Easy Spicy Southwestern Rice & Beans (& A Hamilton Beach Giveaway!)

Easy Spicy Southwestern Rice 4

Hey, everyone! Tis me, your local loon. I have a delicious recipe for you (do I do ANY other kind? I mean…really? Pshaw! *looks totally fake humble* 😛 ) as well as a Hamilton Beach giveaway. As you already know, I’ve been a proud ambassador for them for a couple of years now and I love their products. This is the final 2016 review and it’s one I personally love. I had a rice cooker I bought for $3.99 at Goodwill before this and sure, it worked; more or less. Problem was, all it did was rice and the way the inside lid was made, you couldn’t clean under it and there was nothing stopping condensation from getting up in there. So what did that lead to? The starches in the water from the rice would get in there and mold and every time I opened the lid, all that oh so nasty water would drip down the backside of the cooker. Not INTO the rice, but still…  I was soooo ready for a new rice cooker.
We’ve been using it literally since the day it came and I am in love with it. I am a total and complete failure at cooking rice on the stove. I even burn rice a roni. Guess what? I can make my rice a roni in this rice cooker and no longer have to scrape it off the bottom of a pan, lol. Plus, we eat a lot of brown rice and that can be difficult to get cooked all the way through. Another plus; this cooker has a steamer basket up top that can be used at the same time as when you have rice cooking or by itself. That comes in handy getting veggies steamed while the rice is cooking or can be used to, say, make some fish up top while the rice cooks below. Did I forget to mention that you can also cook oatmeal and other grains in this? Yup. You totally want to try to win the Hamilton Beach 4-20 Cup Rice And Hot Cereal Cooker or if you don’t win, go to their website to buy it. While you’re there, you can check out some of the other great appliances they have on their site  Here are the cool features of the cooker-
Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker
4-20 cup cooked rice capacity – 2-10 cup uncooked rice capacity
With rice rinser/steam basket
Great for oatmeal, grits, and cream of wheat
Delay start makes breakfast and meal planning easier
Use your own recipe or packaged pasta & rice mixes
Automatically shifts to warm after cooking
White rice: cooks all varieties of white rice, including short- and long-grain rice
Quick rice: great for preparing rice in a hurry
Whole grain: for brown rice, farro, quinoa, and other whole grains
Keep warm: illuminates when cooking is complete
Delay start: prepare for cooking up to 15 hours in advance
Heat/simmer: use this function for flavored pasta and rice mixes, beans, soups, and one-pot meals
Steam cook: vegetables, meats, fish, and more
Hot cereals: great for oatmeal, grits, and cream of wheat

cooking timer

The push button timer area of the cooker

So what did I make? Well, I have a confession to make. I adore pretty much any flavor of Rice A Roni with a definite weakness for both the Mexican and the Spanish ones. So, I wanted to make a rice similar to those, but without having to stand over the stove worrying that I was going to burn it. I have to say, I succeeded admirably *she again says humbly* I have one step in here outside of the rice cooker, but it can easily be considered optional. I saute the veggies for a couple of minutes with the rice, then dump it all in the rice cooker. I wanted to get rid of the raw taste of the veg, plus brown the rice a bit. But again, that step is totally up to you. I also added a can of pinto beans cause I adore rice and beans. No matter what though, get one of these Hamilton Beach rice cookers and make this rice!

Easy Spicy Southwestern Rice & Beans

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup minced green pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup long grain white rice
  • 1 1/4 cups good quality chicken broth
  • 1/2 of a 15 ounce can of salsa style fire roasted diced tomatoes (you could sub whatever flavor you want, or plain. Just make sure it is a type that has a good amount of liquid.)
  • 1 well drained and rinsed can of pinto beans (again, make this how YOU like it. Prefer black beans? Use them, just make sure you rinse them well. Or maybe kidney beans. Or NO beans)
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup (no, it doesn’t make the rice taste ketchupy. It just cuts the acidity of the tomatoes some)
  • 1 tablespoon of either McCormick Mexican seasoning or McCormick Southwestern seasoning (they are quite similar in taste, so either would work)
  • a few dashes of liquid smoke
  • sliced green onions, cilantro, grape tomatoes and various cheese for garnish
  1. Pour the oil into a medium non stick pan (8 to 10 inch),  then add the veggies. Sautee over medium heat for maybe 3 minutes or, just enough to cook off some of the rawness. Add in the rice, crank the heat up to medium high and cook for about two minutes more, or until some of the rice is a light golden brown,
  2. Scoop all of this straight into the rice cooker. Pour the chicken broth and diced tomatoes with their liquid over the top of the rice.
  3. Add the ketchup, liquid smoke, can of drained beans, and seasoning. Give this all a few good stirs, then close the lid, set the cooker for white rice and go read a book, or do some housework (you know you prefer the book idea).
  4. When it’s done, stir it well, then spoon it into a serving dish. Garnish with sliced green onions, fresh cilantro, some chopped grape tomatoes and cheese. I used some cheddar and some queso fresco. This was so good!

