Before I jump into this post, I want to address the photography and overall format of this blog. Let’s just say that I understand it’s “meh”. I’m not the best with technology, I don’t have the capacity to take staged photos and doctor them (unless it’s on my iPhone with a filter), and I just don’t have the time right now to make Simply in the Flavor “pretty”. But hey, she’s got a really great personality. She’s super friendly and honest, and she tries hard. So, give her a chance and see where she goes! Maybe she’ll become more attractive as you get to know her! And maybe one day she’ll get a makeover and be real pretty. But for now…this is what it is.
Now, onto business…My friends often ask me how I’m able to “whip up” such “elaborate” meals on weeknights and manage to make my daughter’s food from scratch.
1. I love to cook – getting into the kitchen is relaxing for me. Chopping and cutting over a glass of wine or a bourbon on the rocks is something I actually enjoy. “Me” time these days is so limited. Today I found myself looking forward to a long subway ride so I could catch up on a stack of magazines without my baby or my husband talking to me. Because you know, sometimes I don’t want to talk to them. Or anyone for that matter.
2. It’s mostly an illusion because NOTHING that I make is difficult – and I whenever I’m cooking for me and Neil (the husband) I try to incorporate food that our daughter will eat. It’s like a two-for-one deal. Along with buying in bulk and coupons, two-for-one deals are my favorite. Basically I create a base meal that is baby friendly and then doctor up the adult portion. See below.
This week’s recipe post is an adaptation from two different recipes. I wanted to make risotto, but good lord – it’s a PAIN IN THE ASS. So I googled “easy risotto recipes” and wouldn’t you know, the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten had a recipe for Easy Parmesan “Risotto”. I also wanted to stock up my freezer meals for Isla. Every few weeks I make a bunch of food for her (in kitchen products that I already owned – NOT in fancy baby food makers…post on that to come next Monday) and throw it in our freezer. I also like to make a lot of food in general and have leftovers. Because leftovers are easy. And time is of the essence these days. The Baby & Toddler Cookbook has a risotto recipe that looked pretty tasty. I set out to combine the two recipes. I had some frozen butternut squash and spinach on hand (prepackaged frozen vegetables are a godsend…do you know how time consuming it is to peel and cut a butternut squash? VERY)… and off I went.
Two-in-One Vegetable Risotto
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 4-5 adults servings & 2 cups of baby risotto
1 and 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
4 cups low-sodium Vegetable broth
1 cup water simmering water, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
16 oz package frozen butternut squash
16 oz package frozen spinach
1 shallot finely diced
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Bring 4 cups of vegetable broth to a simmer in a Dutch Oven. Add the rice, cover and bake in oven for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente. Look, I’ll be honest. I just left it alone for 45 minutes and the rice got overcooked. And it was still delicious.
Meanwhile, place frozen butternut squash and spinach in a colander in sink. Run hot water over vegetables until slightly tender – the middle of squash and some chunks of spinach can still be frozen. Bring a medium skillet to medium-high heat. Drizzle 2 teaspoons olive oil in pan and allow to heat for a moment. Stir in squash and spinach. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover pan for 2-3 minutes. Once vegetables are completely cooked, remove from pan and scoop onto separate plate. Set aside one cup for baby’s risotto – we will get back to this. In the same pan, add remaining olive oil and diced shallots. Cook until translucent and add the remaining butternut squash and risotto. Season with salt and pepper. Guys, I added truffle salt. Because I add truffle salt to everything. Because why not?
Remove rice from oven and slowly add simmering water (OK, OK. I didn’t use simmering water. I just used lukewarm tap water). Rice might be caked to the bottom of the Dutch oven, but slowly stir in water and it will break it right up. My risotto wasn’t that thirsty, so I only added 3/4 cup water. Just keep stirring in water until you like the consistency of what you have. Don’t worry too much! Relax! Remove 1 cup of rice and set aside. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to remaining rice in Dutch oven and stir. Add 1 teaspoon of butter to the 1 cup of rice for baby and stir.
Add the 1 cup of vegetables that you set aside to the 1 cup of baby’s buttered risotto and stir. Set in refrigerator and forget about it for a while.
Get back to your adult meal. Stir in 3/4 cup parmesan cheese to rice. Mmmmmmm. Add the vegetables from your pan to the pot of rice and stir. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Done and done! I served this with simple salmon and baked cod.
When you’re read, remove baby risotto from fridge and if necessary, puree to texture that is appropriate for your baby and freeze in ice cube trays for easy individual servings. Yes, regular ice cube trays. You don’t need fancy “baby” freezer trays.