Inga's Indulgence

Thursday, February 16, 2012

From Eh to Oh Yeah!

Dumping the white rice that is always left over after Chinese takeout dinners does not sit well with me.

I've tried extending its life in the past by refrigerating and convincing myself that it will make an excellent side. Unfortunately, after just a few hours in the fridge the rice was rendered neither excellent, nor remotely palatable (though if ground up into a paste, it would probably make for good putty to fill the cracks in your walls).

So the last time I was left with a mountain of bland white rice, I knew something had to be done. So much potential to be great, this was not the end of the road for this rice.

What I made was a stark contrast to the bland that this rice had once been. I termed it "Jazzy" Pilaf.

Jazzy Pilaf
(yield: 5-6 servings)

1/3 cup canola oil
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 tbsp nigella seeds
1 tbsp whole cumin seeds
1 tbsp whole coriander seeds
4 cloves garlic, smashed
3 scallions, thinly sliced  
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup garbanzo beans
5 cups cooked white rice (you can use brown rice for a healthier alternative)
salt, as needed

Place oil, cinnamon stick, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, garlic, white parts of the scallions (reserving the green parts for garnish), and red pepper flakes into a large, deep saute pan or wok over medium-low heat. Let the oil slowly come to a simmer, and get infused with all the spices. Add garbanzo beans, and saute 1-2 minutes.

Add the rice and mix well to distribute the oil and spices. Season to taste with salt. Remove cinnamon stick and garlic. Garnish with reserved scallions, and serve.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Comfort Conundrum

Oh how I love fried stuff.

It's amazing how much you can love something that you barely allow yourself to sink your teeth into. But those few moments of crispy, caloric ecstasy are just enough to...

A) remind me of everything I've been missing
B) convince me that I no longer fit into the jeans I was rocking yesterday
C) want to eat nothing but fried things for ever and ever

Sooo, what is a girl to do in this predicament? Bake.

Healthy Zucchini Mozzarella Sticks
(yield: 12-14 sticks)
These guys are crispy on the outside, gooey and cheesy on the inside courtesy of my old pal, the oven. AND they've got veg in them.
Is this what I'm talkin' about or what? This is what I'm talking about.

8 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 medium zucchini
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs, beaten with 1 tbsp water
1 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
olive oil, as needed

Grease an aluminum foil lined sheet pan with olive oil.

Slice the mozzarella lengthwise into 1/2-inch sticks, and set aside. Using a vegetable peeler, shave long, paper-thin slices of zucchini, about 1-2 inches wide. Arrange 5-6 slices in an overlapping fashion to equal the length of the mozzarella sticks. Place a mozzarella stick across the zucchini slices (perpendicular to the zucchini) and wrap tightly.

                                                   Trim off excess zucchini.

Dredge the wrapped mozzarella sticks in flour, followed by egg wash, and then breadcrumbs. Repeat with another coating of egg wash and bread crumbs. Place on prepared sheet pan, and freeze for at least 1 hour.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 16-18 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. Serve with Marinara Sauce (recipe follows).


Marinara Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 of a small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1, 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
salt & pepper, to taste

Briefly heat the oil in a medium saucepan, and sweat the onions and garlic 2-3 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes.

Depending on how chunky you like your sauce, you can either leave it alone or puree in a food processor or blender.