Butternut Squash Risotto…in a Crockpot. BOOM.

So I’ve never made risotto before. I’ve had it many times, but a lot of the recipes I’ve found are pretty intimidating. That is until I found the recipe I’ll post below. Turns out you can make it a crockpot! BOOM. Mind blown, right?!

It’s actually pretty simple to make…AND not terribly expensive. Be warned though, this guy is NOT a one pot wonder. There is a bit of prep work to do.

You saute the onions in your butter and EVOO.

Then add in your Arborio rice and coat that biz with the oily goodness.

Put rice/onion mix into the crockpot. Add the squash and cheese and cover with the broth. Stir carefully and then leave that biz alone.

About 4 hours later you have some delicious butternut squash risotto!

Here’s the recipe:

4 T extra virgin olive oil
4 T butter
1 onion
2 1/2 c Arborio rice
3 c butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
6 c broth (I used veggie)
1/4 c parmesan cheese plus extra for sprinkling
salt and pepper

It makes about 8 one cup servings. Enjoy! Happy Crockpoting folks!


DIY Braided Bead Necklace

Memorial Day weekend was a weekend of crafting. I already shared my Jewelry Rack with you, so I thought I would share my other project too.

Beads are like SUPER trendy right now. And I absolutely love it. I borrowed a necklace from my friend C one night (really pretty coral colored braided bead necklace) and I fell in love with it. I looked on the interwebs and they’re kind of pricey…like $30-40. I knew I could totally make this myself for cheaper so I did (with the help of Pinterest of course).

I went to a local bead store and picked up some supplies. Beads, jump hooks, 24ish inches of chain, clasp, and these knot covering bead tips that are pretty essential. I used doubled up thread with the beads as well.

You can see some detailed instructions here.

It was a little challenging because my bead tips were a little small. But in the end I’m happy with the result…and it really didn’t take very long to put together…probably around and hour or so.

On a separate note, I thought I would share the other swag I scored at the yard sale I mentioned in the last crafting post.

I got 6 cocktail glasses, the AWESOME spice rack, cool vase for my wine corks, and this cute vintagey bag…all for the bargain price of $10!!! ($17 total with the frame from the jewelry rack).

A Lesson In Failure Brought to You by the Makers of Fat Free Cheese…

Ok…so  everyone has those few signature dishes that they are especially good at. One such dish for me is homemade mac and cheese. I’ve been making it for YEARS…I don’t even need a recipe, and not to totally brag…its delicious. So it came as an annoying and irritating surprise that I royally screwed it up the other night.

I had decided that I would make come broccoli mac and cheese and that’s what I would eat for the week. Admirable plan. Totally a doable thing….Until it wasn’t.

Mac and cheese isn’t the healthiest of foods. And I generally try to make my meals as low in fat as I can. So I substituted butter for a lite butter-type spread (Brummel and Brown I think), whole milk for skim, and full fat cheese for 75% fat free sharp cheddar cheese. I didn’t think it would make that much of a difference. Turns out it really does lol.

The all low fat cheese sauce ingredients don’t work well together. What happened was that the cheese and milk didn’t incorporate. The result was that there was just a bunch of melty cheese and milk.

These are my go-to spices for jazzing up my mac and cheese. I tend to use these in most of what I cook actually…

Whole wheat noodles with fresh broccoli.

This is how my “sauce” came out. Not cool fat free cheese…not cool. I had to dump out the extra milk from the sauce because milk noddles didn’t really appeal to me.

In the end it wasn’t a COMPLETE failure. I totally ate it all week anyways. Lesson learned though.

Here is my mac and cheese recipe:

2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour
2 cups milk
~2 cups cheese (I like extra sharp cheddar but mixing in others is great too)
spices of your choice
box of pasta (whole wheat elbows, penne, and rotelini  work well)
1 cup Italian bread crumbs (optional)

Cook pasta per box instructions.
In a sauce pan, melt butter and stir in flour. Slowly add in the milk, stirring continuously. When the milk starts to thicken up (not boil though) start to add in your cheese. When the cheese is mostly melted add in your spices.
Put pasta into a baking dish and pour cheese sauce over it. Give it a quick stir to make sure its all coated. Top with bread crumbs. Bake on like 350 for about 20-25 minutes until top gets golden. (you can add all kinds of things to it as well…like broccoli, tomatoes, ham, chicken, etc).

Its REALLY easy and tasty. Just watch out when you’re choosing your cheeses! Next time I’m going with regular cheese and keeping my skim milk!

I Love to Craft: DIY Jewelry Rack

Okay…so I’ve made a decision. I LOVE crafting. I love crafting almost as much as I love cooking. And the post I made about the DIY project I did with my lady pals (check it out here) was really popular in the blogosphere, so I have decided to merge my loves and include my DIY/crafting projects on this blog. Additionally, I’m adding pages at the top to make it easier for you folks to find specific recipes and projects. There is a newly added DIY Projects page, and there will soon be a Recipes page!!

Moving on. I’ve been extra crafty lately acutally. And I’m SUPER excited to share my crafting with you. I went home for Memorial Day weekend and got my crafting on…

So there happened to be a yard sale at my old high school…and this girl LOVES a good yard sale. I made out like a bandit and came home with some great stuff. In particular, I picked up a cool looking old frame (haggled down to $7!). The minute I saw it I knew JUST what I would do with it…make an awesome jewelry rack. I had seen many ideas for it on Pinterest so I had some guidelines to run on.

The color was chipped in some spots…and was missing on one edge…so I picked up some gold spray paint from the craft store ($5). I only sprayed in some spots because I really liked the old-timey antique like look of the frame. I also picked up some hooks from the dollar store and more hooks and a rod from the hardware store (which I painted gold to match the frame).

With some help from my crafty mom, I put some circle hooks on the sides, two hooks about 2 inches from the bottom to hold the rod for my bracelets, and about 10 hooks along the bottom for necklaces.

Then I tied twine between the circle hooks so I can hang my dangley earrings. I have 3 rows for those guys. Then I added 2 rows of ribbon for my stud earrings. To finish it up, I attached hanging wire to the back so I could hang it on my wall.

I love the way it holds all my jewlery (clearly of have a bit). I also LOVE it when you can re-purpose things. This whole project only cost about $20. WORTH IT.

Happy Crafting! (SIDE NOTE: look for a post about about the necklace seen in the bottom left of the rack!)