Monday, July 12, 2010

Dinner during Dora: Bacon, Corn and Cheese Rice

I think the hardest part of my day is the time between when I get home from work and dinner. Hubby and I stagger our schedules by about 30 minutes. I go to work earlier in the morning, thereby skipping the struggles over sunscreen and any tears at day care drop off (although those aren't very common these days). However, the flip side is that I have to solo during dinner prep time. We prioritize family dinners- we aren't adamant that Petunia eats with us (although she usually does), but we do want to eat with Pumpkin most nights. That priority, Petunia's bedtime requirements, and my commute time combine to give me less than 30 minutes to get dinner on the table most weeknights.

Here is my weeknight drill: I walk in the door, drop my bags on the table, get Petunia out of her car seat and set up with some toys, start an episode of Dora for Pumpkin and then head to the kitchen to cook dinner- reappearing to do the "We Did It!" dance with Pumpkin. The dance is not optional.

That gives me approximately 22 minutes to get dinner ready.

Oh, and I want dinner to be reasonably healthy, and to include one thing that Pumpkin- whose incredibly picky eating is surely a karmic payback for my own childhood food foibles- might eat.

I've decided to start a series of posts that I'll call "Dinner during Dora", which will have recipes that I use frequently. I'm starting this series of posts with the hopes that some of you might like the idea and do your own "Dinner during Dora" posts. Mimi already has one up (and it looks good- I particularly like the idea that if I time it right, I might actually use some of the gazillion avocados our backyard tree produces every year). I've turned on the "trackback" feature on the blog, so if you link to this post (and not just to my home page), a link to your post will appear at the bottom of this page, and we can all find new recipes. If you don't have your own blog, let me know if you want to send in a recipe for me to post for you. The only requirement is that you can make it in roughly the time of one Dora episode- so 30 minutes, start to finish, is the absolute limit. 20 minutes is better!

I think this may actually get me off the fence about Twitter, too. I'll set up a Twitter account for this blog (what should my handle be? I rather doubt I'll get Cloud. Maybe "Wandsci"?) and start some sort of Dinner during Dora hashtag. It may take me a few days to get that all set up, though.

I'll always list the source of the recipe, and I'll tell you who in the family eats it.

So without further ado, here is the first Dinner during Dora recipe:

Bacon, Corn, and Cheese Rice


1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp crushed garlic (I suspect this is about 2 small cloves- but I buy bottled, pre-minced garlic to save time)
3/4 cups rice
1 14.5 oz can chicken broth
1/2 - 3/4 cup good melting cheese (I use gouda)
3-4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup frozen corn

    1. I start the bacon cooking first. That way it is done and ready to crumble by the time I need it.

    2. Heat the olvie oil in a large skillet or shallow pan over medium heat. (Note: I don't know how this would work in a non-stick pan- I use a regular pan.)
    3. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. I like the garlic to brown.
    4. Add rice and stir until the grains are coated with oil.
    5. Add broth. Stir and bring to a boil.
    6. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes
    7. Add corn. Stir and cook another 3 minutes, or until the rice is done.
    8. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and bacon.

    I serve this with a green vegetable- usually either green beans cooked in OJ or zucchini fried in olive oil. I can make either of those while the rice simmers. I'll post recipes in a later installment of Dinner during Dora. 

    Source: I made this one up. The basic idea for how to cook the rice came from The Working Stiff Cookbook by Bob Sloan and Michael Klein. The basic recipe can obviously be varied in many ways. For instance, if you like peas (I can't stand them), you could add frozen peas instead of
    or in addition to the corn. Our mix-ins were chosen because at one point, Pumpkin has eaten all of them. (That doesn't mean she eats them now- she's gone off bacon for some reason, and despite proclaiming "I like it!" every time she tries corn, she won't eat it if it just shows up on her plate.)

    Who eats it: So far, just me and Hubby, but Pumpkin has only seen it 4 or 5 times, and she often takes much, much longer to warm up to a new food. She has in fact never eaten any rice- or at least not at home. She apparently eats the "orange rice" at day care, which is some sort of Spanish rice that they serve with tacos and beans. Two other foods she will only eat at day care.  Petunia is too young for this dish, but next time I make it, I will pull out some of the rice before I add the cheese and bacon and see what she thinks of it.

    For some reason the Links to this Post feature isn't working... I don't have time to troubleshoot right now. So just post a link to your post in the comments! I'll try to figure out what is going on with the trackback thingy soon.

    OK, the trackback thingy just isn't working, and I can't figure out how to fix it. So here are the other Dinner during Dora posts I know about. Email me or post a comment here to have me add yours to the list:


    1. Here's a fast meal I do a lot, takes about 20 mins:

      --Set water to boil for pasta, usually a whole wheat kind so it needs to cook a bit
      --Chop two onions, fry them in olive oil
      --Chop garlic, put in when onion golden
      --30 seconds later put in two containers (the ones here in Sweden are usually cardboard boxes, but in the US it's usually cans) of pureed tomatoes, stir around, add salt
      --Add in spinach, fresh diced tomato, dried or fresh herbs, capers, sliced green olives, that kind of thing, stir around and let simmer until pasta is ready
      --Grate parm cheese if feeling energetic

      All done!

