Creamy Brown Rice, Mushroom, Chicken, and Spinach Bake

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Brown Rice and Mushroom Bake

Sometimes, dinner is all about the meat. Oftentimes! But meat can get expensive and honestly, especially around the holidays when it’s all TURKEY and HAM, I crave vegetables.

You’ll notice that I don’t have any other mushroom recipes on my site (save what I have dubbed “my family’s grossest recipe,” oyster dressing). No one else in my little family enjoys mushrooms – yet! I made this for a church potluck. But I may have to invite over some fellow mushroom-lovers (like my brother-in-law) to enjoy it with me sometime soon.

While this version has chicken, it’s really just a side note. The dish is all about the creamy rice and earthy mushrooms. If you are vegetarian, leave out the chicken and sub in vegetable stock. You can also change out the spinach for another veggie of your choosing, like broccoli or peas.

Creamy Brown Rice, Mushroom, Chicken, and Spinach Bake

Ingredients

  • 3 1/3 c. chicken stock, divided
  • 1 1/2 c. uncooked brown rice
  • 1 lb. chicken, cooked and shredded or cubed
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 lb. cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
  • 4-5 stems fresh thyme, leaves stripped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 c. fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1 c. half-and-half or cream
  • 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Spread uncooked rice in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Bring 2 1/3 cup of stock to a boil in the microwave or on the stovetop; pour over rice. Cover dish tightly with a double layer of foil. Bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet. Add onion and cook five minutes, until soft. Add mushrooms and cook a few more minutes, until they start smelling like mushrooms and are golden brown. Add salt, pepper, and thyme leaves and toss.

Add the spinach leaves to the mushroom mix and cook until they are wilted. Add remaining 1 cup stock and chicken to the skillet and simmer for a few minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch and 1 Tablespoon half-and-half or cream. Add remaining cream to the skillet, stirring well, then add in the cornstarch slurry. Bring to a low boil and let cook a few minutes until the sauce is thickened.

Pour mushroom mixture evenly over the rice. Recover with foil and cook another 30 minutes, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and recover with foil for a few minutes until cheese is melted. Serve.

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Real Food Recipe Roundup via Jo-Lynne Shane and Alison Ray

Saturday Linky Love

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If you read my post from earlier today, you know what kind of week it’s been around here. It’s 8:46 p.m., I am in bed, and I’m tempted just to go to sleep after I finish this. Hope you’ve had a better week! I am looking forward to Thanksgiving. Are you?

Reading offline: Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry.

So, what did you read that was great this week? Link up here. You can grab the code for the button in the sidebar, if you want. Please link back here and add the PERMALINK to your post, not your home page.

Friday, Friday

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I’m cleaning up days of dishes from the counter and every available surface in the kitchen. It’s Friday, and I think I’ve lost a whole week. I want to clean up this week, sweep it into the dustpan, move on.

Last Friday morning Joshua threw up all over me, before we ever left to take Libbie to school. I was wary of putting him in the van in case it happened again. So Mr. V took Joshua to class. And trying to drive off campus, my car kept shifting into neutral by itself. Then some warning lights came on. I looked in the manual, which said, “DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT DRIVING THE CAR OVER 30!!!”

So we borrowed a car to take Libbie to school, shifting car seats and bookbags. We were good and late. Come back, have our van towed, try to figure out a rental. We rent a sedan, knowing that it won’t fit all three of our car seats but thinking we’d have the van back Monday at the latest. We will make it work.

They don’t even look at our van on Friday, of course, despite up-and-down promises.

Saturday David throws up.

Sunday everyone seems fine and we think we are out of the woods. Libbie’s Sunday School teacher comes to pick her up so we can all go to church. (Bless her.) Monday David has a little playdate while I take Libbie to school. (More car seat shifting.)

And then Monday, David takes a three-hour nap in the middle of the day, which neverevereverever happens. Then Joshua throws up, all over my new Keen shoes. Then Libbie.

So Tuesday we’re all at home, even though they all feel fine, now, of course. Keeping germs to ourselves. David probably could have gone to school, but I don’t want to spread sickness to anyone else if I can help it.

Wednesday, I think, finally! We finally get our car back and have room for all the children. I finally have a day where Libbie and David are both at school. And I finally get hit with the bug myself. ARGGGGHHHH.

And then Thursday, I feel better, but I have MOPS, dropping off Operation Christmas Child boxes, picking up David and our carpool buddy, reading books, helping with homework, doing dinner, a coughing toddler who obviously isn’t feeling well YET AGAIN in my bed.

It’s Friday again. Everything is a terrible mess. But there is some quiet now as Joshua sleeps and David plays, the dishwasher runs and the students outside are on the verge of evacuating for Thanksgiving break.

I’m so looking forward to the next week: doing water aerobics again, helping Libbie learn about Neptune, worshiping with our church, traveling and spending time with family for Thanksgiving, having Mr. V home, helping in Libbie’s class to make space posters.

So that covers why it’s been quiet around this small home on the web this week. I hope your week has been filled with much better things and much less sickness! Stay tuned for Saturday Linky Love and the launch of my e-book devotional, Parenting Parables, on Monday!

 

Saturday Linky Love

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After quite the day yesterday, I really just wanted to sleep all day today. But since I have three kids, you know that’s not happening. We’ve tried to have a chill day, though, except for a birthday party this afternoon. Hope you’re having a nice weekend.

Here is some good stuff for you to snuggle down and devour this weekend.

Reading offline: Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry and still working slowly through Chasing God by Angie Smith.

So, what did you read that was great this week? Link up here. You can grab the code for the button in the sidebar, if you want. Please link back here and add the PERMALINK to your post, not your home page.

Staying when You Want to Go

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stayingwhenyouwanttogo

I’ve been pretty stuck to my bed and the couch since Saturday morning. My back has flared up again (for the millionth time in the last 3 years), and it’s hard to sit up in the car, walk around when I have to be carrying Joshua, or even wash dishes or do laundry.

I’m generally not an inactive person. I like to be out and about. I barely watch TV anymore, because I can’t sit still long enough to do so. And when I do, I’m thinking, “What else should I be doing right now?” I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but it’s the truth.

It’s so hard to stay put when all I want to do is clean the maelstrom that is our apartment, since Joshua is actually asleep. But I know for healing, I can’t be crouching down all over the floor or hunched over the sink. It just doesn’t help.

I’ve heard many a time that it’s much harder to stay put in a struggling marriage than leave. Our marriage has never been at a point that rocky, so I can’t attest to that. But I’ve learned marriage isn’t the only place where that adage fits.

It can be really hard to stay when you want to go.

For us, it’s our church. The last two years have been really rocky for our community of faith. It’s a traditional church trying to exist in 2014 and finding out what that means. And there have been many, many times where Mr. V and I asked each other, “Is it time for us to go?” Many of our friends have left the church, including one of my best friends and my mentor.

But we never felt peace about going. And somewhere in there, we made the decision to stay for the storm. To hold on and do our part to help the change. We took over our Sunday School class as teachers. I went back to help with David’s Wednesday-night class. I’m trying to make it to sing in the choir most weeks, although at this point in our lives the kids’ bedtime definitely has to be a higher priority than choir practice.

It’s not fun to feel like you’re one of the few left to fill the open slots. But we feel that is God’s plan for us right now. It’s been super hard to see how much our church in Nashville is thriving and growing. But we are convinced God is working through our ministers and they want the best for the church and our community.

It doesn’t make it not hard.

Sometimes I feel the same way in our home life, too. I don’t mind being home, but I love being out and doing things. With small ones, though, you need to be home for naptime. No matter how David fights it, he needs some downtime in his room. Sometimes I have to be home just to get lunches made and sheets washed and my sanity intact. I don’t like it. I find it easier to get wrapped up in the go here-here-here, maybe because there I get some social interaction with someone who doesn’t start screaming when they don’t like what I say.

But I stay. It’s hard sometimes. I want the flexibility I had before kids.

But I need to stay. I could go, but I believe in staying there’s going to be a blessing. Whether it’s the quiet of a nap or the honing of leadership skills or just the knowledge that I did what God told me to do.

Library Finds for the Little Ones

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We own a lot of books. Really, we do. Especially kids’ books. But you know what? When I tell the kids to grab a book to read, they almost always go for the library basket.

Not only are the library books free, they rotate frequently, making them just like a shiny new toy each week. My kids love digging through the basket and seeing the gems they and Mommy picked out for the week.

Sometimes I try to do a theme – like two weeks ago I reserved a bunch of pumpkin books – and sometimes I do look for new and recommended books.* But often I just walk through the easy reader shelves, pulling out titles that look interesting and throwing them in my heavy canvas bag to check out. The kids are usually allowed to pick two or three books each. (Unfortunately Libbie doesn’t usually get to come now that she’s in school, but she picks out a school library book and a couple classroom books, too.)

Since I am always looking for fabulous new reads for my kids, I thought I’d share some of the ones we’ve checked out lately that have turned out to be winners!

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis – This book has won several awards, and I saw one plastered on the front of the copy I picked out of the library shelves. I loved how the book itself feels like a cardboard box; on the back it even says, “This side up.” Really cute little line drawings, and my kids loved filling in the rest of what the bunny might be saying.

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White – This is one I reserved for our pumpkin week. It’s about an elderly woman who hates pumpkins, due to the fact that her family ate only pumpkins for a long time during the Depression. She ends up with a yard full, though … and has to figure out the best way to dispose of the behemoths. Very sweet story about community.

I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn – A cute tale of a girl’s dress that she outgrows – which then gets turned into a shirt, a tank top, a skirt, a scarf … and so on. There was one line about how she stopped wearing the skirt because her friend told her skirts weren’t cool anymore that bothered me. But in general, I liked the different fonts, the pretty pictures, and the message about reusing what we have and love.

I’m Dirty! by Kate & Jim McMullan – Nothing appeals to a 3-year-old boy like mud and construction vehicles. David loved this one.

Silly Doggy! by Adam Stower – Lily wakes up and finds the perfect pet in her backyard … a dog! A BIG “dog.” We love a book that gets laughs, and Lily’s ignorance is pretty funny.

Snuggle Wuggle by Jonathan London – This is Joshua’s favorite book in the entire world. (He is 19 months.) I have no idea why. But all we have to do is say Snuggle Wuggle and he will go find the book and insist we read it. Eleven or twelve times. He is an animal lover, so maybe that’s why, or it’s just the simple language and rhyming words.

______

*Speaking of looking up recommendations, I saw GoodReads’ 2014 book voting going on. They have a section for picture books, so I went ahead and requested several of those from the library, too. This week we were able to get The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak (from The Office) and Sparky! by Jenny Offill. Both are very funny, although the humor in Sparky! is more subtle. (My kids were basically rolling around on the floor hysterical reading The Book with No Pictures. And Ba-doongy-face is now part of our family vocabulary.) Both are winners in my book, and I look forward to checking out the rest of the contenders in the 2014 picture book category. [They’ve taken down the nominees right now, but the semifinals start Monday so you should be able to see them then, I think.]

Your turn: what children’s book should we check out from the library this week? My kids are 6, 3, and 1 1/2.