chicken soup risotto always overthinking it

“chicken soup” risotto

Maybe that title is misleading. The cookbook I got this from, “Plenty” by Diana Henry (oddly enough, there is another cookbook with the same name by a different author. I know this because I have one of them — and still checked the other one out by the library out of curiosity. Luckily for me, they were different cookbooks), calls this recipe “Restorative chicken and parsley risotto” which I think is just about the best title ever. It was restorative, especially because to me it kind of reminded me of if you’d made chicken soup and let all the noodles (in this case, risotto) get absorbed by all the broth.

My favorite part of this cookbook is an entire section devoted to chicken leftovers. I happened to roast a chicken the night before because I’d never done it before and felt like I should cross it off my life list. Plus, I wanted to make this recipe. (If you’re curious, I used the “Engagement Chicken” recipe to see if it was really that good. I joked with B that we could call it a “New Puppy Chicken” since we’re already married. Still waiting on the puppy…).

This recipe is so delicious, filling and comforting. Also, considering all the ingredients, it isn’t as rich as you’d think. I asked B, who is anti-rich-tasting foods (weirdo) and he approved this recipe.

I changed the recipe only to convert portion sizes. In the original recipe, it calls for 1/3 cup butter and most butter sticks come in tablespoons, so I had to do some converting mid-coooking which was annoying. Also, I would highly recommend having all of your ingredients handy so you aren’t running around throwing stuff on the counter while trying to stir the risotto. Not that I’d know what that’s like…I reversed the directions in here so that’s what the recipe makes you do anyway, because I’m helpful.

Chicken Soup Risotto
Serves 4

Ingredients

5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
5 tbsp butter, divided
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups risotto
1/2 lemon
1 3/4 cups leftover cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
1 egg yolk
5 tbsp fresh Parmesan, plus more for serving
2 tbsp finely-chopped parsley
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper

Directions

1. In a small bowl, squeeze the juice from the lemon half (remove seeds) and mix it with the egg yolk, Parmesan, parsley, cream, salt and pepper. Set aside to use later.

2. Heat the stock to a simmer and keep it simmering while you cook everything else. Heat half the butter (so 2.5 tbsp) and all the olive oil in a heavy saucepan and add the onion. Cook over medium heat until the onion is soft but not colored. Add the rice and stir to coat in the butter and onion mixture.

3. Add the stock a ladle at a time, stirring continuously. Add more stock only once the last ladleful has been absorbed.

4. Finely grate the lemon zest and stir it in about two-thirds of the way through cooking the risotto. Add the chicken in the last 5-10 minutes.

5. When the risotto is done cooking, remove from heat and pour in the egg/lemon juice mixture from step one. Add in the rest of the butter (2.5 tbsp) and stir gently but thoroughly. Taste to see if you need more salt or pepper. Cover and let rest for two minutes, then serve immediately, with more Parmesan if desired.

moving boxes in the garage always overthinking it

umm… hi?

We’ve finished moving in and are mostly unpacked and finally have wifi! I’m officially annoyed at Comcast for sucking at customer service. I spent the last week unpacking and washing dishes and clothes and I think we have one more box of mason jars (so many mason jars) to wash and then we’re done. Booyah! OK, fine, I still have to sort through the massive pile of clothes on the dresser and give stuff away.

b in a box always overthinking it

Since living on the road, I’ve come to appreciate not having so much STUFF. I’m a hoarder, so this is kind of a revelation. I told B I was going to find my favorite outfits on Pinterest, make 15 of my favorite with what I have and give the rest away. We’ll see if that actually happens. Also since living on the road, I’ve come to appreciate having a kitchen to cook in. With our dishes! I think we managed to eat four dinners in a row at home, which hasn’t happened in months. It was amazing. We also found a bed on sale so we have a guest room (come visit!) and we’re waiting for a couch to get delivered. B and I have been talking and dreaming about getting a new couch for years. The one we have right now is broken and really small and sucks (Crappy Pictures had a pretty funny post about crappy couches). We found a sectional that was pretty much exactly what we wanted. Unfortunately, it won’t get here until November. We’re counting down the days.

Other than that, I’m just sitting here looking for work and having a crisis about what to do with my life. Every time I look for work and can’t find anything, I start to think going back to school is a good idea. I envy people who went to school, got a degree in something they’d wanted to get a degree in and have a career in that field. Or even just have a career in something they enjoy. I’m constantly kicking myself for not getting a degree in English or Psychology. How do people decide what job they want? I want to apprentice so I can figure out what job I’d actually like… before I make a commitment like going back to school and spending lots of money.

I feel like this post was kind of a downer. It wasn’t meant to be. I love our new place and I’m so excited to have a home and one with so much room (there’s a garage! And a washer and dryer you guys!). OK, the next post is going to be a really delicious risotto recipe. Or banana bread whoopie pies. Yeah, I’ve made both this week. AND a roast chicken. I’m pretty much Betty Crocker.

i’m so sick of moving

After living in a condo for three weeks that was graciously provided by B’s work, we finally found a place to move for our own. I’m looking forward to finally being able to unpack stuff (all of our boxes are currently stacked in the spare bedroom), but I’m not looking forward to moving. I started comparing prices to have a moving company move our crap for us. I thought it would be fun to surprise B after work on Thursday or Friday and say “hey, guess what?! We don’t have to move!” Plus, OK, I also don’t want to move again. That will be the fourth time in three months. That’s just three times too many. Our new place is right across the street from the library and I’m so excited. I’ve already been to the library twice to check out a gigantic stack of books. I missed reading.

This past weekend I flew back to Moscow, Idaho for one of my best friend’s dad’s funeral. It was really sudden and an awful reason to have to be home, but it was nice seeing friends and family. I hadn’t seen some of my friends in 10 years! My dad introduced me to this woman engineer that he’s been wanting me to talk with since I graduated. Now I’m so confused about what I want to do that I feel like one of those robots that got programmed wrong and can only do left turns and keep going in circles.

i like the ostrich method

Ostriches stick their heads in the sand when they want to pretend life isn’t happening, right? Aside from me, of course. These past weeks flew by and were so overwhelming (in a fun, exciting, adventurous, terrifying way) that I pretty much just pretended that I didn’t have a blog, or a smart phone and hadn’t heard of social media. It was horrifying. And amazing. Hor-amazing. That’s a word.

moving selfie always overthinking it

The last week of work for B at Whole Foods was insane. We drove to our storage unit to pack up all our stuff, had to jump our car due to a dead battery, drove to Santa Cruz for a goodbye night out with B’s coworkers, drove with wicked hangovers to Davis (did I mention we moved to Davis?) unpacked our boxes from the moving van and dropped off our car for service because it turns out our car had a dead alternator. And battery. And bad brakes. And a cracked axle. And just shell out $2500 already. The day after all that fun stuff, we decided to go to Mexico, but our trip got cancelled thanks to a hurricane so we went to Turks and Caicos instead. Poor us, right?

turks and caicos always overthinking it

Turks and Caicos is beautiful and the water is turquoise and warm and I’d like to move there now, thanks. The place we stayed at had free windsurf rentals and I was hooked. Of course B didn’t get any pictures of me looking like a total badass because he was too busy reading. B started complaining about a rash on his leg that turned out to be poison oak and by the time we got home to a doctor, his leg was so nasty I couldn’t even look at it.

Since it’s Monday I figured I should get shit done, so I went to a doctor’s appointment, made another appointment, went to look at a potential house to rent, paid off a medical bill and went for a run. Also, last night my favorite sweater accidentally got put in the washer (and dryer) and it shrank and I cried. Fuck Mondays. (On the bright side, I did read three books this weekend and got a library card. Oh, libraries. I love you).) How’s your Monday going?

road trip packing tips luggage matters always overthinking it

road trip packing tips

Not to brag or anything, but after living out of a suitcase for three months, I’m pretty much an expert on packing. OK, I’m sure there are other people who have lived this lifestyle for way longer, but I don’t know them and this is my blog and just shut up already. Living out of your car and hotels means space matters and having your routine down can save you time and frustration — and make your OCD happy. Here are some tips I’ve learned since living the glamour homeless lifestyle.

