Chicken and Pumpkin Orzotto

Chicken and Pumpkin Orzotto

Orzo pasta takes the place of Arborio rice in this quick and creamy chicken and pumpkin orzotto.

If your looking for a Risotto recipe, try our tasty Pumpkin Pecan Risotto with Dried Cranberries and Goat Cheese or the Bacon and Sweet Pea Risotto.

What Is Orzo

Orzo, also known as risoni, is a short-cut pasta, shaped like a large grain of rice. It is traditionally made from white flour, but it can also be made of whole grain.

Whole Grain Orzo Pasta

In Italy, where orzo originates, is classified as pastina or “little pasta,” which is a category of small, shaped pastas.

Orzo is typically used in many Italian dishes, including soups, pasta salads, grain bowls, and other dishes where a petite pasta is needed.

Orzo can be made like rice with a two-to-one ratio of water to dried pasta and will offer a creamier texture. The best part? Your cooking time will be about half of what it takes to make a pot of white rice.

Chicken and Pumpkin Orzotto

Orzo is a fun, versatile pasta that can not only be served as a side dish in place of rice, but can also be prepared as a risotto dish.

Risotto is a dish that requires a specific type of rice — arborio — as well as plenty of patience and continual stirring to get the texture just right.

However, using orzo can be more forgiving and takes less time. Plus, the starch from the pasta will give a nice creamy texture to your meal.

1 pound chicken thighs, skinless, boneless, diced, seasoned with salt and pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

6 tbsp butter unsalted, divided

1 small onion chopped

4 cloves garlic minced

2 cups orzo dry

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups cream

1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped

Stir 4 cups of the chicken broth with pumpkin puree in large sauce pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a bowl. Turn heat to low.

In a large skillet over medium heat add 2 tablespoons of butter and melt. Next add diced chicken and cook until chicken is oblique. Remove chicken from pan and set aside in a small bowl.

In the same large skillet, add the olive oil, 4 tablespoons of butter and allow butter to melt, about 30 seconds.

Next, stir in the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion softens and the garlic becomes aromatic, about 2 minutes.

Add the orzo to the skillet and stir until orzo starts to toast lightly, about 2 minutes. This will give it a nutty flavor.

Add one cup of the broth mixture to orzo and stir until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding a half cup of the mixture at a time, stirring often between additions, until liquid is absorbed.

Cook until orzo is tender and mixture is creamy.

If orzotto is too thick, stir in an additional ½ cup broth until loosened but not soupy. 

Next stir in the Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Add the chicken and vegetables and mix until combined.

Plate and serve immediately.

Chicken and Pumpkin Orzotto

What are the Benefits of Marinating Meat

Marinades were formerly used as a technique to preserve foods.

Any type of meat, whether it be beef, chicken, or fish would be submerged in a salty soup that was used to preserve the meat, due to the lack of a cooling system.

The last few hundred years, marinades are not only used to preserve meats but also to add flavor to them.

When we marinate, we think about saturating the meat in the rich tasting mixture of herbs, spices, salt,, vinegar, and oil (fat), with the purpose of infusing the meat with flavor.

This however is a MYTH.


Read More Here About Herbs and Spices

Herbs and Spices Through The Years


It is physically impossible for a marinade to penetrate deep into the meat. Most flavor molecules are to big to enter the muscle tissue cells of meat.

The tissue cells are about 75% water and tightly packed like a sodden sponge.

Greek Marinated Chicken

Oil molecules, which dispense most of the flavor molecules are also unable to enter the tissue cells.

This means, the the flavor of the marinade can infuse the meat no further than a few millimeters, leaving most it to pool on the surface.

Tender and Delicious Marinated Meat

The ingredients in marinades work together to enhance the flavor of meat and tenderize its outer layers.

While cooking the meat, sugars and proteins found in a marinade help to brown the meats surface, and creating a crisp, flavorful crust.

Keep in mind though, when adding an acidic ingredient like lemon juice, wine or vinegar, can slow the browning process.

Why We Cook

To think about cooking as purely functional would be to look at just one aspect of it. When in fact there are several reasons why we cook.

Cooking makes food more edible and in doing so cuts down on the time it takes to digest it.

Some foods we can eat raw, but there are others that need to be cooked, like meat or eggs for example.

How To Make The Perfect Egg In One Minute

Humankind has been on the earth for thousands of years and throughout the centuries we have learned the art of cooking.

Yes cooking is an art. If you are a professional-cook or not – when you put together different flavors you are creating a dish to satisfy your taste and hunger.

Frequently Asked Questions about Healthy Cooking

The More You Know

We spend just five percent (5%) of our day eating. So make the food you eat count towards a healthier you. Read more here: First Step To Being Healthy


The bottom line is, we have learned through trial and error that some foods need to be cooked.

