Easy Mushroom Parmesan Risotto

by Carlye Cunniff
( April 21st, 2015 )

Easy mushroom parmesan risottoRisotto seems to get a bad rap – I’ve heard it’s hard to make, easy to mess up, and potentially not worth the trouble. This is all wrong. Risotto is actually really simple, it just takes time. Granted, time is sometimes hard to come by, but spending time making creamy, flavorful risotto is so worth it. Risotto travels well, reheats in a snap and makes fabulous left overs (Arancini anyone?) I make this easy mushroom parmesan risotto on lazy Sunday afternoons, then spend the week, ok, Sunday night, eating it.

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided

1/2 of a yellow onion, diced

1 Pound white mushrooms, cut into quarters

4 Cups vegetable broth

1/1/2 Cups Arborio rice (yes, the type of rice does matter)

1/2 Cup dry vermouth (a dry, white wine works just fine as well)

2 Tablespoons butter

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Prepare yourself to be actively cooking this dish for 30-45 minutes.

Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat in a large, sturdy skillet. You guessed it, I pull out the old cast iron standby for this recipe.

Cook onions and mushrooms until fragrant and soft, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the broth over a low heat. The broth should be heated before we add it to the rice, because the rice can be shocked with cold liquid (or foul language, HA! get it?)

Remove onions and mushrooms and set aside.

Heat remaining olive oil in same skillet.

Add rice to skillet, stir, and cook until rice turns a light, golden-brown color. Remember to keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Slowly stir in the vermouth and keep stirring until the rice fully absorbs it.

After the vermouth is absorbed, add the heated vegetable broth about 1/2 Cup at a time. Stir the broth into the rice until it is completely absorbed each time. I am not exact about how much broth I put in at a time, I kind of eyeball a 1/2 Cup. That’s ok, because the point is that you stand and stir, and give lots of love to your risotto.

Continue adding broth, stirring and loving your risotto. You will be temped to walk away and leave your risotto on the stove. “Just for a second,” you’ll say. Don’t do it. Stay with your risotto. This is the hard part.

When your risotto has absorbed all your liquids, it’s ready to be flavored. Sometimes, mine is pretty perfect before it has a chance to use all the broth. This is fine. Taste testing is the way to go.

Add in your cooked mushrooms and onions.

Add mushrooms and onions.

Add your butter! Stir it in, gently.

Stir in salt and pepper, remember to keep taste testing.

Finally, add your parmesan. Keep stirring.

Remove from heat. Now, it’s time to eat! Enjoy.

Finished mushroom parmesan risotto.

What do you like to put in your Risotto? Let us know in the comments below!

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Woodinville Wine Country – A White and Rose Affair

by Carlye Cunniff
( April 16th, 2015 )

This weekend is supposed to be beautiful – sunny and spring like, drawing people to the parks, kids to the playgrounds…you get the idea. The weekend is also supposed to draw the traffic to Seattle. It’s supposed to be bad. Go figure. Want to avoid all that and relax in the sunshine? Me too! Especially because, surprise, it’s my birthday! Instead of spending my celebratory birthday weekend shuffling around Seattle by car, I’m headed to Woodinville Wine Country. Never been? It’s the perfect place  to enjoy wine, food and hours in the sun.

Wine barrels in Woodinville

Woodinville is about 30 miles North of Seattle, and makes for a quick getaway from the city. A popular spot for tourists and locals alike, Woodinville offers a unique wine tasting experience because so many of it’s wineries are centrally located. You can park the car and walk to multiple boutique wineries, fuel your afternoon with gourmet dishes and enjoy the larger historical estate wineries. I would recommend finding a non-wine drinking driver, or plan to the stay the night in Woodinville. There is plenty to do, and you’ll appreciate the safe trip to your hotel, rather than finding your way home to Seattle.

If you’ve never been to Woodinville, I wouldn’t miss Chateau Ste Michelle, a household name in the Seattle area. You could likely spend all day just tasting at the estate – they have several different tasting options, starting at $10 per person. The grounds are beautiful, especially in the spring time, and the huge variety of wine offered is sure to please everyone on your list.

Chateau Ste Michelle

After taking in the estate,  head over to ‘The Junction,’ for food and walkable wineries. All the wineries have different vibes, different means of offering tastings and different price ranges – enjoy the variety. Don’t be bashful either – the staff are incredibly well versed in the wine they are pouring, the unique way in which the grapes are grown and the area itself. Because each winery is always rolling out something different, don’t hesitate to ask your servers what to try, where to go and how to find the best spots. Woodinville is a great place to learn about wine if you’re not necessarily well-versed, if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

So, did I mention it’s my birthday weekend?  Lucky me, Woodinville Reserve – A White and Rose Affair is happening on Sunday, April 19. If you have the chance to visit wine-heaven (ahem, Woodinville) during a special event, I recommend taking the opportunity to indulge. Woodinville strikes the perfect balance between amazing food and drink while maintaining that laid back Seattle vibe. This particular event kicks off the warm weather wine season and will showcase the wines that Washingtonians (and everyone else) should be drinking as we slip into spring and summer. I’m looking forward to learning a ton, exploring some new varietals and, of course, drinking wine! For tickets and information about the event, visit the Woodinville Wine Country home page. 

Photo Credits

Wine Barrels. Zac Den Adel. CC BY ND-2.0

Untitled.  Mark Ordonez. CC BY SA-2.0

 

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Juicer Pulp Carrot Ginger Muffins

by Carlye Cunniff
( April 14th, 2015 )

 

Juicer pulp carrot ginger muffins

So, you just made yourself a ton of healthy juice, perhaps full of kale and apples and carrots, and you’re pumped to drink it at work tomorrow, and you have pounds of perfectly good carrot fragments left over. The juicer pulp is packed full of nutrients and deliciousness, but finding unique uses for it sometimes requires some creativity. I recently tried putting my carrot juice pulp into healthy muffins that I can take on-the-go, and they turned out pretty well.

Carrot juice pulp.

These bad boys are made of three cups of carrot juice pulp, no white flour and no sugar, so, no, they don’t taste like cupcakes. As far as health food goes, I think they’re pretty tasty. I know I could have used the food processor to smooth them out, but I like the carrot chunks. If you combine your juices together, I bet a carrot-apple combo would eliminate the need for so much agave in this recipe. You could also juice the ginger instead of shredding it (though you’ll have to use more). Enjoy these juicer pulp carrot ginger muffins with a cup of tea to start off your morning, or alongside a glass of freshly pressed juice.

 

Ingredients:

2 eggs

6 tablespoons agave nectar (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons)

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups carrot juice pulp

1 cup coconut flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

2 tablespoons shredded coconut

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

pinch of salt

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line two muffins tins with paper.

Mix the eggs, agave, vanilla and carrot juice pulp together in a small bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, ginger, coconut, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add the apricots.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.

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