Category Archives: Pastas, grains and oatmeal

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

Creamy, easy rice casserole

Sometimes, there are just recipes that immediately make you think of home, fond childhood memories, and that warm, fuzzy feeling you got from warm food on a cold night. For me, one of those recipes is chicken divan, and I can’t even begin to tell you why.

I am not, unfortunately, making chicken divan for this recipe. Collective sigh… Tonight, I’m just hungry. Chicken divan takes about an hour to prepare, counting the cooking and shredding of chicken, and another forty-five minutes to bake. I didn’t have that kind of patience tonight, mostly because I worked all day and didn’t take a lunch. It does end up cramping my cooking style… This morning, however, I did have the foresight to take out some chicken thighs. But, when I got home, I knew above all else, I wanted something creamy, hot, and chicken divan-esque…so, I threw this recipe together. And good gracious, it was fantastic. Not chicken divan, but everything short of it.

This is cooked rice combined with condensed mushroom soup and some chopped veggies that creates a most luscious taste in your mouth…rice that melts in your mouth like a dream, surrounded by the creamy soup base that cooks up almost like a pudding. The vegetables studded throughout make it easy to eat and wonderful to look at. This is a great meal for kids, too, because the mild flavors work wonders with them. I only used carrots and onion in mine, but I can definitely see how chopped broccoli, cauliflower, peas, lima beans or even finely-chopped kale would be wolfed down in an instant by even a picky eater.

Pheasant’s Creamy Rice and Mushroom Casserole

1/2 c uncooked white rice

1 c water

1 10-oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup

chopped vegetables

garlic powder and cayenne to taste

Set your oven to 350°F (171°C.)

In a small sauce pot, combine the rice and water. Bring it to a boil, then lower to the barest simmer and allow it to cook. Once it’s finished, do not remove the lid. Simply remove the rice from the burner and set it aside; the steaming part is essential to separate grains and to avoid nasty, gluey rice.

While the rice is cooking, line a loaf pan (or double the recipe and use an 8×8 brownie pan) with tin foil. Spray the foil with Pam. Chop the vegetables into approximately uniform pieces and spread them in the pan. You don’t have to be pretty with it…they’ll get all mixed up anyway. Empty the entire can of soup mix into the baking pan and mix it with the vegetables. Empty the entire pan of rice into the baking pan and mix everything all together well, adding spices, tasting and correcting as you go.

Once it’s all mixed, pop that puppy in the oven for 30 minutes. Once finished, take it out and do your best not to eat it until somewhat more cooled. Serve up with your favorite protein, and enjoy!

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Filed under Pastas, grains and oatmeal

Pumpkin-oat Breakfast Brûlée (ramekins, part III)

Last night was full of nice things, pheasants, but it was also full of Thai food. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Thai food. I love it a little too much, if you know what I mean. And after nights of indulging like that, I enjoy nothing more than waking up and preparing a breakfast that is filling, light in calories, and simple, both in flavor and preparation.

With that in mind, I woke up and stared at the surplus of baked pumpkin we have sitting around and decided to whip up some pumpkin oat cakes, with a little touch of brûlée. It’s tasty, good for you, and fun to make! Little kids will love this recipe, I’m sure, topped with a little maple syrup and cream. Served as a dessert with some of my special hot cocoa (recipe to come) it would also make for a great dessert!

Pheasant’s Pumpkin-Oat Breakfast Brûlée

1 c pumpkin puree

4 tbsp oats, divided

butter to coat

1/2 tsp sugar

In a food processor or spice grinder, grind the dried oats until they form a flour. Lightly butter two ramekins and, using about 1/4 of the oat flour, dust them to coat. Move the remaining flour to a bowl and mix in the pumpkin puree. Divide the mixture bewteen the ramekins to bake, at 350°F (177°C) for 10 minutes.

Once the cakes are done, sprinkle sugar over the cakes and, using a brûlée torch or your broiler, melt the sugar until a thin crust forms. Let cool, and enjoy!

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Filed under Autumn, Baking, Pastas, grains and oatmeal, Seasonal

Why I prefer homemade gifts

No recipes today, pheasants. Let us all sigh collectively before moving on…done? Okay.

I wish we could start a revolution; a revolution where people stop flooding stores after Thanksgiving to buy up as much as their cars can carry. I imagine a world in which the mass populace gives out homemade gifts of appreciation and love to their friends and family. With this idea in mind, M and I settled down to watch a season of Good Eats (my favorite television show of all time, besides maybe Criminal Minds.) We were both immensely excited when a show about pickling came on, and I proposed to her, “Why don’t we give away pickles for Christmas gifts?” She seemed greatly excited over the idea, and I was too.

I don’t actually like pickles, you know. I can’t stand the taste of them. But M is nuts about them, and so are most of my family members. So, pickles it is.

I offer you a challenge today, pheasants:

Make a gift. Give a gift. It’s much more satisfying than buying the newest electronic gadget and giving it away.

