Scrambled Tofu with McCormick Modern Masala Spices: Flavor of Together

Last month I was invited to participate in McCormick's Modern Masala program as the company celebrates its 125th anniversary by inspiring you to cook with great flavors, share your stories, and give back to communities around the world.

I received Red Curry Powder, Garam Masala, Hot Madras Curry Powder and regular Curry Powder and was asked to either recreate one of McCormick's recipes or to come up with my own.

In this year's Modern Masala trend, McCormick encourages its customers to explore the vibrant flavors of richly spiced Indian cuisine in new,  modern contexts. Because I've loved Indian cuisine for over 10 years, ever since my college boyfriend introduced me to it {that was one of the only good things to come from that relationship}, I'm familiar with flavors of cumin, curry, coriander and often make Indian inspired recipes in my kitchen. One of my favorite recipes is an Indian inspired omelet I learned from Edward Hamann when I worked with him at Sur La Table ages ago. You basically sauté fresh ginger, garlic, and cumin seeds and then add an egg mixture to the pan. Once the egg mixture is almost set, you add chopped tomatoes and cilantro. This is such a great breakfast or brunch meal.

This time, however, I wanted to make something different. My twin Anna, who's also a food lover and blogger, suggested I make scrambled tofu. Interesting, I thought. I've cooked with tofu many times, but have never tried to scramble it. This was a great opportunity to do so. This is how I came up with Scrambled Tofu with McCormick Modern Masala Spices.

Scrambled Tofu with McCormick Modern Masala Spices
Serves 3-5
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 zucchini, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons McCormick Garam Masala
1 teaspoon McCormick Hot Madras Curry Powder
14 ounces firm tofu, drained, crumbled
5 ounces Greek yogurt
1/3 cucumber, peeled, seeded, minced
1 teaspoon McCormick Red Curry Powder
salt to taste
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add zucchini, red pepper and red onion and sauté for 5 minutes.
2. Add spices and salt to the vegetables and continue to sauté for 3 minutes.
3. Add the tofu to the vegetables and spices and sauté until it is heated through.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the yogurt with the cucumber, red curry powder, salt and cilantro.
5. Serve scrambled tofu and vegetables in a bowl topped with the yogurt mixture.

I was honestly surprised at how much I liked this dish. It was well flavored and filling. I ate this dish for breakfast several days in a row both hot, at room temperature and cold. The spices turn otherwise bland tofu into something exciting, while the yogurt slightly cools down your mouth.

And now I want to share with you a little bit of information about the Flavor of Together campaign. Each time you share your flavor story on McCormick's website, they will donate $1 to help those in need through the United Way Worldwide! Your story may even be featured on the McCormick website!! You can also share your stories on twitter using #flavorstory.

Make sure to check out Flavor Stories shared by some of the McCormick fans!'

BUT WAIT! If you share your flavor story on my blog, you may win something ;) You must have a US address!

Share your own unique flavor story by commenting on this post using the hashtag #flavorstory and be entered for a chance to win a McCormick Anniversary Pack. The pack includes exclusive McCormick Anniversary Edition product (both black pepper and vanilla extract - not available in stores!), a McCormick recipe book, and a branded canvas tote--all valued at $50.

I will randomly choose one lucky winner Monday, May 5th. GOOD LUCK!

And the WINNER IS ChezSasha!!!!

Disclaimer: I was compensated for recipe development by McCormick. All opinions are my own.


Asparagus, Smoked Salmon & Goat Cheese Tart Adapted from Sweet Paul's Eat & Make

A few weeks ago I received a preview copy of a stunning book called Sweet Paul Eat & Make. I'm slightly ashamed to admit I haven't heard of Sweet Paul till recently, but no worries: I became a fan within a few minutes of paging through the cookbook. This is the book that is divided into sections based on when you are most likely to eat each particular recipe: morning, brunch, noon and night. But of course you are free to make any of the recipe any time of the day! No one will judge.

Not only is the book filled with delicious recipes and stunning photographs, but it also has numerous craft projects!!! Arts & Crafts, people. You will be able to make flowers from coffee filters, make your own body scrub and create a trivet from clothespins!

What caught my attention was the Morning Tart with Broccoli, Goat Cheese & Smoked Salmon. But you know me: I rarely follow directions ;) I made several changes in ingredients an method of preparations to create Asparagus, Smoked Salmon & Goat Cheese Tart.

