My Risotto Rocks!

My Risotto Rocks!

I know that when you read the word “risotto,” your brain says, “I love it, but who has time for that?” Trust me, I know! All that stirring eats up a chunk of time and patience. But oh, it is so worth the trouble!

If you were hoping for a recipe with carefully measured ingredients, I am sorry to disappoint. I’ve never really used a recipe for risotto. Instead, I just make it by sight, texture, and taste. You can look up a basic recipe someplace else. But I bet if you let go of your measuring cups, it will be a lot more fun!

Ingredients:

Butter
Olive oil
Arborio rice
White wine or champagne
Chicken stock
Chicken boullion
Onion or shallot, finely chopped
Heavy cream
Parmesan cheese

Whatever you want to mix in. I used mild Italian turkey sausage and diced red bell pepper. You could try anything. I also like sauteed mushrooms, roasted root vegetables, sausage and pear with Gorgonzola, leeks and peas, shrimp, asparagus…the possibilities are endless!

Preparation:

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Start by warming your chicken stock. If you don’t have any on hand, now would be a good time to start a batch. I made this stock as I was prepping the risotto then just strained it as I used it.

Remove the casings from your sausage and saute, breaking up as you go, in a separate pan. Chop the bell pepper and add that to the sausage after it is browned. Cook long enough to take the crunch out of the pepper. (Tip: If you are using a different add-in, prepare it in a separate pan as well.)

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In the meantime, dice some onion and saute it in a pan of equal parts melted butter and olive oil. I used roughly 2 Tbsp of each.

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Add your rice and toast for a few minutes more. (Tip: I added 2 cups of rice.) Turn up your heat to medium high.

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Add a splash of wine or champagne to the rice and onions, about 1/2 cup or so. Once that boils out a bit, start adding your warmed stock one ladle at a time. Cook each ladle-full down before adding the next.

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I have no idea how much liquid you will add. It depends upon how done you like your rice. You will notice it start to get creamy and puff up. Taste it after about 15-20 minutes, then continue to taste often for doneness as you get near the end. I also added one Knorr chicken bouillon cube since the chicken stock is salt free.

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Just before it is finished, add your mix-ins and fold them in. At this point I add about a quarter to half cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a splash of heavy cream. Some folks add a bit of butter too. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Plate it up, add more cheese, and serve immediately!

What do you like in your risotto? Please leave a comment below and share your favorite concoction!

Chicken Pot Pie – The Perfect One Pot Meal

Chicken Pot Pie – The Perfect One Pot Meal

Many of my friends abhor cooking. I think one of the reasons is that home cooking makes such a big mess in the kitchen. Perhaps another reason is that they know I’ll take pity on them and invite them to eat at my house! lol Whatever the reason, it’s nice to have a few dependable one pot meals up your sleeve to cut down on the mess. Chicken pot pie is also among my favorite comfort foods. I’ve ordered it off menus and restaurants try to jazz it up. But honestly, nothing tastes better than the traditional version. Oh, and kids like it too!

If your traditional version differs from mine, I hope you’ll leave a comment with a link to your own chicken pot pie!

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Precook your chicken in the veggie remnants to add flavor before you use it in your pot pie.

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Thyme, dijon mustard, and black pepper are the only seasonings you need! Well, you may need salt if your stock is homemade.

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Chop up your veggies. Pictured is some chicken stock I made in advance. I always warm my stock before adding it to a roux to speed up the cooking process.

 

Saute your vegetables in butter for 4-5 minutes then sprinkle in your flour, stir, and cook 2-3 minutes more.

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Slowly add your chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cook until thickened. Then remove from heat and add the chicken, peas, thyme, pepper, dijon, and salt (if needed).

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Roll out your dough and lay it over your chicken mixture. Cut small slices to vent. You may brush with an egg wash if desired.

 

Bake in a 250 degree oven for 30-4o minutes until crust is golden. Set, then serve.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2-3 potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 1-2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 or so cups chicken stock (Hint: Make your own. As you will read below, you can even do it while you chop!) (Or use boxed stock, homemade from another day, or even some white wine and water!)
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • salt to taste – this will depend on whether you use your own chicken stock or boxed.
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 cups cubed cooked chicken (Hint: I used boneless skinless breast because I was in a hurry. Use whatever you like. Even a grocery store rotisserie chicken would work!)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Prepared pie crust, thawed (Hint: I have not yet mastered making my own pie crust, but you could use homemade, or even a sheet of puff pastry.)
  • 1 egg, beaten (optional)

 

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Precook your chicken before you cut it. I boiled mine on the stove top and added my vegetable peelings and some extra celery, carrot, onion, and peppercorns as well. This flavors the chicken before you use it and provides the stock you will need!
  • When cooked through, remove from stock and let cool. Chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  • Chop your veggies. (Not the peas!)
  • Melt butter in an oven-proof skillet.
  • Add your chopped vegetables and saute for 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over sauteed vegetables and stir for 2-3 minutes longer. Slowly add chicken broth and bring to a boil over low heat. Stir until thickened.
  • Remove from heat and fold in remaining ingredients (except for pie crust). (Hint: If you have fresh parsley on hand or other fresh herbs, this is the time to add it.)
  • Roll out one sheet of pie dough so that it fits over the contents in your skillet. Cover top of chicken mixture. Cut a few slices to vent the dough.
  • (Optional) Brush the dough with the beaten egg.
  • Bake at 350 until dough is golden brown. This takes about 30-40 minutes.
  • Let set a few minutes before serving.

