Monthly Archives: April 2013

Current obsessions: Frightened Rabbit + JGL

I’ve listened to this song/watched this video approximately a gazillion times. However many that is. I saw Frightened Rabbit live in early April for the third time, and my obsession has only grown. So, so good.

JGL-joseph-gordon-levitt-32135050-500-750I keep having dreams about Joseph Gordon-Levitt just showing up at the apartment and we’re all besties and we (me, Sean, Ali, and Joe) just hang out and watch movies and listen to music and talk about stuff.

It’s very unsettling because dream-Rebecca is just like whatever, no big deal, but I’m also conscious of the fact that I’m dreaming and slightly freaking out. This last one is weird because it’s not like I’ve watched JGL in any movies or anything lately. I haven’t even pinned any pictures of him on Pinterest like a teenage girl in months!

I’m such a good wife.

Although I can’t resist posting this one…

tumblr_miqzy410T71qa5ga7o1_1280How precious is Sally Field fixing Joe’s bowtie for him on the way to the Oscars? This is one of the only times in my life when I’ll use the word “precious,” by the way.

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Being a grown-up: Baby’s first work trip

On Monday night I got back from my first-ever work trip. I went to Palm Beach, Fla., (check out that AP style!) to help copy edit/layout a daily publication for a major industry conference. It was kind of like making a mini yearbook everyday for grownups because it was mostly pictures and the names of people in said pictures. People like to see pictures of themselves with important people (CEOS, VPs and the like), I guess.

imacThe above picture summarizes my experience. Staring at a computer with stuff EVERYWHERE on a too-small hotel dining table, not seeing the light of the Florida sun. Which I really appreciated when I did get to experience it, because it was 32 degrees in New York when I went into the office on Tuesday. Yikes!

And yes, we did put the iMac through airport security. I still contend we should have plugged it in at the airport terminal instead of my boss’s laptop to give everybody a giggle while we completed some work for our website.

All in all, it was a good trip. I got to know everyone else who went much, much better and understand them as human beings instead of people who give me a long list of things to do or to edit. My managing editor (my direct supervisor/boss) and EIC (fancy newsroom speak for “editor in chief”) both complimented me everyday about how well I was did and how they were proud of me. It was like pleasing my Newsroom Mom & Dad. They even offered to buy me dessert as a reward! Gee, golly.

I also enjoyed the concept of living off the company’s bill for a few days. I ate much pricier meals than I usually do and even charged a pint of Blue Bell cookies ‘n cream ice cream from Publix to the company account (my boss said it was OK, anything goes, we’re just glad you’re here).

This last choice turned out to a mistake, as now my EIC is telling everyone back in the NYC office that he walked in on me “stress-eating ice cream the way some people chain-smoke.”

This is usually accompanied by him pantomiming a person ravenously scarfing down ice cream like a wild animal. I think he’s exaggerating, just a little.

Stress-eating ice cream was necessary because our flight out of JFK got delayed an hour by a crazy woman who had to be escorted off the plane by NYPD. Then we found out our printer broke in the mail, so we had to go on a crazed shopping trip at the nearest Staples in Florida for an affordable printer AND CMYK ink cartridges (it turned out to be very difficult to find a printer and cartridges that were compatible all of 15 minutes before the store closed).

As it would turn out, our flight back to NYC would be delayed four hours due to the air traffic control furloughs.

Trust me, you do not want to to get on a plane with a bunch of New Yorkers when they find out their flight has been delayed another two hours. We did get free movies and extra snacks both flights courtesy of the airlines due to the various delays. (JetBlue won over my heart.) Although apparently the passenger sitting next to the managing editor threw a hissy fit when he found out his gin and tonic would not be free, despite the grueling delay.

New Yorkers, I tell ya. They don’t put up with anything.

