I don't know if I cook enough to write about food. I have been trying, because I hear that letting your boyfriend pay for dinner at a restaurant every night is bad on several levels. Also, I've always wanted to learn to cook.
So, I collect recipes. I buy ingredients. I try not to forget the baking powder. But it doesn't always work out. If it doesn't, I'll still blog about it. You know why? Because some of us are kind of crappy in the kitchen sometimes, whether it's due to human error, or a lack of expensive kitchen items such as...nonstick saucepans.
I'm in college. I'm poor. Sometimes I can't afford basic stuff. One day I will get my revenge.
So, this Saturday. Saturdays usually end up being my cooking days, because my boyfriend decides to be an overachiever and work on his lesson plans for the week. And I decide to give myself the day off, and cook instead.
This Saturday, I kind of outdid myself as far as making an entire meal as opposed to just one (usually dessert) item. I can't resist the desserts.
I ended up making tomato and arugula salad, grilled chicken marinated in a crazy mix of liquids and herbs that I made up (which was really good) and onion and feta risotto. Earlier in the day, I made something called World Peace Cookies that I found on Smitten Kitchen.
I'm only going to talk about the chicken and risotto, because the other two dishes are things that I plan to make again and improve upon.
(Side note: I know that it's approaching the sacrilegious to propose making changes to the recipe for World Peace Cookies. Just hear me out in my blog post after I make it. I promise to think up a new name for them.)
So first, for the chicken.
I defrosted 2 chicken breasts that I had in my freezer.
Last week, I bought a bag of like 15 frozen chicken breasts for $5.99 at Meijer, and being a college student, this is like buying a bag of gold for $5.99. I digress.
To defrost the chicken, I filled my sink with hot water and stuck the chicken breasts in the sink in a medium-sized but sturdy ziplog bag. I then stuck a large mixing bowl on top of it to keep it submerged. That lasted for about 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, I took the bag out of the water, and looked around my kitchen to see what I could make into a marinade.
I decided on this:
(Just so we're clear, this was very haphazard so there were no precise measurements. I just filled the bag enough to mostly cover the chicken breasts.)
Katie's insane chicken marinade:
Lots of lemon juice
A medium amount of olive oil (about 4 "glugs" of the bottle)
Equal (or more) amount warm water as olive oil
A spoonful of salt
4 large drops of vanilla (as my mom said, "Ew!" But you really couldn't taste it)
Too much dried rosemary
Teaspoon (I guess) of coriander
Few shakes of dried cilantro shaker
Few shakes of cayenne pepper (My definition of "few" is probably larger than yours, when it comes to cayenne)
6 tiny pieces of minced garlic
8 grinds of black pepper grinder
The chicken was very good on my trusty world's tiniest George Foreman grill. If I were to make it again, I'd take out the vanilla, half the rosemary, and all the cilantro. I'd use more coriander and more garlic and add basil, I suppose. But again, that's just a guess.
Now the risotto was a much more precise recipe, because I found it online. (Cooking Light, via MyRecipes.com) My notes are in blue.
Vidalia Onion Risotto with Feta CheeseIngredients
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil (Olive.)
- 2 cups chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion (Couldn't find any vidalia, used red onion instead. It was fine.)
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio or other short-grain rice (I just used plain old white rice.)
- 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese, divided
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used curly parsley, because it's what I have.)
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly ground pepper
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Add onion and garlic; sauté 1 minute. (I did this for way longer than 1 minute, but no longer than 5. I resisted the impulse to saute them in beer.)
Stir in rice.
Add 1/2 cup broth; cook until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is nearly absorbed before adding the next portion of broth. (As usual, I ignored this "gradual" part and just added all the liquid at once.)
Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 cup feta cheese, parsley, and Parmesan cheese. Spoon rice mixture into a serving bowl; top with 1/4 cup feta cheese and pepper.
I used chicken broth instead of vegetable, because I didn't have any vegetable. It seemed to taste better with the crazy grilled chicken anyway. Also, I only used 1 can of broth because I only had one can of broth. I used 1 can of water instead, and added extra salt to compensate. At the end, the rice wasn't cooked (probably due to my ignoring of the directions) and I had to add probably another cup and a half of water, and half a cup of whole milk to the mixture. The milk was an impulse that struck me at the last second, but it didn't seem to do any harm, if it did anything at all.
I also added probably more feta than was necessary, and way more parmesan than was necessary. The parmesan wasn't my idea - I forgot to tell my boyfriend to stop grating the cheese at a certain point and so our risotto was extra cheesy. Oh well - the more cheese, the better, I say. Except in the case of a certain stromboli from Sbarro. Yuck.
I've got to tell you, this feta I bought was the best $4 I've spent in a long time. I got a whole pound of fresh feta from the Meijer deli for only $4. Yum.
Anyway, the risotto turned out to be quite excellent, and a great accompaniment to the crazy chicken. It wasn't bad as leftovers either. My only regret is that I didn't make more of it. And that I don't have a teflon-lined saucepan, because everything sticks to the bottom of my glass ones. Including a lot of my precious risotto.