Monthly Archives: March 2011

Spring Risotto

This recipe was a great find from the latest Cooking Light magazine and it’s absolutely delicious. A little different than my usual risottos, it has some light cream cheese, so it’s a bit creamier, but a great change of pace. Super easy with almost no prep (if you buy the right things) and pretty healthy as well. I can’t speak highly enough about this dish, it was a real winner.

Spring Risotto

Adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1  pound  asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 3/4  cups chicken broth
  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 1 1/2  cups  chopped onion
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  cup  uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1  cup  frozen shelled edamame
  • 3/4  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/4  cup  1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • a handful of Parmesan cheese

I started by shelling the edamame. I could only find in-shell frozen edamame, so that added some time and pain to my prep process.

 

 

 

 

In order to get a cup of edamame peas, I had to shell all these bad boys. Let me tell you, I had some sore fingers by the time I was done squeezing all these pods.

 

 

 

 

Then I chopped up the onion and added it to a skillet with some olive oil. I cooked the onion for about four minutes and then added the garlic and cooked for a few minutes more.

 

 

 

 

Next, I added the salt, edamame and the Arborio rice and cooked for about a minute.

 

 

 

 

Then I started adding the broth/water mix (which had been heating up while I was preparing everything else). For the first addition, I added a full cup. After that, I added the broth in 1/2 cup-fulls at a time, stirring and letting the rice absorb the liquid before adding more.

 

 

 

While the rice mixture was slowly cooking, I trimmed and chopped the asparagus and then cooked it in boiling water for about 4 minutes. To trim the asparagus you put one hand on the very end of the asparagus (the root side) and then the other hand about half way up the stalk. You gently bend the stalk and let the asparagus naturally break. Depending on the ripeness of the bunch it usually breaks between an inch and 2.5 inches up the stalk.

 

This picture is what the rice mix looked once it was done. I had a little bit of broth left over, but the rice was cooked just right so I didn’t want to push it.

 

 

 

 

Finally, I added the asparagus, pepper and cream cheese. I stirred everything together until the cheese was melted and heated through.

 

 

 

 

I served the yumminess (yes I just made that a word) in bowls with a little sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Delicious!

 

 

 


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Mediterranean Chicken with Potatoes

This dinner was one of my recent attempts to avoid pasta. Based on the ingredients, I thought it would be absolutely delicious. It was good, but not quite as amazing as I expected. It also required a lot of cutting and prep. Finally, it was almost like….stew. Not that that’s a bad thing, it just wasn’t what I expected. This description doesn’t really give the recipe a fair shake. It was tasty, but if push comes to shove and I had to recommend a recipe, this probably wouldn’t be it. But if you are undeterred, here is the recipe and description.

Mediterranean Chicken with Potatoes

Adapted from Cooking Light

  • 4  teaspoons  minced garlic, divided
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  dried thyme
  • 1/2  teaspoon  black pepper, divided
  • 12  small red potatoes, halved (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2  pounds  skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1  cup  vertically sliced red onion
  • 3/4  cup  dry white wine
  • 3/4  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (in retrospect I’d probably use only a dash)
  • 1/2  cup  chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4  cup  pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 2  cups  chopped plum tomato
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh basil or some dried
  • 1  (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • Thyme sprigs (optional)

First, I started by cutting up the potatoes into quarters, then tossing with two teaspoons of minced garlic, the salt, pepper dried thyme and olive oil. Then, I baked the potato mix at 400 on a rimmed baking sheet for 30 minutes. Because my potatoes were a little bigger than expected, I’d probably cut them smaller next time or bake them a little longer.

 

 

Bf was then nice enough to cut up the chicken for me into bite size pieces, which I cooked with a little cooking spray until they were browned and cooked through.

 

 

 

 

While the chicken was cooking, I chopped the red pepper and the red onion, and sliced the olives. I also cut up the tomatoes, the rest of the garlic and drained the artichoke hearts, which I put in a separate bowl (because they went into the pot at a later point).

 

 

 

When the chicken was done, I removed it to another bowl and added the sliced red onions to the pot. I cooked the red onion for a few minutes, or until it had started to brown and soften.

 

 

 

 

Next, I added the white wine and scraped up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. I then let the wine simmered for a few minutes until it reduced by about 1/3.

 

 

 

 

This picture shows what the potatoes looked liked when they were done.

 

 

 

 

When the potatoes came out of the oven, I added them, the chicken, the red peppers, olives and the chicken broth to the pot. Then I let the mix cook for a few minutes.

 

 

 

 

After a few minutes, I added the artichoke hearts, tomatoes and last bits of garlic. I also included a little more salt and some dried basil. I let the whole pot cook for a few minutes to let the potatoes soften a bit.