1. Suitcases/bags/packing containers matter.

When B first started traveling for work (when we still had an apartment), he didn’t have a suitcase. I let him use mine, but since I’m usually the carryon bag type, I didn’t realize how destroyed my suitcase would get from B checking my bag all the time. Because of this, my bag got totally destroyed and the front pocket that my underwear usually goes in has a busted zipper (see photo above). B got a new suitcase and I kept using my old one because I’m cheap. So every time we check into a hotel, I get super self-conscious that my underwear or swimsuit is poking through the pocket. Anyway, I just bought a new suitcase (woohoo!) and I can’t believe how big of a difference it makes. My DOP kit fits in the bag and even some sandals. Plus, I don’t have to worry about my underwear falling out…

road trip packing tips hoarder moment always overthinking it

2. Don’t over pack. Think about what you really NEED.

I know that tips seems obvious, but I’m a hoarder and my hoarder tendencies became very obvious during our three-month homeless adventure. I may or may not have pulled a Rolling Stones record out of the dumpster that someone threw away and have been carrying around for weeks on the off chance it works. Or I’m going to turn it into a clock, despite the fact that I’m more into digital clocks. Try to pack what you really need and don’t buy (or pull out of a dumpster) something that you want, but don’t need.

3. Bring the items that make you comfortable, even if it seems like a pain to bring them.

I realize I just told you to bring only what you need, but if you have a hard time sleeping and need your pillows (guilty) or want to have slippers in your hotel room (apparently there are people that do this? Impressed and curious by this concept), then bring them. There are some hotels that apparently have the belief that when it comes to pillows it’s “bigger is better” and I am of the total opposite belief. I’m so glad I brought my comfortable pillow, even though it was sometimes annoying to lug around. Worth it though.

road trip packing tips always overthinking it

4. The better packed you are/less stuff you have, the less likely you are to forget stuff.

When you have 10 different bags to load onto a luggage cart, it’s easy to forget stuff. We left a $60 bag of dog food in one hotel room because the luggage cart was so full we didn’t think there was room for anything else and didn’t notice the bag sitting in the bathroom. Of course, if we hadn’t been stressed about how much stuff we had and had remembered to do the all important last-minute room sweep, we would’ve noticed.

5. Pay attention to how much clean underwear you have left.

For the most part, B and I have been pretty good about doing laundry when we stay with friends who have a washer and dryer (thanks, friends!). But the other day we were being lazy and didn’t do laundry and I didn’t realize until it was too late that I was out of clean underwear. Washing underwear in the sink and drying it with a blow dryer works in a pinch, but it’s really not the same as clean underwear.

6. Keep organized and re-pack when necessary.

There are some days when I just want to throw everything in my suitcase and go, but taking everything out and re-packing it really does make a big difference. Especially when I have a bag with the important documents and need to get to them and can’t find them because I shoved them in between all the magazines because I was being lazy. Taking everything out and reorganizing stuff so our storage unit info, doctor’s notes and other important documents are all together (or so I can keep track of clean underwear) is crucial.

What packing tips/road trip organization tips do you have? Did I leave anything off?

wasted free time always overthinking it

wasted free time

When B and I were living in Vancouver, I had a lot of free time. Having moved up to be with B and unable to work in Canada (unless I found someone to sponsor me), I spent most of my days running, doing yoga and crafting with my friend Jeni. I also took a design class at one of the schools up there and read so many library books it was amazing. I’d check out cookbooks and make dinner for B, desperate to feel like I contributed. I’d also check out novels and books that bordered self-help books, but in a fun way, like learning about NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month]. Not that there’s anything with non-fun self-help books, I just read all of them when I was in high school. Seriously. Anyway, I remember reading in the National Novel Writing Month book that the author didn’t recommend quitting your job for a month in order to write a novel and I thought he was crazy. If you had the means, why wouldn’t you quit your job to write? Imagine all that free time!

