28 February 2013

Crock Pot Gourmet: Chicken with Broccoli and Cheese

My kids love to have broccoli and cheese-stuffed chicken breasts and tater tots or fries for dinner. And I've got to admit, I kind of love it too. Except, there's never enough broccoli stuffed inside those fried chicken breasts, and a meal this high on fried food content leaves me feeling weighed down and sluggish.
 
So we came up with this much healthier alternative dinner. Broccoli Chicken with Cheese and Rosemary Garlic Potatoes. This version is full of flavor and much lower in fat, and since we assembled it to cook in the Crock Pot, it was almost as convenient as the frozen, pop-in-the-oven dinner pictured above. (Note: this is a great meal to get the kids involved in cooking. They loved pounding the chicken breasts flat!)
 
 
First, assemble your ingredients. You will need:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 lb. frozen, chopped broccoli
1/2 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
pinch of salt
1/2 c. uncooked orzo or rice (optional) - For a gluten-free recipe, choose rice - or omit this ingredient!

 
Line your table or counter top with plastic wrap. Lay the 3 chicken breasts on top. Cover with another layer of plastic wrap. Then, pound with a rubber mallet until each chicken breast is between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick and roughly the size of your 5-quart crock pot.

 
Spray the crock with cooking oil, and if desired, put about 1/2 c. orzo or rice in the bottom.
 
The chicken and broccoli will let off a good amount of juices as they cook, making for a slightly soupy dish. But the orzo or rice will catch the drippings and cook up to be yummy and flavorful. This won't yield enough to make a proper side dish for the chicken, but you can set it aside for a later meal, or give everyone just a small portion. Alternately, you can add up to 1 lb. of the pasta or rice, but if you choose to do so, you'll need to add about 1/2 c. water or broth to the dry grains to hydrate the extra. (This entire step is completely optional. If you don't mind having the drippings in the crock when you serve the meal, you can totally skip the orzo/rice!)

 
Add one chicken breast to the crock.

 
Top with one pound of frozen, chopped broccoli.

 
 Sprinkle with about 2 oz. cheese

 
Add another chicken breast.

 
Repeat layers, ending with the third chicken breast. Top with remaining cheese

 
and cook on low for about 5 hours.

 
Slice into sections and serve with Rosemary Garlic Potatoes. (This made 8 good-sized portions.)

22 February 2013

Crock Pot Gourmet: Lasagna

One of our favorite Crock Pot meals is lasagna, and we have several different varieties that we love. It's so much quicker to put together in the slow-cooker, because you don't have to pre-boil the noodles or anything (if you did pre-cook the noodles, you'd end up with severely overcooked, gluey noodles - not appetizing). Toss all the ingredients together in the morning (or even at lunchtime), and by dinner, you have a meal people will think you slaved over!

 
You will need:
1 lb. lasagna noodles (dry)
1-2 lb. shredded mozzarella cheese (the more veggies I use, the less cheese I find I need)
16-24oz. low-fat cottage cheese
1-2 medium onions, chopped
2 red bell peppers, sliced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
4-8oz. spinach (or chopped kale)
any other veggies, as desired

 
Spread a small amount of sauce in the bottom of your 7-quart Crock Pot

 
Cover the sauce with a layer of uncooked lasagna noodles (break them into pieces as necessary to fit).

 
Add a few spoonfuls of cottage cheese.
(You can spread the cottage cheese across the layer of noodles, if desired, but it isn't necessary.)

 
Chop onions, peppers, mushrooms, etc.

 
Add a large handful or two of spinach (or chopped kale), sprinkle onions, mushrooms and peppers on top (as well as any other veggies you may desire) 

 
Cover with a layer of shredded mozzarella.

 
Add another layer of sauce. 

 
Repeat layers until Crock Pot is full. (Leave about an inch at the top to avoid bubbling over.)


Add a generous layer of sauce

 
and cheese.
 
 
Cook on low for approximately 4-7 hours, until cheese is bubbly
and noodles reach desired consistency.
 
You can serve this dish with your favorite garlic bread and a salad, or on its own as a full meal. For lower-fat versions of the lasagna, simply increase the amount of veggies and reduce the cheese accordingly. You can also add your favorite Italian sausage or other meat, if desired, but the layers of veggies give this dish so much flavor that my carnivorous family doesn't even miss the meat!
 
