Sunday, August 24, 2014

Gumbo Risotto

A combination of two of my favorite dishes? Yes, please!

Notes: Gumbo risotto will probably take a little longer than regular risotto. The addition of the vegetables and sausage will make it a little harder for the rice to absorb the liquid. No worries: patience is virtue.

If the stock starts to run out, but the rice isn't done yet, just add water to the sauce pan. Just make sure the water get warmed up in the pan before you add it.

If you like your gumbo not-so-spicy, you can try 1 tablespoon of cajun seasoning rather than 2.

1 1/2 cups arborio rice
4 cups chicken stock or water
1 pound kielbasa
4-5 carrots
4-5 celery stalks
1 small onion (I used a shallot)
4-5 garlic cloves
1 stick butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cajun seasoning (I use Tony's)
1 bunch fresh parsley


Heat the stock or water in a sauce pan on medium-low. Peel and chop the carrots, chop the celery, mince the garlic, and dice the onion. Slice the kielbasa. Chop the parsley.

In a large pot on medium-high, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour into the butter and allow it to cook until you have a roux that's the color of milk chocolate. Add in the carrot, onion, and celery. Remove from heat and stir until the veggies stop sizzling. Return to heat, add in garlic and sausage. Stir in the rice. Add in the cajun seasoning and stir.

Add 4 ladles of stock and stir. When the mixture looks dry and most of the liquid has been absorbed, add two more ladles of stock. Repeat this step until the rice is tender. This should take about 45-50 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Yellow Layer Birthday Cake

It's Scott's birthday today! I love making birthday cakes for him, so I try to do something special every year. He wanted a yellow cake with white icing this year, so I was happy to oblige.

Notes: Baking layer cakes from scratch takes time, but it's mostly prep and waiting. The actual work isn't much greater than making a cake from a box.

If you're using Greek yogurt, you'll need to thin it out with milk. Instead of using a full cup, use 2/3 of a cup and mix it with 1/3 cup of milk.

I'm not into leveling and all that. It's a homemade cake! It's going to look a little rustic. but I do want to get creative with the decorations. I used an outline of a fleur-de-lis that I printed out. I laid it on top of the cake after I frosted it. Then I shook sprinkles all over the cake and CAREFULLY peeled off the paper. It's like a reverse stencil! I thought it came out well.

You can easily make the layers of the cake a day or two in advance. Just let them cool, wrap them in plastic, and pop them in the fridge until you're ready to frost and decorate.

Ingredients (adapted from this recipe):
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup regular sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups plain yogurt
Double batch of white chocolate butter cream

Directions: Heat oven to 350

Make sure the eggs, yogurt, and butter are at room temperature. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda together in the large bowl. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and add the eggs one at a time. Add in the vanilla and yogurt. The mixture will look lumpy and curdled, but that's normal.

Add the flour in batches and mix until just combined. Divide the batter into two cake pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

Let the cakes cool in the in the pan for about 15 minutes. Remove and cool completely on cooling racks.

When the cakes are completely cool, frost with the white chocolate butter cream. Decorate to your liking!

Serve to your favorite birthday person and enjoy!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Spinach and Mushroom Enchiladas

I used to think that my favorite food was pasta. I do love it and always will, but Mexican food has emerged as my #2 favorite. We've eaten so many tacos this summer. But you can't have tacos all the time. Sometimes you've got to throw some enchiladas in the mix---you know, for variety!

Notes: There are very few meals I could make twice in a row, but this is definitely one of them. I could eat another pan of these no problem.

Minute rice normally only takes 5 minutes, but it absorbs the tomato sauce more slowly than water, so it will likely take more time. If you have cooked rice left in the fridge, you can easily just stir it into the tomato sauce and heat it up.

If you're tortillas are not so pliable, cover them with a damp paper towel and zap them for a few seconds in the microwave.

Feel free to adjust the heat levels to your liking.

8 large flour tortillas
1 pint button or cremini mushrooms
10-12 oz. of baby spinach (1 large bag or 2 smaller bags)
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
3-4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups uncooked minute rice
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons ketchup
10-12 dashes hot sauce
1 small bunch of cilantro
6 oz. of colby jack cheese
8 oz. of our favorite enchilada sauce


Heat the oven to 375. If your tortillas have been in the fridge, take them out and let them come to room temperature.

Clean and slice mushrooms.and mince the garlic. Chop cilantro.

Add butter to a large skillet with a lid and turn on medium-high. When the butter melts add mushrooms. Let them cook about 2-3 minutes before adding the garlic (you don't want it to burn). Cook 2-3 more minutes. Add in the baby spinach. Using tongs, turn the spinach in the skillet until it wilts. Season with salt, pepper. Add in cumin, chili powder, and ketchup. Stir.

Pour in tomato sauce and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in rice. Turn the heat back to low and cover. Let stand for 8-10 minutes until rice is tender.

Grate cheese. Pour a small amount of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of filling on to a tortilla. Roll up, folding in the sides so that the filling is secure. Place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat for all 8 tortillas.

Pour enchilada sauce over the enchiladas. Top with grated cheese. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy!