Chopsticks and Cheesecake

You know how I love to make things over? Well, any time I have a meal with just plain white rice, I always plan to make extra and later that week make chicken fried rice. So, when I was planning my meals and knew I wanted roast with rice and gravy, I knew the following cooking night I’d make chicken fried rice. I learned to make fried rice from Tyler Florence and watching them do it at hibachi grills. It was a trial and error process that I think I’ve perfected pretty well. My friend Molly loves it, and I always invite her over when I make it now. So I invited Molly, and her boyfriend was in town, so then it was a dinner party! Hey… three can be a party. In the words of my dear friend Stacy, “If there is dip, it’s a party.” And there was!

So me, in all my perfectionistic, over-achieving wonder, just had to try my best to impress and out do myself. Had it just been me, or just me and Molly, chicken fried rice would have been plenty. But that would just not do for MY dinner party! I found it a challenging task to figure out what to serve with chicken fried rice as an entree. Meat and starch are covered in the entree. I didn’t want to do stir fry veggies because fried rice is sort of stir fry, AND I just don’t have that many skillets (now accepting hand me down skillets, or any kitchen tool, donations, hehe). Other chinese-y/asian-y things are fried (egg rolls, wontons, crab ragoon, etc), and I just hate frying. A. Frying is greasy and fatty. B. Grease pops and hurts! C. Your entire house ends up smelling fried. I will shallow fry on occasion and just air freshen my house like crazy and wear a full body protective suit (I exaggerate a tad). You can get egg rolls and such prepackaged and bake them, but it’s just not as impressive when they ask how you made it to say, “Oh, I just bought it and heated it.” FYI, I am not dissing prepackaged stuff at all! Works great, yummy stuff, easy, I use it often. I just wanted to make my dinner party impressive. I haven’t gotten to entertain in a while and I just had to!

I tossed around a few things, but the final menu was:

Entree: Chicken fried rice
Side: Roasted mini vegetable kabobs with fresh pineapple, zucchini, red onion, and red, green and orange bell pepper marinaded in pineapple and lime juice with chopped garlic, soy, salt and pepper
Sauce: Homemade sweet and sour
Appetizer/Side: Crab ragoon dip with baked parmesan wonton chips
Dessert: Mini cheesecakes alternately topped with mini semi sweet chocolate chips, mini white chocolate chips, and homemade caramel sauce
Utensils: CHOPSTICKS! I found chop sticks for cheap at the grocery store!

Everything came out so good! It was so fun to cook. I actually took the day off of work to cook all day! I have to use my vaca days before the end of September anyway and it was a fun use of time for me. And don’t be intimidated, it wasn’t an all day meal. I just wanted to spend a relaxing day cleaning, doing food prep, watching the Food Network, etc. Most of my recipes came from For those recipes, to save your eyes from miles and miles of my typing, I’ll post links and note changes. If it’s pink, it’s a link (and it rhymes just on time)! *It’s late and I’ve written a lot today. What can I say, I’m cheesy and can’t pass up a rhyme.*

Chicken Fried Rice

Okay. This is going to be a very “little of this little of that” recipe. I tried to pay attention to how much of what I used, but really have no idea. It will have to be a to your taste trial and error project for you too :).

Make rice the day before! It makes the process much quicker. I use a rice cooker. Cheap tool that makes perfect and effortless rice. Use how ever much you want to make. I made ALOT this time to take to work the next day. I used about 9 cups of cooked rice and it made about 12 servings. You probably don’t want that much unless you’re feeding an army. I’d probably use 4ish cups of rice if you are making it for an entree for your family. Think 1ish cups of cooked rice per person. Just use your eyes. Consider your eyes your best measuring tool for this dish.

This really can be whatever you want it to be! You can add anything you like. Doesn’t have to be chicken fried rice, can just be fried rice, vegetable fried rice, shrimp, whatever! I always use chicken or just veggies. Use the amount of chicken (or ingredients) that you want. I usually think 1/2 to 3/4ths of a boneless chicken breast per person cut into little bite size pieces. I always use carrots. You want them to be finely chopped. You should know by now, I hate chopping carrots and chop them no other way than with my mini-food-chopper-processor-thingy. Again its to your taste. I usually do 1/4th whatever the amount of rice you have ratio. Always always use onions, chopped. I do about equal amount of onion and carrot. 2-3 gloves of garlic chopped. I start the onions, garlic, and carrots in a little olive oil in the biggest skillet (or wok, which I don’t have) that you have. Salt and pepper them. Then add your chicken. I add Chicken Magic seasoning. Cook until chicken is done. It’s perfect okay and yummy for the veggies to maintain some crunch.

