Hubby’s Fried Rice

We both love fried rice, but we both hate eggs.  I don’t know how many folks know this, but every Asian restaurant in Tacoma includes eggs in their fried rice.  Fortunately, my husband does a fabulous rendition of fried rice.  Therefore, it’s time for a guest post from The Hubby!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rice
  • water
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 cups frozen stir-fry vegetables
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2-3 Tablespoons hoisin sauce

Preparation:

  1. Cook rice in rice cooker, following manufacturer’s instructions (or cook it on a stovetop, however you would normally cook white rice)
  2. Once rice is done, heat oil in large frying pan over high heat until shimmering.
  3. Carefully add frozen vegetables (the oil will splash when the ice hits it) and sauté until they begin to thaw.
  4. Add steamed rice and both sauces.  Stir periodically until cooked through.

The Verdict:

I ALWAYS love Hubby’s rice, and tonight was no different!  Sometimes he gets these awesome crunchy bits to it, but he said tonight that he doesn’t think our current stove gets hot enough for that.  I know that crunchy rice sounds weird, but it adds a great texture when some of the rice has been browned to a crisp finish.  Let us know what you think!

Roasted Carrots

This recipe is my version of America’s Test Kitchen’s New Best Recipe roasted carrots.  They actually call for baby carrots in the recipe (yeah, those already-peeled nubs that you buy in a bag), but since we’re using CSA veggies, I just peeled and sliced some of our fresh-from-the-farm carrots instead!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1″-2″ lengths
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Preparation:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475°.  Toss the carrots, oil, and salt in the broiler pan bottom.  Spread the carrots in a single layer and roast for 12 minutes.  Shake the pan to toss the carrots.  Continue roasting, shaking the pan twice more, until the carrots are browned and tender, about 8 minutes longer.  Serve immediately.

The Verdict:

You would really think, with a recipe this simple, that I could get my act together and get some side dishes on the table, right?  You’d think.  Maybe it’s because I only have one oven.  Maybe that’s it.  Maybe if I had two ovens, I could cook multiple things for dinner.  Maybe it’s because I have a firm belief that one-dish meals are the only way to go, regardless of whether they have more than one food group in them.  I don’t know.  Maybe you’ll be reading this blog a year from now and I suddenly will have figured out how to do the whole side-dish thing.  Please don’t hold your breath.  I wouldn’t want you to turn blue.

Twice-Baked Potatoes

I found my inspiration in America’s Test Kitchen’s New Best Recipe, and made a few changes, based on what I had on hand.  Here’s the note that they include in the recipe book:

To vary the flavor a bit, try substituting other types of cheese, such as Gruyere, fontina, or feta, for the cheddar.  Yukon Gold potatoes, though slightly more moist than our ideal, gave our twice-baked potatoes a buttery flavor and mouthfeel that everyone liked, so we recommend them as a substitution for the russets.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed, dried, and rubbed lightly with vegetable oil
  • 4 total ounces sharp white cheddar, swiss, and regular medium cheddar cheeses, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 medium scallions, sliced thin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ground black pepper

Preparation:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Bake the potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet until the skin is crisp and deep brown and a skewer easily pierces the flesh, about 1 hour.  Setting the baking sheet aside, transfer the potatoes to a wire rack and let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
  2. Using an oven mitt or a folded kitchen towel to handle the hot potatoes, cut each potato in half so that the long, blunt sides rest on a work surface.  Using a small spoon, scoop the flesh from each half into a medium bowl, leaving 1/8 to 1/4 inch of the flesh in each shell.  Arrange the shells on the lined baking sheet and return them to the oven until dry and slightly crisped, about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, mash the potato flesh with a fork until smooth.  Stir in the remaining ingredients, including pepper to taste, until well combined.
  3. Remove the shells from the oven and increase the oven setting to broil.  Holding the shells steady on the baking sheet with an oven mitt or towel-protected hand, spoon the mixture into the crisped shells, mounding it slightly at the center, and return the potatoes to the oven.  Broil until spotty brown and crisp on top, 10 to 15 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes.  Serve warm.

Hamburgers

Hubby & I have been making hamburgers together for years, so we’ve got it down to a science at this point!

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound lean ground beef
  • 1 slice sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into quarters
  • 2 tablespoons milk, or more as needed
  • ground black pepper
  • finely chopped onion and garlic (optional)
  • cheese (cheddar, Swiss, pepper jack; whatever you like)
  • Dijon mustard
  • sprouts
  • thinly sliced onion
  • Hamburger buns (our favorites are the onion flavor)
  • Optional: avocado, pickles, tomatoes

Preparation:

  1. Place bread and milk in medium bowl and mash with fork.  Let it sit for a few minutes, and mash again, adding milk as necessary until a paste forms.  Add hamburger, pepper, and onion/garlic (if using) and mix by hand until thoroughly combined
  2. Form hamburger mixture into two to four patties and place on Cuisinart Griddler fitted with grill plates. (If you don’t have this awesome accessory, you can also fry the patties in a large frying pan over medium heat, flipping halfway through cooking.)
  3. Add cheese just before patties finish cooking, and prop top of Griddler up so that it is not touching the cheese (alternate method: add cheese after you’ve flipped the patties, and cover frying pan with lid to melt the cheese).
  4. Meanwhile, spread mustard on the bottom half of each bun.  When patties are finished, place one patty on each bun and top with onion slices, sprouts, and any other toppings you wish.

