Tag Archives: brown rice

Crispy Brown Rice Skillet Cookies

We went to a minor league baseball game the other night and it was apparently “Christmas in July” night.  The ushers were dressed as elves, Santa was there, and they had the big, inflatable snow globes running.  My kids were a bit confused when I told them that Christmas in July is just something that people … do.  I have no idea why.  I remember being a kid on a camping trip and everyone had their campsites decorated for Christmas.  I was probably just as confused as my kids were.

When you become a parent you know that, eventually, you are going to have to explain sex and death and astronomy.  But who the hell ever prepares to answer why we celebrate Christmas in July?  Well kids, maybe it’s because we are past the halfway point of the year — meaning that Christmas shopping needs to start?  Or maybe because we are so hot and are thinking about Christmas to cool off?  Or maybe because the stupid little Christmas shops in beach towns need a cash infusion?  The possibilities are endless and I really don’t want to spend any more intellectual bandwidth thinking about it.

But then I realized I made a Christmas cookie recipe the other day (*before* the game).  Why did I do it?  Was I subconsciously celebrating Christmas in July?  Maybe this stupid tradition is hardwired into people as they get older.  Maybe we realize that once you get to the 4th of July that it might as well be Christmas … Maybe Christmas in July is a deep, existential expression of the speed of *life* and our own mortality?

Or maybe I was just really hungry for these cookies.

Crispy Brown Rice Skillet Cookies

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup sugar (you can use up to 1 cup, but I find that to be way too sweet)
1 cup chopped dates
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups crisp brown rice cereal (or regular Rice Krispies)
Powdered sugar

1.  In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.  Add sugar and dates and cook for 4-6 minutes until bubbly and mixture is darkening and become caramelized.  Remove from heat.

2.  Take a few tablespoons of the butter/sugar/date mixture and stir into beaten egg in order to temper it (so it won’t scramble when you add it in).  Whisk egg mixture back into date mixture and and stir well to combine.  Put back on the heat and cook 1 or 2 minutes more until bubbly.

3.  Stir in vanilla extract and rice cereal with a wooden spoon.  Make sure cereal is completely incorporated into date mixture (sort of like rice krispy treats at this point).  Let cool a few minutes.

4.  Take a spoonful of the mixture and drop it into powdered sugar (this will help it to cool quickly and not be too sticky).  Using your hands, roll into a ball and cover in additional powdered sugar, if desired.  Repeat with remaining mixture. (You can also spread these into a baking dish and cut into bars to make it easier.)  Store in the refrigerator.

 

Black Beans and Rice

Here we are with meal number 4 from the Cuizoo Arsenal, where I attempt to give you 7 meals that are quick, cheap, easy, and nutritious.  This is one of those basic meals that has sustained entire civilizations for hundreds or thousands of years.  Just don’t ask my daughter to eat it.  She continues on with her absolute hatred of beans.  And yet, it is one of our staple meals.  You may (or may not) ask how we pull that off.  My best explanation is that I just keep cooking it.  We generally have some variation of beans once every week and she cries every time she finds out.

It’s not that I don’t care.  It’s just that I know there will be a day when she decides that beans are OK.  It has happened with mayonnaise, melted cheese, cow’s milk, rice, mustard, whipped cream, and others.  And maybe they won’t be her favorite, but she will learn to tolerate them.  So I just keep cooking them and try to ignore the fact that her bean-loving brother is now attempting to emulate his sister by saying “ewww…” every time I cook something from the legume family.  Don’t tell Social Services, but I’m pretty sure they are not going hungry and if they refuse to eat one meal, I’m confident they’ll make up for it purely through Cheddar Bunnies the following day.

So, Beans and Rice.  You basically want to think about this like a *very* thick bean soup.  And this means you can use any type of beans or lentils cooked in water or stock with aromatics and serve them over brown rice to make a complete and healthy meal.   I find the texture to be much better if you use dried and soaked/cooked beans, but trust me I’ve done it with canned beans many, many times.  My only request on canned beans is that you select a brand that doesn’t use BPA-lined cans.  We use Eden Organic.

Meat is optional here.  Obviously beans are great with a bit of pork in them.  This usually means some sausage, a ham hock, or bacon.  But this is entirely optional.  In the absence of pork, I find that a lot of Smoked Paprika adds great depth of flavor and the smokiness that the meat usually imparts.  So, add some meat if you have it or want to use it up.

