Category Archives: Kitchen

Indian-ish Fried Rice with Peanuts, Chilies, & Cilantro

A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

Why I have never thought to dress leftover rice with something other than soy sauce, sesame oil, and a showering of scallions escapes me.

Indian. Fried. Rice. Where have you been my whole life?

To be clear: this isn’t exactly fried rice — there’s no frying of the leftover rice. And how nice, too? There’s nothing to stress over: Is the rice old/dry enough? Will it fry well enough? Will I have the patience to let it brown before I push it around?

Here, leftover rice is simply dressed with spices, herbs, acid, and fat. (Also: peanuts, caramelized onions and chilies). The balance of flavors, the textures, and, of course, the use of day-old rice evokes fried rice, but the process is different; easier, too.

Four Steps to Make Indian-Fried Rice

  1. Dress leftover rice with fresh lime juice and salt.
  2. Heat ghee (or olive oil) with mustard seed, curry leaf, and peanuts.
  3. Heat more ghee (or olive oil), with onions and chilies, till the onions begin to caramelize.
  4. Toss everything together with fresh cilantro.

The whole combination is completely irresistible. I find adjusting the flavor at the end with more lime and salt to taste to be essential — I like lots of each.

This dish is strikingly pretty and makes me want to invite people over for an Indian-ish meal, maybe starring these curried chickpeas with cauliflower and coconut milk or this cumin- and coriander-spiced sheet pan chicken.

Indian-ish:

This recipe comes from Priya Krishna’s Indian-ish, a book that has already taught me more about Indian cooking than any other. To be fair to other Indian cookbooks I own, I haven’t given them a great go; but to Indian-ish’s credit, no other has been as welcoming.

Indian-ish, which is part tribute to Priya’s mother, a software programmer and excellent home cook, and part primer in Indian (or Indian-ish) cooking, is cheerful and light. As you read it, you smile. As you cook from it, you feel OK leaving out a spice or substituting something else. It will be, “fiiiiine,” as Priya says in the FAQs on this matter.

Throughout the book there are helpful guides that demystify the many and often-used spices and lentils as well as charts simplifying cooking techniques like dal and chhonk — also known as tadka or tempering or, in Priya’s words, “the greatest Indian cooking technique ever.” (Chhonk is ghee or oil infused with spices, then poured over a finished dish. This fried rice recipe gets double chhonked: first with curry leaves and mustard seed; then with onions and chilies.)

I have only cooked a few dishes from Indian-ish, but I feel I already have a better grasp on how to cook a cuisine I have always loved and always found a little too daunting to tackle at home. I will be sure to keep you posted on all of my Indian-ish experiments, those chhonk-ified and otherwise.

Here’s the play-by-play: Gather your ingredients.
The ingredients for Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

Dress day-old basmati rice with fresh lime juice and salt.
A bowl of day-old basmati rice with lime and salt.

Heat ghee (or olive oil) with mustard seeds.
A braiser pan with ghee and mustard seed.

Add curry leaves.
A braiser pan with ghee, mustard seed and curry leaves.

Add peanuts.
A braiser pan with ghee, mustard seed, curry leaves, and peanuts.

Pour this mixture over the rice.
A bowl of rice, lime, peanuts and curry leaves.

Return the pan to the stovetop and sauté a sliced onion with a few halved hot chilies.
A braiser pan with ghee, onions, and chilies.

A braiser pan with sautéed onions and chilies.

Add the onions and chilies to the bowl of rice along with some chopped cilantro.
A bowl of Indian Fried rice, ready to be tossed.

Toss. Taste. Add more lime and salt to taste.
A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

Serve.
A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

Such a fun book: Priya Krishna’s Indian-ish
A cookbook: Indian-ish by Priya Krishna

A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

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A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

Indian Fried Rice with Peanuts, Chilies, & Cilantro



  • Author:
    alexandra

  • Prep Time:
    15 minutes

  • Cook Time:
    15 minutes

  • Total Time:
    30 minutes

  • Yield:
    serves 4

Description

From Priya Krishna’s Indian-ish

Notes:

