Rice-Cooker Risotto

Rice Cooker Risotto | The Kitten Kitchen

I get cravings for risotto at odd hours, which is annoying because risotto typically takes a while to make and a lot of effort to stir. So when that craving arrives around 10 p.m. on a weeknight, no bueno. That’s why I started looking into risotto shortcuts.

Enter the rice cooker.

Seems like this concept would be a no-brainer because risotto is rice, and a rice cooker is made to prepare rice. But, the intricacies involved in cooking risotto always just made me assume that this machine wasn’t ideal for making it. I was wrong. Sue me.

In my research, I also found some other unique uses for a rice cooker, which leads me to believe that I should try a few and post the results on this here blog–since many of you, like me, think that a rice cooker is only good for one thing…cooking rice. Not so!

Get more bang for your rice cooker’s buck after the jump

Slow-Cooker Meatball Sandwiches

Meatball Sandwich | The Kitten Kitchen

On top of my hoagy,
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.

Okay, so it’s “spaghetti” and not “hoagy,” but I had to get “On Top of Spaghetti” stuck in your head while you contemplate the delicious dinner that is about to come out of your slow cooker if you make this recipe. I also didn’t lose my meatball when someone sneezed, though that would be okay because if someone sneezed on my meatball, go ahead and let that thing roll away, and give me a new one. Yuck.

Chris loved these meat-ah-ballz-ah, and he thinks meatballs are normally dry and boring. Not these. These meatballs, oh my gosh, they were so good–juicy, tender and flavorful. And you don’t have to use them on hoagies, grinders, subs, sandwiches (whatever your part of the world calls them)–slap those pups on some spaghetti, and you’re still in for a treat.

Cook some meat-ah-balls-ah after the jump

Baseball Cupcakes

Baseball Cupcakes | The Kitten Kitchen

I love baseball. I love the Cincinnati Reds. I love Joey Votto. The MLB 2014 All-Star Game is coming up. All of these facts mean that it’s time to eat a baseball cupcake.

My favorite baseball memory, and I have a few, goes back to September 23, 2012 when the Cincinnati Reds clinched the National League Central Division. It was a 6-0 victory against the Dodgers. I was sitting in the Frontgate suite, arguably one of the best places to watch a baseball game in Cincinnati. It was all-you-can-eat-and-drink. So, uh…. heaven, basically. I even got to meet Gapper, one of the mascots! But man, being in the stadium when they clinched was awesome. Everyone was jumping up and down, strangers were hugging, the players were piled on top of each other – it was just a great moment. If that was an amazing feeling, I can’t imagine how a World Series win would feel. I get weepy even thinking about the possibility.

::Wake up, Daniele::

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Oh yes. Where were we? Baseball. Cupcakes. The Reds winning the World Series again in my lifetime, and I’m at the game watching, cheering, weeping…

Okay. I’m back. I’m back. Sorry you lost me again for a minute.

The All-Star Game. Five…count ‘em, FIVE…Cincinnati Reds players (Devin Mesoraco, Todd Frazier, Johnny Cueto, Alfredo Simon and Aroldis Chapman) are on this year’s roster, and the National League is predicted to win. This is the first time since 1991 that Cincinnati has had five players on the roster.

So, in honor of everything baseball, here is a baseball cupcake recipe. Enjoy.

Batter, batter, batter, SUH-WING (cupcake) batter…after the jump

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse | The Kitten Kitchen

July 14 is Bastille Day, a national holiday in France that commemorates the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the French Revolution. The Bastille was a prison and a symbol of Louis XVI’s power and antiquated regime. By storming it, a message was sent—the king’s power needed to go bye bye. It worked, and the event became a symbol of liberty and the fight against oppression—the birth of a Republic.

Just like Fourth of July in America, it symbolizes the beginning of a new form of government, and also just like Fourth of July in America, it’s largely celebrated. There is a huge military parade in Paris (the oldest and largest in Europe), and countries like Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, India, New Zealand and South Africa celebrate with street festivals, flea markets, food, wine and fireworks.

I always remember Bastille Day because my dear sweet mother (Monique) and my grandmother (Mona) are from France! My mother was born in St. Raphael, France. She lived there, Trans-En-Provence and many other places, like Morocco, before she came to the United States when she was 11 years old. I spoke with my mom a little bit about her experience there. Most of what she said I already knew, but thought it would be cool to share a little about my family with you.

Mom & Me | The Kitten Kitchen

This is my mom and me at my bridal shower in 2011. Isn’t she cute?

What’s your favorite French food? Tomates farcies. Tomatoes stuffed with meat and herbs.

What’s your favorite memory of growing up in France? Staying with my grandmother and eating her cooking. She used to take me mushroom picking in the woods. She knew which ones to pick.

If you could go back to France right this second, what’s the first thing you would do? Visit the countryside to see the lavender, farms and greenery. Walk on the beaches.

What do you miss most about France? My family, the beauty of the country and the sea.

What would you tell someone deciding to visit France for the very first time? Visit outside of the cities. Eat at small restaurants because they have the best food. Visit the old sections of the cities—the old buildings, fountains and markets are beautiful, and so are the people.

So there you have it. My mom is awesome. And you probably need to book a trip to France, pronto. Or you could whip up some chocolate mousse, light a sparkler and celebrate from your backyard, wherever you may be.

I can help with the mousse part after the jump

Simple Pasta Caprese

Pasta Caprese | The Kitten Kitchen

I’m sitting on my couch sipping some white wine, wishing I had more mozzarella cheese because I really want to make this dish again. It was so quick and simple, which has been great this week because I’m dealing with a sick kitty cat. I feel this topic is relevant because the blog is titled, “The Kitten Kitchen,” and I have many “kittens.” Four to be exact. And Miss Eleanor RigbyCat is the queen bee in this humble abode.

It was always just the two of us. Two peas in a pod. Best friends forever. Then I got a boyfriend, Chris, now my husband. Then we adopted three more boy kitties. Needless to say, she wasn’t thrilled, but she has nothing to complain about. She basically has her own apartment upstairs with her own litter box, special food and huge king-sized bed. Don’t feel too sorry for her.

But seriously, she’s one of my soul mates.

I found Ellie in my backyard when I lived in old apartment in Newport, Kentucky. I thought she was pregnant, but it turned out she had a huge hernia in her belly area. There was a tear in the area where she was spayed, and all her organs leaked through that tear. I’m sure I’m not explaining this with medical precision, but I remember that was the gist. She was almost put to sleep during the surgery because it was so extensive, but she ended up coming out of it with flying colors.

A few years later, I found out that she was having pain in her chest, and when I casually brought up the hernia thing, the doctor said she was probably hit by a car at one point, broke her ribs, and they eventually healed improperly, leading to chest pain. He said the force of the car hitting her probably also caused the internal tear that led to the hernia. Other problems she’s had include having her two front fangs pulled because of infections, anemia and arthritis. And, earlier this year she was diagnosed with kidney disease. So, she has to take two pills, two times a day, and we give her fluids once a day through a needle in the  back of her scruff. She just sits there and stares at you. Such a lovely, good girl she is.

The lady that used to live next door to me in Newport said that she thinks Ellie lived outside by herself for almost 1o years. That means she’s probably about a teenager now. Time for me to worry. She was lying down in her litter box the other day, chillin’ (and not peeing), so I assumed the worst. She got some blood work done, and we found out today that she is now severely anemic, and not producing enough of a hormone (erythropoietin), so we are going to have to start giving her some shots three times a week or so. She’s not suffering though. That’s what I was worried about. She’s still lovey, purring and all up in my face, so those are all good signs. Send some good vibes her way, if you’re so inclined.

This was a long-winded way of telling you that I really needed something quick to make for dinner the other night. I was stressed, worried and tired. And this dish delivered. It was warm when I served it, and the next day I ate the leftovers cold, which means it’d be a great dish to bring to a picnic!

Make the simplest pasta dish ever…after the jump

Grilled Artichokes

Grilled Artichokes | The Kitten Kitchen

Sung to the tune of “O Tannenbaum

::clears throat::

Oh, artichokes.
Oh, artichokes.
I dip you in some butter.

Oh, artichokes.
Oh, artichokes.
I dip you in some butter.

You fill me up in summertime.
I eat you in a bunch-a bites.

Oh, artichokes.
Oh, artichokes.
I dip you in some butter.

If you don’t know already, now you do—I, Daniele Cusentino, love artichokes. Boiled, stuffed, grilled, you-name-it, I’ll eat it. I especially love artichoke hearts, and if there were an award available to people that can eat a jar in one sitting, I would be a contender.

Since we’re coming up on a long celebratory weekend here in the good ol’ USA, I figured I would share a grilled, easily transportable version of artichokes to take wherever your family units will be gathering.

Disclaimer: Be prepared to answer a few questions since people tend to get weird around artichokes. It’s only because they look strange, and people aren’t quite sure how to eat them. Teach them, you shall. And if you’re clueless, too, that’s okay! You’ll be prepared to field all the inquiries after reading this entire blog post.

Get grillin’ after the jump

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