Sunday, May 31, 2015

Cooking Challenge: Fresh Summer Corn Risotto

One of Jon's favorite meals is risotto any which way he can get it--mushrooms and chicken, or spring vegetables with goat cheese--but; add whatever you want once you learn the basic process! 

As a forwarning, risotto is not hard to make, but, it does require your full attention and a watchful eye with constant stirring! Preparation and practice are key to making great risotto. Read the recipe. Prepare your ingredients (especially if you are grilling the corn). Stick with it. Just don't throw in the towel if it doesn't quite taste like home the first time you make it!  

Risotto is a stand-alone meal or functions as a great side dish. In my opinion, it is certainly one of the best leftover meals to have sitting in your fridge! Ultimate comfort food!

Fresh Summer Corn Risotto

Large Dutch Oven or 5 quart saucepan
Flat wooden spoon
Ladle or measuring cup

2 cups Arborio rice
8 cups of warm chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup white wine (only if age >21 years)
2 Tbls butter
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

2 cups of grilled corn (or use canned corn kernels), seasoned with:
--Fresh thyme
--Salt and pepper
--1-2 Tbls olive oil

1. Wash your hands.
2. Measure and prep all of your ingredients before you heat your skillet and start.

Grilled Corn

3. Heat 2 Tbls of butter in your large Dutch Oven or Saucepan over MED-HIGH heat.

4. Add the Arborio rice and ensure all kernels are coated in butter.

5. Watch for the rice to turn from shiny off-white kernels to a faint yellowish-brown.

6. Add your first amount of broth to barely cover the rice. 

7. Turn heat to MEDIUM for a steady simmer. And stir in a figure-eight pattern.

8. Do not walk away. Allow the liquid to reduce until rice is visible again. 

9. Repeat the process of adding enough broth to cover rice and reducing liquid.
(Plan on being at the stove for approx 20-25 minutes for this process.)
10. After 2-3 cycles of broth reduction add 1/2 cup of wine.

11. Continue stirring in figure-eight fashion until a thickened liquid begins emerging. 
(At this stage you should only have 1/2 - 1 cup of broth remaining which you may or may not need.)

12. Check the consistency of the rice--some like a tiny bit of bite/firmness 'al dente', others like it softer.

13. Add the extras--in this case: Grilled Corn.

14. Add the parmesan.

15. Season one last time with salt and pepper and thyme. Definitely worth sharing.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Grilling Incredible Corn

Corn has got to be one of my all-time favorite vegetables of summer. There is just nothing, and I mean NOTHING, like eating fresh summer corn grilled to perfection with a dose of salt, pepper, and butter. 

If you are on campus this summer, doing a work-study program, living alone and trying to save money, hit up the local farmers market for fresh, seasonal produce and support those tilling the fields all year! Not only that, notice the difference of just-picked fruit and veggies as well as the difference on your college budget! Nevermind the taste!

Don't settle for canned corn unless it is winter. Please! 

Three things on today's blog needed for tomorrow's post (which by the way is an awesome recipe that Jon has been asking for since I started the blog):

1. How To Choose Fresh Corn
  • Find fat husks of corn
  • Husks should be green, not brown and dry.
  • Weight should be dense and heavy 
  • Peel back the top of the husk to reveal plump, about-to burst, shiny, golden kernels
  • That's it. 
2. How To Grill Fresh Corn

Get your grill--charcoal or gas--ready and fired up. 
Goal: 400 degrees if you have a gas-grill.
Peel back the outer husk carefully, but do not pull it off.

Identify the silk tuft and remove from corn. 

Brush off any loose silk strands as these will easily set fire.

Carefully, pull back the outer husk over the corn cob

Trim any dry, brown or dark green tips of the husk since these will set fire as well.
When ready to grill, spray the corn in their husks with water

Single layer your corn husks onto the grill, turning every 8 minutes until kernels are browned and deep golden yellow.

Once done, allow to cool x 5 minutes before removing husks. 

