Today the kids were screaming for lunch and I was trying to figure out what to serve them. Out of jelly, no smashable fruit on hand, so PB&J is a no-go. Last time I scrambled eggs for lunch, the twins decided the yellow blobs looked nice on the carpet. No lunch meat on hand. They had cereal for breakfast (otherwise, I’m not above serving cereal for lunch. Or dinner, for that matter). Lately french toast means syrup and I didn’t want to fight that sticky mess. Starving seemed like a poor choice too. Department of Human Services tends to frown on that. So… brown rice to the rescue!
You may have seen a post here from a few weeks ago on how to easily stock your freezer with perfectly cooked brown rice (if not, click here and you will!). Oh… and disregard the whole Sa-tip-urday thing. Clearly that’s not happening… at least not every Saturday. Not really sure what I was thinking with that. And on Saturdays? Yah… that was clearly the brain child of sleep deprivation. Anywhoo… the next obvious question is what do with all that brown rice? Let’s face it. Plain brown rice just isn’t good eats (Alton Brown fans unite!). Here are some quick fix ideas that my hubby & kids (generally) love.
Thai Peanut Special (kinda lame name, but what’s in a name? A rose by any other name and all that…)
(recipe from a Smucker’s all natural peanut butter* lid)
1/3 cup peanut butter (I’ve always done it with creamy, but I bet crunchy would work well too)
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce (we use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos since it’s gluten-free)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
Whatever toss ons you want
Throw it all in a sauce pan and heat till combined and slightly thickened. The original directions say to make this in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds or so, but I find the stove MUCH easier. This makes about 2/3 of a cup sauce and I’d guess about 1 tablespoon is a serving. A little goes a long way.
Toss on whatever you want. Leftover meat, cubed tofu, stir fry veggies (one of our favorites), chopped peanuts, chopped scallions… whatever.
This sauce goes really well on spaghetti noodles too. Or on some quinoa, cellophane noodles, ramen noodles… whatever. For a fast side dish that’s company worthy, toss in some diced red bell peppers & chopped scallions. Serve with skewered chicken and it’s close to chicken satay. You’ll look like a star with very little effort.
*I don’t like Smucker’s all natural. It’s not creamy, though the label claims otherwise. You have to stir it far more often than I like and the oil spills all out when you do. It is, however, much lower sugar than other all natural brands. If sugar is a concern, though, at least for this recipe, you can leave the added sugar out.
Quick as a flash spanish rice
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small onion, diced (I try to chop up an extra onion when I need it and stow one in the freezer)
1/2 bell pepper, diced (any color)
12 links or so breakfast sausage links, chopped (I use turkey sausage)
3 or so cups cooked brown rice
salt, pepper & maybe some garlic powder to taste
Chop & dice the necessary ingredients. Saute the onion & bell pepper together just until the onions are starting to caramelize. Toss it all together in an oven safe dish & heat through. I’m guessing you could just throw it all in a sauce pan instead of the oven and it would turn out fine, but I haven’t tried it.
This fills my 2.5 qt oval dish about half way. It’s 6 hearty servings.
The other day, Jeremy took some of this that was left over and made an omelet with it. He said it was wonderful.
(this one comes from my mother in law)
8 oz cheddar or pepper jack cheese, shredded
2 cups cooked brown rice
Heat it up till the cheese melts all in. My MIL usually serves this as a side dish, but if you toss in some broccoli and cooked chicken, it makes a nice lunch.
This is more of a tip than an actual recipe. Toss some cooked brown rice in a bowl and top it with whatever you like on your tacos. We usually toss on some black beans, shredded cheddar, salsa, sour cream & diced avocado. Seems like the avocado really makes it. This is such a kid-pleaser. They get to choose what goes on their taco bowl (unless their names are Isaiah or Isaac… that’s just asking for trouble)
~Toss some into soup to bulk it up
~Make poor man’s rice pudding: put rice in a bowl/ sauce pan/ whatever & cover with milk. Add sugar & cinnamon to taste. If you like raisins (which I most certainly do not… but that’s a rant for another post), toss them in too. Craisins, dates, chopped up dried apricots, etc. are good too. Chopped up almonds, pecans, etc. are also good additions. Toss in a beaten egg if you like. Heat it up & enjoy (if you put the egg in, make sure it’s cooked before you chow down). This makes a really yummy breakfast.
~Drizzle some teriyaki or sweet and sour or plum sauce or hoisin or your favorite chutney… you get the idea.
~Surprisingly good mixed into your favorite custard recipe before cooking
Really, there are about a million things you can do with cooked brown rice. Rice is a staple in many diets around the globe for good reason. Brown rice is amazingly dense nutrient-wise, high in fiber, versatile & cheap… a true wonder food and well-deserving of a frequent place in your diet. I’d recommend experimentation. If you make something awful… well, don’t eat it. Like I said, rice is pretty cheap. Figure out what you like best. And please… feel free to share your tips/ recipes in the comments.