Recipe: Oven Cooked Risotto

January 23rd, 2015 by Kimberly · 2 Comments

Since a couple of you asked for the recipe that I use to make my risotto in the oven, I thought I’d share it with everyone.  This is pretty easy to follow and should definitely make risotto much simpler to prepare.  Since my mom shared this recipe with me, which I believe she got from Martha Stewart, I’m not sure that I’ll be all that interested in standing there for twenty minutes stirring my risotto anymore.  Not when I can make it like this with so much less fussing.

I will say that when we made it most recently, using the arborio rice from Costco of course, I used two cups of rice and upped the stock to seven cups because we were not having anything else with it aside from a salad.  Also, I don’t bother using just plain water, which seems like a wasted opportunity to add flavour, instead I combine the plain water amount to the amount for stock, and sometimes the wine too, so that I’m using all stock.  Also, I always use more cheese, but sometimes skip the butter, and then add a bit more grated cheese on the top when I’m ready to serve it.  I just grate my big block of Kirkland Signature Parmesan until my hand gets tired and add that amount, but it’s more like 3/4 of cup and maybe even a whole cup of cheese.

Oven Baked Risotto – Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup white wine ( optional)
  • 2 to 2 1/4 cups hot water
  • 1/2 cup low sodium canned chicken stock
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F /220 degrees C.
  2. In oven proof saucepan or Dutch oven heat oil over medium heat, add onions and cook till translucent.
  3. Add rice and cook, stirring to coat grains of rice with oil about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in wine cook about one minute.
  5. Add 1 1/2 cups hot water, stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  6. Cover, transfer to oven, bake until most of the liquid is absorbed. About 20 minutes.
  7. Remove rice from oven stir in 1/2 to 3/4 cup of hot water, Risotto should be creamy. Add butter, cheese and parsley. Other cooked ingredients can be added at this time.
  8. Serve and enjoy.

Sorry, I didn’t take a picture last time I made this, so I have no photographic proof of how good this recipe turned out.  The risotto was creamy and lovely though and was just as nice as if I had made it in the more traditional way.  Cooking it in the oven also allows me to have time to prepare other parts of the meal or do other things in any case (like laundry and other fun cleaning tasks).

Buon appetito!

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What’s Your Favourite Costco Food Court Item?

January 22nd, 2015 by Kimberly · 12 Comments

I read an article recently that ranked all of the Costco Food Court items in based on the preferences of the author and it got me thinking about what I liked the best.  I’ve been really fortunate in that I’ve had a chance to try out the Food Courts in a few different countries and there are some definite differences depending on local tastes, but there are also a lot of similarities.  Of course, the biggest similarity that cuts across absolutely all Costco locations is the hot dog and soda deal.  And from looking at tables around me in Japan, Korea, Australia, the UK and US, it seems like it is the overwhelming favourite world wide.

Hot dog & churro lunch

Hot dog & churro lunch

I do tend to agree with the (apparently) prevailing opinion that the hot dog and soda are tops.  I know a number of people got really upset when they switched from Hebrew National hot dogs to their own Kirkland Signature beef hot dogs.  And I know that there were people who weren’t big fans of the taste of the new KS dogs either, a lot of people told me they found them too garlicky or too fatty.  I’m not in either of those camps though, because I like their all beef hot dogs and find them to be the perfect end to my Costco shopping trip.  I like mine with lots of onions and mustard, sometimes relish but never, ever ketchup.  My only problem is with the soda portion of this meal deal because I’m not huge into drinking soda but I can usually find something like root beer that will keep me happy.  And how can you not like something that has been on the menu for decades without a price increase?

I also like the churros and don’t agree with the person that wrote the article saying that they were too soft and doughy.  The churros at Costco are much like churros I’ve gotten pretty much everywhere else with the right amount of crunchiness, but not so hard that they shatter when you bite into one.  Of course, like anything fried, it depends on the a number of factors that don’t always go perfectly.  The only thing that would make them better is if they added a chocolate dipping sauce like I’ve had at other places.  But for the $1.00 price, these are a nice sweet treat.

Costco UK Food Court Menu (at least most of it)

Costco UK Food Court Menu (at least most of it)

In the UK, I have to say that I love the cottage pie.  It’s more pricey than the hot dog and drink, but on a cold day it is delicious!  Just talking about it makes me think that I will have to get one this weekend when we go to Costco.  I mean, it is hard to beat a toasty warm combination of minced beef with a topping of mashed potatoes.  I liked this so much when we had it in the Costco Food Court initially that I now buy the three pack of cottage pies in the Costco deli area.  They freeze perfectly and make for a great winter dinner when paired with a vegetable or salad.

