We are still on the cheap, fast and easy dinner train around here and this Taco Rice is no exception. As I am forever buying bits and bobs that are on sale I can almost always throw something together and this might be my new favorite cobbled dish!
I found a box of Hamburger Helper in the cabinet and I was going to go that route until I read the directions and realized that I didn’t have all the required ingredients. I never claimed that my bits and bobs shopping was through but in my defense only one of us drinks milk so we don’t always have some on hand. On finding my larder lacking I continued to dig and I found a package of Spanish rice, a can or diced tomatoes and a can of corn, in the fridge I found Velveeta and some lettuce. Basically I had all the ingredients to make the same boxed meal, just different.
On to the easy! Make the rice according to package directions. Brown the ground beef with taco seasonings, I use smoked paprika, cumin, ancho chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. If I had a package of taco seasonings I would have used that but I don’t often buy the taco one. While the meat is browning and the rice is cooking you can chop up the toppings, I went with the lettuce and fresh tomato. The cheese dip is also very simple, cut the cheese into cubes and put it in a microwave safe bowl, top with the can of Rotel tomatoes and nuke for around 3 minutes until the cheese is about half melted and then stir and stir and stir until all the cheese is melted. I don’t do a full melt in the microwave because the cheese can bubble up and spill out of the bowl making a huge mess.
When the rice is just about finished add the can of diced tomatoes but only a bit of the juice, too much liquid will just make the rice weird. I suppose some of the cooking liquid could be the juice from the tomatoes, I will try that and get back to ya’ll. After the meat has browned take it out of the pan and put it on a plate with paper towels to soak up the grease but leave the grease in the pan so that we can cook the corn. Drain all the liquid from the corn before you add it to the pan so that a mess doesn’t ensue and because we don’t need it. I seasoned the corn with the same spices I out on the meat just to keep the theme going but I used black salt for the color instead of plain sea salt, if I had cilantro on had I would have used some of that for color as well as flavor but I had to settle for ground corriander instead. The corn doesn’t need to cook for long, just enough to get some color and extra flavor, so about 10 minutes.
So we have browned meat, cooked corn and rice with tomatoes and now we can mix the lot together! I served this over tortilla chips and topped with the cheese dip, lettuce, chipotle crema and the fresh tomatoes. It came out a bit more like a taco bell kind of nacho than the Hamburger Helper boxed meal but tastier than either!
If you have tortillas you could make little tacos out of the stuffing and if you are super handy you could use this as a filling for taquitos as it would hold up well during the frying, it could be an enchilada stuffing with either a cheese or red sauce on top. The leftovers lend themselves well to a more traditional salad, mix in some more lettuce and tomatoes and use a Ranch or Catalina dressing and top that with tortilla strips. Maybe you could use some as a stir in for a fire roasted tomato soup along side a grilled cheese made with a pepper jack cheese. So many possibilities, don’t be afraid to experiment with your experiments!
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1 package of Spanish style rice
- 1 can sweet corn
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 brick of velveeta
- 1 can of Rotel tomatoes for every 6 ounces of cheese
- tortilla chips or tortillas
I only feed 3 people but 2 need leftovers to take for lunch so a full pound of meat would have been better but I was using what was on hand and if you are feeding a mess of people then you could use 2 packages of rice and 2 cans of corn but I would still only add the one can of tomatoes to the rice if you have some fresh that you can use. If you want to use this as enchilada filling I would use 2 cans of tomatoes to help keep things moist. If you are going to use it for the soup or just to make a salad then I suggest maybe just half of a can to keep things from getting too watery. Ultimately this can be adjusted to whatever your taste is, you could use chicken that has been chunked or shredded, ground turkey or if you want a vegetarian option you can substitute in tofu or what ever your substitute is!
Thanks ya’ll!! Happy cooking!