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Mexican Bake | Relishing ItSo, what are you planning to do with all of those delicious turkey leftovers after Thanksgiving?  Sandwiches?  Really?  I like a good cold-turkey sandwich as much as anyone, but today I have a recipe that is a great alternative.  And to be honest, even if you don’t have turkey leftovers you should make this dish.  It’s wonderful, and so versatile that you can make it with turkey, chicken, ground beef or even just beans, for a vegetarian option.

Mexican Bake | Relishing It

You’ve probably noticed that I’m into making ‘bakes’ a lot this year.  I’ve been having fun incorporating legumes, grains, and quinoa (technically a seed) into meals.  Aside from being so easy to throw together, they’re incredibly satisfying and a healthy option.  A big bowl of hot food is just what we all need as we gather around the dinner table together while it snows outside.  This particular bake has a Mexican flare. I’ve made it a number of ways depending on what we have in the house. I’ve been challenging myself this year to make meals out of food that we have, rather than running to the store every time an idea enters my brain. Aside from a smaller grocery bill, it cuts down on wasting otherwise-usable food, so that makes me happy.

Mexican Bake | Relishing It

This dish is fabulous with shredded chicken or turkey, but it’s also equally tasty using ground beef (or shredded beef, if you happen to have that).  Substituting beef broth for the chicken broth is an easy swap.  Of course, going completely vegetarian is a no-brainer, too.  Just add more beans and use vegetable broth, or even water.  Just amp up the spices a bit more to compensate. Whatever protein you decide to use, it will pair wonderfully with the brown rice, corn, and beans.

Mexican Bake | Relishing It

You all know that I pretty much can all of my tomatoes that I need to get me through the winter.  However, Red Gold Tomatoes generously sent me some different varieties of canned tomatoes to try (thanks, guys!).   So, I incorporated them in this dish and they were fantastic! I used the the lime juice and cilantro variety.  Of course, you can use any type of canned tomato that you have on hand, but these added a nice zesty flavor to the dish.

Mexican Bake | Relishing It

Load the bake up with as much cheese as you would like– that’s a personal preference.  Before serving, squeeze on some fresh lime juice, sprinkle with cilantro, slice up some jalapeños, and dollop on the sour cream.  Serve it with tortilla chips or plain tortillas and you are set.  You’re going to love this dish!

Mexican Bake | Relishing It

The Recipe: Mexican Bake

(serves 4)

olive oil

about 1 pound (or a bit more) of cooked shredded chicken, turkey, ground or shredded beef (see note)

1 small red or white onion, diced

about 4 garlic cloves, minced

about 14-15 ounces of cooked beans, drained and rinsed (any kind– red, black, pinto, or even white) (when I forget to soak my own, I’ve really been enjoying Simply Balanced Organic Beans (found at Target) for both the texture and the flavor.)

1 cup long grain brown rice, rinsed (any type of rice will work–if wanting to use white, just note that the cooking time will decrease)

1 tablespoon ancho chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1-2 teaspoons ground coriander

kosher salt and cracked pepper

about 1 cup frozen corn

1 1/2 cups homemade chicken or beef broth heated (depending upon what protein you are using)

1 15-ounce can Red Gold diced tomatoes with lime juice and cilantro (or anything similar)

shredded cheese, 1-2 cups  (sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and monterey jack are great options)

chopped fresh cilantro, fresh jalapeños, sour cream, fresh limes, hot sauce, tortilla chips, and/or fresh tortillas for serving

Note:  If wanting to use shredded chicken, simply sauté one pound (or a bit more) of chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper in a skillet with olive oil.  They should take about 3-4 minutes on each side, depending upon how high your heat is.  Check for doneness, then shred with a fork.  Or use rotisserie!

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large Dutch oven add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes over medium-high heat until somewhat soft (you would brown the ground beef just prior to this, if using).  Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, about 1-2 teaspoons of kosher salt, and cracked pepper to the pan.  Then add the canned tomatoes with juices, beans, rice, meat, corn, and heated broth and continue to cook for a couple of minutes over medium-high heat until everything is hot.

Mix in the meat.  Flatten everything with a spatula so the rice can cook properly in the liquids.  Place in the preheated oven and bake covered for 1 hour.  Remove from oven and add the cheese.  Return to oven, covered, for about 5 more minutes, or until cheese has melted.

Serve with lime wedges, chopped cilantro, sliced jalapeños, sour cream, hot sauce, tortilla chips and/or fresh tortillas.  Enjoy!

I hope you all have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving celebrating with your loved ones!  Peace to all.

