Friday, April 22, 2011

Sweet Potato Risotto

I LOVE sweet potatoes!  They are so great because in my opinion they are, well, sweet!  I don't see a need to drown them in buter, sour cream, bacon...etc, or make a casserole combining them with more with brown sugar, butter and marshmellows.  In my opinion, it is completely unnessesary.  I realize for some people it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without the sweet potato casserole, so I set out to create a compromise. 

I also love rissotto.  What I don't love about rissotto is the bad rep it gets as being unhealthy.  Let's face it, most rissottos are; they use arborio rice, lots of butter, cream, and cheese.  I decided to use barley in lieu of arborio rice because of how nutritious it is in comparison, plus I thought the nutty flavor of the barley would compliment the sweet potato.  Insead of using lots of cream to sweeten this (even though I'm a using SWEET potato), I added just a touch of milk, a dash of cinammon, and alcohol (don't worry mom's, the alcohol cooks out of the dish, so it's safe to serve to the young ones).  If you really want to you can add a bit of cheese (Parmesan or Gruyere).  I added 2 Tbsp the first time I made it, but then ended up leaving the cheese out because, I just don't think it needs any.


4 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1 c. barley
1/2 c. champagne or sparkling wine
2 Tbsp. Rum
1 onion (diced)
1 sweet potato (diced)
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbs. milk
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp. fresh marjoram
1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. butter
Salt to taste
Dash of Cinnamon
Roasted Pecans


Dice the sweet potato and cook in hot water until potato pieces yield easily under the pressure of a fork or pairing knife.  Approximately 10 min.

Drain the water from the sweet potato. Put half of the potatoes into a food processor with some of the chicken broth and process until desired consistency. (You will use the other half of the sweet potato after the barely cooks to add to the texture, so I process mine until mostly smooth.) 

After the sweet potato is processed add it with the rest of the broth.

Meanwhile, roast your pecans on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for easy clean-up.

In a pot or a large pan over medium high heat, melt the butter.

After the butter stops bubbling, add the chopped onion and a pinch of salt.  Cook about 2 min or until the onion has softened.

Add the barley and stir until the butter has been absorbed and the barley begins to brown, about 3-4 min.

Add the champagne and rum and stir until absorbed.

Add the broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly.  Wait until the broth is fully absorbed before adding the next cup.  It will take several minutes each time.

As you add the last cup, the risotto should be viscous and the rice should be al dente.

Once the risotto is al dente, add the milk, cheese (if desired), black pepper, the white pepper, marjoram, thyme, cinnamon, and sweet potato cubes.  cover and turn down the heat to low and cook for 10 min.  

Salt to taste and top with roasted pecans.

I LOVED the results of the sweet potato rissotto!  To be fair, I guess I should serve it to someone who loves sweet potato casserole to see if it really is a compromise.  If I can find some room on the stove (always seems to be taken at our family Thanksgivings), you can bet I will be making this risotto!

Sweet potato risotto with steak, lobster, and brussel
 sprouts for Valentines Day 2011.

Dinner party at a friends house who made some awesome halibut and
bass with a pepper sauce to go with the Risotto. (shout out to Abe!)

Amanda's Tips:
There is a debate about whether or not you have to constantly stir risotto.  I have made it while stirring the entire time, and not stirring the entire time.  I can say that it makes a difference whether or not you stir.  It will still taste okay if you don't stir the entire time, and may even look the same, but believe me it is much better when it is stirred constantly.  For this reason when making risotto, it would be wise to enlist help in the kitchen either stirring or preparing the rest of the meal. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Stuffed Bell Peppers

So the other day I decided that I needed to make some time to cook.  I asked Raymond if I could cook dinner for him sometime that week.  His response "Can we have something normal?", my answer, "Sure!", what I meant, "Hmm, sure, but I'm still going to make something semi-creative that I'm going to pass off as normal".  The result, Stuffed Bell Peppers.  I'm guessing by the fact that Raymond had to stop himself from getting more that evening so that he could take some with him for lunch the next day means he was happy with my choice.  :-)

This recipe is written to make a lot of stuffed peppers and use all of the filling.  I made the assumption that Raymond and I would get tired of eating the stuffed peppers, so I split the recipe in half and used the leftover filling to make some tasty burritos throughout the rest of the week.


8 bell peppers, sliced in half and cored (I used green because that's what looked the best at the grocery store, but feel free to use your favorite)
2 c. Spanish rice, cooked

Meat Mixture:
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 taco seasoning packet
1 medium onion, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-oz can black beans, rinced
1 1/2 c. frozen corn kernels
1 can diced tomatoes

Meat mixture (about 4 cups)
1 1/3 c. shredded cheese of choice
2 c. Spanish rice
2 c. breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

4 tbs breadcrumbs
1/2 c. shredded cheese of choice

Cook the rice according to specific rice directions and set aside.

Brown the beef with the onions, jalapeno, and garlic.  Drain away the fat.

Add the taco seasoning and cook according to directions.

Add the black beans, corn, and tomatoes, mix and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile place the peppers, cut side up (on a foil lined baking sheet) in the oven and Broil for about 5-7 minutes.  Remove the peppers from the oven and set the temperature to 400 degrees-F.

Combine the rice, breadcrumbs, cheese, and meat mixture and mix.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pick up a heaping handful of the filling mixture and compress it slightly.  Stuff the filling mixture it into a pepper half and repeat with the remaining peppers until they are all filled.

Combine the rest of the cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle on top of the peppers.

Place the stuffed peppers in the oven for about 15 minutes.  Then turn the oven to broil and cook for about 3 minutes more.  This step is just to brown the top of the peppers and create a nice crisp crust to dig into.


Last weekend we also picked out our new place together (yey!), and I have come upon the realization that I will be moving soon (less than 2 months!!!).  I don't want to be moving my pantry with all my other things, so this is a great recipe to use up some of those canned goods from your pantry.  My goal is to use up all those things I've bought thinking "Oh it's on sale and I can use this to make such and such..." and then I never do.  So hopefully stay tuned for some more pantry cleaning out goodness!!  :-)

Amanda's Tips:
When cooking onions and garlic together, always start the garlic when the onions are almost done cooking.  Garlic burns easily and only needs to cook for 2 minutes or so.