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!

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