Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

 

butternut squash mac & cheese via Chosen BitesHi readers! This week Chosen Bites is featured over on The Nosher, MyJewishLearning’s food blog. Hop on over and check out my interview with resident food expert Shannon Sarna about living a gluten-free lifestyle, and my recipe for gluten-free butternut squash mac & cheese!

The Absolute Best Way to Prepare Tofu

Roasted tofu cubes via Chosen Bites

Although I am not a vegetarian, over the last few years we have seriously cut down on the amount of meat we eat to less once a week. Instead, we eat a lot of vegetarian meals using other protein sources like dairy, eggs, beans, and tofu. Now, I realize tofu is an acquired taste and texture, but recently I have transformed a lot of tofu haters into tofu lovers by using this preparation method.

One of the biggest complaints I have heard about tofu is that it has a funny texture, and it tends to break apart if it’s not fried. Personally, I don’t like frying tofu (or much of anything) because it makes it less healthy, and guess what? You can get the EXACT same fried tofu texture with much less effort by baking it in the oven.

It’s simple–cut your tofu into evenly-sized cubes, place them on a greased baking sheet (with plenty of space between the cubes!), and then bake them in the oven until they are crispy and golden on the outside. You can bake them even longer so they are dry on the inside too, but I prefer to leave them somewhat creamy on the inside.

The best part about this preparation? You don’t have to press the tofu to remove excess water! I prefer the texture of extra firm tofu, but I buy firm tofu at Costco because it is ridiculously cheap. In the past I’ve had to press firm tofu to get the texture I like, but baking it in the oven evaporates the extra water so it ends up just how I like it.

Because baking it the oven crisps it up, tofu prepared this way will hold together really well in stir fries, curries, pad Thai, or any other dish you want to add it too, without having the added fat from frying, or the frustration of the tofu crumbling. Because the outside is drier, it also holds sauce much better than wet tofu.

But don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

The Absolute Best Way to Prepare Tofu

Ingredients

1 block of firm or extra firm tofu

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a large baking sheet or pan (I use a 12x16 jelly roll pan).
  2. Cube the tofu into bite-sized pieces (I usually slice the tofu in half lengthwise, then into strips, then into cubes).
  3. Place the cubes on the baking sheet, leaving at least 1/4 inch of space between each cube so none of them are touching (This is critical! The cubes won't crisp up if they are too close together! I use an entire jelly roll pan for a 1 lb block of tofu).
  4. Bake at 375 for 30-50 minutes, depending on the size of your cubes. The cubes will turn golden brown and the edges will be crispy when they are done. Bake shorter or longer depending on your desired texture (I usually do 35-40 minutes--pull one out and taste it after 30 minutes to see if it's crispy enough for you, bake longer if it's not).
http://chosenbites.com/2014/05/the-absolute-best-way-to-prepare-tofu/

Chosen Bite: Garden Lites Veggie Muffins {Product Review}

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a snacker: I have smaller meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and snack pretty much throughout the day. That’s why I was so excited to receive a tasting package of Garden Lites Veggie Muffins–I’m always looking for delicious snacks to add to my regimen.

Zucchini Chocolate Veggie Muffins

I’m not usually big on store-bought baked goods, especially out of the frozen aisle, but I have to say these Veggie Muffins are pretty darn good. And given how my schedule has been lately, these make an excellent breakfast on the go because you can heat them up right in the bag! I pop it into the microwave for just 35 seconds, throw it in my bag, and eat it as I’m walking to the metro. You can also let them defrost naturally, so add it to your lunch bag and it will be a great 2pm pick-me-up (although I have to say, they are better when they are warmed a bit).

Veggie Blueberry Oat

Veggie Blueberry Oat Muffins

There are five flavors in all:

  • Veggie Blueberry Oat
  • Zucchini Banana Chocolate Chip
  • Zucchini Chocolate
  • Carrot Berry Veggie
  • Golden Corn Veggie

My favorite were the Zucchini Banana Chocolate Chip and Veggie Blueberry Oat, but honestly they were all pretty good. All of the Veggie Muffins are gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free, and 3 out of 5 flavors are also soy-free (the chocolate chips in the Zucchini Banana Chocolate Chip and Zucchini Chocolate contain soy lecithin). As a plus, these contain a good amount of protein and fiber.

Congratulations Garden Lites, we officially certify that your Veggie Muffins are a Chosen Bite!

Chosen Bites Badge

*Garden Lites sent me a complimentary tasting package of their Veggie Muffins but all opinions are my own.*

Soft & Chewy Dinner Rolls {GF, DF}

Soft & Chewy Rolls via Chosen Bites #glutenfree #dairyfree

I bet when you read the title of this post you thought, “nah, there is no such thing as a soft and chewy roll that’s also gluten- and dairy-free.” My friend, you would be wrong. I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with flour ratios and leavening agents (like eggs, yeast, baking powder, and baking soda) and I think I have finally come up with the perfect combination that yields soft, chewy, and oh-so-fluffy rolls.

My biggest breakthrough was discovering that increasing the amount of yeast helped with the rise significantly but did not make them taste like beer bread. I also increased the amount of xanthan gum to provide more elasticity, creating more chew.

IMG_9653

I hope you like these rolls as much as I did. I may or may not have eaten two within 10 minutes of them coming out of the oven. I baked mine as separate rolls, but you could also do these pull-apart style in two 8-inch round baking pans, just increase the baking time by 8-10 minutes.

Soft & Chewy Dinner Rolls {GF, DF}

Ingredients

5 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp sugar or honey
1 1/3 cup brown rice flour
1 1/4 cups white rice flour
3/4 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
2 + 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2 eggs
1 egg yolk (for egg wash)
1/2 tsp cold water

Directions

  1. Grease 2 jelly roll pans or baking sheet (you can use parchment paper but the rolls won't brown as well).
  2. In a measuring cup or small glass bowl, stir yeast and sugar into warm water and allow to sit for 5-8 minutes until frothy.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer (or you can use elbow grease too), stir together white rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, and salt.
  4. Whisk together olive oil and 2 eggs (not the extra yolk).
  5. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in yeast and egg-oil mixture. Using a dough hook, mix on a low speed for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides and around the bottom until the mixture is incorporated. The dough should be sticky but not wet, add a few extra Tbsp of brown rice flour if your dough is wet.
  6. Using a large (2 oz) cookie scoop (or very well oiled hands), portion the dough into 12-15 rolls, spaced about 2 inches apart on baking sheets. You want to do this pretty quickly because the dough will begin rising immediately.
  7. If you like, oil your hands and smooth out the rolls (I don't mind a rustic look so I don't do this).
  8. Cover the rolls with a thin towel and set aside to rise for 20-30 minutes or until the rolls double in size (my kitchen was very warm the last time I made these so they doubled in 20 minutes, just keep an eye on them so they don't over-rise).
  9. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (if you have convection, use it!).
  10. Whisk together the egg yolk and cold water. Remove the towels and using a pastry brush, VERY gently pat the rolls with the egg wash (actually brushing will deflate them).
  11. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the rolls are a light golden brown and they sound hollow when you tap on the bottom.
  12. Remove rolls to a wire rack and cool completely. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week and in the freezer for up to 3 months (toast a bit before eating for best results).
http://chosenbites.com/2014/05/dinner-rolls/