  • The original recipe calls for 8 tablespoons of ghee total, but I think it’s equally delicious with 4 tablespoons. If you’re not afraid, use 8!
  • Ghee: Inspired by the book, I made a batch of ghee. Unsalted butter or olive oil are fine substitutes.
  • Curry leaves may require some hunting to track down. I bought mine at the Karam Asian Grocery & Halal Meat in Schenectady. If you don’t feel like searching for them, simply omit.
  • Peanuts: I’ve been using Planters roasted and salted … it hasn’t been making the dish too salty.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked basmati rice or 1 cup dried basmati rice, rinsed
  • kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice plus more to taste
  • 4 to 8 tablespoons ghee or olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 10 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 2 small hot chilies, halved lengthwise
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or more to taste

Instructions

  1. If you need to cook the rice, here how: Instant Pot Method: Place the rice, 1 cup water, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt into the Instant Pot. Set the IP to: manual, high heat, 6 minutes, natural release 10 minutes (or more). Fluff with fork. Stovetop Method: Place the rice, 1.5 cups water, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt into a medium pot. Bring to a simmer. Cover. Reduce heat to low. Cook 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Let stand 10 minutes (or longer) before fluffing with a fork.
  2. If you have leftover basmati rice on hand, bravo—start here: In a large bowl combine the cooked rice, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and lime juice. Set aside.
  3. In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm 2 to 4 tablespoons of ghee or oil (depending on your preferences, see notes above). Once the ghee or oil begins to shimmer, add the mustard seed. As soon as they begin to pop and dance around in the oil, which will happen very quickly, remove the pan from the heat. Add the curry leaves, making sure they get fully coated in the oil. The leaves will immediately begin to crisp up.
  4. Return the pan to medium-low heat and add the peanuts. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peanuts turn a medium shade of brown and become fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour the peanut-spice-oil mixture over the rice and toss gently to incorporate.
  5. In the same pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 2 to 4 tablespoons ghee or oil. Once it begins to shimmer, add the chilies and onions. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion begins to caramelize, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir this mixture into the rice. Add the cilantro and toss to combine. Taste. Add more salt and lime to taste — go big with both; you won’t be disappointed.
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: Indian, fried rice, curry, mustard seed, cilantro, peanuts, chili

The post Indian-ish Fried Rice with Peanuts, Chilies, & Cilantro appeared first on Alexandra's Kitchen.

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I’m not gonna front, these carrot cupcakes are THIS carrot sheet cake recipe in cupcake form. A lot of people have asked me “can I make this sheet cake into cupcakes?” The answer is absolutely! It’s as simple as making the batter and putting it into cupcake liners. But listen, I know that might sound more than easy but sometimes we have to see it in its transformed state in order to actually be inspired to make it you know? Here they are transformed! These cupcakes are so delicious and if you want something sort of bite-sized for your brunch situation, then these are it for you! I love carrot cake. It is divine. And it’s always been incredibly high on my list of things to make when the weather starts to get a bit nicer. I love the bits of carrot, crunchy walnuts and large quick bread-like crumb. The cream cheese frosting is thick but also super fluffy (thanks to the heavy cream that’s whipped in there) and then I made a strong buttercream for the anemone flowers. Those are totally extra credit and absolutely unnecessary! I made them, mixing in a few colors to make them a bit […]

(Read more…)

Salted Caramel Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

What do you get when you decide to brown a little butter and get creative? The most insanely delicious little salted caramel brown butter chocolate chip bars ever, that’s what.

Slab of salted caramel brown butter chocolate chip bars cut into squares and two stacked on each other on wood cutting board.

Why are good ol’ chocolate chip cookie bars so irresistible? I mean, chocolate chip cookies are tasty, but smash the same basic dough into a pan, underbake just a little, and wow.

It is safe to assume that bar cookies in some form have solved many a dessert dilemma for me over the years (and in some cases made me look way more put together in the potluck department than I really am). 

I’m not trying to usurp the almighty chocolate chip cookie bar here, but sometimes even amazing things can be improved on. And in this case, a touch of brown butter and soft, chewy caramel does just that. 

