Category Archives: Food

All That Mid-Week Jazz

You guys, my bracket be busted. The ‘Zags failed me. I knew I shouldn’t have kept it in the Northwest. We are the epitome of disappointment during critical sports moments (see the last minute of this year’s Super Bowl, for example). On the plus side, I’m no longer glued to that stupid ESPN Tournament Challenge app.

Allergy season is in full force with this early spring we’ve had, so if I forget to take one of the OTC allergy pills we load up on at Kaiser, I walk around feeling like someone is grinding my face into a pile of pollen. That being said, I slept in this weekend and missed my long run with the group. My alarm sounded, I turned it off, and fell asleep for another four hours. Want to know what’s NOT as fun as running 7 miles with a group of great ladies? Running 7 miles by yourself around a high school track on a hot afternoon. I opted for the track because sometimes, planning distance from my house is just a hassle. I ended up alternating running and walking laps until the boys (aka husband and dog) showed up with another water bottle to walk me home. My times weren’t so hot, but I got the distance in, which I’m happy with considering that I didn’t run much the two weeks prior.    I was also breaking in my new Brooks! No more Nikes for this girl.   Then, last night was hill training at our weekly track workout. We ran to the park close to the track and did four hill repeats and I was reminded of why I used to hate running. EVERY PART OF MY BODY HATES HILLS. I sucked it up, ran up that (*@($ four times, and walked down to give myself a little bit of recovery. When I got home, I rewarded myself with a big ol’ spoonful of cookies & creme cookie butter. YUM. That stuff is insane. Then this morning, when my quads and glutes were screaming, my treat was half an apple fritter. You gotta treat yo’self or you’ll go insane. I’m trying to drop a few pounds, so I’m keeping my meals super balanced and healthy, limiting mindless snacking, and letting myself have a treat every now and then.

Today is officially 17 days until my 15k, and 31 days until my first half of the year. I’m trying to stay on my A-game, because I’m pretty sure this half will be mostly harder core runners and I don’t want to look like a schlub. I’m even going to try and get in a long run next week when I’m in Iowa for a family wedding. #goals

And that’s all. I’m just rising, grinding, and working on a few new recipes for the blog that I hope to have posted soon. The time of convenience meals is over, my friends, as I try and get a better handle on my nutrition again. Tonight, instead of risotto, I modified a recipe I found for “quinoa risotto.” Quinoa has a lot of natural protein and a delicious nutty flavor, so it was truly a hearty, one pot meal with endless possible modifications. It’s definitely joining the permanent rotation of “meals that are easy and flexible and I don’t have to think about it.”

Your turn:

Did you pull any April Fool’s Jokes today? Have any pulled on you? I generally dislike April Fools, not because I’m a Scrooge, but because some people don’t have a sense of humor. They either get super offended over something that was meant to be an innocent joke, or they pull a legitimately insensitive joke.

What’s the best thing you’ve cooked lately?

How do you get up a beastly hill?

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A Much Needed Long Weekend

 I kicked off my long weekend by going to the State Dance Team Competition with my bestie and his mom, cheering on our friend’s team. It really took me back to my high school days…dance team is serious business. We had a great time. 

