Fried rice!

I think there are very few people out there who haven’t had fried rice. It’s an amazing, tasty thing…but you know, for a long time, I didn’t like it. My dad makes it with Spam and oyster sauce, which is really popular in Hawaii, but the two tastes together always made me quick to put my fork down. The flavors in it just didn’t jive with me.

And so, for a long time, I wasn’t a big fan of fried rice…until I finally made my own. And boy, was it good! M likes hers with egg, which I don’t, but I love adding tofu, bean sprouts, sauteed cabbage… The flavor and texture combinations are endless. In this one, I used both egg and boiled peanuts, along with the usual veggies. Pheasants! Fried rice is the perfect vehicle for vegetables! Don’t forget this. You can put essentially any tasty vegetable in it…the more, the merrier, although I usually stick to a 1.5:1 rice to veggie ratio to keep it rice-y.

As for rice types, I prefer to use whatever I have in the fridge at the time…long grain or short, I’ve never noticed much of a difference, as long as the rice is chilled and not too mushy.

Pheasant’s fried rice

2 1/2 c rice, chilled

1 c mixed veggies (frozen is perfect!)

1 egg

4 tbsp minced onion (the real stuff, not dehydrated)

1/4 c “party style” peanuts

3 cloves garlic, minced finely

1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce (Aloha brand highly recommended)

3 tsp fish sauce

3 tsp garlic or vegetable oil

First, heat some water to boiling and place your peanuts and veggies into a bowl large enough to fit them as well as some hot water. Pour the boiling water over them, and let it all soak for about ten minutes. If you like your peanuts softer, drain and repeat the process.

Heat your pan or wok to medium-high. Add 1 teaspoon of oil and allow it to heat. Scramble your egg, add a little water (a tablespoon or so) and add it to the pan. You want to cook it to a soft scramble…it should be creamy and not too dry. Take them from the pan, place them on a plate, and cut into little curdles, like so: 

Now, place your onion mince in the pan and allow it to sauté until softened and browned. Add in your garlic; allow this to sauté as well, and then add in your rice. You’ll want to add in the remaining oil now…make sure to spread it around so that it evenly coats everything. Now toss it like your life depends on it!

Once the rice and onion/garlic are mixed, drizzle in the fish sauce and soy sauce, making sure to also spread it around. Live action shot time: 

Stir the rice again, and let it cook for about three more minutes. Once this is all done, add in your drained peanuts and vegetables, making sure to mix it all up so that it’s nicely divided and scattered. Then, add in your egg bits, stir, cook for another five minutes, and…oh, ma belle, oh, ma chérie….you are beautiful. 

 

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Filed under Ethnic, Pastas, grains and oatmeal

Arroz con carne: an adventure in Meatland

There is a very, very slim line between juicy meat and tough, chewy mess. We all probably know that from one experience or another. I must say, though, that I feel like I’ve had my fair share of “tough times.”

Today, I’d been planning a crock pot recipe for you. Rejoice, you crock pot-less readers of mine! This recipe is delicious, simple, and really, really tasty. A small caveat for you though: those of you who don’t like it spicy should skip or massively cut down on the chipotle puree you put into the sauce.

This dish, though, is quite nice…it comes out soft, moist, tender, and just spicy enough to kick your mouth into action. The rice beneath it  soaks up all that lovely, delicious gravy, and…it’s just delicious. I served it with some roasted broccoli, and it made for a very tasty meal.

If you decide you don’t want to go through all the work of cutting up an eye of round roast, just buy as much chuck roast, puree up the sauce and stick it in the crock pot. Easy as pie!

Pheasant’s arroz con carne

10 oz eye of round roast (or similar non-marbled cut), heavily chilled

4 whole tomatoes, cored and seeded

3 tbsp beef or chicken broth, or tomato juice

1/2 c thinly-sliced onion

3 cloves garlic

3 tbsp canned enchilada sauce (or bottled salsa)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp chipotle puree (or adobo sauce)

Puree together all the ingredients but the meat. Taste and adjust for salt.

Thinly slice your meat. You want it somewhere between average deli roast beef slices and about 1/3 centimeter. The thinner the better.

In a 10-12″ skillet with a lid, pour in the sauce and put the meat pieces in, making sure to cover each piece in the sauce. Add a little beef broth to thin it out if need be, but it’s unlikely.

Set the pan to medium-low. Bring it to a simmer and let the meat go for 3-4 hours, checking occasionally for tenderness. The liquid should never quite come to a boil, but it should have the occasional bubble.

Once your meat is done, dish it up over some rice, and enjoy! 

 

 

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Filed under Ethnic, Red meat

Chicken and spinach enchiladas

If there was ever a point in my life where I was forced to eat only one ethnic group’s food for the rest of my life, I’d probably pick Mexican food. All the pungent flavors, bright colors, and different textures just sing to me when I eat it. It’s beautiful! Red tomatoes, green peppers, yellow rice, brown beans, and slowly-cooked meats marinated in deliciously spicy (or sometimes sweet-savory) sauces…how can you go wrong?

When M and I first moved into our current apartment, I was unsure of my cooking skills as chef, even if I had been cooking for over a decade. So, when we began planning out the meals we’d eat, M decided she wanted enchiladas, and I readily agreed. Simply to make and easy to eat, enchiladas are a great meal to make, whether cooking for a crowd or just two people. M and I always make four enchiladas, and eat two apiece. This night was an anomaly, but I chalk it up to the veggies in the enchiladas…they’re great filling!

I mixed up a canned enchilada sauce with chipotle peppers, roasted garlic and spices to make it taste better than ever, and add some to the filling to make the flavors pop. You can use any kind of shredded cheese you like, although I always reach for Tillamook. When wrapping, it’s easiest to roll with the flap on top so that you don’t get filling all over everywhere.

Cheesy chicken and spinach enchiladas

3 chicken thighs or 2 chicken breasts, poached and shredded

4 flour tortillas (we used medium ones, as large is too big)

2/3 c shredded cheese

3 c spinach, wilted and chopped

2/3 c refried beans

3/4 c canned enchilada sauce (we use Rosarita brand)

1 tbsp chipotle pepper puree (or adobo sauce, if you prefer)

1/2 tbsp roasted garlic, mashed into a paste

cumin, cayenne, pepper and garlic powder to taste.

Preheat your oven to 350°F (176°C.) Line an 8×8 inch cake or brownie pan with foil.

In a pan, heat the refried beans and season with some cumin, cayenne, garlic powder and pepper. Mix and cook until heated through, then set aside. While it’s cooking, use a small bowl to mix the enchilada sauce, roasted garlic, pepper and chipotle puree. Taste and adjust for spice.

In a large bowl, mix together the shredded chicken, chopped spinach, and about a 1/3 cup of the shredded cheese, as well as 3 tablespoons of the enchilada sauce. Spread two tablespoons’ worth of enchilada sauce across the bottom of the foil-lined pan. Place a tortilla inside the pan and spread 1/4 of the beans across the tortilla. Fill it with the chicken and spinach mixture, then fold it and flip it over. Repeat with the remaining three tortillas.

Once all your tortillas are folded, spoon the remaining sauce over the enchiladas, making sure to spread it around evenly. Top with the remaining cheese, and pop them in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is entirely melted. If you like, place them under the broiler for a few minutes for color, but keep an eye out to make sure the cheese doesn’t burn.

Once you’ve taken the enchiladas out, serve them up with beans, chips, pico de gallo and whatever else you like! 

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Filed under Ethnic

TYCMiaR, part IV: personal spoonbread

My dear friend Sai has been telling me how much she loves my “things you can make in a ramekin” posts, and I must admit, it’s been a while. So, I got to thinking: what did I want to do for the next post? There are so many things! Sai and I have been going over the possibilities all morning. Finally, though, I hit on this: we’re having the last of my mother’s (amazing, stupendous, best-ever) fried chicken for lunch today. Why not keep it Southern and go with a little spoonbread? Little, being the operative word here.

So, I scoured the internet for ideas, tweaked a recipe, and came up with these beautiful, tiny, lovely corn cakes. They’re soft, sweet, and oh, so tasty. Studded with corn kernels and bursting with silky, sweet Southern flavor, this cake is a must-have for all those “supper for two” nights. It also works well as a cold breakfast cake the next morning, with a little cream and brown sugar on top!

