DIY How To

Your Rice Cooker: Not Just for Cooking Rice Anymore

Rice cookers are often thought of as unitaskers. Because they are purpose-built kitchen appliances, no one ever thinks to use them for anything else. But, underneath the facade of specialization lies the true multipurpose nature of these handy cooking appliances.

Ideas and uses

Tofu
Tofu is on a lot of health-conscious peoples' minds, and rice cookers are good at firming up this often mushy food substitute. Combine it with rice and a few veggies, and you'll have yourself a hearty meal that's fit for the entire family.

Mac and Cheese
There's probably no better comfort food than mac and cheese. It's an American staple in some ways, but the traditional method of preparation is a little antiquated - stovetop. Boxed macaroni and cheese lacks the fullness of homemade versions, but from-scratch ambitions are often quenched by the reality of insane preparation and cooking times.

Enter the rice cooker. You can throw macaroni and cheese in the pot together and just let it melt down together. You'll end up with perfectly steamed pasta and melted cheese that will make even the most skeptical family member's mouth water.

Chocolate Lava Cake
Rice cookers aren't just for main courses. You can also create delicious desserts in them. A good Aroma 6-Cup Rice Cooker is fully capable of making a small chocolate lava cake, for example. Once you sink your fork into the moistness of this one, you'll never want to put your cakes in the oven ever again, even with a water bath.

Quinoa
The faux grain quinoa is becoming more popular with vegetarians and meat-eaters alike for its high protein content as well as its vitamins and minerals. It's a bit like rice, so it makes sense that a rice cooker makes perfect quinoa.

Bread
For moist bread, it's hard to beat a rice cooker. Believe it or not, all you need to do is make sure that the dough is kneaded before putting it in there. But assuming you've done the prep correctly, you'll end up with soft, moist, sandwich material.

Dumplings
Chicken and dumplings is another oldie-but-goodie. And, the dumplings can be made in a cooker without too much trouble. Just put water into the bottom of the pot and your uncooked dumplings in a steamer basket. The cooker will gently steam the dough, leaving you with the softest dumplings you've ever tasted.

Breakfast
Just about any breakfast can be prepared in a rice cooker. Eggs and bacon (though bacon does tend to get a little soggy in there), porridge, grits, oatmeal, frittatas, and polenta are all good choices.

Seafood
Seafood is difficult to do well, especially things like octopus, which have a tendency to finish rubbery if you use traditional cooking methods. A rice cooker, however, slowly and gently steams the seafood so that it gets the perfect cooking.

Stir Fry
If you're feeling like Chinese food, and you're wondering how to replicate perfectly-cooked cabbage, this is how. While some places do use a wok to cook cabbage, fresh steamed cabbage is often done in a rice cooker. Add some shallots for flavor and a pinch of salt and pepper.

General Tips
Pretty much anything you put in a rice cooker will be steamed and moist, so keep this in mind. If you're looking for crunch, don't use this appliance.

Robert Hopkins loves to find new uses for common kitchen items. An avid blogger, he likes to share his insights with others. Look for his enlightening posts mainly on cooking, food and lifestyle blogs.

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