french onion risotto

french onion

French onion soup is a delectable start to a meal. Filled with so much flavor from beef broth, caramelized onions and ooey gooey gruyere cheese that if done properly drips from your chin as you eat. Take that flavor and add it to the creamy deliciousness of risotto and you get a side dish, or a meal that will have your family oohing and aahing.

The inspiration for this recipe came from the recent Fine Cooking issue. Every issue in the front of the magazine some of the editors write small paragraphs about what they are cooking now. Shallot risotto was the dish that caught my taste buds. My mouth started watering just reading the simple instructions. Caramelize shallots, cook risotto to package instructions using beef broth as your liquid, top with gruyere cheese for a taste like french onion soup.

If you have never made risotto those instructions might sound too simple to be true. You may have heard that risotto is hard to make, that you have to stir it constantly. I want to start by busting some of those myths and then give you a complete recipe to work with.

Myth #1: risotto is hard to make
Confession, I can’t cook most rice. In fact, just last night I burnt my wild rice. Without fail when I cook rice the liquid absorbs faster than I think and my rice ends up stuck to the bottom of the pan. I have never had this problem with risotto. Making risotto only requires rice, broth, the add-ins of your choice and the dish is done in 30-45 minutes.

Myth #2 : you have to stir constantly
Truth is the stirring is important. Gradually adding liquid and stirring is what causes the starches to form. Those starched make the rice creamy. However, you do not have to stir constantly to get this result. Unlike when you are making something like carmel you can stop stirring without fear of your dish being ruined. Just be sure to stir frequently, every couple minutes, and you will have a delicious risotto.

2 large shallots (or 4 small shallots)
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup sherry
3 cups beef broth
salt and pepper to taste
gruyere cheese
Optional: asparagus, but into 1 inch pieces

To make the french onion risotto slice 2 large shallots (or 4 small shallots) into thin slices. Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan. Add shallots and caramelize over low heat. This will take a little bit of time (approx 15 minutes), be patient, keep the heat low and you will eventually get beautiful and flavorful shallots instead of a burnt mess. Increase the heat to medium, add 1 cup of arborio rice and allow to too cook until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of sherry and stir while allowing the alcohol to burn off. Add 1 cup of beef broth at a time and stir frequently. When most of the liquid is absorbed add more broth until all 3 cups have been added. Add grated gruyere cheese to risotto and serve. You can serve individual servings and allow everyone to add as much or as little cheese as they would like. If you are serving this as a side you are done.

To make a whole meal cut asparagus into 1 inch pieces and add to risotto just before adding your final cup of broth.

Serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a side.

P.S. I am traveling, I will add a more printable recipe when I get to a computer.

What allegedly simple dish, like rice, do you have trouble cooking?

why you should ditch your personality

why you should ditch your personality

I love personality tests, which is no secret if you have been reading this blog for a while or follow me on twitter. I started to realize something about the effect of all those personality tests though. They have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead of using the information as a tool to make the most of a situation, I am using it as a way to justify doing the safe thing instead of being vulnerable and open to the situation. So I think I need to ditch my personality.

I leave for Salt Lake City, and my first ALT Summit, on Wednesday. I am excited and nervous and slightly overwhelmed about not knowing anybody and wanting to connect with as many as possible in a very short 3 days. I started out thinking I would make goals for the conference that fit with my personality. The recommended amount of business cards to bring is 200 so my goal looked something like, “I will give out 75 business cards because that would be a lot for me”. Not exactly a bad goal, but it limits what I could really get out of this opportunity.

So when I pack tomorrow I am not taking my personality, I am ditching it. I am ditching it and packing something that fits my purpose. I am taking an outlook that helps me get more out of these three days instead of just enough.

Before you start telling me I just need to be myself and it will all be fine or think that I am going to the event and be fake, take a breath and hear me out. I was reading the magazine Experience Life and came across an article by Steve Chandler titled, How to Reinvent Yourself. He mentions that the word persona is derived from the Latin word for mask. I am not trying to be fake I am just trying to ditch my mask so I can be present and authentic. The sentence that hit home the most though was, “Replace personality with purpose.”

Ditching my personality and winging it isn’t going to work so I  have things to pack in place of my personality that I hope will help me get the most out of my first conference.

my purpose
The reason I decided to go to this conference was to help me network and find new opportunities. I won’t see this as successful if I don’t come away with some new connections and some potential projects. A mindset of “I am an introvert this is going to be hard for me” isn’t going to get the result I want. My mantra for each day is going to be “put yourself out there, see what happens and be open to what comes back”.

my knowledge
I am an introvert. I can’t change that, but I can work with it. Knowing my personality type as well as I do should be able to give me more power not less. I know that at some point I am going to need down time to process everything happening around me. As long as I take that time I should be fine. I also know I am a very intuitive person and can quickly tell which people I will connect with the best. If I use that knowledge to focus on connecting with them instead of being overwhelmed by trying to connect to everyone I should walk away completing my purpose.

a new loop
I am going to have to find a way to turn off the loop in my head that tells me I can’t do X, Y, or Z because it doesn’t fit my personality. I can’t walk into the party thinking about how I am too shy to take goofy pictures at the photo booth. If I change the loop to sound more like, “This is all new and exciting and I can try anything”, I still may not take goofy pictures in a photo booth, but I will have given myself permission to try.

the right tools
In my toolbox I am taking clothes that make me feel like a rock star, conversation pieces and a few connections. I didn’t go out and buy all new outfits I just took the pieces out of my closet that make me feel most confident. I am also packing some pieces that might cause people to stop and comment which will help me feel like I don’t have to initiate every conversation. I also made a few connections online giving me a handful of people I want to make sure I meet and I will already have something to talk about.

I will be sure to report back about how my plan worked, but what about you? What could you accomplish if you ditched your personality and approached something with your purpose instead?

I am still here

What is it they say bout the best laid plans?

I took time off at the end of December to enjoy my first holiday with family in Indiana. I thought I would get so much writing done, but I pushed that aside for more family time. Then I thought I would get a lot done at the beginning of the year and be on track with great consistent content before ALT Summit at the end of January. I have managed to complete only a few posts in that time.

I am being gentle with myself because the things I chose to fill my time, over blogging, are as important. So you don’t think I am completely falling off the blog here I am with a little update.

While I haven’t had a lot of posts on my blog I have had a few on others and a few more coming this month.

I wrote, Getting off Your Butt in the Winter – tips on how to stay active during the winter, for Mamages. If you need some ideas to get moving during the cold months to come there are some unconventional ideas that might just do the trick.

I also wrote, Healthy Juice in Indianapolis – review of a great juice place in Indianapolis, for The Collaboreat. I have a second post coming up on January 26th about a local chocolate shop. You will see me on The Collaboreat a little more often as a contributor. I am excited about this opportunity and really love this blog. If you are looking for a way to travel and eat without leaving your house this it the blog you need to be following.

natural born juicers

I also have a post coming soon on Small Company Artworks to help with the winter blues.

Outside of all that writing our house hunt went from dreaming to doing. In our search we found this gem. They just don’t make wallpaper like this anymore. That might be a good thing though in the right color palette this might not be half bad.

flower bathroom

Once we finally close on a house I have a little house hunters post planned for you. You can find out if I picked the house with this amazing bathroom.  I also have a few posts planned for fellow first-time home buyers that will help you know what questions to ask as you look for your first home and figure out how to finance the largest purchase you will ever make.

I have some upcoming posts in the works for the Super Bowl, the Oscars, a recipe swap and other miscellany. Some of these are larger collaborations with an exciting giveaway. With a few days off next week before I head to Salt Lake City I will get back on track and have a few posts up next week. Stop by on starting Monday for some good stuff.

The monthly email will actually become a monthly email this year. I never really got that off the ground last year, but have some exciting features for it this year. If you haven’t signed up for the emails now is the time. Starting this month each email will have a recipe or a helpful printable for the kitchen.

I think this year will be the most exciting yet for me and the blog. I certainly have ideas in spades.

photo copy

I look forward to some great times this year and can’t wait to see where it all takes me. Hope to connect with you along the way.