Apple Pie

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Apple season has arrived and what better way to use apples but to bake delicious goodies!
I actually have an allergic reaction to apples in their raw form, but fortunately not when they’re cooked. So I go apple picking every year and then bake up a bunch of old and new apple recipes. Luckily, apples have a very long fridge life, so you can pick lots of apples, but not feel rushed to use them all at once.

So far this season, I’ve made two new recipes, one for apple cake and another for apple pie.
Apple pie is one of those classic desserts; although there’s so many variations on it that you can have 100 apple pies and they will all taste different.

Several years ago, I entered an Apple Custard Pie with Oatmeal Crust into an apple pie contest. It was delicious, but very different from your typical apple pie and I think it might have been a little too exotic for the judges; hence I didn’t win. But that didn’t make me stop making it in future years!

The recipe I chose this year was one I had filed in my recipe binder for quite a while, but never got around to making. It’s from a Cooking Light reader who entered an apple pie contest hosted by the magazine several years ago, where she won first prize!
I decided I’d try it out, but use a cream cheese pie crust recipe I’d also had filed for a while and wanted to try out.

The final product? Delicious! Crisp, sweet apples covered lightly in a crumble topping with a warm cinnamon flavor. The apples were slightly gooey, but without the gelatin texture that reminds me of jello in a pie that’s served in many diners.
The crust was super flavorful, having a slight tang from the cream cheese. One thing about the crust is that it calls for a 9 inch pie pan but I used a 10 inch since that’s what the filling called for. So if you don’t adjust the crust proportions like me, you might find the crust to be a bit thin and skimpy and become brown pretty fast around the edges. But I didn’t mind this because the overall pie was just that delicious! I have suggestions below for not running into this snag though. :)

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Apple Pie with Cream Cheese Crust

Yield: one 9 inch pie

Cream Cheese Crust:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 (4.5 oz) cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray
  • Directions:
    • 1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl; beat well at medium speed with a mixer until smooth. Add milk and egg yolk; beat until well-blended. Add flour, baking powder, and salt to bowl, stirring until well-blended.
    • 2. Press mixture gently into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap, wrap up and chill for 15 minutes. Unwrap dough and roll to an 11-inch circle. (If dough is extremely sticky, you can roll dough before unwrapping it and stick it in the freezer for 5 minutes until wrap can be removed easily).
    • 3. Coat a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray or butter. Gently lift the rolled dough and insert into the dish. Center on dish and then press dough against bottom and sides of pan. Fold edges under and flute.
    • Adapted from Cooking Light 
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  • Picture of pie before being baking
  • Apple Filling:

Yield: Makes enough for a 10-inch pie

(since crust is only for 9 inch pan, you can either fill as much as possible and then bake the rest in an oven proof dish (it’ll be a mini crisp), or you can decrease the ingredients a bit; I’m not sure how much though)

scant 1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 TBP all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp salt

7 cups thinly sliced peeled apples (about 7 medium)

cooking spray

Topping:

6 TBP (1 3/4 oz) all-purpose flour

3 TBP brown sugar

3 TBP chilled butter

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. To prepare filling: combine sugar and next 4 ingredients through the salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle sugar mixture over apple; toss well to coat. (If you are concerned about apples turning brown, squeeze some lemon juice over them). Spoon filling into pie pan with unbaked crust.

2. To make topping, combine flour and brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut in 3 TBP butter with a pastry blender, 2 knives, or your fingers until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle topping over the filling on pie. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees without removing pie from oven and bake an additional 30 minutes or until apples are crisp tender.

*Crust might brown quicker than pie cooks. If this happens, you can cover the pie with fin foil while it finishes baking and/or put pie on lower rack of oven.

Adapted from Cooking Light, Susan Brackett’s First Prize recipe

Perfect Brownies

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I’ve made a lot of great brownie recipes, but each one had at least one imperfection. Either they were too thick or thin, too fudgy and gooey, too firm and fudge-like, or too dry around the edges.

And brownies is one of those desserts that when you decide to indulge in such a rich treat, you want to make every bite worth it. I typically wouldn’t make a low-fat brownie, because why eat a brownie if it’s low-fat and won’t possess that buttery, bittersweet chocolate flavor that defines a brownie? I find some of the really good low-fat brownie recipes are almost there, but I always feel like they’re missing something, and therefore don’t satisfy my brownie craving.

