Well, Syracuse lost. It was a really bad tough game, but at least they made it that far! Now its time for the weekend, and a good friend of mine from NYC is coming to stay. It is the first time she will be seeing our apartment and neighborhood! I only wish that the weather would be what it was like last weekend, but I don’t think I should keep my hopes up.
I hope I didn’t scare you off with the title of the post: rice cakes. Those dry, flavorless crackers. But what I speak of is not that type of rice cake. These are inspired by my friend Cara, who yesterday made quinoa cakes. They looked phenomenal! And with an apartment to tidy and wine to buy (for our guest, of course!) I needed a “the refrigerator is my oyster” recipe to avoid an hour long food shop (yes, Z and I spend an hour, if not more, in the grocery store. Its just so fun to look at things!)
It used to be really difficult for me to throw a dinner together without planning. When I lived by myself after college I would often eat chips with cut up cheddar cheese and a jar of salsa, or a chicken breast. Not much of a meal. It has taken a lot of recipe making and fails for me to now be able to come up with things on the fly, and here are a few tips:
-Practice making real meals: the more meals you cook, the more you will realize what actually “makes a meal”
-Read recipes: in your free time, online or at the library, browse recipes and menus. They are great inspiration
-Inventory your kitchen: have an idea of what you have on hand and how it can be used. Is anything perishable? Something you forgot about in the freezer? You can start piecing together what you have on hand and mold what you have available.
Tonight I did all of these things:
-I have been making meals for a while now
-I read Cara’s recipe on her blog
-I have rice, one chicken breast (which makes more when it is shredded), and a huge bunch of parsley used for “garnishing” but it will go bad if its not used up.
So this dinner was born:
Chicken Pesto Rice Cakes
2 cups of cooked brown rice
1 large chicken breast
1 bunch of parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon miso or 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 egg plus 1 egg white
Preheat the oven to 400*.
Cook the rice as instructed and let cool to room temperature.
Spray a large piece of tin foil with some Pam and put the chicken breast on it. Wrap the foil around it creating a loose package. Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
In a food processor, put the parsley (without the stalks), garlic, and miso or cheese. Begin to process and slowly add the oil. Once the oil is incorporated, scrape down the sides and process again. Do this 2 – 3 times.
When the chicken is cooked, let it cool a bit and shred it.
Saute the the onion in a frying pan until soft.
In a medium bowl, add the rice, chicken, onion, 3/4 of the pesto, the egg and egg white. Mix together thoroughly.
Heat up the frying pan with a little Pam. Scoop balls of the rice mixture and place into the pan, flattening with a spatula. I fit about 3 at a time. Cook on each side for 3 – 5 minutes, or until each side is brown and the middle is cooked through.
Top with the remaining pesto. I served mine with some steamed green beans.
For a quick, healthy meal on the fly, these turned out great! The first batch fell apart a bit when I flipped them, but if you leave them longer on the first side they develop that wonderful, brown crust you see! The pesto flavor really comes through, which is what I was aiming for, and the chicken and eggs give them some heft and protein. The egg and the onion kept them moist in every bite. All food groups in one little cake! I would love to make these for a lighter option at a barbecue or picnic. I am pretty proud of myself for not only coming up with this off the top of my head, but for using up ingredients that we already have in the apartment. I think it is important to get the most out of the food you buy, and not to waste anything! And this was the most delicious way to do so.
Off to finish cleaning and to wait for my friend! Happy Friday!
Have you ever made up a meal with ingredients you just happened to have on hand?