Easy Cheesy Broccoli Rice

White rice has a bad rap because much of the vitamins, minerals and fibers in rice are in the bran and germ, and these are removed in the milling and polishing processes to create white rice.  Although in the USA, white rice is enriched by law so that some of the B vitamins, iron and folate levels are similar to or above that of the whole grain (brown rice).  White rice is also often considered unhealthy because it is both high in carbohydrates and easily digestible which causes spikes in blood sugar, potentially concerning to diabetic individuals.

White Rice is Awesome

Despite those reasons, white rice makes a regular appearance on our kitchen table.  It’s high in complex carbohydrates which we need for energy. The general rule of thumb is that half of our calories should be from complex carbohydrates.  White rice is also a relatively fat-free, sodium-free and cholesterol-free source of protein.

The main reasons why white rice is a staple in this household is because it’s quick and easy to cook, it’s inexpensive, and it’s very versatile.  It’s neutral taste and texture blends well with most foods and white rice can be made into virtually any part of the meal: soups, salads, mains, sides, or desserts.  And it seems that no matter how it’s made, it’s a comfort food too.

It’s a comfort food in particular though when it’s hot and cheesy.  This recipe is my go to cheesy rice recipe because it doesn’t require any butter or cream so it’s light, but still very tasty and fulfilling.

Cheesy Broccoli Rice Recipe

  • 1 lb broccoli florets
  • 3 cups white rice
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp chicken bouillon
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 slice ginger
  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  • 3 oz shredded cheese of choice or 4 slices of cheese

When serving rice as a side, the general rule of thumb is 1/3 to 1/2 cup of uncooked rice per person.  When serving this cheesy broccoli rice as a side, that won’t be enough 😉

Cheesy Broccoli Rice Method

  1. Rinse rice (optional if it’s clean or you prefer a stickier rice dish)
  2. Heat oil and fry garlic and ginger and black pepper until fragrant, a few minutes
  3. Add rice to pan and cook until rice is toasted, approximately 5 minutes

fragrant rice4. Remove rice mixture from heat.  Add chicken bouillon to rice mixture and mix well

5. Add broccoli, rice mixture, sugar and chicken broth to pressure cooker and set for 12 minutes (I have a rice setting on my pressure cooker so it’s dummy proof for me).  If using stove top or microwave or rice cooker, chicken broth and cooking time will need to be adjusted to your methods

frozen broccoli

I use frozen broccoli florets (from Costco) and add them to the pressure cooker frozen and they are so soft that they practically disintegrate after 12 minutes.  They are also so sweet that I omit the sugar in the recipe

6. After rice is cooked, mix in cheese while rice is still hot until cheese is melted

cheesy broccoli rice

Can you believe there is a whole pound of broccoli in there?  This can probably be called a sneaky recipe too.

7. Let rest 10 minutes and serve while it’s still warm or reheat if necessary.  Enjoy!

cheesy rice with chicken

Tonight we had cheesy broccoli rice and strawberry chicken, with extra cheese for my daughter.  More cheesy please!

Cheers,

with love charlie

Easy Yummy One Pan Garlicky Ketchup Chicken

Gralicky Ketchup Chicken with vegetables, rice and quinoa

Garlicky Ketchup Chicken

Doesn’t it seem like some days just get away from you? I thought I was ahead of the dinner game when I managed to pull a bag of chicken out of the freezer to defrost, and cooked a pot of rice and quinoa while my daughter was busy helping stir the pumpkin into the egg mixture for the Libby’s Pumpkin muffins we were baking.

Instead, my daughter won’t take her afternoon nap and at 6 PM, she was fussy and I still haven’t a clue what was for dinner except that there was rice and quinoa, and the boneless and skinless chicken thighs were defrosted.

I’ve been wanting to use the green beans I got earlier in the week from Costco so I Googled ‘chicken green bean recipes’ and thought a green bean and chicken casserole that came up looked tasty.  But it’s getting much too late to be attempting to make cream of chicken soup from scratch since I didn’t have any on hand so I pinned it for another night.

Does Pinterest come with a warning label? It’s a dangerous place for me when it comes to time management.  I’m not sure what happened after I pinned the recipe but I ended up looking at shrimp recipes when I had no shrimp in the house, just defrosted chicken and a picture for sweet and sour shrimp looked really delicious.

While the term sweet & sour often conjures up an image of something fried and drenched in a bright red or orange sauce for some, it really can mean any flavor profile with both a strong sweet and a strong sour component.  The sour notes can be from vinegar, or tart fruits such as tomato, kiwi or pineapple, or sauces such as ketchup for example, and the sweet component can be from different types of sugar, sugar substitutes such as artificial sweeteners, honey, agave nectar, fruit preserves, syrup, etc.

Any of those variations are almost always well received by this family.  The balance of sweet and sour can be adjusted easily to your preference and works well with other spices on meats, seafood and vegetables.  Sweet and sour sauces are probably higher in sugar content so that might be something to consider if it’s important to you or your family.