Easy Spicy Southwestern Rice 7

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Now for the giveaway!! Hamilton Beach is kindly allowing me to offer one lucky reader one of these lovely rice cookers all of their own. Just use the entry form below, doing as few or as many of the types of entries as you want. I will choose a random winner in a week and notify them by email. They will have 48 hours to get back to me. if they don’t, an alternate winner will be chosen. Good luck! [promosimple id=”a5d8″]

Hamilton Beach sent me a rice cooker for review, but all opinions in this post are 100% my own.


Cheaters Easy, Creamy Chicken & Dumplings

Cheaters Easy, Creamy Chicken & Dumplings

Cheaters Easy, Creamy Chicken & Dumplings

I was never a fan of chicken and dumplings growing up. It was a very heavy dish the way my mom made it. As southerners would say, “Bless her heart… she was a lovely woman, but she might could do something other than cook”.

I’ve said before, my mom made good lasagna considering she was a depression era southern woman. She also made excellent lemon meringue pie. And her fried chicken is something I still haven’t been able to match. But she had her flops too. Say “Garbage Soup” in my or my brothers presence and we’re likely to recoil away and gag. As for her chicken and dumplings, looking back, I can see why it turned out greasy and heavy. Mom just boiled up that chicken until it was tender and then made her Bisquick dumplings right on top, without getting rid of the grease.

While I’d give my right arm to eat her cooking again, I do make most things differently than she did. I used to make chicken and dumplings for the family her way and I could never eat it. So I started cheating. I had some leftover chicken and just started tossing things in a pot with it, then topped it with, yep, Bisquick dumplings. I love those far more than I do the rolled out ones. Over the years, it’s morphed into this dish and I finally can eat chicken and dumplings again. Plus… it’s so darn quick because you use either leftover chicken or a store bought rotisserie one!

You know the drill…

Cheaters Easy & Creamy Chicken & Dumplings

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, chopped into bite sized pieces (or about 4 cups of leftover chicken, chopped up)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 14 ounce cans chicken broth
  • 2 10.75 ounce cans cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 3 cups biscuit mix (Bisquick)
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • Black pepper to taste
  1. In a large pot, saute the chopped onion and celery in the 3 tablespoons butter until they are soft and limp, about 7 minutes. Pour the chicken broth and soup in with the veggies. Whisk to combine.
  2. Add in the chicken and poultry seasoning. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat for ten minutes or so; long enough to heat everything up nicely. Stir in the cream and turn the heat up enough to bring the soup to a boil.
  3. Combine the biscuit mix and milk in a medium bowl. You’ll have a thick pasty sort of mixture. Use a large spoon to drop large balls of dumpling dough onto the hot soup. You should get about 8 to 10 dumplings. Snuggle them all in there right next to each other.
  4. Cover the pot and cook until the dumplings are tender and fluffy and cooked throughout, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Serve with plenty of black pepper and there may be some out there who want to add some salt. I personally find it salty enough without adding extra.

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Vegetarian Chili

Simple,Hearty Vegetarian Chili

Simple,Hearty Vegetarian Chili

Yes, you read that correctly. Quit sitting there open mouthed looking like I just kicked a puppy. There is actually *gasps and sits here open mouthed looking like someone just kicked a puppy* a healthy recipe on my blog. A vegetarian one no less! I told you lovely people that as I began posting more, I would begin trying to make some of the recipes  healthy *shudders*, maybe even vegetarian.

My son Zachary was recently trying the “Daniel Fast”. This is a fast many Christians use at the beginning of each year. It’s based on the experiences of Daniel, a prophet from the Old Testament of the Bible. It’s a very strict vegan diet that I myself couldn’t handle for more than say, five minutes. I give props to my boy for attempting it. This fast makes vegen-ism look fun, that’s how strict it is 😛 I did my best to help him during his fast by making some dishes that he could enjoy while the rest of us kept on with our normal eating habits. Which, btw, there is nothing so guilt inducing to a mother as having dessert when ones child is on a strict fast, lol.