Make sure you comment below and leave a note about your favorite recipe for chicken pot pie! I look forward to trying some variations.

Flashback to My Youth: Stuffed Bell Peppers

Flashback to My Youth: Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers were regular fare on the dinner table growing up. They’re one of those meals you can make on a budget and don’t take much time. You can freeze them too which is always a bonus!

I was craving them over the weekend after scoring a big bag of red bell peppers for just $4.99. I’m pretty sure this was a pricing error since individual peppers were selling for $1.99 each and there were seven of those beauties in the bag. I’m wondering now why I only grabbed one bag!

Ingredients

1 pound ground turkey (or beef)

2 cups rice (cooked – I used rice cooker)

5-6 bell peppers (cut off tops and clean out)

1 1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp thyme

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup onion (diced)

1 egg, beaten

24 oz. can tomato sauce or puree

3 Tbs. brown sugar

3 Tbs lemon juice or vinegar

Directions

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Clean out bell peppers. (Save insides and tops for future chicken stock.)

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Cook rice and cool. Mix rice, ground turkey, onion, seasonings, water.

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Combine tomato sauce, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Add 1/2-1 cup to meat and rice mixture and stir to incorporate.

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Fill each pepper. Place right side up in baking dish. Pour remaining tomato sauce over the top of each pepper.

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Bake covered at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour. (I usually uncover for last 10-15 minutes.)

What dish do you remember from your youth? Would love to get your feedback along with a link to the recipe. Or, if you have a different version of stuffed peppers, please share it!

 

Snowstorm Cooking Plan – Enjoy the “Comforts” of Home

Snowstorm Cooking Plan – Enjoy the “Comforts” of Home

Road salt, snow shovels, firewood, bread, and milk top the shopping lists of most people as they prepare for a winter storm. But not me! If I’m stuck at home for a few days, sustenance is where my brain goes. A thorough scan of the pantry and freezer helps me shape up a shopping list to feed my cabin fever with comfort food! (Forget what your grandmother told you about feed a cold and starve a fever. That does not apply to cabin fever!)

I listed my menu below. The veal stew and carnitas are both items that can cook slowly all day. Of course the loss of power could alter my plans a bit since hot meals would then require preparation on the gas grill. Just in case, I will add hamburgers and chicken to my shopping list!

Day 1

Breakfast: cappuccino, OJ, scones, medium cooked egg in an egg cup, cantaloupe

Lunch: grilled tuna sandwich with provolone, cottage cheese, carrot sticks

Dinner: mac & cheese, pork chops, apple sauce, baked acorn squash rings

Evening: hot cocoa with marshmallows and maybe a rewarmed scone ( Shoveling snow burns a lot of calories!)

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Day 2

Breakfast: cappuccino, OJ, Amish baked oatmeal with bananas and blueberries drizzled with pure maple syrup

Lunch: grilled cheese, tomato soup (for dipping), side salad

Dinner: veal stew (see recipe below), home baked bread, roasted carrots

Evening: chocolate peanut butter mug cake (assuming I had to shovel for a few of my elderly neighbors!)

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Veal Stew – an old family favorite

Ingredients:
2-3 lbs. veal cubes
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
1-2 chopped green bell pepper
1-2 pounds Italian sausage sliced into 1-inch pieces (I prefer sweet for this recipe since veal is so mild)
1 large can tomatoes
2 large cans tomato paste
water or stock to desired consistency. Could also add some red wine.
2 Tbs. oregano
1-2 Tbs. sugar
1 chopped onion
handful frozen peas
salt, pepper
1-2 tsp. baking soda

Directions:
Brown veal cubes in hot oil. Remove. Brown sausage in same pan. Remove. Add onions and saute until softened. Then add garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and saute a minute more. Mix in veal and sausage.

Pour can of tomatoes into blender and blend briefly to break tomatoes down. Pour blended tomatoes, tomato paste, water or stock and wine, plus sugar into pot with meat. Simmer 2 hours on low. Add bell peppers and 1-2 tsp. baking soda. Simmer to cook peppers. Add peas. Simmer to heat through.

Serve in bowl with fresh bread. Should be soupy enough to eat with a spoon and dip your bread!

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Day 3

Breakfast: cappuccino, OJ, ham and cheese omelet, rye toast, cantaloupe and blueberries

Lunch: rewarmed mac & cheese, raw veggies

Dinner: pork carnitas on tortillas, black beans, rice

Evening: warm chocolate chip cookies

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What will you cook this winter while snowed in? Please share your favorite comfort foods with the rest of us! Leave a comment below.