Rice, Rice, Rice

Oh Man! I really hate it when I don't have the ingredients that I need. I haven't been doing a big grocery shop lately. I've been relying on the food box (I can get stuff other than just veggies and fruit - thank God!) and stopping in at the local 'Valu-Mart' on the way home from work. So far, it's worked fine... You know... a dozen eggs here, some milk on the way home, bread in the food box once a week. But you know things are really slipping when you run out of rice and forget to replace it! So, what happens is I get 3/4 of the way through this recipe and discover that I don't have rice.
I'm stunned.
I take a moment to regroup.
Okay, I can use pasta and turn this into a pasta sauce thing. Thinking...
No, I don't want to do that. I want rice.
Ok. Put a lid on the pot and keep it 'til tomorrow, at which point I will have bought rice and ... done.
That is precisely what I do. Come home from work the next day with a bag of rice in hand and get'r'done.

This dish is a great way to use up leftover rice - or veggies that you want to use up - and you could substitute any other interesting sausage in there too. I called this post 'Rice, Rice, Rice' because I truly don't know what to call this recipe. It's kind of a kitchen sink thing. Tomato, veggies, hot sausage, smoked paprika. I don't know... call it whatever you want but don't call it tasteless because that would be a lie!

Rice/Tomato/Sausage/Veggie Dish (shoulder shrug)
serves 6

1 onion, diced small
2 ribs celery, diced small
1 small to medium sized zucchini, sliced small
1 bunch spinach, washed and sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
6 hot italian sausage, cooked and sliced thin
4 cups of rice (I cooked the rice until it was about 3/4 cooked and then added it to the dish)
6 - 7 dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
4 dashes of Bitters (optional)
1/4 cup fresh herbs (oregano, thyme, parsley works well)
1 tbsp smoked paprika
3 tsp salt (to taste)
dash of pepper sauce
1 large can of diced tomato
I used organic chicken bouillion cubes as well which will alter the amount of salt needed - so if you choose to use bouillion I would wait to add salt until after this so that you can adjust the taste.

(If you don't have leftover rice - In a medium sized pot, boil some water to get the rice started. Once boiling add 2 cups of rice and cook until about 3/4 cooked.) On another element, heat a large dutch oven. Once heated add some oil (about 2 - 3 tbsp or so) and begin to saute the vegetables. Once the onions have become limp and transparent add in the cooked, sliced sausages. Saute for a few minutes together. Begin to add the spices (holding off on the salt if necessary. Add in the worcestershire, bitters and pepper sauce. Add the canned tomato and then the rice. Allow everything to cook until the rice is done. Check the seasonings and adjust as necessary.

Orange Cookies

Today I went with my daughter and the Eco-Club at my school to City Hall. We were staying there for lunch and visiting the new Green Roof that has just opened recently. We also got to meet with the Deputy Mayor - Joe Pantalone - who was instrumental in getting the green roof installed. We were also celebrating our schools success at getting 'Silver' Eco School Certification. We sat in the rooftop garden and ate our lunch (litterless, of course ;-). The weather was perfect. I was able to bring my daughter with me and we had a great time.

This all, fortunately, coincided with my baking day (usually either Sunday or Monday). So, I was able to share these fantastic cookies with some of my colleagues. We thoroughly enjoyed them. I'm not kidding when I tell you fantastic. I can't even tell you exactly what makes these cookies work but man, do they work! Do not skip the frosting (as I briefly considered) on these babies. It would be tragic.

Caroline over at 'Whipped' wrote that these cookies could change the world. Ah... if only it were so easy. However, I think that we could at least get a few minutes of world peace with these ones....

Orange Frosted Cookies

1 cup shortening (or butter - I used unsalted at room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 - 3 tbsp fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)
1 tbsp orange zest
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt


3 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 - 3 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 -2 tbsp grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a bowl mix the flour, baking soda and salt together and set aside. In a larger bowl mix together the butter and sugar and mix/whip until fluffy. Add the egg and orange juice and mix well. Add in the orange zest until mixed in. Add in the flour, baking soda and salt and mix well. Place in smallish spoons on a lined cookie sheet and bake for about 10 - 12 minutes.
Allow them to cool completely.

In another bowl sift the icing sugar and then add the butter and about 1 or 2 tbsp of the orange juice. Mix well and add the last tbsp or so once it needs it (wait until things have gotten mixed a bit though). Once the mixture looks like it's the right consistency (ie. not too runny) add in the orange zest.
Spread about a tbsp full of icing onto the top of each completely cooled cookie.

Boring but delish comfort food

Up to now I have had a very small repertoire when it came to pasta sauce:

1. Something creamy
2. Something in a tomato sauce... which I had always referred to as Bolognese.

Recently though, I have discovered that Bolognese doesn't really involve tomato at all, at least not in the 'throw in a bottle of crushed tomato' kind of involvement. Also, Bolognese (so I'm told) can have butter in it - yeah... butter!

Well that revelation certainly peaked my interest. I'm all mixed up though because now I don't know what to call the tomato stuff (I'll do a post with that stuff though 'cause I like it - I've got it down to a science now), in the UK they call it 'bog' or 'bol'.
In any case, I was checking out this article in Saveur magazine a while ago and it's changed the way that I think about simple pasta sauces (we'll talk about Spaghetti alla Carbonara at some point) because this is just minced meat and some very simple additions. I love the milk/cream addition and now greatly appreciate how important good parmesan is to a recipe. I can't tell you how happy you will be if you spend a little extra on some good parmesan, generally of course, but especially here.
So, if like me, you have some short people bothering you constantly with 'Mommy... what's for dinner' and you are finding yourself in need of some easy, comforting food that you can make without serious effort or thought... you've found your recipe. Open a nice bottle of red and throw some green stuff on the side and you're good to go!

(Wanda's) Classic Bolognese
serves 4

1 lb of mince (beef or lamb would work nicely - both?)
good sized chunk of Pancetta (ok - definitely use a few slices of bacon in a pinch)
2 ribs celery, diced
1 small onion, sliced thin
1 small pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 good dollops of butter
3 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp dijon mustard
oregano, basil (fresh or dried) to taste
4 tbsp sugar
3 tsp salt
dash pepper sauce (should you so desire)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

In a heated Dutch oven add the pancetta and the mince. Let it cook enough to release some of the fat. Once fat is in the pan add the veggies and cook together with the meat until the onions become limp and transparent (won't take too long - 4 min. maybe).
Add in the butter, Worcestershire and dijon. Cook together for a few minutes. Add in the herbs, sugar and salt. Cook together again for a few minutes. Add in the tomato paste and mix it into the liquid in the bottom of the pan. Once blended add in the cream, milk and parmesan. Cook at very low heat for about 30 hr.

Serve over pasta of choice - we like long ones for this recipe.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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