3. Trimming The Corn For Use

  • Hold the corn vertically in the middle of a plate.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut from top to bottom of the cob.
  • Fresh kernels will fall and collect to sides.
  • Plan to have about 2 cups for tomorrow's recipes, approx 4 cobs needed.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Quick Roasted Garlic Dip

Eating more veggies while prepping for the beach and summer break? Or just wanting better food to snack on with the abundance of summer produce? Go no further! This dip from Cooking Light's The Best of Cooking Light magazine edition is awwwwwessomeee!

If you don't like veggies after eating this dip...something's wrong. I would also wager that topping a baked potato with this condiment instead of fat-laden sour cream, or stuffing a pita with this alternative to mayo is taste-bud-incredible!

Don't believe me? Take 10 minutes to get this on the table for a better way to get your veggies!

Finally, what a simple way to roast garlic quicky! If you have time, roast garlic in the oven x 45-60 minutes; but, if not, try the skillet method below! Can you say "timesaver"?

Quick Roasted Garlic Dip

Small to medium skillet with a lid
Medium mixing bowl or 'nutri-bullet blender

8 cloves garlic, unpeeled (1/2 cup); or, 
(a head of garlic slow-roasted)
1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yoghurt
1/2 cup light sour cream
2 Tbls chives, minced
1 tsp lemon juice
3/8 tsp salt plus to taste
Fresh ground pepper

Add Ins:
Lots of fresh veggies:
--baby carrots
--tri-color peppers
--squash and zucchini
--green onions

1. Wash your hands and all the veggies you are using.
2. Seperate garlic cloves but leave them unpeeled.
3. Cook unpeeled garlic cloves in a skillet covered x 8-10 minutes until peels are browned. Set aside to cool.

4. Chop your chives.

5. If using a nutri-bullet, simple peel garlic cloves and combine /pulse with remaining ingredients. 
6. If you don't have a blender, peel garlic cloves and mash in mixing bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. 

7. Watch it all disappear shortly as you simply cant stop eating it. 

Leftovers, if you have any, are great on pita with pork tenderloin or fajita stuffing or as a phenomenal veggie wrap!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Salad For Supper: Blueberry Feta Tabboulleh

Summer is on its' way! For many of you, it's graduation and new beginnings while others are simply packing up for summer break, vacay, maybe some travel, and/or summer jobs...hopefully! 

However, if you are not headed home; or, you are staying in your off-campus pod or shared apartment, eating will remain something to consider in terms of cost, preparation and taste. The cheapest way to reduce your food bill is to prep in bulk and minimize meats--think Easy Fried Rice, using grains like bulgur or couscous, or using pastas which are cheap, but combine with veggies and proteins for some simple one-dish, nutritious meals for little effort!

Plus, summer markets will make variety a breeze when using grains because you can have savory or a touch of sweet or both! Combinations are endless so that tastebuds don't fatigue on the same thing night after night!

Cooking Light has published some great ideas recently with two and three combinations to drool over. Here is one to satisfy a meal, make as a side dish, or take to a dinner without breaking the bank or your appetite.

If you already love salads or you are trying to go meatless, this grain will become your best friend!

Blueberry-Feta Tabbouleh with Mint Vinaigrette

Mixing Bowl
Nutri-Bullet (or protein shaker, but you will need to chop mint finely)

1 cup boiling water
1 cup cracked bulgur wheat

1/2-3/4 cup mint leaves
1/3 cup virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbls lemon juice
3/4 tsp of kosher salt
Black pepper

1 1/2 cups cucumber
1 1/4 cups blueberries
3/4 cup red onion, thinly and vertically sliced 
2 oz feta cheese crumbled

1. Wash your hands.
2. Combine boiling water and cracked bulgur in mixing bowl. Let stand covered x 25 minutes.

3. Place dressing ingredients into blender. If no blender, chop mint fine.

4. Prep your cucumber and onion.

5. Fluff your bulgur wheat.
6. Add blueberries, cucumber, onion, and feta. Toss to combine with dressing.

7. Adjust with lemon juice / salt and pepper to your taste.

Add this to any meal, grilled meats, or simply eat as a mid-day snack. 
Eat good food!