I’m Weirdly Proud of my Grown Up Taste Buds

I don’t like butternut squash. Haven’t since I was a kid. I couldn’t even be tempted with the whole toasted-marshmallows-on-top trick that my mom tried to pull when it wasn’t even Thanksgiving just to make her kids eat some damn squash. There have been a (very) few exceptions–most notably, a butternut squash soup my sister-in-law made for Thanksgiving one year (which blew my mind and made me hesitantly approach the …gourd? going forward). I have a pretty decent recipe for maple-roasted squash, and I did try sneaking some into a mac’n’cheese dish once. I’m still not crazy about butternut squash and prefer to avoid it when possible.

Pivot:
The other day, my husband is listing out what he’s just picked up from the grocery store that we could make for dinner: “some more veggie burgers, tofu for that one dish, raviolis, soyrizo that you love…” and I’m thinking about the doctor’s appointment I have after work and how lovely it will be to get home and cook up those tasty ravs so fast.

I get home, and he’s telling me about his day and I’m like “time-out, lets get those raviolis cookin! What kind did you get? Butternut squash?”

PAUSE.

Backstory:
My husband and I play a little game whenever we go to Trader Joe’s and look at their raviolis. He always says “butternut squash ravioli! you love that, right?” and I say some variation of *puke emoji* and tell him I’ll try literally any other ravioli “flavor” just not that one.

RESUME.

Guys, guess wtf kind of ravioli is in my fridge? Butternut-freakin-Squash Ravioli.

My husband’s exact words: “I thought you love butternut squash ravioli?? Whoops! I can’t ever remember whether you love it or hate it.”

To be fair, there are things I can’t remember for MYSELF that he has to remind me of. I do not like blood orange flavoring. Or mango salsa. Or pumpkin anything that isn’t bread or pie (or *maybe* beer–damn’t, that’s one of the things I need him to remember for me, do I love or hate pumpkin beer??). I love the IDEA of these things, which means I always forget I do not enjoy their actual tastes. So he can be forgiven for having a confusing food associated with me. There are a lot of them.

 

Oh yeah, all of that is to say, I tossed those ravs with some butter, oregano, pinch of salt, dash of turmeric, topped with fresh ground pepper and shaved Parmesan cheese and holy moly they were really freakin’ good! I’m adding this to my “I’m an adult now” palette, right alongside the stouts and porters I’ve been enjoying lately out of the blue.

 

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Whiskey Mushroom Risotto *Updated with Photos*

Guys, last night, I made something pretty fantastic. I did not take any pictures because I wasn’t sure it would turn out well (and then once we knew it turned out well, we were too busy scarfing it down to pause for artistry). I promise to update this with pics the next time I make the dish — which will probably be pretty soon since my husband loves Mushroom Risotto.

Usually when we make risotto, I saute the mushrooms in red wine and butter the way my mama taught me (with a nice large glass for myself, of course). Last night, we were out of Red. I had an opened bottle of White I usually use in soups and such, but it struck me that we have a full liquor cabinet that gets almost no cooking love from us at all. I made the off-handed suggestion of trying whiskey in place of wine, to which my husband enthusiastically agreed. He set about stirring that risotto like a champion, and I tasted my options and settled on Eagle Rare for this dish.

There’s only the barest hint of grains on the tail end of the dish, enough to notice but not enough to overwhelm. The whiskey mixes deliciously with a pinch of thyme and the melted butter, and gets absorbed at the last minute by the fat risotto grains. Even if you don’t like drinking whiskey (I personally am not a fan), give this dish a try!

Whiskey Mushroom Risotto – serves 4

1 tbs Olive Oil
1 cup Arborio Rice (Risotto)
3 cups Chicken Broth
2 tbs butter
2 shots of whiskey (I used Eagle Rare, but a cheaper brand would probably work just as well)
1 package Sliced White Mushrooms
1 tsp Dried Thyme
Pinch of Kosher Salt and Fresh-Cracked Pepper

  1. Heat olive oil in sauce pan over Medium. Add the risotto and saute ~2 minutes, until they start to turn golden.
  2. Add 1 cup of broth, stirring constantly until all absorbed. Add another cup of broth. Continue until all broth has been absorbed.
  3. Meanwhile, melt butter in saute pan over slightly more than Medium (but not quite Medium-High).
  4. Add whiskey and mushrooms. Toss to coat.
  5. Saute 3-4 minutes, until mushrooms start to soften.
  6. Add thyme, salt and pepper. Continue sauteing until mushrooms are soft and brown, ~3-4 more minutes.
  7. Pour mushrooms and remaining sauce over the risotto. Stir until liquid mostly absorbed. Can garnish with a sprinkle of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese and sprig of fresh thyme.

*NOTE: If you can get yourself a risotto-stirrer, it makes everything so much easier. In the past, my husband and I have traded off turns stirring, but this time he did it the entire time like some sort of Herculean hero, and it was amazing. For me. He complained of a sore arm, but I was too busy enjoying our culinary masterpiece to pay attention.

My risotto stirrer hard at work

I should probably learn how to plate better

Dinner So Easy My Husband Could Do It

I was going to say “so easy your husband could do it,” but that implies husbands can’t cook which is sexist and also a complete falsehood. However, mine is culinary impaired so I really mean it when I say this dinner is so easy. It’s all about spaghetti squash, man!

  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Grape Tomatoes (like maybe a pint? You know how you and your family feel about tomatoes. Make that many.)
  • Pesto (I use the jarred stuff; you can make this yourself if you feel ambitious but I didn’t, and my husband certainly would not)
  1. Preheat your oven to 400
  2. Slice a large spaghetti squash (what is a large spaghetti squash? Yeah, no clue. Ours was the size of a Tom Brady football [#toosoon?] and it gave us 3 heaping servings. But seriously, I’d say a little smaller than a football. Or a little larger than a Game of Thrones dragon egg [because that reference is so much more helpful].) oh shoot, I didn’t finish this sentence: so, slice that bad boy lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. I threw most of them away but one stuck to my finger so I ate it and it was as delicious as a pumpkin seed so I wish I’d saved them and dried them. Your call.
  3. Put the halves cut-side-up on a baking sheet and rub the flesh with oil (that sounds super gross and somewhat Silence of the Lambs-y so sorry ’bout it). I also sprinkled salt and pepper over them, but that’s optional.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes
  5. You can prep the grape tomatoes by tossing them with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. You’ll pop these in the oven (set to 350) when you take out your squash.
  6. Once the squash is done, let it sit and cool while the tomatoes roast (like 10 minutes). Then use a fork to scrape out the guts into a large bowl. The squash gets all stringy, hence the name. Once you’re all scraped out, discard the skins (sorry, I’m still thinking about Silence of the Lambs I guess). Toss the squash with a couple spoon-scoops of pesto. Kind of like with the tomatoes, you know how you feel about pesto. Use that much.
  7. Top the squash with the roasted tomatoes, then sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top (and more salt & pepper, if you’re obsessed like me).

PS: if you transfer the squash halves to a plate and use the same baking sheet (covered in foil) to roast the tomatoes, it makes clean up easier. Although I just realized you’ll probably get squash guts on the plate, meaning you still have two things to wash regardless. Ah well, what do I know, my husband does the clean up.