Mushroom & Chicken Risotto

mushroom-and-chicken-risottoI am a sucker for a thick, creamy risotto, but hate the time it takes to stand by the stove and stir in the liquid it takes to get it that way. This recipe, from Food & Wine Magazine satisfies my need for a speedy prep without sacrificing taste or the texture I love!  An added bonus, for anyone who has an intolerance, it’s Gluten Free!

Mushroom and Chicken Risotto

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, cut into thin slices
  • 2/3 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 5 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock, more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. In a large pot, heat the butter over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Cook until the chicken is just done, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer.
  2. In the large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until it begins to turn opaque, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt to the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until all of the wine has been absorbed. Add about 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and cook, stirring frequently, until it has been absorbed. The rice and broth should bubble gently; adjust the heat as needed. Continue cooking the rice, adding broth 1/2 cup at a time and allowing the rice to absorb it before adding the next 1/2 cup. Cook the rice in this way until tender, 25 to 30 minutes in all. The broth that hasn’t been absorbed should be thickened by the starch from the rice. You may not need to use all the liquid, or you may need more broth or some water.
  4. Stir in the chicken and mushrooms, the Parmesan, and the parsley and heat through. Serve the risotto with additional Parmesan.

SUGGESTED WINE PAIRING

The sweetness here will be nicely mirrored by an off-dry, aromatic white wine, such as Chenin Blanc, Riesling or Gewürztraminer from California.

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Mrs. Fields Peanut Butter Cookies

pbcookieI love peanut butter cookies, something about them feels more special than a chocolate chip cookie.  Just like a sugar cookie tells me it’s Christmas, peanut butter cookies feel like a cold winter night with a warm cup of cocoa.  My mom wasn’t big on cooking dinner, but she did bake.  Cookies were easy, and peanut butter cookies were my dad’s favorite, so they were one that she made once in a while.

I’m not in bakeries often, but when I do get enticed by their heavenly smell and break down and buy them, I’m usually disappointed.  I’m impatient and can never wait to get home, I rarely even make it to the car, before I’m unfolding that waxed bakery bag and taking a big bite of salty peanut butter goodness.  More often than not, they are either too dry, too doughy or too greasy and leave me sorry that I bought them.

There have been very few exceptions, but among my favorite peanut butter cookies are: Mrs. Fields, French’s Bakery (Costa Mesa, Irvine, Mission Viejo, and Orange, CA), and Disneyland.

Lucky for all of us, Debbie Fields shared her recipe for her peanut butter cookies on her blog in 2012.  A bonus for the Gluten-Free crowd, there is no flour in it!

Mrs. Fields Peanut Butter Cookies

mfpbcookies1 cup peanut butter, creamy or chunky
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
coarse salt or sugar, your choice

Preheat oven to 350°.  In a large mixing bowl, combine peanut butter and sugar. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg, then add vanilla directly to it and stir. Add egg mixture to peanut butter mixture and stir until well combined. Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and place on a prepared cookie sheet. Using the tines of a fork, create a crosshatch pattern, flattening the dough about half the thickness. Sprinkle the top of each cookie with a pinch of coarse salt or sugar, depending on your tastes. Bake for 10 minutes, or until barely golden brown around the edges. Makes 30 cookies

HINT:  A good-quality, natural peanut butter adds even richer flavor, but  you may need to add more sugar. Taste dough to determine.

HINT:  Kick these cookies up another notch by dipping cooled cookies in melted semi-sweet chocolate. Allow to cool completely before serving.

I never realized that there was no flour in these, which makes them gluten-free, but also explains why they never taste dry or doughy to me.

Next I’ll see if I can hunt down recipes for my other favorites so I can do an unscientific side by side taste test with my family to see which ones they prefer.

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Chicken Under Pressure “Mamba Style”

I’m not feeling a lot of inspiration to create today, but have some chicken in the freezer, plenty of citrus on the trees, dry goods and spices in the cupboards, so dinner shouldn’t be a big ordeal.

