Butternut Squash Risotto

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As we all know Valentine’s Day is tomorrow!!! James and I have never celebrated it because our dating anniversary is February 12th.  So we’ve always had a romantic dinner on the 12th out and usually just stay in and cook on the 14th. We are slightly off of our schedule this year, but we are going out tonight and staying in tomorrow.

Yesterday was one of the worst weather days we’ve had all year. It was so cold, snowed about 3 inches in the morning and then proceeded to sleet/rain the rest of the day.  All of our pretty snow from Thursday is now slushy/icy and wholly unpleasant now! Anyway, leaving the house yesterday wasn’t really an option because our road and driveway weren’t  cleared and we didn’t want to take a chance.

Luckily, because of our big snow storm on Thursday, I had bought quite a few groceries and had all the ingredients necessary to make this delicious butternut squash risotto.  This dish is soooooo tasty and hearty and really perfect for a dreary very cold day! The best part is that the receipt is meant to feed 4-6 people so LEFTOVERS!!!!

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What you need:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (seeds removed)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock to make this truly vegetarian)
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 minced shallots
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 400F.

On a sheet pan put your 1″ cubed butternut squash and drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Toss together to coat thoroughly and put pan in the oven.

Cook squash for 25-30min until soft.

Meanwhile, in a dutch oven or heavy bottom pan over medium heat, warm your butter and 1 tbsp of olive oil until hot then add in your minced shallots.

When shallots are translucent and softened, about 10min, add in your rice.  Cook rice in the oil for 1-2min to remove any raw flavor on the rice.

Add in your white wine and cook down until almost all of it is absorbed, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper.

Then add in your chicken or veggie stock 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently until absorbed.

Continue adding stock this way until the rice is cooked through, but still slightly al dente, usually takes about 30min.

Remove from the heat and add in your parmesan cheese and squash before serving.

Serve with the white wine you used to cook, and it is that much more delicious!

Bon Appetite!

Throwback Thursday: Thanksgiving Edition

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We just finished celebrating my favorite holiday and man did I cook up a storm!  The men of the house were in charge of the turkey itself- I was in charge of everything else.  I stupidly didn’t get a picture of the whole Thanksgiving spread together, but there was so much food, I actually didn’t have a counter long enough for it!

We indulged in fried turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, bacon brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, gravy, a salad, and a fruit salad.  Not to forget dessert, which was apple pie, pumpkin pie, and chocolate bourbon pecan pie (by far the winner). I would say our Thanksgiving was pretty traditional in the spread and I thought I would share some of our tips and recipes with you to consider for next Thanksgiving or even the upcoming holiday season.

Now in the Ruiz household we have been frying our turkeys for about 15 years. This is a sure way to get a delicious, juicy turkey with crispy skin and lots of flavor. They key for a really top notch fried turkey is in the injectable marinades. If you want to make your own, I would suggest a lot of melted butter and some poultry seasoning for a plain, traditional turkey.  We love to make a butter jalapeño turkey and a plain one for Thanksgiving.  We use a brand called Tony Chachere for their marinades because we know they are delicious! (not sponsored, but maybe next year 😉 )

Fried turkeys need 3min per pound only in peanut oil heated to 350F. So this is a much faster way to cook them than the traditional way, which is another bonus.  We recommend letting them rest for 30min to an hour also after removing them from the oil to really seal those juices in! MAJOR DISCLAIMER: DO NOT FRY FOZEN TURKEYS, ALWAYS MAKE SURE THEY ARE COMPLETELY DEFROSTED!!!!!

Make sure the turkey is completely submerged in the oil, so you need about 3-5 gallons for most fryers.

Moving on to stuffing, obviously in frying a turkey, you don’t actually stuff the turkey, so we make ours separately. We have always made a cornbread stuffing, and it really gives it so much flavor. Everything is eyeballed also , so no need to measure everything out! We use about half of a large onion, a couple of carrots, and a stalk of celery and cook it in some oil and butter until its really soft. Then we add in lots of herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage.  Sage is a great addition to stuffing!

Once your veggies are cooked, we break apart the cornbread into a pan and add in the veggies and a few cups of chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.  We also add in some pecans and dried bread mix. My mom likes to add in apples and raisins, but this year we kept it simple with no added fruit.

For green bean casserole, I love to make it with fresh ingredients instead canned things. I used cremini mushrooms and dried porcini mushrooms and fresh green beans to get a really awesome flavor. One trick here is to rehydrate the porcini mushrooms with warm water and to then use the mushrooms and the mushroom water in the sauce. We used a natural brand of cream of mushroom soup and add in some fresh herbs to really elevate the sauce.

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For cranberry sauce, again we kept it simple.  1 bag of cranberries, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water, the zest of an orange and a splash of orange juice. Cook down for about 15min, and it turns into this delicious sauce perfect for any turkey, and a great addition to those leftover turkey sandwiches!

I didn’t photograph the mashed potatoes or gravy as there wasn’t anything too exciting about how to make them.  The trick to a good mashed potato is lots of butter, enough milk, and a little olive oil to give it richness. I also use a hand mixer to blend them into creamy oblivion, and they are so delicious! I admit I cheated on gravy.  I’ve made it from scratch in the past, but with everything else I was responsible for, I cheated and used turkey stock and a gravy mix. We all have flaws, and even in my wannabe Martha Stewart world, I had to take a short cut! Please forgive me!

We had a wonderful time being together, and way too much food and wine! We of course went for seconds later in the evening and continued our wine consumption for hours! We were so happy to see the Dallas Cowboys win their 10th straight game, and we sat back and thought about how much we really had to be thankful for.  2016 was an amazing year, and still not over yet!

I hope everyone’s thanksgiving felt as special as ours, and hopefully the holiday season continues to be a blessing for all of you!