(more…)

The post Salted Caramel Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Bars appeared first on Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

Lemon Berry Meringue Trifle

This is the first ever trifle I’ve ever made! Some of you will probably be shocked, appalled, stunned. And the other half of you probably don’t know what a trifle is. Don’t worry, I will explain. In my extensive trifle internet research I read that trifles are very much English. And they do very much remind me of an eton’s mess. But just on a grander, larger scale, which I am very into. Especially since we’re in the thick of spring, which means Easter, brunches and gatherings. For this post, I teamed up with Pyrex and their new line of Pyrex Deep baking dishes. I love Pyrex so much and use their products daily. Their Deep line is extra special because it is up to 50% deeper – meaning you can fit even more pasta (for pasta bakes), a bigger roast (for Easter) and even more layers (for trifles). I also love that they all come with super secure lids so you can take to your friends’ and families’ houses and you don’t have to worry about spillage. I love all of their products; everything from their glass dishes for storing leftovers to measuring cups—they’re all amazing and affordable. These […]

(Read more…)

Five decor trends I loved a little TOO much

Hello there! I don’t know how I went down the rabbit hole of some of my older posts recently — I think I was looking for an old project maybe? But I got sucked in.

I noticed a few trends in my old decorating style and thought it would be fun to take a look back. Many of these are projects that may have brought some of you to the blog years ago!

My how things have changed! 🙂 Note that I am NOT making fun of my old decorating (I’m proud almost every step along the way) and I am not making fun of anyone that incorporates any of these things…let’s make that clear. You’ll see I still like them all, I just don’t use them quite as much.

It does tickle me to look back at things I may have had a little obsession with. Decor trends come and go and it’s just fun to look back.

SPRAY PAINT 

I still LOVE spray paint. It’s been a DIY staple of mine and always will be!

We were deep in debt when I started blogging, so I would often take thrifted items and spray paint them…even if they were fine to start with. ? I had a few missteps, like painting this big stone pear black:

Old design trends -- spray painting everything
It started as gray — not sure why I thought black would be better. Goodness. I LOVED spray painting.  I’m surprised I have brain cells left. 
I spray painted frames, light fixtures, door knobs, decor, art, window shades…even the floor vents!:

Spray painting floor vents
I loved me some ORB spray paint — otherwise known as oil rubbed bronze. When a blogger mentioned ORB everyone just knew what it was. 😉 Ahhh, the good old days. 
I will say…the painted vents looked great with our dark wood floors at the old house (not the ones pictured here), and I’ve started doing the same at this house. They hold up surprisingly well and the darker color doesn’t stand out nearly as much. 
I will always love a good spray paint project, don’t worry. These lamps used to be shiny brass and the mirror was a wood tone before I sprayed it black: 
Foyer with board and batten white wall
I still think spray paint is the easiest way to transform decor on the cheap. I’ve just reeled it in just a bit over the years. 🙂 
THE COLOR BLACK
I loved oil rubbed bronze a LOT. But my go-to for many years was black. I was obsessed with painting things black — it really didn’t matter what it was (obviously with the pear). When I painted our laundry room bright yellow (not one of my favorite design decisions), my accent color was…black: 
Old design trends -- lots of black accents
I spray painted most of the items you see in that photo too. Even the clothespins in the jars. See? Problem.  
And when I painted furniture…I painted it black. Alwaaaaaays: 
Old sewing machine trash to treasure
A touch of black is still a favorite of mine — you can see why I think every room needs some of it in this post
But I’m trying to branch out just a bit! I went with a pretty olive green for this piece in our family room and still LOVE it: 
Olive green furniture makeover
STENCILS (EVERYWHERE)
Another DIY project I did a lot was stenciling — on furniture, art, the walls…I used them a lot! 
I added some in a shimmer paint (shimmer was another favorite detail) inside the wainscoting in our old family room: 
Decorative stencils on wall
And I figured out a way to give them texture too — I did this treatment in two of our bathrooms way back when: 
How to make textured stencils
Thankfully it wasn’t hard to remove! You can see that process and the after photos here
Nowadays the only thing I stencil are DIY lettered signs like this one: 
DIY hand lettered signs
But there are still some gorgeous patterned stencils for walls and floors! I don’t think that trend is going anywhere soon. It’s just been updated a bit. 😉 
CHALKBOARDS
Another trend I repeated over and over was chalkboards. I had a TON of them at one point. I didn’t care, I loved them! 
This spot on our old kitchen wall had many versions of a chalkboard — it started with this one: 
Magnetic chalkboard wall for kids
And that same spot eventually became a full chalkboard wall. I loved it then and still do!:
DIY chalkboard wall in kitchen
My love of them is still strong — they are such an easy way to fill a big wall and add the black accent that I love. 
We only have one giant chalkboard now and I’m pretty sure it will be the only one in the house for awhile: 
Giant chalkboard wall in mud room
You know me though…

