If I inspired you, I've done my job!

March 02, 2011

Let the melt down begin!

March is a beacon of spring. Before you know it, days will stretch out longer, sun will gain a wider angle and gain its warmth and everything will begin to melt in preparation for another rebirth.

This winter was not kidding with us and muffled up everything with snow layered in between crusty ice. Sort of like lasagna!

I'm not going to post a recipe of this yummy dish, not yet at least.

What's the big melt down? It is the one in the freezer section.

It surprises me how many people still buy frozen entrées from the grocery store. I understand that it saves time for those who are very busy, sometimes convenience doesn't pay off. And with all the information about unnecessary ingredients that compose many of these easy meals--such as sodium--people still don't want to spend a little extra time to make from scratch. Sometimes, the time required to heat this culinary parody is just enough to cook a fresh meal!

So, to get "inspired" I went to the freezer section. And I found plenty of inspiration, believe me! Most popular are the asian fried rice and noodle stir fry dishes. So today I'm posting my version of Chicken Fried Rice with vegetables.

Here's the inspiration (I took this photo with my phone camera):
By the time I cooked rice and boiled eggs (simultaneously but, of course in different pots) I was done with all the chopping. Here comes the disclaimer: I did, however, used frozen items--my mixed vegetables. But in my defense, the season is early and there's no fresh local veggies yet in our neck of the woods. Plus, frozen vegetables are not laden with any chemicals and usually frozen at their freshest, so sometimes (if not most of the time) they are much more nutritional then their out-of-season, out-of-state (or even country) "fresh" counterparts. For this recipe I used combined leftovers: mixed vegetables, sugar snap peas and broccoli and cauliflower.

I decided to omit all fancy sauces since my family likes to drizzle our fried rice with low sodium soy sauce and I serve it with hot chili sauce for myself for extra kick. I also topped the dish with some toasted sesame seeds, but it's optional, so I won't include it into the ingredient list. Along with all the "extras" from the list on the photo above, I also omitted sautéed onions.

In lieu of scrambled eggs, I used hard boiled. I chopped it with nifty (does anyone still use this word?) egg cutter. This gadget, although its name suggests only one use, is a true multitasking genius. If you don't already have it, you can't chop eggs, mushrooms, strawberries, kiwis and other semi-soft small food items into uniformed slices or chunks. Or maybe you can with your knife, but it takes more time.

When rice was ready, so was my trusty new wok--please do yourself a favor and invest in one!--it was getting warm on the stove...

Wild Chicken+Veggie Fired Rice

4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 cups wild rice (4 cups when cooked), cooked according package directions
(in 4 cups of water, usually 1:2 ratio)
about 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
2 cups mixed frozen vegetables, slightly thawed
1 8 oz jar of roasted peppers, cut across into strips
1 small bunch scallions. chopped
2 TB olive oil
1 TB spoon low sodium soy sauce
1 t spoon red pepper flakes
salt and ground black pepper to taste

  1. First cook rice and boil eggs while you chop the rest of the ingredients;
  2. Heat olive oil in a wok over a high heat add chicken and fry until pink disappears, stirring frequently to prevent burning, about 10 minutes; flavor chicken with soy sauce, red pepper flakes, pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper;
  3. Add vegetables, bring heat to medium-high and continue frying stirring frequently for another 8-10 minutes;
  4. When frozen vegetables are completely thawed and soft (don't overcook), add rice and continue frying over medium high heat, stirring occasionally (it's a stir-fry after all!)
  5. Lastly, add eggs and scallions and give it a nice big stir to mix everything well;
  6. Serve garnished with sesame seeds (optional) and soy and/or red hot sauce.
May be you spent a little more time then you would reheating (or as package suggest- cooking thoroughly) the frozen "inspiration" but you were in charge of your sodium intake and then some!

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