Asparagus, Smoked Salmon & Goat Cheese Tart
Adapted from Sweet Paul Eat & Make
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4-6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
4 ounces hot smoked salmon, flaked
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Slightly oil a cookie sheet. Place the thawed puff pastry onto the cookie sheet, and lightly score a border of about 1/2 inch using a butter knife. DO NOT cut all the way through the puff pastry. Using a for, make holes inside of the border: this way only the outside of the puff pastry will puff up.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté asparagus for 5 minutes.
4. Place the sautéed asparagus on top of the puff pastry {inside the border you created}, top with onions and goat cheese and bake for 20 minutes.
5. Remove the tart from the oven and add salmon and dill to finish it up.

My entire condo smelled AMAZING! And how gorgeous is this tart??? It wasn't super easy to eat, but it tasted like spring. I love the combination of asparagus, dill, salmon and goat cheese. It's such a grown up version of bagels and lox. This is a great dish to make for brunch or to have as a splurge for breakfast.

I am looking forward to trying a few more recipes from this gorgeous cookbook.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Side note: after 11 weeks, my arm brace is off!!! I hope to very soon retire #brokemydominantarm ;)


How To Dye Eggs in a Natural Way: Check Out This Jewish Girl Dyeing Her First Eggs

If you celebrate Easter, did you have a good one? Did you dye eggs? Well, I don't celebrate Easter, but this year I decided to dye eggs! There are quite a few methods, but I thought I'd go with the natural way.

All you need are eggs, a bunch of onion skins, panty hose and some herbs. Because I did not have enough onion skins (I used the ones from the red onions), I decided to add a bit of curry powder and turmeric to enhance the color.

How To Dye Eggs in a Natural Way: Check Out This Jewish Girl Dyeing Her First Eggs

skins from 4 red onions
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon turmeric
5 eggs
rubber bands

1. In a large pot pour in water, add the onion skins, curry powder and turmeric.
2. Cut up panty hose into 5" pieces. Tie one of the ends of each of the segments. Put an egg into each one and then add some fresh herbs to surround the egg. Tie the second end of each pantyhose tightly so that the egg is safely cradled. Alternatively, put a bunch of rubber bands around a few of the eggs.
3. Put the egg "bundles" into the pot, making sure they are completely covered by water. Add more water if necessary.
4. Bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat off. Cover the pot with a lid and let the eggs hang out for 15 minutes.
5. Remove the eggs from the liquid, run under cold water, remove the pantyhose and herbs and rubber bands.

TA DA!!!

Aren't these pretty? I love the natural look, the bright white lines on the eggs that were rubber band'ed and the almost lacy look of the eggs that were surrounded by herbs.

Keep this project in mind for next Easter, or just do it for the fun of it ;)


Persian Green-Herbed Stew Recipe: Silk Road Vegetarian Cookbook

Right after I broke my arm, my friend Cindy brought over Persian stew made from beef, spinach, herbs and kidney beans. I was a bit skeptical about the dish because it did not look appetizing, but the flavor was amazing! There was something earthy, acidic, and satisfying about the combination of flavors. It was also filling. And what's not to love about receiving home cooked meals from those who care about you?

I was planning on having Cindy teach me how to make the dish, but then found a vegetarian version of the recipe in a new cookbook I received in the mail from Dahlia Abraham-Klein called Silk Road Vegetarian. The book is a collection of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free recipes. The collection of recipes will take you on the journey to Afghanistan, Turkey, India and China all the while teaching you how to eat healthy.

Persian Green-Herbed Stew
2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups trimmed and finely chopped fresh spinach
2 cups chopped fresh dill
2 cups chopped fresh parsley
5 green onions, chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
15 ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 dried Persian limes or freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
steamed brown rice for serving

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, and sauté the onion ,stirring and shaking the pan for about 7 minutes, or until translucent.
2. Add the spices. Stir for a few minutes, until fragrant.
3. Toss in the spinach, dill, parsley, and green onions. Stir until the vegetables start to wilt and become fragrant. Then stir in the broth and dried limes (if using).
4. Bring to boil and then lower heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour, until the greens are deep forest green shade and the stew has thickened. Add the kidney beans, and the juice of one lemon (if using) and cook for 30 minutes. Serve over basmati rice.

I used a food processor to chop all the herbs and spinach, and liked the texture it gave to the stew. The final dish turned out great! I loved the green herby flavor of dill and parsley with slightly sweeter kidney beans. My friend Cindy said that her stew used cilantro instead of dill and had an addition of fenugreek. I say use whichever herbs you love. Well, not rosemary or basil though ;)

This is a perfect dish for Meatless Monday! Try this next time you have herbs and spinach laying around.

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the cookbook for review purposes. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.


