The Limping Dinner: Spicy Brown Rice

We usually keep a pretty disciplined household here at Casual Kitchen, and we make a point of eating home-cooked food most nights of the week. But there are days when the idea of cooking is just a little bit too much to bear. Coming up with a recipe to make, heading to the store to buy the ingredients you need, and then actually making the dish—it all just seems too monumental a task.

Last Saturday was one of those days for us.

So we made what we call a "limping dinner"--a laughably easy-to-make (and coincidentally, laughably cheap) meal that can be made with basic staples that you typically always keep on hand in your home. It's not a meal that's going to win any awards, but it is the kind of meal that will get you back on the couch, fueled up and feeling full, with an absolute minimum of effort.

Let’s face it: cooking isn’t always going to be an act of glorious personal expression. You will have occasional days when you just need to get some serviceable food into you and your family’s bodies as expediently as possible. Thus the ability to make a limping dinner, when necessary, is a valuable skill to add to your cooking arsenal.

Today I’ll share with you my recipe for Spicy Brown Rice, which (along with other preposterously easy-to-make dishes like Mock Wild Rice or Pasta with Ken’s) are typical limping dinner fare here at Casual Kitchen.

Spicy Brown Rice

Place in a medium sauce pan:
1 cup brown rice
2 1/4 cups water or vegetable stock
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

Then add any (or all) of the following as your mood strikes you:
2 teaspoons of dried chives
cayenne pepper to taste
black pepper to taste
garlic powder, pressed garlic, or onion powder to taste
1 bouillon cube (optional)
dried oregano or dried basil leaves
Tabasco, to taste

Bring to a boil, cover, and turn down heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes. Fluff with a fork and eat.

Feeds 2+; can be doubled easily.
Two final thoughts:
1) Sure, brown rice might not be the most aesthetically pleasing dinner ever, but it is simple, healthy, and loaded with a surprisingly wide variety of nutrients.

2) Finally, it’s worth thinking about what kind of inventory of food staples you might like to keep in your home at all times so you can always feed yourself your own limping dinner when necessary. At Casual Kitchen, we generally keep potatoes, rice, brown rice, pasta and eggs in our kitchen at all times. Pasta, rice and brown rice have a nearly infinite shelf life; potatoes, onions and eggs will last for several weeks in your fridge.

Related Posts:
Ten Tips to Save Money on Spices and Seasonings
Mock Wild Rice: An Insanely Easy To Make Side Dish
15 Creative Tips to Avoid Holiday Overeating
Top Ten Most Popular Posts of Casual Kitchen

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MCM Voices said...

Dan, thank-you for this post - you've been reading my mind! We all need a collection of such recipes to keep us from desperation measures (like take-out).


punit said...

I've been looking for something to do with brow rice I have in the pantry. Thanks for the recipe.

I quite often make curd rice for my limping dinner. Since I cook Indian food often, I have most of the ingredients in stock. Maybe you are interested -

Daniel said...

Hi Mary!
Yep, a limping dinner is a great to stay off take-out. Quite frankly it's just as easy to fire up a batch of spicy brown rice than it is to make a take-out run.

Thanks for reading!


Daniel said...

Hi Punit, thanks for your comment. Your recipe sounds great, thank you for sharing!


Amy said...

I recently tired Alton Brown's method of baking brown rice, and I am simply in heaven - 1.5 cups of rice in a square baking pan. Bring 2.5 cups water, 1 Tablespoon butter (optional) and a pinch of salt to a boil. Pour over rice, cover tightly with foil and place in a 350 oven for 1 hour. Absolutley PERFECTLY done. Now I'm excited to start jazzing it up with your suggestions!

Daniel said...

Amy, thanks for sharing that recipe!

Regarding using butter; I usually use olive oil instead of the optional butter in a brown rice dish like this. Just my personal preference. But adding just a little oil or butter definitely improves the texture of the rice in my view.

Thank you for reading!


Anonymous said...

Fancy dinners out are so fun, but it is nice to return to something comforting and simple afterward.

Ingrid KV Hardy said...

Thanks for the recipe! Always looking for ways to use rice for family dinners - this seems super easy to make. -Ingrid

Sara said...

Somehow, I feel like beer would make an excellent substitute for the water or vegetable stock. Thoughts?

Daniel said...

Wow Sara. Mindblowing! Yes it sounds like it might have excellent potential. If you try it, please be sure to report back what you though of it!


NIDHYA said...

Dan, Nice recipe with brown rice.I love spicy food. Your blogs r cool. If you are interested in cooking Indian food feel free to visit

Jenna said...

Long past for a comment, but since you did link it in your retro Sunday I suppose it's not a big deal to do so. The recipe looks tasty... but there is one thing you might want to redact - RICE (as in the white stuff) has an incredibly long shelf life.

Brown rice? Goes rancid in 6 months or less. And more dangerously - most folks don't have the ability to taste rancid grains... so the first warning comes hand in hand with the miserable time spent counting the floor tiles, again, in the bathroom. Not fun.

Brown rice tastes great, I use it a lot myself (celiac means I have almost a dozen types of rice on the shelves at all times) but it isn't the long term pantry staple a lot of folks believe.