Tag Archives: rice

Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto: Stovetop or Instant Pot


Man, this fall I am hitting some serious home runs with new recipes!

The other rave review so far was my crispy spinach gnocchi with sage brown butter. You’ll notice this recipe also uses sage brown butter. Coincidentally, my sage bush is quite prolific this time of year, but is about ready to be fully harvested and cut back for winter. It is also squash season, so the butternut was from a local farm, fresh picked just days before I cooked it.

This tells me a few things.

  • Keep trying new recipes
  • If you or someone you love doesn’t like a particular ingredient, try it in a new way, or try it again a year later
  • Eating seasonally and locally makes it far easier to cook delicious meals with simple ingredients!

The inspiration came from this recipe on Serious Eats, but of course I tweaked it to what I had on hand.

This can easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable stock rather than chicken, and can be vegan as well by omitting the cottage cheese and sprinkling with nutritional yeast rather than Parmesan. If you do eat cheese, I highly recommend the best, large curd cottage cheese you can find. It makes a great difference in flavor and texture.

You can also make this insanely cheap by using water rather than the stock. But you will lose a lot of flavor by doing so.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Sage


  • 1 small or 1/2 large butternut squash (about 2 cups cubed)
  • 1 cup medium or short grain rice
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
  • Black pepper, sea salt
  • Handful of sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Optional: 1/2 cup cottage cheese, sprinkle of Parmesan

I already had cooked the squash earlier in the week, but if you haven’t, do that first. I’ll wait.

There are 2 ways to do this: on the stove, or in an instant pot. I used the instant pot, because I have one now and it’s magical!


This is just as easy on the stove, it just takes a little longer.

Below are the steps for the instant pot, and then I’ll do stove top too.

Step 1: Add the rice and stock to the instant pot, close pressure valve, and cook for 8 minutes. Quick release the steam.

Step 2: Add the butternut squash, and cottage cheese if using. Close, and cook another 8 minutes. Quick release. Mash up the squash a little with a spoon, stir well to combine.

Step 3: While the second cooking session is going, melt the butter on the stove. Toss in the sage leaves, and let it sizzle until they look brown and crunchy. Watch carefully, you don’t want it to burn, it honestly only takes a minute or two.

Step 4: Serve the risotto topped with a sprinkle of Parmesan, some sage, and a grind or two of black pepper and sea salt.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Sage

As for the stove top:

Step 1: Put the rice and 1 cup water/stock in a pot, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, and simmer 10-15 minutes, until water is absorbed.

Step 2: Add more water 1/2 cup at a time, simmering for a few minutes in between. Stir every few minutes or so, until all liquid is absorbed. Should take about 30-40 minutes total.

Step 3: Add the butternut squash, and smash it up a little with a spoon. Stir to thoroughly combine.

Step 4: Same as above if you want to serve with crispy sage!

Brown Sugar and Maple-Apple Glazed Salmon


Salmon is one of my favorite kinds of fish. As I’ve said before, white fish are awesome because they are so versatile, but salmon can hold many bolder flavors while also bringing its own flavor profile to the table. With the mainstream becoming more aware of its amazing protein punch and heart-healthy omega-3s, salmon is increasingly becoming a popular protein option for any meal.

Salmon has a stronger fishy taste than some, but that definitely depends upon how you cook it and what you serve it with. There are so many good options for salmon; including grilling, broiling, sauteing, and baking.

Salmon can easily be paired with something savory or sweet. One of my favorite things to incorporate is brown sugar. The sweet, caramely notes work wonders to bring out the fish’s unique layers of taste. And to go with brown sugar, butter and apples are natural accompaniments.


  • 2 3-oz salmon fillets (or one big 6 oz-er)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium firm apple (such as Gala or Fuji)
  • 1/4 cup apple juice or cider
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

Veggie Rice

  • 3/4 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • Garlic salt to taste


Step 1: Dice the apple into small bite-sized pieces. In a frying pan over medium heat, add the butter, apple juice, apples, and maple syrup. Bring to a boil, and simmer 3-5 minutes.

Step 2: Add the salmon fillets and cook 5 minutes. Flip, then sprinkle with brown sugar. Cover and simmer 5-10 more minutes, until sugar is slightly caramelized and the fish is cooked through. It should be light pink in color and flake easily with a fork.


If you’d like to make this rice as a side, dice up the zucchini. Either in a rice cooker or a sauce pot, add the rice, zucchini, spinach, and 1 1/2 cups of water or stock. In a rice cooker, mix and turn on. Fluff before serving.

