Better Burrito Bowls

Better Burrito Bowls

You guysssssss.

If you’ve noticed, I’m SO sorry for my absence.

If you haven’t noticed, it’s cool.

So I am finding out very quickly that getting a house ready to put on the market is no freakin’ joke.  Since early January, I have spent part or all of every single weekend packing stuff I don’t need to use on a daily basis, cleaning rooms and closets, organizing rooms and closets, storing stuff at my mom’s house until we figure out what to do about a storage unit, donating perfectly usable stuff to Goodwill, trashing whatever is left, AND, somehow, managing to find some time for myself and my family, even if it means we at least make sure we eat dinner together.

Needless to say, cooking for the blog has somewhat fallen to the wayside at this time.

As if putting my house on the market is not stressful enough, I have also managed to land my absolute dream job.  At first I didn’t find this stressful at all.  DREAM JOB!  YAY!  But as I began to give notice throughout my firm, I was surprised to find out how many people seemed genuinely sad at the news of my departure.  There were those I knew would not be doing a happy dance, but I didn’t expect so many sad faces.  I suppose when you work under an evil boss who’s made you feel worthless and stupid and not valuable in the slightest, then on some level you start to believe that about yourself.  I really just thought most people would say “That’s great, good luck to you” and send me on my way.  But countless people have laid a (good-natured) guilt trip on pretty thick and told me that if I ever want to come back, to give them a call and they’ll make sure I have a spot.  What a difference a year makes, huh?  If this new job came along a year ago I would have skated out of there so fast – and nobody at all would have been the least bit surprised.  But the new regime has really turned things around, to the point where it was really hard to make the decision to leave.

I am really excited about the new gig though.  I’ll be doing the work I already love doing, PLUS learning some skillsets in a field I’ve been dying to get into – which would be work I would REALLY love doing.  The prospect of expanding my skillset and my career has been exciting enough that I have barely even realized that I will also be making more money.  Money is as big a motivator for me as it is for anyone, but it takes such a backseat in this instance, because I am so stoked about the work I’ll be doing.

So yeah, the typical response I get at this point is, “What are you thinking?!  Starting a new job, selling your house, buying a house, all at the same time?!”  And I have to shake my head in response.  I OBVIOUSLY HAVE NO FREAKING IDEA WTF I’M DOING, because when you put it like that, it DOES sound scary.  All I can say is that it all just feels right; I have no gut instincts or hesitations in the back of my mind about anything.  So it must be the right time for all of this to take place.  In the words of a dear friend, I am “ripping off the band-aid” – it certainly feels that way!

But anyway.  I anticipate being able to create a few recipes for you next week in between some final rounds of packing, and post them, but then I imagine I will be on hiatus until my life settles down a bit.  Stick with me.  And you can always see what I’m eating on Instagram.

Let’s talk about these burrito bowls.  That are seriously better than Chipotle’s.

I don’t really understand the frenzy that surrounds Chipotle.  I mean – I will give them credit.  The food is good, it tastes fresh, the guacamole is very good, but to me it’s just another place I could grab a healthy-ish meal.  It’s a better alternative for me than a salad place because fuck salads.  But there aren’t many around me, plus the whole food-borne illness thing, plus people, really, let’s look at the ingredients, because with a little effort you CAN do it better on your own.

Everyone always raves about the cilantro lime rice.  And yes, I love cilantro lime rice.  But people, you know what’s in cilantro lime rice?  CILANTRO.  LIME.  AND RICE.  You can make this at home.  You don’t need to pay Chipotle $10 or something for a burrito bowl when you can make this stuff at home.

And their guac?  Mine is good too.

Now – I’ve been trying to eat less meat lately.  (Why?  I don’t really know other than it’s just something I want to do right now.  No particular health reason, no particular diet reason.  Just, hey, let’s see what life is like if I eat less meat.  I’m not trying to lose weight, I’m not trying to become a vegan, or even a vegetarian, but can I eat a vegetarian-style diet and still be satisfied?  Let’s find out!  It’s a curiosity thing.)  So these burrito bowls are just rice + beans + veggies + slutty toppings.  You can very easily add any kind of Mexican-spiced grilled chicken or beef (here’s a recipe I’d recommend if you want to go that route), or even use that to swap out the beans.  Treat this recipe as you are treated at Chipotle – pick what you want to put in it, and make it your own.  What I’ve got here is just what I would ask for if I went to Chipotle myself!