So again, ever thought while you are preparing something to eat, why you cook it?

Why We Cook

It makes eating food safe, as cooking destroys bacteria, and the toxins they produce.

The food flavors multiple with using heat to cook. The heat browns meat, vegetables, breads, and cakes.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Brussels sprouts and Bacon

Cooking caramelizes sugar and helps herbs and spices to release their locked in flavors in a process known as the Maillard reaction.

Read More Here About Cooking With Herbs – Spices – and Caramelizing Sugar

How To Spice Thngs Up When Cooking
Spanish Flan – recipe and video on How To Carmelize Sugar

Food that has been cooked helps with your digestion as it softens starches and releases foods nutrients.

Roasted Red Potatoes with Garlic Parmesan

Cooked food tastes delicious and brings new textures to food.

Cooking To Gather Family and Friends

You may have heard the expression, make friends by “breaking bread together.”

Research has shown that the ritual of cooking and sharing your cooked food with others is entrenched in our psyche, and it brings family and friends together.

Regularly eating cooked food with others also improves our well-being.

Cooking Supports A Healthy Life Style

Here’s a great response to why we cook.

Julia A. Wolfson, MPP, lead author of a study on home cooking and weight lossat the John Hopkins Center, says if you are trying to lose weight or not, people who cook most of their meals at home, consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and less fat than those who cook less or not at all (Study Suggests Home Cooking is a Main Ingredient in Healthier Diet).

According to Civil Eats – The power of a communal meal, or eating together – either it be a Thanksgiving feast, a community potluck, or a dinner-table gathering can build cultural ties and tear down political walls.

So now you know. Let’s get cooking.

Mango Chicken Curry

Culinary dishes of India have made a name for themselves due to the spices added to their recipes.

The main role of spices in curry dishes is to add aromatic flavor, taste and texture. Spices are also used in the flavoring, preserving and coloring of prepared foods as well.

Black Pepper, cumin, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and cinnamon were particularly very popular in Europe during the middle Ages and were considered expensive products, which today are inexpensive and widely available.

India boasts of varying flavors of chicken curries from different regions.

Chicken curry is an incredibly delicious Indian dish which is also commonly eaten in England and the Caribbean where it is customarily referred to as curry chicken.

A typical or a basic chicken curry dish of India consists of a tomato base including these wonderful flavors which include ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and cardamom.

India has always been considered the “Spice Bowl of the World.”

The spicejournal.com writes that spices were in great demand by past civilizations to help preserve the flavor of food due to the lack of refrigeration and cold storage.

Cooking up a Mango Curry is easier than you think!

We started with a basic curry sauce but changed a few of the ingredients to make a mango curry.

Mango Chicken Curry

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, smashed with the side of your knife

4 tablespoons ginger, chopped

2 tablespoons curry powder

1 teaspoon each: salt and pepper

3 ripe mangos, peeled, chopped, and divided (or 3 cups frozen and thawed mango)

1 14-ounce can coconut milk

1 lb. boneless chicken thighs, chopped (can sub chicken breasts)

1 1/2 cup frozen peas and diced carrots

We flour dusted (can also use corn starch) the chopped chicken and fried in coconut oil and then added it to the mango sauce with vegetables.

Here’s how to prepare the mango curry:

In a pan sauté onions, garlic, and fresh ginger over medium heat.

Next, purée them together in a blender with coconut milk and mangos (fresh or frozen) curry powder, salt and black pepper.

Pour the puréed sauce back into the pan – add chopped chicken thighs and simmer until chicken is cooked, about 15 minutes.

You can stir in more diced mango pieces (fresh or frozen) if you desire.

Serve your curry over some cooked rice or on the side – we served our curry over a coconut jasmine brown rice.

Mango Chicken Curry is mild tasting – not spicy.

Tacos al Pastor

Tacos al Pastor

Tacos al pastor is a dish developed in central Mexico that is based on shawarma spit-grilled meat brought by Lebanese immigrants to Mexico.


Read more here about The Tastes of Mexico


Being derived from shawarma, it is also similar to the Turkish döner kebab and the Greek gyros.

The traditional way to make tacos al pastor is with thin slices of marinated pork piled or layered on top of each other on to a large trompo.

“Trompo” is Spanish for “spinning top.”

Once all of the marinated meat is placed on the trompo, it then spins around in front of an open fire until it is cooked through.

Tacos al Pastor
Tacos al Pastor

When the outer layer of meat is cooked, the taquero or person preparing the tacos cuts off layers of meat so that inner layers can continue to cook as well.

As he cuts the meat, it falls off the trompo in small pieces directly onto the tortilla that the taquero holds with his or her other hand.

Taqero Cutting Meat From a Trompo - tacos al pastor
Taquero Cutting Meat From a Trompo

The taco is then served with finely chopped onions, cilantro, pieces of pineapple and either a red or green salsa.

Marinade For Tacos al Pastor

For some it can be hard to make tacos al pastor the traditional way, and it can be difficult to find a place that serves tacos al pastor cooked up the traditional way as well.

There is no reason though for not trying to replicate the flavors without the use a trompo.

You can use 2 to 3 pounds of a pork tenderloin or a pork shoulder blade cut into small chunks and placed into the following marinade.

  • 4 Guajillo Chile boiled, de-seeded, and cleaned
  • 1 Ancho Chile boiled, de-seeded, and cleaned
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice
  • 3/4 cup of pineapple juice
  • 1 Tablespoon each of
  • Oregano – Thyme – Black Pepper
  • Cumin – Paprika – Salt
  • 3 Cloves of garlic
  • Blend all of the ingredients together until completely combined.
  • Strain the liquid over a bowl to end up with a smooth marinade.
  • Add one layer of meat in a large bowl or baking dish and cover with the marinade, and then repeat in layers until all of the meat and marinade have been used.
  • Cover the dish with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours
  • Remove from the refrigerator and grill the meat until cooked through.
  • Remove from grill and allow to cool a little and cut into thin slices to serve on warmed corn tortillas.

We topped our tacos with a mango and purple onion salsa (made ahead of time).

Peel and pit one medium mango and dice into small pieces and place into a glass bowl.

Next dice into small pieces one small purple onion and place into bowl with the diced mango.

Chop in some cilantro and squeeze the juice of one small lime over mango mixture and mix in.

If you desire add 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of salt and mix in. Set salsa aside until ready to top your tacos.

Warm some corn tortillas, add meat and top with mango salsa and enjoy.

Yielding An Abundant Tomato Crop With These Gardening Tips

tomato cluster ripening on vine - Yielding An Abundant Tomato Crop With These Gardening Tips If you want to grow the healthiest and most delicious tomatoes you possibly can this gardening season, take some pointers from the pros. There are a few very easy ways to implement, and therefore consistently grow a rich harvest of tasty, lush, mouthwatering tomatoes.

Why not try out the following organic gardening tips and see for yourself the biggest and healthiest yield your tomato plants can give you.

Organic Gardening Tips For Growing Succulent Tomatoes

Tip #1

Whether growing in containers or in the ground, make sure you select a location that will give your plants 6 to 8 hours of natural sunlight.  Also, make sure you have enough room between your tomato plants to not only provide for adequate air circulation, but it also assures adequate room for the plants to grow not only upwards, but for extending their stems.

Tip #2

illistration of transplanting a tomato plant

Illustration by Hyperion Yard

If you are buying plants to transplant, make sure you plant deep for the best possible results.

Burying the stem of a tomato allows the plant to sprout new roots which will help improve strength and vitality of the plant.

This also provides better absorption of the nutrients your tomato plants need to grow faster and healthier.

To do this, remove the bottom sets of leaves and bury the stem up to just below the bottom of the remaining leaves.

Experimenting with the above description for transplanting tomato plants to the first true leaf, when compared to just covering the root ball has shown to increase tomato yields by 18% and up to 26% percent for every 25 pounds of fruit at first harvest, according to Dr. Charles Vavrina at the Southwest Florida Research & Education Center.

Rodale’s Organic Life writes, that the secret to great tomatoes is all in the roots. Plants with big root systems need less water and can stand up to summer storms.

To encourage your tomatoes to put down robust roots, start by taking a look at the stems of your tomato seedlings. The fine “hairs” lining the stem develop into roots when they come into contact with moist soil. Burying a large portion of the stem at planting time effectively doubles the size of the plant’s root system and encourages productive plants.

Tip #3

This tip is crucial to planting, growing, and harvesting an abundant of tomatoes. Test your soil. Why? Tomatoes grow and produce well in soil that is more acidic, between 6.0 – 6.8 pH.

You can take a sample of your soil to the horticultural department of your local collage or University for lab testing, or you purchase a pH level testing kit.

After you have discerned your garden soils alkaline and acidity levels, you can add the appropriate organic soil amendments to reach the recommended 6.0 – 6.8 pH for tomatoes. Most garden centers can tell you just what you need to do to get your soil perfect.

Tip #4

prunning tomato suckers for better fruit

Image credit: Fine Gardening

 

Trick your tomatoes into being stronger by plucking the first flowers that appear. This allows your tomato plants to grow more extensive root systems, as well as a mature and developed leaf canopy, before any fruit is produced.

You should also prune any suckers, which are the little offshoots of the main stem below your first fruit-producing branch.