VINYL WORDS ON THE WALL 
And finally…a trend that started years ago and is still strong today, it’s just morphed a bit. Remember how big the vinyl wall sayings were years ago? 
Gosh I had them EVERYWHERE…both in vinyl and with my own handmade stencils. This stair wall was one of my favorites: 
decor trends -- vinyl art quotes
You’ll notice another trend back then was poor picture quality. 😉 It says “The best things in life aren’t things.” That stairway wall went nuts on the Internet! 
I talked about the word art trend last year and how I think it’s gotten a bit out of hand (but I still have some word art pieces that I love). 
Now I try to think outside of the box and DIY my art for the walls when possible: 
wallpaper in frames DIY art
Did you have any of the same decor obsessions? Did I get you hooked on any of these years ago? 🙂 
Overall my style has simplified quite a bit. I prefer quieter design overall now, but as I always say, I appreciate my process throughout the years. Every step along the way has been a blast, and I’ve loved sharing it all with you!




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Honey Lime Chicken or Pork Enchiladas

So easy to create, the taste of those honey carrot chicken enchiladas is from the world. This recipe is delicious with pork, too (and you’re able to create enchiladas, burritos, salads – choices are unlimited!) !

<img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-60184" src="https://www.melskitchencafe.com/wp-content/uploads/honey-lime-enchiladas3-600×900.jpg" alt="Two honey lime chicken enchiladas on white and blue plate with one bite cut with fork." width="600" height="900" data-pin-description="So simple to make, the flavor of these honey lime chicken enchiladas is out of this world. This recipe is delicious with pork, as well (and you can make enchiladas, burritos, salads – options are endless!)! Melskitchencafe.com” /p >

To mention this honey the test of time has survived would be really a significant understatement! It’s been a family favorite for more than ten decades and that I urge ’t see that changing any time soon. 

If your life was without this yummy honey carrot combination for enchiladas (or even burritos, salads, etc), I hate to mention it, however, you’theres been missing out. Not only are those a number of the enchiladas that are most easy that you create, there isn’t yet another enchilada recipe like these with regards to deliciousness that is one-of-a-kind.

(more…-RRB-

The article Honey Lime Chicken or Pork Enchiladas appeared on Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

Indian-ish Fried Rice with Peanuts, Chilies, & Cilantro

A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

Why I have never thought to dress leftover rice with something other than soy sauce, sesame oil, and a showering of scallions escapes me.

Indian. Fried. Rice. Where have you been my whole life?

To be clear: this isn’t exactly fried rice — there’s no frying of the leftover rice. And how nice, too? There’s nothing to stress over: Is the rice old/dry enough? Will it fry well enough? Will I have the patience to let it brown before I push it around?

Here, leftover rice is simply dressed with spices, herbs, acid, and fat. (Also: peanuts, caramelized onions and chilies). The balance of flavors, the textures, and, of course, the use of day-old rice evokes fried rice, but the process is different; easier, too.

Four Steps to Make Indian-Fried Rice

  1. Dress leftover rice with fresh lime juice and salt.
  2. Heat ghee (or olive oil) with mustard seed, curry leaf, and peanuts.
  3. Heat more ghee (or olive oil), with onions and chilies, till the onions begin to caramelize.
  4. Toss everything together with fresh cilantro.

The whole combination is completely irresistible. I find adjusting the flavor at the end with more lime and salt to taste to be essential — I like lots of each.

This dish is strikingly pretty and makes me want to invite people over for an Indian-ish meal, maybe starring these curried chickpeas with cauliflower and coconut milk or this cumin- and coriander-spiced sheet pan chicken.

Indian-ish:

This recipe comes from Priya Krishna’s Indian-ish, a book that has already taught me more about Indian cooking than any other. To be fair to other Indian cookbooks I own, I haven’t given them a great go; but to Indian-ish’s credit, no other has been as welcoming.

Indian-ish, which is part tribute to Priya’s mother, a software programmer and excellent home cook, and part primer in Indian (or Indian-ish) cooking, is cheerful and light. As you read it, you smile. As you cook from it, you feel OK leaving out a spice or substituting something else. It will be, “fiiiiine,” as Priya says in the FAQs on this matter.

Throughout the book there are helpful guides that demystify the many and often-used spices and lentils as well as charts simplifying cooking techniques like dal and chhonk — also known as tadka or tempering or, in Priya’s words, “the greatest Indian cooking technique ever.” (Chhonk is ghee or oil infused with spices, then poured over a finished dish. This fried rice recipe gets double chhonked: first with curry leaves and mustard seed; then with onions and chilies.)

I have only cooked a few dishes from Indian-ish, but I feel I already have a better grasp on how to cook a cuisine I have always loved and always found a little too daunting to tackle at home. I will be sure to keep you posted on all of my Indian-ish experiments, those chhonk-ified and otherwise.

Here’s the play-by-play: Gather your ingredients.
The ingredients for Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

Dress day-old basmati rice with fresh lime juice and salt.
A bowl of day-old basmati rice with lime and salt.

Heat ghee (or olive oil) with mustard seeds.
A braiser pan with ghee and mustard seed.

Add curry leaves.
A braiser pan with ghee, mustard seed and curry leaves.

Add peanuts.
A braiser pan with ghee, mustard seed, curry leaves, and peanuts.

Pour this mixture over the rice.
A bowl of rice, lime, peanuts and curry leaves.

Return the pan to the stovetop and sauté a sliced onion with a few halved hot chilies.
A braiser pan with ghee, onions, and chilies.

A braiser pan with sautéed onions and chilies.

Add the onions and chilies to the bowl of rice along with some chopped cilantro.
A bowl of Indian Fried rice, ready to be tossed.

Toss. Taste. Add more lime and salt to taste.
A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

Serve.
A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

Such a fun book: Priya Krishna’s Indian-ish
A cookbook: Indian-ish by Priya Krishna

A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

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A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

Indian Fried Rice with Peanuts, Chilies, & Cilantro



  • Author:
    alexandra

  • Prep Time:
    15 minutes

  • Cook Time:
    15 minutes

  • Total Time:
    30 minutes

  • Yield:
    serves 4

Description

From Priya Krishna’s Indian-ish

Notes:

  • The original recipe calls for 8 tablespoons of ghee total, but I think it’s equally delicious with 4 tablespoons. If you’re not afraid, use 8!
  • Ghee: Inspired by the book, I made a batch of ghee. Unsalted butter or olive oil are fine substitutes.
  • Curry leaves may require some hunting to track down. I bought mine at the Karam Asian Grocery & Halal Meat in Schenectady. If you don’t feel like searching for them, simply omit.
  • Peanuts: I’ve been using Planters roasted and salted … it hasn’t been making the dish too salty.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked basmati rice or 1 cup dried basmati rice, rinsed
  • kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice plus more to taste
  • 4 to 8 tablespoons ghee or olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 10 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 2 small hot chilies, halved lengthwise
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or more to taste

Instructions

  1. If you need to cook the rice, here how: Instant Pot Method: Place the rice, 1 cup water, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt into the Instant Pot. Set the IP to: manual, high heat, 6 minutes, natural release 10 minutes (or more). Fluff with fork. Stovetop Method: Place the rice, 1.5 cups water, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt into a medium pot. Bring to a simmer. Cover. Reduce heat to low. Cook 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Let stand 10 minutes (or longer) before fluffing with a fork.
  2. If you have leftover basmati rice on hand, bravo—start here: In a large bowl combine the cooked rice, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and lime juice. Set aside.
  3. In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm 2 to 4 tablespoons of ghee or oil (depending on your preferences, see notes above). Once the ghee or oil begins to shimmer, add the mustard seed. As soon as they begin to pop and dance around in the oil, which will happen very quickly, remove the pan from the heat. Add the curry leaves, making sure they get fully coated in the oil. The leaves will immediately begin to crisp up.
  4. Return the pan to medium-low heat and add the peanuts. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peanuts turn a medium shade of brown and become fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour the peanut-spice-oil mixture over the rice and toss gently to incorporate.
  5. In the same pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 2 to 4 tablespoons ghee or oil. Once it begins to shimmer, add the chilies and onions. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion begins to caramelize, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir this mixture into the rice. Add the cilantro and toss to combine. Taste. Add more salt and lime to taste — go big with both; you won’t be disappointed.
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: Indian, fried rice, curry, mustard seed, cilantro, peanuts, chili

The post Indian-ish Fried Rice with Peanuts, Chilies, & Cilantro appeared first on Alexandra's Kitchen.

Adding form AND function to the side of a refrigerator cabinet

Well hello! I’m finally done with the sweet little project I’ve been working on in the kitchen! Duh…the kitchen again. 😉 I promise this is the last kitchen post for awhile.

This DIY was the most complex of any of the small updates I’ve made lately. If you’ve missed any, you can catch up by seeing the new kitchen island with chunky side panels here, how I built out the end of our kitchen cabinets, my trick for adding kitchen cabinet feet and my tutorials for under cabinet lighting and how to hide it here.

Whew! OK, as I said, this was the most complex of all of them, but makes a statement. Like the other projects, it’s not dramatic and something you’d immediately notice because it’s in a spot that not everyone sees.

The area I’ve wanted to tackle is this boring side of our refrigerator:

Using space on side of fridge
It’s a spot with so much potential, right? 
I’ve planned to do this for awhile, and when I saw how my blogger friend Yuni added this fun treatment in her kitchen, I knew what little detail I wanted to add: 
Building plate/board rack in kitchen
I wanted to build something that would hold our large cutting boards and this was perfect. The leather accent was my favorite!
To get started, I had to remove all of the trim from the side of the cabinet. This included a little decorative piece that hides where the cabinets meet. Then I got busy with the sides of my shelves: 
How to build shelves on side of fridge cabinet
Here’s a close up — I used a 1×2 on the sides — nailed right through the front (and into the wall on the right). 
Because I wanted some extra support for those pieces, I grabbed some smaller trim (measures about 1/2 inch by 3/4) and nestled that up to to the sides of the 1x2s: 
DIY shelves on side of cabinet
This gives everything a little more support. 
Then I needed to start figuring out where I wanted my shelves. I was initially only going to go with three or four, but this is a tall cabinet (nine feet), and I felt like it needed more: 
Tutorial for shelves on side of cabinet
I ended up doing six shelves. I covered the gap between the two cabinets with one at the top and then at the bottom — those are the smallest. I increased the size slightly as I moved to the middle. The two shelves in the middle are the biggest (I have a couple large boards I wanted to make sure would fit). 
To build the shelves, I used three pieces of trim — the half by quarter inch stuff to start it, then a piece of 1×2 on the front of that (all nailed into the cabinet with short nails and into the side trim with longer nails).

I also added a strip of very thin lattice across the front — this gives the items a place to sit and the lattice trim prevents them from going anywhere: 
How to build shelves on side of tall cabinet
The next is a part you could easily skip if you are making this the same color as your cabinets. At first I was planning to paint this a different color than the cabinets. Because I didn’t want to mess with having to prime/paint the cabinet side, (which would take more time to do properly) I wanted to cover it up. 
I lucked out and found various pieces of luan leftover from other projects that happened to fit perfectly. The pieces aren’t all symmetrical, but I knew I wouldn’t see that much of them, so it didn’t bother me: 
Cheap luan as shiplap
I saved money by using what I had, but then I had to caulk quite a bit between these — the edges on some were just too rough. So what I saved in money I gave up in time. 🙂 
Oh, and because I know I’ll get this question — I added the strips to the back after the shelves for two reasons. One — I only had eight foot pieces, and this is nine feet tall. The shelves took up some of that and gave me just enough. Secondly, I wanted the front of the shelves to be flush with the sides. If  I had put this on first, they wouldn’t have met up correctly. 
After all that, in the end I decided to paint it all the same color as the cabinets — it was going to be too difficult to do a contrasting color when there was no good place for it to end. I didn’t want the sides to be a different color than the cabinets. SO…again, the backing is not necessary. But it does add a little detail to it.
Once everything was caulked and painted I moved on to the fun part! I’m not sure what Yuni used, but I decided to use belts as a strap to hold the boards on the wall. (These are similar (affiliate) to what I used.) I started by using one of the belt holes for the left side (I cut off the end of the belt): 
Using belts for straps across shelves
Washers are a must! They will prevent the screw from coming through the belt. 
I could have just attached these to the front of the unit, but I liked how hers tucked back inside. I installed the left one and then would pull the other side taut to see where I needed to cut the belt: 
Leather accent on kitchen shelves
Once I got the sizing right (scissors cut these just fine), I drilled a hole for the screw, then repeated the washer and screw installation on this side. The right side took some maneuvering to get it tight (my drill didn’t fit great back there), but it went much faster after I did the first one. 
I’m SO pleased with the final result!! It’s another great detail that adds some character to our kitchen!: 
DIY plate rack on side of fridge

