Sesame Chicken & Broccoli

Hello there– We’ve been traveling the last couple weeks–eating like we were on a vacation from reasonable food– such as mid morning coffee and pastry breaks every day!!  And tracking down fun places to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner!!

So it’s nice to get back to our own kitchen and have an “every day eating at home” kind of meal.  And this is a good one– ready in about 30 minutes, a little sweet, a little spicy.  So good to be at our own little table!

SESAME CHICKEN & BROCCOLI

1 cup white or brown rice
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut in small cube
2 tab. sesame oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
2 small heads broccoli, cut to bitesize pieces (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup water
t tab. soy sauce
3 tab. brown sugar
1  1/2 tab. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tab. Thai sweet chili sauce
1 tsp. sesame seeds

Cook the rice according to the directions on the package.

Cut the chicken in bite size pieces.  Heat the oil in a large pan.  Cook the chicken 4 or 5 minutes until it’s browned and cooked through, salt & pepper it liberally while it cooks.

While that’s cooking, cut up the broccoli and steam it in lightly salted water,  3 minutes in the microwave, until its tender but still crisp.

In  container with a tight fitting lid combine the water, soy sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch, ginger, garlic and chili sauce.  Shake the container until it is all blended and add it to the chicken on high heat, stirring until the sauce thickens, 2 or 3 minutes.

Drain the water from the broccoli and add it into the chicken in the pan.

On a platter, layer the rice and then the chicken and broccoli, scraping all that good sauce out of the pan over the chicken.  Sprinkle on the sesame seeds– ready to eat!

Cheddar Zucchini Rice

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Hey there– here’s a new favorite side dish, easy, fast, fresh and creamy delicious.  It is a good match for a whole list of main dishes.  I made it a couple weeks ago when my dear friend Jenon came for dinner– lime salmon, asparagus, sturdy bread, a bright salad and this yummy rice.  Add in easy conversation with an old friend and it makes a fine dinner…

CHEDDAR ZUCCHINI RICE
2 tab. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup rice
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
2 zucchini, grated to shreds
1 cup grated cheddar cheese*
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Stir in the garlic and cook 30 seconds over low heat.  Then stir in the rice, water and salt.  Bring up to a low simmer and cook 10 minutes until all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.

Stir the uncooked, grated zucchini and the cheddar into the hot rice. Taste and add salt and/or pepper if you want to season it a bit more.  Easy, beautiful and delish!

*I used Colby-jack cheese, any easy melting cheese will do.

Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions & Pine Nuts

IMG_2019Hello friends– I’m eating the leftovers of this savory dish right now as I type of this post!  When I saw this recipe on MM’s yummy blog, I knew Larry would like it.  So I made a big pan full for a late supper last night.  It’s one of those cozy, honest kinds of food that taste just right for  a quiet evening tucked in at home.

MM is an Australian mom, living now in Sweden.  I think you might really like her healthy eating blog– Miss Marzipan!

LENTILS AND RICE WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS & PINE NUTS
1 cup rice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup green lentils
1 red onion, chopped to bits (about 2 cups)
2 tab. olive oil
2 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted*
salt & freshly

Cook the rice according to the directions on your package. (I simmer it with 2 cups of water and 1/2 tsp. salt for 10 minutes)

Cook the lentils in 2 cups of water for 25 to 30 minutes, until they are tender.  Then drain off any extra water in a sieve.

While those two are cooking away, Heat the olive oil in a large pan and throw in the red onion.  Cook the onion bits 8 to 10 minutes until they are thoroughly soft and caramelized.
Then add in the cumin and and 1/4 cup water and stir to blend.  Turn off the heat.

When the lentils and rice are thoroughly cooked mix them into the onions in the large pan along with the cilantro and pine nuts.  Taste to see if you want to add a little salt & pepper.

Serve it up warm and hearty with a nice chunk of sturdy bread and a colorful salad.  Dinner!

