As my kitchen horizons broaden I’ve found one of my favorite things to do is re-create traditionally restaurant-exclusive or pre-made foods from scratch… as long as I can figure out an easy way to do it. Most recently added to my to-do list was gnocchi. Gnocchi are soft little Italian dumplings that hold up to a variety of sauces and flavors. I “cleaned” them up a bit by using ricotta cheese and whole wheat flour as opposed to the traditional potato and flour base. The biggest challenge with making gnocchi really lies in shaping the dumplings which actually becomes quite therapeutic once you get the hang of it. Try for yourself and let me know if this one’s a DIY or buy for your family.
WHOLE WHEAT RICOTTA GNOCCHI
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp salt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour for rolling
Mix all ingredients, except flour, together until well incorporated. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
Fill the inner pot of your rice cooker 2/3 full with water. Set to steam for 10 minutes and allow water to come to a boil as you roll your gnocchi.
Generously flour your work surface. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the dough onto the floured surface and roll until you have a small oval dumpling. Set aside and continue with remaining dough, adding as much flour as necessary to complete the process.
When the cook time begins counting down add gnocchi to the simmering water, close the lid and let cook for 3 minutes.
Carefully open the rice cooker and remove any gnocchi that have floated to the top. Continue cooking until all gnocchi are done.
Serve with melted butter, Parmesan and fresh herbs or your favorite pasta sauce.
Kimchi is known as one of the healthiest foods in the world and it took exactly one bite for me to become a huge fan. It is said to be a cure for nearly any ailment and has become a staple at every health food store due to its low calorie and vitamin rich nature. And its probiotic benefits are even known to aid intestinal problems.
Now that I’ve told you all about it, what the heck is it? Kimchi is a fermented spicy cabbage and radish dish originating from Korea that has made its way to many American’s plates in the last few years. You can find Kimchi as a hamburger topper, inside a taco or even on pancakes and eggs.
To see how it compared to the store bought version, I decided to try my hand at homemade Kimchi using my rice cooker as a fermenting bowl. The large bowl and tight fitting seal create the perfect conditions to ferment this super simple side dish that will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. In just a few short days I had an amazing version of Kimchi that even my kids devoured inside a lettuce wrap with chicken.
1 small napa cabbage, about 1 lb, cut in half and sliced into 1/2 inch slices
1 daikon radish, julienned
6 thai chiles, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup green onions, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tblsp ginger, grated
1/2 cup coarse sea salt
2 tblsp unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Fill the inner pot of the rice cooker with 2 cups of water and mix in the salt. Add cabbage and stir to coat well. Close the lid and let sit for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
Drain the cabbage and mix in the rest of the ingredients. Transfer to an airtight canning jar and seal well. Let stand for 3 days at room temperature, turning upside down to assure all cabbage is covered with pickling liquid. Break the seal and enjoy!
I had a pretty busy weekend and when Monday rolled around I was nearly unable to make it through the day, meaning I hadn’t even considered what we should have for dinner. All of a sudden it was 6 pm and I had a car full of hungry gremlins… I mean children, ready to eat each other. I hurried home without stopping at the store and prayed something would be in my fridge that could be transformed into a dinner without too much fuss. I opened it up and found the holy grail, barbecue sauce and shredded chicken. Then I remembered I had a cornbread mix in the pantry to sweeten the pot. I loaded everything into my rice cooker, hoped for the best and that’s just what I got. It was a perfect dinner that pretty much took care of itself, giving us time set the table and finish homework before devouring every last bit.
CORN BREAD AND BBQ SHREDDED CHICKEN CASSEROLE
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1- 2 cups BBQ sauce
1 cup frozen corn
1 package corn bread mix
Prepare the corn bread batter according to package instructions and pour into the greased inner pot of your rice cooker.
Mix together the shredded chicken, barbecue sauce, and corn and spoon mixture on top of the batter.
Set to Cake and bake until the rice cooker beeps. Scoop out with a spatula or spoon and enjoy!
Note: If your rice cooker does not have a Cake function you can set to White Rice.
My culinary obsession with all things buffalo wing flavored is no secret… traditional wings, dips, meatballs… you name it, I’ll take it! But with that obsession can come some pretty unhealthy habits. Fried wings, buttery sauces and cheesy dressings aren’t exactly foods you should be consuming on a daily basis. To combat this tragedy I set out to create a dish full of guiltless buffalo flavor that’s suitable for any (or every) night of the week. As you know, quinoa is another one of my favorite food-related things and the perfect blank canvas to let flavors like hot sauce and blue cheese shine through.
