The Virtues of Rice

Rice and it’s flexibility

Someone told me this week that rice is boring. I sat there shaking my head as I couldn’t believe anyone could think that. Rice is the most widely consumed staple food in the world. As a cereal grain it is the third highest worldwide production after sugar cane and corn.

You have so many varieties of rice from long grain, short grain, white and brown, you have basmati, your have jasmine, just to name a few. And then comes their preparations. You can have them plain. By changing the fluid that you use you change the flavour. Example chicken broth or tomato juice vs water. Then there are spices. Examples oregano, cayenne, Cajun spices, Thai based spices, and so on. You can steam it, your can make it in a pot, your can fry it once it’s cooked. You can sweeten it and make rice pudding. It is a good source of carbohydrate with some protein thrown in for good measure. It is something that is relatively economical and by adding things like black beans or cheap cuts of meat you can have a good economical nutritious meal. The options and possibilities are endless.

Yesterday I made a pork fried rice with vegetables and edamame beans. Recipe to come at a later date.

This is one staple you can have so much fun with and never fear trying new things with rice and make it your own.

Sneaky Apple Crumble

Sneaky Apple Crumble

Here is a sequel to the pantry

When I was going through the pantry I realized I had 3 boxes of nutri grain bars. All about to expire. When you are two people, eating 24 bars in a week seems a little excessive. I hate throwing out food. How to use them? This is what I came up with.

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Base

  • 4 strawberry nutri grain bars chopped into very small pieces

Apple mixture

  • 3 apples cored and sliced thinly
  • 6 tsp of brown sugar packed
  • 1 tsp of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp of salted butter
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp of baking soda

Topper

  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Prepare apple mixture. Mix well and set aside
  2. Preheat oven at 375 degrees
  3. Put base in a 9 by 6 baking dish
  4. Cover with apple mixture
  5. Cover with topper
  6. Place in oven for 40 minutes

Serve hot. You can add ice cream. We liked it plain.
Great way to use up excesses from the pantry. Have fun and make it your own.

Pork Tenderloin

Pork Tenderloin

One of the cheapest cuts of pork is the tenderloin. Easy to overcook, can be dry, but when cooked well, it can be so tasty, low calories, good source of protein. I was getting a little tired of my same 20 or so ways of preparing, so I turned to Auntie Sebreena for suggestions on a flavourful rub. She is Texan after all. Here is her rub and my suggestion on cooking.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven at 375
  2. Rub meat with oil
  3. Salt and pepper your meat
  4. Mix all spices together and rub onto the meat
  5. Place in oven uncovered for 30 minutes or until internal temperature of meat says 175
  6. Let sit for 5 minutes and cut

If you like it real spicy you could add more cayenne. This was the basic recipe for the rub. Make it your own.

Thank you Sebreena for your contribution to another great meal.

Jambalaya

This is very tasty, easy to make, customizable with your favourite proteins (I used chicken breast, shrimp and Italian sausage) and it’s full of bold, zesty, Cajun flavours that everyone will love. Best of all it makes a generous amount.

If you like it hot, you can add more jalapeños or more cayenne pepper or a different pepper. If your stomach can’t take the heat, then you can omit the spicy peppers.

To make this more economical – use any sausage – whatever is on sale, italian, breakfast, European sausage. The chicken, I used breasts but you can use thighs, or you can buy a boiler chicken, usually very cheap, and debone it for economical alternative, you can use tofu, ounce for ounce. Pork. For the shrimp you can sub with sturdy fish like cod. (you will need to add it sooner to cook properly, about half way through the cooking process of the rice) Whatever you have handy or can get that is on sale. 

Jambalaya definition comes from the Provençal word ‘jambalaia’, meaning a mish mash, or mixup, and also meaning a pilaf (pilau) of rice. So basically anything goes.

Ok, lets get to it.

Overview

Prep time 20-30 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces, approximately 8 ounces
  • 1 pound italian sausage spicy, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 3 bell peppers, cored and diced, I used red and green
  • 2 ribs celery diced (2 or 3 ribs)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 white onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 
  • 1-14 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste (optional)
  • 1 tsp of white sugar (to offset the acidity of the can of tomatoes)
  • 3 cups of chicken stock
  • 1-1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice or brown rice
  • 2 tbsp cajon seasoning or creole seasoning
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb of raw shrimp
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a stock pot over medium high heat. Add the chicken and sausage and sauté for 5-7 minutes stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the sausage is lightly browned. Transfer to a clean plate and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil to the stock pot. Add bell peppers, celery, jalapeño, onions and garlic. Saute for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, stock, rice, seasonings, thyme, cayenne, bay leaf, sugar, and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium-low cover and and simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until the rice is nearly cooked through, stirring every five minutes or so along the way so that the rice does not burn or stick.
  4. Add the shrimp and stir to combine. Continue to simmer stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through and pink. Stir in the chicken and sausage, and remove and discard the bay leaf.
  5. Season the jambalaya to taste with salt and pepper. Adding cajon seasoning if necessary. Remove from heat.
  6. Serve warm or refrigerate and store in a  sealed container for up to 3 days.

Remember that you can freeze this. Your rice will be mushier but to avoid that put in casserole dish and put in oven to take out some of the moisture when reheating or you can pan sear it.

Now you can customize this to your tastes and budget. It is a hearty meal that goes a long way.

If you have suggestions to more economical variations, please let me know. Like subbing one of the meats for black beans which are very high in protein.

Pantries

Ahh pantries. Don’t know about you but they always seem to have left over quantities of so many miscellaneous items and you keep piling it in.

I am fortunate enough to have three racks in my basement for excess food storage and my pantry unfortunately is usually a mess. It’s supposed to be for the day to day stuff. You know, like coffee, tea, cereals, sugar, flour, and such. Well today when I did the pantry, I had 19, count them 19 boxes of miscellaneous pasta boxes open in there. Arrrgh. And why would I have 19 boxes, well because the pantry is such a mess, I open a new one because I don’t have time to look at which ones I have open. So another is opened, partly used and the rest goes in the pantry.

I am fortunate enough to have three racks in my basement for excess food storage and my pantry unfortunately is usually a mess. It’s supposed to be for the day to day stuff. You know, like coffee, tea, cereals, sugar, flour, and such. Well today when I did the pantry, I had 19, count them 19 boxes of miscellaneous pasta boxes open in there. Arrrgh. And why would I have 19 boxes, well because the pantry is such a mess, I open a new one because I don’t have time to look at which ones I have open. So another is opened, partly used and the rest goes in the pantry.

Well being confined to the home due to the virus, I’ve made more meals than usual and I want to have access to what I want and need during prep time. So I took the time today and cleaned the pantry. Now I know what’s in there maybe I won’t be so tempted to open a new box of anything. Let’s use up what is in there before we have to throw it out. Surprise yourself with a meal that is made with your leftovers in the pantry.

Enjoy your pantry again!

Tips : Preparation

Something we often forget to do when cooking. Preparing all your utensils and ingredients before you start. If everything is ready and handy, you won’t stress yourself out by having to stop and look for your 1/2 teaspoon measure or your celery seeds at a critical moment making you lose your focus and feel stressed.

Prep

Cooking is supposed to be fun. Enjoy your time in the kitchen!