Tag Archives: rice

Stuffed Peppers

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Cooks have been stuffing vegetables for centuries.  Whether it be squashes and peppers or grape and cabbage leaves, vegetables serve as the perfect vessel for holding meats and grains.  Growing up my Polish grandmother would stuff cabbage leaves with meats and rice and we would eat them as fast as she could cook them.  When I went through a phase of cooking Greek food I would patiently stuff and roll grape leaves with rice, herbs, and dried fruits before steaming them.  All of this work was time-consuming but worth it.

Peppers are a much easier vegetable to stuff since they don’t require the tedious rolling process.  Bell peppers aren’t always readily available here in Albania but you can use any variety of peppers you like. I like to use red and yellow peppers since they are sweeter but green peppers work as well.  The larger the pepper the easier it is to stuff but smaller ones are ok too.  If you can’t find ground lamb in the market feel free to substitute a lean ground beef.

STUFFED PEPPERS

6 whole peppers

3/4 pound ground lamb

1/3 cup red onion, minced

1 can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup long grained white rice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
  • Carefully remove the stems and seeds of each pepper keeping the pepper whole and intact.
  • Submerge the peppers in the boiling water and boil for three minutes.
  • Remove from the water and drain on paper towels.
  • In a large saute pan set over medium-high heat, cook the lamb and onion until the meat is cooked and the onions are soft, approximately 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and their juice, the water, rice, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, salt, and pepper to the meat mixture and bring to a simmer.
  • Continue to cook for 15 minutes or until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Off the heat and add half of each cheese to the mixture.  Stir to combine.
  • Stuff each pepper with the meat mixture until filled and place in a shallow casserole dish.  If you have additional filling place it in the dish around the peppers.
  • Sprinkle the peppers with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake the peppers for 15 minutes or until the cheese is browned and bubbly.
  • Allow the peppers to sit for 3 minutes before serving.

Serves: 6

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Grilled Lemon Chicken w/ Feta Rice

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Here’s a recipe adapted from Cooking Light that makes me think of the Greek Islands. Its fast and easy and since the chicken is cooked on the grill there isn’t any need to turn on a hot oven in the middle of the summer. A simple marinade of fresh lemon juice gives the chicken a juicy and tangy flavor. And while rice is always nice, the addition of feta and fresh basil brings an ordinary side dish to a whole new level. Plus the entire meal comes together quickly. What more can you ask for?

GRILLED LEMON CHICKEN w/ FETA RICE

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cloves minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
4 cups cooked basmati rice
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Place 2 tablespoons  of the lemon juice lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the oil, the garlic and the red pepper flakes in a large zip-top bag.
  • Add the chicken breasts, turn to coat, and let stand for 30 minutes.
  • Lightly coat a grill with non-stick cooking spray and pre-heat to medium-high heat.
  • Remove chicken from marinade. Sprinkle the chicken with half of the salt and half of the black pepper.
  • Place the chicken on the grill and grill until cooked through, about 12 to 14 minutes per side. Cooking times will vary depending upon the thickness of the meat.
  • While the chicken cooks, make the rice according to package instructions.
  • Combine remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of oil in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  • Add rice to the lemon and oil mixture then sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper.
  • Add the feta and basil leaves and toss to combine.Serve the chicken alongside the rice.

Serves 4

 

Mascarpone Risotto w/ Garlicky Shrimp & Snow Peas

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Followers of this blog know that I love risotto. Whether I serve it as a side dish or as a meal unto itself it is probably my single favorite dish. While I love to mix delicious ingredients into my risotto, sometimes they taste even better when they are served on top of the rice. Case in point is this dish. Thanks to the addition of rich mascarpone cheese, this risotto is mild and extra creamy. Garlicky shrimp and crisp snow peas complete the dish by adding flavor and texture to the meal. And if you really love garlic, go ahead and add more to the shrimp; the dish will have an extra kick without being over powering.

