Category: Vegetarian

Spring Vegetable Risotto

For those of you unfamiliar with risotto, you’re missing out on something spectacular. I’d always seen it made on cooking shows and I’d seen it on restaurant menus and such, but rice has never really thrilled me, so I always just passed it by. Last summer, my life changed forever.

Johnny’s extended family goes on a great big vacation every other summer, it’s really a swell time. Last year, Johnny and I couldn’t make the whole trip, but we spent four days split between Ottawa and Montebello, Canada. While in Ottawa we stayed at the b-e-a-utiful Fairmont Chateau Laurier smack dab in the center of Canada’s capital city right next door to Parliament.

The first evening we dined in Wilfrid’s Restaurant, located right in the hotel. As I glanced over the menu I was instantly struck by a dish composed of organic salmon with a sweet soy glaze and stir-fried bok choy over a wild mushroom risotto. Salmon is probably one of my favorite things to eat, so I knew this dish was meant for me. The risotto wasn’t a second though in my mind.

My tune changed completely when that dish was placed in front of me. Beautifully presented, the salmon was divine, but the risotto stole my heart the second I took my first bite of it. “I need to learn how to make this and I need to eat it every day forever!!” And so I did.

Risotto seems kind of intimidating at first, but it’s actually quite simple to make. All it takes is some arborio rice, chicken (or vegetable) stock, and patience. Now, after that long story (which by the way, if you read that whole schpeal…high five!) here is my personal recipe for risotto!

Spring Vegetable Risotto

  • 2 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 7 cups chicken or vegetable stock,
    brought to a simmer and reduced to low so it just stays hot
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 large shallot, diced fine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends removed,
    cut into bite sized pieces, heated in a microwave safe bowl with two tablespoons of water for one minute
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Black pepper to taste

Here is your risotto set up. Big pot for risotto. Smaller pot for hot stock.

Begin by heating the olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium high heat in the big risotto pot. Add the garlic and shallots and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook about 5 minutes, stirring to coat with olive oil and butter.

Add the wine and stir until the liquid is completely absorbed.  Add a ladleful of the hot stock to the pot. Stir until the liquid is completely absorbed.

Repeat this process for about 30 minutes until all the stock is added to the pot and the rice is tender and a creamy consistency is reached.

Here is my risotto stirring face!

Add the peas and asparagus, as well as the remaining butter. Stir to combine.
Add the parmesan cheese and black pepper. Serve immediately!

Pesto Flatbread Pizza

Ladies and gentlemen, I think it’s imperative to inform you that if my taste-buds could express emotions,  right now, they would be in ecstasy! They would be crying tears of joy while simultaneously doing one-handed-back-hand-springs.

I’m afraid, however, that my taste-buds are incapable of such feats. (I know. It’s sad.) Your taste-buds will have the same emotional experience if you make this evenings’ recipe for yourself. Who knows. Maybe you’ll have more luck with the one-handed-back-hand-springs.

These flatbread pizzas are INSANELY versatile! I made a shrimp version a few of us had and chicken for the rest. You could easily leave off the meat all together and load up on the veggies. I put spinach on mine. Tomatoes, peppers, and sauteed mushrooms would all be divine on this pizza,too!

The combination of succulent shrimp with creamy ricotta, gooey mozzarella and the sharp bite of pesto is quite an amazing experience. The recipe I’m sharing is enough to feed five people two pizzas each. Do yourself (and your taste-buds) a favor and make these tonight. 🙂

Pesto Flatbread Pizza

  • 10 flatbreads (I used onion flavored, they were tasty)
  • 1 (8 oz.) jar store bought pesto
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups baby spinach, rinsed and dried
  • 2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute or until fragrant.
Add the shrimp and cook for about 3 minutes more. (Shrimp will transform from their original translucent gray color to a lovely opaque pink.)
Add the wine and lemon juice and cook 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
Spread approximately 1 tablespoon of pesto onto each flatbread. Top with small dollops of ricotta cheese and baby spinach. Divide shrimp evenly among the flatbreads. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.
Cook the flatbread pizzas on a large baking sheet (I used two) for about 7 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Serve immediately. Top with red pepper flakes and oregano for an extra one-two punch of flavor!



Blueberry Almond Muffins

Blueberries have been looking absolutely outstanding at the grocery store lately and I’ve been stockpiling them! I’ve been sticking them in my morning cereal (Kashi Heart to Heart in Warm Cinnamon Oat! I can’t get enough of it!), mixing them in my yogurt, and combining them with strawberries and bananas for a tasty fruit salad.

I was in the mood to bake when the clouds rolled in this weekend and the gloom (And humidity! Sheesh has it been gross out EVERYWHERE lately, of just in PA?) kept me inside and I knew that I had plenty of blueberries to use. 🙂

I knew I wanted to try and making something as guilt-free as possible while still maintaing the “I’m-being-naughty-and-eating-a-pastry” feeling. I think the recipe I came up with is as close to that as I could get!

Using whole wheat flour, nonfat greek yogurt, protein packed almonds and fresh blueberries these muffins are really quite healthy. A hint of almond extract and the subtle sweetness of brown sugar gave these muffins the perfect balance of naughty and nice. 🙂

Blueberry Almond Muffins

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour + 1 tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup (4 tbsp) butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 6 oz nonfat greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup almond milk (nonfat would be fine, too)
  • ¼ cup almonds, chopped fine
  • ½ cup blueberries (if using frozen blueberries, thaw)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Mix the blueberries and almonds in one tablespoon of flour. Set aside.
Beat butter and sugar in a stand mixer until well combined.
Add the egg, yogurt, almond extract, and almond milk and combine.
Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just moistened.
Gently mix in the blueberries and almonds by hand.
Spoon batter into paper-line or greased muffin tins.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Let cool five minutes and serve warm!

Banana Nut Granola

Here is a quick, easy and rather healthy granola recipe I came up with this week. I used less oil than most granola recipes call for, which I think made it less chunky, but I’m willing to sacrifice a chunky granola if it means my tummy won’t get chunky from eating it! Feel free to alter this recipe to suit your tastes. I’m a banana nut lover so I thought the addition of banana chips and cinnamon to this granola made it top notch. In the fall I bet apple chips would be sensational! I’ve been mixing this in my yogurt all week! 🙂

Banana Nut Granola

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed nuts, chopped (almonds and walnuts are my fave!)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 honey
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • A hefty sprinkling of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup banana chips
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large (microwave safe ) measuring cup, combine the oil, honey and vanilla. Warm in the microwave for 20 seconds or until warm and pourable.
Combine all but banana chips and raisins on a large sheet pan in one thin layer.
Pour the honey mixture evenly over ingredients. Mix well so that everything is thoroughly combined.
Bake for 10 minutes, remove from heat and stir, and bake for 10 minutes more.
Let granola cool completely before adding the banana chips and raisins. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy 🙂

    My Big Fat Greek Salad . . . Heh

    First and foremost, folks…

    I am a college graduate!!!!

    I know, right?! How awesome/exciting/exhilarating/freakin’ fantastic/ is that?! Believe me, after sitting through all of those speakers at graduation I am ENTIRELY aware of the downturned economy and the ultra lame job market… I don’t care. Well, I guess I care a little, but I am so happy to have the opportunity to start pursuing my dreams!!!

    Moving on, things are swell. Johnny and I (and Qunicy, too!) are settling well into our new Pennsylvania home. Of course, we still have quite a bit to get done but being that we’ve only been out here a week I’d say we’re doing great!

    Though it was a bit on the rainy side this last week, I took advantage of the one sunny day we had and I made a delicious and refreshing greek salad (note the clever post title. heh.).

    I didn’t have any tomatoes, so you won’t find any in my recipe. You also won’t find any lettuce in this recipe either. As a matter of fact, traditionally, you won’t find lettuce in any greek salad. Lettuce is a sign of impotency and an anti-aphrodisiac in Greek culture thanks to the mythological Adonis who was so beautiful he got the attention from all the ladies. When he started moving in on Zeus’s woman, Hera, Zeus punished him and turned him into a wilting head of lettuce…or something like that…Anywho! My recipe for greek salad is so simple to make! I served it with a toasted whole wheat pita and some hummus for a filling and nutritious lunch! YUM!

    Greek Salad

    • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
    • 1 red bell pepper, diced
    • 1 small red onion, diced
    • 12 (or so) kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
    • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
    • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • pinch of salt

    Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add more salt, oregano, and olive oil to your liking.
    Refrigerate 20 minutes before serving.