Quick Risotto

I used the broth from my broccoli chicken soup plus a technique I first read about on the blog Ideas in Food to make a delicious, creamy risotto in only 6 minutes with just a few stirs. Alex and Aki describe soaking the rice in water to hydrate for 2 hours to reduce cooking time. Further in the comments there is a suggestion to soak it in the broth you intend to cook it in. Kenji Alt’s post on Serious Eats about risotto contends that the starch that thickens a risotto is mostly located on the outside of the rice, not inside the rice as is commonly thought. So I decided to combine the techniques and soak some Aborio rice in the broth from the leftover soup, then use the broth to finish the risotto with delicious results! The type of rice you use is important, it should be a rice that is suitable for a risotto like Aborio or Carnaroli which are short grained and high in starch. This recipe takes some prep time for the broth and letting the rice soak but instead of having to stir a hot pot of rice with gradual addition of liquids like traditional risottos call for, you get a creamy bowl of goodness in only six minutes with an occasional stir. It is also important to know that risottos should have a bit of “bite” to them. It should not exactly be crunchy but you should be able to feel individual grains instead of mush when you take a bite. Some people might consider it undercooked but it will actually get thicker and softer as it sits, so better to err on the side of underdone. You can also add some cream at the end but since I was using a creamy soup, I did not find that necessary.

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Broccoli Chicken Soup

Although it is getting a little warm to think about soup, I used this as a base for three quick weeknight meals. Just a couple of cans, some leftover chicken, and fresh broccoli for a delicious homemade soup on the first night. I use evaporated milk in this recipe because it can take higher cooking temperatures than cream or milk. Since I will be using it over a few days, I can reheat it to boil without having to worry about it breaking or curdling. You can substitute milk or cream, just be careful when reheating not to bring it to a full boil.

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Loaded Skillet Potatoes

I don’t normally cook things like this, but every once in a while I get a real craving for skillet fried potatoes. Growing up in Wisconsin we ate a lot of potatoes, and one of my favorite dishes was simply potatoes and onions cooked in butter. This recipe improves on that with the addition of cheese and, like any other respectable loaded potato, bacon.

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Strawberry Cream Cheese

Yummy, luscious, oh-so-sweet local strawberries! I ordered a pound of these beauties and savored a few every morning with breakfast for a week. When I reached the bottom of the container, I had a few mushy berries left. Too scrumptious to just throw away or turn into compost, I used the Full Quiver cream cheese I had in the fridge to make a strawberry cream cheese spread. A touch of cinnamon adds an interesting taste but feel free to omit or substitute vanilla if you prefer. I used brown sugar to sweeten but of course, you can use honey, agave, or plain sugar.

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Eating Sustainably

Agriculture uses 3 times as much potable water as all other forms of human consumption, COMBINED. A full 80% of the water we use in the US is for agriculture. Organic agriculture uses 30%-50% less water than conventional ag. Agriculture also consumes more oil than any other activity except for driving. 400 gallons of oil […]

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Roast Chicken

As the Texas summer starts creeping up on us, my thoughts turn to ways to avoid the heat of the oven. I have long been a fan of the crock pot to stew a chicken in for soups but did you know you could roast a chicken in the crock pot? OK, technically it is probably a braise but by just leaving the lid off for the last 30 minutes of cooking time, the skin gets closer to a crispy roast than a flabby stew. By placing the chicken on top of a bed of vegetables, the juices are used to add flavor to the veggies without submerging the bird in too much liquid. It is ok if it comes part way up the bird but you want it mostly out of the broth for the crispiest skin.

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Kale Chips

My poor kale was starting to yellow. One too many days in the fridge. I needed to cook it right away but was not in the mood for cooked greens. A quick toss with some oil, salt, and sesame seeds and I had a delicious crunchy snack of kale chips. Even the kiddos will like this one.

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