Vegetable Risotto

Bowl of Risotto

Vegetable Risotto

I remember the first time I ever made risotto.  Lindsey and I were visiting our aunt in California, and helped her make risotto for dinner.  At the time, it seemed like a very long, laborious process, but now I really enjoy making it.  I also just love risotto!  It’s creamy and delicious.

This recipe can be made using different vegetables, and would be great with some herbs thrown in.  It should include 1/4 cup of fresh mint.  Unfortunately for me, the herb selection when I went grocery shopping was less than fabulous.   I’m posting what I made, but encourage you to take creative liberties!

Risotto in Bowl

Loved the peas

Vegetable Risotto

Serves 4

  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 lb zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 cups frozen baby peas
  • 2/3 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine the broth and wine in a saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, and maintain over low heat.  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute, or until all grains are coated.  Add 2 cups of the simmering broth mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed, about 3-4 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Add another cup of broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed.  Repeat until all broth has been added.

While the rice is cooking, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add the zucchini and saute until softened, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the peas, cooking until heated through, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.

After about 20-25 minutes, when the rice is tender and creamy but still al dente at the center, stir in the sauteed vegetables.  Cook for 1 minute to heat through.  Stir in the cheese, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pot of Risotto

Great big pot of rice!

This was a great, filling recipe.  It makes a sizable batch, so I had plenty of leftovers for lunches.  So convenient!

Have you ever made risotto before?  What is your favorite kind?

Happy Eating!

-C

“Homesick Texan” Carnitas and Slaw

Within the past few years, a really great grocery service has opened here in Charlottesville (and now serving Richmond and Northern Virginia, too!). Relay Foods sources their groceries from local vendors, including farms and bakeries as well as bigger grocery stores. You order online, and pick up at locations around town (or pay more for delivery).

I have known about and deeply respected Relay for a while now, but I had not ordered from them until last week, when I remembered that Relay makes it possible to get produce and meat from local farms when the City Market is not in session.

Carnitas taco with cabbage slaw

Carnitas taco with cabbage slaw

Perusing the Relay site for my first order, I was inspired by the wide selection of local pork, and decided to make carnitas, my husband’s favorite Tex-mex meat. Carnitas means “little meats” and is basically just slow-cooked chunks of pork that are often shredded once they finish cooking.

I turned to The Homesick Texan Cookbook for inspiration and direction on both the carnitas and a cabbage slaw.

Hokmesick Texan cookbook

After a year and a half in Charlottesville, we have developed a little “crew” of friends, made up of two other young married couples. It’s been so nice to have a got-to group for casual dinners, drinks after work, game nights, and TV show viewings. Since I ordered more than enough pork for two, my husband and I invited a few friends over for a lovely Saturday dinner to help us enjoy our feast! I set up a taco bar and let everyone assemble their own plates.

taco bar

You can find my recipe for both carnitas and the cabbage slaw over on Cotter Crunch today, where I helped Lindsay out with a guest post.

Enjoy!

-L

Luscious Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

I spend a majority of my time with fellow twenty-something artists.  We have interesting conversations, go see the wonderful cultural offerings in the city, and offer moral support when we feel creatively blocked.  We are also frequently strapped for cash.  For this reason, we tend to give each other edible gifts, rather than dishing out precious dough for a nice store bought present.

A good friend got a group together for birthday drinks the other night.  I didn’t want to arrive empty handed, so I decided to bake her a little something.  I ended up making some zesty lemon bars, per her request.

Mmmhmm

Mmmhmm

Shockingly, I had never made lemon bars before!  I once made lemon bars from a mix that Mom had, but I don’t count them.  This recipe was really simple, and the result is delicious!  The only adjustment I made was adding a bit of whole wheat flour to the crust, which, honestly was because I ran out of all-purpose flour.  I recommend the change, though.

Lemons

Lemons

Lemon Bars

Recipe from The New Cookbook, Better Homes and Gardens

Makes 20 bar cookies

For crust:

  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

For filling:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Powdered sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for about 30 seconds.  Add the 1/4 cup of sugar, and beat until combined.  Beat in the flour until mixture is crumbly.  Press into a 8x8x2in baking dish, smoothing with the back of a spoon. Bake until golden, 15-18 minutes.

Prepared crust layer

Prepared crust layer

While the crust is baking, combine eggs, sugar, flour, lemon zest, lemon juice, and baking powder.  Beat until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes.

