Cheddar Broccoli Rice Casserole

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I know it’s been a be quiet round these parts recently.  I have been trying to get back into cooking more, and I have actually been cooking dinner much more often.  But sometimes the recipes are only okay, sometimes the photos are not my favorite, and sometimes I just forget. It’s not you, it’s me.  I am hoping to get back into the swing of things more.  Lots has been going on around here though- I have officially gotten my Masters degree (and thus will now only respond to “Master Karen”), went on a vacation to San Antonio with my boyfriend, and am gearing up.  So lots of school but no cooking- something which I hope to fix very soon.

One way I have tried to inspire myself more is by meal planning (also helps me not waste food).  So one week I was planning out my meals and had a huge craving for some kind of warm casserole.  Knowing that I still had my month’s Secret Recipe Club meal to make, I went searching through   Turnips 2 Tangerines, and I found this lovely casserole.  Creamy, warm, and cheesy- just want the doctor ordered. Warm, comforting, and completely inappropriate for this flipping hot summer.  Perfect.

CHEDDAR BROCCOLI RICE CASSEROLE
Adapted from Turnips 2 Tangerines

INGREDIENTS

1 cup dried jasmati rice
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
Celery salt
3-4 heads broccoli, chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Cheddar cheese, shredded

DIRECTIONS

Cook rice according to instructions. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place broccoli on baking sheets in a single layer. Sprinkle olive oil on top and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 10-14 minutes, until broccoli is tender and beginning to brown. Set aside

In a saucepan, melt butter and stir in flour. Whisk in milk and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and reduce heat to simmer. Continue to stir until sauce is thickened. Combine rice, broccoli, and sauce. Prepare a pie pan for baking and spread mixture inside. Top with shredded cheddar cheese.

Bake until cheese is bubbly and melted, 5-10 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve.

Make sure to check out what everyone else made this month!

Goat Cheese Risotto

I made my first risotto!

My kitchen funk has been lasting for a few weeks now.  I have not been inspired in the kitchen, and consequently most of what I have been cooking up has been lackluster.  I decided the only way to get over this funk was to face it head on.  So, I returned to a food that many fear to make: risotto.  I have never had risotto before, and my first attempt at the dish a few weeks ago was Disastrous (with a capital D here).  I ate hard, undercooked rice that night for dinner. (In my defense, people on Top Chef seem to have risotto problems too)

I decided I had to conquer this dish, not only because I have a full container of rice sitting in the pantry but also because I needed to assert myself as the master of my kitchen.  This time my risotto was a success!  It was creamy and perfectly cooked.  Now that I’ve made a basic risotto, I think I am ready to experiment with some new flavor combinations.  And I think my kitchen funk may finally be over- I just planned out my meals for the next week, and I am feeling excited to cook again!

Also, risotto may be a perfect dish for a Valentine’s celebration at home with your lover.  But not me-  I, as a single lady, am obligated to sit on the couch in my PJs eating chocolate, reading Kathy comics, and watching romantic comedies starring Hugh Grant.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

GOAT CHEESE RISOTTO
From Cinnamon Freud
INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon butter
1 medium shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup dried arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken stock, simmering
3-4 ounces goat cheese, softened
Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS
In a medium saucepan, heat chicken stock until simmering.  Keep over heat at constant simmer while cooking risotto.
Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Melt butter and add shallot to skillet.  Cook for 5-7 minutes, until softened.  Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.  Add rice and toast for 5-7 minutes.
Add white wine to pan and cook until absorbed, 5-7 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of simmering chicken stock to risotto and cook, stirring frequently, for 7-9 minutes.  Add another 1/2 cup of chicken stock when the stock in the skillet is almost completely absorbed.  When you run your spoon down the pan and the risotto does not immediately fill back, you are ready to add more liquid. Repeat until all of chicken stock is absorbed; this should take 30-35 minutes total.
Turn off heat and stir in goat cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in blanched broccoli, peas, or mushrooms if desired.
Serves 2-3.