Almond Plum & Chicken Stir Fry

IMG_0751Hi all– As a kid, I remember going out to my Grandma Rose’s backyard.  Her tiny house was on a big lot, planted with corn and sunflowers, rhubarb and a grape arbor,  and fruit trees, several fruit trees, including plums.  We’d go out and feed her chickens and pull from ripe fruit from the trees.  I wish I could do that with her again…

So in honor of luscious summer plums, here’s a plum-y chicken stir fry, that’s fast and fresh. No oven involved.  Good for summer cooking…

ALMOND PLUM & CHICKEN STIR FRY
2 large chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
1 1/2  cups rice
splash olive oil
2 purple plums, pitted & sliced
3 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup whole roasted almonds, cut in half
1 cup water
3 tab. soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tab. cornstarch
1 tsp. ground ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced

Cut the chicken breasts into nice polite chunks and brown them in a hot pan with olive oil. Meanwhile, put the rice on to cook, according to the directions on the package*

When the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pan.

In a container with a tight fitting lid, combine the water, soy sauce, cornstarch, ginger and garlic.  Shake it all well, until it’s thoroughly blended.

Pour the soy sauce mixture into the hot pan over medium heat and stir it with the drippings from the chicken for a minute or two until it thickens into a pretty sauce.

Then add back in the chicken, plums and 2/3 of the chopped green onions. Let it simmer a couple minutes to meld the flavors and soften the plums just a bit.  Then stir in the almonds.

When the rice is done cooking, spread it onto a large platter and top with the chicken and plum stir fry.  Top with the remaining green onions.  Fast and fresh– summer eating.

Broccoli Rice

IMG_8939Hi there– Rice is nice.  It’s one of those staples in the cupboard that seem to fit in most anywhere– Chinese stir fry, Mexican burritos, Spanish paella, most any chicken or pork dish…  So when I rushed through the market and grabbed an already roasted chicken for dinner this week, planning the meal on my 5 minute drive home, I knew I had a big bag of rice waiting in the cupboard.

This recipe couldn’t be simpler, but it makes your dinner with rice just a little more delicious.  (and may be one way to get kids to eat broccoli–It worked with 2 of our 3 grand-girls!)

BROCOLI RICE
1 smallish yellow onion, chopped fine
1 splash of olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup rice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 head of broccoli

that’s all.

Heat the olive oil in a pot.  Drop in the chopped onion and cook til it’s tender but not yet browned.  Add in the garlic and cook just a minute more.  Then stir in the rice, salt and 2 cups of water.  Let it simmer on low for 10 minutes and take it off the heat.

Meanwhile, chop just the broccoli flowerettes (throw away the stems– or save them for soup) into smallish bits  (makes about 2 1/2 cups) and put them in a microwave proof bowl with 1/2 cup of salted water.  Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, just until the broccoli is tender (not soggy!)

Stir the broccoli into the cooked rice and serve it hot.

Cilantro Lime Rice

IMG_2065Hey there–  Do you like to eat at “Chipotle” as much as I do?  We usually get dinner out somewhere on Friday nights.  It goes like this.  Larry picks three eating out possibilities and I narrow down to one of those.  If Chipotle is on the list, that’s usually where I want to sit and eat.  Love those veggie burritos!  And the rice.  I’ve been making this rice for a few years and it’s the closest thing to the that Chipotle cilantro rice.  We had it with the Orange Chipotle Chicken I posted yesterday.  Easy and the flavor is buenisimo!

CILANTRO LIME RICE
1 1/2 cups rice
3 cups water
splash of olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 cup cilantro
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 chipotle pepper, seeds removed and minced fine*
1 large lime, just the juice
1 tsp. olive oil

Cook the rice with the water, splash of olive oil and 1 tsp. salt according to the directions on the package.  While that’s cooking use a food processor or stick blender to pulverize the cilantro, onion, chipotle pepper, lime juice and 1 tsp. olive oil.  Then when the rice is cooked thoroughly stir the cilantro mixture into the rice.  Done!  That was easy.