Now, having an endless amount of free time, I understand. It’s hard to feel inspired when there’s nothing around me to be inspired by (hello, blank hotel room walls). Or worse, I get inspired and am in a situation where I can’t do anything about it. Like wanting to craft and know that I can’t (or shouldn’t) lug a giant canvas into a hotel room to paint it, or having to wait until the weekend to cook.

The other day when I was flying back from Minnesota, I was sitting in the airport thinking of how the endless stream of people was offering me a fantastic opportunity to describe people in order to practice for writing book characters. But I didn’t have anything to write with and sat there mentally kicking myself for all the free time I’d wasted. I’d had months to go to a coffee shop or other people-watching places to write character descriptions and I hadn’t done it.

The first month or two into our gypsy-living adventure, I’d been on a roll, writing posts or reading books on SEO and other blogging-related topics. I poured through the books, gleaning as much information as I could and brainstorming all day long. Then… my enthusiasm petered out as I realized how little I could do from a hotel room, without a regular schedule. And my adventures started to feel monotonous and I had nothing (or so I told myself) to write about. My writing started to taper off and I promised myself that I’d write more consistently once we’d moved and tried to let myself off the hook by blaming my lack of writing on being too busy. I made doctor appointments instead, so at least I’d have something to show for all my free time. Which is great, because I’m going to have knee surgery tomorrow and am really hoping the procedure helps my knees. But it’s not like the doctor’s appointments prevented me from writing the rest of the day. Then I started to feel guilty for not doing more. I thought of all my blog friends with kids, or full-time jobs or BOTH who still have time to blog. “Maybe I’m just not good enough for any of this. I’m not good at anything,” I told myself. Sometimes I feel like I should’ve been born a few decades ago, when we didn’t have machines and someone would stand there all day, fastening a nut onto a bolt over and over and over. I think I’d enjoy that, actually. I’d be really good at that. Nut-fastener by day, writer by night. Although nut-fastening probably wouldn’t be very inspiring.

Anyway, having free time that I feel like I wasted (not entirely, but a little bit) has got me thinking. What would other people do with free time? Do you feel guilty burying your nose in a book and reading it from cover to cover in a day? Would you cook or travel or lie back in the grass and stare at the clouds? Would you start a new hobby and if so, what? How would you not-waste your free time?

flower beard always overthinking it

labor day weekend fun

This past weekend, B and I flew to Minnesota to have an impromptu family reunion (on his side). We went to the Minnesota state fair where we ate cheese curds (yum!), rode on rides and tried not to lose the four kids that were there with us. As we got up for our flight at 4am (side eye to B), I felt like I was forgetting to pack something but couldn’t really place it. Since I knew we’d only be gone for a few days, I wasn’t too concerned. Until I got there and realized I’d forgotten my camera. Damn. So pretend I’m showing you pictures of my nieces and nephews, the beautiful rain storms and the insanely crowded state fair. My brother-in-law has an amazing beard and when we went to the Minnehaha waterfalls, everyone started sticking flowers in his beard. We joked that we should use his photo as a campaign to save the bees (“What are YOU doing to help the bees?”).

We flew home to SFO and drove back to our friend’s house in Pacifica and the sun was shining. The sun was shining, you guys! It’s always foggy here, so we took it as a sign to go to the beach and play in the waves. It was amazing. I always forget how much I love playing in the ocean until I’m doing it and then I don’t ever want to leave. Who wants to go in on a beach house with me? If we got enough people, we could totally afford it, right? Sigh.

As I was catching back up on blogs, I was confused how far behind I was. And then I remembered the Thursday before, where I binge-read books all day and couldn’t stop, not even for blogging. Oops. On the flight home, I read The Cuckoo’s Calling by J.K. Rowling (under her pen name, Robert Galbraith). I thought it was really good! No Harry Potter, but I enjoyed it.

