November 9th, 2010
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Here’s the thing about the works going on in my kitchen; they aren’t perfect or always balanced although I do strive for the most nutritional value I can find. We don’t dine exquisitely, sampling wonderful fare every night. I don’t pore through cookbook after cookbook stuffing pages with notes, markings, tabs and ratings. Sometimes I don’t cook at all. Sometimes we graze. Sometimes I just look at my husband and ask him to go get us a pizza. Sometimes he does.
This is a Calzone stuffed with veggies and cheese and made with scratch dough. Mike did not bring this home.
I make burgers from scratch, and lots of soup. We do make our own pizza including dough for the crust, so those pizza seeking forays I send Mike on are fairly uncommon. We eat a lot of chicken, and we eat fish and pork. Beef is rare in our house but on occasion I will splurge on a good steak dinner for The Carnivore and I. I stock a good pantry with lots of canned goods like beans, tomatoes, tuna, salmon, rice and grains and other items that can help me to put a good meal together if I get stuck. I get stuck a lot. My husband loves vegetables and doesn’t care for much meat. My Teen loves meat. Every day. He eats vegetables but only grudgingly. Making these two happy isn’t always the easiest feat. But I do the majority of the cooking so I make what I want. If they don’t want to eat it, it’s not my problem. I’m no one’s short order cook. It works for us. I understand that it doesn’t work that way for everyone. But please don’t ask me what to do about your picky eater because I probably will tell you and you probably won’t like it.
That’s a Mediterranean Tuna Antipasto Salad. It was stellar.
Keeping a well-stocked kitchen, including pantry and freezer is vital to making dinnertime less of a hassle. Outside of a good stocked pantry, I keep my chest freezer full. I buy frozen vegetables like peas, green beans and corn (the only ones I think taste good from their frozen state). I keep lots of bread in the freezer, and hamburger buns, always stocking up when it’s on sale. I keep packages of frozen tilapia on hand. The brand I buy has individually wrapped filets in it that thaw quickly, making it a good option for last minute ideas. Like yesterday. At 4:00pm I had no clue what I was making for dinner. But by 5:30, we were eating Fish Tacos with rice and a Chipotle Corn Relish. And it all came out of the pantry or the freezer. On the plus side, I used up a few leftover items in the refrigerator from previous meals so there was utilization there as well. I’m not the type of cook that makes up two meals and freezes the second one, although sometimes I have. It’s nice when I do. I wish I was prone to do more of that.
This is version 1.0 of the Fish Taco. This is not last night’s Fish Taco,
I don’t write menu plans each week, opting instead to make a large list of foods that I wish to cook. These are ideas that are not regular occurrences in our kitchen, options that may require some ingredient to be on hand in order to make the dish. Like our favorite Healthy Sloppy Joes. Or Thai Thighs. Or Griffin’s favorite Indian Chicken, or the Jambalaya he loves. This list is where I try out new recipes and ideas. Some of them work. Some do not. If they’re wonderful and I think others would enjoy them too, then I will blog about them. I don’t blog about everything we eat or cook because that would be ridiculous. We have lots of repeats in our meals, and there are always food items on hand to make these repeats. The list is a guideline, and I shop from this list so I know what I can make based on what’s available.
That’s Roasted Rutabaga topped with Poached Eggs. Simple. Divine. Perfect.
And grocery shopping; we have a budget that we try to stick with. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. We don’t eat out much due to financial constraints. When we do eat out, I like it to be at places that make food I can’t make at home so often our choices for dining out run to ethnic restaurants. We don’t do fast food although Griffin will eat it. When I grocery shop I use a list 90% of the time and I stick to it, avoiding any aisles that I don’t need to wander down. I rarely buy on impulse although I will purchase items on sale if I find them and then I try to utilize them if they aren’t on my meal list. I look at grocery ads but I don’t use coupons because I rarely find any that are for foods we eat. If I see a good sale at the grocer, I will stock up. I will make a special trip for it too if it’s worth it. Boneless chicken breasts on sale 2-for-1 is worth a trip. Kleenex on sale is not.
Nutella Pound Cake anyone?