If using a pot, bring to a boil, and then simmer on low with the cover on for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and serve alongside salmon with garlic salt to taste.


The salmon is flaky and sweet, with a sugar glaze and apple flavor. The apples become soft and sweet, almost like having dessert with your dinner!


Stuffed Bell Peppers – SNAP meal


This is the first dinner I cooked during my week of the SNAP Challenge. I love stuffed bell peppers, and I usually make them with ground beef. Though I have had some success with vegetarian stuffed peppers in the past.

Given the already high and rising cost of meat, I knew I’d have to take a vegetarian route to keep these in budget. Swapping in lentils for the beef keeps this recipe high in protein content, and lowers the fat, while keeping the core tastes and hunger-crushing properties of the meal intact.


  • 2 green bell peppers (use any color)
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1/3 cup lentils
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • Garlic salt


Step 1: If you have a rice cooker, you can cook the lentils and rice together in it. If not, simmer the rice and lentils in a sauce pot with 2 1/2 cups water for 20 minutes.


Step 2: Mix the cooked rice and lentils with the can of tomato sauce.


Step 3: Cut the top off the pepper and pull out the seeds. Stuff the mixture inside, adding as much garlic salt as you like.


Step 4: Bake the peppers in an oven at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until soft. Alternatively you could microwave each pepper, covered, for 8-10 minutes to soften. Another option is to put the stuffed peppers in a crock pot on low for 1-2 hours.


Serve as a meal, or with a baked potato or salad on the side.


I ended up eating one pepper for dinner, and the other for lunch the next day. They are quite filling, and delicious! Pretty healthy for you as well. Vegan, vegetarian, and you can make it gluten-free if you substitute in quinoa or another gluten-free grain for the rice.


For approximately $0.84 per serving, you can’t do much better!



**UPDATE: All SNAP Meal Recipes listed below:

Better than take-out Beef & Broccoli


Ever want the addictive taste of Chinese take-out, but not want the MSG, additives, preservatives, sugar, salt, and calories??

The answer of course is, duh! Yes!

Good news! Making your own Beef & Broccoli at home is super simple, cheap, and nearly as fast as dialing and waiting for delivery. Try this easy weeknight favorite for yourself, and save the tip for a treat for yourself.


  • 1 pound beef cubes (can use chicken or tofu too)
  • 1 bag frozen broccoli cuts (or 1 head fresh broccoli chopped)
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • Dash garlic
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, or 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp sriracha, or to taste


Step 1: Mix all but first three ingredients in a small bowl. If you have time, marinate the meat for 1-6 hours in refrigerator.


Step 2: Cook the beef in a frying pan 5-10 minutes until browned but not completely chewy. Meanwhile, use a sauce pot to boil rice, or a rice cooker.


Step 3: Add the sauce to the meat. Microwave the broccoli 3 minutes, or cook in the frying pan, covered, for 5-7 minutes.


Step 4: Mix beef and broccoli, serve over rice with extra sauce.


You can add cornstarch or a little flour if you like a thicker sauce, or add more water/fish sauce/vinegar for a thinner sauce. I added a little extra sriracha with servings because I like a little kick! Enjoy never having to stop for take-out again.


Rice is Nice: 15 Recipes for Rice


According to Wikipedia (which we all know is the single most accurate and respected source of information in this era) “Genetic evidence has shown that rice originates from a single domestication 8,200–13,500 years ago[4] in the Pearl River valley region of China.[5] ” So rice has been around, domesticated by people, for at LEAST 8000 years! Rice was spread to Europe through West Asia, then to the Americas by European colonization.

Today, rice is the most important grain in regards to human nutrition, beating out both wheat and corn, as it supplies nearly 1/5 the calorie intake worldwide. One-fifth of all calories eaten anywhere in the world comes from rice. Wow.

And I can certainly see why. Rice is delicious as a side dish and endlessly versatile. It is able to grow in many different climates, in large amounts. Literally any vegetable cooked up and mixed with rice is great, it complements all meats, and you can pour nearly any sauce over it with great results.

It’s awesome in soup, burritos, as a side or main dish, sushi, dessert (rice pudding anyone?), heck on its own with some soy sauce as a snack. Rice can also be ground into flour and used in bread, baking, or as a thickener. Rice paper, noodles, and wrappers are staples in Asian cuisines as well.

