Diary of a Foodie

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Chicken Fried Rice

This was a staple in my house when I was growing up. I loved it when my mom made it.

I have continued making it for my own family and it's gobbled up and everyone has seconds, and sometimes thirds.

Chicken Fried Rice

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
1/2 of yellow onion, diced
3 stalks celery, split lengthwise and diced
2 large carrots, peeled then grated
1 c frozen peas
2 eggs, scrambled
1/3 c light soy sauce
olive oil to cook with
salt and pepper to taste

In a large sauté pan (big enough to hold all ingredients), add 2 TBSP of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and once pan is hot, cook chicken, about 6-7 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add another TBSP of oil to same pan, lowering heat to med-low, and add diced onion, celery and grated carrot, sprinkling them with a pinch of salt. Cook for 7-10 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Add the cooked rice to the vegetables and stir together. Dice chicken and add back into the rice and vegetables. Add soy sauce, frozen peas and scrambled eggs. Stir until everything is coated in soy sauce. Taste to check for seasonings, adding salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot.

Variations: Use shrimp, pork, steak or ham in place of chicken.

Blackberry Crostada

Summer is quick approaching, and with that surge of heat, berries, vegetables and fruit are ripening. Berries are one of my favorite things of summer. I eat them for virtually every meal. This is a quick and easy dessert you can make in just a few minutes and everyone will love it.

You can easily substitute other fruits, such as, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, rhubarb, plum, nectarines. Adjust sugar  based on ripeness of your fruit.

Blackberry Crostada


2 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 sticks COLD butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
UP TO 1/2 c ice water

In a food processor, add flour, butter, sugar and salt and pulse until butter is in pea-size pieces. With food processor running, remove center fed tube and add ice water very slowly, stopping when dough starts to come together. Remove from food processor and wrap in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

TIP: Don't have a food processor? Use a fork or pastry cutter to "cut" butter into flour mixture and then add water slowly using the fork to mix it together.

Fruit Filling:

3 cups fresh OR frozen blackberries
2 TBSP corn starch
1/2 c white sugar (more or less depending on ripeness of fruit)
juice of 1/2 lemon

In a mixing bowl, pour lemon juice over berries and then sprinkle with the corn starch and sugar, using a spoon to mix all together, until all berries are coated.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. After dough has chilled, pour it out onto a floured surface. Roll dough to about 1/3 inch thickness, and into a 12-14 inch diameter. Move dough to a cookie sheet lined with a Sil-Pat mat or with parchment paper. Pour fruit into center of dough, leaving at least a 1-2 inch border. Crimp edges of dough up and around the fruit. Using a pastry brush, use 1 TBSP of milk and moisten all the edges of the crust and then sprinkle with about 1 TBSP sugar. Bake at 400 degrees F for 35-45 minutes, or until fruit is bubbling and crust is browned. Let cool slightly before eating. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. (I sprinkled mine with powdered sugar when it was cooled)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of my favorite ice creams is Ben and Jerry's Chubby Hubby. Vanilla malt ice cream, ribbons of fudge and peanut butter and chocolate covered pretzels. Yup, pretzels. It is so creamy, salty, sweet, and crunchy. But, it has 92 grams of fat...per pint. Yes, you did read that right.

So for that reason alone, I eat it maybe once or twice a year. But, I LOVE those flavors. I threw together a couple of my recipes and this came out. Salty, sweet, crunchy.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 c white sugar
1 c light brown sugar, packed
1 c creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 c flour
1 cup pretzel sticks, broken into smaller pieces
2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In stand mixer with beater attachment, cream together softened butter, sugars and peanut butter for 5-7 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat on low speed for 1 minute. Add salt and baking soda and beat for another minute. Add flour, one cup at a time, mixing slowly until all flour is added and incorporated. Turn off mixer and add pretzel sticks and chocolate chips. Stir with a spoon until they are mixed in well. Place 1 TBSP of cookie dough on ungreased cookie sheet, 12 per sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are slightly brown. Remove and let cool slightly before removing from pan.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pasta Carbonara

Bacon. Parmesan Cheese. Sautéed Onions. Pasta. Dreams do come true. And they come true in this creamy, cheesy, salty pasta dish that just takes minutes to make.

True Carbonara uses pancetta, an Italian, uncured bacon. I rarely have this on hand and don't like to make special trips to the grocery store for one ingredient so I substitute good ol' thick-cut bacon. Feel free to use pancetta if you see it at the store.

This was my mom's recipe and I have done nothing to change it.

Pasta Carbonara

1 lb spaghetti or fettucine
1 lb bacon
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 medium sized onion, diced
1 T butter
1 c chicken broth
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c grated Parmesan cheese
2 TBSP fresh parsley leaves, minced

Bring 8 cups of salted water to a boil and then cook pasta according to package directions, 8-10 minutes, or til al dente. While pasta is cooking, cook bacon in a VERY large skillet (one that is big enough to hold ALL ingredients). Once bacon is cooked, remove it and drain it on paper towels. Discard all of the bacon drippings. In the same pan bacon was cooked in, add olive oil and onions, cooking them til softened, about 5 minutes. Add butter, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes. Once pasta is cooked, drain and add directly to flavored chicken broth. Remove from heat and add the beaten eggs, using tongs to toss the eggs with the hot pasta. The heat from the pasta will cook the eggs and make a thick sauce that coats the pasta. Toss quickly so you don't scramble the eggs. Toss in the Parmesan cheese and toss with the pasta. Add bacon that is chopped and the parsley. Toss again and serve hot.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Creamy Slaw

Pulled pork sandwiches are juicy, soft, crunchy, spicy and sweet all rolled in one. Sounds pretty perfect, doesn't it? And if it's easy to make, that makes it all the better.

You can throw all this in the crockpot around lunch time and dinner will be ready and waiting for you at dinner time. (Don't have time at lunch? Throw it in at breakfast and set it to low heat on the crockpot)

Remember the BBQ rub mix we made for the ribs? Pull it out! It's time to use it for this recipe.

BBQ Pulled Pork

2-3 lb bone-in pork roast
2 TBSP dry rub (recipe below)
1/3 c water
1 cup of your favorite BBQ Sauce (I use Famous Dave's Rich and Sassy)
8 Kaiser rolls, or roll of your choice

Sprinkle roast with dry rub and place in crockpot with 1/3 c water. Cover with lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours. Remove from crockpot and place on a plate and cover with foil, allowing meat to rest.  Remove half of the liquid from the crockpot. After meat has rested, using hands or two forks, shred meat into bite size pieces. Place meat back into crockpot and pour BBQ sauce over meat and stir til meat is covered. Cook for an additional 20 minutes.

While meat cooks for the last few minutes, cut rolls in half and toast them in a sauté pan til browned.  Add BBQ pork to toasted bun and top with more sauce if wanted and slaw.

Wanna go crazy? Top the slaw and BBQ pork with potato chips. Mmmmhmmm. Try it!

Dry Rub Recipe
1 T Kosher salt
1 T chili powder
1 t ground black pepper
1 t ground paprika
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t ground cayenne pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t ground mustard
1/2 t ground chipotle chili pepper


1 bag of cole slaw mix (green cabbage and carrots)
3/4 c mayonnaise (I use kind that is made with olive oil to cut fat content)
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 TBSP celery seed
1/2 tsp dry ground mustard
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

In a mixing bowl, whisk all ingredients, except cole slaw, together until smooth. Add sauce to slaw and stir until cabbage is coated. Allow to set up in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Parmesan Panko Chicken Strips with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

I have four boys, aka the fridge-emptying, tornado whirlwind man-childs, that eat everything in sight. I'm not sure how we are going to afford to feed them when they are all teenagers. *Shudder* This is one meal that everyone agrees on, everyone eats it, no one complains, and there are never ANY leftovers regardless of how much I make.

And why buy greasy, nasty chicken-part "nuggets" from a fast food chain when you can make them at home, know everything that's going into them, and they are so easy?

Parmesan Panko Chicken Strips

15-18 chicken tenderloins (approx. 2-3 per person)
2 cups Panko bread crumbs
1/2 c  grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dry parsley
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground chili powder
1 cup buttermilk

Olive oil to cook in

You will need 3 medium sized bowls and a plate to make a dredging station. In the first bowl, add the flour, salt, pepper and chili powder and mix well. In the second bowl, just the buttermilk. In the third bowl, the Panko bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and parsley flakes, mixed together.

Take each chicken tenderloin and dip both sides of the chicken in the flour mixture, then immediately into the buttermilk, and then directly into the Panko mixture. Set the chicken tenderloins onto the plate. Continue until all the chicken is coated.

Heat 2-3 TBSP of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, until oil shimmers. Saute chicken on both sides until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Serve with honey mustard dipping sauce, or sauce of your choice.

TIP: Don't have buttermilk on hand? You can substitute 2 eggs beaten together with 1 TBSP water. Or make your own buttermilk! 1 cup milk and 1 TBSP white vinegar makes buttermilk.

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

3/4 c mayonnaise (I use the one make with olive oil to lower fat content)
2 TBSP yellow mustard
2 TBSP honey
juice of half a lemon

Whisk together all ingredients and use immediately or place covered, in fridge.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Pork Eggrolls: Baked or Fried

Lately, when I've gone out for Chinese food, I haven't found one of my favorite foods on the menu; egg rolls. Oh ya, they've got "spring rolls". They are a cousin of the egg roll, but I find them greasy and not as tasty. So, what's a girl to do? Make her own, of course.

