Coconut & Ginger Rice Pilaf with Pomegranate Seeds

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

It is October 6th & LA is facing yet another triple-digit temperature weekend & I am so fucking over it!  My mood could not be gloomier & all this fucking sunshine & heat & “what a gorgeous day – we should go do something” shit is crushing my soul.  I want cold & rain & Nick Cave & stuff like THIS Lucy Rose video for Shiver.  Or – moody music like Banks’ Brain – and THIS magical pole dancer who is like a jewelry box ballerina – or just the right amount of Bon Iver (because too much makes everything worse).  I want cold so I can bundle up in clothes and cook things that smell comforting and warm the house.  I want a fire & red wine.  I do not want to feel exactly as fat as I am as my shrinking clothes cling to me in the sticky heat & the thought of cooking or eating – or even red wine – seem cloying & claustrophobic.  How I managed to gain weight during a month-long heat wave can only be explained by an excess of the champagne I use to chill myself down & cheer myself up.   But – I want to un-think some things & I want even worse to un-know other things.  And – I know – some things cannot be unseen – and some things cannot be unfelt.  But – I still wish we were at least having weather that supported my killing (dulling – at least) my feelings with food – and the distraction of creating it & photographing it & blogging about it.

Ah, well.  Life goes on & I did make this rice pilaf today & it is tastier than I expected.  It is my third dish in recent days using the seeds (arils) of a pomegranate.  They add a nice burst of things that are good for you (including fiber) and a sweet surprise & gorgeous color.  You need to learn to power past any instinct you have to try to spit the seeds out.  Just crunch through them or you will be in Hell.

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Coconut & Ginger Rice Pilaf with Pomegranate Seeds

Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup orzo

1 cup rice – white or jasmine or basmati

2-3 TBS coconut oil

2 TBS minced ginger (I had some in a tube)

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

Pomegranate seeds (arils)

Cilantro or mint – chopped as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the coconut oil over med-high heat & toast the orzo until it is golden – which happens in just a few moments.  Add the rice & toast a bit more (being sure not to burn the orzo).   Add the ginger, stir – and then add the stock.  Bring to a rapid boil & reduce to the lowest heat.  Cover (wrapping a kitchen towel around the lid helps create a tighter seal) and cook about 20 minutes.  Fluff & serve with pomegranate arils & chopped herbs.

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Baked Spinach Mac & Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

So – digging around in my fridge, I found a huge bag of real cheese.  I have been tapering myself into a nearly vegan diet – especially when I am eating at home – and I don’t even remember buying this cheese but there it was.  Right there – on the day after I made a valiant attempt to drink all the Prosecco & red wine on Earth.  I watched the so-hilarious 90210 Lifetime movie with a friend and – between us – went through a shocking amount of alcohol.  Shocking – I tell you.  What was less shocking was how I felt yesterday.  I definitely earned every bit of how hideous I felt but I was very grateful 1) to be alive and 2) to find a huge bag in my fridge of what I could melt all over pasta.  Oh – I also made roasted potatoes – below.

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Carbohydrates & grease.  I desperately needed both.  So – I indulged in both.  The mac & cheese is pretty straightforward & does not really require baking – unless (like me) you want that crispy crust on top.  Look at that crust!  Mmmmm!  There is nothing more I can say about mac & cheese that you don’t already know.  So – make some of this shit & shove it in the hole in your heart – like I did.  It actually kinda helped.  For a few minutes, anyway.

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Baked Spinach Mac & Cheese

Serves 4 very well

INGREDIENTS

4 TBS butter (I used vegan butter)

4 TBS flour

2 1/2 cups milk (I used almond milk)

1 lb grated cheese (I used real sharp cheddar)

1 LB fresh spinach

2 TBS Dijon mustard

1 TBS onion powder

1 TBS garlic powder

1 TBS (or less) cayenne

1-2 cups panko or other bread crumbs

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the pasta for about 1 minute less than the package suggests, drain & set aside.

