Tag Archive | Wine

Fall Foods Recipe #5: Butternut Squash Risotto

Cooking risotto is on my bucket list because, to me, it always seemed like a real high-class type of dish. If you think about nurturing a cup of pasta for an hour, it must be something really special, right? That was my thinking! Proving the point further, for our 3rd anniversary we went to a popular restaurant, Portland City Grill, and what did I order from the fancy menu options? Risotto, of course!

It was absolutely, positively HEAVENLY. Definitely a top-notch meal. That’s when I logged the ingredients and flavors in my head (thanks for the good memory DNA, mom & dad) and decided to replicate it at home. My version was good enough to be served in our 777sf apt, on Target plates, with “silverware” and a paper towel napkin, yet it was far from competing to the original chef’s version.

A few weeks later, when I came home with a nice butternut squash from the farm, I knew I would have many options to use it. Half of it went into the Cozy Chicken & Vegetable Casserole recipe and the other I used for this second risotto attempt. This came out much creamier than I wanted, and I believe it was because I cooked the squash in a pan before putting it in the risotto. The result was the squash cooking down too much and with all the stirring, it started to get “mushy” and hence, became too creamy.

Normally I would always encourage a cook to have the confidence to try altering a recipe if you think it can be done differently or better, but when it comes to risotto, just follow the what the directions say. There’s no award when a risotto comes out  mushy. However, you do get bragging rights when a risotto comes out perfect – to all your friends, family, and co-workers who will forever become impressed with your cooking abilities!!

So the next time you feel like sprucing up your cooking talents, print out this recipe, pick up a butternut squash, bottle of white wine, shallots and arborio rice. Then grab a stool and get ready for a nice hour of hanging over the stove. And remember: success will bring great rewards. Good luck!

 4 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each
Total Time: 1 hour


  • 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups chopped peeled butternut squash (into itty-bitty pieces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Place broth in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat so the broth remains steaming, but is not simmering.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in squash; cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add thyme, salt, pepper; cook for 30 seconds. Add rice; stir until translucent, about 1 minute.
Add wine and cook, stirring, until almost absorbed by the rice, about 1 minute.
Stir in 1/2 cup of the hot broth; reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has been absorbed.
Continue adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until all the liquid has been absorbed, until the rice is tender and creamy, 30 to 40 minutes total. (You may have some broth left.)
Remove from the heat and stir in cheese.
Serve immediately and enjoy with a glass of the remaining wine!

They are soft, fuzzy, delicate, juicy and delcious – It must be Peach season!

Here in our home, peach season is an exciting time. No matter how big dinner is, we can always be found eating a huge bowl of Red Haven peaches and ice cream for dessert. And when I say a huge bowl, I mean a salad bowl! Unfortunately, it means that you must give way for the “fat” jeans at the bottom of the dresser drawer for a couple of weeks.  It’s okay…. it will be worth it – guaranteed!

Peach picking is truly an art: carefully creeping under the tree so as not to disturb the fruit, you look up to find a nice rosy-red peach bottom. When found, carefully look around at it to make sure there’s no mold or blemishes. Lightly press your fingers to feel how soft the flesh is – too soft is okay if your going to eat it right away, but hard flesh means it isn’t quite ripe. You want to feel for flesh that slightly gives way to your pressure. If it passes the test, gently grab it at the top and ever-so-gently twist it off the branch, and voila!

Last summer I found an AMAZING recipe for extra peaches that couldn’t fit in our ice cream bowls the night before. It’s an adapted recipe from Real Simple magazine. My recipe includes as many local and fresh ingredients as possible, too. The pork was grown in Oregon, the peaches are from Sauvie Island, the Walla Walla onions are from nearby Washington, and the basil is from the farmer’s market.

Roasted Pork Chops & Peaches

1    tablespoon olive oil

4    bone-in pork chops (3/4 inch thick; about 2 pounds total)

2    peaches, cut into wedges (we prefer the Red Haven variety)

1    small Walla Walla onion, cut into thin wedges

3    tablespoons white wine vinegar

6   shiitake or crimini mushrooms

1    Tbsp. butter

1/2  cup white wine

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


Heat oven to 400° F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt the butter and add in the mushrooms. Cook until brown around the edges, then add in white wine. If you choose your favorite drinking wine, then you get to have a glass with dinner! Reduce the wine and turn heat down to medium, cooking for 3-4 minutes.
Add the peaches, onion, mushrooms, vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper to the skillet used to cook the pork, cooking and tossing for 1 minute. Add all ingredients (and any accumulated juices from the pork)  in an ovenproof pan/dish. I prefer to use a casserole dish. Transfer to the oven and roast until the pork is cooked through and the peaches are tender, 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle the pork and peaches with the basil and serve.

A Taste of the Sea


And lot’s of it.

It amazes me how much fresh fish we eat. Would you believe me if I said 16 weeks a year we are eating fresh fish? And I very well may have under-estimated that number. We are serious about fresh fish in our home – not only for the health factor, but it doesn’t get much more organic than bringing home your own food from the wild, whether it be veggies or meat. We are proud to eat from the meat we “hunt”; fish, elk, duck, goose.

Well, I only catch fish, but my rugged outdoor-loving real-life Jeremiah Johnson of a man (who can also wear a tailored suit better than any model in any Gucci ad) brings home the rest. He’s the more patient one in this relationship. We’ve agreed that if he hunts it, I will cook it. Yet, somehow I have yet to find any recipes for anything other than fish. Coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe not. I stand by the fact that the pages of my cookbook always stick together in the “game” section. I swear it’s a sign that I don’t need to learn to cook it!

Here’s one of our favorite recipes for cooking our fresh fish:

First, fillet the fish and remove all the bones.

Next, we spread olive oil over the fillets; then add freshly ground pepper, salt, and dill. If using dried dill (as we do), be sure to crumble it in your palm prior to sprinkling over the fish. It helps to release the oils/scent. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon over the fillets. Finally, cut 1 tablespoon of butter into quarters and place on the top of the fillets. Place the fish on the grill on medium-high heat for 15 min., then check to see if its done. Proceed to continue cooking until the fish is fully cooked.

While I prepared the fish, I had 1/2 yellow onion sauteing in olive oil over medium-high heat on the stove. Add a pinch of salt to help them sweat, followed by a pinch of pepper for seasoning. Once they are translucent and beginning to carmelize, I added 1 cup of sliced mushrooms. These were button mushrooms, but shiitake mushrooms would work well too. Cook the mushroom and onion mixture until the mushrooms are brown along their edges, about 5-7 min. Add 1 cup of white wine (I use Pinot Grigio because then I can drink a glass with dinner!) and continue to simmer until the liquid cooks down, about 4 min.

The fish is done! It looks so good in this photo that I am literally starting to salivate. No. Joke. It’s like I can smell the buttery-lemony-dill sauce through the computer!

I served a cut of the fillet with the caramelized onion & mushroom mixture on the side. I HIGHLY recommend serving it on the top, though, because every bite we took tasted so much better when both were on the fork together. YUMMY goodness!! It’s healthy, easy, and flavorful.

You will be so excited for the next chance you get to make it! Enjoy!