>fried tofu with sweet chili sauce and chilled peanut soba noodles

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there’s a thai restaurant close that me and my husband love!  besides the delicious authentic thai food, they have a separate menu for vegetarians!  my husband usually gets a crispy fried sweet chili fish dish topped with mushrooms and bell peppers.  when they deliver the dish to our table the smell of the of the chili sauce is unbelievable.  although i wouldn’t eat the fish, i would sneak a dip of the sauce with some of my tofu.

today for dinner, as i made a peanut soba noodle dish  i was trying to figure out what type of tofu dish would go with it.  as i was preparing the soba dish and adding the rice vinegar to the mixture, i thought to myself if thai dishes used rice vinegar.  i then realized that the secret ingredient to the chilli sauce from the thai restaurant was rice vinegar!!!  so i tried adding rice vinegar to sweet chili sauce and that was it!!! i’ve been trying to figure out what was in that sauce for sooooo long!

**fried tofu with sweet chili sauce recipe**

ingredients
4 oz of tofu, thinly sliced
2/3 cup of sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup of rice vinegar
4-5 tbs saracha hot sauce
1/4 cup of red and green pepper
salt and pepper to taste

directions:
1) fry tofu until golden brown and set aside.
2) while your frying the tofu get started on making the chili sauce. whisk rice vinegar, hot sauce, sweet chili sauce, salt and pepper in a bowl.  add peppers after about 5 minutes into cooking the sauce.
3) add sauce into a small pot and heat on medium low.  once the sauce starts to boil, set temperature to low.
4)  arrange fried tofu on a platter and spoon sauce over tofu.

chilled peanut soba noodles
*adapted from food network*
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/claire-robinson/chilled-peanut-soba-noodles-recipe/index.html
ingredients:
kosher salt
8 ounces soba (buckwheat) noodles
1/4 cup natural crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 to 3 teaspoons chili sauce (recommended: Sriracha)
chopped cilantro for garnish (my twist)

directions:
1)  Bring a large pot of water to a boil; overt high heat. Add a generous amount of salt and stir in the noodles. Cook according to package instructions; drain and rinse well under cold running water.

2)  Meanwhile, whisk the peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce and chili sauce in a large bowl until smooth. Add the drained noodles, and with tongs, toss until coated with the dressing.  Garnish with cilantro.  Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Note: If chilling noodles, toss with 1 to 2 tablespoons water to loosen them before serving.
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>green onions… woo hoo!!! the beginning of my garden!

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i grew up to vegetables gardens and fruit trees and my dad making sure we had vegetables every night on our dinner table.  he grew eggplants, chillies, tomatoes, green onions, lettuce, avocados, oranges, calamansi, bitter melon, bananas, string beans, mallungay, guavas, persimmons, strawberries.. you name it!!! i grew up on all these fresh organic vegetables and didn’t even realize how fortunate i was!

one of my goals this years is to start a small balcony garden.  this past weekend when i went to visit my family, my dad gave me some tomato seeds (these seeds were actually dried from tomatoes from his garden) and green onion roots.  i went ahead and bought a couple of starter pots and soil a couple of days ago and planted my green onions.  they’ve already grew a couple of inches!  after a couple of weeks i’m going to transfer them to a bigger pot.  i can’t wait!  in the spring, i’m going to go ahead and plant the tomato seeds.

>black bean and potato soup

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lately, i’ve been in the mood for soup.  i think its a mixture the cold weather and me getting over a cold. here’s a soup recipe i just put together.  enjoy!

ingredients:
1 1/4 cup chopped carrots
1 1/4 cup chopped onions
1 1/4 cup chopped celery
1 can of organic black beans, drained
2 large sized russet potatoes, cubed
4- 5 cloves of chopped garlic
14 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice
4 cups of vegetable broth
1 can of corn (optional)
1 teaspoon finely minced jalapeƱo pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)

1/4 teaspoon red pepper
2- 4 tbs of olive oil
chopped cilantro
garnish with sour cream and chopped avocados or guacamole (optional)

directions
1)  heat olive oil in a large pot, on medium high heat
2)  saute carrots, onions, and celery for 6-8 minutes
3) stir in cubed potatoes and garlic. cook for about 5 minutes.
4)  add broth (at this time, you can add the vegetable bouillon) and stir occasionally.  cook until the potatoes are close to tender
4) add black beans and corn. cook for 8 minutes.  at this time, add jalapeno, cilantro and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
5)  transfer soup into a food processor or blender and puree soup.
6) transfer puree back to pot and simmer on low for another 10 minutes.
7) ladle into a bowl. garnish with cilantro.  dollop with vegan sour cream or guacamole (even better… chopped fresh avocados).
** pictured with the soup- vegan whole wheat quesadilla**