Crispy Spanish Rice Arancini (simple appetizer recipe for a party!)

This simple, three-ingredient recipe makes a fabulous party appetizer, or just a fun weeknight dinner side! This post sponsored by VeeTee Rice. Read my disclosure statement here.  

Here’s a simple appetizer recipe for a party that you can whip up in under 20 minutes! Spicy Latin flavors combine with a classic Italian appetizer to create these Crispy Spanish Rice Balls.

Spicy Spanish rice is bound with egg, coated in breadcrumbs, fried crispy, and studded with melty pops of soft Spanish cheese. It’s a simple appetizer recipe for a party that you can throw together with just 4 ingredients!

I’ve mentioned this before, but we’re rice fiends in our home. I love how versatility and inexpensive it is, and how it bulks up pretty much any dish.

We eat rice spicy, cheesy, fried with kimchi, made ahead as meal prep, bulked up under a fast weeknight curry, and a million other ways.

These Spanish style rice balls are a cross between two of my favorite ways to use rice, Spanish rice, and Italian arancini.


Read: Easy Appetizers for a Last-Minute Holiday Party (& a Video!)


Spanish rice, that bright and fiery rice usually served alongside Mexican dishes like burritos or enchiladas, isn’t really “Spanish”, as in from Spain. It’s an Americanized term that refers to a Mexican style of cooking rice with cayenne, garlic, chicken broth, and tomatoes.

And Italian arancini is an appetizer usually made with leftover rice. They’re small, crispy fried balls of rice and cheese, usually served as an aperitif alongside a cool glass of white wine.

Arancini makes a perfect simple appetizer for a party; they’re just the size to pop in your mouth as you mingle and drink with friends.

But what if you don’t have leftover rice to make into arancini? That’s where VeeTee rice flavors come in.

I’ve spoken before about my unabashed love of VeeTee Rice (especially since they have since become a sponsor of Percolate Kitchen, thanks guys!)

VeeTee, a US company based out of Virginia, sell packs of par-cooked rice that are done after just 2 minutes in the microwave.

Where other ‘instant’ rice brands can often become soggy or oddly textured after cooking, VeeTee rice cooks to the perfect al dente, and in only 2 minutes! It makes for a really quick way to add rice to your weeknight meals without having to babysit a pot on the stove.

VeeTee sells a number of different flavors of rice, including everything from plain, whole grain, mixed with quinoa, lemon, and the flavor I used to create this Spanish-Style Crispy Rice Balls: Spicy Spanish.

VeeTee’s Spicy Spanish rice has flavors of paprika, smokey adzuki beans, sweetcorn, tomato, and jalapenos, making it more than just a standard side dish; it’s a whole meal to itself.

But when you’re short on party appetizer recipe ideas, this spicy rice can turn into a perfectly quick dish in under 20 minutes.

Simply take a package’s worth of cooked Spicy Spanish rice, mix it with crumbled queso blanco, and roll in breadcrumbs. Dry the little balls over medium-high heat, then drain any excess oil on a paper towel.

What you’re left with are crispy little balls of spicy rice, cooled slightly with melty chunks of queso blanco, that are perfect for popping in your mouth as you mingle with friends. It’s a seamless blend of Latin heat and Italian cuisine, and the perfect simple appetizer recipe for a party this holiday season (or any time of the year!)

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Spanish-Style ‘Arancini’ Rice Balls

  • Author: Ruthy Kirwan

Description

Crispy Spanish Rice ‘Arancini’ is spicy Spanish rice studded with melty cheese and coasted in crispy breadcrumbs; make this simple appetizer recipe for a party this holiday season- or any time of the year!


Ingredients

  • 1 package VeeTee Spicy Spanish Style Rice ((9.9 ounces))
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1/3 cup crumbled queso blanco
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the rice, egg, and cheese. Use your hands or a large spoon to mix and combine thoroughly.
  2. In a large stainless steel pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  3. Pour the breadcrumbs onto a plate. Using our hands or a small handheld ice cream scoop, scoop the rice mixture and roll into balls. Toss the balls in the breadcrumbs until coated, then place carefully in the hot oil.
  4. Fry, turning the balls in the oil until they are browned on all sides.
  5. Place cooked balls on a plate lined with paper towel to drain off any excess grease, then serve hot.

Green Thai Quick Chicken Curry with Vegetables

A simple green Thai curry that you can throw together faster than the delivery guy can roll up to your home. 

Stop calling for takeout! This quick chicken curry recipe is packed with Thai flavors, including green curry paste, creamy coconut milk, bell peppers, eggplant, and carrots, all served over steaming long grain rice.

