Spicy Ramen Stir Fry with Broccoli, Tofu, and Mandarin Oranges

PUBLISHED ON: 03.18.2016
My post-parenting years begin soon.  We are moving from a child focused life, back to our own lives.  As parents of two amazing sons, who are fiercely independent, intelligent, humorous, kind and inspiring, this would be the time in our lives we pat ourselves on the back for a job well-done.  If only it were that easy.
I remember like it was yesterday when our older son came by the house the night before he moved to Texas.  We thought it would be less difficult because he had been on his own for awhile, but when he left that evening there was a swell of emotions.  It was the moment when you realize your son is grown-up, he is ready.  Your job was to let him go and it was hard.
Our youngest son will be heading off to college this summer.   He is excited.   We are excited for him. He is ready to fly.  Our job once again is to let him go, and again, it is going to be hard.
We have spent half of our lives raising children and getting them ready for their future.  As our last child steps out, we have to step out too.   I think we are ready.  
What does a meal have to do with a empty nest?  A lot.  How we cook for our children is different than how we would choose to cook for ourselves. Proof is this simple stir fry using plain ramen noodles, broccoli, mandarin oranges and baked tofu make for a quick weeknight meal.
Spicy Ramen Stir-Fry with Broccoli, Tofu, and Mandarin Oranges
Serves 4
Recipe from Vegetarian Times

1 7-oz package baked tofu, cubed
3 cups small broccoli florets
4 mandarin oranges, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons hot-chile sesame oil
1 3-oz package plain ramen noodles

Combine tofu, broccoli, orange segments, and hot-chile sesame oil in medium bowl, stirring to coat evenly.  Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Cook noodles according to package directions; drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water.  Set aside.

Heat wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, and coat with cooking spray,  Add broccoli mixture, and stir-fry 7 to 8 minutes, or until tofu is browned and broccoli is tender.

Add noodles to skillet, and toss to combine with vegetables, adding cooking water to moisten.  Season with salt and more hot-chile sesame oil, if desired.


  • It must be extraordinarily hard to let children go. But you have done a great job and there's a lot to be thankful for. What a fun and colorful meal you've created. Put your feet up and pat yourself on the back.Sam

  • I have been there, Velva! Two wonderful sons that were so much fun to raise (and feed, of course) and in a blink of an eye, they were ready to go out on their own. Enjoy your well-earned pat on the back!! Best,Bonnie

  • Hi Velva:)I also know how difficult it can be when children leave the roost, Velva. It's been years since my kids have gone on their own and I still get pangs. I guess all that you can do is pray they stand their ground and let in the whispers they have heard through the many years of our parenting. No, it isn't easy. I'm really liking your Stir-Fry. Now you see, I wouldn't dream of whipping up something involving Tofu when the kids were home. I always considered their likes and dislikes. That is one of the changes I didn't expect and yes, there are many more to come. Take those pats gracefully, Velva and plan more delicious empty nest meals:) Thanks for sharing, Velva…

  • We do all we can to prepare them and have to hope they will be fine in their decision making. It is painful to see them go yet we were also joyful about being empty-nesters as the saying goes. You are absolutely correct – we do cook differently now that the kids have flown the coop. Nice meal, great photo.

  • Hugging you tight, Velva. XO So much to be proud of as you see your boys go, but it must be very hard too. XO

  • This is definitely an empty nest meal. Kids love Ramen Noodles, but they'd run for the hills if you feed them (most) tofu!!!???????????????????????????????????????????????? Its me and my boyfriend, but this recipe would be perfect for us if I fibbed and told him the tofu was a light colored steak strip????????????????????????

  • Sounds tough to let children go. Whenever I come back home with my boyfriend, his mom gets all emotional whenever we leave. But this meal! What a combination! I would love to try this!

  • We've got four children on their own, so yes I do know where you are coming from. Life will be different with new paths for you and your husband to discover while your boys are doing the same thing. Enjoy all that life has to offer.

  • I'm not much of a tofu gal, but this sure sounds delightful Velva!Jenna

  • This looks delicious! Hubby is not a tofu fan but I think you could sub chicken.So hard to let them go! Mine has been out of the house for years and I still get very teary eyed every time we leave each other!!!

  • I'm sure it's hard to watch them go, but I'm already looking forward to the quiet!

  • just as you're getting out of the child-raising phase, i'm hoping to enter it! if my experience with my mom is any indication, you'll be weighing on their lives for a good, long while even after the nest is empty! :)lovely dish, velva–we must all give tofu a chance!

  • I tear up thinking about when my kids leave the nest, but honestly, by then I will probably be more ready. I can imagine it must be emotional, but you can be proud of your accomplishment at the same time! We sure do cook differently just for ourselves, and this definitely looks like something I would make just for myself. 🙂

  • Oh, my girls left such a long time ago, but every time I think about it I shake my head; I just don't want to remember!Thanks for the recipe, it sounds great.Thanks for sweet visit too.FABBY

  • Boy, you hit the nail on the head with this post, Velva! It was so hard when both of our girls moved away from home. They were so active in many things in high school and that played an important part in our lives too. We're lucky that they both live in the same city – at least for now. What a delicious dish to put together for a simple meal for two. That's how I love to cook now too 🙂

  • My mother want to diet. I am worried about what foods is suitable for her. Really, Thanks your post! I think my mother will satisfy when i do this dish for her.

  • Congratulation I imagine there is nothing more satisfying than seeing your children grow and flourish. Pull up a ramen and celebrate. GREG

  • I am not looking forward to going through this change of life. It is necessary and I understand it, but being a single mom, I don't know what in the world I am going to do when my kids leave the nest. :/ At any rate, I'm glad you guys can cook however you want 😉 Cheers to the next chapter in your lives!

  • I am actually ok with my empty little nest. I get to see my son a lot and my grandchildren, but enjoy my quiet life with food sometimes no one else would eat except me!

  • Letting go can be hard, can't it? But, as you say, so necessary. Congrats! Anyway, love ramen, so of course I love this. Great dish — thanks.

  • It is hard when your kids fly the nest. Our son was away for a couple years at college but is back home now – who knows for how long though…Your Spicy Ramen Stir Fry is definitely comfort food – flavourful, fresh and restorative! Would love for you to share it at our Hearth and Soul Hop if you have time 🙂

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