Veggie Fried Rice

veggie fried rice

Rating: 4/5 stars. Throw whatever is in your crisper drawers into this healthy, quick veggie fried rice. Works with brown or white rice!

Ways that #1 is a typical toddler:

  • She’s obsessed with Elmo. (Ugh.)
  • She has never met a dog or cat she doesn’t want to hug.
  • She needs at least three drinks of water between bath and bedtime.
  • She loves to “help” with laundry, meaning that she likes to sit on top of the drier and meticulously place each individual sock into the washer, a process that takes about fifteen minutes per load.
  • She refuses to understand that I only have two hands and therefore cannot simultaneously hold her brother, fetch her a cheese stick, read her a book, and help her put her sock back on.

Ways that #1 is not a typical toddler:

  • She is developing an imaginary friendship with the hawk that nests in our woods, whom she’s convinced is going to take her for a ride someday. (This “friendship” wouldn’t be so weird except for the fact that she also “talks to” the hawk about the mice he likes to eat for lunch… the ones whose half-eaten carcasses we find in our yard on occasion.)
  • She’s a huge fan of vegetables.

That’s right, folks. #1 frequently asks for seconds or thirds of broccoli. She eats her peas before her pasta and sneaks pieces of raw onion and pepper as I’m cooking. Though I’d love to claim the credit for her good habits, I’m pretty sure I just got lucky. Or maybe she was influenced by her in utero tenure in the Bay Area, where fetus-Lily got weekly doses of Thai, Indian, Mexican, and Ethiopian.

All of this to say, I made a major miscalculation when I was preparing this veggie fried rice a few days ago. I wanted it to have lots of veggies, but #1 spotted my peas coming out of the microwave and demanded her portion: “No, not little bit. Lots of peas!” AKA half of them. And there went my rice-to-veggies ratio.

Photo Mar 15, 6 48 38 PM

Time Commitment: This really only takes about 30 minutes. Chop your veggies while you cook your rice. Then everything stir fries up in no time.

Mess: Low mess–a frying pan, something to cook the rice, and a single cutting board

Mom Fails: Not predicting my daughter’s (utterly predictable) appetite for peas

Special Equipment: Due to my limited storage space, I’ve never had a rice cooker. But this would probably be a great place to use yours, if you’ve got one.

Veggie Fried RicePhoto Mar 15, 6 38 35 PM

Feeds 3-4 as a main dish or 6 as a side

Adapted from this, this, and this recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 c rice, cooked according to package directions, omitting salt (I used jasmine rice, but any long-grained variety should work–brown or white.)
  • 1 c frozen peas, cooked and drained
  • 2-3 medium carrots, peeled and diced small
  • 1/2 a bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Veggies I might add next time: broccoli, mushrooms, snow peas, baby spinach
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp oil (sesame oil is great if you’ve got it, but olive oil worked fine for me)
  • 3-4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • Chili paste or hot sauce, to taste

Directions

  1. Cook your rice and peas according to package directions, but don’t add any salt.
  2. Heat your oil in a large frying pan or wok. Toss in veggies (reserving veggies that cook quickly or are pre-cooked, like peas, spinach, mushrooms, etc) and stir fry for about five minutes, or until tender. Then crack eggs into the pan and push around until cooked.
  3. Add rice, soy sauce, and vinegar and stir fry for another couple of minutes.
  4. Add chili paste to taste and serve.

“Bacon” Cheddar Cauliflower Soup (Guest post!)

Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Soup

Note: This recipe is a guest post from one of my [Emily’s] very oldest and dearest friends–reader, writer, and hiker extraordinaire, Jessica. I don’t really have cauliflower in our family’s dinner rotation, but after this post, I’m convinced to give it a try. Enjoy!

Emily asked if I would write a guest blog for The Supper Files. As a reader of Emily’s blog, and a long-time friend,  I’m happy to contribute a post!

Our cooking adventures extend back to high school where our first attempt to make pizza from scratch left us with unleavened crust as we forgot to add yeast to our dough! Fast forward to 2016 and even though we don’t live in the same state anymore, we still bond over cooking adventures. This year we are challenging ourselves to baking a cake each month, as suggested on Food & Wine’s cake baking bucket list.

Besides the trend of monthly cake baking, my latest cooking obsession has been cauliflower. If you are anything like me, you might know cauliflower as that unwanted vegetable next to celery that’s always leftover on any appetizer veggie tray. You may have also arched a skeptical eyebrow at pinterest pins proclaiming cauliflower as the primary ingredient in pizza crust.

Or the idea of grating cauliflower to create imitation fried rice. Perhaps even making twice-baked potatoes…without the potatoes!

