Rice Cooker Meals the Cookbook #
  Rice Cooker Meals: Fast Home Cooking for Busy People
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The Daily Advertiser, Lafayette, LA - July 08

The Daily Advertiser
Accent Section
Wed. July 16, 2008

The Daily Advertiser, Lafayette, LAPhoto caption: One recipe you can create in the rice cooker is Neal Bertrand’s Pizza Pastalaya

Pushing the button
One-pot meals are quick and easy in rice cooker

Photo caption: Neal Bertrand shows two of the recipes from his book Rice Cooker Meals

photos by John Rowland

Reprinted courtesy of The Daily Advertise newspaper.


Acadiana Profile Magazine, September/October 2008

Rice Cooker Meals
Fast Home Cooking for Busy People

Acadiana Profile Magazine, September/October 2008Note to busy people: Is your overloaded schedule squeezing out the time you used to allow to prepare nutritious meals for your family? If so, have you tried preparing meals in a rice cooker?

Neal Bertrand has, and he’s so satisfied with this quick and easy way of doing things that he’s written and published a cookbook on the subject. It’s titled Rice Cooker Meals: Fast Home Cooking for Busy People. Featured are some 60 recipes for everyday dishes such as casseroles, seafood, pasta, yams, soups and, of course, various rice dishes, including jambalaya. Most of the recipes can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.

Bertrand, a Lafayette resident who has spent many years in the publishing business, refers to cooking with a rice cooker as a “kitchen revolution” and a “time-saving alternative to conventional cooking.”

“There is no need to heat up the entire kitchen with all the stove burners on. Just one rice pot plugged in, and it doesn’t even have to be in the kitchen. Anywhere there is an electric outlet will do fine,” he says.

The 96-page softcover cookbook retails for $12.95 and can be found in various stores throughout south Louisiana. Also, it can be obtained directly from Cypress Cove Publishing in Lafayette, La. at (888) 60-MEALS.

Reprinted courtesy of Acadiana Profile Magazine newspaper.


The Independent, Lafayette, LA - 7/9/08

Rice Cooker Meals

The Independent, Lafayette, LAAny true Cajun appreciates the taste of a slow-cooked gravy ladled over rice, the deep brown roux-flavored stew requiring hours on a stovetop. But when that’s just way too time consuming, cookbook author Neal Bertrand has come up with a quick technique that combines the slow-cooked flavor of etouffees and gumbos with the ease and practicality of a familiar friend in any Cajun kitchen – the rice cooker.
The Opelousas native’s latest cookbook, Rice Cooker Meals: Fast Home Cooking for Busy People includes 60 recipes for classics like red beans and rice, sausage sauce piquante, shrimp creole, stuffed roast, chicken and sausage gumbo, shrimp fettuccine, smothered potatoes with sausage and tasso, and even candied yams with marshmallows.
 The cookbooks easy recipes make it perfect for college students – most cook in 30 minutes or less. Available at local bookstores, online at www.RiceCookerMeals.com or by calling (337) 224-6576 or (888) 60-MEALS. 
The cookbook retails for $12.95.
– Leslie Turk

Reprinted courtesy of The Independent Weekly newspaper.


The Opelousas Daily World, Opelousas - 7/16/08

The Opelousas Daily World, OpelousasWith the push of a button
One-pot meals are quick and easy in rice cooker
By Judy Bastien

Neal Bertrand has had a few diverse jobs in his life. He has been a carpet layer and a proofreader for a phone book. In recent years the Opelousas native has added another job to his resume: cookbook author.

His latest is a book that highlights recipes that are done start-to-finish in the kitchen appliance that is mandatory in any self-respecting Cajun home – the rice cooker, also known by many older cooks as the “Hitachi.”

Many of the recipes in Rice Cooker Meals, of course, feature rice as the principal ingredient.

As one could expect, there are jambalayas and rice-based side dishes like Lemon Pepper Rice, Mexican Rice, Mushroom Rice and something called Dark Rice, which combines coconut, Coca Cola, raisins and nuts for an unusual take on a local staple.

There are also hearty main dishes, like Stuffed Beef Roast and Spaghetti and Meatballs.

