Flavour-Packed Basil Fried Rice

Ah, fried rice. The best thing to come out of miscellaneous leftovers and dry old rice. We’re all guilty of cooking too much rice every now and then, but I’m more guilty of cooking too much and throwing it out. The problem with fried rice for me was that I find a lot of it is usually so bland and boring. So I decided I wanted to change that and see what I could do to make it taste better and have less food waste!

Eventually, this recipe became my go-to whenever I had leftover rice, chicken, beef, tofu, and certain veggies that were starting to go bad. I found that the best part of this recipe is that you can always alternate proteins & the veggies and it still holds the strong flavours anyone can really enjoy.

When it comes to fried rice, it’s usually best to use 1 or 2 day old rice that’s been kept in the fridge. That way its a bit more dry and can hold in more flavour without getting too mushy.

Here’s the basics of the recipe, you can always add in more vegetables you have left over.


Flavour-Packed Basil Fried Rice

INGREDIENTS for 2 servings:

  • 2 cups of cooked day-old rice (1 cup of uncooked rice)($0.38)
  • 4 Tbs canola oil ($0.20)
  • 1 large egg ($0.24)
  • 3/4 cup of chopped cooked chicken (or your choice of protein)($1.10)
  • 1 medium sized carrot ($0.16)
  • 2 scallions ($0.18)
  • 1/2 zucchini ($0.395)
  • 1/3 cup of corn ($0.06)
  • 1 bunch of chopped fresh basil ($0.398)
  • 1 Tbs Rice Vinegar ($0.12)
  • 1 Tbs Dark Soy Sauce ($0.03)
  • 2 Tsp Oyster Sauce ($0.06)
  • 1 Thai chili (optional)

Total cost for 2 services: $3.32*

Single serving for $1.66

Serves 2, takes 20 Minutes

Compared to the $10-$12 at restaurants!

*Depending the cost of the ingredients in your area, the cost may be more or less. I live in a fairly inflated part of town, so chances are your cost will be less.

Need the proof? Head down to the bottom of this page!


DIRECTIONS

Basil-Fried-Rice-Ingredients
Gather & prepare your veggies and chop it all into small cubes (corn not pictured). I had a left over chicken breast from a rotisserie chicken, so I just chopped that into cubes and it worked perfectly! Next, whisk the egg in separate bowl.

Place a wok on the stove at medium-high heat. Once your pan heats, add in 1 Tbs of the oil. As soon as the oil gets hot, add in the egg and scramble.

Basil-Fried-Rice-Eggs

As soon as it scrambles, remove the egg to a separate dish and pour 2 Tbs of the canola oil.

Basil-Fried-Rice-Vegetables

Next, add in your veggies. I used carrots, zucchini, and some corn. You can definitely add in whatever vegetable you have left over such as broccoli, bok choy, peppers, etc. as long as the flavour doesn’t overwhelm the dish.

Basil-Fried-rice-mix

Stir for a bit and then add back in your eggs, and then add in your protein & the rice vinegar.

Mix for about 30 seconds to wait for the vinegar to cook off, then add in the rice!

Basil-fried-rice-rice

Break apart the rice and mix it in as much as possible and add in your last tablespoon of canola oil.

Basil-Fried-Rice-mixed

Once the rice, meat, and vegetables are well mixed, add in the basil, green onions, soy sauce, and oyster sauce (and the Thai chili if you want it to be spicy!).

Basil-fried-rice-final

The oyster sauce can be substituted with vegetable Hoisin if you want, but I really recommend the oyster sauce as it adds it’s unique flavour (and no it does not taste like fish if you’re worried!)

Now really start stirring and really fry the rice. Once everything is mixed well and the basil becomes aromatic, take the rice off the heat and serve.

All done within 20 minutes!

Basil-fried-rice-5basil-fried-rice-3Basil-fried-rice-2

Basil-fried-rice-1

I really hope you enjoy it, and feedback (postive or constructive) is always appreciated! 🙂


INGREDIENT COSTS

I’m referring to a Loblaws (a generic grocery chain in Canada) weekly flyer and their website, and a local Chinese grocery store

6.8kg of Premium Calrose Rice ($14.99) – $0.22/100g
946 ml No Name Brand Canola Oil ($4.19) – $0.44/100ml
12 Large Eggs ($2.97)
Pack of 4 chicken breasts ($9.33)
1 Zucchini ($0.79)
1 bunch of green onions ($0.79)
Pack of Basil ($1.99)
500 ml Rootster Superior Dark Soy Sauce ($1.99) – $0.40/100ml
750g of Frozen Corn Kernels ($0.99) – $0.132/100g
3 Lbs Carrots – $2.00

Advertisements

Lemongrass Ginger Chicken Skewers

I believe skewers to be the ultimate summer time appetizer. I basically grew up eating lamb kebabs at every outdoor BBQ or gathering up until I was 18. Once I moved out I usually always get a craving for meat on a stick at least once every two months. I usually try to make a different marinades as much as I can because you really can rarely go wrong with meat on a stick.

The most recent marinade I’ve made over and over again is a combination of Lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and honey. All the different flavours compliment each other so well that I’m positive you’ll want to make these more than once as well.

Lemongrass itself is used most often in Vietnamese cooking, which means it’s usually the least expensive in Chinatown where the turnover is better. However, lemongrass can also be found in the majority of grocery stores already in paste form in a squeeze tube or in stalks in the organic section. For this recipe, I used the stalks just because I wanted it to be as fresh as possible, but you can’t find any, the squeeze tube version works perfectly fine! If you end up getting the stalks, I found the best way to mash it up to release the most flavour is to mince it up as much as possible, then mash it using a mortar and pestle.

Switching up the protein in the recipe is 100% doable, hell I’d even recommend it. I’ve made it with chicken and shrimp so far and I honestly can’t tell which one I like more. I can imagine this marinade would be great with beef, pork, or even extra firm tofu. I baked mine in the oven because I can’t have a BBQ at my current apartment, however grilling them would most likely make it taste even better! Making the skewers themselves is super simple and make for a killer appetizer for you and or your friends!

Let’s get started on what you’ll need and how much it’ll cost you.

Lemongrass Ginger Chicken Skewers

Ingredients & Costs

  • 1 Chicken Breast ($2.33)
  • 1 Lemongrass stalk (or 3 Tbs of Lemongrass Paste) ($0.89)
  • 1 Tbs Ginger (minced or paste) ($0.01)
  • 1 Garlic clove ($0.02)
  • 1 ½ Tbs Honey  ($0.21)
  • 1 Tsp Dark Soy Sauce ($0.01)
  • 1 Tsp Sesame Oil ($0.07)
  • 1 Tsp Canola Oil ($0.02)
  • 1 ½ Tsp Lime Juice (or half a lime) ($0.05)
  • ½ Tsp Turmeric ($0.001)
  • ½ Salt ($0.01)
  • 1 Thai Chili Pepper (optional)

Serves 2, takes 30 Minutes

Total Cost = $3.62* for 4 skewers!

Compared to the $10-15 at restaurants with Satay!

*Depending the cost of the ingredients in your area, the cost may be more or less. I live in a fairly inflated part of town, so chances are your cost will be less.

Need the proof? Head down to the bottom of this page!


DIRECTIONS

First things first, turn your oven on to 400°F (or get your grill ready if you’re using a BBQ). Next, mince up your lemongrass and crush it with the salt. If you’re using the store bought paste, you can skip this step.

Lemongrass-chicken-skewers-ingredient1

Once the lemongrass is in a paste-like form, chop up your garlic, ginger, and optional Thai Chili and throw it in the mortar and begin crushing again! This is basically the funnest part of the recipe so take your time and mash it up as much as possible!

Lemongrass-chicken-skewers-ingredient3

After a couple minutes of crushing, your paste should look something like this, feel free to add in some canola oil if you want it to be more paste-like.

Lemongrass-chicken-skewers-ingredient2

Finally, chop up the chicken breast into cubes and put the marinade together. This includes the paste you just made, canola oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, lime juice, turmeric, and I added some freshly ground pepper.

Lemongrass-chicken-skewers-marinade

Now it’s time to mix it all together, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it sit in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes.

After that, it’s time to put them on the skewers. I used metal skewers, so if you are as well, make sure you oil them before putting the chicken on. If you’re using bamboo or wood skewers, make sure you soak them for at least an hour or two (this was a mistake I made many skewers ago).

