Wayyy back, just about a year ago, Mr. J and I went on our honeymoon to Spain & Italy. We actually didn’t buy many souvenirs since we were racing around like maniacs to see the sights! Although I wasn’t impressed with the sights of Naples, I still chose a treat to bring home. We got some lemon risotto.
This very same treat provided a halt at security in the US after flying for 8 hours. Not funny. Serves me right for claiming it to a customs dude who had noooo idea that risotto wasn’t a vegetable. Sad.
I remembered the freeze dried pack in the cabinet and thought it was as good a time as any. I hadn’t been saving it but I buy arborio rice in containers so this flat pack slipped my mind. It wasn’t amazing, but it was good and a nice reminder of our time in Italy.
Get excited! I finally got around to editing the photos from our delicious anniversary getaway. Seriously, this tasty destination means so many meals to share next week. Just maybe I’ll get around to sharing some final shots of the completed bedroom renovation/redecorating project.
I love leftovers. I love transforming one thing into something totally different annnnnd I love not spending any money to do it. These were a prime example of all these things. I had leftover risotto from the other day. I made more than usual but even with Mr. J and I eating it with dinner one night and leftovers for lunch the next day, there was still a good amount. I decided to make aranchini!
Aranchini are historically Sicilian but as you can imagine other regions of Italy have similar ones that they’ll tell you are not aranchini. I learned this while dining with the mob. Mine are not authentic since I didn’t have any mozzarella for the middle.
Even without this seemingly key ingredient, these were simply delicious. Maybe because I fried them. I never fry anything so it makes me appreciate it even more. Frying makes me anxious and it’s such a mess.
1 ½ cups prepared and chilled risotto
2 eggs, whisked with 1 tbs water
1 cup panko
2 tbs grated Parmesan
Preheat oil ½ deep in a pan on medium
Scoop refrigerated risotto into 1” balls
Dip each into eggwash then roll in panko until completely covered
Fry in batches turning until golden brown.
Remove and let rest on paper towel.
These were so surprisingly good! I let them get pretty fried before turning them the first time. I think that really helped them stay together since they had a solid fried base on the bottom when I scooped with a slotted spoon.
We each ate a few as an app with dinner and I froze the rest. I think they’ll defrost pretty easily in the fridge and bake to reheat. They’ll be awesome when this weekend is over and I can celebrate a successful event (knock on wood!). I work all year for this weekend so wish me luck, dry weather, well behaved vendors, and lots of fundraising $$ coming in!
I posted some coconut chicken the other day and called that part 1. Today is part 2. The side dish: lemon risotto. Put on your seatbelts because later this week is the leftovers transformed into a real treat. I’m not kidding.
I make risotto quite frequently. Like here. And here. And here. I think of risotto as a wintery comfort food that gets a bad rap for being difficult. I always think that lemon asparagus risotto sounds delicious but I never think of it when spring rolls around. Well here we go! Carpe diem!
I decided on just lemon risotto since I wasn’t feeling having too many parts of the meal all together.
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 lemon (juiced and zested)
1 onion, chopped
Sautee the onion and a bit of olive oil in a pot.
Start warming the liquids together (stock, wine, lemon juice)
Add the rice into the onions once they’re 75% cooked (translucent but still before they’re totally soft).
Add one cup of liquid into the rice and stir until absorbed before adding the next cup into the rice.
Repeat until all the liquid is absorbed, little by little. It will take about 30 minutes on medium heat.
Add lemon zest on top once it is totally cooked.
See? So easy. It takes time and you have to stay nearby, but if you’re putting together other dinner items you’ll have plenty of time. I love risotto and don’t always like regular rice that much. Risotto is creamier, and not as dry.
Wait till you see what I did with the leftovers!!
My crock-pot really doesn’t get as much action as I’d like. I really want it to get out more.
Most slowcooker meals need to cook 4-6 hours. There’s an occasional 8 hours but when I’m gone about 11 hours it just seems like if it has to “keep warm” so long after the cook time that it won’t be that great. I decided to do something with chicken on a Sunday since I’d be able to cook it just the required 4 or 5 hours. I’d be home for the wonderful smells in those hours too!
It wasn’t fantastic. I guess you can judge this one on your own. Mr. J wasn’t crazy about it, but he’s just really crazy about sesame chicken at his hometown restaurant and it couldn’t compete with that. This is a good one to switch things up if you’re eating the same things over and over again.