How to build a rack on side of refrigerator cabinet
LOOOOOVE! This project is right up my alley — pretty and functional! I also gained some space in our cabinets by displaying these. Always a good thing! 
My favorite board is the large round one: 
Floor to ceiling shelves on side of fridge
Its really a pizza paddle and I got it at Pottery Barn (affiliate) on sale and with a gift card. It’s HUGE — I put our meats and cheeses on it when we have company. (Looks like it’s on sale now!)
By the way, you may notice the side pieces are angled at the top — this will all be covered eventually when we have additional cabinets added to the other side of the fridge. We’ll have to add to the crown molding at that point so I’ll add it to this side then too:
Using empty space on side of fridge
The crown will wrap the whole thing at the top — but until then, just having it cut off at the top looked really odd. I cut it at an angle to soften the transition a bit. 
The cabinets on the other side will be a bigger budget item. I’m SUPER excited about those but it will be a bit before we can get those. So until then, we’ve been enjoying the smaller projects I’ve completed over the past month or so: 
DIY shelves on side of refrigerator cabinet

I spent about $100 on this project — the most expensive of all of my recent additions. I’m thrilled with the function it adds to our kitchen! I’ve really enjoyed adding these custom touches to this space. Little by little I’m adding my stamp to this house and having a blast doing it! 
I promise this is the last kitchen post for a while. SWEAR. ? Now that I’m done in here (for now) my focus will be on other projects. 
Have you ever added function or storage to an odd spot? It’s seriously one of my favorite things EVER. 
By the way, if your fridge is open with no cabinets around it, you can see how I built in our refrigerator at our old house. Here’s the before: 
How to build in refrigerator with cabinets
And how it looked all finished up!:
Two toned kitchen makeover gray lowers



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Indian-ish Fried Rice with Peanuts, Chilies, & Cilantro

A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

Why I have never thought to dress leftover rice with something other than soy sauce, sesame oil, and a showering of scallions escapes me.

Indian. Fried. Rice. Where have you been my whole life?

To be clear: this isn’t exactly fried rice — there’s no frying of the leftover rice. And how nice, too? There’s nothing to stress over: Is the rice old/dry enough? Will it fry well enough? Will I have the patience to let it brown before I push it around?

Here, leftover rice is simply dressed with spices, herbs, acid, and fat. (Also: peanuts, caramelized onions and chilies). The balance of flavors, the textures, and, of course, the use of day-old rice evokes fried rice, but the process is different; easier, too.

Four Steps to Make Indian-Fried Rice

  1. Dress leftover rice with fresh lime juice and salt.
  2. Heat ghee (or olive oil) with mustard seed, curry leaf, and peanuts.
  3. Heat more ghee (or olive oil), with onions and chilies, till the onions begin to caramelize.
  4. Toss everything together with fresh cilantro.

The whole combination is completely irresistible. I find adjusting the flavor at the end with more lime and salt to taste to be essential — I like lots of each.

This dish is strikingly pretty and makes me want to invite people over for an Indian-ish meal, maybe starring these curried chickpeas with cauliflower and coconut milk or this cumin- and coriander-spiced sheet pan chicken.

Indian-ish:

This recipe comes from Priya Krishna’s Indian-ish, a book that has already taught me more about Indian cooking than any other. To be fair to other Indian cookbooks I own, I haven’t given them a great go; but to Indian-ish’s credit, no other has been as welcoming.

Indian-ish, which is part tribute to Priya’s mother, a software programmer and excellent home cook, and part primer in Indian (or Indian-ish) cooking, is cheerful and light. As you read it, you smile. As you cook from it, you feel OK leaving out a spice or substituting something else. It will be, “fiiiiine,” as Priya says in the FAQs on this matter.