Recently, I happened upon a new blog called Cookie and Kate. When I read the description and recipe for her “Very best brownies,” I decided to give them a go. It was unique in that she instructs the baker to brown the butter before mixing in the rest of the ingredients and her recipe calls for fine grain sea salt. The chocolate used for the substance of the brownies is 100% unsweetened cocoa powder and then some semi-sweet, chopped chocolate is mixed in right before the brownies are baked to enhance the chocolate flavor even more and add another textural element, gooifying the brownies more with those spots of delicious chocolate that aren’t completely melted in.

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I cut the sugar a bit, as usual, which ended up being the perfect amount. I also used all-purpose flour, as opposed to white-whole wheat called for in the recipe. Although it was said you won’t be able to taste the difference in the final product, I didn’t want to risk that wheaty flavor that might taint the brownies :)

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So when you bite into one of these delicious treats, you will find a brownie that is amazingly chewy, a little gooey, very moist, and fudgy with a glistening top as well as one that has a deep caramelized flavor (from the browned butter), that combines with dark, rich chocolate and hints of sea salt to make a brownie that you will savor until the last crumb.

And the part that made me over the edge happy was that the edges weren’t dry at all! They had the same moist, chewy texture as the rest of the brownies, but had an added bonus: that crusty edge!

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Perfect Brownies

Yield: one 8 inch square pan

Ingredients:

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch slices

generous 1 cup granulated sugar

¾ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted if has become lumpy

½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

¼ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon espresso powder or very finely ground coffee (optional)

2 cold large eggs

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

⅔ cup unbleached all-purpose flour (can also try white-whole wheat flour)

1 to 2 ounces dark or semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped (or ⅓ cup chocolate chips)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with two criss-crossed pieces of parchment paper, making sure that the paper is long enough to go up the sides a couple of inches. Grease the parchment paper.
  2. Brown the butter: Melt the butter in a medium-sized light colored saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook the butter, while whisking constantly, until it’s a pale golden brown and the particles suspended in it are reddish brown. This will take some time and right when you think it’s just staying the same color, you will notice a ton of little brown bits that have formed underneath the liquid butter. As soon as you spot these, about 10 minutes, take the butter off the heat and make sure it did not burn. If you did this right, you will detect a deep nutty aroma and have a lot of brownish/auburn bits on the bottom and a very light brown liquid. (If you haven’t browned butter before, I strongly suggest giving it a try! It will take your baked goods to a more complex and delicious level than before!)
  3. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the sugar immediately, this is how the crackly shiny crust/top is achieved.  Then add the cocoa powder, sea salt, baking powder and espresso powder. Stir until the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula after each one. When the mixture looks thick, shiny and well blended, add the vanilla extract and the flour. Mixture will be thick and hard to stir. Stir until you no longer see streaks of flour. Then beat vigorously for 50 strokes with the wooden spoon or spatula.
  5. At this point, the mixture should be no more than slightly warm (if not, let it cool for a few more minutes). Fold in the chocolate chunks or chips.
  6. Spread the batter in the lined pan, then use a knife to make light swirls in the top of the batter. Bake on the lower rack for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool the brownies in the pan on a baking rack.
  7. Once the brownies are completely cool, lift the edges of the parchment paper and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the brownies into 16 or 25 squares.

Adapted from Cookie and Kate blog

Delicious Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

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Warning: If you’re a fan of peanut butter, these cookies could be very addicting.

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A trip with some friends to a cabin on a lake warranted yet another new cookie recipe to try out!

I’ve been trying to find that perfect peanut butter cookie recipe before I posted one on this blog. I’ve found many that produce soft cookies, but none that lend that wonderful chewiness to the texture. All of the peanut butter cookie recipes I’ve tried are also made with butter, which is my favorite fat to bake with. However, while the butter produces cookies with great flavor, it also seems to give them an almost chalky, shortbread like texture, but still retaining the softness. They aren’t dry, but they’re not moist either.

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 Since I was very pleased with how the oatmeal raisin cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction turned out, I decided to give her peanut butter cookie recipe a go! This recipe appeared to have very similar ingredients in it as most of the peanut butter cookie recipes I had tried, but Sally suggests chilling the prepared dough for at least 3 hours before forming the cookies and baking them.

After tasting these cookies shortly after they had finished baking, and then a day later, two days later, and so on, I noticed that not only did they have an incredible peanut butter, caramelized flavor, but they were also soft AND chewy and stay like that for quite a while!

