What’s On?

by blue midget

More reader submissions. I love these. If you have a question, comment or just feel like shooting the breeze, send me an email at Ask Blue Midget. I won’t post your name or email address.

Hey Blue,

I was just curious, what’s on for dinner tonight? I suck at cooking, but get tired of fast food every night. Also don’t have a lot of money… Got any suggestions?

From,
A Reader

Hey Reader,

Tonight, teriyaki chicken rice bowls with stir fry are what’s on. If you suck at cooking and don’t have a lot of money, this would be a good one to try. (I know it sounds scary, but I’ll walk you through it.) The really frustrating thing that I find about cooking is that it can take a lot of time and effort, and if you work full time, the last thing you want to do is spend the next three hours in the kitchen cooking. When I get home, I’m tired and hungry, and I just don’t have the energy to whip up a gourmet meal. This is another one that I got from recipezaar, but the original recipe has you cooking for three hours. And I don’t know about you, but when I get home from work, I want food NOW and not in three hours.

This one takes about an hour, but total time to prepare is only around 20 minutes. Most of the time is spent just waiting for the stuff to cook. This is also rather inexpensive, and terrific for lunches the next day. I estimate that you could get three meals from this (or two huge meals), and it costs about $8.00 to make, not counting spices. If you’re a vegetarian, I imagine you could just substitute the chicken with portobello mushrooms or skip that part completely and just whip up the sauce with some rice and stir fry veggies.


Set your oven to 350. Get out a small pot, and turn the dial on the stove to face 8:00 — don’t turn it up to make your cooking go faster. That philosophy is wrong in many cases, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll end up burning your food.

In the pot, mix 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1 Tablespoon (that’s the big one – probably says “Tbsp” on it) of Worcestershire sauce and 1/4 cup of soy sauce. Stir it around a couple of times with a spoon and then leave it alone. This will give you more than enough sauce, so if you like sauce this will be enough. If you’re not a huge sauce person, you may want to cut these proportions in half. Ok, so put those things in the pot and leave it. Forget about this for now.

Now get out a small bowl. In the bowl you’ll put: 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon (tsp) garlic salt, 1/2 teaspoon paprika and 1/4 teaspoon ginger. Get out a clean spoon and carefully mix the bowl up until it looks pretty well combined. It’s flour and other dry ingredients, so don’t fling crap all over your kitchen. Take two boneless skinless chicken breasts (thawed, not frozen) and, one at a time, put them in the bowl to coat with the flour/dry ingredient mixture. Put them into a glass dish and stick them into the oven. You can throw the remainder of the flour away – you won’t need it any more. Set your oven timer for 30 minutes and go away.

When the timer goes off, come back to the kitchen and obviously, shut your stupid timer off. WHEE WHEE WHEE — yeah, that’s fun to listen to. Take the spoon that was used to stir up the soy sauce mixture and stir it around a bit more. Just give it a few swirls. Turn the burner off. Take the chicken out of the oven and pour the sauce over the top of the chicken. Put the chicken back in and set your oven timer for 20 minutes. Leave the kitchen.

When the timer goes off again, pull the chicken out and flip them over. Cook them for another 15 minutes – set the timer.

Now grab a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables. I’m not sure if I’ve said this before, but canned veggies just aren’t that fantastic for you. They aren’t terrible for you, but you won’t get as much from the veggies as if they were fresh or frozen. I use frozen. In the frozen veggie aisle, there’s all kinds of brands, and among those brands, there are usually a few different combinations of stir fry vegetables. Some are broccoli blends, some are pepper blends – it doesn’t matter, as long as you get a mixture of vegetables that you will eat. I use the Bird’s Eye broccoli stir fry blend. Ok, so get out your bag of veggies, and pour half of them into a clean pot. Now, the directions on the bag say to put it in a pan or wok with some oil and stir fry them – I like to stay away from oil, so I just put them in a pot and steam them instead. Half of them are in the pot, and the other half are in the bag – clip your bag up somehow, roll it up or whatever (I use a chip clip) and put the bag back into the freezer to use for another day. The veggies in the pot need about a half inch of water in the bottom of the pot and a lid or a piece of foil over the top. Set the burner to 6:00.

Now, in a small pot, put in 1 cup of water. Crank the burner up to high and either set your timer for two minutes so you’ll remember to come back, or just stand there and wait. As soon as your water is boiling – any kind of boil, even if it’s a few tiny bubbles floating to the top, shut the burner completely OFF. Add one cup of either white or brown rice, the 10 minute kind, not that instant stuff. Out of the two, brown is more nutritious, but if you’re stretching it by just eating vegetables then go with the white to keep it safe. Stir it around a little to make sure all of the rice is wet. Cover it with a lid. Set your timer for 10 minutes and leave.

When the timer goes off, come back and turn the oven and the veggie burner off. If you remember, the rice burner should already have been off. Stir up the veggies a little bit — make absolutely sure that they’re cooked all the way through. I once nuked some frozen veggies, and even though I had them in there for 10 minutes, I got sick that night. It could have been anything, but I’m pretty sure it was frozen veggies that was coming back out.

And with that tasty thought, take the chicken back out of the oven. (haha, sorry.)

Now assemble. The rice goes on the bottom, the veggies go on top of that, and the chicken with sauce goes on top of that. Usually I’ll dice up the chicken into bite-sized bits, but slapping a nice chicken breast on the top isn’t a bad way to go either.

And that’s what’s on for dinner tonight. If you want to take this into work, I would put your leftovers into a cheap plastic container. I have some ziploc plastic containers with lids, and also some rubbermaid. The rubbermaid containers are microwavable and dishwasher safe, and a packet of four costs $1.99. You can buy them at any grocery store or Target.