Mapo Tofu

Mapo Tofu 1

“Comfort food” means something different to everyone. Our youngest child (soon to leave the nest and graduate into adulthood) has always been our pickiest eater. I gave up long ago on trying to see the logic in what she likes and dislikes. But one thing is consistent: she hates bland food. She wants nothing to do with hot dogs, hamburgers (or any variation like meatballs/meatloaf), pizza, roast chicken/turkey, and ANYTHING in gravy or a tomato-based sauce. But she LOVES most ethnic foods that come packed with flavor and spiciness. She especially loves Mexican and Asian cuisine (Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese), with a few un-explainable exceptions.

So to her, comfort foods DO NOT include soups, stews, pot pie, roast beef or chicken, or pretty much any American food. Mapo tofu, however, is one of her very favorite meals. It is packed full of mouth-tingling flavor! And tofu (which is the blandest thing ever, but provides a nice texture in the spicy sauce).

Mapo Tofu 3

Mapo Tofu (also spelled mabodofu) is a Szechuan dish that we first came to love while living in Japan. It is made with ground pork, tofu, chili paste, onions, garlic, and other Asian seasonings. The best place we have ever eaten it is in a Szechuan restaurant in Beijing; it was so spicy it was hard to swallow, but soooo good. When we moved back to the US, I needed to find a way to make it from scratch.

In addition to other ingredients, I use a few tablespoons of this spicy bean sauce to flavor my mapo tofu. This requires a special trip to an Asian market for me, but that is one of my favorite outings, and the family loves it when I also come home with Aloe drinks, ramune, and senbei snacks.

Mapo Tofu 4

Part of the flavor of this dish comes from ground Szechuan peppercorns, which are unique because they are not especially spicy (that quality comes from other ground peppers). But they cause a slightly numbing sensation to your tongue when you eat them.

Mapo Tofu

So as our weekend forecast is for cold and snow, this is what our Little J hopes to see on the menu!

RECIPE:

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Thirteenth Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Recap

Merry Christmas and Happy Baking!

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Swirled Cookies 1

DAY 1: Chocolate Peppermint Bark Swirled Cookies

Browned Butter Toffee Cookies

DAY 2: Salted Browned Butter Toffee Cookies

Twix Stuffed Chocolate Cookies 2

DAY 3: Twix Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

Apricot Thumbprints 1

DAY 4: Apricot Thumbprints

Apple Cider Caramels 1

DAY 5: Apple Cider Caramels

Chocolate Orange Cookies 2

DAY 6: Chocolate Orange Cookies

Butter Pecan Shortbread 1

DAY 7: Butter Pecan Shortbread

Oatmeal Toffee Macadamia Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies 1

DAY 8: Oatmeal Toffee Macadamia Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate M&Ms Cookies 3

DAY 9: Chocolate M&M’s Cookies

Baklava Thumbprints 1

DAY 10: Baklava Thumbprints

4 Chocolate Mint Frosted Cookies (Texas Sheet Cake Cookies Recipe)

DAY 11: Mint Chocolate Frosted Cookies

Coconut Almond Drop Cookies 1

DAY 12: Coconut Almond Drop Cookies

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For more cookie recipes, check out the previous twelve years of Christmas cookie ideas:

1st Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2009)

2nd Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2010)

3rd Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2011)

4th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2012)

5th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2013)

6th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2014)

7th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2015)

8th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2016)

9th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2017)

10th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2018)

11th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2019)

12th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2020)

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Coconut Almond Drop Cookies

Coconut Almond Drop Cookies 1

DAY 12: Coconut Almond Drop Cookies

We are always looking for delicious non-chocolate cookie varieties around here (for a certain chocolate hating child). These coconut almond cookies are perfect: soft, delicious, and full of flavor and texture.

Coconut Almond Drop Cookies 2

RECIPE:

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Mint Frosted Cookies

4 Chocolate Mint Frosted Cookies (Texas Sheet Cake Cookies Recipe)

DAY 11: Chocolate Mint Frosted Cookies

Chocolate and mint are always a solid Christmas flavor combination. This recipe makes a soft chocolate cookie with a chocolate mint frosting.

For a different flavor profile, omit the peppermint extract and stir chopped pecans into the warm icing.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Baklava Thumbprints

Baklava Thumbprints 1

DAY 10: Baklava Thumbprints

If you are looking to take your Christmas cookie tray up a notch, this is the cookie for you! A delicious snickerdoodle-type cookie, filled with the deliciousness of chopped walnuts, honey, and spices.

Baklava Thumbprints 2

All of the flavors of baklava without the mess and frustration of working with phyllo dough!

Baklava Thumbprints 3

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Chocolate M&M’s Cookies

Chocolate M&Ms Cookies 2

DAY 9: Chocolate M&M’s Cookies

M&M’s always make cookies more fun! This is a simple drop cookie recipe that starts on the stovetop, so you don’t even have to soften your butter. Double chocolate deliciousness.

Chocolate M&Ms Cookies 3

RECIPE:

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