Pork Fried (Cauliflower) “Rice”

Recently we’ve had so much going on that I kind of fell into one of those traps of making¬†the same meals over and over every week. Sure, they’re good, but I’m getting pretty tired of the same sausage and tomato pasta!

In searching for new recipes to try, and also ones that were healthier, I remembered my good friend had posted that she made orange chicken with fried rice… but instead of rice, she used CAULIFLOWER! I know, it sounds like one of those substitutions that doesn’t even make sense and that everyone spits out.

Let me tell you, IT’S NOT. I made it tonight, substituting some leftover pork I was trying to use up, and I didn’t miss the rice, not one bit!

It’s a little messy turning the cauliflower into ‘rice’, but it’s super easy and kind of fool proof.

Here’s what you need:
1/2 head of cauliflower
Half an onion (I used red)
2 cloves garlic
About 2 carrots
About 1 TBLspn cooking oil
About 1 1/2 TBLspn coconut oil
2 eggs
About 1 cup cooked pork – loin or chop would work fine (I used leftovers from this)
Optional: green onion for garnish

First get your cauliflower ready. Chop up half the head of cauliflower and add it to the food processor. This is the part that’s a little messy; it’s just difficult to get it all in there without getting tiny crumbs all over the counter and floor. Once it’s in there, pulse until it’s at a rice-like consistency. Honestly? Mine looked more like couscous or quinoa, but it still turned out fantastic, so you don’t have to be too particular about this. Just be sure you stop before you turn it into a puree. Side note: of course you’re going to wash it before you chop it, but make sure you ring out all the water and/or pat it dry after chopping. If you don’t, the water will turn it into a puree!

Next, chop the onion and finely chop the garlic cloves. Drizzle the cooking oil in a deep skillet and heat it over medium heat. Once hot, toss in the onion. Let cook for about 2 minutes, then add in the garlic. Let cook for another 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile cut up the carrots. I actually only had baby carrots, so I cut them in quarters lengthwise, then chopped so they were diced like you see in fried rice so often. Add those in the pan too and stir, cooking for approximately 5 minutes.

Then, using a spatula to get it all out, add in the cauliflower ‘rice’. Stir of course! Add the coconut oil. Then crack the eggs into the pan, on top of the cauliflower, one at a time. Just crack them in whole, and stir!! Once incorporated, let cook for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it and stir once to prevent burning and sticking to the pan.

While that’s cooking, chop up the pork, then add it in with the cauliflower and stir. Cook until everything is warm, stirring frequently. You can also garnish it with some fresh chopped green onion. (I wish we’d have had some!) You could also add diced celery if you have it.

And that’s IT! I told you it was easy. And quick! And healthy! All the things we want in one recipe ūüôā

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Oh. And drizzle a little sriracha. Because it’s good.
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Hope you enjoy! If you try it be sure to come back to comment how your family liked it!

OHI Chicken Quesadillas with Avocado Ranch Spread

Hi! If you’re new to the blog, welcome! Click here for definitions of terminology which may be new to you. ūüôā

One day we were out of or low on bread and didn’t have enough to make sandwiches for everyone. I was trying to think of something creative for lunch instead. Tortillas had been BOGO so we had plenty of those. I always have shredded cheese (most commonly, sharp cheddar blends, Italian blends, and Mexican blend) and we were just discussing how we don’t use our quesadilla maker enough – so out it came! I had a ripe avocado begging to be used and I wanted to experiment with seasoning an avocado spread.

Here is what I do when I make an “OHI” meal. I open up my fridge, stare at my fruit/produce basket, and ask myself, what do I have that can go together and be delicious?!? I did have some leftover chicken, some leftover chimichurri, some tomatoes, red pepper, lime, jalapeno, sour cream, mayo, and of course, seasonings.

Here is the hodge podge of OHI I was trying to use up.

Here is the hodge podge of OHI I was trying to use up.

Fresh produce always helps inspire great ideas. So I decided to put all those ingredients into the quesadillas. (If you don’t have exactly these, what DO you have? Toss it in there. I’ll bet ya it’s good!)

