Thursday, April 30, 2009

Authentic fried rice

One of my favorite and very American friendly dishes that I have learned how to make is Fried Rice (Chao Fan). The one I will be demonstrating here is a Ji Dan Chao Fan (Egg fried rice) which many people eat for breakfast.

In America, we call our three meals of the day breakfast, lunch and dinner. In China, they are called zao fan, wu fan, and wan fan which literally means morning rice, noon rice and evening rice. Yes, rice is a big part of eating here!

Start with some cooked rice. Cut up some veggies.
Warm up some vegetable oil (I have shown our Chinese oil in case you go to the Chinese grocery store and want to get the authentic stuff)

Let the egg cook for a while (like you would an omelet).

Then break it up and cook like you would scrambled eggs.

Cook the carrot with a little oil and a little soy sauce (you can use gluten free soy sauce or omit).

Mix in the rice.

Then mix in the egg and chives.

See this chicken boullion, it works nice to sprinkle in the fried rice and/or to cook the veggies or in many other chinese dishes. Pick some up if you go by the Chinese market. It works better than cubed boullion in my opinion!

An instant meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner awaits you! Add salt as you like!


Cooked rice
2 eggs (stirred up)
soy sauce (take out for gluten free option)
salt (to taste)
cut up veggies (in this case carrots and chives, you can do whatever you like)
vegetable oil
OPTIONAL (cut up meat such as chicken, pork, little pieces of ham, or shrimp)
Warm up a little oil in a wok or other large skillet. Let the egg simmer a while, then break it up and cook like scrambled eggs. Take out of the pan. Make sure you have just a little bit of oil and cook the carrots and/or other vegetables until a little soft. Do not cook chives, though. Stir in rice, egg, and chives and you are done. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Taco Soup

This recipe is:

-Super easy
-Nut free
-Can be made in the crockpot to simmer all day
-Can be made on the stovetop and is ready as soon as it's hot
-Makes a lot (6-8 servings)
-Good for giving to a family
-Ingredients can be added/substituted
-Tastes good!

You can make this and take this to a friend as a hot meal or as a freezer meal. If you are making it to be ready to eat, a great vessel for traveling is a large mason jar. The lid is tight so it won't spill and there should be enough soup for a family of four. You'll even have some left for your own family. It has enough veggies that you don't need to bring an additional salad, but you can take some tortilla chips or cornbread, some shredded cheddar cheese and/or sour cream.

To make as a freezer meal for your family or someone else, just brown the meat and add the other ingredients. Transfer to ziplock quart size freezer bags. Lay bags flat on a cookie sheet and place in freezer till frozen. Once frozen, put it together with a package of shredded cheese in a gallon size bag. Label with the contents and date. Then you or someone you love will have a hearty meal ready and waiting for a busy day.

*One more tip: When you chop onions for any recipe, chop the entire onion and save the extra in a ziplock bag and freeze. Then you have saved a little produce and some tears the next time you make a recipe needing chopped onions. Even if I only have a little extra, I just add it to a bag I already have in the freezer.


16 oz. can chili beans
16 oz. kidney beans
16 oz. can black beans
8 oz. can tomato sauce
15 oz. can diced stewed tomatoes
16 oz. can whole corn
16 oz. creamed corn
pkg. taco seasoning
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 sm. can chopped green chilies

Open but do not drain any of the liquid in the cans.
Brown the ground beef in a pan with chopped onion. Drain and return to pot.
Add all remaining ingredients to a crock pot or dutch oven.
Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cuban Bean Soup

This recipe is one of my favorites. It takes a lot of time to make just because of the bean-soaking and the simmering, but it's not too terribly labor intensive. It makes a huge pot and I usually freeze some of it for later.

Although it's called "soup", it's a lot thicker than that, and I always make a ton of rice to eat it with. We usually call it beans and rice, because it's not really very soupy at all. Just tasty.

1 pound white beans (I've used pinto too and that's fine)
2 cubes each beef and chicken bouillon
4 slices bacon
1/2 slice ham steak, cubed
2 small green peppers (I usually use one)
4 garlic cloves
1 large onion
1 can tomato sauce
4-6 packets Goya Culantro y Achiote spice (this stuff is in an orange box in the Mexican food aisle. I used to have to go to a mexican market to get it but it's gotten pretty mainstream. It's BRIGHT orange spice.)
1 tsp cumin
1/4 cup cooking wine
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar

Soak beans overnight and rinse. Then cook with two quarts of water and the bouillon cubes. Bring to boiling, lower heat, and simmer till beans are done. (It usually takes at least two hours.)

Make Sofrito:
Slice and dice ham and bacon. Saute with diced peppers, onion, and garlic. Fry till soft. Add tomato sauce and Goya spice, salt, pepper, cumin, and wine. Simmer uncovered 15 minutes and then add to beans.

Cook, covered, for at least 90 minutes. Before serving, add oil and vinegar. Serve with lots of rice.

Good for most allergies- dairy free, nut free, gluten free as long as you are careful what brand of bouillon you use. It's really flavorful but not spicy- my kids will eat it. Good stuff all around.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sweet smell of...butterflies?

I have taken attempt #2 at a homemade decorated cake and here it is. This is a cake that I made for my friend Mabel's baby shower. Mabel has 2 sons and is now expecting a baby girl. She's in bible study with me in Shanghai.
I can't take all the credit. I used a site that is amazing to get some ideas which is: Being that I take the easy road and since I have a tiny oven where I live right now, I did what I thought was easiest and made a sheet cake. Took out 4 little triangles on the left, right, top and bottom middle of the cake and made those into flowers. I used a white Betty Crocker cake mix and 2 tubs of Betty Crocker frosting and colored the frosting myself. Borrowed 2 cake decorators from my friend Ginny for the green and purple designs you see on the cake. I used the green on the outside of the cake to visually make the butterfly design more obvious. The butterfly fabric you see under the cake will be made into some pajama bottoms for my niece, Ally, but worked out nicely for the presentation of this butterfly cake for the shower.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Introducing myself

It occurred to me that I haven't done an introduction for myself. My name is Mary Beth and I am a friend of Kelli's. We met at church and were in a Sunday School class together for several years, but now I have found myself in Shanghai, China with my husband and 3 boys. I wouldn't say I am a great cook, but I do cook whereas many of my friends do not. I also do like to do some of everything: Cajun (since I am from Louisiana), New England type dishes or more mainstream Americana (since my mom is from Massachusetts), Tex-Mex (since I have most recently lived in and have a home in Texas), and now Chinese food (since I am here now!). I love all food, even though it doesn't always love me. I especially love having people over for dinner, pot-lucks, cook-outs. Maybe it is my Louisiana upbringing, but having a party or any celebration means having food! I also really, really love salads and would love to make a cookbook of just salads if I am ever given that opportunity to do so. I love all food, not just what I mentioned before, but also: Italian, Indian, Thai (which I do have a friend here from Bangkok who is an amazing cook and promises to show me the ropes), Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc, etc. I am way into crock-pot recipes since we have to do just about everything from scratch here in China and that is actually a good thing because it is forcing me to cook more!

However, I do desperately need a Homemade Gourmet injection of some Tortilla Soup mix soon, Kel are you hearing me? - I may get my brother to get a pantry size from me before he comes here in late May!

I also do some baking.

I guess you could say there isn't much I won't do food wise except for some of the Chinese dishes of dog, duck tongue, cow brain or other things of which I can't tell what they are!

I don't have any allergies or gluten problems, so Kelli or others, if something is gluten-free, can you tell me and I can modify to say something is gluten-free or what-not? I have enjoyed getting the recipes so far and am glad I can do some contributing.....

PS - Yes, I am planning to do some authentic Chinese recipes, but not too authentic or you all may not like them! :-)

Take care,
Mary Beth

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Easy Jambalaya

This is a staple dish in my family. I actually do not know if my dad makes his jambalya like this, but this is an easy way to make it for supper. I do not ever measure so, I'm sorry.

You will need:

  • yellow onions
  • green onions (I use frozen seasoning mix or Creole Seasoning Mix)
  • garlic
  • rice (2 cups)
  • chicken stock
  • water
  • oil
  • flour
  • salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper (I use Tony's but some people don't like it)
  • chicken or pork (I use bonelss, skinless chicken breasts most of the time)
  • link sausage cut into bite size pieces
  • cast iron skillet or dutch oven- must have a lid
  1. First, coat your chicken pieces in flour.
  2. Put some oil in the bottom of the skillet- coat the bottom
  3. Brown the chicken in the oil
  4. Take out chicken and put to the side. You may want to cut them up after they are not too hot.
  5. There will be some little bits of flour + oil that is crunchy-like, that is ok
  6. Now, sautee your veggies and garlic but don't burn it!
  7. Using your spatula, pick up the little crunchy bits and mix them all with your veggies.
  8. Add some chicken stock to help you pick up those little bits- just a glug or two.
  9. Next you can add your chicken pieces and sausage.
  10. Add 2 cups of rice
  11. After all of that, add water until all of the rice and meat are covered. I use some chicken stock and some water.
  12. Finally, add your Tony's (or salt, peppers, whatever).
  13. Put the lid on and turn the heat to medium for about 20 minutes.
  14. After that, stir (it's not easy to do) and fluff your rice- if you still have too much liquid- cook on low for a little longer. If your rice is still too crunchy- add some more chicken stock and cook for a little longer.

**Serve with white beans and cole slaw for a real south LA treat**

I am TERRIBLE at writing these things. I know that my recipe is not well written at all. I can answer questions though, if you have them.