Coconut Rice

Rice is a staple in many people’s diets, but it doesn’t have to be the same over and over. One of the delicious variations for either white or brown rice is coconut.

There’s nothing mysterious about making coconut rice. It’s a delicately flavored side that accentuates most Oriental foods with a subtle sweetness and aroma.

Simply substitue one 15oz can of coconut milk for part of the water as you are making rice. Note that a cup of fluid is 8 ounces, and the canned product comes in just under two full cup measures.

Coconut milk is thicker than water and more difficult for the rice to absorb. Be sure to add an extra quarter cup of water to the pot.

I have found that using the full can works extremely well when making up 2 cups of dry rice. Anything smaller batch and the coconut becomes overwhelming and the rice doesn’t cook up as well.

Coconut rice is a sticky rice rather than a fluffy one. Be prepared for this result.

Add coconut rice to your favorite Oriental dishes, Jamaican jerk, Hawaiian dishes, and anywhere else you would like a little bit of coconut flavor to accentuate your meal.

Enjoy!

–Ann Cathey

Quick Casserole Meals

Remember all those casseroles your grandmother used to whip up in her sun-filled kitchen? She was on to something with those one-dish sides and meals. You can be, too.

Most casseroles include a starch (potatoes, pasta, or rice) as a base, veggies, meat, and some cheese. It all depends on what’s on hand or what you prefer.

Here’s a basic casserole that my family enjoys once every couple of weeks. While I have had to put a strong low-carb rule in place, you may not have to.

Ingredients:
2 cups dry rice, cooked
12 oz concentrated cream of something soup (potato, chicken, mushroom, etc.)
1/2 cup fluid (milk, heavy cream, chicken broth, etc.)
1/4 cup hard cheese, fine grated (Asiago, Romano, Parmesan, etc.)
15 oz can of beans or peas, well drained
Other veggies as desired, pre-cooked and diced (potato, carrot, green beans, etc)
8 oz meat, diced or broken
Onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper to taste
4 oz shredded cheese, any firm type (cheddar, Swiss, Provolone, Gouda, etc)

In a large bowl, place rice, soup, fluid, veggies, spices, and hard cheese. Fold together gently so as not to break up the veggies.

I will also fold in the meat at this time. You may choose to layer it in the baking dish.

Place the contents of the bowl into a baking dish, spreading it evenly. If you are layering the meat in, put it between two layers of the rice mixture so it doesn’t dry out during baking.

Sprinkle a couple of ounces of shredded cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350F. Everything in the dish is precooked, but you want it to heat throughout.

Remove dish from the oven and uncover. sprinkle on remaining grated cheese. Allow to sit for five minutes or so while the cheese melts and the dish comes to a reasonable serving temperature.

When emplating, feel free to toss on strips of fresh basil, more cheese, chopped parsley or whatever topping you desire. A dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream is also tasty.

Leftovers can and do add a lot of variation to this meal. A teaspoon of sour cream left from taco night? Throw it in! Some shredded mozzarella left from pizza night? Stir that into the mix to create a gooier texture. Black olives? Mushrooms? Broccoli crowns? The more the merrier!

Want an Italian flavor? Use Italian spices, Italian sausage and or pepperoni with a mix of mozzarella and provolone shredded on top. A white or navy bean works well for the added texture. Serve with garlic bread or bread sticks.

Tex-mex more to your liking? Add chili powder and onions, black beans and use Monterrey Jack or pepper-jack cheeses. Top with sliced jalapeno or salsa.

Cajun Crazy? Try andouille or boudan, Ementhaler, and Cajun seasonings (We like Tony Cha’s) with diced bell pepper and onion.

The ham and cheese option is also nice. Use cheddar, leftover ham, and black-eyed peas for a southern variation.

In short, this dish can be customized pretty much any way that pleases your palate. It’s also hearty enough to put leftovers into microwavable containers for tomorrow’s lunch, or for a side dish later in the week. Just heat and serve.

Bon Appetite!

— Ann Cathey

Burger Wells

This little dish was the result of boredom, too much internet, and what was available in the kitchen. I think it turned out rather well, and the taste testers polished their plates.DSC_0607

Brown Rice

Brown Rice

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef (or venison, pork, or turkey)
1 lb bacon
2 eggs
2 tb salsa
1tsp cumin
1tsp onion powder
1tsp garlic powder
1 tb dried parsley
1/4tsp paprika
1tb butter
2 cups brown rice, pre-cooked
1/2 cup diced mushroom (or 1 10oz can)
1/2 pound asparagus, pre-cooked
1/2 cup grated Manchego

Asparagus and Mushrooms, drained

Asparagus and Mushrooms, drained

Directions:

Beef Well

Beef Well

Mix beef, spices, salsa and one egg thoroughly. Roughly quarter into balls. Squash the ball with a greased slender cup or glass and form sides up the glass. Remove carefully and place in baking pan or on individual squares of foil for grilling. Shape the meat mixture further if needed to get evenly thick and tall sides for each beef-well.

 

 

Bacon Wapped Well

Bacon Wrapped Well

Wrap each beef-well in a slice of bacon (add a little if needed).

Mix pre-cooked brown rice, asparagus (chopped) and diced mushroom into a bowl with 1/4 cup cheese. Mix well. Fill the beef-wells with this mixture and set the remainder aside.

Stuffed Well

Stuffed Well

DSC_0605

Asparagus lined Well

NOTE: In the photographed version, asparagus stems were used to line the sides of the well. They were precooked and thus already tender.

Take the remaining bacon and slice into pieces approximately 1/5-2 inches long. Carefully place a layer of bacon pieces across the top of each stuffed beef-well. this will help to contain moisture so that the veggies don’t dry out.

Slide the tray into the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes.

Into a skillet, toss the rest of the bacon strips and cook to preferred chewiness or crunchiness. Drain and set aside.

Drop butter into the skillet and allow it to melt. Add the remaining egg and stir vigorously. Before the egg is quite done, toss in the remaining stuffing and stir while the egg finishes cooking. Add the remaining bacon with a sprinkle of cheese and toss.

Emplate one beef-well with a quarter of the stir-fry, sprinkling remaining cheese on top.

We served with crescent rolls on the side, and this made up four lovely plates.DSC_0608

Give this a try and let us know how yours turned out!

— Ann Cathey

Food Porn Episode 6

This episode of Food Porn is brought to you by my kitchen. The food photos were, as they have been in this series, culled from stock photography. I’ve added a little info about each one, though I’m told they speak for themselves, especially the ones that scream, “BACON!”

DSC_0247Bunless bacon cheeseburgers! Broiled beef patties, hickory smoked bacon, shredded colbyjack cheese, and kosher dill slices.

 

DSC_0489Okay this one is not from my kitchen, but from a campout we enjoyed a month or so ago. Chicken Enchilada Lasagne with fresh diced tomatoes, a corn and black bean mix, with a side of French bread and butter.

 

Yellow curried chicken over white rice with mini pita on the side.

 

Scrambled ham with spices and ham sandwiched on a fresh butter croissant.

 

photoA heart attack on a butter croissant with coarse mustard, three layers of maple bacon, kosher dills, and colbyjack cheddar cheese.

 

DSC_0248Let’s get another look at that bunless bacon cheeseburger, shall we?

–Ann Cathey

You start with liver…

Sounds kinda gross, right? While a lot of people think of liver and shudder, it is a concentrated source of many healthy minerals, predominantly iron. Chicken liver in particular has a gentler flavor than beef or calf liver, and may be used as a background ingredient for many dishes to increase rich flavors.

I have been asked by several folks for my chicken & dumplings recipe. As it seems to go hand in hand with a dirty rice recipe, I thought I might share both. These two recipes enjoy a boost from chicken liver, though it’s rarely even guessed at in the first dish. Sorry I don’t have any photos for the process or the dishes, but the family ate them all up!

 

Chicken & Dumplings

This is what I call a “throw down” recipe: there’s a long way and a fast way to do it. Let’s start with the long way. Notes have been added to indicate the short cuts if you prefer them.

Ingredients
1 lb chicken liver (other giblets are okay if they are included in the package)
1 whole chicken (substitute just thighs or breasts if you prefer)
1 large can cream of whatever soup. (mushroom, chicken or potato is preferred)
4 cans of cheap biscuits (pay attention here – CHEAP biscuits)
Salt & pepper to taste
Water

1. In a large pot, bring the chicken livers and 2 quarts of water to boil. Let it roll for about 15 minutes and remove from heat. Drain and reserve fluid for the dirty rice.

