Category Archives: Rice

Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole

Put down that can opener! There is no condensed soup in this recipe, but it’s still easy to make.

This is one of those recipes put together with things from the pantry—rice, sour cream, cheese, carrots, and, of course, chicken. Your ingredients might vary, but that’s how new favorites are born. I hadn’t even thought about blogging this recipe in advance, so there is just this one photo of the dish as it came out of the oven:


Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 350°; butter a 1 1/2-2 quart shallow baking dish

1 cup brown jasmine rice or whatever rice you have on hand

2 1/2 cups chicken stock or bouillon, such as Better Than Bouillon® chicken base

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

1 large onion, diced

1 large carrot, diced—or whatever vegetable you have on hand, such as fresh or frozen broccoli or peas or a combination of vegetables

5 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

1 cup sour cream—or heavy cream or half and half

2 cups shredded cheese, such as Sargento® 4 Cheese Mexican

Optional: 1 cup breadcrumbs mixed with 2 tablespoons melted butter (I keep fresh breadcrumbs in the freezer made from leftover rolls)

IMG_2786I try to keep a number of pantry items on hand, because I just don’t have the temperament to plan out a week’s worth of recipes every week, and it’s nice to be able to put together a dish without having to run to the grocery for just a few items and then spend more than you want on impulse buys.

I keep 3-4 types of rice on hand (Arborio, brown, white, wild blend) and a number of cheeses. When I made this yesterday, I had part of a Parmesan wedge, 2 packages of the Mexican shredded cheese, queso fresco, and about a cup of shredded pepper jack. I pick up a container of sour cream every week, because it comes in handy in so many ways, especially when I just want to throw something in a tortilla. So you can see how this recipe came together.

  1. Cook the rice in 2 cups of the chicken stock. It takes about 45 minutes to cook the rice, during which time you can prepare the rest of the ingredients. Use the remaining 1/2 cup of stock to use if you think the final dish needs more moisture. The important step here is cooking the rice first. You can make a casserole in which the rice cooks in the oven, but it has to be tightly covered, and then the other ingredients can overcook. The worse scenario is when the rice doesn’t cook and you wait and wait or eat crunchy rice. Just cook the rice first.
  2. In a large saute pan, saute the onion and carrot in 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent.
  3. Remove the vegetables and add the chicken cubes to the same pan, stirring to quickly brown in 2-3 tablespoons oil over medium high heat.
  4. Turn off the heat and return the vegetables to the pan, then stir in the rice, sour cream, and shredded cheese.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and cover with the breadcrumb mixture or reserved cheese. Bake for 25 minutes, until top is browned and the casserole is bubbling around the edges.

My favorite things about casseroles:

  • cleaning up the kitchen while it’s in the oven
  • the ease of one-dish meals
  • crunchy toppings

The Rice Pudding Cookbook Incident

Last winter, I came home one day to find my slow-cooker cookbook in shreds, thanks to our young dog. I don’t know what she was thinking, but I know what the result was:

The truth is that I hardly ever used that book, but I had an itch for rice pudding and was pretty sure there was a recipe for it in there, so I left it out on the sofa that day. Luckily I was able to find that particular recipe in the mess and tape it together so all was not lost. In addition, I searched online and found a PDF version that is now in my iBooks library. Here it is in PDF form, if you’re interested: SlowCookerCookbook The Rice Pudding is on page 80. It’s very good but makes way too much for two people.

Perhaps you should check online right now for any precious cookbook recipes you don’t want to lose, or start your own blog!


Butternut Squash Risotto

Another fall dish with the butternut squash. I adapted this dish from Martha Stewart’s What to Have for Dinner (New York: Time, 1995), a compilation of recipes from her magazine, arranged by season. I always found it to be a good post Thanksgiving dish to use up all the turkey stock I had from cooking the turkey carcass, even though the recipe calls for chicken stock.

My changes are few:

  1. Using more stock instead of wine
  2. Using sage instead of rosemary
  3. Using ready-made stock if I don’t have any of my own on hand
  4. In addition, Stewart’s risotto uses mashed butternut squash, which makes a really thick and hearty consistency to the final product. I like to use half mashed squash and half cubed for a little variety in the consistency.
  5. I have made the same recipe with long-grain brown rice, which adds a whole different taste, but today I used the arborio rice called for in traditional risotto.

You can find Stewart’s recipe here:

Note: If there are people in your family who, like my husband, don’t recognize al dente as a valid stage of doneness, you don’t have to cook the risotto to death, just cover the pan when it’s done and let it sit and steam for a few more minutes until the grains of rice are more fully tender.

Korean-Style Pork Wraps

This recipe is adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s “Korean-Style Pork Wraps with Chili Sauce” from 2006. I don’t make it as often as my husband would like, but I guess that keeps it special. It isn’t hard to make, but you do have to make both a marinade and a chili sauce, and the lettuce leaves are a pain to deal with. I suggest making both the marinade and sauce in advance, so you’re not trying to do all the chopping and measuring and mixing right before dinnertime. It also helps if you have a rice cooker. If you work it out right, you could throw this together after a day of working, because the actual cooking time is brief—like 5 minutes! Could you marinate the pork tenderloin the night before or in the morning? I don’t see why not.

pork wraps

Before pork tenderloins got into the public consciousness, they weren’t easy to find, but when you did find them, they were well trimmed. Now that they are everywhere, butchers stopped trimming them as well, so you need to do a little trimming of your own, which adds time to your preparation. Watch this quick video on how to trim the tenderloin.

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