Laurie

 

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Healthy Stuffed Cabbage Roll Soup | Relishing It

It’s early November and the first winter storm of the season just rolled through Minnesota.  I generally try to have a positive tone when I share my thoughts here, but this… sucks.  No time to acclimate to lower temperatures over a few weeks, no light dusting of snow that melts away in the sun.  Nope.  Winter is here and I’m not ready for it yet.  Thankfully, we got the leaves raked (barely) and taken to the compost pile, the summer furniture is tucked away in the shed, and my small garden has been cut down.  But still, this is ridiculous.  Last winter was grueling, to say the least.  I want more crunchy leaves on the sidewalks and more bonfires with our neighbors.  I want more outdoor runs without the worry of slipping on ice. I realize that I’m going to have to wait months for these simple pleasures again.  And I will wait patiently and enjoy them all-the-more when they arrive.  There.  Now I’m feeling a little bit better.

Healthy Stuffed Cabbage Roll Soup | Relishing It

Healthy Stuffed Cabbage Roll Soup | Relishing It

For now, I will pour myself into doing the things that I love to keep my mind off of the frigid temperatures.  Today it’s warm soup and fresh bread.  This stuffed cabbage roll soup is a favorite in our house.  It has all the wonderful flavors and textures of stuffed cabbage rolls with less work.  It’s hearty and filling– total comfort food.  But, it’s also healthy.  Like, really healthy.  It’s loaded with whole foods–grass-fed beef, fresh cabbage, canned tomatoes, brown rice, and zingy fermented sauerkraut.  I love to eat cabbage year-round– it’s an underrated vegetable, in my opinion.  Not only is it good for you, it has a long refrigerator life.  This is much more than a soup– almost a stew.  Feel free to add more broth or tomatoes if you like it a little less thick.  I think it’s perfect as is, but especially fantastic with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt on top and a sprinkle of fresh dill or parsley.  I hope you give it a try.  Enjoy!

Healthy Stuffed Cabbage Roll Soup | Relishing It

Healthy Stuffed Cabbage Roll Soup | Relishing It

The Recipe: Healthy Stuffed Cabbage Roll Soup

(serves 4)

1 pound grass-fed ground beef

3/4 cup dry long grain brown rice

1 small white or yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more if needed

cracked black pepper

1 quart chicken broth, preferably homemade

2 cups crushed canned tomatoes (or a 15 ounce can–Muir Glen Organic is great)

2 cups homemade tomato sauce (or a 15 ounce can — again, go with Muir Glen)

3 cups, thinly shredded cabbage ( I used 1 somewhat smallish one)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup packed chopped fresh parsley

2 cups homemade sauerkraut or store-boughten, preferably fermented

sour cream or yogurt, dill or parsley for garnish

Begin by rinsing the brown rice.  Then add it along with 1 1/2 cups of cold water and a pinch of salt to a large sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the rice is tender and the water has been absorbed, about 40 minutes.  Keep a watchful eye or you may burn the rice.  You can always add more water and drain any extra, if you’re worried about that happening.

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef.  Drain the grease, if there is any and add the onion and garlic to the pan along with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and some cracked black pepper.  Cook the ground beef/onion mixture for just a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens a bit.

Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, chopped cabbage, cooked brown rice, fresh thyme, and bay leaf to the Dutch oven.  Cook for about 30-40 minutes over low-medium heat, or until the cabbage has wilted and is tender.  Add the sauerkraut and freshly chopped parsley and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the sauerkraut has warmed.  Remove bay leaf before serving.  Top with sour cream or plain yogurt and fresh dill or parsley.  Leftovers may become somewhat thick from the rice absorbing more liquid– it can be thinned out with more tomatoes or broth.

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

 

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Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers | Relishing It

I’m willing to place a sizable bet that most of you are a little tired of turkey leftovers.  Well let’s switch it up then, with this little dish to revive your tastebuds.  This is one of those quick, healthy meals that I promised you a few weeks ago.  It’s loaded with healthy ingredients and the combination of flavors is one of my favorites– sauerkraut and beef.  (Remember this galette?)  This time I’ve also added the tang of tomatoes and the ever-so-slight crunch of green peppers.  Lovely.

Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers | Relishing It

A few comments on how I’ve titled this dish.  Let me go on record as saying I’m not a huge fan of the word “deconstructed” when it come to food.  It’s often misleading, pretentious, or both.  I know others have the same gripe about describing oneself as a “foodie”.  (Personally, I’m fine with foodie).  Anyway…here I couldn’t really come up with another way to describe this dish.  The fact is, it takes all of the wonderful components of stuffed peppers, and, well, deconstructs them.  There’s really no other way to describe it unless I decided to go with “pile of peppers, rice, ground beef, sauerkraut, and tomatoes”.  And for some reason that just doesn’t seem quite as appealing.

Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers | Relishing It

Just because this variation comes together more quickly, don’t for a moment think they aren’t as good as the original.  That would be a huge mistake, because this dish is about 10 times better than any traditional version.  Here’s why– you know that moment when you cut into what used to be a vibrant green pepper, and the liquid just floods out on to your plate because the pepper has baked far too long to ensure the filling reached the right temp?  Yeah, that doesn’t happen here.  No disappointing mushiness to the green pepper, no pieces of hamburger submerged in puddles of tomato-y water.  Here, the green peppers retain their vibrant green color and a bit of their crunch, because you decide what texture you’d like them to be.  The tomato sauce (or crushed tomatoes), whichever you choose to use, are the perfect base for the rice and ground beef.  The whole dish is finished with a healthy dose of really good sauerkraut to add that wonderful zip.  Use this saurkraut recipe to make your own, or buy a good quality version.  Bubbies has wonderful fermented products.  The entire dish takes only the amount of time that you need to make the brown rice.  So…get going, time’s a ‘wasting!   Enjoy!

Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers | Relishing It

The Recipe: Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers

(makes enough for 4 people)

1 cup dry long grain brown rice, rinsed

1 pound grass-fed ground beef

2 large green bell peppers, cut into large bite-size chunks

1 small white onion, diced

1/2 quart homemade tomato sauce, or a bit more  (your favorite purchased sauce or crushed tomatoes will work, too)

1 cup good quality sauerkraut

fresh parsley, for garnish

salt and pepper, to taste

Place the rinsed brown rice in a large saucepan with 2 cups of cold water and a sprinkle of salt.  Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium simmer and let rice cook for about 30 minutes or until it is tender and the water has been absorbed.  Fluff with fork.

Meanwhile, when the rice is about halfway through it’s cooking time, begin to brown the beef  over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  For this dish, I like to leave the beef in somewhat big chunks.  When it is cooked, drain and discard the grease.  Season the beef with salt and pepper and add add the onion to the pan.  Cook the onion until it begins to get tender, just 2-3 minutes.  Add the green peppers and cook just a few minutes until they are a bit tender, but still have a slight crunch to them.  Add the tomato sauce and warm through.  When the rice is ready, add it to the skillet and stir.  If the dish is hot enough, add the sauerkraut and stir just enough to warm the kraut, but not enough to cook it.  It’s lovely when it has a bit of a crunch to it.  Re-season with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.  Enjoy!

If you’re looking for gift ideas for the favorite foodie in your life, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites.  Stop over to Becki’s site, “Shopping’s My Cardio” and have a look!  Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today.  xo

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Cajun Red Beans and Brown Rice via Relishing ItWhile it is “technically” Spring, as I write this we’re in a winter storm warning here in Minnesota.  Yup, a quick glance out the kitchen window and all I see is a white, wind-blown blur.  So I guess it’s no surprise that my thoughts are still with warm, comfort foods.  I’m not really complaining though.  It’ll end eventually, to be followed by those dreaded days marked by 90 degree temperatures and shirt-drenching humidity.  Gross.  So, I really am quite happy nuzzling into a blanket while the snow falls.  Please stop throwing tomatoes at me.

Cajun Red Beans and Brown Rice via Relishing It

Cajun Red Beans and Brown Rice via Relishing It

These cajun red beans and brown rice are just the sort of warm, comfort food that I’m talking about.  They’re not fancy, but they’re loaded with flavor and are just different enough to add a little variety to your nightly meal routine.  They’re made from healthy, whole foods and thickened naturally from the starch in the beans.  The cajun flavor is delightful, though not too spicy.  The heat level can be adjusted by adding more cayenne pepper. Ham works perfectly in this dish, and not a lot is needed. It gives it a nice, smokey flavor– though, you can easily make this meal with andouille sausage or without any meat at all for a vegetarian option.  You may need to adjust the seasonings a bit, namely the salt, as the pork tends to add a decent amount of that.  I love making a big batch of these beans and sending the leftovers with my husband throughout the week.  Enjoy!

Cajun Red Beans and Brown Rice via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Cajun Red Beans and Brown Rice

2 cups red beans, soaked overnight with salt (or do the quick-soak method)

olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 stalk of celery, diced

2 dried bay leaves

3 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika

2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste

3 cups chicken broth

6 cups water

2 cups of cubed cooked ham (andouille sausage is a good substitute)

cracked black pepper, to taste

red wine vinegar

Diced green onion, cooked brown rice, and hot sauce for serving

Quick-soak method:  Place the beans in a large saucepan.  Add enough water and a large pinch of salt to cover the beans by about an inch.  Bring to a boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and leave covered for about 2 hours.  Proceed with the recipe at this point. 

In a large Dutch oven, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the green pepper, onion, celery, and garlic for a couple of minutes until tender.  Add the paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, and thyme and cook for about 1 minute.  Add the chicken broth, water, red beans, and cubed ham.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover.  Let simmer for about 1 hour.  Check along the way, turn the heat up a bit, if the beans are not softening.  The dish will be done when the beans are very tender and the sauce has thickened.  Finish with a splash of red wine vinegar.  Season with salt, if necessary, though the ham usually supplies enough.  Serve over hot brown rice and a generous sprinkling of green onions.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Cooks Illustrated Magazine

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend.  See you next week!

Laurie

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