Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lunch & Dinner: Monday

Stir fry with cooked chicken added over basmati rice
Whole grain spaghetti
Peanut butter bars

I am so tired. I have been up since 5:30 am and haven’t stopped for much of the day.
This post will possibly reflect that. Smiles…

The stir fry stretched really well. My DIL and I served three children and ourselves and later, our home-for-the-summer son and teen daughter.

I am now trying out different recipes for stir fry as well as buying big, frozen bags with sauce packets in them. There are some ridiculously expensive smaller versions not at all worth the money and I don’t purchase those. The bags I buy are usually quite large and are all vegetables. I add my own meat when meals call for it but keep it out most of the time.

The last trip to Sam’s yielded a big bag of stir fry for a very low price and it was devoured both times I made it. There are two sauce packets per bag so I make two large meals for two or more families out of each one.

I put the sauce packet in hot water while heating up and then oiling the wok and then toss the vegetables in. I stir them around for five or more minutes --- just until there is nothing frozen or cold and then add the sauce packet. There are basic directions on the bag and I somewhat follow those.

I have always made the boil-in-a-bag rice (long grain white or brown) and this is such an easy way to make it. You literally just throw the bag (or in our case two bags at a time or more) in boiling water and let boil for around 10 minutes. When cooking time is complete, you just pull the bag out, open and empty!

I have battled making different kinds of rice over the years and finally settled on not making it anymore until I could afford a rice cooker. I had one I used a lot but it was aluminum and non-stick and I quit using either of those in my kitchen.
After reading various things online, watching uploaded videos, reading “how-to’s” and more. . . I decided to dive back. I have heard too many success stories to give up.

One thing I always do is rinse/wash the rice. I pour water to cover it and swish that around… scooping off/out anything that floats to the top. This is a sanitary thing because from harvesting to our stove tops … a lot can happen. There are other reasons but this is getting long so I’ll carry on.

I then put it in a wire mesh sieve/drainer and rinse under cold, running water for a few minutes. Next, I soak it anywhere from a few minutes to overnight depending on what I’m making when.

At least one place (and I think possibly the first) I found out about soaking the rice beforehand was Sally Falon’s: Nourishing Traditions cookbook. I also check out and try out many of the recipes on my friend, Crystal’s: www.thefamilyhomestead.com blog and site. I share her name/site a lot, I know. Great help in homemaking and more!

Anyway, a friend on my cleanandcozyhome email list (hi, Mary Lou!) told me how to soak rice for awhile and cook without draining. All of these combined have been ways the Lord allowed me to learn the art of making beautiful rice!

After years of a mess to clean with rice stuck all over the bottom of my cooking pans… I can have rice done better than in the rice cooker I used to use!

I don’t have my notes on brown rice right now because I am still without my computer where all that info is. I will share my most used rice because we get it in huge bags from Sam’s. This is the Basmati Rice I mentioned above.

Here are the basic instructions:

How to make basmati rice

(I will use the most used amount here but you can make any quantity you want. Just do the ratio of twice the amount of water as rice)

Rinse really well. Put in water and take off anything that floats. Put two cups or desired amount in a pan and cover with twice the water . Four cups for the two here and so on .

Let sit with lid on until ready to cook.
Bring to a boil. As SOON as it starts boiling, cover, put on lowest possible heat (I often use a simmer mat {http://simmermat.com/} and set a timer for exactly 20 minutes. Do not open the lid, jar it, or anything for the whole 20 minutes. Beautiful results!

For dinner, we had Quick Chicken Spaghetti and for a snack in the day, we ate the Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars and hot cups of coffee!

For the Quick Chicken Spaghetti, I cut up two chicken breasts and used the blade to “grind” them in the food processor. Even though the results were delicious, I will definitely seek a different route next time. The raw chicken was very hard to clean and I didn’t like trying. The last time I used chicken breasts in spaghetti, I had cooked chicken breast and ground that so I’ll probably do it that way from now on.

Anyway, I browned the ground chicken breasts just like ground beef in my cast iron skillet but with some olive oil and butter. This was added to a big jar of commercial spaghetti sauce (we are now trying to make our own to cut down on sodium but we keep a few big jars from Sam’s shopping trips. There are many times around here that we’ll go from one family to two, three, four or more at a time so I need to have fast ideas when those times happen!

The meal turned out so nice when I grated fresh parmesan over them. If I had more time, I would have put the whole grain spaghetti in a baking dish, covered with the sauce, covered and baked until really hot. Then, I would have grated the cheese over the top and broiled for a minute or few. Whole grain pastas hold up really well to baking.

Peanut butter bars from www.thefamilyhomestead.com. These served three families and were a huge hit with every single age. The only thing my daughter and I didn’t care as much for were using butterscotch chips instead of chocolate. I was out and took a chance but I don’t like butterscotch chips in the first place. I can’t wait to try them with what this called for!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

½ cup butter
½ cup cane juice crystals (I had none so I used brown sugar and the Sucanat called for)
½ cup Sucanat
½ cup peanut butter (no added sugar and non hydrogenated)
½ t vanilla
1 cup whole wheat pasty flour
1 cup quick oats
¼ t salt
1 cup chocolate chips, grain sweetened if possible (used butterscotch chips my sister gave us)

1 cup powdered Sucanat (or powdered sugar if you can’t find the powdered sucanat)
¼ cup peanut butter
3T milk

Heat oven to 350. Spray 9x13 pan with non stick spray. In Bosch (or KA) combine butter, sugars, peanut butter and vanilla until smooth.

In a small bowl combine flour, oats and salt. Add this mixture to the butter mixture in your mixer. Mix all until just combined.

Press dough into pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Bake for 20 minutes.

While cookie bars are baking make Icing…

Combine powdered sugar and peanut butter in mixer bowl. Add milk until icing consistency. Add more milk if too thick and a little more powdered sugar if too thin.

After you take the bars out of the oven pour icing over the top while the bars are still warm. Swirl the icing with the chocolate chips. Let it cool completely. Cut into bars.

These definitely do better when you let cool completely like suggested. I tried to hurry things up by starting the cutting while they were still hot and it was messy. Left the rest alone and they did much better when cooled.

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