Veggie Fried Rice

Fried rice is one of the best “quick & easy” dishes out there. It’s filling, economical, and versatile. The perfect way to clean out the refrigerator at the end of the week! This time around I used carrots, peas, scallions, bean sprouts, and a scrambled egg. I’ll usually make this as a side dish whenever I make my mother-in-law’s famous egg rolls. I always had leftover bean sprouts, and I hated to let them go to waste. This was a great way to use them up, as well as being a way to fill tummies up that isn’t fried, or as labor-intensive.

You do have to think a bit ahead of time when it comes to the rice. Using rice that has been chilled is key to a good fried rice. If you use fresh, hot rice – you’ll end up with a sticky ball of mess. By using cooled rice, the grains of rice stay separated – creating the perfect fried rice. I also love the addition of egg to the mix. You don’t see egg in fried rice that often anymore, and it’s something I always loved, so I knew I wanted to add that as well.

It makes a pretty large batch, enough to eat for dinner one night and a couple of extra servings for lunch. You could certainly add a protein as well, if you wanted to make it a complete one-dish meal. Shrimp or chicken are my favorites. Just saute in the pan, and remove before cooking the veggies. A favorite that is guaranteed to be made again and again. Enjoy!

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

In my quest to make more and more things homemade in my kitchen, I was shocked to realize I hadn’t tried and shared a great recipe for a homemade buttermilk ranch dressing. I’d been relying on the packet style mix – which is still better tasting than the stuff from the bottle, and more economical. It’s also full of weird stuff I can’t pronounce in the ingredient list, which is just no good!

Not the case with this version. Basic ingredients found in your refrigerator, a mix of herbs (dried and fresh) and a touch of fresh garlic from the pantry, and you’ve got yourself a delicious homemade salad dressing that comes together in just a few moments. It keeps for a couple of weeks too, which is also convenient. We love to dip fresh veggies into it for an after-school snack or while waiting for dinner to finish up. Or, it’s also pretty amazing to dip pizza crusts into as well.

I’m always happy to find yet another item that I can kick the store-bought variety to the curb for, and I’m stoked to add this one to my repertoire. 

Source: adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook via Confections of a Foodie Bride

Bourbon Chicken

I know I’ve been on a Mardi Gras recipe rampage this past week here on the site, but I have just one more to share with you guys. And this one is wonderful any time of year! I remember getting Bourbon Chicken in the mall food court in Annapolis when I was growing up – at a place called The Big Easy. Even though my teenage heart was prone to Sbarro, I couldn’t resist the tender chicken in the rich sauce over a bed of rice once I’d tried it. They liked to suck you in with samples as you walked by!

I got to thinking about those days a few weeks ago, and tried my hand at making it at home. I’ve tried to make it once or twice before, but the recipes I’d used always fell short. Mainly due to the fact that none of them contained bourbon, I’d imagine. Now, from what I understand – the dish is named after the street in New Orleans…not the liquor. But, knowing those crazy Cajuns – why wouldn’t they use bourbon given the chance?

So I threw some of that in the sauce, changed a few of the ingredient ratios to get it where I wanted it – and I’m happy to report that this recipe is a winner! I only had chicken breasts, but am really looking forward to trying it with thighs next time – because they really are more tender and juicy. But, it was still great with the boobs. We all enjoyed it, and have already had a request or two since I made it a few weeks ago. So it will definitely be on the menu again soon! If you’re looking for something relatively quick and easy to make tomorrow night to celebrate Mardi Gras and New Orleans – add this to the menu!

Source: adapted from Food.com

Greek Salad

The week before last I shared my new favorite salad dressing recipe, so I thought it was only prudent to share my favorite salad that goes with it. Greek salads are so basic, but definitely more special than your run-of-the-mill tossed green salad. There’s something about the zesty flavors of the kalamata olives and feta cheese that have always made this salad a superstar in my book.

I’ve mentioned before that one thing we have around here in our rural area is plenty of good Greek food, as several Greek families, whom are all related – relocated to our area ages ago and opened up restaurants. They take pride in always having the best ingredients when it comes to olives, olive oils, and cheeses. So, my first taste of a Greek salad was at a small place called Ocean Deli – and it’s pretty tough to beat.

Andy puts roasted green peppers on his Greek salads, and I think it really sets it apart from all the others I’ve tried over the years. So, I always add that to the ones I make here at home. I always try to stock up on good feta cheese while I’m in the big city too. You know, the variety that’s packed in brine and usually made with sheep’s milk…or at least a combination of cow and sheep’s milk. I find it’s always creamier than the other stuff. But, in a pinch – a standard supermarket feta suffices just fine.

I have been packing this salad for Jon to take to lunch at least 2 days a week for 2 years now, and he’s never gotten tired of it. I often make it for side salads as well, or even topped with some grilled chicken – it makes a delicious light meal in the warmer months. I’m pretty sure if you make it once, you’ll find yourself making it often too! A kitchen standard for sure!