Update: I had someone ask me a question about whether or not the noodles get too soggy in a dish like this. I prefer firmer noodles, so I often cook my lasagna for only 4-5 hours. You can also regulate the firmness of the noodles by the amount of sauce you use: adding more (for softer noodles) or less (for firmer noodles) as desired.

20 February 2013

Book Review: ALMOST TO FREEDOM by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

ALMOST TO FREEDOM by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, Illustrations by Colin Bootman
 

A couple weeks ago, my youngest daughter (age 8) came home from school bubbling over about a book her teacher read to them in class. She couldn't remember the name of the book, or the author, but she told me all about it. Her synopsis of the book:
 
It's about a little girl who was a slave, and she had a doll that she loved. But when her family escaped on that Underground Railroad thing (that isn't really a railroad underground), she dropped the doll and had to leave it behind. But the DOLL is the one telling the story!! And she was so sad when she got dropped, and she was so lonely...
 
(And I won't give you the rest of my sweet daughter's synopsis, because as I'm sure you know, if you've ever heard a child talk about a favorite book, they will tell you EVERY detail, and they never give spoiler alerts before filling you in on the endings.)
 
A few days later, I walked into a bookstore (Alamosa Books - an amazing independent bookstore in Albuquerque, with the most friendly and helpful staff), and saw ALMOST TO FREEDOM by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson on display. The gorgeous cover art pulled me in immediately, and when I read the blurb on the cover, I knew this was the book my daughter had been so excited about. I won the Mommy of the Year award when I surprised her with it the next morning, and of course we had to cuddle on the couch immediately to read it together.
 
I have to say, I should have read the book to myself first. I wasn't prepared for the plethora of tears I shed while trying to read this heartbreakingly sweet story! I had to stop several times to dry my eyes and find my voice. What an amazing way to introduce children to this era in American history. This should be a staple in elementary school libraries and home libraries alike!

18 February 2013

De-Cluttering Life: Letting Go of Addictions

This weekend was our semi-annual Stake Conference* for the Albuquerque East stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormon church). One of my favorite talks given this weekend was from our Stake President (the church leader who presides over the various congregations in a geographical area).

President Remund spoke about de-cluttering our lives. Just as with de-cluttering a house, there are three questions to ask when de-cluttering:

1. Why am I keeping this?

2. How often do I use it?

3. Where does it belong?

President Remund advised us to consider the activities that take up our time in light of these questions. He pointed out that, even "good" things (sports, music, computer, etc.) can turn into addictions, when we begin to let the less-meaningful activities take the place of more-meaningful pursuits. (I imagine this is possibly the reasoning behind the season of Lent, where people give up something for 40 days. It sounds like a good practice for keeping priorities straight.)

I realized that I was slipping into obsessive, addictive behavior with my writing with my latest novel. I've always told my children that they are my top priority, and if they need "mommy time" when I'm writing, they're welcome to interrupt me for a chat. But this week, I found myself getting irritated and annoyed every time they came to bother me. So in light of President Remund's talk, I decided to take a full break from my computer yesterday and spend my Sabbath Day with my family instead. The Lord gave us a weekly day of rest for a reason. I feel much more ready to jump back into revisions now.

*Stake Conference is different from General Conference, which we also have twice a year. For General Conference, the entire, world-wide church gathers together (via satellite broadcast) on the first weekends of April and October to hear counsel from our Prophet and Apostles and other general church leaders. For Stake Conference, the congregations (wards) within a smaller geographical area gather together on a set weekend twice yearly to hear our local leaders, as well as at least one General Authority (usually an Apostle or Area Authority) give us instruction specific to issues we face in our area.

14 February 2013

Where's the Love? Blog Hop Entry


The lovely Heather Webb is hosting a "Where's the Love?" blog hop for the next two days. (Click the link to see a list of all participants, and please leave your thoughts on the love scenes shared!)

Here is my 250-word scene. Please let me know what you think!


I slip my hands around his neck, burying my fingers in his hair. Before I can stop to think about what I’m doing, I pull his lips to mine.

