Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mushroom Risotto

Honestly, this little cooking phase I have going on might last longer than my typical phases.  And I'm okay with that. 
And just as a disclaimer, I'm not becoming a food blogger by any means.  It just seems to be the current highlight and topic of discussion at our house.  Otherwise all I'd be talking about day in and day out is my many emails I sent, how many documents completed and filed....that sort of thing.  Don't get me wrong, it's a great job and I am so grateful for it.  But probably not the most exciting stuff to fill this ol' family blog full of.
Anyway, back to the food.  I first tried Risotto a couple of months back when some friends of ours had us over for dinner.  She made a butternut squash risotto full of goat cheese and bacon and it was incredible!  It was love at first bite. ;)  But seriously, it was like heaven.  So naturally, I decided to try my hand at it.  I made a recipe similar to hers and though the end result was tasty, the process was a disaster.  It tooke me some 3+ hours to make that dang Risotto.  Not sure why it took that long but I decided that I wasn't cut out for Risotto.
Well, in planning my menu last week I stumbled upon a yummy Mushroom Risotto and decided I'd give it a try again.  And this time it was so easy! Took me about 45 minutes start to finish and it turned out super yummy!  I guess it's all in the way the liquid is added and making sure the rice has absorbed each portion before adding more.  Anyway, another recipe that I am dying to make again!

Mushroom Risotto
from Martha Stewart
>> 3 quarts water
>> 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
>> 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
** I had a hard time finding the dried porcini mushrooms so I substituted vegetable broth and let the peppercorns simmer in it for about 30 minutes and that seemed to work.**
>> 1 stick unsalted butter
>> 8 ounces mixed fresh mushrooms **I am going to double or maybe even triple this next time. I love me some mushrooms.**
>> 1 medium onion, finely chopped
>> Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
>> 2 cups Arborio Rice
>> 1 cup dry white wine
>> 1 cup grate Parmesan cheese
>> Garnish: shaved Parmesan cheese
1.  Bring water, dried porcini mushrooms, and peppercorns to a boil in a medium pot.  Reduce heat, and simmer gently for 1 hour.  Strain stock (you should have 7 to 8 cups); discard solids.  Return to pot; cover to keep warm.  **Substitute with 8 cups vegetable broth and simmer with peppercorns for 30 minutes**
2.  Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook mixed mushrooms until tender and slightly browned all over, about 3 minutes; transfer to a plate.
3.  Melt 3 tablespoons butter in saucepan over medium heat.  Cook onion until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt.  Stir in rice, and cook until coated, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add wine, and cook until almost completely absorbed, 3 to 4 minutes.
4.  Ladle 1 cup reserved stock over riced, and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until almost completely absorbed.  Continue adding stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly and waiting for each addition to be almost completely absorbed before adding the next, until grains are al dente (firm but not crunchy) about 30 minutes.  You'll probably only use 6 to 7 cups stock.  Add remaining stock to loosen risotto, if desired.
5.  Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper.  Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the grated Parmesan.  Top risotto with sauteed mushrooms (reheat if necessary), and garnish with shaved Parmesan. 
ENJOY! xoxo

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Potato Corn Chowder

As you can see, I'm going through somewhat of a cooking phase.  Not sure how it started but I do know Preston is happy about this current obsession.  And I'm happy because I feel like I'm being a better wife by making a homemade dinner a couple nights a week.  Too bad for both of us that these phases don't last forever. 

This soup was packed full of flavor.  I will definitely make it again but next time I think I would only do half as much cayenne pepper as it calls for. It was a bit on the spicy side.  I also think it would be pretty tasty with a little sausage mixed in.  But it was perfect for the cooler Fall weather we have been having! 

**And I just re-read the recipe and I totally made it wrong.  I wondered why my soup was such a dark red when the picture that I saw of this same recipe showed more of a white, creamy color.  Well.....I added all of the Creole seasoning mixture, instead of the 1 1/2 tsp that the recipe calls for.  So it shouldn't have been as spicy as it was and when I make it next I'm sure it will have just a hint of flavor rather than pack such a hefty punch.  Our stomachs are hurting over here, to say the least. This is a classic Sydney move in the kitchen.  Preston got a kick (and a stomach ache) out of that one! Maybe this phase should end sooner rather than later after all..... Without further adieu, the Potato Corn Chowder. Expect yours to look different than the picture below. ;)

Potato Corn Chowder
from Damn Delicious

>> 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
>> 1 large leek, thinly sliced
>> 1 large red bell pepper, diced
>> 2 cups milk
>> 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
>> 3 cups vegetable broth
>> 2 cups roasted corn kernels
>> 2 pounds red potatoes, cubed
>> 1 1/2 teaspoons Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning
>> 3/4 teaspoon thyme
>> 3/4 teaspoon salt
>> Chopped fresh chives, for garnish
>> Parmesan cheese, for topping

For Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning:
>> 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
>> 2 tablespoons garlic powder
>> 2 tablespoons salt
>> 1 tablespoon onion powder
>> 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
>> 1 tablespoon oregano
>> 1 tablespoon thyme
>> 1 tablespoon black pepper

1. To make Emeril's Essence, combine paprika, garlic powder, salt, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme and pepper; set aside.

2. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add leeks and bell pepper and cook stirring occasionally until tender.  Gradually whisk in milk and flour, and cook, whisking constantly until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes.  Stir in vegetable broth, corn kernels, potatoes, Emeril's Essence (1 1/2 tsp), thyme, and salt.

3. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20-30 minutes.  

Serve immediately, garnish with chives and parmesan cheese.

ENJOY! And make sure not to add too much creole seasoning....xoxo :)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sweet Potato & Chipotle Soup

I was a little skeptical on how this would turn out because it resembled baby food a little too much but it was fabulous and easy, that's always a bonus.  :)  It tasted like Fall.  Definitely something I will be adding to our family recipe book and making over and over again.

Sweet Potato & Chipotle Soup
from Martha Stewart

>> 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
>> 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
>> Salt & pepper, to taste
>> 2 teaspoons ground cumin
>> 2 garlic cloves, minced
>> 4 medium sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut
>> 1 chipotle chile in adobo (do 1/2 if you want less heat)
>> 7 cups chicken broth
>> Sour Cream, for serving
>> Bread or Tortilla wedges, for garnish

1.  In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion, season with salt and pepper and cook until edges begin to brown, about 7 minutes.  Add cumin and garlic and cook, while stirring, about 1 minute until fragrant.  Stir in sweet potatoes, chile, and broth.  Bring to a boil. Cook until sweet potatoes can be mashed easily with a spoon, about 20 minutes.

2.  Allow soup to cool slightly.  Transfer in batches to a blender and puree until smooth.  Return pureed soup to pot over low heat and season with additional salt and pepper.  Top soup with sour cream and serve with bread or tortilla wedges. 

ENJOY! Let me know if you try it! xoxo

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Red Rock Relay

It seems to be becoming more of a habit for me to sign up for a race and avoid training for it....I'm slowly but surely learning my lesson.  I think.
Last month I was able to run the Red Rock Relay with some of my co-workers.  Little did I know that I would be running with some pretty incredible runners, like 7 minute mile pace type runners.  Let's just say that when they finish running a mile, it would be another 3-4 minutes before I were to finish that same mile.  Ya with me?  I'm a little slower of a pace to say the least.  And I'm actually fine with that but with this race I was feeling a little bit like the caboose of the team.  The slow poke.  The only person that had to take a break and walk mid-leg (and during said walk, have my teammates drive by and see me walking....).  Yeah, my procrastination bit me in the butt this time.  I've made some new goals in the fitness department, one of which is increasing my stamina, endurance, and speed.
But I digress.  The race was a blast.  I'm a huge advocate of races like this.  I feel like they give you more of an idea of what your body is capable of doing and for me, encourage me to push myself harder.  Ideally that should happen before the race during training time but for me always happens when the race is over. :)  Oh well.  It was a blast to run through such beautiful scenery and get to know the people I work with a little better.

Preston came down for the race to take pictures and be my cheerleader.  And he even added some little members to his team - our nieces, Kiley & Amy. :) 

Clearly enjoying myself.....haha

While I was basically killing myself, Preston was with his brother and sister in law and their cute girls enjoying the scenery. 

28 hours later and we were finished.  Pretty sure those are fake smiles.  I was completely exhausted and unable to move for a day or two (or three).  

On the way home, Preston texted this ^^ picture to me with the caption "Is it dead or alive?".  I was completely out.  This is a more accurate representation of how I really felt.  Would I do it again?  Absolutely. :)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Homemade Bread

Successes in the kitchen are few and far between for me so I feel the need to share a good recipe when I find one. :)  This one has quickly become a family favorite for us.
Homemade Bread

>> 5 3/4 to 6 1/4 cups all purpose flour
>> 1 package (equivalent to 2 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
>> 2 1/4 cups milk or buttermilk
>> 2 tablespoons sugar
>> 1 tablespoon butter, margarine, or shortening
>> 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1.  In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups flour and the yeast and set aside.  In a saucepan, heat and stir milk, sugar, butter, and salt until warm (120-130 degrees).  Add milk mixture to flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds.  Beat on high for 3 minutes.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as possible.

2.  Knead dough for about 7 minutes, adding in as much of the remaining flour as possible.  Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl, covered, and let rise for 1 hour. 

3.  Punch dough down and divide in two.  Cover, let rest 10 minutes.

4.  Shape each half of dough into a loaf and place in prepared greased loaf pans.  Cover and let rise another 30 minutes. 

5.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes.  For the last 10 minutes of baking, I cover the bread with tin foil to keep it from getting too dark.  Remove immediately from pans and cool on a wire rack.  Slap some butter on a warm slice and you'll be in heaven!  ENJOY!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Welcome Fall!

