Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chicken, Potato, and Onion Risotto

Ok. I'm starting something that I hope will become "a thing" on this blog. The first of many! This thing is....

boxed dinners.


It's ok. Really, it's gonna be fine. Let me explain.
I love me some Kraft Dinner. All of those boxed things, macaroni and cheese, cous cous, risotto, pre-made meals are really super for poor college kids like me. But it always seems like at the end of the week, when we've eaten all of our fresh produce and planned meals, I've got these poor lonely boxes. I've sort of become a master of editing these little guys to create something meal worthy.

Or so I thought.

This guy kind of stumped me, but I'm all for challenges.

THE BOX: Lundberg Organic Tuscan Risotto, Tomato, Garlic, and Onion flavor.

Also, I need to take this moment to comment on the fact that my digital camera stood up and WALKED OUT OF MY HOUSE. Tis GONE. As I'm home at the rent's house for the week (Poor Beau, he will miss me so...) I've found a weird old digital camera with no LCD takes so so photos, so we are just gonne deal.

The best thing about end of the week meals is that it's a great way to use up your extras stuff (frozen chicken breasts left over, the last of your potatoes, onions, etc). This recipe is totally forgiving and you can put whatever you like in it. I'm using the Lundberg Tomato Onion Garlic Risotto, but you could use any brand and any flavor. Just edit the additions.

So here's the cast of characters:

Boxed Risotto
1 Large chicken breast
1 Medium onion
2 Large red potatoes
1/2 Cup dry white wine (I used a funny little sutter home chardonnay bottle, which was fun because I got to drink the rest. And then write this.)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves minced garlic

Aluminum foil for the bag

I guess I don't have in process photos because of the blurriness of this stupid camera. But.

Make the boxed risotto to the instructions on the back. However, only cook half the instructed time. For example, my box told me to cook for 10 minutes covered, 10 minutes uncovered. This was pretty much perfect for me because I just did the first 10 minutes.

While risotto is cooking, whip up a bag out of your aluminum foil. If you haven't done it before, it's super easy. Just rip a big ol piece of foil, probably a foot and a half long. Fold up the long sides a little way, and fold up the short sides so that you have a square in the middle. squirt some olive oil in there to coat the bottom.

Slice your two potatoes about 1/4 inch thick and lay half on the bottom of the bag. Chop up your onion to your liking, I like half inch chunks. Layer half in there.

Grab your risotto and spoon it into the bag. Mine had a whole lot of liquid, and I put almost all of it in there. But limit the liquid to a cup and a half, because this is where you are putting your white wine. Pour that wine on top of the risotto.

Cut up your big chicken breast into inch hunks and nestle them into the risotto.

At this point I ground some pepper and salt onto it all at this point, and then the minced garlic (ok, I used pre minced garlic from a jar...)

Go ahead and put the rest of the onions on top and then lay the rest of the potato slices on top. Spray a little more olive oil on top and then close up your bag!

Put it in the oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.

I topped mine with some parmesan and more pepper. It was really really good, don't get me wrong, but there was something so...brown about it. I feel like some chunked red peppers and maybe some zucchini slices would have made this off the hook.

See what I mean about the brown thing? It was very brown. But the taste was very good. And, if you take out the chicken and the parm at the end, it's totally veggie/vegan. And see what I mean about the camera thing? Stupid blurriness. I hope The Beau finds my camera when he cleans the house this week while I'm gone.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pear and Bacon Grilled Cheese

This recipe is short and sweet, but the result really packs a punch. Unfortunately, I am doomed to enjoy this lunch all by myself for the rest of my life because...and this is the first of what I'm sure will be many, many complaint...
The Beau doesn't eat cheese.
It saddens me. It dismays me. We've had "conversation" after "conversation" about it and he will not budge. It's really more of a phobia, I've discovered, stemming from an unfortunate grilled cheese incident that ended with him puking everywhere.
Should I stop talking about puking and start talking about food? Ok.
As you can see, I really went classy with the ingredients. That is most definitely generic white bread, a nameless grocery store pear, and some sort of white cheddar. Feel free to be more classy than I am. Use a nice aged cheddar and some sour dough, maybe, and while I'm pretty sure I used the dreaded oscar meyer bacon, your options are as endless as your bacon brands.
I bet this would be nice with some turkey bacon.
Anyway, fry your bacon.

Get it nice and crispy to stand out against that gooey cheese. Go ahead and drain the bacon, and then stick it on top of the cheese-bread. Cover the bacon with thin slices of pear.

I threw out half the fat of the bacon and put a half tablespoon of butter in the hot pan. Throw the sandwich in there, and this is where my fun bacon press comes into place.

