Perfect White Rice

I’m ashamed to admit that up until about 5 years ago, I was cooking rice in the microwave. Or, worse…relying on those pre-cooked rice packets that you just microwave. I was cooking all kinds of wonderful things in my kitchen, but still nuking my rice. *hangs head in shame*.

Finally I gave cooking rice on the stovetop a whirl, and the resulting rice was unparalled to the rice that had been produced in the microwave. Tender, yet firm grains that actually tasted like something! Before I’d just been getting gooey balls of mush. The key is a good, heavy bottomed pan – as well as giving the rice quick saute in a bit of butter. It really helps to keep the grains individual, so you don’t get that massive clumping issue.

OXO was kind enough to send me a pan from their new line to review. I chose the 3.5 quart stainless steel saucepan, just because the size is so handy to have in the kitchen. I love the fact that it has a glass lid, which makes keeping an eye on things like rice or beans very easy. And also the measurements on the side, and round bottom are very helpful for things like making homemade caramel sauce. Plenty of room for a nice big batch!perfect white riceAt any rate, if you’re still relying on neanderthal methods for preparing your rice, try this. It’s super easy, and so much better and economical than the prepackaged stuff. I’ve also got a couple great rice pilaf recipes, if you wanted a twist on a classic. Have a great weekend everyone!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the good folks at OXO. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Did you guys know that such a wonderful thing even existed? They do indeed, and they’re as wonderful as you’d imagine. They are pretty much a food group here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and it is where I was first introduced to them. After years of enjoying them, I thought it was high time I passed the recipe along to you guys!

It’s your basic biscuit dough with the usual suspects – flour, buttermilk, flour. But then you invite some pureed, roasted sweet potatoes to the party. It adds great flavor and color, and also some additional moisture. Which is always welcome in a biscuit!

They aren’t quite as fluffy as your standard buttermilk biscuit, just because the addition of the sweet potato adds some density too… but, what they lack for in fluffiness they more than make up for in deliciousness.

I like to serve them with a bowl of soup, or just plain with some jam or pumpkin butter. But, our favorite way to enjoy them is sandwiching a few pieces of ham. Very thinly sliced country ham is a treat, but more often than not it’s just plain deli ham. It makes for one delicious and easy meal – for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Source: adapted from The Lee Bros Southern Cookbook and Food & Wine, Nov 2013

threecheesemacaroniandcheese

Is there anything more comforting than a tray of homemade macaroni & cheese? I can’t believe that up to a few years ago, I was still cracking open one of those blue boxes for my mac & cheese fix. But once I learned how easy it was to make at home, I haven’t looked back.

A quick sauce is made up of butter, flour, and milk. Then once it’s thickened, I’ll add close to a metric ton of shredded cheese. I like to shred my own – the stuff that’s pre-shredded from the store has anti-clumping agents, which doesn’t lead to the same melty, gooey consistency that the blocked cheese will give you.

I used yellow sharp cheddar (for a nice bite), Gruyere (for a mellow sweetness), and Parmesan (for a salty kick). They all blend together so beautifully in the sauce to create a symphony of cheesiness. But, feel free to experiment with whatever you like! This sauce is just a blank canvas for whatever cheesy goodness you can dream up. Enjoy!

Wild Rice Pilaf

We love rice as a side dish. Whether it be Spanish rice or cilantro-lime rice with our Mexican dishes, or plain white or brown rice with our Chinese dishes and stir-fries, it’s always been a favorite around here. I’d picked up a few bags of wild rice the last time I was at Trader Joe’s a few months ago. I use it all the time in soups, but wanted to try my hand at a homemade wild rice pilaf. For too long I’ve relied on old Uncle Ben when I wanted that as a side dish, and it was high time we remedied that situation.

So, I took the recipe for Garlic Rice Pilaf that we’ve loved so long in our kitchen and modified it a bit. A quick saute of a bit of garlic, onions, carrots, and celery – then the rice is added for a quick toasting before adding chicken stock. Then it’s all poured into a baking dish to finish cooking in the oven. A quick fluffing with fork when it comes out of the oven, and you have a great side dish that goes with just about anything.

On a side note, we’ve pretty much completed the move. We weren’t even without internet for a whole day! I’ve just been lazy about posting. It was Pony Penning, and a bunch of family and old friends were in town – so we’ve just been having fun with them and adjusting to being back on the island. I really love the new house, and had an easier time than I thought I would leaving the old one. Now just to get it on the market and sold! Going to get Andrew registered for 1st grade this week, the excitement just never ends around here. Where is this summer running off to, guys?

Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats