Baked Garlic Rice Pilaf

You might recall that years ago I blogged in a different little corner of the internet. As I mentioned in the other post, What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen was truly the bug that bit me when it comes to not only blogging, but also exploring the world of the cooking and baking. Looking back it can be easy to criticize myself for the photos, writing, and recipes that I shared, but I try not to be too hard on myself because it is a nice reminder of both where I came from and how far I’ve come. And truth be told, it wasn’t all so bad. I pulled over 31 of my favorite recipes/posts a while ago, but there are still some gems over there that I hope to bring over to the Sunny Side with updated recipes and photos.

This Baked Garlic Rice Pilaf is one of those gems. From the first time I made this recipe we were in love. The rice is infused with garlic flavor and comes out light and fluffy. The squeeze of lemon I added the first time I made this also adds a nice freshness. You can serve it with fish, chicken, pork… Truly a fantastic versatile side dish.

It might seem time consuming, and it does take while to bake, but most of the time is hands off, so you’re free to work on a main dish or even just relax! I promise it will be worth the wait!

 

 

More side dish ideas
Cucumber Tomato Salad
Grilled Brussels Sprouts
Garlicky Green beans
Summer Vegetable Casserole

 

Summer Vegetable Casserole

I have been holding out on you. I’ve been making this side dish for almost a year now and I am just now getting around to posting it. The good news is that this is pretty much the perfect time of year to share/make this recipe.

Back when we lived in Ohio, we would have a nice little vegetable garden every summer. By July I was always trying to come up with new ways to use the vegetables that seemed to be taking over every inch of our kitchen. Luckily, I have learned over the years that vegetables are so, so much more than things you just steam and serve along side dinner. Sometimes, even when they are the side dish, they’re the star of the meal.

That’s pretty much how I feel about this casserole, it’s always the star of our dinner. But don’t get caught up on the title, “casserole” fits because the ingredients are bound together and baked with a little sprinkling of cheese. There are no cans of soup or cups of cream in this casserole. There is however a little bit of a surprise ingredient – cottage cheese. Don’t let that scare you. Mixed in with the rice and vegetables it just acts like a binder. Also feel free to play with the vegetables a little bit. I think the zucchini, corn, and tomatoes are a must, but sometimes (like this time) I throw in bell peppers or eggplant.

Summer Vegetable Casserole

Ingredients
2 eggs
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper
2 tsp Dijon mustard*
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 cup cooked rice (I used short grain brown rice)
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 cup zucchini (1 small zucchini), roughly cut into matchsticks or diced
1 ear of corn, cut from the cob or 1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 medium bell pepper, diced
4 large leaves of fresh basil, chiffonaded

*Sometimes, for an extra kick,  I use 1 tsp Dijon mustard and 1 tsp whole grain mustard. Just depends on my mood!

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a casserole dish or pie pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, pepper, mustard, garlic, cottage cheese, and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Add the rice, onion, tomatoes, zucchini, corn, and bell pepper, stir to coat evenly.

Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish or pie pan, use a spatula to evenly distribute in dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until the cheese starts to turn golden brown.

Allow to coil for 15 minutes. Garnish with fresh cut basil and serve.

Very slightly adapted from eat love drink

Southwest Stuffed Peppers

This past weekend Jesse and I took another trip to Hong Kong. We had a lot of fun, but it wasn’t all play time – we went to Hong Kong so that Jesse could officially get his Z Visa, basically a resident visa! It’s weird when things feel like they are such a long time coming, then once they happen it feels like it was all so fast! Who would have thought we would be living in China? Crazy.

We had these Stuffed Peppers early last week before our trip, and I was hoping to get this post up while we were in Hong Kong, but I completely forgot to take my lap top with me! Better late than never, though, because we really loved this dinner. Stuffed Peppers are bright, colorful, filling, and delicious.

 




Side Dish or Main Course?

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If Jesse were home he would probably really enjoy this meal, but he wouldn’t really call it a meal. You see, in most cases, Jesse doesn’t consider it a main course if it doesn’t contain meat. It doesn’t matter if it is beef, chicken, pork or even a fish, it just needs to have some sort of meat. I know he would love this as a side dish to maybe grilled chicken or a steak, but I kind of like this as a main course because it is a complete protein without having the meat in it. I won’t become a vegetarian anytime in the near future, but every once in a while it’s nice to have a meatless option that is still filling. Especially with the price of meat in California.

I made this the first night Jesse was in China because I didn’t have any meat except some frozen chicken breast and I was a little chickened out at the time. It was so good that I thought about it over the weekend and by Monday night I had a full blown craving. By Tuesday I didn’t have a choice, I had to make it again. So call it a side dish or a main course, either way, it’s delicious.


Black Beans and Rice

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup thinly sliced yellow or red onion
1/2 cup bell pepper cut into strips, * (red, yellow, green or all 3)
1 clove of garlic, crushed or finely diced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 can (14.5 ounces) black beans, drained
1/2 can petite diced tomatoes, drained (or 1 small tomato, diced)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
dash of smoked paprika
3/4 cup chicken broth **
1 tbsp dry parsley or cilantro for topping
black pepper to taste
2 cups cooked jasmine or basmati rice

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet. With the heat on medium, add the onion, bell peppers, and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the kosher salt and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Next, add the black beans, tomato, and seasonings. Reduce heat to low and stir in the chicken broth and let simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the beans are heated through. Serve immediately over rice.

* Obviously fresh bell peppers are always the best, but they can be pricey and sometimes go bad before being used. I started buying a frozen pack of precut tricolor bell peppers (kind of like this). They are perfect for quick weeknight meals. And it’s nice to have the trio of peppers without wasting half of each color pepper for smaller meals.

** I only used a half of a cup of chicken broth tonight and it was just a touch dry.