I bake too, although not as much as I wish because I think my thighs are already a bit too chunky. But I make muffins, scones, quick breads, cakes, cookies and all other manner of yummy sweet treats. Many of these are for special occasions, like the cakes. My favorite items to bake are the muffins and quick breads. Griffin is good at making cookies and enjoys it a lot.
And speaking of that boy, he’s really stepped up his game in the kitchen and lately has made us some incredible meals. His confidence is much, much better and his skill is increasing exponentially. I love it when he cooks. Love. It.
I have a cupboard of cookbooks and I love them all but I don’t utilize them as much as I should. I have some go-to books for everything and my most favorite one is the Cooks Illustrated Best New Recipe. It’s a freaking monster of a book but it’s loaded with CI’s anal and detail oriented works and I know that the recipes are fool-proof and perfect. I have books I use for adding healthier recipes to our diet; I have ones that steer me towards comfort foods that I crave on occasion and cookbooks that I turn to for fancier inspiration. I have a few reference books to help me with questions, like the Food Lovers Companion. I have a few books that help me figure out substitutions if I somehow run out of an ingredient. I have some ethnic cookbooks that make me sigh with delight. A great deal of the inspiration I find for our meals comes from my food magazines – I get Eating Well, Bon Appetit and Saveur – and of course, the amazing and varied talent of my fellow food blogging friends.
Like these ladies. Just a handful of the local crew- fom left to right: Kelli, Amanda, Shaina, Stephanie, me and Crystal.
The wealth of information about food and cooking is staggering out there, and there’s something for everyone. It’s both overwhelming, frustrating (because there is a lot of BAD stuff out there too, and plenty of misinformation) and yet it’s also wonderful, varied, engaging and encouraging. This post is just about what I do, and as I said, it doesn’t work for everyone but this is what works for us. Our kitchen is truly the hum that resonates throughout our entire home, and also out into the world via this blog.
And just for kicks, I’m passing along one of my favorite and quick pantry recipes for 3-Bean Chili.
I love this steaming and soothing pot of chili and it comes together so fast (well, if you have the items on hand) and yet it tastes like it simmered all day. Full of fresh peppers, along with three kinds of canned beans and a big can of tomatoes, it’s so satisfying and good for you. Skip the bacon if it isn’t your thing. We never use it in this recipe but I imagine it adds amazing flavor.
Quick Three Bean Chili
From Food and Wine magazine, April 2008
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 slices of bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 jalapeños, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chili powder
One 15-ounce can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Chopped cilantro and sour cream, for serving
In a medium soup pot, heat the oil until hot. Add the bacon, onion, jalapeños and garlic and cook over moderately high heat until the onion is softened and the bacon fat has been rendered, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the beans, tomatoes and stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer the chili over moderately low heat until thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with cilantro and sour cream.Kate’s Notes: I used a can of chili beans- pinto beans in chili spices, unrinsed! – in place of regular pinto beans; I had it on hand and it worked beautifully. I also reduced the chili powder to 2 tablespoons due to the presence of the chili spices in the beans.
September 11th, 2009
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For anyone holding the September issue of Gourmet magazine, you’ve no doubt been taken in by the Vegetables A to Z index, and maybe like me you’ve been drooling over the rich bounty of recipes to help you with the expected garden delights that you’ll have at your disposal in the weeks ahead. I love the idea of sweeping through the end of the gardening season in grand fashion, drawing the curtains on Summer and ushering in the glory of Fall, cool weather cooking and warm hearty dishes. Our summer hasn’t been all that hot, really, and I’ve toyed with the desire to make a steaming pot of soup last month to ward off some cool evenings. Now September has come, and it won’t feel so odd to consider soups, a good stew or an afternoon of baking. It’s a September sort of thing.
And along with the alphabet offerings in the magazine are menu options composed entirely of one letter. Being somewhat of the orderly sort, I first drooled over the ‘C’ menu with it’s Cold Cucumber and Cubanelle Soup with Cashews and Chives, the Caramelized Chipotle Chicken, and this delight, Cheesy Creamed Corn with Cilantro.