In the UK we are also lucky enough to have jacket potatoes, a.k.a baked potatoes, too.  This is something I definitely like because I’m a fan of the potato in its many forms.  I still haven’t tried a jacket potato with baked beans on it, just because I’m not a huge fan of baked beans.  But I do like the one with tuna after I just put aside the feeling that tuna on a jacket/baked potato wasn’t right.  I should probably try that combination at home for lunch sometimes to have a change from a tuna sandwich or tuna on crackers.

So, those are some of my favourites from the Costco Food Court.  But I’m curious to hear what everyone else likes the best.  I’ve never tried the ice cream sundaes or smoothies for various reasons so I’m hoping someone will share their opinions of those items too.

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This Week at Costco – January 11, 2015

January 17th, 2015 by Kimberly · 1 Comment

I hope everyone is fully recovered now from the holidays.  We’re actually in Austin this week so I’m hoping to check out the new-ish Costco location in Cedar Park (open just over a year now).  And of course, while there I might have to coax myself to also check out the In-N-Out nearby.  My mom left London the day before we did, so when we get back to London on Tuesday I’ll have no excuse to not get back to my regular routine.  It was great having my mom visit and visiting her in the US, but it’ll be nice to get back to my regularly scheduled program.  And maybe then I will truly be able to catch up on the huge amount of email I’ve got in my inbox from everyone here.  Holidays are great but the getting caught up afterwards is so hard!

Scotti Italian Superfine Arborio Rice

Scotti Italian Superfine Arborio Rice

Scotti Italian Superfine Arborio Rice – Okay, I have a thing about rice and pasta of all kinds, so we always have a nice selection on hand.  And previously it was all from Costco except the arborio rice which I could never find there.  But a few months ago (yes, it has taken me a while to get this review up) I ran across this big bundle of arborio rice and couldn’t stop myself from getting it.  If  you’re not familiar with arborio rice, this is the rice that you need to make risotto.  I love to make risotto because it is pretty quick and you can add in just about anything for a lovely, quick dinner.  Sometimes I make my risotto on the stovetop and sometimes I make it in the oven now that my mom told me how to do it without drying it out.  And of course, I use my Kirkland Signature Parmesan when I’m making it too.  I add in just about anything too, it just depends on what is on hand when I am making it.  Recently, we made a nice one with chicken and broccoli.  But my favourite is probably mushroom and smoked oysters (sounds fancier than it is since they are fairly inexpensive and come in a tin).  I also find that just a plain cheese risotto is a perfect accompaniment to a steak, for a nice change from a potato.  I was amazed at the price of this risotto at Costco though because it can be pretty pricey at the regular supermarkets.  You get five kilograms bundled together at Costco in five, one kilogram packages.  Now, that is definitely not a small quantity of rice, but you’d be surprised how quickly you can go through a kilogram package.  Prices at regular supermarkets range from £1.10 to £1.50 for a 500 gram package, so that would be £11.00 to £15.00 for the same five kilograms of rice.  Either way that is considerably more than the price of £8.79 at Costco; a difference between £6.21 and £2.21.  So, not only is the price really good but the quality of the rice is also very nice and makes for a beautiful risotto.   5, 1 kilogram packages for £8.79.  Item #: 0166138.

Kirkland Signature Dark Chocolate Super Fruits

Kirkland Signature Dark Chocolate Super Fruits

Kirkland Signature Dark Chocolate Super Fruits – I got these as a gift recently and they are delicious!  Hiding under the dark chocolate coating you’ll find cranberries, blueberries, and Bing cherries, all of which it turns out are very tasty with a chocolate covering.  If I had to pick one, I think I would say that I liked the cherries the best, but they were all really quite good so it’s kind of a toss up.  I added these to some granola for a nice little treat for my cereal in the morning.  But the best way to enjoy them is to just snack on a few of them at a time.  My mom and I used these to make a great trail mix for our train rides during our Christmas holiday and it turned out to be the perfect snack for our trip.  If you’re thinking that you won’t like these because they are covered in dark chocolate and you’re not a fan of the dark chocolate, I would say you should give them a try.  I’m not a fan of dark chocolate at all, even when it is covering something or a hot chocolate mix, it doesn’t taste good to me.  However, this dark chocolate is not at all bitter and has a really nice taste that will even appeal to those amongst us that are strictly milk chocolate eaters.  Also, the chocolate used to make these is part of Costco’s program to create a sustainable and ethically produced cocoa supply (you can read more about the program on the back of the bag).  This is good for the farmers because they get paid better for their product and have access to educational programs about farming and business as well as community improvements like infrastructure and healthcare.  Plus, it’s good for consumers because you get a great product.  2 pounds for $9.79.  Item #: 662583.

