Sushi Rice Bowl Recipe

I love me some sushi…well, wimpy sushi of the Philadelphia roll variety.

There are several sushi consumption options available to me: I can buy sushi from one of the sushi places in town.  But by the time you buy a few little rolls, you’re looking at $18 including tax and tip.  That’s a lot for a quick dinner.  Or I can make sushi from scratch, but rolling sushi takes a long time.  It’s not a week night sort of endeavor.

The predicament left a big sushi-shaped hole in my heart…until one fateful night when everything changed.

{{Dramatic reenactment}} I was trying to find a creative use for leftovers after making sushi rolls for company.  My guests stayed late and I was too tired to distribute each ingredient into its own little bag where – if I’m being honest – it would go to die after being forgotten in the fridge.

Not knowing what else to do, I threw all the leftovers – rice, julienned veggies, smoked salmon, spicy tuna sauce – into a container.  In my exhaustion the next morning, I grabbed it out of the fridge and took it to work for lunch.

I was expecting the result to be the sushi equivalent to the Island of Misfit Toys – a cacophony of unwanted sushi bits.  But I was wrong.  It was amazing – the taste of a perfect sushi roll.  The ease of a rice bowl.  The sushi rice bowl was born.

To make your own sushi rice bowl, first get some sushi rice going.  Click on the link for a full tutorial.  Sushi rice is simultaneously easy to make and persnickety.  You just have to know a few secrets, and then you’ll become a sushi rice master.

What do you love in sushi?  I love cucumbers.  Peel them and cut them thin, long slices.

And avocado. Yum.

And green onions.

I also would have blanched asparagus, but all the stores were out, which I attribute to a conspiracy against my dinner.  Or asparagus was out of season.  One of the two.

Other options: mango, red bell pepper, and anything other veggies you want.

Boil shelled edamame per the directions on the package – about 5 minutes after the water reboils.  Give them a beautiful flavor by adding a splash of gluten-free soy sauce into the water.  Mmmmm.  When the edamame is finished, drain it.  It’s ready to go for dinner.

Make spicy tuna sauce.  It’s mayo and sriracha sauce.  Add the sauce until you’ve reached your spiciness preference.  Sriracha is super spicy, so start slow, add, taste, adjust, repeat.  My mix is about 1/2 cup of mayo to 1 tsp of sriracha.  After you make it a time or two, you’ll be able to make it by sight, gauging how pink you want it.  The darker the color, the spicier.

A little dollop of this on your rice bowl will make the flavors of the rice and toppings come alive!

Crumble up smoked salmon. You can buy this in the deli or fish section of most stores.  One four-ounce package costs about $5 and goes a long way.  You could also use shrimp or crab or even teriyaki chicken, or any of your favorite sushi meat ingredients.  If you’re a vegetarian, of course you can skip this.  Sushi rice bowls are all about you, your preferences and your creativity!

I don’t recommend using raw fish.  Remember – the raw fish used by sushi restaurants is sushi-grade.  It’s not a slab of raw tuna from the grocery store’s dollar meat bin.  If raw fish is a necessity to you, and you have access to sushi-grade fish, more power to you.  But please be super cautious.

Serve up other sushi necessities: soy sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi.  I happen to think wasabi tastes like spicy dirt, so I did not serve it up. I put the pickled ginger right on my rice bowl.  Others like to mix it with their soy sauce for a more subtle flavor.

If you are worried about missing the taste of the nori (the seaweed sushi wrappers), you can buy shredded nori at the Asian market to sprinkle on top.  It looks like seaweed confetti.  Nori is not my favorite thing, so I don’t bother with this step.

This is not The Professor’s favorite meal.  I last made it when he was out of town, and my friend Amy joined me for dinner.  Chick food + girl time = pretty place settings.  And just to make sure we’re being cross-cultural, we have Japanese food served on a Spode Blue Italian pasta bowl and chopsticks from a Vietnamese market.  It’s very authentic.

Set your table with the rice and all the toppings.  Assemble to your preference.  And enjoy!

The final product is fresh, healthy and beautiful!

Tell us in the comments – what would your perfect sushi bowl contain?

