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.

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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!

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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

 

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!

 

Chicken Alfredo

Sometimes the best laid plans don’t work out.
I work a long day on Monday and always fix something easy for the boys.
TallOne wanted pasta with Alfredo Sauce.
I was SURE we had canned sauce in the pantry only to find out when I got home we had none.
With no back-up plan for dinner that night I needed to figure out how to make Alfredo from scratch.
Turns out it’s pretty easy and very very good!
Most of the staples are in my fridge so after a little research I whipped up dinner pretty fast.
Theirs was served over spinach noodles, I had mine with arugula.

Easy Alfredo
2 chicken breast, cut in strips and pan sauteed seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
(keep warm while you make the sauce)

Sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat.
Add cream and simmer for 5 minutes, then add garlic and cheese and whisk quickly, heating through.
Stir in parsley and add to chicken.

Chicken Waldorf Salad

When I was in Culinary school I learned how to make this salad.
I can’t believe it took until today to make it again.
It has the sweetness of the grapes and the crunchiness of the apple making this a nice fresh salad for lunch.
I added chicken and swapped out one tbs of mayo for a tbs of yogurt.
(and until I find out what caused my allergy reaction there are no walnuts)

4-8 ounces of chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup chopped, slightly toasted walnuts
1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red seedless grapes, sliced
1 sweet apple, cored and chopped
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt
Pepper

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and the lemon juice.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt,
1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper.
Mix in the chicken, apple, celery, grapes, and walnuts.

Enjoy!

One way to make the house smell really nice…Roast Chicken

TallOne (the boy formerly known as BubbleWrapBoy) and I were running some errands.
I love roasted chicken but never attempted to do so at home, for convenience I buy the pre-cooked ones.
The grocery store we were at the chicken looked a bit old and lately I’ve been wondering what they add to the meat.
So I went ahead and bought a whole fryer.
We went back and forth a little about what flavor TallOne wanted and we settled on Rosemary and Garlic.
With roasted chicken it’s all about aromatics getting into the meat and making it tasty (onions, garlic and herbs) and olive oil.

Here is what I came up with.

1 chicken (4-5 pounds)
2 sprigs of rosemary or 2 tsp dried
2 tsp onion powder ( I used shallot salt I bought at Penzee’s spices)
3-4 cloves Garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1 small yellow onion or 1/2 a big one cut in rings
1 cup olive oil

Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towel.
sprinkle salt,pepper and onion powder inside chicken.
add a little olive oil and stuff the bird with 1 sprig rosemary and the onions
season the outside of the bird with the herbs and garlic, I rub the rosemary into the skin.
Place chicken in a shallow baking pan and pour remaining olive oil over the chicken making sure to coat it as much as possible.
Place dish in a pre-heated oven (350 f) and cook for 2 hours, 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

Just Plum!

In last weeks farm box were 6 plums, that never ripened enough to be eaten.
Not wanting to throw them out I decided to experiment and use them in a dish.
A friend did cook this recipe before I put it in the blog and she felt the plum sauce did not thicken enough for her.
It’s not very crucial to have the sauce really thick, it’s the flavor that counts so don’t overthink it too much!

1 chicken breast per person
4-6 small plums
1 tbs balsamic vinegar

1-2 cups chicken stock, enough to cover plums and chicken
pepper, salt and 2 cloves garlic
1 tsp curry powder

Cut plums in 4 parts
Cover bottom of crock-pot with plums, one layer of chicken breast and cover with the balsamic vinegar and broth.
Add salt, curry powder, pepper and garlic.

Let simmer on high for 2 hours and low for another 2.5 hours.
Turn the chicken after you have cooked it for 2 hours.
The plum sauce should thicken some, if it looks too thick add a little broth.

Chicken will fall apart nicely.

I added sliced mushrooms 30 minutes before the time was over.

My boys ate this with rice.

Bok Choy salad with chicken.

Our Asian market sells Bok Choi by the bag.
There have to be at least 10 heads in the bag, way too many to use in a stir-fry so sometimes they go unused and ultimately spoil.
This salad is easy and refreshing.
Lunch made really simple and healthy!

½ cup of finely minced spring onion greens
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs. mayonnaise
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp. finely minced fresh oregano
1 head of bok choi, finely chopped
1 cup of radish, cut into coins
¾ lb of grilled chicken breast, thinly sliced

Prepare the dressing by adding all ingredients except the bok choi and radishes.
Allow to marinate for ten minutes (this will ease the bite of the onions and let the flavors meld together).
Meanwhile, prepare the bok choi and radishes, and then toss with the dressing. Refrigerate for 15 minutes while you grill the chicken.
Add the meat to the salad.

Enjoy!

Easiest chicken ever!

I need to get back to cooking for 3 because TheGirl has left for college.
Also BubbleWrapBoy seems to have left the clumsy/for ever hungry stage indicating he might very well have stopped growing. For now.
Less food is being eaten, we’ll see if in a week or so he reverts back to his inhaling everything food wise.

This is one of those really simple dishes, easy to adapt because it’s one chicken breast per person.
Count on 1 ounce of cheese per person and 2 slices of prosciutto ham.

Chicken with mozerella and ham

4 chicken filets
4 ounces mozerella, cut in 4 slices
8 slices prosciutto ham
2 tbs olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
Cut chicken filets in half but not all the way,
salt and peper
layer with mozzerella
roll and wrap ham around.
cook on both sides for 3 minutes on each side.
transfer to oven proof dish
add rosemary sprigs and cook in 350 oven for 15-20 minutes

Enjoy!

Vacation Adventures.

3 weeks ago we set off for our vacation.
Because we had planned a week in Kings Canyon National Park at a family camp we wanted to be a bit closer drive to there the week before.
I was intrigued by Cambria, a small town on the coast between San Luis Obispo and Carmel.
We rented a house for a week and I loved the ocean views and watching the birds.
Here in pictures are some of the places we ate.

Heavenly seared Ahi in Monterey at The Grotto Fish Market on the Pier.

Small hole in the wall place in Cayucos called Rudell’s Smokehouse came heavily recommended and their smoked fish was indeed amazing!

I had the smoked ahi taco and skipped the tortilla.

We had one dinner where the food was amazing but the service was so bad it overshadowed the meal.
The restaurant came highly recommended and the owners were of Dutch heritage.
The restaurant is called The Flying Dutchman in Morro Bay.
We had Mussels

And the Boy had their Cioppino.

Good food,but if you don’t mind getting *all* your food at the same time, don’t eat there.

And then last but not least our last meal on the road was in Los Banos at Hot City BBQ.
I had an amazing trip-tip salad.

BubbleWrapBoy polished off a pulled pork sandwich.

Food was good, home is much better!

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