When I was a kid, Rice-a-Roni had just made its way to the market shelves and my mom went and bought a box to try. She made it for us and it was a huge hit. This recipe is pretty much an exact copycat result of the brand that comes in a box, only better, in my opinion. This is one of my favorites. When my son was in college, he came home for a spring break, and one of his friends came over and ended up sacking out on our couch overnight. Next day, I made this for them with some Italian rope sausage. The two of them ate ALL of it themselves. The entire pan of "Rice-a-Roni" AND the sausage!
Break noodles into 1/2" or 1" size pieces. (They don't have to be perfectly uniform.) In a non-stick skillet, lightly brown (but don't burn) the dry noodles in melted butter. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
Add rice to boiling liquid and mix together. Mixture should boil for a minute or so.
Next: add can of crushed tomatoes, onion salt, garlic powder and tabasco (if using) to taste. Bring to a boil again for a moment.
Lower heat and cover pan; simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and almost gone. (You want to stir everything really good when you first put the lid on, but try not to resist the temptation to stir it too much during the simmering period. Just make sure your heat is pretty low.) If liquid does not get completely absorbed during cooking time, just leave lid on and simmer five or ten more minutes or until the liquid is fully absorbed.
Wait about 10 minutes, remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes. Sprinkle a few dashes of pepper on top and serve.