Food & Friends: Dining Out For Life in Washington DC April 24

My family often makes fun of me for how much I eat out. Don't get me wrong: I love cooking and often find it therapeutic and creative, but I also love going out to eat with friends, ordering dishes I would not have otherwise made at home, drinking a glass of wine and leaving the cooking and doing the dishes to someone else.

Well, next Thursday, April 24th, my going out to eat is actually going to do some good!!!

How? you ask?

Let me tell you!

If you live in Washington DC area and dine out (lunch and dinner) on April 24th, participating restaurants will donate part of their proceeds to Food & Friends.

Food & Friends is the only organization in the Washington Metropolitan area providing home-delivered meals, groceries and nutrition counseling to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses free of charge. Since 1988, Food & Friends has provided more than 17 million life-sustaining meals to more than 25,000 individuals. Our service area encompasses 5,346 square miles including the District of Columbia and 14 counties in Maryland and Virginia. For more information about Food & Friends, please visit www.foodandfriends.org or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter (@foodandfriends), or Instagram (@foodandfriendsdc).
So what are you waiting for? Go check out a list of participating restaurants, choose a place for lunch and/or dinner and invite your friends to join you. Eating out never felt so good! I'm going to be lunching at Poste with a few friends: cannot wait.
But wait, that's not all!

There are also opportunities to volunteer on April 24th, as well as make a donation, or you can get tickets to the Chef's Best dinner & auction on May 13th.
Chef's Best Dinner & Auction is Food & Friends' signature fundraiser. More than $900,000 will be raised through the generosity of sponsors, table hosts, auction bidders, ticket purchasers, friends and guests.

This year, 60 of the region's most talented chefs will generously donate their time and talent to provide tastings of their specialties in order to support the more than 3,000 individuals who will receive more than 1.2 million specialized meals from Food & Friends this year.

I hope you'll consider making a contribution on April 24th and perhaps I'll see you on May 13th {I was generously given the tickets to the event by Food & Friends}.


What to Make for Passover Breakfast or Dessert? Recipe for Sweet Matzo Brei

Happy Passover! Are you celebrating? I managed to make matzo ball soup from a box (don't judge!) and bought jarred gefelte fish (again, don't judge). I also bought a box of matzo crackers and had one topped with cream cheese, harissa and cucumbers, and another topped with Nutella, cashews and sliced Granny Smith apple: both delicious concoctions.

Last year I shared a recipe for savory matzo brei that has been quite popular and has been used in round ups by Huffington Post and Buzz Feed: yay for extra blog traffic! This year I bring you a sweet version of matzo brei. Enjoy!

This sweet matzo brei is awesome for breakfast, dessert or a snack. It can be made with any variety of dried fruit, but I liked the combination of dried apricots and sour cherries. There's no need for additional sugar because there is enough sweetness from the dried fruit and dark chocolate chips!!! Instead of making the brei in a skillet like last year (my broken arm is still not a 100% healed), I decided to bake it.

Sweet Matzo Brei
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
3 matzo crackers (the large ones that come in a box)
hot water
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup dried sour cherries
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
neutral oil

1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract and milk.
3. In a separate bowl soak matzo cracker in just enough hot water to cover for 1 minute. Remove the matzo crackers, breaking them up, and add to the egg mixture.
4. Add the dried fruit and chocolate chip to the egg and matzo cracker mixture and mix to combine.
5. Oil a baking dish (~8x6") with oil and pour in the sweet matzo brei mixture. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
6. Remove the sweet matzo brei from the oven and let stand for a few minutes before cutting into rectangles. Serve hot, at room temperature or even cold the next day. This sweet matzo brei will keep in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.

How good does this look?

Have you made matzo brei before? What's your favorite recipe?


Washington DC International Film Festival: Food Centric Movies

I love movies. I love movies with subtitles. I love food. I love movies about food. What's not to love?

That's exactly why I said yes to a media lunch invitation to learn about 28th Annual Filmfest DC, or Washington DC International Film Festival. For the first time, this year's festival has a special category for food centric films called Feast Your Eyes.

I've already made my selections and can't wait to see the following films from Fest Your Eyes category:

  • Love and Lemons (Sweden) A romantic comedy about love, friendship and the courage to follow your dreams
  • Le Chef (France) Pokes fun at the restaurant world while dishing up easily digestible laughs
  • Romantic Brasserie (Belgium) Pascaline runs a stylish brasserie and on Valentine's Day her old flame from 20 years ago suddenly reappears and asks her to run away with him

  • If you aren't particularly interested in the subject of food...wait, people like that would not be reading my blog!!!

