Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Weekly Dinner Challenge - Butternut Squash Risotto!

Good Evening Friends! Well it is time again for me to share with you my weekly adventures in the kitchen.

This week's challenge: Butternut Squash Risotto!

I have to say, after doing these challenges and others that I haven't blogged about, I am beginning to feel much more comfortable in my kitchen and cooking abilities. I used to think of myself a pretty good cook, but a lot of that cooking involved very simple recipes that didn't require much prep or concentration to make! Now that I am stepping outside my comfort zone and making more recipes from scratch, I am loving cooking more and more!

Ok onto the recipe! My neighbor and good friend, Emily, cooked this for our family for dinner one night a month or so ago and I have been wanting to try it out for myself ever since. I have never cooked squash or risotto before so this was definitely a challenging meal. This is another recipe from Allrecipes.com and I have once again modified it slightly to fit my family's needs and tastes.

First thing was first, I had to roast my butternut squash. I bought this little beauty at Trader Joe's a couple of weeks ago for only $1.50! I sliced it down the middle, scooped out all the seeds and goo, and placed both halves skin down in a pan with about 1/4 inch of water on the bottom. I brushed a thin layer of olive oil on the top of the "meaty" part and sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. Baked in the oven for 1 hour at 375 degrees. Once baked, the meat of the squash separates from the skin easily and since I was at the dentist getting my teeth cleaned my husband helped me out by mashing up the squash in a bowl. Overall I got about 2 1/2 cups of mashed squash.

You can find the original recipe HERE. This is how I modified it:

2 Tablespoons Butter

1/2 Onion - finely chopped

2 cups Arborio rice (Trader Joe's $2.99)

2 1/2 cups Mashed Butternut Squash

1/2 cup white wine (Thanks is due to my other neighbor, Trish, who luckily had some so I didn't have to make a last minute trip to the store!)

4 1/2 cups Organic, Free-Range Chicken Broth (Trader Joe's $1.98)

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese (bought previously for another recipe, spent $4)

Salt and Pepper to taste, and a sprinkle of garlic salt!

I read a few of the recipe's reviews and a lot of people actually reduced the broth to only 3 cups to make it creamier. Some others just doubled the rice and squash amounts. I kind of did a little of both. I also only added 1/2 the squash in the beginning and the other 1/2 near the end.

What I learned: Risotto is complicated! You have to stir it from pretty much start to finish, but it also turned out very creamy and yummy!

It's pretty a pretty healthy, vegetarian meal that can be served as a side dish or a main dish in itelf, which is what we did tonight. We had it with a slice of fresh $.99 french bread from Safeway. Next time, I will probably serve it with a piece of grilled chicken or something. But let me tell you, I am still FULL! Only a small amount and I was stuffed!

How much did it cost? Overall this dinner cost us about $8 and we have a TON of leftovers, plenty for a second dinner or a few lunches. I think I might actually try and freeze it!

How did your kitchen adventures go this week? Any successes or failures? Leave a comment!

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