 

 

 

 

I then served two bowls with a little pile of Parmesan cheese. As I’m looking at it, it actually looks pretty good. Maybe I’ll reconsider my prior recommendation…

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Pasta with chicken, goat cheese and spinach

I made this dinner last night, but  if I were to do it again (which I will), it will definitely be a weeknight dinner. It’s so easy, fast and delicious and a great go-to when you don’t have time to stress over what to put on the table.

Pasta with chicken, goat cheese and spinach

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Divided
  • 1 small onion, Chopped Finely
  • 1 cup Dry White Wine, Like Chardonnay
  • 5 ounces, weight Goat Cheese
  • 3 Chicken Breasts
  • 2 dashes Sea Salt And Pepper
  • 1 box Whole Grain Or Whole Wheat Pasta (mine was 13.5 oz)
  • 14 oz. canned Spinach

First, I chopped up the small onion and then cooked it in a bit of olive oil until it was soft.

 

 

 

 

Then I added the wine and simmered for a few minutes until the wine was reduced by about half.

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, I cooked the chicken in another two tablespoons of olive oil. Next time, I would cut the chicken into thirds to ensure it cooked faster and finished around the same time as the sauce. I also boiled the pasta while the chicken was cooking.

 

 

 

Once the wine was reduced, I added the goat cheese and stirred until the sauce looked like….

 

 

 

 

this. I then set the sauce aside to cool while the chicken finished. In retrospect I would have begun the sauce a little later so that every finished at the same time and was all hot when it went into the bowl.

 

 

 

 

I then combined the pasta, the spinach (which I had drained and rinsed), the chicken and the sauce. It was super yummy, it almost tasted like spinach dip.

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Cappuccino Cupcakes

I am blessed with many wonderful things in my life, one of which is the friendship of incredibly thoughtful people. (Yeah corny I know, but you’ll see why, it’s so true!) One of my girlfriends recently gave me a double boiler! As you may know based on my wish list, I have wanted one for ages. Apparently, imagine my surprise, most people don’t regularly make intricate desserts and sauces. I don’t know why, it’s their loss. However, it makes them very hard to find, especially on budget.

But, my wonderful friend looked on my wish list for inspiration and surprised me with a double boiler and a chocolate cookbook. To say I was excited would be an understatement. There was squealing, wiggling and I do believe some jazz hands.

 

 

 

Anyway, the first free night I could find, I needed to give my double boiler and new cook book a test run. So tonight I decided to tackle these cupcakes. They are delicious and so unusual. They make a great snack with coffee or alone, but they are also super rich, so be prepared!

 

 

 

Cappuccino Cupcakes

From 500 Chocolate Delights

-3 eggs

-3/4 cup superfine sugar

-1 1/4 cups self-rising flour

-1/4 cup cocoa powder

-3/4 unsalted butter or margarine

-1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

-1 tbsp. milk

-4 oz. white chocolate chips

-2 1/2 tbsp. cold black strong coffee

-1 cup powdered sugar

-chocolate chips for decoration (optional)

First, I combined the first seven ingredients (the eggs through the milk) using a hand mixer until it was smooth. Then I spooned the batter into the the cups. I have to admit, I was a bit suspicious about this batter. It’s really really thick. But it turns out great, you’ll see. However, I think I would have spooned just a little less into each cup, because it only made 14 cupcakes.

 

 

I baked the cupcakes for about 17 minutes at 350 degrees and then let them cool completely on a rack.

 

 

 

 

When I began to make the frosting, my incorrigible need to multi-task kicked in. I ended up talking to my mom on the phone and thus, the frosting steps were not photographed. But anyway, this is how it worked. Using my double boiler (yay!) I melted the coffee and the white chips together. Once the chocolate mix was smooth, I stirred it into the powdered sugar using a mix. I then spooned a little frosting onto each cupcake. A word of warning- the recipe doesn’t make much frosting, so you only want a small spoonful on each cupcake. You really need much more than that anyway. Then just flatten the frosting so it covers the majority of the top of the cupcake. Then place a little chip on top and all done!

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This week’s repeats

I love trying new recipes. In fact, it’s sort of crucial to keep this blog going. However, I have some old favorites that are simply too delicious to not make again. Plus, by nature, they are much easier and less stressful to make. I know what step comes next, there are no surprises and there is no anxiety about whether the final product will disappoint. Here are a couple of the repeats I’ve made over the last week or so…

Noodles and chicken with peanut sauce. Recipe and original post here. I like peanut sauce, but my bf loves it. For me, it’s one of those dishes where you can have a serving, but can’t stomach leftovers. I can’t even smell the sauce after I eat one bowl. It’s not that it’s gross, in fact it’s delicious. I just have a very small quota each time I make it and once I fill the quota, I’m done. But bf doesn’t mind because that leaves plenty of leftovers for him. You can use any kind of noodle with this dish, but I think rotini works the best.

 

Chinese chicken salad. Recipe and original post here. This dish is such a great dinner for spring and summer. It tastes amazing any time of the year, but it’s so light and refreshing that it really works well during the hotter months. It’s also super healthy so it coincides nicely with any efforts to get bathing suit ready.

 

 

 

And tomorrow, I’m planning on making Chicken Divan (recipe and original post here) as a way to use up all of that extra brown rice in my fridge. (To better understand brown rice reference, go here).

Do you guys have any go-to repeat dinners? Please share! I am always trying to add to my repertoire!

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Creamy chicken and rice soup (with biscuits!)

Sunday nights are always very bittersweet for me. I love how relaxing and low key they are, but at the same time, I’m usually pretty bummed that the weekend is over. Weekends always seem to go so fast!!!! Add a storm that’s brewing with thunder and lightening and you have the perfect recipe for comfort soup. This recipe is a real winner. I cannot say enough about it. Bf even said “this is my new favorite”. While we frequently joke that he says that all the time, this time it was with complete seriousness! So you should definitely give it a try!

Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

Adapted from Delightful Country Cookin’

1/2 large onion or 1 small onion, chopped
1 large carrot, sliced
1-2 celery rib (depending on size), chopped
2 T. margarine
1/2 cup flour
8 cups chicken broth
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup or a little more chopped cooked chicken breast
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 t. poultry seasoning
1 cup evaporated milk

To begin the preparations, I started by cooking the rice. Now I must confess. I made a really silly mistake. I read the recipe as 3 cups rice rather than cooked rice. Which really doesn’t make much sense now that I think about it. But anyway, I have lots of extra rice. Stayed tuned to see what I do with it.

 

 

I also boiled two small chicken breasts and then cut them into bite size pieces.

 

 

 

 

I also, chopped up the carrots, celery and onion. I then cooked them with a little margarine until the veggies were tender.

 

 

 

 

Next, I added the flour and stirred a few times so that the flour would absorb the liquid.

 

 

 

 

I slowly added the chicken broth, a big pour at a time, stirred until the broth thickened, then repeated!

 

 

 

 

Then, I added the rice, chicken, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. I let the soup come to a boil and cook for about five minutes until the broth thickened again.

 

 

 

 

Next, I added the milk and stirred everything together.

 

 

 

 

 

Once the soup was heated through, I served it in bowls with….

 

 

 

 

 

biscuits! I must confess, I used a baking mix. But they turned out great and I really didn’t have time to do the soup and the biscuits from scratch. Either way it was a delicious dinner!

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Risotto with Spiced Pear, Bacon and Pecans

Risotto is possibly one of my favorite dishes. It’s such perfect comfort food, it’s easy to make (once you figure it out once, you’re good for life) and so many things can be added to it to make a delicious dish. I think my various risotto concoctions are probably some of my most successful experiments. This recipe is no exception. My bf and I loved it. My only complaint is that is really doesn’t make a whole lot. We had two big bowls and it was gone, so I guess prepare ahead.
Risotto with Spiced Pear, Bacon and Pecans
Adapted from Tasty Kitchen
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 4 slices thinly sliced Turkey Bacon, Diced
  • ¼ cups Pecan Pieces, Toasted
  • 2 whole Large Shallots, Diced
  • ¾ cups Arborio Rice (orzo Also Works In A Pinch)
  • ⅓ cups White Wine
  • 2-½ cups Warm Chicken Stock Or Broth
  • 1 whole Ripe Pear; Peeled, Cored And Diced
  • ⅛ teaspoons Freshly Grated Nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoons Freshly Grated Cinnamon
  • ¼ cups Freshly Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

I started by cooking the bacon in a tablespoon of olive oil. While the bacon was cooking I chopped the shallots and started peeling the pear.

 

 

 

 

When the bacon was nice and crispy, but not burned, I removed it from the skillet using a slotted spoon. I made sure to keep the oil and bacon grease in the pan so I could use the mixture to cook the shallots (for about 4 minutes).

 

 

 

Once the shallots were turning golden brown, I added the risotto. I cooked the risotto in the oil for a few minutes and then added the wine. I let the risotto cook in the wine for another few minutes, stirring all the while, until the wine was pretty much absorbed.

 

 

 

I then added half of the pear and a 1/2 cup of the warmed chicken broth to the skillet. I stirred the risotto, pretty much constantly, until the liquid was absorbed and then added another 1/2 cup and repeated.

 

 

 

 

This picture is how the risotto looked when I had about half of the broth left. The risotto should continue to get a little thicker and more creamy with each addition of broth.

 

 

 

 

When all of the broth but one 1/2 cup was absorbed, I added the rest of the pear with the last bit of broth. After that last bit of broth was absorbed, I added the cinnamon and nutmeg, then mixed in the bacon, pecans (which I had already toasted), and the Parmesan. When everything was well blended, I spooned the risotto into bowls. The picture doesn’t do a good job of showing the the bacon and the pecans, but they actually made a good showing. It was amazing!

 

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