Egg and Vegetable Fried Rice (with a Trader Joe’s Cheat!) – Episode 4

It’s easy to make fried rice a meal when you add a little extra protein, either meat or eggs, and a heaping of fresh veggies. In this episode, I’m going for a vegetarian option, so we’ll be adding eggs, scallion, and other crisp-tender goodness. Oh, by the way, yeah, I start with a bag of Trader Joe’s frozen vegetable fried rice. But believe me, the few little tweaks you see here take the meal from “Okay, that was easy and tasted good” to “Okay! I could even serve that for guests!”

If you’d like to make this recipe from scratch and ditch the prepared rice, just use 4 cups of day-old COLD rice from the fridge, and add about 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, mixed with a few teaspoons water for your sauce at the end.

Egg and Vegetable Fried Rice (with Trader Joe’s Cheat)

Chunky vegetables makes fried rice so much more delish.

Chunky vegetables make fried rice so much more delish.

One bag frozen, prepared veggie fried rice, like Trader Joe’s brand

Two cups fresh broccoli florets

one bunch scallions, roughly chopped

2 eggs, beaten

Two medium-sized chopped carrots

1 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce or Teriyaki sauce

1 Tablespoon sesame oil, divided

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil, divided

  1. Heat 1 ½ teaspoons of vegetable oil in wok, over medium-high heat.
  2. Add eggs and scallions, breaking up as it cooks. When egg is light golden brown, push mixture to one side of pan.
  3. Add 1 ½ teaspoons of sesame oil to wok.
  4. Add Broccoli and carrots to wok. Cook over medium-high heat until still crisp (about 3 minutes), combining with egg and scallions.
  5. Add remaining oils and bag of frozen Trader Joe’s vegetable Fried Rice, or 4 cups cold rice. Cook until heated through (and rice is a bit crispy), about 5 minutes.
  6. Just before removing from heat, add soy sauce and stir well.
  7. Serve with Sriracha Sauce, if you’re so inclined. Yum!

Strawberry Arugula Salad, Balsamic Vinaigrette and Amy’s Frozen Dinners–Episode 2

Hello my name is Debra, and I serve my family frozen dinners. In Episode 2 you see how I jazz up two frozen entrees of Amy’s macaroni and cheese and lasagna by adding a bit of fresh grated cheese, and prepare a strawberry arugula salad and homemade balsamic vinaigrette to serve alongside them. First, let me share the ingredients for the salad and dressing, then I’ll talk more about the frozen dinners!

Arugula goes well with sweet fruits like strawberries.

Arugula goes well with sweet fruits like strawberries.

Strawberry Arugula Salad

(Serves 2)

4 large handfuls of pre-washed Arugula

2-3 large Strawberries, sliced

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved

Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Toss.

Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette 

3 Tablespoons Light Olive Oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Salt & Pepper to taste (optional)

Combine ingredients in a mini Tupperware-type container that has a spill-proof lid. Shake vigorously to mix. Drizzle over salad.

I think what “makes” a dressing this simple is the quality of the balsamic; try to find one that’s rich, dark, viscous-y, and a touch sweet. You can also replace the balsamic with different styles of vinegar, or try lemon or lime juice instead for a refreshing flavor.

Now, lest you think frozen dinners are simply too much of a cheat in the semi-homemade vein, here are three reasons why I love frozen dinners, particularly the ones made by Amy’s Kitchen.

  1. They’re quick. This is the leading reason I choose frozen meals, in moderation. Having a stack of these in the freezer means a few nights a week, we don’t even have to think or plan what we’re having–and that’s very helpful (necessary, even) given our busy schedules. We just decide “Let’s do Amy’s” and go to the freezer well and pick whatever flavors we’re in the mood for. It’s simple, and clean-up is a breeze. 
  2. They’re portion-controlled. If I were to cook a pan of, say, lasagna, I would definitely eat more than the amount I’m supposed to eat (don’t we all?!). Let’s be honest: Over the course of a few days, I would probably polish off the WHOLE PAN eating it for lunch, dinner, and snacks (this might have happened to a certain bechamel lasagna we’ve made with each of my pregnancies). Seeing as that I like my jeans to fit, I sometimes prefer knowing an indulgent meal like lasagna or macaroni and cheese ends with a single serving. Buying individual frozen entrees, I know I’m eating a max of 380 or 420 calories, respectively.
  3. They’re tasty. Amy’s Kitchen Organic is one of my favorite brands of frozen meals (and other packaged foods). I like that they’re organic and have a good selection of low-sodium and ethnic flavors. Some of our favorite varieties include the low-sodium Vegetable Lasagna and Macaroni and Cheese seen in the show, Enchilada Meal, Cheese Tamale, Paneer Tikka, Palak Paneer, Mattar Paneer, Broccoli and Cheddar Bowl (this one’s gluten free). I also LOVE the eggplant parmesan by Trader Joe’s. On the average night, I don’t have time to cook any of these–unless we’re talking about heating an already cooked version in the oven.

P.S. I know it takes longer, but I do like to cook my frozen dinners in the oven. I think it tastes so much better than in the microwave!

Are you a frozen dinner fan? I’d love know your faves!

Photo: Lauren Hunter