How's your summer so far? Loaded with goodness? Busy as ever? For us, this summer has been almost over-booked with all kinds of things. Thankfully, they're all activities we love to do, so it's less of a busy drag, and more of an adventurous race to the finish line. Or in our case, dinner time.
After soaking in crammed afternoons of splash pads, shaded parks, long walks, kiddie pools, and well... just spraying the hose around the backyard (all you really need for a toddler to be entertained, really), by the end of the day we're a little more than ready to hit the sack. When dinnertime rolls around, the last thing our exhausted summer-soaked bodies want to do is to slave away in the kitchen. But we also don't want to sacrifice replenishing our bodies with the proper nutrition it needs.
So what do we do? Grab some fast food? Order a pizza? Maybe if it's a special weekend at our house :)
But during the weeknights, we plan ahead, and save those easy-to-throw-together meals for the days we know are going to be pretty busy around dinnertime. For example, this amazing rice bowl could have taken a while to make, but because I planned ahead, it was a cinch! It can be for you, too:
Easy Food Prep:
1. Use those slow cookers: If I know I'm going to need shredded chicken in a meal or salad that week, I throw a few chicken breasts in my mini crock pot right after buying them from the grocery store, and then cube it up later. For this recipe, I used my rice-cooker. Just throw the rice/water/salt in, and after 15ish minutes, it's done.
2. Bake in advance: I cooked my bacon in the oven. I used to hate it when people did this, but I've recently discovered how convenient it is. Instead of babysitting the bacon, I just throw it in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, and it's perfectly crispy by the time I'm done doing the rest of the food prep. You could also cook the bacon in advance, crumble it up, and store it until you toss it into your rice bowl.
3. Multi-task: While something is simmering or boiling, do something else in the recipe that doesn't require the last step to be finished first. For example, I fried the eggs for this recipe while the bacon and rice were cooking, set the table, and sliced up a few fresh fruits to go along with dinner. But don't forget to keep an eye on whatever is boiling or simmering :)
4. Prep veggies and meat in advance: If you know dinner is going to be chaotic, just chop up those veggies while the kiddies are eating breakfast (or napping) and store them in little ziplok baggies in the fridge for dinner later. Also, if you know you're having meat with dinner, trim your meat and slice the servings ahead. Also, this makes it easy to get those luscious meats marinating all afternoon.
5. Grill it. If all else fails, throw those veggies and meats on the grill outside, and slice up some fresh fruit. Easy peasy.
So a meal that would have taken me 30-45 minutes to make from start to end, just turned into a 10-15 minute dinner - all because of early prep, and planning; making summertime dinners more of a cinch than ever.
This rice bowl was loaded with smokey bacon flavor, fresh veggies, and the blessed custard-like egg center oozing all over that fluffy white rice. It was incredible. Enjoy!
Sunny Side Up Bacon and Rice Bowl
makes about 4 servings
2 C white rice
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 head broccoli, florets cut into small pieces
2 T soy sauce
1 1/2 t sesame oil
4 large eggs
3 T chopped fresh cilantro
2 scallions, slices
2 T chopped fresh jalapenos
1. Cook your rice the way you usually do, whether it be in your rice cooker, or bringing 2 C rice with 2 1/2 C of water to a boil over medium high heat, then reducing to a simmer while covered (about 15-20 minutes total time). Remove from heat and let stand, covered, until ready to serve.
2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes (if you want to be even more efficient, line bacon strips on a cookie sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes - save the drippings). Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour out all but 1 Tablespoon of bacon drippings from the same pan and increase the heat to medium high. Add the broccoli and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly charred.
3. Add 3/4 C water and simmer until broccoli is crisp-tender and only a few tablespoons of water remain, about 3 minutes. Stir in soy sauce and 1/2 t sesame oil. Divide the rice and broccoli among your serving bowls and drizzle with pan juices.
4. Heat remaining 1 t sesame oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs into the skillet carefully, and season with salt. Fry as desired. Place and egg in each bowl and top with the bacon, cilantro, scallions, and jalapenos.
Recipe source: food network