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 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.

Mushroom Asiago Chicken

Nothing gets boring faster day after day than boneless, skinless chicken breasts. My solution: sauces. And this is one of my favorites. It’s creamy and flavorful, and it’s very easy to make. And while the recipe calls solely for Asiago, I frequently use the blend of shredded Provolone, Asiago, Romano, and Parmesan I always have on hand in my fridge. Because cheese.

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Mushroom Asiago Chicken
(Original recipe: Bake at Midnite)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 TBSP butter
2 cups Cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pinch of dried thyme
1½ cups dry white wine
½ cup heavy cream
1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese
1 TBSP chopped chives
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown chicken breasts in skillet. Remove from skillet and set aside.
Saute mushrooms in butter until soft.
Add garlic and thyme; saute another minute.
Deglaze skillet with white wine.
Add the cream and heat through.
Turn the heat down to low; add the cheese and chives.
Simmer on low until combined and thickened.
Spoon over chicken breasts and serve.

Mexican staples

Around here, pretty much any Mexican recipe includes two staple condiments: guacamole and salsa fresca, also known as pico de gallo. I make these any time I make any other Latin American, Tex Mex, or Spanish meal. Admittedly, these recipes aren’t spicy, but diced jalapeños can be added to give either dish a kick of heat.

guacamole

Guacamole

3 avocados, seeded, peeled, and mashed
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients and let them marry for at least one hour before serving. To keep avocado from browning, use cling wrap to ensure an airtight seal.

 

pico

Salsa Fresca/Pico de Gallo

6 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 white onion, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 lime, juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Optional: 1 diced jalapeño

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl. Stir to combine. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.