Fried rice

Fried rice with pork

As promised, I’m sharing my mom’s fried rice recipe with you. It goes great with the orange chicken I posted on Monday.

Fried rice is a great way to use up leftover white rice. This recipe is one that my mom used when I was growing up.

I made this for my husband Paul and me for dinner and he said, “This tastes like takeout. Better than takeout!”

Fried rice with space for egg

Fried rice egg cooking

Easy fried rice

According to the recipe, it serves 5 to 6 people.

When I made this on Tuesday and followed the recipe for 3 cups cooked rice, I served it with two pork chops. As a main dish with the meat added, it was 3 servings for us. I think 5 to 6 servings is if it is a side dish.

Sometimes I want to make fried but only 2 servings, or about 1 cup cooked rice. I’m just cooking for myself and my husband and don’t always intend for leftovers. In that case, I still look to this recipe as a basic template.

Fried rice

Fried rice

2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons oil
3 cups cooked rice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 eggs, well-beaten
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, or 2 tablespoons dry parsley
1/8 teaspoon pepper

In medium skillet, cook onion in oil until tender. Add rice and soy sauce. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a fork.

Move the rice to the sides of the pan and put the eggs in the center. Cook over low heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. After the egg is cooked, stir the rice into it. Add the parsley and pepper.

If desired, serve with additional soy sauce. Add chicken or other meat to make it a main dish. Or, serve with weeknight orange chicken. It also goes great with stir-fry vegetables. It’s easy to add in frozen mixed vegetables and have them heat up along with the rice, before adding the eggs. Or, you can keep it traditional and add fresh, diced carrots and peas.

Note: Parsley, as suggested in the recipe, makes a good decorative topping. I had cilantro on hand, so I used that instead. It’s what’s in the photos. It has a different taste, but similar look.

Weeknight orange chicken

Orange chicken

It took me about 45 minutes to make the orange chicken from start to finish, and that includes stopping to take photos here and there. You may be able to have it done in 30 minutes or less.

If you’re part of my family on my mom’s side and reading this, you may recognize this recipe because it’s in the Carpenter Cookbook.

Chicken thighs and sauce
Chicken thighs cooking
Chicken simmering in sauce

The orange chicken goes great with vegetable fried rice. I served it with Trader Joe’s frozen vegetable fried rice. I would have made fried rice from scratch to go with this meal, but I didn’t have enough white rice in my pantry and when I went to the Trader Joe’s for more, they were sold out.

In the next few weeks, I’ll share a great recipe of my mom’s for homemade fried rice. If you’re a Carpenter, you can find that in the family cookbook too.

Update: Here is my mom’s orange chicken recipe.

I think Grandma saved this recipe from a food column in a local newspaper, perhaps the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, but I can’t remember for sure now.

Orange chicken two servings

Weeknight orange chicken

2/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the orange juice, marmalade, soy sauce, mustard, ginger, garlic, brown sugar and cornstarch. Stir or whisk to blend well. The marmalade will seem lumpy, but with enough stirring will combine well. Set aside.

Cut chicken breasts into nugget size pieces. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat oil in a 12-inch non stick skillet. Add chicken and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until no longer pink, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Pour orange sauce into the pan, stir and bring to a boil. Boil chicken and sauce 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently; sauce will thicken. If it doesn’t seem thick enough, turn heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes more.

A few notes:

  1. The original recipe didn’t call for sugar but I added it because the marmalade and the sauce overall tasted a bit bitter. Adjust according to your tastes and how sweet your brand of marmalade is. For reference, I used Trader Joe’s orange marmalade.
  2. The original recipe said to use chicken breast halves, but I like using thighs for this recipe. Thighs are more fatty. They’re generally not as healthy, but they taste more tender and juicy than chicken breast meat.
  3. I left out the crushed garlic because I didn’t have any. If you have it, use it.

Variations: Add 1 (11 to 15-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained, to the pan once the chicken is done and the sauce is thickened. Add sliced carrots and celery into the pan to sauté with the chicken. Sprinkle salted cashews on top of the finished dish for added crunch. Sprinkle chopped green onion or chopped fresh parsley or cilantro on top of the finished dish for color and flavor. Add 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce if your family likes a spicy dish. Add 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil to the olive oil if you like that flavor.

Taco night brings people together

Who doesn’t love tacos? Not only do they taste good, but I have found that where there are tacos there is good conversation and a community atmosphere. Just think about the last time you ate tacos and what you were doing at that time. It most likely was awesome.

Tacos in my family are about fiestas and familia. We may be white, but we live in Southern California and therefore have learned how to cook some awesome Mexican food. I had to have my sister and friends help me out, but I’m slowly learning too.

Last night I had a few friends over for fish and chicken tacos with some sides of pinto beans, Spanish rice, sweet corn cake, guacamole and salsa. Everything was more or less homemade and it was all really delicious! Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the tacos, but they did look great. For the fish tacos and watermelon salsa, I used this Food Network magazine recipe.

Guacamole before it was mixed up

Watermelon salsa

In strange and unexpected tun of events, the watermelon salsa ended up locked in the garage. I had put it in the garage refrigerator and when people started coming over, the garage door wouldn’t open with the remote. There is no side door, so my aunt had to call a repair person to come fix it. We got the salsa out once everyone was done with their tacos, but before dessert.

Jamiaca smells and looks pretty

I got these jamaica flowers at Baja Ranch on Tuesday, but later read online that jamaica tea drink has a tendency to stain things. I don’t want to risk staining the kitchen counters, so I just kept this as a decoration. I bought a 24-pack of Pacifico beer when I went to the store with my sister in the morning and a 1 liter bottle of Coke in the afternoon when my boyfriend and I went back for  fish since I forgot to defrost what we had. It’s a good thing I got the Coke because no one ended up drinking beer.

the promising looking brownies

There were a few changes in the dessert menu, but it all worked out in the end. My sister made brownies, but they accidentally got burned, even though she put them in for the time the recipe called for. My best friend was going to bring homemade soy vanilla ice cream, but her sister accidentally knocked the bowl over, spilling it out. Instead, my friend brought over honey flavored frozen yogurt that was sweet and light. To put on the frozen yogurt, we cut up mangos, plums, bananas and pecans to give everyone choices. The sweet corn cake was a real hit in the dessert and side department.

Tacos and good friends are two of my favorite things and even though little things I had planned for the night didn’t work out, I’m so glad the dinner all worked out.