Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tomato-Basil Risotto

It's no secret that I love risotto. Over the past several years I have experimented with so many different flavors and ingredients. Click here for all of my risotto posts, or take a look at the list of risotto recipes in my Recipe Index.

After making homemade sauce and lasagna with my sister last week, I had some leftover fresh basil that I was dying to use. I started to think back to my grandmom's homemade sauce; she would simmer the sauce all day with chicken in it and it was just heavenly. She would also serve rice that had cooked in tomato sauce along with the chicken. Remembering those meals is what gave me the idea to make a tomato-basil risotto.

This may be my new favorite risotto recipe! Here is what I did -

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 sm onion or shallot, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 3/4 c tomato sauce (not chunky)
  • 3 c chicken or vegetable broth, warmed
  • Fresh basil - about 5 leaves chopped plus 2 leaves cut chiffonade style for garnish
  • Approximately 1/2 c freshly shredded Parmesan cheese plus a few thinly shaved pieces for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Heat olive oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium high heat
  • Add onions/shallots and garlic; saute 2-3 minutes
  • Add rice and stir until coated
  • Add the wine and stir until absorbed
  • Add the sauce and just a touch of broth (a few tbsp); stir until absorbed. At this point you want to lower the heat to medium.
  • Add a ladle of broth, the chopped basil, and stir until absorbed. Continue this step until you have used all/most of the broth and the rice is tender, but still has a bite to it. From the first ladle of broth to the rice becoming tender takes about 18 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  • When you add your final ladle of broth, also add the cheese. Stir until the broth has absorbed and the cheese has melted, but the risotto still has just a touch of liquid to it (see my picture).
  • Spoon into shallow bowls, top with basil and Parmesan strips.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tofu in a Spicy-Sweet Sauce with Mushrooms

Every 2 weeks or so Jon and I cook up a quick and easy meal - shrimp for him, tofu for me. Both ingredients cook so quickly that these meals can be made in 15 minutes, max.

Last week I made a tofu dish using the sauce from this vegetable lo mein recipe as my inspiration. The sauce was great - sweet and spicy.

  • 1 block of firm or extra firm tofu, pressed to get the extra liquid out then chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp light olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 mushrooms (white or crimini), diced
  • 1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp mirin
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1-2 tsp chili garlic sauce (depending on how much heat you want)
  • 1 c chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp broth
  • Rice for serving
  • Heat the oil in a large saute pan or wok over high heat
  • Add the tofu and saute until browned, 4-5 minutes
  • Add the garlic and mushrooms; saute 1-2 minutes
  • Mix the soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, chili garlic sauce, and broth; add to the pan with half of the green onions and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the cornstarch mixed with the broth and let simmer until thickened, just a few minutes.
  • Serve over rice topped with the remaining green onions.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pasta with Chorizo

For this Taste of Home Cooking Blogger's Choice Swap I was given the blog Does Not Cook Well With Others, a blog I had in the swap a while back, so I knew I'd have a lot of good recipes from which to choose.

After narrowing it down to a few, I finally chose a recipe for Orecchiette with Chorizo. Pasta and a spicy chorizo? Yes, please.

When I went to the store to buy my ingredients, I could not find Orecchiette. My store carries three brands of pasta, plus the store brand, and they did not have Orecchiette. I chose another pasta shape, Campanelle, which means little bells. So I made this dish with little bells instead of little ears.

Jon and I both really, really liked this one - thanks for sharing it, Coleen! The sauce was so flavorful, the sausage added just the right amount of kick, and the veggies added some nice texture. The only change I made, besides using a different pasta shape, was to also add some chopped green pepper only because I had half of a pepper to use up before it went bad.

Here is the recipe with my changes in italics. The recipe below will make 4 servings.

  • 12 ounces orecchiette  pasta (or a similar shape - I used campanelle)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces fresh chorizo, casings removed
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced (separate dark green parts from the white and light green parts)
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Added: 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

  • Fill a large sauce pot with water, and set it over high heat. Once it's boiling, add salt to the water, then add the pasta, and cook according to package directions. When done, reserve one cup of pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook for about three minutes, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon, until it's starting to brown.
  • Add the white and light green parts of the scallions to the skillet, and cook for three minutes, until softened, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the garlic, peppers, and the mushrooms, about ½ tsp salt and pepper to taste. Cook another 3 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and brown.
  • Add the tomato halves to the skillet, and cook until starting to soften, about another 3 minutes.
  • Add the chicken broth to the skillet and heat for a minute. Stir in the pasta and the cheese, adding some of the reserved pasta cooking water if the pasta sticks together (I didn't have to add any water). Season with salt and pepper, then toss to combine.
  • Serve topped with reserved dark green parts of the scallions and grate some Parmesan cheese over, if desired. 

