Friday, July 30, 2010

Recipe: Sweet Thai Chili Dipping Sauce and Fried Tofu

It's no secret that I love to eat Thai food. Everything about it appeals to me: the vibrant colors, fresh ingredients, clean flavors, and (in particular) its penchant for spiciness. My favorite Thai restaurant in town serves a delicious appetizer of crispy fried tofu that I just love. Tonight, I attempted to recreate that recipe in my own kitchen. It was super easy, and just as delicious! I served it with a spicy chili dipping sauce... and I'll tell you how to make that, too!

(sorry about the bad lighting... my kitchen isn't the best in that regard)

Here's what you need:


1 package of Firm or Extra Firm tofu (I used extra firm, but might try firm next time as the texture was a little firmer than the restaurant version)
1-3 tablespoons of cornstarch
2 cups cooking oil, approx. (I used Canola, but Peanut Oil would be a better choice and I would have used it if my grocery store wouldn't have been out!)
1 handful unsalted or raw peanuts and/or cashews, chopped. (Tip: If the nuts you are using are salted, wash them in water and dry off w/ a paper towel first. That will get rid of that overpowering salty taste).

SWEET THAI CHILI DIPPING SAUCE (it's money, baby... trust me.)

2-3 Red Thai chili peppers (You should be able to find dry chilis at any large-ish supermarket or Asian food store. If you can't find Thai peppers, red jalepeƱos will work).
2-3 Garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar (the original recipe calls for white vinegar, but I didn't have any. So I just used a mixture of red wine vinegar and rice wine vinegar and it worked out fine).
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water

Okay, but how do I actually make this stuff?

1) Open your package of tofu, drain, and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Wrap in a paper towel and set aside.
2) Take out your blender. Put in all of the chili sauce ingredients except for the last two, and blend until the chili peppers and garlic are in small pieces.
3) Pour the mixture in a saucepan, bringing it to a boil. Reduce heat to medium/low and simmer for about three minutes until the chili pieces and the garlic start to get a bit soft and less "raw" looking.
4) While you are simmering the sauce, heat your oil in a wok or large pan. You want the oil to be hot, but not crackling.
5) Add your chopped nuts and toast them, watching carefully to make sure they don't burn. Remove from the oil once they are toasted and set aside on a paper towel to drain.
6) While the nuts are toasting, mix together 1 tablespoon corn starch and 2 tablespoons water in a separate bowl. Add to the chili sauce mixture and whisk to combine, cooking for another minute or two before turning off the heat. You're now done with the dipping sauce for your fried tofu! Warning: your chili sauce will most likely be quite spicy at this point! If you don't like spicy food, I'd suggest using a milder pepper.
7) Now, you should have a wok full of flavorful hot oil and a block of drained tofu. Cut the tofu into fairly large, uniform chunks. I think my block made eight separate pieces.
8) Dredge your tofu pieces lightly in corn starch, making sure to dust off any excess. You want a very thin coating.
9) Add about four pieces of tofu to your wok at a time. Fry for approximately 1-2 minutes (depending on how hot your oil it) until lightly brown. Flip over and fry for about 30 seconds- 1 minute longer on the other side, until it too is lightly brown. With a slotted spoon or spatula, remove "done" pieces to drain on a paper towel.

And that's it! When all your pieces are done frying, you're ready to eat :) Serve with a little bowl of dipping sauce on the side. Enjoy.... I know that I did!

The chili sauce would also be delicious with chicken nuggets, fries, or even tossed with some rice noodles and veggies.

Yes, more agility :-P

I know it seems like I've only been blogging about agility lately, but, well, we've been doing a lot of it :)

We went out to my instructor, Mary Hunter's house last night for a private lesson, and worked on a whole bunch of stuff. We started out on the teeter and A-frame, because we haven't worked contact equipment *that* much, and she still wasn't fully confident... or so I thought! WOW! She did so well! We worked each contact obstacle at full height, and she showed no hesitation and fantastic contacts! I was particularly proud of her on the teeter. I think maybe she's really understanding now that she has control over the motion. Her 2 on/2 offs were great on every obstacle. What a good girl she is. She is so much fun in agility because she is so smart, enthusiastic, and naturally uses her body well.