By now, I think my daughter is hungry enough to eat anything so I just need to get food on the table quick.  I push away my phone and think.  The ketchup shrimp we had a few weeks ago was quick and easy to make and was wildly popular with my kiddo so maybe the sauce would translate well to chicken?

Garlicky (Sweet & Sour) Ketchup Chicken 

Adapted from one of my favorite sites for Cantonese recipes: The Hong Kong Cookery

Ingredients:
1 lb chicken (I used boneless and skinless thighs that were already marinated to taste with a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder)
1/2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup chicken stock (I used white grape and peach juice since I know the chicken we have on hand was accidentally over salted when it was marinated)
3 tbsp ketchup
3 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp Shao Hsing Rice Wine
1 tbsp garlic, crushed
1 tbsp soy sauce

Optional: vegetables of choice

Directions:

  1. Brown chicken on both sides, then add stock, cover, lower heat and cook until juice runs clear and until centers are no longer pink, approximately 20 minutes.  About halfway through, I added approximately three cups of frozen vegetables (organic broccoli, red pepper, mushroom & green bean stir fry mix) and some browned vegetarian sausages as meat substitute for me.
    Browned Chicken, Vegetarian Sausages, and organic vegetables

    Browned Chicken, Vegetarian Sausages, and organic vegetables

    Remove chicken, vegetables and any liquid from pan.

  2. In the same pan, heat oil with crushed garlic at low temperatures until fragrant and garlic is slightly browned but not burnt.
  3. Add remaining ingredients (ketchup, sugar, Shao Hsing Rice Wine, and soy sauce) and liquids from chicken and cook until sauce is thick enough to coat chicken. Ingredients: soy sauce, rice wine, juice and ketchup
  4. Add back chicken, and vegetables if added, to sauce and mix and cook just a few minutes until well mixed

Tips:

To save time, I used frozen vegetables and the chicken was marinated and frozen the day we purchased it a week ago so there was almost no prep time.  I crushed the garlic in one of the serving plates so I won’t have to wash the cutting board.

DSC00195

Also, I didn’t need to add any oil but depending on your pan, add oil ~2 tbsp. to brown chicken.  I am probably super annoying because I rave so much about my Anolon pans, but once I discovered that I did not need to add any oil to brown meats, even skinless chicken, I was in love.  LOVE.  My sister brought me the set from Macy’s as a gift after she fell in love with her pans and now my mom and brother both have sets in their kitchens too.  Look how nicely the skinless chicken browned without any oil added:

Love how nicely the chicken browns with no oil

Love how nicely the skinless chicken browns without adding any oil.  Affiliate link: Anolon Pans

My daughter enjoyed this dish so much that she ate the leftovers for the lunch the next day when normally having the same meal in succession is a big no-no in her books.  Sweet and sour saved dinner (and lunch)!  Maybe give this recipe a try – and let me know if you liked it.

So, does your family like sweet and sour as much as ours?  What is your favorite sweet and sour recipe?

My 8 Favorite Freezer Staples

I admit, I’m sometimes envious of the clothing and make-up hauls I see on YouTube, and calling my weekly groceries from Costco a ‘haul’ strangely makes me feel better.

Ever since I made the decision to stay home as a full time mom, the discretionary budget is tight and my previous spending on make-up, clothes and shoes suddenly seemed excessive so I cut waaaaaay back.  I suppose my daughter doesn’t really care about my OOTD, and she protests the entire time I try to apply my MOTD.  It’s not that she cares about groceries either but I just have a responsibility to feed her.

Groceries

We will probably struggle to finish all the Romaine lettuce but the fuji apples and corns often don’t last the whole week because they are both so sweet and so juicy.  The strawberries are usually pretty decent too even though they aren’t organic.

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Some of the Costco product sizes are a bit large for our family of three (i.e. the 6 pack of Romaine lettuce), but the selection and quality makes it worth managing, especially the non-perishables and frozen goods.

I used to rarely use frozen foods but after my daughter got old enough to protest every grocery trip I try to take, I took to frozen quickly and was pleasantly surprised.  For example, the frozen broccoli from my local Costco consistently tastes sweeter than most fresh broccoli and it is so soft and tender without being mushy.

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While I can’t get any “wok hei” with frozen, I now generally prefer it over fresh because there is no washing or prepping required, I can typically always have some on hand, and most importantly, I don’t have to worry about using up or wasting fresh broccoli.

Do you use frozen foods? What are your freezer staples? I love to always have these 8 items in the freezer:

  1. Frozen mixed vegetables
  2. Frozen broccoli
  3. Frozen meatballs (recipe)
  4. Frozen fish filet like Cod, Flounder, Salmon or Halibut
  5. Ravioli
  6. Hash Brown
  7. Marinated chicken
  8. Ice cream of some sort

With just a few pantry staples like rice or pasta, I am able to make a wide range of quick meals that my daughter will eat with these 8 frozen foods like congee (rice porridge), soup noodle with meatballs, fried rice, various chicken stir-fries, steamed fish with rice etc. This way I am able to plan fresh groceries and meals for only 4 days of the week but have meals as backup to maximize flexibility and minimize wastage.

The shopaholic in me can’t wait for the next haul, even if it’s only groceries 🙂