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WILD RICE PILAF

Although I do have a number of rice dishes on this blog….rice is not my favorite side dish.  Never has been. (unless it is Risotto or a lovely dessert rice pudding) However, if you make it into a pilaf, adding numerous flavorings and other ingredients, it creates a flavorful side dish indeed.

We recently discovered this wild rice blend by Lundberg.  It is a blend of long grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, wild rice, whole grain wehani rice, and whole grain black japonica rice.  Wehani and black Japonica rice? We have never heard of these types of rice before but I must say there was great flavor and texture in this rice blend.  No paid advertisement here…just wanting to share something new we all enjoyed.

I have found with these rice blends there is always the need to add more liquid and a longer cooking time than what the directions recommend…personally I do not care for crunchy rice! With the added cooking time and extra ingredients this created a lovely side dish to any main meal.

1 cup of wild rice blend

2 1/4 cups chicken stock

1 bay leaf

3 crimini mushrooms, diced

1 large shallot, diced

3 minced garlic cloves

2 big Tblsp. finely diced celery with leaves

2 Tblsp. Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 – 2 Tblsp. butter

1 Tblsp. tomato paste and 1/4 cup water, mixed well

a few splashes balsamic vinegar

season blend:  1/2 tsp. dried basil, 1/2 tsp. dried fennel, 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning, 2 tsp. dried ground garlic, 1 Tblsp. dried parsley, salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, and rice to a medium sized sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Stir with a fork, cover with a lid, and turn down to a low simmer.  Cook for about 1 hour.

Remove from heat, toss with a fork, then lid back on and let sit for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat up a large saute pan on low medium heat with the EVOO and butter.  Add the mushrooms, shallot, garlic, and finely diced celery.  Saute about 10 minutes.  Then add in the seasoning blend, tomato paste with water, and the balsamic vinegar stirring well to combine.  Continue to saute for another 5 minutes.  Add the rice, mixing well.  Keep on a low heat, stirring until heated through well.  Serve alongside any main dish.

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COOK BOOK REVIEW & A GIVEAWAY! WINNER ANNOUNCED

UPDATE:  ANNOUNCING THE WINNER FOR THE ITALIAN DIABETES COOK BOOK GIVE AWAY CHOSEN AT RANDOM IS:  LINDA.

Please contact me through my email with your mailing address to receive your free copy of the cook book….congratulations Linda!

I recently received The Italian Diabetes Cook Book Delicious And Healthful Dishes From Venice To Sicily and Beyond written by Amy Riolo.  Published by the American Diabetes Association.

First, let me say, this cook book has so many wonderful recipes it was a tough call choosing a few to test for this post.  Just flipping through the cook book had me wanting to make every single recipe – and there are 150 of them!  This will definitely be a cook book I will use time and time again. It has also been a fun new taste experience for my family.  Each recipe I have made has been seriously delicious.  If you read my blog, you know I am a lover of food, especially Italian, so this is a cook book that pulled me in right away.

On another note, a good friend of mine recently passed away.  He was a diabetic who was very careful with his diet and exercise regime.  He did not die from diabetes, but from other health/age conditions at the age of 72.  He often said, “if people followed a diabetic diet, there would be less obese and much healthier people in this world”.

In reading this cook book I would totally agree.  The recipes use local, fresh in season ingredients.  Wholesome food that is delicious and nutritious.  The book begins with Appetizers, then First Course recipes, 2nd Courses, Side Dishes, Salads, Breads, Sauces and Condiments,  and Desserts.  Amy also offers many gluten free options for her recipes  – every recipe made for this post, of course, is Gluten Free.

If you would like to receive a FREE copy of this lovely cook book, just leave a comment saying what your favorite Italian dish is.  One winner will be chosen at random and notified by email.

Here are just a few of the dishes I have made so far:  By the way, all of the pictures of the recipes I have made were taken by my dear husband so he gets full credit here.

CLASSIC MEATBALLS (POLPETTE) A TRADITIONAL CALABRESE DISH: (quick, easy to make and we loved them, we have had them twice now)

Next up:  ASPARAGUS, ORANGE, AND FENNEL SALAD (INSALATA DIASPARAGI, ARANCE, E FINOCCHI): (this salad was so refreshing and delicious, again quick and easy to make)

Next up:  VENETIAN-STYLE BEANS WITH SWISS CHARD (FAGIOLIALLA VENEZIANA CON BIETOLE)

(I would like to add a note in regards to this delicious dish:  The beans listed in the book call for Borlotti beans sometimes known as Cranberry Beans.  I went to a local health food store and here they are called Heirloom Anasazi Beans – so they are known by a few names….my new favorite dried bean)  This dish has lovely subtle flavors that get even better the next day.

Now for a couple of dessert recipes:

Next up:  Yogurt Gelato (GELATO ALLO YOGURT) with Strawberries: (this was surprisingly refreshing and full of flavor with added vanilla)

Next up:  IVREA’S POLENTA CAKE (POLENTINA DI IVREA) This was a moist delicious cake with subtle flavors….we loved it!  Again an easy dessert cake to make and lovely to serve with tea, plus it is the first time I have used Almond Flour…what a great texture it adds to baked goods.

I really had a fun time in the kitchen making these recipes.  You should see my copy of the cook book – dog ear’d, lots of book marks for all the other recipes I still want to make, it already looks well used, which in truth it is and certainly will be even more so down the road.  Thank you Amy Riolo for your cook book of delicious recipes, my family loved them all.

(Don’t forget to leave a comment saying what your favorite Italian dish is, we have 1 cook book to give away free!)

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QUINOA TOASTED YAM BOWL

Wow, did this dish ever exceed my expectations.  It was YUMMY.  With the Quinoa and Yams I also used cooked Mung Beans – a powerhouse of nutrition in a small bean.  This is a dish that would be great for lunch or dinner – served at room temperature.  It will get even better the next day.  Next time I make this dish, I will make the Quinoa, Mung Beans and the Yam a day ahead of time to have on hand – then it will be super easy to put this dish together after a long day at work!

3/4 cup mung beans

1 large orange yam – 1 lb in weight

1 large bay leaf

1/2 cup of Quinoa

3 Tblsp. extra virgin olive oil

salt to taste

1 large onion, chopped

3 large garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp. diced Anaheim pepper (or more if you like heat…I am a wimp when it comes to heat, & what I will do with the rest of a large Anaheim pepper, I have no idea!)

1 rounded tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. dried garlic powder

cilantro

1/2 cup water

Toppings:  minced cilantro, diced tomatoes, yogurt, salsa (chopped avocado would also be a nice addition)

First cook the Mung beans:  add the beans to a medium sized sauce pan and cover with at least 2-3 inches of water and add the bay leaf.  Bring to a  boil, lid on, and turn down to a simmer – cooking about 25 minutes, or until tender.  Drain through a sieve removing the bay leaf and set aside.

To 1/2 cup of Quinoa add 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, lid on and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit 5 min. then fluff with a fork and set aside.

Scrub the Yam, poke some holes into it with a fork, wrap it in tin foil and bake in a 350 oven for 1 hour. (it will not be cooked through at this point.  Remove from the oven and open up the tin foil, allowing to cool until it can be handled to peel.)

Chop the Yam into 1/2 inch or so pieces and set aside.  Heat up a large cast iron pan with the EVOO.  My pan takes about 6 minutes to heat thoroughly on medium high heat.  Add the yams and cook each side about 6 minutes until nicely golden brown.  Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Turn the heat down to low, and add in the chopped onion, pepper and minced garlic.  Saute about 10 minutes until the onions begin to show a little color.  Add in the cumin, garlic powder, salt and smoked paprika continue to saute about 3 more minutes.

Add the cooked mung beans, quinoa, yams and 1/2 cup of water, stir to mix well.  Check for seasonings.  Add a huge handful of chopped cilantro and serve right away with the toppings.

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RHUBARB GINGER STRAWBERRY FOOL

Nothing says spring like fresh, beautiful rhubarb.  (well that and fresh asparagus)  I love the gorgeous pink color….in fact when chopping the rhubarb it turned my cutting board pink!

While strawberries are not in season until June, I did use organic halved frozen strawberries in this dish.

There could also not be an easier dessert to make.  [...]

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LASAGNA: A NEW TAKE ON AN OLD TIME FAVORITE

We have had endless days of rain in our neck of the woods which always leads me to comfort food.  Lasagna being a family favorite.  There are a number of different lasagna recipes on my blog and while this is somewhat of a traditional lasagna there are a few new ingredients as well as a [...]

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CROCK POT VEGETARIAN CHILI

This was a recipe that was recently printed in our local newspaper.  I made some changes to the original – and we were delighted with the results.  Slow cooking with a crock pot has always been a little bit of a hit and miss result with me in terms of flavor.  Usually I have found [...]

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VEGETARIAN PAELLA

As mentioned in previous posts, I have been cooking Vegetarian meals about twice sometimes three times a week.  Recently, we found this at our local grocery store:

No paid advertisement here….just wanting to share something yummy – a lovely basmati rice/quiona blend vegetarian meal. Next to dried pasta, this is the only thing in my pantry [...]

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VACATION AND COOKING WITH KITCHEN BASICS AND MUST HAVES

We recently had a week vacation – a lovely cabin on the lake at one of our Gulf Islands.  We love the cabin with its rustic charm, a cozy big fireplace, a kitchen (most important!) and beautiful lake views.

Over the years, I have learned what to bring as usually the kitchens are quite small, and [...]

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TOMATO PESTO PASTA WITH ROASTED GARLIC GOAT CHEVRAI (A RECIPE INSPIRATION)

We are huge lovers of pesto in this household.  Each year I make Organic Garlic Scape Pesto which we freeze to have throughout the year.  This is the first time I have made Tomato Pesto and Oh My Goodness, do we ever love it.

As mentioned in previous posts, every year, we buy our local organic [...]

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BALSAMIC CHANTERELLE RISOTTO

Chanterelle mushrooms are by far my favorite mushroom – even re-hydrated they have such a distinct woodsy sweet flavor.  Although, fresh is always the best.  They do have a short window of time for harvest, and as we did not get any fresh ones this year, I was happy to be able to buy dehydrated [...]