Risotto for One, Please!

It has happened, we are officially Empty-Nesters.
RatherTallOne has moved out and is now cooking for himself and his girlfriend.
Early reports from her are that he is quite the chef, making me rather proud.

We found out a few months ago that he has a wheat, barley and hops allergy. In solidarity I gave up all wheat (but not beer every now and then).
Cleaning the pantry and fridge of all things EVIL wheat was the way to go sadly.
I found out that a staple we eat a lot, Risotto from Trader Joes, had wheat in it to thicken the rice.
What is a mom to do? It has never occurred to me to make it from scratch because I thought it was hard to do.

Who hasn’t seen an episode of Hells Kitchen where Gordon Ramsey screams out that the Risotto is BLAND!

If professionals can’t do it who was I to try?
I’ve been hesitant to make foods I wasn’t trained in or comfortable with. Cooking rice, piece of cake. Risotto is scary.

So one day we were wanting Risotto with our salmon and I bit the bullet.
It was amazing!
I made it 3 times since and it comes out creamy, garlicky and really good.

The next 6 days Himself is in the Netherlands so solo food it is.
I was going to eat just chicken and roasted peppers when all of a sudden I wanted Risotto as well.
Math done, here is a recipe for Risotto for One.

1 TBS butter
1 TBS Olive Oil
2 TBS chopped onion or shallot
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup Arborio Rice aka Italian-Style Rice
About 1.5 cup of chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste (don’t make it bland!)
Any mushrooms and vegetables chopped up
Parmesan cheese to taste, I add at least 1/4 cup

Saute onion and garlic in butter and olive oil on lower heat for 3 minutes
Add rice and stir for 2 minutes
Stir in broth until rice is covered
I had leftover asparagus and mushrooms I added in.
I’ve added peas and mushrooms, it’s all tasty.

IMG_0685

Continue cooking a stirring until broth is absorbed.
Add more broth but make sure it’s absorbed before you add more.
Try the rice if it’s cooked towards the end of cooking before you add more broth. It’s not a timed process, more a “taste as you go”.
You are aiming for sticky, gooey rice as the cheese will bind it.

Once it’s fully cooked add the Parmesan and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

IMG_0688

 

 

 

My take on Macaroni and cheese, bacon style!

A few food items are always in my fridge, cheese, eggs and bacon.

A friend posted a recipe she tried last week on Facebook and I tinkered with it a little and came up with this new recipe.
I made it for The Boy and Himself and they deemed it good for a repeat.
If you can’t find the cheese I used you can substitute with cream cheese, garlic and parsley.

ETA: rinsing the pasta under cold water will stop the cooking process and also avoid melting the cheese too soon.
Also letting the meat cool off a little helps in this process.

Creamy, bacon bake.

1 box pasta (elbows, bow-ties or rotini)
Boursin cheese (not the low-fat kind)

boursib
1 cup grated cheese, I use half parmesan and mozzerella
4 slices of bacon
8 ounces of chicken
1/2 cup heavy cream

Cook pasta to almost fully cooked, drain and set aside
Cook bacon until crisp, crumble and set aside
Sautee cut up chicken in bacon grease (or in 1 tbs butter, but trust me cooking it in the bacon fat enhances the flavor)
Drain fat from chicken and mix macaroni with bacon, chicken, cream and the cheeses.
Preheat the oven at 350
Coat an ovenproof dish with butter.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until all the cheese is melted.
Halfway stir the pasta so that the cheese coats all over (it stays creamier that way)
If you have a broiler give the dish a quick broil to get a crunchy crust.

Enjoy!

food

 

It’s starting to feel like Fall finally!

I love soup and Split Pea is comfort food for me.

It’s a slow simmer in the crock pot so once you done the prep it’s a straight shot all by itself for hours.
This recipe is how my mom used to make it, there are variations where leeks and carrots are used but it comes out too heavy for me.

Oma’s Split Pea Soup

This recipe is for 4 people with enough left over for another meal. Reduce the peas and water by half if making it for 2 people or if you want no left overs.