Otherwise, just add lots of onions, garlic, peppers, and spices. The key flavorings in my opinion are:  Cumin, Smoked Paprika, Chipotle Powder, Garlic, Salt, and Fresh Cilantro.  This is another meal where you can provide some flexibility based on toppings.  I like to serve chopped avocado, toasted and chopped pumpkin seeds, finely diced onion, chopped cilantro, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, shredded cheese, and/or hot sauce.

But if you go in a non Tex-Mex direction, beans are equally good with some Garlic, Sage, and Thyme.  I particularly like white beans with those flavorings served with some crusty bread or pasta instead of rice. (White Beans, Sausage, Tomatoes, Olive Oil, and Italian spices are another favorite).  Or if you go the lentil route, you can play up Indian spices with Curry and Garam Masala served over Basmati Rice with a dollop of yogurt and some chopped pumpkin seeds or pistachios.  Beans will essentially take on any flavor you decide to throw at them, so be creative and take advantage of this cheap and easy protein.

Black Beans and Rice

Serves 6 with leftovers

16 ounces dried black beans (or about 3 or 4 cans)
1 large onion
2 red peppers
4 cloves garlic
2 t salt
1 t cumin
1 1/2 t smoked paprika
1/8 t chipotle powder
2 T tequila
Olive Oil
Zest and juice of one lime
Additional salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice

Optional Toppings:
Chopped onion
Toasted and chopped pumpkin seeds
Sour Cream
Cilantro
Avocado
Hot Sauce
Shredded Cheese

1.  If using dried beans, rinse and put them in a pot.  Cover with plenty of cold water and bring to the boil.  Boil for 2 minutes and remove from heat.  Cover and let soak for about 2 hours.  (If using canned beans, ignore this step. Also, you can just soak dried beans overnight if you like and skip the boiling step.)

2.  In a large stock pot, heat a bit of olive oil over medium heat.  As oil is heating, chop onion, peppers, and garlic.  Add to hot oil and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Season with 2 t salt, freshly ground pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, and chipotle powder.  Cook spices and aromatics for an additional minute.  Deglaze with tequila, scraping up any browned bits.

3.  Drain the beans from their soaking liquid (or canned liquid).  Add to pot with aromatics and spices and fill with water, just to cover the beans.  (Alternatively, if you are using canned beans, just add them to aromatics and cook for 15-30 minutes total with only about 2 cups of water or stock.) Cover and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about an hour.

4.  Meanwhile, according to package directions for rice, bring water to the boil and cook rice.  (Most brown rices take at least 45-50 minutes to cook.  If you are using white rice, it will only take about 20 minutes.)

5.  Remove the lid from the beans and let simmer for 15-30 additional minutes (after the first hour of cooking), until much of the liquid has evaporated and beans are tender.  (15 minutes should be fine with the canned beans.)  Meanwhile, prepare optional toppings and zest.  Using a zester or peeler, remove the zest from one lime and chop it finely.  When beans are nicely tender, add the chopped zest and the juice of one lime, additional salt and pepper to taste, and additional cumin, smoked paprika, or chipotle to taste.

6.  Fluff rice and serve the meal by putting some rice on a plate and topping with black beans.  Put toppings on the table and allow guests (or ungrateful children) to choose what they want.

Crispy Split Pea Burgers

So I’ve been trying to do some extra clean living lately.  I think the overindulgence of the holidays pushed me over the edge.  On top of eliminating gluten/wheat, I’ve stopped drinking wine, and have been trying to go without alcohol at all.  Crazy talk, you say?  Probably so.  But something has been crying uncle (crazy uncle, perhaps?) and I’m trying to figure out what the hell it is.

Unfortunately, the thing that has made me feel the best is giving up wine.  So that sucks.

Fortunately, I have very little sticktoitiveness so it probably won’t last long.

The biggest hassle with giving up wheat is the inability to cook a quick pasta dinner — which is generally a favorite with the kids and can be a good and easy meatless dinner option.   I know there are gluten-free pasta varieties, but I haven’t found one that’s decent (any recommendations?) and I can’t tolerate sitting around the dinner table WITHOUT A GLASS OF WINE when everyone starts complaining about how much they hate the fake pasta.  I have limits, you know.