Next, we worked on a jump grid. I think it was out of a Clean Run exercise book... but I'm not sure :) The first three obstacles were a jump, tunnel, and weave poles... in a straight line! It was a challenge figuring out where I needed to be in order to get her to make the weave entry. We did pretty well :) After the weaves, we had to make a sharp left turn to make a jump, then do a big serpentine for two more sets of jumps. It was an interesting challenge trying to negotiate a smooth rear cross in the middle :-P But we figured it out, and did quite well, I thought. Cedar, as always, thought it was AWESOME. She had the biggest grin on her face the whole time.

We worked on the dog walk a little bit at the end, and she did very well with it, too. Great contacts, and she attacked the obstacle with confidence that is really nice to see. I love this dog.

I didn't have a chance to get any photos of video last night.... so here's a photo of Cedar and Scully on the Oregon coast last summer :-P

Oh, and congratulations to Mary and her Belgian Tervuren, "Dani" on earning their MACH last weekend! Click on Mary's name above to visit her website and learn more about Dani.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesdays: Baby Moss


I'm hoping today will be a good day, and that I'll be able to relax. This is doubtful because my house is currently being invaded by workers remodeling the garage. Even though it'll look 100% better when it's done, I still don't like having a bunch of people I don't know in my house and around my stuff. Call me paranoid, but mainly, I get annoyed because the dogs bark a lot. I don't blame them ;) I'd bark, too... if it wasn't totally socially unacceptable.

I'm just weird like that.

Fact: Cedar is ridiculously cute.

Case in point:

Am I right?

Oh, and I'm making this tonight:
Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta
I love love LOVE The Pioneer Woman!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Guilt-Induced Exercise

I woke up early this morning and went to agility class w/ Cedar. The class is from 9-11 AM, and it takes about 30-40 minutes to get there, so I have to get up pretty early for a summer vacationing lazybones like me. Cedar did awesome at class; she impressed everyone with her speed, excellent weaves, and vastly-improved 2 on/2 off contacts on the dog walk :). I was very proud of her and we had a blast.

After I got home, I felt guilty for neglecting Moss. He kept laying his head on my leg, sighing, and looking at me with chocolaty-brown eyes filled with sorrow. So I decided to take him on a walk. An hour and a half, and about five miles later, we were finally home. I took him on our town's "greenbelt"; a paved path that follows the river. I even let him play in the water a few times ;). He especially loved when I let him off lead and threw sticks into the river to fetch. What a good boy he is. I haven't spend a lot of time with just Moss lately, and it was nice to be able to get out and bond with him. I know he appreciated it. In a multi-dog family, I think it's really important to not only spend time with the "pack" as a whole, but with each dog separately.

This photo was an accident, but I kinda like it ;) It's an extreme close-up of Moss, post-walk.

And then Scully (for once) wanted her picture taken, so I snapped one of her.

Unfortunately, Cedar wasn't feeling photogenic.

Catch y'all later!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Recipe: Chicken and Green Chile Casserole

Today, I had a craving for chicken and green chiles. I'm a big fan of casseroles (or hot dish if you're from the Midwest), and decided to make a kind of lasagna, using crumbled tortilla chips as the "noodles," and layering a mixture of slow-cooked spicy chicken breast, green enchilada sauce, black beans, and cheese. It turned out delicious, and was so, so easy to make!

The beauty of this dish is that it can be assembled up to 24 hours before you need to cook it, and baked whenever you're ready to eat!

(Austin Powers voice) Yeah, baby, yeahhhh!

The top was crisp, the chicken flavorful and creamy, and the green chiles and serrano peppers added a nice kick. Next time, I'd probably add another serrano pepper because I like my food on the scary end of spicy :) As is, it had warmth to it, but the sour cream cooled it off considerably.


