The best part of summer 2020? That’s an easy one: reuniting with loved ones.
As certain restrictions have lifted in many cities across Canada, families and friends are able to get together in a smart and safe way – limiting their numbers, staying within the same bubble, and most importantly, continuing to social distance from others. For me, it’s a chance to reunite with my extended family and closest friends, and do the one thing we love about summer: enjoying a meal, drink or coffee together in our backyard.
Of course, having a repertoire of quick and easy recipes is just part of my charm!
For those impromptu drop ins, late afternoon coffee chats and lazy summer nights where you’d rather spend time with your loved ones than cooking in the kitchen, read on for simple meal ideas, perfect to put together with a few favourite ingredients you may already have on hand. The star of the show? USA Rice!
USA Rice is a key pantry staple and can be used in so many delicious ways. This gluten-free, low allergen, original ancient grain is virtually fat free and serves up the complex carbohydrates your mind and muscles need to function. Rice has always been an integral part of my diet, and now it’s a staple ingredient in so many of the meals and snacks that my family loves, too. We tend to cook a big batch on the weekend and then refrigerate to use in soups, fried rice, side dishes and even desserts. One pot of cooked USA Rice can last us over five days and be used in five different ways!
And, when the grandparents drop in to hug their favourite people (hint: it’s not me or my husband, it’s all about the little guys!) having cooked USA Rice on hand means that I can put together a reunion recipe in a pinch.
Good to know: U.S.-grown rice is as local as it gets for Canadians, and at about 10 cents per serving (1 serving = 1/2 cup), rice fits every budget.
I want you to THINK RICE, five ways, five different days! Here are some quick and easy meal ideas to inspire you.
SUNDAY DINNER WITH THE (EXTENDED) FAMILY
Oh, how sweet it is to have a bubble! For a delicious, rustic meal with my fam jam, I always make a Thai Red Curry served with long grain USA Rice.
While red chicken curry is my absolute favourite comfort food, my husband has been encouraging us to explore vegan options. This Thai Chickpea Curry hits the spot! I use red curry paste and coconut milk as the base, add chickpeas and any other veggies I have on hand, and serve piping hot over rice.
COFFEE CHATS WITH CLOSE FRIENDS
Thank goodness it’s so easy to make rice pudding! The ratio for rice to liquid is always 1:1, which means I don’t even need to follow a recipe to create a simple and delicious treat that pairs perfectly with afternoon lattes.
To make my Rice Pudding with Honey and Roasted Almonds, I combine two cups of cooked USA Rice with two cups of whole milk, add 2 tbsp (or more) of sugar to sweeten, and stir until thick and creamy. Then, I top the rice pudding with roasted almond slices and a drizzle of honey. YUM!
SOUP DATES À DEUX
Sometimes, I just like to hang out with one of my favourite people and fellow soup lover: my youngest son Reid.
This Farmer’s Market Vegetable Soup is the perfect summer appetizer or snack – it allows me to use up vegetables and leftover USA Rice in a pinch!
Sauté chopped onion, carrots, zucchini and green beans in oil for a few minutes. Add vegetable stock, season and add your favourite herbs (we love fresh thyme) and simmer for 20 minutes. Finally, stir in cooked USA Rice and simmer for a few more minutes until heated through.
Tip: if you have leftover rotisserie chicken, chop it in pieces, swap vegetable stock for chicken stock, and enjoy the best Chicken and Rice soup ever.
FRIENDLY GET TOGETHERS
While I’d like to put out a 4-course spread, these are reunion recipes, and I’d much rather spend time catching up with friends than being confined to the kitchen. Instead of getting fancy, I’ll fancy-up my fried rice by adding shrimp and fresh basil. One wok does the trick and has my girlfriends raving for seconds!
The best thing about fried rice is that it calls for cold, cooked rice – literally everything can be tossed together in less than 15 minutes!
LET’S DO LUNCH
My mother-in-law often serves stuffed peppers when we visit for lunch. However, since we’re not able to see her at the moment, and, not wanting to break tradition, I’ve taken to making stuffed peppers myself!
A simple mixture of cooked ground beef and USA Rice is simmered with tomato sauce and stuffed into peppers. After baking for 45 minutes, the pepper halves are topped with mozzarella and broiled for 5 minutes.
So simple and so good – I’m so glad I finally made them myself!
Well, friends, I hope I’ve inspired you to THINK RICE, five ways, five different days! For more recipe ideas and easy how-to videos, visit www.riceinfo.com.
This post is sponsored by USA Rice. The opinions on this blog, as always, are my own.