Barbecue Fried Rice

Recently we were gifted a large amount of smoked, pulled pork from a friends.  We filled our freezer with containers of it (seriously, it was so much meat!) and have since been coming up with unique ways to incorporate it into our weekly meals.  This is by no means a complaint - it’s some really delicious meat, and has been so fun to play around with.

I meal plan each week without fail and honestly don’t know how I’d cook each night without it.  I love cooking, but when it comes to dinner time, I just don’t have the ability to decide what to cook.  I just want to glance at my plan and go. One night recently I could not remember what I planned to make and of course had lost the slip of paper I wrote it on.

Enter a container of pulled pork from our freezer.  Fried rice is a common meal for us, and I thought a barbecue take on it would be delicious.  I wasn’t wrong. This is one of our favorite meals we’ve eaten recently, and it’s one that will be repeated with variations in the future.  

It’s a quick and simple recipe.  I cooked some rice (leftover works even better if you have it), and while the rice was cooling, sauteed some chopped vegetables.  The cooked rice, meat, vegetables, and some barbecue sauce simmered for a few minutes. All told, it was 30 minutes or less before dinner was on the table.  Not bad for a meal thrown together at the last minute!

I know this is far from traditional fried rice, but it uses the same techniques.  It’s a favorite dinner for us because it’s so flexible. It’s especially delicious topped with chopped scallions, a fried egg, and hot sauce.  Everyone in my family, including an increasingly picky three year old and out baby, absolutely loved this one!

 

Barbecue Fried Rice

Serves 4, generously

2 cups rice, cooked

2 cups meat, cooked*

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

1 bell pepper, chopped

⅓ cup barbecue sauce*

2 tbsp water*

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp pepper

For topping, as desired

Sliced scallions, fried eggs, additional barbecue sauce, hot sauce

  1. In a wok or very large skillet, heat 1 tbsp oil over high heat until hot.  Stir fry mushrooms and pepper until very brown, stirring frequently, 3 - 4 minutes.

  2. Push vegetables to the outside of the pan, leaving a circle in the middle.  Add the rest of the oil (and possibly more if needed to coat pan). Spread rice in the center of the pan and cook, undisturbed for about 3 minutes, until it starts to brown.

  3. Add meat to pan and stir to combine meat, vegetables, and rice.  Add barbecue sauce, water, garlic powder, and pepper and mix well.

  4. Cook for 2-3 more minutes, until sauce and meat are heated through.  Taste to check seasoning. Add more sauce or water to achieve desired flavor and consistency.  

  5. Remove from heat and serve with desired toppings.

Notes:

*As mentioned, I used leftover smoked, pulled pork.  Any cooked meat would work. You could also substitute a pound of ground meat and brown before adding if you don’t have another meat to add

*I used a mustard based sauce this time.  We’ve enjoyed it with tomato based sauces as well.  The amount of sauce needed may vary depending on how thick/thin it is and how strong of a taste it has.  You could start with less sauce and add more after you’ve tasted.

*I wanted to add a little more liquid to the dish without adding more sauce, so the sauce taste wasn’t too overpowering.  You could add more sauce in place of the water or omit completely, depending on your tastes.




 

Friday Favorites 1

Happy Friday!  This week was a doozy.  I have a 3 year old who is sweet and loving one minute and a holy terror the next.  Threenagers, am I right? Our 7 month old is deep in the throws of teething/growing/never wanting to be away from mom.  I am wiped! Even though I’m a stay at home mom, the weekend always brings a nice change of pace.

I read a fair number of blogs and while I love them as a resource for workouts and recipes, I really love getting to know the people behind the blog.  I also love seeing what other people are into and getting new recommendations for things to try.

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Here are a few things I'm loving lately!

  1. SimpleModern Waterbottle                                                                                                    I drink a TON of water, but lately have found myself getting a little lazy about my water consumption. My sister-in-law gave me this water bottle for Christmas and it is perfect.  I have the 64oz version (yes, a half gallon!). My goal is to drink a gallon of water a day and I love that I don’t have to stop all the time to refill. It’s insulated, so it keeps the water really cold and this particular one is much cheaper than similar versions.  It gets heavy when its full, but I discovered that our silicone reusuable straws are the perfect size for it. I drop one in there, put it on the kitchen counter, and can grab a sip anytime I walk past.

  2. Bullet Proof Coffee                                                                                                                  Ok, I’m very late to the game on this one, but I have been loving this lately. It’s been on my radar for several years, but I hadn’t gotten around to actually making any.  A friend made us some at the beginning of the year and my husband and I have been obsessed.

  3. FitnessBlender.com Workouts                                                                                                     I really enjoy working out. It’s a stress reliever, and I’m a much happier person when I get it in a few days a week. At my current stage of life, a gym membership isn’t a feasible option.  I’ve tried tons of at home workouts and these are my favorite by far! It’s a husband and wife team who have put together hundreds of workouts FOR FREE. They are fabulous!

  4. SODelicious cashew milk ice cream                                                                                        I’m nursing my 7 month old and we discovered a few months ago he doesn’t do well with dairy.  I’m hoping he’ll grow out of it (usually around a year, I hear), but I’m staying dairy free. I’ve tried a handful of dairy free ice creams and some of them are a hard pass.  This cashew milk one is the closest to the real deal for me - plenty creamy and no weird after taste.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  We have a quick trip to the beach to visit some friends and I am excited!

Sweet and Spicy Lettuce Wraps

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope the weekend was a good one.  Ours was filled with plenty of chores at home.  I mowed the lawn on Saturday - how is that possible in March?!?  We’ve been in FL less than a year and it still feels so weird to have all these outside opportunities at this time of year.  I am absolutely not complaining about it!

If you’re looking for fast, flavorful, and budget friendly, this one is for you!  I have to say that describes the vast majority of the meals we eat. Meat is stretched with vegetables or grains to go a little further.  Ton of vegetables are added throughout because they’re healthy and honestly, we love them. Yes, I know we’re weird! Rarely do I make a meal without lots of flavors or spice, because why eat boring food?   

If you do any sort of Asian inspired cooking, the sauce ingredients are probably all pantry staples.  If you’re new to this, they are definitely worth the investment! You’ll have the components for so many different meals.  This really is a quick one. Even with vegetable chopping, you should be able to have this on on the table in 20-25 minutes.  Perfect for those busy weeknights!

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Directions

1 bell pepper

8 oz mushrooms

1 medium zucchini

4 scallions

1 lb ground meat (lean turkey, chicken, or pork)

Sauce

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp sweet chili sauce

2 tbsp hoisin sauce

1 tbsp chili garlic paste*

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tablespoons water

2 tsp oil

For serving

Lettuce leaves* (Bibb or Boston lettuce works best)

Chopped cucumber, green onions, and cilantro, for topping

Cooked rice, if desired

 

1. Finely chop vegetables.  Set aside.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add one tsp oil and meat and cook, stirring frequently, until brown, about 10 minutes.

3. Add veggies and cook until brown and soft, about 5 minutes.

4. While veggies are cooking, mix together sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

5. Reduce heat to medium and add sauce to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally until sauce has thickened slightly.

6. Serve in lettuce leaves with desired toppings

NOTES:

* This makes for a fairly spicy sauce.  You may with to reduce the amount and add extra as needed.

*If lettuce isn't your thing, this is delicious just served over rice or in tortillas or another wrap.

Roasted Chickpea Power Bowls

One of my favorite parts of having kids is the fun things they say.  Our 3 year old is a major talker, sounds like he’s 3 going on 30, and is just a ball of fun.  He can’t remember chickpeas, however, and routinely calls them chickies.  It just makes me smile.

I absolutely adore bowl style meals for so many reasons. We eat them frequently, at least once per week, but often more.  It’s just so much more fun to dig into a colorful bowl of food for some reason.

They are such a wonderful mix of flavors and textures. They are totally customizable - don’t like or have a particular ingredient? Sub one you do like and have on hand! My son loves to help construct his own, and I find it helps him have an open mind about trying new things.

Don’t let the long ingredient list or multiple components scare you. This one comes together quickly. While the chickpeas and vegetables roast, I cook rice, chop up toppings, and stir together a quick sauce. This is definitely a formula for a meal. You can switch out the vegetables, type of protein, and seasoning in almost limitless combinations. I’d love to hear any favorite versions you have!

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Directions

For the chickpeas

2 cans chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and dried

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp curry powder

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

For the bowls

2 cups cooked grains (I used basmati rice)*

Roasted vegetables (8 oz mushrooms, 2 zucchini, 1 onion)*

Raw vegetables (cucumber, green onion, tomato)*

Cumin dressing (recipe below)

Cumin dressing

1/2 cup mayo or plain yogurt (or a combo)*

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 lemon, juiced

Pinch of salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400. In a medium bowl add all ingredients for the chickpeas. Stir well until everything is combined and spices are well distributed. Spread on a sheet pan. Roast for 30 minutes or until golden, stirring half way through.

On a separate pan, combine zucchini, onion, and mushrooms.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast until golden brown and softened, about 15 minutes.

While the chickpeas and vegetables cook, combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Leftovers will keep for a few days in the fridge and are wonderful warm or cold.