I love ordering Thai food for delivery. It’s my favorite style of takeout food, especially since our neighborhood here in NYC boasts some of the best Thai restaurants in the city.

But making a quick chicken curry at home is actually faster than waiting on my local takeout guy! Plus, I can make twice the amount of food and eat the leftovers for lunch for like, 3 days. As a work at home mom, having something like a quick chicken curry that I can just grab and go is so helpful.

 

In Thai cooking, curries are named after the color of the curry paste that is used as a base: red, yellow, and green.

I’ve always had a soft spot for green curry paste; made with cilantro, lime leaves, lemongrass and galangal (an Asian member of the ginger family), it’s the sweetest and freshest flavor of the Thai curry trio.

This particular Thai curry can be made with any whichever curry paste you use; I usually buy sets of 6 curry paste at a time on Amazon and keep them in my fridge. They make whipping up a quick chicken curry (or vegetable curry, or shrimp curry) on a weeknight twice as easy.

Nabbing the flavors of Thai cuisine usually requires the balance of four specific flavors: creamy, sour, spicy and sweet.

It’s what makes Thai cooking so freaking delicious- it attracts just about every taste bud in your mouth!


Related: Creamy Weeknight 20-Minute Pumpkin Chicken Curry


For this quick chicken curry, the sauce includes coconut milk (creamy), lime juice (sour), curry paste (spicy) and a dash of white sugar (sweet). Balance each of these flavors together and you’re rocking at this curry business.

I can’t talk about making a quick chicken curry without making a shout out to our go-to rice. With kids running under my feet as I cook most evenings, I’m not always in the mood to cook rice on the stovetop or by hauling out the Instant Pot (which doubles as a rice cooker).

My husband and I discovered VeeTee Quick Cooking Rice a few months ago (you may remember it from this Weeknight Kimchi Fried Rice recipe!). We loved it so much we started buying it off Amazon in bulk!

I like that the rice can be made in just 2 minutes in the microwave and comes out tasting exactly the same as the rice I used to spend 20 minutes babysitting at the stove; it’s perfectly cooked through and seasoned.

So, I’ve joined with VeeTee Rice to give you a three-part blog series of my all-time favorite rice dishes! This quick chicken curry is the first, and I’ve got one recipe coming in August and another coming in October.

VeeTee has saved our weeknight dinner making on more than one occasion. So I’m thrilled to be able to bring you some recipes in the next few months that highlight some of our favorite VeeTee flavors!

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Thai Green Curry with Chicken and Vegetables

  • Author: Ruthy Kirwan

Description

A simple green curry that you can whip up on a weeknight. Beat the urge to call for takeout; the homemade version is quick and tasty!


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large carrots (peeled and cut into 1″ pieces )
  • 2 bell peppers, membranes and seeds removed (diced )
  • 1 small eggplant, diced ((about 2 cups) )
  • 1 pound chicken breast (diced )
  • 4 ounces Thai green curry paste ((about 5 tablespoons))
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 3 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 13.5 ounces coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat until oil is shimmering. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots have softened, about 10-12 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken, curry paste, dried ginger, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar and toss to coat.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk and chicken broth. Let the mixture come to a hard simmer, then let cook, stirring occasionally, about 12-15 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and starts to thicken.
  4. Remove the sauce from the heat and serve over cooked long grain rice.

Tabbouleh Salad (Easy to Make Side Dish & Meal Prep!)

A fresh and bright grain-based tabbouleh salad that comes together quickly and is full of summertime flavor. 

This bright and zingy tabbouleh salad is incredibly easy to make side dish since it can be thrown together in as little as 15 minutes!

Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern salad typically made by combining bulghar wheat (also known as cracked wheat), cucumbers, parsley or mint, fresh tomatoes, and lemon juice.

I’m changing the traditional version of this easy to make side by adding a few “extras” that I think brighten this dish as a whole.

I included bit of fresh mint leaves alongside parsley, sweet cherry tomatoes instead of the usual diced vine tomatoes, and lime juice in place of lemon. The mint adds a freshness that blends well with peppery parsley. Cherry tomatoes lend a pop of juicy sweetness, and lime juice is brightens with less of an acid overtone than lemon.

Depending on who makes it, it can be heavy on the veggies, or mostly parsley, or be made with a majority of bulghar. It’s super customizable and comes together crazy quick.

And speaking of customizable, just because there are traditional ingredients in a tabbouleh salad, it doesn’t mean you can’t play around with it. I don’t usually add cucumbers as I’m not a huge fan, but I will toss in diced bell peppers, cooked eggplant, grilled asparagus- namely, all the summer vegetables.

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One thing that’s always served on top of my tabbouleh salad? A big dollop of Greek yogurt.