Sushi Rice Bowl Recipe
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Ingredients
  1. 1 batch sushi rice with vinegar mixture
  2. 1 - 2 avocados
  3. 1 small cucumber, peeled and julienned
  4. 1/4 c. sliced green onions
  5. 1 bag shelled edamame, boiled until tender and drained
  6. 1 package smoked salmon (avoid the black pepper and Cajun flavors)
  7. 1/2 c. spicy tuna sauce - a mixture of mayo and sriacha to your preferred spiciness
  8. Any other sushi-appropriate veggies, fruits or meats! Use your imagination.
  9. Soy sauce (gluten-free soy sauce if you're gluten-free)
  10. Pickled ginger
  11. Wasabi
Instructions
  1. Make rice, prepare veggies, fish and sauce. Boil the edamame per the package instructions.
  2. Serve while the rice and edamame are hot. Let each person assemble per their own tastes. Enjoy!
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/

Roasted Okra

My parents are both part of the first generation in their respective families to not grow up on a working farm. This means that I, a second generation city girl, have one and three-quarters feet planted firmly in suburbia and one big toe at home in the dirt.

I remember picking okra at my grandmother’s house. My mom’s parents live in a small country town in Texas between Fort Worth and Waco. When we picked okra, it was so fresh that we couldn’t touch it without gloves because the okra’s fuzz would make our hands itchy.

My grandma fries okra in a cast iron skillet with a mixture of squash and onions that have been dredged in milk and eggs and coated in seasoned corn meal. My favorite part was always the okra – the real taste of the vegetable. And it always left me wondering how to eat okra in some other non-fried preparation.

I discovered roasted okra and the world changed. Cut in half lengthwise, the toasted, shriveled seeds and crispy browned edges crunch in your mouth. Slicing the okra allows the inside seeds to become crisp.  It also removes even the smallest hint of sliminess that many find unpalatable about okra.  The flavors are layered – simplistic and symphonic. Roasting brings out the okra’s peppery taste while the crunch of kosher salt and the subtle flavor of olive oil add more delicate flavors.

Wash and completely dry your okra. If you’re smart, you’ll wash your okra in advance. If you’re like me, set it on a tea towel and dry it off. If it’s not dry, the olive oil and salt won’t stick. This little trick has improved all of my vegetable roasting efforts.

Now is a good time to get your broiler going so it’s nice and hot.

Chop off the top and then slice the okra down the middle. It helps if you have pale, sausage fingers and florescent fingernail polish.

See these big, crunchy seeds? They become extra delectable when roasted. That’s why I slice all of my okra except for the littlest pieces less than an inch long.  Slicing also helps get rid of that sliminess that’s given okra a bad rap.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Do not add pepper – the okra has a beautiful, natural peppery taste on its own, and you don’t want to mask that.

Mix the okra around so that it is evenly coated with olive oil and salt. The okra should glisten with olive oil on all sides, but not be overly oily. The salt should be evenly distributed but not perfectly. This is a low-stress veggie. You can toss the oil and salt with the okra in its own bowl, but if you gingerly toss everything on the pan, you won’t have to wash the bowl. And that’s a win in my world. After you’ve tossed, rearrange the okra so the pieces are seed-side up.

Put the okra on one of the upper drawers under the broiler until it’s crispy. Pull the pan out of the broiler and flip the okra with a big spatula, let it broil again until the opposite side is crispy. The time will vary for every oven, the intensity of your broiler and the rack level you ultimately choose. For me, it takes between 5 to 7 minutes per side. Please watch very carefully to make sure your precious, delectable okra doesn’t burn.

And voila! Perfection. I served my okra with a baked potato and leftover steak. Look at those crunchy seeds!

Roasted okra is a gateway drug to other exciting ways to eat okra. Once when I was making roasted okra, I ate a piece of it raw. And it was good! Really good. One of my favorite snacks at work is sliced raw okra. I have a picnic container of salt hidden away in my desk. I sprinkle a bit on each piece before I eat it.

Oh okra. You are the new asparagus.

Roasted Okra Recipe
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Cook Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb fresh okra - or more!
  2. 1 - 2 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 tsp kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Turn on broiler.
  2. Rinse and dry okra. If it’s not completely dry, the olive oil and salt won’t stick.
  3. Chop off the tops and then slice the okra lengthwise. Slicing the okra allows the inside seeds to become crisp. It also removes even the smallest hint of sliminess that many find unpalatable about okra.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, and mix together so the okra glistens with olive oil on all sides and the salt is evenly distributed.
  5. Broil on both sides until equally crispy and browned, about 5 minutes per side. Every oven is different, so keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn.
  6. Adjust the amounts as needed. These are so good that you may find that 1 pound isn’t enough!
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/
A printable recipe card is available at Tasty Kitchen.