I’m employing my handy dandy pressure cooker so I can make dinner ahead and not have to worry about it during all of the pre-final game Laker festivities honoring The Black Mamba,  Kobe Bryant that I’ll be glued to tonight, tissues close at hand.

Chicken Under Pressure “Mamba Style”

  • 6 Frozen Boneless-Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 2 TBLS Extra Virgin Oil
  • 1 Chicken Bullion Cube
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Allspice
  • 2 tsp Dried Tarragon Leaves
  • Juice of 2 Small Ripe Lemons (About 1/4 Cup)
  • Zest of 2 Small Lemons
  • 1 Cup Water
  1. Turn the pressure cooker on to “Brown” setting
  2. Pour 1 TBLS of the Olive Oil into the bottom of pan
  3. Put frozen chicken into pan to begin defrosting
  4. Add the bullion cube then sprinkle 1/2 tsp of the garlic powder & onion powder, 1/4 tsp of the pepper and allspice, and 1 tsp of the tarragon over the top of the chicken
  5. After 3 minutes turn the chicken over
  6. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tsp of the garlic powder & onion powder, 1/4 tsp of the pepper and allspice, and 1 tsp of the tarragon over the other side of the chicken
  7. Brown for another 3 minutes then turn chicken over one more time
  8. Grate the lemon zest into the pan (on top of the chicken)
  9. Squeeze the juice from the zested lemons into the pan
  10. Add the Water and close & lock the pressure cooker
  11. Set to medium – high setting and, when pressure cooker reaches temperature, set time to cook for 10 minutes
  12. When cooking is completed unplug the pressure cooker and allow to sit, without releasing pressure, for 10 minutes.
  13. After rest time, release the pressure and remove the chicken to a covered dish

 Lemon Artichoke Risotto

  1. Add enough water to the reserved liquid in the pressure cooker to equal 3 cups.
  2. Add 2 Cups Dry Arborio Rice
  3. Set pressure cooker to Rice setting
  4. When cooker reaches desired temperature/pressure, cook rice for 9 minutes
  5. When cycle is complete unplug and release most of the pressure but do not unlock or open machine
  6. After 10 minutes finish releasing pressure and unlock/open pressure cooker
  7. Add 1 jar quartered Artichoke Hearts in Water (drained)
  8. Grate the zest from one medium lemon into the rice
  9. Stir in 1/2 Stick Butter
  10. Stir in 1/4 to 1/2 Cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  11. If desired, add more heated chicken broth to make the rice creamier
  12. Keep covered until ready to serve with the chicken

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Carrot Pineapple Slaw

ribdinnerI needed to add some color to what was going to be an otherwise bland (but really delicious) looking plate tonight, but my husband asked that it not be the things I had ready to whip out: Asparagus and Green Salad.  Ug!

Having just put all of my creative brain power into making Zucana loaves and the spicy sweet sauce for BBQ ribs, I was just not feeling it.

I looked into the refrigerator and saw a lot of produce, dairy products, some leftovers and then inspiration struck when I found:

  • 2 Pound Bag of Carrots
  • Oikos Triple Zero Greek Yogurt Cups
  • A Small Can of Crushed Pineapple

Aha!  In 10 minutes there would be color on my dinner plate!

Carrot Pineapple Slaw

In a large mixing bowl combine

  • 6 Cups Shredded Carrots (About 10 Large Carrots Peeled/Grated)
  • 1 Small Can Crushed Pineapple (Drain first)
  • 1/2 Cup Golden Raisins
  • 2 – 5.3 ounce Cups Vanilla Oikos Triple Zero Greek Yogurt

You can use any yogurt you want to.  I like the Oikos because it doesn’t add any fat, sugar or additional sweetness to the salad.  I use a rubber spatula to combine everything.

