Mushroom Risotto

As a child, well who am I kidding, up until the age of 19 or 20, I was the world’s pickiest eater. I had my first cheeseburger in high school. I wouldn’t try ketchup until I was 16 because I thought it just looked gross. I had my first salad Freshman year of college, and even then it was pretty plain. I didn’t even eat a tomato until I was 20 and studying abroad in Italy. I waited until the last week that I was there to even try it and I loved it. It was at that moment I realized how much of an idiot I was being spending my life afraid of food.

It’s funny that I spent so much time disgusted by the look of certain foods and now mushrooms (cl) are one of my favorites! I remember the first time I attempted to try a mushroom. I think I was a Junior or Senior in college and my friend Ryan had made me a steak dinner for my Christmas present. He had made this mushroom sauce to go on top of our steaks and I stubbornly refused to eat. After much persuasion, I think I put the mushroom in my mouth, but ended up spitting it out without even taking an actual bite. Looking back now, I am sure the mushroom sauce was amazing and I regret not even attempting to try it. Especially after he put in all the effort to make dinner.

Well, now that I love mushrooms and almost always have them in my fridge, I was excited to make something new with them. I loved the Edamame Risotto I made so much, that I thought I would give Mushroom Risotto a try! For some reason I find making risotto relaxing. I had come home from work and just had the urge to make something, so I pulled out the mushrooms and just went for it. As I stood at the stove stirring the rice, I realized I had completely relaxed from my day and kind of drifted off into a peaceful trance. And then eating the yummy mushroom risotto only made my night better!

Mushroom Risotto

Ingredients:

Package of mushrooms (Client)

1 cup Aborio rice

1 tbsp unsalted butter

Olive Oil

About 2 tbsp of Truffle Oil

1/3 cup Chicken broth (this is an estimate as I didn’t measure)

1/2 cup dry white wine

Salt

Pepper

Basil

Parmesan Cheese

Garlic

Saute the mushroom in olive oil, coat with 1 tbsp of truffle oil, and season with salt, pepper and a few shakes of basil.

Saute for about 20 minutes on medium heat, until golden brown and set aside.

While the mushrooms are cooking, heat olive oil and butter in a large pan. Add the rice and coat in oil. Toast the rice for about 3 minutes. Reduce heat and add some garlic powder (a few shakes), the white wine and chicken broth. Once the wine and broth has evaporated, add in 1 1/3 cup of hot water. Stir continuously until the water has evaporated and the consistency is creamy.

Continue this process with the water two more times. Remember to keep stirring. Once the rice is creamy, but still slightly firm, remove from heat.

Season with salt and pepper and add the mushrooms. On low heat, mix in the mushrooms and add 1 tbsp of truffle oil. Season with parmesan cheese and again with salt, pepper and basil to taste. Serve and enjoy!

I am off to Florida on Friday (finally!) and will be out of commission. Hopefully when I get home I will get back in the kitchen and trying some more new recipes. I still have yet to make pizza from scratch and after the amazing pizza I had last night with my friends at Sapore di Napoli, I think I need to give it a try!

Lucia

Homemade Mac and Cheese

I feel like it is that time of the year when, at least for me, I start to get  frustrated, complacent and even uninterested with everything. It’s still winter, but yet it’s March and I feel like spring should be here already. Enter frustration. It’s still cold and slightly rainy at times and it’s just easier to go home after work, watch TV and then go to bed. Enter complacent. I get home and I’m just bored. Bored with cooking, bored with the TV, bored with the routine of going out every weekend and doing the same thing. Enter uninterested.

As I sit trying to write this post about my homemade mac and cheese, I am feeling at a loss for words. Nothing extremely exciting is going on in my life currently and I feel like this frustration with winter has gotten the best of me. I really need a good kick of vitamin D, and soon, or I am afraid this mental block I have going on is going to be harder to kick than usual. My parents have been in Florida since January (I’m extremely jealous and miss them terribly) and I am hoping to visit them before the end of this month, so hopefully the Florida sunshine will give me that jolt of life I’ve been craving.

My Dad and cousin Michael in Florida…where I wish I was!

Speaking of cravings, I got home last night and for some reason could not shake the thought of eating mac and cheese for dinner. Not the kind from the box, but the gooey, cheesy, creamy homemade kind. I’ve never made this on my own before, as I really do enjoy the kind from the box, and I had no idea or recipe on how to make it from scratch. I had an idea in my mind of how this would go down, but I did some research before I took some ingredients from my fridge and made my own version of homemade mac and cheese.

