Tag: food blog

Chien-Po’s Tofu Bowl

Chien-Po’s Tofu Bowl

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We were watching Mulan the other night, and the scene at the beginning where Mulan is making her first appearance as Ping came onto the screen. Yao is calmed by Chien-Po, who picks him up and chants something that sounds like a string of nonsense, but a few words are recognizable. The only one I really heard, however, was “tofu.”

Did I mention I was hungry when I started watching this?

I lived for the first two years of college on tofu and bad cafeteria pizza. While I don’t eat pizza much anymore, tofu has stuck with me. Add to it that one of my roommates through college was Japanese-American and from Hawaii… we ate a lot of tofu. One of the things I liked was Ma Po Tofu. But I didn’t have any mix, and short of ordering it online, there’s nowhere here to buy it.

So I decided, as I watched Mulan, that I could take the same basic concept and create my own dish. Thus, Chien-Po’s Tofu Bowl was born!

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can easily substitute veggie meat in this rather than including the ground meat. Regardless of your food preferences, I would recommend two things for certain – serve this with plain white rice, and make sure you use extra stock. You can add cornstarch or arrowroot powder to the sauce to thicken it if you want, but if you let this reduce too much, it will be REALLY salty. The soy sauce and black bean sauce are pretty salty on their own – reduced down they can be too much.

First, chop all the veggies. Don’t be like me and pull things out and try to prep as you go. It usually slows things down and something might burn. I’m getting better about prepping first, and I have to tell you it really makes things easier. When you’re chopping your onions and peppers, I would recommend a pretty fine dice. Then again, I am one of those weird people who doesn’t like huge chunks of veg in my dish. If you don’t have a problem with that, you can just rough chop them. Whatever makes you happy. It may change how long they need to saute and soften a bit, but you can judge that. I trust you.

Once everything is prepped, heat your olive oil in a big non stick pan. It is better to have too big a pan than not big enough. After you get the tofu in and you try to stir it around, you don’t want to have to worry about flipping it all over the stove. Not that I’ve done that or anything.

Chien Po Tofu Bowl Onions and Peppers

Once you’ve got the oil heated, dump in your onions, peppers, and garlic. Continue to saute these for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and softened a bit. After it hits that point, add in your ground meat and brown it off. When it is cooked through, drain off any excess fat.

Next add your sauces, broth, and seasonings. Don’t add any extra salt! You don’t need it. Trust me. After you have everything in, make sure everything is well combined and the broth is simmering. Let it cook for a few minutes. While its doing its thing, drain your tofu and cut it into small cubes. You can do big ones if you like, but when I did it the first time, I found the big ones had a tendency to end up a little torn if you weren’t paying attention when stirring them in.

Put your tofu in the pan and gently stir it into the sauce. You want to make sure its coated in sauce. Let it simmer for a few more minutes. You don’t need to cook the tofu, but you want to give it a chance to absorb some of the sauce flavors and warm up.

Chien-Po's Tofu Bowl

Once its done turn off the heat, and get your bowls of white rice ready. Serve some of the tofu mixture right over top. If you don’t own a rice cooker, I highly recommend them. I always manage to screw up rice made in a regular saucepan. Its either not done all the way through, or its stuck to the bottom of the pan. With the rice cooker, I don’t have those issues, and its relatively inexpensive. As a bonus, the one I bought also comes with a steaming tray that fits over the top.

 

 

Chien Po's Tofu Bowl

 

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Chien-Po's Tofu Bowl
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground pork, turkey, or beef
  • 1 block firm or extra firm tofu (usually 12-16 oz), drained and cubed
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp black bean garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 c chicken or beef broth, or veg stock
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp sweet thai chili garlic sauce
Instructions
  1. Chop and mince all ingredients. Heat olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onions, peppers, and garlic.

  2. Saute until onions become soft and translucent, around 7-10 minutes. If it looks like it needs more liquid, add a few tablespoons of broth to the pan.

  3. Add your ground meat and brown off the meat. Drain off any excess fat.

  4. Add in all the spices and sauces, and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add in the tofu and gently stir into the mixture.

