Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trader Joe's Product O' the Whenever: Aroborio Rice

Risotto Anyone?

I can't believe how few people make risotto at home. It is really quite easy and sooooooo delicious!

To make it, you need aroborio rice. Enter our product o' the whenever...

The best thing about this aroborio rice is the easy, delicious recipe for risotto on the box. It's the recipe I always use when making risotto. It is a basic recipe, so you can add different ingredients to change it up.

For instance...

I recently went to my friend's birthday party at a super-authentic Italian restaurant, and I ordered the most glorious rissoto. It was so good, I decided to try and duplicate it at home. I hit the jackpot with this recipe... McPreachy gave it a perfect 10!

Here's the Recipe:

Risotto with Sausage and Tomatoes a' la' Casey Crocker

  • 1 package uncooked Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • 12 oz. TJ's aroborio rice
  • 4-5 cups chicken stock, heated
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • approx. 3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese ( a couple of hand fulls... eyeball it.)
  • 4 oz dry white wine
  • 1/4 c. cream
  • salt to taste
  1. Brown and crumble the sausage until cooked through over medium heat in a large stockpot. Drain on a paper-towel lined plate, and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, (No need to wipe it out. Keep the fla-vah alive, yo.) melt the butter and saute the onion for a few minutes to soften it up. Then add your rice and stir to coat.
  3. Add the wine and cook until evaporated.
  4. Now begin slowly adding your chicken stock, one cup at a time, adding more only once the stock has absorbed into the rice. Continue until you have added it all and the rice is cooked through but not mushy. This should take about 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, chop your tomatoes. First cut them in half lengthwise and gently squeeze all the water and seeds out of them so they don't make your risotto watery. That would be a travesty. Once you've de-seeded them, just give 'em a rough chop.
  6. Once your broth is gone and your rice is done, add the cream, cheese, sausage and tomatoes and remove from heat. Salt to taste.

And They All Lived Happily Ever After.

The End.

P.S. Nik, if you are reading this, PLEASE do not let Chris see this. My risotto is embarrassed in front of fancy chefs. I'm just a truffle-less, haricot-vert-free laycook.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

DIY: The Starbucks Experience

I love me some Starbucks. I would go every day if I could.

But I can't. I just can't.

So I have devised a way to have the Starbucks Experience every day without spending the money.

Here are a few DIY copycats of My Starbucks Favorites:

  • The cups --A good cup is essential to the Starbucks experience. I wrote all about the glories of these cups in this post.
  • Iced Latte -- join my favorite Italian... Giada, as she teaches us how to make delish iced lattes flavored with cinnamon. YUM! This has been my go-to iced latte recipe for several years. Extra points if you say "latte" Italian-style like Giada.
  • Iced Coffee -- I recently discovered this great iced coffee recipe, which is a little less involved than the iced latte recipe and super delicious.
  • Petite Vanilla Bean Scones -- Leave it to PW to come up with an exact replica of the most delicious scones on earth.

  • Blueberry Oat Bar -- PW does it again. Just swap out the apricot jam for blueberry in this recipe, and you are on your way to wholesome Starbucks goodness.

  • Maple Oat Scones -- Here is a recipe I haven't tried yet... a copycat of one of my favorite Starbucks treats. I can't wait to try this one!

So go ahead... make yourself something special and have a wonderful, caffeinated day!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Blogspiration: Do As I Do

I wanted to share this great, perspective-changing post I read recently.

I was really challenged and encouraged by what the author had to say about how our toddlers will listen and pay attention to others the way we listen and pay attention to them.


We sometimes have issues with Bennett not giving eye contact or engaging with people when they are talking to him. This made me realize that I need to make sure I am giving him my eye contact and paying attention to him when he speaks to me. How often am I distracted and doing my own thing when he tries to talk to me? I might be telling him to pay attention to others, but am I modeling it? Now that's some food for thought.

It is very convicting and humbling to see that I am struggling with most of the things I am trying to correct in my 3 year old. I recently heard from a wonderful speaker at our MOPS group that God gives us our children not just so we can mold their character, but so they can help mold ours.