And there are dishes Bertrand calls “pastalayas,” jambalaya-style dishes that substitute pasta for rice.

Most are quick-cooking, with cooking times of about 30 minutes, give or take a little.

Bertrand’s first book was the Cajun Country Fun Coloring & Activity Book which he released in 2002 through his own publishing company, Cypress Cove Publishing. In 2005 he published the Down-Home Cajun Cooking Favorites cookbook, a compilation of recipes Bertrand collected from many of the good home cooks that abound in the area. At the time, he noticed there were a few recipes that were done in the rice cooker and was intrigued by the idea.

“I had it in the back of my head that I’d do another cookbook with rice cooker meals,” said the Opelousas native, now living in Lafayette.

For the rice cooker book, instead of just collecting other people’s recipes, Bertrand took a different approach. He experimented and came up with many of his own concoctions – no small feat for someone who had previously made it a point to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible.

Bertrand’s interest in cooking came later in life. He had no training in the art of cuisine.

“My parent’s tried to teach me how to cook,” he said. “I kind of resisted. It’s so much easier to open up a can of soup or something and put it over a plate of rice. As a bachelor I always took the easy way out. The can opener was my best friend.”

For the rice cooker book, he turned his attention to developing recipes.

“I came up with food combinations that I thought tasted really good. And, with a lot of trial and error and a lot of grocery-buying over a few months time, I came up with some winning recipes,” Bertrand said.

Bertrand tried the recipes out on family and friends. He even got some of the members of the LSU AgCenter’s Family and Consumer Education Group to kitchen-test the recipes in their own rice cookers, then taste-test them just to be sure.

Rice Cooker Meals came out earlier this year, but Bertrand isn’t ready to stop, just yet. The next cookbook is already in the works.

Recipes for the rice cooker. . .

Chicken Fajita Stuffed Potato

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast cut in thin strips
Salt, red & black pepper, to taste
1 (1.12-oz.) envelope chicken fajita mix
1 (2-lb.) bag frozen, crinkle-cut French-fried potatoes, defrosted
1 medium onion cut in thin strips
½ red bell pepper cut in thin strips
1 stick butter, chopped
1 (10.5-oz.) can chicken broth
6 oz. water
TABASCO ® Brand Pepper Sauce to taste, or serve at the table

Brown chicken in skillet on stove, and drain excess grease. Season chicken
with salt and peppers and stir. Dissolve fajita mix in bowl according to
package directions. Add all ingredients to rice cooker, stir, cover and press
down COOK switch. Once meal is cooked, and the COOK switch pops
up to WARM mode, let it stand covered 10 minutes before serving.
Cooked for 41 minutes and made up to the 5-cup level.
Source: Rice Cooker Meals

Pizza Pastalaya

2 lbs. lean ground beef, browned, drained
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 (10-oz.) can beef broth
1 cup water
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
1 (14-oz.) jar spaghetti sauce
1 (14-oz.) jar pizza sauce
4 oz. pepperoni slices
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small bell pepper, chopped
TABASCO ® Brand Pepper Sauce to taste, or serve at the table
Shredded Mozzarella cheese

Season browned beef with salt and pepper. Add broth, water and oil to
rice cooker with seasoned beef and stir. Add macaroni to liquid and stir
thoroughly to coat well to keep macaroni from clumping together. Add all
remaining ingredients to rice cooker except cheese, stir, cover and press
down COOK switch. Once meal is cooked, and the COOK switch pops
up to WARM mode, stir and serve. Add cheese on top of each serving.
Cooked 21 minutes and made up to the 5 or 6-cup level.
Source: Rice Cooker Meals

Where to look for it . . .

Rice Cooker Meals is available at a number of area stores, including Fresh Pickins. It is also sold at Guidry’s Produce and Ray’s Boudin in Opelousas. It may be ordered through Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com or directly through the author and publisher at (337) 224-6576 or (888) 60-MEALS.

Reprinted courtesy of The Opelousas Daily World newspaper


The Abbeville Meridional (La.), October 23rd, 2008

Cooking today for a fast-paced lifestyle
Posted October 23rd, 2008
by Jeff Nemetz

Life on the go is normal today and the convenience of fast food has made the idea of a home-cooked meal to be slipping further away from our grasp.