      Of course I have no idea what your kids are picky about eating, but my kid loves this and so do I. It's basically a puttanesca--spaghetti of the slut--so called because it is fast to cook for the non-housewives.

    2. That's a really neat idea for a series!

    3. mary d8:58 AM

      We try to do something 1/week in the crockpot --- you just come home and eat. :)

      One place we find a lot of good recipes is She tests them out with her little kids (I think they were like 3 and 6 when she did the blog). We like the "fried chicken" (chicken legs), the turkey/cranberry/apple meatballs, "candy chicken", Korean ribs, to start with.

    4. Looks delicious. Can I make a suggestion? Offer some tiny pieces of it to Petunia! Let her decide whether or not she is too young for a dish.

    5. @hush- Petunia's not having cheese yet. I have a history of allergies, so we are conservative on when we introduce potential allergens.

      Otherwise- yes, she'd get some to try.

    6. Sounds good, I never would have thought of something like this!

      As a variation you could use cubed ham instead of bacon. I just might be trying this soon!

      I posted one on my blog this morning too. :) Great idea Cloud.

    7. Here's a site that might be a good inspiration - amusingly enough, the top recipe as I write is pasta with bacon, corn and cheese. It got a write-up in the Times today, and I like the look of it. Inspiring without being too overwhelmingly perfect.

      In the summer, when we eat a lot of cold-dish salads, I always intend to cook tomorrow's dinner tonight - stay one day ahead the whole week, so when you get home, dinner is ready (with the addition of something standby like carrot sticks, or pita bread, or cottage cheese). Needless to say this doesn't actually happen much, but it's a good idea in theory! When my kids were smaller I did a phase of doing prep on weekends - this was especially helpful for making sure I got lunches. So I'd peel and cut up carrot sticks for the week, and hard-boil 6 eggs, and that kind of things.

      Possibly my standards for dinner are lower than yours!

    8. This looks awesome, Cloud. Looking forward to more "Dinner during Dora" posts; maybe I'll get around to posting some of my own!

    9. That looks really good!

      You may have inspired me to post one in this series. Although my hubby is the usual dinner guy, I've definitely made a few when he's had to work late and I've taken the afternoon shift.

    10. Oh, and get on twitter already!!!

    11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    12. I posted some weeknight strategies here:

      A rice cooker with a timer is essential, especially if you cook beans and whole grains. Set it for dinnertime, precut your stir-fry veggies over the weekend, and you will have dinner on the table in 10-15 minutes!

      My husband also will roast or saute some veggies while the pasta cooks. Our trick is to prepare as much as possible over the weekend.

    13. Hi Cloud. I posted as Anon a while ago - the one with a Kiwi hubby. Anyway, We subscribe to the NZ food magazine Cuisine - it has a section called 'Quick Smart' that I use for inspiration. It focuses on what's in season and simple.

      Given I've just set up my blog - I'm not sure about how to create links. And I'm typing on my iPhone while Miss Moo is asleep on my lap so it's a bit awkward to work out! But the address of the blog is & I've written up two of my favourite fast meals - Smoked Salmon pasta and Mediterranean Chicken.

    14. Interesting recipe! I'm intrigued by Pumpkin's food aversion. Munchkin used to eat EVERYTHING and as she ages she gets pickier and pickier. We have much the same strategy as you: no conflict, no big deal, keep reintroducing. It's not enough to have to make a fast supper! You have to make one that everyone will eat!

    15. I have a one-skillet + one-pot recipe in the same vein (rice + veg) that I serve with cheese on wraps/tortillas. Will be happy to send it your when when it is no longer 4 in the morning ;)

    16. Here are my two; great topic! I followed the link over from Ask Moxie. :)

    17. Welcom, @Warrior! The more the merrier... but I can't follow the link. It says your profile isn't public?

    18. Oh, DUH. Here's the link:

    19. Same type of schedule here, though Dr H and I are staggered by 2 hours. I get home at 5 and normally try to eat with Small at 6:30 (and Dr Hyde eats his share when he gets home around 7). However, the 30 minute-max rule still mostly applies because Small is really impatient about being left on the kitchen floor while I cook. (Though, I do have the chance to get a stew going and then leave it for 45 min...)

      Most weeks our dinner plans look something like this: a pasta dish (e.g. sauteed kale and tomatoes and olives on orzo); an egg dish (omelets with whatever the heck is in the fridge); a lentil dish (Indian dals are good and reasonably fast because they're split, so they cook up quickly); a tofu dish (if you've got the right sauce those are also fast); and a meat dish (these are more likely to be the stews).

      Man, when I type it out like that it sounds awfully repetitive, but it doesn't feel that way...

    20. Cloud, I finally got around to trying this dish! I made a few variations... threw in some peas and black beans to up the fiber and to get away with not serving a veggie on the side. Used old cheddar instead of gouda. It was really good!

      Sad to report that Rosie wouldn't eat it. Not because she didn't like it, but because she refused to even try it. Even though every single thing in there is something she likes, I guess she didn't like the look of it all together. Oh well. Maybe next time. I sure liked it though and so did my husband.


    Sorry for the CAPTCHA, folks. The spammers were stealing too much of my time.