Robust Risotto

Risotto originated in Italy and is a rice dish that is cooked in broth to a creamy (dreamy!!)  consistency.  Risotto can be served as a first course – with some crusty bread – as we are doing  here.  As a first course, it is great paired with a Brut Champagne.  Check out this great pairing at Velvet Palate.

Risotto is typically cooked in a meat, fish or vegetable based broth.  This recipe uses chicken broth ( low sodium) .  Many types of Risotto contain Parmesan cheese, butter and onion.  This recipe uses Parmesan cheese, butter and shallots.  Then we ramp it up to robust by adding 1/4 pound diced asparagus, 1/4 pound sliced shiitake mushrooms and Prosciutto (which is a type of Italian bacon).

You have to use a high starch rice to make risotto and this recipe uses Arborio Rice.  This type of rice has the ability to absorb liquids and to release starch and so it is stickier than the long grain rice varieties.  

While there are many variations on Risotto, the basic preparation remains the same.  

  • The rice is first cooked in onion ( or shallots ) and butter or olive oil to coat each grain in a film of fat.  
  • Then, red or white wine is added and has to be absorbed by the grains.  This recipe uses white wine.
  • When the wine is absorbed, the heat is raised to medium and very hot stock ( I used chicken stock in this recipe) is added in small amounts while stirring gently, almost constantly ( this process is what creates the smooth creamy-textured liquid).  
  • At this point, it is removed from the heat and the finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is vigorously stirred in to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible.  
  • This recipe adds the cooked asparagus and mushrooms at this point and is then topped with the scrumptious cooked prosciutto for a robust and over the top risotto!             

Robust Risotto
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth, heated
  • 4 ounces diced prosciutto
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ¼ pound asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into small pieces
  • ¼ pound sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1½ cups arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine, heated
  • 1 cup to 1½ cups shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Simmer the broht in a saucepan. Keep warm.
  2. Heat the wine in a separate saucepan and keep warm.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to large pan and heat. Saute the prosciutto for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  4. Add the asparagus and saute 2 minutes. As they begin to get tender, add the sliced mushroom and cook an additional 3 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is removed. ( do not include any of this liquid or the risotto will not be creamy!). Remove from skillet and set aside.
  5. Add the additional 1 tablesppon of olive oil to the skillet and sweat the shallots and garlic until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the DRY rice and saute until each grain is coated in oil.
  6. Deglaze the pan with the warm white wine and stir until completely absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Now, start adding the hot broth to the pan in ½ cup increments; simmer and stir frequently until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next, about 45 minutes total.
  8. Lastly, stir in the cooked asparagus, mushrooms and the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Season with salt and pepper, top with cooked prosciutto.
  9. Enjoy!!

Be sure to check out Nicole’s Mushroom Risotto which is a more delicate risotto recipe with a creamy cheesy texture.

This Robust Risotto is a little more time consuming than my other Make Life Special recipes but I was requested to feature this recipe.  I think it is really worth the effort because the layers of flavors in this dish are outstanding.  This really is very easy to make.  Here are the how-to photos:

Ingredients….

 

Crisply cooked Prosciutto ….

 

Heating the liquids….

 

Saute the asparagus and then add the mushrooms….

 

Ladle the broth into the rice…

 

Grate the cheese…

 

Ingredients ready to add to the Risotto mixture….

 

Risotto after it has absorbed all of the liquid…

 

Stir in the cheese, asparagus and mushrooms….

Risotto is great to serve as a first course with crusty bread or as a side dish with pork.

Remember,” Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!”  

 

Nicole’s Mushroom Risotto

 

 

Are you looking for an easy risotto recipe?

Nicole’s Mushroom Risotto is easy and absolutely delicious!  She has been busy reviewing items for our Holiday 2012 Gift Guide.  One of the hot new items she reviewed was the Back to the Roots Gourmet Mushroom Kit.  Check out her review and see how to grow your own gourmet mushrooms!  Back to the Roots Gourmet Mushroom Kit Review  

Here is Nicole’s Recipe for Mushroom Risotto

Nicole's Mushroom Rissoto
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 6½ cups chicken stock OR ½ cup dry white wine and 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ stick ( ¼ cup) unsalted butter
  • ¼ pound fresh mushrooms
  • 2 finely chopped large shallots
  • 1½ cups Arborio rice ( 10 oz)
  • 1 generous cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Instructions
  1. Bring stock to a simmer in a 4 quart pot and keep at a bare simmer, covered.
  2. Heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a 4 to 5 quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until foam subsides. Then saute mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until browned and any liquid they give off is evaporated.
  3. Cook shallots in 2 tablespoons butter in same saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened.
  4. Add rice and cook, stirring, until edges of rice becomes translucent.
  5. Ladle in ½ cup of white wine and cook at a strong simmer. stirring, until absorbed. Continue simmering and add stock, about ½ cup at a time, stirring very frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next, until rice is just tender and creamy-looking.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in remaining tablespoon butter, sauteed mushrooms, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.

