31 March 2011

This is a three-ingredient recipe I got from my favorite source for slow cooker recipes, A Year of Slow Cooking. It was originally written for steak, but I made it with bone-in pork chops and it worked well that way too.

Slow Cooker A.1. and Dijon Steak

4 steaks or bone-in pork chops
3 tbsp A.1. steak sauce
2 tbsp dijon mustard

Place the meat into your slow cooker. Combine the A.1. steak sauce and the dijon mustard in a little bowl. Pour the sauce over the meat and turn to coat.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Makes 4 servings.

There's not much to say about this recipe except that it's really easy and really tasty. Goes well with any kind of rice or potatoes.

30 March 2011

This is a variation on a recipe I saw in this month's Food Network Magazine. It was supposed to be made with duck fat, but since I wasn't planning on cooking a duck anytime soon, I made it with bacon fat instead. YUM! Obviously it's not super healthy veggie dish, and not one I would make on a regular basis, but it was fun to try. Here's how I made it.

Bacon Roasted Cabbage

4 slices bacon
½ head cabbage, cut into 4 wedges
Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 425°.

Cook bacon in large skillet until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels. Finely chop and set aside.

Remove all but 1 tbsp of the bacon fat from the pan, reserving the rest. Brown the cabbage in the skillet; a few minutes on each side. Transfer cabbage to a baking dish. Drizzle with the reserved bacon fat and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Roast until crisp on top, about 15 minutes. Turn the wedges, sprinkle the other side with kosher salt, and roast until the other side is crisp, about 8 more minutes.

Place wedges on serving tray and sprinkle with the bacon crumbles.

Makes 4 servings.

Wow, this was so good. How can anything with bacon not be, right? I really like cabbage, but don't have many cabbage recipes, so when I saw the duck fat one in the magazine, I was immediately intrigued. I don't know how my version compares to the duck fat version, but I know that mine is pretty good and way easier for the average home cook to make.

Jim loved it. He finished his entire wedge before even touching the chicken and rice that I served it with. I really liked how the cabbage was the perfect consistency. Cooked, but still with a nice crunch to it.

The only problem I had with it was that I had a hard time getting the wedges to stay together when flipping. I notice from the picture in the magazine, that they left the core in the cabbage. I didn't think about doing that, but I will do it that way next time. Because even though I started out with four wedges, I ended up trashing one because it just kept falling apart. (That was okay since there were only three of us eating anyway.) So next time I will keep the core in and then we can just cut around it at the table.

I think this would make a nice veggie side dish for entertaining.

Update 04.19.11:

A fellow food blogger saw this recipe and thought it looked good enough to feature it on her own blog. Check it out: From Granny's Kitchen

29 March 2011

This is my basic chili recipe. Nothing fancy or unique about it; just good chili. When I started making chili I didn't have a slow cooker, so I used this stovetop recipe. But now that I have one, I have been making it in that. Since I adapted it for the slow cooker and also changed the seasonings, I decided to post this one as well.

Slow Cooker Chipotle Chili

½ large onion, diced
1 lb. ground beef
2 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp Northwoods Fire seasoning
2 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
½ cup water, optional
Cheddar cheese
Sour cream

Saute onion and ground beef in skillet until ground beef is cooked through. Drain off any grease. Put in slow cooker. Add diced tomatoes (with their juice), tomato sauce, beans, and seasonings. Add water if desired.

Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Serve with cheddar cheese and sour cream if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

I know that everybody likes their chili a different way, but this is how I like mine. I like it a little bit saucy, not super thick. That's why I put the part about the water in there. I add a little bit of water to mine. Whether or not you add water will depend on how much juice is in your diced tomatoes and what consistency you like your chili. Remember that the water won't evaporate from the slow cooker like it does on the stovetop, so if you like your chili really thick, don't add water, and maybe even drain the tomatoes.

If you are not familiar with it, Northwoods Fire is a seasoning blend from my favorite spice place, Penzey's. It's a spice blend containing paprika, chipotle pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, rosemary and garlic. The chipotle is the dominant flavor here; that's why I love it. It adds a really great smoky flavor to the chili. If you are not fortunate enough to live near a Penzey's, you can either order online, or you can use a combination of more chili powder and a little ground chipotle powder. While this chili has a nice heat to it, if you like chili to be super hot, add more Northwoods Fire or ground chipotle.

