red pepper risotto for the win

i’ve admitted more than once that i basically detest cooking for myself. it drives me bonkers. and i waste food. tonight i threw caution to the wind and got after it anyway. i mean, why not. what else was i doing? oh right. i was sitting on the couch knitting and catching up on the big bang theory {i seriously want to be bests with sheldon!}.

i’ve been wanting to bust out risotto since i learned how like, two years ago when i visited charleston, from someone who just happens to be a bad ass chef. tonight was the night. we’ll blame it on my incredible never-ending obsession with all things italian. and i just so happened to have a yummy bottle of moscato chilled in the fridge calling my name. hate it when that happens. don’t you?

warning: if you’re going to attempt a risotto, be prepared for your arm to go numb from stirring. stirring risotto makes stirring mashed potatoes seem lame. an hour later, my right arm’s still tingly. no joke. you’ll be stirring for  at least 30 minutes. probably more. constantly. yes, constant stirring is necessary. if you wimp out, you ruin it. so suck it up.

i didn’t follow a recipe entirely {which, if you know me, is terrifying. ask my mom about the repeated brownie incident}. the mushrooms i had weren’t looking like anything i cared to consume, and my garlic was prehistoric, so i improvised. and it worked. possibly for the first time in my history of improvising in the kitchen. this risotto was delish.

here’s how you make the magic happen:

1 small onion, chopped
1 medium to large red bell pepper, chopped
3 T evoo
32-oz box of chicken broth
1.5 c arborio rice
10 t parmesan cheese
fresh ground black pepper
parsley
shredded romano cheese

in a large sauce pan, saute your onions and bell pepper in olive oil until they’re tender. add your rice and stir until it’s covered in the oily goodness. add about 12 oz of the broth {i just went with what felt like a third o’ the box}, then work up to a constant, slow boil {now the fun really gets going}.

as the broth is absorbed, add what’s left of the broth, one cup at a time, until it’s all in the pan. stir in the parm and add black pepper {to your liking}. the rice is done when it’s al dente…aka, still chewy, but tender. you’ll wind up stirring for a solid 30-40 minutes, and you quite literally cannot stop, or it will burn. i used a wooden spatula to stir and it was perfect. spoons are stupid when you’re making something this persnickety because they don’t touch the entire surface. wooden spatula + non-stick pan = problem-o solved-o. the recipe makes about 6 side-dish sized servings; add some flair and sprinkle the shredded romano and parsley on top. then, devour. and drink wine.

this, my friends, is what it looks like if you do it right!

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if you try it, let me know what you think! there are so many yummy ways you can mix up risotto. it’s delish with squash, too, or just lemon and onion, and garlic, i think. might wanna look that up because you trust me on that one.

anywhoodle, lovellies, i have more wine to drink, and risotto to get in the fridge for lunch and dinner this week. this is one leftover i’ll definite nosh on. cheers!

Ellie Blog Sig

 

{nom nom} baked mac & cheese

i heart mac and cheese, probably because it combines two of my favorite things: pasta and cheese. it’s a comfort food for me, and it’s super easy to throw together when it’s in a box. i’m usually a kraft spirals girl {let’s get real: the spirals hold more cheesy goodness} or velveeta shells and cheese if i’m feeling extra sassy.

i got fancy for NYE and decided to whip up some homemade baked mac for the partay. i didn’t like the sounds of anything martha had to offer, and betty was boring, so i went straight to pinterest and found a winner.

the recipe that caught my eye was from elizabeth’s edible experience and it was as good and as easy as she claimed. from start to finish, i think it probably took me 20 minutes to put together, including the boil time. we popped it in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes and it was perfect. i’m not sure if it made any difference, but i cooked it in a cast iron dish instead of pyrex. the top was crumbly with a little crunch and the mac was ooey gooey and delicious. it was a hit and i’ll definitely make it again! even the guys who aren’t baked mac fans were loving it and going back for seconds. highly recommend this one for your next shindig!

want the recipe? it’s actually from the 2004 southern living annual recipes edition, but you can get it here.

what you need: 8 oz. elbow mac, 2 c. milk, 1/4 c. flour, 1 t. onion salt, 4 c. cheese {i used mild & sharp cheddar}, 1 c. plain breadcrumbs, 1/4 c. butter

what are you waiting for? get cookin!

expectations.

when you own your own place, people seem to naturally expect you to be super domestic. you can’t just be a swf and a homeowner; that’s crazy talk. you have to be betty crocker, rachel ray, and martha stewart – all rolled up into one. it’s just expected. or it seems that way. or maybe i’m putting pressure on myself. i don’t know anymore. what i am pretty confident telling you is that i’m not a domestic goddess, but i’m pretty darn good in the kitchen when i want to be (notice the operative word in that sentence?).