Nicole is my oldest daughter and the mother to my awesome grandson, Teddy.  Thank you, Nicole, for sharing this terrific recipe!         

 

Crock-Pot Seasoning BBQ Pulled Pork Mix Review

Crock-Pot Seasoning Mixes have just been released in stores and what better time of year than fall to review these down-home, comfort food creations!  Any time of year is perfect for crock pot cooking.  In the spring and summer, crock pot cooking helps keep your kitchen cool.  In the fall and winter, crock pot cooking allows you to create delicious soups, stews and main dishes that are full of that wonderful slow cooked flavor.

I think the Crock-Pot Seasoning Mixes are really exciting!  They are a big time saver for a busy cook and allow you to create easy and creative main dishes with only a few ingredients.  There are currently three mixes that are available:

  • BBQ Pulled Pork
  • Savory Pot Roast Mix
  • Hearty Beef Stew Mix

The BBQ Pulled Pork was first on my list!  As many of you know, I have deep Southern roots and BBQ is near and dear to my heart. ( In fact, I was shocked when I moved north and discovered that there is not one BBQ barn, shack, or restaurant within a 60 mile radius of here!)

I made the BBQ Pulled Pork exactly as the directions on the packet suggested.  I used a  3 pound Boston Butt roast along with the Crock-Pot BBQ Pulled Pork Seasoning Mix, 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup dark  brown sugar, 1/3 cup cider vinegar and 1 cup water.  I cannot even begin to describe the wonderful aromas that came drifting out of my kitchen as the pulled pork cooked away in the crock-pot all day!

At the end of the cooking time, I “pulled” the pork……

……and served it up on buns!

I LOVED the flavor of this pulled pork!  It reminded me of BBQ I used to eat in the South —-sweet yet spicy.  I will definitely make this again ( and again ) when I’m in the BBQ mood. 

The Crock-Pot Seasoning Web Site  has additional recipes you can make that are creative uses for these mixes.  I can’t wait to try their recipe for BBQ Apple Pork Chops!  Thick pork chops cook in the slow cooker with onion, apples, apple juice, white vinegar, mustard and of course the Crock-Pot BBQ Pulled Pork Seasoning Mix.  It looks absolutely wonderful!  I’ll be reviewing the other mixes as well, but for now…..I’m thinking about having another Pulled Pork Sandwich!

Note:  I received the Crock-Pot BBQ Pulled Pork Seasoning Mix to use in the review.  No compensation was received.  These are my true and honest opinions. 

Praline Topped Brie

Praline Topped Brie is a decadent appetizer that can be whipped up in 5 minutes and is sure to impress your guests!  What could be better than the gooey savory flavor of warm brie hot out of the oven – topped with the sweet delight of orange praline topping!

To view the YouTube step by step cooking tutorial for this recipe, click here:  Praline Topped Brie


Praline Topped Brie
 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 8 oz OR 13 oz round of brie cheese
  • ½ cup orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup pecans, chopped and toasted
  • Crackers or toasted baguette-style French bread for serving
Instructions
  1. Place pecans in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes to toast.
  2. Trim top rind from brie round .
  3. Place brie in baking dish.
  4. Mix the orange marmalade and brown sugar together in a small bowl, Spread on top of the cheese.
  5. Sprinkle with toasted pecans.
  6. Bake in a 350 degree oven about 15 minutes or until cheese is slightly softened and topping is bubbly.
  7. Serve with crackers or bread slices.

 

Place the pecans in a baking dish and lightly toast in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.

Trim the top off of the brie round.

Place the round in an ovenproof baking dish.

Mix the orange marmalade and brown sugar together in a small bowl.

Spread the topping on the brie.

Sprinkle with toasted pecans.

Bake in a 350 degree oven about 15 minutes or until cheese is slightly softened and topping is bubbly.

Remove from oven and serve.

Praline Topped Brie hot out of the oven:

Serve with crackers or hot bread.  Enjoy!

Remember, let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  

 

Mushroom Bacon Toasties

Mushroom Bacon Toasties are a delicious appetizer made with mushrooms, bacon, a herb cream cheese mixture on cocktail rye toast and topped with Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy these with a great bottle of wine at your next party!!!  The Velvet Palate has paired this appetizer with the 2004 Legon Reserva.  You can click here for their wine tasting notes and information on this wine.

These are definitely worth the effort!  They can be made ahead and flash frozen to use later – or bake now and enjoy!  

Click the link to view the YouTube How-to Tutorial for this recipe:   Mushroom Bacon Toasties 

 

Mushroom Bacon Toasties
 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Ingredients
  • 20 cocktail size rye bread slices
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ teaspoon Herb de Provence
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 3 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Heinz 57 sauce
  • 4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Brush both sides of the cocktail size rye bread with the 4 tablespoons of meted butter. Bake ate 350 degrees for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Blend the cream cheese, Herbs de Provence, garlic salt and chopped fresh parsley together and spread evenly on the cooled toasties.
  3. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Add the mushrooms, bacon and onions and saute until mushrooms release liquid and the bacon is cooked. Add the steak sauce. Divide mixture among the toasties.
  4. Sprinkle with cheese.
  5. At this point you can flash freeze to bake later or bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until bubbly.
  6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

20 cocktail rye bread slices

4 tablespoons melted butter

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

3 tablespoons butter

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, finely chopped

3 slices bacon, diced

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoon Heinz 57 sauce

4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Brush both sides of the miniature rye bread with melted butter.  Bake 5 to 6 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Blend the softened cream cheese, Herbs de Provence, garlic salt and chopped fresh parsley together and spread evenly on the toasties.

Spread evenly on the cooled rye toasties.

Melt butter in skillet.  Add mushrooms, bacon ( I use kitchen scissors to easily dice the bacon ), and onions and saute until the mushrooms release their liquid and the bacon is cooked.  

Add the steak sauce.

Divide mixture among the toasties.

Sprinkle with the Shredded Parmesan cheese.

At this point you can flash freeze to bake later or bake now at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until bubbly.

Remember, “Let’s make life special  by sharing great food with our family and friends. Enjoy!”

 

 

Quick Chicken Corn Chowder

Fall is in the air and it’s time to get a big pot of Quick Chicken Corn Chowder simmering on the stove!   

Chowder is typically a thick, rich soup that is made with cream.  This Quick Chicken Corn Chowder is chocked full of vegetables and meat to make a delicious and warming meal on a chilly Fall or Winter evening.  You can have this on the table in less than 30 minutes—-that’s less time than it takes to get a carry-out pizza!   

To view the complete video recipe, click here:   http://youtu.be/OKAjAlvFRPE

To print the recipe with all of the how-to photos, click here:  Quick Chicken Corn Chowder

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup chopped onions

1/4 cup chopped celery

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped or 2 tablespoons canned chopped jalapeno peppers ( not pickled)

2 tablespoons flour

3 cups milk

2 cups chopped deli rotisserie  chicken

1 1/2 cups frozen corn

1 can cream style corn

1 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 /8 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add onion, celery and jalapeno; cook for 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.

Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  

Stir in milk and blend well.  Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

Serve up a big steaming bowl of Quick Chicken Corn Chowder topped with crumbled pieces of my Microwaved Bacon ( See Success Secret under a separate post).

Remember — Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!

 Happy Fall…Y’all!


Quick Chicken Corn Chowder
 
Recipe type: Soups
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup chopped onions
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped OR 2 tablespoons canned chopped jalapeno peppers ( not pickled )
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk or a combination of milk and half and half
  • 2 cups chopped deli rotisserie chicken
  • 1½ cup frozen corn
  • 1 can cream style corn
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red peppers
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and jalapeno; cook for 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
  2. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Stir in milk and remaining ingredients.
  4. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Enjoy!

Crab Cake Lunch on Kaanapali Beach

What could be better than a crab cake lunch on Kaanapali Beach?

Next week I will feature my Crab Cake recipe with the trick I use to keep the crab cakes from falling apart when I cook them.  Crab cakes are really very easy to make and you can either use fresh crab or canned crab.  My recipe uses canned crab since it’s not always easy to buy fresh crab.   

Here are the wonderful crab cakes I had for lunch on Kaanapali Beach.  I like how they served them on wilted fresh spinach and I’ll be using that same idea when I feature my Crab Cake recipe next week.  I also liked the grilled lemon half as an extra nice touch…

Here are some pictures of my beautiful walk along Kaanapali Beach….

 

I think a trip to Maui is really a trip of a lifetime!  The beauty is abundant.  Walks along the pristine beaches are invigorating and there is so much to enjoy in the nature around us.  Kaanapali Beach has a lot to offer in not only beauty but also things to do.  You can stay busy every minute if you want to.  The Westin has scenic helicopter tours, hiking trips, shopping tours plus much more.   I have decided not to do a lot of the tours and activities.  I just want to soak up some relaxation while I am here.  

Remember — Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!

Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks with Brandy Sauce

Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks are super easy to make in less than 10 minutes.  The steaks are lightly pressed with crushed peppercorns and then sauteed quickly in butter and oil.  Then you combine white wine, lemon juice and a little brandy in the pan drippings for the sauce.  So easy and so good!   

 

Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons peppercorns
  • 2 to 4 rib eye steaks
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons oil
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • little lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Crush the peppercorns and press well into steaks using a wooden spoon.
  2. Heat oil and butter in pan, add half the butter. When foaming, saute steaks 4 to 6 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the steaks and how done you like them. Add remaining butter if needed.
  3. Remove to heated platter to keep warm.
  4. Add wine, brandy and lemon juice to the drippings in the pan and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Pour the sauce over the steaks. Serve at once.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons peppercorns

2 to 4 rib eye steaks

3 to 4 tablespoons oil

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup white wine

2 tablespoons brandy

little lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Crush the peppercorns and press well into the steaks using a wooden spoon.  You can crush the peppercorns as I am doing, or put them in a Zip lock bag and pound with the flat side of a meat mallet.

Heat oil in pan, add half the butter.  When foaming, saute steaks 4 to 6 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the steaks and how well done you like them.  Add remaining butter if needed.

Remove to a heated dish to keep warm.  Add wine, brandy and lemon juice to the pan and bring to a boil.  Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the sauce over the steaks.  Enjoy!

 

 

Video: Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks


Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks are lightly pressed with crushed peppercorns, sauteed in butter and oil and then splashed with white wine, lemon juice and brandy

Sinful Hot Fudge Sauce Recipe

Here is an almost instant hot fudge sauce recipe that’s homemade!  Try it over ice cream or pound cake for a super simple chocolate treat!


Sinful Hot Fudge Sauce
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces of semisweet chocolate squares
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. Cut chocolate into chunks. Place in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Add sweetened condensed milk and mix well.
  3. Microwave on high for 3 minutes to soften the chocolate.
  4. Stir mixture with a wooden spoon until the chocolate is melted. Stir in vanilla extract and sea salt.
  5. Serve hot.

Watch the video tutorial here

Video: Sinful Hot Fudge Sauce Recipe

This Sinful Hot Fudge Sauce recipe is delicious served over ice cream or pound cake! This only three main ingredients it is so easy to make!

Ingredients:

8 ounces semi sweet chocolate squares

14 ounces sweetened condensed milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

Cut the chocolate into chunks. Place in a microwave safe bowl.

Add the sweetened condensed milk and stir well.

 

Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes on high.  Remove from the microwave and stir to mix.  Serve hot.

Remember  “Let’s Make Life Special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!”

 

Fabulous Fish

Looking for some really quick and easy fish recipes?  This recipe delivers!


Can you believe it?  This fish microwaves in 10 minutes!  It’s shown here with my Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Roasted Asparagus.  

 

 

Fabulous Fish
 
Recipe type: Main Dish - Fish
Serves: 3 to 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound white fish fillets, thawed
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 8 ounce package fresh mushroom slices
  • 1 can Cream of Celery soup
  • ½ teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • ½ cup Italian style or plain breadcrumbs
Instructions
  1. Arrange fish in a 12 X 8 X 2 oblong baking dish.
  2. Top with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, onions, mushrooms, soup and seasonings.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on HIGH for 10 minutes.
  4. Mix remaining melted butter into the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the fish.

Ingredients:

1 pound of white fish fillets, thawed

4 tablespoons of melted butter

2 green onions, sliced

8 oz package of fresh sliced mushrooms

1 can Cream of Celery soup

1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning

1/2 Italian or plain breadcrumbs

Directions:

Arrange the fish fillets in a 12 X 8 X 2 baking dish.

 

Top with butter, onions, mushrooms, soup and seasonings.

 

Cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave on HIGH for 10 minutes.

 

Top with buttered breadcrumbs and serve.

 

Enjoy! 

To download the printable recipe with how to photos, click here:      Fabulous Fish

How is the BEST way to quickly thaw frozen fish fillets?  Check out my success secret:  Thawing Fish Quickly  

   

Video: Fabulous Fish

   
   
           
   

    Looking for easy fish recipes?  This delicious fish recipe microwaves in 10 minutes!

 

 

Make Life Special
2 Cypress Rd Litchfield, IL 62056 US
Phone: 217-556-8297 Website: http://www.makelifespecial.com