Lemon Risotto with Spring Peas

The warm weather brings out so many fantastic options for fresh produce and light flavors. This lemon risotto is easy and very flavorful. It tastes like Capri to me with its rich texture and tangy lemon background. Risotto gets kind of a bad rap because of the work it takes, but I tend not to overwork the dish and cook the rest of my meal while the risotto does its thing. Risotto is delicious, creamy and feels very indulgent. My version cuts out a lot of the butter and oil so that you can feel like you are indulging, but the ingredients are figure friendly. 

Heat 3 cups of chicken stock or broth in a large saucepan with 1 cup of lemon juice until just about to boil. On a different burner, sweat one large or two small shallots (they are by the onions in the produce section) over medium heat in 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil until translucent. Add 1 cup of arborio rice (can be found in the rice section) and cook together until all of the grains have absorbed some of the oil, about 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup of dry white wine and stir in until absorbed by the rice. Add a ladle full of the broth and lemon mixture at a time and let simmer in the rice mixture. You want to keep stirring as much as possible during this process, but don't be afraid to leave it alone for small amounts of time. Continue to add the broth and stir until the grains are soft, but still have a bit of a bite to them (this can take 20-30 minutes). The dish should be creamy (that is from the starches coming out of the rice) and not mushy. Turn off heat and add salt, pepper (to taste), 1 cup of defrosted frozen peas (you can use fresh if available), the zest of 1 lemon and as much Parmesan cheese as you desire (I like a lot!). 

Risotto takes some time to get used to cooking, but can really be a great basic dish that you can switch up for every season. Instead of the lemon and peas you could try wild mushrooms in the fall, prosciutto and four cheeses in the winter, asparagus and mint in the spring, etc. One tip is to take your time and continue to taste the grains, this will help you understand how the cooking process works and how the grains look when ready. 



Rethinking the Breast

I think for most people, boneless skinless chicken breasts are one of those ingredients that you pick up on most grocery trips. They are versatile and healthful. I have to tell you, though, it can get so much better than you could ever imagine by making one slight change. 

I am a new fan to bone in, skin on chicken breasts. The Barefoot Contessa (after watching so many episodes) finally convinced me that they are worth the little extra effort. Bone in and skin on chicken breasts are found exactly in the same place as the breasts you buy now and I promise you are not scary. The skin and the bone help to keep the chicken breast juicier (no more dry chicken!!) and more flavorful. 

As far as cooking these guys, you can really treat them just as you do your chicken breasts now. They will take longer since the bones need to be heated through as well. I sometimes use a meat thermometer to double check the temp. Simply insert into the thickest part of the breast. The breast is done when the temperature hits 170 degrees. 

A suggestion for cooking is on the grill with a great rub (I use seasoned salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika and garlic powder). Start skin side down on the coolest part of the grill to get that yummy crispy skin.  Cook about half-way and when skin is done crisping up it should pull away from the grill. Flip and finish grilling until 170 degrees. Serve with BBQ sauce or your choice.

 They are also fabulous roasted. I use a simple marinade of lemon juice, olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Let marinade in the fridge for a few hours then roast at 450 degrees breast side down for 15 minutes, flip and cook until internal temp is 170 degrees (about 15-30 minutes depending on thickness).  I boil and reduce the leftover marinade to use as a sauce. 

I hope you try the switch. Even if you are watching what you eat, you can always take the skin off. Although, why would you ever deny yourself that yummy, crispy goodness??



Artichokes. Enough said.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Pastas, pizzas, frittatas, quiche, omelets (let's face it, any egg/breakfast-related dish really), dips (um hello artichoke dip with fantastic pita chips), salads, stuffed, and my personal favorite...steamed. I know, I know - it sounds boring compared to the rest of these glorious options, but is there anything better than a steamed artichoke in the spring? Growing up, my mom would steam a few and our whole family would hunker down with sides of mayonnaise and polish them off faster than you can imagine. Now I like them with a different type of dipping sauce - an aioli of sorts. It is made up of light mayo, dijon, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Hey - I never said I was a culinary genious. I wanted an alternative to mayo or melted butter (another standby in the artichoke dipping sauce world) and grabbed the ingredients I had on hand. Throw in fresh basil if you have it (which I will after I plant my herb garden next week with the help of my mom - yay!). It's as easy as that. Now if only my husband and I could stop fighting over who gets the heart (really the only reason for eating the artichoke in the first place)...

XOXO Jenna

PS. I couldn't resist adding a tidbit about my other spring favorite - asparagus. This is all that needs to be said - smother in olive oil and salt, roast in a 500 degree oven for 10 or so minutes. Take out and sprinkle with feta cheese. The feta is a new addition for me, courtesy of the masterpiece known as I'm never turning back.


Burger Night

Last night I made a pretty good burger and I wanted to share. My only downfall was that I used too lean of beef and will correct for next time. You really need to get ground beef with some fat content to make it juicy and help keep it from being crumbly

For the burger itself, I added to 1 lb. of meat about a tablespoon of Dijon, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, half of a diced medium onion, a pinch of cumin, salt and pepper. These all gave the burger some depth, which turned out tasty. This makes about 3 burgers, but you can dictate size, which is totally a preference in my book. 

I also caramelized about three large onions in enough olive oil to coat the pan and a tablespoon of butter. Sweat the onions first (this means do not brown and cook until translucent) over medium heat and then cook for 25 minutes over med-low heat, stirring occasionally. When they have turned a yummy carmel color, pour about two tablespoons of sherry vinegar in the pan and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper. This was my favorite part of the meal! 

My husband grilled for me and slapped on some sharp cheddar. I also made a spicy dressing for the burgers with equal part ketchup to light mayo, a spoon full of pickle relish and a few dashes of tabasco. This "secret sauce" turned out so delicious. 

Assembly was done with egg hamburger buns (the squishy ones are always the best), some lettuce and all of the above. I served it with a simple summer salad of asparagus and yellow squash. Burgers on the grill scream summer to me and I am getting anxious for warm, sunny weather. This was a great start and hopefully the weather follows. 
xoxo Erin 



Thank you first for visiting our new site! You might be wondering why Jenna and I started this and I thought I would share. Jenna and I do not live in the same city, so we tend to email each other throughout the day catching up. We have noticed over the years that 90% of what we write is about what we ate the night before, new recipes we have tried or the great meal we had out (might seem obsessive to some, but we LOVE all things food). We are also huge fans of other food blogs that are out there. We came to the conclusion that we should be putting our recipes, tips, experiences and mishaps out there as well. We hope you enjoy and please send us any comments, questions, feedback to or post a comment on the site. 

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