The next morning, hubby and I left for a few days at the family beach house. All trips to the beach house start with a trip to the farm stand for The Best Pie Ever in the World. It was GORGEOUS when we got there so we took our little man on a run along the sand. With his leash because we are paranoid about other dogs and also because Ramsay loves to find every bird that has ever died ever and roll on it. Saturday night we went to our favorite restaurant, Waterfront Depot, for drinks and dinner. Husband had this awesome arroz con mariscos (rice and seafood), in a dill tomato broth. I wanted to drink the broth. We are going to try and recreate this for sure. He makes a mean cioppino and this is is basically the same idea in a different take. I had tempura crusted shrimp with a side salad. The tempura batter was so light and not greasy at all, and whatever they seasoned it with was delish.   Then we went to the toy store and found tiny hands.   Bumbleberry pie was had. Don’t worry, we finished the whole pie between the two of us over the weekend. Ramsay miss having carpet. He spent the majority of the weekend rolling around like a weirdo. And chasing his toys down the hallway. And chasing a bunny in the backyard.   We went book thrifting and found some real old gems. This was a middle school health curriculum from the 1930s.  The next day it was stormy. We were ok with it.    On our way home we drove to our favorite breakfast spot, Otis Cafe. It seats about 40 people and they make a MEAN breakfast. I had my new staple, two eggs fried over medium with German potatoes and toast on homemade bread.    Hubby had biscuits and gravy. I barely got a taste.  After all that, plus a banana scone and some ice cream cake at the office, a run was in order when I got home today. The hubby and I suited up and did a quick 2.5 miles. It was not fun after a few days off, but I needed to put a few miles in so that my seven-mile training run bright and early Saturday morning doesn’t feel like death. Then, since it was in the 70s, we NEEDED to BBQ. 

I made some sweet potato fries, aka chopped up a sweet potato and seasoned it with garlic pepper and Greek seasoning and popped it in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. 

We had those with a Mediterranean salad and some bacon cheeseburgers we grabbed from New Seasons, the local organic grocery store. I have friend crushes on most of the cashiers there. I had a nice chat with the guy who rang me up today.

We had a little incident with the buns, so we are our burgers on toasted sourdough. It was still delicious. 

Your turn: Is it spring yet where you are? 

Do you like burgers, hot dogs, brats? (I’m a fan of all of the above) 

Are you reading anything good I should add to my list?

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A Crazy Busy Week and Bracket Madness!

After a weekend spent recovering from my 10k PR runner’s high, the work week threw me right back into being a busy bee, and I haven’t gotten ONE run in. My legs are craving some pavement pounding. This must be what it’s like to like running.

We spent a lot of this week reminiscing about our time in Ireland just about a year ago, especially since it was St. Patrick’s Day. We went to McMenamins, our old stomping grounds, to drink Irish Stout on nitro and Irish coffee and listen to bagpipers and try and decide what the best thing we ate in Ireland was (answer-fish and chips, but we couldn’t decide what ones, and seafood stew). Tuesday is normally my running group night but I had a late meeting and didn’t get home in time to meet everyone so we did this instead.  

 

March Madness started up this week, and I’ve never filled out a bracket before. But someone at work asked if I wanted in on the bracket challenge and all I want is to be office popular so I said yes, and now I’m hooked. We went to lunch yesterday at Life of Riley, the sports bar I love across the street, in order to watch a few key first games. I was excited to order a sald with grilled chicken, and by that I mean I ended up getting  this delicious Philly cheesesteak instead. With a salad.  

 

This afternoon I’m kicking off a long weekend by reliving my youth at the state dance team competition with my bestie and his mom and I’m so flipping excited! Here’s what I liked like back in the day.  

  Then hubby and I are going to the beach for a few days of much needed R&R. It’s supposed to rain off and on which is perfect Orefon beach weather in my opinion. You don’t go to an Oregon beach if you want to lay out and tan, unless it’s a freak 90 degree day in the summer. I’m excited to run along the beach with the dog and put together a tricky puzzle I got for my birthday. Because I’m 80.  

 

I’ve been wanting to make myself one of these for a while, so I finally buckled down and did it. And I love it! I have 6 medals on it total so far and can’t wait to add to my collection. My next race is a 15k in mid-April. 

Happy Spring Break to those of you who get one in the upcoming weeks! Does anyone else think that it’s really cruel that you grow up getting regular vacations every year and then all of a sudden you become an adult and they just rip them away from you? Because I do. We should all follow the school calendar. 

Your turn: Are you doing anything fun this weekend?

What were you involved with in high school? Sports? Drama? FFA?

What do you do with any awards or medals that you win?

