Sunday, April 29, 2012

| ginger in a tube: fried rice edition |

I love ginger in a tube. Ginger is such a delightful flavor but such a pain in the patoot to acquire. I mean, there's powdered ginger, but it tastes like nothing. And there's real ginger, but peeling and mincing it makes me crazy. So ginger in a tube is where it's at for me. I love to add it to salad dressings. And I especially love to add it to stir fry.

I'm having fried rice in my lunches this week. Such a perfect, easy, use-up-whatevers-in-your-fridge kind of meal. And the ginger in a tube really gives it that extra punch. Yum.

FRIED RICE TECHNIQUE
You need:
already cooked rice (best if it's been in the fridge overnight)
a ton of vegetables
ginger in a tube
garlic
eggs
vegetable oil and sesame oil
soy sauce (or tamari)

1) Get out your wok and turn the heat up high. Scramble your eggs in a bowl. Oil the bottom of your pan. Dump the eggs in all at once. Wait until they're pretty firm. Flip once. Turn down heat. Take eggs off and set aside.
2) Prep all your veggies and put them on your cutting board in order. You're going to add any aromatics first (I like spring onions), then any hard veggies (like a handful of baby carrots or broccoli), then softer veggies (diced bell peppers? snow peas?), and finally soft veggies (I had some baby bok choi from our CSA - nom nom).
3) Heat a mixture of vegetable oil and sesame oil. Use a veggie oil with a high smoke point - like straight up canola or, if you're too snooty for that, some safflower. The sesame oil is just for flavor. I usually do a 2:1 ratio of veggie to sesame oil.
4) Once it's hot add your aromatics, a big ol' squirt of ginger, and a crap ton of garlic. Stir constantly
5) Wait 2-3 minutes and start adding the other veggies staggered about 1-2 minutes at a time. Once you've got all your veggies in it's time for the rice. Throw it all in there and stir, stir, stir. Once it's all broken up and starting to look warm, season it all liberally with soy sauce (or, if you're feeling fancy, tamari).
6) Slice up your scrambled egg and stir it in.

Enjoy!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

| summer comfort food |

A few weeks ago I was at a dinner at my church and we cooked it together. I don't know where the host got the recipes for the evening, so I can't give credit, but they were GOOD. We had my approximation tonight and they were both stellar.

SUCCOTASH WITH CORNMEAL DUMPLINGS
For the succotash:
Saute onion, corn, zucchini, garlic, oregano, and a can of black beans (drained but not rinsed) until all warm and cooked up. Salt and pepper to taste. I did mine in a cast iron skillet so it could go straight into the oven. Top with 1/2 cup feta cheese just before adding on the dumplings.

For the dumplings:
I didn't have a recipe on hand so I googled and found this one that worked great. I halved it to make four servings for my family.

1 cup flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 T sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 butter
1/2 cup buttermilk (or pour 1 T lemon juice into a cup and then fill the rest of it with milk, let sit 5 minutes)

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut in the butter with forks. Add the milk and stir. Drop biscuits onto the succotash (don't forget the feta!). Bake at 450 for about 12-14 minutes. Swoon. I have no idea how something with so few ingredients can have such a deep flavor.

FENNEL SALAD
Toast some almonds in a dry skillet.

Cut up two heads of fennel (anise). Slice a small red onion very thin. Combine. Add a glug of olive oil. Add the juice of half a lemon. Salt to taste. Toss. Top with almonds.

Note: even if you don't like fennel, give this a try. The lemon really negates the fennely taste.

| two-minute healthy ice cream |

If you have a blender that can handle ice, you can make super tasty fruity ice cream (kind of like gelato) in about two minutes. When we don't have ice cream on hand and I want to make a treat for my toddler, this is a perfect ice cream substitute. And it's truly healthy.

BLENDER ICE CREAM
1 1/2 cups frozen fruit (strawberries, peaches, cherries, mangos? all delish)
1 cup ice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c of milk (whole milk is best but any will work)
1 T sweetener (I use agave, but honey or sugar would likely be great, too)

Blend until it's all creamy. This serves 3 BIG servings (like about 1 1/2 cups each).

If you're counting WW points, it's about 2 points per serving. Unbelievable.

| pasta primavera in a light lemony white wine sauce |

Okay, first off...I'm back on the Weight Watchers bandwagon, so you can anticipate that my recipes will be healthier from here on out. That will either make you happy or sad. It makes me a little of both, I admit.

So, I was trying to decide what to make for lunches this week an was craving pasta with a wine sauce, but I was struggling to figure out how to do that without copious amounts of olive oil. Then I thought, hey, why not use the technique for a Chinese white sauce (corn starch, ya know?) as a basis? So I did. In typical me fashion, I cooked up 6 servings of it, never assuming it might not turn out. Luckily for me, I was not disappointed. This is a winner.

PASTA PRIMAVERA IN A LIGHT LEMONY WHITE WINE SAUCE
1) Boil some water for pasta. Add a box of pasta when it's ready. Also, cook a package of frozen peas in the microwave.
2) Mince an onion very finely. I also had some extra celery on hand so I minced up about 2 stalks of it, too, but this wouldn't be necessary.
3) Put 2 T of olive oil in a sauce pan. Heat it, then add the onion, celery, and some minced garlic (I used about a tablespoon of the pre-minced stuff).
4) Once it gets soft, add 1/2 cup of white wine. Drink the rest of the mini-bottle of wine.***
5) Combine 1 1/2 cups water with 1 T corn starch and whisk until combined. For whatever reason this works better if the water is cold.
6) Pour the water into the sauce pan and stir. Add some lemon zest and juice (or at least juice). I used about 2 T of lemon juice and 1 t of zest.
7) While that heats up, chop some arugula. About 1-2 cups. Depends on how much you like arugula. You could sub spinach or kale if you don't like arugula.
8) Combine the cooked pasta, sauce, peas, and arugula in a bit pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with parmesan.

If you're counting points this is 8 points (using 12 oz uncooked whole wheat pasta and 3 oz parmesan total). This doesn't include drinking the extra wine. :-)

***You do have mini bottles of white wine on hand right? I'm talking about the small bottles of the cheapy Moscato or Zinfandel that come in a four pack. These are perfect for cooking. That way you don't end up opening a whole bottle of wine every time you need to cook something with it.