Today is B and my two-year anniversary. We haven’t planned anything and haven’t bought presents (at least, I haven’t…). The day kind of snuck up on me and I feel unprepared. I really like celebrating, so I’m actually really disappointed in myself for not pulling something together. I’m sure we’ll go out tonight and have a good dinner. His present’s just going to be a little late.

we’re moving! or something

A friend pointed out the other day that you can’t actually “move” if you aren’t living somewhere to begin with. I guess, technically, they’re right. But we’re moving! Off the road and our three-month gypsy lifestyle. B got offered a job up near Davis, California and he starts in a few weeks. We both have mixed feelings about the whole thing, but number one is excitement. B is conflicted because the job is not with Whole Foods and, considering he’s worked there 16 years, he can’t believe he’s working somewhere else. But we’re both excited to actually have a routine again. We’ll have a kitchen! And our own bathroom! And hopefully laundry!

But I am really going to miss being nomadic. Being on the road has been really fun and really tough. I love that we got to see so many friends and have so many adventures, but it will be nice to not have to load up a car every other day and lug stuff up to our room and try to tell Gypsy that she’s going to come with us because she’s convinced we’re going to leave her behind in a hotel room (we’d never, Gypsy).

About 10 minutes ago, I was rubbing lotion all over my dry body because I got sunburned at the beach this weekend. The lotion is from the hotel we stay at pretty frequently and I noticed that it smelled different than normal. So I double checked to see if they’d changed the scent and realized I’d been rubbing my arms, legs and face with conditioner. Did I mention I’m excited to have our own bathroom… with our own toiletries? Like, you know, lotion that I’ll recognize.

lame fortune always overthinking it

a list of things

We’re in Bakersfield again this week and there are really only so many times you can write about being in Bakersfield, really. Lately I’ve been walking Gypsy to the park and hiding in the shade because Bakersfield seems to think that people enjoy being really hot, all the time. Anyway, a list of some random things:

That fortune up there is not a fortune. That’s called good advice. What the hell, fortune cookie? [Of course, B got a really good one about good things coming his way]. Also, can we talk about nail polish? I hardly ever paint my nails because I don’t like the feeling of polish on my nails (weird…) but now I have another reason: It’s so distracting!! Do you stare at your nail polish when you’re doing things like typing, or am I just a total weirdo?

I loved this post’s discussion on Ferguson.

A four-year-old reviews the French Laundry and it’s hilarious. All of the reviews are, actually.

I’ve been listening to Tracy from Shutterbean and Joy from Joy the Baker‘s playlists and the music has inspired some really fantastic dancing. Also, I just recently discovered their podcasts and am having so much fun listening to them!

Would you unschool your kids?

I really want a pair of these beach pants, but the color I want is out of stock in my size. Do you ever have a hard time shopping online? I’m horrible at it. I open tabs and then leave them there, too afraid to actually purchase them.

PS: I have some exciting news I can’t wait to announce, but I can’t quite yet. Sorry, I know that’s mean and I hate when people do things like that. I’ll give you a hint: I’m NOT pregnant.

kind of a tough mudder repeat

Do you guys remember when we ran the Tough Mudder? Our friend, Mitch Kramer, who ran it with us last time is doing one this weekend in Tahoe. He asked if we wanted to come hang out for the weekend in the rental house he’s getting and cheer him on. Um, duh. Tahoe and cheering someone else on while they get shocked by wires? Yes, please.

We spent this past week in Bakersfield where it was back to hotel and restaurant food. Although, I did find a Thai restaurant that gives one free refill on Thai iced teas. Which is pretty much the best thing ever. However, last weekend we were in San Diego and every night we cooked up a feast, so I’m hoping we can repeat that this weekend. Or at least just fresh food. I’m so sick of eating horribly-cooked eggs. Blech. I would like to eat some more caprese salad like this for dinner:

caprese salad always overthinking it

Do you have any fun weekend plans?