Easy Cheesy Spanish Rice

Spanish Rice

I love being able to help people out, so when someone asked for our Easy, Cheesy Spanish Rice recipe, I excitedly said, “Sure!”

My kids love this rice.  They cheer every time I make it and fight over the leftovers – of which there’s never much.  It’s easy to throw together, full of flavor, and makes a great side dish.  We love to eat it alongside tacos, enchiladas, nachos, or just beside a big taco salad.

Everyone in our house loves rice, so I tend to make a double batch each time we make it.  That means we’re ending up with a large bowl of this Spanish rice, but that’s okay – it’s good and moist, so it reheats well.  Not that there is much of this left – we usually eat the majority of it.

I make this rice in my rice cooker; I bought this appliance at a great discount last year after struggling to cook different varieties of brown rice properly.  The procedure should work just the same, however, for preparing regular not-minute rice.

Easy Cheesy Spanish Rice

Ingredients

  • rice
  • chicken stock
  • water
  • olive oil
  • salsa
  • shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, or cheddar)

Instructions

  1. Measure your rice directed.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Replace 1/2 of the water with chicken stock.
  4. Add 1/2 c. of salsa.
  5. Replace the remaining missing liquid with water.
  6. Cook as directed.
  7. Stir in 1/2 - 3/4 c. of shredded cheese.
  8. Cover rice again, let sit for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  9. Serve hot.
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http://anestintherocks.com/easy-cheesy-spanish-rice/

Strawberry Mango Salsa

Strawberry Mango Salsa

Salsa is a totally fun food to me.  You can do so many things with it – as a dip, as a topping for meat, as a fun addition to a wrap or sandwich – and fruity, spicy ones are my favorite kinds.  When I heard about a strawberry-mango combination last week, I decided to try it.

The kids and I mixed this up last night.  It’s super simple and has a great fresh, summery taste.  We ate it in grilled haddock wraps, and we’re planning to scoop some up with cinnamon-sugar tortilla points next, and then on grilled jerk chicken after that.  I think it would be great in a salad, too!

Strawberry Mango Salsa
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176 calories
43 g
0 g
1 g
3 g
0 g
395 g
163 g
33 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
395g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 176
Calories from Fat 10
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1g
2%
Saturated Fat 0g
1%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 163mg
7%
Total Carbohydrates 43g
14%
Dietary Fiber 7g
28%
Sugars 33g
Protein 3g
Vitamin A
36%
Vitamin C
274%
Calcium
6%
Iron
6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 c. diced mango (about 1 whole)
  2. 1 c. diced strawberries
  3. 2 T. lemon juice
  4. 1/3 c. diced red onion
  5. dash of freshly ground salt
  6. dash of freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Dice and combine all ingredients.
  2. Allow flavors to meld in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.
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calories
176
fat
1g
protein
3g
carbs
43g
more
A Nest in the Rocks http://anestintherocks.com/
Have you ever made salsa?

This post has been linked up at: Home to 4 Kiddos.

S’Mashed Italian Potatoes

S'Mashed Italian Potatoes

I learned to make this dish from a friend of a friend in college.  They’re easy, versatile, full of flavor, and yet different from your everyday mashed potatoes.  Best of all, they can be prepared three different ways, depending on the time you have for serving.

I once made them in a slow cooker to serve after my son’s baptism.  Several of our guests actually asked to take home leftovers – you know they must be good!  Here’s what you do:

Wash and dice six potatoes.  I usually use your basic Idaho.

Boil until soft.  Drain.

This is where the three different endings come in.  You can prep this dish on the stove top, in the oven, and in a slow cooker.  Each is very similar, but the timing is a bit different.

A)  Oven:  Put the drained potatoes into a 9 X 13″ pan  (spray first for easy cleanup).  Add a minimum of 6 tablespoons of butter, one packet of Good Seasons Italian salad dressing seasoning, and enough milk to come halfway to the top of the potatoes. Stir to combine well.  Sprinkle with 1/2 c. of mozzarella cheese and stir again.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Top with a 1/4 c. more mozz and serve.

