Hints from Heloise

Dear Heloise: I recycle jars from baby food-size to spaghetti sauce-size to bring my lunch to work in. I can pack pasta salads, tossed salads, dressings, soup and a lot of other goodies to be eaten cold or microwaved for lunch. It saves money, time and tastes even better on a second day. - Joyce in Arkansas


SOUTHWESTERN VEGGIE RICE


Dear Heloise: I love rice as a side dish. I'm looking for a healthy alternative to the boxed, flavored rice choices at the grocery store. They always have way too much salt, and I'm trying to cut back on my salt intake. Do you have a tasty rice recipe for me? - Carmen in Arizona


Carmen, this one is a favorite of my readers. It calls for 1/2 teaspoon of salt, but you can use less or a salt substitute. Hopefully you'll enjoy it, too. You'll need:


3 tablespoons salad oil


1 large onion, chopped


2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed


1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)


1 can of mixed peas and carrots


1 can diced tomatoes or 1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes


2 cups chicken broth (heated to boiling)


1 1/2 cups rice (brown or white)


1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Cook oil uncovered for 2 minutes on high in a 3-quart microwave-safe casserole. Add onion, garlic and rice. Cook uncovered on high for 3 minutes until onion is limp and rice is opaque. Stir once.


Stir in cayenne pepper and chicken broth. Cover tightly and cook on high for 4 to 7 minutes or until liquid begins to boil. Reduce power to medium and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Let stand covered for 5 minutes. Don't peek! Let it set to absorb the moisture. At the end of the standing time, stir in the peas and carrots, and tomatoes and salt to taste.


For more tried-and-true recipes that have been reader favorites, order my pamphlet "Heloise's Main Dishes and More" by visiting www.Heloise.com or by sending $3 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (70 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Main Dishes, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX, 78279-5001. If you're not a big fan of brown rice, try mixing half and half with white rice. - Heloise


SNACK CUPS


Dear Heloise: My four boys like to have their friends over to our house and watch sports on our big screen TV. I usually prepare snacks for the gang, but it involved a lot of mess in the family room, until I thought of putting the snacks in those tall plastic cups you can buy at a grocery store. No more crumbs all over the sofa and floor. - Jean in Virginia


EASY PAN ID


Dear Heloise: I learned a long time ago to place my pots and pans on the shelf handles in first. This way I don't have to pull them all of the way out to see which one I need. - Lois in South Carolina


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