I was on my own for a couple years before getting married so at least I knew my way around a kitchen!
To jazz up some rice, try adding either (a) a pinch of salt and some fine chopped fresh cilantro – great for serving with fish, or (b) a big spoonful of any “cream of X” soup straight from the can – great for serving with baked chicken.
Here are a couple of my favorite easy recipes that I’ve adopted from other recipes…
Pulled beef sandwiches:
5 lbs or so of beef butt
1 can of Campbell’s French onion soup
1 can of Campbell’s golden mushroom soup
Some extra beef broth in case you need it
Put the beef in a crock pot. Mix together the soups and add them to the crock pot. If the soup doesn’t quite cover the beef, add the broth until the beef is almost covered. Cook for 3 hrs on high, then 6 more hrs on low. The beef will get hard at first and then start to split apart when it’s done. Mash it up with a potato masher and serve on dinner rolls. (If you added broth, I recommend draining some liquid out of the pot before mashing up the beef.)
Spanish rice with a kick:
Start with a box of Rice a Roni Spanish rice. Add the following ingredients to the blender along with the water and tomatoes, and blend for only 5 seconds so it’s still chunky, then finish preparing the rice as directed. When the rice is done, transfer it to a serving pan, top with shredded cheese, and cover with tin foil. Within a few minutes, the cheese will melt just from the heat of the rice.
1/2 lb ground beef, already cooked until brown
1/2 small onion
Salt (about 1/2 tsp)
Worchestershire sauce (about 1 tsp)
Tobasco sauce (about 1/2 tsp) – omit if you don’t like hot foods!
Fresh finely chopped cilantro (one handful, or about 15 stems)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped (or 1 tsp of minced garlic)
If you don’t have some of these ingredients, it’s fine to skip them. I recommend keeping at least the beef, salt, and fresh cilantro though.