Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Homemade Rice-a-Roni

The raw rice mix

I have recently switched to making homemade rice-a-roni. Dave loves the 'roni, but we have several problems with the store bought stuff. First of all, it's expensive for a tiny box of rice. Secondly, there is WAY too much salt in the seasoning. Third thing: In the last two years I've probably thrown away a dozen boxes where I cooked the rice and when I got to the part where you add water a bunch of cooked bug bodies floated to the top - ewww! They're little weevels who sneak into the boxes. I even called the company and they emailed me a nice response and apologized, and reminded me that the bugs aren't going to hurt you if you eat them. Well, that's fine, but here in America we don't like to eat bugs if we can help it. Some countries, I know bugs are on the menu, but not around here. So I finally swore off the store bought stuff.

So here's how to make your own. A two pound bag of rice of your choice (I went with long grain white this time), and a half pound of orzo, which is tiny pasta. I found orzo at our grocery store. Mix them together. That takes care of the rice mix.

For the seasonings, the seasoning packet is usually just boullion and some spices, so you can easily do much better at home. I like to start out by sauteing some shallot or onion chopped fine, and a minced garlic in olive oil. Then add 1/2 cup of rice and saute that until browned. Then add 3/4 cups of broth - chicken or beef works for me. It's always 1 part rice to 1 1/2 parts liquid. Add a pinch of seasoning if you like. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer (no peeking) 18-20 minutes.

Last night I made encheladas and made a nice spanish-rice type dish with this mix, only I left out the onion and garlic, and instead just used a can of stewed tomatoes, cumin, a dash of hot sauce, and a little of the taco seasoning I was using on the enchelada filling. I used the regular amount of chicken broth, but I should have used a little less to make up for the liquid in the tomatoes, so it was a little wet. But it tasted fantastic! And it made for great leftovers.

So there you go, easy, cheap, and no bugs. That's all I can ask for in a side dish!

5 comments:

dotoner said...

YUM I am totally inspired! Thanks Steph!

annaliese said...

I am definitely trying this recipe! thanks!

Lulu LaBonne said...

I have never tried this rice/pasta mix, but I will, it sounds great.

One thing I do for a quick cheap fix after a big walk is an Italian dish called Thunder and Lightning (probably due to the gastric activity after eating)
it's chick peas and spiral pasta in equal measure mixed with loads of garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper (and chili if you like). Best eaten tepid so good as a buffet dish.

StefRobrts said...

I'm not sure I want to unleash 'Thunder & Lightning' on my friends, but it sure sounds good!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I used to love rice a roni, too...but the bugs grossed me out and now we don't buy it either.

Great tips on how to make our own. Great! I had no idea about using orzo. Fabulous!

This would also be good, when using dried spices, to take along for camping trips. Bag them up in individual zippies to serve how many are in your family.
Our problem has always been that the small boxes of rice a roni only serve four....with no seconds. There are 5 in my family, with 3 hungry growing guys. (well a hubby that believes he is...and shouldn't be. lol!)

Thanks for this!

~Lisa

wv: polloslaw

Mexican chicken slaw?