Tuesday, August 09, 2011

AiS: Rice. With Stuff in It.

I love my crockpot.  I can leave dinner unattended without fear of burning my house down. Minding dinner is tricky during the witching hour with three kiddos.

But it does still makes me nervous.

What I fear most is trying a new recipe and finding out at 5 p.m. that it didn't quite pan out. I know, I know. I could start it earlier, but I just like living on the edge. And if I fail, we get to go out to eat. Which means cleaner floors and no after-dinner cleanup.

So there's that.

For me, rice with stuff in it is the ultimate comfort food. Cooking the rice ahead of time, though, makes this a less than convenient dish. I hate cooking it on the stovetop. I often forget it is there in all the hubbub around here. So when I figured out how to use my 1.5 quart crock to make rice, my life got easier. And tastier. Oil the sides, put the rice, water and any seasonings in and set it on high for 2 to 3 hours. (You have to use long grain rice, though. The short grain stuff turns to mush.) This little discovery means I don't have to have a rice steamer and I can make large batches to use later without babysitting rice on the stovetop. (HINT: Brown rice freezes much better than white rice. And it's better for you.)

I tried a new recipe the other day that wasn't necessarily a crockpot recipe. But I was determined to make it one. The recipe was in an old brochure full of recipes that I got from Hood Cottage Cheese years ago. I fully intended to make these recipes at the time, but like most of my life about 15 years ago, it was full of good intentions and little action.

Here's the recipe:

2 cups of cottage cheese
1 egg
3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
4 ounces of feta cheese
10 ounces of frozen spinach
1/2 cup of chopped mushrooms
1 red bell pepper, chopped
A sprig of fresh dill, chopped or 1 teaspoon of dried dill
1/2 cup of chopped red onion (optional)
2 cups of water
1 cup of rice

Oil the crockpot first. I used butter. Stir together the first four ingredients. Stir in the rest. Then put it on high for 2 to 3 hours. I peeked and tasted every hour to see how far along the rice was.

I liked it. The feta gave it a nice, sharp taste. And I loved the texture of the mushrooms. The husband ate it and liked it but said that I should try barley instead next time. The kids didn't like it. Danny told me it was a disaster. Fi Fi barely ate it. The baby spit it out (but he does that with everything these days, so who knows if he liked it). They ate bread and butter with carrot sticks instead.

I didn't make the kids eat it. We had ice cream sundaes on the porch later to round out their dinner.

I'm not sure that I would make it again, but now that I know I can cook an entire rice casserole in the crockpot, well, this changes everything. Next up? My no-canned soup rice, broccoli and tuna casserole in the crockpot. Everyone, even the dog, likes this one.

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