Post-Holiday Dinner – Veggie Risotto w/ Leftover Sausage

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Aren’t these place mats cute? My grandma made them!

Mr. Foodie and I have yet to go grocery shopping for the week, opting instead to lounge around the house and enjoy each other’s company since we rarely have the same days off anymore. Luckily we had a few remaining provisions for dinner tonight which we quietly enjoyed, just the two of us, after what seemed like a marathon of family dinners (all delicious, of course). I’ve already written about making my traditional risotto, but this version was born out of necessity. Instead of chicken stock, all I had was some veggie stock. Instead of white wine, I had red. I also had leftover sausage to use up.

So I made my risotto, starting with the chopped onion and garlic, adding a generous pour of red wine, and ending with ladles of heated veggie stock. The trick to a good risotto is to stir rather frequently and avoid adding too much liquid at a time and in general. Over the holidays, I watched a fair amount of cooking on TV because it is a guilty pleasure of mine. Guy Fieri made a beet risotto on his show that I positively salivated over. Beets aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but his flavor combo sounded spectacular. I thought of his creation as I made this dish because of the deep red color and the veggie flavors. I finished the risotto with a bit of Parmesan cheese and the leftover sausage.

While not perhaps the nicest looking dish, it was incredibly delicious. Like many pasta/rice dishes, risotto is just a great base for all kinds of things. You can buy one pack of risotto and it will last for a good 4-5 dinners because you only use one cup to make four servings. You can make it down-right decadent with tangy wine, fatty meat stock, and rich cheese or you can go ultra light with chopped veggies and veggie stock. It really is a versatile dish. Paired with a fresh salad, as we did tonight, it makes a fantastic dinner option.

Tis the Season for Candied Cranberries

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Happy Holidays! After a good two months in a baking/cooking funk, I’ve decided to pick up blogging again. I might not do it as frequently as before, but I want to keep going because Mr. Foodie and I enjoyed doing it so much and it helps me snap out of my routine which is good for the soul. Over the past couple months, we’ve baked and cooked some awesome new things, but for the most part our efforts have been lackluster at best. I started a new job, so we’ve been adapting to a new schedule. Mr. Foodie is doing a great job picking up the daily cooking slack. We still make our chicken stock and (especially now that it’s winter) tasty soups like the Kale-Sausage or Chicken Noodles ones.

More recently I helped my mom put together a Christmas Eve menu because my future in-laws and some family friends came over to celebrate. She wanted simplicity above all, so I restrained myself for her sake. I made these easy crockpot Swedish meatballs, shrimp cocktail, my standard deviled eggs, tortellini skewers, and this gorgeous spice cake with candied cranberries.

Is there anything better than cranberries? Mr. Foodie and I eat dried ones like candy out of a huge bag in our pantry. I love buying fresh ones in season and freezing them to have throughout the winter. My usual use of them is to make a simple syrup for cocktails – add tequila or vodka and fresh lime juice and you’re all set! This year I decided to candy them to decorate a spice cake. Basically, you make a simple syrup, coat the berries in the syrup off the heat, and spread them out on a wire rack (with paper or in underneath to catch the drippings). After they’ve sat for an hour, roll them in sugar (they will be slightly sticky). You can pop them in a ziplock bag to transport. Mr. Foodie ate the leftovers as snacks – he loves the intense tart taste with the sugar coating. They’re not for everyone as they do retain quite a bit of tartness even after coating in sugar (usually you cook cranberries down to temper the tartness). But on a rich spice cake with cream cheese frosting, they’re delicious. And so pretty!

I wish I had more pictures of the food and the beautiful holiday decorations in my mom’s house, but we were too busy eating, playing, and talking to take many photos. We’ll do better next year!

Candied Cranberries

1 bag of fresh cranberries (12-16 oz)

1/2 Cup Sugar

1/2 Cup water

Extra sugar

Cook the 1/2C sugar and 1/2C water in a sauce pot on the stove until the sugar is dissolved (stir with a wooden spoon). Turn off the heat and add the cranberries, coating thoroughly. Spread to set on a wire rack with something underneath to catch extra sugar. After an hour, roll in extra sugar to get that frosted look. Let rest for another hour or longer.