    Other categories in the Filmfest DC include Trust No One: Espionage and Thrillers, The Lighter Side and Justice Matters. Regardless of your interest, I'm sure you'll find several films among over 80 features, documentaries, comedies, shorts, and award winners presented at the festival.

    I encourage you to visit the festival website and choose a few films based on your interest or even location and date. Whatever works for you is fine.

    Over the weekend I had a privilege/luck to see a preview of Eden.

    "Eden is the beguiling story of the unusual friendship between corpulent, committed chef Gregor (Josef Ostendorf) and waitress Eden (German TV star Charlotte Roche), who's stuck in a rut with dance instructor husband Xaver (Devid Striesow) and daughter Leonie (Leonie Stepp), who has Down syndrome. Gregor makes Leonie a chocolate birthday cake, and with one taste Eden is in thrall with his culinary charisma. At first, such cucina erotica as bulls' testicles and chocolate cola sauce stimulate her home life with Xaver, but, when Eden announces she's pregnant, her husband fears the worst."—Eddie Cockrell

    The movie made me laugh, cry, and touched upon almost every single human emotion including anger, envy, happiness, desire, and despair. Not surprisingly, Eden demonstrated how food can inspire love and also be used as a way to show love. You'll have to go see the movie for yourself to see what happens.

    DO NOT miss this festival because it may be the last one! I'm not exaggerating: due to budget issues, this may be the last Washington DC International Festival!

    Filmfest DC runs April 17 through 27. For more information check out the festival website.

    Disclosure: I was invited to lunch to learn about this film festival and will receive a few passes to see the films. All opinions are my own.


    Love Your Leftovers: Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

    There are two types of people in this world: those who love leftovers and those who hate them. Growing up in a family where both parents worked, I am used to having leftovers and I love them. Many of my favorite dishes that my parents cooked actually taste even better on second or third day: think borsch, stuffed cabbage, Russian potato salad. Plus, because I live solo and don't feel like cooking every single day, I'm used to making 2-6 servings of a particular dish and then eating it throughout a week or freezing it for later.

    What about you? How do you feel about leftovers?

    If you love leftovers or want to learn to love them, then you have to check out a new book from Nick Evans called Love Your Leftovers. I've met Nick through food blogging when he still lived in Washington DC and am so happy for him!

    The book is truly awesome. Nick not only has a few chapters about kitchen and pantry basics and meal planning, but also addresses the issue of finding time to cook. The book is written in a friendly approachable voice and has great photos to go with the recipes.

    Speaking of the recipes, Nick first gives you recipes for dishes such as black beans, pulled pork, ice cream and roast salmon, and then provides multiple ideas of what to do with each of the recipes with several variations. This way you aren't necessarily eating a black bean lasagna for the entire week (I just made up that recipe myself!). Instead, you are making a large pot of black beans and then using them in different recipes which makes it less likely you'll get bored. Go buy the book: you will have countless new recipes to add to your repertoire.

    Because I love lentils and had a few portobello mushrooms in my refrigerator, I opted to make Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms from Love Your Leftovers.

    Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms from Love Your Leftovers by Nick Evans
    2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 bunch (about 4 packed cups) fresh spinach
    1 1/2 cups cooked lentils
    salt and pepper
    1/2 lemon, juice only
    hot sauce (optional)
    4 ounces crumbled feta
    4 large portobello mushrooms
    1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

    1. Preheat oven to 400F.
    2. In a large skillet, add a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and fresh spinach. Pour a few tablespoons of water into the pan to help the spinach cook down.
    3. Once spinach is cooked down, stir in lentils and season with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and a dash of hot sauce (if you're using it). Stir until lentils are warmed, just a minute or two.
    4. Remove mixture from heat and stir in feta cheese.
    5. Lay out four cleaned large portobello mushrooms in a baking dish and drizzle them lightly with olive oil. Divide lentil filling between mushrooms and top each mushroom with bread crumbs. The filling should overfill the mushrooms.
    6. Bake stuffed mushrooms until mushrooms are softened and bread crumbs are lightly toasted, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately with a side salad.

    This recipe was extremely simple to make and had great flavor and texture. I particularly liked the panko crumbs on top and the feta in the filling. Also, I only made 2 mushrooms and enjoyed the rest of the stuffing mixture as a side. This is definitely a keeper!

    Disclosure: I was sent a review copy of Love Your Leftovers book. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.


    Pucker Up No Bake Mousse Pie with Lemon Noosa Yoghurt & Raspberries

    How do you feel about yogurt? Do you love it? Do you eat it for breakfast for a snack? I tend to be hesitant about yogurt: sometimes I buy a few containers with the best intentions of eating it throughout the week, only to have it sit in my refrigerator beyond its expiration date.