Ways to prepare rice

To cook rice, it is typically boiled or steamed to cause it to absorb water. This can be done rapidly in a large amount of water which is then drained off, or more slowly in an amount of water similar to the amount of rice. Once cooked, the rice can be further processed by frying in oil to make fried rice.

Soaking rice before cooking may improve cooked texture, decrease cooking time, conserve fuel, minimize exposure to high temperature, and reduce stickiness.

Electric rice cookers are also very popular in Asian countries and increasingly so in the US. This is one of my favorite ways to make rice; you simply add 2x the amount of water (ex: 1 cup rice + 2 cups water) and flip the switch. You can do whatever else you need to do, and 40 minutes later your rice is ready!

Rice Cooker

White vs. Brown rice

Rice grains with the chaff removed is what we know as brown rice, and it has the bran and germ still attached. When you remove the germ, you get white rice. If you remove every layer, you have “Musenmai”, a Japanese style of rice, ready to boil.

According to the USA Rice Federation, rice contains no trans fats or saturated fats, no sodium or cholesterol. It is also a staple for those with celiac disease because of the lack of gluten. In 2004 the U.N. declared the International Year of Rice, in an effort to promote awareness of how important a crop rice is and its role in alleviating poverty and malnutrition worldwide.

Vitamin A deficiency is a very real health concern in nations which get the majority of their calories from rice. Research into how to make rice more nutritious led to “Golden Rice“. This rice is genetically engineered to contain the precursor for Vitamin A, beta-carotene. The beta-carotene turns the rice yellowish gold, hence the name.

I recently had a friend tell me that she wished she knew more things to make with rice, because she knows rice is delicious and good for you. So this post is inspired by her, to inspire all you home cooks out there with some Jasmine, wild, or brown rice, and confusion as to what to do with it tonight.



Rice is an excellent side dish, and I’m sure you know many more possibilities than this list, but here are some rice sides ideas.

cream of mushroom soup over rice

1. Cream of Mushroom rice: Boil a batch of rice. For extra oomph, use half milk when preparing the rice. Open a can of cream of mushroom soup, and pour over, mix into rice, season with salt & pepper, and serve.

2. Mexican Rice: Prepare 1-2 cups rice, mixing in 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies in place of 1 cup water. Add 1/2 cup corn, and/or 1/2 cup black beans. Serve.

3. Burritos: Rice is a perfect addition to most Mexican dishes. Take a tortilla, fill it with meat (if you want), beans of any kind, cooked veggies, and warm fresh rice. Wrap up and scarf down.

4. Risotto: In a pan, melt 4 tbsp butter. Add 1 cup raw rice, and 1/4 cup chicken broth. Heat to medium, just a simmer, and stir. As stock evaporates, continue adding more in 1/4 cup increments, until you add 1 1/2 cups. After 30-40 minutes, the rice will be soft and risotto-like. Add vegetables while cooking if desired. You can also use cream.

5. Cilantro-Lime Rice: Prepare 1-2 cups rice. When fully cooked, add in 2 tbsp sea salt, 1/4 cup lime juice, and 3 tbsp chopped cilantro. Mix well and serve.

cilantro lime rice

Or, whip up a batch of plain white rice as a base for:


Rice can be included with other items to make a hearty, nutrient-dense main dish. Here are some ideas.

6. Chicken & Rice Soup: in a large pot, combine a few pounds of chicken (bone-in is best for the flavor), a cup or two of diced veggies, a can of beans, and a cup of rice with just enough water to cover with an inch or two. Simmer 30-60 minutes and enjoy.

7. Fried rice: Fried rice is super simple, and you can make it into anything. Add veggies & an egg for a vegetarian version, or mix in some chicken, pork, or steak strips.

8. Red Beans & Rice: Cook up a batch of white rice, add Cajun seasonings and sausage if you like, and one can of red beans. Frugal, filling, and delicious.

9. Bean & rice burgers: In a large bowl, combine 1 cup cooked rice (any kind) with 1 can of beans (any kind) and mash together. Add 2-3 tbsp oil, and flour until it sticks together. Shape into patties and cook in an oiled frying pan on both sides.

