Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto

Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto - LiveDineParty

It feels like I haven’t made a real meal in forever!  With all of this house stuff going on and unpacking/organizing and doing projects around the house, I haven’t had the chance to really plan a meal and cook in my new kitchen.  So this week I finally got back at it!

Now I don’t want to make it sound like I haven’t cooked in weeks and we have been starving over here, but the meals we have been cooking have been very quick and easy, nothing special.  And OK, I officially owed my husband a good meal after all of his hard work.  So, the first real dinner I made was one of our favorites, sun-dried tomato risotto.  I have mentioned my obsession with risotto lately and I think it is safe to say this is the favorite risotto variation I have made in our house.  The flavor combinations are just perfection 🙂

Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto - LiveDineParty

Ingredients

  • 5 1/2-6 cups vegetable stock (You can also use low sodium chicken stock if you prefer.  I used to make it with the chicken stock until I was cooking dinner for a vegetarian and realized at the last minute that I couldn’t use chicken stock.  I was nervous about how it was going to come out, but I actually like it better.  I think the vegetable stock brings out the flavors a little more, but both are delicious)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil, chopped for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large saucepan, bring the vegetable/chicken stock to a simmer.  While the stock is heating, drain the sun-dried tomatoes and reserve the oil.  Chop the tomatoes coarsely and set them aside.  Chop up the mozzarella into small pieces and set this aside as well.

In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil from the sun-dried tomatoes over medium heat, add onion and sauté until translucent.  By using the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes instead of olive oil, it makes the dish more flavorful.

Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto - LiveDineParty

Add the rice to the sauté pan and stir to coat with the oil.  Toast the rice until the edges become translucent and white spots appear in the center of the grains, about 1 min.

Pour in the wine and stir well until completely absorbed.

Add 1/2 cup of the hot stock to the rice.  Cook, stirring constantly, until all the stock has been absorbed. Continue to add the stock, 1/2 cup at time, and cook until each successive batch has been absorbed.  Stir constantly and adjust the level of heat so the rice is simmering very gently while adding the stock until the rice mixture is creamy, but al dente.  This will take from 15 to 20 minutes.

Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto - LiveDineParty

Add the mozzarella cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped basil, and salt and pepper. Mix well and serve piping hot.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.  I’m still getting used to my new stove, but I’m enjoying cooking in my new kitchen.

Homemade Apple Sauce

Homemade Apple Sauce - LiveDineParty

After our weekend of apple picking a few weeks back, I still have some apples to use up so I decided to make some homemade apple sauce to go with our Sunday dinner.  Homemade apple sauce is so much better than the stuff you buy in the store.  The texture is better because there are chunks of apple and it is not just pureed.  And more importantly, it is much less sweet and the true flavor of the apples really comes out without all of the artificial flavoring that is added to the store-bought stuff.  This recipe is super easy and it made the house smell amazing for a few hours!

I cooked this in a slow cooker because we were using the oven for our dinner, but it can also be cooked in the oven at 350 degrees for about 1 hour if you don’t have a slow cooker.  I was definitely skeptical of the amount of citrus flavors in this recipe while I was making it, but it actually turned out perfect.  The citrus flavor added a tartness and complimented the sweet apples.  So if you are worried about the citrus and thinking about eliminating it, take a risk and give it a try.  I don’t think you will regret it.

Adapted from Ina Garten, via foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • 1 large navel orange, zested and juiced
  • ½ a lemon, zested and juiced
  • About 6 to 8 apples (I used McIntosh and Cortland)
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

Peel, quarter, and core the apples.  Whisk together the zest and juice of the oranges and lemon in a large bowl and toss the apples in the juice.  Pour the apples and juice into the slow cooker.  Add the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Cook for about an hour, or until all the apples are soft, stirring occasionally.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Homemade Apple Sauce - LiveDineParty Homemade Apple Sauce - LiveDineParty

Homemade Apple Sauce - LiveDineParty

I will be storing the leftovers in the refrigerator to enjoy for the rest of the week!

Lemon Risotto

I remember my first risotto like it was yesterday.  I was studying abroad in Italy and my parents were visiting.  After struggling a little (well maybe a lot) to actually get to San Gimignano, we stumbled across this little restaurant just outside the city walls (Trattoria Rigoletto for anyone traveling to the area) and I ordered the risotto with tomato sauce, eggplant and fresh mozzarella.  Needless to say, it changed my life and risotto is now one of my favorite dishes to cook and eat.

Risotto is an Italian rice dish that is common in Northern Italy.  The type of rice and the cooking technique is what makes risotto.  It is made with Arborio rice, which is a high starch rice.  It is fairly common and can be found at most grocery stores.

Although my arm generally gets a little tired from the constant stirring, I really enjoy making risotto.  It intimidated me at first because everyone kept saying that it is not that easy to get the consistency and texture right.  Well I completely disagree!  It takes a lot of attention and patience, but once you get the basic recipe down, you can pretty much add any flavor combination you are in the mood for to create a great side dish or a main course.  My husband loves risotto and trying my new flavor combinations that come and go with the seasons so it has become a staple meal in our house.

The lemon risotto I made to go with the grilled steaks and grilled veggies we served when my in-laws visited is amazing and surprisingly light.  The fresh lemon taste and creamy texture from the mascarpone complimented the grilled steaks perfectly.  And, you know it was good when there are no leftovers!

Lemon RisottoLemon Risotto

Adapted fromGiada De Laurentiis, Everyday Italian via foodnetwork.com

Makes about 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, diced (you can substitute an onion if you don’t have a shallot)
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 a lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a medium saucepan bring the chicken broth and 1/2 cup water to a simmer.  Keep hot over low heat.

In a medium, heavy sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until tender but not brown.  Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil. Toast the rice until the edges of the rice turn translucent.  Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated.  Gradually add the broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of the broth to absorb before adding more.  The rice should be gently simmering during this process. The rice will become creamy and should be tender but still firm or al dente, about 20 minutes (now you know why your arm gets tired after 20 min of constant stirring 🙂 ).  Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, mascarpone cheese, the lemon zest and juice, and the salt and pepper.

Serve immediately.   This is the key to risotto.  If it sits for even 10 minutes the texture will change and you will lose that creaminess.

So, give it a try.  Trust me you won’t regret it, even if it doesn’t come out perfect the first time!