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As I was trying to figure out how chilling the dough would make a difference in that textural element I mentioned before, I guessed that perhaps that chilling the dough gave the melted butter and peanut butter a chance to firm up and set before being heated and transformed into cookies. Chilling also deepens the flavor of the overall product and reduces out-of-control spreading. I think another key factor in this recipe to attain that really nice texture is to underbake these a little. The edges should be just lightly brown and the middles should still look un-set and a little gooey. They will set as they sit on the baking sheets for a few minutes once removed from the oven.

Enjoy! 

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 Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies 

Yield: 32 cookies

 Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • a little over a 1/3 cup (75g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (natural, oily style peanut butters are not recommended, use brands like Skippy or Jiff, chunky is fine too) 
  • 1 1/2 cups + 1 Tablespoon (195.5 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, using an electric beater, stand mixer with paddle attachment, or large fork (if you don’t have either of the first two), cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until smooth. Add the egg and mix on high until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla and peanut butter, mixing on high until combined. 

2. In a separate medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add this mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Dough will be thick and very sticky. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours (and up to 2 days) in the fridge. 

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Scoop dough generously with a TBP dough scooper, rolling into balls with your hands until smooth after scooping. Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Press fork half way down each dough ball to create the criss-cross pattern. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating half way, until very lightly browned on the sides, but with the centers still looking soft and undone. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheets for 2-3 minutes. Then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. (Cookies might be puffed when taken out of the oven, but should deflate while setting on baking sheets after removed from oven). 

Cover cookies and store at room temperature for up to 1 week. Baked cookies and rolled cookie dough freeze well, up to 3 months. 

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction blog 

The Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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I’ve made many oatmeal raisin cookie recipes, but this one tops them all! This is pretty much your regular oatmeal raisin cookie recipe, but with a secret ingredient, molasses, bringing this old-fashioned cookie to new depths. I’m no food scientist, but it seems that the molasses not only deepens the caramelized flavor of these cookies, but also contributes more moisture to them, making them stay soft and chewy for much longer than your average cookies.

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This recipe also suggests to soak the raisins for ten minutes in warm water and then blot them dry. This technique produces raisins that are plump and almost juicy inside when you bite into one. I was a little worried that the extra water (after drying) from soaking the raisins would make the cookies soggy, but this didn’t happen. As long as there’s no water falling off the raisins, they should be fine, if they feel a little damp (as mine did), that is okay.

The other key to soft and chewy cookies (besides the ingredients), is underbaking them just a tad, so that the edges are a light brown and the middles are still a little whitish and look underdone. They will solidify as they cool a few minutes on the hot baking sheets.

Thank you to Sally’s Baking Addiction blog for this recipe!

Enjoy!

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The Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Yield: about 55 cookies using a generous tablespoon and a half cookie scoop (forgot to count actually, so this is a rough estimate)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • scant 1 cup light or dark brown sugar (I used mostly light and a bit of dark)
  • scant 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon molasses
  • 1 1/2 cups (190g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (240g) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4- 1 cup raisins, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and then blotted as dry as possible
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional), I chose not to use nuts this time

Directions: 

1. Take butter and eggs out to warm to room temperature about 30 to 45 minutes before baking depending on the temperature of your kitchen. Prepare raisins as stated above.

2. Mix together dry ingredients in medium bowl: flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

3. With an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars on medium speed in a large bowl until smooth. Add the eggs and mix on high until combined. Next, add the vanilla and molasses beating on high until fully incorporated.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat on low until combined. Then beat in the oats, raisins, and walnuts if using on low speed. Dough will be thick and sticky. Chill the dough for 30-60 minutes (do full hour if you’re concerned dough will spread). You can also chill the dough for up to 2 days. If chilling for longer than 60 minutes, let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature to soften a bit before scooping into cookies.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.

6. Scoop dough with 1 1/2 TBP cookie scoop onto prepared pans, giving cookies enough space to spread. Bake for about 8-10 minutes depending on your oven and dough ball size, until very lightly browned on edges and still white and underbaked in the middle. Also rotate cookie sheets half way through, switching baking racks as well, to ensure even baking.

7. Let cookies cool for 2 minutes on sheet pans and then remove and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Cover cookies and store at room temperature for up to 1 week. Baked cookies and rolled cookie dough freeze well, up to 3 months.

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction blog 

Peach Ginger Muffins

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The other day, I was at my local farmer’s market. As I was passing the gelato stand, I glanced at the flavors on the board and spotted peach ginger! Upon sampling it, I couldn’t resist treating myself to a small container. The peach and ginger flavors complemented each other perfectly and I thought why not try making peach ginger muffins?