2 bags green split peas (or 2 pounds)
1 medium sized celery root
1 pound beef shank
1 package salted pork
1 smoked sausage

Rinse peas, place in crock pot ( I have a 6 quart one)
Clean celery root by peeling it,cut celery root and salted pork in chunks
Add celery root, salted pork and beef shank to the crock pot
Cover with water, stirring a few times to get the peas wet.
Cook on low until peas fall apart, 6 hours depending on your crock pot.Stir occasionally to prevent the peas from sticking to the bottom or sides.
Remove bone and salted pork.
Using a stick blender or food processor blend the soup until smooth.
Cut up smoked sausage and add to soup.
You can cut up the salt pork in small pieces and add it to the soup. Be aware you need to let it sit for a little bit before you add salt in order not to oversalt it.
The soup will thicken if refrigerated, when reheating add some chicken stock to it and heat it slowly.

Enjoy!

Last week at Cost Plus World Market as I was lusting over another piece of equipment…

 

I’ve been wanting to buy a Tangine for ages, it’s used for a lot of Moroccan dishes. Read more here.
I’ve hemmed and hawed numerous times but never could get myself to commit.

Happened again last week at my other favorite kitchen/gadget/ all the things store Cost Plus World Market.
I petted the tangine on display, had a moment of doubt and then did not buy the pot.
However on the side it had a tag with a recipe for Honey and Cardamon Chicken with olives and Chickpeas.
So I took a picture, petted the pot once more and went on the hunt for ingredients.

lambtagine (not *the* pot but pretty!)

For 4 people, or leftovers for 2, you need:

8 chicken thighs or 4 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon cumin seed
Seeds from 8 Cardamon pods
2 tablespoons Honey
1.5  inch chunk of ginger,grated
2 garlic cloves, chopped
pinch dried chili flakes (optional)
6 tablespoons olive oil.
1 large red onion, chopped
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
14.5 ounce can chickpeas
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped (How to peel a tomato)
Handful green olives, without pimentos
a few fresh coriander leaves, chopped.

Place the 8 chicken thighs in to a shallow dish.
Toast 1 tablespoon cumin seeds in a small pan over a gentle heat until they begin to pop. Transfer them to a pestle and mortar and add the seeds from 8 cardamom pods and grind them to a coarse powder.

My note: if you do not have cumin seeds don’t worry. Using plain cumin will work. Just add a tablespoon of ground cumin to the dish. However!  
 it’s worth the purchase
Cumin seeds and Cardamom pods will keep for two years in an airtight container away from sunlight.
If you do not own a mortar and pestle ( I do!!) you can put the seeds in a ziplock bag and with a rolling pin or heavy pan 
pulverize them by hitting the bag. 

Put both spices  in a small bowl.
Stir in 2 tablespoons honey,ginger, garlic cloves, finely chopped chilli (or chilli flakes) and 4 tablespoons Olive Oil. Mix thoroughly.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and pour over the marinade.
Mix by hands to make sure the marinade is covering all of the chicken.
Leave to marinate for 30 minutes to a couple of hours.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan,and gently fry the chicken until the chicken is golden brown all over. Transfer the browned chicken to the tagine and pour over any remaining marinade

My note:If you do not have a tangine, like me, this can be cooked in a Dutch oven or a good covered glass dish.

Scatter over 1 large red onion, add the chicken stock. Drain the chick peas, and add to the tangine (or other vessel)
Add the tomatoes and green olives.
Put the lid on the tagine and cook in the oven 375 for one hour.

Stir in a generous handful of chopped fresh coriander and serve immediately with cous cous or plain boiled rice.

I didn’t add the chickpeas because it’s not something we care for.
I also flaked and had no fresh koriander bought.

The critics (my Men and a friend with a new family) loved it and it’s deemed a repeat recipe.

I forgot a picture, but trust me it was good!

 

Pumpkins and Squash, oh my!

Adventures in Food.

We joined a Community Sustained Agriculture Farm (CSA) delivery service last year.
Most of the time I remember to go on to their website the weekend before the delivery date but this Sunday I completely flaked and forgot to change my order.
So then you get what is seasonal, a total surprise most of the time.
In my box this week were 2 pumpkins, a squash the size of a small dog, a jumbo leek, celery, kiwi’s and 7 pears.

IMG_0975

Clearly this called for a big knife. The pumpkins were  the size of a soccer ball!