Notes:

* If carbs are a concern, this also great on top of a bed of mixed greens as a salad

*You can use whatever vegetables you desire for roasting.  These are ones I always have on hand.  Bell peppers are great thrown in the mix as well

*Like the roasted vegetables, these bowls can be topped with whatever you desire.  I love having a mix of raw and fresh vegetables in the bowls

*Feel free to use a combination of yogurt and mayo for the dressing.  I typically use mostly plain yogurt and add in 1-2 tbsp mayo

Summer Vegetable Salad

When it comes to nutrition, I try to approach it from a position of balance. The day to day diet for my family is full of as many whole foods as possible, with treats thrown in from time to time. My two year old is (knock on wood) an exceptionally good eater - there is very little, including vegetables, he won’t eat.  I count myself very lucky.

When I’m pregnant, however, all of this goes out the window.  I’m currently pregnant with our 2nd child, and I apologize weekly to our unborn baby for feeding it donuts and cereal constantly.  My husband and I routinely joke that there’s no doubt either of our children our his, as I only crave meat, cheese, and carbs.  Vegetables are exceptionally disgusting to me currently, so when I find a way to make them palatable, I jump on it.

Enter this salad.  It's a summer favorite, pregnant or not. Light and fresh, it's plenty flavorful without being heavy.  It makes a great side to grilled meat or mixed with a whole grain for a simple meatless meal.  This is really more of a method than a recipe.  Take whatever vegetables are in season and sound the best and mix them in a bowl with a few extras for flavor.  Don't like a vegetable I used?  Substitute something else! The variations are endless: change up the types or colors of the vegetables. Grill them first for a little extra flavor.  This is one I know we’ll be eating on repeat all summer long!

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Ingredients

2 bell peppers, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 cucumber, peeled and chopped

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

4 oz cubed cheese*

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tsp dried basil*

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  For best flavor, refrigerate at least an hour before eating, although it can be eaten immediately.

  2. Store leftovers in the refrigerate for up to 3 days.

*Notes:

Cheese is completely optional, but I like to add it for a flavor and protein boost.  I used mozzarella this time, but many others work as well.  Feta is another favorite here.

As fresh basil becomes more readily available in my area, I use that instead, typically a tablespoon or so, finely chopped.

 

Chewy, Fudgy Brownies (Dad's Brownies)

Some of my earliest memories are in the kitchen.  I was blessed with a stay-at-home dad with infinite patience and an affinity for baking.  I can so clearly remember standing at a chair at the counter, fighting with my sister over who got to crack the eggs in or whose turn it was to stir.  Dad was smart.  He had a way of picking recipes that gave us equal opportunities for all the coveted tasks.  I learned so many lessons - math for the measuring, patience in waiting for that wonderful treat to bake and then cool.  I’ll never forget the joy of licking off the fudgy chocolate from the beaters, or getting the last lick out of the bowl.

 

The vast majority of what I eat these days is healthy, and I’m no stranger to healthy baking and desserts.  But if I want brownies, there’s only one thing that will do. No black beans, no healthy substitutes, just plenty of butter and sugar.  Though I know he got the recipe out of an old cookbook, these will always be “Dad’s Brownies.”  I’ve eaten my fair share of brownies, but these will always be my favorite.

There is certainly a little more work involved than for a box of brownies, but I will always argue the extra effort is well worth it.  If you’ve ever been scared off by scratch baking, start here.  These brownies are fool proof.  They’re dense, fudgy, and just the right amount of chocolate.  

It’s hard to make these without being flooded with memories of my dad.  It’s one of the first recipes I made with my own son, and I cherish those moments with him!


 

Ingredients

2 oz unsweetened or semi-sweet baking squares (I typically use Baker’s brand)

1 stick butter (I prefer unsalted for baking, but salted works, too)

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

⅔ cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼  tsp salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350℉.  Grease an 8x8 baking pan with butter or shortening.  Lightly flour and set aside.

  2. Over medium low heat, melt butter and chocolate in a medium saucepan, stirring constantly.  Once melted, set aside to cool.

  3. Once chocolate has cooled (usually 10 minutes), mix in sugar and vanilla with a hand mixer or whisk.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each egg.

  4. Add dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture and stir until combined.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

  5. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until center is set and a toothpick or fork comes out relatively clean.  Remove from oven and let cool before cutting.  Store brownies covered at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Notes:

Baking time will vary, depending on your oven, pan, and preferred doneness.  I like them on the fudgier side, so I tend to take them out early.  I would start checking at 20 minutes, and go from there.

Recipe can be easily doubled and baked in a 9x13 pan.  Baking time will be 25 - 30 minutes.

I’m a brownie purist, but feel free to add any mix - ins you like: nuts, chocolate chips, etc.