Kirkland Signature Milk Chocolate Raisins

Kirkland Signature Milk Chocolate Raisins

Kirkland Signature Milk Chocolate Raisins – I got these recently and was glad I did because when my mom was visiting they turned out to be her favourite sweet treat.  These are covered with milk chocolate and the raisins are still really soft and tasty.  I have had some really dodgy chocolate covered raisins and was glad that these live up to the usual high standards of Kirkland Signature products.  Usually the chocolate covered raisins have a waxy chocolate covering and then the raisins seem strangely dried and gross.  But not the KS version, the chocolate is nice and the raisins still taste like raisins and are still tender.  This is something that you could also add to a nice mix of stuff with the chocolate covered fruits above along with some other stuff and have a great trail mix.  I’m not really sure what else you can do with chocolate covered raisins aside from eat them just as they are, although maybe you could add them to some desserts that I haven’t thought about.  In any case, they are quite good and you get a huge container of them for a really good price.      3.38 pounds for $10.49.  Item #: 835671.

Joseph Women’s Silk Turtleneck/Polo Neck –  It is so hard to find a nice, simple black turtleneck or polo neck as they call it in the UK.  I looked for one last year but couldn’t find one anywhere or at least not one that was well made and out of a decent fabric.  So when I saw this one when we were visiting my mom in the US, I had to get one and honestly, thought about getting a second one as a backup.  I think they are perfect for wearing during the wintertime under shirts or sweaters/jumpers.  I also wear it by itself and it looks good that way too.  This is a great turtleneck for my purposes because it is a silk knit so it hangs nicely but is smooth enough to wear under a sweater without it pulling and feeling uncomfortable.  The knit is someplace between light and medium weight, which also makes it perfect for layering.  It has a tailored fit so if you want something more loose fitting, you should probably pick a size up.  I haven’t seen this in the UK, unfortunately, because I’d kind of like to get it in another colour.  Of course, right after I bought this I found a gorgeous cashmere one when I got back to London which was way, way more expensive than the one at Costco, as you would expect.  So, now I do have two and they are both great in different ways.  I didn’t bother taking a picture of this because it looks like what you would expect and I couldn’t actually manage to get a photo that did it any justice.  $12.99.  Item #: 866092.

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Costco Worker Gets New Kidney from Friend

January 15th, 2015 by Kimberly · 1 Comment

There’s been a lot of things going on in the world lately that point out how horrible people can be to each other, so I thought I should try to share some news that demonstrates how wonderful people can be instead.

A few months ago, Vance Westerberg, a Costco worker in Portland, Oregon (4849 NE 138th Ave, Portland, OR 97230) got some really bad news: he was very sick and going to need a new kidney.  So he started on dialysis which can be a horrible process lasting for four hours at a time and must be carried out three times per week.  In addition to the dialysis he was still working at Costco full time.  It is amazing to me that you could keep working during something like that.  One of his co-worker’s husband, Michael Tierney, had become his friend after meeting him through Costco several years ago and luckily Mr. Tierney wanted to find some way to help.  Mr. Tierney found the very best way to help through being tested to be a live kidney donor for Mr. Westerberg and  was able to give him the greatest possible gift when it was determined that he was a match.  Mr. Tierney said he wanted to find a way to help extend the life of his friend for his family, and I’d say he definitely did it, while giving them all a Christmas gift that they won’t forget.

The surgery took place on January 5, 2015 and went well with both men recovering faster than expected even.  Mr. Tierney must be the most incredible friend ever because when Costco management offered him and his family a trip, he declined the offer in favour of letting Mr. Westerberg and his family have the much needed holiday instead.  I’d like to think that Costco ended up giving both men and their families a relaxing holiday since I’m sure they could both use the vacation.