Jarod turns away. “We can’t…”

He glances toward the house as his voice trails off, and I’m pretty sure he’s thinking about Laina. I close my eyes, cursing my impulsiveness. I’ve totally ruined everything I worked so hard for tonight. But then he touches my cheek and I open my eyes again. He smiles. “We shouldn’t,” he says, and brushes his lips against mine once more, so quickly I almost don’t feel it before he backs away again.

He traces the contours of my lips and my cheek with his thumb. “You’re so beautiful,” he breathes. His arms tighten around my waist, and he catches my lower lip between his teeth and teases it for a moment, then he parts my lips with his tongue.

I let out an involuntary moan, and he sighs. He pulls me close, the kiss deepening into a hungry passion. His lips move across my cheek to my neck, and he nibbles playfully as he pushes me up against the front door, his body tight against mine. Even through our heavy winter coats, I can feel his heart pounding. I run my fingers through his hair and take a gasping breath as I recapture his lips. I’m surprised that my heart doesn’t beat its way right out of my chest.


Crock Pot Gourmet: Cherry Cheese Surprise

Every year when I was growing up, my mom would make a huge, pink and red Valentine's Day breakfast for us. We'd have pink pancakes, strawberry whipped cream (with real strawberries and real cream), strawberry yogurt, pink syrup (my dad's contribution to the breakfast - flavored with whatever variety of pink Kool-Aid we happened to have in the pantry)... even the milk was pink! Mom would set the table with fancy place-settings and put little gifts and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates on each plate before waking us. To me, this is what Valentine's Day is all about. It's not the roses and diamonds and extravagant gifts, but the little things that say "I love you." And it's not a couples-only holiday, because love is everywhere.

I've tried to keep up the tradition with my own kids, and we always eat a lot of pink and red foods on Valentine's Day. But these days, it's difficult to gather everyone together for a big breakfast (especially since the oldest is taking an early-morning Bible study class, and he has to leave the house by 5:00 every morning), so our big, fancy sit-down-as-a-family meal is usually dinner. Still, we can't ignore breakfast (most important meal of the day and all), so this year, I put together a special Crock Pot Gourmet breakfast that could cook while we slept and be ready at 4:00am for my earliest riser.
Cherry Cheese Surprise with plain yogurt
Printable recipe (without pictures)


You will need:

24 corn tortillas
1 (21oz) can cherry pie filling
1 (12 oz) bag frozen, pitted sweet cherries
2 eggs
24 oz. cottage cheese
1/2 c. sugar (optional)

Grease crock pot with cooking oil spray.

In large mixing bowl, combine cottage cheese, eggs and cherries. (As I was making this for breakfast, and I don't like to start my day with too much sugar, I didn't sweeten the mixture. If, however, you plan to serve this as a dessert, you may want to add 1/2 c. sugar to the filling.)
 
Spread a thin layer of the cherry/cheese mixture in the bottom of your 5-quart crock pot.
 
Layer 4 corn tortillas on top.
 
Spread a generous scoop of the filling onto the tortillas.
 
Repeat layers until you've used all of the tortillas, ending with the cherry/cheese mixture.
(If desired, sprinkle 2 Tbsp. sugar on top.)
 
Cook on low for approximately 5 hours.
 
Serve warm or chilled. Either as-is:
 
Or with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt:

13 February 2013

Book Review: THE SHADOW SOCIETY by Marie Rutkoski

 
I picked up THE SHADOW SOCIETY by Marie Rutkoski rather reluctantly. When it arrived in a shipment of books to review, I set it aside as one I was certain I wouldn't enjoy. The blurb was somewhat interesting, but between the cover art and the first sentence ("Knowing what I know now, I'd say my foster mother had her reasons for throwing a kitchen knife at me."), I was certain this book would be much darker than the books I usually like to read. But this one totally surprised me. By the end of the first chapter, I was hooked!
 
