Friday, June 29, 2012

Use Up Week

This week's menu has been based on what I can find in the freezer and/or pantry.  Night before last we had white beans and cornbread.  I had made a big pot of beans (complete with lots of ham pieces from a ham bone leftover from Christmas) a couple months ago, and I froze portions of it to enjoy later on.  That reason, and the fact that we didn't want to eat beans every night for a week and a half...  The cornbread was just cornbread.  I followed the recipe on the back of the bag of cornmeal.  (I may have chopped up a green onion to add to the mix.) I decided to fry it up in little cakes instead of one big dish.  Delicious and satisfying!  The perfect dunkers for a big bowl of beans.  :)

So last tonight I decided to get semi-fancy.  Risotto.

It's ok.  You can say it - risotto.

It's not scary.  It's delicious.

Especially when you add cauliflower.  Yum!!

What? Not a cauliflower lover? Leave it out.  I'll never know. You can substitute broccoli if you wanted.  Or whatever you veg you need to get rid of in your fridge.  Again, I'll never know.  My recipes are very, "add or take away whatever you like," because that's the way I cook.  This week especially has been solely based on what I already have in the house.  I had a bag of frozen cauliflower.

Ok, here it goes!

Again, it's risotto. Say it with me, "risotto."  Not scary or even very hard.  Delicious.

You will need the following items. Note this was for 2 people, but we do have a little bit leftover.

1 - 2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
1 - ? Garlic Cloves, minced ( I used 3, but I love garlic.)
3/4 cup Arborio Rice*
3 - 4 cups - Chicken Stock*
1 cup - frozen Cauliflower florets
1/4 grated Parmesan
3 Tbs Butter
Salt and Pepper

*Rice is normally a 2-1 ratio.  2 parts liquid to 1 part rice.  With risotto, the liquid evaporates more so you will need more liquid than just making a pot of rice.

Ok.  So those of you that know me, know that I don't really measure.  Anything.  Maybe if I'm baking.  Even then, yes, even then, I fudge stuff occasionally.  Maybe I don't have enough of something, so I use something else...You get the idea?  It is therefore really hard for me to write down exact measurements of what I used.  I used whatever I had left in the bottom of the rice bag.  I didn't measure it.  I just dumped it in the pan.

So here goes.  Chop up an onion.  I used a small one. Because that's what I had. Throw it into a skillet with some olive oil and salt.

Let it get yummy smelling. :)  Add some garlic.

A moment for the smell of garlic filling the kitchen.....ahh....ok.

Garlic should be properly honored at all times.

Let the onions get a little translucent and sweaty, then add the rice.

Ok, so here's my secret.  If you noticed in the picture of ingredients there were two kinds of rice. Arborio - traditional risotto rice.  And plain white rice.  Reason?  I didn't have enough arborio so I added some regular to the mix.  It worked out fine!  I would still highly recommend arborio or the like for a better texture, but the dish is still delicious with whatever you have.

Stir, and let the rice get a little toasty.

See the bits of brown?

Now comes the fun part. (And another secret due to lack of going to the grocery store...)  Before you add the very first ingredient, you should have a pan on the stove filled with chicken stock getting nice and hot.

This would also be the time to pull out that bottle of white wine to add the onion/rice mixture.  I didn't have any, so I didn't use any.  Once again, making do with what I had on hand.  :)  I would add anywhere from 1/4 - 1/2 cup of wine if you so desire.  Basically just enough to cover the rice.  If you don't have any wine, just start with the chicken stock.

Ok, another confession.  I didn't have chicken stock either.  Well I do have some homemade stock in the freezer. But thawing it seemed like a lot of work.  Besides I'm saving it for soup. :)  So, yes, I used a bouillon cube. I know, I know!! The MSG!! Oh, the humanity!!  But it added yummy flavor and salty goodness, and it was what I had.

Now to the "chicken stock."  Add a ladle full to start with.

