Sunday, March 27, 2011

Food: Chicken Fried Rice

Growing up, I never learned to cook. I think I may have said so before, but every time my beloved mother tried to teach me to cook, I just blew it off. I didn't want to learn to cook, I'd say, I'd never really need that skill.  I was a stupid kid, clearly, because I've really grown to believe that good food is one of the last great indulgences left.  People use to smoke indoors and drink a cocktail at 5:30, they knew how to wind down and enjoy themselves.  Now, we have food, it's not overtaxed or illegal, even if it does make us chubby.  I digress.

When I grew up, I didn't really bother to learn because I didn't feel like my ex-husband was nice enough to me to deserve the effort.  I made meals, but they weren't anything great. I never put a whole lot of thought into it, and certainly no heart.  Then, when I moved to Texas, I had to learn to cook in a hurry because Matt couldn't then, and can't now, cook at all. He's tragic in the kitchen and I enjoy a nice meal, so I learned to cook, but only tried the things that I'd had growing up and only cooked them the way my mother did. I called her and made her sit on the phone with me while I cooked the whole meal, asking her for step by step instructions. How did I do this, how hot should the oven be, what order should the food be cooked... I was tragic, but she was incredibly patient and helped me to learn long distance. You have no idea how much I'd wished, at that point, that I'd paid attention when I was a little girl.  Then, I'd know what I was doing and wouldn't have to go crying to my mother like a five year old because I couldn't make gravy.

Eventually, I was fine on my own, but I continued to make only recipes that my mom had made and only the way she made them. I didn't venture off the beaten path. I almost always liked the food she made (except the Shepard's Pie, bleh, sorry mom!), so it was no trouble for me to make those things I'd grown up eating.  Matt liked them too, for the most part (he still won't eat tuna casserole) which was a bonus.  Then, only a few years ago, I began venturing into the woods a bit, so to speak, making things that my mother had never made, or adjusting mom's recipes to my tastes.  I tried new things and sometimes they came out great, while others not so great.  Thinking about it now, I think the biggest influence in my recent culinary adventures has to be Melanie. She makes a lot of foods that I'd never tried to make, or made, and things my mom never made.

Take for instance mom's salmon patties, which calls for crushed saltine crackers.  I was at Melanie's once and she made them with cornmeal.  I liked them, they seemed easier because I didn't have to stand and crush up the crackers, so I began making them with cornmeal too.  Matt really liked it, so that was a plus, and I've never really gone back to making them the other way.  Another recipe I adjusted, on my own and without the influence of anyone else, is meatloaf.  Matt loves it, I don't love it so much, but like the salmon patties, mom uses crushed saltine crackers in her meatloaf.  I started out making it like that, but have recently changed my recipe to include crushed cheez-it crackers, rather than saltines. It comes out a little bit sharper, and more cheesy, and Matt loves it!

Okay, so why am I telling you all of this?  Well, I thought I'd share a recipe, one of those I've been talking about that goes off the beaten path for me, something I didn't grow-up eating. This is actually Melanie's recipe, but I make mine a tad bit different than hers, so we'll say it's greatly inspired by Melanie!

Chicken Fried Rice

Ingredients:[1. Approximations, since I don't actually use a recipe.]
4 Chicken Leg Quarters
4 Cups Cooked White Rice
1 Cup Frozen Peas
1 Cup Chopped Onion
4 Eggs, scrambled
Sesame Seed Oil
Powdered Ginger
Salt & Black Pepper
Garlic Salt
Onion Flakes
Soy Sauce


  1. Season chicken leg quarters with salt, pepper, garlic salt, ginger, onion flakes, and sesamie seed oil and cook in the crock pot, on high, about 4 hours or until the meat begins to fall off the bone (alternately you might boil it in a stock pot or dutch oven, or use pre-shredded chicken meat). Drain juices off of chicken and separate the meat from the bones and skin.  Set meat aside.

  2. Cook rice by package directions, with 2 tablespoons of sesame seed oil, cool and set aside.

  3. Scramble egg, set aside.

  4. In a large frying pan, sautée frozen peas and onions in sesame seed oil until the peas are thawed and the onion is soft.

  5. Add chicken, rice, and egg to the pan and mix thoroughly.  Season with powdered ginger, salt and pepper, and garlic salt until seasons are well incorporated. Add soy sauce to taste and fry rice until the ingredients are well heated.

I didn't think this recipe would be so tough to put down until I began trying to write it out. I've never followed a recipe, Melanie doesn't either, I just sort of learned from her as she was making it one night. After that, it was just trial and error. I've made it a few times now and Matt loves it, so I'm sure I'll make it again. I hope, if you make it, that you enjoy it too. One tip, go easy on the soy sauce at first, you can always add more to the pan until it's just right.  Also, taste it and add extra seasoning and soy sauce to taste. Everyone's different and this is one of those recipes that requires attention to taste because there're no exact measurements for a lot of the ingredients.