So, I was digging deep into my brain (trust me, you don’t want to go there) and deep into the pantry (it’s not too pretty, either) to figure out a meatless dinner last night and came up with these crispy burgers made from split peas.  They are sort of a cross between a veggie burger and a falafel, but the kids devoured them and came back for more.   The boy even wanted the leftovers for lunch.  We served them bunless with some homemade Russian dressing and beautiful salad greens from the solar powered greenhouse at  Village Acres Farm.   I think they would also be great made into smaller fritters for a delicious appetizer.

They are filled with all the best things — split peas (which are full or protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals), brown rice, butternut squash, garlic, onions, and some shredded cheese right inside the burger.  Give them a try and don’t be scared off by the deep frying.  You don’t need any special equipment.  And for the fat phobics, just make sure your oil is at the right temperature and very little will be absorbed into your food.  (I should add that if you are willing to use a non-stick pan, you could probably just pan fry these in much less oil — but I’d rather deep fry than use non-stick.) The other great thing about these is that the filling can be made up way ahead of time and you can fry them whenever you are ready.  Plus they make great leftovers (cold or warmed up).    Feel free to modify the spices and experiment with different sauces — I am definitely going to try a spicy curry variety with raita.

Crispy Split Pea Burgers

Makes about 10 burgers

1 cup of chopped onion (from about 1/2 of a large onion)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup of butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (from 1/2 of a small squash)
1 T olive oil
1 t salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 t smoked paprika
1 t ground cumin
1 cup of dried green split peas (yellow would probably be fine, and lentils might work too)
1/2 cup of brown rice
3 cups of vegetable broth (other broths would work too)
1 cup of cheddar cheese (packed), grated
2 T cornstarch (plus about 1 cup more for breading)
Canola oil (for frying)

1.  Heat olive oil in a large saute pan.  Cook onion and garlic over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes until just softened.  Add in butternut squash cubes, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and cumin.  Cook for 2-3 minutes more.

2.  Add in split peas, brown rice, and broth.  Stir well to loosen any carmelized bits in the pan and cover.  Cook for one hour or until peas and rice are soft and nicely cooked.  Give it a stir every once in a while so it doesn’t stick.   Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

3.  Put pea mixture into the food processor (or use a masher if all else fails) and process for 5-10 seconds.  If your mixture is still warm, make sure you leave the feed tube open so steam can escape.  You don’t want a total puree — it’s best if it’s still a little chunky.  But make sure the peas are blended well.  Taste for seasoning and add more if necessary.   Transfer to a bowl and chill for 30-60 minutes (the more the better).

4.  When ready to cook, stir 2 T of cornstarch and grated cheese into pea mixture.  Stir well to incorporate evenly.  In a deep saute pan, heat about 1/2 inch of canola oil to 375 degrees F.

5.  Place about 1/2 cup of additional cornstarch on a plate.  Shape pea mixture into small patties and dredge in cornstarch.  Pat gently to remove any excess.  Gently place into hot oil and fry about 2-3 minutes until golden.  (I found they held together much better when formed into smaller patties and I cooked about 3 at a time.  While they cook, use a metal spatula to loosen them from the bottom of the pan if they stick.)

6.  Carefully flip them over (away from you so you don’t splatter hot oil on yourself) and cook for 2-3 additional minutes until golden brown on second side.  Drain on paper towels and keep warm in the oven while the remainder cook.

Agave-Sweetened Chocolate Cream Pie

So I have been entertaining like a madwoman lately.  It seems that once spring hits, the pace of life quickens even beyond its normal speed.  Family comes back north, end of the year activities are rolling, and we all climb out of winter’s woodwork and feel more free to invite friends over on a whim.  It makes for a lot of fun nights (and some not so fun mornings), but I will say that my brain starts to lose a bit of focus when I am planning so much stuff (actually, that might also have to do with those not so fun mornings).

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Case in point:  I had planned to make a chocolate cream pie for dessert the other night and forgot to buy chocolate wafers for the crust.   I am not sure how I missed it, but I am thinking it occurred between the time my two year old dropped his bagel and I realized I had forgotten to buy lemons and limes.  (Note to self:  when you realize you have forgotten one thing on your list, that might be a good time to actually check for other things you have forgotten, rather than just staring at the words brainlessly.)

