I just discovered the show Seinfeld a couple of years ago, I was 8 when the show first aired and thought Seinfeld was something for “older people”. Well I guess I’m in the “older people” category now because I’ve been watching the reruns on TBS , I now know who the Soup Nazi is and how crazy Elaine’s dance moves are. One of my favorite episodes was The Summer of George, where for 3 months on his severance package he has big plans to get healthy and try new things but instead is lazy and hardly gets out of his pajamas. So I am having the “Summer of Jess” this year but instead of following in George’s footsteps I’m trying to really take advantage of my free time. So far this summer that has meant buying a new bicycle, strawberry picking at Maxwell’s Farm, many trips to the beach and finally reading the books I downloaded on my Kindle.
I’ve also been trying out new dishes to break Andrew and I out of our food rut. Many of the meals that we make are heavy and rich, not Summer/ hot weather friendly. Thank goodness for Pinterest! I’ve found two new meals to add to our recipe rotation and they are perfect for Summer and beyond.
Hearty Taco Casserole Recipe adapted from Taste of Home
2/3 cup uncooked brown rice
1-1/3 cups plus 4 to 5 tablespoons water, divided
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. cold butter
1/2 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup water
1 envelope taco seasoning
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded lettuce
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
Salsa or taco sauce
1. In a small saucepan, bring rice and 1-1/3 cups water to a boil; cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes or until rice is tender and water is absorbed. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. While the rice is cooking, in a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in water a tablespoon at a time to form a soft dough. On a floured surface, roll dough into a 12×8-in. rectangle. Press into a 13×9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until very lightly browned.
3. Now for the filling! In a large skillet, cook the beef, onion, green pepper and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add water, taco seasoning and cooked rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Stir in eggs and cilantro. Spread over crust.
4. Cover and bake for 15-17 minutes or until filling is set. Cut into squares. Top with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. Serve with salsa/taco sauce and sour cream.
Vietnamese Shredded Chicken Salad Adapted from Saveur
2 fresh hot chiles (Thai or serrano) seeded and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
3 tbsp. fish sauce
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
4 cups shredded napa cabbage
2 medium carrots, julienned
1⁄2 cup roughly chopped mint
Freshly ground black pepper
½ package of rice noodles (optional, my addition)
Cilantro, for garnish
1. Place chilies in a large bowl, add garlic, sugar, rice wine vinegar, fresh lime juice, fish sauce, vegetable oil, and onion. Mix until sugar dissolves.
2. Add shredded chicken, shredded white cabbage, carrots, and fresh mint. If you are adding rice noodles, soak according to package, chop, and add in with salad.
3.Season with freshly ground black pepper, mix, and garnish with cilantro.