Orange Basil Mojitos, Bruschetta and Mexican Rice

Yesterday we were heading to a friend’s house to cook out and get the munchkins together, so I decided to whip up a few things (at the last minute, after grocery shopping, making us 30 minutes late). That being said, it only took 45 minutes of hustling to make these three things!

Daniel fell in love with mojitos when we were in Nicaragua and he’s been talking about them since (he’s finally found one he likes at Cafe Habana in Royal Oak). The first one he had in Nicaragua accidentally had basil in it instead of mint, but he loved it. A couple of weeks ago, I had regular and orange basil mojitos at a bridal shower (my kind of shower!) so I decided I’d whip up some orange basil ones myself to take to J and V’s house yesterday.

I grabbed a few things at the store and hoped they were what I needed, then came home and a quick Google search helped me find a simple recipe. I tripled this recipe (but only doubled the sugar and it was still a bit too sweet), which made one pitcher of mojitos. But here’s the original recipe:

1 c. orange juice
1 c. white rum (I used Bacardi)
1 c. club soda
1/2 c. sugar (again, I’d maybe go light on the sugar)
a good handful of basil, torn into small pieces

Mix until sugar dissolves and enjoy! I normally don’t love super sweet things, but this was pretty delicious and refreshing. Dan wasn’t feeling it though… Guess I’ll have to try to make regular ones next time. One of our hosts liked them too (Thank god. He’s got half a pitcher to polish off this week!)

I grabbed a baguette at the store and whipped up some quick bruschetta. I have only made this a couple of times and it’s been years, but I figured it would be easy enough and is usually a crowd pleaser. (And it had to be better than the version we had at a certain Royal Oak restaurant on Valentine’s Day, so I figured it couldn’t be that bad).

I chopped up 4 firm Roma tomatoes into a relatively small dice, added a couple of tablespoons of finely diced white onion (leftover from Mexican rice), about
1 1/2 Tablespoons of minced garlic, a good handful of chopped/torn basil, a little salt and pepper and drizzled with some (1 Tbsp? 2?) basil oil I recently got as a gift (normally, I’d just use olive oil).

I mixed it up and it probably sat, marinating for about an hour before it was eaten. We sliced the bread (1/2″ thickness is what I was going for – the thicker it is, the harder it is to eat without making a mess – and it’s already hard enough!) Top the bread with the tomato topping and there you have it. The possibilities are endless with bruschetta – you could put just about anything in there and I think it would be good.

Mexican Rice
One of my goals for 2010 was to use my cookbooks and stacks of cooking magazines. So, when I was reminded that we were going to V and J’s for dinner, I pulled out my stack of Vegetarian Times magazines and grabbed all editions from the springtime. I found three salad recipes involving beans or corn, etc., that sounded good and made Daniel pick one (perhaps so I can share the blame with someone if it turns out terrible? I don’t know…)

He said, “Everyone likes stuff like that right?” so we went with Mexican rice, from the March 2008 issue.  The only thing I did differently was use white onion instead of green onion, because I forgot to buy green onion at the store. Oh, and I doubled it. Totally unnecessary, for the record. Especially for four people…

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. instant brown rice
1 c. frozen corn
1 c. frozen peas
8 green onions chopped (about 1/2 c.)
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbsp.)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 c. boiling water
salt and pepper
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (optional)

1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add rice and saute 3 or 4 minutes, or until it begins to brown.

2. Add corn, peas, onion, garlic, cumin and oregano, and saute 1 minute.

3. Put tomato past in a 2-cup measuring cup. Add enough boiling water to make 2 cups and stir to combine/dissolve paste.

4. Pour tomato paste water into rice mixture and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

5. Remove from heat, fluff with fork and add beans if you are including them (I did — it was good!)

Nutritional info (without beans I think) according to VT for 1/4 of this recipe: 190 calories; 6 grams protein; 4.5 grams total fat (0.5 grams saturated fat); 32 grams carbs; 0 mg cholesterol; 427 grams sodium; 5 grams fiber; 5 grams sugar.

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