Sunday, November 23, 2014

Puzzle Piece Meal Planning

One of the quiet, glowing joys of my life is making meals fit together. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to be filling out the grocery list and know that the peas and carrots will go into the potato soup, and the potatoes can also fill out a chicken pie, and the chicken will also make chicken and rice and the rice, peas and carrots can make a nice vegetarian meal.

I know. I only pretend to be complicated and interesting. Secretly I am thrilled by very simple things.

Tonight we had one of our quick-dinner go-to's. We call it "Hibachi."

To make Hibachi, all you need is:

chicken thighs
oil or butter
Yum-Yum Sauce

Set your rice going. Take a few chicken thighs and cook them in a skillet over medium heat. (Fun fact! Chicken thighs are thinner than breasts, and so you can take them right from the freezer, run them under warm water to take the edge off, then cook them right away, and they'll cook all the way through without overcooking on the outside.) Saute the carrots and onions. Cut chicken into small pieces and mix with the vegetables. Rice in bowl, chicken and veggies on top, Pour Yum-Yum Sauce over all.

Just like the sauce says, it's yummy and super easy and quick. When we have broccoli in the house, I like to toss in a cup of that as well. You could probably add any number of vegetables if you happened to have them on hand.

And the great thing about having Hibachi for dinner, is ... (drum roll) ... rice pudding for breakfast. The meals fit together perfectly and takes care of your leftovers.

This picture pretty much sums up Munchkin, Twinkle's and my opinion of rice pudding:

Aaand 'Stache is a stoic sort of guy and eats it without comment. Ahem.

This is my current favorite rice pudding recipe, adapted from various recipes on

Current Favorite Rice Pudding

1 cup leftover rice (I use brown rice)
4 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp (or more!) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (or more!) nutmeg

Mix everything together. Be especially careful to fully incorporate the eggs. Whisks are helpful but elbow grease will suffice if necessary. Do not try to make the cinnamon and nutmeg dissolve into the milk. It will not. Pour everything into a large saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat for 40-50 minutes, stirring every so often. When it is the consistency of oatmeal, it's done. (If you used white rice, it should be done much faster. Maybe 20-30 minutes?)

This is delicious with raisins or nuts or just plain. It reheats beautifully, so I like to make it right after dinner (thus doing dishes only once!) and refrigerate it for tomorrow's breakfast. If you want, this recipe works perfectly well with 4 cups of milk made from dry milk and water.

Delicious, cheap and makes for great puzzle piece meal planning!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Randomly On Wednesday

1. Apparently allergy season isn't over. I spent Monday sneezing 5 or 6 times every 5 or 6 minutes. I went through an entire roll of toilet tissue. Munchkin likes to watch my nose drip and say "Eeeeeeewwwwww!" Anyone who can direct me to local honey or allergy meds that actually work will receive a pound cake.

2. When I counted the number of books (707) in my house the other week I completely forgot about the 468 on my Kindle.

3. If I think about it too much it makes me nervous to take my Kindle out of the house. If you figure an average price of $4.99 per book, my Kindle is worth more than our car.

4. I am 5 smidges away from finishing a sweater (and having something fun to blog about, yay!) but I keep doing things like checking facebook and erm, blogging about having something good to blog about in the future. Ahem.

5. A friend informed me today that not all cinnamon is actual cinnamon. Some is fake and doesn't have the same health benefits. For one kind, the sticks are like a pair of binoculars, or a scroll, and the other kind the sticks are all single rolls. She couldn't remember which is which but this distinction is effectively irrelevant because all my cinnamon is powdered. Would it say somewhere on the label, "Sorry this only pretends to be cinnamon but we hope you like the taste anyway?"


6. My cinnamon (or is it "cinnamon?") does not list ingredients but merely wishes to inform me that "Ground cinnamon comes from the bark of selected cassia trees. It is a traditional spice for baking and desserts." This seems evasive. I am suspicious.

7. Twinkle likes to drift between various British accents for certain words. "Daddy" is being pronounced "dotty," "dirty" is "doidy" and "no" is a broad, Cockney "nyaow."

8. Twinkle is also completely convinced that he and Munchkin have the same name. (His.) All arguments to dissuade him have been met with an unshakable confidence that he is in the right.

9. A random picture from this summer for visual interest and for those (you know who you are!) who only read my blog for the cute pics of their grandchildren.

Photo courtesy of Rachael Kulick Photography
10. Ohhhhh Twinkle was such a round-faced baby when this picture was taken. Must. Take. More. Photos.