Friday, March 7, 2014

Creamy Rice and Pasta with Chicken and Vegetables

This one dish dinner is cooked in a single pan and is reminiscent of the traditional standard Rice-a-Roni available on market shelves. This home made version takes it from a side dish to meal on it's own.

1 7.02 ounce package vermicelli pasta
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
4 tablespoons butter
6 cups hot water
6 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder (or 6 cups chicken broth)
1 8 ounce block of cream cheese
1 cup cooked chicken cut into bite size pieces (mine came out of a can)
1 cup finely diced vegetables of your choice
1 tablespoon dried parsley leaves (optional)

Melt the butter in a large deep skillet over medium heat

We're going to brown the entire package in the butter

If you buy in bulk, it's just a little over a cup

Sprinkle the pasta over the butter and while it's browning

Open the cream cheese and let it sit out to softern

Remember to stir the pasta, as it should be browning nicely.

Now measure one cup of rice

And pour it in, mix it up,  and continue to brown

Now open the chicken and pour the broth into the measuring cup

Like this, we will use it.

And when it looks like this, you are ready to add the liquid

Pour in four cups of very hot water

It's really going to bubble and steam, reduce the heat to low

And add two more cups of water, for a total of six cups altogether.
If you are using a prepared broth, you will still need six cups.
Add however much bouillon you need to for whatever kind you are using
to make six cups, because that's how much water we added. I also like to
add one teaspoon for the pot.

Now add the chicken, I smash mine all up with my hands  as I add it

See, the can is about a cup, and when I use leftovers, I use a cup

Now add your veggies, I'm using some frozen veggies that I make up and
freeze myself. This batch has celery, onion, carrots, mushrooms, black olives
orange and yellow bell peppers, and some green onions. Use fresh, use what
you like and what you have on hand. I have made this with spinach only, with
broccoli only, I make it with whatever I have in my veggie crisper. Frozen mixed
veggies or a drained can of veg-all would work. You just need a cup of chopped
up veggies!

Pour them in

And just because I like it, I'm adding a tablespoon of parsley flakes, but
this is optional.

Now still it all up, put a lid on the pan, and simmer it until the rice
is done. But don't let all the liquid be absorbed, we need just a little
moisture left to make the creamy sauce.

Mine looked like this after 10 minutes.

While this is simmering, chunk up the cream cheese.

Let it simmer on down. If your rice is still crunchy, add another cup of broth,
but remember we need about this much moisture left.

Now dot those cream cheese chunks all over and spoon the hot rice over
the cheese.

Stir it lightly to make sure the cheese is all melted and stirred in.

Now turn off the burner, put the lid back on, and let it sit for 10 more minutes.
The heat will be enough to absorb the liquid and develop a creamy sauce.

After 10 minutes, remove the lid, stir some more and it's ready to serve.

I served mine on this occasion with some cheesy garlic bread. This has become
a staple in my household, happy to share.

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