Speaking of which, one night for dinner my EIC ordered a small pizza for the table to share as an appetizer and loudly instructed the waitress to make sure it was, “extra crispy, because we’re from New York, and WE know how to do pizza.” I know he’s a born-and-bred, lifelong New Yorker (and an Italian Jew, so the ultimate New Yorker, at that), but I still just about crawled under my chair with the garlic bread for comfort. And you know, to stress-eat. Because apparently that’s what I do.

The crowning moment of the trip was when we were out really late for dinner on Saturday because we worked until 9-ish, and in addition to a themed 4:20 party going on, the whole restaurant — which was otherwise a nice seafood place — had become a bit of a bar/nightlife scene.

A group of scantily clad 20-something girls came over to ask said-EIC to take their group’s photo (dare I mention that he is old enough to be their father? that he made fun of me for being born in the ’80s, although I narrowly missed the ’90s by a few months? that he was the only male at the table of friendly-looking women?).

And he replied, “Oh, but I’ve been wanting to take your photo all night. I thought you’d never ask.” And then proceeded to remove his glasses in grandfatherly fashion. If only he’d acted frustrated by their smartphones and demanded to know what “button” to push on the touchscreens.

As he approached the group of short-skirted, low-necklined girls, two girls in Daisy Dukes and midriff-revealing tops approached with trays of free shots, I kid you not. I desperately wanted to take a picture of this scene. It was so absurd.

The managing editor and I laughed so hard we cried. We might have had one too many Diet Cokes that day.

Even now, it takes a lot of willpower to not laugh aloud.

You know what else makes me laugh? My kitchen envy of my hotel suite:

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It came with a dishwasher AND microwave! Not to mention more floor space than my apartment. Actually, the patio of the suite was approximately the size of my whole Manhattan apartment.

I could die from the irony.

(I’m a bit delirious though.

Tomorrow will be my 12th day in a row of work. Today in the office, the EIC tried to give me instructions for something that is going to be tedious and un-fun to do, and I just started giggling nervously. And when I get in a giggling fit, I can’t stop.

He then proceeded to ask me if he needed to run out and get me another pint of ice cream…)

P.S. If you can’t tell, I’m blessed to work in a very supportive and familial work environment. I couldn’t have gotten luckier in this crazy, dog-eat-dog city.

P.P.S. Did you know it costs $70 for cab fare (plus tip and tax) to get from Manhattan to JFK airport? Seriously! So, so glad I didn’t pay that out of my personal bank account.

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Oh well, whatever, nevermind: Kurt Cobain obsession

I have this problem. Every now then I become obsessed with something, and then I have to know everything about it. Sometimes this works out in my favor, like when I was younger and wanted to learn EVERYTHING about Helen Keller after watching a PBS show about her and then got to write a report on her life for school.

I also went through a really intense Harry Potter phase (and by “phase,” I mean 6th grade through the present time, when I still like to relate everything in real life to a fictional wizarding world) and another phase in elementary school where I checked out every book on different breeds of dogs and cats and how to care for them. I was convinced I would become a veterinarian because of this. (When it turned out I feel faint at the sight of my own blood, I decided to turn this obsession with facts and knowledge into a more-fitting journalism career.)

What’s my latest obsession? I guess I gave this one away in the post title, but it’s Kurt Cobain. Kurt Cobain, as in the junkie lead singer of Nirvana. I know, right? So random. I was a toddler at the height of Nirvana’s musical career.

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But at the same time, it’s not so random. Sean had a poster of Kurt up in his dorm room for at least the first couple years we were dating, and included Nirvana’s cover of Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” from their MTV Unplugged special on his very first mix CD to me. Like everyone else on the planet, I had seen the iconic “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video, with its anarchist cheerleaders and plaid-wearing rebellious teens.

To clarify, by “obsession,” I don’t mean that I am in love with Kurt (weird posthumous crush) or idolize him as a person. I don’t even think he’s a good role model, overall. But there are things I admire about him and his legacy. Mainly, I am fascinated by him.

