Slow Cooker Pumpkin Risotto

PumpkinRisotto

Sugar Pumpkins are at their prime, so pick one up and enjoy how amazingly tasty they can be if roasted. This risotto dish is perfect for chilly fall evenings.

PumpkinRisotto

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried crumbled sage
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1½ cups arborio rice
  • 4 cups broth, hot
  • 1 prepped sugar pumpkin (see below)
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

Lightly oil a slow cooker, start preheating on High, add broth.

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add in sage and garlic, cook for another minute. Stir in rice and cook for a few more minutes, until rice is translucent.

Transfer rice to slow cooker, stir in. Cover and cook for about 1½ hours, checking halfway to stir.

Meanwhile, prep sugar pumpkin:

Preheat oven to 350°, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Scrub a small pumpkin (about 2 pounds), dry and cut in half. Scrape out seeds. Rub in 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon crumbled dried sage on the halves. Season with a sprinkle of sea salt and ground black pepper.

Roast pumpkin halves, cut side up, for about 1 hour 20 minutes, until fork tender.

Let cool for a bit, then scrape out flesh. Transfer to a food processor. Run pumpkin with the whole milk until smooth.

Stir rice in cooker well, add in pumpkin and ½ cup Parmesan cheese, let heat through. Taste for seasoning and if it needs more cheese.

Serves 4 to 6.

Beet and Goat Cheese Risotto

BeetGoatCheeseRisotto

A little more unusual for risotto, the pink hue is simply gorgeous, especially if served alongside vivid green vegetables.

BeetGoatCheeseRisotto

Beet and Goat Cheese Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces beets (weighed without greens)
  • 1½ cups arborio rice
  • 5 cups broth
  • 8 ounces soft goat cheese

Directions:

Heat broth to a simmer, cover and keep warm. Peel beets, grate.

Heat a large deep skillet over medium, melt butter and saute onion and beets until softened. Add in rice, cook for a few minutes, until turning translucent.

Add in 1 cup broth, stirring periodically until absorbed. Repeat with remaining broth, ½ cup at a time, until rice is cooked and creamy, about 18 to 20 minutes.

Crumble goat cheese and stir in till melted and creamy. Season to taste with ground black pepper and salt, if needed.

Serves 4 to 6.

Orzo with Caramelized Onions and Cherries

CherryOliveOrzo

I was inspired to make this recipe after bringing home many, many olives from IFBC. Tangy, a bit salty when you bite into an olive and the cherries, a pop of sweetness.

CherryOliveOrzo

Orzo with Caramelized Onions and Cherries

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound orzo pasta
  • ½ cup Dried Cherries
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cover dried cherries with hot water in a bowl, let stand for 10 minutes, drain.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add orzo, cook as directed. Drain in a colander with small openings, rinse quickly with cool water and shake off. Toss orzo with cherries and olives in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium-high. Add oil and onions, saute for 10 minutes, tossing periodically, until golden. Add garlic, cook for two minutes.

Add onions to orzo, toss till mixed. Add in cheese, parsley and pepper, taste for salt.

Serves 4 to 6.

FTC Disclosure: 

The olives in this recipe were provided by Pearls Olives, a sponsor of IFBC 2014 in Seattle.

Garden Harvest Pasta

GardenHarvestPasta

A few weeks ago, as summer slipped away, I made this dish. With our warm fall we have been having, the produce kept coming – I finally picked my last tomatoes this week! While my sunflowers reached seed status, I’ve lost any battle I might have planned – the squirrel is happily munching them ;-)

GardenHarvestPasta

Garden Harvest Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces rigatoni pasta
  • 3 cups brocoli florets (about 8 ounces)
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 small garden grown or 1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped (about 8 ounces)
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds, finely ground
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 crusty dinner roll

Directions:

Chop sun-dried tomatoes up, place in a bowl and cover with hot water, let soak for at least 10 minutes. Drain carefully.

Rip up dinner roll into small pieces, run through a mini food chopper until bread crumb size, mix crumbs with the Parmesan cheese and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to to boil, cook pasta as directed. Reserve ½ cup of pasta cooking water, drain pasta.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high, add in ¼ cup water and broccoli florets. Cover and steam for 1 to 2 minutes. Take off lid, reduce heat to medium and cook off remaining water in skillet. Drizzle in 2 Tablespoons of the oil, and bell pepper. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, lemon juice, maple syrup and remaining Tablespoon of oil. Cover and let cook over medium-low for a few more minutes. Liberally grind on black pepper, add reserved pasta cooking water and pasta, toss gently to coat. Toss in sunflower seeds and half of the bread crumb mixture.