That kind of selflessness is so amazing and really touching.  It’s great to read things like this and be reminded of just how compassionate people can be, even when it isn’t the easiest thing for them to do.  Becoming a living donor is a very hard decision and definitely needs to be well considered.  Mostly this is done for a close relative or friend, but you can also be an non-directed/altruistic donor, meaning that you would donate a kidney or liver to an anonymous candidate on the transplant list.  The American Transplant Foundation has a great website for information on becoming a living donor with all of the necessary steps and considerations.  Even if you cannot become a living donor, you could considering registering to donate your organs after death.  You can find your state’s registry at DonateLife.net.

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Get Your Dream Super Bowl XLIX Package at Costco.com

January 13th, 2015 by Kimberly · No Comments

Maybe you’ve always dreamed of going to the Super Bowl, or maybe you just really like one of the teams that are playing this year (still not sure who exactly is playing since there are still four teams in the running), or perhaps you live around Phoenix and have nothing to do on the big weekend.  No matter the reason, Costco.com can totally hook you up with tickets to the big game, as well as a hotel, plus a load of other cool things in their Super Bowl XLIX Packages for Two.  But you have to be quick because you don’t have much time left before the party begins on January 30, 2015 with the Super Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on February 1, 2015 with a 6.30 pm kick off.

Get your Super Bowl XLIX Package at Costco.com

Get your Super Bowl XLIX Package at Costco.com

So far all of the packages are still available, but I know that in other years the most expensive packages had sold out, believe it or not.  This year the most expensive package is a whopping $16,499.99 for a pair of lower level 30 to 50 yard line tickets.  The second most expensive package has a pretty hefty price tag too, at $13,499.99.  For that price you got a pair of lower level 10 to 30 yard line tickets.  Then you can pay $9,999.99 for lower level corner tickets or $9,499.99 for a pair of lower level end zone tickets.  Or, for your $9,499.99 you can get a pair of upper level 20 to 50 yard line tickets.  The cheapest (though it is not really cheap) ticket package is $7,999.99 for a pair of upper level corner tickets.

Of course, you do get a lot more for your money than just the two tickets, including: four days and three nights’ accommodations for two at the Talking Stick Resort and Casino  (double occupancy) from January 30 – February 2, 2015.  Aside from the hotel accommodation you get some great things to make your Super Bowl weekend more celebratory too.  Here are all of the details about the rest of what is included in the package:

Super Bowl Players Tailgate Pre-game Party:
Pre game experience on Super Bowl Sunday. 20+ active NFL players in attendance. Super Bowl Champions, Pro Bowlers and rookies. This year’s Super Bowl Players Tailgate will feature 2 of Phoenix’s top chefs to collaborate to create, cater and choose the menu for the event this year in Phoenix.

Pre-game Party Details:

  • Two (2) tickets – Sunday, February 1, 2015
  • The Super Bowl Players Tailgate is located walking distance to University of Phoenix Stadium
  • Time – 11:00am–3:00pm
  • Open full premium bars (21+ to consume alcohol, ID check on admission). Children under 21 are allowed
  • All you can eat food menu
  • Super Bowl pre-game Game Day coverage on large screen HDTVs, plasma televisions in a lounge atmosphere with soft furniture, private table rounds and high top tables to fill the hospitality area

Game Day Transportation:

  • Private Round-trip transportation on game day – Sunday, February 1, 2015
  • Ride via private motor coaches from Talking Stick Resort and Casino to the Super Bowl Players Tailgate University of Phoenix Stadium
  • Return to Talking Stick Resort and Casino following the conclusion of the Super Bowl game (60 minutes from game end)

Extras:

  • Welcome Reception (January 30, 2015)
  • NFL Experience tickets (Saturday, February 1, 2015)
  • Souvenir gift bag

So, if you want to buy one of these Super Bowl Packages, you need to visit Costco.com sooner rather than later.  I’m guessing that as soon as they finish the games that decide what two teams will actually be in the Super Bowl, these packages at Costco.com will start selling out.  So, if you feel confident in your team, or don’t care what two teams are playing because you just want to go to the Super Bowl, I’d suggest you not let the digital grass grow under your mouse.

I always think these packages sound great and think it would be a terrific way to see the Super Bowl.  And hopefully you’d be able to put it out of your mind what you paid for the tickets and just enjoy the really terrific party atmosphere at a live NFL game, especially one like the Super Bowl.  So, if you’ve sprung for your Super Bowl tickets from Costco.com (or someplace else), I hope you enjoy the game and that your preferred team wins.  Have a cup of hot chocolate for me!

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