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.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

You guys. These cupcakes. They’d been on my radar to make for close to forever, but I always ended up opting out for another flavor whenever I made cupcakes. I finally got around to making them this week, and let me just say that I’m kicking myself for waiting so long!

I took my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, substituting some of the regular sugar for brown. Then the cupcakes are filled with a delicious eggless cookie dough filling, and finally topped with a cookie dough flavored frosting.

A garnish of a mini chocolate chip cookie is the pièce de résistance that just sends it over the edge of cuteness. They’re basically a chocolate chip cookie dough bomb waiting to explode in your mouth.

So do yourself a favor, and don’t wait as long as I did to make these guys. They’d be so much fun for a little one’s birthday party!

Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats

Soprano's Sunday Gravy

I’ve talked before about my love of all things mafioso. While I was always a fan of the classics like Goodfellas and The Godfather trilogy, it was really The Sopranos that really cemented that love. One of my favorite cookbooks is The Sopranos Family Cookbook. Every single recipe I’ve tried from it has been wonderful. The first one that I ever made from it’s pages is this recipe for Sunday gravy…

Italians call a meaty sauce that’s been simmered all day a “gravy”. This one is made with the addition of country pork ribs, sausage, and veal – which I leave out (I just can’t get past the baby cow thing). Now, if you’ve never added pork to your red sauce – with all due respect, but you’ve sorely been missing out. It adds such a wonderful richness and complexity that is unparalleled. Sausage is great, but the pork ribs are really where it’s at.

It’s wonderful simply tossed with pasta, or if you want to doll it up even more you can add mozzarella cheese and mini-meatballs to make Ziti al Forno. No matter what you do with it, you can’t go wrong with this sauce. It’s really a staple. Do yourself a favor and make it soon, you won’t regret it! Bada-bing.

Source: adapted from The Sopranos Family Cookbook

Beef Stew

The chapter we call winter is finally coming to a close. And while I’m super excited to welcome spring, I’ll definitely miss those warm stick-to-your-rib meals that we get to enjoy during those cold months. One of my favorites is this hearty beef stew. It’s a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen that I’ve been making for close to 10 years now, and for good reason – because it’s absolutely delicious.

I love taking a tough cut of beef like a chuck roast and turning it into the tender chunks that melt in your mouth. The addition of red wine to the stew adds such wonderful richness and depth of flavor, and really compliments and brings out all the wonderful flavors in the beef. Red potatoes, carrots, and peas also come to the party for a dip in the tub. Troublemakers.

It makes a large pot full that is plenty for supper one evening, and then enough leftovers for several lunches worth. And like with all stews and soups, it just gets better as time progresses. It also freezes wonderfully for an easy meal when you don’t feel like cooking. Definitely one of our favorites!

SOURCE: The New Best Recipe by America’s Test Kitchen