Sriracha Fried Rice

A unique, spicy fried rice with the egg on top! If spice isn’t your thing, just use a little Sriracha for flavor!

Sriracha Fried Rice | thepajamachef.comOhhh yeah. This dinner is my new BFF. I’ve made it more times in the last few months than I can count. It’s full of flavor, is super simple, and uses one of my favorite under-appreciated vegetables–cabbage! It’s rare for us not have have some leftover rice in the fridge because Ben lives on that stuff. And lucky for me–rice is cheap, and it lasts in the fridge or freezer for awhile. But that “lasting’ sometimes means there’s more leftover rice than I know what to do with. Enter fried rice. You can make a normal fried rice like this one or a kale fried rice or a pineapple fried rice, or you can make a kicked up vegetarian version. Like this one! Sriracha is everyone’s favorite spicy condiment so now you have another use for it!

Sriracha Fried Rice | thepajamachef.comThis dinner hits the spot when you want something homey and comforting but don’t want to wait or take the time to cook a big meal. Sriracha Fried Rice takes a bunch of leftovers [like that cabbage you bought for slaw or to add to salad] and turns them into something amazing! I love the nuttiness of the sesame oil and sesame seeds that are added at the end. They give it another dimension of flavor…. and the leftovers are even better the next day! Just don’t forget the fried egg on top. Drippy yolk + spicy rice = amazing. I bet this would be great for breakfast too! Enjoy!

two years ago: Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese
three years ago: Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake
four years ago: Pumpkin Ginger Bread

Sriracha Fried Rice

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Time: 30 minutes
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from Jenna’s Everything Blog

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cabbage, chopped or shredded [I usually use at least 2-3 cups cabbage, and sometimes even add in mustard greens too]
  • 1 splash Shaoxing wine [or dry sherry or Mirin]
  • 1 pinch sugar [omit if using Mirin since it’s already sweet]
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1-3 tablespoons Sriracha depending on your spice preferences
  • 4 cups cold, cooked rice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 green onions, diced
  • 4 eggs

Directions:

Heat a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 tablespoons oil and heat, then cook garlic for 30 seconds. Add onion, stirring to coat with oil, and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add cabbage, wine/sherry/Mirin, and sugar and cook for another 4-5 minutes until it starts to soften. Add soy sauce and Sriracha, stirring well, then cook for another minute or so. Add rice, breaking up larger pieces with a wooden spoon, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook rice for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Lastly, stir in sesame oil and green onions.

In another pan, heat remaining tablespoon of oil to fry your eggs to desired doneness.

Serve eggs on top of fried rice. Enjoy!

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Menu Plan + Old Factory Candles Review

Menu Plan | thepajamachef.com

Week of November 9

Sunday: beef stroganoff with egg noodles
Monday: mexican rice & black beans
Tuesday: leftovers
Wednesday: salad & baked potatoes
Thursday: out to eat
Friday: roast chicken
Saturday: some kind of pasta

A few weeks ago I received an email from Old Factory Candles asking if I’d like to try their candle gift set for review. Ben is obsessed with candles so of course I said yes! They have a bunch of different scents–all sold in sets of three complementary scents on Amazon. They seemed like a great company, committed to natural ingredients and quality products. Their candles are made of soy wax and are hand poured. After much deliberation we chose the fall harvest gift set and quickly received three flavors in the mail: Pumpkin Spice, Cranberry, and Autumn Leaves. They arrived neatly packaged and they smelled wonderful! Nothing fake or headache-inducing. Just like fall in a box. :)

fall harvest candles - a review on thepajamachef.com

So, what did I think? Overall these were great candles. They claim to burn for 20 hours each–quite an accomplishment since each is only 2 ounces. I haven’t burned any of them for quite that long, but I’m guessing that’s fairly accurate based on the amount of wax left after burning for about 5 hours in one stretch. I have heard that candles in general burn better if you can let them go for a long stretch as opposed to short bursts [no idea if that’s true or not] and I could see that may be true here. The scents were perfect for fall and smelled good without being overpowering. Pumpkin spice seemed the strongest of the ones I tried, and that’s a-okay with me! The packaging is simple and attractive and would match any decor. I liked that the candles were just white instead of being some crazy color. No need to coordinate with decor. Now, the cost. Would I pay $25 for three small candles, even if they did burn 20 hours each? Well, that’s a toss up. Depends on the day, honestly, and how spendy I’m feeling. Most of the large jar candles are sold for over $20 so it may be a good deal after all. They giftwrap and are sold through Amazon so that’s a win right there! I’m glad I was able to try these candles. I think they’d be a great Christmas gift. Thanks for the opportunity!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary gift set of Old Factory Candles to try and review on my blog and on Amazon. I was not compensated for my time or to publish positive comments. My opinions are my own.

Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta

A creamy, veggie-filled pasta dish that comes together quickly with lots of pantry ingredients.

Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta | thepajamachef.comDoes anyone else watch Guy’s Grocery Games on Food Network? Ever since we moved to Nashville and got a DVR [yes, I know these have been around forever but we didn’t get one til a year ago. We are way behind technology-wise.] I have been obsessed with recording episodes of cooking and HGTV shows. Because I can, and because they’re good tv shows to watch while blogging or reading magazines or something. I never watch and only watch tv. I need to be doing something else in the process, so I need somewhat mindless shows that aren’t totally trashy. Does that make sense? This one, if you haven’t seen it, requires chefs to dash around a grocery store in search of ingredients for an assigned meal/category of food, and then COOK their meal… but there’s always a twist or challenge. I never in a million years would want to be on Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen, or any of those other cooking shows… but if I had to choose a cooking competition show to be on, this would be it. It’s relatively tame, Guy seems nice, and hello! Grocery stores are my favorite place to browse. Is that weird? Ha. Anyways, on a recent episode of triple G, one of the judges said that pasta dishes aren’t supposed to be light. She thought they needed to be heavy, or at least, hearty to be a true pasta dish. I have to say I disagree with that. There’s a place for heavy, hearty dishes like baked pasta or lasagna [take a look in my archives, I have tons of recipes like that!] but sometimes lighter pasta dishes totally hit the spot. Maybe they aren’t traditional but I love ‘em.

Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta | thepajamachef.comThis pasta dish is exactly the kind I love–full of flavor and interesting things, but still relatively light. It uses cream cheese and Parmesan cheese but also a lot of tomatoes, onions, and spinach to balance everything out. You can make this pasta in a pretty short amount of time, using mostly pantry ingredients, so it’s great for weeknights. The sauce can be made while the pasta cooks, so it really doesn’t take more time to make than  a box of mac ‘n cheese. So what if it’s not this big, hearty meal? Isn’t that what sides are for? :) To make this more of a one dish meal, I think some sliced grilled chicken, shrimp, or even some canned white beans would be great additions. I’ll have to try that next time! Enjoy!

one year ago: Flourless Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Sauce
two years ago: Pumpkin Cornbread
three years ago: Honey Whole Wheat English Muffinsfour years ago: Pumpkin Pasta Sauce, aka “Pumpfredo”

Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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from Budget Bytes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound small pasta like penne
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4-5 ounces fresh spinach [frozen spinach that has been thawed and drained should also work too]

Directions:

Prepare pasta [al dente] according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened about 7 minutes. Then add garlic and cook for 30 seconds or so until fragrant. Add tomatoes [undrained], oregano, basil, red pepper, and black pepper and stir to combine. Add tomato paste and 1/2 cup water to skillet, stirring until tomato paste has dissolved. Reduce heat to low and add cream cheese cubes one by one, stirring until incorporated. Then add the Parmesan cheese gradually, stirring until it is creamy.

When pasta is done, drain and add to the sauce. Top with spinach, cover, and cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes until spinach wilts. Stir in and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve immediately.

Chaider

Chaider is an awesome fall treat; the perfect blend of hot apple cider and chai. It’s fall in a mug!

Chaider: A Fall Treat with Apple Cider and Chai | thepajamachef.comThere’s this great coffee shop in Ben’s college town, Athens, OH, called Donkey. Saying they are great is a total underestimation of their wonderfulness. They’ve won awards for having the best coffee in the state of Ohio and they totally deserve it! I lived in Athens for two years and went to Donkey on my first full day in town per the recommendation of a friend. I had no idea the love I would develop for that coffee shop, and not just because it was the place of our second date [and many more afterwards]. It’s the best coffee I’ve ever tasted, and the atmosphere inside is even better.  You can literally spend all day there, lounging in one of the comfy armchairs under the funky lights. It’s one of my favorite places in the world and I would seriously consider leaving Nashville behind to head back to that tiny college town just so I could frequent Donkey Coffee on a regular basis.

Chaider: A Fall Treat with Apple Cider and Chai | thepajamachef.comLike many coffee shops, Donkey serves up a variety of specialty seasonal drinks. I have no idea if they do the pumpkin thing, but I do know they do the Chaider thing. I’m sure to many folks, Chaider sounds a bit weird, but it’s actually pretty phenomenal. It’s this fun blend of apple cider and chai, perfectly spiced and served hot. It’s always in high demand during the fall since you can only get it for a few short months. It’s Ben’s favorite, and since we are 5+ hours away from Donkey, I just had to find a way to make it at home!