So first I chopped the chicken, reheated it in a small frying pan, and tossed it with the chimichurri.

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Then I made this avocado ranch spread. All I did was mash up the avocado, squeeze a little lime juice, add some salt, garlic powder, and onion powder, a very little bit (maybe a tablespoon?) of low fat mayo, and VOILA! Freshly made, very flavorful, delicious avocado spread.

Avocado spread

I spread the avocado ranch on one whole wheat tortilla:
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Then I topped it with Mexican blend cheese, the diced red pepper, chopped tomato, and jalapeno:
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Next I added the chimichurri chicken:
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And sprinkled a little more cheese over top ūüėČ
Then I placed another tortilla over this one. Pinching it closed on both sides, I lifted it carefully and placed it in our quesadilla maker and lowered the lid.

The nice thing about quesadilla makers is there is heat and pressure from both sides, so everything gets nice and melty, and the tortilla gets lightly browned.

However, a quesadilla maker takes up a lot of space, and I haven’t been very creative in finding other uses for it. (I’ve wondered if I put waffle or pancake batter in it, would I have a really large, pre-cut breakfast that’s finger-friendly?? Maybe I’ll try this someday.) So if you don’t have a quesadilla maker, don’t go out of your way. You can easily make a quesadilla by putting the tortilla in a large frying pan and cooking it the same way. I’d suggest using a lid a BIT smaller than the pan to put a little pressure on top. You will probably have to flip this over. It can get messy if you’re not careful. Sometimes I would place a large plate over top of the pan, flip the pan upside down (dropping the quesadilla onto the plate), and then sliding the quesadilla from the plate back into the pan (so the uncooked side is now DOWN). This can be tricky. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK! I recommend use of an oven mitt! ūüôā

So now, once the quesadilla is finished, use a large spatula to remove it and place it on a plate or a cutting board. Use a large chef’s knife to cut through the sections, or use a pizza cutter.
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Serve with the Avocado Ranch Spread, and some sour cream too if you & your family like it.
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These are SO good and flavorful. I made some with plain chicken shortly after, and they were just not the same. I suppose you could say this is a Second Meal for the Chimichurri!!! I originally made it for this Steak recipe. It’s so good, and healthy! I’ll be making it again for sure, especially now that I have a second use for it. (You can also toss sliced chicken with it and put it over a salad with some sliced avocado and this homemade dressing. OHHHH SO GOOD!)

Check out this meal plan using chicken breast for more Second Meal ideas!

Overnight Chicken Stock

This is Recipe #3 of the Meal Plan using Chicken breasts. 

The first time I made homemade stock it was vegetable, because I forgot to pick up a whole chicken. I was nervous because it was the first time I had made it. I found a recipe for an overnight crock pot stock and thought, this sounds easy enough! A big thanks to her, because I tried it, and it turned out great! I immediately used it in chicken soup the next day. That’s what we’re going to do here: make the stock overnight, and use that stock in a chicken soup the next day.

I’m really enjoying the homemade stock because it’s the ultimate way to get the best bang for your buck, using scraps, and using up your OHI. You can’t really mess this up. And this way, you just set it and forget it in the crock pot. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

What I USED:
3 Chicken breasts, ribs in, most chicken used (for this and this) but some still attached
Broccoli stalks (leftover from this dinner)
Celery and celery leaves, cut into chunks
Parsley – a moderate bunch (I used the tops of the leaves of a bunch that was starting to turn yellow on bottom)
Carrots
Half a Red Onion (or yellow, or white… whatever your OHI is), skin on is okay
Garlic (1 head, cut in half), again skin on is okay
9 1/2 cups water
~1/4 cup or so of cooking water from carrots from this meal

All you have to do is toss everything in your crock pot, add the water, and set to low for 8-10 hours.

Veggies and chicken bones in the crock pot

Veggies and chicken bones in the crock pot

Don't throw away this nutrient-rich cooking water. Drain into crock pot instead.

Don’t throw away this nutrient-rich cooking water. Drain into crock pot instead.

