White Wine Mushroom Risotto; plus an idea for kids and leftovers

Wine, mushrooms, and rice…oh, and I added bacon. You are welcome!

I haven’t made risotto in a really long time. I sometimes fall into that Atkins thinking and really want to just eat tons of protein. That lasts maybe one meal, at most, one day, then I fall off the “No Carb!” bandwagon. Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation, even moderation.” I think she was referring to this mindset. Or maybe it was moderation of butter, or pies, or wine…well, whatever the reason, I find it to be a most excellent motto. One to live by, for sure.

So the other day, I was watching Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa, and she was making a white wine risotto. She was using some crazy expensive ingredients; dried porcini mushrooms, locally sourced pancetta, saffron, what looked to be a very expensive bottle of wine she got from a friend who owns a specialty wine shop, and I think she might have even shaved some truffles on top (that may or not be an exaggeration; I can’t remember). Well, that got me to thinking, “I can make that without spending $50 dollars on my meal.” So here is my cheap version of her decked out classic.

Start by warming a quart of chicken stock. You could make your own, and I sometimes do, but you can also use stock from a box. I like to buy low sodium. Control your salt intake when you can.

Take a large Dutch Oven. This is my prized possession in the kitchen. I love my cast iron pans, but I covet my Le Creust. We got it on sale, I think, because it is a hideous pea green. I have grown found of it so much. Heat it up and add 1 stick of butter. Once it is melted add 1/2 of and onion (Vidalia for me) and 3 pieces of bacon chopped up. 003

Then add 1 pint of mushrooms. I added baby portabellas, but cute little button mushrooms would work just fine. Whatever is on sale, people! You can buy sliced, or you could save yourself fifty cents or more and just slice them yourselves. No judgment here! Cook down for about 5 minutes. Add about a teaspoon of salt and pepper.

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Add 2 cups of Arborio rice. Arborio has the perfect starchiness for Risotto. Stir rice until coated with butter. Add about 1/2 a bottle of dry white wine. My favorites are Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. When cooking, always choose a wine you want to drink. My bottle was Pinot Grigio, and it cost about $10.

Once it cooks a bit, add your warmed chicken stock a little bit of a time. Your risotto needs love. Keep by its side; stir it often; whisper sweet nothings in its ear. “Who is my sweet risotto? You are! You are so pretty! I just love you so much!” Kiss it and give it some nibbles…Taste it here and there to see if it is al dente and seasoned right (add salt and pepper when needed). When it is, add 2/3 grated parmesan cheese and a couple of splashes of heavy cream. Stir until coated and take off the heat. 007

My bowl of just risotto. 010

Wondering if the kids are going to like this…well, R loves mushrooms, and K loves rice. Both my kids love runny eggs. Add a side of sunny side up eggs, and we have a meal! The richness of the yolk adds amazing depth to the risotto. R even asked if we could have this for breakfast. Why, yes, yes we can!
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Leftovers: Pizza Pasta

Leftovers…this can be a dreaded word in many houses. No one likes to keep eating the same thing 2 days in a row, but no one wants to waste food, which is just throwing money away. In our house, we try to have at least one night where we have “whatever you want night.” This is when we try to eat up any leftovers in the fridge before they go bad. Since we are kind of on a weird eating schedule with E still in the hospital, this has been harder to do. I am here with the other 2 girls most nights, so I try to make just enough for the 3 of us, meals that I can transform in to more than 1 meal, or make meals I know will freeze well for later.

Last night I made linguine and meatballs, and I froze some sauce, but I still had a bit of pasta over for us to have one more meal. Then, today, I was watching David Rocco’s Dolce Vida on Cooking Channel. He was making a “pizza pasta.” He took leftover pasta and added some eggs, parmesan cheese, and fried it in oil. So I decided to try it.

The ingredients all depends on how many leftovers you have, but I used 3 eggs, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, whipped it together with the pasta, then added to a pan of oil which covers the bottom of your pan.
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Then after 2 minutes or so, put a plate upside down on the top of the pasta. Turn the pan and plate over and then slide the pasta pie mixture back in the pan for another 2 minutes on the other side. Tricky, but doable. Who cares if it doesn’t come out perfect? Once done, I added more parmesan on top.
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Then I sliced with a pizza cutter. It was sitting out for a bit, so I popped a piece in the toaster oven to crisp it on top a bit. Perfection! The girls gobbled it up as well!
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Any new ways you like to makeover leftover pasta?

Pasta Perfection

I asked R and K what they wanted for dinner. R said spaghetti, then K said meatballs. Ok, then! I took out some beef and scoured the cabinet for some pasta and something to make the sauce. I found 1/2 a container of linguine, 1 large can of tomato sauce, and 2 cans of diced tomatoes. Perfect.

First, I started the sauce. Easy marinara sauce that does not require a glass jar of sugar sauce, if you know what I am referring to. I used 1 28 oz. can of tomato sauce, 2 cans diced tomatoes, and 2 squirts of tomato paste (or 3 tablespoons if you have a can). I added a couple sprinkles of Italian seasoning, chopped oregano, basil, and parsley, and 1/2 chopped onion, 1 container of mushrooms, 2 garlic cloves crushed and diced, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons or so of Worcestershire, 2 tablespoons butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Sometimes I even add red wine, if I have it, but this time I was all out. The wine and Worcestershire just give it an extra layer of flavor, especially since I am making the meatballs with beef. The butter and the sugar help to add a bit of sweetness to the sauce and mellow the acidity of the tomato a bit.

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I even had leftover sauce to add to my freezer collection. I just mashed the meatballs up in the sauce to make meat sauce.
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Next, I had to figure out what ingredients I had to make meatballs. I used 1 pound of grass-fed beef, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1 cup breadcrumbs, about 1/4 cup of milk, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire, 1 teaspoon of onion and garlic powder, chopped parsley, oregano, and basil. Mix it all up and make some meatballs.

Add them to your sauce. You could brown them or fry them first, but these are fine this way. I cooked the sauce first for about 45 minutes, then added the meatballs on low for another 45 minutes or so. 013

Cook your pasta and add your sauce…
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