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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Best Authentic Fried Rice

Mary Jane's Authentic 
Fried Rice Before the Green Onions are Added

The reason I say "authentic"' fried rice is because even though I'm an American and was born in the US, my family lived in the Orient for 3 years when I was a child. We lived in the Philippine Islands where we ate Chinese Fried Rice along with other dishes at a Chinese restaurant every Sunday after church. A sweet little old lady insisted on paying for our family to eat there at her expense. "Auntie" was so special and thoughtful to do that for us. We learned to love Chinese food there but we also got to visit Hong Kong and Japan. The Filipinos had their style of fried rice too, so we got to experience different types and flavors. 
It's reslly difficult, though, in my opinion to find what I call  that "authentic" Chinese taste. I've had 100's of different versions of fried rice over the years, whether it be at a restaurant or recipes I've found in cookbooks or on the web. I was never satisfied with the taste until I decided sesame oil was the ingredient that made Chinese food taste authentic to me. Some people don't use as much in their recipes as I do, but I use a lot of it, even more than what I wrote down for this recipe. So add more if you want! You won't always see water chestnuts in fried rice, but I love it for the crunch. The onions and garlic are always in authentic fried rice too. Another note is that if you want your rice to separate and not stick toget her, then you need to cook it the day bfore and pt it in the refrigerator so it will be cold. Something else that will help your rice not stick together is to rinse your dry rice with cold water 2-3 times before you cook it. Getting the starch out will help it not be sticky when done. 
Another secret is to use a good rice and my favorite to use with any dish is Basmati, which is the long grain rice used in Indian cooking. It costs more but believe me when I say it is totally worth it! And lastly, I want to say I use this Chicken Fried Rice as a main dish. Please don't put a totally different Chinese dish on top of this. It should stand alone! All the other Chinese dishes such as Cashew Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, Sweet and Sour Chicken, Moo Goo Hai Pan and other dishes need to be put over steamed rice or what many people call white rice. There are just too many flavors in fried rice that will compete with these other Chinese dishes. They have their own unique flavor. The steamed rice allows you to taste the flavors of the dish you put on top of it. I'm real touchy about this subject! I think most oriental people would agree!

*Whatever you do, do not leave out the sesame oil. I buy it in the large red can!*

Ingredients - feeds 6 

Canola oil
1 cup onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
4-5 cups cooked cold Basmati rice (cooked the day before)
2-3 cups Kroger brand frozen Grilled Chicken Strips, thawed  (green bag) or any other chopped meat
4 eggs, scrambled
1 can sliced water chestnuts, sliced into strips
1 cup corn
1½-2 cups frozen peas and carrots, pre-thawed in the microwave for 2 mins
2 Tb Toasted Sesame oil (I add more when everything is put together before serving)
4 tsp Lite soy sauce (mostly for color. Too much will make it salty)
1 tsp Accent (unless you are gluten intolerant)
Salt and pepper to taste
For Top:1-2 Tb toasted sesame seeds
6-8 green onions (raw), chopped (for top after the rice is cooked)

Optional:  dash of garlic powder, onion powder, ½-1 tsp fresh grated ginger, fish sauce
Note: sometimes I use chopped pork, ham or shrimp, but my favorite is chicken. 

Mary Jane's Authentic Fried Rice


Make sure your onions, garlic, water chestnuts and chicken are cut up into separate bowls before you start anything. Believe me, prepping this ahead of time will make this easier. 

Cut frozen chicken up into small pieces. Then cook it in oil on medium high heat in a frying pan or wok. Remove chicken to another bowl and set aside. In same pan, add about 1 tsp oil and fry onions and garlic for a few minutes til tender. Remove this and add to chicken or into another dish. Try to keep each cooked item warm by putting a plate or lid over them. Next, quickly fry the sliced water chestnuts in same pan then remove to another dish or add to chicken. Then fry the peas, carrots and corn to get them warm for a few minutes. Remove from pan.  Put a little more oil in the same pan and scramble the eggs, stirring constantly. Remove from pan. 

 If you have a wok that would be best te use, but it's not absolutely essential. Hopefully you have the kind of wok that won't make the food stick. Melt about 1 tablespoon butter in the wok (med hi heat). Add half the rice and stir fry till it is separated and heated. This would be a good time to add half the soy sauce and half the sesame oil. After that is heated, move rice to another dish and do the same with the other half of rice. We are doing this because we do not want to crowd the rice. Having too much rice in the pan will cause it not to separate and heat the right way. Add the other half of the soy sauce and more sesame oil.

Put other half of heated rice in the wok and add all the other ingredients. Now add salt and pepper to taste. Stir all ingredients. Add toasted sesame seeds and str. Just before serving, toss in the chopped green onions. Serve immediately. You can either purchase sweet and sour sauce or use my recipe, which  I will try to add later! Enjoy!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Turkey Squash Casserole

Turkey Squash Casserole Before the Crunchy Top is Added

If you're looking for something healthy to fix your family, this casserole is healthy and delicious at the same time! One day about 7 yrs ago I was searching the web for a recipe that called for ground Turkey and I am so glad I found this. It will not disappoint and kids will eat it too, which is always something mothers and grandmothers battle with, right? The original recipe was sent in to Taste of Home by Mildred Sherer of Fort Worth, Texas. I'm a Texas gal, so I know it has to be good! My mom and dad lived near Fort Worth for a while and some of the best
dishes come from there.

Turkey Squash Casserole with Crushed Topping

I have some slight differences from the original recipe. If you want to see the original, see the link below. The recipe called for yellow summer squash and even though I like that, I decided to use Zucchini squash instead. It's great in this recipe, so I'm not about to change it. The other difference is that I substituted crushed gluten free pretzels for the saltines, which are put on top. I have to say, I like the GF crushed pretzels even better! They made the top extra crunchy. I get my GF pretzels at Aldi, but I've even seen them in regular grocery stores.

A couple of times I have added mushrooms and either mushroom or cream of chicken soup and as much as I'm crazy about mushrooms, the casserole is fantastic without them and I'm sure it's healthier without the soup. I usually bake some acorn squash in the oven that has been drizzled in real maple syrup to go with this casserole. Yum! Or you could just fix a salad to go with it. I hope you enjoy this great recipe as much as I do. I always know I'm eating something good for me.

Baked Acorn Squash Drizzled with Maple Syrup and Butter

1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon oil
2 cups sliced zucchini squash (original calls for yellow summer squash)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup evaporated milk (could substitute almond milk if you're dairy intolerant)
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup crushed saltines (I used gluten free pretzels)

* For a change - sometime you should add mushrooms and mushroom soup (or cream of chicken soup). If you do use soup in the recipe, use the whole can of milk (not just 1 cup)

In a large skillet, cook turkey in oil over medium heat until no longer pink. Add the squash and onion. Cook until vegetables are crisp-tender; drain.
In a small bowl, combine eggs, milk, cheese, butter, salt and pepper. Stir into the turkey mixture. Transfer to a greased baking dish. Sprinkle with the cracker crumbs or crushed GF pretzels.
Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 35-40 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 6 servings.
Originally published as Turkey Squash Casserole in Casserole Cookbook 2001, p38

To see original recipe click HERE.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Creamed Spinach Bake

I love, love, love this recipe and hope you will too! I've combined 2 recipes that I have used for 40 yrs and like this version best. Everyone asks me for the recipe! Sorry there is no picture. Next time I make it I'll try to remember to do that. Enjoy!

  • 3 - 10 oz. packages frozen spinach (thawed and drained) To maker it easier, you can use canned spinach, but I think it's much better with the frozen spinach.

  • 8 oz cream cheese (softened)

  • 8 oz sour cream

  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup

  • ½ packet/envelope Lipton Onion Soup (dry-comes in a box)

  • 6 oz can Durkee French Fried onions, divided in half

  • 8-10 oz Slivered or sliced almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Thaw and drain spinach (drain the spinach really well- squeeze out any extra liquid by draining spinach in a colander and pressing out as much liquid as possible.)
  3. Mix together spinach, cream cheese, sour cream, mushroom soup, Lipton Onion Soup, ½ the almonds and ½ of the French's onions.
  4. Pour into greased casserole dish.
  5. Add remaining French onions and almonds to top.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through (make sure not to let onions brown too much.)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Mother/Daughter Snowball Scarves

This Mother/Daughter scarf set is found in my book, Positively Crochet. I designed a snowflake for you too. I was actually inspired to make the scarf aftef I found this soft snow-like yarn from Hobby Lobby.

Mother/Daughter Snowflake Crochet Scarves by Mary Jane Hall,
published in Positively Crochet!

The book has 50 designs of garments and accessories! Check out my Rsvelry designer page HERE to see all my designs that are in this book. It's still being sold on Amazon and eBay, as well as other online stores.  

Snowflake for Mother/Daughter Snowball Scarf in Mary Jane Hall's book,  Positively Crochet

 Mother/Daughter Snowball Scarf in Mary Jane Hall's book,  Positively Crochet

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

My Favorite Cole Slaw

I have always been very picky about cole slaw. I don't like it with a lot of vinegar and I don't like it with horseradish. Just never liked that taste. So I created my own version of cole slaw years ago and now I'm sharing it with you.
This goes really great with my Southern Fried Catfish or Fried Chicken.

Mary Jane's Favorite Cole Slaw

1 bag cole slaw mix (or greate your own cabbage - maybe 4 cups?)
2/3 cup Hellmans Mayonnaise (no substitute)
2/3 cup sour cream (not fat free!)
1- 2 tsp apple cigar vinegar
3 - 4 tsps sugar (or to taste)
A little salt
Optimal: for a change, sometimes I add chopped sweet Vidalia onion and/or chopped sweet green pepper

Mix ingredients for sauce in bowl, and allow sugar to dissolve. Then add to cole slaw mix. Add salt to taste. You may need more sauce, depending on how much cabbage you have. You don't want it to be too dry, but you don't want it overpowered with sauce either. I probably make more sauce than this, but I never measure the ingredients. It is very  important though to have the same amount mayo as you do sour cream. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps - Thai Style

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps, shown without the flour tortilla

Easy Gluten Free Meal!
If you've never had the priveledge of munching on this delicious light meal, you're in for a treat. It's a healthy wrap, which is great for lunch, snack or an evening meal. Your kids will love it, because what kid doesn't like peanut butter? You'll find other chicken wraps without it, but Thai style wraps almost always have peanut butter as a main ingredient in the sauce.  This particular recipe can be used with a flour tortilla, or wrapped in Boston lettuce (also known as Bibb lettuce). I like to put the lettuce inside the flour tortilla. In my case, I use gluten free tortillas,  since I am wheat intolerant. Many grocery stores carry the GF version, but I find mine at Aldi, displayed with their other GF products.
I double this recipe when I make it because we like to have some left over for the next day or two. If you plan to have any leftovers, it would be a good idea to keep the sauce separate from the chicken/cole slaw mixture. Then you can just heat up the sauce. We eat the chicken mixture cold with warm sauce, but you can heat up the chicken If you want. It's just that since its mixed with the cole slaw mix, that may not be good warmed. I hope you enjoy this! It 's one of my favorite meals!

Gluten Free Wraps I buy at Aldi grocery store

Gluten Free Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps


Chicken Filling
3-4 cups cooked chicken tenderloins, shredded or chopped in small pieces
1 can sliced water chestnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cups cole slaw mix with carrots
3 green onions, sliced
4 tablespoons chopped peanuts
1 head Boston or Bibb lettuce
Flour tortillas (I used gluten free from Aldi)

Other optimal ingredients: (I've seen in restaurants)
cellophane Chinese rice noodles, fresh edamame peas, shiitake mushrooms, sliced red pepper, slivered almonds, sesame seeds, cucumber, cilantro, alfalfa or bean sprouts, fresh chopped snow peas, chopped bamboo shoots

4 Tablespoons sesame oil (I prefer toasted; sometimes I use more than 4 Tbs)
4 Tablespoons lite GF soy sauce or Coconut Aminos
4-5 Tablespoons peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
4 Tablespoons lime juice
4 Tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons garlic, chopped or minced
1-2 dashes ceyenne red pepper

Cook chicken for about 15 minutes and set aside to cool. In large bowl, mix together chopped chicken, cole slaw mix, peanuts and green onions. In separate bowl, mix sauce ingredients with wisk. Place sauce in microwave for 2 minutes to warm it.

To Assemble
Layer ingredients on a plate in this order:
Tortilla (warmed in microwave for 15 seconds)
Chicken Mixture
Roll up and serve

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Jalapeno Popper Cheese and Corn Dip - Gluten Free

  •  I took this dip to my granddaughter's birthday party, knowing there would be several adults there too. Well, actually, I forgot I had told my daughter I would bring something and since I didn't have time to go to the grocery store, I scrounged around in my kitchen looking through ingredients for something simple to make. I knew I wanted to make an appetizer to go with the pizza she was ordering, but also did not want to bring anything sweet. I hurridly looked on Pinterest for something gluten free since I am wheat intolerant. Wheat acts like a sedative on me and that wouldn't be good for me while driving back home. I am also dairy intolerant, but as you can see, this dip is not dairy free. It's really difficult to find wheat AND dairy free recipes! 

Several of the adults at the party liked this dip and asked for the recipe, so here it is! I looked at several dips on Pinterest and used some ingredients from each one to come up with my own version. If you are intrested in seeing the other great recipes for Jalapeno Popper Dip (and other cheese dips), see the links below my recipe. Hope you like my version!

  • Ingredients
  • 3-4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (save 1 slice for the topping - see below). You could use Bacon Bits
  • 1- 8 oz package cream cheese , softened
  • 1/2 cup Hellman's Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 - 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarrela cheese (I used half Gouda cheese and half mozzarella, because I didn't have enough mozz)
  • 2 cups frozen sweet corn, thawed in the microwave about 2 minutes. (You can use fresh or canned corn)
  • 1/2 of a 4 oz. can Chopped Green Chilis (freeze other half for another dish or more dip later)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons jalapenos from a jar, diced, omiting seeds. I only used about 1 Tb, but next time I'll use more. 
  • Note: you could use fresh jalapeno peppers
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet, green pepper, chopped fine
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet yelloe or red pepper (I used yellow)
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet Vidalia onion or green onions, finely diced 

  • Topping
1/2  cup mozzarrella cheese (I used Gouda, but think mozz would be better)
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1 slice bacon, cooked and crumbled
Few dashes of parsley
Serve with Crackers or Chips

Turn on oven to 350. 
Cook bacon. I usually cook my bacon in the oven, but this time I cooked it in the microwave between paper towels, since there wasn't much. 
While bacon is cooking, combine the next 12 ingredients in a bowl. Add crumbled bacon  to mixture and place in small casserole, oven safe dish. 
Spread Topping ingredients on top of cheese dip, and cook in 350 oven for 20-25 minutes.
Serve with crackers or chips!

Other Ch Dips on Pinterest

Jalapeno Popper Dip
Cheesy Bacon Jalapeno Dip
Cold Corn Dip
Fiesta Corn Dip
Creamy Bacon Parmesan Dip
Creamy BLT Dip
Famous Neiman Marcus Dip
Skinny Poolside  DIP
Hot Cheezy Spinach Artichoke Dip
Cheezy Bacon Ranch Dip
Hot Crab Dip
Jalapeno Popper Football Shaped Cheese Ball