Friday, October 15, 2010

Rice ala Lorie

To some extent, I grew up on packaged foods. My mother always worked outside the home, and she took advantage of the convenience foods of the day.  As we got older, my siblings and I took over more of the meal preparation, and of course, we continued to use convenience foods - Kraft dinners (both spaghetti and mac & cheese) and Hamburger Helper mostly. One food that we never had in my mother's home though, was Rice-a-Roni. I'm not really sure why, but whenever we had rice for dinner it was unseasoned, plain white rice.  I remember having Rice-a-Roni at a friend's house once and it seemed so exotic!

When I married and started my family, I cooked the way I did in my mother's home. That is, I continued to buy Kraft Spaghetti Dinner, Hamburger Helper (or, if I was trying to be frugal, the store brand or generic version). Once my family started growing, one box meal just wasn't enough to feed us all, and making 2 or 3 didn't seem so economical or time saving anymore, so I learned to cook from scratch. Of course, once I did, I realized how much better REAL cooking tastes.

Time marches on, circumstances change, children leave home... a few years ago, I found myself in much the same situation as my mother before me. I was divorced, working full time, with only 2 and then one daughter home to feed. Those boxed meals started looking rather appealing to me once again. I bought some Rice-a-Roni on sale at Safeway and my youngest daughter liked it quite well, so we ate it now and then until the sale ran out and I saw the regular price. No, I wasn't about to pay $2 or $3 for a bit of rice and convenience. So, again, I started making my own Rice-a-Roni clone. If you're interested in the origin of Rice-a-Roni and how it became the San Francisco treat, read here.

 Making your own seasoned rice dish (I hesitate to call it pilaf, really because to me, that has to have almonds and saffron) is simple and quick, and rather than the unforgiving portion sizes in those tiny boxes, you can make as much or a little as you need. This recipe makes 4 generous side dish portions:
  • 1/2 cup small pasta (orzo, broken angel hair, or the like)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, margarine or olive oil
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth (I use 2 cups water and powdered soup base)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese
Brown pasta in a skillet with the fat.
Then add the rice and stir well,

Add the water, soup base and milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Then sprinkle with cheese
I like to add sauteed mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and spinach to the rice.

I usually serve this with a grilled chicken breast or chop.

Bon appetit!



  1. I love the story behind the recipe. I was the opposite growing up and thought hamburger helper was exotic :)

  2. You know, we grew up like that too. My parents didn't have much money, so that was just what we ate: Rice a Roni, Hamburger Helper, Pasta Roni, Ramen noodles, canned veggie's... When I got married, I did buy some boxed stuff, but I have always been one who liked to try different recipes and so many of our meals were things I made from scratch. And then it seemed like everywhere I went, I was hearing how bad processed foods are. I try to limit them as much as possible. But there is no way my hubby is giving up Kraft Mac n Cheese. LOL!

  3. is that what you made that one night for dinner?


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