Throughout the book there are helpful guides that demystify the many and often-used spices and lentils as well as charts simplifying cooking techniques like dal and chhonk — also known as tadka or tempering or, in Priya’s words, “the greatest Indian cooking technique ever.” (Chhonk is ghee or oil infused with spices, then poured over a finished dish.)

I have only cooked a few dishes from Indian-ish, but I feel I already have a better grasp on how to cook a cuisine I have always loved and always found a little too daunting to tackle at home. I will be sure to keep you posted on all of my Indian-ish experiments, those chhonk-ified and otherwise.

Here’s the play-by-play: Gather your ingredients.
The ingredients for Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

Dress day-old basmati rice with fresh lime juice and salt.
A bowl of day-old basmati rice with lime and salt.

Heat ghee (or olive oil) with mustard seeds.
A braiser pan with ghee and mustard seed.

Add curry leaves.
A braiser pan with ghee, mustard seed and curry leaves.

Add peanuts.
A braiser pan with ghee, mustard seed, curry leaves, and peanuts.

Pour this mixture over the rice.
A bowl of rice, lime, peanuts and curry leaves.

Return the pan to the stovetop and sauté a sliced onion with a few halved hot chilies.
A braiser pan with ghee, onions, and chilies.

A braiser pan with sautéed onions and chilies.

Add the onions and chilies to the bowl of rice along with some chopped cilantro.
A bowl of Indian Fried rice, ready to be tossed.

Toss. Taste. Add more lime and salt to taste.
A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

Serve.
A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

Such a fun book: Priya Krishna’s Indian-ish
A cookbook: Indian-ish by Priya Krishna

A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

Print

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A bowl of Indian fried rice with peanuts and chilies.

Indian Fried Rice with Peanuts, Chilies, & Cilantro



  • Author:
    alexandra

  • Prep Time:
    15 minutes

  • Cook Time:
    15 minutes

  • Total Time:
    30 minutes

  • Yield:
    serves 4

Description

From Priya Krishna’s Indian-ish

Notes:

  • The original recipe calls for 8 tablespoons of ghee total, but I think it’s equally delicious with 4 tablespoons. If you’re not afraid, use 8!
  • Ghee: Inspired by the book, I made a batch of ghee. Unsalted butter or olive oil are fine substitutes.
  • Curry leaves may require some hunting to track down. I bought mine at the Karam Asian Grocery & Halal Meat in Schenectady. If you don’t feel like searching for them, simply omit.
  • Peanuts: I’ve been using Planters roasted and salted … it hasn’t been making the dish too salty.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked basmati rice or 1 cup dried basmati rice, rinsed
  • kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice plus more to taste
  • 4 to 8 tablespoons ghee or olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 10 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 2 small hot chilies, halved lengthwise
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or more to taste

Instructions

  1. If you need to cook the rice, here how: Instant Pot Method: Place the rice, 1 cup water, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt into the Instant Pot. Set the IP to: manual, high heat, 6 minutes, natural release 10 minutes (or more). Fluff with fork. Stovetop Method: Place the rice, 1.5 cups water, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt into a medium pot. Bring to a simmer. Cover. Reduce heat to low. Cook 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Let stand 10 minutes (or longer) before fluffing with a fork.
  2. If you have leftover basmati rice on hand, bravo—start here: In a large bowl combine the cooked rice, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and lime juice. Set aside.
  3. In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm 2 to 4 tablespoons of ghee or oil (depending on your preferences, see notes above). Once the ghee or oil begins to shimmer, add the mustard seed. As soon as they begin to pop and dance around in the oil, which will happen very quickly, remove the pan from the heat. Add the curry leaves, making sure they get fully coated in the oil. The leaves will immediately begin to crisp up.
  4. Return the pan to medium-low heat and add the peanuts. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peanuts turn a medium shade of brown and become fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour the peanut-spice-oil mixture over the rice and toss gently to incorporate.
  5. In the same pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 2 to 4 tablespoons ghee or oil. Once it begins to shimmer, add the chilies and onions. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion begins to caramelize, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir this mixture into the rice. Add the cilantro and toss to combine. Taste. Add more salt and lime to taste — go big with both; you won’t be disappointed.
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: Indian, fried rice, curry, mustard seed, cilantro, peanuts, chili

The post Indian-ish Fried Rice with Peanuts, Chilies, & Cilantro appeared first on Alexandra's Kitchen.