It gets super bubbly, super fast.

See?  Now's the time for stirring.  Some people may have heard that you have to stir and stir and stir and stir to make risotto.  Simply not true.  Yes, some stirring is required, but what dish doesn't have stirring? Stir till you can scrape the spoon across the bottom of the pan, and the liquid doesn't immediately come rushing back to cover it.

Time to add more "stock."  About 2 ladle fulls at a time should do it.  Add stock, stir, let the liquid cook out and absorb into the rice, add more stock and repeat.

About 10-15 for this part.  

During this time, I added the frozen cauliflower to the pot of stock (I'm just going to pretend I used real, quality homemade stock at this point - indulge me.) so it could cook while the rice did the same.  Add some salt to veg here to make sure it has enough flavor when added to the rice.

(You could also roast the cauliflower if you were using fresh to bring out it's yummy taste even more then add it at the end.  Toss with a little salt, pepper and olive oil and roast at at least 400 degrees till it's golden brown.  Maybe even add a couple grates of fresh nutmeg.  Sounds weird? Nope. Scrumptious.)

With the last addition of stock, add the cauliflower.  I tried to smash the pieces some so you get little bits all throughout the risotto.  

Once the majority of liquid has been absorbed, and the rice is nice and tender, it's time for the good part.




Yes, I use grated parm from a can.  Why? Because it's cheap.  That's pretty much the only reason.  It's way cheaper than a hunk of the real stuff.  But by all means, if you have the real stuff - use it!!

Ahh, the good part.  This will transform you dish from rice to risotto.

Throw in the butter and parmesan.  And stir!!  Whip it practically. As you're stirring (vigorously - just be careful not to throw it everywhere), you will see this amazingly creamy texture start to form.  It will only take about a minute.

You will be left with a creamy, beige-y, lumpy looking mess that tastes divine!! My husband kept going back all night for bites.  What a delicious way to eat your vegetables!!

I served this with a piece of broiled tilapia.  Why?  Because I had two pieces of tilapia left in my freezer. So that's what we had. :)

I used some Mrs. Dash, a tiny sprinkle of parm (I don't care if you're not supposed to eat fish with cheese...), and a spray of Pam. A light, healthy protein to go with the not so light risotto. :)

Place on tin foil.

Place in broiler.  (My broiler is the bottom drawer of my oven.)

Takes about 5 minutes in mine.  Cook til it's done!

 Now enjoy this wonderful meal!  (Sorry for the hasty plate presentation - I was hungry.)

A special thanks to my deep freezer for always being there for me.  Also my pantry, I couldn't have done it without you.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I've been accused of being "one of those" people when it comes to posting about food.

"Oh, you made a delicious meal, and you're now proving how superior your cooking skills are to mine?? Job well done. Congrats."

So yes, I will own it.  I am one of those people. A dear friend keeps asking when I am going to start a food blog.  So yes, this blog will contain food, but a little bit of everything else too.

I love food!! A little too much sometimes...  But more than that I love cooking and sharing with others.  My husband seems to be OK with it.  :)

I also love God.  With all my heart!! My relationship with Him is what sustains me.  My heart is for all to know and understand the precious love of Christ!  I think Paul mentioned something like that...

If the Christian life isn't one where Christ is present in all areas, then I don't see the point. I think James mentioned something like that...

Just living in our own little bubbles won't make a difference for much of anybody in the world.  Including ourselves.  Let's pop the bubbles and step out! Hopefully this blog will be a glimpse into my life as I try and live it the best I know how.

I don't want to seem prideful (I'm so awesome...I'm going to blog about it!!); I just want to be honest.  Because how else will we learn from one another if we are not??

God is for us having happy, whole lives.  A life of faith.  I'm sure I'll be discussing more and more what that means.  Hint - It isn't just wishing and hoping...

But for right now I will end this introductory post.  I leave you this picture of something exciting happening in our side yard.  More to come!!  :)