Fried Rice Scramble

Fried Rice ScrambleWithout really meaning to, I have been making some gradual changes to the weekly menus that I plan for my family.  Over the last several months, in the interest of time, money, health, and wanting to use up those items exiled to the bottom corners of my chest freezer, I have been making two meals a week that are meatless, one meal that contains some kind of fish or seafood, and the rest centered around a common protein of chicken, beef, or pork.

Generally, the only rule I really try stick to when cooking for my family is variety.  When I hear people tell me that they need ideas for dinner because they are making the same ten dishes over and over, I inwardly cringe.  The majority of the time it has nothing to do with food allergies or outrageously picky individuals.  Usually, it is just the comfort of making something that they know tastes good, is reliable, and the safety of knowing the people they are serving it to will actually eat it.  Often times, it is these same people that complain that they can’t get their kid to eat anything other than macaroni and cheese when they have been making it for them for dinner (out of a box) once a week since toddler hood.

So I tell them it is never too late to try something new.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, fancy, or time consuming.  You don’t have to make something you know your crowd will hate.  And you don’t have to suddenly start trying to up your game by mastering culinary techniques that are beyond your ability or even your desire to try.  I’m talking about switching out your go-to barbecue chicken for shrimp kabobs once in awhile.  Or trying pasta scuie scuie (which you can make in the time it takes your pasta to cook) instead of spaghetti sauce from a jar and reheated frozen meatballs.  There is a time and place for convenience foods but they should not be in your weekly rotation.  And if small changes help you eat healthier, save money, and keep your family-and you!-interested in dinner, it is a big victory.

Take the meal pictured above.  It is hot outside!  And I was planning to make something for dinner that was light, healthy, did not heat up my house, and wasn’t going to completely undo all the good stuff I had done for myself that day.  I had a super healthy breakfast and lunch, narrowly avoided eating an entire box of honey Wheatables, got in 45 minutes of cardio, and was managing to ignore my craving for fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookies.  My solution?  Breakfast for dinner!

When I was a kid, my Mom used to make fried rice as a kind of side dish.  It was years and years before I realized that the rest of the world did not eat fried rice like our family ate fried rice.  Our version?  Leftover white rice-usually from chow mien, a dish I hated as a child and still loathe with the fire of a thousand suns-bacon, onions, and some egg.  I am fairly certain that is the entire ingredient list.  And yowzer! it was good.  But my favorite part was always the bites of rice and egg together.  OK and bacon too.  About a year ago, after glaring at the leftover white, sticky rice from Chinese take-out that was slowly drying out while taking up precious room in my fridge, I thought to myself, I am going to make some fried rice like my Mom used to make!  Only I had no bacon.  And I really didn’t feel like dicing an onion.  So I threw some rice and bit of butter in the pan and added all the eggs I wanted!  Bingo!  My new favorite breakfast food!  Eventually, I moved onto brown rice and added cheese and leftover veggies, but the basics stayed the same.  I cannot tell you how many times I ate this when I was super sick while pregnant with Lane.  It was comforting, filling, warm, and good for me.

If you are looking at the mushrooms in the picture and shaking your head at the computer screen, stop it!  If I had a nickle for every person who told me that they hated mushrooms growing up but that they love them now as an adult, I would be…well, I would have a lot of nickles!  The common thread with all of them?  They were fed canned mushrooms as a kid.  Blegh!  Give real, fresh mushrooms a try and see if it works.  The flavor, obviously, isn’t even comparable.  And while you can obviously serve this scramble for breakfast or brunch, it is so filling you won’t miss the meat at dinner.  It is just a simple, minor adjustment.
Fried Rice ScrambleOne Year Ago: Cornmeal Pancakes W/ Blueberry Sauce

‘Fried’ Rice Scramble
I made this once with leftover quinoa and it was absolutely killer!

1 c leftover, cooked brown rice
1/2 lb sauteed sliced mushrooms
6 eggs
1/4 c cheese
snipped chives
salt and pepper

Add a small pat of butter to a medium nonstick pan and put over medium heat.  Add the rice and stir around in the butter until hot.  Turn the heat down to medium low and add the mushrooms and eggs.  Break the yolks and stir everything gently together, patiently letting the eggs cook slowly and gently.  Just before the eggs are done, stir in cheese and snipped chives.  Season with salt and pepper.  Along with 12-grain toast and fresh plums, this feeds three adults.  Or two adults and two children that eat like adults.

Note: Obviously, you can add whatever you want to this.  Cooked crumbled bacon, leftoverroasted broccoli, cut into smaller pieces is fantastic, diced tomato, sauteed zucchini is awesome-endless possibilities!