Yummy Jamaican Rice and Beans in Your Rice Cooker

Rice and beans has just a few ingredients, but for me, cooking it can be surprisingly high maintenance. It’s hard to know just how much water to add and exactly when to turn off the heat, and even with a watchful eye the bottom of the pan always seems to burn. I get it: Mastering the technique is a matter of tradition, a labor of love . . . an art more than a science. But I also just want some yummy rice and beans (or “peas” as they’re called in Jamaica). So, I caved and figured out how to make the dish in my amazing rice cooker and voila! Perfection every time. Here’s your fail proof, modernized Jamaican Rice & Peas recipe.

Quick Rice and Peas in the Rice CookerJamaican Rice and peas

  • ¾ cup canned red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 scallions, chopped (white and light green only)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups long grain white rice (get the plain kind, like Uncle Ben’s
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • a few dots of butter
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • about 3 cups water (or, the amount of water needed to fill contents to line on your rice cooker for 3 cups rice)

Heat oil over medium heat. Sautee garlic and scallions until they just begin to brown, then gently add the kidney beans and thyme. Continue sautéing another minute, taking care not to mash or break the beans. Remove from heat.

Pour rice into rice cooker. Add coconut milk, then add the garlic/scallion/bean mixture. Add salt and pepper (about a teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper). Finally add water, enough water to fill the contents up to the line needed for 3 cups of rice in your rice cooker. Turn on rice cooker and cook!

Homemade Baby Food in 3 Simple Steps

This week I’m making homemade baby food with one of my favorite ingredients, Japanese sweet potatoes. These potatoes have a purplish skin and a pale yellow texture; the texture and flavor is kind of a cross between white starchy potatoes, a yuca, and a sweet potato. To make the baby food here’s all you need to do:

  1. Bake one sweet potato at 400 degrees for about an hour or until very mushy. Let cool slightly.
  2. Scoop out the flesh and place in a food processor, blender, or mini prep.
  3. Add 1/4 cup of water (to start) and pulse until blended and smooth. Keep adding water by the 1/4 cup until desired consistency is reached. For a young baby (5-6 months) you’ll want a smoother puree; for older babies it can be more chunky.
Japanese Sweet Potato Baby Food

Japanese sweet potatoes make a yummy baby food that’s not overly sweet.

Delicious Pancakes from Scratch — Episode 22

First a little disclaimer: I promise I’m not trying to sabotage your healthy-eating New Year’s resolutions. You could be thinking more “detoxifying juice cleanse” than “delicious, scrumptious pancakes” right now. I get it. I’m sticking more closely to a few of my own rules and eating these egg white pancakes right now, too. But when you’re ready to indulge again —next week, next month, whatever— this is the only pancake recipe you’ll ever need. Why not just use the boxed pancake mix, you ask? Because making them from scratch is about the same amount of work, but is so, so much more satisfying and delicious. I’ve found that the most important tip is to let the batter sit a bit before starting to cook. This delay gives the batter time to rise and thicken for extra fluffy pancakes.

Delicious Pancakes from Scratch (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Pancakes from scratch: fluffy, delicious, and shockingly easy.

Pancakes from scratch: fluffy, delicious, and shockingly easy.

  • 1 cup bread flour* (spooned and leveled)
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter (or oil), and egg. Add dry ingredients to milk mixture; whisk until just moistened. Let batter sit about 25 minutes to thicken. Heat butter in a heavy skillet or crepe pan. For each pancake spoon 2-3 tablespoons batter into pan. Cook until surface of pancake has bubbles and some have burst. Resist the urge to flip them too early! Ideally, you want to flip only once. Then flip and complete cooking until golden brown. Top with butter, heated syrup, and fresh fruit for pure amazingness.

*Note, bread flour is also known as “high gluten” flour. So while it makes the pancakes super fluffy, it can sometimes upset sensitive bellies. Substitute all-purpose flour instead.

