Sweet Potato Risotto with Bacon and Blue Cheese

Heather says:

As many of you know, I’ve moved. I now live in a house with a tiny kitchen that is more fixer-than upper. I spent the whole day working on the yard and wanted needed some serious comfort food. I’ll warn you, the kids did not approve, the blue cheese was too much for them, but it was exactly what I needed, wanted and craved.

Recently, I finally found medium-grain rice at the store that doesn’t have the ridiculous markup of Arborio. Medium and short-grain rice has the starch necessary to create the creamy consistency of risotto. (Around here it has mostly been long grain, parboiled, and occasionally Basmati as the rice options) Save the extra pocket change unless you’re cooking for serious snobs (why would you do that, I ask)

I’d been searching for a recipe to riff on when I found How Sweet Eats’ Roasted Sweet Potato and Bacon Risotto. Close, but I really wanted the unique flavor of blue cheese with the sweet potato, this was a good start and it gave me the idea for the following.

Sweet potato bacon and blue cheese risotto

Sweet Potato and Bacon Risotto with Blue Cheese

  • 4 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 1 lg sweet potato peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large, yellow onions, diced small
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice -medium grain rice will do
  • 2/3 cup dry, white wine (cooking wine will do in a pinch)
  • 1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles (you can absolutely substitute Parmesan)
  • 4-6 slices bacon cooked and chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste -skip the salt if you use commercial stock like Better than Bouillon
  • Small handful of fresh parsley, chopped -optional – I didn’t have any.

This is a two pot recipe, use one to heat the stock and cook the potatoes. By the time the rice is ready to begin adding the stock, your sweet potatoes should be just tender enough to mash with a fork.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet or a stock pot with a HEAVY bottom – using a pot with a thin bottom is asking to scorch the risotto you’re going to a lot of trouble for. Proceed at your own risk.
Add the onions to the skillet, cook until they just start to become translucent, then add the rice.
Stir frequently to toast the rice for a few minutes (3ish). Add the wine to the pot a little drizzle at a time and continue cooking (stirring frequently) until the liquid is absorbed.

Add 1 cup of the hot stock, stir continuously until the liquid is absorbed (see, I told you this dish was needy).

Add the garlic, and another cup of stock. Cook and stir until absorbed.
Guess what, add another cup of stock, cook and stir until absorbed.

Use a fork to mash the sweet potatoes cooking in the stock. (Unless you have an immersion blender, in that case go that route). Slowly transfer the sweet potato stock mixture into the rice and stir until incorporated.

Continue in this manner until your rice is just tender and creamy.
Stir in the bacon taste, adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Top with blue cheese and serve.
Enjoy!

 

Submitted to Real Food Wednesday - check it out!

Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans

saltgirl9.jpgBobbie says:

If you live in the U.S., green beans are probably still “in season” for a little while, so you’ve still time to try Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans – a savory side with a couple unexpected ingredients. Things to like: short ingredient list, simple prep and short cooking time. Things to love: Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans tastes like it took way more effort than it really does.

Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans - the money shot

 

My teenage self would never believe I’m writing about this. Other than babysitting, my first job was on a green bean farm. Sure, they grew other stuff. But seriously, it was mostly beans. Beans, beans, beans. All summer long. But we didn’t pick the beans. They were mechanically picked, and hauled to the barn and dumped into a contraption the owner’s son built to sort out most of the stems and rocks and teeny-tiny beans. Anything that made it through was dumped onto a conveyor belt manned by a handful of kids (can you still say “manned” if they’re teens? And mostly girls?) whose starting pay was $1 an hour, and whose only job was to pick out anything that wasn’t a nice, pretty-looking green bean before it went into the crates at the end. And not to get hypnotized by the conveyor belt going past oh, so steadily, because then you’d fall over. (Or maybe that was just me….) And we’d listen to the radio and sing along to the Bee Gee’s Bald-headed Woman.**

Moving on…

A few weeks into that job, I’d given up on trying to grow long fingernails (stupid conveyor belt) and also I never wanted to see another green bean. In. My. Life. By the time I’d worked there three summers (and late springs, and early falls) if anyone had told me one day you will go out of your way to buy fresh green beans, I would have told them they were nuts.