    I love the yogurt I had in Greece and tend to prefer plain yogurt with fresh fruit or cucumbers and tomatoes. I also like plain yogurt as a marinade for chicken or a base for dips.

    But what about being open minded and trying new things?

    Last month I got an opportunity to try out a new-to-me yogurt called Noosa. It's actually an Australian type of yoghurt which is made in Colorado. My favorite flavor, not surprisingly, was mango, but I also really liked lemon and tart cherry.

    The Noosa yoghurt was rich, sweet, and not surprisingly not low calorie. This yoghurt is definitely something to splurge on and can be a great dessert.

    That's why I developed a dessert recipe using it. You can vote for your favorite recipe on Noosa's Facebook page through April 13th and might even win one month of FREE NOOSA! Make sure to check out their Pinterest Board.

    Pucker Up No Bake Mousse Pie with Lemon Noosa Yoghurt & Raspberries
    1 store bought graham cracker pie crust
    2 8 ounce containers of Lemon Noosa Yoghurt
    16 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
    zest of 1 lemon
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    2 cups fresh raspberries

    1. Using a hand mixer, blend the yoghurt, cream cheese, lemon zest and juice until smooth.
    2. Add the mixture to the prepared graham cracker pie crust and smooth out the top. Optional: make a cris cross design on top.
    3. Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.
    4. In a food processor puree 1.5 cups of raspberries and put the mixture through a fine strainer to get rid of the seeds.
    5. Cover the mousse pie with the raspberry sauce and decorate with the rest of the raspberries.

    This was a pretty easy dessert to make and was equally liked by adults and a 4 year old! You can use any berries as a topping or even cover the pie with melted chocolate!

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    Disclosure: I was compensated for my time and recipe development by Noosa. All opinions are my own.


    What to do with Too Many Green Beans? Roast Them!

    I've been trying really hard lately not to waste produce. Some days I succeed, others I fail. That's just life. Last week I had a huge amount of green beans sitting in my refrigerator from the Washington's Green Grocer deliveries I've started ordering lately. I did not feel like fussing with them by making something complicated. Instead, I decided to do one of the easiest things you can do with most vegetables (other than eating them raw): roasting.

    What to do with Too Many Green Beans? Roast Them!
    green beans {I did not even bother trimming the ends}
    olive oil
    Southwest spice blend

    1. Preheat the oven to 450F.
    2. Place green beans directly onto a cookie sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and Southwest spice blend. Mix.
    3. Roast the beans 20-30 minutes, occasionally turning them around.

    Aren't these gorgeous? You can eat them hot, at room temperature or cold. It's a great one dish side.

    You can play around with spices and try using different flavored oils. I liked these beans so much, I ate them for breakfast using my fingers...no fork required!


    Fennel, Apple & Red Pepper Slaw: My Obsession with Washington's Green Grocer

    Fennel: do you love it or love to hate it? For the longest time I thought I hated it: I'm just not a fan of licorice flavor. But more and more I find that I don't mind it too much especially when it's thinly sliced and is accompanied by citrus. Still, I rarely seek out a dish with fennel in restaurants or buy a bulb of fennel at a grocery store.

    Last week, however, I had a chance to cook with it because it came in a box of produce from Washington's Green Grocer. Quite a few of my friends have been using this service to get fresh produce delivered to their door and have raved about it. After breaking my arm and not being able to carry as many groceries home as I did before, I decided to give them a try. Guess what? I'm in like!

    By the way, this is not an ad :) I just find this service convenient, fun, delicious and worth the money.

    Below is a dish I made using some of the produce in last week's box!

    Fennel, Apple & Red Pepper Slaw: My Obsession with Washington's Green Grocer

    1 fennel bulb, trimmed, outer layer removed, thinly sliced
    juice of 1/2 grapefruit
    1 Cameo apple, thinly sliced
    1 red pepper thinly sliced
    olive oil
    1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
    salt & pepper to taste
    fennel throngs

    1. Cover sliced fennel with grapefruit juice and let stand for about 30 minutes.
    2. Add apples and red pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together.

    Note: you can also combine the fennel with apples and red pepper first. Then whisk together the grapefruit juice, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper, and pour the mixture over the salad. It's up to you.

    I loved this slaw: it was crispy, sweet, peppery and refreshing. It keeps well in the refrigerator and can be a light lunch on its own or a side for chicken or fish. Of course on its own it's perfect for Meatless Monday.
    By the way, the bowls in the photos are the ones I bought in Minneapolis at Paper Source. I clearly have a bowl obsession :)
    What's your favorite thing to make with fennel?