*I’m always careful to remove ALL the seeds, since I’m a wimp about hot peppers.  If you like less heat, just use half a pepper.  Be sure to mince it to a pulp…

Spinach Cheddar Rice

IMG_0798Hello there–  I have a favorite old cookbook that I got for a wedding gift 38 years ago– The Pillsbury New Family Cookbook (not so new now!).  I’ve made dozens of recipe from that book and it looks like it’s been well used, held together with ugly brown electrical tape. I noticed this dish years ago, and always intended to make it.  So with a few tweaks, here’s good old Spinach Cheddar Rice.

SPINACH CHEDDAR RICE
1 cup rice
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup grated cheddar
1 cup spinach leaves, cut in shreds
1/3 tsp. garlic salt

Cook the rice in 2 cups of water with the salt, simmering on low for ten minutes.  Then beat the 2 eggs.  Stir in the milk, cheddar, spinach and garlic salt.  Finally mix in the rice and turn it all into a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes until it starts to brown around the edges.  Simple and good.

Honey Sesame Chicken

IMG_9926Hi friends–  Here’s yet another week night chicken dinner.  I guess you’d call it one of those staples, you pull out for quiet evenings at home– a little spice, a little sweetness and the homey combination of chicken and brown rice.

HONEY SESAME CHICKEN
1 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
1/2 onion, chopped fine
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut to nice bits
2 tab. olive oil
garlic salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup tomato paste**
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tab. olive oil
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes*
1/3 cup water
1 tab. cornstarch
1 tab. sesame seeds
3 green onions, green parts, chopped

IMG_9937Cook the rice according to the package directions.  While that’s going, brown the onion in olive oil and then add in the cut chicken and cook it stirring now and then until it’s cooked through– about 8 to 10 minutes.  Salt it with garlic salt while it’s cooking.  In a container with a tight fitting lid, put the garlic, honey, tomato paste, soy sauce, 2 tab. olive oil, red pepper flakes, water and cornstarch.  Shake it until it’s well blended and then spoon it over the chicken.  Cook on high heat stirring until it thickens– just a couple minutes.

To serve it up, spread the rice on a pretty platter and then spoon the honey chicken over the top.  Garnish with the green onion and sesame seeds.  I think you’ll like it.  We did.

*1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes is mildly spicy, if you’re a spice wimp (I would fall in that camp), you could start with less and work your way up to even more spicy.
** If you don’t have tomato paste on hand, the recipe I worked from called for ketchup.  That would work well too.

Bacon Mushroom Spinach Risotto


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Hi all– I’ve steered clear of risotto recipes, after reading about all the serious stirring and tending to the simmering rice.  It all seemed a little bit tedious.  But last week I finally broke down and gave it a try, in a lazy sort of way.  I did stir, but only between dashes to set the table make a salad, answer the phone…  And I think it came out just fine in spite of  my lack of careful, uninterrupted attention.   Gosh, how could rice, spinach, bacon and parmesan all cooked up together not taste good!

BACON MUSHROOM SPINACH RISOTTO
2 tab. olive oil
6 oz. mushrooms, cut in tidy bits
3 slices bacon, chopped to small chunks
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
3/4 cup uncooked Carnaroli or Arborio rice*
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup parmesan reggiano
2 cups spinach leaves, cut to slivers
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in the pan,  Brush the mushrooms clean, cut them up and drop them into the hot oil.  Cook them just about 1 minutes until they brown and soften a bit and remove them from the pan.  Wipe out the pan and put in the bacon.  Cook it unitl it’s well browned and take it out and add it to the mushrooms.  Then in the remaining bacon fat,  Cook the onions until they are soft. Next stir the rice into the pan until it is golden.  Add the garlic and thyme leaves.  Stir in the white wine and simmer, stirring now and then until it is absorbed.  Add the chicken broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring it every few minutes until it is all absorbed (about 20 minutes total).  Then stir in the spinach and cook 3 or 4 minutes more Remove the pan from the hear and mix in the parmesan. bacon and mushrooms.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon it into shallow bowls and garnish with a twig of thyme.  Enjoy!

*I’d never heard of carnaroli rice– but at my grocer’s the Arborio was expensive (!) and they had a store brand bag of carnaroli.  It was cute and nubby, so I gave it a try.  It was just fine.