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    Creamy Broccoli Soup

    I was talking to my mom about soup last week and she mentioned that she was craving a good cream of broccoli soup. So when trying to decide what soup to make this past weekend, choosing broccoli soup was a no brainer. I made enough for both my mom and I to have it for lunch for 4 days.

    I didn't use a recipe - just made this up as I went along. We both loved it! Creamy, cheesy, and the perfect lunch with a nice hunk of crusty bread or a small sandwich.

    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 white onion, chopped
    • 1 stalk celery, chopped
    • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 2 heads broccoli, chopped
    • 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1/2 c light cream
    • 3/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
    • Heat butter and oil in a large soup pot.
    • Add onion, garlic, celery, and carrot. Saute 4-5 minutes.
    • Add the broccoli, a few pinches of salt and pepper, and the broth; bring to a boil then let simmer for about 8-10 minutes, until broccoli is tender.
    • Remove from the heat and puree using a handheld immersion blender (or transfer to a blender and puree in batches).
    • Return to low heat and add the cream. Let heat through for a few minutes.
    • Add the cheese and stir until melted through the soup.

    Monday, October 15, 2012

    Cheesy Vegetable Chowder

    I was craving a few things at once in a soup last week - from potato soup and something creamy to something cheesy and with lots of vegetables. So I combined all of the ideas and came up with this Cheesy Vegetable Chowder.

    • 1 tbsp butter
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 onion, diced
    • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise then chopped
    • 1 stalk celery, chopped
    • 1 tbsp flour
    • 4 c chicken or vegetable broth
    • 2 small or 1 large potato (Russet or Yukon Gold), chopped
    • 1 c broccoli florets (I used frozen - thaw it out under cold water then gently squeeze the water out)
    • 1/2 c frozen corn
    • Pinch or two of dried thyme
    • A few shakes of salt and pepper
    • 1/2 c light cream
    • 3/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
    • Heat butter and oil in a large soup pot.
    • Add the onions and garlic; saute 2-3 minutes.
    • Add the carrots and celery; saute 2-3 minutes.
    • Add the flour and stir.
    • Add the broth, potatoes, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are soft (don't let them get to the point of being mushy!).
    • Add the corn and broccoli, simmer a few minutes.
    • Add the cream and continue to simmer for a few minutes.
    • Remove from the heat and stir in the cheddar cheese until melted through the soup.

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

    Spicy Potato Leek Soup

    The weather has really turned into soup making weather here in the Northeast! I love it. I probably won't be saying that in a month or two, but I really do love when the seasons change. It's such a relief from the heat when it turns cool, and then come spring, the warmth will be such a relief from the cold.

    Besides sweaters, jeans, and boots, my favorite thing about cooler weather is soup! I try to make soup every Sunday so I can have it for lunches that week. I had potatoes and leeks to use but I wanted something different than your typical creamy potato leek soup, and different from some of my old standby potato soup recipes, like this Caramelized Onion and Potato Soup with Bacon and a potato soup I have been making for years, Roasted Potato, Onion, and Garlic Soup.  This week's soup was something I just pulled together, which is what I do often when making soup. So here is my newest soup creation - Spicy Potato Leek Soup.  

    • 3 tbsp butter
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 3 leeks, white and pale green, chopped
    • 2 potatoes (I used Russet potatoes), peeled and chopped
    • 3.5 c low chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian version)
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/2 c light cream
    • Sriracha sauce to taste - I think 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp per serving is perfect.
    • Optional: cilantro for garnish
    • Heat butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium heat
    • Add leeks and cook for about 10 minutes, being careful not to burn them
    • Add the potatoes and broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the potatoes are cooked, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    • Remove from the heat and puree with a handheld immersion blender.
    • Return to low heat and add the cream and let simmer for a few minutes.
    • Ladle soup into a bowl or cup and stir in the sriracha; garnish with cilantro if desired.

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    Grilled Chinese Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing

    I've never been a big salad-as-a-meal person, but over the past few months have been turning to grilled chicken and different salads when I'm in the mood to eat something on the lighter side.

    Recently I made this Grilled Chicken over Southwestern Romaine Salad and really loved the chipotle dressing, and it got me looking for other similar recipes. The other night I was craving Asian flavors, so turned to this Chinese Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing recipe I first saw on Pinterest, and on the blog Foodie Crush.

    I used the salad recipe as inspiration as I made several changes from what went in the salad, including how I cooked the chicken, adding a marinade to the chicken, and what was in the dressing (so pretty much every part of the recipe!). My adaptation is below.

    Jon and I both really, really liked this one and will definitely be making it again soon.

