Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Random Recipe of the Week: Pseudo-Stir Fry and "Fake" Risotto

I know it has been... a lot of weeks since my last RROTW, but sometimes my cooking is limited to microwave "fried" egg sandwiches and whatever leftovers my mom has generously sent me home with. Not too exciting for everyone here. The other problem is that I cook the way I was taught to cook, the Italian way. That means no recipes and no measuring. It just slows me down. Which is not such a bad thing when most of my recipes are things I just sort of make up and throw together, but it DOES make it hard to explain to others. This is one of those times, so hopefully my attempt to share will make sense.

Usually the things I cook are based on what's on sale at whichever grocery store I end up at. So when Trader Joe's had brussels sprouts, jalepenos, and mushrooms all at a reasonable price, this is what I ended up making:

"Pseudo" stir-fry with chicken, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, jalepenos, red, yellow, and green bell peppers, and garlic and "fake" brown rice risotto

This is definitely one of those things I made up as I went along, so I'm not really going to have measurements for you for the most part. (Sorry!)

My ingredients list:

brown basmati (quick cook) rice
two smallish chicken breasts
brussels sprouts (I used one pre-packaged bag from TJ's [the one you can microwave them in])
crimini mushrooms
2 jalepenos
frozen chopped bell peppers (TJ's "Melange a Trois": red, yellow, and green bell peppers already cut up)
chicken stock
Greek yogurt
lemon juice
dried or fresh basil
TJ's South African Smoke Seasoning
TJ's Everyday Seasoning
lemon pepper
olive oil

I feel I should note that you're going to have to multitask a bit. Nothing major, just checking the chicken and the rice while you're working on the other stuff. Don't forget them.
The process:

-Start boiling the chicken breasts.  These really don't have to be babysat, they just take a while. Place them in a pot where they fit comfortably, add water (they should be totally drowned, plus a little extra so they can move around a bit), put a lid on it, and put it on the stove on high. Once the water starts to boil, turn it down so it's just bubbling a bit (low boil). Check them sporadically by removing one and checking the center to see if it's cooked (NO pink). You'll want to catch these when they're just thoroughly cooked and remove them from the water.

-The rice should have cooking instructions on the package, but I think mine was 1 cup of rice and 2 1/2 cups of water. Put those together in a pot (their own pot), add a bit of salt, put a lid on it, and put it on the stove on high. Once it boils, stir it and turn the heat down so it's just simmering. Stir occasionally until all of the water is absorbed, then turn off the heat. (Once again, do not overcook.)

-Get a big pan with high sides. Put either 1 cup of chicken stock or 1 cup of water (if you're using a concentrated chicken stock that you add to water) in it on the stove on high (use a lid).
While you wait for that to boil, you can start chopping. Start with the jalepenos (they're the strongest flavor). I cut them in half lengthwise twice, so they're in quarters, pull out all the "guts" (the white stuff and the seeds), and then chop them into smallish pieces. (You're not mincing them... they should be like a cm or two x whatever the width of 1/4 a jalepeno is.)
Once the water/chicken stock is boiling, turn it down to just under half heat, add the concentrated chicken stock if necessary, and then add the chopped jalepenos.
Brussels sprouts are next. Cut them in half lengthwise, then add to pan. Once those are all added, stir it.
This is the point where I added just a bit of olive oil, the Smoke Seasoning, and the Everyday Seasoning. If you're using fresh garlic (mince it), this is a good point to add it. If you're using minced garlic in a jar, I'd wait a bit to add that. Stir it again.
Slice the crimini mushrooms and add those. I honestly don't know how many I used because I just grabbed maybe 4 or 5 at a time, sliced them, and added them. I think I did that twice, stirred it, and eyeballed it. Just keep adding and stirring them in until it looks like you have the amount you want.
Add frozen bell peppers. Again, eyeball it and stir.
Turn the heat down to medium-low and replace the lid.
Once your chicken is just cooked, remove it from the water. Cut it up into chunks (just larger than bite-sized pieces) and add them to your veggies. If you're using minced garlic from a jar, add that too. Stir it, replace the lid, and let it simmer for a bit while you make the rice.
Once your rice is cooked, add the Greek yogurt (I used approx. 9 oz total) about a third at a time, stirring it in each time. It should be creamy and coated, but it shouldn't look like cottage cheese (there shouldn't be extra yogurt). The rice should just stick together. Add lemon juice, basil, and lemon pepper to taste. Start with small amount of each, stir, and taste. Add more accordingly. [You can do all of this in the pot you cooked the rice in.]
Your veggies and chicken should be done by now. Really, they're good to go as soon as the bell peppers are heated up, but you can always check and make sure the brussels sprouts are cooked, too. Once your peppers aren't frozen and your brussels sprouts are tender, enjoy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

An Explanation of Prejudice

"Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends." 
-Shirley Maclaine

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy 2012

Just wanted to post SOMETHING to let everyone know that I am indeed still here and I have the best intentions of posting more frequently (and hopefully all quality content) in the new year. (Yeah, I know, "the road to hell..." and all...)

I definitely want to get (parts of) my honors senior thesis posted, because I'm pretty proud of it and I feel it should be shared. It's relevant (although getting increasingly less relevant) to mainstream culture because I focused on mainstream hip hop. For those who don't know, I'm a total hip hop head and my thesis was a rare attempt not to demonize hip hop (nor to vindicate it, per se) but to take a deeper look at what's really going on and why. That's vague, I know. It'll make more sense as I start posting. The only problem with this (other than the fact that it would be absurd to just post a 30-page thesis here) is I'm trying to get it published for real, and I need to work on spiffing up the writing. I'm hoping that the process of spiffing will lend itself to the process of sharing on the blog. So we'll see, I guess.

I'm also looking at doing sort of an offshoot of my thesis, which I don't want to talk too much about. I will say I'll need all of the legit information, music, etc. I can get on Nicki Minaj. Interviews, mixtapes, whatever. So if you can help, please do. :)

I'm planning to finish up The Lexicon, or at least finish defining what I've listed already. The half-assed attempt I have up now is just sort of sad.

I have all these big ideas and plans which sort of fall by the wayside due to an utter lack of time and/or energy. I work two jobs right now (plus some freelance work as it can be fit in) and yes, if I managed my time well, it would probably be doable. But then time management was never my strong suit. (Some of you who know me well are snorting right now. Rude.)
I'm not complaining. I know that being too busy because I'm working two jobs (albeit two part-time jobs that together still don't quite yield enough income to get by) is a situation a lot of people would LOVE to be in. And I'm grateful. I'm just shit at managing my time.

So keep an eye out, and I'll try to post links on my Facebook and Twitter when I do post something new.

Here's to big goals in 2012. Cheers.