I like to serve chili with sweet cornbread.

*I tagged this recipe as dairy-free; it's dairy-free without the cheese and sour cream.

27 March 2011

Once a quarter I volunteer to provide after-service treats at church. I used to do a variety of different things, but then I discovered that the easiest thing to do is muffins. I can make them the day before and they are easy to serve. I am slowly building a collection of muffin recipes. I am not much of a baker, so this is kind of new territory for me.

Our church has recently adopted a church in Siberia, part of the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church, which we are in fellowship with. Today we had a guest speaker during the Bible Study time from the Siberian Lutheran Mission Society. I thought about doing some kind of a Russian muffin to coincide with the day's topic. Turns out that muffins aren't traditional Russian food, but I found out that the combination of raisins and walnuts is a traditional combination in Russian baked goods. I found this recipe on food.com and decided to try it out. I made a few changes and this what I came up with.

Apple Raisin Walnut Muffins

½ cup canola oil
¼ cup applesauce
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large granny smith apple, peeled and grated
2 cups flour
½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat oil, applesauce, and sugar together for 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; beat 1 minute. Add apple. In another bowl, stir together flours, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Fold in raisins and walnuts. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Stir just until combined, being careful not to overmix. Fill muffin cups.

Bake 20 minutes or until done. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then cool on wire rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

To be honest, they were just okay. Certainly not the best muffins I have ever had. But acceptable. They were more dense than other muffins I have made, and since I'm not a baker, I don't know what causes that or how to fix it.

I made a test batch last week (I always do that with a new recipe if I'm making it for a large group of people), and they were good, but the got super dark. Not burned, but really dark brown, kind of like the color of pumpkin bread. This surprised me because there are no dark ingredients in them, like brown sugar. Then I remembered that baking soda promotes browning in baked goods. This recipe called for 1 tsp, which seemed like a lot. I looked at another muffin recipe that I had and it only called for ½ tsp baking soda. So I decreased the baking soda and they didn't get so dark.

The other thing I changed is the apple. It called for chunks of apple instead of grated, but since it already had raisins and walnuts, I didn't want big chunks of apple, so I grated it instead. That gives the muffin moisture without changing the texture. You can't even really tell the apple is in there.

People at church complimented me on these muffins, so I will keep this recipe in my collection.

26 March 2011

This winter I instituted a Meatless Monday at our house. Well, it's not usually Monday (I do slow cooker meals on Monday because of my husband's work schedule), but we do have one meal a week with no meat. It's an attempt to save a little money and be healthier by eating more veggies one night a week. I have tried several meatless main dishes now, but one of my go-to meatless meals is quiche and soup. I usually make quiches with spinach, because I really like green veggies in quiche and frozen spinach is a handy thing that I usually have on hand. But last night I felt like doing something different. I had two heads of broccoli in the fridge (we love broccoli, especially roasted), and I thought that would be good in a quiche. I had never used broccoli in a quiche before, and instead of looking up recipes, I just decided to wing it. Here's what I came up with.

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche

9” pie crust (I used the refrigerated kind)
6 eggs
1 cup broccoli, cut into very small florets (¼ head)
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°.

Unroll pie crust and place in pie plate. Trim or crimp edges.

Lightly beat eggs and add broccoli, cheddar, and salt. Pour into pie crust. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until eggs are set.

Makes 6 servings.

Here it is as it came out of the oven:

This is the kind of pie crust I use. If you like making your own crust, be my guest. One thing you'll most likely never see on this blog is a homemade pie crust recipe. I don't own a rolling pin and have no intention of doing so in the future! I also make a quiche crust using hash brown potatoes. That's really good; I'll blog about that the next time I make it. Jim actually prefers that to the pie crust.

Now, I have to tell you that when I got it all put together, I was a little disappointed in the appearance. It looked kind of weird. It seemed like there were hardly enough eggs to cover the bottom and the broccoli stuck way out. But I put it in the oven anyway. Then I went to the computer and looked up some broccoli quiche recipes. Almost all of them called for cooking the broccoli before putting it in the quiche. Oops. I didn't do that. I thought the pieces were small enough that they would cook in the half hour in the oven. So, while this thing was baking, I was sure it was going to be a flop.

But, to my amazement, it looked beautiful when it was done (see pic above). The eggs fluffed up very nicely and fit the pie shell perfectly. I know that most people put milk in their quiches, but I don't. I think the eggs come out the perfect consistency without it. If you haven't tried it this way, you should just once and see if you like it. The broccoli also pleasantly surprised me. It was cooked, but not mushy. Still had a little bite to it. Perfect. I think that if I had cooked the broccoli before, it would have ended up being mushy.

I served this quiche with my Potato Leek Soup and some pretzel bread I found at the grocery store that afternoon. It was an awesome meal and none of us missed the meat at all.

I will be adding the new category, Meatless Mains, to my list on the right. Do any of you go meatless once a week (or more)? If so, leave a comment and let me know what some of your favorite meatless dishes are.

This is a very simple soup recipe I got from a friend a few years ago. I'm a big fan of pureed vegetable soups and this one is one of the easiest, with only 3 or 4 ingredients.

Potato Leek Soup

4 small potatoes (12 oz.), peeled and diced
6 small leeks (about 12 oz.), thinly sliced and washed
5 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
Little bit of half and half or milk, optional

Combine potatoes, leeks, and chicken stock in soup pot. Cook on medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes, or until potatoes and leeks are soft. Remove from heat and puree, adding more stock if necessary to reach desired consistency. Stir in a small amount of half and half or milk if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Really couldn't be easier, but very satisfying on a cold day. The leeks give the soup a very mild onion flavor and a beautiful green color.

This would be really easy to adapt for the slow cooker. I'm guessing it would take around 4 hours on low or 2 on high.

This is how I wash leeks. Cut them in half lengthwise, then cut into thin half-moons. Put them all in a large bowl with cold water. Using your fingers, separate the leek layers. You won't get all of them, but separate them as best you can. In between the layers is where the sand hides. Swish them about a little bit, then remove them (I use a plastic skimmer, similar to this one). If you are using leeks in a dry application (roasting them, etc), make sure you dry them off really well. But since they were going into a soup, I didn't bother with that.

The leeks and potatoes getting all cozy in the pot.

25 March 2011

This is a recipe I came up with in January. My husband went out of town on business for a few days and I needed some easy meals to make while he was gone. It was deep in the heart of soup season, and I was craving some broccoli soup. I also had a few potatoes that needed to be used up pretty soon, so I wanted to do a broccoli and potato soup. I needed a slow cooker recipe since I wouldn't be able to spend a lot of time in the kitchen while taking care of the girls by myself. I couldn't find a single slow cooker recipe for broccoli and potato soup like what I had in mind. I found stovetop recipes, but none for slow cooker. So I just made one up myself.

Slow Cooker Broccoli Potato Soup

1 head broccoli, chopped
1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
3 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Place the broccoli, potatoes, onion, garlic, stock, and salt in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours or until potatoes are tender.

For chunky style: Lightly mash potatoes and broccoli with potato masher until desired consistency. Add cheese and stir until melted.

For smooth style: Puree using a stick blender or in batches using a regular blender. Once smooth, add cheese and stir until melted.

Makes 4 servings.

It turned out really well. Just what I had in mind. As you can see, the recipe includes directions for serving it chunky or pureed. I had it chunky the day I made it, and it was delicious. Then before I put the leftovers away, I pureed it using my stick blender and had it that way until it was gone. It was really good that way too.

Pureed style.

24 March 2011

I am proud to announce that I just posted my 200th recipe on this blog! It was Slow Cooker Italian Beef & Vegetable Soup.

I can't believe I've got a collection of 200 recipes here! Makes me wonder how many I've got in my binder in the kitchen, because there are lots I haven't blogged about yet.

While it took me two years and five months to post the first hundred recipes, the second hundred only took a year and half.

Thanks so much to all of you who read this blog and comment on it. While I would probably still do it even if nobody read it, I really enjoy getting feedback and hearing that somebody tried one of my recipes.

Here's to the next hundred recipes!

This is a soup I've been making for a while now, but never got around to blogging about. I started with this recipe on food.com, and changed it quite a bit to better suit my tastes.

Slow Cooker Italian Beef & Vegetable Soup

1 lb. lean ground beef
½ onion, chopped
2 cups matchstick carrots
1 zucchini, cut into ½” crescents
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes
½ head cabbage, chopped
4 cups chicken or beef stock
1 tsp salt

Saut̩ the ground beef with the onion until the ground beef is cooked through. Drain off any grease. Place all ingredients in slow cooker. Stir well. Cook on low for 6 Р7 hours.

Makes 8 servings.

Not much to say about this soup except that it's yummy. It makes a lot, so I usually freeze some for later. The last time I made some, I gave some leftovers to my sister (she likes to have soup for lunch at work). She wasn't sure she was going to like it, because she's not a huge fan of cooked cabbage, but she really enjoyed it. The cabbage is cooked, but it still has some bit to it; it's not completely limp. So even if you're not that into cabbage, give it a try.

23 March 2011

This is a really simple, yet tasty, soup that I adapted from one in a cookbook called Twelve Months of Monastery Soups. Yes, this is a cookbook of soup recipes written by a monk in a monastery!

Broccoli Bacon Soup

1 lb. broccoli, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
4 strips bacon, chopped
6 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Gruyere or Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the broccoli, garlic, and bacon and saute for a minute or two, stirring constantly. Add 2 cups stock. Stir well. Cover the pot and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the remaining stock and milk and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper and simmer for a few minutes. Garnish at the last minute with some grated cheese.

Makes 4 servings.

This is my adaptation. The original called for tomato paste and all water instead of stock and milk.

If you like broccoli and you like bacon, this soup's for you!

22 March 2011

I made lots of new soups this winter. Michigan winters make me want to eat soup for every single meal! I didn't think I would feel like blogging about soup once spring rolled around, but here we are, two days into spring, with a winter storm watch. Ugh! I guess it's the perfect opportunity to share some of my soup recipes.

This one's really good. It's adapted from this one on food.com.

Slow Cooker Ginger Beef Noodle Soup

1½ lbs. beef chuck
8 cups beef broth
4 cups water
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup ginger, very thinly sliced
1 onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ tsp five spice powder
½ lb. shiitake mushrooms, caps only, thickly sliced
3 large scallions, thinly sliced
½ lb. fresh Chinese egg noodles or 1 lb. thick japanese udon noodles

Place the meat in a slow cooker. Add the broth, water, soy sauce, ginger, onion, garlic, and five spice powder. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or until the meat is tender. Transfer the meat to a plate and let cool slightly. Using two forks, pull the meat into thick shreds.

Strain the broth, discarding the solids. Return the broth to the cooker. Add the mushrooms, scallions, and shredded meat. Cook on high for 15 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until al dente. Drain well. Add the noodles to the soup.

Makes 6 servings.

I really didn't change very much. It called for half of a star anise pod, but I didn't have that so I used Chinese five spice powder. Star anise is one of the five ingredients. Also, I couldn't find the noodles called for in the recipe so I used a regular noodle (like you would find in chicken noodle soup). I tried cooking the noodles right in the soup (I thought it would be hot enough since it was cooking on high), but I don't recommend this because they got kind of gummy.

Also, I used cremini (or baby portobella) mushrooms instead of the shiitakes. They were a lot cheaper than the shiitakes at my store and they worked just fine. White button mushrooms would be fine too.

This is a tasty soup that is wonderful on a cold winter (or spring!) evening.

21 March 2011

This is a recipe I came up with one day when I had some ground turkey and some cooked sweet potato cubes in the fridge that I didn't have any plan for.

Turkey and Sweet Potato Burritos

¼ large onion, diced
1 lb. ground turkey or leftover cubed turkey breast
3 tbsp adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups sweet potatoes, cubed and cooked
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt to taste
6 large flour tortillas
Sour cream, optional

Saute onion and ground turkey in large skillet until turkey is browned. Add adobo sauce, black beans, sweet potatoes, and salt. Heat through.

Place filling in tortillas and roll up. Serve with sour cream.

Makes 6 servings.

Super simple but really good. I consider it one of my "mock Thanksgiving" meals because it has turkey and sweet potatoes. I put in the recipe that you could use leftover Thanksgiving turkey; I've never made it that way, but I'm sure it would work.

Here's how I cook the sweet potatoes. Peel them and cut into small cubes. Then I steam them in a steamer basket on the stovetop, but you could also steam them in the microwave by putting them in a bowl with a small amount of water and covering tightly with plastic wrap.

If you like things really spicy, use one of the chipotles from the can, as well as the adobo. I like using the adobo because it has all of the chipotle flavor with just a little bit of heat instead of a lot.

Yummy filling.

18 March 2011

This is the dessert I made on St. Patrick's Day. I'm not usually a fan of frosted brownies (they remind me of school cafeterias), but the only irish cream brownie recipes I could find had frosting. I got this recipe from Food.com.

Irish Cream Brownies

1 box brownie mix
¾ cup irish cream, divided
½ cup oil
2 eggs
½ cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350°. Grease the bottom of a 9x13” baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine brownie mix, ½ cup irish cream, oil, and eggs. Beat 50 strokes with a spoon and spread in greased pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Do not over bake. Cool completely.

In a small bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar and remaining ¼ cup irish cream. Add more irish cream if too thick. Spread over cooled brownies.

Makes 20 brownies.

They aren't very pretty, but they taste pretty darn good. I don't think I had ever actually had irish cream before. I've had irish cream flavored coffee creamer, but not the real thing. I didn't buy the Bailey's; it was too expensive. I found another brand (still imported from Ireland), for about half the price.

The original recipe called for a chocolate drizzle on top, but I didn't think it was necessary. They're pretty rich enough as it is!

I made these after enjoying a lovely dinner of corned beef and cabbage.

This is the result of my first ever attempt at corned beef and cabbage. I think it turned out really well. I used a slow cooker recipe because my daughter has gymnastics on Thursday evenings and I have no time to make dinner. I found this recipe on Food.com.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

3-4 lbs. corned beef brisket
7+ onion, chopped
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 medium head of cabbage, cut into wedges
1 apple, sliced
¼ - ½ tsp caraway seeds (optional)
12 oz. dark beer

Place corned beef brisket and any seasonings included in your slow cooker. Top with onion. Whisk together the vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, and cloves and pour over top. Add the cabbage wedges and apple slices and caraway seeds if using them. Pour beer over top.

Cover and cook on low for about 7 hours or high for about 4-5 hours.

Makes 6 servings.

It turned out really well. Since I had never made corned beef before, I had no idea how to know when it was done, especially since it is red even when fully cooked. I put mine on high because I didn't get it into the slow cooker until around noon. I checked it at 4:00 and the cabbage was in good shape (cooked, but with a little bite left to it), but I had no idea if the beef was done or not. So I turned it down to low and it cooked another 2 hours that way. At 6:00 the cabbage was slightly more done than I like it, but still edible. And the corned beef was perfect.

I didn't have the caraway seeds so I left them out.

This is the beer I used. It was super dark, and I don't like beer, so I honestly thought that I wasn't going to like this dish. But it didn't taste like beer at all. I was really surprised.

I heard that it's traditional to serve corned beef and cabbage with potatoes, but I didn't really know how to prepare them. I peeled them and cut them into large chunks and boiled them. Then on the serving platter, I poured some of the liquid from the slow cooker over them. That worked out well.

After Lena went to bed, Jim and I rounded out the day with Irish Cream Brownies.

I'm sure I'll be making this again next St. Patrick's Day!

17 March 2011

This is the dish I made for our breakfast potluck dinner at church last night. Everybody loved it.

This isn't so much a recipe as it is a method.

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait For A Crowd

9 cups yogurt, any flavor you like
Assorted fresh or frozen fruit (thawed if frozen)
4 cups granola, crushed

Spread one cup of yogurt in the bottom of a trifle bowl. Top with one cup of granola. Layer fruit on top of granola, making sure some is right up against the side so it can be seen in the layers. Top with 2 cups of yogurt, alternating flavors if desired. Top with another cup of granola and another layer of fruit. Repeat 2 more times. Finish with the last 2 cups of yogurt and garnish with some of each of the fruit you used. I didn't worry about making each fruit layer pretty (I didn't fan it out), but the top I made pretty.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes ? (a lot!) of servings.

A note about the granola: I used the wrong kind. After I opened it up, I realized that it had puffed rice in it. That gave it a kind of chewy, not crispy texture. It was all I had and there was no time to run to the store for more, so I went with it. At the meal, people thought the yogurt had made the granola soggy, but it wasn't, it was just because of the puffed rice. So don't get granola with puffed rice in it.

I would also suggest using regular yogurt instead of low fat. It tastes just fine with low fat, but it was a tad on the runny side. When people dug into it, it just kind of collapsed on itself. Next time I will use a full fat yogurt and see if that helps.

Other than the granola issue, it was a big hit. I was told that I have to make it again for Easter breakfast.

Here is how I layered this one, starting on the bottom: vanilla yogurt, granola, peaches (frozen), strawberry yogurt, granola, blueberries (frozen), vanilla yogurt, granola, banana slices, strawberry yogurt, granola, strawberries (fresh), vanilla yogurt, fruit garnish.

I've never done any type of fruit garnish before, so I think this turned out really well! I covered it right away and chilled for 2 hours and the bananas didn't turn brown at all.

I'm back! I kind of took a winter hiatus from blogging, but spring is slowly creeping in and my taxes are done, so I am anxious to get back to posting recipes. Even though I didn't blog much during the winter, I still made lots of new recipes, so I have a backlog of stuff to blog about. I probably won't get to all of it, but I'll hit the highlights.

Today is St. Patrick's Day. There are two ways you go with dinner on St. Patrick's Day: traditional Irish food or green food. This year I have opted for traditional food. I am making my first ever corned beef and cabbage dish (in the slow cooker). But I inadvertently made a green meal last weekend.

This sweet pea risotto recipe is one I saw in Rachael Ray's magazine a while back and was eager to try, but for some reason I didn't get around to until now. Even though it's a side dish, it's kind of time-consuming and a little bit labor intensive, so you'll have to have a super easy main dish to serve it with. I pan seared salmon fillets.

I didn't change very much about the original recipe. Here's my adaptation.

Sweet Pea Risotto Gratin

2 cups frozen peas, thawed
8 cups chicken broth
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cups arborio (short grain) rice
2 tbsp butter
1 cup parmesan cheese, divided
¼ cup soft bread crumbs

Puree half of the peas in a food processor and set aside with the whole peas.

In a saucepan, heat the chicken broth and keep warm. Grease a 2-quart casserole and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and stir well to coat the grains with butter. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth to the rice, lower the heat slightly and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth in ½ cup increments, letting the rice absorb the liquid (about 3 minutes) after each addition, and stirring almost constantly, until the rice is cooked, 20 to 25 minutes. The finished rice will be creamy but still firm to the bite.

A few minutes before the risotto is done, stir in the pureed and whole peas. Turn on the broiler.

Remove the cooked rice from the heat and stir in the butter and ¾ cup of the parmesan. Season with salt, if necessary. Stir the remaining ¼ cup of parmesan and the bread crumbs together. Transfer the risotto to the prepared casserole dish and top with the bread crumb mixture. Place the dish under the broiler about 6 inches from the heat source and broil for about 2 minutes, or until the top is golden. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

The original called for a total of 5 tbsp of butter, 3 for sauteeing the onion. I used olive oil for that instead. I also increased the amount of stock because I ran out, and it can't hurt to have extra (the leftover can be refrigerated and used for something else). The only other thing I changed was that I used fresh soft bread crumbs instead of dry. I just prefer the fresh and I think it gives it better texture.

This is it after the rice is cooked. So pretty!

Into the casserole dish.

I served this with salmon that had been seasoned with Penzey's Fox Point seasoning. It's made with shallots, chives, and green onions, so it has a beautiful green color. I actually didn't choose it for the color; I just thought the flavor would go well with the rice dish.

My favorite thing about making risotto is using the leftovers (I don't ever halve risotto recipes!) to make risotto cakes the next day. If you think making risotto is a lot of work (it really isn't, though), just remember that you get two days of side dishes out of it! Jim actually made these to go with grilled steak the next night. Mmmm! Take a handful of risotto and form it into a patty shape, coat it in breadcrumbs (dry is fine here), and fry in a little bit of oil in a skillet. A lot of times I end up enjoying the cakes more than the original dish.