Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Risotto Marsala

I used to make risotto somewhat frequently, but always as a side dish. Lately, however, I've found it more difficult to prepare it as well as a main dish (this would be thanks to two active but very adorable little boys), so when I do put risotto on my menu, it's a solo act. For that reason, I don't make it as often as I'd like.

I found this on Pink Parsley, a blog which I only recently discovered. I adore the title of her blog, but that's nothing compared to the goodies inside. I have saved several of her recipes and I can't wait to try them out.

I adjusted this slightly to fit my needs and just overall how it was turning out as I cooked. It's not too far off, though, but you can certainly check out her original.

  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 3-4 cups low-sodium broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Melt 2 tablespoon of butter in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat until foaming subsides. Add shallots and saute until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and stir to combine. Cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a medium saucepan until simmering.

Add the Arborio rice to the butter and shallots and toast until opaque around the edges, 3-5 minutes. Add the Marsala wine and cook, stirring often, until absorbed, 5 minutes or so.

Stir in 1 cup of the chicken broth, and stir occasionally until almost absorbed, 5-8 minutes. Working 1 ladle of broth at at time, continue to add broth, stirring constantly. Add the next ladle when the broth is almost completely absorbed.

When you have added about half of the broth, stir in the mushrooms. Continue to cook risotto, stirring constantly and adding broth 1 cup at a time until it is al dente, for a total of 20-25 minutes.

Remove from heat, and stir in basil and remaining butter. Add salt and pepper if necessary and season to taste. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

French's Fried Onion Chicken Nuggets

My friend Kelly from Running Mama Cooks posted this yummy kid-friendly chicken recipe about a week ago, and I wasted no time adding them to my weekly menu and preparing them for Ryan.

I cut the tenders into thirds to make chicken nuggets, but that's just because I know Ryan would be more likely to eat them that way. They were absolutely delicious! I halved her recipe thinking that 2lbs would be too much, but I wish I kept her ratio (listed below). There were no leftovers, and it would have been nice to have some on hand for lunch for the next couple of days.

The only problem I ran into was that the onions got soggy from the egg. I think in the future I would work with a small amount of onions at a time and just continue replenishing. But I kept pressing the crumbs on, and while messy, it worked out just fine.

  • 2 lbs chicken tenders
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cans French's Fried Onions
Preheat the oven to 400.

Beat eggs and place in a shallow bowl. Place fried onions in a ziplock bag and crush (I used a rolling pin). Put broken up onions in another shallow bowl.

Coat tenders in egg, then the onions. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 mins.

Serve with honey mustard.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Macaroni Grill's Carmella's Chicken Rigatoni

I haven't been to the Macaroni Grill in years, so I have no idea how this dish compares to the original. But when I saw it on A Spoonful of Sugar, I had to test it out.

This made enough for lots of leftovers, which I always appreciate! The caramelized onions and the mushrooms set this apart from an average pasta dinner, and even my three-year-old taste-tester gave it his seal of approval. The fact that it was fast and easy is, of course, a huge bonus.

  • Butter
  • 8oz baby bella mushrooms
  • 1/2 sweet onion carmelized (cook down with butter until soft and mushy... I use marsala to de-glaze the pan)
  • 8 oz grilled chicken breasts (chunked)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2t dried basil
  • 4oz of Marsala wine
  • 10 oz heavy cream
  • 12oz rigatoni (cooked)
  • 2oz shredded parmesan

Melt butter in pan. Saute mushrooms, chicken, basil, carmelized onions salt and pepper. Saute for 2-3 minutes.

Add Marsala wine and cook for 1 minute.

Add heavy cream and bring to a boil for 2 minutes.

Dump cooked rigatoni in pan (if you have room in your pan. If not dump mixture over bowl of cooked rigatoni and mix.

Sprinkle with shredded parmesan cheese.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Crockpot Minestrone

I use my crockpot often, and perhaps the only thing better than having a nice dinner made for me without much effort is the meal itself. I equate crockpots with delicious, warm, comfort-food type meals, especially soups and stews, and this Crockpot Minestrone from SweatTea in Texas was just right for a chilly evening.

