Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Getting Sneaky With New Foods

My husband, Steven and I are big rice eaters.  In all honesty, we are big starch fans, bar none.  We love pasta, bread, rice, potatoes - all of it!  When the kids first moved in with us, they thought they didn't like rice and since it's such an affordable grain and a little goes such a long way, I set out to try and show them otherwise.  

I remembered a visit to their grandparents house once when their grandpa had made them pork chops with broccoli rice au gratin (packaged - yuck!) and they were eating it up with no complaints.  So I decided to make my own version.  They had already embraced my mac-n-cheese by then - even though it looked "weird" - so I used the same, inexpensive Velveeta that I use in my mac (I mean really, why not, the kids like it and it works for them?!).  You could certainly dress it up with gourmet cheese, although you may need to make a white sauce base to get the same consistency - but it would be extra-delicious and great for entertaining.

Here's how I did it:

Measure and rinse the rice according to the package directions.  (most types of rice are prepared with 1 part rice to 2 parts water, but I prefer calrose rice which is 3 parts rice to 4 parts water) Cook according to directions or put it in a rice cooker and follow the manufacturers instructions.  While the rice is cooking, cut about 8 ozs. velveeta into 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch cubes (use more cheese for larger batches of rice, less cheese for smaller batches).  Then prepare your fresh broccoli (frozen would work too).  Separate it into florets of whatever size you prefer - I like bite sized pieces.  When the rice is finished cooking, turn off the heat and layer first the cheese, then the broccoli on top of the rice and put the lid back on.  Let it sit about 5 minutes, or while you're completing whatever remaining dinner preparations you need to (setting the table, tossing the salad, etc.).  Remove lid and stir to incorporate all the ingredients.  You may need to add a bit of milk or chicken stock to make it creamy.   Season with Salt & Pepper to taste & serve.

I haven't made this for quite awhile but I still get asked to make it regularly - it has definitely become a family favorite.  

After preparing it for them this way a few times, I started making rice in other ways - for instance, I'd put rice and a can of any kind of beans (rinsed & drained) in the rice cooker along with herbs, spices, onion, etc. and let it all cook together, then serve it with an entree.  

After awhile they were more willing to try it "plain" and now they love it - even without the butter or parmesan cheese which is my favorite way to eat rice!
It is my belief that the key here is to figure out something they do like and incorporated it into your recipes to dress up something they think they don't - in this case the kids just hadn't really eaten rice much prior to living with us - and then mix it up once they've found out they do like it in that particular way.  

I hope you have success with this idea - good luck and happy eating!

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