Reinvent dinner in minutes with common pantry staples

(BPT) – Busy families face the dinnertime challenge every day. Not only do they need to find a nutritious meal the entire family will enjoy, but they need to do so in a limited amount of time. With a few tricks, it’s easy to get out of the dinner rut and score big with tasty, wholesome meals that use pantry staples in creative ways.

Rice is a pantry staple that has unlimited possibilities, if you think outside the box. Explore new ways you can add flavor and depth to Minute (R) Rice and create satisfying, wholesome dishes in just a few minutes.

Why choose rice? Not only is it a healthy and gluten-free complex carbohydrate, it’s versatile, too. Traditional Minute(R) White Rice is precooked, dried and ready in just five minutes and family members of all ages enjoy it. Minute(R) Whole Grain Brown Rice is another option if you want to kick up the fiber quotient of your meal. 

While most people view rice as a simple side dish, if you take a more inventive approach, you’ll find it is a great way to enhance almost any recipe. Try adding it to soups, side dishes, main dishes, appetizers and even desserts. It’s even a great way to start the day off right. Here are a few creative ideas you can try at home:

* Enhance chili: Not only can you add rice to your favorite broth-based soups, try adding some to your chili recipe. Not sure about adding it directly to the chili? Cook separately and place a serving in a bowl, then top with chili.

* Wrap it up: Chop your favorite veggies and meat, and cook in a pan. Add cooked rice and then wrap all ingredients in a tortilla for a quick and filling dinner. Have leftovers? Chilled wraps are great for brown-bag lunches.

* Chop it up: Rice is a great addition to dips and salsas. Try mixing cooked rice, fresh tomatoes, onions and your choice of peppers in a blender or food processor. Enjoy the fresh flavors with crackers or chips, or add to make a breakfast omelet in the morning. Rice can be used in any meal or snack throughout the day.

* Jazz it up: Rice is a great base that can be spiced to your exact taste preferences. Try adding some chili seasoning for heat, or sweeten it with some chopped dried fruit and a touch of honey. Try cooking rice in broth, fruit juice or stock for additional flavor. Visit for more recipe ideas.

Rice is far from boring or bland. At just pennies a serving, it’s fun and affordable to experiment and find new meals for your family. Try these two delicious rice recipes for family dinner tonight:

Yummy Orange Chicken and Rice
Makes 4 Servings

1 jar (12 ounces) orange marmalade
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
2 cups cooked chicken, grilled or roasted (Alternative: try 2 cups cooked turkey)
1 large orange, washed and thinly sliced
1 cup frozen sugar snap peas, thawed
2 cups cooked, Minute(R) White Rice or Minute(R) Brown Rice
Slivered almonds, optional

1. In a small sauce pan add in: marmalade, orange juice and water. Simmer until blended and reduced by about half. It should be like syrup.

2. Add chicken, orange slices and peas until all are hot.

3. Serve over rice. If desired, sprinkle with slivered almonds.

Classic Minute(R) Rice Pudding
Makes 4 Servings

3 cups milk
1 cup Minute(R) White Rice, uncooked
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
ground cinnamon, optional

1. Combine milk, rice, sugar, raisins and salt in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Beat eggs and vanilla lightly in a small bowl. Stir small amount (about 1/2 cup) of hot mixture into eggs. Stirring constantly, slowly pour egg mixture back into hot mixture. Stirring constantly, cook on low heat 1 minute until thickened. Do not boil.

3. Remove from heat. Let stand 30 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve warm. Store any remaining pudding in refrigerator.

4. Create flavorful new varieties of rice puddings by trying different types of dried fruits, such as dried cherries, chopped dried apricots, chopped dried pineapple or dried sweetened cranberries.

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