  5. Cook for another couple of minutes, until the tofu is warm and well coated in the sauce. 

  6. Serve over rice. 

chien-po tofu bowl

Top 5 Reasons to Love Disney as an Adult

Top 5 Reasons to Love Disney as an Adult

 

Disney World is an amazing place. But there are some people who will look at you and wonder, “Why bother going to Disney as an adult? Isn’t it just an overpriced place for the kids, with no real thrills?”

Clearly, they’ve never looked at it the right way.

There are lots of reasons a Disney fan can give as to why they love the parks. As this is one of my first blog posts, I thought it would only be appropriate to mention a few of the reasons why I love it so much.

At Disney, it’s okay to release your inner child.

Do you remember the excitement you felt as a kid when the newest Disney movie came out? Or when you got to go to a theme park for the day? Or come home after school and watch cartoons? Of course! Being a kid, you were allowed to geek out over a cartoon character, or play with stuffed animals, and daydream about how the movie would have been if you were the princess (or prince!). At Disney World, you can let go of all the adulating for a while and just let yourself enjoy being a kid again. You can get your picture taken with Mickey, you can laugh at the jokes in the Enchanted Tiki Room, and you can generally let yourself believe in a little magic again. Or just ride Space Mountain for the nth time. There’s plenty of time for the real world. But at least for a little while, you can let it go (pun intended) and just soak up the magic.

There is more to see and do than standing in line for Mickey and buying a stuffed animal.

Spend real time walking through the World Showcase areas. Morocco has some really amazing views and things to look at and enjoy!

Disney World was built as a place for families to be entertained, and kids were the biggest portion of that vision. But don’t let think the adults have been left out! There are lots of opportunities for adults to enjoy themselves. For me, EPCOT is the most “adult” of all the park. I can see where a kid might think the countries of World Showcase boring. But as an adult, they are pretty awesome to wander through, look around, and enjoy the taste of another culture and country. Beyond that, there are lots of things sprinkled in the park that you will appreciate as an adult that may go over the kids heads, and there are many things that only an adult who has seen some of the older movies and Disney shows will appreciate.

The Food.

This blog is food-centered. So it’s no surprise that the food makes an appearance on here. In my experience, most kids are pretty mundane eaters. Don’t get me wrong – some are adventurous, but as a rule, kids just want food so they can get back to the park. Adults, on the other hand, more often can appreciate the joys of a great meal in an awesome setting. No matter what restaurant you pick, the worst meal at Disney is still likely to be miles better than the normal chain restaurants from home. The themes are amazing, and the food is made with great attention and care. It tastes good, looks good, and there are so many restaurants to choose from, you should be able to find something you like!

As an adult, you can appreciate the detail.

Come on, not too many kids would find this as entertaining as I did.

This kind of goes with #2, but adults can appreciate some of the inside jokes in things (Jungle Cruise, anyone?). The Imagineers dropped little things all over the park. Some of the labels on boxes in the Agrabah area of Magic Kingdom, for instance, may seem familiar to an adult. And only someone who isn’t on overload with sugar and Mickey and OMG another ride, will be able to see it. As an adult, you can take your time, breath, and enjoy yourself. No one will mind if you buy a dole whip, take a seat on a bench next to the castle and people watch for awhile. (And you totally should!)

There is always something new.

This one goes for everyone – not just adults. Unless you’re going to Disney World every day (and even then you may argue that it still applies) there is always something new to see. It may not be new to the park, but it may be a feature you missed, a show you haven’t seen, or a new world added since the last time you visited (Anyone else excited to see Pandora?). As adults, sometimes we have a tendency to check off a place we’ve visited on our mental list, crossing it off as being “done.” But I’ve never had a trip to Disney where it became boring because I knew what to expect. There are always hidden secrets, an inside joke, or a new attraction to pique my interest. And on the subject of food, there are so many great restaurants with so many dishes, I’ll never be able to get through them all!

 

What do you like best as an adult at Disney?