- 2-3 lbs bone-in chicken breasts, thighs, or legs (I prefer skin off)
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- Several tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
- ~1/2 cup to 1 cup whiskey (or however much you have)
- 1 jar peach preserves
- 1 bottle sweet barbecue sauce
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
- S&P to taste
I went on a major risotto kick in Italy. I seriously couldn’t stop eating it – suddenly I wanted it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with shrimp, with marinara, with asparagus, with squash. Lobster? Throw it in there, I’ll eat it.
I am back from Italy now, and back to reality. At least risotto reality. Shrimp and lobster seem a little time intensive when not prepared by the authentic Italian chefs of Lake Como, and I don’t think I could get John to eat butternut squash risotto (though I intend to try). Thus, that leaves me with asparagus risotto – simple, delicious, and a real crowd pleaser. Yes, I’ll make that. Added bonus: Risotto is naturally gluten-free, for those concerned.
Even though there are a million things you can do to dress up risotto, it is all cooked the same way for the most part. You melt a little butter, coat the risotto in it, and then continuously add liquid (chicken broth is the best choice) for about 20 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked. Here, I will outline the whole process for you, as I didn’t realize it was that simple until I made 6 different varieties and connected the dots. Ahhhh, boy am I smart.
Let’s get started….
- 1 lb asparagus
- 3 tablespoons 1 tsp melted butter
- 1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 3 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
- 1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
First, prepare the asparagus. Chop them into about 1/2 inch pieces (or larger if you prefer – I don’t know how big your mouth is). Bring a pot of water to boiling; throw the asparagus in there and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and immediately throw them into a bowl of ice water. This keeps them looking green and pretty, which you would recognize in the photo below if I were a better photographer. Bright green. Drain and set aside.
Next, add the wine, and stir until absorbed by the rice. From there, add the heated stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring each time until absorbed. The amount of stock in the recipe is approximate; continue cooking rice and adding stock for about 15-20 minutes, until the rice is tender (but not mushy). I used exactly 3 1/2 cups stock and it turned out perfect. During the last round of adding chicken broth, I threw in the mushrooms so they would cook in the broth for a couple of minutes. When the rest of the broth is absorbed, add the asparagus and turn off the heat. Stir in the remaining butter and parmesan. Generously salt and pepper.
Our wedding was a blast. Yes, I am biased, but I truly believe that overall, everyone had a blast. I clearly did, as evidenced in this photo:
And this photo:
In my mind, there are 3 essential elements for a successful wedding. Plenty of booze, good dancing music, and delicious food. As this is a cooking blog and not a drinking or dancing blog (although maybe it should be), I would like to focus on the food aspect of our wedding.
People are still talking about the dinner that was served at our wedding – I have received so many compliments not only on the deliciousness of it, but the choices. The food really was amazing, Chef Danny at our Country Club is one ridiculous cook. But the choices were really the key – they were fun, different, and everybody found something they loved. Our approach was to do all of ‘our favorite things’….well, not ALL of our favorite things, as we clearly did not have room for 97 different options – but some of our favorite things. We wanted to combine a little bit of Texas, since we live here now, and a little bit of Wisconsin – since the wedding was there and I’m from the lovely state. The menu consisted of BBQ brisket sliders, roasted pork tenderloin, grilled corn on the cob, a giant cheese display (yeah Wisconsin!), Southwest caesar salad, shrimp cocktail (I’m not sure where that fit in, but I really wanted it), and last but not least: gourmet macaroni and cheese. Yes, tons of food. While most people bring a second pair of shoes for post-dinner dancing, I actually had to bring a second dress – in a bigger size. Just kidding. But it would have been nice to have.
Ok, now to the point of this blog. The mac ‘n cheese was a total hit. I decided I wanted to make it on my own, so I started doing some research. It turns out there are 11,674 macaroni and cheese recipes out there. I combined a number of the recipes, and I am convinced this has to be the best one. It was divine.
- 4 cups pasta – I prefer the shells
- 1 beaten egg
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2-1/2 cups milk – preferably whole
- 2 teaspoons ground yellow mustard
- 1/2 pound grated sharp cheddar
- 1/2 pound grated fontina
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- panko bread crumbs
- 1 stick butter
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 t. vanilla
- 2 c. flour
- 1 t. all spice
- 1/2 t. cloves
- 2 t. cinnamon
- 1 t. baking soda
- 1/2 jar applesauce (about 1 cup)
And I ate half of it in one sitting. What you see here is a 3-layer dessert consisting of an oreo cookie crust, chocolate chip cookie, and oreo buttercream frosting. Do not make these if you lack self control, you will eat yourself out of house and home.
- 24 oreo cookies
- 1/2 stick butter
Chocolate Chip Cookie
- 1 c. shortening
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 t. vanilla
- 2 c. 2 T. flour
- 1 t. soda
- 1 t. salt
- 1 bag semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
Oreo Buttercream Frosting
- 2 egg whites
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 12 T. butter, at room temp and cut into 1/2 in. pieces
- 8 oreos
- 1/2 c. powdered sugar
- splash milk
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
- 1 small sweet onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup shredded carrot
- 2 T. good olive oil
- 4 vine ripe tomatoes, chopped and seeds removed (medium sized)
- 1.5 T tomato paste
- 1 can diced tomatoes, no salt added
- 1.5 t. sugar
- fresh ground pepper
- kosher salt
- 1 – 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/4-1/2 c. milk
- fresh basil