Pheasant’s corn spoonbread

Makes two ramekins’ worth

1/4 c plus 1 tsp yellow cornmeal

1/3 c creamed corn

2 tbsp sour cream or mayo

1 tsp sugar or honey

1 1/4 tbsp water

1/8 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

scant 1/8 tsp cayenne

scant 1/16 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 350°F (176°C.)

Spray two 6 to 8 oz ramekins with Pam. In a small bowl, mix together the dry goods, stirring thoroughly. Add in the corn, sour cream or mayo, and honey if you’re using it. Mix it all together, divide between the ramekins, and place in the oven for 20 minutes.

When the timer goes off, check the cakes. Insert a toothpick. If it comes out clean, they’re done. If not, give them another four or five minutes.

As soon as the ramekins have cooled, you can dig in! Drizzle them with honey or chipotle compound butter. They’re even tasty just as they are, of course! 

On a related note, what are your favorite types of Southern food? I love cornbread, mashed potatoes, and fried chicken! Fried chicken is definitely my favorite…on a related note, am I the only girl north of Dixie who enjoys her fried chicken doused in hot sauce?

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Filed under Baking, Ethnic

Chocolate-frosted peanut butter bites

I’m not usually a fan of peanut butter…but when I get cravings for it, I need it to no end. I usually end up eating it straight with a spoon, but today, I decided to change it up and make something that M could enjoy with me.

These chocolate-frosted peanut butter cookie dough balls are amazing. They taste just like Reese’s peanut butter cups! I was thoroughly pleased with the way they came out. They’re just delicious.

This recipe was inspired by a few chocolate chip cookie dough ball recipes I found while stumbling across the internet. I’ve found some great subs for it, though, in case you’re looking to make it vegan or sugar-free, you can sub the brown sugar for two tablespoons of raisins (or just omit it!) If you decide to go with raisins (which was fantastically tasty, I might add!) just puree them in a food processor or Magic Bullet until they’re a fine paste. I think I’d recommend any type of nut butter for these…especially cashew butter! I can imagine that would be especially tasty… Next time, I plan to add mini chocolate chips to the batter too, just to kick it up a notch.

Use any flour you prefer…oat, wheat, spelt, whatever. It should all be good.

Chocolate-frosted peanut butter bites

Makes approx. 12 balls

1/3 c peanut butter (smooth or chunky; or, sub for your favorite nut butter)

1/4 c minus two tbsp flour

1/2 tsp baking soda (for flavor)

2 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp milk

2 oz of your favorite chocolate bar

1/4 tsp fat free sour cream

In a bowl, combine the flour and baking soda. Mix well, then add in the peanut butter and brown sugar. Stir to combine. If they’re too thick to handle, add a teaspoon or so of milk. If not, shape into balls and place on a Pam’d piece of parchment paper. Set them on a sheet pan, insert a toothpick into each, and place in the freezer for twenty minutes.

While they’re freezing, melt the chocolate over a double broiler with a teaspoon of milk. When it’s melted down, add the sour cream, mix well, and take off the heat.

Take the peanut butter dough balls out and dip or frost each with the chocolate mixture. Place them back in the freezer for another twenty minutes, then enjoy!

 

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Filed under Sweets

Best-ever roasted potatoes

Now, if you don’t like spicy things, I suppose you should just skip this recipe. But oh jeez, it’s amazing! Especially paired with my tomato garlic bisque. These potatoes are fragrant, creamy and a delight to add to any meal. Also, they couldn’t be easier to make! 

 

Best-ever roasted potatoes

2-3 potatoes, washed and scrubbed

cayenne, paprika, garlic powder, ground rosemary and pepper to taste

1-2 tbsp oil

Preheat the oven to 350°F(176°C). Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil. Cut the potatoes into chunks, about two-bite sized. Place them on the cookie sheet, then drizzle with oil (don’t overdo it) and sprinkle on the spices. Using your hands, toss them to coat in the oil and spices.

When the oven is preheated, pop them in and set your timer for 35 minutes. About halfway through, toss them with a spatula to get the other side nice and cooked as well.