Place your skewered on a rack and make sure that it’s elevated with the tray or roasting not touching the chicken, this is to make sure the skewers don’t get soggy on the bottom.

Let them cook for about 15-20 minutes then turn the broiler on high to caramelize the skewers for about 3-5 minutes. Turn the skewers over and do the other side. The honey in the marinade should allow them to caramelize fairly fast.

And there you have it! A super easy and delicious appetizer.

Lemongrass-chicken-skewers-3

Lemongrass-Chicken-Skewers-1

If you end up making these, I sincerely hope you enjoy them! Any feedback & comments are definitely appreciated 🙂

Lemongrass-chicken-skewers-2


INGREDIENT COSTS

I’m referring to a Loblaws (a generic grocery chain in Canada) weekly flyer and their website.

Pack of 4 Chicken Breasts – $9.33
2 Lemongrass Stalks – $1.79
Garlic – $0.88/100g
Ginger – $0.43/100g
500 g Farm Boy™ Pure Ontario Honey ($4.99) – $0.99/100g
500 ml Rooster Superior Dark Soy Sauce ($1.99) – $0.40/100ml
946 ml No Name Brand Canola Oil ($4.19) – $0.44/100ml
443 ml LKK Pure Sesame Oil ($6.99) – $1.59/100ml
1kg Windsor Table Salt ($1.69) – $0.17/100g
125 ml Realime Single Strength Lime Juice ($0.99) – $0.79/100ml

Veggie-Packed Noodle Bowl with Tofu Steaks and Peanut Sauce

I’m an omnivore in every sense, but I aim to have vegetarian meal days twice a week as a preference. Doing this not only allows me to eat a larger variety of vegetables, but also is cheaper than eating meat, is more sustainable, and forces me to learn how to make meals that don’t use meat as a crutch. This veggie noodle bowl does just that.

Inspired by a local vegetarian restaurant, this noodle bowl packs in so much flavour, incorporates a large variety of vegetables, and is my go-to meal since it’s one of the easiest and fastest meals anyone can make. This recipe can also be vegan and/or gluten free if you substitute a few ingredients with others (I’ll be highlighting those substitutes). This is an incredibly dynamic dish as you can pick and choose what vegetables you want to add depending on your preference, almost any leafy green works!

The protein of the recipe is the sweet soy sauce marinated tofu, with an addition of the All Purpose Peanut Sauce recipe I posted earlier this week! If you wish to add meat to the bowl, you absolutely can by just substituting the tofu and keeping the marinade the same!


INGREDIENTS & COSTS FOR 1 LARGE BOWL
Takes approx. 15 minutes to make

Marinated Tofu:
1/4 block of Firm Tofu ($0.62)
1/2 Tsp of Corn Starch ($0.006)
1 Tsp of Dark Soy Sauce (regular works fine if you don’t have dark, this just has a richer flavour) ($0.01) – Can be substituted to be GF
1/2 Tsp of Cumin ($0.02)
1/4 Tsp of ground Szechuan Peppercorn (you can use regular pepper, but I highly recommend a trip to Chinatown to get this peppercorn!)
1 Tsp Sesame Oil ($0.07)
1 Tsp Honey (or Maple Syrup if you want a vegan recipe) ($0.05)

The Bowl:
1/3 – 1/2 of a sheet of Thai Vermicelli (rice) noodles depending on appetite! Each package usually comes with 3 sheets ($0.20)
1/3 cup Broccoli (or Chinese Broccoli) ($0.19)
2 heads of Baby Bok Choy (and/or Nappa Cabbage, Kale, Spinach, the list goes on!) ($0.50)
1/4 cup Zucchini ($0.19)
1/3 a Bell Pepper (Green, Orange, Red, Yellow – pick your preference!) ($0.70)
1/3 cup of Thai Peanut Sauce ($0.46)
1 Green Onion to garnish ($0.09)
Cilantro to garnish ($0.08)

Total Cost: $3.18

Compared to the restaurant cost of $19 per bowl!

*Depending the cost of the ingredients in your area, the cost may be more or less. I live in a fairly inflated part of town, so chances are your cost will be less.

Need the proof? Head down to the bottom of this page!


