Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Quick & Easy Fried Rice

About a year ago I was what you would have called "mostly organized". My house was cleaned top to bottom every Saturday. I had a meal plan for each week and had groceries stocked at any given moment. I knew what days we had basketball practice, church meetings, and play dates. Everything in my house had a place and, if one of my kids or my husband asked where something was, I could direct them to the correct place to find said item.

Fast forward one year. Insert new baby in June.

Now this baby isn't my first. He's my fourth child. But something about moving from three to four kids turned my world upside down. I all of a sudden didn't have time to plan meals or grocery shop. I forgot meetings, misplaced coupons and gift cards (I'm still having a hard time getting over that!), and scrambled to keep my house halfway clean. During those first few months of my new baby's life I got really creative with dinners. I have picky eaters and a small grocery budget, so eating out or prepackaged foods are not an option. This recipe here was a lifesaver! It's kid friendly, cheap, and makes a ton. Seriously. A ton. We eat it for dinner, my husband takes leftovers for lunch, I eat it for lunch, and there is still enough to use the next day or so.

And this recipe can easily be changed up to suit your likes and what you have on hand. Use whatever meat you want, or skip it all together. Don't have onions? Use green onions. Celery is optional (carrots are not!). If I have cabbage on hand I'll slice some up really thin and add it to my veggie mix. Eggs are usually added in my recipes, but sometimes I get lazy and don't put them in. The recipe can be halved too for a smaller amount (this recipe easily feeds eight!). I usually use kielbasa (or rope sausage) and, I know, it's not really authentic to the meal. But my family prefers it because it gives the dish a great flavor. But really, the best part is that it whips up pretty fast, and once the veggies are cut, I can prepare it with one hand, while holding a baby in the other!
Your ingredient line-up
Dice your carrots, celery, and onions. I use the celery and the leaves of the celery. Don't throw them out! They have lots of flavor (I use them in stews too!)
I had to take a picture - it's so pretty!
When your pan and oil are hot add your veggies. Fry for about 2 minutes. Stir it every minute or so to make sure it doesn't burn.
Add meat and cook another 3 or 4 minutes or until veggies are tender (if using raw chicken, cook it first in the pan for 2 minutes and then add the veggies and cook.)
Reduce heat to medium. Scoop rice into pan. (This is why you'll want to use a big pan or wok!)
Add soy sauce. I usually eyeball the amount, but it's around 1/3 cup. Just enough to cover the rice. Taste it and add more if you need to!
Stir in peas and let them warm through.
While your peas warm (that sounds funny), heat a medium pan on high with about 1 tablespoon of oil. Add your bowl of whisked eggs once the pan is hot (you'll want to wait until it is hot - I usually drip a little bit of egg into the oil and if it sizzles right away you're good). Don't stir the egg - let it set up like an omelet. Once the top of the egg is no longer runny, flip it over and cook another minute or so.
Add to pan and break apart with spoon. You can just scramble your eggs in the pan, but this way breaks smaller and the fried egg is fluffy and, to me, more "fried-rice-ish". So just try it this way, okay?
Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of sesame oil on the rice. Stir to combine and taste it (see, being the cook has it's perks!). You can add more to taste, but know that with sesame oil, a little goes a long ways! If you've never cooked with sesame oil it will change your life! It's a little pricey but you only use a little at a time. And I've got other recipes to share that will help you use this wonderful stuff!
I dish up the rice and let my kids sprinkle their own sesame seeds. It's like decorating a cupcake, but for dinner. And with rice, not cake. Anyway, they love sesame seeds!
Yum! I'm digging in!

Quick & Easy Fried Rice
by Celeste

3 cups uncooked rice
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 onion, diced
1 rope sausage, diced, or 1 lb. ham, diced, or 1 lb. chicken, cubed
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 12oz package frozen peas
3 eggs
Sesame oil
Sesame seeds
Vegetable oil

Cook rice according to package directions (or in your rice cooker). Set aside.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pan or wok on high. When it's hot add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook 2 minutes. Add sausage or ham (if using raw chicken cook it first for 2 minutes and then add vegetables). Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring often so it doesn't burn. Lower heat and add cooked rice, soy sauce, and peas. Stir to combine.

In a medium pan, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons oil on high. In a small bowl lightly whisk eggs together. When the pan and oil are hot, add the eggs. When the eggs are set on top (not runny) flip over and cook another minute. Add to rice mixture and, using a spoon, break apart and mix in. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon sesame oil (add more to taste) and garnish with sesame seeds. Serve hot or cold.

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