Incredibly tasty Wild Rice Pilaf

This rice pilaf puts other rice pilafs to shame. Stuffed with bacon, cheese, mushrooms, and many more hidden goodies, this is not – I repeat not – a health food alternative. But to those who don’t really care about that, make this and eat it. You will not be sorry. I served it with roasted chicken, but I couldn’t help but notice it would make an excellent lower-carb alternative during the holidays. It tastes like Thanksgiving in a bowl.

Wild Rice Pilaf

 

Wild Rice Pilaf
(Original recipe: Iowa Girl Eats)

Ingredients
1 ­1/2 cups wild rice
2­ 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 dried bay leaf
4 slices bacon, chopped
2 Tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, chopped
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Add wild rice, chicken broth, bay leaf, and a pinch of salt to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 40-­45 minutes or until rice is al dente. Let pan sit off the heat with the lid on for 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf, fluff rice with a fork, and set aside.
Meanwhile, brown bacon in a skillet; transfer to a bowl, reserving bacon fat in skillet. Melt butter in skillet and add shallots, mushrooms, and celery. Once mushrooms have
released their liquid and begin to brown, add dried thyme. Saute until mushrooms and vegetables are tender. Add garlic and fresh sage; saute until garlic is fragrant, about 2 more minutes.
Remove skillet from heat. Add cooked rice, cooked bacon, chopped almonds, and Parmesan cheese; stir well to combine. Add a splash of chicken broth if you need to loosen the stuffing up a bit. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

 

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Cheesy chicken and rice casserole

I had a wicked craving for chicken and rice casserole last week, but it is so difficult to find recipes for casseroles that don’t use canned soups or bouillon cubes. So when I found this one, I was eager to try it. It uses a homemade cheese sauce similar to that which you make for homemade mac and cheese. I opted to bump the flavor up a bit and crossed my fingers as it went into the oven. I was not disappointed; it was exactly what I’d been craving, and my husband ate half the 9×13 pan in one sitting. It’s certainly not health food, but it’s clean comfort food, and that’s precisely what I wanted. This recipe is shooting straight to the top of the regular rotation.

Cheesy chix casserole B

Cheesy chicken and rice casserole
(Original recipe: Brown Eyed Baker)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sage
1 TBSP fresh chives, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups cubed cooked chicken (I used 3 large chicken breasts)
4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 pound), uncooked
2 cups cooked rice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9×13-inch casserole dish.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat and add the sliced mushrooms. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are cooked down and all of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the mushrooms to a separate bowl.
In the same pan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, until the flour starts to brown a bit and smells nutty, whisking constantly. In a slow, steady stream, whisk in the milk. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer.
Once all flour and butter has been incorporated and the sauce has thickened, whisk in the cheddar cheese, adding a handful at a time and whisking until completely melted before adding the next handful. Turn off the heat. Add garlic, sage, and chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Gently fold in the chicken, broccoli, rice, and cooked mushrooms. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is completely combined and evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
Bake until browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

*also excellent with additional shredded cheese or bread crumbs sprinkled on top before baking.

Cheesy chix casserole

Cheesy Garlic Zucchini Rice

Just because I cut preservatives out of my diet for health reasons doesn’t mean I don’t miss some of the worst boxed food out there. For years, I’ve been on a mission to find good (read: tasty) real-food recipes to replace their boxed counterparts, one of which is Rice-A-Roni. This recipe, first attempted just last night, might actually be the winner. Made from only rice, zucchini, cheddar, garlic, butter, chives, and chicken broth, there isn’t anything artificial hiding in it. So imagine my delight that it actually tastes pretty darn good, especially served alongside a good ole roasted chicken.

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Cheesy Garlic Zucchini Rice
(Original recipe: Damn Delicious)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup rice of your choice (I used Basmati)
2 zucchini, shredded
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 TBSP chopped fresh chives
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
Stir in broth and rice. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until rice is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
Remove from heat. Fold in zucchini, cheese, and chives. Stir until cheese is melted.
Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.