Last night we did something that is socially unacceptable here in Utah Valley....we skipped the rivalry game between BYU and UTAH.  I guess you could say we aren't the biggest football fans in our house, but we're working on it.  Just kidding, we're not working on it at all.  Oh well.
Instead of watching the game, we snuck away for an evening at Sundance for the full moon lift rides.  Usually it is pretty busy up there but with the game being the same night, we lucked out and there was hardly even a crowd.  I didn't realize it at the time but last night was the last night of Summer.  I couldn't have spent it better had I actually planned it.  We picked up some burgers before heading up the canyon and ate them out on the deck at the base of the mountain.  I love visiting Sundance in the summer.  It's so peaceful and quiet.  We hiked around a little bit and I was just in awe of the beauty up there.  I have definitely added a new item to my bucket list: a weekend getaway in one of those cute cabins!  I was dying over how picture perfect everything looked and will now be saving my pennies for a little vacay there one day. :)
The weather could not have been more perfect last night either.  It was just chilly enough to use a blanket on the lift ride.  It was almost as if mother nature was giving us a glimpse of what lies ahead for fall with that slightly cooler air.  It was the perfect way to say goodbye to summer and made me ready for this new season.  So bring on the boots and oversized sweaters! I'm ready!

Happy First Day of Fall! xo

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


                                             ^^Hobble Creek^^
As soon as school started back up for Preston it seems like our life instantly became insanely busy.  He is working and going to school full time.  I am working full time.  He has a calling at church that keeps him on his toes.  I keep thinking of every project under the sun.  He became a beekeeper this year (can't believe I haven't posted about that) and he just extracted his first bit of honey.  I have a business idea that I can't seem to quit thinking about.  We clean our house one day and half the time you can't even tell we did the next day.  We have good intentions of getting to bed early, getting up early and going to the gym but more often than not, it just doesn't happen. 
The point is, we are busy.  And some days it is all a bit overwhelming.  For me, most of the time all of my busy-ness is self-inflicted.  As soon as a new project or hobby pops into my head, I have to do it right away or else it drives me crazy.  Lucky for me I have a very patient and loving husband who is the perfect soundboard and hug-giver whenever I need it.  I try to be the same for him but I know I fall short sometimes. 
Anyways, life is hard.  It just is.  But it's so good at the same time. 
We took a drive up Hobble Creek Canyon last night so I could take some pictures for a photography class I am taking (ahem, self-inflicted busy-ness) and we were amazed that Fall is already here! The colors of the leaves are changing and the air is feeling crisper.  We are just itching to go camping before the snow gets here!  It made me realize that even though life is busy now, I don't want to take it for granted.  I don't want to wish for these days to be over.  I want to enjoy them and live in the moment.  So if life is going to be busy right now, then by all means be busy.  But we are going to have fun amidst all of the busy. :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Labor Day Weekend

I seem to be having a hard time pulling the computer away from Preston now that school has started, making my blog posts few and far between.  Guess I need a computer of my own... hint, hint Preston :)  I'll make this short and sweet so Preston can get back to his homework.

We spent Labor Day Weekend down in Moab and Lake Powell.  We had such a great time!  We are so used to going to Moab and only being there for 24 hours each time so it was nice to actually spend some time down there and get to relax (aka sleep in :).  I spent some quality time with my nieces, letting them play with my old American Girl dolls.  They were ecstatic.  They ask me to play with them all the time and I finally gave in. :)  They were in heaven and I loved watching them play.  We had a farewell to summer BBQ of sorts with both of our families in my parent's backyard.  Not only did it make me want summer to last forever but it made me yearn for the day that I have a backyard (with grass) to hold BBQ's like that.  I can't wait!  And last, but certainly not least, Labor Day was spent playing at Lake Powell.  It is one of my favorite places and I hadn't been there in 2 years so it was long overdue!  We had an absolute blast.

Aaanndd since I'm falling asleep writing this, let the photo overload commence :)

^^decisions, decisions^^

^^love these sweet girls.^^

^^she loved being like the big girls^^

^^mommy in training^^


^^some very wonderful people all captured in one photo^^

^^love this spunky little girl...who is starting to be not so little anymore :(^^

^^love her!!^^



^^cute hubby and his daddy. blurry but still a goody^^

^^love my mom's face in this one.^^

^^beer battered onion rings!^^

^^beautiful setting^^

^^sad this turned out blurry but I love the happiness in their faces^^

^^london & stephen's headstand contest^^

^^no words^^

^^we like Lake Powell for different reasons but that's okay, we both get to do what we love in the same place.^^

^^cute girlies^^

^^millie in her life jacket.  call us crazy dog people if you want but it's still funny :)^^

^^my love^^

Weekends like this are my absolute favorite!  Not sure why every day can't be like these ones ;)

Happy Monday! xo


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