Shrimp Fried Rice

Shrimp Fried Rice

Shrimp Fried Rice

Turn your kitchen into a Chinese restaurant.  Why order take-out when you can order in!  With this recipe you can make your own version of shrimp fried rice.

Fried rice is typically made with rice that has been pre-cooked and allowed to cool so that it will fry and not steam when added to the other ingredients of the dish.  So left over rice that is dried out is ideal.  If that is not available, cook some rice in advance and let it become cold, and some what dry.

Shrimp, rice, egg, and lots of veggies.

Shrimp, rice, egg, and lots of veggies.

Fried rice usually includes eggs, meat or seafood,  vegetables, peppers, spices and soy sauce.  Extra flavor is gained by the  addition of onions, scallions and garlic.  A wok is the cooking utensil of choice but a large non-stick skillet works equally well.

This shrimp fried rice is full of vegetables and makes 4 generous servings, so you’ll need a large skillet at least 12 inches wide or a large wok. Be sure that you do not over cook the vegetables, they should be crisp-tender.

Although the recipe states that it makes 4 servings, my husband and I were able to devour most of it with only a small dish left over.  We loved it and I can’t wait to make it again.



Have all ingredients prepped before starting to cook.

Have all ingredients prepped before starting to cook.

  • 1  1/2  cups water
  • 1 cup instant brown rice
  • 2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 4 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 8  ounces peeled and deveined raw shrimp
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cups stringless snap peas  ( I used asparagus in mine. )
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into  1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, chopped

1.  Combine water and rice in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Cover, reduce heat to med.-low and simmer until water is absorbed, 10 – 12 minutes.  Allow to cool, but stir occasionally to prevent clumping.  Spreading the rice out on a baking sheet is helpful in cooling it quickly and preventing it from clumping.

2.  Combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl.  Set aside.

3.  Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add eggs and cook, stirring to help break into smaller pieces, until just set, about 45 seconds.  Transfer to a small bowl.


Eggs cooked just until set.

4.  Add another 1 teaspoon canola oil to the skillet and return to medium-high heat.  Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until pink  1 1/2 – 2 minutes.  Transfer to a plate or bowl.

Saute shrimp until pink and just cooked.

Saute shrimp until pink and just cooked.

5.  Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons canola oil in the skillet over medium-high heat.  Add ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in snap peas, bell pepper, carrots, and scallions; cook stirring, until tender-crisp, 3 – 4 minutes.

A colorful combinations of vegetables.

A colorful combinations of vegetables.

6.  Stir in the rice and the reserved egg and shrimp;  cook, stirring until heated through, about 1 minute.  Gently stir in the sauce mixture and remove from the heat.

Add in rice, shrimp and egg.

Add in rice, shrimp and egg.

YUM!   So good.

YUM! So good.


My Standby One-Pan Meal

Roast chicken with vegetables, a one-pan meal.

Roast chicken with vegetables, a one-pan meal.

What I love about this meal is it simplicity;  vegetables and chicken roasted together in one pan.  The only time you spend on it is prepping the vegetables.  Put everything together with the chicken in a roasting pan, stick it in the oven and relax until its done.  If I’ve done some advance planning of my menus then I might add extra vegetables so there will be some left over for another night.

My favorite combination of vegetables include potatoes, carrots, onions, and fennel.  Other cuts of meat can be used in place of the chicken such as pork loin.  A little white wine added along with some seasonings produces a gravy that is perfect.  You can swap vegetables in and out to suit your taste;  the whole point being how easy it is to put a great meal on the table without a whole lot of work.

This is how I put it together:


SERVINGS:   4 – 6

  • Chicken pieces:  4 bone-in thighs, and 4 drumsticks. or leg quarters cut into sections. ( dark meat is best for roasting)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 2 teaspoons canola or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large or 2 medium ribs celery, cut into chunks
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic. minced
  • vegetables of choice, such as potatoes, carrots, fennel, turnip, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 – 1 cup white wine (depends on amount of vegetables, i.e., more veg. = more wine)
  • 1 Tablespoon grainy mustard such as Dijon.

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.