2. Without rinsing the pot, add whole chicken and enough water to cover it. If the neck and.or any giblets are included, add them with the chicken. Bring this to a boil and allow to cook until chicken is cooked through. Drain and return fluid to the pot.

3. De-bone the chicken, removing all undesirable bits such as skin, cartilage and bone. Skin may be cut up and returned to the pot if desired. Shred or dice the chicken as desired and toss it back into the pot.

4. Using a fork, mash up and de-vein half of the chicken liver. Reserve the rest for the dirty rice. Any odd giblets (I got a two hearts and a kidney in the last batch) may be reserved for the dirty rice or used as a treat for your dog. Add the mashed liver to the pot and stir.

5. Bring the pot back to a low boil. Begin opening the biscuits and slicing them into 6 pieces. This makes a good size dumpling. The dumplings will begin to dissolve if boiled too long, so be sure to move quickly and use them all. Drop the cut biscuits one piece at a time (to keep them from clumping) into the pot. Stir often to keep the dumplings circulating and the chicken from sticking. When all the dumplings are in the pot, turn the heat off.

6. Open the can of cream of soup and dump it into a bowl. Ladle about a cup of fluid from the pot into the can, stir, then pour into the bowl. Whip the hot fluid into the soup. This helps to prepare the soup to go into the pot and ensure that it will not clump up, but disburse smoothly. Pour the soup into the pot and stir.

7. Allow the contents of the pot to rest for a few minutes and heat through before serving. We like it with non-sweet cornbread underneath and a dash or two of hot sauce on top.

8. Serve. Feeds six easily.

Variations on this recipe include using boneless, skinless meat rather than going through the de-boning process, You may also add vegetables, but it will change the basic makeup of the dish and make it just another chicken soup. You may choose to use some other form of fowl, such as turkey, or beef as the meat. both are delicious and follow the same basic procedure.

 

Dirty Rice

This is my take on an old Cajun classic. The use of vegetables such as onion and celery will alter the flavor, but you are more than welcome to use them if you like.

This dish takes a little layering, especially of the spices. Be sure to taste test it often to make sure that it’s not too salty, nor yet too hot for your preferences.

Ingredients
12 oz sausage (any kind will do)
Chicken livers reserved from the other recipe above, about 1/4#
Other giblets (if desired)
Tony Chachere’s Original Cajun Seasoning or other spices as desired
2 cups white rice (dry)
Water reserved from boiling chicken liver
1 15oz can of black beans
Olive oil

1. Cook the rice in the water reserved from boiling the chicken livers, adding whatever amount necessary for the rice. If you need to, add additional water. Reserve.

2. Mash and de-vein the chicken livers and set aside. Dice the sausage and set aside. If you plan to include any of the pre-cooked giblets, dice them and set them aside.

3. In a large skillet, spray or spread a bit of olive oil. Drop in your sausage and giblets with a few dashes of Tony Cha’s seasoning. Cover and allow to cook for a few minutes. Uncover and stir, making sure any browning that occurs is well tossed. Anything that sticks will essentially be deglazed as you continue making the dish.

4. When the sausage is cooked to your liking, add the can of black beans, fluid and all. Generously sprinkle on some of the Tony Cha’s spice blend. Stir until all ingredients are hot. Add mashed chicken liver and stir.

5. Begin folding in the rice. It should completely mix with the meat and bean mixture. Some rice clumping may occur. If needed, stir in a quarter cup of water to maintain moisture and prevent drying or scorching.Add a little more of the spice blend while folding to ensure that there is enough spice for your tastes and that is is evenly distributed.

6. Serve. You may have been beating the heathens off with a wooden spoon at this point, but now it;s time to share the goodness! If they burn their fingers or tongues, well, you tried to teach them better. Feeds four huge appetites, or 6-8 more normal ones.

These two recipes are cold weather favorites at our house. I hope you like them enough to let them find a place in your kitchen as well. As always, feedback is appreciated.

Bon appetite!

— Ann Cathey