Intro. to Favorite Recipes and Rice Pilaf

I’ve been thinking for awhile of sharing some of my favorite recipes, because we’re always looking for something new and different to cook. Let me start by saying that I don’t really enjoy cooking, probably because I am not very good at it. Other than how to brew a pot of sweet tea, my mother never taught me how to cook, God bless her. Since my mother worked 40 hours a week with a long commute each way and because my dad didn’t like very many “from scratch” foods, we ate a lot of convenience items and canned vegetables growing up. And meat. And because my mother had to take on large chunks of household duties at a very young age, including cooking family meals, she really didn’t give my sister or me any chores beyond setting the table and cleaning our rooms every few months.

Up until a few years ago my cooking repertoire consisted of Hamburger or Tuna Helper, Betty Crocker Au Gratin Potatoes (with frozen veggies thrown in), Rice-a-Roni, and the like. I started branching out into things like pumpkin and zucchini breads from scratch at first. Then I tried a few soup recipes that didn’t seem too complicated. I am slowly getting better. In the past year, though, I have really been trying to cook more from scratch for economic and health reasons. Convenience foods, while convenient, often contain lots of preservatives, chemicals, and dyes and can be rather expensive.

So any recipes that I post will not be that difficult or exotic. I have a spice rack (thank you, Mom) and a cabinet of extra spices which are invaluable, but otherwise I just have a few pots and a few skillets. I very rarely use organic, because I can’t afford to. I also am cooking for two little children, so I try to avoid possible choking hazards or foods that require a lot of work to serve on their plates (i.e. cutting). So…

Savory Pilaf

2 Tbsp butter or olive oil

1 small onion

1 c. uncooked regular long grain rice

2 c. chicken broth

1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

1. Melt butter or oil over medium heat; cook onion until tender.

2. Stir in rice. Cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Add broth and salt.

4. Heat to boiling, stirring once or twice; reduce heat to low.

5. Cover and simmer 16 minutes until all liquid is absorbed (do not lift cover or stir).

6. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

Here are my slight variations. For one thing, I don’t do onions so I cook the rice in olive oil with 1/2 Tbsp. of onion powder. After stirring in the broth and salt I had thin slices of carrots, frozen peas, and sometimes mushroom pieces. I also do not use can broth because it tastes too tinny to me; I really like Swanson’s Natural Goodness broth in a box. It is a little more expensive than can or cube broth, but it doesn’t have MSG which I am trying to cut out of our diets. Plus, I can usually use one box for two weeks (unless I make some homemade noodle soup for lunch).

This recipe is a big hit with my kids and I can usually get two meals out of it. Fresh out of the pot/skillet it is a pilaf, but when you reheat it in the microwave it tastes like friend rice. My older daughter says that it tastes like Panda Express. I usually serve it as a side with chicken of some sort, but on bad nights it is the whole meal.

Edit: This recipe came from my Betty Crocker’s New Cookbook. I meant to attribute it to its source, but must have forgotten or been distracted.

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