I think obsession really took hold on our honeymoon in Seattle. We spent a good part of a day at the Experience Music Project, a museum known for its extensive Nirvana exhibit. We both love music, Sean had that Kurt Cobain poster; it only seemed fitting.

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The guitar Kurt Cobain played in “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video at the Experience Music Project.

I absolutely devoured that exhibit. I read every plaque, every caption, and gobbled up Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl’s commentary on the iPod mini commentary we shelled out extra money for. My eyes were totally opened to the profound impact Nirvana and the Northwest underground music scene’s impact on the music industry. Since I was old enough to care about what music I listened to, I’ve been a diehard supporter of indie bands on indie labels. I firmly believe that that is where real, raw, honest music is made by talented people who are not slaves to the Top 40 charts and the mass-marketing of corporate labels. Learning about the DIY fanzines of Seattle during the emergence of the grunge scene and about how Kurt made his own Sharpie-scrawled T-shirts in support of favorite bands like Mudhoney and The Melvins warmed my heart.

But as I’m sure you know, everyone has heard of Nirvana. Indie darlings they are not. Some may call them sell-outs. That’s what’s so incredible about them. They might not have been the most talented, best band ever, but for whatever reason, they blew up the music charts with music that was too messy, too obscure compared with the pop favorites of the time. They proved that people, especially young people, can recognize real passion and talent when they encounter it. I mean, “Nevermind” beat out Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous.” That is a HUGE deal. And you get to see things like that with bands like The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons passing up autotuned Katy Perry and her merry clan of bubblegum pop clones.

I left the museum with a new and profound respect for Kurt Cobain and his fellow Nirvana bandmates. I realized I listen to several bands off the Sub Pop (short for “Subterranean Pop”) label — like Death Cab for Cutie and Iron & Wine — the very label Nirvana got started with, for years.

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Shortly after we got home from our Pacific Northwest trip, I sped through the Nirvana biography The Chosen Rejects. It wasn’t great, but it was a great crash-course for a newbie like me.

And then last week, I buckled down and read the 400+ page definitive biography of Kurt Cobain, Charles R. Cross’ Heavier Than Heaven.

Oh my word. I am so haunted by this story.

a4d4f3f38440508402ca704205ee8058I know that everything in that book had to be approved by Courtney Love, Kurt’s widow, who is kind of insane, but still. I couldn’t help but be sucked into the story of this sort of antihero, the loser who played his guitar endlessly, eventually destroyed his life and fame with drugs, and blamed everything on his parents’ divorce and criticism of him as a child.

There is a lot of darkness in this book, to be certain. It was emotionally difficult to get through at times. Like when Kurt learns Courtney is pregnant, and fears because they were both doing heroin at the time of the baby’s conception, she will be born a “flipper baby” — a birth defect in which an infant is born without arms, something Kurt was obsessed with sketching in his personal journals. Did you know Kurt spend several years living off and on out of his car because he couldn’t even get a job hosing down dog kennels? The first time a Nirvana song was every played on the radio — a college station — he personally dropped off the demo disc and called in a few hours later to anonymously request the single.

I seriously can’t get this book out of my head. It’s not that the writing is truly exceptional — personally, most rock ‘n roll journalism is on par with that of sports coverage — but there are so many details and quotes you get the idea that this was really someone’s life. And it’s hard to let that go.

So even though I was 5 years old when Kurt Cobain took his own life (although some conspiracy theorists will claim Courtney hired a hit-man to murder Kurt), I can’t help but wonder if something could have been done to save this troubled man. Also, how weird is it I read this book during the week of the 19th anniversary of Kurt’s death? Of all the other weeks…

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At least we’ll always have the music. Nirvana’s — and all the underground classics in the making that came after. Here’s my current favorite Nirvana song.

Next I’ll have to tackle Bob Spitz’ massive biography of The Beatles, Sean’s current obsession. (:

P.S. We have the DVD of Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance sitting on our bookshelf, and I can’t wait to watch it. I already watched a Netflix documentary about the making of “Nevermind.” Like I said: I am a girl obsessed.