Thai Beef Recipe

Thai Beef or Larb is one of my favorite recipes.  It’s on our dinner rotation, especially when my mint garden is thriving.  Because it’s just enough interesting and just enough tame, it’s become my go-to meal when taking dinner to people who’ve just had babies – which seems to be all of my friends lately.  The ingredients of this recipe – rice, ground beef, onions, fish sauce, sriracha, lime juice – are staples in my kitchen, which makes this recipe cheap and quick and available.

My friend Heidi gave me this recipe from her friends from Thailand who were in America going to seminary to prepare to go back to Thailand and minister to people in their culture.  I feel like this recipe has a heritage, and being from Thai people, it is the real deal.

Over the years, I’ve made modifications to make the recipe my own.  I started preferring the red onion to the shallots, and liking my onion sliced quite thick.  Rather than using chili oil and cayenne pepper, I opt for sriracha sauce – I love its spice and smokiness.  Sriracha also has two ingredients that make any condiment better – sugar and vinegar.

Get the rice cooking first.  It will take longer than the Thai beef.  I like sushi rice without the vinegar mix or jasmine rice.  Traditionally this recipe is served on a bed of lettuce, so you can go that route too.  To take it in a totally different direction, I think it would make excellent filling for lettuce wraps, but if you do that, cut the onions smaller.

thai beef recipe - www.accidentalokie.comGrab mint from your garden.  Mint is the only thing I can successfully grow, so this sentence is exciting for me to write.  Normally all I grab from my garden are dead brown things – evidences of my brown thumb. You can also buy mint.  Rinse it, dry it on a dish towel, and then strip the leaves by pulling your thumb and fingers down the stems.  Give the leaves a rough chop.

It’s important to prep this first.  Washing and drying and stemming mint takes longer than you think it will.  And this recipe goes fast, which is why I love it!

thai beef recipe - www.accidentalokie.com

Slice an onion or a bunch of shallots.  I’m lazy, so I use an onion.  Slice with the grain of the onion.

Get a wok (or a big pan) nice and hot with a tablespoon or so of oil.

thai beef recipe - www.accidentalokie.com

Cook the onions hot and fast so they still have a little crunch but they’re caramelized on the outside.  I got the nice color on the onions by making sure the pan was very hot and then by resisting the urge to stir the onions constantly.

thai beef recipe - www.accidentalokie.com

When your onions are just about ready, add a few cloves of garlic and cook for just a minute or so.  Garlic burns easily, and once it’s burned, it turns bitter and gross, and there is nothing you can do to salvage your dish.  So watch it carefully.  This is also where you could add the 1/4 tsp of ground cayenne pepper, but I skip it because I’m a wimp.

Remove the onions, but don’t rinse out the pan.  It would be sad to lose all that oniony goodness.

With your pan still hot, begin browning the ground beef.  I use 96/4 ground beef.  It’s low enough on fat that I don’t drain it, but if you use a higher-fat ground beef, drain it after it’s browned.

thai beef recipe - www.accidentalokie.com

While the beef is browning, make a mix of fish sauce, sugar, a splash of soy sauce, sriracha sauce and lime juice (or lemon juice).  Confession – I use the bottled lime juice.  Sorry Barefoot Contessa.  I have failed you.

Fish sauce is essentially ground anchovies and water.  It is the way Thai food is salted.  At a specialty store, you’ll find a small bottle for $4 or $5.  If you go to an Asian grocery store, you’ll get a huge bottle for $1.  I recommend the huge bottle.

This sauce looks pretty gross.  Don’t be fooled.  It tastes so good!

After it’s browned, add the lime/fish sauce mix.

Make sure the to get the meat browned before you add the sauce.  If you don’t, the acid in the lime juice will partially disintegrate the meat.

thai beef recipe - www.accidentalokie.comKeep cooking until the meat is done.  Now it looks like this – which looks sort of gross and too saucy.  Do not fear.  Amazing, life affirming things are about to happen.

thai beef recipe - www.accidentalokie.com Add back all the onions and the mint.  Now there is the perfect amount of sauce, and it’s very pretty!

thai beef recipe - www.accidentalokie.comSprinkle on extra sriracha sauce to customize your spice level.  You can also serve it on lettuce instead of rice.