Ginger Pork and Chinese Eggplant

IMG_8583Hi there-  We’re tucked in for the night.  Larry is making a fire and I’m waiting for the rice to finish cooking so we can sit down to dinner.  This is bowl is chock full of  flavor– soy sauce salty, Sriracha spicy, charred onion savory and a tiny bit sweet.  And cilantro–  my favorite to top it off.  Hope you like it…

GINGER PORK AND CHINESE EGGPLANT
1 cup rice (brown or white)
1 pound pork, chopped to small chunks
1/2 onion, chopped fine
2 tab. olive oil
2 Chinese eggplants, cut into disks
4 tab. olive oil
a couple shakes of garlic salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tab. soy sauce
1 tab. rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. Sriracha chili sauce**
1 tab. brown sugar
1 tab. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. minced ginger
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

IMG_8578Cook the rice according the package directions.  Heat 2 tab. of oil in an ample pan and drop in the pork, cut in smallish chunks and the chopped onion.  Cook 8 to 10 minutes until the onion begins to char and the pork is browned around the edges.  Remove it from the pan.  Heat up the remaining oil and saute the eggplant until it is just starting to brown.  I sprinkled it with a bit of garlic salt and added a splash more oil as it cooked.  Take it from the pan.

To make the sauce combine the garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch, ginger and water in a closed container. Shake it to thoroughly mix it up and pour it into the hot pan.  Stir until it thickens, just a couple minutes.  Then add the pork, eggplant and the cilantro to the pan and warm it in the sauce.  Layer it on a platter over the rice you’re done!

*I just got little pork cutlets on sale and cut them up.
**The recipe I worked from called for 1 to 2 tablespoons (!) chili sauce, but the 1/2 tsp. was spicy enough for us.  You can add more to your heart’s content.

Green Chili Chicken and Rice

Hi you all–  Hmmmm… I guess this is a pretty mundane name for this new recipe.  Mexican chicken casserole crossed my mind.  But really, do you think anyone in Mexico ever made this dish?  I wanted to be more descriptive– something like “Cheesy, chicken and cilantro with black beans, corn and chills, rice casserole!”  But no.  Honestly, if you can think of a snappier name, let me know.  I’m working on it…

But it actually does taste pretty delicious– has lots of ingredients at the top of my yumm list–so honey and comfortable.   So here it is:

GREEN CHILI CHICKEN AND RICE
2 boneless chicken breasts*
1 1/2 cups brown rice
3/4 tsp. salt
1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 cup sour cream**
1 small can chopped green chilis
1 /2 cup salsa***
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar****
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

Put the rice on to cook with 3 cups of water and the salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer on the lowest heat you can muster for 20-25 minutes until tender.  Meanwhile cook and cut up to bits the chicken.  Then throw together the chicken, rice, corn, beans, sour cream, chills, salsa, 1 cup cheese and most of the cilantro (reserve a bit to sprinkle on top when this comes out of the oven).  Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar and pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  When it comes out, sprinkle on a handful of the remaining cilantro and voila!

Now I have a too long list of ingredient footnotes:
*I just had a couple cups of leftover roasted chicken I took off the bone and cut up.  You could buy precooked chicken to make the process faster (and the original recipe called for “instant rice”–faster as well).
**We use nonfat sour cream and it works just fine.  I know. Real sour cream is just creamier, but we like nonfat for most everything.  But don’t give menon fat cheese, please.
***Your favorite salsa– I used La Victoria mild green salsa.
****I love colby jack cheese– nice orange cheddar for color, but with the jack it seems to melt so well.

Nice Rice

Hello all–   I had a couple pork loin chops for dinner tonight, but no plan for what to serve alongside them.  So I poked around in the fridge and found the end of some cilantro, a couple green onions and a red pepper– good enough for a lovely little bowl of rice.  It turned out just fine–

NICE RICE
1 cup white (or brown) rice
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups water
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup red pepper, chopped finely

Cook the rice with the salt and water– just ten minutes after it starts to simmer (but 15 to 20 minutes longer for brown rice).  When you’re ready to serve it, stir in the cilantro, green onions and red pepper and then turn it out into a pretty bowl to set on the table.  Isn’t that easy?  and nice.

