**Full disclosure, I stole this picture from the internet. I was not, however, paid to write this, nor was I given any incentive from Cuisinart, I just like my rice cooker.**
Contrary to what my most recent blog posts suggest, I generally cook easy, healthy, whole foods for us during the week. I’ve been trying really hard to include more green vegetables than starch/carbohydrates, but it’s really hard when your husband’s favorite “vegetables” are peas and corn (aka not vegetables!). Another thing I try to do, since we both work full-time and have a lengthy commute, is to make meals that can feed us for multiple nights in a row, or be re purposed to make something new. Our Cuisinart Rice Cooker/Steamer has been instrumental in helping me do that. It was a wedding gift from our very good friends who have (or had, at the time) the same one! When you’re making dinner, it is very easy to start the rice cooking, and then continue making the rest of your meal. You don’t have to babysit it, and it automatically switches from “cook” to “warm” when the rice done cooking. This rice cooker also comes with a steaming basket that can be used to steam your veggies while cooking the rice, in one convenient appliance! I think that it makes perfect white rice, not over cooked, but still soft all the way through. Unfortunately, I have not perfected making brown rice in my rice cooker, though I’ve been told that it can be done. I’ve tried increasing the amount of liquid, but it still came out a little too “al dente” for my taste. Since I haven’t had much success, and I’m not sure of the method, I recommend this rice cooker only for those who cook white rice, instead of brown.
Most nights, when I make rice, I make rice for “two” (even though it makes four servings) as follows:
- Sauté a quarter of an onion (diced) in one tablespoon of olive oil.
- Once the onion is softened, add one cup of raw rice (my favorite is basmati) to the pan and toast a for a bit.
- Pour the raw rice and onion mixture into rice cooker, and add one 14.5 oz can of chicken broth.
- Turn the rice cooker to “cook.” And, presto!
When I make rice, I try to limit myself 1/3 cup serving, along with a few ounces of cooked chicken breast (most nights, we stop at our neighborhood grocery store and get a baked chicken breast, so easy!), and fill the rest of my plate with roasted or steamed vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, you name it!). A couple of years ago, I came across this recipe for an easy and delicious (if not totally “authentic”) peanut sauce. Sadly, I can’t remember what magazine it was in (Eating Well? Balance? I’m not sure.) It’s savory, it’s sweet, it’s spicy, and it jazzes up an otherwise bland meal of chicken, rice, and veggies.
Makes 6 “Servings” (Again, I use “servings” loosely, because one recipe will usually feed P and me for two or three nights, but he uses a lot more than I do…)
- 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth (I usually pull 1/2 cup out of the can that I’m using for my rice, and replace it with 1/2 cup of water in my rice. You could use low sodium if you’re trying to watch that.)
- 1 clove garlic, minced (or, 1 tsp of pre-minced jarred garlic, another weeknight staple)
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned peanut butter (like Addams, though I have been know to use Jif…)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 t red chile flakes (more or less, depending on how spicy you like your peanut sauce. I usually eyeball it.)
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce (Could also use low sodium.)
- Place all the ingredients in a small sauce pan, and stir to combine.
- Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
What is your favorite, easy to prepare, weeknight meal?