I enjoy serving with green beans that have been sauteed with garlic.

thai beef recipe - www.accidentalokie.comI made a double recipe, part for The Professor and me, and part for some friends who just had a baby.  It’s the perfect meal to take.  Package up the meat mixure, the rice and a steamer bag of frozen green beans.  It’s always been a hit with my friends.

Thai Beef Recipe
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Ingredients
  1. rice
  2. 1 lb. lean ground beef
  3. 1 bunch of mint, stemmed and chopped
  4. 1 red onion or 6 medium shallots
  5. 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  6. 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  7. 1 tbsp sugar
  8. 4 tbsp lime juice
  9. 4 tbsp fish sauce
  10. 1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce (if you're gluten-free)
  11. sriracha sauce to taste - start with 1 tsp
  12. 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (I skip this part because it's too spicy for me)
Instructions
  1. Get rice cooking. Wash, stem and chop mint. Mix the sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sriracha sauce in a bowl. Slice onions and brown onions hot and fast with the vegetable oil. Add garlic and cayenne pepper for the last minute of cooking. Remove onions and brown the meat. After it's partially cooked add the sauce mix and cook until the meat is finished cooking. Add back the onions and then the mint.
  2. Serve with rice and green beans. Make sure to have sriracha sauce at the table so people can spice their meal to taste.
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/

Roasted Beets Recipe

People say they don’t like beets, but what they mean is they don’t like pickled beets.  Pickled beets, the ones in the canned vegetable aisle, have a particular taste.  They’re sweet, but more than anything, they radiate that unmistakable pickled taste.  Roasted beets are nothing like that.

Roasted beets are sweet.  Some of their edges are caramelized.  Cooked with kosher salt, they have a salty crunchiness, and they have the beautiful undertone of olive oil.

Roasted beets are the perfect food.  Their subtle sweetness is paired perfectly with feta in salads, or with herbed cream cheese on sweet corn fritters or on burgers if you’re in the Antipodes or if you’re me.

Here is how you roast beets.  First, and this is important, change clothes.  Change into something you don’t care about getting ruined.  There’s a reason beets have been used as dye for thousands of years.  Oh, and turn your oven on to 400.

I got orange beets and then forgot to cook them.  A few weeks later, I got red beets.  The orange beets were a little mushy, but they were fine to cook.  Beets are low maintenance and forgiving like that.

Give the beets a good scrub with the brush you use to scrub potatoes.

Cut off the heads and the tails.  The tails are the rat tail looking root thing.

Aren’t they so pretty!

Cut them into halves or quarters…or smaller if you want.  I was in a hurry, so I cut them in sixths.  The smaller they are, the faster they cook.  If you cut them in half, they’ll take an hour to an hour and a half, or so.  Cut into sixths, they took about 30 minutes.

Drizzle them with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper, and then wrap them up good and tight in foil.

This step is important.  Put your foil-wrapped pouches into a pan.  They can sometimes leak, and an oven full of burning beet juice is not a happy oven.

Let them roast.  If you’ve cut them up, check them after 30 minutes or so.  A knife should go in with minimal resistance.

Cut off the skins.  (The orange beets’ skins caramelized, so I left them on.  I’m not sure if that’s okay, but I didn’t die, so I guess it was fine.  Just be sure to give them a really good scrub at the beginning).

PS – pardon the blurry picture.  By this time, my guests had arrived.  I was cooking and entertaining and taking pictures of my food.  Thankfully, it was my sister-in-law and brother-in-law who came over.  And they already know that I’m weird.

And voila!  Roasted beets.

They’ll change your life.  Oh and public service announcement: if you eat a lot of red beets in a short period of time, they’ll change everything that comes out of you magenta.  Everything.  Sorry for the TMI, but the first time I ate a lot of beets, I thought that I was dying.  And I don’t want that to happen to you.

