There’s a popular saying that people eat with their eyes.
Food that looks good tends to taste better, and food that looks like slop tends to, well, taste like slop.
I was worried that the saying was going to come back to bite me with this week’s recipe when I decided to add a Sazon seasoning packet into the rice, sour cream, cottage cheese mixture in the casserole I tried. I looked at the bland, white concoction and decided it needed color—and flavor.
What I didn’t plan on was what would happen when the bright orange seasoning mixed in with the colorless, creamy assortment in my pot. It turned movie-theater-popcorn orange.
Unfortunately, that was the moment Joey decided to pop his head into the kitchen to see how my experiment was turning out.
His face told me I may have been eating an entire casserole by myself if the entire thing ended up looking like some sort of traffic-cone-inspired amalgamation. Luckily, it ended up looking much better once the casserole was done.
The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Plain Chicken.” You can find the original at https://www.plainchicken.com/taco-sour-cream-rice-bake/. I added onion, garlic and Sazon seasoning to my version.
Taco Sour Cream Rice Casserole
- 3 cups cooked rice
- 1 pound ground beef or turkey
- 1/4 of a medium onion diced
- 4 to 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup taco seasoning
- 2 Sazon seasoning packets
- 10 ounces diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups Mexican blend cheese shredded
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an eight-by-eight- or nine-by-nine-inch baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray.
- Cook your rice according to package directions. (It should be three cups after it’s done cooking; don’t start with three cups uncooked rice, or you’ll have way too much!)
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the ground beef and onions. Crumble the meat as it browns. When it’s done cooking, drain off as much grease as you can. Add in the garlic and saute for about one minute.
- Add in the taco seasoning, one of the Sazon packets, salt and pepper, the diced tomatoes (do not drain them) and the tomato sauce.
- Stir to combine, and let the mixture simmer.
- When the rice is done cooking, add the sour cream, cottage cheese, the other Sazon packet and salt and pepper to the pot and stir to combine.
- In the prepared baking dish, smooth out the rice mixture into an even layer. Top with the meat mixture, and then sprinkle the shredded cheese on the top.
- Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cheese is browned to your liking.
- Let the casserole sit for at least five minutes before serving. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
This was pretty darn good, but it definitely lacked the spice Joey and I prefer. I would say this dish, the way I made it this time, was extremely kid friendly. It would be easy, though, to add extra kick by using the hot kind of diced tomatoes with green chiles or use tomatoes with jalapenos, instead. It would be amazing to add a drained can of jalapenos to the rice mixture on the bottom, too.
I was really glad, in the end, that I added the Sazon packets. I think they added some good flavor to the overall dish—even if I almost had to blindfold my husband during dinner.
This piece first appeared in print on Oct. 20, 2022.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.