I have been hoping to relocate my blog for a long time now and I am so excited that the day is finally here! Now Brian can stop listening to me complain everytime I want to do something on my blog that WordPress.com wouldn’t let me. I’m really excited about the flexibility the WordPress platform is going to offer me.
Make sure you change your bookmarks and RSS Reader to
Confession: I am recipe dependent. I have an incredibly hard time coming up with meal ideas without step-by-step instructions. Inspiration just doesn’t come to me like that. As a result, I’ll probably never make it to Top Chef. Oh well.
Anyway, this picture kept catching my eye when I flipped through my recipe binder:
I read the recipe for Sausage-and-Zucchini Rice but I thought it seemed a little bland…and I didn’t want to be stuck with another boring Rachael dish. Then I did something unthinkable (for me): I altered it before I even made it! Basically, I cut down on the butter and chicken broth and added a lot more vegetables. I’m really happy with the way it turned out.
The result was this delicious beauty (if I could hire Rach’s photographers, it’d be even prettier):
Veggie and Sausage Rice (serves about 6)
Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1-1/2 cups rice
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, casings discarded
2 zucchini, cut into small cubes
1 carrot, cut into small cubes
1 celery stalk, cut into small cubes
2 mushrooms, cut into small cubes
1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and rice. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
While the rice cooks, grab a large skillet. Over medium heat, cook and break up the sausage into small pieces until it is cooked through. With a slotted spoon, move the sausage to a paper towel lined plate.
Add the zucchini, carrots and celery to the skillet and cook for about 4 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked to your liking. Return the sausage to the skillet and add the corn and mushrooms. Cook until heated through.
If you skillet is big enough, you can mix the rice with the vegetables right in the skillet. Otherwise, serve the rice in bowls and then serve the vegetables and sausage on top.
Enjoy! Hopefully there are many more “recipe independent” meals in my future.
This recipe could easily be made vegetarian by omitting the sausage, using vegetable broth instead of chicken and cooking the vegetables in vegetable oil. However, I had sausage in my freezer…and felt like cooking meat :)
Somehow, despite the fact that I’m still not working, life got kinda crazy last week. Also, I’m sometimes a really lazy blogger. I could write a whole post about that. But I won’t.
Even when I’m not posting, I am cooking. Here’s a brief look at what went down in my kitchen last week.
I never used to be a big fan of baking. Yes, I frequently made cookies and brownies and such, often from a mix, for my debate team kids, but I was often unhappy with the way they turned out. Suddenly I’m very into baking, which is fun but less than helpful when I really should be focusing on dinner. It would’ve been all okay last week if Smitten Kitchen hadn’t posted an incredibly tempting recipe for snickerdoodles. They looked too good. I had to make them. I’ve never even made snickerdoodles before…but I had to make these. (Poor Brian…he has to come home after work to hear my ramblings about why I *had* to make cookies…not that he’s complaining)
They were “totally awesome” (if you’re my sister, you’ll get that. Otherwise, I’m sorry). I would make more this week, but I have other plans for my oven. Highly, highly recommended.
Spicy Bean and Cheese Burritos
Another Rachael Ray recipe, I made some substitutions to her Spicy Bean and Cheese Burritos. I subbed vegetable broth for beer, because I’m too cheap to go buy beer just for one recipe. I also used canned chopped chilies instead of pickled jalapeños. The resulting burrito filling was this:
Definitely not bad, though not very spicy. We put the filling and cheese into whole wheat tortillas and attempted cooking them on my George Foreman grill.
Final analysis: The burritos were fine, though would’ve benefited from a bit more spice and crunchier tortillas. The lack of crunch was probably my fault and next time I’ll try cooking them in a skillet. However, Brian and I were fans of the whole wheat tortillas, which we’d never had before, so those will definitely reappear on a future shopping list.
This week, be prepared for recipes that involve baking and apples. Brian and I went apple picking on Saturday :)
The Atlantic published a piece this morning titled “What Will Break Our Bottled Water Habit”. It features a really great slide show and mentions several ways in which people are trying to draw attention to the fact that “about 86% of plastic water bottles in the U.S. end up as garbage or litter.” That’s a lot of water bottles!
All that trash got me thinking that I should introduce you to a very good friend of mine:
This is my Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottle. I bought it last fall at L.L. Bean in Freeport (check them out, they have different colors!) and it has served me very well since then. The purchase was a bit unneccessary; I had recently stopped bringing disposable bottled water to work every day and was using a Nalgene water bottle at the time. However, I really liked the look of the Klean Kanteen bottles and the fact that it would fit in a car cupholder…and, being from Maine, I have a love for L.L. Bean, so I bought a new water bottle for myself.
Definitely one of my best purchases. I love my Klean Kanteen. The water always tastes good and, for some amazing reason, seems to stay cool. It’s also highly durable–my poor bottle has taken a few good falls (out of my hand, off the roof of my car…I’m a bit clumsy) and though the paint is a little chipped, the bottle is fine, even after over a year of very regular usage. Brian’s bottle is plain stainless steel and his looks really good. Mine just looks well loved–I take it to school, I take it to the gym, I take it on car rides. It’s pretty much always with me.
So, if you’re ready to kick your disposable water bottle habit, either to help out the planet or your wallet, I highly recommend the Kleen Kanteen. And neither Kleen Kanteen or L.L. Bean is giving me anything for saying so.
My mother-in-law is a really good cook. I’m not just saying that because I know she’s reading this, it’s true. She’s also extremely willing to pass along recipes, which is great for my Rachael Ray filled recipe binder. Plus, it always works in my favor to cook something from Brian’s days at home once in a while, especially since we know it’s been well tested. One of the recipes she’s given me that I’ve made several times is a soup of tortellini, tomato and spinach.
Fortunately, to make this soup, you don’t really have to be a good cook. You also don’t have to have a lot of time, or a lot of ingredients. It’s that easy. Who could ask for more?
Tortellini, Tomato and Spinach Soup
adapted from my mother-in-law, serves about 4.
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
3.5 cups vegetable broth
8 oz fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes, undrained and cut up
grated Parmesan cheese
1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add 2 cloves crushed (or poorly chopped, in my case) garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add vegetable broth and tortellini.
Heat until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
3. Add spinach and tomatoes.
Simmer for 5 more minutes.
4. Serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese.
Could it be any easier than that?
One of the best things about this recipe is that all the ingredients can be kept on hand to use for those times when you don’t know what to make for dinner.