Roasted Beets
Serves 4
Roasted beets are sweet, carmelized and amazing. They pair well with feta in salads or herbed cream cheese on corn fritters!
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 bunch ofbeets
  2. Generous drizzle of Olive OIl
  3. 1 tsp kosher salt
  4. Pinch black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Scrub, head and tail and cut beets into halves, quarters or sixths, depending on how much time you have to cook the beets.
  3. Wrap part way in foil. Drizzle with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Wrap foil the rest of the way so the beets are completely enclosed. Place package in a cookie sheet to catch any possible spills, and place in the oven.
  4. Roast at 400 degrees until a knife goes in easily - a minimum of 30 minutes for small cuts of beets. Up to an hour and a half for whole or halved beets.
  5. Enjoy on salads, burgers or as a side!
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/

Tuna Salad Recipe

Here in Oklahoma, it is hot.  Yesterday it was 107.  A few nights ago, I walked onto the porch without shoes on at 9 p.m. and burned my feet.  We are craving cold meals.

I make really good tuna salad.  I’m not being immodest.  It’s just a fact.

Over the years, I’ve changed and tweaked my recipe, and it might finally have reached perfection.  No matter what kind of tuna salad you like – whether you like sweet pickles or dill pickles, apples or grapes, or if you cut your ingredients in a big chop or a fine dice, I have a few tips to make your tuna salad perfect!

  • Cut everything the same size.
  • Think about what tastes good with fish – not what flavors go with canned tuna.  Think about going to your favorite seafood restaurant and getting a nice piece of fish.  Think about those flavors.  For me, I think lemon, dill, a little kick of spice, and whole grain mustard.
  • Think about different tastes and textures – sweet, salty, nutty and tart.
  • Mix the sauce and the salad separately so that you make sure your sauce is perfect and that your salad mix has the right ratio of ingredients.

When you think about the different tastes needed, you can improvise.  Once I was out of pickles, but I had capers, so I used those.  Once I was out of pecans, so I used walnuts.  Once I was out of lemon, so I used some distilled vinegar.  Once I was out of tuna, but I had canned salmon.  This recipe is all about merging what you like and what you have on hand.

Boil eggs.  Put a splash of vinegar in the water.  This will help the shells come off later.  I learned that lesson the hard way a few Easters ago.  Those were some ugly deviled eggs.

Chop apples, onions, dill pickles and pecans.  Make sure everything is about the same size.

In a separate bowl, make your mayo sauce.  Think about what you like with fish.  I love dill, lemon and mustard and a bit of a kick.  Throw in kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper.  Taste it to make sure it’s perfect.  Adjust as needed.

Chop up your eggs and add them and the tuna to the mix.  Look at the mix and make sure you’re happy with the ratio of ingredients.  Now is a good time to add more apples or pecans or pickles.  Or celery.  I hate celery.  There is never a good time to add celery for me.  But you might like it, and that’s okay.

Next, it’s time to combine the sauce and the mix!  Add however much you want.  My mom and I always fight about this.  She likes a lot more sauce than I do.  It’s really up to personal preference.

If you have extra sauce, spread it on your bread because it’s really yummy!

Assemble and enjoy!  I used Udi’s Ancient Grains Omega Flax & Fiber Gluten Free Bread, which is my favorite gluten-free bread.

Tuna Salad Recipe
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Mix
  1. 1 large can and 1 small can of solid tuna, drained
  2. 1 c. chopped apple
  3. 1/2 c. chopped onion
  4. 1/2 c. chopped dill pickles
  5. 1/2 c. chopped pecans
  6. 2 boiled eggs, chopped
Sauce
  1. 1 c. olive oil mayonnaise
  2. 1/2 tsp. whole grain mustard
  3. 1/2 - 1 tsp. dill
  4. a few splashes of Tabasco sauce
  5. juice of half a small lemon
  6. kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Chop and mix the salad mixture. Blend the sauce mixture. Combine together to your personal preference of sauciness. Enjoy on a sandwich or a salad. Don't forget to immediately refrigerate the leftovers.
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/

Sushi Rice Recipe

Some of my friends think it’s super fancy that I make sushi rice all the time.  Like most of the things I do that people think are super fancy, sushi rice is not.  I make it all the time in lots of things!  There’s sushi, for one.  Also, sushi rice bowls,  Thai beef, and lots of other yummy things.

Sushi rice is particular.  It’s not difficult.  But there is a way to make it correctly and a way to make yourself a big pot of goop.  So I hope this recipe demystifies sushi rice, and allows you to make all your rice hopes and dreams come true.

Sushi rice is sometimes called glutenous rice.  Don’t worry fellow celiacs – there’s no gluten.  It’s called that because it is really sticky.  On a side note, glutenous rice/sushi rice/sweet white rice (as it is also known) flour all make excellent roux (rouxes, rouxs…sorry I don’t know the plural of roux) in gluten-free sauces!

