Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Protein, must have protein.  This morning at 2:00 (yes, 2:00 in the morning) I was up with a spoonful of peanut butter in my pie-hole.  I don’t like peanut butter that much.  But the last few days I’ve been really lax in eating which, given my love of food, my body probably appreciated the break!  Nonetheless, I’m not up to cooking a huge meal since Better Half isn’t home, so beans and rice it is.  In honor of Better Half’s imminent arrival home and since he’s not too far from Cuba, I’m cooking Cuban Black Beans and Rice.

Cuban Black Beans and Rice

1 pound black beans (cooked per package instructions)
4 cups cooked long-grain rice
1 cup chopped green pepper (mixed colors are great)
1 cup chopped onion
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 lime, cut in half
½ tablespoon cumin seed
1 jalapeno, sliced crosswise
Salt/Pepper, to taste

About 15 minutes prior to beans and rice being fully cooked, saute onion, peppers, and garlic in olive oil until just soft; add ground cumin, cook for one more minute, and combine mixture with beans.  Stir vinegar into beans.

Plate rice and top with beans.  Squeeze lime halves over entire dish.  Sprinkle cumin seeds and jalapeno slices on top.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Italian Red Curry Rice

A dear friend introduced me to a Thai restaurant in the big city (the big city population being less than 12,000).  The Red Curry Rice sounded so intriguing that I went beyond my comfort zone and ordered it.  After the first amazing bite I wanted to go right home and cozy up to my wonderful, dear Thai neighbor.

When I next saw my neighbor, I discussed my new love.  In typical fashion, she started talking super fast and explained how very simple it is to cook with red curry paste.  Faster than a speeding bullet, she tore into her house, and I left with my arms bulging with her favorite Thai ingredients.  Let me explain that the local groceries in our rural area carry zip.  Nada.  My sweet Thai neighbor leaves our state, seriously, to visit an Asian grocery store once a month.  Did I tell you she is Thai?  Very Thai–sometimes we can smell her garlic cooking while we are inside our house.  We don’t live that close.

Here is the result of my first attempt cooking with red curry paste.  I varied some ingredients that are typically Thai.  I’m in love with my Italian basil right now and wanted to merge  traditional Thai with a touch of  Italian.  I knew it would not be too weird because Thai cooking utilizes basil.  Plus, if you watch me cook you will see I don’t go “by the book.”  In fact, while I super adore cookbooks (I  read them like novels), I tend to not really follow written recipes.  I also don’t set timers, which drives Better Half bonkers.  My mom would probably say I’ve been this way my whole life.  Whatever…

Regardless, here’s my not-by-the-book version of Italian Red Curry Rice–enjoy!  Sorry you can’t cozy up to my Thai neighbor….

Italian Red Curry Rice

Prepare 1-1/2 cups of Italian Arborio rice using equal parts chicken stock and coconut milk for the water.

Meanwhile, saute 1/2 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a small bit of Asian stir-fry oil (or canola oil).  When the chicken is halfway done, add in order:  two julienned red peppers, two julienned carrots, a big handful of sliced Portobello mushrooms, and 1/2 cup of bamboo shoots.  After a minute or two, toss in the shrimp and two tablespoons (or to taste)  red curry paste.  Cook until shrimp is done (a minute or so, depending on size).  Add the cooked rice and while stirring, add additional (one can or so) coconut milk to make a nice creamy dish, similar to a risotto.   Garnish with a chiffonade of  basil.

It’s super yummy and creamy.  Better Half likes veggies crunchy and sometimes when BH is gone, I cook them to a softer texture as in the above picture.  Okay, I admit it; I already told you I don’t follow instructions well and sometimes I get distracted (do we have to discuss the timer issue again?) and my ingredients end up softer because of my self-imposed ADD.

Enjoy!

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