The tang of Greek yogurt paired with the zesty herbiness of a well-seasoned tabbouleh salad creates the perfect easy to make side.

But what really is my fave thing about a tabbouleh is this: while it comes together quickly, the real magic lies in letting this salad sit for a while. If you make a big batch of it and then portion it out into containers, you’re basically winning at life and meal prep. It’s a hearty and hardy salad that keeps, stored in a tightly covered container in the fridge, for up to 5 days.

Whip together this easy to make side dish for your next picnic, potluck, or meal prep session!

 
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Tabbouleh Salad

  • Author: Ruthy Kirwan

Description

This is an easy to make side that comes together in under 15 minutes. Add in whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand for a fresh twist!


Ingredients

for the tabbouleh:

  • 1 1/2 cups bulghar wheat
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
  • 2 tablespoons torn fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoon roughly chopped Italian parsley (leaves only)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • Salt (to taste)

for serving:

  • Greek yogurt (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat, then add the bulghar wheat. Boil, uncovered, for about 8-10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and drain the water. Fluff the wheat with a fork and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the bulghar wheat with the mint, parsley, cherry tomatoes and lime juice.
  3. Season to taste with salt, if needed.
  4. Serve chilled, with a dollop of Greek yogurt on top.

Sheet Pan Portobello Tacos with Simple Salsa Verde

Today I’m guest posting over at HippieDippeiMom.com with these banging Sheet Pan Portobello Tacos! Made with a simple salsa verde, they come together in just under 20 minutes.

I mean, look at these babies! Sheet pan portobello tacos are the winner dinner you haven’t made just yet. SO Good, guys, for real. And so quick to put together, too!


Read: Loaded Sheet Pan Cauliflower Nachos


Just perfection, right!?

You can grab the recipe over at HippieDippieMom! 


And while you’re at it, pin it so you don’t forget: if you love Sheet Pan recipes, you’ll LOVE this helpful cheat sheet of 10 DELICIOUS sheet pan meal ideas!!

SHEET PAN RECIPE IDEAS!

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Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Meal with Olives, Eggplant and Feta

Please Note: affiliate links are (or likely are) included in this post. That means if you make a purchase through any links I’ve included here, I may receive a pennies on the dollar commission for sending you there. I would never recommend a brand or products I didn’t know and trust. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.

I’ve spoken to no less than 5 people in the last week who have never even heard of sheet pan meals. To which I whip out this incredibly easy chicken sheet pan dish, raise my arms to the heavens, and sing the praises of a dish that literally goes from cutting board to tabletop in like, 20 minutes. Tops.

All that to say if you’re not on the sheet pan meal train yet then choo-choo, mama. Because finding a simple chicken sheet pan meal – or any sheet pan meal, really- is gonna suddenly make your weeknight cooking so much easier.

The beauty of a sheet pan meal is threefold:

  • It has to be simple, or else it won’t cook right
  • The best sheet pan meals contain a veggie, a protein, and a sauce (that’s it!)
  • You have one pan to wash at the end of it all. And if you line your sheet pan with tin foil, you have no pans to wash at the end of it all.

Here’s me, after successfully cooking this Greek chicken sheet pan meal the other night, and discovering it only took 20 total minutes from start to finish:

It’s that easy.

Of course, you can’t just throw a bunch of ingredients on a sheet pan and hope for the best. There are a handful of rules that should be followed for maximum quality:

Use a heavy bottom sheet pan. That is- not a jelly roll pan, not a cookie sheet. A strong, durable, rimmed sheet pan. I got these Analon-brand pans in my wedding registry almost 10 years ago and they are still holding up like champs. In fact, they’ve gotten better with time.

Make sure your ingredients are all cut or prepared in a way that makes them cook in the same amount of time. 

Case in point: This Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Meal I’m highlighting in the recipe at the bottom of this post. I took one of those gargantuan chicken breasts and sliced it in half, so each piece was about the same size- this ensures even cooking.

Then I paired the chicken with eggplant, a veggie that roasts well but not super quickly. By chopping the eggplant into ½” slices, it ensured they were the right size to roast to a perfect texture alongside the chicken. Bigger, or thinner, or smaller slices would have cooked differently. So until you’re comfortable with cooking times of various ingredients, make sure you find recipes from people you trust and follow their recommendations.

✅ While the pan’s in the oven, make a quick side. 

I like serving my sheet pan meals with something starchy on the side, like boiled potatoes, or cheesy grits. While the sheet pan is in the oven, I make the starch quickly on the stovetop.

Or I just, you know, don’t do any extra cooking and use the time to chillax with my family and start unwinding at the end of a long ass day. You totally have permission to do that as well, mama.

