It's time for this month's Secret Recipe Club! I was assigned Cookin' Mimi - a blog full of comfort food and home cooking with lots of influences like Southern, Southwestern, and some International. The author is a Southern Californian with a Southern family - which explains the variety of influences! She doesn't remember a time when she wasn't cooking.
I was in crunch mode when I chose a recipe, on the search for an easy dinner. Mimi is a big fan of casseroles, like me, so I looked at this Cheesy Broccoli Chicken and Rice Casserole and this traditional Chicken and Rice Casserole, but decided on this Cheesy Green Chile Chicken and Rice Casserole.
But back to the casserole! It is really straightforward and simple - combine chicken, green chiles, rice, and a sour cream sauce; top with cheese; bake; the end. But something in the recipe jumped out at me as unfamiliar - it called for par-boiled or converted rice. What the heck is that? I turned to the internet and found out that by par-boiling the rice, the nutrients of the outer parts are forced into the grain before they are removed - making it something in between brown and white rice. In fact, it supposedly has most of the nutrients of brown rice, an even lower glycemic index, and the soft texture of white rice, without getting as mushy. How had I never heard of this before?! It is perfect to use in casseroles and slow cookers because the texture holds up. It's awesome!
But, there is a downside - unless you are ordering it from Asia, most brands are grown in the Southern US and have high levels of inorganic arsenic, which is toxic. So, you know, don't eat a ton of it all the time.
It's Secret Recipe Club Reveal time! This month I was assigned Cookaholic Wife, written by Nichole. We are both married, in our 30's, on the East Coast, and cat moms. I feel a connection! We also must have similar tastes, because I saved more recipes than I have with any other SRC blog. So bear with me for a bit here, and know that this is the edited down list!
Other sweets that I liked the sound of were Sugar Cream Pie, Stone Fruit Eton Mess, Limoncello Cheesecake Bars, Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake, Lemon and Sour Cream Doughnuts, and Coconut Lime Cookie Bars.
But the overall winner, the one I knew I had to make as soon as I saw it, was this Breakfast Risotto. Creamy risotto with white wine and shallot, finished off with crispy pancetta, Parmesan, and a poached egg. Simple and amazing.
There aren't a ton of ingredients here, just simple classic flavors. And while risotto is a bit labor intensive (you gotta stir, stir, stir to release all that creamy starch), it isn't particularly complicated. I love the bacon and eggs take on this that is reminiscent of carbonara; and who doesn't want breakfast for dinner? Enjoy!
Today is Secret Recipe Club reveal day! I was assigned Searching for Spice, written by Corina - a mother of two (I love the nicknames she gives her kids: Little Miss Spice and Master Spice). She loves international cuisine, making food from India, Mexico, North Africa, Thailand, and China. She prefers to stick to recipes that aren't terribly time consuming - like this Italian Chicken and Lemon dish, this Lamb Meatball dish, and this Chicken Pie. But sometimes, she will go for a more complicated recipe, too - like this Chicken Biryani and this Cassoulet with Confit Duck.
I ended up choosing this Korean Bulgogi recipe, because I just recently discovered Korean BBQ, and it is awesome! Bulgogi is definitely my favorite thing to order, so I loved that Corina had a recipe I could try. She served it with rice and lettuce to make wraps, I decided (inspired by my Spam dish) to make it a rice bowl, topped with a fried egg. It turned out great!
I had always thought that spam was super gross and never had any interest. But as I became more aware of the different cuisines of the world, I noticed that there were a few that really (REALLY) love spam. So when I saw spam musubi on the menu at my favorite local cafe, Megabytes, I decided to try it. You guys - spam is delicious! It's like ham plus bacon plus sausage all in one. I'm kind of obsessed now, like bought-a-case-at-Costco obsessed. No, processed meat is not good for you; but as a special treat in the place of bacon or sausage, it's not going to kill you (probably). Especially if you buy the low sodium kind, which I prefer.
Anyway, pressing musubi seems like a lot of work, and I am more of a freeform girl; so I decided to make a rice bowl for my first spam experiment. I cooked short grain rice and topped it with furikake seasoning, then seared spam, fried eggs, seaweed, scallions, and toasted sesame seeds. It. Was. Awesome. I wasn't sure that Jasper would be into it, but he loved it, too, and wants me to make it all the time!
Spam and Rice Bowl
1 1/2 cups dry short grain rice (I use Botan)
2 cups water
1/4 cup furikake seasoning (check your labels, not all furikake is gluten free)
1 can low sodium spam, sliced into 8 slices
salt and pepper
scallion greens, sliced
toasted sesame seeds
Combine the rice and water and cook according to directions, usually simmer covered for 20 minutes, then let stand for 10 (I use a rice cooker). Fluff with a fork and add the furikake seasoning, you can start with less and more to taste, if you wish. Set aside.
Meanwhile, sear the sliced spam on each side in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. You won't need any extra fat, and you may have to work in batches. Set aside.
Pour out most of the fat from the pan, then return to medium heat and fry the eggs you your liking. I prefer sunny side up. Season the eggs with salt and pepper.
To assemble divide the rice among the desired number of bowls, top with the spam, then the eggs. Sprinkle nori, scallions, and sesame over the top. Enjoy!
One Year Ago - Lentil Salad with Walnuts and Herbs
Two Years Ago - S'mores Treats
Three Years Ago - Turkey and Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
Four Years Ago - Beef, Sweet Potato, Spinach, and Cheddar Turnovers
Five Years Ago - Couscous Dinners
After a bit of a hiatus, Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) and I are getting back to our weekly vegetarian lunches. Last week we tried this amazing soup recipe packed with veggies. It is warm and comforting, with lots of flavor and texture - plus it's really easy to make. It's also both vegan and vegetarian friendly. And gosh, isn't it pretty?
The soup starts out with sliced squash (we used acorn) and tiny cubes of turnip simmered in water until tender. At first I thought that one small squash and one turnip wouldn't be enough, but they turned out to be plenty! So don't go overboard and think that you need to get more/bigger. The cooking water then becomes the base for the broth and miso, tahini, and lemon zest are added to round it out.
You can garnish the soup however you like, but we stuck with the original recipe and used avocado, chives, toasted nori, and toasted sesame seeds.
The soup can be served over a grain, and we choose to try out buckwheat. We are both avoiding white rice for health reasons and thought this grain-like seed would be fun to try. Unfortunately it cooks to a porridge like consistency instead of individual grains. So I would recommend barley or brown rice instead.
You know that Forrest Gump quote, "Jenny and me was like peas and carrots."? I could not stop saying that while making and eating this dinner. The classic duo of peas and carrots, back together again in the form of soup and risotto.
This pea soup has a base of English peas, sugar snap peas, and leeks. So much green!
But more importantly, it has bacon. You start by crisping the bacon and removing it. Then, in the same pan, you cook celery, onion, and leek in the bacon fat before adding chicken stock and rosemary. Meanwhile, blanch the peas.
Oh boy, you guys are in for a treat with this one! Creamy, cheesy enchiladas stuffed with shredded chicken, spinach, corn, and chiles; served up with some Mexican rice and refried beans - to die for! I love sour cream enchiladas - they are one of the first dishes (other than nachos and quesadillas) that I started eating when I began to get over my fear that all Mexican food was spicy.