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A Week of Runs, Beer, and Floral Happiness

I have a confession: I’m really starting to not hate running. Sometimes, I may even enjoy it. I’ve been loving my running group, which transitioned from Saturdays to Saturdays and Tuesdays. We took the track Tuesday night to do two miles of laps alternating between a light jog and fast jog, along with some stretching and triceps dips. The fact that we took to the track after someone who placed 5th in the Olympics wasn’t intimidating at ALL (we overheard a conversation which led to me internet stalking Olympic athletes in the area). I left feeling great! It’s nice to have a midweek meetup to keep me accountable. 

Then Thursday hit, and I had a nagging sore throat all day that I tried to ignore. We went to a new pub in the area for date night and tried some of their beers…I loved the golden!



I also had Scotch eggs for the first time. I always thought I would hate them, because I don’t like hard egg whites, but this was like a delicious bite sized breakfast! For those who don’t know, Scotch eggs are a soft boiled egg wrapped in sausage. This sausage really had lots of great savory flavor. 



Also the tables in the bar each had their own flat screen with a remote so you could watch whatever you wanted. I tried to convince hubby that he wanted to watch My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding but we settled on basketball. 

Friday I woke up congested and in the throes of a cold. But I sucked it up and took some DayQuil because I was looking forward to a 5k Saturday and I wasn’t about to miss out on my first race bling of the year. 

After an early night Friday, I woke up Saturday, still sick, but I went to the race anyway and am so glad I did. I PR-ed my 5k time! I was so excited, especially since I was sick. Imagine the gains I’ll see when I can breath again! My goal for the race was to keep my miles under 12 minutes, and I succeeded, so I was content. This serious hardware was just icing on the cake. 



After cleaning up, we went and dropped some serious money buying dahlias at the yard and garden show. Also, can someone build me this?



Panda Express made a great recovery meal Saturday afternoon. 



Though I’m not ready to start the workweek again, I AM ready to tackle this week’s runs and start building some distance. I’ve got my walk breaks down to a minimum, something I hope to stick to as my training mileage builds. 

You’re turn:

What did you guys do this weekend?

What’s your favorite flower?

Scotch eggs-gross or delicious?

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Hot Mess o’Life

I got my Erin Condren life planner and wrote out a whole two week editorial calendar and had all manner of high hopes and aspirations for these last few weeks. And then work got busy and our house got messy and our cat got sick and we had to put her to sleep and I became an emotional hot mess. So, in a nutshell:

I love my Erin Condren planner, though I’m still working on using it to its full potential. I managed to jam it into my purse so I pull it out whenever I have a moment to organize my life through the day.

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I joining the Runner Chick training group based out of my local Roadrunner Sports store (with friends, obviously, because I am codependent when it comes to exercise). It’s been fun to get with a big group of people and run on Saturday mornings and I’m looking forward to continuing with the half-marathon group and HOPEFULLY register for the local Rock & Roll, because the medals are legit and pay tribute to the famed Portland Airport carpet (RIP #pdxcarpet). Plus running with pacers and trying to keep up with friends is very helpful for my split times. Stay tuned for more…I have to pay money for this group to ensure I stay dedicated.

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Work has been crazy busy (end of our fiscal year, what what to my fellow accounting types!) but we make time weekly to order crazy noodles from the Vietnamese place down the street and my tummy loves it. Picture pad thai without the fish sauce plus the bok choy and some bigger noodles stir fried to ultimate deliciousness. Seriously I think I’ve had these once a week since I started my new job. Worth the splurge. Plus the bok choy makes it feel slightly healthier than it is.

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Our baby girl, who’s been with my husband for something like 13-14 years, recently was diagnosed with Feline Cushing’s Disease (on top of diabetes, arthritis, and a benign tumor in one eye) and we made the excruciating decision that it was time to put her down last week. She wasn’t getting better with her medication, and her quality of life had decreased, but it was definitely the most difficult decision we’ve had to make as a family. I was in tears at my desk all day Friday, especially when I got this text message:

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All the tears in the world every time I look at this.