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Filed under Pastas, grains and oatmeal

Adventures in quinoa land

Isn't that pretty?

Quinoa definitely isn’t something M and I make daily…although, looking on it, it really should be. This is a relatively cheap (25¢ per ounce for quinoa as opposed to 21¢ per ounce for rice) grain that’s packed with protein, manganese (nearly 50% of your daily needs!) and magnesium. It’s a great whole grain that’s easy to make, easy to eat, and makes the base for a mean salad.

The grain itself hails from the Peruvian region of South America, and is closer to grass than not. Quinoa itself is actually the grass’s seed, much like rice, oats, and flax.

M was not thrilled when I brought up quinoa as a food option. In fact, she looked at the finished, cooked product and said, “Wow, that looks like cra—ohh, uh. Yum?”

Not promising.

She isn’t really what I’d call a, ah, connoisseur, though, so I went ahead, mixed up my quinoa salad, and served it up like the proud mama I was.

Pheasants, do as I say, not as I do: I served the quinoa as a main dish, for our weekly vegetarian night. Nooooo. It took M’s untouched half of the salad and a margarita to fill me up afterward. M is right: this needs fish, chicken, shrimp…anything. But, it would make a lovely side dish for, say, roast chicken, or beef satay. It is not, however, the magically filling whole grain I’d dreamt of in my research of quinoa.

This recipe, however, was tasty, balanced and gracefully “Middle Eastern” in flavor. Definitely something I’ll come back to again and again…albeit, with some meat on the side.

Pheasant’s Quinoa Salad

1/2 c quinoa

1 c water (or chicken/vegetable/beef stock)

1 crushed garlic clove

1/4 tsp curry powder

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

2 roma tomatoes, chopped

feta cheese to taste

1 medium cucumber, seeded and chopped

1/8 c thinly sliced red onion

1/2 c pomegranate seeds

1/8 c cashews, chopped

salt to taste

2 tbsp poppy seed dressing

Set the quinoa in a pan (any small saucepan will do…I used the six inch saucepan we use for eggs) with the cup of liquid. Add the garlic clove, garlic powder, curry powder and 1/4 tsp salt in there, bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Time it for about 13 minutes.

In a large bowl, set the remaining ingredients, sans the salt, and mix well. When the quinoa is cooked, add it in as well. Mix and fluff, making sure to distribute all the ingredients throughout the quinoa. Taste, correct for salt and pepper, and serve!

Quinoa is a great alternative to the usual whole grains in your diet…you can use it as a breakfast cereal, or in place of rice or couscous in your usual meals.

Questionable content:

How do you like to use your quinoa? Do you prefer it sweet or savory? What are your favorite add-ins?

 

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It's not the prettiest cake ever, but it definitely was one of the tastiest!

I. Love. Halloween. It is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday of the entire year. I love the decorations, the excitement, the spooky stories…everything. But, most of all, pheasants, I love dressing up. Costuming is one of my favorite pastimes…I have a closet full of Snow White, Goddess, pirate and princess costumes back at my parents’ house. I love making my costumes and getting ready for Halloween. It drives M nuts. She firmly believes that once one hits puberty, all Halloween-ing goes out the window. I respectfully disagree. Halloween is my favorite time of the year.

And to celebrate this year’s excellent holiday, I decided to start off my day with a mini upside-down apple cake. As we were falling asleep last night, I was telling M how much I’d like to do a layered oatmeal cake, and it got me thinking…why wait? I love upside down cakes, almost as much as I love cheesecake (which is a lot!) I think they’re fun, tasty, and absolutely amazing. Also, what could be easier and nicer for a chilly morning breakfast than some warm, creamy baked oatmeal layered with sweet and cinnamony apples?

I will admit it…I was very tempted to make my Pheasant’s Shirred Eggs again…but I find that when I eat oatmeal in the mornings, I make better food choices during the rest of my day.

After yesterday’s oatmeal cake (my first oatmeal cake ever, mind you!) I’ve decided that I’d like to bake mine a bit less, because I like a softer interior. And pheasants…it came out phenomenally. The apples were soft and full of flavor, the oatmeal creamy in the center and firm on the sides. It was glorious. I didn’t add sugar to the oatmeal itself this time, because the apples were sweet and I added honey to the bottom (inverted top) layer while building it. I’d definitely recommend this for any type of fruit…cherries, strawberries, blackberries. Use them frozen if you’ve got them, and just use a little less water in the recipe. Use your imagination, pheasants! For, as Albert Einstein said, “Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination can take you anywhere.”

Baked Oatmeal Upside Down Cake

1/2 c. oats, less 2 tbsp

1/4 c. water

1/3 medium apple (I used a Gala)

1/2 tsp honey

1/4 tbsp  heavy cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

As much cinnamon as you like!

