Baked Risotto with Chicken and Mushrooms

You know I love a shortcut. Cooking and presenting good *and* beautiful food is important to me. But it’s rare that I have lots of time to slowly work my way through a complex recipe on a normal night. So any shortcuts that allow me to still put beautiful healthy food on my family’s plates and I are instantly best friends.

Risotto is one of those dishes that you can get really wrong if you don’t get it right. Traditional risotto requires slow cooking with constant stirring, which also therefore requires really organized prep. I’ve seen all kinds of recipes that claim to get you a thick, creamy risotto without constant stirring, and I’ve tried a few, and most of them don’t deliver. But I’ve recently seen a few baked risotto recipes that looked promising, so I decided to give it a try myself. And you know what? It delivered! Traditionalists and trained chefs will raise their eyebrows and judge, but I promise you this is legit. Give it a shot and let me know if you agree. Here you go.

* 1 1/2C arborio rice
* 4C chicken broth
* 1 sweet onion, minced
* 1 pint mushrooms, quartered (I used both white button mushrooms and baby portobellas, 50/50)
* 2t minced garlic
* 1 cup hot water
* 3/4C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
* 4T butter
* 1t salt
* Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
* Zest of 1 lemon
* Precooked rotisserie chicken from the store, broken down and cut into chunks
* Large handful fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350F.

To a large, oven-safe pot, add the rice, broth, onion, mushrooms, and garlic. stir to combine.

Put the pan, uncovered, into the oven. Cook for about 35 to 40 minutes. After 20 minutes, if the rice has absorbed more than half the liquid, cover the pot.

Remove the pot from the oven and then add the hot water, Parmesan cheese, and butter. Stir to combine.

Season with salt and pepper, and then add the lemon zest and the chicken. Stir in the parsley and serve immediately.

Food for Thought: Modifiable Go-Tos

One of the best weapons in my weeknight cooking arsenal is versatile basics. Those go-to dishes you know you can come back to, but don’t need to be exactly the same every time. Those dishes that provide you with a solid foundation but can be customized to whatever needs to be used up in your fridge and still turn out great.

One of my most reliable stand-bys in this regard is my quiche. Literally endless combinations for fillings. A basic frame with interchangeable accessories. Know what I mean? Tonight’s quiches were: chicken sausage with a blend of cheddar and jack cheeses; and sweet onion, spinach, and basil with provolone. YUM.

So I’m wondering what kinds of modifiable recipes you keep in *your* back pocket? What’s your mix and match go-to??

White Bean Chicken Chili

I’m a little disappointed that it was cool enough to consider chili a viable option this week. But it is what it is. Chili is such a great one-pot meal. So many ways to change it up, both through the recipe itself and in how you serve it. This version is a perfect example–make it spicier or milder, go all low and slow or work the shortcuts for a busy night. Any way you cut it, you’re going to end up with a potently flavor-rich bowl of hearty, heathy, belly-warming goodness. Here you go.

* 2 small sweet onions, diced
* 3T olive oil
* 1 4-5oz can mild diced green chilis
* 4t minced garlic
* 32oz low-sodium chicken broth
* meat from 1 storebought roasted rotisserie chicken, sheedded (or if you have enough time, roast your own chicken)
* 2 15oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
* juice of 1 large lime
* 1T cumin
* 1t dried oregano
* 1t salt
* 1/2t ground black pepper
* 1/4t cayenne pepper (or more if you want a bit more of a kick)
* 1/3C fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Add the olive oil to a large pot and heat over medium-high heat to warm.

Add the onion and diced green chilis. Cook for about 5-7?minutes, or until the onions turn soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic and stir to combine. Then sauté for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Place 1 cup of the beans into a blender with about 1/2 a cup of water and blend into a paste-like consistency. 

Add that paste, plus the broth, shredded chicken, the rest of the beans, the lime juice, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced so that the chili is as thick as you like it. If it gets too thick, add a little more broth or water to thin it out.

Add the cilantro, stir to combine, and cook another 2 minutes. Then taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. 

Serve topped with any of your choice of chili garnishes. Some of our favorites: homemade tortilla strips, diced avocado, diced tomato, freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese, more fresh chopped cilantro, sour cream or Greek yogurt… and so on! Enjoy!

5 Ingredients: Shortcut Veggie and Chicken Sausage Stir Fry

You do not need to create an original recipe from scratch to make a fresh meal on a busy night. I think it might look like I do that, but I really don’t. Some nights we’re lucky if I can warm up a hot dog, and “cereal for dinner” happens at least once or twice a month. But there are so many ways to prepare a warm, fresh meal without an hour of prep or even a planned and shopped-ahead-of-time ingredient list!

This was one of those nights. My meal plan game was pitiful this weekend, so I’m winging it all week. We had back-to-school/Open House at our kiddo’s new school this afternoon and I knew we’d get home a little later. So it had to be easy and straightforward. Stir fry is a perfect solution. And this shortcut/semi-homemade version makes an already super simple dish even easier. Most grocery stores have pre-packaged chopped stir fry veggies mixed and ready to go, either in the fresh produce aisle or in the freezer. Customize with any additional fresh veggies you love (or your kid will eat) and add a protein of your preference (or don’t). Done. A little oil or soy sauce or squeeze of lime and 15 minutes is all you need. Here’s my version. Note: I received no compensation by any brands or companies. Opinions and mentions are purely my own. Here you go.

* Fresh, pre-chopped Asian veggie stir fry mix (I used Trader Joe’s)
* 1lb fresh Brussels sprouts, cleaned, trimmed, and quartered
* 1lb package precooked chicken sausage, sliced
* olive oil
* Soy-Vey teriyaki marinade (original)


Heat a few glugs of olive oil in a large wok or high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and sauté a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften and brown.

Add the other veggies and chicken sausage and stir to combine. Add 1-2 tablespoons of the teriyaki marinade and mix through. Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally (and inhaling frequently!), until the crunchy veggies soften and the sausage slices brown.

Serve over brown rice (I added a tablespoon of coconut oil to mine!) and enjoy, especially because you pulled off a hot fresh meal on a busy weeknight. Whoop!!