Darcy Jones can’t remember anything about her life before she was found abandoned outside a Chicago firehouse when she was five years old, although she finally feels like she might have found a place to belong, with a foster mother who genuinely seems to care and a small group of friends she can count on at school. But when Conn McCrea, the new boy at school, takes an interest in her, vague and confusing memories start to surface in Darcy’s mind, and she feels like she’s losing control. When Conn betrays and drags her through a portal into an alternate reality, Darcy is forced to accept the fact that she belongs to a different dimension, where the Great Chicago Fire never happened, and where a deadly group of beings, the Shades, terrorize the human population. Darcy, a Shade herself, agrees to infiltrate the Shadow Society, to help uncover their latest terrorist plot, but as she delves deeper into the Society, she finds herself questioning everything she’s learned.

As Darcy struggles to discover the truth about where she belongs, readers are swept along on a thrill ride that will keep them guessing until the end, when Darcy finally discovers that she cannot ignore either half of her heritage if she wants to save the worlds, and the people, she loves. Rutkoski explores issues of racial profiling and terrorism, allowing readers to empathize with both sides of the war and to realize that wars such as this are never clear-cut cases of good vs. evil. This book will appeal to readers of paranormal romance or thrillers, and those who, like Darcy, wonder where and even if they fit in.

10 February 2013

Being Supermom, Even When I Don't Feel Super

Once, a couple of years ago, I was trying to coordinate an activity for church, and I called one of the ladies in our congregation to ask for her help in planning the activity. She responded with a frustrated "No." and then proceeded to rail at me for several minutes about how she had too much on her plate and couldn't be bothered with trivial things. She ended the call with this bitter statement: "We can't all be supermom, like you." I cried for days over that call, not because this dear woman wouldn't help me, but because I completely understood the frustration and feelings of inadequacy that consumed her.

I hear it all the time. "I don't know how you do it." "I could never do all the things you do." "How do you find the time?" And almost always, the conversation ends with a frustrated sigh. "Well, I'm a failure. I guess we can't all be supermom."

Here's my secret:

I don't actually do it all!!

As most of you know, I have this silly little brain tumor that sometimes messes with the way my body functions. There are days when I literally can't get out of bed, because the signals get crossed on the way from my brain to my muscles, and I can't always control my limbs. I can't raise my voice without getting light-headed. When I hear fighting or screaming, my muscles start shutting down, one-by-one, and if I don't manage to walk away from or stop the contention soon enough, I'll end up passed out on the floor. The list goes on, but you get the point. There are plenty of things that I simply can't do, no matter how much I wish I could.

I learned, years ago, when the symptoms of living with this brain tumor started intruding on my life, that I could choose to push myself beyond the point of exhaustion, trying to do things I wasn't physically capable of doing "because these are things a good mother does," or I could let some things go and live a happier life.

And here's another little secret: Even though I know that I've chosen well, in letting some things slide, I sometimes fall into the trap of feeling like a total failure, because other moms seem to have it all together. We all do it. We pick out the places within ourselves where we are weakest and compare those weaknesses to the greatest strengths of our friends and acquaintances.

Ironically, I think that my "supermom" reputation has grown out of my limitations. Because I'm not physically able to do everything for them, my children have had to learn to do so many things for themselves, and their successes reflect back on me....

When the kids were very young (6, 4, 2 and newborn), my husband was stationed overseas for a year, leaving me to play the single parent role. And one morning, I couldn't get my arms and legs to work properly, but someone had to do the laundry, or we would have nothing to wear. So I sat on the couch with the baby and gave directions to the other three children. Even the two-year-old was able to perform small tasks, like pulling all of the towels and jeans out of the hamper and sorting them into a pile. Or separating the whites from the colors. And with a chair pulled up to the washing machine, they could reach to put the clothes into the wash, one load at a time. The kids were thrilled to be doing "grown-up" work, even bragging to their friends that they got to do the laundry all by themselves. (By the time hubby came home again, at the end of the year, the kids were so practiced in the chore that doing the laundry was no longer "mom's job.")

And my biggest Supermom secret: I'm not last on my priority list!
I think too many women have fallen into the trap of believing that it's selfish to do things for themselves. We push our dreams and desires to the bottom of the priority list, and we tell ourselves that we can get to those things only if we first complete everything else on the to-do list. The problem is, we'll never get to the end of that to-do list. There will always be something else to do for someone else. And it's good to focus outward on others. But we can't do that all the time. Because you can't draw water from an empty well. And if we don't take time to refill our stores, eventually, we'll dry up completely. We'll have nothing left to give.