I love to make soup, so I decided to use the squash and pumpkins.
I tweaked a recipe my daughter sent me.

I’ll write out the recipe for less, this yielded enough soup for 2 big containers, 3 small and a square large container.

Curried Pumpkin Squash soup.

1 medium size pumpkin
1 squash
Medium…

View original post 225 more words

Gallery

Slight chance of rain!

3 meat Chili!

2 small cans of beans of your choice (I used red kidney beans) or 1 big can
6 slices bacon
3 sausages, I use mild Italian kind
1.5 pounds ground beef
2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes, 28 ounces total
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbs cumin
2 tbs unsweetened cocoa
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs paprika (I used the smoked kind)
1 small can of tomato paste
Optional: 1 small can of spicy Mexican tomato sauce, I used El Pato

I use a Dutch oven.

Brown bacon and set aside
Brown sausage and beef in the bacon grease, drain and set aside
Add tomatoes and let simmer, add tomato paste and let the sauce come to a boil.
Add beef/sausage and bacon
Add half of the seasonings to the mixture, add the beans
Let simmer for around 20 minutes and taste! before adding more spices.
Finish off uncovered in the oven for 30 minutes.

I found Chiplote powder and it gave it a really nice kick without making it too spicy.

It took beans to have me come back!

I love,love,love and ADORE My Dutch Ovens.
This started a few years ago when my incredible kids, they know my love of gadgets, bought me an orange oval Creuset pot.
I started cooking with it as soon as I could and LOVE it!

I even bought special utensils for it as not to scratch the bottom and it lived, when not in use, on top of the stove.

Then last year a friend gifted  me her orange pumpkin shaped pot which joined the oval on the stove.
And then those amazing kids gave me a round 5.5 Quart blue one!
Stove is getting a bit crowded but why hide these beauties?

Last Labor Day Himself and I were in San Francisco and visited  the San Francisco Ferry Building Market Place
And they have a Sur La Table store there.
I have a timed visit allowance at any cooking store because this is my kind of toy store.
Off the bat by the door was a display of all things Creuset.
Stopped me in my tracks!
2 walls full of pretty colors and sizes.
And a saucepan on sale for $64 made me think real hard how much more space I really needed on top of my stove.
I ended up with a cook book on cooking in Dutch Ovens for far less money.
(turns out that the pot was $264, so good I didn’t go for it)

On the ride home I read to Himself some of the recipes in it and he did his usual grumble which I think means approval. He’s the quiet type.
Opposites attract and all that.

Fast forward to Tuesday, yesterday, and still frozen chicken with dinner in 1.5 hours.
Not in the mood or position to order pizza, going to be Mother of the Bride in a few months so must fit in dress.
Opened my cookbook and saw Easy Cassoulet. Only a few ingredients and not a lot of prep time.
Haven’t had that dish in ages, maybe as far as 1982 when a then boyfriend was so cheap on our trip in France it was all we ate.

Look at my lovely pots, and bacon!

img_4465

 

The finished dish.
img_4467img_4468

 

 

My pup Tarah closely watching me cooking. I might drop something right?

img_4469

 

 

After Himself and I ate.

img_4470

 

 

 

 

2nd Degree Black Belt made sure we didn’t have left-overs. This made me very happy and sad at the same time.

img_4471

 

By now you are wanting a recipe, right?

I deviated a little from the book by adding Andouille Sausage and cut smoked tomatoes but it’s pretty much the recipe in the book.

Easy Cassoulet from  the Dutch Oven Cookbook

Ingredients:

5 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 thick slices
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
One Andouille sausage per person
1 cup chicken broth
One 14.5 can smoked tomatoes
Two 14.5 can of white or Cannellini beans
Parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400f
In a 3 1/2 quart Dutch oven add the bacon and brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add the onions and sauté until soft, add the garlic for 2 minutes.
Add the broth, tomatoes, beans, bacon and cut up sausage.
Transfer the Dutch Oven to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

I served this with warm French bread to soak up the juice of the dish.

Judging by how there were no left-overs this a repeat recipe.

Enjoy!

Shrimp Scampi, easy and healthier

A past post but worth sharing, fast and easy.