The Verdict:

Hubby has put up reasonably well with the mostly vegetarian diet we’ve been on recently.  He does see how much cheaper it is to not buy meat, but he is not sold on the concept of vegetarianism.  (For that matter, I’m not actually sold on it; I just would rather have our food budget last for an entire week than only make 2 meals with it).  We’re splurging a bit this week (and last), to reward ourselves for not getting drive-through when we’ve craved it.  We’re trying to adjust our lifestyle even more towards the “eat at home” model, and making sure that we’re still addressing our cravings and serving our favorite foods goes a long way towards that goal!

We love these burgers.  They’re always moist (from the panade) and flavorful (from the onion & garlic inside the patties).  They have a juiciness that you just don’t find with most fast-food options, and they end up being cheaper for all the ingredients than it is to go to the drive-through once.  Not to mention the fact that we have some idea what goes into the burgers we make at home!

Spaghetti and Meatballs and Squash (oh, my!)

Although this is where I usually list my “inspiration,” this meal was one of our traditional meals from America’s Test Kitchen, adapted to the ingredients we had on hand (mostly including leftovers).  I really enjoyed it, so I hope you give it a try!

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash
  • olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled & put through a garlic press (divided)
  • 3 shallots, minced (divided)
  • approximately 4 cups whole peeled tomatoes canned in their own juice (see notes)
  • chopped fresh basil to taste
  • approximately 4 ounces lean ground beef
  • 1 slice sandwich bread, crusts removed (we used whole wheat and flax because it’s what we had on hand, but I usually use a high-quality sandwich bread or a couple of slices from a french loaf if I’m making garlic bread with the meal).
  • milk
  • shredded parmesan cheese
  • dried spaghetti

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Slice squash in half and remove seeds.  Drizzle a small amount of olive oil into each half of the squash and spread oil over the entire squash (both skin and flesh sides) with your hands.  Bake squash on parchment-lined cookie sheet until tender.  The squash is done when a fork or skewer slides into the flesh with minimal resistance. (Can be baked up to two days ahead and stored, wrapped in plastic, in the refrigerator).
  2. Meanwhile, rip bread into approximately 4 pieces and place in small mixing bowl with a splash of milk.  With a dinner fork, mash the bread until it forms a paste with the milk.  You can add more milk as needed until you get a smushy consistency.  Add half the garlic and shallots along with all of the beef to the bread mixture and mix with hands to combine.
  3. Form smallish (1″ diameter) meatballs and place on an additional cookie sheet.  Bake meatballs in the same oven as the squash until browned and sizzling.  Since these are made with a panade (the bread/milk combo), it’s really hard to overcook them, so don’t be afraid to give them a little longer than you normally would.  They’ll also be reheated in the sauce, so it’s pretty difficult to under-cook them.
  4. Puree the canned tomatoes in a food processor until smooth.
  5. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large fry pan over medium heat.  Add shallots and sauté until soft, approximately 2 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until just fragrant, 30 seconds or so.  Add pureed tomatoes and heat through.
  6. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
  7. Add basil to the tomato mixture and continue to cook for a few more minutes.  Once the squash has finished cooking, scoop the flesh directly into the tomato sauce.  If you are cooking the entire recipe in one night, use caution while handling the hot squash.  Add Parmesan cheese to taste.
  8. Add meatballs to the sauce and heat through.
  9. Cook spaghetti according to package directions and serve topped with sauce.  You can top with additional Parmesan if you desire.

Note:

  • We only used whole canned tomatoes and pureed them because we had leftovers from another recipe.  I would normally make this recipe with either canned diced or crushed tomatoes, and skip step 4.

The Verdict:

We love spaghetti and meatballs, and we got our original meatball recipe from America’s Test Kitchen New Best Recipe.  These meatballs are not quite as tasty as theirs, but since we had so many parts going on with this meal already, we skipped the step where you brown the meatballs in oil.  I can only handle so many dirty pots & pans from one meal!

The sauce ended up really flavorful and thick because of the squash.  Although there was not any specifically squash flavor that I could tell (which sort of disappointed me, because I do like my squash), there was a heartiness and an oranginess that I liked.  I think this would be a really good recipe for someone to try that has squash to use but is either sick of the flavor or isn’t sure they like squash.  I had originally baked the squash a few days before, to use in a different recipe that I never got around to, so using the one we had this way seemed like a good idea.

All-in-all, this was a delicious rendition of one of our standbys and we’d likely try it again under similar circumstances.  In the future, I do however want to experiment with other pasta & squash recipes that really highlight the squash flavor.