Serve with remaining bread crumbs to sprinkle on top.

Serves 4 to 6.

Artichoke and Swiss Chard Risotto

ArtichokeRisotto

Kale gets all the attention, but Swiss Chard is so much prettier, tastier and unlike Kale, you can eat all of it. Leaves and stems are equally tasty! Where Kale has a thick rib, the Chard stem is crisp, juicy and full of flavor. It is also a great winter crop for the garden!

ArtichokeRisotto
Artichoke and Swiss Chard Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups broth
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup arborio rice
  • 1 bunch red swiss chard (see below)
  • 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (see notes)
  • ½ to 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

Wash chard throughly by soaking it in a basin. Drain and repeat. Strip leaves off stems, spin dry in a salad spinner. Roughly chop and set aside. Trim stems, chop into bite size pieces.

Heat the broth in a small saucepan to boiling, then keep warm over low.

Meanwhile, heat a large deep skillet over medium, add oil and onion, saute until onion is tender. Add in garlic and pepper, cook for a minute, then add rice, cook, stirring constantly for two minutes.

Add in swiss chard leaves and stems, cook for a minute, tossing constantly.

Add in ½ cup of the hot broth to the rice, stirring constantly. Let cook over medium, until broth is absorbed. Slowly add the remaining broth in ¼ cup ladles, letting each addition to absorb into the rice before adding more, stirring with each ladleful. This takes 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in artichokes and cheese, let heat through on medium-low for a few minutes.

Serves 4.

Note:

1 cup marinated artichokes drained, is about 12 ounces in liquid. Buy your artichokes at Costco for a price saving.

Baked Pumpkin Mac ‘N Cheese

BakedPumpkinMac

EatSkinnycover

If I want to rate a successful recipe, I need only see how the Teen reacts to it. He had two helpings, ate all the leftovers and has bugged me since making it – that I need to make it again. And that he liked the pumpkin flavor. Today’s recipe comes from a new cookbook, Eat Skinny, Be Skinny: 100 Wholesome and Delicious Recipes Under 300 Calories, which came out in April of this year. The premise of the book is 100 recipes with every serving being under 300 calories.

BakedPumpkinMac

Warming, comfort food. Delicious. The original recipe I doubled (the Teen can eat 8 ounces pasta if left alone….), I left the panko crumbs off the top and used whole milk instead of a mixture of milks called for. Not huge changes, just personal preferences.

Baked Pumpkin Mac ‘N Cheese (As adapted from paged 222-223)

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces small pasta shapes
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 ounces lower fat cream cheese
  • 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Ground black pepper
  • Salt, to taste, if desired
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, divided
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Lightly oil a 9×13″ glass baking dish. Preheat oven to 350°.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, cook pasta as directed on package, taking off a minute early, drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, heat a saucepan over medium. Melt butter, whisk in flour, letting cook for a few minutes. Slowly whisk in milk, till smooth, then add in cream cheese and pumpkin puree, whisking in. Let cook, stirring often, until it starts to bubble and is thickened. Stir in cheddar and mozzarella cheeses and 1½ tsp of the pumpkin pie spice, whisking until melted. Take off the heat, season to taste with pepper and salt.

Pour sauce over hot pasta, toss to coat. Spread in prepared pan. Toss Parmesan cheese with remaining pie spice, sprinkle over the pasta. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Serves 4 to 8, depending on appetite.

FTC Disclosure: We received an advance copy for review.

Sunflower Pesto Sauce

PurpleBasil

I got the base recipe for this pesto in a package of goodies from a favorite local farm, The Mason Jar Farm (which is in Enumclaw, Washington). Easy enough to change the pine nuts to sunflower seeds – and I prefer it with the faintly sweet sunflower, rather than the more astringent flavor of pine nuts.

BasilPesto

Sunflower Pesto Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 2/3 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Ground black pepper
  • Fine sea salt

Directions:

Add basil, garlic and sunflower seeds in a food processor, pulse until finely chopped. Add in ½ cup of the olive oil, processing until smooth. Liberally season with black pepper, add in the cheese, pulse to mix in.