Plum and Pork Stir Fry


Hey there–  I’m looking forward to some real Chinese food next week.  Larry and I are traveling to see our kids in Shanghai.  Our daughter-in-law Jodi is magic with her wok.  But in the meantime we enjoyed this simple stir fry to practice our chopstick skills!  Sweet, tart plums play well against the savory pork.  Hope you try it…

PLUM AND PORK STIR FRY
4 boneless pork cutlets
2 tab. olive oil
2 ripe plums, cut into small slices
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup water
2 tab. soy sauce
3 tab. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ginger (chopped or powdered)
1 tab. cornstarch
1 1/2 cup brown rice (or white*)
3/4 tsp. salt

Put the brown rice, salt and 3 cups water into a pan with the lid on.  Simmer on low for 25 to 30 minutes until the rice is soft.  Meanwhile cut the pork into small chunks.  Then brown it with the oil in a hot non stick pan.  When the meat is browned and cooked through, drop in the peppers and cook 2 minutes while you stir.  Finally add in the plums.

Sauce:
In a container with a tight lid shake the 1/2 cup water, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and cornstarch until it is all thoroughly combined.  Stir it into the hot pan of meat and plums until it thickens and makes a lovely brown sauce.

Spread the rice on a platter and pour the pork & plum mixture over the top.  Pass out the chopsticks and dig in!

*White rice only needs to simmer 10 minutes.

Chicken, Eggplant and Zucchini Stirfry

Hi all–  Here’s a weeknight dinner, simple, homey and filling.  Ready 30 minutes and it make a platter full, so we had some little boxes of leftovers to tuck in the fridge for work all week.  You know, one of those practical, make it often kind of recipes.

CHICKEN, EGGPLANT AND ZUCCHINI STIRFRY
1 boneless chicken breast, but in small chunks
2 tab. olive oil
1 chinese eggplant, cut in chunks
2 smallish zucchini, cut in chunks
1/2 red bell pepper, cut in strips
garlic salt
1/2 cup water
2 tab. soy sauce
3 tab. brown sugar
1 tab. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup white or brown rice.

Put the rice on to cook while you’re making the stir fry.

In a heavy skillet, or your wok, if you are so lucky to have one, cook the chicken thoroughly in the hot olive oil.  Remove it from the pan.  Then throw in the eggplant and zucchini and cook on high heat til browned around the edges.  You may have to add a bit more olive oil.  Right at the end toss in the red peppers so they cook just for a minute of two–but keep their bright color.  Give the whole pan  few shakes of garlic salt to season. Take the veggies out of the pan.  Meanwhile shake up the water, soy sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch, ginger and garlic in a sealed container until thoroughly blended.  Stir this mixture into the drippings left in the pan and keep stirring until it thickens into a beautiful brown sauce.  Add the chicken, eggplant, zucchini and peppers back into the sauce and stir gently to rewarm it all.  Spoon it out onto a platter of hot rice and grab your chopsticks.  Enjoy!

Ani’s Mexican Rice

Hello to you all–  I’ve been trying keeping my eyes open for the best Mexican rice recipe for a long time.  So when Ani came up with this version, it quickly became my go-to side dish for enchiladas, burritos, tacos…  It’s a good one.

ANI’S MEXICAN RICE
1 cup rice
2 cups chicken broth*
1 tab. olive oil
1 small onion, diced fine
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tab. lime juice
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped fine
1 tsp. cumin
salt to taste

Cook the rice in the chicken broth, simmering for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and leave on the lid to keep it warm.  Meanwhile in a skillet brown the onions and garlic in the oil, Add the tomato paste and cumin.  Dump this all on top the rice and stir it up until it’s thoroughly blended.  Then stir in the cilantro, lime and taste to see if it needs a little salt.
Que aproveche!

*I bought the standard 14 oz. can of chicken broth and just added a bit of water to make 2 cups.  You can make it more colorful it by adding finely diced red & green pepper when you stir in the cilantro.  And it’s great to make it ahead and just warm a bit in the microwave when everything else is ready.