One of the things I made for him that he liked was this vegetarian chili. Not a speck of meat in this *sobs quietly*. If one wanted to make a nice hearty veggie chili WITH meat, it wouldn’t take much to brown some up and add it into this. But you didn’t hear me say that and I’ll deny it to the death if asked. *gnaws on a bone as I speak*

Seriously though, this is pretty yummy. It’s a very hearty, filling chili, wonderful with cornbread. This is great for Meatless Monday, if you do that, wonderful for a game day if you have people who prefer to watch the meat intake or just because you love it’s flavor and feel like making it, no reasons needed.

You know the drill…. 🙂

Mrs. Cupcake, who is suddenly craving a steak

Vegetarian Chili

  • 4 zucchini, chopped into bite sized chunks
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced (or 1 1/2 teaspoons from a jar of  chopped jalapenos)
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 28 ounce can Italian stewed tomatoes, cut up
  • 1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes, cut up
  • 1 15 ounce can seasoned pinto beans, undrained (obviously no meat flavor in them if you’re trying to keep this vegetarian)
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 ounce can chili beans, undrained (we like the hot style; use what you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cilantro, cheese (vegetarian non dairy cheese if preferred) and green onions for garnish
  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, stirring often, saute the onions, all the peppers, the celery and the garlic in the oil until soft and limp, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, except of course for the garnish ingredients.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Taste for seasoning, adjust what’s needed (salt, a touch more sugar, some hot sauce if it’s not spicy enough for your crowd), then turn the heat down to low and let simmer for about 30 minutes (time enough to get some cornbread made!), stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. If you want a thicker chili, just let this simmer longer.
  4. Serve with garnishes and a lovely slice of cornbread or some crackers. Whether you add a hamburger on the side is entirely up to you. 😀

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Spicy Two Meat Slow Cooker Chili (And A Giveaway!)

Spicy Two Meat Slow Cooker Chili

Spicy Two Meat Slow Cooker Chili

We’re well into the school year and I don’t know about you, but it seems like half the time, I’m so busy with chauffeuring here and there, plus doctors appointments for physicals and vaccinations, etc, etc, that I end up saying “it’s snack night!” to my kids when they ask whats for dinner. Then I feel guilty because what happens is they eat cereal (they’re thrilled with that; me, not so much) for dinner and everyone ends up spread out chowing down on foods that I normally prefer not be served. One will be in his room, eating sandwiches. Two will be parked in front of the TV, watching Uncle Grandpa (Lord, I loathe that show) while my husband and I will be sitting in front of our computers. NOT exactly a family friendly eating experience and NOT how I want my kids childhoods to be. My husband working third shift exacerbates the problem because half the time, after getting the kids to school, I’ll come back and lay down with him and before I know it, half the day is gone and no dinner prep was made.

So what do I do more often now? Yep; you guessed it. The trusty slow cooker comes out. I own about 5 of them. The problem is, most of them are either too small or too limited on their usages (high or low, that’s it for settings) , so I let them sit and gather dust. So when I was contacted again as a Hamilton Beach Ambassador and asked if I wanted to try out their Set ‘n Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker With Spoon/Lid I was thrilled. Finally, I would have a slow cooker that I didn’t have to babysit.

This cooker is pretty awesome. You can either manually set it for how many hours you want the food to cook and set for high or low. Then once it has timed out, it automatically clicks over to warm. That way the food doesn’t overcook or get too cold to serve. Another option is, if you’re cooking, say, a roast or a whole chicken or maybe a turkey breast, you can use the included temperature probe. You insert it through a hole in the top of the lid right down into the meat, set the cooker for the temp you want the meat to come to and when it reaches that temp, it shuts off. Again, no overcooked dry chicken breast meat or stringy pork roasts because you forgot them.

I can honestly say I love this slow cooker. Yes, they sent me one for free, but my opinion is still honest. So much so that I’ll mention the ONE thing I didn’t like about it. The outside tends to get really hot, so you need to make sure this isn’t in reach of little ones.But other than that, I love it and have used it multiple times already.