MASCARPONE RISOTTO w/ GARLICKY SHRIMP & SNOW PEAS

For the risotto:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 shallot, minced

1/2 cup dry white wine

4 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1/3 cup mascarpone cheese

  • Heat the broth in a medium sized saucepan set over medium-high heat. Once it simmers, reduce the heat to keep it hot without boiling.
  • Melt the butter in a large heavy stock pot set over medium heat.
  • Add the shallot and stirring occasionally, cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the rice and stir well until all of the grains are coated with the melted butter.
  • Pour in the wine and stir until it is almost completely evaporated.
  • Begin adding the broth, by the ladle full, stirring gently with each addition and cooking until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice before adding more. Do not let the rice dry out.
  • Continue adding the broth and cooking until the rice is creamy and tender but the grains are still firm. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes. You may not need to use all of the broth.
  • Off the heat and beat in the mascarpone cheese until blended.

For the shrimp & pea pods

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 pound medium shrimp, deveined and tails removed

2 cups snow peas

  • After the risotto has been cooking for about 10 minutes, heat the oil in a large wok set over high heat.
  • When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and toss for 30 seconds.
  • Add the shrimp and tossing regularly with bamboo tongs, cook until the shrimp is no longer pink, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add in the peas and cook for an additional minute.
  • Serve immediately over the risotto.

Serves 4

Citrus Risotto

 

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Its citrus season and there is nothing better than these juicy and colorful fruits to brighten up dreary winter days. The fruit is great eaten as is but really shines when used as part of a dish. Right now I’m missing the lemon and mandarine trees that graced my garden in Albania but I’m pleasantly surprised at the variety of fruits I’m finding in my local markets here in Belgium. When I came across a honey pompelo, I just knew I needed to buy one to take home. When I cut through its skin and thick pith I found what was essentially a giant grapefruit. The flesh was golden (there are also ruby red varieties) and it tasted like a mild, less acidic grapefruit. I was intrigued. I had recently been gifted with a large stash of Spanish clementines so I knew that a citrus dish was in the making.

Followers of this blog know that I love risotto so when I came across a citrus risotto recipe in Judy Roger’s The Zuni Cafe Cookbook I knew what I was going to make. I substituted my pompelo for the grapefruit in the original recipe, added in my clementines as well as a healthy dose of white wine. The results? Try them for yourself but I’m sure you’ll agree that this recipe is a keeper.

CITRUS RISOTTO

1 pompelo, plus juice

1 clementine, plus juice

1 lime, plus juice

3 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 cup dry white wine

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 shallot, minced

2 cups arborio rice

1/4 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

  • Slice the ends off of the citrus, cutting deeply enough to just expose the flesh. Working over a large bowl, use a paring knife to carve away the skin and pith from the fruit. Carefully remove the membrane from each citrus section and remove any seeds. Set the juice and citrus aside.
  • Combine the chicken broth and wine in a medium sized pot and heat over medium-high heat until it reaches a low simmer. Keep warm.
  • Melt the butter in a large heavy pot set over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, stir in the shallots and cook until soft and translucent about 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Stir the rice into the butter and shallot mixture stirring with a wooden spoon until the grains are coated with the butter.
  • Working with one ladleful of the liquid at a time, add the liquid into the rice stirring well after each addition. Cook and stir until most of the liquid has been absorbed before adding more liquid. Do not let the mixture become too dry.
  • Continue adding broth and cooking until the rice is al dente and creamy looking. You may not have used all of the broth mixture at this point. (I usually have about 1/2 cup of broth left when my rice is done).
  • Stir in the reserved citrus and juices, breaking up the sections to distribute them through the rice. Check the rice for doneness and add the remaining broth if necessary.
  • Remove the rice from the heat and beat in the mascarpone cheese.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

 

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Roasted Mushroom & Squash Risotto

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I love risotto. Whether served as an entree or a side dish I think it is the perfect comfort food. It is also wonderfully versatile; I’d be hard pressed to think of an ingredient that can’t be added into the rice.

I love this combination of butternut squash and portobello mushrooms. Because the vegetables are roasted ahead of time they are an earthy and perfectly tender compliment to the rice. The fontina cheese adds additional subtle flavor and creaminess to the dish. I usually eat this risotto as an entree but it is equally good served alongside grilled steak. Yum.

