Italian Wedding Risotto Soup

Oh, hi!  Sorry about the disappearing act.  I know I say it every Monday (or in this case, Tuesday) but why, oh, why do the weekends go by so fast?  This past weekend was a blur including a visit from three of my favorite little people and an overnight stay in Raleigh filled with yummy sushi.  I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon straightening up the house as well as planning workouts for the week before going on a walk with a friend (the weather here is AMAZING…I really hope winter is over).

This soup was dinner on Friday as I finished up the last of the risotto.  We managed to use the risotto in three different dinners and each one was incredibly different so I really did feel like I was eating risotto all week long.

The Italian wedding soups is by far the easiest of the three recipes.  Mini meatballs are made using Italian sausage (about two links) and when I say mini, I mean mini.  Each meatball is about one teaspoon of sausage.  Once you’ve formed your meatballs, sauté onion (instead of shallot), garlic and red pepper flakes in a little bit of EVOO.  After about 5 minutes, add in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Gently drop in the sausage balls along with the last bit of risotto and lower to heat to simmer.  Cook for about 5 minutes, add in the greens (I used baby kale) and a little bit of salt.  Once the greens have wilted, it’s dinner time.

weddingsoup

Each bowl is finished with a little bit of grated Parmesan.  I loved the small amount of heat that came from the red pepper flakes and I loved the sausage meatballs.  Like I said, I didn’t feel like I was eating risotto at all.

And while Big Guy and I really enjoy leftovers, I know there are some leftover-haters out there.  BUT I feel like this is a way to utilize leftovers without feeling like you’re eating the same thing over and over.

Hope you’re having a great week!

Cauliflower Risotto Cakes

I had all intentions of getting this typed up this morning before I headed out for the day but that just didn’t happen.  It is an absolute gorgeous day.  I walked for about an hour and a half today and I was in a tank top.  Loving all the vitamin D I’ve been getting lately.

Last night’s dinner was the first (yes, there will be a third and final one) transformation of the risotto that I prepped on Monday night for dinner.  Creamy risotto is mixed with roasted cauliflower, breadcrumbs, parsley, an egg, S&P, plus some cheese before being shaped into cakes and sautéed in a little EVOO.  If you want to save yourself time (and I think it’s totally the right thing to do), purchase pre-“riced” cauliflower.  My local Walmart carries it where you’ll find the bagged salads and it’s a LIFE saver for this recipe.  The cauliflower is roasted (beware, there’s a bit of a “funky” smell during the beginning of the cooking process) for 40 minutes before being mixed with all the other ingredients.

Also take my advice here – don’t make the cake mixture in advance.  I was trying to be “wonder woman” and prep dinner so that when I got home at 6:15pm all I had to do was patty the cakes and cook ’em.  Well I think the mixture dried out a little big and the cakes fell apart in the pan.  Learn from my mistakes!

caulicakes

The cauliflower cakes are served with a tangy dipping sauce that’s so simple to whisk together.  Duke’s mayo, lemon juice, chives, garlic and some S&P.  Despite the fact that they fell apart, they were delicious.  And if you don’t think you like cauliflower (I’ll be honest, it’s not my favorite veggie raw), this may turn you into a believer.

I’m using the last of the risotto tomorrow nigh…

I can promise you, risotto will not be on the menu this weekend.

King Ranch Chicken and Quinoa Casserole

There is something so comforting about a casserole.  This casserole used the leftover quinoa from another dinner last week along with rotisserie chicken and a handful of other ingredients.  King Ranch Chicken Casserole has been around for a long time and it a popular Tex-Mex dish.  The name has nothing to do with a King or with Ranch dressing and instead refers to a large ranch in the United States.

Casseroles are one of those dishes that can be prepared in advance and then cooked whenever you’re ready.  I prepped this dish earlier in the day and Big Guy just popped it in the oven and it was ready when we were.

The casserole is full of cheese, quinoa, chicken, poblano peppers, onion, fire roasted tomatoes and green chiles.  It was so filling and delicious.  I actually loved how large the serving size was and didn’t feel like I was eating something “healthy.”

kingranch

I loved how the leftover quinoa was transformed into a new dish.  It’s nutty and a little spicy and a whole lot of delicious.

Do you have a favorite casserole?

I loved tuna noodle casserole growing up and chicken pot pie.

Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Chicken and Cashews

Wow!  What a game that was last night.  I didn’t have a dog in the fight but I was cheering for the Falcons.  And I can’t believe they didn’t win after leading on the scoreboard the entire game.  Unbelievable.  And the halftime show – I thought it was awesome!  Needless to say, I needed an extra cup of coffee this morning after staying up too late to watch the whole game.

Rewind to Friday night and an amazing yet easy dinner.  Friday’s have become pretty low-key around our house thanks to early Saturday morning commitments.  I’m not really complaining because our Saturdays have come so productive lately.  After a busy week with plans almost every evening, I was happy to have a relaxing dinner at home catching up on some of our DVRed shows.

cinnamonchicken

Sweet potatoes are topped with a sweet topping of chicken, cashews, dried cherries and raisins.  Thanks to a rotisserie chicken the topping comes together in a flash.  Simply sauté diced celery in a little EVOO and then add in the dried fruit, some freshly squeezed orange juice, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and salt.  Once warmed through, top the baked sweet potatoes with the chicken mixture and then a good sprinkle of green onions.

So good!  I adored the flavor combination.  It was kind of like a warmed chicken salad.

p.s.  Cashews are my favorite nut ever.

Poached Chicken Thighs with Ginger-Coconut Quinoa

I have literally been eyeing this recipe for almost a year now.  Every week as I plan our meal plan I would flip through my binder and almost alway stop and try to find a way to fit this recipe into our week.  Well this week it actually makes sense for our week of eats.

The recipe is part of a “cook once, eat 3x” series that Cooking Light has been featuring.  It’s a little misleading because you most definitely still have to cook but when I cooked this meal on Monday I prepared lots of quinoa that will take us through the rest of the week in a meal on Wednesday evening.

As always, I get nervous that my expectations of a dish are too high (I mean, ginger-coconut will get me every time) but this meal was incredible.  The flavors are absolutely amazing and there are so many flavors!

The chicken is marinated in EVOO, lime zest + juice, adobo sauce (think smoky, not spicy), ginger, garlic and soy sauce before being poached in the marinade along with chicken stock.  That same stock is then used to cook the quinoa the first time.  After you reserve quinoa for the rest of the week, you add in coconut milk and ginger that seriously adds a punch of flavor.  I find that coconut milk can sometimes get lost in recipes, but that didn’t happen here.

gingercoconutquinoa

If you’re unsure about quinoa, please give it a try.  I think this is a great recipe for quinoa because there are SO many flavors – the ginger, the garlic, the lime zest and the coconut milk infuse the quinoa for an insane layering for flavors.  Poaching the chicken keeps it super tender.  And the sprinkle of green onions add a little freshness and pop of brightness.

Stay tuned for how I used the rest of the quinoa!

Smoky Potato and Greens Tacos + Blood Orange Margaritas

Taco Tuesday!  Last week I found myself with leftover blood oranges and decided I would shake up a margarita to celebrate the end of the week.  This margarita couldn’t be easier and only requires three ingredients.  You’ll need tequila (our “house” tequila is 1800 Silver 100% Agave), fresh blood orange juice and fresh lime juice.  I personally like a salt rim but if that’s not your thing, no biggie.  To make the margarita, simply combine 2 parts tequila with 2 parts blood orange juice and 1 part lime juice.  Serve on the rocks with a lime slice.

margarita

To go along with our margaritas, we enjoyed smoky potato and greens tacos.  I made a few changes to the original recipe, using sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.  To cook, I peeled the potatoes and cut into cubes.  Toss the potatoes with some EVOO plus hot smoked paprika and spread on a baking pan covered with aluminum foil.  Bake at 425 degrees until roasted, turning once.  Instead of collards, I used swiss chard as my greens and simply sautéed in a little EVOO.  Once both the greens and the potatoes are cooked, toss them together to combine.  In the corn tortillas, a heaping spoonful of the potatoes and greens plus radish slices, cilantro, feta cheese (I find it has so much more flavor than queso fresco) and some hot sauce.

tacos

Margaritas and tacos were made for each other.

 

Lemon-Herb Risotto with Shrimp and Haricots Verts

I typically don’t mind having leftovers.  I know some people are anti-leftovers but since I eat most meals at home, including lunch, leftovers sometimes come to our rescue for our middle-of-the-day meal.  This past weekend though, knowing we had a busy Saturday and we already had plans for dinner on Sunday, I was hesitant to have lots of leftovers. This warm and hearty dinner is the perfect dinner-for-two.

I adore risotto.  It’s creamy and rich and the perfect end to a busy week.  I find the continuous stirring to be quite therapeutic and I don’t mind standing over the stovetop – especially with a glass of wine in hand.

The risotto starts by sautéing fennel (a very underused vegetable), onion, thyme and garlic in a little olive oil.  Once tender and fragrant, add in the rice and toast, stirring constantly, for a minute.  Wine is added in and cooked until evaporated and then you begin to add the stock in, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until absorbed before you add in more stock.  For the last 1/2 cup of stock, add in 1/4 cup along with the green beans and salt and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add in the shrimp and cook until pink.  Finally, add in the last 1/4 cup stock, the lemon zest, cream cheese, fennel fronds and pepper.

lemonrisotto

You will not believe that there is only one tablespoon of cream cheese in this dish.  It’s insanely creamy and that’s all because of the constant stirring.  The pops of beans added texture and I loved the addition of lemon zest and fennel fronds.

(p.s. aren’t you impressed?  so much food to share this week!)