I only figured this dish out 3 weeks ago when I was stuck for a meal.
It’s so simple and fast yet very tasty.

You need for 4 people:
3 to 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
Garlic We like a lot of it, but 3 cloves is a good start.
1/2 cup white wine
Raw shrimp, I use 4 ounces per person. You can use any shrimp but the medium size is nice as it doesn’t get lost in the noodles.
Juice of half a lemon
Zest of a lemon, I got one of these neat grater thingies that also grates cheese.
Parsley Enough to make it look pretty, you can use dried or fresh. A tablespoon is a good measure.
Salt and pepper to taste

We eat the scampi with Dreamfields angel hair pasta, it’s lower on the Glycemic Index but doesn’t taste like cardboard. You can use whole wheat or your own preferred pasta.
If you are watching your carbohydrate intake you can use Shiritaki noodles too.

Melt the butter in a large pan together with the garlic, do not let the butter brown so use lower heat.
Add the wine and let it evaporate a bit.
Add the shrimp, depending on the size of the shrimp cook any time from 3 to 5 minutes until pink.(medium to large)
Add the lemon and the zest.
Sprinkle with parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

If you are serving this with pasta follow the directions on the package.
I always start cooking the pasta when I assemble my items for the Scampi.

Should you not want noodles I suggest to add raw spinach. Fold it in at the same time as the shrimp and allow it to wilt.

We always have Parmesan cheese and fresh pepper as a topper.

Pumpkins and Squash, oh my!

We joined a Community Sustained Agriculture Farm (CSA) delivery service last year.
Most of the time I remember to go on to their website the weekend before the delivery date but this Sunday I completely flaked and forgot to change my order.
So then you get what is seasonal, a total surprise most of the time.
In my box this week were 2 pumpkins, a squash the size of a small dog, a jumbo leek, celery, kiwi’s and 7 pears.

IMG_0975

Clearly this called for a big knife. The pumpkins were  the size of a soccer ball!

I love to make soup, so I decided to use the squash and pumpkins.
I tweaked a recipe my daughter sent me.

I’ll write out the recipe for less, this yielded enough soup for 2 big containers, 3 small and a square large container.

 

Curried Pumpkin Squash soup.

1 medium size pumpkin
1 squash
Medium onion
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Olive oil, for frying onion and drizzling over pumpkin/squash
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 to 1 teaspoon mild or medium spicy curry powder
1 teaspoon Tumeric powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbs Heavy cream
1 tbs butter (optional)

 

Line cookie sheet with wax paper.
Preheat oven to 350f
Cut pumpkin in wedges, discard the seeds
Slice squash in half and then cut that half in another half
Place all on cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper  on
Bake on 350 until you can pierce veggies with a fork, turning them over halfway (it took me 50 minutes)

In a pan sauté the onions until caramelized, reduce heat and add wine and sage.
Lets simmer until almost reduced, add Tumeric.

Let the veggies cool off and then peel with a paring knife.
If you have a stick blender:
Add scooped veggies to the pan with the onions and add about 2 cups of broth.
Blend until smooth,adding more broth if needed.
If you do not have a stick blender use a regular blender and slowly add broth until your soup has the consistency of a slightly thick smooth liquid.
Taste and add heavy cream,curry powder, salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in the butter and garnish with a little splash of heavy cream.

Enjoy!

Fiesta time and an easy recipe

Watermelon is in season, might as well make a lovely dish!

Adventures in Food.

I had bought a watermelon on impulse and then the weather went much much cooler.
And as it turns out, I’m the only one wanting to eat watermelon in this house.
After a week of eating it on my own I was about ready to toss it.
One can only eat so much of the same food, right?
Food Network Magazine to the rescue!
They had a fish taco recipe with a watermelon salsa that looked very appealing.

I made it in a small portion seeing that Himself had raised an eyebrow when I showed him the recipe.
But EVERYONE ate it and liked it.
The combo of the watermelon with the spice of the jalapeno was amazing.

This *will* be a repeat and a great salsa to take to parties.
I labeled it low-carb/ gluten free because you can omit the taco’s and still have a great dish.
(The…

View original post 215 more words

Previous Older Entries

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 655 other followers

%d bloggers like this: