Exclusive Party of One…Fried Rice

Exclusive Party of One…Fried Rice

You just got home from work. It’s been a long day and a longer day in traffic. No energy to hit the supermarket yet you know that you still have to eat. You open the fridge only to realize there isn’t very much there. White rice leftover from the Chinese food you ordered earlier in the week. There are a few eggs, half of an onion, carrot matchsticks for the salads you never made for lunch, a partially used head of broccoli and  the doggy bag of shrimp from the blind date you went on last night( we won’t even talk about the disaster that was). Back to the problem at hand–you are tired, hungry  and over your eating out budget (remember you never made those salads for lunch this week). You pull all your ingredients out and place them on the counter. You start to wonder what it is you can make with all these bits and pieces. And then you have an AHA moment…Fried Rice.

 

It’s an easy fix to your problem. It’s a matter of prep work and using a hot pan. Below is an easy Fried Rice recipe that you can tweak to include anything you want or can find in your fridge. If you want more vegetables, add more vegetables. Maybe you want chicken and shrimp, bok choy and water chestnuts. Remember that recipes are just guidelines. Use it to create your very own special fried rice.

 

Fried Rice

 

2 TBSP canola oil

1 egg beaten

½ small onion diced

¼ cup  carrots cut up

¼ cup broccoli cut up and blanched*

¼ -½ cup of your chosen protein

½ cup leftover cooked rice

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

½ – 1 TBSP  soy sauce

¼ tsp black pepper

¼  tsp sesame oil

kosher salt

 

Heat 1 TBSP oil in nonstick frying pan. Add pinch of salt and sesame oil to beaten egg. Add egg mixture to hot pan. Allow to cook without disturbing, 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan and cut into strips. Add 1 TBSP oil to pan. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add carrots, broccoli and your protein and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Gently move the vegetables and protein to the edge of pan. Add the rice to the center of pan followed by the ginger, soy sauce (this well give the rice that nice brown color you are used to seeing as well as sodium for taste). Combine all the ingredients in the pan, adding the egg strips in. Finish the rice off with a drizzle of sesame oil for more flavor. Remove from heat and plate.

 

Viola! Dinner is done in less than 30 minutes and you didn’t have to leave the house or further damage your food budget. This calls for a celebration. Pour yourself a glass of wine, get cozy in the sofa and enjoy your fried rice. This is definitely an #ExclusivePartyOfOne.

Exclusive party of One Fried Rice

Chicken Fried Rice

 

*The word blanch refers to a cooking technique in which food is briefly immersed in boiling water or fat.

Blanching vegetables softens them just enough so that they can then be quickly cooked over high heat, such as in a stir fry, where a short time in the pan wouldn’t be enough to soften them, but cooking them longer would tend to overcook the other items in the pan.

 

Definition from http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/glossary/g/blanch.htm
Here’s a tip for you. The best way to store ginger is to freeze it. It lasts longer and is easier to grate on your microplane.

 

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The Chef’s Table…Chef Nick Walker

The Chef’s Table…Chef Nick Walker

 

I was recently invited to eat at The Chef’s Table by the lovely members of The Atlanta Food Bloggers’ Society.  Yeah I felt kind of special. I mean it’s not everyday you get invited to partake of a Chef’s Table and at The Cobb Galleria Center, nonetheless. Well at least I know I don’t.  Chef Nick Walker was inspired by the beers at Monday Night Brewing, a local craft brewery here in Atlanta. What we were presented with was nothing less than amazing. Chef Nick Walker makes me want to create an event at Cobb Galleria Center just to see what fabulousness (yes that is an actually word) he would create for me & my guests.

A little background on Chef Nick Walker so you understand a little bit about his ability. He graduated from Art Institute of Atlanta, magna cum laude at that with a BS. He went on to cook in many different kitchens across Georgia. He has even worked with the infamous Food Network. Looks like he may know a thing or two about food if they hired him. In addition to working for the Cobb Galleria Center he teaches at Kennesaw State University. I guess we can say he has his food credentials in order.

Enough about him. Let’s get to what this post is really all about….FOOD! Not any food. Well thought out and very creative food. I walked away not only completely stuffed from this meal but also inspired. He made me want to go home and create on levels I hadn’t before. I have a new appreciation for beer ( still not my favorite drink but at least I’m learning what I do and do not like). I present to you The Chef’s Table at The Cobb Galleria Center…

 

Please bear with me because I managed to end up with no picture of our first course. First Course – Amuse Bouche  Ginger Crab Fritter with Spicy Banana Puree paired with  Fu Manbrew_Belgian Style Wit.  As a consolation there is a cute picture of me eating it. I hope that makes up for that missing picture of that dish.

The rest of these pictures will be plentiful and decadent looking. Be forewarned …you may want to lick your screen but please refrain from doing anything of that nature. If you click the pictures there are descriptions of each dish attached.

What would the night be without people. They helped to make the night fun and enjoyable, from staff to my fellow bloggers.

This was a wonderful experience that left me with beautiful memories. These are not experiences you can have of your own. Many restaurants offer the option of a Chef’s Table, check out their websites or call and find out. It’s a chance to try things not on the menu that the chef has crafted to show their talents and creativity. It will be something memories are made from. Click here to check out The Cobb Galleria Center for all your event needs from board meetings to large conventions. And click here to check out all the beers Monday Night Brewing has going on. Have you ever eaten at a Chef’s Table before? If so share in the comments below.  Now go forth and make memories.

Until next time…

~The Chef In Pearls

 

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NEGLECT

NEGLECT

 

Ne-glect

verb. fail to care for properly

noun. the state or the fact of being uncared for

Had my blog been a child, the state would have swooped in and taken her from me already.Neglect is a serious matter. I have left this blog uncared for, not tended to, the bottom line is she was N.E.G.L.E.C.T.E.D. I want to hang my head in shame but I will not. You see everything happens for a reason. The reason I had to neglect this blog is because I was busy trying to make greatness happen within my life. And to be able to do that required me to lay some things to the wayside. With my youngest graduating high school in less than a week and half,  quitting my part time gig, and following my passion of cooking I needed to regroup and get some things in order.

So I throw myself at the mercy of my readers. I ask for forgiveness for my transgressions. Allow me the opportunity to provide you with all the wondefulness of food and fashion. Let me share with you my journey down my rabbit hole of life, filled with new adventures everyday. I don’t normally make promises but I will make an exception to that rule. (As I raise my right hand and place my left on the bible) I promise to do better in keeping you in the loop of all things The Chef In Pearls.

I want us to enjoy new restaurants, recipes and fashion that will bring some much needed color to our lives. I cannot wait for us to connect over food and fashion and life in general. Making and sharing memories we create. We’ve got to remember that neglect isn’t good for either of us. So I’m going to need more comments from you all. And more follows on social media. And just more of US on a whole so that we can become better overall. So now that we have moved on from my neglect, let’s move forward and make wonderful memories together.

Until next time!

The Chef In Pearls

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The Red Phone Booth…Atlanta Speak Easy

The Red Phone Booth…Atlanta Speak Easy

Who isn’t drawn to a bit of mystery and intrigue? I cannot deny that I love a little mystery here and there. It makes life a little more interesting. So when given the chance to visit a speak easy located in downtown Atlanta, I was game. I was told to head to The Red Phone Booth. I don’t know if any of you have ever watched any old gangsta movies. You know, the ones where in order to get into the club you had to know the secret password. Well The Red Phone Booth is just like that. It’s open to the public. You just have to know someone who has gone before or has membership to give you the password. Thank God for knowing people! When you arrive you step inside a red phone booth, similar to the ones you used to see scattered throughout London. You dial in the secret code and voila the door opens for you.

Once the door opens, you enter into a dimly lit room with vignettes of leather clad sofas and chairs. There were large coffee tables nestled amongst them, giving the room a very manly feel. As you step a little further in, you see a full bar along the back of the room, where bartenders are busy crafting specialty drinks for the patrons. Then you notice the smell of smoke in the air, but not caused by trendy hookahs. This is the scent of cigars, slow burning being enjoyed by guests. Yes, this not your average bar or lounge. It’s more. It’s an experience.

During the visit, there was the chance to sample drinks while noshing on Beef Carpaccio and Oysters on the Half Shell. Can I make a confession? For all of the cooking and such I have done, I have never eaten an oyster on the half shell. I mean I’d eat Oysters Rockefeller all day long but an actual raw oyster . . . never. Well not until The Red Phone Booth. You know what? I actually liked it. Not bad for a first.

I would recommend The Red Phone Booth to anyone who doesn’t want to do the everyday bar scene. It’s full of history, great drinks, and a wonderful atmosphere. While you are there make sure to check out Amalfi’s located above the speak easy. The restaurant boasts two wood burning ovens that reach temperatures between 800 and 900 degrees. The heat allows them to bake pizza in less than a minute’s time. I really enjoyed their pizza crust. Let me know what you think about the pizza if you check them out.

 

Here are two places you can head out to and make memories. Do think you are up for a little mystery and intrigue?

Until next time.

~The Chef In Pearls

P.S. The images in the Red Phone Booth are dimly lit because I wanted you to get a feel for the atmosphere…Who am I kidding? I couldn’t find the flash on my camera. I now know where it is.

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Valentine’s Day Giveaway

Valentine’s Day Giveaway

With the New Year comes new thoughts, needs and demands. I was pretty quiet for the month of January because I was busy getting things in order for my return to the kitchen. That’s right The Chef In Pearls will be available for private cooking events. You can now have me in your personal kitchen whipping up your every heart’s desires. I’ve got another announcement that is sure to make your Valentine’s Day even better.

To help spread the word of my return to the kitchen I have joined forces with a few good people I have come to know  to do a Valentine’s Day Giveaway. Miss Loren Browne, of Dating with Passports , has the Valentine’s Day low down on dating in the states and abroad. Then there is Miss Kym Edwards, of Naughty Goddess, that brings out that alter ego in all of us with her lingerie and adult novelties. Finally we have Miss KaSundra Anderson, of Nail Spa Haven, providing all your nail pampering needs. The prizes for the giveaway includes an E-Gift card from Naughty Goddess, a manicure from Nail Spa Haven and Chef services in your kitchen for you and your special some one from The Chef In Pearls. My services to the winner will include a phone consultation to create a menu,  a grocery list of items to create menu and then come over to cook for you and your special someone. Can it get any better than this? I don’t think so. All you have to do is enter  thru the below Rafflecopter. A winner will be chosen randomly and notified at the end of the contest. So hurry up and enter and don’t forget to tell a friend.

Now you can have me be a part of your memory making. Until next time.

~The Chef In Pearls

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Season Has Ended…No More Pumpkin

The Season Has Ended…No More Pumpkin

Thanksgiving Day has come and gone. It was a day to sit and make memories with our family and friends. We ate turkey with all the expected, loved and tasty trimmings. For some families that includes a decadent pumpkin pie.Thanksgiving’s arrival and departure means more to me than just the closure of a wonderful gathering. It means we can say goodbye to the almighty pumpkin. Yes you read that right. We no longer with pumpkin flavored anything. No more PSL.. you know…Pumpkin Spice Latte. No more pumpkin bread or pumpkin flavored ice cream It comes to a screeching halt. And I do a dance of glee.

While the rest of America was going crazy over the pumpkin , I was paying homage to the apple. Yes, apple. I’m sure the first thing that pops into your mind is the great American Apple Pie. A favorite for sure but the apple helps to create tons of memories. I have made apples cooked in a caramel sauce eaten with pancakes, apple butter used to make a glasze for pork belly sliders, apple stuffed baked french toast, apple dumplings served a la mode, a grown up version of an ice cream float made with hard cider (you can watch the video here). There is NO end to what can be done with the great apple. Sweet or savory the apple stands up to a variety of uses.

Since the weather is getting colder I wanted to share a recipe that would be great for family gatherings or spiked for an adult  get together, Hot Apple Cider. Now this is more than just warmed up apple juice. When done right it is a mug of warmth filled with just the right amount of spice to make your whole body yield to relaxation. The power of the mug is amazing. And with the adult additions….well you can only imagine how mellow it can become.

Hot Apple Cider

  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1 apple, cut into slices
  • 1 orange, cut into slices
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 slices fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice

Add cider along with apple and orange slices to a large pot. Add the rest of ingredients into a large tea ball (making sure to break cinnamon sticks in half to fit in ball). Add to tea ball to pot and bring to a simmer for at least 30 minutes on the stove top.  Then serve with fresh apple slices or maybe a few pieces of clove in a mug. If you want to make it an adult version add a shot of your favorite spiced rum or maybe a shot of caramel vodka for caramel apple hot cider to each mug.

Now that you have this recipe I want you to go forward and make plenty of memories with it.

Until next time,

~The Chef In Pearls

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I know it’s getting cold but who doesn’t like a good Ice Cream Float? Especially if we can make it a little grown up. Follow the video so you can create you own version of caramel apple fun in your tummy. Now go forward and make some ice cream float memories.

~The Chef In Pearls

Meatless Mondays…Black Bean & Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

Meatless Mondays…Black Bean & Quinoa Enchilada Casserole
Recently I served as a guest speaker and demonstrator at an event called The Veggie Connection. It was an expo for vegetarians and vegans to learn about new products and companies that support their eating habits & beliefs. There were speakers, demonstrations and tons of food vendors. How does a carnivore find herself amongst a sea of herbivores? How did I fit into this non-meat equation? Easily as before I am anything else, I am a chef.  During my talk, I spoke about what I know and that is food and cooking, with or without meat.
Black Bean & Quinoa Enchilada Casserole
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cans black beans (drained & rinsed)

1 1/2 cups cut corn

1 small red onion diced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro (I use flat leaf parsley)

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 of a fresh lime

2 1/2 -3 cups shredded colby jack cheese (shred your own)

10-12 flour tortillas (taco size)

1 1/2 cups red enchilada sauce

In a fine mesh strainer rinse quinoa with water and allow to drain. Bring vegetable stock to boil then add quinoa. Bring back up to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit covered for 5 minutes then fluff grans with a fork.

Pre-heat oven to  In a bowl add black beans, corn, diced onions, cilantro, quinoa and spices. Mix through. Taste mixture and adjust seasonings if needed. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish. Lay 2-3 tortillas to cover bottom of dish, overlapping is fine. Spoon enchilada sauce over the tortillas then layer on black bean mixture. Then top with some shredded cheese. Repeat layering two more times. Tortillas, sauce, black bean mixture and cheese  ending with tortillas. Finish with enchiladas sauce and top with cheese. Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until center is heated through and cheese is bubbly. Let cool for 5-10 minutes then cut into squares.
You can serve with rice and a salad. Or just a salad. Sour cream and guacamole are excellent accompaniments.

When you make this dish don’t forget to share pictures of it with me in the comments or through social media. I’d love to see your creations.

Now go forward and make new memories.

~ The Chef In Pearls

 

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Pretty In Pink… A Memory of Sandra

Pretty In Pink… A Memory of Sandra

Lately I haven’t really enjoyed doing the whole mall thing. The other day while out with the mini me I ended up at the mall. More importantly I ended up in JC Penney. That’s where I saw the cutest pink outfit. It seemed so fun and flirty.  I already figured out so many ways to wear the two piece ensemble in less than 5 minutes of initially seeing it. I needed it in my closet but first a dressing room, please.

I tried on what used to be my size only to realize I needed a smaller size. YAY ME! Down 14 pounds but that’s not what this post is about. This little number that ended up in my closet ( a certain un-named person gifted it to me) was to be my ode to Breast Cancer awareness. A dear friend/neighbor of mine survived breast cancer only to later lose her life to cancer of the spine. I think about her often…missing her. I laugh about how I hated how perfect her home always looked. At that time she had no children and I had 3 so a clean house was hard to keep. She even had the nerve enough to have a white sofa. I secretly hated on her about that. Then she was blessed with a child of her own. And everything changed. The struggle became real and apparent, yet she only had one child. We became kindred spirits. I love the memories we were able to create. Laughing over tea in her kitchen about my oldest one running away from home to her house. Or the time she called my house because the wasband was playing his music too loud and way too late into the night. She threatened to bring her infant child over if he didn’t shut it down. Hell, I pulled the plug myself. I miss her. I wear this pink in her memory and for all the memories we shared. Sandra Hutchinson you are loved.

Go forward and make memories.

~The Chef In Pearls

 

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A Quickie…Firsts

A Quickie…Firsts

We all can remember “the firsts” of so many things in life. I can remember the first boy I kissed. The first time I was allowed to wear high heels. The first time I cooked Thanksgiving dinner by myself. All firsts and all a little scary. But I took chances and got through them, mastering some more than others. As I become older, I still experience firsts. This past Saturday, I experienced a first that scared and saddened me deeply. This was the first time in 4 years that I cancelled one of my events. I did it quietly. Removing the event from the ticketing page I created and then refunding money to those already registered. I never made a formal announcement. I still thanked those who notified me they would not be able to attend as if everything was still a go. My family, closest friends and supporters knew. Each one trying their best to comfort me but the reality was it was a door that needed to be closed. Yeah, a really bummer.

My ladies lunch series came to life out of a need for me to get back into the kitchen. I had gone through a dark period in my life where cooking became something I avoided. I went from the mom that made everything from scratch to the Chef Boyardee-can opening-instant potato making-no more Sunday dinner making-I used to be a chef kind of cook.. It was hard for me to get out of that place and the lunch series helped me to re-embrace one of my loves. What started as a Mother’s Day lunch grew into a personalized therapy plan for me, something to soothe my soul. I looked forward to creating new menu ideas and fun ways of presenting food to my ever growing guest list. I always wanted everyone to walk away, not just full with food, but full with life from the interactions and connections they made while attending. I wanted everyone to walk away with gift bags and a desire to return and share in the fellowship the next time. The fact of the matter is the Ladies Lunch was successful as it served its purpose. I am back in the kitchen now. I am back to enjoying the kitchen as my place of peace. I am at a place where I want to share my knowledge with others and have fun doing it. Last year, I created the Exclusive Party of One as an avenue to do so. I will be focusing more of my time on educating and speaking about food and cooking as well as the importance it plays in the lives we lead. So much comes about because of food and the kitchen and I look forward to the mark I will make in this area.

So with a heavy heart I must say goodbye to the C.I.P. Ladies Lunch series and open my arms to today’s opportunities and ventures and those to come.

I’ll end with a quote from The Queendom, “Queen, keep your chin up. All is not lost. Sometimes you have to lose to gain.” I have abundant memories from all of those events and I will cherish them as I do of others. So please go forward today and make a memory, especially one in the kitchen. Until next time.

~The Chef In Pearls

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The Chef In Pearls

Cassandra Mason is a Lifestyle Chef and Gourmet Cooking Instructor who enjoys demystifying the art of cooking for One. You can catch her live demonstrations across major social media as @TheChefInPearls.

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