rewind to monday night. i got bored after work, had a sack of apples from the orchard on the counter, and had an itch. so, i scratched it…by getting on pinterest and looking up a recipe for apple crisp. in less than 10 minutes i was in the kitchen slicing apples like a woman on a mission. about an hour later, i was enjoying a warm dessert topped with my new favorite velvet ice cream: honey caramel. it-was-divine. i must share the recipe (you can thank me after you get busy in your own kitchen).

what you need to get started:

4 medium tart cooking apples, sliced (4 cups)
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1/3 c. butter or margarine, softened
3/4 t. ground cinnamon
3/4 t. ground nutmeg
(recipe doesn’t call for it but i added 1/4 t. of allspice, too)
first things first: heat your oven to 375º. grease bottom and sides of 8-inch square pan with shortening, cooking spray…or whatever you choose.
time to get fruity: spread your apples in pan.

apples, ready to go. next time, i'm ditching the skin.

make the tasty, fattening topping: in a medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients except until well mixed; sprinkle over apples.

the topping, before you add the melty butter

getting down to business: bake for about 30 minutes or until your topping starts to turn a golden brown and your apples are tender when pierced with a fork.

all done!

finishing touches: no crisp or cobbler is complete without ice cream or cream. don’t argue with me. you know i’m right.

yumm-o!

there you have it people/society. i was domestic and channeled my inner betty. now, i’m going to have to work out a lot harder to get rid of what i’m slamming into my body. it’s night #3 and i’ve had a bowl of this goodness every night.
have any good recipes to share? might as well try some more while i’m at it and have time to experiment! post a comment, shoot me a link via twitter, send me a message on facebook. however you do it, just do it. k? thanks.

can’t deny the evidence

if there’s one thing i’ve learned from my first five months of owning my own place, it’s this: there is no time to do everything! i officially moved in and started staying in the condo the first weekend in december. the first few nights were better than expected. i really thought i’d be afraid, but i wasn’t. i’m going to attribute that to all the years of dog/house sitting, i’m used to making strange places familiar!

sleeping was a challenge the first night though thanks to my four-legged daughter. she was in and out of bed at least 10 times – exploring, prowling, you name it, she was doing it. but, when she realized i wasn’t with her, she’d start crying…and apparently i sleep light enough that i hear her, so then we played this fun game where i called out for her and she followed my voice until she found her way back to bed. luckily, we’ve gotten past that and we don’t play that game anymore. we’ve moved onto new fun ones that result in mommy getting her head bitten because hobie wants to sleep in the crook of her arm. ugh. i’d almost prefer being woken up!

for those of you seeking proof that i truly have moved in…(lauren!)…these pictures are for you:

see: messy!

thawing chicken for dinner tomorrow, proof: i cook!

fully stocked refrigerator: thank you, Giant Eagle.

life in snapshots is pretty good. now that the holiday craziness is winding down, it’s back to work on the place. next project is replacing the trim throughout the downstairs and in the half bath. then, we’ll move onto the pantry. my challenge now is figuring out how i want joey to build it. he’s going to build whatever i want, i just have to draw what i want. that could be interesting, considering i have no idea what i want! suggestions are appreciated; i’m morphing it from single purpose closet into multi-purpose pantry & coat closet.

one last note: joey and his brother let me use their artificial tree for Christmas since they got a real one this year (i’m allergic). i’m going to be super sad when it’s time to put the ornaments back in their boxes, the tinsel in the trash, and the tree in the box. it makes home so much cozier!

merry christmas! see the e&j ornies? joey's mama got them for us!

okay, i fibbed, i’m not done yet. you wonderfully loyal readers have put up with my lack of a post sine dinos roamed the earth, so i’ll leave you with two funnies. i was stoked to make chocolate chip cookies, went to the store, bought all the ingredients, came home, preheated the oven, started to get stuff ready to bake, and realized i didn’t have cookie sheets. blast. no cookies. (thanks mom, i now have two professional baker cookie sheets. bring on the cookies!) the second funny, those of you who need a glass of wine every now and then will appreciate. i came home from a good day at work and really wanted to unwind with a glass of my favorite white wine, victorian lace. the bottle was chilled. i had the glass ready. my mouth was watering…and i didn’t have a corkscrew. are you kidding me?! yeah, just my luck. still haven’t opened the bottle.

toodles, for now!