Chicken and Brown Rice – A Quick Healthy Meal

In today’s busy world, it can be difficult to find time to make a good, healthy meal. Far too often, we have found it easier to resort to fast food for times sake and ease of cleanup. That’s a pretty unhealthy trade-off. Worse yet, it’s one you don’t need to make. And here’s why.

Par-boiled chicken and brown rice.

Boil up several pieces of chicken and a pot of brown rice. I usually try to do this over the weekend when I have more time since this is the only part that really requires any serious prep time. Then I bag up them both separately and stick them in the fridge. The chicken will keep for several days so you don’t need to worry about having chicken too many nights in a row.

There are so many ways you can now prepare a quick, healthy meal from the chicken and rice. This is the one I do most often.

When you get home from work, simply take out some chicken and cut it up into bite size pieces and toss it in a skillet. Then add brown rice. Usually, I figure a half chicken breast and one cup of rice per person, but you can pretty much use as much or as little as you like. Now add a vegetable. I generally go with corn, peas, or broccoli – or some combination of them. Next pour some soy sauce into the mix and add some black pepper to taste. Don’t overdo it on the soy sauce or it gets very salty. On occasion, I will add a small amount of chili powder to the mix as well. It only takes about 15-20 minutes from the time I pull things out of the fridge until I have a plate of delicious food sitting in front of me.


I’ll discuss some of the other ways you can use the par-boiled chicken and brown rice to make a quick healthy meal at another time. For now, you can always change up the vegetable and seasonings to make the dish fresh so you don’t get bored with it.


Cafe 217


OK, so Linda and I already celebrated our anniversary with our traditional pizza last night. Tonight we decided to do a more “normal” anniversary dinner. Linda has become a fan of Groupon and she found a deal for a dinner for two at a local restaurant we had never been to before. We figured it would be a great opportunity to get out for a change.

The place was easy enough to find and we got parking right outside – which is kind of unusual for Albany. It didn’t look like much from the outside, but when we went inside, it had a nice feel to it. It wasn’t exactly fine dining, but it wasn’t too informal either.  It just felt cozy and I didn’t have to dress up (something I try to avoid whenever possible).

Our waiter Kyle was friendly and was thrilled to hear that we chose Cafe 217 for our anniversary dinner. My wife told him how we met online 14 years ago and were married 9 years. He met his boyfriend online, which was cool to hear too. It’s surprising how many people can say that these days. He took our appetizer order and brought out our drinks. The mozzarella sticks were delicious.

While we were enjoying our appetizers, Lauren brought out more wine for my wife. She explained that they only serve New York wine and beer, which is really cool. We’ve gone to the Farmer’s Market to get locally grown food as well. Since NY isn’t really the best climate for grapes, she said they had a really good apple wine and offered to bring my wife and I a taste. It wasn’t as sweet as you would think an apple wine would be. In fact, it wasn’t as sweet as the Riesling that my wife had. She asked that they bring her the apple wine when our dinner was served.

For dinner, both Linda and I selected the New York Strip Steak. It had some kind of demi-glaze that was pretty good. We both had green beans which were served in the same. I opted for the mashed potato since I am generally pretty safe with that. I’m not a huge fan, but I do like them. However, something about them didn’t quite taste right to me.  Linda tried some and noticed that they were mashed with sour cream, which I don’t like. She had the rest of my potatoes.

Linda was a little more daring in her order. Instead of getting mashed potatoes, she went with the spinach-parmesan risotto. Neither of us had ever had a risotto of any kind. Kyle explained it to Linda and she thought it was worth trying. Since I didn’t care for my potatoes, Linda let me try her risotto. I was quite surprised to find that it was pretty good. In fact, Linda let me eat most of her risotto and she finished off my potatoes.

After dinner, we were both kind of full, but when Kyle went over the dessert menu, one dish grabbed my attention. It was a chocolate chip lava cake with ice cream on the side.  We opted to split one. It was amazing! I do love my sweets, and this was no disappointment.

We had a great time at Cafe 217 and would definitely recommend it to anyone in the Albany area. The food was good and the staff was very nice and helpful. We got a nice lesson in local wine from Lauren too. They were even gracious enough to let me snap a picture of them before we left.

So it seems that Groupon has once again helped us find a nice place to eat. First, the Brickhouse Pizza & Grille, and now Cafe 217. I wonder what else lies in our future.


DiBella’s Subs

Nine years ago today, my wife and I got married down the street from where we live in the backyard of a Justice of the Peace. It was a nice informal wedding that suited us perfectly.

Usually we have lunch separately during the work week. We don’t have a traditional lunch for our anniversary, but I decided it would be nice for us to have lunch together at my wife’s office.

I stopped by DiBella’s Subs on the way to pick up a Ham and Swiss for her and a Chicken Philly for myself. The subs there are made fresh right there in front of you including the hot subs like my Chicken Philly. We enjoyed a nice lunch together which was a welcome change of pace for both of us. I’m not sure if this will become a new tradition for us, but we both really enjoyed it.

We did, however, have our traditional anniversary pizza tonight. You may recall me talking about that  back on the 10th. That’s because we celebrate both the anniversary of when we met as well as when we got married. Not only did we order our pizza, but afterwards my wife called them back to thank them for being such a big part of our lives together.

Cinnamon Peppers?

We had more leftovers from the party this weekend. This makes 4 days in a row I’ve had burgers on the grill. I’m not complaining – I love burgers. However, I am definitely looking forward to something different tomorrow night. Even though the main entree was the same, I did decide to change up the side a little. We had a few peppers leftover and I thought I would try to experiment a little. Since I like cinnamon so much, and it is a little hot and goes well with sweet things, I sprinkled some cinnamon on the peppers after I gave them a thin coating of olive oil.

Well, they didn’t quite turn out like I had hoped. I did use less olive oil than the last time I tried the peppers so they weren’t as slimy, but the cinnamon didn’t really work like I expected it to. Perhaps I needed to include some additional spices as well. I’m not sure. I just know it didn’t help them any. I didn’t dislike them, but I didn’t like them either. I need to experiment a little more until I find a way to prepare peppers that I do like.

Any suggestions on how I can prepare a better pepper?

S’Mores Indoors

I’m a little behind on this post. We had a pool party at the house this past weekend with a few friends. Between my trip to California and the party, I was pretty wiped out by Monday.

Anyway,we had typical summer grilling food at the party. I had burgers, hot dogs, southwestern chicken, and peppers and onions on the grill. They all went over pretty well, but we had some leftovers. Actually we had a lot of leftovers now that I think of it. Although that’s because we had some no-shows too.

There was one thing, however, that went fast – S’Mores, and we never had to start a fire. When we were shopping for the party at BJ’s we stumbled upon S’Mores Indoors. It’s like a pizza with a graham cracker crust, chocolate for sauce, and marshmallows for cheese. Just 10 Minutes in the oven at 400 degrees and you have a yummy treat. Fortunately there were 2 in the box. I didn’t get any of the first one, so when the second one came out I set aside a slice for myself before bringing it out to the crowd.

Did I mention that most of the people at the party were all fitness buffs? Many of them were from the Gold’s Gym that my wife works at and works out in. They devoured both pies in no time despite knowing they probably should have avoided it altogether. That’s how good it was. I’m sure they all spent a little extra time at the gym the next day or two to burn it off.

Business Travel to California

My company sent me out to Garden Grove California to train one of our clients on administering their new system. While I love the idea of seeing new places, as a fussy eater, I’m always kind of nervous about the food. That was definitely the case traveling to southern California. Sure, if you like Mexican food, there is plenty of it – and not that pseudo-Mexican Taco Bell stuff either. Unfortunately, I don’t care for Mexican food.

The trip out was relatively uneventful. I had a short layover in Baltimore (just long enough for a restroom break) and then I was off to LA. Thankfully, I still managed to get an exit row. I’m 6’4″ so I need all the legroom I can get. I got to LA around 11AM and I wasn’t seeing the client until 9AM the next day. That gave me plenty of time for some sight seeing.

My first order of business was to see the ocean. I headed out to Santa Monica and noticed Malibu was only another 6 miles, so I figured I might as well see Malibu. I got out there and walked out on the pier and then decided to walk down by the beach itself. When I went down the steps by the pier, I saw a pelican just chilling out. He didn’t seem to mind that I was there either.

After that I headed out to the see the Hollywood sign. I had done a little research and found that Lake Hollywood Drive offers one of the better views, not only of the sign, but also LA if you look the other direction.

I then went down into Hollywood and walked along Hollywood Blvd for a bit. I was going to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe, but it was way too crowded. Instead I grabbed a plain cheeseburger at Hooters which was right across the street from the Chinese Theater.

The next morning, I treated myself to a nice breakfast. Well, I suppose, technically, the company treated me to a nice breakfast. When I travel, I like to start the morning with a good breakfast, preferably at IHOP. Nothing beats a few chocolate chip pancakes and a coffee when your away from home. It satisfies my sweet tooth and fills me up in case the next few meals suck.

That turned out to be a pretty good idea. The client ordered sandwiches in for us all. Unfortunately, they had tomatoes, and lettuce on them. At least they had the mayo and mustard on the side so I could avoid them. I can’t stand lettuce, so I had little choice but to open the sandwich and pull out everything but the turkey. At home, this isn’t a big deal, but in front of a client, it is at least slightly embarrassing.

After the training session I went down to Huntington Beach and then Long Beach. It was getting a little late so I headed back towards the hotel to find some food. Unfortunately, I didn’t really see anything that I wanted so I just went back to the hotel and downed a few granola bars I brought with me for just such an occasion.

The next morning I headed back to LAX very early because I was told that I could end up stuck in traffic for a long time. It actually wasn’t bad. I went up 405 which isn’t as busy. It also goes relatively close to Manhattan Beach. I so made it to the beach around 9AM and there were already surfers out catching some waves.

I got to the airport around 11AM and my flight didn’t leave until 2PM so I figured I should eat since they don’t serve food on Southwest Airlines, just snacks. I walked all over the terminal and found that there really weren’t many options for a fussy eater. I ended up getting Chicken Selects at McDonald’s and found a nice quiet gate to eat them.

The flight itself was pretty good. Despite getting B42 as my check in number, I still managed to get an exit row. We were overbooked and they waited a while till they found someone willing to take a voucher. That delayed us a bit. I only had a 35 minute layover in Chicago. Needless to say I was a bit concerned. As we approached Chicago, they told us about connecting gates. My plane was to leave on B23 and we were coming in on B3. Not too close, but reasonable. Well, when we landed they told us the gate wasn’t ready and we were being moved to A17.  We were coming in late and on a whole different terminal! As it turns out I wasn’t the only one running from A17 to B23. That was good to know. They are much more likely to hold a flight for multiple passengers. We were all a bit out of breath from running, but made the flight.

My wife was waiting for me when I arrived. I was so glad to see her and to be home again, where I know I can find a good meal.

Brickhouse Pizza & Grille

Linda had bought a Groupon for a $50 lunch/dinner at Brickhouse Pizza & Grille a while back and we finally decided to use it today. It was a deal for 4 people, but we called and they were fine with us eating in for lunch and taking dinner to go. When we arrived, the place had a really nice look to it and they had small LCD TVs on each table hooked up to Direct TV.

When the waitress came, we ordered drinks and some mozzarella sticks and potato skins as appetizers. They were both delicious. We were kind of torn on what to order. I thought about getting my usual bacon cheeseburger for lunch and a chicken parmesan for dinner. We talked it over for a bit and decided to order a whole grain pizza instead of burgers.

While we were waiting, I saw a woman from the back come out and sit down with some ladies who were seated next to us. I leaned in to my wife and told her that she looks an awful lot like Mama from Mama’s Pizza which had closed 5 years ago. When the woman got up and walked past us, I asked her if she was who I thought. She was! Not only that she still remembers my family.

When I was in my teens we first started going to Mama’s Pizza which was the best pizza in town. It was someplace we knew well and they knew us too. I was so surprised to see her. I had wondered what happened to Mama’s Pizza. She had retired 5 years ago and sold the place. It has changed hands several times since then and nobody has been able to make it work. Her kids convinced her to open another place.

I’m so glad my wife found the Groupon for Brickhouse Pizza & Grille. It was great to see Mama again and (as we expected) the food was great. I can’t wait for dinner to see how good the chicken parmesan is, but I’m still full from lunch.

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