Now we are loving on our furry baby boy who clearly misses his sissy and keeps running to her room looking for her. Time heals all wounds but this one is deep for us. We definitely lost a member of our family and it was a tough weekend for us. Aka I skipped my run (which, in hindsight, was a terrible decision) and we drank beer and ordered Chinese food and barely left our house.

These looks.

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Now, it’s a fresh week, we have a clean house, and we are well rested after being forced to sleep on our couch for a week while we painted our bedroom. Clawing my way back onto track for 2015…still feeling the promise and still happy with all we’ve accomplished so far!

Now, your turn:
-How do you cope with the loss of a pet? How do you help your pets cope with the loss of a pet sibling?
-Are you in a running group?
-What do you think about the #pdxcarpet hysteria? (See examples here: http://pdxcarpet.com) As a lifelong Oregonian, this carpet has always signified coming home, and I have ALWAYS loved it, but I think the new pattern pays tribute in a fresh way that is not infested with 30 years of bacteria.

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A 12th (Wo)man Kind of Sunday

Oh my word, ya’ll (I wish I was southern), what a WEEK. As much as I tire of the monotony of getting up and going to work and working and coming home from work every day, after this last week, a little routine and some down time ain’t a bad thing.

But first, yesterday was just magical. I am hoarse from screaming at my television over the Seahawks game. I have never had so much nervous energy pent up during one game. I really thought it was over during the third quarter and now I’m ashamed that I didn’t believe in the power of the 12th Man. Since Portland doesn’t have a team and I lived in Seattle for four years during college and consider it my second home, I feel some “hometown pride” for them. When I was up there in Seattle on game day this fall, I couldn’t believe how many people were rocking jerseys. A little sports success, which always seems rare in the Pacific Northwest, has really brought everyone together.

Ramsay hates football season because our yelling interferes with his nap time.

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After the game, I was so wound up that I took the dog out for a two mile jog to decompress. It was short but we managed to make it home just before the skies opened up and the apocalyptic rain started once again.

While I decompressed on my run, husband celebrated by baking some monkey bread which was a delicious smell and taste to return to.

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Now, it’s Monday again and I’m back on the train on my way to the office. Last week I got to go to my first ever company party, which was fun, especially considering it was at a swanky club on the east side and my previous company didn’t really have parties. Another night was craft night where I stayed up way too late laughing with friends and family and drinking All The Wine.

This week it’s just work, sleep, and keeping up with house work, and that sounds just perfect to me.

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I’m ready for my hike from train to office, which always makes me feel like I have the city to myself for half a mile and I love it. How did I live for so long without working in the city? I mean, my lunch game has really stepped up.

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So, your turn. Who are you rooting for in the SuperBowl? How do you entertain yourself during your commute? On a scale of 1-10, how tired are you right now?

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Breakfast for Dinner

Caprese Grits Opener

Have you figured out that I’m all about easy food in the summer time? Easy and as fresh as possible, that’s my jam. Since we started getting heirloom cherry tomatoes out of the garden, I’ve been caprese crazy. With hubby and I both back to work now that the school year is on the horizon, it’s basically a coin toss as to who’s going to cook dinner. Last week, I was craving fried eggs (I crave things NOW, can you imagine how awful that will get when I’m preggo someday?!), and fried eggs and grits are one of my favorite combos, but I wanted something fresh to balance out the delicious richness, so to the garden I went. Then, this idea came to me: why not combine two of my favorite things, the flavors of caprese and breakfast eggs?!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Lazy Caprese Ingredients

-1 cup fresh basil

-as many cherry tomatoes as you care to use, quartered

-Parmesan

-3 c water

-3/4 c grits

-butter

-EVOO

The Miller light really enhances the cooking process, but isn’t technically an ingredient. Also, our beer standards have really dropped this summer. We got cheap.

Start by chiffonading the basil. I talked about the chiffonade in my last post, but here’s what it actually looks like:

Roll the basil leaves together as tightly as you can.

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Slice thinly down the length, creating delicious basil-ey strips.

 

 

 

 

IMG_2236 Chiffonade in Progress

 

Hubby insisted on an action shot. After he corrected my knife skills a few times. Side-note: I have all my fingers.

Meanwhile, get those grits going. Bring water to a boil, salt, and whisk in grits. Return to boil, then simmer for 5-6 minutes, or until grits are soft.

Grits

 

Heat 2 T EVOO in a frying pan, and add tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium until blistered. I wanted to have more tomatoes than that, but I made do with what was actually ripe.

 

Blistered Tomatoes

When both grits and tomatoes are cooked, toss tomatoes into grits along with 1 T butter and 1/4 cup of grated parm. Mix well, until creamy. If you want more cheese, add more cheese. This is the perfect time to experiment and toss in anything that sounds good to you.

Delicious Mixins

 

Mix in about half the basil and stir to combine. The rest should be set aside for garnish.

 

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Husband was in charge of making fried eggs to top off our bowls of grits. He made them in the same pan that I cooked the tomatoes in, so that they would pick up some of that flavor and extra oil.

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Serve yourself a big heap of grits, top with a fresh fried egg, season to taste, and sprinkle a little extra basil on top. And enjoy!

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You could really add in so many things to this recipe. Other ingredients we thought would be good? Mushrooms, chicken sausage, mozzarella (I would have used it but didn’t have any), shrimp, spinach…I could go on. And if you don’t like fried eggs, make a scramble with the tomatoes and top the grits with it. Eggs are so versatile. I could probably eat them every day and not get tired of them. I hardly EVER order sweet breakfast items when we are out to eat, because EGGGGGGGGGGS.

I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Question of the day: Are you as obsessed with the basil/tomato combo as I am? Is there another flavor profile you’re addicted to? Talk to me!

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Easy Salad Sides

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Lately, we’ve been taking advantage of our garden harvest and have been fixing a lot of what I’m calling “yard salads.” Aka a bunch of random stuff from our yard tossed together.

Last night, I mixed up two such delicious bowls because we had cucumbers, tomatoes, and basil we needed to use. My mom has been fixing both of these since I can remember, and they are so easy they don’t even really need a recipe, but they sure are tasty.

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First, slice up a cucumber in a medium size bowl. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of vinegar to coat (I used apple cider vinegar this time, but balsamic is also good, and gives a sweeter flavor). Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and beau monde seasoning (or celery salt).

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The second bowl is kind of like a caprese salad with cucs instead of cheese. Chop two to three tomatoes (or halve pint of cherry tomatoes) and mix in a bowl with a sliced cucumber. Then, chiffonade about 10 basil leaves to mix in. Chiffonade-ing sounds complex, but really all you need to do is roll the basil leaves together and slice thinly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then drizzle with 1/3 cup Italian dressing of your choice (I’m really into Ken’s right now).

Both of these are perfect complements to any fresh summer meal (holla for the grillables). The flavors are crisp and zingy and with garden fresh veggies, these sides can’t be beat.

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Anniversary Weekend

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I can’t believe it’s already been three years since this day! This week, husband and I celebrated our anniversary with food/drinks/laughs. My life is truly so blessed, and things just keep getting better and better. I’ve never met someone who can make me laugh as much as this guy, nor someone who is so thoughtful. I could gush forever, but instead I’ll just talk about our great anniversary celebrations this year.

Our anniversary was on Thursday this year, so I took Thursday and Friday off from work. Thursday was also husband’s last day teaching summer school, so it was time for a double celebration. We headed to the east side of Portland to eat at Bamboo Sushi, a local place that bills itself as “the first certified, sustainable sushi restaurant in the world.” I’d been before, but Shayne hadn’t, and despite the fact that the restaurant is like an episode of Portlandia (you should see the sushi eating instructions in the menu, which is the size of a small novella) it totally lives up to the hype.

We barely used soy because the flavors were so good!

We barely used soy because the flavors were so good!

It was busy on Thursday night, but we were fortunate enough to snag a seat at the sushi bar, where we got to watch our sushi chef hard at work. Also, I learned that my knife skills are pitiful. We went wild and ordered “chef’s choice,” hoping that our bill wouldn’t be $300 by the end of the night. We sipped our cocktails (something with shiso and cucumber for me, something with Makers for Shayne) and waited to see what appeared in front of us.

We were NOT disappointed. I usually play it pretty safe at sushi, so it was nice to not know what was coming, plus the chef paced it really well so we could truly enjoy each plate. Here’s what we had:

-albacore carpaccio, with pickled shitakes and Japanese sea salt.

-a salmon nigiri flight, with two Northwest salmons, a trout in the middle, and ending with two New Zealand/Australian salmon. We ate this from highest to lowest fat content, so it started with a really melt in the mouth cut of fish, and finished with something that had a little more chew. All of them were incredible.

-poke press box, which had a great Asian barbecue taste.

-the Green Machine. This was our finale, and it was truly a work of delicious art. Albacore, wrapped with tempura asparagus and sliced avocado, topped with a cilantro sweet chili aioli. Oh. My. Word. I could eat this forever.

The Green Machine

The Green Machine

We also had a steam bun with pork belly, which was good, but far overshadowed by the delicious sushi. After we paid the tab (which I’m happy to report was NOT $300), we rolled down the street to Rum Club for delicious rum-based drinks.

The next day, we got up and drove to the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge for a beautiful hike to Blue Lake, where we hiked 6 miles instead of 3 (I’m counting it as the 6-mile training run/walk I was supposed to do this weekend) and got eaten alive by mosquitoes. Not even kidding. We are working on our zen mindset and trying not to scratch ourselves raw right now.

We stopped for a few minutes to actually admire the lake before the skeeters found us.

We stopped for a few minutes to actually admire the lake before the skeeters found us.

We celebrated with beer and pizza on a dog friendly patio in Stevenson after our hike.

We celebrated with beer and pizza on a dog friendly patio in Stevenson after our hike.

A delightful anniversary indeed. Love spending time celebrating love with my man.

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The Three Rs: Random Risotto and Running

It is freakishly hot here in Oregon, which for us means anything over 85. The heat is swell during the day when I’m in the ice cube of an office, but when I get home to my hot, AC-less house, the heat makes me exhausted. I was finally able to get my rear out of bed at 5 this morning and beat the heat to get a few miles in. The day was already warming up. And then I PR-ed my mile time. For this training go around anyways. I feel like I walked a lot, but managed to shave 20 seconds off my pace. I’m still not where I want to be, but heck, I’ll take this little victory and use it for motivation. Since it’s been so hot, we’ve been doing minimal indoor cooking. No oven use, a little range, lots of grill. When I saw this recipe on Pioneer Woman’s blog the other day, it seemed great and summery and doable with what I had on hand, so I improvised my own version. I hadn’t been grocery shopping yet, so my risotto was onion-less and cream-less.

20140717-203327-74007883.jpg We have a ton of basil in our garden (pesto for dayyyyz), so I used a heavy hand with that. I seasoned my shrimp lightly with Greek seasoning, knowing it would go well with the lemon to be added later on.

20140717-203526-74126741.jpg I think I have a risotto obsession. No joke. I love loving arborio. I tended it carefully, first toasting it with butter, then adding half a cup of the low-cal white wine my husband found at Grocery Outlet, then adding a cup at a time of chicken stock until it was nice and creamy. Salt throughout.

20140717-203927-74367109.jpg I added the chopped up shrimp and about a cup or so of basil at the end, as well as a generous helping of pre-grated parm, which seems to multiply in our fridge. Garnish with a healthy squeeze of lemon. This was SO tasty. I love basil, and it really made this dish. I’m not kidding when I say that I’m seriously contemplating stashing basil in my car, not only because I’ve heard that it’s a good way to dry herbs, but because I want my entire Prius to smell like a basil plant. I love that I’m comfortable experimenting with risotto now, and Ree’s recipe provided perfect inspiration. Plus I drool when I so much as look at her recipes.

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