Melt the butter over med-high heat.  Whisk in the flour & then add the milk in small increments – allowing it to thicken each time.  Add the Dijon & spices.  Whisk to incorporate & then add the cheese – reserving 1/2 cup or more to sprinkle on top later.

Fold in the pasta & spinach.

Grease a casserole pan & put the mac & cheese in there.  Top with remaining cheese & panko.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly & he bread crumbs are browning.

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Vegan Spicy Orange & Sriracha Glazed Tofu with Pomegranate Seeds

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I have done a zillion 90210 interviews recently – building up to the 25th anniversary of when the pilot aired.  Above are a few recent photos from a 90210-inspired shoot.

And here are two of the interviews – HERE at TEN MINUTE INTERVIEWS –

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and HERE  at COMPLEX.

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Tonight is the Lifetime movie about the show at after it – there will be an interview special – in which I took part.

That said – let’s get into this dish.  The glaze is the shit & would work on most things from shrimp to vegan or real chicken or, as here, on tofu.  I could not figure out what to do with the tofu first.  Should I bread & fry it?  I tried that & it just seemed like a bad thing to add all those calories.  So – after half-frying half the tofu – I baked it all at about 400 for thirty minutes – after coating it in some glaze – like you see below.

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Ultimately – you could just throw the uncooked tofu into the glaze & warm it that way.  I feared the tofu would be too mushy & break apart and – since I didn’t try that version – I cannot tell you what happened.  So – it is up to you.   You could BAKE IT first, or FRY IT – or just use it plain.  Or – do what I did, coat it with glaze & just bake it a bit to add some texture.  Your call.  Whatever you decide – the glaze is easy & comes together fast.  If I were to make it again – I would cut the sugar in half.  If you like spicy-sweet, go with the full 1/4 cup of brown sugar.  It is pretty spicy – so if you are sensitive to heat – lessen the sriracha.

I added pomegranate seeds because I have a shitload left over from my AMAZING Burnt Eggplant with Pomegranate Seeds & Cucumber – or Really Fancy Baba Ganoush – seen below – which was INSANELY addictive.  The seeds are pretty but don’t add much to the tofu dish so blow them off – if you feel inclined.  They are critical & amazing in the baba ganoush, though!

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Vegan Spicy Orange & Sriracha Glazed Tofu with Pomegranate Seeds

Serves 2 – with rice or in lettuce wraps

INGREDIENTS

1 lb extra firm tofu – cubed

Panko (only if you are frying – in which case you need oil, too.)

1 cup orange juice

zest & juice of one orange

1/4 cup (or less) brown sugar

1/4 cup (more or less according to taste) sriracha

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari

4 garlic cloves – chopped

1 TBS ginger – grated or minced

2 TBS cornstarch whisked into 2 TBS water

GARNISH – sliced scallions, pomegranate seeds and then cooked rice or lettuce leaves for serving

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DIRECTIONS

OK – here you need to decide what you are doing with the tofu.  Are you just going right outta the package or fry it or – as I did – toss it with some panko & some (only a little) glaze & bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes?  I don’t think it makes a massive difference – except fr the effort and, in the instance of frying, the calories.  You could brown it in a frying pan with a little olive oil – to add texture.  Blow off the panko – really – unless you are frying it.  These are your decisions to make and that decision is the hardest part of this recipe.  If you are in a hurry or are lazy – just use the naked tofu.

Prep your tofu.  I tossed mine in a bit of glaze & baked at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Make some rice or prep some lettuce leaves for wraps.

To make the glaze – heat the orange juice, zest & juice of one orange, brown sugar, sriracha, rice vinegar, soy sauce or tamari, garlic cloves and ginger and bring to a boil.  Add the cornstarch/water mix & the glaze should thicken up in less than a minute.  Add the tofu & heat through.

Serve either on rice or wrapped in lettuce with a sprinkle of scallions & pomegranate seeds.

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