One of my favorite traditions growing up was choosing dinner on your birthday 🙂
We started this tradition at a really young age, as far back as I can remember in elementary school.
When you knew your birthday was coming up, you got to pick what your parents made for dinner that night!
As a kid, I had two favorite meals:
- Pepperoni pizza from the local pizza joint, Mission Pizza
- Homemade lemon chicken & fried rice
Like, I could eat those 2 meals all day every day and be 100% happy.
So, every year, on my birthday in February, I would special request lemon chicken & fried rice, with my favorite strawberry shortcake for dessert 😉
(I know, I was clearly skilled at menu pairing from a young age…)
Over the years, I’ve tweaked the classic fried rice recipe a bit.
I doubled the amount of egg and green onion (because let’s be honest, that’s the best part), and added a cup of frozen mixed veggies to give it a little pop of freshness.
This has become my favorite way to use up leftover white rice from Chinese, Thai, or Indian food takeout.
It’s soooooo easy!
Since the rice is already cooked, the recipe comes together in just minutes.
(If you don’t have any leftover rice, you can also just cook some earlier in the day & let it cool uncovered in the fridge until dinner. The goal is to have it be slightly dried out before stir frying.)
Simply scramble some eggs in peanut oil (cooking them extra long so they get nice and golden and crispy), then stir fry the rice and green onion together. Stir in some frozen veggies, chicken broth, soy sauce, black pepper, and sesame oil, and you’re done!
- 4 tablespoons unrefined peanut oil, divided
- 5 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 5 1/2 cups cooked, cold, preferably day old, medium grain white or brown rice
- 2 cups chopped green onion
- 1 cup frozen peas and carrots mix
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 2/3 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a large wok or nonstick skillet over high heat. Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a small bowl along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and beat with a fork or whisk until well mixed.
Pour the egg into the warm wok or skillet and cook, stirring constantly with a spatula, for 5 or 6 minutes, until the egg is broken up into small pieces and is crispy and golden. Remove the egg from the pan and set aside for later.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil to the wok or skillet and keep the heat on high. Add the rice and green onion and stir fry for about 10 minutes until the green onion is cooked.
Next add the peas and carrots, chicken broth, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and soy sauce and continue to cook for about 5 minutes until hot and well mixed. Add the cooked egg, ground black pepper, and sesame oil, stir to mix well, and remove from heat. Enjoy while hot. (Although it makes great leftovers too!)
Lettuce wraps make perfect summer night dinners.
First of all, they’re easy…
Like, wash off some lettuce, quickly cook up some meat, toss in some herbs, and whisk together a basic sauce and you’re done.
Plus, you can do so many different flavor twists.
Mexican, Thai, Indian, etc… they would all be delicious.
This week, I decided to go Thai.
These wraps are bright, fresh, and packed with flavor.
Simply saute some pork and garlic until golden brown, then turn off the heat and toss in some fresh basil, cilantro, mint, onion, and fresh peppers.
Stuff the pork mixture into crisp butter lettuce leaves, and spoon a simple sauce over top, made with lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and more chiles.
The results are little pockets of deliciousness, packed with tender meat, fresh herbs, spicy chiles, vibrant fresh lime juice, and salty fish sauce.
I really like serving them with a giant bowl of fried rice on the side. Recipe coming soon!
- 1 head butter lettuce
- 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 red serrano or jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground pork
- 10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 small red onion, cut in half and very thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup torn fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves
Carefully remove the butter lettuce leaves from the head of lettuce, wash with cool water, and set out to dry on a towel.
Next, assemble the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and 1 of the sliced peppers. Season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned (about 10 minutes or so). Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes, until softened and fragrant.Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the onion, basil, cilantro, mint, and remaining pepper slices.
Serve family style, with the pork mixture, lettuce leaves, and dipping sauce. To assemble, spoon the pork into a lettuce leaf and either dip the wraps into the sauce or spoon over the top before eating.
Spice rubs and chicken were just born for each other.
Especially when grilled or roasted on high heat.
The spices takes on a deliciously smoky accent, and the meat is piping hot and succulently juicy.
(Bonus points if you left the skin on & get to enjoy all that crispy goodness).
You’ve seen me do spice-rub baked chicken breasts, which I love for their ease and simplicity, but a whole bird slathered in rub & roasted on high heat?
That’s a whole new experience.
There are a few keys to deliciously juicy spice-rub chicken.
- The heat has to start out lower. Typically, I blast my roasted chickens on high heat to get that extra crispy golden skin. But when you’ve covered the bird with a spice rub, you’ve got be careful not to burn those spices. Since chickens take awhile to cook, it’s best to start out on low heat while the tender flesh cooks.
- Crank up the heat at the end. Once the bird is almost done, say, after an hour or so in the oven, then you can turn up the heat and let the skin crisp up and brown the spices a little.
- Stuff the cavity with aromatics. Since we aren’t going for the same cracklin skin that an unseasoned bird has, we can stuff that cavity of the bird until it’s overflowing. My favorites are lemon and shallot, which impart a slight onion & citrus flavor to the meat as they cook. I avoid stuffing the cavity on my basic roasted chickens, since the steam from the vegetables can hinder the crisping of the chicken skin, but I’m not worried about that w. my spice rubbed chicken.
- Let it rest after cooking. Once the bird reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees, let it rest out of the oven for a bit before you slice into it. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, instead of spilling out all over your cutting board.
Once the bird is done, serve it with some delicious sides.
Grilled Zucchini with Mint, Lemon, & Feta, World’s Easiest Garlic Mashed Potatoes, or a Simple Side Salad all go great 🙂
- 3 1/4 lb fryer chicken
- 2 small lemons, quartered
- 1 large shallot, quartered
- olive oil, for seasoning
For the spice rub:
- 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix together all of the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.
Remove the chicken from any packaging it might be in, and discard any of the innards that might be in the cavity. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, and set on a roasting rack inside of a roasting pan. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil, and rub all over with your hands.
Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the lemon and shallot, then sprinkle the chicken all over with the spice rub. Also use your fingers to separate the chicken skin from the breast area, and rub some of the spice rub under the skin. Use as much or as little of the rub as you want, to taste, probably around 1/4 cup. If you don't use all of the rub, you can reserve the extra for another use, if desired.
Place the roasting pan in the oven, and let the chicken roast for about 1 hour. Increase the heat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, and roast for another 30 minutes or so, or until the skin is crispy and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If it's not quite there yet after the 90 minutes, continue cooking until it reaches the proper temperature.
When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Enjoy!