Whether you are the Pioneer Woman, a contestant on the Worst Cooks in America, or just trying to get culinary in a small south Arkansas town, nothing makes dinner easier than a “cabinet creation.” Growing up, I always dreaded “clean out the fridge” buffet night. I would offer to help my mom get the meal ready because that left me first in line to pick out the remains of my favorite meal of the week. Thus leaving the mushy stuff that I didn’t like for the slow pokes who weren’t listening when the dinner bell rang!
On the contrary, I LOVED nights when my mom just winged it. She was (and still is) the queen of creativity in the kitchen. She taught me how to make incredible meals on a tight budget. She can always remake leftovers in to a new creation.She can take parts of two different meals and if you don’t pay attention, you think she has cooked a fresh dish 3 nights in the same week! It’s a not-so- secret talent and it’s been fun as we have added son-in- laws to the mix at our holiday table to watch their amazement at her dinner creations.
What she does best is always seek to be present with her people. Doing this takes lots of preparation. Mama will cook the week or weekend before we come and have meals ready in the fridge or freezer that we just have to bake and eat. (That leaves us more time for shopping, craft projects, window shopping, bargain hunting, cashing in coupons, and more shopping – all the essential things for time with your mama!)
She is also really great at her own “semi-homemade” treats. She will have the meat or cooked parts ready and just stir it all together at meal time. That’s exactly what happened with today’s dish. On their own, any of these ingredients are just fine. But, together, they are magic! And if a Cajun likes anything, it’s the magic that happens in a slow, stewed gumbo.
Keisha (Pittman) McKinney is settling in to her new married life in South AR after she #becamemrsmckinney. A Digital Media Director by day for a church in Northwest Arkansas, Keisha is remembering what its like to plan ahead for shopping trips to “the city,” getting resourceful at her small town Walmart and creating online shopping personas everywhere. She blogs @bigpittstop about daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats and the social justice cases on her heart.
I don’t know about you but I hate to go grocery shopping. I hate battling crowds, always forgetting something, and the store usually being out of the one thing I came to get. So frustrating!
With all of that being said when I can’t find anything to make for dinner I usuallyplay a game with myself called “Iron Pantry”. It’s similar to the TV show Iron Chef (is that show still on??) in that I just dig through the pantry for random ingredients and make them into a meal. I have created some of my favorite meals this way! Today Iam going to share that meal with you, Spicy Ranch Chicken and Rice!
I was playing Iron Pantry one night when I created one of my all time favorite meals!! I literally came up with this recipe when I was in college and it’s still around today. Two things that I always keep on hand are chicken and brown rice…I switched from white to brown rice when I was in college and never looked back. It just tastes so much better to me than white rice!!
I marinated my chicken in some fat free Italian dressing and grilled it on my George Foreman. Can I just stop and say right here that I am obsessed with my George? I am a single lady and have not yet mastered an outdoor grill, but I can grill anything on my George!
I usually use whatever brown rice I find but have made it a point lately to buy Riceland Brown Rice. I love knowing that the rice I use was grown and harvested right down the road, Plus it just tastes better than most.
With my protein and grain I had a great start for the base for my meal! The night I created this meal I had some bell peppers, mushrooms, and garlic that I needed to use so I decided to sauté them and mix them in with my chicken and rice. The meal was looking better but needed a little something…
After digging though my spice cabinet I decided to spice it up with some Cajun seasoning. I always have Cajun seasoning on hand; it just goes good on everything!!
It was looking pretty good but I decided to kick it up a notch and throw a little Hidden Valley Spicy Ranch on it and HOLY MOLY it was amazing!! And finally finished…HA!
These days I usually have everything I need to make this Spicy Ranch Chicken and Rice on hand and make it at least once a week. Sometimes I switch the veggies up and just use whatever I have on hand but that's the beauty of any recipe, you can totally customize it to what you like!
So that’s it for my favorite go-to dish!! What’s yours??
Arkansas Women Blogger Ricci Ellis is an Arkansas native and current central Arkansas resident. Her favorite titles include dog mom, sister, aunt, blogger and respiratory therapist. You can catch up with her on her lifestyle blog, Ricci Alexis, or on any social media @riccialexis.
ARWB member Renee Birchfield shares her step-by-step method for making stir-fried rice on her blog If Spoons Could Talk.
Stir-fried rice is a popular dish not only when dining out, but also for making in our homes. With a little ingenuity, rice, a few vegetables and a bit of protein, if desired, you can whip up a tasty and filling meal for your family in a short amount of time.
“Stir-Frying is defined as frying rapidly over high heat while stirring briskly. It is the Chinese version of the French’s sauteeing, typically done in a wok over high heat. If you don’t have a wok though that is ok, but if this becomes a common method of cooking for you I recommend that you get a good quality one as it does help when cooking.”
Arkansas Women Blogger members enjoy a special relationship with Riceland Foods. Not only is this Arkansas-based company headquartered here, it supports and features some of the best farmers and producers in our state. Riceland is unique because it is a cooperative of rice farmers, meaning it is owned by those farmers. Both Riceland and ARWB take tremendous pride in supporting our local farmers and producers.
Captain Mom, also known as Rhonda Franz our Girl Friday of everything The Women Bloggers, starts her family’s day off right with a Favorite Way to Eat Brown Rice for Breakfast. I certainly remember eating and loving steaming bowls of rice with sugar and cream especially on cold, winter mornings.
And who doesn’t love a good dessert? Rice can be your go-to ingredient for sweet craving as well as for your savory. Julie Kohl of Eggs and Herbs, Content Creator for ARWB, recently shared her Jumble Cookie recipe — perfect for lunch box treats.
I’m really looking forward to experimenting more with Riceland’s Jazmine (Jasmine) Rice in some of the Indian and Thai recipes I’m learning. (Thanks Swathi!)
Have you checked out the Riceland blog? Here are a few other examples of some of the jewels you’ll find when you do!
You don’t have to have a big fancy grill or even a tiny disposable one to have delicious barbecued chicken. I used to think that barbecue was saved for big family picnics or get-togethers at a local park and you …Continue reading…
It seems like every restaurant that serves kabobs on the menu or every butcher shop that sells pre-cooked kabobs follow a set routine by only offering chicken or beef. I often wonder, why the discrimination over other kabob meats?Continue reading…
As the resurgence of Sunday Suppers, potlucks, and general embracing of comfort foods tease us weekly on our social media apps, I am on the constant lookout for family-style desserts that are easy, delicious, and will please all age groups. …Continue reading…
When I think of black-eyed peas, I am instantly transported to a magical place of antebellum homes, magnolia trees, and mint juleps. In my minds-eye, I am sipping the mint juleps and fanning myself from the summer heat and persistent …Continue reading…
We all have those times when the day is super busy but there is still a desire to put a healthy, delicious meal on the table. This Brown Rice Chicken Skillet Dinner is quick, easy and sure to please even …Continue reading…
I keep leftover turkey and chicken in my freezer just about all of the time. It comes in handy for those evenings when I need a quick and easy dinner.During the holiday season when the prices are really good, I …Continue reading…
Just about everyone enjoys the spicy taste of Mexican food. From tacos to burritos to enchiladas, we just never seem to tire of all the combinations of meat, cheese, rice, beans, avocados and peppers. While we do enjoy those, one …Continue reading…
In late August and early fall in the South, all thoughts turn to football. And that, of course, means it’s time to tailgate! And while tailgate used to be just that —a picnic on the tailgate of your honey’s pickup …Continue reading…
Good friends are such a blessing. And they are especially so when they share delicious, original recipes with you and allow you to share those as you please. My good friend, Chef Liz Bray, created the original version of this …Continue reading…
Every Sunday, my in-law’s church hosts a dessert social following the evening sermon. Parishioners bring a variety of desserts to share while they mill around and enjoy each other’s company. My mother-in-law is always looking for fun new recipes and …Continue reading…
If Taco Tuesday isn’t a thing in your house, it should be. And if you’re not eating breakfast for dinner on a regular basis, well you should be doing that too. We love Taco Tuesday and breakfast for dinner in …Continue reading…
Even though I try not to indulge in sweet stuff too often, every now and then my sweet tooth strikes out in full force. It usually happens in the evening. You know, the times when you are already in pajamas and …Continue reading…
Join me Tuesday, September 27 when I’ll be sharing some of our favorites from Riceland on THV11 This Morning — at 6:15 am (go ahead and set your DVR:)
Bon Appetít Y’all
All recipes and photos courtesy of Riceland Foods.
I enjoy Indian curries with all kinds of lentils and veggies and I also like the fresher feel of Thai curries with citrus flavors and seafood.
These days you can buy your own curry pastes in the grocery store, but there is something sort of nourishing about crushing the garlic and mixing the flavors all together yourself. Making a curry from scratch is not hard, but it can involve a lot of ingredients.
This Thai curry is fairly simple and a lot of the ingredients you might already have on hand, like the spices. Consider tracking down lemongrass and fish sauce a kind of flavor treasure hunt. Both of these make this dish smell and taste divine.
I put together this recipe after ordering a similar dish in a fairly expensive Thai restaurant. It is way less expensive to make, of course, and my whole family enjoys it. (Always a win!)
This is a good curry for the warmer months of the year because it’s not as heavy as many other creamy rice dishes.
1 stem lemongrass, ends trimmed and sliced lengthways
1 jalepeno pepper
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
For the curry
2 cups cooked shrimp
2 cups green vegetables (I used broccoli and sugar snap peas)
1 can coconut milk
1 teaspoon fish sauce
Cooked Basmati rice (to serve on the side)
Fresh cilantro (for serving)
Make the paste by taking all ingredients and crushing them with a mortar and pestle, or you can use a food processor. I like the mortar and pestle method but you will end up with larger stems of lemongrass. You can leave them large and then pull them out just before serving.
Heat a large skillet.
Add paste and cook for about five minutes.
Add prawns (shrimp), then the coconut milk and fish sauce. Cook for about five minutes before adding green vegetables.
Simmer 5-10 minutes more. Serve with Riceland Long Grain White Rice and garnish with cilantro leaves.
Alison Chino is a born and bred Arkansan who lives in Scotland (soon to be Germany), where she is learning to walk everywhere and to live with tiny appliances. She loves hiking the Scottish Highlands with her husband and kids on the weekends. She’s blogs at the Chino House and she’s pretty much obsessed with Instagram.
When the days grow shorter and darker and colder, Gina K of Desperately Seeking Gina, turns to one of her favorite comfort foods she fondly remembers from her youth growing up in Michigan. Breakfast Rice was a staple Gina’s mother prepared every Saturday morning.
On cold winter mornings, usually weekends, she would make a pot of plain white rice. On the kitchen counter she would set out sugar, a tub of margarine, and a gallon of cold milk straight from the fridge and we were free to fix our own bowls of breakfast rice. The older we got, the more exotic breakfast rice became. We experimented with additions of brown sugar, imitation vanilla, and sometimes a shake of cinnamon. There was always a side of buttered toast for dunking
Many of us grew up eating rice for breakfast just like Gina did. Maybe there was butter and sugar. Or perhaps cream–the good kind straight from the top of the milk can. However we seasoned it or otherwise adorned it, it was a blessing of comfort that filled our tummies and started our days well.
Arkansas has historically been the largest rice produced in the United States. Rice production contributes more than $6 billion to the state’s economy and accounts for over 25,000 jobs. The five largest rice-producing counties in the state of Arkansas are Poinsett, Arkansas, Cross , Jackson (101,762 harvested, and Lawrence.
Rice & The Environment Rice growing is eco-friendly and has a positive impact on the environment. Rice fields create a wetland habitat for many species of birds, mammals and reptiles. Without rice farming, wetland environments created by flooded rice fields would be vastly reduced
Rice can be used for crafts and to keep salt from clumping and as the noisemaking element in a homemade rain stick.
As a wedding guest, I have thrown rice at brides and grooms running from their ceremony to their decorated getaway car. As a special education teacher, I used dry rice to help my students develop fine motor skills and as a tool for working on sensory issues.As a mom, I’ve used dry rice at home with my children as they developed their imagination while working on measurement concepts, and used the rice as a calming when a child needed a few minutes of quiet.
Specific skills children can work on with tubs of textured materials:
For children who avoid certain textures, allowing play in dry rice provides a structured way for them to develop a tolerance to the littlest of surfaces that bother them when they walk or wear certain clothing.
For children who seek certain textures, allowing play in dry rice lets them get that sensory input.
Pinching rice between fingers and scooping up a batch with hands gives children hand eye coordination practice.
Experimenting with measuring cups, spoons and funnels helps children develop their spatial and measurement skills.
I like putting magnet letters or numbers in a bowl of dry rice, and letting my youngest pull them out and practice identifying each one. All of my boys find it fun and a little calming to work the rice with their hands and let it spill through their stretched fingers (and it’s kind of calming for their mom, too).
Ideas for dry rice:
Empty 2 or 3 2-lb bags or Riceland rice in a bowl or tub small enough for rice to fill a third to one-half the container.
Toss in a couple of funnels, spoons, and a couple of measuring cups.
Hide large wooden beads in the rice and provide a string for children to lace each bead as they find it.
Squeeze liquid glue on a large print writing of their name. Have kids pinch the rice grains between their fingers and sprinkle it over the letters. Allow glue to dry and shake off the rest of the rice, revealing their name.
Rhonda Franz is an educator and mom of three boys. Her kids like a tub of dry rice almost much as they liking eating cooked rice. As a result of both these activities, her kitchen floors are rarely clean.
I think I always have at least one rice dish in a day, and without that I don’t feel like I have had a proper meal. I have felt like that many times while I am traveling. Yes, we people from South India consume rice more than other parts of India. We make dishes with rice for our breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The most flavorful way of cooking rice in India is to make Biriyani, a dish that originated in the royal kitchens of Mughal emperors. Usually rice and meats mainly lamb, chicken, fish etc. are cooked in gravy and then incorporated with separately cooked rice and arranged in layers just like lasagna sans any cheese but with spices. Hyderabadi Nizams have a few vegetarian versions of biriyani; one is called Tahiri (Tehri) Biryani which is made with vegetables, spices and rice. The second one is qubooli, a flavorful combination of lentil, rice and spices the preparation is most like biriyani.
According to the author of The Emperors Table: The Art of Mughal Cuisine,Salma Husian, Aurangzeb, said to be the most devout of the emperors, was a vegetarian for most of his life. Based on the Rukat-e-Alamgiri, a book with letters from Aurangzeb to his son, there is anecdotal evidencethat the ruler loved qubooli, a type of mega-biryani with rice, split chick peas, dried apricot, basil, almond and curd.
My version of qubooli is different from the book as I didn’t use any almond, holy basil, or dried apricot. It is closer to modern day version. I did use yogurt as in is traditional version. If you want to make it vegan use cashew or any other vegan yogurt. For this recipe you need to cook both split chickpeas and rice separately.
When you cook rice (Riceland Extra long grain rice)you need to make it aromatic using whole spices like caraway, green cardamom, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cloves and herbs like cilantro and mint leaves. Then make gravy with cooked split chickpeas. Layer the rice and split chickpea gravy alternatively with fried onions, extra herbs and saffron and finally heat them through it once again. Traditionally, you need to seal the pot with dough and cook in low flame which is called “Dum,” an essential part of any biriyani.You can cheat that process with either baking them in oven at 300°F for 10 minutes or even cooking them in a Dutch oven. I used a Dutch oven to finish off cooking qubooli. Make sure not to overcook the rice or split chickpeas or you will get risotto, not qubooli. Any perfect biriyani requires rice should be in separate grains.
Here comes the recipe, even though it requires some preparation, in the end it is worth all the effort. You can‘t get this yummy dish at any Indian restaurants, so give it a try.
Swathi (Ambujom Saraswathy) was born in Trivandrum Keral, Indiaandblogs at Zesty South Indian Kitchen. She loves to explore cuisines from all over the world. She has a weakness for freshly baked bread and is still counting all the recipes she would like to try. After earning her PhD in microbiology and working in Japan, Sweden and the U.S., Swathi is now a Texas stay-at-home mom to two wonderful young kids. Her loving husband is her primary taste-tester who gives an up or down vote for the dishes she makes. Please connect with Zesty South Indian Kitchen’s Social Media Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,Google Reader and Instagram.
Celebrating the Flavors of Arkansas: Riceland Rice and the Farmers Market
Hundreds of farmers markets and roadside vendors are registered with Arkansas Grown, so odds are great, you’re able to enjoy locally grown produce no matter what part of the state you call home. Cooking and eating locally grown food is beneficial to our environmental and your health. Before I share one of my favorite recipes using local veggies, let’s talk about the benefits of buying locally. It’s important, y’all!
Did you know that for every dollar you spend locally, three dollars is pumped into your local community? This impact is called the Multiplier Effect.
