) Indian-style vegetable fritters batter-dipped in spiced chickpea flour and served with Punjabi chutney and organic vegan yogurt, and a Tico Taco Salad where everything is vegan and gluten free; I was in totally heaven! Even my meat eating gluten loving best friend Michelle, who I drug along with me, experienced total tummy happiness.}

 

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      While food is always the center of attention and my one true love, I have a soft spot for all the local clothing stores that line the downtown streets. The organic clothing shops, vintage-wear, and three level shoe stores… a girl really couldn’t ask for much more in life! Well possibly a good local beer after a long day of shopping and eating. That generally always happens at Tupelo Honey Café or Thirsty Monk, and always includes omission gluten free beer (HEAVEN for a craft-beer-loving-but-have-to-be-gluten-free girl).

      So with my tummy satisfied and my imagination flowing Michelle and I returned home and I ran to the kitchen to start creating!

      With my inspiration coming from the Tico Taco Salad at the Laughing Seed Café, I came up with my Crispy Tofu Taco Tostada’s! The tofu is nice & crispy and perfectly spicy atop a wonderful salad of bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, kale, and a perfectly crispy tostada! In my world: spicy is perfection and tacos are heavenly, so I couldn’t resist creating a healthy yet satisfying version that I feel great about eating. So bring out the corn tortillas and start pressing your tofu, because taco Tuesday is in full affect here!

{Do not be intimidating with how many steps there are. I promise it’s a very easy recipe and will quickly become a go to weeknight meal!}

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Crispy Tofu Taco Tostada’s

{Yields: 2 Taco Tostado’s}

 Ingredients:

  • 2 white corn tortillas
  • 1 tbsp. Coconut oil, melted + enough to brush both sides of the tortillas
  • 3 oz’s Tofu, Extra Firm, Pressed, and cubed
  • ½ cup – ⅔ cup of Red, Orange, Yellow, and Green Bell Pepper, small/medium diced (you can use any combination of peppers or what you have on hand. I personally love the sweet bell peppers, but always need a little green to balance to sweetness)
  • ¼ cup sweet onion, small/medium diced
  • ¼ portabella mushrooms, small/medium diced
  • 3 cups raw kale, washed and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup Spicy Taco Seasoning
  • Splash of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Texas Pete or favorite hot sauce
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Chunky Salsa to top (favorite brand or homemade)

Spicy Taco Seasoning:

  • 4 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (omit to lower heat of mix)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 6 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. salt (more or less to taste)
  • 3 tsp. black pepper

 Directions:

Corn Tortillas:

  1. Heat your cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.
  2. While the skillet/griddle is heating, use a pastry brush to brush both sides of the tortillas with melted coconut oil (use extra virgin coconut oil if you do lot like an overpowering taste of coconut. If you do not have coconut oil you can substitute avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil.)
  3. Place your oiled tortillas onto the hot skillet/griddle and cook on one side until the tortilla gains a dark golden color, flip and cook the other side until you see that gorgeous golden color (do not over cook since there will be carry over cooking after removed from heat) Remove from heat and lay on paper towel lined plate to soak up and extra oil that might be hanging out.

Tofu and Vegetables:

  1. Remove your tofu from the package, cut off ~ 3 oz’s and wrap in a paper towel.
  2. Place the wrapped tofu under something heavy to help press the moisture out. This will allow the tofu to crisp up nicely inside and out. Press for 10-15 mins or until a good amount of water has absorbed into the paper towel. An iron skillet works nicely as a press.
  3. Once pressed, chop the tofu into good medium sized cubes and add to a small bowl. In the bowl with the tofu add ¼ cup of the Spicy Taco Seasoning and toss until the entire surface is covered with spice.
  4. Spray a skillet with a good amount of non-stick spray, place over medium – medium-high heat and add your tofu. Leave the tofu alone for a few mins and allow a crispy crust to form. Toss the tofu. When all sides have a crispy crust remove from the heat. Cover to keep warm.
  5. In the same skilled you cooked your tofu, add ½ tbsp. of oil – medium heat. When oil has melted add your peppers and onions.
  6. Add mushrooms when the peppers have started to slightly soften; cook until mushrooms have softened. {Adding the mushrooms before the peppers have completely softened will prevent all your vegetables from turning to mush.}
  7. Salt and pepper vegetables at this point.
  8. Remove cooked vegetable mixture from skillet and cover to keep warm.
  9. Replace the skillet back onto medium heat and add a 1 tsp. – ½ tbsp. of oil. Add your wash/chopped kale to the skillet and toss continuously.
  10. After the kale has cooked a few mins add a splash or two of Apple Cider Vinegar*, a few drop of Texas Pete or your favorite hot sauce, and mix continuously.
  11. Salt and pepper the kale. {The kale is ready when it has SLIGHTLY wilted but still holds a bright green color and a little bite. Remove from heat and begin to assemble your Tostada’s}

Assembly:

  1. Place your crispy tortillas onto a plate and top with cooked kale (evenly distributed between the two tortillas)
  2. Divide the veggie mixture between the two tortillas, and do the same with the tofu. Top with a dollop of chunky salsa and any other toppings (roasted corn, fresh guacamole, hot sauce, chopped green onions or even yogurt [silk soy vanilla yogurt in my case] mixed with spicy taco seasoning.

ENJOY!

*The Apple Cider Vinegar removes that natural bite that kale has so do not skip this step. The moisture from the vinegar will also help to wilt the kale and keep it from burning.

 

 

I’m Back with Raw Ice Cream Mini Bars!

Well after a long break from blogging and focusing on school, I am back and ready to share lots of yummy recipes with ya’ll. I have been just-a-baking/cooking-away lately and have racked up a TON of new recipes share. Don’t worry I endure the difficult task of taste testing all these recipes for you and assure there yumminess (I promise I’m not 5 even though I use words like tummy and yummy on a regular basis). There is a good mix of healthy snacks, desserts, entrees and sides along with some decadent indulgences coming yall’s way! I have to include all the decadent indulgences, what kind of Southern Lady would I be if I excluded this vital food group! You have been warned…

 In other news you are officially reading the blog of a full on pastry chef! At least that’s my title; I still have a long way to go to earn the title and respect of a chef title, but let me tell you how freaking excited I am! This place is amazing and combines everything I love in food: Healthy, baking, gluten free and vegan options, decadent deserts and did I mention…MY DESSERTS ARE ON THE MENU! Eeek! I love the fact I can actually tell yall to come on out to A Little Bit of Heaven in Roswell and buy some of my original creations!!

Not going to lie, it is a little intimidation to be a pastry chef. There’s a lot of math with purchasing, costing out recipes, and determining in-stock ingredients, and if you weren’t aware I slightly suck at math. I mean I got the basic add, subtract, multiply, and divide down to an art but the headache that comes with it, is way to intense. I also am now in charge of baking schedules and ALL production of baked goods including breads. Now bread and I don’t always get a long in the kitchen (eating yes, baking no) however, I have come up with some pretty awesome gluten free and even Paleo recipes with no proofing and kneading required (music to my ears)! Not to mention all the pitas and tortillas, my favorite being the almond tortillas (it would be pitas but I’m trying to ignore them till after lent since I gave them up), that I get to make now. Even though I feel like a total grown up and have a lot on my plate with this job and finishing up my last year of culinary school, I still can’t stop smiling, jumping up and down, and realizing that all this hard freaking work has not been for nothing!

Now to the reason you’re here…Raw Ice Cream Mini Bars. These things are so silky and just the perfect balance of salty and sweet. Plus you don’t have to feel guilty for eating them since they are low calorie, low carb, high-protein, full of good fats, low sodium, dairy, egg, soy, and gluten free. Okay you might be thinking what’s left to make them so yummy if they are everything free? Well…. there are LOTS of healthy alternatives in this recipe that not only make you feel amazing, but are also the perfect fix to any sweet tooth craving. Don’t just take my word on it though. I’ll let you make these treats and bask in the glory of mini healthy ice cream bars to see for yourself. SO bust out that food process and enjoy!

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Raw Ice Cream Mini Bars:

{Yields 1-9×5 pan}

 Ingredients:

 Base –

  • 1 cup of pitted dates (make sure they are pitted! The first time I forgot to pit the dates and lets just say in the fight with my food processor…. neither of us won)
  • ½ cup almonds, raw, unsalted
  • ¼ cup walnuts, raw, no shell
  • ⅛ cup pecans, raw, no shell
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

 Ice cream topping –

  • 2-3 ripe bananas
  • ¼ cup natural almond butter, creamy or chunky (you process it so it doesn’t matter)
  • ¼ cup more unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

 Directions:

  1. Put dates in a bowl with warm water and allow them to soak for 30 minutes, then drain. This will allow the dates to become soft so they will mix much easier in the processor.
  2. In the bowl of your food processor place your soaked dates, almonds, walnuts, pecans, and ¼ cup cocoa powder. Blend until all combined.
  3. Line a 9×5-baking pan with parchment paper (wax paper is okay as well).
  4. Spread mixture into your prepared baking dish. Press down on the mixture to make sure it is evenly distributed. I just went in with my hands. BEST TOOLS THERE ARE!
  5. Back to the food processor: Mix together your bananas, almond butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, and the other ¼ cup cocoa powder until well blended. If you like the taste of banana, A LOT, like me you can add three, if not stick with the 2 it still has a very nice banana flavor. TIP TIME: if your bananas are slightly frozen the mixture will spread nicely and set up quicker.
  6. Spread your banana mixture over the bottom layer until evenly distributed. Place in freezer for 45 minutes.
  7. Once completely set up, cut into 32 squares for mini bites or 16 squares if you want more than just a bite.
  8. Re-freeze whatever you don’t eat (but if your like me there wont be!).

Enjoy 🙂 

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