And speaking of nuts (see my subtle segue?) – they’re a major player in today’s recipe: Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans. Most people have had, or at least heard of, Green Beans with Toasted Almonds, which may be called Almondine or Amandine, depending on where you live and the circles you move in. Quite tasty, but been there, ate that, and most likely dribbled it on my t-shirt.

Well, this one’s a bit different, with butter toasted walnuts (obviously) but also a couple “secret ingredients” that you might not expect. Dry vermouth and…vanilla. Just a touch of each, combined with butter, garlic and onions, makes a sauce that belies the tiny amount of time and effort to make it. It tastes gourmet without much effort.

If you don’t have dry vermouth, you can use a dry white wine. Do not use sweet vermouth or other sweet wine, because sweet won’t work here.

Oh, and the vanilla! If you’re one of those who’ve always thought vanilla meant plain or boring, then you need to try vanilla extract in this non-sweet dish.  It enhances the other flavors in a decidedly non-vanilla way. Be sure you use real vanilla extract rather than imitation.

Make ahead: The nuts can be toasted and the sauce made earlier in your meal prep, but it’s best to cook the beans right before serving, so as to avoid overcooked beans, or you can serve them at room temperature if they’ve cooled down, rather than reheating them. I know any time I try to hold beans at serving temperature for a while, or when I reheat them, they taste overcooked. I can’t be the only one who hates mushy beans.

Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans

1 1/2 pounds green beans, washed, stem ends trimmed. Leave whole, or cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup broken walnuts. Not chopped – break each walnut half into 4 or 5 pieces with your fingers
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon dry vermouth (or dry white wine)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (the real stuff)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Add beans to a saucepan of already boiling water. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until crisp-tender. They should be still be bright green when they’re done.

Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans - toast the walnuts

While the beans cook, prepare the nuts and sauce.

Melt 1 T butter in saucepan over low heat.  Add broken walnuts, and stir until lightly browned. Remove to a small bowl.

Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans - saute the onion

 

Melt remaining butter, then add onion and stir for one minute.

 

 

Add garlic, vermouth, vanilla, garlic, salt & pepper. Let it come to a boil and cook for a minute or two. Remove from burner, but keep warm.
When beans are done to your liking, drain, then return to pan.

Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans - toss with sauce

 

Pour the sauce over and stir to coat well.


Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans - top with walnuts

 

 

Transfer to pre-warmed serving dish, then sprinkle walnuts over top. Serve immediately.
This same sauce would also go wonderfully on roasted green beans. Those may take just a bit longer to cook, so plan accordingly. Toss with the sauce after roasting the beans.

 

Frozen green beans can be used out of season, but do try Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans with fresh, in-season beans while you can!

Butter Toasted Walnut Green Beans - dinner is served

 

** I swear I am not making this up. One of my co-workers at the green bean farm, a girl who shall not be named, absolutely  believed the Bee Gees were singing bald-headed woman instead of more than a woman. We learned this the first time the song came on, and she started singing the wrong words. Unironically, because nothing was ironic in the 70s. And when we tried to tell her the real lyrics, she argued with us about it, convinced she was right, and she was not the kind of person to try and put one over on us. So now, over 35 years later, I always sing Bald-Headed Woman quietly to myself as I wash and trim the green beans.

 

Bobbie Laughman is a dabbler in this, that, and the other thing. She is blessed to be Gwamma to EB: a half three-year old girl, half fierce tiger, and half genius philosopher, who currently lives 2 miles away and visits frequently.
Bobbie lives in the Gettysburg PA area, with her husband who has known her since 1981 and loves her anyway.