So yeah – you make the cilantro lime rice.  You heat up the beans.  You slice and saute the veggies.  And you top and stir and shovel into your happy little mouth.  It’s THAT easy.

What I truly love about this recipe is that it is GREAT for work lunches.  I think I’ll start a series on the stuff I eat at work for lunch.  I have been pretty creative over the past couple of years for what to bring to work for lunch.  Eating lunch in downtown Philadelphia can range anywhere from $7-15 or more.  If you can take a few hours on a Sunday to cook a batch of something delicious, you’ll be fed for a few days at least.  This recipe in particular makes enough for 4 lunch-sized burrito bowls (which I would say is maybe just over half the size of a Chipotle burrito bowl – which letsbehonest is TOO BIG).  You can very easily double it to make more, or even 1.5x it to make just a little more.  I made a 1.5x recipe when I made it to photograph it for the blog, and my husband and I each had enough for 3 lunches for the week.

And obviously you can go the other way and halve it so that you have dinner for two.

Better Burrito Bowls
Serves 4

Cilantro Lime Rice
1 cup dry California brown Basmati rice (we like Lundberg), or other brown rice, prepared according to package directions (see note)
Chicken or vegetable stock to prepare the rice (see note)
1 large handful minced cilantro
1 lime, cut in half

Sauteed Veggies
1 large red bell pepper, sliced into strips and then in half again
1 large green bell pepper, sliced into strips and then in half again
½ red onion, sliced into strips
Cooking spray
Taco or fajita seasoning

Other Bowl Components
1 can black beans, not rinsed or drained
1 recipe pico de gallo
1 avocado, cubed, cubes tossed in lime juice to keep from browning
Guacamole for topping, if desired
Sour cream for topping, if desired
Shredded cheese for topping, if desired

1. Prepare brown rice according to package directions. This typically takes 40-50 minutes, so this is plenty of time for you to get everything else ready! When the rice is finished, season very liberally with salt and stir to combine. Taste to see if it’s salty enough. Then add in the cilantro, and squeeze one half of the lime over the rice. Stir to combine. Taste to see if it’s cilantro-y or limey enough for you. I like a lot of lime, so if you’re like me, you’ll probably end up squeezing the other lime half over the rice as well. Keep warm.

2. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Spray liberally with cooking spray, or drizzle sparingly with a light flavorless oil of your choice. (I use coconut oil spray, and probably spray 2 layers all over the pan.) Add the peppers and saute for about 5 minutes to give them a head start over the onions. Add the onions. Season with 1-2 teaspoons of taco or fajita seasoning, as your palate desires. Stir to combine, and as the vegetables soften, turn the heat down to keep them from burning. You want them to be like fajita veggies – not too soft, but not too crisp either. Keep warm.

3. Pour the black beans into a small saucepan and warm over low heat. Keep warm until ready to assemble bowls. Note that when assembling, you should use a slotted spoon to drain the beans before adding to the bowl.

4. When everything is finished cooking, begin to assemble your burrito bowls. Spoon ¼ of the rice, ¼ of the beans, and ¼ of the sauteed veggies into a bowl. If preparing for lunches at work, stop there. You’ll want all the warm stuff in one bowl, and then you’ll pack the cold toppings in other bowls to take with you to work. If you’re preparing this to eat immediately, you can proceed with topping as you desire. Then feel free to stir it all up and shovel it in your mouth toute suite.

Regarding the rice/stock :: for whatever reason, brown rice always takes more liquid than what is called for on the package, at least for me. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve got a gas stove that cooks hotter than electric, or maybe I don’t know what a simmer is, but in general, this particular brand of brown rice (Lundberg) takes a little more stock than the package calls for. For 1 cup of dry rice, I use 2 cups of stock (the package calls for 1 1/2 cups of stock). Speaking of the stock – the recipe is good with chicken OR vegetable stock, I’ve made it both ways. I prefer stock over broth, as it’s more flavorful.