One of my favorite things to order at our neighborhood Chinese restaurant is chicken fried rice. Even better, wrap it up in a soft tortilla and call it a Chinese burrito. Either way, it’s comfort food through and through. But we all know the fried rice at your favorite carry-out is, while incredibly delicious, not exactly scoring high marks for health food. Also, we don’t eat out that much – have you seen the portion sizes? And, frankly, we get a healthier meal at home. Which is why I’ve always been curious about making my own fried rice.
Last night was the perfect night. My people had gone off to have dinner with relatives. Earlier in the day, in anticipation of dinner-for-one, I cooked up some rice (halving the recipe below) and set it aside to cool. Fried rice is a great way to use up leftover rice from a previous dinner, but since I’m apparently so good at portion control, I rarely have leftover rice on hand. Note to selves: If you’re ever just hanging out with an hour to spare, make some rice and tuck it away in the fridge for dinner later that week.
The original recipe called for diced ham, but I used an organic turkey sausage, instead, since it’s what I had on hand. I think it’s a perfectly good substitute, lower in sodium and fat, while still adding a nice boost of protein. Since it’s a recipe that loans itself to personal adaptation, pick your protein for what suits your lifestyle.
I wasn’t sure what to expect since I believed it would be nearly impossible to recreate the goodness of Chinese carry-out in my own kitchen. But this recipe came pretty darn close. I thought it was delicious…and much, much healthier. The green beans added crunch and a pretty burst of color. Onion and garlic gave it nice, heady flavor in combination with the soy sauce and sesame oil. Prep first and it all goes together really fast, as a stir-fry should. Can’t wait to try the leftovers after the flavors have a chance to mingle, a bit. Definitely a keeper on the first run, though. Enjoy!
Sausage and Egg Fried Rice (recipe adapted from Cooking Light, September 2008)
- 4 cups cold cooked long-grain rice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 cup thinly horizontally sliced green beans
- 3/4 cup diced turkey kielbasa (about 4 ounces)
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup (1-inch) slices green onions
- 1. Break up rice with hands to remove large clumps, if necessary.
- 2. Heat a 14-inch wok over high heat. Add canola oil to wok, swirling to coat. Add 1 1/2 cups onion and garlic to wok; stir-fry 1 minute or until onion begins to brown. Add beans and ham; stir-fry 2 minutes or until ham begins to brown.
- 3. Reduce heat to medium-high. Add cold rice to wok; stir-fry 2 minutes. Stir in soy sauce, sesame oil, and black pepper. Push rice mixture up sides of wok. Pour eggs in open space in center of wok; cook 30 seconds or until set, stirring to scramble. Gently stir scrambled eggs into rice mixture. Sprinkle with green onions.
It’s rare I would actually grill a steak for the sake of making a salad. But, one of my favorite things to do with leftover grilled steak (or any meat, for that matter) is toss it in a salad the next night for a change of pace. I’d eat salad every night of the week if I could get away with it, and this is a nice way to incorporate a protein with your veggies. Age-old, time-tested, tried-and-true way to use up leftovers. And it probably reassures my husband he’s still eating something manly.
This recipe adds cannelloni beans, which bumps up the protein significantly. They also add great texture. Honestly, who really needs a recipe for salad, right? It’s truly one of those meals open to limitless creative inspiration. I like the sweet, mellow flavor of the roasted red peppers, but for a little heat maybe add some chopped peperoncini. Just a thought! Follow the recipe or throw in some of your own unique preferences. Enjoy!
Chopped Steak Salad
- 3/4 pound flank steak, freshly grilled or leftover from previous meal
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 head romaine, chopped
- 1/4 small head red cabbage, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 15.5-ounce can white beans, rinsed
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted peppers
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup dressing of your choice (I’m a big fan of Annie’s Naturals and used their Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette)
- Heat broiler. Season steak with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and place on a broilerproof rimmed baking sheet.
- Broil the steak, 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest for 5 minutes, then cut into ½-inch pieces.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the romaine, cabbage, beans, peppers, and parsley. Add the steak and dressing and toss to combine.
Cook’s Tip: The salad can be prepped (without the dressing) and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Toss with the dressing just before serving.
This is the perfect quick ‘n dirty dinner meal. It’s in my regular rotation, particularly on the nights I’m running late, or behind, or I’ve simply procrastinated myself into a dinner emergency. My favorite thing about this recipe is the pizza overtone: cheese, pepperoni, tomato sauce, but without all that thick crust guilt. The chicken is just a protein bonus!!
The original recipe calls for regular pepperoni, but this night I happened to have turkey pepperoni on hand. In my opinion, the turkey pepperoni is every bit as yummy as regular pepperoni (which I admit, I love), and with a lot less fat. The sodium content is still off the charts in my book, but the recipe calls for a fairly minimal amount of pepperoni and I don’t add any additional salt during preparation.
So, that’s that: a quick ‘n dirty blog post for an easy-to-prepare, delicious, healthy dinner even the kids
will should love. Enjoy!
Chicken with Pepperoni-Marinara Sauce
Recipe Courtesy: Cooking Light, January 2012
- Cooking spray
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- 16 slices pepperoni, coarsely chopped (I opted for turkey pepperoni this time)
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 1/2 cups lower-sodium marinara sauce (such as McCutcheon’s)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (I use whole mozz, sliced)
1. Preheat broiler to high.
2. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic and pepperoni; cook 2 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring frequently. Add oregano; cook 30 seconds. Add marinara sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in basil.
3. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken with pepper. Add chicken to skillet; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, turning after 3 minutes. Spoon sauce over chicken; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.