    • 2 chicken breasts
    • For the marinade:
      • 1/4 c olive oil
      • 1 tbsp sesame oil
      • 3 tbsp soy sauce
      • 2 cloves minced garlic
      • 1 tbsp hoison)
      • 1 tsp or more Sriracha sauce for heat
    • For the salad:
      • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
      • 2 green onions, chopped
      • 1 carrot, julienned
      • Approximately 1/2 c fresh bean sprouts
      • 1 c cooked pasta noodles, cooled - I used Wegman's nuggets; wagon wheels, crushed up ramen noodles, or rotini would also work.
      • Handful of chow mein noodles (or any crunchy fried noodle, or fried wonton wrappers)
    • For the dressing
      • 1 1/2 tbsp light olive oil
      • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
      • 1 tsp sesame oil
      • Pinch or 2 of sugar
      • 2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
      • 1/4 tsp sriracha sauce
      • Few dashes each salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • Mix the marinade ingredients and pour over the chicken; cover and let marinate in the fridge at least 4 hours, or overnight.
    • Heat grill to 400 degrees. Grill chicken approximately 4-5 minutes per side, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Let rest and then slice.
    • Mix the dressing ingredients and chill. Can be made several hours in advance.
    • Toss lettuce, carrots, green onions, bean sprouts, and pasta with the dressing 
    • Top with chow mein noodles and sliced chicken.

    Friday, October 5, 2012

    Greek Scramble

    It's Recipe Swap time again! Breakfast was the theme of this Taste of Home Cooking recipe swap. I submitted my Banana Stuffed French Toast recipe, and was given a recipe for Greek Scramble with Lemony Hollandaise Sauce from the Ashley, the author of the blog Cheese Curd in Paradise.

    I was intrigued by the hollandaise sauce because I have had it - love it with steak or asparagus - but I have never made it. Ashley made a quick hollandaise sauce when she made this recipe since she didn't have time to make it the traditional way. Since I have never made this sauce before, I did some reading on how to make it the traditional way and added a few steps to Ashley's quick recipe (this still isn't the completely traditional method of using a double boiler and clarified butter, but it was good for my first time). My friend Jenny was here and she actually did the stirring for me since I was taking care of the eggs, bacon, and potato pancakes all at the same time! But it did look very easy - you just need to stay on top of it so your eggs don't start to scramble!

    I love spinach and tomatoes in an omelet - that's what I always order when we go out for breakfast - so I loved the scrambled part of this recipe. The hollandaise sauce was good, and I'd make it again to serve with steak or veggies, but not with eggs. Just a personal preference, that's all! Thanks for a great recipe, Ashley!

    The Hollandaise
    •  4 egg yolks
    • 1 stick of butter
    • 3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • Pinch of cayenne.
    Heat 1 tbsp butter in a pan over very low heat (I used the lowest setting on my precise simmer burner). Beat the egg yolks and mix in the lemon juice and cayenne. Add the egg yolk mixture to the pan and gently stir until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Keep stirring, adding 1 tbsp of butter at a time until all of the butter has been used. Serve over the eggs immediately.

    • 2 handfuls fresh baby spinach
    • 1/4 cup diced fresh tomatoes
    • 1 tsp olive oil
    • 8 eggs
    • 3 tbsp milk
    • Salt and white pepper (you can use black too)
    • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (plus a little extra for garnish)

    • In a medium bowl beat eggs with milk, salt and pepper. 
    • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
    • Saute spinach till wilted and add tomatoes.
    • Add eggs and pull in sides till as they set. Before the eggs are finished, stir in the feta cheese. Finish scrambling the eggs.
    • Plate and top with hollandaise sauce and a little extra feta.

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    Roasted Chile-Garlic Broccoli

    The other night I made this Shredded Chicken with Chiles recipe for dinner, and served it over rice. I had broccoli to make as our veg, something I wouldn't normally make with a Mexican-inspired dish, so I decided to just roast it. However when I was tossing it with the olive oil, I decided to throw a few more things in so it would work well with the chicken - and it did!

    I tossed one large head of broccoli (chopped into florets) with approximately 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp chile powder, 1/8 tsp chipotle chile powder (a tsp of adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chiles would probably work well too - mix it up with the oil) 2 cloves of garlic sliced into thin rounds, and 1/4 tsp Kosher salt. I roasted the broccoli on 375 for about 12-14 minutes. When I took it out of the oven, I crumbled some fresh cheese over it.

    Loved this! I'm so glad I added the chipotle chile powder in addition to the regular chile powder; the chipotle flavor added just a touch of smokiness. I will definitely make this one again when I'm looking for a veggie side for Mexican inspired meals.