B)  Slowcooker:  Put the drained potatoes into the slow cooker  (spray first for easy cleanup).  Add a minimum of 6 tablespoons of butter, one packet of Good Seasons Italian salad dressing seasoning, and enough milk to come 1/3 of the way to the top of the potatoes. Stir to combine well.  Cook on the low setting for 3 – 4 hours.  Top with a 3/4 c. more mozz, stir, and serve.

C)  Stove top:  Put the drained potatoes into a dutch oven.  Add a minimum of 6 tablespoons of butter, one packet of Good Seasons Italian salad dressing seasoning, and enough milk to come 1/3 of the way to the top of the potatoes. Stir to combine well.  Sprinkle with 3/4 c. of mozzarella cheese and stir again.  Serve when the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Enjoy!

Simple Slow Cooker Stuffing

My mom adapted her stuffing recipe years ago to use in a slow cooker, and that’s the basis for this recipe.  It’s perfect for the holidays – it frees up oven space for roasting pans, it neither burns nor dries out, and the flavors only intensify with time.
 

Stuffing – my family calls it filling – has always been my favorite part of a holiday meal (besides the mashed potatoes, maybe).  My family tears the bread together, chops the veggies together, and then we smell it cooking for hours.

Making it in the slow cooker is even better.  We still get the togetherness of tearing and seasoning, even the great smell, but without the hot-oven-stirring or the fear of burning the bread.  It can even be made ahead!

Making our stuffing this way has totally simplified our holiday meal.  I hope that you like it, too!

Simple Slow Cooker Stuffing
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4495 calories
681 g
247 g
137 g
130 g
68 g
1813 g
7041 g
77 g
4 g
58 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1813g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 4495
Calories from Fat 1199
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 137g
210%
Saturated Fat 68g
340%
Trans Fat 4g
Polyunsaturated Fat 25g
Monounsaturated Fat 33g
Cholesterol 247mg
82%
Sodium 7041mg
293%
Total Carbohydrates 681g
227%
Dietary Fiber 41g
164%
Sugars 77g
Protein 130g
Vitamin A
69%
Vitamin C
21%
Calcium
365%
Iron
280%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 2 loaves of bread, white, wheat, or a mix of both
  2. 2-4 celery stems, minced
  3. 1 onion, minced
  4. 1 stick of butter
  5. 1/2 c. chicken stock
  6. salt and pepper to taste
  7. 1/2 - 1 t. poultry seasoning
  8. 1/2 t. celery seeds
Instructions
  1. Tear the bread into small, bite-sized pieces.
  2. Saute the veggies into a small frying pan with the butter and seasonings.
  3. If you're making this ahead, put the butter mixture into the fridge. Otherwise, continue!
  4. Put as much of the torn bread as fits into your slow cooker. It's okay if it doesn't all fit right away - it will!
  5. Stir the butter mixture into the bread until it's well mixed.
  6. Cook over low heat for several hours or all day. The flavor will intensify as it cooks, so the longer it cooks, the stronger the flavors! I like it best after about 6-7 hours.
  7. As the bread cooks down, add more and stir. For a stronger, moister stuffing, add the chicken stock.
  8. Serve hot.
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calories
4495
fat
137g
protein
130g
carbs
681g
more
A Nest in the Rocks http://anestintherocks.com/
How do you make your filling?

Not-Your-Average Potato Cakes

It seems as if each time there’s a mashed potato-eating holiday where my mom and I are together, she asks if I’m going to make potato cakes with my leftovers.

I always answer know.  “What are they”  I always ask.  “How do you make them?”

You’d think I’d remember eating them if she likes them so much, but I don’t – and I love mashed potatoes.

I always get lost in the explanation, somewhere after, “You take the leftover mashed potatoes …”

Oh, well.

But after Christmas I had a LOT of leftovers.  Really.

So I decided to experiment with potato cakes.

Potato  Cakes

I added all of my favorite things, stirred them up ’til the color was pretty, and then fried them in a hot frying pan, and even My Little Man, the anti-potato man himself, liked them.  They’re rich, full of flavor, easy to make, and while they’re not exactly easy on the arteries, they do have some nutrients hidden in there.  That’s gotta count for something, right?