Yes, there are plenty of household chores that I can perform better or quicker by doing them myself. I don't care. Often, the dishes pile up in the sink, and the clean, unfolded laundry sits in a basket for days. And our house is almost never sparkling-clean. But I'm not going to apologize for it. Because I've learned that sometimes, being a supermom means letting go of the unrealistic expectations we set for ourselves and taking time for what really matters. And if I only have an hour between appointments and errands and other pressing commitments, I'd rather spend that hour writing than washing dishes (that's what paper plates are for)!

07 February 2013

Cookies! Gluten Free Sugar and Vegan Lemon Raspberry

Cookies by Request
Way back before Christmas, I promised a couple of my Twitter friends that I would try to come up with a basic sugar cookie recipe that tastes and feels as close to the original as possible, but for people who have to follow a gluten free diet. I think this is one of the most difficult recipe requests I've ever encountered, because I wanted to make cookies just like my mom's amazing sugar cookies, but I also wanted to make sure to only use ingredients that I could easily find in the store, so there would be no need to search the Internet for obscure ingredients. Because what good is a fabulous recipe, if you can't replicate it at home? After seven or eight attempts, tweaking ingredients and trying one thing after another, I have a recipe that's very close, although not quite exactly like my mom's. Of course, you all know I'll keep tweaking this recipe until it's perfect, but it's finally close enough to share.
 
I'm also throwing in a bonus recipe this week, also inspired by a conversation with a friend. She asked for a lemon raspberry cookie, so I tweaked one of the recipes I came up with a few years ago to accommodate the request. (*Note: Heidi, I know you asked for real butter, but I promised cookies to one of my vegan friends as well, and real butter didn't fit that need. You can easily adapt this recipe to use real butter instead of the margarine indicated, if you aren't serving it to vegan friends!)
 
Gluten Free Sugar Cookies
 
1 c. butter (or margarine)
2 c. granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. lemon juice (or white vinegar, if you have a citrus allergy to worry about)
1 tsp. almond extract (I like the real thing, but you can use artificial, if you have nut allergies)
1/2 c. tapioca starch*
4 c. rice flour
 
*Note: I couldn't find tapioca starch at the grocery store, so I bought a box of Minute tapioca and a coffee grinder, and I ground up the tapioca until I had a fine powder. (My usual trick of grinding things up in the blender didn't work on the tapioca - I ended up with chewy lumps in the dough - but I'll use the coffee grinder again for many things, I'm sure, even though I don't drink coffee.)
 
In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, salt, soda, lemon juice and almond extract. Beat until light and fluffy. Add tapioca starch and beat on high for two or three minutes, until it's well-incorporated. Stir in rice flour.
 
At this point, you can chill the dough for a couple of hours and then roll out, cut and bake like regular sugar cookies, or if you're impatient like me and don't like taking the time to roll out and cut the dough, you can use a cookie scoop to make balls of dough, roll them in sugar (add a few drops of food coloring to the sugar, if you'd like), and flatten with a fork.
 
Bake on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack to cool. Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies. (I think. It might actually be more. I forgot to count before half of them were gone.)
 
 
 
 
Lemon Raspberry Cookies (Vegan)
 
 
1 c. margarine (or butter, if you don't need a vegan recipe)
1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. flour
raspberry jam

In a large mixing bowl, cream together margarine and sugar. Add lemon extract and salt. Beat until light and fluffy. Stir in flour. Chill 1-2 hours, until dough is firm. Use a cookie scoop to portion out dough balls. Press an indentation into the center of each cookie dough ball.

 
Fill each dough ball with approximately 1/4 tsp. raspberry preserves (I used one that was 100% fruit, to make sure there were no sneaky non-vegan ingredients in the jam).


Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, until cookies are set, but not brown. (Cookies won't spread, so you can place them relatively close together on the cookie sheet.) Allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a rack to cool completely. Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.