Rice

Here’s what sushi rice looks like before it’s cooked.  It’s very short and fat, and inside it lies the enemy – lots and lots of starch that must be eliminated.  If you don’t rinse away the starch, you will not make rice.  You will make solidified goop. Most of the prep of sushi rice centers around getting out the starch.

Sushi rice expands a lot less than other rices.  Don’t count on it doubling like jasmine rice.  If you want three cups of rice, use two cups or so of raw rice.

soak the rice

Step 1: Soak the rice for about an hour.
This really helps, but if you’re in a pinch you can skip it.  However, it does make a difference.  If you do skip it, you’re going to have to do the next steps a few more times.

rince the riceStep 2: Drain and Rinse the rice in a colander.
You’ll be surprised at how white the water is.  That’s the starch.

Soak and scrub

Step 3: Put the rice back in the bowl, fill up with water and scrub the rice around.
Scrubbing the rice around fills sort of like you’re exfoliating your hands.  I try not to think about this though, because that means my dead skin cells are in the rice.  Gross.

And now repeat…drain, rinse, put back in the bowl, fill with water..

Do this until the water is clear.

clear rice

Finally after four rounds of wash/rinse/repeat, the water was clear!

add water

Step 4: Put the rice in a regular-sized sauce pot.  Add water.
The general rule of thumb is to put your finger at the top of the rice and add water until the water reaches your first knuckle.  Now, if you’re super tall or super short and have proportionally large or small hands, adjust accordingly.  I’ve used this making 2 cups and 6 cups of rice and it always works, assuming you’re using a standard-sized pot.

boil
Step 5: Cookin’ Time
Bring to a boil.  Just as soon as it comes to a boil, throw on your lid and turn the burner to low.  Let it simmer for 15 minutes.

You now have 15 free minutes of productivity.  Or not.

Steam

Step 6: Steamin’ Time
After it’s cooked and you’ve paused Netflix finished being productive, remove the pot from the heat, but don’t remove the lid.  Let the rice steam for 10 minutes.

Vinegar

One of the reasons sushi rice is so good is that it’s seasoned with the greatest combination of rice vinegar, sugar and salt.  You can buy seasoned rice vinegar that contains the salt and sugar.  I buy unseasoned because I use the rice vinegar in other recipes too.

I enjoy the texture of sushi rice, so I use it in Thai dishes as well as traditional Japanese dishes.  During those times, I do not add the vinegar mixture.

Mix 1/3 cup vinegar, 3 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp of kosher salt.  Microwave it until the salt and sugar are incorporated, about 45 seconds.

Mix the vinegar solution with the rice.

Enjoy!

Sushi Rice Recipe
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups sushi rice
  2. water (3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups)
  3. 1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  4. 3 tbsp sugar
  5. 1 tsp kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Soak the rice for an hour. Drain, rinse, wash the rice. Put it back in a bowl and submerge it in water. Scrub between your fingers, drain, rinse, wash and submerge again. Do this until the water is clear.
  2. In a medium sauce pot, add rice and fill with water up to your first knuckle. Bring to a medium boil. Once boiling, immediately cover and reduce to a simmer. Let cook for 15 minutes and then remove from heat, keeping the lid on, for the rice to steam for another 10.
  3. Mix vinegar, sugar and salt together and microwave until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Mix in to rice and stir with a large spoon.
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/

Watermelon Feta Salad (Gluten-Free)

watermelon feta salad | Accidental Okie

I’ll admit it.  I’m not a good fruit eater year around.  The Professor eats one or two apples every day.  I hate apples.  I like oranges when they’re in season.  I like bananas…in dessert.  I love sweet grapes, but rarely buy them because they’re so expensive.

But when summer comes around, I gorge myself on fruit.  I eat peaches and apricots and black plums until I’m sick.  And watermelon.  I heart watermelon.  Especially bright red, scrumptious, flavorful watermelon.

Watermelon selection has always been iffy for me.  I’ve heard that there’s no real way to pick a watermelon.  (Life is like a watermelon…you never know what you’re gonna get).  The thumping method doesn’t do much and it’s not like you can smell it.  The two-inch thick rind prevents that.