P.P.S. A Nirvana interview at the MTV Music Awards. Love it. “I’ve already won two of these things so far, and I’ve got three toilets. And I’ve got two in each toilet. So now that I’ve won a third, they all match.”

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East Village favorites.

I love the East Village. I mean, I love the Upper East Side as a home, but the East Village is the perfect place to get away for an afternoon or evening. Firstly, it is super-easy for us to get to via the 4/5/6 lines, but more importantly, the East Village is just a cool place.

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With the days of junkies in the streets and the Tompkins Square Park riots long gone, the East Village isn’t quite the bohemian hell depicted in the likes of Rent anymore. But it’s still quirky and charming as ever.

Sean and I recently realized we end up in the East Village every single weekend at some point or another, and I’m beginning to feel as familiar with certain areas of the neighborhood as much as the UES.

Here’s a quick list of our favorite East Village haunts, some newer discoveries and others more familiar:

Food:

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Mark: Easily the best burger and fries hole-in-the-wall place we’ve come across. It blows Shake Shack out of the water, and it will make you wonder why people line up out the door for the aforementioned chain. And they have different kinds of ketchup, like jalapeno and chipotle (our favorites), which is fun. Great happy hour specials on drinks AND food too, and a good laid-back atmosphere for meeting up with friends or for taking Texas visitors.

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Pommes Frites: Speaking of fries, this teeny-tiny take-out place that only serves Belgian fries is divine. We try not to go there too often because, uh, our health, but their fries are amazing. The best part is they have a bunch of different dipping sauces you can choose from (as well as poutine, for our Northern friends!) Our go-to is sundried tomato mayo, but I think the rosemary garlic mayo and curry ketchup are enjoyable as well.

Malai Marke: This fairly recently opened Indian restaurant is worth the cost of a nicer dinner date. All of the food is wonderful; and there are always a lot of Indian people eating there, so I think that’s a good sign. Only con is that naan costs extra, and what is an Indian dinner without piping hot, fluffy naan? We get lamb madras and saag paneer and share everything, which is my favorite way to eat out. Who wants to get stuck with one dish? There’s a classier ambiance to this place — the empty spice racks on the walls and dim lighting — that you don’t get at a standard Indian take-out joint. I like it.

Sigiri: While we’re on the subject of spicy ethnic cuisine, let’s talk about Sigiri. Sigiri is a Sri Lankan restaurant. I’m not really sure how to describe Sri Lankan food as a whole. I just know I like kotthu roti, and I’m not even sure what that is. It’s meat and vegetables and egg and breading all mashed up together into a Thanksgiving dressing-like substance, mysteriously infused with sinus-clearing spice levels. Totally makes up for the lack of decent Tex-Mex in this city.

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Mono + Mono: This Korean fried chicken restaurant doesn’t have the best reviews, but I’m not exactly an expert on Korean fried chicken, so whatever. I do know that Korean fried chicken is crispy, juicy and far surpasses American buffalo wings. I also love the concept/decor of this place. The walls are glass displays of shelves and shelves of vinyl records, and this guy walks around and picks one out to play on the jukebox/turntable.

Awash: A simple, no-nonsense Ethiopian restaurant. You can eat with your hands. Everything tastes so good, I want to travel to Africa myself for the real deal.  They have honey wine. Go there.

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Caracas Arepa Bar: Oh. My. Goodness. This place is the answer to our prayers! A nook of a restaurant dishing out Venezuelan street food. I didn’t know what an arepa was before coming here — it’s like a cross between a sandwich made of cornbread and a taco — but now I want to eat one every day of my life. Plus, they use some of my favorite ingredients: black beans (!!!), avocado, and plantains. Yes, please.