While chicken is cooking, add a little vegetable oil in a separate pan and get it hot. Wisk 3-4 eggs in a bowl, pour in hot oil and scramble. Set to side. Add some butter, margarine, or oil to the chicken veggie pan (I do a little smart balance). Dump the rice in. Add soy. Again, use your eyes. You want it a light brown color, light! Don’t add too much, people can add their own. Aim for the color of fried rice that you’ve had. Constantly stir, this is the “frying” the rice process. If it seems too dry, add more butter.

Taste and add salt, pepper, soy, whatever you think it needs. Add in scrambled eggs once you think it tastes good and stir. Turn off pan and pour in about a handful of frozen peas and stir. The heat of the rice cooks them just enough, you don’t want them mushy. Stir in 2-3 chopped green onions, saving some of the tops. I top with sesame seeds and green onion and done!

Mini Veggie Kabobs

I found mini skewers at the grocery store. I soaked them. And added a piece of onion, fresh pineapple, either red, green, or orange bell pepper, and zucchini, all cut into 1/2-ish inch pieces. I just poured some pineapple juice, probably about 1 cup, the juice of one small lime, zest of half of the lime, little soy, few cloves of chopped garlic in a bowl. I poured the mixer over the kabobs in a baking dish and sprinkled with sea salt and cracked pepper. I marinaded them for a few hours. I roasted them at 375 until they were roasty, still crunchy but the edges getting soft and toasty.

Crab Ragoon Dip with Baked Parmesan Wonton Chips

This is so good! It was Molly and Shawn’s favorite part. It’s basically the inside of those yummy fried crab ragoon things you get at chinese restaurants, but healthier (because it’s not fried). I made it exactly like the recipe in my Kitchenaid mixer. I tossed it all in and just kept mixing until the crab was pretty finely mixed in. Get the flaky crab and not the sticks. I saved out a few pinches of green onion tops to add on the top. I didn’t put sweet and sour sauce on top, that was weird to me and it didn’t need it at all. I separated it in mini individual bowls and heated those right before serving. I topped with green onion tops.

I sliced the wonton wrappers in half diagonally to make triangles instead of strips. Sprayed the pan, sprayed the chips, sprinkled on shredded parmesan and sea salt. You really only have to cook them for 5 minutes like it says. They really do make great chips! I think I like them better than homemade pita chips because they are so thin and crispy.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

Ignore the chicken part of the recipe and just skip to the sauce, though the chicken looks like a good recipe too, but fried and I hate frying! This sauce would be really good on chicken nuggets. Made it exactly as directed. I dipped my veggies in it. You could also put it on your rice.

Mini Cheesecakes

These are so good and perfect! I didn’t use the fruit topping because I don’t really like canned fruit toppings. I topped mine with either mini semi sweet chocolate chips, mini white chocolate chip, or homemade caramel sauce (which was super easy to make and soooo yummy!). Note that it says 1 16 oz package of cream cheese. I just saw the 1 package part and didn’t have enough. Had to run to the store. I’ve never seen a 16 oz package, so 2 – 8 oz packages. I doubled it and took them to work. Foil liners work best I think and they mold best if you actually use your muffin tin. I did one batch in the muffin tin and one on a cookie sheet because I only had one muffin tin. They were all yummy, but the muffin tin ones were prettier and perfect. If you use the mini chips, I sprinkled them on right when the cakes came out. With fruit or caramel wait until they cool. Cooling for an hour before eating is vital! They really set and are super yummy!

Whew! That’s a lot to digest (literally hehe). The entire meal is good for a dinner party, but the individual parts are great alone, with other meals, etc. If you make anything, make the cheesecake and crap ragoon dip! SO so good. Entertaining is so fun, IF you don’t get stressed out. To prevent the day of party stress, make a cooking itinerary. I did it! Be specific with every detail: cut up veggies for rice, cut up veggies for kabobs, make tea, etc. Sit down with your recipes and plan it out before hand. It will all come out and be ready at the same time if you do this. Do prep work in advance. Veggies can always be cut the night before and many things can be made, mixed, cut, or prepped the day before. Make it fun! Add special simple touches like chopsticks. It will cause you be more excited about your meal. Be confident in your cooking and if you mess up, you are the only one that cares! So don’t fret over it. Enjoy it! Feel good about your work, and then rest your feet!

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