Cheesy Artichoke Rice

I hate the way when you look up “cheesy rice” and you get “minute rice” and non-cheese cheese slices. Ugh. That is just not right. And that is also not cheese either.  Who does this?  I ran out of orzo and thought to make a rice recipe that would work for my lunches at work. I prefer home-made lunch to restaurants, with some exceptions.  You know, things I just don’t make (Indian food) and that I know other people do a much better job than me. But pasta dishes, rice dishes, when lots of cheese or mushrooms are involved – I think I got this. No, I know I do. D&D_2081

So my thoughts on this are:

I need lunch for tomorrow.
I have no vegetable or chicken stock (unreal!) and I’m not going to the grocery store at 8:30pm. Nope.
I have lots of rice.
I have quite the variety of cheeses.
I have scallions that are mostly okay.~
Always have onions and garlic.
Lemon zest

With all that in mind, I’m going to figure out what to make tonight and here is what I did.
2 cups H2O
1 cup long grain rice
lots of salt

Cook like you always make rice – if you need a tutorial this is how it goes: Thank you The Kitchn.

Once you remove it from the heat, add 3 Tbs of unsalted butter while it steams on the back burner — important: lid on, heat off.

Unsalted butter
Olive oil
Small yellow onion, diced
3 good sized cloves of garlic, minced
artichoke hearts, drained & quartered (not marinated)
~ the scallions were past there “best buy” date at this point – too bad. But the onions and garlic made up for it.

In a saute pan, melt 2 Tbs unsalted butter and one small yellow onion diced and a good pinch of kosher salt. Saute on low-ish heat until soft. Then add three cloves (less or more as you prefer) minced and let them sit on the top of the onions  – you don’t want them to burn. Stir them in a bit and then remove from heat.

Now, here is where things get interesting – I opened a can of artichoke hearts and quartered them and added them to the onion mixture with a little glug of olive oil and let everything simmer until it was a cohesive mix of veg that was soft – that seems to be key.

D&D_iPhone_image1As mentioned – I have cheese options – so I pulled out all the cheese that had already been opened. Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano Reggiano, Manchego  – so the decision is which one or which combination to use. I used some Manchego because it is melty but it grates like a cheddar, but just a little softer and the Dog (Hood) really likes it. And then the Pecorino – for that salty flavor – a great sheep’s milk hard cheese. Not too different, really from Parmigiano, but not the same either. Manchego is another sheeps’ milk cheese from Spain – from the La Mancha region. So I guess this is the Spanish sheep milk cheese recipe.

I have to say cheese, for me, matters not if it from a cow, a goat, or a sheep. I just love cheese in a stupid sort of way. That is probably obvious by now.

But when I do it again, I will put some sharp cheddar in the mix. This time I added lemon zest at home and took that lemon to work for the juice for my lunch leftover hacks. Excellent.

I think that just might be the key to a great lunch hack at work. I always have a fresh lemon and a bit of grated Pecorino or Parmigiano in the fridge there – it really makes all the difference in the world. From boring leftovers to something special.

Mardi Gras

Well Carnival season is always a fun time here in Pensacola. Everyone associates Carnival with just New Orleans, but in this country it started in Mobile, Alabama – and moon pies are involved. Yep. Moon Pies. Pensacola has a vibrant krewe tradition and a host of parades and balls from 12th night (6th of January) on – there is not much else to do in January and February after all. It is cold and rainy most of the time so any excuse to drink like fish and dress up is appreciated. I would join a krewe, but I just do not like people. Nope.

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Yes, I have carnival cookie cutters. So?

Throws (beads, cups, and, whatnot) vary, but Moon Pies are in the mix. I am so not sure why, but hey, what is wrong with a chocolate Moon Pie once a year. Apparently this year there were calorie count moon pies – like tiny little things – who does that? This season is for indulgence, so let us just have a regular old-sized moon pie – like the kind I ate when I was a kid. I do not like the vanilla ones and really do not like the banana ones – ugh. Go chocolate (which is odd for me) or do not bother.

So today I wear beads to work – just like I wore beads this weekend when the major parades were going on. Monday was red beans and rice day and while that is a traditional Monday thing, but this is the important Monday. Today is Mardi Gras – the crazy day and then Ash Wednesday changes everything.

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Hood – my Mardi Gras pup

National Dog Day

Today is National Dog Day, so I think I will begin operation Get Another Dog in earnest now. Up to this point, I have been casually dropping hints that the MotH* has consistently ignored, but I think I will put the spurs to it, as it were, and actively start looking for a dog that I want.

That raises the question – what kind of dog do I really want? My first knee-jerk reaction would immediately be a German Shepherd Dog, but I am wondering if that makes sense going forward. I would always compare any GSD to Duke and I just do not think it could possibly measure up. IMG_0041

And then there is Bering. The  Boy wanted two types of dogs, a GSD and a Siberian Husky. When our friends rescued a Husky right after Hurricane Katrina, I was not enthusiastic. It seemed that he was noisy. Guess I did not know anything about a Husky. The Boy picked the name, it was the Bering Sea. And lord help me, the Husky was beyond words beautiful. I miss my little puppy friend. It is a damn shame that cancer took him at six years despite all the efforts we made.

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Then we got the idiot. He was bred to be a service dog. The group thought that mixing a Border Collie and a Lab would make a good service dog. Funny, but I do not think this group will try to make that mix again, since 3 of the 4 of that litter totally washed out. But he is my little idiot and no one else can say that about my dumb little boy. He is my Hood. This the picture when I knew he was mine.

