Close Encounters of the Toad Kind

I’m slowly beginning to think that this summer will be forever referred to as the “summer of toads.” I’ve had more run-ins with amphibians this summer than I can even explain. Truthfully, I live across the street from a pond/marsh/swamp/lake/forested area. However, it’s at least one toad encounter (dead or alive) per day. In fact, I’ve come to expect it. I knew my apartment came with washer/dryer, central AC, and new(ish) appliances. The toads were a total bonus.

Yesterday morning (like waaaay early), I had my most terrifying toad experience to date. While pulling into my parking spot (key word: MY) after work, I spotted this alien creature hanging out:

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Creepy, ghost toad in the headlights glaring right at my tired face – no thanks. The only thing worse then a daylight toad is a nighttime* toad. (*nightime refers to 345AM in this story, but stay with me because it was dark outside)  Just so you know, the above photo is unenhanced, unedited, and unfiltered.

I stopped. After all, I am not a toad killer.

Creepy ghost toad didn’t even move. We stared at each other for what felt like a long time. It might have been a staring contest, but I never agreed to it.  I got out of my car, took a picture (because cool people instagram these types of events), and kindly escorted him to a different parking spot. I am not a toad killer.

Aside from creepy early morning ghost toad encounters, I also managed to make a delicious salad yesterday. A recent weekend trip to Texas had me tasting a salad loaded with lettuce, tomatoes, corn, black beans, scallions, and bbq chicken. Unfortunately, I can’t go back to Texas to taste it again. For now, I will make it in the privacy of my own toad-filled home.

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Chipotle-Mango BBQ Salad

Adapted from: Alaska From Scratch
Printable Recipe

For the sauce:
1 mango, chopped (or 1C frozen mango)
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, roughly chopped
1/2C ketchup
1/2C apple juice
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
juice of half a lemon
2T rice wine vinegar
1T brown sugar
1T canola oil
2tsp paprika
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

For the dressing:
4T greek yogurt
4T bbq sauce (above)
juice of 1 lime

For the salad:
1 package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
3T oil (recommend: canola)
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
2 ears of corn, kernels cut off
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 heads romaine lettuce, roughly chopped (or torn)
3 green onions, sliced
optional additions: 1/4C chopped cilantro, tortilla strips, avocado

For the sauce:
Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a blender. (alternatively use an immersion blender). Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside and/or store in the fridge.

For the salad:
Cut drained and pressed tofu into bite-sized cubes. Heat 3T oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Once hot, add in tofu. Cook until browned, stirring occasionally, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add in 1/3C of prepared barbecue sauce. Stir to coat. You may need to add more depending on how ‘sauced’ you want the tofu. Set aside.
Reheat non-stick pan over medium heat. Add corn into dry pan (no oil!). Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring once or twice. Once corn is browned slightly, it is done. Remove from heat. Set aside.
Last, but not least, make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk equal parts greek yogurt and bbq sauce with the juice of 1 lime. Taste and add a pinch of salt if desired.
Place lettuce in a large bowl. Top with black beans, chopped tomatoes, roasted corn, and green onions. To finish, top with BBQ tofu and dressing. Serve.

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