I really got a lot out of this. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Obsessions, Doozies and Lemony Recipes: An Update

Okay, I know that this last blog-iatus (blog hiatus) has been pretty long. Sorry peeps... I've got butts to wipe, noses to wipe and floors to wipe. All that wiping doesn't leave much time for typing.

So, I thought I'd celebrate my return to cyberspace with a post choc full o' randomness for the masses.

To begin.... I am currently obsessed with (in no particular order):

1. These cups!!!!

They are reusable to-go cups, and they are amazing!!! I love mine sooooo much. They give you the Starbucks experience without spending all the money! I use the cold one for iced coffees, and it feels just like going to my favorite coffee shop!

P.S. More on DIY Starbucks in my next post! :0)

2. But if you decide you'd rather just buy a coffee.... then PLEASE for the love of java, go buy this one at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. It is SO SO SO delicious! It is my #2 Obsession o' the moment.

3. Traditional Olive Tapenade from Trader Joe's.

In all honestly, it deserves it's own post as a "Trader Joe's Product O' the Whenever" but I am being lazy. All I will say is that this tapenade's deliciousness cannot be rivaled. If you like olives, you will die a slow, tragic and happy death when you eat it on crackers or a sliced baguette.

Next, on to Doozies... a.k.a. things Bennett says that are cute, offensive or otherwise appalling.

Like the way he recently asked if a visiting male missionary at our church had a baby in his tummy...

Yep, my worst Mama nightmare happened recently. We were at church during our weekly kids club, siting in the front row. Like I said, a nice missionary couple was visiting that night, and the husband got up to give the prayer. After he finished, in the DEAD SILENT moment following the prayer, Bennett said in his loudest voice, "Mama, does he have a baby in his tummy?"

My reply:

1. Turn bright red.

2. Look around indignantly to see whose rude kid would possibly say something like that.

3. Once in private, teach Bennett the cardinal rule of humanity: NEVER ask anyone if they have a baby in their tummy. Just wait for them to tell you. This rule will never steer you wrong.

For more rules about what is and isn't acceptable to say to people who actually are pregnant, read this insightful post by my friend, Suzanne.

Here's another doozer:
A few days ago, we were in the car on our way to to store. Bennett brought a nerf gun with him and was "shooting" it left and right (Mama accidentally "lost" all the little foam darts, so he was just pretend shooting).

In a very proud voice he said, "Mama... I'm not going to shoot any of the people in the store."

Me: "That's good, Bennett. We don't shoot people.

Bennett: "I'm going to shoot you, though."

Me: Hey! I'm a person too!

Bennett: (in awed confusion) You are?

Apparently mothers are devoid of humanity in the eyes of their children

Moving on...

The final stop on today's Tour de Random is Lemon Recipes! I've been on quite the lemony kick as of late.

First I made PW's Lemon Pasta. All I have to say is this:
Heaven must be missing angels. And those angels have manifested as lemon-sauce-coated noodles.

I served the pasta with... you guessed it -- lemon-rosemary grilled chicken, which was scrumptious if I do say so myself.

  • one lemon, thinly sliced
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • one big sprig of rosemary, take the leaves off and chop 'em good.
  • 5 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded until they are an even thickness.

In a shallow dish, combine all ingredients (except chicken). Stir to combine. Add chicken and turn to coat. Marinade for 30 minute to one hour... not too long.

Have your husband grill the chicken for you. Lovingly remind him to not overcook it. It won't take too long because you pounded out the chicken. The McPreacher did a fabulous job on the chicken... he has become quite the accomplished griller.

My last lemon recipe is for a DELICIOUS chicken soup that I made for my sick family yesterday. It is the PERFECT soup when you have a cold. I actually used some leftover rotisserie chicken instead of the chicken breast, and it worked great! (Thanks to my wonderful friend, Suz for bringing said chicken to us the night before. She brought us a delicious meal because we've all been so sick.)

Well... I hope you enjoyed this trip down Random Road. Ta Ta For Now!