I had high hopes at first, as the sauce was tasting amazing as it cooked on the stove, but then the kitchen disaster occurred. I had a feeling I should not have been in the kitchen last night, but I wanted mac and cheese and I was bored, so I had a kitchen adventure. So while doing my research I had read a tip to add some boiling pasta water to the sauce to make it creamier right before serving. Sure this is a great idea in theory, but it literally took all the flavor out of my sauce. I had to add in so much salt and pepper after I mixed the sauce with the pasta and I hate doing that. I always want my cooking to be so perfectly seasoned that there is no need for extra seasoning, but that was not the case last night.

Homemade Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

1 lb of shells or elbow macaroni

1/4 cup butter

3 tablespoons flour

3 cups skim milk

1 egg

3 pieces Munster cheese

1/4 block fat-free cream cheese

1 package shredded cheese

salt & pepper to taste

Nutmeg (to taste)

Paprika (to taste)

In a large pot bring salted water to a boil. Cook pasta for 8-10 minutes or until tender.

While the water is boiling, in a medium sauce pan, melt the butter. Once melted, slowly add in the flour and whisk continuously for 5-7 minutes. Make sure it does not get lumpy and do not burn. Once the flour and butter have turned into a thicker liquid, add in the egg (whisked), milk, cheese and then season with paprika, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Stir continuously until creamy. If it turns out too thick, you may want to save a bit of the boiling pasta water and add in at the end, but be sure not to use too much or it will take out the flavor of the cheese sauce (a ladle full at most). Drain pasta and mix with cheese sauce and serve!

The recipe really didn’t turn out that bad, except for the extra water I added. Hopefully next time I can fix a few of my mistakes and make it even better! Unfortunately, I don’t think my family has a “family recipe” for this amazing thing called mac and cheese. It has been, and still is, one of my favorite things in the world. I lived off mac and cheese as a child and I am pretty sure I still could if I truly had no cares in the world! Oh, to be 5 again.
Lucia

Baked Pesto Chicken

Obviously, I love food and love to eat, but I have decided to put my bad habits on hold for a little while. This winter I have spent so much money eating out during the week and on weekends. I stopped going to the grocery store because my food was going bad and I was never home long enough to make anything. I would eat lunch at work and then meet friends out for dinners. While I love the social aspect of going out to dinner and meeting up with friends after work, I realized not only my budget, but my waist line was starting to feel the effects. I finally decided last week to go to the grocery, make food for my lunches so they are ready to go and force myself to head home or to yoga after work. I wasn’t perfect, but I did do a lot better than I had been.

A few of my friends had been wanting to get together for dinner this past week, so I suggested we make dinner at my place. I had food left from my grocery run and everyone pitched in. My friend Caroline had been craving pesto, and luckily  I hadn’t made it yet for my recipe collection so it was the perfect dinner idea!

Mix basil, olive oil, salt, pepper, Parmesan (or Romano) cheese, and pine nuts in a food processor.

Make sure to blend well and continue to add ingredients based on the taste. I tasted my pesto several times before deciding it was done. I also didn’t follow a recipe. I bought some Basil, a bag of pine nuts and just mixed the ingredients together slowly, and not all at once. You can also use spinach instead of basil if you are on a budget. I had some great suggestions from people on Twitter for making pesto and using spinach was one I had never heard of. Also, if you have any leftover, you can freeze in ice-cube trays and use later. This was a great tip from a co-worker who also has some great recipes to share!

Baked Pesto Chicken

4 Boneless Chicken Breasts

For the Pesto:

Fresh Basil

Pine Nuts

Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

Romano or Parmesan Cheese

Blend pesto ingredients together or you can use pesto from the store. In a baking dish, spray dish with Pam (cl) and then cover the bottom lightly with pesto. Add the cleaned chicken breasts and cover with the remaining pesto. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes. Make sure to check the chicken after about 30 minutes and adjust time accordingly. It took about 45 minutes in my oven and I removed the aluminum foil after about 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

With spring right around the corner I know it is going to be hard to keep up with my new plan of eating at home and being more active, but hopefully I can stick with it and stick to my budget…!  Wish me luck.

Lucia