Neal Bertrand has earned the moniker “The Rice Cooker Guy” for the simple, efficient way he has been able to prepare meals with the press of a button. The name of his book describes the cooking method as well: “Rice Cooker Meals.” Meals that can be prepared include jambalayas, casseroles, seafood, pastas, yams, soups, potatoes, cabbage and rice side dishes.

His recipes are based on cooking with the Hitachi Rice Cooker in the manner of adding the ingredients, seasoning, pressing the start button, walking away and coming back to a completely cooked meal in a short amount of time. No fuss, no muss, no standing over a hot stove stirring pots and worrying about how bad the rice is going to stick and burn to the bottom of the pot.

“I put a photo of a pasta recipe on the cover of my cook book to prove that a rice cooker can be used to cook more than just rice,” said Bertrand. “I wanted to blow people’s minds on how easy it is and how quickly you can put a meal together for an individual, a couple or even the whole family. Families today have so much going on at one time that a home cooked meal is getting harder to put together.”

Bertrand is a publisher by trade and owns Cypress Cove Publishing in Lafayette. He described cooking as “a waste of time” and simply does not want to stand over a hot stove while stirring something in a pot. For him, taking the easy way out in the kitchen was the goal and said he has eaten a lot of meals that are either heated from a can or consist of something between two slices of bread.

However, he emphasized that the recipes in his book are not written for the “culinary foodies”; they are simple, easy to put together meals that a family can share in a short amount of time with minimal preparation and clean-up.

“I was working as a proof reader of a cook book about ten years ago,” said Bertrand, “for a recipe to cook crawfish jambalaya in a rice cooker and said ‘I can do that’ and that’s what hooked me. That’s what started the plans to take all of the local food favorites and put them into a recipe that can be cooked in a rice cooker. I can’t tell you how much money I spent on ingredients and seasonings in putting the recipes together. The key has been to get the liquids in the correct amount so that, if you have rice or pasta, it doesn’t turn to mush or stay hard at the end of the cooking time.”

The Hitachi Rice Cooker was first introduced to the Acadiana region in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, according to Bertrand. He said the cooker is calibrated to boil the liquids and then turn off automatically when the thermostat senses a rise in temperature from the lack of moisture boiling away. Bertrand has been using a rice cooker since the early 1970’s himself and calls it his portable kitchen.

You can take a rice cooker in to work to set up in a break room or even on a spare desk; you can use it in a college dorm room or apartment; it works well for cooking small meals for one or two people; you can take it along camping in an RV or along on a tailgating party. One lady wrote to me about how her kitchen was being re-modeled and she didn’t have access to anything to cook on for her family. She plugged in the rice cooker, followed the recipe and had a hot meal ready in a short time for dinner. Another lady told me that she would set all the ingredients aside in her refrigerator and call home about 4 p.m. to have her son put everything into the rice cooker and hit start; then, when she got home, dinner was cooked, hot and ready to eat.”

The book is filled with testimonials from people who have used Bertrand’s recipes and cooking method, including several of the extension agents with the LSU AgCenter offices across Louisiana. His two Web sites have added information on two other books he has published: Down-Home Cajun Cooking Favorites and the bi-lingual (English and French) Cajun Country Fun Coloring and Activity Book. He has also published a collection of Cajun art prints featuring South Louisiana landscapes that were painted by his father, Curtis, who is now deceased. Information on everything is available online at www.RiceCookerMeals.com and www.CypressCovePublishing.com.

Bertrand’s book is available locally in Abbeville at The Depot Gift Shop, Richard’s Meat Market and Cashway Pharmacy; in Maurice at Sammy’s Country Store; in Kaplan at Larry’s Supermarket; in Erath at Sav-Ins Drugstore and Delcambre at Country Store #6 Chevron; and Patti’s Book Nook in Gueydan.

Reprinted courtesy of The Abbeville Meridional newspaper


For more information or promotional materials, please contact
Neal Bertrand at
Cypress Cove Publishing,
P.O. Box 91626,
Lafayette, LA 70509-1626.
Phone (337) 224-6576 or toll free (888) 606-3257.


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