 

 

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps, Regular and Gluten-Free

Heather says

Did you think oven fried goodness was out of reach just because you have to go gluten-free?

Here’s a simple, magic substitution for you… swap crushed Rice Chex for Panko crumbs and you’re set. No other changes, no mixing a bazillion different flours or buying special bread to make your own crumbs. Take out your aggression on a handful of cereal and call it a day.

Tested. Tasted. Proven.

I really like oven-fried zucchini chips, but find them a bit too fiddly for most occasions. If you have older kids, make them bread the zucchini, it’s a great exercise in patience with a decent pay off. I see these often suggested for parties, but unless you want to keep the oven on until serving time, save them for a rainy afternoon with a craving for some savory, crispy deliciousness.

zucchini crisps

 

: Zucchini Parmesan Crisps (Gluten-Free)

: Crisp, cheesy, oven-fried zucchini chips

  • 2 medium – large zucchini sliced thinly (use the slicer on a grater)
  • 2 eggs
  • splash of milk or water
  • 1 cup grated parmesan -yes, the cheap stuff
  • 1 cup Rice Chex, crushed  -if you don’t have a wheat allergy / you can use Panko crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch of salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Instructions:

  • Spread the sliced zucchini on paper towels and lightly sprinkle with salt
  • Turn the oven on to 450°F
  • Beat the eggs with either a splash of milk or water in a shallow bowl to create an egg wash.
  • In a second shallow bowl or dish, combine the crushed cereal, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, a pinch of salt if desired, and a few turns of fresh ground pepper. (If you want to kick up the heat a little, cayenne pepper is a nice addition)
  • Grease a baking sheet.
  • Roll or blot the zucchini in the paper towel to absorb the moisture it sweated due to the sprinkle of salt.
  • Dip the zucchini slices in the egg wash and then the breading.
  • Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  • Bake at 450°F for 10 minutes and flip the zucchini slices with a fork or tongs. Bake for another 8 – 10 minutes depending on how done / crispy you like your cheese. Watch them carefully toward the end.
  • Serve immediately.

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

retrochick.JPGMichele says:

If you had to summarize summer in three words, which words would you choose?  Swimming, picnics, and ice cream?  Vacations, thunderstorms, and fireflies?  Bikinis, bonfires, and s’mores?  How about red, white, and blue?

To me, summer never fails to feel like one big patriotic party, and the colors of the season seem to agree. Other than the American flags we associate with Independence, Memorial, and Flag Days, those three colors bring to mind so many other iconic parts of summer from ripe strawberries, sunscreen, and the ocean to sunburns, sand, and tongues dyed blue by snow cones. Though I find it quirky, the inherent patriotism of summer doesn’t really surprise me because it gives we Americans an excuse to do what we do best (eat, drink, and shoot off fireworks), all in the name of celebrating our freedom.

Red, white, and blue, potato salad

Since summer and patriotism seem to go perfectly hand in hand, don’t you think it’s time your summertime food gets in on the action?

 

Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

  • 24 ounces (1 ½ pounds) mixed baby red, white, and blue potatoes, washed and eyes removed
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2/3 ounce (about 1/3 cup) chives, cut into ½” long pieces
  • 1 teaspoon fresh garlic, very finely minced or ground into a paste
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (use less if desired)
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for boiling potatoes
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Red, White, and Blue or Tri-Color Potato Salad

Notes: I found red, white, and blue (sometimes called purple) potatoes pre-mixed in 1 1/2 pound bags.  If you can’t find pre-mixed potatoes, just mix your own!  If you can’t find baby colored potatoes, you can use bigger potatoes; just cut them into bite sized pieces before cooking.  If you don’t like onion and garlic, you can omit them, however, I recommend adding 1 tablespoon of garlic powder to the boiling water with the potatoes.  This recipe can be easily doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled if you need to feed a crowd.

  1. Fill a large pot with water, leaving enough room to add the potatoes.  Cover the pot, then bring the water to the boil over high heat.
  2. Once the water is boiling, remove the lid from the pot and add a couple of tablespoons of salt to the water (you want it “salty like the sea”).  Add 1 ½ pounds red, white, and blue potatoes to the salted boiling water and cook until you can pierce the biggest one with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Drain the potatoes in a colander and allow to cool until you can comfortably handle them.  Once cool, slice the potatoes into halves with a sharp knife, doing your best to keep the skin intact.
  4. In a large bowl, combine 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic (or garlic paste), 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, ½ cup mayonnaise (homemade or store bought), ½ teaspoon coarse salt, and pepper to taste.  Whisk the dressing and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  5. When you’re happy with the dressing, add the cooked and halved potatoes, ¼ cup finely chopped sweet onion and 2/3 ounce of chopped chives.  Use your “kitchen clean” hands to mix the salad, taking care not to break up the potatoes.
  6. Once the potatoes are evenly coated with the dressing and the onions and chives are mixed in, cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least two hours or until ready to serve (up to 24 hours).
  7. Mix again just before serving.  You can use a spoon this time if you’re not comfortable with touching food people are about to eat.

Serves 8-12 (depending on how many other sides you have)

Can’t get enough of red, white, and blue potatoes, try these:

Tri-Color Roasted Potatoes

Red White and Blue Roasted Potatoes

Michele Newell is a housewife turned blogger turned Home Ec 101 contributor.  You can read her near daily ramblings at Dreams Unreal.

Picnic Perfect: Potato Salad

Dear Home Ec 101:

My neighborhood will soon be throwing their annual blockparty. I don’t want anyone to know that I can’t cook for beans. Do you have a recipe for me? Please don’t tell me just to go to the deli and put it in a new bowl. I want to try, but I’m busy and I need something I can make the night before. Oh, and I’m vegetarian but eggs and dairy are fine.

Signed,

Persnickety Picnicker

Heather says:

I recently talked my mother into giving up her potato salad recipe. Everyone needs a go-to dish for events like this and as long as you promise she won’t be there, you are welcome to bring this dish. This recipe is easily halved and makes a great side dish for BBQ dinners.

 

Potato Salad

Potato Salad

Ingredients:

  • 8 medium potatoes (Yukon Gold for best results)
  • 5 hardboiled eggs – (save two for garnish) And here’s How to Hard Boil Eggs
  • 1 medium sweet onion – diced
  • 2-3 green onions – chopped or diced
  • 2 stalks of celery – chopped or diced
  • ½ cup canned olives – green and black, sliced (save a few for garnis)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 TBSP sweet pickle relish
  • 1 or 2 dill pickles, diced or chopped
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 2-3 TBSP honey mustard or honey mustard salad dressing
  • Salt / Pepper to taste
  • Paprika for garnish / color

Peel and cut up the potatoes, letting them sit in a bowl of lightly salted water during preparation.  Rinse several times and place into deep pan, cover with water. Bring to a simmer or low boil on medium heat until potatoes are cooked, but not mushy, between 10 – 15 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, make the dressing. In a separate, medium bowl combine the mayonnaise, mustard, honey mustard, pickle relish, diced dill pickles, celery, sweet and green onions, and salt/pepper. Taste this mixture (use a clean spoon, not your fingers, please!)

When the potatoes are fork tender, drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process. When cool enough to handle, place potatoes in a large bowl.  Peel and cut up the hardboiled eggs (reserving two). Add these to potato mixture.

When you are satisfied with the tastes of the dressing fold it into the potato and eggs. To do this, slide your spoon or spatula down the side of the bowl and then scoop the potatoes to the center. Turn the bowl a little after each scoop. Doing this prevents the spoon from mashing the potatoes.

Cover tightly and refrigerate. It’s best if the flavors have several hours to blend.

Just before serving, add slices of eggs or olives for garnish and sprinkle with paprika for color, if desired.

Enjoy!

*Check out Mouthwatering Monday at Southern Fairytale*