Thursday, May 1, 2008

Foodie Friday!

Okay, so it's not really Friday yet, but it's close enough and I may not have a chance to post tomorrow :-) It's been a busy week for us, but not a lot has happened with the pool so there aren't really any new photos of that project to share. Hopefully very soon!

Anyway, on to my favorite subject - FOOD! What do brown rice, baby lima beans and my freezer have in common? [Waits while y'all scratch your heads, wondering sadly if I am losing my mind!] These are my new favorite things in the kitchen. I've recently discovered two new foods I would have starved before eating never really knew I liked, and as I know I've mentioned before (so much so that I'm pretty sure it's becoming annoying), I am loving this whole freezer meals thing.

So first, the foods themselves. I love risotto (it's that creamy, buttery and cheesy thing), but have never really had a love affair with regular rice. Hubby however only eats regular rice... Lately of course, we're all hearing so much about how good for you brown rice is, and how we should all eat more whole grains and yadda yadda ya. I first tried Success Boil in Bag Brown Rice, and discovered that it is only a mild improvement in flavor over the regular white rice. But on a recent pilgrimage to introduce my friend to Whole Foods, I discovered both long grain and short grain brown rice in their bulk bins. Since it only cost a few cents to try some, I got both. Since I love short grain rice (risotto), I started my kitchen trials with the short grain brown rice, and MAN is it yummy. It doesn't taste like rice (or whole grains) to me at all. If I close my eyes it could easily be risotto. It has that same creamy consistency, and if you add just a little butter (I did say little, don't panic!) and some salt and pepper, it is sooooo good. Okay, so it's even better if you add more butter, but y'all won't tell, right? I've been making about 4 cups at a time and freezing them in serving portions. Makes rounding out meals on weeknights that much easier!

My new rock-star-masquerading-as-a-wallflower food is baby lima beans. Who KNEW how good these are? If my mother had called them by their alternative name all those years when I was growing up, I might have tried them! Butter beans, as they are also known here in the South, live up to their billing. I have to give Giada credit once again for causing me to try these in earnest, because I really would not have picked them up otherwise. But in this yummy, superfast recipe, she features them with whitefish, and it's become one of my very favorite weeknight dinners. I make it a lot and I think that if you like the method, there are a number of variations you could try. I'm thinking you could do white beans and tomatoes (or marinara) with herbs for an Italian flavor, or salsa, black beans and cilantro for a Mexican flair. Such a versatile recipe. When I make it, I add a splash of chicken broth to the wine, some chopped shallots or onion, and (shhhhhh!!!) a small pat of butter on each piece of fish. I also drizzle both sides of the fish with olive oil. This dish cooks in a flash and I have even cooked the fish directly from frozen (texture suffers, but certainly edible in a pinch!). On the limas, the frozen ones work perfectly and couldn't be more convenient, but if you cook them alone, don't overcook. For the fish packets, I usually run the beans under some water just to start them thawing before baking. Hope you enjoy! I'm looking to branch out on my baby lima adventures, so let me know if you have any favorite recipes of your own!!

Lastly, this week we finished up almost all of the remaining first batch of freezer meals. I can't say enough about this method for all us busy women/stressed mommies/tired dogmommies/frazzled wives (wow, I fit into three of those four categories - scary!). Home cooked meals ready in a flash, and no frantic last minute screaming at husband to get up and help chopping (and, if you're like me, cutting yourself...) I never knew how many recipes could be adapted to this method. Mostly, I love knowing they are there, so when I get home at 7 and have no idea what we could eat, we're not stranded with take out or [shudders] Easy Mac (which hubby really thinks constitutes *dinner...*) I have chosen my next round of new recipes to try/favorites of ours that I want to try freezing and I will share the menu once it's finalized, in case anyone would like to try a particular recipe or more. But I highly recommend trying the whole freezer method, if you're rushed at dinnertime like we are.

Oh - and a happy bonus for the week - I discovered one last portion of this wonderful recipe (do you even have to ask who authored it? :-) lurking, sad and lonely, in my freezer. It was made in December. And to my great amazement, it was more delicious this week than it was fresh... I guess flavors really do continue to blend even when food is frozen - I was so happy to discover a recipe that works with my tendency to forget what's in my freezer!! The only change I made to that recipe was to use boneless, skinless chicken parts. Don't leave out the capers - they make the dish, and once it's reheated their flavor mellows a bit into the background. Sadly for me, hubby ate the remainder of this great find, but I'll definitely be making more soon!!!

Hope you enjoy the recipes! Happy weekend - and have fun in the kitchen!


Robin's Reports said...

Hey Angela.

Welcome to my world! We had limas and butter beans last night with cornbread. Yummy and very Southern.

As for rice, I have so many different types in the pantry. I can't stand my basmati or brown. Sigh. We can't keep enough white, yellow or wild rice around though. My youngest thinks white rice is a meal in and of itself.

Must run but I enjoy reading your blog. Off to do a sea trial on the boat.

Angie said...

Ok, I am officially inspired to give lima beans another try. I hated them as a kid, but you made quite a case for them, so I'll give it a shot! I'm truly going to give this homemade freezer meal thing a try. You've certainly given me tons of resources to make it happen! Luv ya!

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