DIRECTIONS

First the tofu. This is the main marinade I use for the majority of meals I make with tofu, mainly because it gives it a great crunchy crust but still keeps the salty and sweet taste of the soy sauce and honey. First cut 1/4 of the block for 1 bowl (I got greedy and cut 1/3rd and had left over tofu!).

tofu_1

Take the left over tofu, fill a container with water, and store it away for other meals! Next, slice the tofu to be about 1cm thick, and then cut again diagonally.

tofu_3

Use 2 pieces of paper towels and squeeze excess water out of the tofu by pressing down on it on both sides. This allows the tofu to soak up more of the marinade. After drying, take a small bowl and combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, honey (or maple syrup), cornstarch,  Szechuan pepper, and cumin. Stir it all together, put the tofu in a different container, and pour the mix on top of the tofu. Now mix! Or shake! Whatever floats. While doing this, put a pot of water on boil.

marinated_tofu2

Let the tofu marinate for a bit. You can chop up your veggies now! The great thing about this bowl is that you can really add in anything you want! Any leafy green works perfectly, or anything you would put in a salad. I decided to cut up bok choy, Chinese broccoli, orange peppers, and zucchini. Chop up the scallions and cilantro as well to act as your garnish. I don’t recommend you skip on this step, the two herbs really tie the dish together.

veggie_bowl_vegetables

By this time your tofu should be marinated enough, put a tablespoon of canola oil in a pan and put it on the stove on medium-high heat. Once the oil is heated, use a pair of tongs and fry the tofu on each side for about 30 seconds to make sure its nice and crispy. Once the tofu’s skin is well cooked, take another paper towel and transfer the tofu from the pan onto the towel to let it collect excess oil. Keep the leftover oil in the pan for our next step!

marinated_tofu

Time to boil the noodles! By now the water should be boiling. Break off a piece of the rice noodles, I’ve made the mistake of cooking 1/2 a package for 2 people too many times – trust me it’s definitively going to be MORE than what you expect!

rice_noodles_gluten_free

Read the instructions on the package, but they should be ready within 3-5 minutes. Feel free to check after 3 to see if it’s soft to your own liking.

Once the noodles start to cook, toss all your vegetables in the pan you cooked the tofu in (except the garnish!) on medium heat. Cover the pan with a lid and wait for it to get hot. When the vegetables start to steam, take the lid off and splash a teaspoon of soy sauce on and stir for about 15 seconds. Take the pan off the heat.

By this time your noodles should be cooked! Drain the noodles, quickly rinse them in cold water, and place them in a bowl. Now you can assemble your veggie bowl! Add in the tofu and the veggies.

veggie_asian_noodle_bowl_vegan2

Now pour on peanut sauce and you have a delicious healthy, vegetable-packed, gluten free noodle bowl even a carnivore would enjoy. And all for under $3.25 compared to the restaurant cost of $19!

asian_noodle_bowl_peanut_sauce5

I’d love to hear feedback (good or bad) or any tips! Don’t hesitate to comment! Enjoy! 🙂


INGREDIENT COSTS

I’m referring to a Loblaws (a generic grocery chain in Canada) receipt, weekly flyer, and their website.

1 block (420 g) of Rooster Tofu ($2.49)
500 g No Name 100% Pure Corn Starch ($2.29) – $0.46/100g
500 ml Rootster Superior Dark Soy Sauce ($1.99) – $0.40/100ml
400 g Suraj Cumin ($3.49) – $0.87/100g
443 ml LKK Pure Sesame Oil ($6.99) – $1.59/100ml
500 g Farm Boy™ Pure Ontario Honey ($4.99) – $0.99/100g
454 Rice Stick Vermicelli Noodles, small ($2.29) – $0.50/100g
1 Broccoli crown ($0.99)
1 bag of Baby Bok Choy ($1.99)
1 Zucchini ($0.79)
1 Orange Bell Pepper ($2.10)
1 cup of homemade peanut sauce ($1.39)
1 bunch of green onions ($0.79)
1 bunch of Cilantro ($2.49)

Savoury Caramelized Onion Scones

Scones are one of my favourite things to bake. Mainly because I’m absolutely horrible at baking and scones are incredibly easy to make! And for less than $3, you can make a batch of a dozen scones!

I’m much more into savoury flavours than I am to sweet. I find that a caramelized onion scone is a good balance in between both.