05 February 2013

Book Review: MY SISTER LIVES ON THE MANTELPIECE by Annabel Pitcher

 
MY SISTER LIVES ON THE MANTELPIECE by Annabel Pitcher follows the story of Jamie Matthews, who was only five years old when his sister, Rose, was killed in a terrorist bombing in London. He doesn’t really remember her at all, but she’s still a part of his daily life. In fact, her presence dominates the family. Rose “lives” in an urn on the mantelpiece, because Jamie’s father can’t bring himself to let go of his little girl. When Jamie’s mother leaves them for a man she met in her grief support group, and his father moves the rest of the family to the English countryside for a new start, Jamie feels like he’s lost in the shuffle. His father is drunk more often than not, his mother never calls or writes, and his sister, Jas (Rose’s twin), spends most of her time with her new boyfriend.

Jamie only has his new friend, Sunya, to rely on. But he has to keep the friendship a secret, because Sunya is a Muslim, and Jamie’s father hates all Muslims. He blames them all for the attack that killed his little girl.

Pitcher tells a captivating story of love and loss and mourning. As Jamie’s friendship with Sunya grows, he struggles to understand the grief that’s tearing his family apart and the prejudice that poisons his father’s world view.

This book is a great catalyst for opening conversations about death and loss as well as difficult discussions about hatred and prejudice.

03 February 2013

What I Want People to Remember About Me

I promised on Tuesday that I would answer the questions from WRITE FOR THE FIGHT in my blog post this weekend.... But as I've considered my answers this week, I realized that I've already written about things that I remember from when I was young. And I've already shared my hopes and goals for my life now, moving forward. So I decided to focus on the final question: What do I want people to say about me on my 80th birthday?

If I'm still alive and kicking on my 80th birthday, I hope my friends and family will gather together for a great big party. I want people to laugh and smile as they tell one embarrassing story after another....

* The time I was wading across the "lake" at Relief Society camp, and I lifted my left foot to take a step before my right foot was actually on the bottom... and I ended up totally submerged in the water.

* The many, many times I fell flat on my face when trying to balance on a couple of pool noodles during a deep water jogging class at the Y.

* The way I misheard and misunderstood song lyrics on a regular basis (I was sure that The Christmas Song included the line "later on, we'll perspire as we dream by the fire").

* The time I panicked because I saw a snake on the sidewalk leading up to my front door... and when I ran down the street to get my friend Julie to save me, she discovered that my giant snake was actually just a harmless, little lizard.

I've provided countless hours of entertainment for friends, family and even total strangers. I hope that I continue to do so, and when I am old, I want people to think about the way I've brought smiles and laughter into their lives.

Also, I hope that people will say I was kind and loyal and true. I hope they'll say I was someone who had the courage to stand up for her convictions. I hope I'll be remembered as someone who could love and accept people as they are, while simultaneously encouraging those around me to become better versions of themselves. I hope I'll always be someone that people see as a true friend.

And when I die (whether I make it to my 80th birthday or not), I hope that my friends and family are so full of silly memories that they keep forgetting to cry. I hope, instead of flowers, my friends will adorn my casket with bouquets of old pool noodles and recycled plastic bags,
and instead of a somber memorial service, they'll sit around trying to come up with the most embarrassing Veronica stories, while tears of sorrow morph into the kind of tears that always accompany side-splitting laughter.

What about you? How do you want people to speak of you, on your 80th birthday? What do you want people to remember when you're gone?

01 February 2013

Crock Pot Gourmet: Creamy Brown Rice with Mushrooms

Creamy Brown Rice with Shiitake Mushrooms
 
You will need:
4 c. short grain brown rice
2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 c. coconut milk powder
1 c. dried shiitake mushroom pieces
7 c. water
 
Spray the inside of a 3-quart Crock Pot with non-stick cooking spray. Pour in 1 c. rice.
 
 
Add 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, 1/4c. coconut milk powder & 1/4 c. mushroom pieces.
 
 
Repeat layers 3 more times. Add water.
 
Cook on low setting for 6-8 hours. Serve warm.
 
We enjoyed this creamy mushroom rice as our entree, with lots of veggies on the side, and it was both filling and satisfying, but it would make a delicious side dish to your favorite grilled salmon or lemon chicken (although, if you're going for a vegan meal, that wouldn't be the best choice).