In the morning when this is finished, it might look something like this:
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You can drain using this method. (If you come up with a better one, let me know!) Just like recommended on original recipe, I set up a bowl with a colander over it (mine has a nifty little hook!). Using tongs, I remove the larger pieces of veggies and bones and put them in the colander.

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Dump in garbage when full and start again.

Then I use a ladle to spoon the contents (including liquid) into the colander as well. (I’m experimenting to see if those carrots will be useful for anything. I’ll let you know how it goes.)
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Once full, I again dump the colander contents and store the stock in a jar or a tightly sealed glass container until ready to use. (If you are going to use the stock right away, like we will in the meal plan, you can leave it out for an hour or two to let it cool to room temp while you prep the veggies for the soup.)

After draining, I had about 8 1/2 cups of stock (all of which we will use in our next meal, chicken noodle soup!).

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Beautiful homemade stock!

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If you have bits of fat after storing, you can skim them off the top before reusing the stock.

Quick, flavorful veggies

Growing up, I never ADORED broccoli. It didn’t bother me to eat it, but it wasn’t my favorite either. Some regulars where I work bring their two kids with them all the time, and they would always (wait for it) VOLUNTARILY get broccoli as a side!! I was uber impressed. Which may or may¬†not have been the reason I started cooking broccoli more at home ūüėČ

Turns out it’s a good thing I did, since Aubrey now LOVES broccoli! She will even eat it -gasp- RAW!¬† The first time this happened I was cutting broccoli to make the way I’m going to show you, and she asked, “Mom, can I have one right now?” (grabbing a piece off the cutting board).¬†I was kind of quietly freaking out in my head. Don’t make a big deal out of it or it will ruin it! I was thinking in a terribly over-excited voice in my head. Very calmly and off-handedly I said, “Sure honey.” I watched out of the corner of my eye because I was certain she was going to spit it in the garbage. But she didn’t! And now broccoli is probably her favorite vegetable, with cauliflower coming in a close second.

So how did I make it the first time I bought fresh broccoli and cut it off the stalk? Sorry to say I didn’t steam it or even blanche it. Nah… I take baby steps. Here’s how I like to cook these now – and they’re usually a hit with everyone in the family (I guess I’m still working on the hubs though).

First, obviously, cut up your vegetables. I try to cut the broccoli and cauliflower into smaller pieces for the kids (remember my definition of kid-friendly?)
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Then¬†melt a generous¬†tablespoon or so of butter in a skillet over low to medium heat. (Yes, sorry, this is not really a healthy dish by today’s standards. Back in the 50s maybe, sure.) You want the melted butter to cover the surface of the pan.
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Once it’s all melted and you’ve tilted the pan to cover the entire surface, evenly sprinkle some Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and paprika. It will form almost like a shortened version of a compound butter, which is going to coat our vegetables very nicely.
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Then place the prepared veggies in the pan – just enough to cover the surface. Now DON’T TOUCH! Let it sit for a minute or so, and sprinkle more¬†seasonings on the top of the veg.
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Then give the pan a good shake to move the veggies around and coat other sides of them. After another minute or so you can do a little flip with the pan to rotate them even more.

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Here’s where you have some options.
1. You can add another pat of butter to the middle (aaaand maybe the sides too) of the pan and sprinkle more seasonings over top of the veg. This is the best way. The seasoned butter sticks so well to the veggies and forms almost like a crust of deliciousness!
2. If you have some chicken stock open in the fridge, or possible using it for your main dish, you can add a splash or two to the pan to hydrate the veggies some more. I must warn you: it will sizzle and probably whatever bits of seasonings are on the bottom of the pan, it will kind of clump them up and form a chewy… substance. haha. But if you like them more moist this is probably the way to go.

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Look at that seasoned yummy-ness!

Now. Yes we use a fair amount of butter here, but what I like about it is it gives the veggies flavor without overcooking them (the more you cook veggies the more nutrients leak out). I should tell you now, this is part of my¬†process of introducing new foods to my kids, particularly vegetables (see QUICK TIP). And although I’m glad Aubrey enjoys raw broccoli, I really don’t enjoy the dry raw¬†florets, so this preparation is a perfect compromise! Hope you enjoy it too.