Pour filling mixture over hot baked layer and return to oven.  Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges and set in the center.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  Sift powdered sugar over the top, if desired.  Cut into 20 bars.

Fresh out of the oven

Fresh out of the oven

While digging out my apron, I also come across a package of doilies.  I was so excited to be able to present my bars on something prettier than just a tupperware container!  I’m trying not to read into the fact that I had doilies lying around… What a little housewife (minus the whole husband thing)!

Notice the doilies!

Notice the doilies!

The bars were quite a hit.  We were also lucky enough to have a batch of brownies, provided by another friend.  We were that super cool group with homemade goods at the bar.  We got a few dirty looks, but I prefer to think people were just jealous.

I’ll need to remember these next time I feel like baking, but don’t want chocolate (it happens once in a blue moon).  They were smooth, sweet, and tangy!  Yum!

Happy eating!

-C

Popped Amaranth Cereal with Pistachio Cream

Since starting this blog last May, I have discovered many new ingredients as well as new ways of preparing old favorites.

toppings and cream

This weekend I decided to combine three of my favorite “new” foods to create a homemade cereal dish that is bursting with flavor and nutrition. The cereal base includes popped amaranth and buckwheat groats, and is topped with a pistachio cream.

There are many steps in the process of creating this unique breakfast dish, but it can be made ahead and all of the parts will keep in the fridge for a week or so.

After two weekends away from my kitchen, let’s just say I went a little crazy on Saturday morning, whipping up this and that!

Popped Amaranth

Popped Amaranth

The first step is to pop the amaranth. Heat a pot until water “dances” when flicked on the surface, add about 2 Tablespoons dry amaranth, cover with a lid, and shake the pot until the amaranth has popped. I made about 5 batches to get 2 cups of popped cereal.

pistachio cream

Next, prepare a batch of pistachio milk using 1 cup soaked pistachios and 2 cups of water.

Now you’re ready to assemble the cereal and the pistachio cream.

banana and cream

Pistachio Cream

Serves 1 – 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup homemade pistachio milk
  • 1 small, very ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup pistachio “pulp” (leftover from making the milk)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until very smooth.

stirred

Amaranth and Buckwheat Cereal

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 cup popped amaranth
  • 1/4 cup raw buckwheat groats
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Combina all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.

pouring

I topped my cereal with sliced banana, frozen raspberries, and coconut flakes before pouring about 1 cup of the pistachio cream on top. I love mixing things up in the mornings and starting my day with a wide variety of flavors and textures. This hearty bowl of “cereal” and “milk” certainly fit the bill.

Enjoy!

-L

Taco Tuesday… on Friday

Tuesday night, one of my girlfriends came by for dinner, giving us some much needed time to catch up! I needed a quick vegetarian meal, given that she doesn’t eat meat, and I didn’t have much prep time available. She had the brilliant idea of making tacos!

Veggie Taco

Veggie Taco

I prepared a lot of little things, and ended up serving a taco bar of sorts.

Vegetarian Taco Bar

  • Corn tortillas, warmed
  • Roasted Vegetables**
  • Amped Up Black Beans**
  • Guacamole**
  • Lettuce, chopped
  • Shredded cheese
  • Red onion, chopped

**Recipes posted below.

Guacamole, Chopped lettuce and onions, Roasted Veggies, Black Beans, Cheese, and Tortillas

Guacamole, Chopped lettuce and onions, Roasted Veggies, Black Beans, Cheese, and Tortillas

Roasted Vegetables

  • 1 Sweet Potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Toss vegetables with oil and spread on baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned and tender, 20-25 minutes.

Such beautiful colors!

Such beautiful colors!

Amped Up Black Beans

  • 1 15-oz can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1-2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • Dash of Cumin
  • Dash of Cayenne Pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until warm, stirring occasionally.

Black beans and other goodies

Black beans and other goodies

Guacamole

  • 3 Avocados, peeled and cored
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 Red Onion, chopped
  • Dash of Cumin
  • Dash of Cayenne Pepper
  • Juice from 1 Lime
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until smooth.

Guacamole

Guacamole

Meat, sour cream, pico de gallo and/or salsa, and cilantro would also be nice additions to this taco bar.

Everything came together easily, tasted wonderful, and left me with some nice, colorful leftovers! I made some awesome salads using the remaining roasted vegetables and guacamole. I think this will need to become a regular event at my apartment! Maybe next time we’ll add margaritas…

Lots of veggies

Lots of veggies

Happy Eating!

-C