1 Onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 serrano (or jalapeno) peppers
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
3-4 chicken breasts
1 small-ish can, green enchilada sauce (I used Las Palmas)
1 small can of chopped green chiles
1 cup black beans
1 tsp Mexican oregano
2 cups (roughly) water
1 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
About 4 cups crumbled tortilla chips


1) in a medium sized pan, over medium heat, pour in a tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions and garlic. Cook until onions are slightly opaque, then add the serrano pepper. Stir around and cook until onions are just starting to brown.
2) Place the chicken breasts on the bottom of the pan, making sure the move the vegetables out of the way so that the chicken rests directly on the cooking surface. Brown chicken on both sides. It doesn't need to be cooked all the way through at this point.
3) After the chicken is browned on both sides (you might need to spike the heat to medium-high for a little bit to do this, if you're impatient like me), pour in two cups of water, or enough so that the chicken is almost covered. Add oregano and salt and pepper. Simmer until chicken is very tender and almost falling apart, about 30 minutes to an hour. Really take your time to make sure it's fully cooked; the chicken is what makes this dish! It should almost be the consistency of shredded chicken, but not quite. You might need to add more water when necessary.
4) After the chicken is done, drain off any extra liquid, but make sure that you don't lose all the onions, garlic, and peppers. Stir in a can of green chiles, cook for a few minutes over low heat until fully combined.
5) Next, pour in the enchilada sauce. Depending on how big the can is, you may only have to use about half of it. Use your judgement... some people like more sauce, others less. I used about half of a 19 oz can. Stir to combine with the chicken.
6) After you've added the sauce, fold in about a cup of sour cream. Make sure that everything is mixed together well. Turn off the heat.
7) Now, it's time for the fun part! Grab a bag of tortilla chips. Corn tortillas would work about the same, I'd think... so use whatever you have :). But since I used chips, I'll explain the process that way. Crumble some up in a bowl. You may need more or less than four cups, depending. If it helps, I used a 9 x 9 inch baking dish.
8) in your dish, place enough of the chips to cover the bottom liberally. Remember, this is like a lasagna, so you want to use enough chips to act as a base for the casserole.
9) Next, add a layer of the chicken mixture, spreading it around evenly on top of the chips. Sprinkle on some black beans, and then add a layer of cheese. Repeat the chips-chicken-beans-cheese process until the dish is full.
10) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cook the casserole for about 30-45 minutes, or until cheese on top is brown and bubbling. Enjoy!

Try it for dinner tonight!

My Dirty Secret

I've got a confession to make.

I'm an obsessive rescue/Craiglist stalker. Ever since I randomly came across Marley last year, technically my first Border Collies (I rescued him from the pound and placed him several months later) on Craigslist, it's become a compulsion. Long story short, the lady I gave Marley too promised to call me if she ever couldn't keep him. She didn't, and several years later, I found his ad on Craigslist. It made me incredibly angry. Thankfully, she gave him back to me and I was able to find him a new home... again.

Every day, I scan Craigslist for Border Collies. Maybe I'm still worried I'll come across Marley again, or one of the other dogs I've rescued. I don't know. I just like looking at what's out there in rescue/"rehome" land.

All I do know is that I can't stop myself. :)

Being the obsessive person I am, I have noticed certain patterns...certain excuses people give when, really, they just don't want the dog anymore. I understand that sometimes, people really have no other choice but to give up their dog. But the majority of the time, that is not the case.

For example, take a look at this adorable puppy, whom I found on Craigslist this morning:

He's a 6 month old (supposedly) purebred Border Collie.

Text from the ad:

We love our dog but we had to move to a new house where we can no longer keep him. He is a very smart dog and will make a wonderful pet to any home. A small rehoming fee of $25 is all we are asking. He has some toys and a leash that will be sent with him and half of a 17 lb bag of dog food that will go with him as well. He does very well in cars and in a kennel. He also enjoys swimming and running. Email through this post or call XXX-XXX-XXXX.

Let's decode, shall we?

We love our dog but we had to move to a new house where we can no longer keep him. Translation: Our puppy is now 6 months old and not the cute little fluff ball we thought he would stay forever. He's now turning into a teenage Border Collie and is not so easy to handle.

He is a very smart dog and will make a wonderful pet to any home. Translation: But not ours.

A small rehoming fee of $25 is all we are asking. He has some toys and a leash that will be sent with him and half of a 17 lb bag of dog food that will go with him as well. Translation: We want to recoup a little of what we've spent on him, but really, we just want him gone. And all his crap.