If you will be using the sauce immediately, pulse in the remaining olive oil and season with salt to taste, if needed. Otherwise, transfer sauce to a glass storage container and pour the oil over the top (it will keep it from darkening). At this point you can store the pesto in the refrigerator for a day or two, or freeze it for longer storage. Stir in the oil on top before using.

Makes about 1 cup sauce.

PurpleBasil

PS: Purple Basil flowers are also simply gorgeous, they are very tiny (the stem here is the size of my pinky finger).

To make pasta, cook pasta in salted water, reserve a bit of cooking water, drain pasta and toss with pesto, adding reserved pasta water as needed to smooth the sauce out. One batch of sauce will coat 16 ounces pasta (and for a fun take on dinner, I added in 3 fresh gold potatoes, which I cooked with the pasta).

Parmesan Cheese Sauce

ParmesanCheeseSauce

After stopping by one of my favorite farms last week, I came home with a lot of fresh vegetables. Early season broccoli, new potatoes, summer squash…so I set out to making a dinner with it all, with a simple lightly flavored cheese sauce to ladle on top. It was simple. It was delicious.

ParmesanCheeseSauce

Parmesan Cheese Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 bunches green onions, darkest greens discarded, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese (see below)
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat a large saucepan over medium, melt butter. Add in onions, saute until tender. Add in garlic, cook for a minute. Whisk in flour, cook for a few minutes, whisking often. Slowly stir in milk, whisking till sauce is smooth. Let cook until just simmering, and sauce thickens, whisking constantly.

Whisk in Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.

Will cover 1 pound new potatoes, 1 pound broccoli and 8 hot biscuits – and still have leftover ;-)

Parmesan cheese notes:

Use the shelf style, yes the gasp, in a green can kind. Why? In a cheese sauce it melts in perfectly, where the actual product, from the cheese counter does not act the same. Save the high-end cheese for garnish on dishes.

Single Serving Petite Pea Soup

mugmeals

Camilla V. Saulsbury is one of my favorite cookbook authors, and 250 Best Meals in a Mug: Delicious Homemade Microwave Meals in Minutes is a fun book to wander through.

mugmeals

All one needs is a microwave and a large microwave safe mug – and an appetite. This is the cookbook for solo eaters, dorm livers, travelers living in hotel rooms and anyone craving a quick meal – that is real food! Camilla lays it out in an easy to follow method.

PetitePeaSoup

My choice was this incredibly pretty green soup. Green peas are a great source of protein and somehow, this summer, I have been awarded basil plants that are healthy by the gardening gods. If you love basil, you will want to have this soup every day. It was tasty cold even! The recipe does need a blender, so you can smooth soup.

Single Serving Petite Pea Soup

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup frozen petite peas, thawed
  • ¼ cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup vegetable broth (or chicken if non-vegan)
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • Ground black pepper

Directions:

In a blender, combine peas, basil and broth, puree until smooth.

Transfer puree to mug. Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes (checking at 1) or until heated through. Stir in lemon juice and season to taste with pepper.

Serves 1.

PS: A bowl also works well for heating the soup in. It is also delicious served over a bed of rice, as a sauce.

FTC Disclosure: We received a review copy of the book.

Summer Squash & Basil Pasta

Squashbasilpasta

Let me brag for a second. My basil is amazing this year. That means I am sure it will flop over in the night, since I just bragged :-P I can grow most anything, but basil and me….we don’t do well together. I almost always kill it via root rot. Well, this year? My 4 plants bake all day against the back fence – in nearly all day sun. So they are producing. Which means I am enjoying fabulous fresh basil now! And the never-ending heat wave here has helped as well, keeping the plants nice and dry.

Squashbasilpasta

 

Harvest a few baby squash and basil – and have a quick dinner. On the deck of course – so you can enjoy your garden!

Summer Squash & Basil Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound rotini pasta
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 pound green and yellow zucchini
  • Fine sea salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta, cook as directed on package. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, drain pasta.

Meanwhile, trim zucchini, slice into thin rounds. Heat a large skillet over medium-high, add in oil and zucchini, with a pinch of salt. Saute until turning golden. Sprinkle pepper on liberally, reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in lemon juice. Add pasta, toss gently. Slowly add in reserved water, then liberally add in Parmesan cheese (start with ¼ cup, add as desired). Toss until pasta is coated, then add in basil and serve.

Serves 6.

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