Not-Your-Average Potato Cakes
Yields 16
A rich and delicious way to reinvent those leftover mashed potatoes
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324 calories
60 g
36 g
5 g
10 g
3 g
115 g
210 g
3 g
0 g
3 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
115g
Yields
16
Amount Per Serving
Calories 324
Calories from Fat 47
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
8%
Saturated Fat 3g
13%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 36mg
12%
Sodium 210mg
9%
Total Carbohydrates 60g
20%
Dietary Fiber 6g
22%
Sugars 3g
Protein 10g
Vitamin A
43%
Vitamin C
58%
Calcium
11%
Iron
9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 2 1/2 - 3 c. mashed potatoes
  2. 1/2 onion, diced
  3. 1/2 green pepper, diced
  4. dash of olive oil + some for frying
  5. 2 T. butter, melted
  6. 2 eggs, beaten
  7. 6-8 strips of bacon, cooked, patted dry, and crumbled
  8. 1 big handful of fresh spinach, washed and chopped finely
  9. 1 c. shredded cheddar
  10. sea salt, to taste
  11. freshly ground pepper, to taste
  12. 1/2 t. garlic powder
  13. 1/2 t. Season-all
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
  2. Finely chop the onion, green pepper, and spinach. Saute in olive oil over medium heat until cooked through.
  3. Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder and Season-all to the onion mixture. Stir well.
  4. Add the bacon, cheese, veggie mixture, cooled butter, and eggs to the mashed potatoes. Stir really well until totally combined.
  5. Chill for at least half an hour or until mixture will form a ball.
  6. When ready to go, heat a skillet until hot over medium heat. Spread a small amount of olive oil over the bottom of the pan, just to prevent sticking.
  7. Make a walnut-sized ball with the potato mixture. Squish it a bit so that it's rather flat looking, and place it into the hot pan. Repeat until the pan is full but not crowded - you need room to flip.
  8. After about 4 minutes, when cakes are hot, browned, and seared on the bottom, carefully flip. Repeat for the second side, then remove from pan and place on a serving plate - or directly onto your own plate.
  9. Try not to eat them all before serving time.
  10. Makes 16 - 20 cakes.
Notes
  1. Disclaimer: Because I was playing with leftovers, all of my amounts are, as usual, approximate. Basically, mix what you want and add enough eggs to glue it all together.
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calories
324
fat
5g
protein
10g
carbs
60g
more
A Nest in the Rocks http://anestintherocks.com/
What would YOU put in potato cakes?

Mom’s Baked Corn

This is a family staple for us, and no family gathering or holiday would be the same without it!  It’s simple and easy to make, transports well, and holds when necessary.  My great-grandmother loved it, and she complimented my mom on this dish every time she made it.  Since Grandma was an amazing cook in her own right, that’s saying a lot!

Mom's Baked Corn
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1049 calories
184 g
412 g
29 g
41 g
12 g
1176 g
1873 g
41 g
1 g
15 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1176g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1049
Calories from Fat 254
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 29g
44%
Saturated Fat 12g
61%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 6g
Monounsaturated Fat 9g
Cholesterol 412mg
137%
Sodium 1873mg
78%
Total Carbohydrates 184g
61%
Dietary Fiber 16g
63%
Sugars 41g
Protein 41g
Vitamin A
48%
Vitamin C
77%
Calcium
40%
Iron
36%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 pint frozen corn (I freeze my own each summer) or 1 can creamed corn
  2. 1 can creamed corn
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 c. milk
  5. 2 T. cream of Tarter
  6. salt and pepper to taste
  7. 2 handfuls of crackers, crushed
  8. 2 T. butter
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Pour into a greased casserole dish.
  3. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until center is set.
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calories
1049
fat
29g
protein
41g
carbs
184g
more
A Nest in the Rocks http://anestintherocks.com/
What dish are you known for?

Homemade Potato Chips

Homemade Potato Chips

Do you ever have cooking experiments go wrong?

That’s how I ended up with these chips.  When another idea didn’t work out and I was left with a bowlful of sliced potatoes, I decided to try making chips with them – and they couldn’t have turned out better.  We ate every single one.  Immediately.  People wanted more.  They’re really good.

Now, compared to the general fried-and-in-a-plastic-bag kind of chips you buy in the store, these are going to be waaaaayyyy healthier.  With only two main ingredients, both of which we can all pronounce, it doesn’t get much simpler than this.

