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 Cooker
- 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!
From the first time our babysitter Rafaela cooked us this one-pot Dominican chicken, I was obsessed. Per usual we had a few chicken breasts in the freezer and she offered to whip up some dinner using those and a handful of vegetables we had in the fridge. There was a mortar and pestle involved. Fifteen minutes later emerged chicken so flavorful and delicious I begged her to teach me, and she kindly obliged. The recipe is simple enough, but I’ve found it takes some love to perfect. One trick is to use a bit more vinegar (I skipped this ingredient in the video). I think that helps keep the chicken juicy and gives it a lot of character. Also, don’t skimp on the vegetable oil. That’s critical to creating the delicious sauce or “sofrito” around the chicken.
Dominican Chicken Sauté
Dominican chicken is a quick and delicious weeknight meal.
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and cut into 3 inch pieces
- juice of one lemon
- splash of malt vinegar (optional)
- 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
- 1/3 red pepper, chopped
- 1/3 green pepper, chopped
- 1 large carrot sliced super thin with box grater
- ½ medium onion, chopped
- ½ teaspoon oregano, divided
- Sazon seasoning; salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
Place garlic, dash of salt and pepper and half of oregano into a mortar; crush with pestle until blended. Add lemon juice and 2 tablespoons oil and crush some more. Pour over chicken pieces and set aside to marinate about 20 minutes.
Heat 2+ tablespoons vegetable oil in large skillet or (ideally) French oven. Place chicken pieces into pot and cook on one side about 5 minutes until lightly brown, then flip with tongs and cook on the other side (trying to flip only once to cook). When chicken is a couple minutes from being done, add in all the veggies—red pepper, onion, carrot. Add a little more oil if needed and cook everything together, stirring occasionally. Season generously with Sazon, oregano, salt and pepper. When veggies are browned, remove from heat. Add cilantro (it will wilt). Serve over fluffy white rice.
I’m thrilled to be hosting a new web cooking series called Watcha Cookin’. This series explores Caribbean-inspired cuisine, and the first episode is all about Jamaica—near and dear to my heart as a proud Jew-maican lady. I’m excited to be a part of the show for many reasons, including the fact that we get out of the “studio” (a.k.a. my kitchen) for some segments in the field, which is great fun and experience. Plus, I’m getting to experiment and develop all kinds of new Caribbean inspired recipes. I’m getting a lot of pointers from our Dominican babysitter Rafaela (who also taught me this) and her nephew Will, who are both amazing cooks.
Check out this episode and let me know what you think!
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.
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.
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
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
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Cook curry powder and red pepper in hot oil, stirring often, 1 minute.
- Add cauliflower, onion, peas and salt, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is crisp-tender.
- Reduce heat to low; add 6-8 Tbsp. water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes or just until cauliflower is tender.
- Serve with Basmati rice and mango chutney.
When you’ve got a mean craving for Mac and Cheese, sometimes it’s too much trouble to whip up a batch from scratch (and the powdered mix versions can leave a lot to be desired, too). That’s how I came up with this super quickie, no bake mac ‘n cheese recipe when I was pregnant with baby #3. I think I ate Mac and Cheese almost every day for the entire first trimester! With butter as the magic ingredient, it’s surprisingly satisfying and also happens to be a great non-processed version of mac and cheese for the kids. You can mix it up with a blend of cheeses—white cheddar, orange cheddar, Queso, etc.
Noodles, butter, and Cheddar is all you need for this quickie Mac and Cheese.
Lazy Woman’s Mac and Cheese
2 cups cooked elbow noodles
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 generous pat of butter
While the noodles are still hot, mix all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. If needed, microwave for 30 seconds to melt cheese.
This week we’re cooking a super easy grilled chicken paillard. Paillard basically is a technique of pounding chicken super thin and cooking quickly, usually in a skillet or on a grill. Marinate with just olive oil, salt and pepper before grilling and the chicken gets a versatile flavor, with a slight Mediterranean flair.
Svelte Grilled Chicken Paillard
Pound meat extra thin for a twist on this easy grilled chicken.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
A few tablespoons Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Pepper
Place one chicken breast between sheets of saran wrap (at least two sheets on top, two sheets on bottom). Pound with mallet until meat is paper thin. Repeat with next breast. Transfer to Ziploc-style bag and drizzle with a good amount of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and squish all around to evenly distribute. Grill on high heat for 2-3 minutes each side, and serve with mixed green salad.
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 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.
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!
Chicken Teriyaki Strips
6 boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
2 cups Teriyaki Sauce
Sesame Seeds, lightly toasted.
- Marinate chicken in Teriyaki sauce for at least 20 minutes.
- Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.
- 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.
- 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*
- Cook rice noodles according to package instructions. Drain, set aside, and toss with a drop or two of sesame oil.
- Combine ingredients for dressing in a small bowl and whisk.
- Assemble salad ingredients in a large bowl, add dressing and serve!
- *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.
I’m a huge fan of Atlanta radio host Mara Davis, and was thrilled when she agreed to cook on Deb’s Kitchen! This week we’re making one of her signature recipes: a “burnt” broccoli and cauliflower dish that’s pretty low-calorie, very easy to make, and kid-friendly.
Though Mara’s husband tends to be the “alpha chef” in her home, she told me she recently started cooking more, joking that she had more time on her hands since transitioning from her longtime role on 92.9 FM. Now you can catch Mara reporting for Atlanta Eats and sharing celebrity interviews and hilarious musings on her podcast. Thanks SO much for joining me, Mara!
For another variation on roasted veggies, check out this recipe I cooked on the TODAY Show a few months back.
Burnt Cauliflower and Broccoli
Roasted cauliflower and broccoli topped with Parmesan is delicious and kid-friendly.
2 heads Broccoli, cut into bite sized florets
1 small head Cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
Salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Drizzle the chopped broccoli and cauliflower with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes or until edges are dark brown. Mara’s tip: separate the cauliflower and broccoli onto different baking sheets before baking because the cauliflower can take a bit longer to brown.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Photos: Kofi Oliver