My husband didn’t even complain about it 😉  Bonus!

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Gluten Free Zucnana Bread

banzucminisI love a moist piece of banana bread slathered with soft cream cheese.  The only problem I have is, with the number of bananas I buy each week, using the overripe ones for plain banana bread every week or two is getting boring.

My grandma was one of those 1970’s women who broke out of her 1950’s homemaker role and became a more modern woman.  She was different from my friends’ grandmas to say the least:  She played tennis, loved fitness, drove a flashy sports car, loved vacationing and baking herself to a golden tan in the sunshine, had a job outside the home, and pretty much spoiled my brother, sister and I rotten.  My modern grandma made her own yogurt, dried her own fruit, and tried her hardest to get us to eat more vegetables. I’m pretty sure she is why I am so fearless and experimental in the kitchen – I’d eat anything new or different that she fed me.

My Grandma Skip used to make a wonderful, sweet, moist zucchini bread every summer.  It was one of my favorites, even if it did have walnuts in it!  I wonder how bananas would taste with zucchini.  And, as if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, I wonder if I can make it gluten free so I can share it with my friends who have issues with gluten.  Looks like another experiment!!  Off to the kitchen!

Gluten Free Zucnana Bread

  • Shred 2 medium zucchini in your food processor, Vitamix or using a hand grater.
  • Let sit in a colander in the sink so any moisture released can drain off.
  • Grease your 9×5 inch standard or 5.75 x 3 inch mini loaf pans with baking spray (I use coconut oil spray).
  • Preheat oven to 325° F

In medium mixing bowl combine:

  • 1 & 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour
  • 1 & 1/8 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup Oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats)

In same bowl add:

  • 1/4 Cup Agave Syrup
  • 1/3 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 2 Eggs (Room temperature is ideal)
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil (Room temperature/melted)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 3 Medium Bananas Mashed (not overripe, but with browning skins)

Using a large wooden spoon, stir in each addition until well combined.  Batter will be thick.

  • Stir shredded zucchini in by hand (using a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon)
  • Pour into greased loaf pan (s)
  • Bake on center rack in oven for 55 – 65 minutes (9×5 inch pan), or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Like most ovens, my temperature is sometimes a few degrees off, so I start checking for doneness at about 55 minutes.

When finished baking remove pan (s) to a wire rack to cool about 30 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on the wire racks.  When cooled, wrap loaf (s) in foil then put into a zip bag and store in the refrigerator.  These loaves freeze well – wrap first in waxed paper (seal all edges), then foil and finally a securely zipped freezer bag.  Enjoy within 3 months.

I serve with whipped cream cheese, although you can make a simple glaze to drizzle over while the loaf (s) while still warm.

  • 1/4 Cup Cream Cheese
  • 2-3 Tsp Milk
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Cup Confectioner’s (Powdered) Sugar.  Add more or less milk as needed

TIP 1:  I normally use 1 Cup of Sugar in my Banana Bread.  When substituting Agave Syrup or Pure Maple Syrup (or a combination of both) for granulated sugar, make sure that you decrease the water (juice or other liquid component) by 3 TBLS (per 1 C equivalent/ sugar), add 1/8 tsp of baking soda (per 1/2 C equivalent sugar), and reduce your baking temperature by 25° F.  I have already made those adjustments above.  There is a really handy chart for sugar substitutions here.

Tip 2:  When using mini loaf pans instead of a standard 9 x 5 loaf pan, reduce the baking time by 25% (so in this case the baking time would be 43 – 53 Minutes – I start checking loaves for doneness at about 45 minutes).

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Simple Sweet Potatoes

whippedsweetpotatoesUsually when I make my mashed or whipped sweet potatoes, I go through the whole peel, chop, boil routine that takes a lot of time and effort.

Yesterday I got my Easter dinner stated a few hours later than I usually do and the pressure (no pun intended) was nowhere near what it would have been because I knew I had my time saving secret weapon in the bullpen!  Another reason to LOVE my new T-Fal electric pressure cooker!