Isn't he pretty? I have yet to name him. He is perfect for making various hot sandwiches, including Greek or Turkish Toast. I'll make sure to put that recipe up here. Anyway, Mr. Bacon Press is just heavy enough to sit on top of my sandwiches without me having to do any work and to get them that perfect shade of golden brown. All you pressless people out there will have to go old school and use your spatula or a plate.

Wait, is there anything more old school than a bacon press?

Anyway...flipper and you may have to add a bit more butter to the pan for side two. And Voila!

You have this incredibly beautiful salty sweet buttery gooey melty bit of heaven.

It is seriously good. So seriously good I had to photograph my last bite to remember it by.

So go eat and be merry! This guy is a great fancy picnic sandwich because it is so easy to make and really durable-wrap it in tin foil and a towel and head out with your fella or lady.

Unless you're me and will be stuck eating this Beauless and alone.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Duluth apparently has two seasons. Summer lasts from late July to early September, and the rest of the year is winter. Ok I’m exaggerating. I’m just bitter about it being freaking June (and almost July) and having to wear a jacket. I deal with this unfair chill with some “meat on your bones” meals my mom used to make when we were little.I grew up with this recipe, but the fun thing about not living with mommy anymore is that you are now in charge of what goes in the pot. That means a few changes. Sorry mom.
She originally includes no potatoes, but why on earth would you do that. The potato is the most perfect vegetable in the world, and the addition of it can only mean good things. I remember her only using full carrots-but I am just too lazy for that, and usually end up just slicing baby carrots in half. Less peeling that way. I tend to dislike celery, so I don’t know if I really include the full cup…Her recipe calls for 1 large can of tomatoes, but I dislike the mushiness that ensues, and use instead some fresh tomatoes I’ve diced. Yeah, they have skins. Whatever.
Her recipe also calls for white sugar, but definitely use brown sugar instead. It hangs out with the carrots and the beef better.I always used to think that brown sugar was better for you than white sugar…I mean, brown rice is better for you than white rice, people seem to think brown eggs are better for you…I think the only difference is bleaching. I don’t know. I’m no scientist.
One major thing I’d added is a generous splash of Worcestershire sauce. I don’t think you can mess up by putting Worcestershire sauce in anything.
Ok. I can think of a few things you can mess up…
Mom’s recipe has only 1/2 a rutabaga, but I love the things. I’ll just chop the whole thing in there. If you’re scared of Rutabaga, don’t be. It’s one of the strangest and most amazing vegetables. It’s like a cross between a potato, onion, and an apple, and it’s the one I’d rather eat raw than the rest of the three. The thing about Rutabagas though is they are pretty tricky to figure out. They’re a very hard spherical bulb, so that makes chopping difficult. They’re also dipped in wax, generally, to preserve their freshness. There are a bunch of ways to get that wax off, including peeling with a peeler and slicing right off. However, I think the easiest way is to cut the Rutabaga into discs and then just snip off the surrounding wax.
The cool thing about Rutabaga is that they are kind of like Tofu-they work with whatever you put them in. You can make smashed Rutabagas and then alter the flavor by making them savory with butter and salt, or sweet with milk and brown sugar. You can bake them into your apple pies and they will take on the flavor of the cinnamon and sugar. I’m pretty much a big fan.
See? Like that.
One last thing I crazily added one day that I will never go without again-Apple Juice. It just felt right. Heck, next time I might add some apples in.
1 lb. Stew Meat
1 Bunch Carrots
1 Cup Celery
1 Large Onion
1 Small Rutabaga
2 Large Potatoes
1 T Brown Sugar
1 T Salt
3 Cloves Garlic
2 Medium Tomatoes
1 Big ol’ splash Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Cup Apple Juice
Chop onion, Celery, and Tomatoes to a medium dice. Remove the wax from your Rutabaga and cut into cubes a little smaller than 1 inch. Cut your potatoes to same size.
Crush garlic and dice it.
Peel and cut carrots 1/4 inch thick.
Add all vegetables to slow cooker, add meat, salt, and sugar.
Pour your apple juice over top and splash in that Worcestershire sauce.
Give it a toss, turn slow cooker to high (6 hours), and let it rock.
Do you remember Stu, the dad from Rugrats? He went on to do the voice overs for a bunch of country crock commercials. I always recognized his voice and thought, hey, that’s the dad from Rugrats…..This is a different stew.

Lookit all the pretty oranges in there, and that broth is really sweet and nice from the sugar and apple juice…OK Maybe just one closer one…
Ok why are these images loading all funky? They have a weird 70s film color to them. I promise if the food looks rancid, it is Blogspot's fault, and not mine. Make this stew and eat it outside on the porch. I promise you won't regret it :)