How to Make a Kid-Friendly Quesadilla

I love it when a recipe takes just minutes to cook on the stove top—makes it easier to quiet my inner lazy cook and forgo the microwave. This kid-friendly cheese quesadilla is one of those recipes. I’ve been learning a bunch of Latin cooking techniques from our amazing babysitter/adopted “abuela” Rafaela, who is Dominican. When I spotted her toasting the flour tortilla in a bit of vegetable oil, I knew I could never go back to a soggy quesadilla land again. I like to do a blend of cheeses: queso for its mild flavor and melty goodness, and a sharp cheddar for some kick. Plus, you can sneak in some veggies for the kids if you chop them up really small, like we did in this pasta salad recipe. You can also add shredded chicken to this for extra protein, like my Jamaican Jerk style shown here

Cheese Quesadilla 

This broccoli and cheese quesadilla is quick, easy, and kid-friendly.

This broccoli and cheese quesadilla is quick, easy, and kid-friendly.

  • 1 cup Queso style and/or sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup frozen broccoli, cooked & finely chopped
  • Large flour tortilla
  • Vegetable oil

Heat a teaspoon of oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Place tortilla in pan and heat, turning every 10 seconds or so until bubbles form and tortilla begins to lightly brown. Add cheese and broccoli; cover pan with lid until cheese is melted (about 30 seconds). Fold tortilla in half and cut into wedges. Serve with salsa and sour cream. 

Your Thanksgivingukkah Menu! Sweet Potato Latkes, Challah Rum Raisin Bread Pudding, Cranberry Applesauce & More!

Sweet Potato Latkes, Challah Bread Pudding and Cranberry Applesauce for your Thanksgiving and Hannukkah celebration.

Sweet Potato Latkes, Challah Bread Pudding and Cranberry Applesauce for your Thanksgiving and Hannukkah celebration.

Happy Thanksgivingukkah y’all! I hope you’re enjoying this fab amalgamation of holidays. We’re busy trying to get cooking Thanksgiving dinner amid the craziness of some excited kidlets with new Hanukkah presents. There are dry erase markers loose in my living room right now and there’s nothing I can do about it. Anyway, if you happen to catch me on CBS 46 yesterday I shared a few crossover recipes for your Thanksgivingukkah table: sweet potato latkes, cranberry applesauce, challah rum raisin bread pudding and my roasted lemon garlic brussels sprouts (which don’t really have a Jewish twist but I love them!). Here are the recipes!

Sweet Potato Latkes

(makes about 8 latkes)

  • 1 Russet Potato, peeled
  • 1 Sweet Potato, peeled
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 sprigs worth of fresh thyme (optional)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Grate potatoes and onion into a bowl using a large box grater. Place mixture into a strainer over another bowl; let drain for 10 minutes or so and then press out as much water from mixture as you can. It’s critical to get the mixture as dry as possible! You can even blot with a paper towel to sop up extra moisture. Another tip: drain the onion on its own first. That’s the major liquid culprit.
  2. Heat oil over medium heat in a nonstick skillet.
  3. Add egg, thyme, and seasonings to potato mixture. Blend well. Grab about three tablespoons of the mixture and form into a ball. Place it into the sizzling oil and flatten into a pancake with spatula. Let the latke brown on one side for about 5 minutes, then flip and brown for 5 minutes on the other side. Try not to flip the latke too soon or even peek at the bottom! Letting it be will help it set most nicely into its pancake shape.
  4. Remove latkes and let them drain on paper towels to remove excess grease.
20131129-102536.jpg

My challah rum raisin bread pudding has a yummy coconut twist.

For the pudding:

  • 1 braided loaf of Challah (A bit stale is better)
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grab a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. In a small bowl, combine rum and raisins. Set aside.
  2. Remove the crusts from the challah. Yeah, this is kind of a b*tch given that the loaf is braided. I use a large serrated knife and just work my way around slicing off as much crust as I can off each braid section. It doesn’t have to be perfect! In a food processor, blend the crusts into bread crumbs. Set aside 3 Tablespoons for the pudding and freeze the rest.
  3. Cube the challah and put it in a large bowl. Add the milk and coconut milk. Set aside to let saturate completely.
  4. In another bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg & salt. Pour it over the bread mixture, and add the raisins/rum. Stir until well blended.
  5. Grease the baking dish with some cooking spray. Then pour the mixture into the baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. The pudding will be more of a shallow pudding (about 1-2 inches high), rather than one of those really thick ones. I prefer this because I think it cooks through better. But for serving, you might cut two pieces and layer them on top of each other for a more scrumptious presentation.