Hoodie Boy

*Man of the House

Chicken Salad

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Simple Chicken Salad

I seem to keep failing at chicken salad. I am not sure why, but this time, I really thought I got it. But to be honest, chicken salad is so pedestrian. I mean, pretty much any idiot can make it. That just makes me feel like a bit of an idiot because it does not seem to work for me.

All that said, this was pretty damn good chicken salad. Too bad I could not enjoy it like I wanted to.

I have no idea how my mom made chicken salad. One of the million of things I did not ask her – this seems to be a theme. Guess that is what happens when someone you love dies unexpectedly. So you just have to forge you own way in the world. Suck it up and deal.

I poach a chicken breast or two* – usually two and then add the usual suspects: celery, peeled of course and then minced, a few (3) chopped boiled eggs, some shallots – minced, parsley also minced, a little Duke’s Mayonnaise, Dijon mustard. And if I am feeling really frisky some sweet pickle relish. None of this is anything my mother EVER did. But this is pretty cool in the grand scheme of things.

My lovely mother-in-law makes great chicken salad and it is just the way I like it – with grapes and nuts, but the MotH does not care for that. Either way, this one is pretty damn good.

I guess this is another one of my non-recipe recipes. I do seem to have quite a few of them. But when I think of it, that does not seem to me a bad thing

*I could have poached the chicken with bay leaves and peppercorns and garlic, but I save the chicken water for Hood, so I go simple so I can give him a treat. What dog does not love chicken water? Um, none.

 

 

Italian Fresh Cream Lemon Cake

D&D_1374 I have always heard about Italian Cream Cakes, but this is my first go with one. In a way it seems like lighter version of a pound cake and I did bake this in a bundt pan. Seems to make sense in a way.

I appear to be in cake mode now. Not sure why, but that does happen to me on occasion. Kind of like being in cookie mode for the last couple of months (read: 8 months). It is odd in a way, but I guess as humans we get into a trend of sorts and just go with it. Now, it is cake – not a bad thing, at least not in my opinion. We will see how this sorts itself out. Who knows? Not me – ever.

Maybe next trend will be cupcakes (if they are not too twee). Unsure at this point. But need something to transport them in.

I brought this cake to the office this Wednesday which is when our students are there – it seemed to be a success.  It really is a light version of a pound cake. I will make it again, but I really need more lemon in it. Maybe a lemon glaze. That always seems to make things better.

2 cups plus 1 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (sifted for sure)
7 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
zest of one lemon, grated on a microplane
1 tsp vanilla or more which is not a bad thing -kind of always do more
2/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Spray a bundt pan with baking spray – yeah, just over do it if your have the kind of bundt pans I have (see below).  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs and sugar until light. Add the flour to the egg mixture alternating with cream. Fold in butter. zest, and vanilla.

Pour into (well) prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Testing with a wooden skewer – just to be sure. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then tump it out. Let cool for a few more minutes and dust with  confectioners’ sugar.

Notes: I just realized how many assumptions I made with the recipe – holy cow. I assumed all-purpose flour but the recipe I have did not make that clear,  and large eggs, and unsalted butter, wow could this recipe be more vague. I could have just made a huge mistake. But I am hoping I did not.

Source: An Italian in my Kitchen.com

Pan – Nordic Ware Heritage Bundt Pan

 

National Puppy Day

I had no idea that this was National Puppy Day. But I think that is a great idea, because I don’t think anything can make you feel better than a dog – no matter what the MotH says. I’ve loved all my pups (or puppers which how I usually refer to them.)

So today, I remember all my pupper friends. Two how I miss beyond words, and my little idiot (I’m the only one who can call him that) that I am so grateful for. Hate ending a sentence that way.

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Bering – My Siberian Husky – Duke the best GSD ever

Hoodie Boy

Hood – my Border Collie / Labrador Mix – My little idiot

Guinness Brownies

As I have mentioned about a million times, I am not a big chocolate person, but I am a huge fan of Guinness. It was the first beer I really drank (huge story here) and I love it still. It is like having a meal, so I don’t drink it too often. The MotH likes Guinness too and the Boy love brownies, so this just makes sense. I use a Guinness stout, and maybe drink one, the MotH gets the rest, and the Boy gets brownies, and now at his age, a Guinness for himself too. It is a win all the way around.D&D_1246

4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar, superfine*
8 ozs bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 ozs white chocolate, chopped
6 Tbs unsalted butter
3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup Guinness Stout**
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray with cooking spray, an  8 x 8 baking pan, line with a parchment sling and spray that as well. Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together the flour, salt, cocoa

In a stand mixer, combine sugar and eggs and beat until light and fluffy.

In a microwave bowl,  melt chocolates and butter in 30 second bursts, and stir until smooth. Cool slightly, and mix into egg mixture.

Add flour mixture to egg mixture and beat until smooth.  Whisk Guinness into batter. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20 –  25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Might be longer than you think – it was for me).

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Remove from pan using sling, cut into very tiny squares and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Source: Grace Neill’s A New Irish Table

*Take granulated sugar and whir it in a food processor and then measure out 3/4 cup. Or just use regular granulated sugar, I have.  It does not seem to matter.

**Pour the stout and let the foam settle before measuring.

These brownies are pretty much like fudge. Please cut them in little tiny pieces.

1 March 2003 – SR/ER loved them, so very chocolate w/out being too sweet.

16 March 2003 – for the office

5 November 2006 Guy Fawkes

26 March 2011