Are you a person who loves kitchen gadgets? Do you tend to buy the “next exciting thing,” use it once, then store it away in the closet? If so, you are not the only one who does this. One common kitchen gadget frequently forgotten in the depths of storage is the humble rice cooker. Many people do not eat rice regularly, yet they still seem to have this handy machine.
The good news is that you can do so much more than cook rice in these versatile appliances. Even the most basic of rice cookers can make a variety of delicious meals quickly, easily, and with relatively little mess. Here are a few alternate uses for your rice cooker that you can try this week.
When you think “breakfast,” you probably do not immediately think of your rice cooker. That is unfortunate because rice cookers are actually quite adept at cooking a variety of breakfast foods.
- Hard-boiled eggs – If you are looking for a hands-off way to make hard-boiled eggs, look no further than your rice cooker. Simply put water in the inner pot and add your desired number of eggs in the steamer basket. Set it on ‘cook’ for anywhere from 10-15 minutes, and soon you’ll have beautifully cooked eggs that are easy to peel.
- Extra-large pancakes – If you are looking for something a little bit more exciting than a boiled egg, this monster pancake idea just might be for you. Take any conventional pancake mix (or make your own,) add it to the rice cooker pot, and let it steam for 45 minutes. The pancake ends up looking like a huge cake and can be sliced into wedges to feed the whole family. The recipe can even be modified to make various flavors.
- Frittatas – Do you love frittatas? Simply sautee your desired vegetables on the stove and add them to some mixed eggs. Throw the mixture into your rice cooker, and enjoy when done.
One Pot Meals and Sides
If you’ve ever used a slow cooker, you know the advantages of a one-pot meal. Less clean up is the most obvious advantage, but the ability to walk away from the pot is also a draw to making these meals. The same is true when you cook dinner with a rice cooker.
- Steamed rice and vegetable dinner – Instead of just cooking rice in your rice cooker, you can add vegetables and meat to the same pot and allow it all to steam together. The flavor from the additional ingredients will also add a pleasant flavor to the rice.
- Macaroni and cheese – You can use your rice cooker to make a delicious pot of macaroni and cheese without the cleanup required by stovetop macaroni and cheese. Just add pasta and broth to the cooker, let it steam until the broth is fully absorbed, then add the cheese and milk and let it melt for about ten minutes.
- Soup and chili – With soup, you pretty much can’t mess up. Simply throw any ingredients you would typically put into a soup pot, into your rice cooker instead. Experiment with different combinations and spices. This is truly one of the most fun ways to play around in the kitchen.
Snacks and Sweets
Treats from the grocery store are tasty but can be expensive. To help your budget, use your rice cooker to make fun and tasty snacks – desserts too!
- Hummus – To make hummus from scratch, you simply need to cook raw chickpeas in your rice cooker for half an hour. Take the cooked chickpeas and puree them with any other ingredients that you like in your hummus, like garlic, tahini, lemon, salt, or even roasted red peppers.
- Cheesecake – There’s no way you can make cheesecake in a rice cooker, right? Wrong. Simply combine eggs, cream cheese, lemon juice, sugar, cream, and flour in your slow-cooking pot and cook it on the rice cycle. Simple, no-mess cheesecake has never tasted better.
It may come to no surprise to you that you can cook grains other than rice in your rice cooker. Rice is a grain, so why wouldn’t grains like risotto, grits, quinoa, and polenta cook in a rice cooker? The answer is, they, too, are perfectly suited to cooking in your rice cooker. You can mix in any ingredients you like with your grains and have another complete, one-pot meal.