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So, I get home and realize I have no chocolate wafers.  Oh well.  Not that big of a deal, I’ll just make a graham cracker crust.  I reach for the box of graham crackers and instantly knew that there was not one graham cracker in that box.  Yep, just a shell and an empty wrapper.  (Thanks kids.)  So, on to Plan C — which I was coming to realize would have to involve something a little wacky.  After passing over the stale Wheat Chex leftover from making party mix, I settled on Brown Rice Krispies.   I did a little searching and realized that rice krispie crusts have been done before, so I figured it was worth a shot.

I made a wonderful chocolate filling sweetened with agave nectar and flavored at the end with a bit of brandy.  And I crunched up some of that brown rice cereal, made a pretty standard crust, and then sealed it with some melted chocolate because I wasn’t sure if it would get soggy under the chocolate filling.  All in all, I would say it was a successful experiment.  We had eight people at the dinner table and there was only one tiny piece left over.  Actually, there were two pieces, but I ate one piece for lunch the next day.  Don’t tell anyone.

So, here you go.  A somewhat healthier version of chocolate cream pie — mostly agave sweetened, 2% milk (which made me feel better when I topped it with whipped cream), and a brown rice crust.  Seriously, I meant to do it this way.

(I should add that if you wanted to make a version with no sugar at all, you could use unsweetened chocolate and just up the agave a bit.)

Agave-Sweetened Chocolate Cream Pie

Serves 8

Crust:
4 cups of Crispy Brown Rice Cereal (available in our natural foods section)
1/2 cup of butter (one stick), melted
1/3 cup of sugar (could also use agave or honey if you like)
3 oz. of bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted

Filling:
1/2 cup of agave nectar
1/4 cup of cornstarch
1/2 t salt
4 egg yolks
3 cups of milk (I used 2% and it was great)
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 T butter
1-2 T brandy (could skip it and just use some vanilla extract if you like)
1 cup of heavy whipping cream (and sugar/sweetener to taste)
Extra chocolate for chocolate shavings (if you like)

1.  In a medium saucepan, whisk together the agave nectar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks until there are no little lumps remaining.  Add in the 3 cups of milk and whisk well to combine.  Turn on heat to medium low and bring to boil, whisking very frequently.  When it comes to the boil, let it simmer for about one minute as it gets very thick.  Whisk constantly at this point so it doesn’t curdle.  Remove from heat.

2.  Stir in 6 oz. of chopped chocolate, 2 T butter, and 1-2 T brandy.  Whisk every few minutes until chocolate and butter are completely melted and the mixture is smooth.  Strain the filling into a bowl through a fine sieve to remove any lumps.  (If yours is perfectly lump-free, or if you enjoy lumps, skip this step.)  Place a sheet of parchment or plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the filling so a skin doesn’t form.  Chill for about an hour.

3.  Make crust by first crushing or processing the rice cereal into crumbs.  I thought it would be good to leave them more whole for the crunch, so I only smashed them up a bit.  Mix rice crumbs with melted butter and sugar and press into a deep dish pie pan or springform pan.  Freeze for 15 minutes.

4.  Drizzle melted chocolate (3 oz.) over the chilled crust and spread it around the best you can using a pastry brush.  If the crust is not cold enough, the crumbs will mix with the chocolate.  But you should be able to spread it pretty evenly and up the sides of the crust.  Place back in freezer for another 10-15 minutes (or even until filling is cool.)

5.  Whip one cup of cream until stiff peaks form.

6.  When filling is cooled, pour into crust and spread evenly.  Top with dollops of whipped cream (or pipe using a pastry bag and decorating tips) and sprinkle chocolate shavings all over the top.

7.  Refrigerate the pie for at least four hours before serving.  (Not sure if I would do it a full day ahead, though, because the crust might get soggy.  Try it out and let me know.)

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Fried Brown Rice with Edamame (With Bonus Leftover Idea)

I have been making fried rice for years.  I have analyzed the techniques of the master chefs (you know, at Benihana) and come to the conclusion that the best fried rice recipe has no real recipe at all.  The whole point is to use the ingredients that you have on hand.  This is a brilliant meal when you have lots of things in small amounts —  a carrot, an onion, an egg, leftover broccoli, or pretty much any little thing you want to use up.  Except of course, maybe that old container of cottage cheese.  No, that won’t work.

