Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Winter Late Fall of Our Discontent

Now that we've had to do away with our beloved Daylight Savings Time for another year, it feels like we've managed to enter a perpetual "twilight zone". We get up in pitch-black surroundings now, instead of with sun shining into our windows, and by the time I'm en route to school we've barely made it past that first glow. Coming home is the same story, depending on the day of the week and my schedule! Until the snow starts flying, though, I'll be content with just the dark and dim drives. Talk to me in February, and chances are it'll be a different story!

Being the time of the year that it is, between the shifting times and ever-popular midterm exams (we're in week 2 of 3 right now!), everyone's time is at a higher premium than ever before. Meals that can be whipped together, dumped into a bowl and dished up so that we can all get back to everything else are a priority, and the less fiddling around with bits and pieces of intricate recipes the better. Of course, a good meal, and preferably a healthy one, is not something that either my mom nor I are particularly willing to sacrifice. I've been turning her into quite the foodie, in fact... though she'd never admit to it in "mixed" (i.e. "normal") company. Sure enough, though, give us our Saturdays at the grocery store and the occasional trip to a fun market downtown, and we are some happy home cooks!

Finding a way to balance my "gourmet" yearnings and my "get-home-at-7:30PM" schedule was one of the main causes of this recipe's birth. I love rice (especially in sushi!!) but my favourite, long-grain brown variety takes 45 minutes to slowly simmer away. Even making a bunch ahead of time and freezing it (which I do occasionally) leaves me with more or less identical bricks of grain. If you want something rich and decadent - say, a risotto - not only do you have to cook from fresh but you also have to stand and stir... not hard work, for sure, but not exactly A-1 on my list of to-dos even on the best of days. Enter the anathema of rice connoisseurs everywhere... Minute Rice.

Yes, I know! Don't take away my food blogging license! The mushy, disintegrating texture that Minute Rice takes on as it cooks is perfect for things like risottos and rice pudding, and apparently it's even good for sushi (though I haven't been brave enough to test that theory yet!). Add to that the fact that we had a decent sized box of brown Minute Rice in our pantry, a lemon, some asparagus and even the remnants of a tub of fat free Philly in our fridge, and dinner was jazzed up just a little bit more. It's not risotto like your Italian "Nonna" would make, or probably even admit to knowing you cooked, but it's not dry cereal and ice cream. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Super-Fast "Fauxotto"
Serves 1
1/2 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup Minute Rice Whole Grain Brown Rice
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
6 oz asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
1 tbsp Kraft Philadelphia Herb & Garlic Cream Cheese (98% fat free)
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp black pepper

  1. Heat non-stick cooking spray or 1/4 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add shallot and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
  3. Add rice, stirring well to mix with shallot and garlic.
  4. Stir in broth and bring to a boil.
  5. Add asparagus in an even layer over rice mixture.
  6. Cover and reduce the heat to low.
  7. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Add cream cheese, lemon zest and juice.
  9. Continue mixing until cheese melts and mixture is well combined.
  10. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
  11. Top with black pepper and serve
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 226.5
Total Fat: 2.4 g
Cholesterol: 5.0 mg
Sodium: 584.8 mg
Total Carbs: 46.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.6 g
Protein: 9.3 g


  1. Hmmm...I'm going to have to trust you on this one ;)

  2. Yeah, not quite into the cooked-and-then-dried-out rice thing. Really - ew!

    The darkness ... can be managed: buy some full-spectrum bulbs. They're like crack cocaine: they keep you awake and happy, for as long as you use them. Then you crash, of course. ;)


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