Buying local creates more local jobs. Not only do small business owners hire employees, these are the companies buying local advertising, printing, hiring attorneys, etc. In other words, buying local is a long-term investment in community.
Buying fresh veggies from the local farmer’s market reduces overall environmental impact. Think about it… Oregon apples sold in Arkansas include the cost of transportation, congestion, and pollution. Buying local minimizes and nearly eliminates this. (And I have nothing whatsoever against Oregon apples.)
Local food is fresher, tastier, and in season.
Going to the Fayetteville Farmers Market is one of the best things about Saturday morning. My husband and I typically go without a plan, buy whatever is fresh and in season, and then create supper using what we bought. And lots of times supper includes fresh vegetables—either roasted or stir-fried—and Riceland rice.
My Farmers Market Risotto can be used with a variety of vegetables. On our most recent trip to the farmers market, we purchased two types of onions, red bell pepper, and asparagus. (For this dish, I roasted the asparagus separately and served it on top of the risotto.)
Arkansas Women Bloggers member Talya Tate Boerner is a delta girl who grew up making mudpies on her family’s cotton farm in Northeast Arkansas. After thirty years in Texas, she has returned to the state she loves, settling in Northwest Arkansas. Talya draws inspiration from nature and appreciates the history behind food, family, places and objects. She blogs at Grace, Grits and Gardening and has been published in Arkansas Review, Front Porch and several on-line publications. Talya believes most any dish can be improved with a side of collard greens. Her debut novel, The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee, is available at Barnes & Noble, via Amazon, and at certain indie bookstores.
There is such a thing called season fatigue. It happens when one season is ending and another begins. Let’s be honest, the fatigue sets in about a month before the new season actually begins. You know that itchy feeling you get when you are ready for fall?
You are done with mowing the grass, washing bug splatters off the windshield, and you find yourself wearing a sweater to work because the weatherman said that it will be in the low 80s today. Think about that. If it is springtime and the weatherman says low 80s, the shorts and tank are donned faster than you can say Off! mosquito spray.
As we tiptoe into the cooler waters of fall, there are a few areas of summer we may still want to hold on to and linger a while before we let them go. The slowing down of summertime we enjoy such as eating outside, grilling, nibbling on smaller plates and chilling over longer conversations.
For today’s foodie Friday, I got to thinking. What would be better than to share a dinner idea that has us transitioning from summer to fall? The ingredients really can be anything but should follow along this format:
GRILLING + SUMMER STAPLE + FALL INGREDENT = #summer2fall
It’s that simple really. I can’t wait to hear what combinations you come up with or dream up. By all means, comment before you actually make dinner. Just be sure to come back and share a photo or two. We’re in this together.
How does a grilled tostada with grilled sweet potatoes and grilled chicken sound, to get you started?
When I was a kid, my mom made runny, undercooked, boring scrambled eggs. I decided to take matters in my own hands and learned how to 1) make dry scrambled eggs and 2) kicked it up a notch and learned how to make cheese omelets. Never again did I have runny, undercooked, boring scrambled eggs. Thanks mom!
What is your favorite international cuisine?
slow food from France and Italy
I like the country rustic fare from just about anywhere: fresh fish plucked from the sea, lightly but perfectly seasoned, wine with brie and fruit and long conversations, and whole chicken simmered in broth with garlic. I can appreciate fancy food yet I fall in love with simplicity that is delicious.
What is always in your refrigerator at home?
good, grass-fed butter
whole whipping cream
large curd cottage cheese
whole milk plain yogurt
minced garlic in a jar (what, you didn’t think I always mince my own garlic, did you?)
What is your go-to ingredients that you use time and time again?
When you’re not cooking, what are your favorite pastimes?
kayaking, fishing or just hanging out in the lake, remodeling, landscaping, going for drives with my husband and hanging out with family.
What else would you like us to know about you? I need a clutter-free zone to function properly.
Arkansas Women Blogger member Lyndi Fultz writes about living and eating well from her life in beautiful Northwest Arkansas at nwafoodie. Much of her blogging inspiration comes from this gem of a place, which she refers to as the proverbial land of milk-and-honey. Read more related to cooking, entertaining, gadget suggestions, ingredient explorations, local finds, local restaurant treasures, kitchen tour spotlights, and always with a healthy and simplistic approach.