Spiced Rum Sauce (adapted from Bon Apetit magazine)

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup spiced rum or dark rum
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg

Preparation:

  1. Stir brown sugar and butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add cream, rum, and cinnamon and bring to simmer.
  3. Simmer until sauce thickens and is reduced, about 5 minutes. It should have a nice, gooey, caramel-ly texture. Serve warm.
  4. Can be saved for leftovers; just reheat before later use.

Cranberry Applesauce

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water (to start)
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 4 large Granny Smith apples

Preparation

  1. In a medium sauce pot, combine cranberries, spices, sugar, water and wine. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes.
  2. Peel and core apples, then cut them into medium chunks (approximately ½-inch cubes), and add to the cranberry mixture.
  3. Cover sauce and continue to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If sauce begins to stick, add water (about 1/4 cup at a time).
  4. You might have to break up the apple chunks a little as it simmers, but leave some thicker. It gives the sauce a little more character I think!
  5. Remove from heat and let it cool before serving.

No Chop, One Pot Curried Cauliflower —Episode 21

If you’ve been following the show, you probably know the Shigleys tend to like our recipes simple and spicy! This one-pot curried cauliflower is just that—and makes an easy, flavorful vegetarian dish for a weeknight meal. Full disclosure, I call it “no chop” because each of the ingredients can be sourced already cut. But technically you might have to chop the onion/cauliflower if you don’t have the pre-chopped versions from the grocery store, or saved in your freezer. 

No Chop, One Pot Curried Cauliflower

Curried Cauliflower

Spicy and sweet curried cauliflower is a satisfying vegetarian meal.

  • 2 Teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • About 2 (10-oz.) packages fresh cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • Kosher salt
  • Cooked Basmati Rice
  • Store-bought Mango Chutney

Preparation

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Cook curry powder and red pepper in hot oil, stirring often, 1 minute.
  2. Add cauliflower, onion, peas and salt, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is crisp-tender.
  3. Reduce heat to low; add 6-8 Tbsp. water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes or just until cauliflower is tender.
  4. Serve with Basmati rice and mango chutney. 

Get Skinny Oatmeal and Egg White Pancakes—Episode 20

Want to eat like a fitness model? This week I’m sharing my recipe for a Get Skinny Oatmeal Pancake, which is adapted from a dish my best friend Amina made when she was training for a fitness bikini competition a few years back. I eat this dish for breakfast/snack for a few days when I’m trying to “lean out” before a big event or after indulging too much during, say, the holidays. 

For getting lean, you can’t beat “clean” ingredients like oatmeal and egg whites. Combining them together—with a smattering of delicious (and naturally low-carb) berries and a dash of cinnamon and sugar—yields a protein-packed pancake that’s hearty, tasty and great for the waistline.  The flavor and texture of the pancake kind of reminds me of matzoh brie, the fried matzoh version of French toast that is served during Passover.  Bon appetit!

Get Skinny Oatmeal Pancake

This delicious oatmeal pancake is protein-packed with egg whites.

This delicious oatmeal pancake is protein-packed with egg whites.

  • 4 Egg Whites
  • ½ cup regular rolled oats (not instant oatmeal)
  • ½ cup fresh berries such as blueberries/strawberries
  • Dash Cinnamon
  • Powdered sugar

Beat egg whites until foamy. Add oatmeal and cinnamon. Pour mixture into pan coated with cooking spray, over medium heat. When bottom of pancake begins to brown, place 1/2 of berries onto pancake (reserve the remaining half to top the finished pancake). Flip pancake and cook until both sides are golden brown.

Photo: Kevin Borke 

Bacon, Herb and Cheese Frittata—Episode 19

Frittata. It sounds so fancy, doesn’t it? I thought so when I first saw Bethenny Frankel cooking one on her Bravo show “Bethenny Getting Married.” She just whipped one up one morning for her future (uh, I guess now former) mother-in-law, and it looked really impressive and cool. I thought,  I’d like to learn that! If you’re unfamiliar, a frittata is like a baked omelette, and is a great way to use up all those veggie stragglers in your fridge. Add some cheese, herbs and bacon, and you can’t go wrong. 

Bacon, Herb & Cheese Frittata Herb Bacon and Cheese Frittata

  • 3 strips bacon (store-bought, pre-cooked such as Oscar Mayer or Boars Head)
  • Red and yellow pepper, diced
  • Fresh herbs such as chives, parsley, rosemary, thyme
  • Gruyere cheese, cut into small chunks
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup Milk

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add milk to eggs; whisk and season with Salt and Pepper. Heat oil over medium high heat. Saute peppers and bacon until lightly browned. Pour in egg mixture, reduce heat to low and cook until egg begins to set around the edges but is still wet in the center. Top egg with cheese, then fresh herbs. Transfer pan to oven and complete cooking. Loosen with spatula and transfer to plate (or cover pan with plate and flip to release). Cut into wedges and serve.

Homemade “Bathtime” Tomato Sauce—Episode 16

One of my cooking tricks is to try and do half of a meal homemade, even if the other half is born in a box (or freezer bag). When it comes to pasta nights, I have an easy tomato sauce I make to go along with, say, store-bought fresh ravioli, to make the meal a bit more special. I call it the “bathtime” sauce because I can get all the ingredients going in the pot before we start the kids’ bath/bedtime routine—and it  simmers down just in time for dinner with the hubby. The key ingredients are a can of San Marzano tomatoes (available at most grocery stores; this variety has the most flavor), and a shredded carrot, which adds a nice sweetness. As with many sauces, you can make it your own with a dash more of this or a handful more of that—and I change it up a little myself virtually every time I make this. But here’s the tried and true version.

San Marzano tomatoes make homemade tomato a snap.

San Marzano tomatoes make homemade tomato sauce a snap.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

2+ Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

½ cup onion chopped

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 large carrot, shredded

1 28-oz can San Marzano whole tomatoes

1 ½ cups water

Generous splash of leftover red wine

1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Heat a tablespoon oil over medium low heat. Saute mushrooms, garlic and onion until light brown. Add can of tomatoes, water and carrot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered to reduce sauce. After about 10 minutes, add a smidge more olive oil, wine, sugar and cheese. Continue reducing another 15 minutes, until sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

Teriyaki Chicken Tenders and Asian Noodle Salad for Back to School—CBS Atlanta Better Mornings

Last week I appeared on Atlanta’s CBS Better Mornings to share some easy recipes and reinventions for back to school. I made a breadless Teriyaki Chicken Tender, which we then reinvented into multiple meals. For example, you can do an Asian Noodle Salad for dinner on Day 2, lettuce wraps for lunch on Day 3, and mix-and-match the chicken or noodle salad for kids’ lunches throughout the week. Thankfully my little sister Lauren was in town and helped 33-week-pregnant-me prep all the food for the segment—and she’s a natural at food styling! Here’s a pic of us on set! Debra Shigley on CBS Better Mornings Atlanta

Chicken Teriyaki Strips

6 boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips

2 cups Teriyaki Sauce

Cooking Spray

Sesame Seeds, lightly toasted.

  1. Marinate chicken in Teriyaki sauce for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.
  3. Place chicken in pan (about 10 strips at a time), and cook until crisp, browned and cooked through, turning once. Add more cooking spray as needed.
  4. Roll freshly-cooked chicken strips in sesame seeds.

Asian Noodle Chicken Salad

For the Dressing:

1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar

1/4 Cup Fresh lime juice

1/2 Cup light brown sugar

2 teaspoons fresh garlic

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

3 Teaspoons Sesame Oil

2 Teaspoons Low-Sodium Soy Sauce

1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper

Dash of kosher salt.

For the Salad:

7 oz. Rice Noodles

2 cups Red Cabbage, shredded

1 large carrot, shredded

1/2 English Cucumber, seeded, halved and thinly sliced

Leftover Chicken Teriyaki Strips, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/4 cup Thai Basil, chopped

1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped

Crispy Fried Shallots*

  1. Cook rice noodles according to package instructions. Drain, set aside, and toss with a drop or two of sesame oil.
  2. Combine ingredients for dressing in a small bowl and whisk.
  3. Assemble salad ingredients in a large bowl, add dressing and serve!
  4. *To make the crispy shallots, slice up two shallots into 2mm slices. Heat 4 tablespoons oil (or enough to cover shallots) over medium low heat. Add shallots and cook until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Fried Shallots can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container.