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So I tweaked one of my peach muffin recipes to come up with this one! I made a few substitutions, like replacing the oil with butter and reducing the amount by a bit, adding fresh ginger, and reducing the sugar, which all worked out nicely! These muffins are moist, soft, and impart the flavor of fresh sweet peaches as well as the slight bite of the ginger, and the warmth of the cinnamon. Enjoy while peaches are in season!

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Peach Ginger Muffins 

Yield: 18 muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups (9.25 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
scant 1/2 tsp table salt
heaping 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
heaping 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup buttermilk (any fat content is fine)
4 TBP (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 extra-large or large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups peeled, diced (1/4-1/2 inch cubes) fresh peaches (about 2 large peaches)
1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated or minced

*If you’d like to add some blueberries in addition to the peach, substitute 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries for the 1/2 cup of peaches

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 18 muffin cups with paper muffin liners.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and sugar.
3. In another smaller bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the wet ingredients: buttermilk, melted butter, egg, and vanilla until well combined. (This mixture will likely produce clumps; this is a chemical reaction from mixing the melted butter with the buttermilk. This is normal though).
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients; mix just until combined, a few streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in the peaches and ginger with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated. Be careful not to overmix or muffins might be tough.
5. Divide batter into muffin cups evenly, should be about 2/3 way full. Bake for 18-25 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned and toothpick comes out with some dry crumbs. Muffins should also spring back when centers are lightly pushed down.
6. Remove from pans and cool on wire rack.

*These muffins will only keep a couple of days at room temperature because of the moisture of the peaches, but place them in the fridge and they will keep for a good week, and then freeze any extras (if they last that long)!

Adapted from the Cooking Channel

Coffee Ice Cream

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Have you ever made your own ice cream? If you have an ice cream maker, it’s very simple and well worth the day’s wait. Ice cream was a dessert I had never made before, but I’ve always wanted to try it! So when Melissa Clark’s recipe appeared in the New York Times dining section, I cut it out and promised myself I would make it by the end of the month.

It just so happened that I had made a coconut layer cake that used 6 egg whites, so I had 6 egg yolks I needed to use. While searching for possible recipes I could make, I came across Thomas Keller’s pasta recipe, but then I remembered ice cream. And when I looked back at Melissa Clark’s recipe, it just so happened that it required 6 egg yolks! Perfect! (this never happens).

There was the base recipe for ice cream, but then there were variations on the base recipe to create different flavors. So many to choose from…and so many that looked delicious. I decided to go with coffee. It seemed pretty simple; I didn’t want to attempt one of the more difficult variations since I’d never made ice cream before.

There were definitely a couple nuisances I encountered along the way…nothing disastrous or even bad, just unexpected.

So since I already went through it, I can warn you and give you recommendations ahead of time, or you can just make the basic recipe, which is probably what I should of done first. But that just sounded too boring if I was going to go through making ice cream!

1. When you dissolve the sugar in the milk mixture, the coffee grounds make it tricky to tell when all the sugar is dissolved and you can proceed to the next step. My suggestion would be just to go by the amount of time in the recipe– about 5 minutes of stirring on low-heat. Also, the coffee grounds seem to float on top, so if you can try to feel the sugar underneath the top of the milk mixture, that should tell you whether it’s clumpy or smooth, thick or thin.

2. When you’re at the step where you strain the liquid into a bowl, it takes a lot of time for the liquid to go through the strainer because the coffee grounds are blocking the liquid. To make this faster and easier, I removed some of the coffee grounds and let the mixture strain, then added them back in to strain any extra liquid.

Besides these two minor issues, the process is quite easy. Put the liquid in the fridge overnight. Take it out the next day, churn it in the ice cream machine for about 15 minutes, eat like it is, or place in freezer to harden more.

Everyone who tasted this ice cream said it was absolutely to die for, better than any coffee ice cream they’d had! Rich, silky, creamy, and filled with coffee flavor! So I’d say, give it a try! And if it’s a success, experiment with all the different flavors!

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Ice Cream Base

Yield: 1 1/2 qts.

Ingredients: 

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

2/3 cup sugar

1/8 tsp fine sea salt

6 large egg yolks

Your choice of flavoring

Directions:

1. In a small pot, simmer cream, milk, sugar, and salt until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks. Whisk constantly as you slowly whisk in about 1/3 of the hot cream mixture into the yolks, then whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the cream. Return pot to medium-low heat and cook mixture until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (about 170 degrees on an instead-read thermometer).

2. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cool mixture to room temperature (this will take several hours). Cover and chill in fridge at least 4 hours or overnight.

3. Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. It should take about 15 minutes. Serve directly from the machine for soft serve, or store in freezer until needed.

Coffee Ice Cream:

Grind 1/2 cup whole coffee beans (caf or decaf) until coarsely ground in a coffee grinder or food processor. Place coffee grounds in cold milk mixture in step 1. Follow step 1 in main recipe accordingly. Then, instead of straining immediately, let the custard steep off the heat for about 1/2 hour before straining. Then go through with main recipe steps.

*For a couple tips about coffee ice cream, read commentary above.

From Melissa Clark’s column in Dining section of New York Times 

For more variations, see http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/07/01/dining/the-master-ice-cream-recipe.html

 

 

 

Tofu and Squash Panang Curry

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If you like Thai food, you’re going to love this dish! Not only does it taste like something right out of a Thai restaurant’s kitchen, but it’s also a lighter, healthier version! I find that restaurants frequently add way too much salt, butter, and cream, resulting in feeling overly full after a meal and sensing that greasy aftertaste on your lips. This curry includes lots of fresh ingredients and a light sauce, which still embodies full flavors that leave you satisfied after a meal.

I was a little hesitant at first to try this recipe from Cooking Light because when I glanced down the list of ingredients, they seemed like an odd combination when mixed altogether. But I was fortunately wrong. It is exactly all these ingredients that make this dish so delicious!

To be completely honest, this dish takes a bit more preparation because of all the ingredients, but trust me, it’s well worth it. And after the ingredients are prepped, this dish comes together in no time at all. It is also recommended that you drain the tofu, leaving it to rest for 30 minutes to get as much liquid out of it as possible. Thirty minutes would be ideal, but 10-15 minutes is fine too; this step definitely helps enhance the texture of the tofu in the final product though, imparting the tofu with a spongy texture that almost seems like it could have been lightly fried!

I think this dish would also be very adaptable. You could easily add other vegetables like broccoli, zucchini, snap peas, etc, just make sure you adjust the sauce depending on the amount of veggies you use. Feel free to substitute veggies too, using broccoli in place of the bell pepper for example.

Enjoy!

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Tofu and Squash Panang Curry 

Yield: 6 servings, about 1 cup curry and 2/3 cup rice per person

Ingredients:

Rice:

1 3/4 cups water

1 cup uncooked brown jasmine or basmati rice

1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger

1/4 tsp kosher salt (1/8 tsp table salt)

cilantro (optional)

 

Curry:

1 (14 oz) block extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1 inch cubes

3 tsp (1 TBP) olive oil- divided

2 TBP creamy peanut butter

1 1/2 TBP Thai red curry paste (can be found in International section of grocery store)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 (14 oz) can light coconut milk (also can be found in international section of store)

3 TBP lower-sodium soy sauce

1 TBP brown sugar

3 cups cubed peeled butternut or kabocha squash (if you buy this pre-cut, it saves a lot of time)

1 cup red bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup sliced shallots or onion

1 1/2 tsp grated lime rind

2 TBP fresh lime juice

fresh basil leaves to garnish

Directions:

For rice: Combine first 4 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 35 minutes or until water is absorbed. Let stand 10 minutes. Add cilantro, fluff rice.

1. Place tofu on several layers of paper towels. Cover with additional paper towels. Let stand for 15 to 30 minutes, pressing down occasionally.

2. While tofu is draining, combine peanut butter, curry paste, cumin, and coriander. Combine coconut milk, soy sauce and sugar in separate dish. Then chop pepper and shallots, prepare squash and lime rind, and squeeze out lime juice.

3. When tofu is ready, heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 TBP of oil to pan, swirl to coat pan. Add tofu, saute 8 minutes until golden brown, stirring off and on. (You can also return to the preparations in step 2 while the tofu is cooking, just make sure you remember to stir it.) Remove tofu from pan and put a dinner plate over dish to keep warm.

4. Return pan to medium heat and add 1/2 TBP more of olive oil, swirling to coat. Add peanut butter mixture from above, cooking 15 seconds. Then add coconut mixture stirring until smooth. Add squash, pepper and shallots. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until squash is tender. Gently stir in tofu, rind, and lime juice. Cook 1 minute. Sprinkle individual portions with torn basil leaves and serve over rice.

Adapted from Cooking Light