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Last night I made the most amazing dinner. And I have my sister to thank for it. So thanks Julie!
I’d been wanting to use up our butternut squash from our crop share and my sister passed along this butternut squash risotto recipe with the note that it one of her favorites (which, coming from my foodie sister, is a good thing)
After my previous pathetic attempt at peeling a butternut squash, I went out and got a decent peeler, and that made a world of difference!
The prepping took quite a long time, and the cooking took about an hour, but one bite in, and I knew it was worth every second I spent in the kitchen! It’s not the simplest recipe, and definitely not the healthiest (now that I made it according to the recipe, I’ll work on adapting it to be healthier), but it’s a great “special occasion” or “trying to impress” recipe!
Butternut Squash Risotto with Spinach and Toasted Pine Nuts (from Cooks Illustrated)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded (fibers and seeds reserved), and cut into 1/2- inch cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 4 ounces baby spinach
- 4 cups chicken vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 small onions, chopped very fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 medium garlic cloves (about 2 tsp), pressed through a garlic press
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 1 1/2 ounces finely grated parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup)
- 2 tbsp minced fresh sage
- 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
NOTE: You will only need one skillet for this recipe. You just keep reusing it as you go.
- Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet (about 5 minutes). Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet (med-high heat). Add 3 1/2 cups squash and cook without stirring until golden brown (4-5 minutes). Add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender and browned (about 5 more minutes). Transfer to bowl and set aside.
- Return skillet to medium heat and add reserved fibers and seeds (and any leftover squash). Cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned (about 4 minutes). Transfer to a large saucepan and add broth and water. Cover saucepan and and bring to a simmer over high heat. Then reduce heat to medium-low to maintain simmer.
- Add 1 tsp olive oil to skillet and add baby spinach. Cook, covered, over medium heat until spinach begins to wilt (about 2 minutes). Uncover and cook, stirring frequently, until completely wilted. Set aside.
- Melt 3 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, remaining 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened (4-5 minutes). Add rice to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around the edges (about 3 minutes). Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed (4-5 minutes).
- While rice is cooking in the wine, strain hot broth through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Press solids to get out as much liquid as possible. Return strained broth to saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
- When wine is fully absorbed, add 3 cups broth, the wilted spinach, and half the reserved squash to the rice. Simmer, stirring every 3-4 minutes until liquid is absorbed and bottom of skillet is almost dry (about 12 minutes).
- Stir in 1/2 cup broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed. Repeat 2 or 3 more times until rice is al dente.
- Remove from heat and stir in remaining butter, parmesan, sage, and nutmeg. Gently fold in remaining cooked squash.
- Top individual servings with toasted pine nuts.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!
I have been really stressing out at work lately and it’s catching up with me. I had a great week last week – my training went well, I was eating great, and feeling great. But this week the stress just got to me and I started relaxing through eating junk. Now I just feel gross.
Yesterday I came home from work really stressed and downed half a package of Oreos and then went for the toast and peanut butter. Later that night I polished off the rest of the Oreos. Now my poor husband has no cookies for his lunches. Whoops.
I need to keep telling myself I am doing a good job and that I will make it through the week one day at a time. Tomorrow is another day and another chance to be healthy.
More to come later, but for now I need to sleep.
I dove back into training this week and feel much better. I was surprised to realize that I’m now only 15 weeks away from my marathon! It’ll be here before I know it.
Monday – Rest day
Tuesday – Rest day
Wednesday – 4.02 miles on the treadmill (1.5% incline) in 40:58 (10:11/mile). This was my first morning run ever and it was great! It was so difficult to drag myself out of bed. It’s so nice and warm under the covers and oh so cold when you get out from underneath them. I’d been trying to do morning runs for a while, but had never managed to get past turning off the alarm. So on Tuesday night I wrote myself a very cheesy note (10 reasons why I want to get out of bed and run), and left it sitting next to the bed. When the alarm went off, I got up and went for it. Hooray! It was so nice to have the run out of the way for the rest of the day. I got to work earlier, I was more awake, and I didn’t have it hanging over my head when I got home and just wanted to relax. I will definitely be continuing with morning runs.
Thursday – 7.02 miles on the treadmill (1.5% incline) in 1:17:10 (10:59/mile). An evening run (I only need to do morning runs on Mondays and Wednesdays when I have crazy work days). Everything felt good. No problems. Nothing amazing either.
Friday – Rest day
Saturday – Yoga with my friend. I am a huge yoga fan. The girl who does our class is phenomenal. I almost fall asleep every time for the ending meditation. It’s so relaxing.
Sunday – 15.02 miles on the treadmill (1.5% incline) in 2:40:44 (10:42/mile). This was my longest run to date and overall it felt pretty good. I took one quick bathroom break at mile 6, but other than that, it was straight through. My knees got a little tight at mile 13, but I managed to keep going and picked up the pace quite a bit for the last mile. My foam roller does wonders working out sore knees/quads/hamstrings/calves/backs (I love that thing). I continued with my Friends DVDs. It seems to work great! Luckily I’m still on season 1 and have 9 more to go! I’ll have to find a new show to watch after I finish all 10 seasons. My sister has suggested Lost. I’m wondering if I’ll be able to follow it through the treadmill noise…
Just a quick note tonight…
If you love peanut butter and chocolate (I do! I do!) and you have not made these cookies yet, GO MAKE THEM RIGHT NOW!
These are Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Pillows from “Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.
My best friend is an AMAZING vegetarian/vegan baker and made these this past weekend. I could not get enough of them!
So today I ran my first race since ending my high school cross country career. I signed up for a local 4 mile race on the lake.
The day started out very chilly. It was 15 degrees and WINDY. Fortunately, I had a good cheering section – my husband and my best friend (thanks guys!).
So I got there and grabbed my bib and was immediately super excited… I got my lucky number!
I was surprised because a co-worker of mine who has run the race before said there was only about 50 people there when she did it. But today there was 179. So it was a decent group. I was never alone when I was running.
The course was pretty hilly, and I wasn’t expecting a LARGE hill in the very first mile, so that set me back a little bit. But it wasn’t too bad and I managed to get up it alright. At the first mile marker a volunteer was calling out pace times, and I heard “47” but didn’t know what the minutes were. And I started my Nike+ before the gun went off so that wasn’t all that accurate.
There were smaller hills interspersed throughout the course. None were that bad. The worst part was running along the lake where the wind really picked up. It was COLD and the wind was strong enough that it was pushing me sideways.
Mile 2.5 – 3.0 was a LONG hill. I passed a couple guys that had passed me earlier but stopped to walk. I was determined to make it all the way up without walking – and I did. At about mile 3.5, one of the guys from the hill and two others caught me and we ended up running along together until the finish. At that point, someone they must have known was cheering and telling them to put on the speed burst, and the other two took off. The guy from the hill and I couldn’t start sprinting that far out, so we kept jogging along.
When I got close enough to the finish that I could see the clock (about 100 meters), I was psyched. The time still started with a 3! I typically run 10:00 miles, so I figured I’d be around 40:00. So I took off and started sprinting with everything I had, leaving my hill guy behind.
I ended up finishing in 37:07, which is 9:17/mile. I got 111th overall, and 7th in my age group. 1st in my age group was only two minutes ahead of me, so not bad!
Afterwards, I felt like I could have picked up the pace on the flatter parts, but I’m happy with how it went considering I haven’t raced in 12 years!
I’m looking forward to the next one! Perhaps then I’ll get into the 8-s!