Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

This is what a cat looks like when he’s not thrilled with you…

I know what you’re thinking… did we skip right over Thanksgiving and go straight to Christmas? No, we did not. We just have a case of premature Christmas spirit around these parts and decided to decorate over the weekend. Which also means Hank the Cat got to model a Santa suit (much to his displeasure).

But don’t let the Christmas tree fool you, I’m still eating like someone who’s training for Thanksgiving… [Read more...]

Goat Cheese, Mushroom and Red Wine Risotto

There are few things in this world I love more than goat cheese and red wine. Actually, I’m pretty sure there are zero things I love more than those two things.

Why does risotto freak people out so much? If you can stand in front of a stove, you can make risotto.

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Coconut Rice

I love this rice so much, I went back for seconds last night (which is actually pretty typical for me to do with carbs…).

I serve this alongside my Seared Ahi Tuna with Amazing Sauce and Sautéed Spinach with Garlic Chips. I realized the other two recipes were already on here, but the poor coconut rice was left out.My roommate Sarah says this is her favorite meal that I make,  which is a pretty big compliment! It goes great with the ginger soy flavors in the tuna recipe, but would also be perfect with any Thai-inspired or tropical dishes. Think: pineapple chicken skewers or anything topped with mango salsa, peanut sauce, or curry.

I don’t have the picture of the rice by itself, but I was playing with the camera on my fancy new phone last night and snapped a picture before I dug in. Doesn’t this look like a heck of a meal?

 coconutrice

 

Coconut Rice

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
  • 1 can (13.5 oz) regular or light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped

 

Combine all ingredients, except scallions, in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to low heat. Simmer for about 18 minutes, or until rice as absorbed all liquid. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 5-10 minutes. Fluff rice with fork, then stir in chopped scallions.

Mushroom and Artichoke Risotto

I was craving a big bowl of carbs one night and settled on making a comforting risotto. If you didn’t know how risotto was made, you would swear there’s cream involved. Arborio rice releases starch as it cooks which makes for an unbelievable creaminess. This is actually not as unhealthy as it tastes, which is always a bonus.

Risotto has an undeserved reputation of being difficult to make. It’s only difficult if you are unable to stand at the stove for 30 minutes, since the risotto requires carefully stirring liquid into the rice a little bit at a time. I eagerly make fussy recipes… I think of it as an excuse to drink a glass of wine while cooking.

This made such a satisfying vegetarian meal and it tasted even better the next day for lunch. For me, the most difficult part was deciding what to put in the risotto. Mushrooms were a no-brainer, as were artichokes (have you noticed those are featured in a lot of my recipes?). I also threw in some peas because I love how the extra layer of starchiness they add to rice and pasta.

Pour yourself a glass of wine and get to work…

mushroomartichokerisotto

Mushroom and Artichoke Risotto

Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 6 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 4 tbsp butter, divided
  • 8 oz baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 can chopped artichoke hearts, drained
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

In a medium saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.

Heat half the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms and juices from pan and set aside.

Add the rest of the butter to the pot. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add rice and cook until toasted, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes.

Ladle 1 cup of broth into rice. Stir until broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth to rice in 1/2 cup increments, stirring continuously, until the rice tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Add in artichokes, peas, mushrooms and cheese. Stir until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Lemon Chicken and Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts

Have you noticed my obsession with the Barefoot Contessa yet? I trust that if I follow her recipes, they will turn out perfect. Whereas other recipe sources can be a little hit or miss, to date I have a 100% success rate with Ina. I spotted her latest cookbook, How Easy Is That?, in my mom’s kitchen and read it cover to cover my first night back from Australia (yes, I read cookbooks from start to finish as if they have plots). I made this meal for my parents a few days later and to say they were impressed is an understatement. This was a really simple but elegant weeknight meal.

Couscous is versatile and great at soaking up flavor. It gives you the satisfaction of having a belly full of carbs and cooks in a fraction of the amount of time it takes to cook rice. I ate a lot of couscous in college when I was broke since it’s so affordable, quick and filling. Usually I would eat it plain, cooked in water. I revisited my couscous obsession while living in Australia (once again needed cheap and filling meals) and would add in feta cheese and sundried tomatoes. The recipe I’m sharing here is certainly the “grown up” version and it puts my former methods to shame. Cooking it in chicken stock makes such a difference and obviously the butter doesn’t hurt either.

This chicken was great but honestly was upstaged by the couscous. I served it on top of a bed of couscous, then ladled the sauce from the chicken over the top. The couscous absorbed the lemon and garlic flavors of the sauce which made it out of control delicious. The original recipe calls for 4 boneless chicken breasts with skin on. I couldn’t find those but I imagine you’d actually have to go to butcher for them. Instead I used chicken thighs, which was fine because I find thighs much tastier than breast meat. You could also use bone-in chicken breasts and just adjust the cooking time.

Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts

Serves 6-8

From Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That?

  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 2 onions)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups couscous (12 ounces)
  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the chicken stock, salt, and pepper and bring to a full boil. Stir in the couscous, turn off the heat, cover, and allow to steam for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, stir in the pine nuts and parsley, and serve hot.

couscousPhoto credit: barefootcontessa.com

Lemon Chicken

Serves 4

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That?

  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 9 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 chicken thighs, skin on
  • 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don’t allow the garlic to turn brown. Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9 x 12-inch baking dish.

Place the chicken thighs skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn’t browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes. Remove pan from oven, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.

lemon chicken Photo credit: barefootcontessa.com