Drinks & Dessert:

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Amor y Amargo: Probably my favorite cocktail bar in the city. Not that I go to a lot of cocktail bars because $$$, but I love this place. It’s classy, but not pretentious. Intimate, but not crowded. The tiny bar itself has a lot of character. They are always playing good music, and the same easy-going bartender always seems to be there. Their boast-worthy drink that has gotten a lot of press is their gin and tonic, which worthy of its praise. I know I’ll come back here again and again.

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Death & Co.: OK, so this speakeasy is a little pretentious. And pricey. So it’s definitely a special occasion thing. They only let as many people in as they can physically seat at the time, and you can’t take flash photos with your camera or be wearing ratty jeans or anything. So it’s a nice little escape from the chaos of the city. The cocktails are their specialty. Last time I was there, a girl next to me ordered a beer. You can get a beer at almost every restaurant, bar, and convenience store in this city. You do not go to Death & Company for a beer, OK? You go for a Fitzgerald or a Legend or a Gypsy Wedding or some other fancy-pants drink. I mean, there are black walls and floors. You have to get a cocktail when black is involved.

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Veniero’s Pastry: A long-standing Italian bakery and pastry shop/cafe, with plenty of seating and a daunting list of cakes by the slice. I want to try them all, but I think my waistline would hate me. (Well-known for their cannoli. I’m not a cannoli person, so…)

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Big Gay Ice Cream Shop: This ice creamery has a giant unicorn painted on their wall and a rainbow ice cream cone on the window. Basically, it is soft-serve for grown-ups (think salty-sweet combos), but there are always a million kids in here. Because we all scream for ice cream.

Shopping:

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Academy Records: I really don’t know much about this new & used vinyl shop, but Sean is obsessed with it and always wants to go here, so it’s on the list. It doesn’t have a resident cat like Bleeker Street Records in the West Village, so it’s not THE coolest record store in my book. I do get good vibes when I’m in there though. And people do bring in their dogs, so there’s that.

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No Relation Vintage: I love this thrift store. I mean, I love all thrift stores, but unlike all the other thrift stores I’ve seen here that are totally banking off the thrifting trend and charging more than I would spend on brand-new clothes, this place is very reasonable. I bought a pair of Levi cut-offs for $8. A good mix of vintage dresses, funky tees, worn-in shorts and boots, and way out there pieces like a military flight suit and floor-length fur coats. I’ll definitely be coming back to get my thrifting fix — and a few giggles!

The Strand Bookstore: I guess this mecca for bookworms isn’t really in the East East Village, but I’ve walked from there to a number of the other places I’ve mentioned, so I’m counting it. It’s amazing. I would walk miles to get to The Strand. And I’m pretty sure I have.

The East Village is perfect for wandering around aimlessly and getting lost in, so you never know when you’ll next stumble upon something wonderful!

 

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How Our Cat Became Human (or at least SHE thinks she is)

Hello, all! Today we have a guest blog from resident house cat, Ali. No, that makes me sound crazy.

This is me imagining what goes through Ali’s head in her supremely blessed little life. (Because that sounds sane, right?)

IMG_0676Hey, friends! This is me and my subservient human. She thinks we’re besties, but really, I am her master. I am the cute one on your right. I tend to hog photographs because I am so adorable. I can’t help that all my cuteness got concentrated in one big patch on the right side of my face.

IMG_0916When no one is home, I take glamourous selfies of myself making seductive eyes on the couch. Look at my white belly fur! Me-OW, am I right? That’s what I call tortitude.

IMG_1009When people are home, I prefer to make this face of determined desperation to trick them into doting on me. I will stare them down until they give in. If the staring alone doesn’t work, I throw in a few screeching, plaintive meows too. They practically chase after me to hang out at that point.

IMG_0934As you know, I am very adorable, so I get a lot of fan email. I usually get distracted by bubble screensaver or YouTube videos of birds before I get around to responding to any of them, but I appreciate my human admirers.

IMG_0977I tried reading some of my human’s “literature,” but gosh, it’s just soooooo boooooring. I like naps better. But I will always keep one eye half open to keep watch of my humans. You never know when they will escape.