Guess what else? Hamilton Beach has graciously offered to let me give one of these slow cookers to one of you. This is a $59.99 value and it’s just in time for colder weather (or as a great Christmas gift to someone, maybe?)  Plus, as the holidays get closer, we’re all going to be busier and you know darn well that having dinner on the table every night can be a hassle. So this is the perfect time to win this.

All you need to do is enter down below by commenting and using the optional methods in the rafflecopter box. Tell me what would be the first thing you’d make if you won this and there is one entry!

If you need an idea, I have a fantastic chili recipe for you. This is spicy, but not so spicy the kiddos can’t eat it. My six year old loved it. It uses chorizo sausage as well as the typical ground beef and some other ingredients that all add up to a warming, comforting, soothing bowl of chili. Serve this with some sides of fresh onions, cheese, sour cream and maybe crackers or tortillas and you’ve got a wonderful meal as well as some leftovers for lunch or dinner tomorrow. You know the drill… 🙂

Spicy Two Meat Slow Cooker Chili




  • 2 lbs ground chuck
  • 1 lb chorizo (removed from casings and crumbled if link style)
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped green pepper
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 14 to 16 ounce can of chili beans (your preference on heat)
  • 2 16 ounce cans kidney beans, well drained
  • 1 16 ounce can pinto beans, well drained
  • 1 16 ounce can diced tomatoes (regular or chili style; your choice. I prefer the chili style)
  • 2 whole jalapenos in adobo sauce, finely chopped (store the rest in a container in the fridge) (use more or less as desired)
  • 1 4 ounce can chopped green chiles
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (I use franks because I like that is has flavor along with the heat)
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 to 2 ounces chili powder (I use Bloemers)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  1. In a large pan, crumble and saute the ground chuck until brown. Drain and toss into the slow cooker. Brown the chorizo. Don’t drain this when done; just scoop it out and put it in the slow cooker.
  2.  Toss the onions, green pepper and celery into the drippings form the chorizo. Stir to mix, cover and cook over medium heat until the onions and celery are soft and limp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir once or twice during the cooking.
  3. Add the veggies to the crock pot; stir to combine.
  4. Add all the other ingredients, in order given (makes stirring easier), then stir to combine.
  5. Set your slow cooker for 4 hours on low.. Halfway through cooking, open it up (make sure you’re quick; slow cookers lose heat quickly and can take quite a while to reheat back up) and give it a good stir. Re-cover it and let it finish cooking.
  6. When done, stir it well and serve. This is excellent served with sides such as cheese, sour cream, green or red onions and cilantro. I also love mine wrapped up in a tortilla. My family, on the other hand are firmly in the cracker camp. Do what makes you happy. 😀
     Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

I was provided with a slow cooker as compensation, but all opinions in this post are 100% my own!

To enter the giveaway, just scroll down to the raffle copter giveaway form!

Hamilton Beach Set & Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker With Spoon/Lid

Hamilton Beach Set & Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker With Spoon/Lid


Product Features



    • Three (3) choices for easy, automatic cooking: program, probe and manual


  • Probe mode is perfect for cooking large cuts of meat or for recipes that require food to reach a certain temperature
  • Thermometer probe reads the actual temperature of food as it cooks; the temperature is displayed on the slow cooker control panel
  • Travel-friendly design secures contents en route to parties, potlucks, family gatherings and tailgating
  • The lid securely seals in place with sturdy wire clips on each handle
  • 6 quart removable stoneware crock fits a 6 lb. chicken or a 4 lb. roast
  • Wraparound, even heat cooks food evenly and consistently
  • Full-grip handles make carrying heavy meals easier
  • Power interrupt protection keeps slow cooker on during a brief power outage
  • Questions are supported by a toll-free call center located in the U.S.
  • Backed with a one-year warranty


  a Rafflecopter giveaway


Quick & Easy Three Meat Red Beans & Rice

Quick & Easy Three Meat Red Beans & Rice

Quick & Easy Three Meat Red Beans & Rice

I like shortcuts. Always have. The problem for me in using shortcuts in real life, like say driving, is that I have absolutely no sense of direction. I’m that person who takes the same route to places every…single…time. Because if I don’t, I also become that person who is later saying “Honest, I MEANT to take three hours to get back home. I was looking at all the houses in this neighborhood. It was totally my plan to drive past each house 46 times before I got back onto the main road.” I have to take a route about 10 times, then I have it down pat and won’t change even if they have torn the road up, closed it down and are using dynamite to fix it. Better dynamite than lost in the desert for 40 years. I’m pretty sure the Jews back in Old Testament days wandered the desert for 40 years because someone suggested an alternate route.