*Ingredients & cost calculations below*

The first thing you’ll want to do is to caramelize the onions. I chose to use yellow onions, some people prefer to use sweet onions. Either will do, just don’t use red onions and it’ll be fine! Chop the onion first in half, peel off the skin, cut off the ends, and slice as you go. You’ll most likely get a litter teary at the point.

32386548021_bef3ac3629_b

Get a thick flat bottom pan, I used a cast iron skillet that I got from a second-hand store for $4.99 that’s been nothing but kind to me, and put it on the stove at a medium-low heat. Throw a tablespoon of butter in the pan. Once the butter melts, toss the onions in and stir occasionally. After about 10 minutes, you’ll see your onions have decreased in size by quite a bit, it’s just getting dehydrated. At this point you can choose the toss in a tablespoon of brown sugar if you want your onions to be a bit more sweet.

Continue cooking the onions for about half an hour, a bit more if you wish for it to be even more caramelized.

32357626492_e1699a42fe_b

They should look a little bit like the photo above. Take the onions out and put them on a plate or cutting board. Time to chop them up!

32357626812_d44ea83891_b

Make sure the pieces resemble small cubes. Now, its time to cool them. Just put the cutting board into the fridge for now. While doing this, heat your oven to 375F.

Before you get started on the scones, make the buttermilk. Just put the milk in a bowl and add the lemon juice. Set it aside and in 10-15 minutes, voila you have buttermilk!

Finally! The scones!

Take the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt and mix it in a large bowl. Next, cut your cold butter into cubes (around 1cm) and knead in with the flour mix, but not too much! This is the worst thing you can do with scones, do not mix in the butter too much, or else the scones won’t be very flaky and you’ll have yourself a batch of biscuits. That’s okay if that’s what you want though.

Next, add in the buttermilk and start mixing! This is when you take the chopped caramelized onions out of the fridge and toss them into the mix. Once everything’s mixed in, transfer the dough to a surface dusted with flour. Roll out the dough and try to flatten by hand so it’s about 1 1/2 inches thick.

31666298714_414ebcd522_z

You can now either just take a knife and cut the dough into triangles or use a circular cookie cutter and cut your scones! Once everything’s ready, get a baking sheet and lay out some parchment paper. If you don’t have parchment paper, aluminum foil will work just fine, spray some Pam on so nothing sticks, and you’re ready to get baking!

I put my scones on the top rack and leave it in for 20 minutes or once it starts getting golden brown. And just under 1 hour you have yourself a batch of flaky, savoury, and delicious caramelized onion scones. And guess what the cost was.. $2.92! Compared to bakery cost of $24+.

32356383052_3c68ca0f7d_b

Hope you enjoy my first recipe post!

INGREDIENTS & COSTS FOR 12 SCONES
  • 3 cups flour, and 1/2 cup for your work surface ($0.792)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda ($0.01)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder ($0.122)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar ($0.035)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt ($0.022)
  • 5 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter (salted works too, just omit the salt if you don’t have unsalted), cut into 1cm cubes, plus 1 tablespoon for the onions ($0.96)
  • 1 cup of buttermilk (or if you’re a regular human who doesn’t have buttermilk on hand, 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice gets you the same thing in 10-15 minutes!) ($0.45 for milk and $0.11 for the lemon juice)
  • 2 medium-sized yellow onions ($0.44)

Total Cost = $2.92*

*Depending the cost of the ingredients in your area, the cost may be more or less. I live in a fairly inflated part of town, so chances are your cost will be less.

Need the proof?

I’m referring to a Loblaws (a generic grocery chain in Canada) weekly flyer and their website.

2.5 kg of Five Rose All Purpose Flour ($5.49) – $0.22/100g
225 g of Magic Baking Powder ($3.99) – $1.77/100g
500 g of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda ($1.49) – $0.30/100g
4 kg of Labtic Granulated Sugar ($5.69) – $0.14/g
750 g of Fine Crystal Sea Salt ($5.49) – $0.75/100g
2L of Neilson 1% Partly Skimmed Milk ($3.58) – $0.18/100ml
454 g of Neilson Butter, Salted ($5.99) – $1.31/100g
125ml if ReaLeamon Single Strength Lemon Juice ($0.99) – 0.79/100ml
3lb Farmer’s Market Yellow Onions ($1.99) – $1.56/kg