You wouldn't believe how many similar ads there are like this in my local Craigslist pet section. Usually, the dogs are either about 6 months old (or old... past 7 or 8) and the excuses are always the same. Sometimes it just makes me a little sad... but hopeful, too. Maybe these dogs will find a better home this way. What do you think? Is Craigslist a better place to rehome a dog than the shelter, or rescue?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Eyes Have It

I'd like to think that the look that Cedar is giving me in this photo is one of pure love and adoration.

After all, she IS my favorite dog (shhh!) and she gives me that look on a regular basis.

Which is why I know this one is a lie. (And no, I didn't learn it from Lie To Me, though I love that show!)

What she's really saying, is

Bitch, give me the salmon.

I feel so unloved. ;)

Recipe: Delicious Baked Fish

This is one of the easiest, tastiest ways I've found to cook fish, and many of my friends agree. It is delicious on salmon or halibut, and I think it would be good for any firm-ish textured fish. Don't be put off by the mayo... it morphs into something completely different.... and amazingly delicious.

Here's what you need for four servings (four palm-sized fillets of fish):
1/2 cup mayonnaise
A couple pinches fresh herbs (thyme and dill are yummy, but I bet basil would also be good!) If you don't have fresh herbs, dried are fine.
1 sizable garlic clove, finely minced
2 to 3 tsp good quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp black pepper, to taste
1 Lemon, thinly sliced
Good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Here's all you need to do:
Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees Fahrenheit. Then,

1) Scoop the mayonnaise into a bowl
2) Stir in the herbs and garlic (if using fresh herbs, take out the stalks first, and tear into small pieces)
3) Stir in the vinegar and pepper, to taste
4) Lay some tin foil on a baking sheet, and arrange lemon slices so that two will fit underneath each slice of fish. Drizzle a little olive oil on the lemon slices.
5) Place fish on the lemons.
6) With a butter knife, spread the mayonnaise mixture on each fillet. Liberally cover the top and the sides of the fish. Crack a little extra black pepper on top of each fillet, if desired.
7) Cook for 15-20 minutes, until fish is cooked through and the topping is starting to bubble and brown.

Enjoy! This is great served with steamed broccoli seasoned with some lemon juice.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An Introduction of Sorts

Hi there! My name is Ellie and welcome to Cedes of Change!

If you're reading this, I'll assume you found the link from my other blog, Journeys With Cedar and Moss. Or, you know me in person and I told you to come and check it out. Either way, I don't think I really need to introduce myself, the hubby or my dogs in this post. (On a side note: if you want to learn more about us, check out the "about me" section on the link bar). However, this blog will, thankfully, be different than JWCM, which has turned primarily into a training log. Don't worry, I'll still be updating that blog, too--at least for now. I'm hoping to eventually incorporate it here, as part of Cedes of Change.

This blog came about from my desire to to change and improve my life. As a graduate student, my days are generally very full and cluttered. This blog is an attempt to remedy this... through writing. A totally new concept, I know ;).

In just under a year, I will be moving 400 miles away from my friends and family to join my hubby in Washington state, where he currently works. Long story short... He got the job opportunity of a lifetime, but I had just started graduate school. We decided to tough it out; he would move up to WA, and I would stay here in Idaho until graduation. "Only two years" has turned into a tough and lonely stretch of very stressful time. Even though we have less than a year left, the light at the end of the tunnel is bittersweet. Although Joe and I will be able to be together again full time, I will be leaving my hometown and almost everyone that I love. I am hoping that this blog will help me to accept and embrace these challenges.

No bones about it (haha!): a big part of my life revolves around my three dogs, so naturally, a lot of what I write about has to do with them. However, while my other blog is primarily a training log of our adventures in herding and dog sports (agility, obedience, etc), Cedes of Change is focused on my efforts to improve my relationships with my dogs and my attempts to learn more about them and dog behavior in general.

I also love to cook, and plan on posting new recipes (for both humans and dogs) on here fairly often. This is for my benefit as much as others; my memory isn't the greatest!

Oh yeah, I like to take pictures, too.

Thanks for reading!

Related Posts with Thumbnails