Jun 082010
 

A few weeks ago my friend made this amazing Chinese inspired dinner–cashew chicken and fried rice.  Although the Cashew chicken was the star, the fried rice was so great that I started concocting ways I could amp up the nutrition in the rice and make it a complete meal.  My version here is vegetarian but you could throw in chicken or shrimp or tofu if you want to increase the protein.  Either way, what was once a mere side dish will no longer sit on the side lines…because nobody puts baby in a corner…or something like that. 



The key to making this fried rice so incredibly healthy is by using a LOT of vegetables.  The fried rice you get in a chinese restaurant might have a few sad orange specks of carrot or a lone pea or two, but not this fried rice.  I used tons of broccoli, red peppers, carrots, edamame, and green onions.  


But as wonderful and fresh as those veggies look, I’d be lying if I didn’t say my favorite part of fried rice is the egg.  So for this recipe, I used one whole egg and one egg white to add protein and get some of the healthy fat from the yolk but reduce the overall fat and calories…win win!  You quickly cook the eggs and then set it aside.  Then you stir fry the the ginger, garlic, and vegetables.  Then you add the brown rice, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil.  


After I had a big bowl full for dinner, I put the rest in some tupperware to bring to work for lunch.  At first glance doesn’t it really look like takeout??  Well it’s not–cuz it tastes way better and doesn’t make you feel like you just ate a bowl of oil.  



Nutritional highlights:  This is a great vegetarian meal or side dish that is full of whole grains (if you use brown rice), vitamins from all the vegetables, and protein from the egg and edamame.  It’s filling and flavorful and you get your take out fix without the calories or the deliver fee.


Vegetable Fried Rice 
This made 2 meal sized servings for me but you can double the recipe if you want more (you might cuz it’s gooood)


Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice 
  • 1 cup of broccoli florettes
  • 1/2 cup each of: shelled edamame, diced carrots, red pepper, and green onions (or whatever veggies you have)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 whole egg + 1 egg white
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • Salt and red pepper flakes to taste
Directions:
1.  Heat wok and add a little bit of vegetable oil.  Beat the egg and the egg white together and pour into the wok.  Cook it quickly, breaking it up as much as possible.  Once egg is cooked (only about 1-2 minutes) put it in a bowl and set aside.  Wipe out the wok.
2.  Heat wok again and add 1 tablespoon of oil.  Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for 30 seconds.  Then add the vegetables and stir fry until vegetables are just starting to get tender (about 4 minutes).
3.  Stir in the rice.  Pour in the soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil.  Taste test and season with a little salt and some red pepper flakes if you want a kick.  Mix the egg back in and cook for 1 more minute.  
4.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.  
Jun 042010
 
The vast majority of the time I’d say I make pretty basic recipes.  Not basic in a bad way, but the kind of things you’d make any night of the week.  Tasty, but not necessarily impressive.  But once in a while I try to go outside the box and class up my food a bit.  This was one of those nights.  Not only did I cook tuna for the first time ever, I also chose a recipe that was exciting, different, and SO flavorful.  Even the title of this post is a mouthful…but I just couldn’t leave out any of those crucial components from the name because it just wouldn’t be right.


The first step to these tacos can be done well in advance if you want…making the sweet and spicy Chipotle-Orange reduction.  


All you do is simmer chopped chipotle in adobo, fresh orange juice and some vinegar until it reduces.  This sauce didn’t really look like much at first, but the flavors worked incredibly well together and really added to the complexity of these tacos.  At first taste this sauce is delicate and sweet, but beware…it packs a punch.


While the sauce simmers, you can assemble the jicama slaw (which I obviously forgot to photograph).  All it is is match stick jicama, red pepper, lime juice, and cilantro.  It adds freshness and a necessary crunch to these tacos.  Next step is to make the magical tuna spice rub: cumin, corriander, chili powder, salt, and black pepper.  