However, almost anything else is fair game.  I have marked this recipe vegetarian because that’s how I made it last night, but it is also great with meat in it if you are so inclined.  Chicken, pork, or ham are all great in it. I have done versions with leftover barbecued pork rib meat, leftover corn cut off the cob, and a bit of hoisin sauce to make a “summer barbecue fried rice.”

The key is to cook your rice up as far in advance as possible to let it cool so it is firm and not sticky.  Think ahead — maybe make some rice as a side dish on a Monday and make a double batch, use half that night and fry the remainder on Wednesday.  Last night, however, I didn’t figure out what we were having until 4:48 PM (like most nights).  If you find yourself in that position (especially with brown rice b/c it takes 50 minutes to cook), try this:  cook the brown rice completely, fluff it, remove from heat and let it steam dry without the lid for 5-10 minutes, and then spread it on a cookie sheet and park it in the fridge.  Mine was cool and not sticky after about 15 minutes.  That had us eating by 6:30 (with two glasses of wine to slow me down).  You can also certainly use white rice as it takes less than half the time to cook — but brown rice is obviously much healthier because it includes the bran portion which gives you more fiber and more vitamins and minerals.

Fried Brown Rice with Edamame (Serves 4 as a main dish with leftovers)

2 cups of long grain brown rice (I used Organic Brown Basmati)
1 T chopped ginger
1 T chopped garlic
1 onion, chopped
1 package frozen edamame
Other veggies or meats (or eggs) or your choosing
Olive or vegetable oil for cooking
Sesame Oil for flavoring
Soy Sauce
Salt and Pepper

  1. Cook two cups brown rice according to package directions.  (Usually takes about 50 minutes)
  2. While rice is cooking, cook one package of frozen edamame (soybeans) for about 5 minutes.  I used frozen edamame from my CSA last year, so this is a guess, but it probably amounted to about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of shelled edamame.  Shell the edamame and set aside.
  3. Chop one onion, a couple of carrots, a tablespoon of fresh garlic, and a tablespoon of fresh ginger.  Prepare any other veggies or add-ins at this point.  (Ideas:  green onions, corn, broccoli, leftover meat or shrimp, one or two eggs, peppers, cilantro, etc.)
  4. When rice is done, fluff, and remove from heat and steam dry without lid on for 5-10 minutes.  Spread on cookie sheet and put in fridge to cool for at least 15 minutes.
  5. While rice is cooling, get out a big wok or saute pan and heat a few tablespoons of oil over medium high heat.
  6. Quickly saute garlic and ginger (about 30 seconds) and then add in carrots and slow cooking vegetables. Stir fry for 3-5 minutes until carrots begin to soften.
  7. Add onion and quick cooking veggies (like peppers) and stir fry all for a few minutes until onion begins to get translucent.
  8. If you want to add eggs, whisk one or two eggs in a bowl.  Spread veggies to side of pan and pour in eggs to scramble them.  It doesn’t matter if the veggies get mixed into it.
  9. Get cooled rice from the fridge and add to wok or pan.  Stir well so all veggies, eggs, etc. are incorporated.  If you are using stainless steel or cast iron pans, the rice will probably stick — but it’s really no big deal.
  10. Start seasoning with soy sauce (do about two tablespoons at first and then add more to taste), salt and pepper (won’t need too much salt b/c of the soy), and a bit of sesame oil.
  11. Add edamame and any other “barely cook” veggies (like green onions, corn, cilantro or other herbs) and any precooked meat or shrimp if you are using it.  Stir it all until well mixed and keep tasting and seasoning until it’s good!
  12. For the grown-ups, it’s great served with Asian Hot Sauce (like Sriracha or the Rooster) or Chile Garlic Sauce.

It’s a complete meal with whole grain and protein (even my vegetarian version), it’s cheap, it cleans out your refrigerator, and it’s easy.  What more can you ask for?

OK, so how about a bonus idea for leftovers?

Reheat some leftover fried rice, slice some cabbage (you know cabbage is one of my go-to veggies for family cooking), mix together with some olive oil and Sriracha Rooster Sauce for a fantastic Spicy Fried Rice Salad.

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