ROASTED MUSHROOM & BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO

2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed

1 cup baby portobello mushrooms, quartered

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 shallot, minced

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

3/4 cup dry white wine

4 cups low sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup finely grated Fontina cheese

Salt and pepper for seasoning

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Evenly distribute the squash and mushrooms on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
  • Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork.
  • Remove from the oven and set aside.
  • Heat the broth in a large saucepan until it simmers. Reduce the temperature and keep warm.
  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat.
  • Add the shallots to the butter and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the rice to the shallots and stir to coat with the butter.
  • Stir in the white wine and bring to a boil.
  • Once the wine is almost evaporated begin adding the broth, one ladleful at a time. Stirring regularly, but not constantly cook the rice until the liquid is mostly evaporated before adding in more broth.
  • Repeat the process until the rice is creamy and al dente. You may not need to use all of the broth.
  • Add the roasted squash and mushrooms to the rice and fold to combine.
  • Remove the rice from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Serves: 4 as an entree or 6 as a side dish

Gorgonzola & Ricotta Risotto w/ Crisp Sage Leaves

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

What better way to wrap up a long and cold week than with a warm and comforting bowl of risotto? For me, this risotto, from Maxine Clark’s Risotto epitomizes what comfort food means. The combination of gorgonzola and ricotta cheeses ensures that the dish is creamy and cheesy without being overpowering. Be sure to taste and buy a gorgonzola cheese you like. Not all are created equal and you want to be sure that the cheese you choose isn’t overpowering or two pungent. The cheeses are only complemented by the earthy fried sage leaves. Some people look at risotto as a side dish. But for me, this dish is so satisfying that it is a meal unto itself.

GORGONZOLA & RICOTTA RISOTTO w/ CRISPY SAGE LEAVES

30 sage leaves with stems

Sea salt

1/2 cup vegetable, for frying

6 cups hot vegetable broth

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cups risotto rice

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, chopped

3/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese

Salt & pepper for seasoning

For the fried sage leaves:

  • Throughly dry the sage leaves.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed skillet until it reaches 350 degrees on a thermometer.
  • When the oil is hot, drop in the sage leaves and fry until crisp; it should only take a few minutes.
  • Remove the leaves from the oil using a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Season with sea salt and set aside.

For the risotto:

  • Keep the broth at a low simmer in a saucepan set over medium-low heat.
  • Melt half of the butter in a large, heavy stock pot set over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and cook until soft and golden, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the rice and stir well until coated with the melted butter.
  • Pour in the wine and boil hard until the liquid has reduced and has almost disappeared. Stir in the chopped fresh sage.
  • Begin adding the broth, by the ladle full, stirring gently with each addition and cooking until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice before adding more. Do not let the rice dry out.
  • When half of the broth has been absorbed, add in the gorgonzola cheese and stir until it has completely melted.
  • Continue adding the broth and cooking until the rice is creamy and tender but the grains are still firm. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Season well with salt and pepper and stir in the ricotta cheese and remaining butter.
  • Remove from the heat and let sit for two minutes. Add additional broth if necessary to loosen the rice.
  • Serve topped with the crispy sage leaves.
  • Serves 4

 

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.
This soup from Cuisine at Home is the perfect cold weather, end of the week meal. It essentially takes leftovers, pre-cooked chicken, ham and rice and turns them into a flavorful and satisfying soup in minutes. Yes minutes, because this isn’t a soup that takes hours of slow cooking. If you plan your weekly menu carefully, come Friday you will have all of the ingredients you need for this soup pre-cooked and ready to go. It truly doesn’t get any easier than that!
CHICKEN & WILD RICE SOUP
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup pre-cooked ham, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup carrots, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons dry sherry
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups cooked wild rice
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
1 cup whole milk
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
  • Melt the butter in a large soup pot set over medium high heat.
  • Add the ham to the pot, stir to coat and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the onion, carrots and celery to the ham. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables have softened.
  • Stir in the flour until it coats the vegetables. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Deglaze the pot with the sherry, scraping up any browned bits that are stuck on the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the broth, cooked rice, chicken and thyme.
  • Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Season with the salt and pepper.
  • Add the milk and scallions to the soup and cook until heated through.
  • Adjust the seasonings if necessary and serve.
Serves 4
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