When it comes to cooking though, I love shortcuts. When you have six kids waiting for food approximately 15 times a day, you have to come up with ways to feed them quickly. Sometimes this means taking old tried and true recipes and *GASPS* using things that are a bit more processed to speed things up. Case in point is this recipe for red beans and rice. Mind you, I love making them the old fashioned way; letting my dry beans soak overnight, making a 45 minute slowly browned roux and so on and so forth. Thing is, I have learned over 38 years of cooking (I started cooking when I was about ten) that sometimes, when you use shortcuts, you end up with a meal that is just as tasty as the old fashioned way. These beans are one of those times. Canned beans and a quick roux that’s made in the microwave (yes, you can do a roux in the microwave. Have I steered you wrong yet?) make this a weeknight meal that you don’t have to fuss much over. This is very meaty, filling and tastes fantastic.  This doesn’t have a ton of extra ingredients. Between the meats, the veggies and the Cajun seasoning, this is extremely flavorful.

You know the drill. Git to cookin’.

Quick & Easy Three Meat Red Beans & Rice

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 4 15 ounce cans red beans, 2 cans drained, 2 with liquid left in them
  • 1 lb fresh andouille sausage, casings removed, crumbled (buy the real thing, not smoked andouille. I found mine at Whole Foods Market)
  • 1 lb chorizo sausage (the Mexican style, not the hard Spanish style.)
  • 1 lb ham, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons good quality Cajun seasoning (check the ingredients; most use a TON of salt & it is the 1st ingredient. McCormicks makes a good one.)
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce (I use Franks. I like that it isn’t just hot but has a distinct flavor)
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 2 cups white rice, made according to the directions on the bag
  1. Make your roux- in a large glass bowl (one that you know can handle time in the microwave, combine your flour and oil. Stir well. Microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes, uncovered. It should be a nice light brown by this point and have a yummy nutty smell.
  2. Stir well, making sure to get the sides of the bowl. Microwave again for about another 1 to 2 minutes, watching through the door the whole time to make sure it doesn’t burn. By the end of 6 minutes maximum (unless you have a low wattage microwave, in which case the process will take longer), you should have a nice dark brown roux..
  3. Carefully add your vegetables (and garlic) to the roux and stir well. Put back in the microwave and saute for about 3 minutes. Slowly stir in about 1/3 cup of hot water.
  4. In a large pot, over medium high heat, brown your meats, one type at a time. Do the ham first, then the andouille, then the chorizo. The reason for this is that chorizo has a stronger taste and you don’t want the other meats picking up it’s flavor but instead  keep each meats distinct taste.
  5. Pour the roux mixture into the pot. Stir well, then add the beans, Cajun seasoning, tomatoes and hot sauce. Stir again, cover pot and simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently and lowering heat if necessary to prevent sticking. You can simmer this for as little as 30 minutes if you’re in a hurry or as long as a couple of hours. It’s a very forgiving dish. It’s also amazing a day or two later, reheated.
  6. Serve over bowls of rice, garnished with onions.

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Three Cheese, Seafood And Asparagus Risotto

Three Cheese, Seafood & Asparagus Risotto

Three Cheese, Seafood & Asparagus Risotto

No, I am NOT in a rut darn it :-P. So what if I have done two citrus pies and now two risottos as my last four posts? I LIKE them, I cook them, I inhale them (well not really inhale… my lungs might not appreciate that) then I tell you about them. We all go through food phases and lately anything citrus and different risottos have been my weaknesses.

I splurged for this dish. We are so NOT that family that can afford to get seafood anytime we want, as much as I may wish we could.  Things like going out to seafood restaurants or buying shrimp or even fish are rare treats here. Add in that my husband doesn’t even LIKE seafood and I get it rarely. But Russ is out of town helping take care of his dad after surgery (I miss my darlin man!!!! *sobs*) and my oldest son and his family are here visiting so this seemed like a perfect chance to splurge and use seafood. So I bought some crab and shrimp and got cooking. I have to say, I am in love with this risotto. It’s rich and creamy (and we all know that those are my downfalls) with a wonderful seafood flavor (use less crab if you want the shrimp to shine) along with a burst of lemon and cheese flavors. This is a perfect family treat as well as a dish that would be great for a special occasion. So as I always say… get to cooking! This makes a lot so feel free to cut the amounts in half is serving just a few people.