Chaider: A Fall Treat with Apple Cider and Chai | thepajamachef.comIn the past I have made chaider by blending fresh apple cider with some chai. Pretty simple. But this year, I think I finally found the secret to making authentic homemade chaider–fresh orange juice, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Boil and simmer, then remove cinnamon and cloves before serving. It takes a little more time but amps the flavors up SO much more. For this drink you’ll need to use coffee shop style chai, so either the bottled concentrate or the powdered stuff. Chai tea bags aren’t exactly the same thing. Donkey uses the powdered kind of chai [and has their own wonderful blend, in case you’re ever there in the non-fall months] so that’s what I used too.

Chaider: A Fall Treat with Apple Cider and Chai | thepajamachef.comWhen I made a batch of this on a recent Sunday afternoon, Ben said he felt like he was back at Donkey again. I’d consider that a win! Try it soon–you’ll love it! It’s a perfect drink for an afternoon walk in the woods to admire the leaves or a cozy night at home or whatever else suits your fancy in the fall. Ahhh, bliss.

Chaider: A Fall Treat with Apple Cider and Chai | thepajamachef.comone year ago: Pizza Frittata
two years ago: Lemon Herb Eggs in Ciabatta
three years ago: Candy Corn Pretzel Bites
four years ago: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Chaider

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 10-15 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1 1/2 cups chai [I use the powdered chai mix from Trader Joe’s–2 scoops + 1 1/2 cups water whisked together]
  • juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole cloves

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and heat for 5-10 minutes or until hot.

Remove cinnamon stick and cloves, then divide between 2 mugs and serve hot.

Linked with Weekend Potluck

SRC: Cranberry and Cream Cheese Muffins

These sweet muffins swirled with cranberry compote and a delicious cream cheese center are the perfect afternoon snack!

Cranberry and Cream Cheese Muffins | thepajamachef.com #secretrecipeclub

Welcome to November’s Secret Recipe Club! This month I was assigned to Maxine’s blog, Why I Am Not Skinny. Maxine is a South African expat living in Brussels… two great places! I’ve been to South Africa for a few days when I was in Lesotho for part of a summer in college, and I would absolutely love to go back. On her blog, Maxine shares so many delicious recipes and restaurant recommendations. If/when I go to Brussels I will have to check out her blog again! Though I really wanted to make her Pea and Mint Risotto or Pumpkin Fritters, I settled on these Cranberry and Cream Cheese Muffins because I wanted a sweet treat. :)

Cranberry and Cream Cheese Muffins | thepajamachef.com #secretrecipeclub

I also kind of wanted to make these as a sort of redemption for Maxine, because her muffins didn’t come out quite as well as BBC’s picture. And I am SO glad I did. They were tangy and creamy and all sorts of deliciousness. Though they weren’t quite as simple as most muffins are–you have to make the cranberry compote and the cream cheese filling, they are well worth it. Next time [and there WILL be a next time] I think I’ll skip mashing the cranberries so as to have bigger chunks in the muffins, and I might reduce the temperature for baking down to 325 or 350 so they don’t brown quite as quickly. Some of my unpictured muffins definitely got a little dark. Maxine, I hope my muffins live up to your expectations! Thanks for a great recipe! :)

one year ago: Pumpkin Graham Muffins
two years ago: Pollo alla Poggia Alloro
three years ago: Homemade Maple and Brown Sugar Almond Butter
four years ago: Pumpkin Soup and Homemade Croutons

Cranberry and Cream Cheese Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 30 minutes
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from Why I Am Not Skinny

Ingredients:

  • 100 grams/3.5 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 250 grams sugar/1 cup + 2 tablespoons, divided
  • 175 grams/6 ounces fresh cranberries [frozen can also be used, just add a splash of water or apple cider to help liquify]
  • 200 grams/26 tablespoons flour – UPDATED: I used this calculator to come up with this. When I made the recipe I used my kitchen scale and didn’t measure in tablespoons… I think the previous measurement I had here was wrong. So sorry about that!
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 75 ml canola oil [this is just between 1/4 and 1/3 cup]
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or grease well with cooking spray.

Beat together cream cheese with 2 tablespoons sugar. Place in refrigerator to chill until ready to use.

In a small saucepan, combine another 2 tablespoons sugar with 6 ounces fresh cranberries. Heat on medium, stirring occasionally, until cranberries pop. Then mash gently with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together flour and baking powder. In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, vanilla, and almond extract. Fold in wet ingredients into the dry, then fold in cranberries. Do not overmix or else the batter will bleed.

Scoop batter–it will be thick–into prepared pan, about 1/2 to 2/3 way full. Do not overfill. Use a spoon to scoop a ball of cream cheese mixture into batter, pressing down gently. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

Notes:
Some of my muffins spilled over the top of the muffin cups because I filled them too full, so don’t make that mistake.

Also, you may want to skip mashing the cranberries so the batter bleeds less.

Do not overbake–cheese may still seem a bit soft. If muffins are browning too much, cover with foil for the last 10 minutes of baking or reduce heat to 325 degrees F.

Be sure to check out all the other fun recipes made this week for the Secret Recipe Club below!