So, pheasants, you know the drill: set that oven to 375°F (191°C for my Canadian and international pheasants.) In a spice grinder, pulse a pinch of oats until flour. Add this flour to a bowl, then add in the oats, cinnamon, cream and water. Mix it together, then set it aside. Chop up the apple into small bits (about twice the size of a grain of rice was what I went with.) For the first layer, set a thick layer of apples on the bottom of the ramekin. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and drizzle honey over it all. Mix it up with a spoon and spread it out again. Then, put about half the oatmeal mixture on top, spreading it out so everything touches the walls. Repeat with one more layer of apples (cinnamon- and honey-free this time) and then spoon in the remaining oatmeal. Spread it all out well, and then pop that baby in the oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on how chewy you like your oats, and how soft you like it inside.

Questionable content: 

Are there any recipes in particular you’d like to see me try?

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Filed under Pastas, grains and oatmeal

Things you can make in a ramekin, part I

Pheasants, I have glorious news for you! Today, M and I went to the Seattle Premium Outlets and we got two of the most beautiful little ramekins from Le Creuset (in Cobalt and Cherry, if you’re curious.) Thus sparked the idea in me of a little series I’m starting, called “things you can make in a ramekin.”

To start with, pheasants, what is a ramekin?

This is a ramekin.

Well, it’s a little round bowl, like a tiny pot, without a lid. Generally, they’re made of ceramic. The term itself (French, ramequin) is from the Middle German and Dutch via French. From what I’ve researched, it seems like a tie between them, because root words in Middle German and Middle Dutch that seem to have become the term ramekin meant “little cream” or “toast,” respectively. Why, I’ve no idea. Mostly, they’re little glazed dishes for baking, serving dips and utilizing as little snack bowls. However, M and I sat down when we got home and I had an idea: these small dishes are so handy with their (usually) single-serving sizes; why not come up with some recipes for ramekins that will help create easy, delicious and beautiful meals, personalized to each individual?

To begin the series which, I hope, will help you find new and exciting ways to eat your breakfasts, lunches and suppers, I want to tell you how much I love anything in its own “personal serving dish.” Small amounts of food in small dishes is one of my most favorite things, hence why today I’m making a shirred egg for breakfast and an oatmeal cake to go with my lunch.

First, I’d like to point out the wonderful things about shirred eggs: they’re easy, tasty, and you can pile vegetables underneath them to make them significantly healthier than just an egg in a ramekin. Also, for all you college students, shirred eggs are quick and easy, with minimal cleanup (no pan and spatula to wash!) Serve it up with some strong tea and toast soldiers (toasted bread cut into long strips) and you’ve got yourself a beautiful European breakfast fit for royalty.

As for baked oatmeal, it’s healthy and lovely. It can be sweet (I love sweet!) or savory (cheese and chives, anyone?) Once you’ve got the basic recipe down, I’m of the mindset that you can do just about anything with them. Bake up five or six and set them in the fridge to grab for breakfast when you’re in a hurry!

Pheasant’s Baked Oatmeal

1/2 c. oats (not the minute oats or flavored, packaged stuff)

1 tbsp fat-free cream cheese

1/8 c. 2% milk

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

First, Pam your ramekin well so nothing sticks to it. Preheat your oven to 375°F (about 191°C.) Then, in a regular bowl, mix up the oats, cream cheese, milk, cinnamon and extract. If you want an easier time mixing in the cream cheese, you can nuke it a bit. Alternatively, if you’re worried about sticking power (as I was) you can take about a teaspoon’s worth of oats before you mix and pulse it in a spice grinder to make an oat flour. Once all this is done, stick the ramekin in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Let it sit for a moment, then, enjoy!

Because the caloric and nutritional counter I use is currently down, there’s no nutritional information included. However, this recipe has about 231 calories.

Shirred Eggs, Pheasant Style

1 egg

1/2 tbsp heavy cream

A few pinches hard, white cheese (maybe 1/2 tsp)

1/2 c. spinach

2 tbsp salmon, raw

1 tbsp onions, chopped

1 tbsp green onions, chopped

If you don’t have the salmon and onions (I actually used about four tablespoons of lomi salmon for this) you can definitely substitute it for tomatoes, onions, cheese, or whatever else you like eating with your eggs.

Preheat your oven to 375°F (191°C.) Pam your ramekin well (we don’t want sticky messes!) then, place the salmon, onions and spinach in the bottom. Crack an egg over it. Stick this in your preheated oven for about nine minutes. Then, take it out and drip the cream over the top, as well as any seasonings you like (I used cayenne and sea salt) and the chees. Stick it back in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes (ten will yield a runny yolk, whereas twelve will give it more firmness.) Take it out and let it sit, then enjoy!

Servings: 1 ~ Calories: 150 ~ Fat: 9g ~ Carbs: 3g ~Protein 12.5g ~ Sodium: 93m

Note: I have decided that shirred eggs done this way is most definitely my favorite breakfast of all time. The mix of salmon, onions, spinach and egg made for such a savory, flavorful and beautiful meal, I could hardly wait to make it again the second I’d finished it!

Questionable content:

What types of foods would you like to see me mini-fy and make inside a ramekin?

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Filed under All things eggs, Pastas, grains and oatmeal