In a effort to help my readers and myself eat a bit healthier, I did a baked version of the egg roll, but you can always do a classic fried version.

Pork Eggrolls
 yields 15-18 eggrolls

1 package egg roll wrapper
1 lb ground pork
1 package cole slaw (shredded green cabbage and carrots)
1 small can water chestnuts, diced
2 green onions, diced
2 TBSP soy sauce (I use light to cut sodium)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp Kosher salt

In a skillet pan, brown the pork until cooked through, using a wooden spoon to break meat into small pieces. When pork is cooked through, add the soy sauce, salt and pepper. Let cook for 1-2 more minutes, stirring to have soy mix through all the meat. Remove from heat and add meat to a large mixing bowl. Pour in cole slaw, diced water chestnuts and green onions over the hot pork mixture. This will wilt the cole slaw slightly, which is what you want.

Place egg roll wrapper on flat counter, and using index finger, spread water all along the edges of the egg roll wrapper. This will allow wrapper to seal when rolling it.

Have the wrapper in a diamond shape in front of you and add 1/3 c of mixture and place it across the center of the wrapper.

Take the bottom corner of the wrapper and pull it up over the mixture.
The pull the two sides over the top and seal.
Then roll egg roll over and push hard to seal the top. The water you put on the edges should seal it.
To cook eggrolls in the oven, preheat to 400 degrees F. Place egg rolls on a baking rack that is sitting on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
To fry, heat 2 cups vegetable oil in a 2 qt skillet to 350 degrees F. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
Serve with duck sauce, sweet and sour sauce or my spicy plum dipping sauce.
Spicy Plum Dipping Sauce
1/2 c plum jam
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp water

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Serve with wontons. (Can't find plum jam? Substitute apricot jam)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Machaca Mexican-Style Beef with Purple Cilantro Lime Slaw

Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Let's be honest, I don't even know what this holiday celebrates. I doubt most people do. All I know is it's a perfect excuse to make Mexican food. Next to Indian food, this is always my go-to dinner, whether I'm making it, or going out to eat.

There are a few dishes I go between when ordering. Chile rellenos (drool) or machaca. Machaca is shredded beef. You can eat it alone with tortillas, in a burrito, in a torta, or in taquitoes. It's easy to use this meat in lots of different ways and I'm sure you'll agree, it's easy, juicy and delicious.

Machaca Mexican-Style Beef

2-3 lbs bone-in beef roast (any cut will work)
1 Serrano pepper, pierced several times with fork
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
juice of one lime
1 TBSP Kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp Mexican oregano (not the same as Italian oregano)

In a crockpot, add the beef roast and then all other ingredients. Cover with lid and cook on high for 6-8 hours. Remove from crockpot when fork tender, cover with foil and allow meat to rest for 10-15 minutes. After meat has rested, using hands or two forks, shred meat and add back into the sauce. Allow to cook for another 20-30 minutes. Serve with tortillas or in a burrito, torta, taquito, etc...

Purple Cilantro Lime Slaw

1/2 head of purple cabbage, shredded thin
2 TBSP fresh cilantro, minced
juice and zest of 1 lime
2 TBSP mayonnaise
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin

Shred the cabbage thinly and add to a large bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Mayonnaise may look thick for a while but water will come out of the cabbage and make it a smooth sauce. Serve with machaca in a tortilla.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Jerk Chicken with Mango Pineapple Chutney

I love spice. I love sweet. I love fresh. Combine all these things together and you get Jerk Chicken with Mango Pineapple Chutney.

It's also easy. Perfection.

Jerk Chicken

1-2 lbs of chicken (what ever you like-breast, legs, thighs, boneless or bone-in, skinless or skin-on)
2 TBSP jerk seasoning (available at all grocery stores)
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP brown sugar OR honey
2 green onions
zest and juice of one lime
2 cloves of garlic
1 Serrano pepper

In a blender, mix together all ingredients except the chicken. Mix until smooth. In a large bowl, add chicken and the spice mix. Using  your hands, massage spices into the chicken and let marinate for 2-4 hours in the fridge. Cook on the grill until cooked through. Cooking times will vary based on whether chicken has bone in or boneless. Serve hot with the chutney. (Jerk chicken usually uses Scotch Bonnet peppers, one of the hottest peppers on Earth. Too hot for me, so I used Serrano instead. Use whatever pepper you are comfortable using).

Mango Pineapple Chutney

1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
1 cup fresh mango, peeled and diced
zest and juice of one lime

Mix ingredients together and serve with chicken.