Monday, June 1, 2009

Spanish Rice



I’ve been making this rice for my children for many years as a main dish, and pair it with quesadillas or grilled cheese sandwiches. It is more Tex-Mex than Spanish, I think, but someone somewhere many years ago dubbed this classic American dish “Spanish” and everyone knows what it means. It is a variation of a similar rice dish served in Mexico and South America.

This is one of those dishes that hits all the key notes for me: It’s super-easy to prepare and very flavorful (but not so spicy that my daughter won’t eat it, yay); I almost always have all the ingredients on hand, and it is healthy if you use canned tomatoes that have no additional salt or other chemicals. Even better for busy moms with hungry kids — you can make this dish even faster with instant rice. I prefer regular brown rice because it has the best flavor and texture (and yeah, it’s healthier I think than the instant rice).

This recipe is adopted from “The Classic Vegetable Cookbook” by Ruth Spear.

* Olive Oil -3-4 Tblsp (or enough to cover the bottom of a pan)
* Bell Pepper - 1, chopped
* Onion - 1, chopped
* Garlic - 2-4 cloves, minced
* Tomatoes - 1 14.5 oz. can, diced
* Chili Powder - 1 tsp.
* Rice - 1 cup (brown is preferred, but any rice will do; adjust cooking time for instant rice)
* Water - 1/1/2 cups

1. Pour oil into bottom of large heavy pot.
2. Add onions, peppers and garlic, and cook under medium heat until onions are soft — about 5-7 minutes.
3. Strain tomatoes, pouring the juice into a measuring cup and setting aside. Add the tomatoes and the chili powder to the pot and mix well.
4. Pour water into the measuring cup with tomato juice to measure a total of 2 cups, and add to the pot, along with the rice.
5. Mix well and bring to a boil.
6. Lower heat (to very low) and cover tightly; cook for 20-30 minutes. Check after 20 minutes and if it is still really watery, cook another 5-10 minutes.
7. Turn off heat and let it sit for 10 minutes with a clean kitchen towel between the pot and the top.
8. Fluff up with a spoon and serve.



Scalloped Potatoes

I was looking for a simple potato dish to make in the slow-cooker, and I found a recipe at the official Crock-Pot Web site. I’ve simplified it (of course) and it came out delicious. The cheese and onions combined to give the potatoes a rich flavor but it was not too rich (I used lowfat milk and lowfat cheese). The potatoes went well with grilled steaks and veggies, and it could go with a meat loaf or chicken. I took the pot top off about an hour before serving and there was a bit of crustiness formed on the edges, but not as much as you get in an oven version. Still, very tasty — and super-easy, ready when you are are.

  • Potatoes - 6 medium or 8 small, russet, thinly sliced
  • Onion - 1 large, thinly sliced
  • Garlic - 2 cloves, sliced or minced thin
  • Cheddar cheese - 1 cup (8 oz. package), shredded
  • Milk - 1/2 cup
  • Butter - 1/2 cup, melted
  • Pepper - a few dashes
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp.
  1. Spray or coat the inside of the pot with oil.
  2. Add potatoes, onions, garlic and cheese.
  3. In a small bowl combine the milk, pepper and salt.
  4. Pour this mixture over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix all ingredients well.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.



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