Archives February 2021

Bacon Tomato Risotto


1L Jar of Stewed/Canned Tomatoes
4-6 cups Homemade Stock (I used venison. Beef or Chicken are good too)
1 pound Bacon (I like thick cut)
1 package Mushrooms (I used mixed)
1 large Onion
2 cups Risotto
1/2 cup Cheddar Shredded (I used 5 Brothers Smoked from Gunn’s Hill)
1/2 cup Cream
3 tbsp. Butter (try for grass fed it is way better for you)
Parmesan (For grating on top)


Heat your stock in a small pot so it is steaming but not boiling.

While that is heating, start by chopping the bacon, mushrooms, and onions into 1/2″ slices.

Heat up a small pan for the onions and a bigger one for the bacon and eventually the mushrooms.

  • Add 1 tbsp of bacon fat (or oil if you don’t save bacon fat, but really who wouldn’t) to the smaller pan.
    Then add the onions and cook until carmelized looking (see photo).
    Then pull off the heat and leave until later.
  • In the larger pan just put the bacon in.
    Once it looks like it is getting close toss the mushrooms in with the bacon.
    After another 3-4 minutes pull off the heat and leave for later as well.

Now the fun really begins:
Take the pan with bacon and pour most of the fat into a big pot. I used a stock pot but most larger pasta pots should work. Place it on Med-High heat and add your Risotto grains. Let them heat until you hear some crackling, about 3-4 minutes. 

Now you add ladles of the stock into the Risotto pot one at a time and stir until most of the moisture is absorbed, but don’t worry too much. You just don’t want to dump it all at once, this makes the cooking time faster. It should be about every minute for the first 5 minutes, then you just watch for the bubbles to thicken.

Now once you get it going well and and have done about 10 minutes of this add the jar of tomato sauce slowly, while constantly stirring and let it get back up to heat.

That last part is about another 10 minutes where you continue to slowly add stock. I said in the instructions 4-6 cups and this is why. Sometimes it needs more to soften the grains sometimes it doesn’t, it depends on the risotto. So you can start taking a couple out on a spoon and make sure there is no crunch to them at all.

Once you feel the Risotto is ready, you can add 2/3 of the bacon and mushroom into the pot along with the onions.

Then remove from the heat and add the butter, cream, and cheddar, stirring to incorporate well. 

Serve it up in a bowl or pasta dish and top with a pinch of the bacon and mushrooms and a shaving of Parmesan.


Thai Red Curry Butternut Squash Soup

When we are inundated with Butternut squash in October, we take the time to roast a bunch, puree them in the food processor and then store in freezer bags. This allows us to make use of the abundance and keep the squash ready to use (minus the thaw time, of course). Roasting the squash in the oven brings out its natural sweetness. Once the squash cools down, my daughter likes to peel off the caramelized sugar from the silicon pads we put on our baking sheets.   

We make the soup in a large pot and blend it using an immersion blender, which minimizes the clean-up afterward.

Thai Red Curry Butternut Squash Soup

1 large Butternut Squash (about 2 lbs)
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 Tbsp minced (fresh) ginger
1 – 2 Tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste
4 cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
1 400 mL can of coconut milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cilantro to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425℉.

Slice squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place squash cut-side down on a baking sheet (a parchment paper-lined sheet keeps it a bit tidier). Roast for approximately 25 minutes or until a knife easily pierces through the skin. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Scrape out the flesh and set aside.

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add in ginger and curry paste and cook for another minute, stirring constantly, until very fragrant. Add chicken (or vegetable) stock and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Puree the soup using either an immersion blender or in batches in a standard blender. If you use a standard blender, be sure to hold the lid down securely when processing the hot liquids! Return soup to the pot.

A couple minutes before serving, stir in the coconut milk, salt, and pepper. Garnish with cilantro.


Asparagus Pizza with Caesar Sauce

During asparagus season, we found ourselves challenged to come up with a new way of using asparagus. Why not try it on a pizza? We quickly decided that an Alfredo-based sauce, rather than a tomato-based pizza sauce, would complement the asparagus better. I recalled seeing a Caesar salad recipe with asparagus, so using the ingredients for Caesar dressing as our inspiration, we made ourselves a delicious asparagus pizza.

Asparagus Pizza with Caesar Sauce

Prep Time: 25 min.
Total Time: 35 min.
Makes: two 12-14 inch pizzas


Two 12-14 inch pizza crusts (recipe here)
10-12 spears of asparagus
additional toppings of choice (we added sliced salami and mushrooms)
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp butter
2 -3 garlic cloves, chopped (use more if you’re a fan of garlic)
3 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk
½ tsp lemon juice
½ tsp Worcestershire Sauce
½ tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp fish sauce
Chili paste, to taste
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Fill a skillet with ½ inch of water and heat over medium high, bringing the water to a gentle boil. Trim the asparagus and lay in the skillet. Cook until bright green and tender-crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan, cool, and cut into 1 inch pieces. Set aside.

Meanwhile, to prepare the Caesar sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbling, then add garlic and cook for one minute. While constantly whisking, mix in the flour to make a roux. When the flour is evenly mixed into the butter, slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly. Keep whisking to remove any lumps. Continue to heat the milk until it thickens, stirring to prevent scorching.

Add the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, and Dijon mustard and stir to combine. If desired, add chili paste to taste. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 425℉.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into two 12-14 inch circles and place each on a  round pizza pan.

Divide the Caesar sauce between the two pizzas and evenly spread over the dough. Sprinkle some of the cheese onto the sauce and top the pizza with sliced asparagus and any other toppings you desire. Finish off the pizza with additional cheese.

Bake until crust is golden and crispy, about 10 minutes.

Pizza Crust Recipe

Prep Time: 15 min
Total Time: 1¼ hr
Makes: two 12-14 inch pizzas


1⅓ cup warm water
2 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp sugar
2½ cup flour (all-purpose or bread flour)
1 tsp salt
¾ cup flour (whole wheat or all-purpose), or more, as needed for kneading dough

In a large bowl, stir together the water, yeast and sugar. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the yeast is dissolved. Add the first amount of flour and the salt and stir to combine as the dough begins to come together. If the dough is too sticky, begin adding additional flour until it begins to becomes too difficult to stir.

Turn the  dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Dust dough/work surface with additional flour if too sticky. Place the ball of dough into an oiled bowl and turn to coat.

Cover the bowl with a clean towel and set aside in a warm, draft-free spot until the dough looks to have doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Mushroom and Hamburger Gravy on Mashed Potatoes

Upon opening the fridge and pondering what to make for dinner, we pulled out some ground beef, mushrooms, and potatoes. Dad devised this dish from a childhood memory of sloppy joes composed of ground beef and cream of mushroom soup on a bun. We don’t tend to stock our panty with canned soups, so Dad made a mushroom duxelles instead. We served it over mashed potatoes (grown in our garden last summer!) and the little ones gobbled it up. Everything in a duxelles is finely chopped so that it becomes almost indiscernible from the other ingredients in the pan. The picky eater couldn’t even spot the mushrooms to avoid.

Prep Time: 30 min.
Total Time: 40 min.
Makes: 6 servings

Mashed Potatoes


1 ½ lb potatoes, quartered
¼ cup butter
1/2 cup milk
½ tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Fill a large pot with salted water, place potatoes in a steamer basket and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until very tender.

Meanwhile, as the potatoes cook you can prepare the mushroom duxelles.

Mushroom Duxelles


8 oz fresh mushroom (we used cremini)
2 Tbsp each of bacon fat and olive oil
2 medium shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (no stems), about 6 sprigs
½ cup red wine (we recommended brandy or cognac)
1 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
½ cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 lb lean ground beef

In a food processor, process mushrooms into small crumbs. Transfer crumbs to a bowl and set aside. Process the chopped onion and garlic into small crumbs.

Add bacon fat or olive oil to a skillet over medium and cook mushrooms until liquid is evaporated, about 8 minutes. Add the finely diced onion and garlic and the thyme leaves and cook for another 4 minutes. Deglaze the skillet with red wine, scraping off any bits and cook for another 4 minutes.

To the skillet, stir in the soy sauce, molasses, and cream until thickened, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. This is your mushroom duxelles.

In the same pan, cook the ground beef until brown. When browned, reduce heat to low and add the mushroom duxelles back into pan and mix it with the cooked beef. Keep burner on low until ready to serve. If the mixture looks too dry, you can add more heavy cream, or if you prefer, some beef stock.

When the potatoes are very tender, drain and return to the pot. Mash potatoes to break them apart. Add the butter and milk and continue mashing and mixing into the potatoes. For a creamier texture, you can add more milk.

Season potatoes with dried thyme and salt and pepper to taste

Serve the mushroom duxelles over the mashed potatoes.

Kid Approved Fresh Tomato and Basil Salad


This recipe has no hard and fast quantities. Instead it’s about the ratio of tomatoes and basil to dressing, and that is a matter of taste. Outlined below is a simple guideline for the salad.


A handful of fresh tomatoes (about 3 – 4 cups of chopped tomato is our normal)
A handful of fresh basil leaves (about ½ cup of chopped leaves)
4 Tbsp mayonnaise  
Fresh dill (optional), to taste
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix together. The tomato juice will mix with the mayonnaise and thin it to a creamy dressing. So simple and so delicious. Best eaten with produce fresh-picked from the garden (or brought home fresh from a farmers market).