  1. Haha Honey I never minded helping you learn to cook...I know I gave you a hard time sometimes, but it was, of course teasing. But then I think you know that. I always made things the way my Mom did also, since that is where I learned to cook. However, some of the things I made when you were a kid were things either I concocted or got from a recipe book, ie. the sweet and sour pork. I also don't make my meatloaf with crackers anymore...I actually haven't for a while. I use either dry bread crumbs or chicken flavored stove top stuffing mix (Yup and it's good! lol). I also substitute salsa for tomato sauce, in one of the recipes I use. I have, since you left home ventured out to try other recipes too...that is mostly because of you little sister, who likes to try EVERYTHING....including sushi! Yuck! I really have tried to like it, but, I just don' makes me gag! But, that chicken fried rice recipe looks really good! Candi is going to make a fried rice recipe she found somewhere, for dinner tomorrow night. It has shrimp and ham in it, so we will see. If it's good I will give you the recipe. BTW you are absoluetely right about the soy sauce, it can make a dish extremely salty if you don't watch out! Love you honey and happy cooking!!

  2. I won't eat Tuna Casserole, either. Tuna was not meant to be eaten hot or with cheese!! lol My poor husband loves it, but he'll have to come to your house to eat it -- I don't even want to SMELL it.

    I love to cook, and I experiment sometimes, but I generally try to follow other people's recipes and pray I don't fuck them up! Ha ha! I recently realized that I never properly learned how to use my spices, so I have no idea which spice works with what types of foods, and I think I need to start experimenting with my spice rack more.

    Thanks for the recipe, I might get around to trying it sometime soon! I'm trying to get more rice (but not yucky brown rice, I tried to like it but I can't!) in our diet.

  3. Oh BTW everyone...My daughter is a wonderful cook... something I cannot take credit for lol. She has made us some yummy dishes when she has visited!

  4. I love that this recipe uses leg quarters!! My favorite cheap cut of meat. I will have to give your recipe a try.

  5. I know you never minded, besides, I enjoyed learning... even if it was a little bit late! I don't know about that fried rice recipe, I don't like anything with ham in it except ham and scalloped potatoes. I also don't like to mix meats. If it's got shrimp, then that's good enough for me. I think, though, that you could make this recipe with shrimp and it would be just fine. I may even try it sometime soon. Or, maybe beef, but I don't know how that would turn out so I've not even considered it. I've also been thinking it would be good with water chestnuts, so I may put them in next time. I mean, everything's better with water chestnuts!!

    I had totally forgotten that you don't use saltines in your meatloaf anymore! I don't either, but I think you had mentioned to me that you use stuffing now. It would take entirely too many bread crumbs to make that work, I think, but I may try the stuffing! As it stands, the only stuffing I have is the kind with cranberries in it and I don't think that would work. Ha!

    Oh, and I don't like Sushi either. Yuck, indeed!! Matt, however, LOVES it. He'll eat any kind you put in front of him with relish (the action, not the sauce). He even likes Oysters. They make them with cream cheese on them at the Chinese restaurant, which grosses me out, but he loves them. The man will eat a lot of nasty crap, he should just give in and eat the damn tuna casserole! LOL

  6. I imagine you're a great cook, Phoena! I've made some of the recipes on your recipe blog and they always come out great!! I kind of giggled when you said you don't even want to smell the Tuna casserole. Matt's a lot like that, he hates it. I love it, but never make it because he's so averse to it -- of course my recipe uses tomato sauce, so I'm not sure what your hubs would say about that, lol.

    I love rice, so I look for new ways to make it... I even like brown rice, but only when it's cooked in the oven. Cook it in the oven and it puffs up and gets soft, much like barley. It's quite good. I've never managed to make it anything but hard on the stovetop, so I never make it that way.

    Let me know what you think, if you try it. I hope you enjoy it!

  7. Thanks mom! Love ya!!

  8. I WANT SOME!!!!! I'm having some fried rice cravings!

    Love you!!

  9. Yup water chestnuts are yummy!!! As for the bread crumbs... I buy the Italian seasoned ones and it takes about a cup in a meatloaf...Actually works real well...

  10. Kristyn, I have to side with Matt on the tuna casserole. I don't care what you add to it, canned tuna HOT is just sick. Sick and wrong!

  11. It's okay, Amanda, I still love you! Tuna casserole is one of my all time childhood favorites. My dad loves it, so I must take after him! You know I'm inviting you all over and making tuna casserole, right? You and Amanda, Phoena and hubs... TUNA CASSEROLE! :P

  12. Come get some! Let me know how the shrimp and ham fried rice turns out. That doesn't sound very appetizing to me with the ham, but who knows, it could turn out amazing!

    Love you, too.

  13. Once, on a request, she made tuna caserole but substituted chicken in place of the tuna. That may have made it technically chicken caserole, but I loved it. She is an absolutely incredible cook. It's just that some things were never meant to be eaten, like tuna and mushrooms.

  14. Aw, thanks honey. I'm glad to know you really do think I'm a great cook. I still can't see where you don't like tuna casserole. You're breakin' my heart. I didn't much care for the chicken (tuna) casserole, but I'll make it for you again if you liked it that much. Love ya, babe!

  15. You should try it!! If you try it, I hope it comes out well. I love recipes that use chicken leg quarters, too, mostly because they're SO inexpensive. We can buy about 10 lbs for $4.50 or so. That makes about 6 meals for us, so it's definitely cost effective. I made another recipe for BBQ chicken today that used them. Very handy and they taste great!

    Thanks for stopping by!