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The boys and I are now self-hosted! Please update your readers and come visit us at blackcatkitchen.com.

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I bought some beautiful organic beets with greens from the local health food store over the weekend. At only $2.50 per bunch, I couldn’t really pass it up. And I definitely wanted to find something that would use the greens too. So, after debating between risotto or pasta, I went with the risotto. WOW. This was so good. I couldn’t stop eating it straight from the pan! And this was one of those dishes where I was kind of sad when it was gone.

Risotto with beet greens and roasted beets

Risotto with beet greens and roasted beets
From New York Times

3/4 pound beets (1 bunch small),roasted (I only used one HUGE beet – it was more than enough!)
1 bunch beet greens, stemmed and washed
6 to 7 cups chicken or vegetable stock, as needed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio or Carnarolli rice
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 cup red, rose, or dry white wine (I omitted since I didn’t have any on hand)
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 to 1/2 cup, to taste)
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Season well and turn the heat to low. Stack the stemmed, washed greens and cut crosswise into 1-inch wide strips.

2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large nonstick frying pan or wide, heavy saucepan and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes, and add the rice and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the grains of rice are separate and beginning to crackle, about 3 minutes.

3. Stir in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. The wine should bubble, but not too quickly. You want some of the flavor to cook into the rice before it evaporates. When the wine has just about evaporated, stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock (about 1/2 cup), enough to just cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly (adjust heat accordingly). Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful or two of the stock and continue to cook in this fashion, not too fast and not too slowly, stirring often and adding more stock when the rice is almost dry, for 10 minutes.

4. Stir in the greens and the diced beets, and continue adding more stock, enough to barely cover the rice, and stirring often, for another 10 to 15 minutes. Taste a bit of the rice. It should taste chewy but not hard in the middle. Definitely not soft like steamed rice. If it is still hard in the middle, you need to continue adding stock and stirring for another 5 minutes or so. Now is the time to ascertain if there is enough salt. Add if necessary.

5. When the rice is cooked through, add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper, and stir in another half cup of stock, the Parmesan and the parsley. Remove from the heat. The rice should be creamy; if it isn’t, add a little more stock. Stir once, taste and adjust seasonings, and serve.

Advance preparation: The roasted beets will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator. You can get ahead on the risotto, cooking it just through Step 3, then spreading the rice out in the pan or on a baking sheet. Reheat and proceed with Step 4 shortly before serving.

Yield: Serves 4 to 5 generously as a main dish

Approximate Nutritional Information: 585 calories per serving; 114 calories from fat; total fat: 12.6g; saturated fat 3.3g; cholesterol 134mg; sodium 282mg; total carbohydrates 53.6g; dietary fiber: 2.4g; sugars 6.2g; protein 56.2g (Data provided by calorie-count.com.)

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Bill allowing raw milk sales in Wisconsin advances: http://ow.ly/1nyGT

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Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t make anything without a recipe because it usually turns into a disaster. Which makes this “recipe” pretty much a miracle.

refrigerator soup

It’s so simple … I used up whatever veggies I had, added some stock and simmered for about 20 minutes. Easy peasy. And shockingly delicious. 🙂 Serve with a piece of bread & you’re good to go! This made about 3 LARGE servings.

My refrigerator soup included:

  • sauteing a 1/4 of a red onion and 2 cloves of garlic in a bit of olive oil
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 a carrot, chopped
  • 4 button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 small yellow squash, cut in 1/2 moon shapes
  • 1 small zucchini, cut in 1/2 moon shapes
  • 2 cups spinach
  • few leftover steamed cauliflower florets
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chicken stock base (I use Penzeys) – use vegetable stock if you want in vegetarian.
  • about 4 cups of water
  • dash of Yah’s Best spice mix – you could use any kind of spices you want
  • bay leaf

Sometimes, the best foods are the ones with the simplest ingredients.

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My friend Mandy shared this blog post written by another blogger on her site and I knew I had to share it. I don’t know Brandy, and you may not either, but she needs our positive thoughts & prayers. And if there’s anyone out there who can help her out, I know you can. Please read her post below and keep her and her boyfriend in your thoughts. I know I will be.

My name is brandy. And I have a blog.

And a plea.

I use my blog to showcase the crazy I meet everyday, share the stories of the kids I teach and document my love for tequila, dairy products and the abdominal muscles of Ryan Reynolds. Rarely do I talk about personal issues on my blog- as personal as the dude that I adore (who I actually met through my blog- single ladies, let that be a very good reason to blog, the possibility of meeting someone as wonderful as my man), but I need your help. And it involves my dude.

He’s a guy who made math comics for my class, so they would love learning about addition. He’s the kinda guy who sends my friends gift cards when they are having hard times, who remembers every story I ever told him, who was the first person I celebrated with when I got a teaching job. He’s the guy who sent flowers to me at school- dozens of my favourite pink roses just because he loves me. He’s a guy who has spent a year patiently explaining (and re-explaining) everything there is to know about football during the important games when silence is preferred. He’s made me word puzzles and comics and stayed up late playing Scrabble with me (even though I beat him almost every time). He’s listened to me cry about school and family and jobs. He is everything I never knew I needed and everything I always knew I wanted.

The holidays have hit us hard. He’s recently been told he may have something called multiple myeloma- an incurable cancer, that gives a person an average of five years of continued life. Though this news has came as a shock, he continues to be exactly who has always been- spending his time worrying about me, rather than worrying about himself. He’s the most selfless individual I know- (he stayed late on Christmas Eve to work, so his co-workers could leave early) and a post like this would never be something that he would promote or encourage but when I’m overwhelmed and feeling helpless, the blogging community has always given me tremendous support and comfort, two things I desperately need at this time.

As I write this, the future is uncertain and we aren’t sure what’s happening. He’ll need to see an oncologist soon, to verify what’s going on in his body. My hope is that everyone who reads this think positive thoughts and if you are a person who prays, could you add him to your list? (You can refer to him as ‘brandy’s hot awesome dude’). If you don’t pray, please keep him in your heart.This cancer is only a possibility and I believe that the prayers and positive thoughts of people can make sure it never becomes a reality.

I want to give a big thank you to the blog owner who scraped their original blog plans and graciously put this up. My goal is to get as many people as possible to see and read this post. If you are reading this and want to help, copy and paste my plea into your blog or send a link through twitter, so more people can keep him in their thoughts. I would be so very grateful (even more grateful than I am to my friend who first showed me the picture of Ryan Reynolds on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. If you haven’t seen it, google it. You. Are. Welcome).

I realize this all sounds dramatic, a Lifetime movie in the making- but this is life. Right now. And I’m throwing away any hint of ego and am humbly asking for you to pray or think kind thoughts. If you are able to pass this on, thank you and if you know anything regarding MM- please e-mail me (my e-mail is on my blog). This isn’t a call for sympathy or a plea for pity. It’s just one girl hoping you can think positive thoughts for the person she adores. If my current heartache provides you with anything, let it be with the reminder that life is short, love is unbending and no one knows what could happen next. Maybe it is silly, but I really do believe that positive thoughts can make a huge difference. Thank you for reading this and if you haven’t already? Please tell someone you love them today.

I did.

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Cinnamon bun cupcakes


Another recipe I saw on Beantown Baker – could it get any better than adorable, single serving cinnamon buns?? Nikki and I made these as well when she was over for a baking date.

These are delicious. I was a little worried about making something with yeast. But, even after leaving the dough to rise for an extra hour, things turned out just fine. I won’t be so afraid to make cinnamon rolls again. Mine don’t look nearly as perfect as Jen’s, but that didn’t affect the deliciousness!

cinnamon roll cupcakes

cinnamon roll cupcakes

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes
from
La Fuji Mama via Beantown Baker

2 1/4 tsp. or 1 packet (1/4 oz./7 g) dry active yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 cup warm milk (approximately 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. salt
4 1/2 cups bread flour

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

Dissolve the yeast and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar in the warm milk in a large bowl and let stand for about 10 minutes until foamy.

Mix in the eggs, butter, salt, and other 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. Add flour and mix until well blended and the dough forms a ball. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about one hour).

After the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners (I like to double them up because these cinnamon rolls are so moist), and lightly spray over the top of them with cooking spray.

Roll dough into a 12×22 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 24 rolls (I use my pastry cutter – thanks Dad!).

Place each roll in a cupcake liner. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Let rolls cool completely before frosting.

cinnamon roll cupcakes

cinnamon roll cupcakes

Cream Cheese Frosting
From Beantown Baker

4 oz cream cheese at room temp
1/2 stick butter at room temp
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
powdered sugar

Cream butter and cream cheese until fluffy.

Add vanilla extract.

Slowly add powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached.

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When I was searching for a recipe to use up some of the swiss chard from our CSA, I came across this post at eat me, delicious and knew I had to make it. It may not be the prettiest dish I’ve made, but it sure is delicious. I really like the chard in it – it gives it a nice flavor. I probably could have used more chard, or not wilted it as much, but either way it’s yummy. (Then again, how can you go wrong with black beans, cheese, salsa and chips?)

 

Black bean chilaquile

Black bean chilaquile

Black Bean Chilaquile
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

1 onion, chopped
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (15 oz can, drained)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups fresh rinsed, stemmed and chopped Swiss chard or spinach
2 cups crushed baked tortilla chips (I used 1/2 organic corn tortilla chips and 1/2 multi-grain tortilla chips from Harry & David)
8 oz grated sharp Cheddar cheese 
2 cups salsa

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Saute the onions in the oil for about 8 minutes, until translucent. Stir in the tomatoes, corn, black beans, lime juice, salt, and pepper and continue to saute for another 5 to 10 minutes, until just heated through.

If using fresh spinach, otherwise use this time to thaw out the spinach by microwaving it a bit: In another saucepan, blanch the greens in boiling water to cover for 1 to 3 minutes, until just wilted but still bright green. Drain immediately and set aside.

In an 8×8 casserole dish or baking pan, spread half of the crushed tortilla chips on the bottom. Spoon the sauteed vegetables over the tortilla chips and sprinkle on about two-thirds of the grated Cheddar. Arrange the greens evenly over the cheese and spoon on half of the salsa. Finish with the rest of the tortilla chips and top with the remaining salsa and Cheddar. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown.

(I’ll have to get the cookbook and hopefully it has nutrition data in it. Stay tuned.)

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