These chips are rather labor-intensive, however.  If you’re used to eating a bag a day, these might not be for you.

If you’re planning a pool party with a hundred guests, I’d buy the grocery store variety by the case.

But if you want a good, flavorful, healthy, crunchy chip to feed your family alongside a really tasty sandwich, then these are for you.

Homemade Potato Chips
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676 calories
154 g
0 g
1 g
18 g
0 g
853 g
198 g
5 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
853g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 676
Calories from Fat 8
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1g
2%
Saturated Fat 0g
1%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 198mg
8%
Total Carbohydrates 154g
51%
Dietary Fiber 11g
44%
Sugars 5g
Protein 18g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
81%
Calcium
11%
Iron
41%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 4 medium Russet potatoes
  2. olive oil
  3. salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Slice your potatoes in super thin, uniform slices. I used my mandolin and put it on the crinkle-cut setting.
  2. Put the sliced potatoes in a bowl and toss with 1/4 c. of olive oil. Work with your hands to be sure that all the slices are evenly coated.
  3. With an electric skillet or griddle preheated to 400 degrees, spread out the chips in a single layer with no overlap. Unless you have a monstrous griddle, you'll need to batch-cook these.
  4. Watch closely - as they begin to brown, flip them with tongs.
  5. Give the second side just a minute or two more and then remove to a paper towel-lined bowl.
  6. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
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calories
676
fat
1g
protein
18g
carbs
154g
more
A Nest in the Rocks http://anestintherocks.com/
What’s your go-to crunchy side?

Guilty Good Green Beans

Guilty Good Green Beans

I came across this recipe earlier today, and decided to break out of my bean boredom and try it.  Who doesn’t love another way to prepare a basic vegetable?

I was lacking a few ingredients and so played around with it a bit, but we loved it.  It’s simple, quick, and full of flavor.  My family of four finished off the entire dish in one sitting – and My Wonderful Husband had three helpings!  Now, if that isn’t success, I don’t know what is.  This one is definitely a family keeper.

Guilty Good Green Beans
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647 calories
36 g
114 g
41 g
34 g
19 g
784 g
2286 g
12 g
0 g
19 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
784g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 647
Calories from Fat 368
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 41g
63%
Saturated Fat 19g
96%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 15g
Cholesterol 114mg
38%
Sodium 2286mg
95%
Total Carbohydrates 36g
12%
Dietary Fiber 15g
61%
Sugars 12g
Protein 34g
Vitamin A
52%
Vitamin C
77%
Calcium
66%
Iron
37%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 2 cans of green beans, drained
  2. 1/4 Vidalia onion, diced
  3. 1/4 green bell pepper, diced
  4. 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  5. 1/6 lb. sausage, cooked and crumbled
  6. dash of olive oil
  7. salt and pepper to taste
  8. 1/2 c. cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Carmelize the onion, pepper, and garlic in the olive oil. Add cooked sausage and seasonings.
  2. 2. Add green beans. Stir to combine.
  3. 3. Transfer to a baking dish.
  4. 4. Top with cheese.
  5. 5. Bake, covered, at 400 for 15 minutes.
  6. 6. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes at 350.
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calories
647
fat
41g
protein
34g
carbs
36g
more
A Nest in the Rocks http://anestintherocks.com/
Though I expected leftovers for lunch tomorrow, this is what I found:

I guess I’ll just have to make it again!

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

 
There’s just something about apple butter.
 
That sweet, slightly spicy flavor tastes great on a fresh piece of bread, and nothing screams fall quite like the smell of apples cooking down into this sweet treat.
 
I’ve been wanting to make some for weeks, so when my daughter’s book club read a book in which the main character makes apple butter, I knew it was time.
 
The girls in this club are fantastic, and they tackled this project with smiles and giggles.  They made great apple butter, too!
 
The following plan is more of a method than a recipe – partly because I didn’t count my apples when making this, and partly because it’s just that easy.  Don’t be afraid to change things up a bit if you need to – this is impossible to get wrong!
 
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
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1908 calories
505 g
0 g
3 g
5 g
0 g
2887 g
56 g
452 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
2887g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1908
Calories from Fat 23
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g
4%
Saturated Fat 0g
1%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 56mg
2%
Total Carbohydrates 505g
168%
Dietary Fiber 31g
124%
Sugars 452g
Protein 5g
Vitamin A
16%
Vitamin C
45%
Calcium
14%
Iron
36%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 10-12 c. of good quality, fresh applesauce
  2. 1 c. sugar
  3. approx. 1 T. ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Pour your applesauce* into your slow cooker.
  2. Stir in the sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Stir to combine.
  4. Fit the lid on tightly and heat on low until bubbling.
  5. Remove the lid, stir, and put the lid back on, tilting it just slightly so that steam can escape.
  6. Cook overnight on low until your applesauce is dark brown in color and has reduced by about half.
Notes
  1. * If you prefer to make your sauce yourself, then simply wash and chop your apples, put them in a large pot with a splash of water, and cook until soft. Run them through a food mill to remove the skins and squish the apples into an even consistency, and then you're ready to make apple butter.
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calories
1908
fat
3g
protein
5g
carbs
505g
more
A Nest in the Rocks http://anestintherocks.com/
 
What’s your favorite bread spread?

Best Ever Cheesy Grilled Potatoes

Best Ever Cheesy Grilled Potatoes
Our Fourth of July picnic wasn’t what I expected.  Instead of wanting hamburgers, the kids begged for steak  – of all things.  Since the cuts in the case did look pretty good, we picked one out – and then had to revamp the rest of my planned menu to match this fancier cut of meat.  Steak, potato chips, and baked beans didn’t seem to fit, you know?
 
So, having seen a recipe for grilled potatoes on Pinterest, I decided we’d make up our own – and I’m so glad we did.  My Big Helper declared these to be the “best potatoes ever.”  My Little Man, who rarely eats white potatoes without complaint unless he’s peeling them, gobbled his right up.  My husband didn’t say a word – just reached for more.  
 
Me?  They’re soft and tender, rich and cheesy, so what’s not to like?  But there are two aspects of these potatoes that completely guarantee I’ll make them again:  1) they cook completely on the grill, so they don’t heat up my house by a single degree in this crazy heat, and 2) they cook inside a foil packet, so after cooking, you just throw it away.  No dishes.  Gotta love that.  🙂
 
Best Ever Cheesy Grilled Potatoes
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1034 calories
133 g
113 g
40 g
41 g
25 g
971 g
1287 g
14 g
1 g
13 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
971g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1034
Calories from Fat 350
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 40g
61%
Saturated Fat 25g
123%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 11g
Cholesterol 113mg
38%
Sodium 1287mg
54%
Total Carbohydrates 133g
44%
Dietary Fiber 21g
83%
Sugars 14g
Protein 41g
Vitamin A
30%
Vitamin C
260%
Calcium
89%
Iron
29%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 3-4 medium white potatoes, washed and diced to 1/2 - 3/4" pieces
  2. 1 medium onion, minced
  3. 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
  4. 3-4 T. butter
  5. cooking spray
  6. seasoning salt
  7. pepper
  8. 1/4 c. Italian blend cheeses OR mozzarella cheese, shredded
  9. 1/4 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
Instructions
  1. Layer double sheets of foil on the counter and spray with cooking spray. Foil will need to be about 18 - 24" long.
  2. Put diced potatoes on top and cover with onion, Parmesan, and seasonings. Dot with butter.
  3. Add a double layer of foil on top and fold edges down tightly to prevent any moisture from escaping.
  4. Carefully place packet on grill heated to 350 degrees.
  5. Cook for 15-20 minutes and then flip.
  6. Cook the other side for another 15-20 minutes.
  7. Carefully open one corner and check to be sure that the potatoes are cooked through.
  8. Remove packet from the grill.
  9. Open carefully to prevent steam burns.
  10. Pour potatoes into a serving dish and immediately add the other cheeses. Stir to combine and then cover to melt. Allow the dish to sit for 1-2 minutes.
  11. Serve and enjoy!
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calories
1034
fat
40g
protein
41g
carbs
133g
more
A Nest in the Rocks http://anestintherocks.com/
 
What are your favorite hot-weather meals?