Slowcooker Sesame Chicken
(adapted from Keeping Up With the Joneses)
3 chicken breasts
1 bag of baby carrots
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup honey
2 tbs garlic, minced
2 tbs ginger, minced
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs sesame oil (optional)
4 tbs cornstarch (with 3 tsp water)
2 tbs sesame seeds
Cut chicken into cube chunks and add to the slow cooker with carrots.
Mix chicken broth, honey, garlic, giner, soy sauce, sesame oil and add to the slow cooker.
Cook on high for 4-5 hours.
Remove chicken and keep warm while mixing the rest of the sauce in the slow cooker itself or in a pot on the stove.
Mix the cornstarch and water and whisk into the sauce.
Let it cook on medium high for about 5 minutes as it thickens.
Serve it all together and top with sesame seeds.
We had this over rice (his = white, hers = brown). I liked that it had some different flavors than we’d had recently, but it really couldn’t beat the deep fried version of Mr. J’s favorite Chinese restaurant.
The leftovers were pretty good the next day for lunch too! I just felt like it didn’t add anything for this to cook that long. I think I could have pretty easily made the same thing, if not better, by adapting the recipe and cooking it to serve, rather than in the crock-pot.
Have I mentioned I hate to grocery shop? I know, most people don’t mind it. It’s a stumbling block since I love to cook. I think it’s moreso that I don’t like how much money it is. I used to grumble since afterwards I then had to carry it up three flights…now there are no stairs involved. Also, it made me so sad to see really little kids there with their parents when I’d go super late (like 10 o’clock, past their bedtime). My previous grocery store was always crowded. I now shop at the world’s largest grocery store. I cannot believe how big it is and it isn’t ever crowded. I might be coming around.
This dinner was a 1 pot meal with what I had around in an effort to use a few things up AND to avoid shopping just one more day.
2 sweet Italian sausage links
1 yellow onion, quartered
1 tbs butter
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup dried cranberries
white or brown rice
In a dutch oven, brown sausage until cooked most of the way through and then remove it from the pan. When cooled a bit, slice into disks.
Stir in broth and scrape any browned bits off the bottom. Cook for 5 minutes on medium.
Add onions and butter until translucent.
Add in apple, sliced sausage pieces, and cranberries.
Cover and cook for 7 minutes more (or until sausage cooks the rest of the way through and the cranberries have rehydrated).
This was so good, so easy, and had really minimal clean up! Win, win, win!
I served this over some rice and steamed some broccoli on the side. I decided to thicken it a little bit with a cornstarch slurry but it is good the way it is. You could easily do most of the prep without the apple and cranberries the night before for a reallllly quick dinner.
I wish I had given the apples less cooking time but they were a different texture than the sausage anyway. I loved the cranberries in there. How good would it be over wild rice?
I plan meals ahead of time, I bring a list. What will make me enjoy it more. Maybe I should get to pick out a treat each time (as in a random ingredient to play with)!
Risotto might be one of my favorite comfort foods. I love how creamy it gets and just how much flavor cooks into it. I have a few more in mind but this is an oldy-but-goody. I think I last made it for a girls night dinner circa 2008. This one is red and would be a fun Valentines Day dinner…if you wanted to be thematic.
Risotto really gets a bad rap for being difficult but I don’t agree at all. This one also packs an extra veggie punch with the tomato juice.
1 cup Arborio rice
2 cups tomato juice
1/4 cup water or white wine
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Toast rice in olive oil for 5 minutes until slightly golden.
Chop zucchini into disks then into quarters.
Warm tomato juice and water/wine over low heat.
Add one cup of the hot liquid at a time until absorbed.
When adding the very last of the liquid, add the zucchini to cook for 5 minutes.
Mix in parmesan and serve.
I sprinkled in some rosemary flor de sal I got in Italy and it was a great use for it. I considered it our starch and our veggie. We had some grilled turkey kilbasa with it too for an easy dinner. The leftovers were good too though they’re a bit more sticky.
Low sodium tomato juice would work well too if your blood-pressure isn’t ridiculously low like mine. Maybe next time I’ll use my trusty Kitchen Ready tomatoes/sauce since the tomato chunks might be good in there too.