First of all, let me apologize for the delay in posting. Things have been a bit busier in the Wheeler household in the past few weeks. The main reason? This fella:
We named him Lil Pi. He is a rescue from Triangle Beagle Rescue (http://www.tribeagles.org/). Check out the website. There are plenty of other cuties that need a home too. They may not be as adorable as this though. Sorry 😉
So while the new guy in the house has been super time consuming, I’ve still been cooking and working out. I just haven’t had a ton of time to write about it. Haha. But here I am! I have a few free moments and want to talk about carbs with you all. I know a lot of people tend to stay away from or are completely terrified of eating (too many) carbs. I get it. I really do. And as lame as this sounds, I got some of the best advice about eating carbs from watching an episode of Dancing with the Stars. I can’t remember the dancer’s name, but she is majorly svelte and is often referred to as the dancer who is in the best shape on the show. She said (and I can’t quote because I don’t remember her name) that she never eats carbs after 5pm. She eats them during the day for energy, but after 5pm the time for energy is over. This made TOTAL sense to me. I’m not going to bore you with the chemistry of how we metabolize carbohydrates (you can find that here: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/metabolize-carbohydrates-4489.html), but basically they yield energy due to the sugars in them. And as the dancing with the stars svelte dancer said, after 5pm you don’t need it. I saw this on tv about 6-7 years ago and have been following that train of thought ever since. (Side note – I order pizza for dinner from time to time). This is a lifestyle not a short diet. Nothing can ever, or should ever, be a rule 100% of the time. If you do, you will feel like you’re limiting yourself – FOREVER. Then you’ll be pissed off. Which is awful. Don’t do that. K? Also, I only use brown rice, whole grains, whole wheat, etc. I rarely ever eat white bread or white rice. Again not 100% rule, but it’s probably 99% for me. It helps I like the wheat breads, brown rice, and such.
And on that note…let’s talk about risotto! I made this killer risotto dish for LUNCH yesterday. See, I said for lunch. Before 5pm. Then I worked out. On this.
It is an amazing elliptical machine that works out your body three different ways. I love this machine. I want one in my home one day. Hint, hint Joseph 😉
And I worked out to my favorite (right now) music mix which includes:
Nothing pisses me off more than Britney Spears telling me to work b*tch. I’m serious. Try it. You will get a really good work out thinking about the hypocrisy of that song. And it has a good beat…
Back to the risotto.
Joseph and I went to Charleston, SC for Labor Day to meet up with family, and while we were there he got me a cookbook filled with recipes from local restaurants. One recipe that caught my eye was Risi e Bisi (Rice and Peas) from the Bacco Restaurant on Houston Northcutt Boulevard in Mt Pleasant, SC, just outside of Charleston. The reason it caught my eye, given the very mundane title, was the first item under the ingredients – Parmesan broth. Not chicken or veggie broth. Parmesan broth. Then I saw pancetta. DONE. I knew this recipe was a winner simply based on those two ingredients. Before we go into pictures and descriptions, it should be noted that I switched out brown rice for the white Arborio rice. Arborio rice is the traditional rice to use for a risotto, and brown rice will not lend quite as creamy a texture when you’re done. But it’s still damn good, and better for you. So there.
For the Parmesan broth:
8 cups water
1/2 pound Parmesan rinds (which I asked for at the cheese counter at Whole Foods – cost me a whole $3.14)
1 bay leaf
About a small handful of whole black peppercorns (go less if you don’t like pepper as much as I do)
1/4 of an onion
This is what it should look like as it warms up:
Put all the ingredients together and simmer for 30-45 min. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and keep on low on the stove. You don’t want to shock the risotto with cold broth, so it’s important to keep it warm.
For the risotto:
1 cup diced pancetta
1 cup brown rice (I suggest par-cooking this – I did not. It took 45 min to get to al dente…)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/4 onion diced
4-5 cloves chopped garlic
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
salt and pepper
Start by browning the pancetta with a bit of olive oil over medium heat. Once done, transfer to a paper towel lined plate using a slotted spoon. Add the onion and garlic to the pancetta drippings and cook till softened. Then add the (par-cooked) cup of rice and cook for 30 seconds. Add just enough Parmesan broth to cover the rice. Stir constantly and keep adding Parmesan broth in 1/4 cup increments to keep the rice moist. About 15 minutes in add the peas. Keep adding broth as needed. Cook until the rice is al dente. This should take 20-25 minutes (please use par-cooked brown rice for your own sake). Remove from heat and stir in butter and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over a bed of your favorite greens (we used baby romaine, arugula, and spinach) and top with a bit more Parmesan and browned pancetta. RIDICULOUSLY GOOD.
Here are the stages:
Onions, garlic, rice, and broth a- simmerin’
Addition of peas that gives us extra veggie.
and the finale served atop greens with the cheese and pancetta topping.