Cajun Dirty Rice, French Bread, and Monster Bars - a guest post!

I'm so excited to have a guest post today from Sara Beth at Market to Meal!  She is a childhood friend and has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  She lives in Asia with her husband and five children, and has a fabulous food blog full of innovative and delicious recipes.  I asked her to share a go-to "company" menu - one more that I'll add to the "Menus for when People Come to Visit" series. Be sure to check out her blog and leave her some love!

I’m Sara Beth. I live in Asia. It might help if you know that about me. I love to cook, but because of where I live, I don’t get to do much the easy way. I kind of like it that way though. Living overseas we often find ourselves with local dinner guests that we didn’t know were coming until that day. The dish I usually throw together for them is Cajun Dirty Rice. My husband is from Louisiana so this is a “home” dish for him. Our local friends like that its something unique to where we’re from. It also is something they find tasty--despite it being quite different from the local fare. I haven’t served it to anyone that didn’t like it yet, no matter where they come from. I always have ground beef in the freezer and rice in the cupboard. Its easy for me to run to a vegetable seller really quick to get the vegetables--they chop up fast if you use a food processor or hand chopper.  They could also be prepped and frozen ahead of time for an even quicker meal. We usually serve this with some sliced tomato, cucumbers soaked in vinegar (yeah, its a southern thing!), and warm French bread! Even though its a yeast bread, I can start it as late as 4pm and still have it on the table for a 6 o’clock dinner. And just for fun, throw together some quick and easy Monster Bars! They’ll probably be different every time you make them depending on what you have, but they are always super yummy!

Chopped vegetables for Cajun Dirty Rice (image from Market to Meal)
2 tsp garlic powder
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ¼ tsp paprika
1 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp oregano
¼ - ½ tsp Cayenne pepper (I use a 1/4 for our family)
2 bay leaves

1 lb ground beef
4 cups chicken broth
¾ cup finely chopped celery
¾ cup finely chopped onion
¾ cup finely chopped green bell pepper
2 Tbs butter
2 cups rice

Brown the ground beef. Drain grease. Add veggies, spices, and chicken broth. Allow to come to a boil. Add butter and rice. Cover and cook on low like you would any rice--about 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally to keep from sticking. Add additional water if rice isn’t done when water is cooked out. Have a bottle of Tabasco on hand in case you want some extra kick!

French Bread Loaves (image from Market To Meal)
This really makes a softer crust bread than a traditional French baguette. Maybe more like an Italian bread. But its SUPER yummy and easy. We make it all the time at our house to serve with all kinds of meals!
2 Tbs instant yeast
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs oil
2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups warm water
7 ½ - 8 cups flour
Mix yeast, sugar, oil, salt and warm water in a large bowl. Allow to sit just a couple minutes to make sure your yeast was well activated--it will start growing in the water (I tend to kill mine by using too hot of water--if that isn’t a problem for you, then just power on through!). Add flour a cup or two at a time until you can no longer stir with a spoon. Place on well floured surface and knead 8-10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic, and most of the flour has been worked in.
Place in a greased bowl, turning once. Let rise until doubled (about 1 hour). Divide dough into 2-4 pieces depending on the size of your pans or oven. On floured surface, roll each piece into a rectangle--about 1/4 inch thick. Roll up, starting on the long edge. Place loaves on greased cookie sheets and make 4 to 5 slashes diagonally across tops. Let rise until double--about 30 minutes. Bake at 400F (205C) for 20 minutes.
Optional egg wash: Whisk together 1 egg with 1 Tbs water. Brush over top of loaves just before
*This recipe also works great to make into smaller sub-sized or sandwich sized buns!

Monster Bars (image from Market to Meal)
1/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup peanut butter (creamy, or chunky if you want peanuts!)
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/3 cups total of M&Ms, chocolate chips/chunks, PB chips, nuts, etc (I like to use M&M's and chocolate chunks together!  I also like using peanut butter chips in the mix when I have them.  Sometimes I add nuts or use chunky peanut butter.)

Cream together butter and sugars. Mix in eggs, vanilla, and baking soda. Add peanut butter. Stir in oats until well combined. Stir in choice of chocolate/chip/nut add-ins, totaling about 1 1/3 cups. Spread into a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 350F (180C) for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven when browning on top and still looks slightly gooey. Don't dry them out by overcooking.

1 comment:

  1. My two favorite cooks merged in one location via guest post! I want to eat every dinner with @RhymeswithSmile and @Market2Meal!!!