Cauliflower Fried "Rice"
Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

Dear reader, I was skeptical too. All these posts for uses of cauliflower seemed downright blasphemous! Replace the beloved potato with cauliflower? In any recipe–why would you? Well, as a vegetarian, our diets can stack up heavy on the carb side if we’re not too careful. Why is that a problem you ask? Too much of the wrong types of carbs can result in unwanted weight gain and other problems. Granted carbs are just about in everything and my motto is all things in moderation so to help with the diet balancing act, enter the wonderfully versatile cauliflower. And who couldn’t use more cruciferous veggies in their life?

One of my new favorite cauliflower recipes is this Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower soup, adapted for a vegetarian diet from Iowa Girl Eats.

Time Commitment: I haven’t timed myself making this, but on average, it seems every recipe I put my hand to takes about an hour (including prep, cook time and clean-up).

Mess: While this soup can be made in one pot, the messiest part will be grating the cauliflower, which brings me to:

Special Equipment: If you have a food processor, that will make your cauliflower shredding job SO MUCH easier. I use the blade for shredding cheese and my cauliflower florets are sliced up in no time. Otherwise you can use an actual cheese grater (mind your fingers), or toss in a blender and pulse a few times.

Serving Suggestions: Serve with your favorite crusty bread and a side salad.

Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Soup

IngredientsJessicaCauliflowerSoup

  • 8 slices veggie bacon, chopped (I use LightLife’s Smart Bacon)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt & pepper
  • 4+ cups shredded or grated cauliflower (1/2 large head-1 large head), personally I don’t think you can add too much!
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 c hot water + 2 “chicken” bouillon cubes= 2 c “chicken” broth
  • 2 c milk
  • 3-4 dashes hot sauce
  • 2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • Toppings: green onions, bacobits, and sour cream

Directions

  1. Whisk together flour and 1/4 cup chicken broth in a small bowl then set aside.
  2. Saute bacon in a large soup pot over medium heat until crisp. Add celery and garlic to the pot then season with salt and pepper and saute until vegetables are tender, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add cauliflower and onion powder  to the pot then stir to combine. Add water then place a lid on top and steam cauliflower until tender, stirring a couple times, about 5-7 minutes. Add remaining chicken broth and milk then turn up heat and bring to a boil.
  4. Slowly whisk in flour/chicken broth mixture while stirring, then turn down heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until soup has thickened. Puree soup in blender then return to pot (you may also use an immersion blender instead).
  5. Turn off heat then stir in 2 cups cheddar cheese a little at a time until smooth. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, and/or hot sauce if necessary. Serve topped with bacobits, green onions, and sour cream.

Mississippi Mud Pie

Mississippi Mud Pie

Rating: 4/5 stars. Don’t let the multiple layers of this Mississippi mud pie scare you off. This rich, decadent dessert is actually fairly simple and will easily serve a dozen.

Coming off yet another rough week at work, I desperately needed some therapy baking this weekend. I don’t want to be too depressing,  so suffice it to say that our school seems destined for tragedy this year. And somehow when terrible things happen, I always find myself wishing I had some snacks to share. Maybe some cookies. I know that sounds ridiculous. Cookies can’t fix it; nothing can. But there’s a reason that we bring food when someone has died. Food is essentially human, essentially social, essentially alive. In the face of tragedy, we cling to those things. Earlier this year, my classes watched this Kevin Young poem, “Ode to Gumbo.” It’s about food and grief and sharing and remembering. Kevin Young makes those connections much more eloquently than I can; it’s well worth four minutes of your time.

And so Friday night after the kids were in bed, this Mississippi mud pie was my therapy. I turned on a podcast, preheated the oven, and lost myself in counter-top-loads of Oreos and butter. The pie looks fancy, but it’s actually not that hard, and it makes a massive amount of dessert. Over the course of the weekend, we fed this to my parents, ourselves (Rob and I had two slices each… I’m going to go ahead and blame that on the stressful week), and about eight parents from our kids’ church group. Like manna from heaven, this pie held out to the bitter end. I thought we were going to be left with one final slice after everyone left, too, but at the last minute somebody snatched it up. So I guess that means it was a hit.

Photo Feb 27, 12 12 08 PM

Time Commitment: 1 hr 15 minutes. I’ve simplified Mississippi mud pie to the barest, quickest essentials. This took about 45 minutes of active time then 30 minutes to bake the filling. Afterwards it does need to cool for an hour or two before you put on the final topping, but that phase takes less than five minutes, so I won’t bother counting it.

Mess: Fittingly, I suppose, Mississippi mud does not score well in the mess category. It requires a food processor, and the crust-making process left Oreo dust EVERYWHERE. On the other hand, the filling can be entirely assembled in the pot you use to melt the chocolate and butter. (Obviously if you choose to make real whipped cream rather than use Cool Whip, the mess factor ticks up yet again.)

Mom Fails: I totally thought I’d blown it when my Oreo crust came out of the oven looking all cracked and hole-y. I thought my pie was going to crumble into a chocolate-flavored heap when I unmolded this thing. But once I baked the filling and chilled the whole thing for a while, it actually held together perfectly. Also, always line your springform pan with foil before baking with it. Just… always do it. Every time. There’s nothing worse than scorched butter on the bottom of your oven. I speak from experience here.

Mississippi Mud PieMississippi Mud Pie

Serves 12

Source: Diethood’s Mississippi Mud Pie

Ingredients

Crust

  • 35-40 oreos (one 14 oz box)
  • 1 stick butter, melted

Filling

  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c sugar (the original recipe called for 1 1/4 c, which was just a bit too sweet for me)
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract (you could substitute some cold brewed coffee here, if you want to intensify the chocolate flavor)
  • 3 eggs

Topping

  • 1 8 oz tub Cool Whip–I used the “Extra Creamy” variety  (or, if you have the time, 1 cup whipping cream + a bit of sugar and vanilla extract)
  • Optional: chocolate sauce or toasted pecan pieces for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wrap the bottom of your springform pan with aluminum foil if you want to prevent some messes down the road.
  2. Make the crust: Using a food processor, pulse Oreos until a smooth, consistently small crumb forms. (This will take several minutes.) Add melted butter and pulse a few more times. Reserve 1/4 c of the Oreo mixture for the topping. Push the rest into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan to make crust. Bake for 10 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.
  3. Meanwhile, make the filling: Melt butter and chocolate in a small saucepan, whisking continually. Remove from heat. Stir flour and salt directly into the pot. Then add sugar, vanilla, and corn syrup. Stir until combined. Finally, add in eggs, one at a time, and stir.
  4. Pour filling into crust and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the top is slightly crackly, like a brownie. I
  5. Cool on a wire rack for 1-2 hours.
  6. Spread Cool Whip over the brownie filling. (If you have time, real whipped cream would be delicious here.)
  7. At this point, you can refrigerate the pie in the springform pan, tightly covered with plastic wrap, for at least a day.
  8. To remove the pie from the pan, first run a knife around the edges; then slowly unmold.
  9. Top with reserved crumb mixture. You can also use chocolate sauce and/or toasted pecans, if desired.

 

Spinach Fritters

spinach fritters

Rating: 4/5 stars. Enjoy these crispy spinach fritters with pasta or rice and a bit of tomato sauce.

Twenty-three miles; eighty minutes; seven accidents. That was my drive home today. I have no idea what sort of insanity struck the good people of Chattanooga between the hours of 3:30 and 5:00 PM, but I would have been happy to stay out of it, thank you very much. It was like I drove through a blip in the space-time continuum that took me back to Los Angeles, circa 2008, where my daily commute took me past Dodger Stadium, Staples Center, and the LA Coliseum. If there was any sporting event going on in the city, I might as well just stay at work until 8, because otherwise I’d just be camped out on the 110 through downtown.

After today’s harrowing drive, I arrived home to a dog that needed to go out, a baby just waking up from a nap–hungry, of course!–and a daughter with one thing on her mind: finger-painting. It was A LOT. I honestly thought we were going to have to resort to cold cereal for dinner, but then I looked at the directions for these fritters and decided that they looked both feasible and–obviously–healthier than the cereal option. So I took the dog out, fed #2, and set #1 up with her finger-paints. 30 minutes later, I had spinach fritters with some pasta and tomato sauce ready to go exactly as Rob walked in the door. I WIN, FREEWAY CHAOS.

Photo Feb 24, 6 27 09 PM

Of course, in the meantime, #1 painted half the table and then coated her forearms with orange paint, giving her a kind of creepy tanorexic look. No recipe is easy enough to forestall finger-paint-related fiasco, I suppose.

Time Commitment: You can easily toss together these fritters in 30 minutes. You should, however, keep an eye on what your children are doing during that time.

Mess: The fritters themselves are very low mess: one bowl, one pan, one cutting board. But of course, you have to serve the fritters with something, unless you’re one of those people who gets full on nothing but spinach and onions (in which case, no offense, but I hate you).

Mom Fails: This recipe is pretty idiot-proof. Good thing, too, because LONG DAY.

Spinach Frittersspinach fritters

Source: Rachael Ray’s Spinach Fritters

Makes about 16 two-inch fritters

Ingredients

  • 16 oz bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 an onion, minced
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 c shredded or crumbled cheese (I used cheddar, which was good, but next time I might try this with some parmesan or feta)
  • Oil for frying

Directions

  1. Beat eggs lightly in large bowl. Mix in all other ingredients (except oil).
  2. Pour a couple glugs of olive oil into a frying pan over medium heat. Fry fritters by heaping tablespoonfuls until browned. Flip and do the same on the other side.
  3. If your fritters look a bit greasy, you can set them on a plate lined with paper towel for a few minutes before serving.

Best Whole Wheat Bread

the best whole wheat bread

Rating: 5/5 stars. This surprisingly un-fussy whole wheat bread, sweetened with honey and molasses, makes a great addition to any meal.

I’d love to say that I’m a great bread baker. I love bread, first of all. And second, there’s really no comparison between home-baked and store-bought bread. Home-baked bread takes the cake (the loaf?) every time. In fact, I do make bread fairly regularly. But it’s always just one recipe: this one. I’ve been making this very same whole wheat bread since Rob and I got married, way back when we lived in Southern California–(gulp!) almost five years ago.

I know I need to expand my bread repertoire (beyond that one attempt at French bread several years ago, which ended up with a consistency remarkably like that of a concrete block). But this bread is just that good. I’ve been making it for so long, I don’t even remember where the original recipe came from, although I do know I’ve made plenty of modifications over the years. And in those five years, I’ve had the same printed-out, scribbled-on paper with the directions. That paper, in the intervening time, has gotten creased, oil stained, sun bleached, and water damaged. I’ve been meaning to type up (and save!) a clean copy for a year or so. And then I figured, while I’m at it, why not share the very best whole wheat bread recipe with you? my ancient whole wheat bread recipe

This bread is incredibly versatile. Serve it with nut butter at breakfast or with avocado, tomato, and cheese at lunch. Serve it with soup (maybe this one or this one) for dinner. Or just toast a slice for a snack. I love it with butter and jam. And good luck resisting it warm from the oven…

Time Commitment: From start to finish, you can make this loaf in under 2 1/2 hours: 15 minutes for preparing the dough, 45 minutes for the first rise, 5 minutes to shape the dough, 30 minutes for the second rise, and 35 minutes to bake.

Mess: This is a one-bowl recipe, but you do have to flour your counter-tops to shape the dough. That’s always a pain to clean up, so I sometimes lay down a couple pieces of wax paper for this step.

Special Equipment: I’ve always made this with a stand mixer. While it makes the process somewhat easier on the arms, you certainly don’t need one.

Mom Fails: As I may have mentioned, I’ve been making this recipe forever, so I know its failure points pretty well. First, make sure you thoroughly mix the ingredients as you add flour. Otherwise you may end up with small pockets that taste like pure salt. Yuck. Despite that precaution, you want to mix and knead this bread as little as possible; that keeps it from getting too tough. And finally, you definitely need good yeast–yeast that’s still alive and ready to do its yeasty duty. If your yeast has been around the block a few times and you’re not sure if it’s still active, try proofing it.

Best Whole Wheat BreadPhoto Feb 12, 11 48 42 AM

Makes two 9×5 loaves

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups hot water (as hot as comes out of your tap is fine)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 6 – 7 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I always use King Arthur.)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (optional)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon wheat gluten
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast (If you use rapid-rise yeast, you may want to reduce rise times by 10 minutes or so.)
  • Melted butter (optional, to brush loaves)

Directions

  1. Place the first five ingredients (water, oil, honey, molasses, and salt) in the bowl of your stand mixer with paddle attachment and mix thoroughly.
  2. Add 2 cups flour (to cool dough slightly) and mix; then add yeast and mix again.
  3. Add gluten and 4 cups flour. You can use all 4 cups whole wheat, or substitute one cup of all-purpose flour to make your bread a bit less dense. Mix.
  4. Change from the paddle attachment to the dough hook on your stand mixer. Continue adding flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a tacky ball around the dough hook. For me, this usually happens at 6 1/2 total cups of flour; sometimes in humid weather it takes closer to 7 cups. At that point, you can stop kneading.
  5. Spray some cooking spray on your dough ball and flip it over in your bowl so that the oiled side faces down. Cover the bowl and let your dough rise until just about doubled, 30-45 minutes.
  6. Now you shape the dough. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead a couple of times, then roll into a ball. Divide the ball in two. Roll each half of dough into a log roughly the size of the pan. Seal any gaps by pinching the edges together. Place each log into a greased loaf pan.
  7. Place pans into a warm (not hot!) oven and let the dough rise for another 20-30 minutes, or until the bread has risen to the size of a normal loaf.
  8. Turn on the oven to 350 degrees and let bread bake for 35-40 minutes, or until slightly browned on top.
  9. Five minutes before baking is done, you can pull the loaves out and brush their tops with melted butter.
  10. Cool loaves for five minutes in pans; then run a knife around the edges and turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. Once cool, wrap well with aluminum foil and store at room temperature.