Hello Blog, I've missed you! I thought about writing once or twice, but between being out of town from Christmas to New Years, and then getting going with 2011 at work, there wasn't time to cook, let alone write. It's seems as though it's taken me a while to get into the swing of 2011, but thankfully, it looks like I am finally cruising along in some semblance of a normal schedule. Time to get back to cooking, and blogging.
I love the smell of fresh starts in the air during the early part of January. Like many people, I am big on resolutions, although I don't necessarily call them resolutions. For me, the new year is just a chance to reset and re-invest in some personal goals I'd like to work on. I even made a vision board- images & words that will help remind me where I would like to be going this year. One big goal I've had for a while now- get my foot in the door of the wine industry, just might be realized next week. I have an interview at a winery here in Alameda for a part time job in their tasting room. I love my current job, and have no intention of leaving any time soon, but it will be nice to build some contacts in a new industry and explore what types of options might be available down the road. I've built my career on the philosophy that if you find something you are passionate about, the money will follow. It's worked so far, and hopefully getting my foot in the door at a winery will give me whole new road to go down some day. I'll keep you posted on how it turns out.
One of the other things I would like to work on in 2011 is eating less meat. It's a struggle in the Munoz house to come up with vegetarian dinners because my husband doesn't really believe it's dinner unless there is meat involved. I personally would have a pretty easy time going mostly vegetarian. In fact I was a vegetarian for a few years after college. So far, I have 2 vegetarian recipes he will eat, both involving black beans. For 2011 I plan on finding a lot more to add to his "approved" list. The trick is to come up with something that is ridiculously good & incredibly filling, so he doesn't miss the meat. Risotto was a good place to start. He loves it, and I figured if I sautéed some of his favorite veggies and tossed them in, he might just be ok with it. Luckily, it worked and this recipe has been approved by the husband. It's delicious, and hearty, yet still pretty easy on the waistline. Success on the first try!
For the veggies:
1/2 large yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 portabella mushroom caps, gills removed & chopped into 1" pieces1 small yellow squash, quartered & then cut into 1/2" pieces
1 small white zucchini, quartered & then cut into 1/2" pieces
1 small regular zucchini, quartered & then cute into 1/2" pieces
3/4 cup small grape tomatoes, sliced in half
Salt & pepper
2 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Hot Pepper Flakes
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
For the risotto:
1 shallot, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine (like chardonnay)
4 to 5 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper
- Heat up the chicken broth. Put the chicken broth in a small pot and heat until it is just barely simmering. Keep the broth just barely simmering while you are making the risotto.
- Start the Risotto. In a medium sized deep-sided pot heat up some olive oil over medium heat. Add in the shallots and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes, until they are just starting to soften. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add in the rice and stir for another minute or two.
- Slowly add Liquid to the Rice. Pour the cup of wine into the rice pot. Stir occasionally until all the wine has been absorbed. Once the wine has been absorbed, start adding the chicken broth, a half-cup at a time, stirring occasionally and making sure all the liquid has been absorbed before you add more.
- Saute the Veggies. While the risotto is cooking, heat up some olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add in the onions & cook for a few minutes, add in the garlic, cook for another minute, then add the mushrooms & zucchini's. Season with salt, pepper, oregano & the hot pepper flakes. Continue cooking over medium heat until the zucchini is cooked through and starting to soften, about 10 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes, then add the white wine vinegar and stir. Let cook one more minute and then remove from heat.
- Finish the Risotto. It should take about 20 to 25 minutes for the risotto to finish. You'll know it is done when the risotto gets creamy looking and the grains are soft but still just a little firm when you bite one (al dente). When it's reached that point, turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt & pepper and then stir in the sautéed veggies.
- Serve! Serve the risotto immediately, preferably with some delicious wine. We drank a 2009 St Francis Chardonnay with ours.