BUFFALO CHICKEN QUINOA
2 cups quinoa
3 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 – 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/3 cup hot sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoon butter
1 tsp seasoned salt
3/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/2 cup green onion, diced
Add quinoa, water, 1/2 cup hot sauce, garlic and 1 tblsp butter to the inner pot and stir. Set your rice cooker to White Rice.
Line steam tray with foil. Add chicken and cover with 1/2 cup hot sauce. When 12 minutes of cook time remain carefully add steam tray to the inner pot and continue cooking.
Melt remaining butter and whisk together with the remaining 1/3 cup hot sauce and seasoned salt. Set aside.
When your rice cooker beeps, check chicken for doneness. Shred or cut into cubes and toss with the quinoa, blue cheese, green onion and dressing, adjusting each to taste.
I know there are previous mac and cheese posts on this blog, but can you really have too many recipes for this yummy pasta?
…I didn’t think so :)
As we hurried through grocery store aisles last night, my kiddos asked me for mac and cheese. But even with a throbbing headache and little desire to cook dinner, I just couldn’t resort to the box (the homemade stuff is just too good!) so I offered them a homemade version with any shape of pasta they desired. They settled on a small wheel shaped pasta and 3 different cheeses… one for each child. Thirty minutes after we got home my rice cooker was once again cemented on the top of my best friend list, offering us a warm, gooey pasta ready to devour.
EASY PEASY MAC ‘N’ CHEESY
4 cups rotelle or other small pasta, cooked
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup white cheddar, shredded
1 cup smoked Gouda, shredded
Add milk and cream to your rice cooker and set to Steam. Once liquid is hot, add all three cheeses and stir until completely melted and sauce is smooth. Combine pasta with cheese sauce and stir well to coat. Finish with black pepper and dig in!
My girlfriend and I were talking about food last night (surprise, surprise) and came to a helpful conclusion to the dilemma of the “eternal chicken”, our nickname for the endless appearance of this lean, easy-to-cook protein in our family meals. We decided that the issue wasn’t the chicken. After all, chicken is just about as blank of a canvas as you can find, taking on any flavor you’re craving. What’s actually missing from our chicken dinners is a variety of side dishes to keep every meal feeling like new.
So instead of the usual rice, potato or broccoli side to accompany my family’s next chicken dinner, I threw together a delicious quinoa salad with dried fruit, nuts and mint that I’m sure side will go over as well at your home as it did in mine. In the Aroma Test Kitchen we are always interested in your trials and victories in the kitchen, so if you have a side dish to share, please let us know to help us all resolve our “eternal chicken” dilemma!
1 cup quinoa
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1 shallot, diced
1/4 cup each cilantro, parsley, mint, chopped
1 tblsp grated orange zest
pinch of cumin
pinch of coriander
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup orange juice
2 oranges, sectioned
Cook quinoa using the White Rice function on your rice cooker. Refrigerate until cool. In a bowl, whisk together orange juice, shallot, herbs, zest, cumin and coriander. Whisk in oil and set aside.
In a bowl combine remaining ingredients and pour dressing over the salad. Toss to mix well. Serve alongside your favorite protein or eat as is.
Last night when I came home my husband had left me some yummy treats to snack on. They were bite-sized but flavor-packed tartlets from our local baker which turned out to be little mouthfuls of goodness with cheese and caramelized onions baked throughout. There was only one problem… there weren’t enough of them.
So, needless to say, this morning I woke up with a craving for some more of these delicious treats and embarked on a journey to create an Aroma Test Kitchen version with some added goodies and the same flare.
BLUE CHEESE, HAM AND CARAMELIZED ONION TARTS
1/2 onion, sliced thin
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups of multigrain bread mix
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup ham, chopped
2 oz blue cheese
Set your rice cooker to Sauté-Then-Simmer and brown the onions with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and sugar until soft. Set aside.
Whisk together egg, buttermilk and 3 tablespoons oil. Stir in bread mix, cheese and ham until blended.
Place cupcake molds in the steam tray, fill 3/4 full and top with 1/2 tsp blue cheese and a few onion strips. Add 2 cups of water to the inner pot of your rice cooker and place steam tray on top. Steam for 20 minutes. Remove and enjoy warm or at room temperature.