Friday, December 2, 2011

Quick Recipe: Dealing with Leftover White Rice

Something my family learned over the last 2 weeks is that I hate throwing away leftover food.  We are on a seriously tight budget, so leftovers are lunch here, and I have used some old recipes my mom has shown me through the years to use things from the fridge and create something new.

Last week, I showed one of my nieces how to take some white rice that had been leftover and in the fridge for a few days and create a fried rice dish that is simple but filling.

Today, we are in the process of eating the last of the leftovers from the last week, and in the fridge I found enough bits and pieces to make A lunch that he'll be enjoying for a couple of days.

So, here are the basic instructions:

First of all, you need these basic ingredients:

Salt, garlic powder, soy sauce, cooking oil, and leftover white rice that has been refrigerated for at least 4 hours and is still cold.  Even with just these things and nothing else you could fry up the rice and just have that.  Normally I would also included 1-2 eggs, but we happened to be out today.

Next I raided the fridge and found half a small onion, half a cooked chicken breast from earlier this week, and, believe it or not, hot dogs.  Don't knock it!  If you are on a budget, this may be the best way to serve a hot dog if you are out of buns and happen to have some rice!!

I chopped the onion, the half chicken breast, and 1 hot dog up and set them aside.  If I had eggs, I would have at this point beaten 2 eggs in a small bowl and added about 1 teaspoon of water.

I dug out the biggest skillet I have and heated it on the stove on a high medium heat.  Then I added 2 tablespoons of oil and let that heat up as well.

Then dump in all your extras.  You saw what I added, but feel free to throw in some mixed veggies, other meats, or some green onions.  Even some minced garlic would add some extra flavor at this point.  The best part is that since this is all leftovers, they've been cooked, so you are just frying them up to reheat them.  It shouldn't take more than 5 minutes to brown up the onions, and by then the hot dog and chicken were ready to go as well.

All those cooked extras need to be put aside as soon as they are ready.  I normally keep a paper plate nearby and just spoon it out there and keep it nearby.

Again, if I'd had eggs then at this point I would have returned the skillet to the stove and then added the beaten eggs.  You don't exactly want to scramble them, but rather think of an omelet.  Let it cook on one side and then flip it.  Make sure it isn't too puffy, cook it all the way through, and then remove it from the skillet as well.  While the rice is heating up, you can just do a rough chop so you have some pieces of egg to throw back in.

Now, the skillet goes back on the stove, and all the rice is dumped in at once.

While the rice starts to pop and sizzle, sprinkle the top with a healthy dose of salt and even more garlic powder.  I want to say I average 1 teaspoon of salt and about 2 of garlic minimum.  The rice should have a brownish color because of the garlic powder, and once you have added that you will want to stir up the rice so that the seasonings spread and the rice starts to heat all the way through.

The rice needs to be heated for about 3 minutes, stirring it around a couple of times so it doesn't stick to the bottom, and then you will add in your extras.

Make sure to give them a good stir into your cooking rice so that it's all mixed together.  I also add in another teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of garlic powder at this point to add some more flavor.

Let the rice cook another 2 minutes with all the goodies in there and then add the final ingredient: soy sauce.  You will be pouring this directly over the rice, and I'd start with at least 2 tablespoons.  Once you stir it together, the rice should start to take on that brown color you are used to see in restaurants.

I make sure to stir it all up, let cook another minute, and then drag A into the kitchen to taste it.  He will let me know if he wants more soy sauce or garlic, though rarely salt.  Once he has given the thumbs up, I take the skillet off the stove and he just digs in.

We really had a lot of rice leftover, and now we will be having some great fried rice for lunch for a few days!  We've actually done this as a quick dinner, heating up some frozen potstickers or egg rolls we find at the store while I do the fried rice, and then enjoying a movie on the couch together.

Total time in the kitchen, including digging out the leftovers from the fridge: 25 minutes.  Not bad for under 30 minutes, huh?

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