Three Cheese, Seafood & Asparagus Risotto

  • 1 lb uncooked large shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb asparagus, tough ends chopped off & the rest cut into about 1 inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 12 ounce bag arborio rice
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 4 to 5 cups chicken broth, brought to a simmer and kept hot
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, heated then mixed with the chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine (don’t use something you wouldn’t drink)
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan (plus more for on top)
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill weed
  • zest and juice of one lemon (no more than 1/4 cup juice however)
  • 8 ounces fresh crabmeat
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. First things first- get the shrimp ready. In a medium saucepan, combine the 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Melt over medium high heat. Add in the shrimp and saute for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side. You don’t want these completely cooked because they will finish cooking when they get mixed into the risotto. When they are done, put into a bowl and set aside (and clean your pan and put it away because I’m anal that way).
  2. Now the asparagus- Take the pieces, put into a microwave safe bowl with 3 tablespoons water, cover with plastic wrap and microwave at full power for 4 minutes. Drain then set aside.
  3. In a large saucepot, melt  the 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add in the chopped onion, garlic and rice. Saute, stirring frequently, until the rice has become translucent and the onions and garlic are softened and limp, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add in the wine and continue cooking, stirring constantly until the wine is absorbed.
  5. Stir in about 1 cup of the chicken broth. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until all the broth is absorbed.
  6. Continue to add broth as needed, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly, until the rice is al dente and looks creamy (and utterly delicious)
  7. Stir in the 3 cheeses. Continue stirring until they are melted and thoroughly incorporated into the rice.
  8. Stir in the dill weed, lemon zest and juice.  Stir in the 4 tablespoons butter and stir until melted and combined.Then fold in the shrimp, crabmeat and asparagus, being careful not to break up the asparagus.
  9. Put into a serving dish, sprinkle with more Parmesan and serve. Get ready for some big time kudos here 🙂

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Caramelized Onion, Bacon & Mascarpone Risotto

Caramelized Onion, Bacon & Mascarpone Risotto

Caramelized Onion, Bacon & Mascarpone Risotto

Rice is one of my best friends. If this were 150 years ago, I would have been the wife of a rice planter in say, South Carolina. We would of course, be stone broke because I would eat all of our profits. Ok, so maybe not, but I remember reading once that it was common back in the day on the plantations for rice to be served with every meal, including breakfast. It was just a difference in HOW it was served.

I am pretty sure risotto was not on the menu back then though. It is, for Americans at least, a fairly recent dish. But I am willing to bet that if you could go back in time (wouldn’t that be a blast btw? I vacillate constantly over what time period I would go to first. Yes, that is how my mind works and these are the things that keep me awake at night.) and offer risotto to rice planters, they would love you. They would also realize what could be done with their crop, increase prices substantially and rice would now be right up there price wise with foie gras, caviar and Dom Perignon champagne… all things that do NOT fit into my budget, meaning that I would never be able to afford rice, would go through life depressed and probably would have been committed at a young age.

On that note, in case it wasn’t obvious, I made risotto tonight. But not plain old boring risotto. Me?? Make something normally??? Surely you jest? Nope. I put bacon, caramelized onions, mascarpone cheese and a butt ton of other assorted Italian cheeses in there. Creamy? definitely. Meaty? Check. Needing anything else with it to make it a meal. Oh heck no. This WAS the meal… and the dessert… and dinner for tomorrow. It makes a lot. I’d say that I’ll make less next time, but I’d be lying. I’m looking forward to leftovers.

Caramelized Onion, Bacon & Mascarpone Risotto

  • 1/2 pound bacon (preferably low sodium), cooked crisp and crumbled, then set aside (make extra because you KNOW you’ll pick at it)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 onions, cut in half lengthwise then thinly sliced into half moons
  • 5 to 6 cups of good quality chicken broth, heated to close to boiling (keep warm by either reheating in the microwave or keeping it simmering in a pot on the stove)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese (plus more to smother the finished rice in)
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 4 to 8 ounces shredded Italian cheeses (Kraft makes it, plus most groceries have a store brand)
  1. In a large saucepot, over low heat, saute the onions in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, stirring constantly for the first three or 4 minutes. Cover the pan, keep the heat at low and cook the onions, stirring frequently, until the onions are golden brown and tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Put the onions in a bowl and clean the pot.
  2. In the same pot, put the rest of the olive oil. Add in the garlic and over medium heat, cook for about 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly for about 3 to 4 minutes. You want the rice to have a nice coating of garlicky oil on it.
  3. Pour about 1 1/2 cups of the hot broth into the rice. You want it to just barely cover the rice. Make sure you have a drink and something to do next to you, because you’re not leaving the stove for a while now 😛 .
  4. Stirring constantly, continue to cook the rice until practically all of the broth is absorbed. Add in another 1/ 1/2 cups and do it all over again. Then do it one last time. The rice is done when it is tender and creamy.
  5. Take the pan off the heat and add in all the cheeses. Stir well to melt them, then add in the bacon and the caramelized onions.
  6. Place the rice in a large serving bowl to serve family style or individual bowls to make sure that no one eats your portion. Sprinkle each serving with a healthy portion of grated Parmesan.

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Chili Today Hot Tamale

Lamb Chili. It's not baaaaaaddddd (hehe. I slay me)

C’mon, you know that old joke. You MUST know that old joke. You’re five years old (well, not now but think back that far which for some of you wasn’t long ago and for others (like me) was so far back that you recall riding on the backs of dinosaurs) and you go up to someone and ask them what the weather is like. They say “I don’t know; what’s the weather like?” You then reply, with all the wit your five year old sense of humor can muster, “It’s chili today and hot tamale!!!”. You then proceed to roll on the floor laughing so hard that you wet yourself and get put in the corner for an hour. Ok, so maybe that last part was just me. But it was funny darn it!!! Funny I say!!! Totally pee worthy.

Moving on 😛 I know some of you (though very few at this point) are still enjoying cool, if not actually cold, weather. And even if you’re not, if you’re anything like me, you agree with the idea that you do NOT have to save chili for Fall and Winter. I said that same thing when I put together
This Chili Recipe Here which is actually my all time favorite non beef chili. Go ahead; check it out. I’ll be here when you get back.

You back now? Didn’t that one look yummy?! It is; trust me. But the one I’m posting now could easily vie with it for first place on favorite non beef chili. This uses lamb, which I love enough that when I saw this recipe online (for the life of me, I’m not sure where I found it and the paper I have it on doesn’t have a web site listed and there are 9 gazillion variations of this so I’m not sure which I changed used.) I knew I had to try it. I’m one of those people that when I am eating a specific meat (or sweet for that matter) THAT’S my favorite. Roast chicken? Favorite. Replace it with roast duck? Favorite. Put a steak in front of me? Favorite. Lamb? Yep… favorite. You get my point. This chili is now my favorite! 😛 Continue reading

Where Did Winter Go?

Creamy Turkey Soup

I’m weird. No, not cause of that! Or that! Shame on you for mentioning that one… I was young and foolish! What do you mean that was last week!?


As I was saying before you so rudely interrupted me, I’m weird. Quit giggling darn it. The reason I’m weird? Because I like Winter. Yep. I do. I like the cold weather though I admit that I don’t venture out into it much because I have the worlds worst circulation and I get cold in August. I like the snow when it happens, I like the coziness, I like being all bundled up in my recliner with a book and a cup of tea while the wind whistles outside my door. The problem this year is that as much as I like Winter, there hasn’t BEEN much of one this year. Where did Winter go!? Who hid it!? I want a REAL Winter! But no matter what, I like all the aspects and feelings that go with Winter.

And I definitely like the foods. We humans eat heartier in Winter. We eat meals that simply wouldn’t work in the full blown heat of Summer. Foods like stews and casseroles and pork roasts full of fat and massive flavors. Also, foods like soup. Continue reading

You Can So Eat Chili In The Summer!!!

Cause I said so! So there!!! Pffffttttt.

Mind you, I am sitting here eating Jays Brand Cheese Wheels.

Because as  yummy as my white chicken chili is, I have a reputation as a poor eater to keep going here. That takes a lot of work! You have no idea how I sacrifice for all of you just so that I can be the one sane port in your busy lives, the one place you can go to where the personality behind the words stays the same. I eat Twinkies (and Ho-Hos) Cheetos (and Tostitos with home made Peach salsa that I magically suck any nutrition out of before eating it). I chow down on chocolate by the pound and sigh heavily in martyred frustration as I do so. I also drink pop and strong caffeinated beverages. And I do this for YOU gentle reader… YOU. Can you FEEL the sacrificial vibes coming to you? Can you… wait, scuse me; gotta wipe the orange goop off the keyboard. Ok, I’m back. Where was I? Oh yeah; vibes. Yeah yeah yeah, vibes, sacrifice, Twinkies, noble kind soul that you adore… well, maybe I didn’t say that last part but I know you were thinking it so I went ahead and inserted it in there. 😛

If, by the way, you have never had Jays Products… I’m sorry. You can get some of them online but alas, not the cheese waffles. This is actually the first time I’VE had them in many years and why a Kroger store in Kentucky was suddenly stocking them, I don’t know. But I bought a bag anyway and am currently gorging on them like a six year old given a bag of chocolate covered sugar bombs (Oh Calvin you are my hero) and a spoon. Jays is a Chicago based company that seriously makes the best potato chips ever and I’m not just saying that because I am a native Chicagoan. Snyders Of Hanover has bought them now so I have no idea if the products have changed at all but I know the cheese waffles are still yummy.  Their sour cream and onion potato chips are stupendous and I even love their BBQ chips and I don’t even like BBQ chips. Hmmm, thinking of it, the fact that Snyders bought them may very well BE why I am seeing them here. Oh also, if you’ve ever had and loved Krunchers potato chips, they are made by Jays.  They also make the most awesomeest  cheese popcorn too. If you see Oko-E-Doke popcorn, grab them all! If by some strange chance you don’t like them, sell them for millions to people living outside their native area. It’s like popcorn crack. Better yet, just mail them all to me.

Oh well, for those of you who aren’t currently experiencing the chance to have a sore tongue (boy that sounds wrong) from eating too many rough textured and overly salty cheese wheels, I made White Chicken Chili for today’s post. And no it is NOT too hot for chili. Just crank up the A/C and start shivering. Then have some nice hot chili and a cup of tea. You’ll thank me. Just don’t forget to turn the A/C back down before bed so you don’t freeze to the sheets during the night when you drool on the pillow. Oh don’t lie! You do SO drool on the pillows!

This chili uses…GASP… a convenience product or two. I did NOT grow. dry and then soak my own beans. That’s why they make canned beans (though I DO soak my own when I make red beans and rice). Also, this uses a package of McCormicks White Chili Seasoning along with the other things you’ll put in it. It cracks me up when people get upset over packaged mixes like these. Hello?! Did you grow that bottle of Chipotle peppers yourself? The Cumin? The Chile Peppers? All the beans? If so, awesome, more power to you and may I please know what type of speed you use to get through a normal day? If not, then shush darn it, shush. Just make the chili. The mix is simply a pre-blended mix of spices one would use ANYWAY. And this is a particularly wonderful version of chili. it’s creamy and tangy and spicy and *wipes non cheese wheel caused drool* filled with chunks of chicken. It makes a big batch so feel free to cut it in half.

Creamy White Chicken Chili

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized cubes (I have also used a mix of breasts and boneless skinless thighs to good reviews)
  • 1 pound of either andouille sausage, sliced thin or 1 pound Cajun flavored smoked sausage ( I have used both at various times. Either ones is tasty.)
  • 2 medium onions (about 2 to 2 1/2 cups), chopped
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 4 cans great northern beans, drained well
  • 3 cans chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper (optional)
  • 1 package McCormick White Chicken Chili mix
  • 3 4 ounce cans chopped mild green chilies
  • 1 cup heavy cream (you can sub fat free half and half if you absolutely MUST 😛 )
  • 1 cup sour cream (same with the sour cream; you can sub fat free and if you DO make these changes, it decreases the fat and calories substantially since the rest of the chili is quite good for you)
  • green onions, cheese and whatever else you usually garnish/serve chili with 😀
  1. In a large heavy bottomed sauce pot, saute the chicken, onions and garlic in the oil until the chicken is no longer pink. Add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT for the sour cream and heavy cream.
  2. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 1 hour stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream and heavy cream. This is a thin soup like chili so don’t expect a thick one. If you want thicker, use one less can chicken broth. But if so, make sure you watch it carefully as it cooks so the liquid doesn’t cook down too much.
  3. Ladle into bowls and garnish with sliced green onions and Colby Jack cheese.