2.  Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Sprinkle chicken pieces with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Add oil to pan, swirl to coat.  Add half the chicken pieces and brown on all sides.  Remove to a plate, and repeat with remaining chicken pieces.  Set the chicken aside.

Pre-browning the chicken makes the skin crisp and the keeps the chicken moist.

Pre-browning the chicken makes the skin crisp and keeps the chicken moist.

3.To the drippings in the pan, add the onion, celery, and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes till they begin to soften.  Mix the mustard with the wine, and add to the pan.  Cook for 1 – 2 minutes scraping to loosen browned bits.

4.  Add the mixed vegetables to the pan and arrange across the bottom.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Place vegetables on the bottom of the pan.

Place vegetables on the bottom of the pan.

Place chicken pieces on top of vegetables, cover and transfer pan to the oven.

5.  Bake at 350*F. for about an hour until chicken and vegetables are tender.

Moist, tender chicken and flavorful vegetables.

Moist, tender chicken and flavorful vegetables.

Note:  For the wine,  if you will be having a glass of white wine with this meal use some of the same wine for the roast chicken.  Otherwise use any wine that may be open and needing to be used up.

An easy and satisfying meal.

An easy and satisfying meal.

SOURCE:    Carolyn’s own recipe

Old Time Beef Stew

Old Time Beef Stew

Old Time Beef Stew

“The weather outside is frightful, and my kitchen is so delightful, and since I’ve no place to go,  let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”  Well. it’s not actually snowing YET, but the weather forecast is for a winter mixture of sleet, rain and some snow.  A really good day to stay inside where it’s warm and do some baking, and  I am also making a good old fashioned beef stew.  I just love beef stew.

Preparing beef stew takes a few minutes to prep the meat and vegetables, brown the meat and get it all simmering, but once that’s done you can pretty much forget about it for 2-3 hours while you do other things.  It’s probably a good idea to give it a stir now and then to make sure it’s not sticking on the bottom,  but that’s about it until dinner time when you sit down to a hot bowl of brown beefy deliciousness.  So good on a cold winter’s day!IMG_2153


SERVINGS:   6 – 8


  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds beef stew meat, cut  into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons fat  ( I like to use half butter and half olive oil )
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 large rib or 2 medium ribs celery, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups liquid (this may be water, beef broth, bouillon, or part red wine)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon salt, or to taste.  You may need less if there is salt in the liquid you use.
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  •  1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika,
  • 1 – 2 bay leaves
  • dash allspice or cloves
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3 medium – large all purpose potatoes (not baking potatoes)
  • optional:  1 cup cut green beans, 1 cup small white onions


1.  Thoroughly brown meat on all sides in hot fat.  Much of the deep beefy flavor you want in stew comes from properly browning the meat, right at the beginning.  I always dredge my meat in flour to which I have added a little salt and pepper and some paprika.  Then in a large deep pot, melt some butter with some olive oil, and begin to brown the meat in small batches so the pan is not crowded.  Putting in too many pieces of meat causes it to steam and not get nice and brown.

Browning the meat well is the first step in building deep beefy flavor .

Browning the meat well is the first step in building deep beefy flavor .

Once all the meat has been browned, set it aside on a platter or bowl, and add the sliced onions to any drippings left in the pan.  If need be, add a little more butter and oil,  as the onions become fragrant add in the sliced celery, and when both the onions and celery begin to soften add the garlic and sauté just until it gives off its fragrance.

Sauteing the onions, celery and garlic.

Sauteing the onions, celery and garlic.

2.  Return the beef to the pot, and add the 4 cups of liquid, and all the rest of the seasonings (through allspice or cloves).  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.  Cover and cook slowly for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Add liquid and seasonings.

Add liquid and seasonings.

3.  Add cut up carrots and potatoes and continue cooking for another 20 – 30 minutes until tender.  Add optional vegetables at this time and cook another 10 – 15 minutes to thoroughly warm them.

Add in carrots and potatoes and cook till tender.

Add in carrots and potatoes and cook till tender.

4.  Thicken stew with the following:  1/4 cup water mixed with 1/2 cup flour, or  1/4 cup cornstarch.  Add in small amounts stirring all the while until stew reaches desired level of thickness.

5.  Bring to the table and serve family-style with a good crusty bread or rolls for soaking up all the gravy.

Comforting beef stew, so good on a cold day.

Comforting beef stew, so good on a cold day.

Note:   I have tried cooking this recipe in a crock-pot, but was not satisfied with the end result.  I thought the flavors became too dilute, and the meat was stringy, rather than tender.

SOURCE:    Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

Southwestern Lentil Soup

Southwestern Lentil Soup

I love soups.  I love to make them and eat them.  In fact I have gained quite a reputation for the variety of soups I make; hot or cold you can always eat soup.  No matter what time of year it is there’s always a great soup to make.  Starting in the Fall I think of hearty soups that include meat and lots of vegetables.  Of course some soups are purely vegetable based, made smooth and creamy by pureeing.

The soup I made a few days ago  is one I’ve made several times before and both Mr. D. and I like it very much. It’s sort of a cross between a soup and chili. A beef and vegetable soup made doubly nutritious by the addition of lentils, and Southwestern seasonings to give it some zip.  You might want to try this instead of chili for your next football party.  Add a pan of spicy corn bread to go with it and you’ve got a terrific meal.  (My recipe for corn bread will be featured in tomorrow’s post).  This could easily be a vegetarian or vegan soup by omitting the beef, and perhaps adding some mushrooms for that meaty umami flavor.


YIELD:  6 – 8 servings

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and cut into coins
  • 1 ( 14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  •  1 ( 4 ounce ) can diced greens chiles
  • 1  8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 6  1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon southwestern seasoning ( This can be a combination of chili, cumin, coriander, garlic, etc.)  I use Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming.

1.  Rinse lentils, drain and set aside.

2.  Brown the ground beef in a hot skillet or soup pot.  Drain away the fat and set the meat aside.

Brown the ground beef well.

3.  Heat the oil in the same pan.  Add the onion and carrots, sauté until slightly softened. (My method of choice is to first brown the meat and then saute the vegetables in a skillet, and when each is done I add it to a large soup kettle.  Then I proceed to step  #4.)

Lightly saute onions and carrots.

4.  Add the lentils, beef, tomatoes, green chiles, tomato sauce, water, salt, pepper, and other seasonings to the soup kettle.

Add in all the other ingredients.

5.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for about an hour until lentils are tender.  Stir occasionally to prevent lentils from sticking.

Is it soup yet?

You can really amp up the spiciness factor to whatever level you like by adding some cayenne pepper or chipotle pepper to the soup, or serve with some hot sauce on the table for those who like it a little hotter.

Soup served with Pumpkin Spice Corn Bread.

SOURCE:   Penzey’s Spices

Where’s the Beef—-steak?

Tomato, Squash, and Red Pepper Gratin

In this case the beefsteaks come in the form of juicy ripe tomatoes.  Combined with other fresh garden vegetables, quinoa, and eggs this casserole is a meal in itself.  We are making an effort to go meatless at least one day a week, so when I found  this recipe I decided to try it out.  It turned out to be  so hearty and satisfying all you need add is a green salad.

Quinoa is the new darling of the grain world and if you have not tried it yet this dish “hides” it so well you will not know it’s there.  Quinoa has double the protein and fiber of rice so I felt that I owed it to myself to give it a try.  I must admit I was not overly taken with it when served plain, but when combined with other ingredients it is enjoyable with its nutty flavor.   If you know someone who is a little hesitant to try something new,  this recipe will be a good way to introduce them to quinoa.




  • 5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 pound yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced basil, divided**
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme**
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat milk ( 2%)
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese; Gruyere, Swiss or other good melting cheese.
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • cooking spray
  • 1 cup seasoned croutons
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, cut into 8 slices

** If fresh basil and thyme are not available you may use the following dried herbs:  1 teaspoon basil and 1/2 teaspoon thyme.


1.   Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare an 11 x 7 inch glass or ceramic baking dish by coating with cooking spray.

2.  Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add 4  teaspoons oil; swirl to coat.  Add onion; cook for 3 minutes.  Add bell pepper; cook 2 minutes.

3.  Add squash and garlic; cook 4 minutes.  Place vegetable mixture in a large bowl.

Stir in quinoa, 1/4 cup basil, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper.

Egg mixture with dried herbs, added.

4.  Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, milk, eggs, and cheese in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add milk mixture to vegetable mixture, stirring until just combined.  Spoon into prepared baking dish.

5.  Place seasoned croutons in a food processor; pulse until coarse crumbs form.  Instead of that, I like to put them in a zip-lock bag and pound lightly with a meat mallet to form coarse crumbs.     (no extra dishes to wash!)

Ready for the oven.

6.  Arrange tomatoes evenly over vegetable mixture.  Top evenly with crumbs.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until topping is browned.  Sprinkle with remaining basil before serving.


SOURCE:   Cooking Light,  August, 2012

Stuffed With Good Stuff

Looking back over my more recent blog postings I was struck by how many contained the word “stuffed”:  Stuffed Peppers, Stuffed Zucchini, Stuffed Mushrooms.  I didn’t realize until now how many vegetables I prepare with a stuffing that seems to make the base veggie  as well as the stuffing itself so much better–one enhances the other.  Well, if you can stand another such recipe this one uses those nice big tomatoes fresh from the garden.   You know, the ones that could be a meal in themselves.

These big boys are juicy and tender, and contain a filling on the order of a salsa, but better because of the cheese and breadcrumbs.  I served them with a fillet of tilapia, lightly crisped with a cornmeal crust, and a mixed greens salad.  This was so good my husband has requested that I make it all again very soon. I only made two but next time I will make the full recipe of four, as I think they would make a great lunch just rewarmed in the microwave.  The nice thing about this recipe is that you can make only half, or double it and make 8 if you’re feeding a larger group.


SERVES     4


  • 4  beefsteak tomatoes, or large heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup corn kernels ( from one ear of corn)
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts separated, and thinly sliced.
  • 1/2 to 1 small jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar, divided
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs, divided.  I used prepared seasoned bread crumbs, 1/2 cup total, divided.
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • salt and pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Coat an 8″ square pan with non-stick spray.

2.  Cut top 1/2 inch from each tomato, and scoop out flesh and seeds.  Turn upside down on paper towel to drain while you prepare the stuffing.  Don’t waste a bit of these delicious tomatoes–use the flesh you scoop out here to make a simple bread to go along with your meal.  (see below)

3.  In a medium skillet heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat.  Add corn and scallion whites and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the jalapeño, black beans, 1/4 cup cheddar, 1/2 cup bread crumbs (or 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs) and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix the filling ingredients all together.

4.  Turn the tomatoes right side up.  Sprinkle the insides with salt and pepper, and spray or brush the skins with olive oil.  Place in baking dish.  Fill the tomatoes with corn mixture.  Combine remaining 1/4 cup cheese, 1/2 cup bread crumbs (1/4 cup seasoned crumbs),   and 2 teaspoons oil.  season with salt and pepper and divide among the tomatoes.

5.  Tent loosely with foil and bake 10 minutes.  Uncover and bake until tomatoes are soft and breadcrumb topping is deep golden, about 5 minutes more.


This is a simple Spanish appetizer, and the name means Bread with Tomato.  Here’s how to make it:

Spread reserved tomato flesh on rustic bread–a crusty loaf, split in half lengthwise.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of herbs (any).  Bake in a 450 degree oven until the edges are brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.  Watch carefully  so it doesn’t get too browned.  Serve with more olive oil for dipping.

SOURCE:   Everyday Food

Poached Eggs on Polenta with Vegetable Sauce

This is a neat little recipe to have handy for when any of these situations might occur:  a)  You forgot to take something out of the freezer for supper, b) You thought you were having dinner alone so you were going to just make a salad, but suddenly everyone’s plans changed and they will all be home for dinner, or c) Its the end of the week and the cupboard is bare, except for a few bits of leftovers.  Fear not!  This recipe will come to your rescue as long as you have a few basics in your pantry.

Poached Eggs on Polenta with Vegetable Sauce

Serves 4

  • 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal or instant polenta
  • 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons butter, plus extra for greasing dishes
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt
  • 4-5 slices bacon cut into 1 inch pieces (can be omitted for a vegetarian entree)
  • 2/3 cup grape tomatoes (about 16) halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/3 cup green onions, chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • freshly ground pepper
  • chopped chives, optional
  1. Generously butter 4 gratin dishes or creme brûlée  dishes, about 4-5 inches in diameter.  Any similar dish will do.
  2. For polenta, place chicken broth in a  medium size, heavy saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, and gradually in a thin stream whisk in the cornmeal.  Stir constantly, until mixture starts to thicken, 3-4 minutes.  Add 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and butter, and stir until melted.  Stir in milk.  Taste and add salt if needed.
  3. Divide polenta evenly among the dishes and smooth the top.  Cover each dish with foil to keep warm and set aside.  I place in a 200 degree oven to achieve this.
  4. For vegetable sauce, heat a skillet on high heat and cook the bacon until crisp.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Drain excess bacon fat and discard, leaving a small amount in the pan. (substitute vegetable oil as needed)  Add the tomatoes, zucchini and green onions to the bacon drippings and sauté just until crisp tender. Add the bacon to the vegetable mixture.
  5. For the eggs,  use an egg poacher if you have one, otherwise prepare poached eggs as you normally would.
  6. To serve,  Place a poached egg on top of each dish of polenta. Salt and pepper eggs, then divide the vegetable and bacon mixture evenly among the 4 dishes.  Garnish with more grated Parmesan cheese and chives.

Additional notes:  I have prepared the sauce for this dish with whatever vegetables I have on hand.  Some others that are good are:  mixed red and green peppers, asparagus, spinach and fennel.

SOURCE:  A Carolyn Original

Cheesy Potato Bake

This is a side dish which I serve often.  It seems to go with many different entrees, and if your oven is on to cook meatloaf, chicken, chops, or whatever else, then these potatoes can cook along side the main dish.  Everyone I have ever served this dish to, has loved it.  Those folks with hearty appetites will find this very satisfying, indeed.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees

  • 4 large baking potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 green onions, sliced; use both white and green parts
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  1. Wash and slice the potatoes.  Arrange in a greased shallow 2-quart baking dish.
  2. In microwave heat butter, green onion, salt, thyme and pepper until butter is melted.  Drizzle over potatoes.
  3. Cover with foil and bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes or until tender.
  4. Remove foil, sprinkle with cheese and parsley.  Bake, uncovered, another few minutes  until cheese is melted.
Yield:  4-6 servings
Source:  Taste of Home

Roast Beets with Goat Cheese Salad

Beets are one of those vegetables that I never used to cook because I didn’t know how to prepare them to make them tasty and interesting.  Then one evening while having dinner out in celebration of my husband’s birthday, our waiter described the chef’s special salad of the day.  It consisted of  roasted beets on baby greens with goat cheese.  It sounded interesting, but neither one of us was willing to venture out and order a whole one, so we compromised and ordered one, which we shared.  BIG MISTAKE!  We were racing each other in our efforts to have the largest portion.  Right then and there I knew I had to find a way to replicate that salad. 

I experimented with several ways to roast the beets, one being to wrap an unpeeled beet ( or beets) in foil, drizzled  with a little olive oil, and bake for about an hour.  Then cool slightly, peel, and proceed with your recipe.  I am not fond of this method, because it adds to the time spent preparing the dish.  I prefer the following method of preparation instead.

  1. Peel about 4 medium beets and cut each in half.  Then cut into 1/2 inch wedges.
  2. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  I like to use a seasoned/flavored olive oil, like one used for dipping bread.
  3. Season with salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder.
  4. Toss all together so beets are lightly coated. then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet or shallow baking dish, coated with no-stick cooking spray.
  5. Roast at 450 degrees, stirring once or twice, until crisp tender,  about 35 minutes.

At this point you could serve these beets hot as a side dish, and they are delicious as is:  lightly browned on the edges, and already seasoned; or use them in the salad.

Once cooled, transfer to a bowl; toss with 4 chopped scallions and 2 teaspoons lemon juice.

To assemble the salad,  place a serving of mixed baby greens on each of 4 – 6 serving plates. 

Drizzle with a little of the seasoned olive oil used to season the beets, then top with the beets, and lastly top with crumbled goat cheese.  Feta cheese is also a good substitute for the goat cheese.