Corn season has begun in earnest here in Minnesota, and trucks at the markets are overloaded with cobs. It’s not at all unlikely that when I hand my bag to the kindly people behind the tables that they dole out an extra ear here and there just to whittle down the mass behind them. I’m happy to relieve them of their bounty as sweet corn is a fleeting season, and an even more fleeting taste. It’s best still rich and moist with the morning dew, it’s silk wet and sticky and the shucks thick and damp. Peel it down, cook it any way you wish, but for me, an ear slathered with real butter and sprinkled liberally with salt is the finest means to chomp through my haul. However, this recipe is really delightful as well.
The corn is stripped from the cobs prior to cooking, then sauteed in a skillet with green onion and garlic, mixed with a little milk and cornstarch and topped with cilantro and a crumbling of queso fresco cheese. It’s pretty simple, and a cinch to pull together. The corn taste is out of this world delicious, a tiny hint of of onion kissing every bite and the rich creaminess beats anything that could come out of a can. I served it with my favorite Parmesan Grilled Zucchini and a fresh garden tomato for a light, simple and quintessential summer dinner.
Cheesy Creamed Corn with Cilantro
from Gourmet magazine, September 2009
3 T. unsalted butter
6 scallions, minced
6 ears corn, kernels cut from cobs (before cooking)
2/3 c. cream or milk (I used plain soy milk)
2 t. cornstarch
1 garlic clove, minced
2 oz queso fresco, crumbled
1/2 c. cilantro leaves
Heat butter in a wide and deep skillet and add corn. Stir to coat and cook, stirring occasionally until it’s bright yellow, about 5 minutes. Add in onions and garlic, stir well and cook for about 3-5 minutes more. Whisk milk and cornstarch together and pour into pan, stirring to combine well. Allow to simmer for about 2-3 minutes, then serve corn topped with cheese and cilantro.
September 9th, 2009
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Mediterranean Tuna Antipasto Salad
From Eating Well magazine…..
Good quality tuna in olive oil
Fresh romaine leaves
Red pepper strips
Tomato wedges (or cherry tomato halves)
Wash and dry romaine leaves and tear into bite sized pieces. Dress with a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Arrange on plate. Top with remaining ingredients and another drizzle of oil.
Variation: The tuna can be mixed with the ingredients (diced to bite size pieces), and a dressing of choice and served in tomato cups, on a bed of greens, on crostini or with crackers.
July 10th, 2009
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Anyone remember this?
Ok, so I’m not trying to compare myself with some crazy looking statue….one that’s squatting, for goodness sakes, but yesterday was a day to make me one utterly happy and excited home chef.
I got a brand new grill!
Our old grill hung around for nearly seven years, but should have been replaced at least two years ago. The shield over the burners was corroded and crumbling, it didn’t heat or cook evenly and the ignition was busted, requiring a torchiere to light it every time. The burners were not very well protected, and a strong wind would blow out the flames if you weren’t paying attention. I don’t have to tell you how dangerous a running propane tank can be now, do I?
This grill is the same that resides at our lake home. We loved it so much that as soon as we spotted it on sale this year we snatched one for home. It has a huge cooking area.
The four burners are highly conductive, providing even heat all around. The grates are super sturdy cast iron, and it provides terrific conditions for indirect cooking or smoking methods. It’s also fully protected, and despite strong breezes off the lake it has never been snuffed out by the wind.
There’s also a lip at the edge of the grates so that nothing can roll or slip off.
This is perfect if you, like we do, regularly grill hot dogs or bratwurst. Nothing like a little crunchy grit on the ol’ dogs, huh?
So, with a bounty of produce from the Farmer’s Market and a kid-free evening, I made this amazing Grilled Vegetable and Quinoa Salad for Mike and I. The summer night wasn’t all that warm, but the salad was perfect; light, flavorful and simple, not to mention just chock full of nutrition. Our tummies were so very happy!
It started with some perfectly roasted gold beets.
Some delightful grilled zucchini…
I added in roasted red pepper, cubed fresh mozzarella and half of an avocado.
Drizzled it with lemon juice and some good olive oil, seasoning with fresh ground pepper and a bit of Penzeys Shallot salt.
And served it with quinoa, topped with unsalted roasted almonds.
