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Butternut Squash Risotto - Meatballs&Milkshakes

This was an incredibly easy weeknight dinner after a week of long and involved meals. You can also potentially use up holiday leftovers, since I pre-roasted the squash the day before and added the mashed squash right at the end. It still has all the holiday flavors, but it’s great all winter long.

Butternut Squash Risotto

1/2 butternut squash

2 cups arborio rice

zest and juice of 1 orange

3 tablespoons fresh thyme

1/2 cup white wine

2 cups chicken stock, homemade or store-bought, warmed in the microwave or on the stove (you could substitute vegetable stock to make it vegetarian)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 shallot, minced

1 cup grated parmesan

Roast the squash in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes on a baking sheet with some of the olive oil brushed over it. It will become soft and you can scoop out the flesh. Mash up the squash well.

Meanwhile, saute the shallot and garlic in the remaining olive oil. Once they have softened, add the rice and allow to toast for a minute until they start to look a little translucent. Add the white wine and allow to cook down. Add the thyme and a little chicken stock. Continue to add stock slowly as it cooks away. It should have enough liquid to just cover, about the consistency of oatmeal.

When the rice is almost al dente, add the orange juice and zest along with the mashed squash. Stir to combine and allow to cook together for the last few minutes. Off the heat, stir in the parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and serve.

Butternut Squash Risotto - Meatballs&Milkshakes

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It’s time for another recipe upgrade. I love making stuffed mushrooms, and they’re so quick on a weeknight. I wrote this recipe a while back, but it needed better pictures.

For the nights when I don’t want meat, these fill their place easily. I sometimes change up the ingredients in the stuffing depending on what I have lying around. If you wanted to add some meat, you could add some rendered sausage or bacon, or even just sliced prosciutto.

Stuffed Mushrooms

2 portobello mushrooms

1 shallot or 1/4 of an onion, minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon chopped thyme

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated parmesan or grana padano

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove stems from mushrooms, chop them up and reserve for the stuffing. Brush the mushrooms with the balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until they start to give up some of their liquid.

Meanwhile, combine the chopped stems with the shallot, garlic, thyme, breadcrumbs, cheese, and parsley. Add salt and pepper to season. Stuff the mushrooms with the mixture and drizzle the remaining olive oil on their tops. Roast for another 10-15 minutes, until they start to brown on top. You can also use the broiler to get a nice brown on top if necessary.

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I love mushrooms. Except for shitakes and button mushrooms. More often than not, I pair them with marsala and thyme or rosemary. They just go so well together and give everything a nice meaty, earthy flavor.

Occasionally I treat myself to some beautiful varieties at the farmers market, and this week I got some hen of the woods, oyster, and crimini mushrooms. Since I’m trying to keep from eating pasta this week, which would be my natural go-to with such lovely mushrooms, I decided to make some crostini. The bread was from the bread-making class I took at Le Pain Quotidien last week, and it was airy and delicious. A perfect little appetizer.

Wild Mushroom Crostini

1 pound assorted mushrooms

1 shallot, sliced thinly

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1/2 cup sherry or marsala wine

1 tablespoon minced rosemary

baguette slices (toasted or untoasted, your choice)

extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil for drizzling

Saute the shallot in a little olive oil for a few minutes until softened and add the mushrooms. Allow them to caramelize and develop some color before moving them. Once they are cooked through, add the garlic, rosemary, and marsala. Let the liquid cook off and them spoon over baguette slices. Drizzle with olive oil or truffle oil and enjoy!

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After the crab cakes and spicy crab pasta, I wanted to make a version of crab imperial I saw on Saveur. I changed it quite a bit, and it really became more dip than main course. I will definitely be trying something like this again because it’s one of the few dips that doesn’t use sour cream or cream cheese, two things I hate. (I know, I’m weird) Surprisingly, this dip doesn’t have any cheese, but the bechamel sauce gives it a richness that might make you think it does.

Crab imperial Dip

1/2 pound crabmeat

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon flour

3/4 cup heavy cream

1.5 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce

1/4 cup Sherry

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Juice of half a lemon

1 shallot, minced

1/4 cup finely chopped eggplant

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon minced thyme

In a little olive oil, saute the shallot, garlic, and eggplant until it becomes soft, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in thyme and remove from heat.

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, combine the flour and butter and let cook until it browns a little and becomes the consistency of wet sand. Whisk in the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper. Allow to thicken, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the crab, Sherry, Worchestershire, half the panko, paprika, cayenne, and sauteed vegetables. Stir to combine. Add the lemon at the last second and pour into baking dish. Top with the panko and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes or until browned on top. Let cool a little before eating.