Rub both sides of the tuna with a tiny bit of olive oil and then with the spice rub.  Let your grill pan get hot, and then quickly grill for only about 2 minutes per side so it stays rare in the center.  Mmmm doesn’t that look pretty? (for a big hunk of raw fish that is…)


And that’s it for the tuna.  Let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes before you slice it like you would with a steak. And now, the most important part: taco assembly.  This isn’t the type of taco that you glop together and stuff in your mouth.  No no no, this one takes finesse.  I started with a corn tortilla topped with a little arugula for a fresh peppery flavor.  Then I topped it with a few thin tuna slices, some of the jicama slaw and a drizzle of the Orange-Chipotle reduction.  And on top of all that, a thin slice of avocado for creaminess.  Hungry yet???


Nutritional Highlights: Tuna is very nutrient dense and a 4 oz portion only has 157 calories (woo woo).  Not only is it really high in protein, it’s also a great source of selenium, magnesiu, potassium, B vitamins, and the ever important OMEGA-3’S! Omega 3’s are said to do some pretty amazing things for your cardiovascular health so try to encorporate them into your diet twice a week.  Tuna, though, is pretty high on the food chain (not as high as us though, as is evident in this post).  Because of this, it accumulates toxins such as mercury so you should limit your weekly intake.  Check out this handy calculator if you’re not sure.

Chili-Crusted Tuna Tacos with Orange-Chipotle Reduction and Jicama Slaw

Ingredients:

Sauce
  • 1 cup fresh squeeze orange juice (2 oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon minced chipotles in adobo (including sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
Tuna:
  • 3/4 pound good quality tuna steak (serves 2)
  • 1.5 teaspoon each: coriander, cumin, chili powder, kosher salt, cracked black pepper
Slaw and toppings:
  • 3/4 cup matchstick pieces of jicama
  • 1/2 cup matchstick pieces of red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Arugula and sliced avocado for toppings
Instructions:

1.  Bring orange juice, chipotle, and vinegar to a boil in a saucepan.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes as the sauce reduces.  Set aside sauce until you’re ready to serve.
2. Mix the jicama, red pepper, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside until you’re ready to serve.
3.  Mix all spices for the tuna rub.  Rub the steak with a little bit of olive oil and then rub generously with the spice mixture.
4.  Heat grill and cook tuna uninterrupted for about 2-3 minutes on each side.  Less/more depending on how rare/well you like it cooked.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes and then slice thinly against the grain.
5.  Assemble your tacos: warm corn tortilla+baby arugula+tuna+jicama slaw+avocado slice+orange-chipotle reduction=an incredible taco that’s totally guest worthy.  Enjoy!!




Jun 012010
 
I have to apologize for being so MIA this past week.  But, I’m pretty confident that a large percentage of my likely small population of readers was just as busy with my sister’s wedding festivities as I was.  It was all pretty surreal: my sister becoming a Mrs, inheriting a big brother, and having the chance to sing at the most perfect wedding to the most perfect couple that ever was (in my humble unbiased opinion).  In honor of the occasion, I had to make her a little treat to get her pumped up the day before the wedding…


These little guys were far from perfect but still pretty darn cute.  It was kind of an experimental process and I’m pretty sure I could master it next time.  Surprisingly, these were really easy to make and very impressive. Start with beautiful ripe but not over ripe strawberries.


Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 20 seconds so you don’t over cook it.  Overcooked chocolate clumps up and tastes nasty so be very careful.  Then I fully dipped half of the berries in white chocolate (the brides).  For the grooms I only dipped the front half of the berry in the white chocolate (the tuxedo shirt).  I put them on wax paper in the fridge for about an hour.


Then I melted the dark chocolate.  To the “grooms”,  I dipped them in the chocolate in a V pattern so it looked like a tux jacket.  Then I took a toothpick and carefully added bow ties and buttons to the grooms. I added little beads of white gel frosting to the brides for a little extra pizazz.  


And because I had extra time (and melted chocolate) on my hands I wrote out the date of the wedding in chocolate and let that solidify in the fridge as well.  


And as beautiful as those berries are, the picture below is way way way WAY better.  My gorgeous sister with my proud parents walking down the aisle.  The wedding was absolutely perfect (from the ceremony, to the food, to the dancing) but that day was just a small symbol of the incredible relationship that Brea and John have and the wonderful life that lies ahead of them!  



Oh…and nutritional highlights:  Strawberries are good for you! And so is a little bit of chocolate in moderation 😉