When the timer goes off, check with a fork for tenderness (doneness) and, if they aren’t, put them back in for 5-10 minutes. If they are, take them out to cool, and do your best not to eat them until they’re ready to handle.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Baking, Miscellaneous

Creamy tomato garlic bisque

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention to the recent weather reports, a cold snap has hit the Northwest, complete with snow, ice, and the usual crazy Seattlites who can’t drive in snow (or a light rain, for that matter.) We have a blanket of fluffy, crystalline snow all over, and it’s making the trees look like Christmas decorations, two weeks too late.

On the plus side, winter snow brings winter hungers, and I love nothing more than warm, hearty soups. And, since I’ve been dying to try this tomato bisque recipe for a while, I figured this would be a perfect time to try it. And to make things even better, this version of the soup serves two hungry people (or four appetizers) for less than 150 calories per (or 75, if you use it as an appetizer.) It’s light, airy, and full of flavor.

Now, I know you’ll have a few questions about the ingredients, and believe me, they’re all necessary, but, in explanation:

  • The soy and anchovies are for depth of flavor. They’re odd ingredients, I know, but they do worlds of good for the deep, rich flavor of this soup.
  • You can add more cream, or sour cream (M suggested neufchâtel , which I’m quite excited to try) to ramp up the creamy flavor, but this soup does well enough as is.
  • The roasted garlic definitely a win. I felt that it added a very subtle undertone to the soup that worked well.

Pheasant’s tomato bisque

4 beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes

3 roma tomatoes

3 cloves raw garlic

1/2 c finely chopped onion

2 tbsp roasted garlic mash (optional but recommended)

1 anchovy filet

1 tbsp soy sauce (Aloha brand highly suggested)

1 tsp vegetable oil (I used some of the roasted garlic oil)

1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth (optional)

1-3 basil leaves, to preference

1 tbsp ground dried rosemary (measure after grinding)

1 bay leaf

1/8 tsp cayenne

1 tbsp fat free sour cream (for garnish)

Using a paring knife, cut a small X into the bottom of each tomato, and cut the core out of the top. Fill a small (3-5 qt) sauce pot with water and bring it to a boil. While it’s heating, set up an empty bowl on the stove, as well as a bowl filled with cold water and ice cubes. Once the water is boiling, drop the tomatoes in one at a time. Count to fifteen slowly, then take them out with a slotted spoon and place them in the ice bath. You should see the skin beginning to peel off and split from the tomato at this point. After a moment, transfer the tomatoes into the empty bowl.

After each tomato has been boiled and bathed, rub the skin splits and peel the tomatoes. Set them aside. 

Empty the sauce pot of water and place it back on the burner, at medium heat. Add the oil and onion, as well as the rosemary and cayenne. Allow them to sweat and begin to brown. While they cook, mince the raw garlic very finely. Add it, stir, and add in the anchovy filet. Mash the filet to break it up a bit. Turn the burner down to low.

Slice and seed the peeled tomatoes. Seeding is critical here…if you don’t, you’ll have way too much liquid, and those seeds don’t taste very good. Dice them, and add about two tomatoes’ worth to the pot. Turn it up to medium and let that cook down while you dice the remaining tomatoes.

Allow the two diced tomatoes in the pan cook down until a medium fond develops. Deglaze with half the chicken broth and the soy sauce. Then, add the remaining tomatoes, the roasted garlic, basil leaves and the bay leaf. Allow it to simmer for about twenty minutes.

Using a hand blender, blend the soup to a smooth, silken consistency. If you don’t own a hand blender (like we don’t) allow it to cool, then blend in the blender or Magic Bullet.

After you’ve blended it, taste and correct for spices depending on your preferences, then dish it up, top it with sour cream (or cream, or softened cream cheese) and watch it disappear! 

Because of the soft, creamy and sweet tastes that go along with this soup, M and I served it up alongside some best-ever roasted potatoes (recipe to follow) and happily sat down to eat. I must warn you, this soup is soup-er filling (how could I write this entire post without using that pun?!) and one bowl was too much for either of us to handle in one sitting. Considering how I can pack away food…that’s really saying something. Enjoy!

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Filed under Seasonal, Soup, Winter