Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chicken fried rice with cumin

I enjoy a tasty bowl of rice but am something of a rice failure in the cooking department. My friend Diana, in Grad school, made the best rice dishes you can imagine, out of I-have-no-idea-what. Just whatever, happened to be in her refrigerator at the time, or so it seemed.

I am a fan of Uncle Ben's ready rice, it's quick and usually tastes pretty good. However, I'm also committed to advancing my rice repertoire! With that in mind, over the last few days I've whipped up a few rice dishes, most were pretty basic, white rice with some kind of stir-fry-esk vegetables on top. Last night I got fancy and made chicken fried rice.


1 chicken breast
2 cups rice - prepared (instructions below)
1-2 cups frozen pepper strips
2 carrots, chopped (or maybe 1/2 cup of baby carrots)
2 eggs
cumin ~1/4 Tb
turmeric ~1/4 Tb
olive oil

To prepare rice:

Cook rice according to package directions, making approximately 2 cups. Instead of boiling rice in water, boil in chicken broth. (I highly recommend making a big pot of rice to use for a few days, if you are on a rice eating fest. I made about 6 cups in chicken broth and used it for 2-3 recipes.)

To prepare chicken fried rice:

Chop chicken into bite sized pieces, sprinkle with cumin, pepper and salt and cook in large skillet with a small amount of olive oil. All the other ingredients will be added to this same pan, so make sure you have enough space. When chicken is about 1/2 cooked, add pepper strips and all additional spices. When chicken is finished cooking add rice, egg and carrots. I pushed all the rice-chicken mixture to one side of the pan to let the eggs cook on the other side and then scrambled them in when they were done.

This was a pretty tasty rice dish, though, next time around I will probably add more turmeric and cumin to give it a little more zest.

Cost: B+
Waste: A+
Taste: B (more spices needed)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Homemade hummus

Hummus is quite possibly the world's most perfect food. Yes, I've probably said that about something else if you look through all my past posts. I recently decided, somewhat randomly, that I was going to make homemade hummus. I knew some people who had done it and felt assured it was pretty easy. And that brings me to:
Challenge #1: Finding tahini. I live in a large metro area, there is all kinds of weird stuff that I never saw at a grocery store anywhere in Kansas sitting on the shelves. Could I find tahini? No. I looked in the international aisle, condiment aisle, next to the ready-made hummus to no avail. I called my friend in Kansas to find out where she buys hers and it was at her normal grocery store. No Middle Eastern market, no specialty health food store. I finally found it. They had one kind, in a little spot in the store. I talked to four different store employees until one of them even knew what tahini was!

Challenge #2: The missing blender
Ideally, you should make hummus in a food processor but I don't have one and I'm pretty sure if I did, I'd use it four times a year. Maybe. Many hummus recipes out there say you can also use a blender and I had one of those, or at least I used to. I have absolutely no idea where my blender is. I must have left it at the old apartment somehow, but no clue how. Congratulations, new tenant! You just got a really nice blender.However, I had already bought all the fixin's for hummus. I was on a mission. Enter the IKEA chopper. I recently had bough a vegetable chopper from IKEA but had yet to break it out. It was kind of an impulse buy. I put my hummus in the bottom of a square, flat dish (corning ware baking dish) and set to chopping. I thought it would more or less work to mush up the chickpeas and it more or less did, though the hummus wasn't as smooth as it normally would be.

Challenge #3: Too much tahini
I read a multitude of hummus recipes before making it and they were all about the same, varying a little in the details, according to tastes. I would suggest tinkering with it, to see what you like but I put a basic recipe below for starters. However, I challenge anyone who has ever claimed to measure tahini. It is impossible. It's very cement like at the bottom and all the oil is at the top (kind of like natural peanut butter), so you have to stir it up, which basically resulted in some tahini cement stuck to the bottom of my spoon. I have now attempted the hummus twice, and still no idea how anyone would ever mention this.

That being said, most of the recipes I read called for 2 Tb of tahini and that is a lot. Wow. The first batch of hummus I made was way too strong on the tahini. I would advise you to start with about 3/4 Tb and taste the results to see if you want more. With the proper equipment and tinkering, fresh hummus would be way better than grocery store hummus.

Sorry for the poor quality photo! Hope you still get the idea.


1 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2-4 Tb lemon juice
2 cloves garlic (minced)
minced onion (I skip this because I hate onion)
1 Tb tahini
1 Tb olive oil
salt and pepper to taste (I'd use sea salt)

Flavorings to think about....
-red pepper

Do you have other flavoring ideas? I'd love to hear your tips!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

First time I flipped an omelet

I can't flip an omelet. Welcome to my secret cooking shame. I normally make scrambled omelets (ie scrambled eggs with lots of stuff in them). Mom is of course an omelet flipping pro, makes it look easy. I think I take after my grandma, who could not even flip pancakes and hence made scrambled pancakes. At least I can flip a pancake!
My friends Jess & Cherise thoughtfully sent me a housewarming gift, which included, among other delights, an Omelet-Ease pan. Could I wait to try it out? No. To be fair, I did have a house guest who needed breakfast and had also served as the postal carrier of my gift from Kansas.
The pan definitely was easy to flip but I felt like I ended up with more of an quiche than a true omelet. There was egg on all sides but the toppings were sort of distributed throughout the whole dish than being in the middle. A little different than a folded omelet. I also did not have any bacon to put in them, since they were spur the moment omelets. Everything is better with bacon. I will have to experiment a bit more with the pan to see where I went awry.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Meeting the neighbors & chocolate-butterscotch cookies

Living in DC, I sometimes fail to keep my Kansas urges in check (ie I talk to strangers - even when I probably shouldn't). In the Midwest, where people are friendly, when you move to a new place, you go around and introduce yourself to the neighbors. I have tried to this at my past two apartments in DC, and mostly failed. I met the neighbors at my first apartment only about three months before I moved out. At my last apartment, I took the people in the house next door a quick version of my mom's cinnamon rolls (I had an ulterior motive this time - they were cute boys, and as the blog title may have tipped you off, I'm a single girl).

Since I have just recently moved to a new place, the Midwestern urges have kicked in again. Plus, I'm going to be living in the same building with these folks for a very long time. I find nothing ingratiates you to others like food, especially desserts. I bagged up, into cute gift bags none-the-less, chocolate-butterscotch cookies and took them around to the neighbors, or those who were home at least. (If you were out when I stopped by, I ate your cookies.)

I used the toll-house chocolate chip cookie recipe (here) because it's the best of course, skipped the walnuts and did 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup butterscotch instead of the requisite 2 cups of chocolate chips. Small alteration = tasty results.

Plus, at some point, I WILL lock myself out of the house and want someone to let me in.