Steaming, instead of dry pressure cooking on the rack, while I prepared our main dish saved me more than an hour in prep time.  That alone was worth it, but the resulting creaminess of the potatoes allowed me to remove some of the higher fat ingredients I normally would have used to whip them in to submission using my stand mixer.

Super Fast & Easy Whipped Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 Large Sweet Potatoes (or Yams)
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1/4 Cup (1/2 Stick) Butter
  • 3 TBLS Brown Sugar (Light or Dark)
  1. Pour water into bottom of pressure cooker pan and place open steamer basket inside
  2. Wash your sweet potatoes and prick the skin a couple of times with a fork
  3. Place sweet potatoes into the steamer basket and close/lock the pressure cooker
  4. Set pressure cooker to high and, once it reaches temperature, cook for 30 minutes
  5. When timer sounds unplug the pressure cooker and set it aside to come back to normal pressure naturally while preparing the rest of your dinner.
  6. When you are 10 minutes from serving your dinner, open the pressure cooker and remove the potatoes to a medium sized bowl.
  7. The potatoes should be so soft that you can easily slide the peels off without need of any tool/utensils.
  8. Place the butter and peeled potatoes back in the bowl and, using a fork (you won’t need anything more – trust me!) whip the two together until the butter melts.
  9. Stir in the brown sugar and cover until you are ready to serve.
  10. If you want to kick them up a bit, add a pinch of nutmeg and/or cinnamon.

These are so creamy that they could easily be cooled and serve to a baby just starting table foods, but can be hearty enough to accompany turkey, ham, beef, pork or the salmon patties I rested on top.

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This Sauce Has Balls

saucehasballsMy husband, although his Mother was 100% Italian, doesn’t care for much sauce on his pasta.  I, on the other hand, love a thick meaty sauce, no matter what style noodle (even gluten free) we are eating.

I’m in the mood for spaghetti which means sauce that’s nice and meaty, with extra spicy balls for good measure.  Just the way I like it.  😉

Hearty Pasta Sauce with Balls

  • 1 lb  Fresh Ground Pork Sausage
  • 1 lb  Fresh Ground Sirloin (90/10 or 85/15)
  • 1 1/2 TBLS Salt-Free Garlic & Herb Blend Seasoning (Mrs Dash or McCormick Perfect Pinch)
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 TBLS Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Romano Cheese
  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  1. In stand mixer, combine the pork and beef.
  2. Add the spices and cheese and mix until well combined.
  3. Pre-heat 1 TBLS Olive Oil in the pressure cooker pan. Set the machine to the Brown.
  4. Remove 1/2 of the meat mixture from the bowl and place in pressure cooker pan set to Brown.  Cook with the lid open, stirring to break the meat up, for 5-7 minutes then remove and drain off the fat.
  5. Replace pan on pressure cooker base and set to the Brown setting.
  6. Add the following to the pan, in order:
  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 3 Stalks Celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 Medium Onion, chopped
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  1. When pressure cooker returns to temperature, cook for 6-8 minutes until vegetables are soft and onions are translucent.
  2. While vegetables are cooking, add 1 egg to the reserved half of the uncooked meat.  Form inch to inch and a half balls and set aside.
  3. Add 1 Can (6 oz) Tomato Paste to the vegetables, stirring until combined.
  4. Add 2 Cans (14.5 each) Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes (with the juice) and stir well.
  5. Return the cooked meat to the pan.
  6. Add 1 Cup Good Red Wine (If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it!)
  7. Stir and add the meatballs to the pan.
  8. Close the pressure cooker, set to high and cook the sauce for the full 10 minute cycle.
  9. Let the pressure return naturally then serve over cooked pasta with garlic bread.

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. I may not write a blog post every day, but there are daily updates to my This Girl Loves To Eat community at: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood