The weather is turning colder. The leaves are changing color. Earth-tone colored clothes are in the stores. Finally! At last! Autumn! It’s so close. Just a few more days and it’s officially time. Time for stews, and squash, and apple cider donuts. The best flavors of the year start soon. To celebrate my favorite season, I made my Autumn season opener: risotto. Every year I like to make Butternut Squash Risotto at least once. It’s the tastiest. This year, I had fancy new Williams-Sonoma Calphalon pans that I wanted to use in my first ever attempt to make Baked Risotto. I love that whole stove to oven to stove dance that I can do with these.
So I wanted to do that dance a lot. I started off roasting the squash and mushrooms with a little bit of thyme. The pans are non-stick, so I just used a tiny bit of olive oil spray. It worked like a charm! I like my butternut squash with a little bite left to it, but if you don’t, then go ahead and let it roast longer. And make sure your pan is oven-safe!
I’m not going to lie to you right now – I was nervous. I’m so used to stirring my risotto and being able to check it (taste-test!) frequently. So this was a little weird. But you know what? It worked! When it was done in the oven, I just finished it with my secret weapon – coconut milk – and it was all set! The coconut milk adds a lot more creaminess to the risotto than butter, plus a little bit more flavor as well. It’s my sneaky way of making the risotto slightly more decadent.
Just a quick note: Wrapping the handles in aluminum foil is a good visual reminder that the handles are HOT when they come out of the oven.
Roasted squash and mushrooms, mixed with creamy baked risotto.
2 cups (10oz) butternut squash, ½ inch cubes
2 cups (5.5oz) mushrooms, halved or quartered - depending on size
4-5 sprigs of thyme
1 small shallot, diced
1 cup Arborio rice
2-3 cups broth, chicken or vegetable - divided
¾ cup white wine
¼ cup coconut milk
Pecorino Romano cheese - topping
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 375.
Lightly use cooking spray on a large, oven-safe pan. Wrap the handle in aluminum foil. Add butternut squash, mushrooms, and thyme, and toss lightly to coat in oil. Bake about 15 mins, or until squash is fork tender. Remove from oven, and transfer contents to a bowl, and set aside.
Return the pan to the stove. Turn up oven temperature to 425. Lightly spray again, and saute the shallot about 1-2 minutes. Add rice, and stir until it's coated in the oil. Add the wine, and stir continuously until it is absorbed. Add 1½ cups of the broth, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cover, and bake in the oven 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Transfer from the oven to the stove. Stir in ½-1 cup of broth as needed. Finish with coconut milk, salt and pepper. Add the squash and mushrooms, stir to heat it up. Serve with cheese.
That’s right. Nutella Grilled Cheese. Trust me, I was doubtful too. Nutella is typically in desserts, but that doesn’t mean that can be it’s only purpose in life. It can be part of grilled cheese! Why? Because cheese makes everything better.
That isn’t to say that this is the best grilled cheese I’ve ever had. No no, that’s reserved for bacon stuffed french toast grilled cheese. But it was edible. And enjoyable too, in one of those this is so weird why am I eating this ways that food can be simply delightful.
To make it I used cinnamon swirl bread, spread Nutella on one side (I tried it on both slices and it was just TOO MUCH). Put 2-3 slices of American cheese, close it, butter the outsides, and then cook grilled cheese style until both sides are lightly brown.
Let it cool slightly. And then eat it. Enjoy it. Savor the moment.
I won’t bother posting an actual recipe because I trust in your intelligence. And everyone has their own grilled cheese method and I don’t want to start a Lid On vs. Lid Off battle right now (but seriously, a lid makes the cheese melt better).
Would I make this again? Absolutely. It satisfied my chocolate, hazelnut, and cheese cravings all at once. So awesome.
I have decided it is long past time that I give my original cheesy rice recipe a makeover. Why? Because I bought a really cool bowl and wanted to use it for my website's title recipe. Also I wanted to buy different cheeses. Normally I make cheesy rice with just butter, salt, and American cheese. This time I jazzed it up with chicken broth, Muenster cheese, cheddar cheese, and a green bell pepper (you know, so it's healthy).
Was the rice still cheesy? You betcha! Am I now in love with Muenster cheese? Holy moly I really am. I almost ate it all before it was time to add it to the rice. That would have been tragic. Also this recipe makes a lot of rice. Why so much????? Because cheesy rice is a meal, not a side dish.
You're probably wondering "can I add more cheese?" The answer is: YES. When in doubt, always add more cheese. See how my site is named Cheesy Rice? That means I have final say in this matter. In fact, I added more than just Muenster cheese, I added sharp cheddar too! BECAUSE I CAN. Check it:
Now check out the recipe