10. Broccoli cheddar rice: In a slow cooker or pot, combine 1 cup rice, 1 cup milk, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, and 1 cup frozen broccoli. Simmer 30-50 minutes, mix well and enjoy. You can add cooked shredded chicken for a meat eater one pot meal.

slow cooker broccoli cheddar rice

11. Porcupine meatballs
: a Slovak classic; mix 1 pound ground beef, 1 cup cooked rice, 1 can tomato sauce, and spices (garlic salt, Mrs. Dash, black pepper…) in a bowl. Shape into meatballs, and cook on a cookie pan at 350 for 30-45 minutes. Serve with extra tomato sauce and mashed potatoes.

12. Stuffed peppers: (or zucchini, mushrooms, cabbage rolls,  grape leaves…) for this recipe, you take the above recipe for porcupine meatballs, and stuff it into a vegetable. Wrap it in cooked cabbage leaves, pile it onto portobellos, or stuff hollow bell peppers. Bake at 350 for 30-50 minutes, until the outer veggie is tender.

13. Chicken & Rice casserole: the absolute easiest way is to take 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, dice into chunks, and put into a 8×8 oven-safe pan. Mix in 1 cup uncooked rice, 1 cup milk or chicken stock, and 1 cup diced vegetables. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour, uncover and sprinkle with cheese and bake another 5 minutes until crisp.

14. Sushi: as my salmon nigiri post shows, even an unskilled cook can manage an attempt at sushi. Prepare the white rice with vinegar and spices, and cover with fish of your choice. Seaweed optional.

cooked white rice and salmon for nigiri


15. Rice pudding: a classic dessert with endless variations, you can make this stove-top or in the oven. The basics are: simmer rice in milk 30-60 minutes, stirring regularly. Add cinnamon, sugar, any other sweeteners or flavorings (like almond extract, vanilla, maple syrup) and possibly eggs, chill and serve sprinkled with cinnamon.


And there you have it, one of the most versatile grains in the known world, with over 15 ideas of how to cook with it tonight. If you have unique ideas not mentioned here, please feel free to share!


Mediterranean Stuffed Mushroom Caps


Mushrooms are an awesome alternative to meat, especially thick portobellos or stuffed caps. They have the same texture and flavor if cooked just right, and are endlessly adaptible to different recipes. You really can’t go wrong with stuffed mushrooms. Any combination of grains, vegetables, and/or meat will work.

These Mediterranean-inspired mushrooms happened when I noticed I had some goat cheese, kalamata &green olives, and produce I needed to use. You can use feta if you have it for the most authentic tastes. Or any other type of cheese you like. You can also sub in any other kind of olives, or omit them entirely. The choice is yous.

12 medium mushrooms (2-3 inch diameter)
2-3 oz cooked ground beef
1/2 cup cooked rice
1/4 cup cooked lentils (can omit)
1 green onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
3-4 oz goat cheese (or cream cheese)
1/4 cup kalamata/green olives, diced


Step 1: Remove the mushroom stems, dice up, cook, and add to a bowl. Place the caps flat in a sprayed baking dish.


Step 2: In the bowl, mix the cooked rice, lentils, and beef. It’s easiest to add the cheese while still a little warm so it gets melty. Add the onion, tomato, and olives.


Mix everything well, and stuff about 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp of mixture into each mushroom.


Step 3: Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until juice starts to run. Serve hot.


These little guys are absolutely delicious! If you use smaller caps, they are a bite-sized appetizer with meal-sized flavor. If you use larger caps, one or two can be a meal unto itself. Omit the ground beef, and you have a lovely vegetarian dish as well.


Less than 5: Spanish Rice

This Less Than Five post will be the all-around qualifier: it takes less than 5 ingredients, less than $5, and less than 5 minutes (if you don’t count inactive cook time). 

When I have an idea for the main dish but need a quick side, rice is always my first thought. Rice is so versatile, you can put almost anything in it and it will taste great. And since I got my new rice cooker, I eat rice at least 3 days a week because it is so easy!

Even if you don’t have a rice cooker, rice is super simple to make. 

Stove top: Put 1/2 cup rice and 1 1/2 cup liquid in a pan, heat to boiling. You could use water, broth, tomato sauce, juice, whatever you want. Add any fresh or frozen vegetables too. Lower to simmer, and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and enjoy!
Microwave: Put 1/2 cup rice and 1 1/2 cup liquid in a microwave-safe bowl with plenty of room for the rice to boil. You could use water, broth, tomato sauce, juice, whatever you want. Add any fresh or frozen vegetables too. Microwave for 15-20 minutes on high, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Fluff and enjoy!