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After the crab cakes a couple days ago, I moved on to a pasta recipe with the crab meat in the fridge. I saw Mario Batali make a version of this on The Chew and everyone was raving about it, so naturally I had to try it. His version included a habanero chili as well, but I’m a little afraid of them (or at least my stomach is…) so I stuck to jalapenos. Feel free to use one if you’re into that sort of thing. He also uses cilantro, but I didn’t have any around and I’m not that big a fan of it unless we’re talking Mexican food. Either way, it’s a great, quick dish and I’ll be making it again.

Spicy Pasta with Crab

1/2 pound crab meat, preferably Dungeness

1/2 pound tagliatelle, tajarin, or other long pasta

1 clove garlic, sliced

2 shallots or cippolini onions

1 jalapeno, minced

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped (optional)

basil leaves and chili flakes for garnish

Roast the shallots or onions in foil in a 425 degree oven for half an hour until they are soft and you can easily remove the skin. Let them cool and chop them up.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for 1 minute less than the package instructions. Meanwhile, saute the garlic, jalapeno, and onions in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add the crab meat and stir through. Add a cup of the pasta cooking water and let it cook down for a minute. Add the drained pasta and reserve some more water in case you need it. Add the cilantro if using it, and toss. Remove from the heat and add a splash of olive oil along with basil leaves and chili flakes for garnish.

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My burgers are always a big hit and I keep my dad’s secret guarded very closely. I’m not sure if I will post that recipe at some point, but for now, it’s a secret. Sorry!

For now, you’ll have to try these delicious lamb burgers. I like lamb because it’s rather lean and flavorful with a gamey quality that I really like. It tends to get pretty dry if you overcook, so keep them closer to rare and they’ll stay nice and moist. Perfect for your next gathering, whether it’s basketball, oscars, or bbq!

Lamb Burgers

1 pound ground lamb

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 tablespoons chopped mint

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 shallot, minced

1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce

4 burger buns or 8 slider buns

1/4 cup plain yogurt

Combine the lamb, garlic, shallot, salt, Worchestershire, tomato paste, and half the mint together in a bowl. Mix together with a fork, being careful not to over mix the meat. Form into burgers or sliders and grill on a grill pan or grill for 3 minutes on the first side and then an additional minute on the second side. You want to start seeing the juices coming to the surface and the bottom browning before you flip. You know they’re done to medium rare when they are still somewhat soft to the touch like pushing where your thumb meets your palm.

Combine the rest of the mint and the parsley with the yogurt. Spoon onto the burger and enjoy!

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I’ve been thinking about slow roasting a pork shoulder for a while now. I’ve always thought it was some big endeavor with an expensive piece of meat, but it turns out I was totally wrong. The meat was very inexpensive and it couldn’t have been easier. A dry rub on the outside, and you put it in the oven for a good long time. It comes out glistening and golden with a meaty, heavenly aroma that perfumes the whole apartment. No one can resist picking at it before it cools, either. And pork shoulder is so versatile, you could make it into tacos or any other Mexican food, or you could make a ragu, bbq pulled pork, or anything else porky you can think of.

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder

1 pork shoulder

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon ground pepper

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon coriander

1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper

1 tablespoon cayenne

1/4 cup brown sugar

4 sprigs of rosemary

6 garlic cloves, chopped

Combine the spices, brown sugar, and garlic together. Score the skin through the fat layer but not into the meat in about a 1 inch cross-hatch. Rub the spice rub all over the pork shoulder, making sure to get inside the cuts. Place the shoulder into a baking dish with some of the rosemary sprigs below. Add a couple on top and a couple extra whole garlic cloves if you want.

Put in a 350 degree oven for 4-5 hours, until the meat is tender and you can pull it apart with a fork. The skin should be crispy and the meat moist.

Pork Tacos

2-3 ounces shredded roasted pork shoulder

2 tablespoons grated cheddar

1 corn tortilla

2 tablespoons guacamole

hot sauce

Put the tortilla in a frying pan with a sprinkle of olive oil and spread the grated cheddar on top. The tortilla will brown a little and the cheese will melt. Remove from the pan and add the warm pork along with the guacamole and a sprinkle of hot sauce. Or add any other toppings you like for tacos!

Guacamole

1 avocado

Juice and zest of 2 limes

1 shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey

1 teaspoon aleppo pepper or cayenne if you like it spicier

1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the lime, shallot, and garlic together and let sit for 20 minutes so the shallot and garlic soften and bloom. Add the avocado, spices, agave, and olive oil and mash together with a fork. Add the tomatoes and stir through gently. Let sit for at least an hour for best flavor.

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