IMG_1001Napping in the humans’ bed is my favorite. I like to get my many colors of fur all around so they can always have a little of me with them wherever they go. Now they can sleep on the couch, muahahahaha!

IMG_0691Sometimes (well, like everyday) my humans are rude and forget to invite me to breakfast or dinner. The girl human even sits in my chair. Ugh. So I sit on this armchair — they never use these armrests enough — and stare them down until they dote on me again.

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Here I am at cat headquarters. This is where I distract my male human from doing his “work” by — what else? –staring him down until he dotes at me. I also love the printer. I love to sit on it and make it do loud beeping noises in the middle of the night. Music to my ears!

IMG_1052And sometimes I just like to sit out of reach on the tall window, playing with a stained glass maple leaf to annoy the humans and contemplating my eventual world domination by way of cuteness.

Ah, the men in white jackets are coming to take me away now…

(Seriously though. Ali is SO MUCH CAT for one kitty. We love her. I think she loves us, too. And her photos are too cute not to share here and there.)

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1-Skillet Southwestern Dinner with Black Beans, Zucchini, and Sweet Corn

I know the only picture I have of this meal doesn’t exactly look appetizing, but I promise you it’s really, really good. I’m not much of a recipe-repeater (outside of hummus, of course), but this one is a keeper. I’ve adapted this recipe from Red Set Eat, but I originally came across it by way of my newspaper friend Megan’s blog a while back, or maybe one of her Pinterest boards, I can’t really remember. I’m just glad I found it!

I like this recipe because it combines a whole meal — meat, veggies, carbs, and a little dairy — all in one skillet. And when you don’t have much kitchen space or energy after work like me, that sounds like the recipe for success. I also like that this recipe includes two ingredients I am currently obsessed with: black beans (like I’ve mentioned before) and zucchini.

Also it is vaguely Tex-Mex. Hooray!

1-Skillet Southwestern Dinner with Black Beans, Zucchini, and Sweet Corn

Serves 4-6

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Ingredients:

  • two boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces (optional)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 small zucchini, quartered and sliced thin
  • 1/2 medium-sized green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 15-oz. can reduced sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn, thawed
  • 15 oz. (or roughly 1 3/4 cup) chunky style salsa, such as Pace Picante
  • 1 cup water + 1 sodium-free chicken bouillon cube (or 1 cup chicken or veggie broth/stock)
  • 1 cup uncooked rice (I use Basmati white)
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheese (I use mostly reduced fat sharp cheddar and a little regular pepperjack)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Tip: I like to have all my ingredients prepped beforehand — all the veggies chopped, cheese grated, seasonings at hand — so once I heat up the skillet, it’s all pretty easy from there. This might seem fairly obvious, but I’ve learned these things over time.

Directions:

  1. Season uncooked chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet, add chicken and sautée until mostly cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add minced garlic, chopped zucchini, and diced bell pepper. Sautée until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add beans, corn, salsa, water + bouillon (OR broth/stock), and cumin. Increase heat and bring to a boil.
  4. Add rice, stir well. Cover, lower heat, and let simmer for 15 minutes (NOTE: follow the directions for your particular type rice so it will be cooked properly). Stir occasionally. Once most of the liquids are absorbed, remove the skillet from heat, leave covered, and let sit for 10 minutes. (These were the directions for Basmati rice.)
  5. Once the rice is fully cooked, stir in cheese. Add additional salt and black pepper, if needed. Enjoy!

Substitutions: This recipe can be adapted for a vegetarian diet by leaving out the chicken and substituting veggie broth/stock for chicken broth/bouillon. Substitute a 15-oz. can of roasted tomatoes for the salsa if you have a milder palate. Those feeling extra-healthy can change out the white rice for brown, of course.

I think the leftovers would be great wrapped up in a tortilla. Everything is better in a tortilla though. That is a gospel truth.

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