Ode to my Rice Cooker – Plus Lettuce Wrap Ideas

Rice Cooker
25 Years Young

I pulled out my rice cooker to make forbidden (we like to call it “forbeeeden” in a scary voice) black rice and my son asked “How long have you had that?”  I remembered that I got it as a gift for my 21st birthday from my college roommates.  No, really.  That was almost 25 years ago.  It’s hard to believe this $40 appliance has seen me and now my family through 25 years of rice and quinoa meals.  It is low tech.  There are no switches and timers other than cook and warm.  Rice and water go in and you press to “cook” then the cooker clicks to warm when the rice is cooked.  Couldn’t be easier.  I wish more things in life lasted as long and were as simple and reliable.  So here’s a sexy picture of my rice cooker in all it’s glory.


We’ve been on a lettuce wrap/cup kick with the warm weather.  Here I made asian cups by offering the forbidden rice and added tofu or chicken, chopped peppers, broccoli and mangoes.  I also made rice noodles for layering and added some peanuts for crunch.  Fresh mint and cilantro brought some great freshness.  Kids love to make these.  Each person can assemble themselves to suit their own tastes.  This means no complaining!

Asian Lettuce Wraps
Asian Lettuce Wraps


A few nights later we made mexican themed lettuce wraps.  I didn’t have time to make spanish rice (and maybe I should give my workhorse cooker a break) but had everything for a quick meal with left-over ground turkey, olives, cilantro, black beans, guacamole and salsa.  My husband even suggested doing lettuce instead of tortillas on burrito nights because he felt less full.  The kids thought Dad was crazy suggesting no tortillas, but it’s a good option for us, sometimes.

Mexican Lettuce Wraps 

I’m sure I can think of other lettuce cups themes and ethnic variations to use up left-overs.  Maybe next up will be mediterranean.


Stuff It! Peppers That Is.

Peppers are great little colorful bowls to put some healthy fare.  It’s a great way to use up ingredients in your fridge or reinvent some left-overs.  Any grains will do as well as sauteed veggies, meats, tofu, etc.  The good thing about these is they can be made easily for everyone’s tastes and dietary restrictions.  Last night I sauteed some ground turkey with fresh thyme and garlic.  Then cooked some black forbidden rice.  I combined the rice and turkey and added some spinach chiffanade and filled the half sliced pepper.  I topped it off with a bit of parmesean cheese and put it in the oven to bake for about 35 minutes.   These are quick and easy and pretty too.  They went with tomato soup and a crusty french baguette.

(As for those dietary restrictions you may notice something from the photo.  Two are without cheese – my husband is cutting back.  Two have just the rice mixture without turkey – for my daughter.  But it was easy to please everyone.)