Variations are endless with this fresh and wonderful salad. I thought some chickpeas might make a nice touch. You could try a more southwestern touch with the seasonings, like cumin, chili powder or chipotle powder, use roasted poblanos or jalapenos, stir in some black beans and use lime juice instead of lemon. Eggplant would be a nice addition too, as it grills up some beautifully. If you like raw onion, use some minced red. Add some goat cheese or feta instead of the fresh mozzarella. Grilled tomato or sweet onions would also be delightful. Millet, wheatberries or possibly even barley would make a good substitute for the quinoa.
Regardless, it’s a terrific, light and easy summer option for the abundance of summer produce, and those warm and muggy nights.
February 11th, 2009
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Admittedly, I like to break convention. I’m not one to conform to stereo-typing, I don’t mold myself to any expectation and I refuse to adhere myself to a certain role. At home, I’m just as easily found outside shoveling, chopping ice on our north-facing driveway, spreading mulch or digging a hole for a new garden plant as I am in the kitchen whipping up something delicious. I don’t think in terms of ‘mans work’ or ‘womens work’, and while we do have some things in our house that may fall into those categories, I don’t think that any job should be defined by your gender. I would have never succeeded as a single parent for 7 years with that belief.
In my life too, I’m the one who would most likely encourage you to step outside the box. Years ago, in an outing with women I was working with, we spied a parking spot outside our destination on the opposite side of the street from where we were. Here’s me in the backseat telling the driver to make a U-turn, while the other women in the car want to play it safe and go around the block. When I’m in the minority, I tend to be slightly insistent about what I feel, and apparently I was loud enough that the driver whipped around the steering wheel in a speedy U-turn and scored the parking spot. Later she confessed that she’d never done anything like that. I asked her if she liked it, and after a moment’s repose, she replied with a grin “I think I did!” Stepping outside a comfort zone, or taking one of life’s U-turns is hard for some people. I’m generally not one of them.
This trait, good or bad as it can be, is part of me in the kitchen as well, and here it really tends to take off soaring because I’m the majority cook in the family and no one is standing about trying to tell me what to do with a recipe or certain dish. I rarely follow a written recipe, and when I do I’m most always disappointed. I know what I like, and after a lifetime of cooking, making mistakes and blending every ingredient under the sun, I have a storehouse of knowledge in my brain as to what works and what might not. My brain can see how any recipe from any source can become something else altogether, and knows just how to make it delicious.
Take this roasted vegetable pasta dish; I don’t recall the origin of the dish as the only note I have on it says “eggplant, tomato and pasta” – yeah, that’s concise- but I recalled enough to know that you roasted the veggies, pureed them with pasta water and some olive oil and mixed it with cooked rigatoni. I also recalled that the finished dish, while not a beauty queen, was delicious. Sometimes, ‘delicious’ is all I can remember, and really, do you need to know anything else? Well, a method might help.
For my roasted veggies, I used an eggplant and a pint of grape tomatoes, halved. I also cut an onion into eighths, large diced a red pepper and rough chopped six cloves of garlic as additions. Mix it all up in a bowl with a few good glugs of olive oil, some seasoning of choice, and toss.
Don’t give in and add more oil; the notoriously thirsty eggplant will drink up some of it and the rest of the vegetables will get their fair share. Too much oil on eggplant in the oven and it just becomes soggy. Spread the veggies out on cookie sheets, with plenty of room, and roast at 400 until the tomatoes are nice and wrinkly, the eggplant is browned and everything smells amazing. This took me about 25-35 minutes.
Cook the pasta while the veggies roast. You want the pasta water for the puree; I always place a pyrex measuring cup in the colander to help remind me to catch that good starch. Drain the pasta, reserving up to two cups of the water. Keep the pasta warm.
Place the veggies in the food processor with some salt and pepper. You can save some of the roasted pieces to top the pasta, if you wish.
Add in about a cup of the pasta water and another healthy glug of olive oil. Whir the veggies to a consistency of choice- I like it a bit chunky- and scrape down the sides. Now take a look at the mix- it should be fairly thick. Add in a little more pasta water to make it to a spreading consistency. If it’s too thick, it won’t coat the pasta well enough.
You can also add in some kalamata olives, and be sure to have some fresh grated parmesan ready.
And if you’re like me and enjoy something crunchy, toasted and seasoned on top of your pasta, make some bread crumbs. I took a shortcut this time and put the remains of these bagel chips through the food processor.
Oh my, this was a really good addition!
Once the veggies are processed, scoop some of the puree onto your rigatoni or other large shape of pasta. This is such a hearty dish that a tiny shape would get lost in amongst the lovely vegetable mix. You may not need all the puree so add as you go to make it the consistency you like. Stir, taste, season with salt and pepper and taste some more.
Then, take your serving, add in the parmesan and crumbs and pick up a fork.
Mmmmm….. who needs convention anyway??
The puree was really thick and delicious- not so visible in these photos but trust me…each bite was a huge flavor burst in the mouth. There was plenty left over even after I coated the pasta with quite a bit. The next day I could hardly wait to take the remains of the vegetable mixture, spread it on toasted peasant bread and top it with fresh mozzarella. This made for a quick and delicious light lunch. I also think it would make a wonderful appetizer for a party.
Ok, if you need a set of instructions, follow the jump…..
Come in to my kitchen…
March 27th, 2008
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Lentil Vegetable Soup
2 c. small french green lentils, washed and picked over
6 c. water
Combine in large stockpot and bring to a boil. Simmer about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and reserve. Use any form of lentil you wish; the small green ones hold their shape nicely for a good texture in soup.
In a large soup pot, I heated olive oil. Into the oil went two small yellow onions, diced; about 5-6 small carrots, peeled and diced and one yam, peeled and diced. I cooked the vegetables until soft over medium-high heat, then turned down the flame and allowed them to brown slowly, stirring occasionally. After about 25 minutes, I added in two cloves of minced garlic and a cup of cooked wheatberries. I browned it for another 10 minutes, then added in two cans of diced tomato, a quart of water and the cooked lentils. I brought this to a simmer, then stirred in about 2-3 cups of shredded spinach. I seasoned it with a little white pepper, cumin and Prudhomme’s Vegetable Magic seasoning. Five minutes later I turned off the flame.
The browning of the vegetables was solely to add flavor to the soup. It isn’t important, but I like a deep flavorful soup base and I was out of any kind of base except chicken and I didn’t want that. The variations on this recipe are endless and imaginative; Heidi tosses out lots of options on her site. The saffron cream was very good but the soup tasted delicious even without it.
August 15th, 2007
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Vegetable Stuffed Shells
1 pkg large pasta shells
1 8-oz carton nonfat cottage cheese
1 red pepper*, Cored and seeded
4 oz fresh mushrooms
1-2 zucchini*, peeled and shredded on a box grater
6 oz fresh spinach*
8 oz mozzarella cheese, grated and divided
1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese
½ c. fresh bread crumbs
1 t. each onion powder, garlic powder, dried basil and dried rosemary
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1 jar pasta sauce of choice (optional add-in could be chopped roma tomatoes and some extra mushrooms)
Cook shells in boiling water until firm but tender, do not cook for full amount of time stated on package. Shells should still be firm to the feel. (they will stuff and cook better this way) Heat oven to 375
Place entire contents of cottage cheese in bowl of food processor and process until smooth, it should resemble ricotta cheese. Scrape into large bowl. Add red pepper chunks to food processor and pulse 3-5 times or until finely minced. Add to bowl with cottage cheese. De-stem mushrooms and break into food processor bowl, pulse 2-4 times or until finely minced. Add to cheese mix, repeat with spinach, pulsing until finely minced. Add seasonings and bread crumbs. Stir cheese and veggies to mix. Grate 4 oz of mozzarella cheese into bowl, add all grated Parmesan and stir thoroughly to mix. Spread about ½ c. of pasta sauce on bottom of 9×13 pan. Stuff shells with cheese/veggie mix and place in pan on sauce. Spoon remaining sauce on top of shells and top with remaining grated mozzarella. Bake until heated through and bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.
*Recipe Notes: Fresh vegetables have a lot of water in them, and to avoid having a watery finished dish, squeeze the excess water from the pepper once it is chopped in the processor. I placed it in a wire mesh strainer and pressed out the liquid. With the zucchini, I grated it into a colander and tossed it with kosher salt, then let it drain for 10 minutes. Rinse well. Press it in a wire strainer also. Fresh spinach shouldn’t be too weepy; should you use frozen, make sure to squeeze out the water. I wouldn’t recommend adding fresh tomato to the mixture as it will make them watery.
June 27th, 2007
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Pasta with Lemon Wine Sauce
1# cooked pasta, drained, reserving cooking water
1 package grape tomatoes, quartered
2 large tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 bunches broccoli, trimmed
3 sausage links, chopped (i used a tomato basil chicken sausage)
1 cup dry white wine
Juice of one lemon
Zest of one lemon
Grated cheese for garnish
In large skillet, heat oil of choice and add broccoli, stir fry quickly until bright green. Add about 1/3 c. water to pan and cover. Allow to steam for five minutes. Remove broccoli to bowl and cover. In same pan, add sausage and brown for 5-10 minutes. Remove. Add a splash of oil to pan and place chopped regular tomatoes in pan. Cook until they have broken down, maybe 3-5 minutes. Pour in wine, add garlic and 1 tablespoon of zest and bring to a simmer; cook until reduced by half. Have pasta, sausage and broccoli ready in large pan or bowl. Add quartered grape tomatoes to skillet and about a half cup of reserved cooking water; stir quickly to incorporate then pour over pasta mixture. Toss gently. Stir in a tablespoon or two of lemon juice and a little more zest (to taste). Season with salt and pepper.
May 11th, 2007
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Curried Vegetables with Yellow Daal and Coconut Rice
For the Daal:
1 ½ c. either red lentils or yellow split peas
4-5 c. water
Use 4 c. water for lentils; 5 for split peas. Rinse legumes well. Place legumes and water in heavy pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until legumes are tender. Puree in batches in food processor with cooking water, adding more if necessary for smoothness. Daal will thicken upon standing.
Vegetable oil or ghee
1 chopped onion
2 red peppers, cored and diced
½ head cauliflower, broken into florets
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
5-6 oz. fresh spinach
2 T. fresh grated ginger root
1 T. mild curry powder
1 t. ground cumin
1 ½ c. water or vegetable broth
Juice of half a fresh lemon
Salt to taste
In a deep skillet, heat oil or ghee and add onions, cook until soft and translucent. Add peppers, cook until soft. Stir in cauliflower, curry powder and cumin. Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in sweet potatoes and grated ginger. Stir to combine. Pour in water, stir to incorporate and bring to a boil. Cover and cook until cauliflower and potato are fork tender but still firm. De-stem and coarse chop spinach. When vegetables are tender, stir in spinach and lemon juice. Simmer to wilt spinach then serve immediately with the Daal and Coconut Rice.
1 ½ c. water
1 c. basmati rice
½ c. coconut milk
½ t. turmeric
¼ t. kosher salt
1 cinnamon stick
¼ c. currants or golden raisins
In a saucepan with a tight fitting lid, bring water to a boil. Rinse rice well, and add to boiling water along with all the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and remove cinnamon stick before serving
September 18th, 2006
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Poblano Rice with Vegetables
2 fresh poblano peppers
1 c. frozen corn
1 c. milk
2 c. long grain rice
2 t. cooking oil
2 c. chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1/2 c. finely chopped carrot (or equiv. of shredded)
2 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Bay leaf
Halve seed and core the poblano peppers, rub with oil and broil until skins are blistered. Place peppers in bowl and cover to steam. When cooled completely, remove skins and chop.
Rinse corn under cool water to thaw slightly, and then place corn and milk in blender and process until smooth, set aside. In a large skillet with a tight lid, sauté onion in oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add zucchini, carrot and peppers, sauté another 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove vegetables to bowl. Add rice to pan and cook, stirring occasionally until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5-7 minutes. Add in vegetables and stir to combine. Slowly pour in corn/milk mix, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer, covered until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir to fluff. Remove bay leaf before serving.
The original of this recipe came from AllRecipes.com but has undergone the Extreme Recipe Makeover edition in my kitchen, as most recipes do when they get in my eager little hands. There are a few critical steps to this recipe that really add to the final taste that shouldn’t be skipped, namely the pepper roasting and the corn and milk mixture. It may add a bit of extra time, but the final result is worth it. You can alter the amount of rice to suit your needs, but make sure as a rule that you double the liquid, using the corn/milk mix as part of that. The added veggies can be suited to your tastes as well. These are from the original recipe, I have subbed shredded carrot for the diced with good results.