Watermelon Selection Tips

Look for a melon that is:

  • Symmetrical
  • Bright green
  • Has a well-defined ground spot (the yellowish spot where it sat on the ground).  There shouldn’t be any other yellow on the melon besides the ground spot
  • Doesn’t have any bruises

Since following those guidelines, I’ve had much better luck with my watermelon selection. This is a good thing because a bad watermelon that costs $5 to $7 makes me grumpy.

My new favorite vehicle for ingesting watermelon this year is a salad.  Seriously, how did it take an appetizer at BJ’s Brewhouse to get me to think of this?  I should have thought of it years ago.

You should make this.  It might change your life.

First, use my watermelon tips to select a perfect piece of fruit.  Look at this!  I didn’t photoshop it.  It was this bright and juicy.  God bless summer.

Speaking of photoshop, I’d rather have my own sub-par photos than sterile stock photos stolen from the internet, so bear with me and my sucky photos.

Cut Watermelon

Quarter it and then run your knife between the rind and the fruit, being careful not to get any of the rind.  It tastes gross.  Also avoid the light pink part between the bright fruit and the rind.  It’s watermelon purgatory.

Chopped

This makes it easy to slice the fruit into cubes, which is fancier than my usual method of grabbing half a fruit, a big spoon and plunking the melon onto the middle of the table for people to help themselves.  Sometimes I’m fancy.

Lettuce

Slice some lettuce up.  I use hearts of romaine, but use whatever you want.  Spinach or baby greens would be nice.  I can eat neither.  My stomach is too damaged from 12 years of undiagnosed gluten intolerance and I throw up any lettuce except hearts of romaine.  They don’t call it roughage for nothing! (Sorry. TMI moment).

Onions

Thinly slice a bit of red onion or a shallot or a handful of the top green parts of green onions.  I’ve used all three, and they all do the job of providing a crunch and a bit of yummy, oniony spice.  I had leftover shallots from something else, so I used it here.  Whatever you use, just remember that a little goes a long way.  Don’t cut up too much.

mint

Chop some mint.  Once again, a little goes a long way.  This is mint from my garden.  It seems to be tougher than mint from the grocery store, so I chopped it up into little pieces.

dressing

Next make the honey vinaigrette salad dressing.

My inspiration for this salad is from BJ’s Brewhouse.  I always marveled at how light and fresh the salad is.  I got it to go once, and the dressing was on the side.  I always thought the dressing was light and mild, but when I tasted the dressing on its own, it was actually quite strong.  I tasted a lot more mustard and a lot less honey that I expected.  Those strong tastes – in extreme moderation – make this salad incredibly dynamic.

The dressing is just oil, honey, vinegar, mustard powder (or dijon), salt and pepper.  If you are like me and have a BFF who gave you this super fancy salad dressing maker because she knows you are semi completely obsessed with making your own salad dressings (thanks Sarah Faye!), mix it in that.  Otherwise, any old container with a lid or bowl and a whisk will do.

Give it a taste for saltiness and sweetness.  Adjust if needed.

cheese

Sprinkle on some feta.

This salad is all about the mixing of sweet, tart and spicy elements.  The fruit is sweet, the dressing is tart, the feta is really tart and the onions and mint are spicy in their own delectable ways.  I got cheese happy and the feta’s tartness overpowered the salad a bit. Use restraint, which I know is hard when it comes to cheese.

Tip, if you find feta is too sharp for you, buy cheap feta made from cow’s milk instead of goat’s milk.  That’s what I do.  It’s quite a bit tamer.  And cheaper!

Sprinkle on A VERY SMALL AMOUNT of dressing (once again, a little goes a long way) and voila!

Watermelon Feta Salad with Honey Vinaigrette Recipe
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Salad
  1. 1 Head of Romaine Lettuce, chopped
  2. 1/4 of a seedless watermelon, cubed
  3. 1/4 of a small red onion or one shallot or a few sliced green onions, sliced thin
  4. Sprinkle of Feta
  5. A few mint leaves, stemmed and chopped
Dressing
  1. 1/4 cup olive oil (you could use 1/8 olive oil and 1/8 vegetable or grapeseed oil to cut the tartness)
  2. 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
  3. 1-2 tbsp honey - start with 1
  4. 1/2 tsp of dry mustard powder (I haven't tried it yet, but you could also just use a squirt of dijon)
  5. Salt and fresh-ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Add all the dressing ingredients except the oil. Give it a shake or a stir. Add the oil and stir once more.
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