The only change I made to this was my vegetables. I knew I wasn't going to be using celery for anything else that week, so I was hesitant to buy a whole bag. I actually found a package of veggies and seasons in the produce department that was specifically sold together for soups. It contained celery, onions, carrots, parsnips, and other various items that I no longer remember. It was perfect; I used that instead of what is listed below.

  • 4 Cups of Tomato Juice (I used Spicy V-8)
  • 1 Tbs Dried basil
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp each Dried Oregano & Black Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Cups of sliced Baby Carrots
  • 2 Celery Stalks, chopped
  • 1 8oz pkg of fresh/sliced Mushrooms
  • 3 Garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 small Onion, chopped
  • 2 14oz cans of Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 14oz can of Northern Beans
  • 1 1/2 Cups of uncooked pasta
  • Shredded Parmesan

Mix all ingredients except pasta & cheese in a 4-5 quart Crockpot. Cover & cook on low for about 7-8 hours or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the pasta. Cover & cook on high for about 15-20 minutes or until the pasta is tender. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bean and Cheese Burritos

I love love love when I make a dinner that is easy, relatively fast, delicious, and somewhat healthy. These Bean and Cheese Burritos from the most recent issue of Everyday Food accomplished all four of these requisites.

I didn't change a thing and they were perfect. In the future, I might add some avocado too, maybe in place of the lettuce. This was great for a Lenten Friday meal, but would also be great for a light summer dinner.

Although my tortilla-wrapping skills leave much to be desired, we loved this meal and can't wait to make it again.

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 can (15oz) refried beans
  • 4 flour tortillas (burrito sized)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce (2 cups), shredded
  • 1/2 salsa, plus more for serving
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350. In a small saucepan, bring rice and broth to a boil over high. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes; fluff rice with a fork.

Meanwhile, in another small saucepan, warm beans and 1/4 cup water in another small saucepan, stirring occasionally. Wrap tortillas in foil and place in oven to warm, about 10 minutes.

To assemble, divide beans, sour cream, rice, cheese, lettuce, and salsa among tortillas. For each tortilla, fold side closest to you over filling, then fold right and left sides toward center; tightly roll up burritos. Serve topped with more sour cream and salsa if desired.

Friday, March 19, 2010

California Club Quesadilla

Last weekend, my friend Brooke and I went out on a much-need, no-kids girls' day. We shopped, chatted, and cursed our post-pregnancy bodies. In between lattes and scoring the greatest jeans ever, we grabbed lunch at Ruby Tuesdays. We couldn't decide what to get, so we split a couple of appetizers and the salad bar.

One of our apps was a delicious California Club Quesadilla. I wasted no time and tried to recreate this just a few days later. I don't think I replicated it well enough, but it was still very good.

(RT's included bacon, but I didn't. I'm sure most people would add that!)

  • 4 large tortillas, warmed
  • 1 cup chicken, cooked and diced or shredded
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 avocado, seeded and diced
  • approx 1/4 cup lite Italian dressing
Combine all ingredients (minus the tortillas) in bowl. Divide evenly between the four tortillas, spreading on one half. Fold the other half of the tortilla over and cook on a panini press, quesadilla maker, or grill pan.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Teriyaki Meatballs

I recently discovered the blog My Kitchen Cafe and have saved a ton of her recipes to try. A few weeks ago, I made her fluffy cous cous, and I topped them with these delicious Teriyaki Meatballs.

Together, this was a perfect dinner. I loved the flavor of the sauce, and I really appreciated that the meatballs were baked and not fried. Not only are they healthier that way, but much easier!

  • 2 pounds ground beef (at least 90% lean)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons milk

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cold water

For the sauce, in a medium bowl mix the soy sauce, 1 3/4 cups water, ginger, garlic powder, brown sugar, honey and cornstarch together. In a separate small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch into the 1/2 cup cold water. Set both bowls aside.

For the meatballs, in a large bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients except for the ground beef and mix well. Add the ground beef and mix until combined. Form ground beef mixture into 1 to 1 1/2-inch meatballs. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat two tablespoons oil over medium heat until the oil is rippling and hot. Add the meatballs to the hot skillet and brown on all sides, turning with a pair of tongs. The meatballs don't need to be completely cooked through, just equally browned on all sides.

When the meatballs have browned, pour the sauce ingredients over the meatballs and gently turn the meatballs to coat them in the sauce. Heat the sauce until just simmering and add the cornstarch/water mixture, carefully mixing so as not to break apart the meatballs as you combine the cornstarch mixture with the teriyaki sauce. Simmer the meatballs and sauce over medium heat, maintaining a constant simmer but not cooking at too high of a boil, until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce is thick and smooth (if the sauce becomes overly thick, add a tablespoon of water at a time to thin), about 10-15 minutes, turning the meatballs every two or three minutes to ensure even cooking. Serve over rice or couscous.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Barbecue Stuffed Potatoes

I found this recipe while searching through a section on fast and easy meals on This was definitely fast and easy, though I'm not too sure the short-cuts were worth it.

In the future, I will bake the potatoes for sure. Even though I had to microwave them longer than the listed 20 minutes, I still couldn't get the typical baked-potato consistency. I'd bake them in the oven for sure.

I also didn't love the actual chicken. I used the brand they recommended and just wasn't impressed. Next time, I will either use my own or try a different brand.

Aside from those two complaints, I really liked the idea of these potatoes and will give them another shot.

  • 6 6oz baking potatoes
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped and divided
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded barbecue chicken (such as Lloyd's)
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) reduced-fat shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

1. Pierce potatoes with a fork; arrange in a circle on paper towels in microwave oven. Microwave at HIGH 10 minutes or until done, rearranging potatoes after 5 minutes.

2. While potatoes cook, combine sour cream and 2 tablespoons onions; set aside.

3. Place chicken in a microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap (do not allow plastic wrap to touch food). Remove potatoes from microwave; place chicken in microwave. Microwave at HIGH 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

4. Slice potatoes lengthwise, cutting to, but not through, other side; fluff with fork. Top each potato evenly with chicken, sour cream mixture, cheese, and remaining onions.

Monday, March 8, 2010

2nd Blogiversary: Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcakes

This past Saturday marked two years since I started this blog. I am still amazed at the fact that it wasn't something I just did for a week and then forgot about. Even more so, however, I continue to be astounded that people actually READ this.

I have loved learning my way around the kitchen (and the camera) over the past couple of years and I thank you for coming along for the ride.

To celebrate, Ryan and I made these Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcakes (courtesy of the fantastically adorable book, Hello, Cupcake!) since we were going to have a family movie night and watch, of course, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Ryan helped me with most of this and certainly ate his fair share of the final product! The only change I made was to replace the Ferrero Rocher candy with a Lindt truffle to avoid the hazelnuts. I also learned that I should have put the chocolates into the fridge or freezer for a few minutes; they started melting a little when I placed them in the jelly.

  • 1 box yellow cake mix, plus ingredients listed on box
  • 1 batch of buttercream or vanilla icing, storebought or homemade
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • yellow food coloring
  • 12-24 Ferrero Rocher candies (or candies of similar size)
  • 3/4 cup strawberry preserves (sugar-free provides better color)
  • small amount of white chocolate (I literally used less than 1 chip)

Bake the cupcakes according to the box and allow to cool completely.

Combine the frosting, cocoa powder, and food coloring and mix to desired color. Dump in large ziploc bag. Cut the bottom corner of the bag, creating a very small (maybe 1/4") hole.

Pipe the icing in a random pattern on the top of the cupcakes to look like spaghetti.

Microwave the fruit preserves just to thin out a bit and add the candies. Top each cupcake with a "sauce" covered "meatball." Grate the white chocolate over the top and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

We interrupt your regularly scheduled cooking...

I decided to enter my boys' bedroom in Kim Schmidt Photography's nursery contest in an effort to win a mini-photoshoot with her.

If you have a minute, we'd really appreciate it if you would visit her site and vote for Nursery #2; it's the only one with its very own pirate tent. :)

Thank you!
Related Posts with Thumbnails