Fine Gardening says that doing so will allow most of the sugar produced in the first 30 days after transplanting, to be directed to the developing fruit, since the only competition is a single growing tip.

Tip #5

Use tomato cages or supports to grow your tomatoes vertically. When you allow tomato vines to lay on the ground, your plants are much more susceptible to pests and diseases.

When you provide vertical support, these garden dangers have a harder time attacking your plants. Sprawling vines also take up valuable space in your garden.

Tip #6

Organic fertilizer for tomatoesSouthwest Gardener says to fertilize your tomato plants once a month for in-ground tomatoes, and every three weeks for tomatoes in containers.

Adding organic compost, either your own or store bought will also help to encourage healthy growth and a bigger harvest.

Scratch compost into the ground around the stem, and at the same time, trim a few of the upper leaves on each plant.

Tip #7

Whether you decide to plant determinate or indeterminate varieties, consider planting new tomatoes three weeks after your original plants are planted. This will extend your growing season and guarantees that if you run into any weather or pest problems, you are still sure to enjoy multiple, healthy harvests. This means you won’t need to harvest and use your entire crop at once.

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How Too Eleminate Pungent Kitchen Smells

Woman washing a cup in white kitchen. Vegetables on the background - How Too Eleminate Pungent Kitchen SmellsWe all enjoy good aromas in our kitchen. But let’s face it, there are just some smells which we can’t avoid while cooking and are hard to get read of after making dinner.

If you made some fish, then you know how hard it is to get to eliminate the smell from your cutting board or the air? Even preparing onions on cutting surfaces and your hands leave you with that unwanted onion smell? We’ve all been there.

But there’s no need to fret, as there are simple ways without synthetic chemicals to tackle common kitchen odors. And if you want to go – “Green” – you will like employing these ideas.

Let’s start with general everyday kitchen odors.

baking soda to clean odors from cutting board

Image Credit: Homedit

General odorsBaking soda is not just for baking and cooking, it can also be used for removing odors from all over the kitchen. Just as baking soda placed in your fridge will remove odors, but it will also remove odors from your hands.

You can also create a paste with a little water and baking soda and apply to your cutting board or other cooking services to remove any unwanted smells.

You can even wash your garbage pail with a mixture of water and baking soda. Also remove odors from dishrags and sponges by soaking them in baking soda and water as well.

raw fish on a cutting board

Image Credit: The Canadian Way

Fish Odors– Slice a lemon in half and use the lemon flesh down on the cutting surface and your hands to cut that fishy odor. You can also chose to mix lemon juice with water to rinse your hands and cutting surface.

The citric acid in the lemon turns a group of decaying organic compounds called amines. When the lemon juice makes contact with the compounds that are causing that “fishy” smell, they are turned into ammonium salts which are less offensive to your nose.

Garlic Odors – Coffee ground are great at removing garlic smells. Wash your hands and then scrub with the coffee grounds. This exfoliates the skin, removing the dead tissues which is where the stink resides.

Onion Odors– Use some organic made toothpaste, like Dessert Essence made with natural tea tree oil and ginger oil or fennel oil . This will work for any of those strong fish and garlic smells as well.

More Techniques To Removing Fowl Odors From The Kitchen

Have you ever used parsley to combat your garlic breath? Rub it on your hands to remove that garlic smell as well. Not only parsley, but any fresh herb will absorb those odors. Just tear the herb into pieces and rub between your hands.

Most herbs are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Meaning they kill germs, and with the germs gone, so is the odors they can cause.

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Be Yourself On This Day and Everyday

Be Yourself

Today is, as is any February 14th is,  Valentines Day. We are not here to encourage celebrating it or not. We just wanted to say Be Yourself On This Day and Everyday.

In case you didn’t know this is the origin of Valentines Day.

Taken from Wikipedia: “St. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Several martyrdom stories were invented for the various Valentines that belonged to February 14, and added to later martyrologies.[2] A popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.[3] Today, Saint Valentine’s Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion,[4] as well as in the Lutheran Church.[5] The Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrates Saint Valentine’s Day, albeit on July 6 and July 30, the former date in honor of the Roman presbyter Saint Valentine, and the latter date in honor of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna (modern Terni). In Brazil, the Dia de São Valentim is recognized on June 12″ (view excerpt here).

February 14th was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.

Be Yourself – Everyone Else Is Taken – Be Happy with Who You are – There Is Only One Of You In the Whole World – and Remember, You are with Someone Not Because You Need Them or They Need You – You are Together Because You Want To Be – Happiness Depends On You.

But just in case your looking for a splendid recipe check these out: Salads as a Main Course . On this day of hearts, our food is heart healthy, and that should matter, because your heart and your sweetheart’s heart will still be with you both after this day passes.

 

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