Now, for this spanish rice I cheated a little and used a boxed mix because it was on sale for $0.73. You could also use a tbsp chili powder and a small can of tomato sauce for about the same price and taste.

Rice: Bought on sale with spices included. = $0.73
Can of corn: On sale 2 for $1, one for $0.50. = $0.50
Can of diced tomatoes: Usual price is $0.69. = $0.69
Total: $1.92 for about 5 servings = $0.38 per serving!

1 box Spanish Rice mix
(Or 1 cup rice, 1 small can tomato sauce, 1 tbsp chili powder)
1 can of corn
1 can of diced tomato
1 cup water

Step 1: Spray the rice pot lining, combine all ingredients. Don’t drain the corn or tomatoes, the juice adds extra flavor.

Step 2: Turn the rice cooker on and let cook for ~20 minutes. Or use one of the above cooking methods.

Step 3: Serve and enjoy. I made chicken legs to go with my rice. But this would be delightful in a taco or burrito, as a side to enchiladas, baked into a frittata, or on its own as a vegetarian meal.

What’s your favorite easy side dish?


Easiest steak stir-fry

Anyone who doesn’t have a personal chef is a fan of meals that are fast and easy to make. Bonus if it happens to NOT be grease-laden, deep-fried, double-wrapped hatred of yourself. Aka some semblance of nutritional value. At least to me that’s a priority.
This is one of my standby all-time favorite recipes, used from the lowly days of undergrad’s first apartment until the present, it has never failed me yet. Once the individual ingredients are made, they are very versatile, and remain so even after mixing.
1 cup rice (I used easy brown)
1-2 cups frozen veggie, any you like
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed
*You can stop here for a filling vegan/vegetarian snack or meal, or continue to carnivorize it
2 tbsp sriracha, if you like it hot
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 cube frozen veggie stock or ice cube
1 small steak (or pork or chicken…)
Step 1: Mix 1 cup water and 1 cup rice, microwave on high 10 minutes. Let sit for 5, then fluff with a fork.

Step 2: Put frozen veggies and beans in a bowl, microwave 5-10 minutes while waiting for rice to absorb the water.

Step 3: Mix rice, beans and veggies. Sprinkle on some garlic salt and enjoy from here, or….

Step 4: Pour on the sriracha and soy sauce

Step 5: Put the steak in a frying pan on medium heat, add extra soy sauce if you like, and the cube of liquid. Cover and cook on medium for about 5 minutes, until nice and brown. Flip and cook on the other side 5 minutes.

Step 6: Remove steak and cut into bite-size pieces. Return to the pan along with the rice, veggies and beans and mix well. Heat through, and enjoy!

This is quite customizable based on what type of vegetables and meat you like, you can use white or brown rice, and mix up the type of beans too. Try Italian seasoning, or garlic salt, or Worchestershire. The sky’s the limit!

Hawaiian shrimp & broccoli

I am once again moving, so I make due with whatever is left in the house for dinner.
I had in my freezer:
1/2 bag frozen broccoli
1/2 bag frozen shrimp
In the fridge:
1/4 fresh pineapple
Soy sauce, Worchestershire, BBQ, ketchup
In the pantry:
1 bag simple rice, brown rice

Step 1: Microwave the rice 90 seconds and fluff.

Step 2: In a bowl, mix 2 tbsp ketchup, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce, 2 tbsp BBQ sauce, 1 tbsp sugar. Add shrimp, coat well. Microwave on high 4 minutes.

Step 3: Add broccoli, microwave another minute.

.Step 4: Dice pineapple very small. Add and mix well. Put 1/2 cup rice on plate, add 1 cup shrimp mix and some sauce. Dinner in under ten minutes! Enjoy!

Sweet and tangy, protein plus fruit & veggies!

Slow Cooker Cheddar Broccoli Rice

This is a super easy side dish, requiring only a few hours in a crock pot. It goes well with most anything. The end result is creamy, cheesy, and delicious.
1 cup rice
2 cups broccoli
1 full bag shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cup water

Step 1: Pour 1 cup rice into crock pot. Add 1 1/2 cups water.
Step 2: Add as much broccoli as you want, I put in about 2 cups pieces.
Step 3: Cover with shredded cheese.
Step 4: Cook on high 2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until rice is fully cooked and cheese is melted.

Makes about 5 cups, enough for 3-6 sides depending on what else is in the meal. You can cut down the amount of cheese here for less fat, or add in a can of cream of chicken soup for extra creaminess.