✅ Line it up.

We had a big discussion in my Busy Mamas Cooking Facebook group the other day regarding reusable silicone sheet pan liners: are they worth it? While I personally don’t own any, I think they’re pretty cool to have and they definitely are cheaper than buying tin foil all the time. Regardless of whether you use reusable liners or tin foil, line your sheet pan for super easy cleanup.

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Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

  • Author: Ruthy Kirwan

Description

This simple chicken sheet pan meal comes together easily, making it a great weeknight dinner! Serve with a side of rice pilaf or a big leafy salad.


Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 pound boneless (skinless chicken (thighs or breast))
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup pitted black or green olives
  • 1 large eggplant (ends trimmed and cut into big dice)
  • 1 cup crumbled feta

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 450*F.
  2. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with tin foil.
  3. In a small bowl, add the paprika, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper and mix with a fork to combine.
  4. Rub the chicken thighs with olive oil, then place on the sheet pan, leaving an inch or so of space between each thigh. Sprinkle evenly with the spice mix, and rub the spice mix evenly into the thighs.
  5. Scatter the eggplant and olives around the chicken, and use tongs to toss and combine. Spread all ingredients in the pan in one even layer.
  6. Place the pan(s) in the oven and roast, 12-15 minutes, until eggplant has browned and the chicken is cooked completely through (juices from the chicken will run clear when sliced with a sharp knife)
  7. Sprinkle the entire pan with the crumbled feta, transfer to a serving platter, and serve.

Weeknight Kimchi Fried Rice with Leftover Vegetables

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. This post is sponsored by VeeTee Rice. 

Kimchi Fried Rice is super easy to whip up on a weeknight for dinner, and it’s a great way to use up leftover ingredients hanging around in the fridge.

The spicy, umami flavor of kimchi tossed in fried rice elevates the dish and perks it up, while being good for your gut health at the same time!

 

And using VeeTee Rice is a super easy way to make fried rice, which is always best when made with slightly old, dried out rice. Since VeeTee is a parcooked, microwaveable rice, it’s cooked just enough and dry just enough to toast and caramelize the rice, making this dish a perfect “I’m in the mood for fried rice” option that you don’t have to think ahead for.

I’ll also confess that I have a major soft spot for kimchi, which is a Korean style of spicy pickle.

Koreans add kimchi to tons of different dishes, and it’s so good for you. If you’re thinking about hopping on the fermented foods bandwagon, kimchi is a great place to start.

Where we live in New York City, kimchi is really easy to find. You can even grab a jar in our local bodega/deli!

However, if it’s not something that’s found in your neck of the woods and you’d like to try it, I’ve used this recipe from The Kitchn to make my own before, and it’s crazy simple. You can purchase gochugaru, a Korean style of chili flakes, on Amazon.

If you’re used to getting your fermented goodness from things like sauerkraut or kombucha but you haven’t given kimchi a try, I really recommend it. It’s a cool, pickle-y, spicy flavor that adds so much to any recipe. My favorite way is on the side of my scrambled eggs in the morning!

Remember the secret I just told you, about how the perfect fried rice, kimchi fried rice or otherwise, starts with slightly old and dried out rice?

It’s by losing its moisture that puts rice in its best position to be fried, so VeeTee’s pre-cooked Heat and Eat Single Flavor packages are a great pantry option to keep on hand for nights when you’re in the mood to whip up a batch of fried rice.

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Weeknight Kimchi Fried Rice

  • Author: Ruthy Kirwan

Description

In this particular recipe, I used roasted broccoli I had made earlier in the week as part of my power hour meal prep sesh.

if using fresh broccoli: about 1 1/2 cups fresh florets, chopped fine.

I didn’t know how I would use it that when I was prepping, but chopped broccoli florets were on sale at Fresh Direct this week, so I bought two packages and roasted them up on Sunday.

I love the way roasted broccoli takes on almost a popcorn-y flavor, and it’s so good to have on hand as an addition to meals, or just as a side dish.


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 small onion (diced (about 1 cup diced))
  • 2 carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 1 package VeeTee Heat and Eat Long Grain Rice (10 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup chopped prepared kimchi
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/3 cup green peas
  • 1 cup roasted broccoli (see note if using fresh)

Instructions

  1. Combine vegetable oil and sesame oil and heat until shimmering in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and carrots and cook until the onions have gone translucent and the carrots have softened, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the rice and break apart with a wooden spoon. Toast the rice, stirring occasionally, about 3-5 minutes or until it has started to brown.
  4. Add the kimchi,, garlic, ginger powder, peas and broccoli and cook, stirring to combine, another 3-5 minutes or until the vegetables have heated through.
  5. Remove from heat and serve,