One of my favorite manners of cooking is basically to take easy foods and add to them. Boxed Rice mixes (like Rice-a-Roni) is GREAT to use for such purposes. I do so a lot because I love rice (and it doesn’t aggravate my stomach like pasta sometimes seems to do) and because it is usually on sale for a great deal.
My favorite of late is rice pilaf. In order to make it a great meal sometimes I will also chop up a keilbasa loop. I’ve done this without the box too, usually starting with some onions and then adding the rice just as if it WERE boxed rice and use chicken broth instead of water to boil it up, a hint of cumin makes it fabulous. So if you’re feeling adventurous and don’t have any boxed mix, try it that way!
This time I served cheddarwurst links on the side and kept the rice vegetarian. So, here’s my work on getting plain old (still tasty!) Rice Pilaf to turn into Delectable Cheesy Rice Pilaf with Spinach.
First, I take my pan and get the butter melty and add in the rice, just like the box tells me to (listen to the boooox….)
If you’re making this without a pre-boxed mix I usually start with some minced onions in the butter and then add the rice; about a cup.
Then, while that is browning, I get about a pound of frozen spinach set out.
Next, I get that water ready for when the rice is fully browned. I have about 3 cups of water here since I’m using the “Family Size” pack of rice mix. It doesn’t have to be exact because the spinach adds some water as it thaws.
Once the rice looks nice and browned up, (make sure you stir it up along the way or you’ll end up with a few really burned pieces and the rest all bland. Plus, just a few burned grains adds an awful flavor to the whole thing) add in the water and spinach and the seasoning packet.
Mix it all together and let it come to a rumbling boil. Then you cover it and let it boil that rice nice and tender. Check it ever 5 or so minutes to make sure the liquid hasn’t boiled all out before the rice is tender. If you need to, add more water (or chicken broth!) to let things keep going until that rice is perfectly textured for you.
Once the rice has absorbed all the liquid and is properly tender, it will look something like this:
Now, while this is pretty tasty on its own I will usually add some cumin or other spices if I don’t continue with adding cheese because the spinach addition means that seasoning packet had to stretch further and isn’t as flavorful. This time, however, I opted for a few slices of plain old American cheese. Though cheddar adds a wonderful flavor. Play with options!
It doesn’t take long at all for the cheese to melt down and add delicious ooziness to the dish.
To finish it off just take the rice off the burner and stir the melted cheese into the spinachy rice mixture. Serve it up alone or with a keilbasa link (or whatever else you are having!)
So there you have my methods for elaborating upon a standard box of rice mix to end up with a delicious side or main dish of creamy, spinach-filled goodness!
If you’re making this without the box of Rice-a-Roni; I’ll give you the tips on that too.
- 1 Family Sized box of Rice-a-Roni “Pilaf” (OR 1 cup uncooked white rice and 1/2 onion, minced)
- 1 lb frozen spinach
- 5-6 slices American cheese
- 3 cups water (OR chicken broth)
- 3 tbsp Butter
- Cumin, salt, pepper (to taste)
- (OPTIONAL: 1 loop kielbasa, sliced into thin rounds)
- Brown the rice in butter as directed by the magic box (OR get onions browning in the butter and add uncooked rice)
- When rice is browned, add spinach and water (OR chicken broth) and seasoning packet (OR cumin, salt, pepper) (OPTIONAL: if adding kielbasa, do that now too)
- When rice has absorbed all the liquid and is tender-tasty, add the slices of American cheese on top (OR taste and add more spices as needed)
- Serve with meats or other veggie side dishes of your choice and enjoy!
May all your eating be like a delicious adventure!