Baked Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash


Well, this was my first time cooking with barley and it turned out great!  The oven does most of the work so it was really easy too.  I can’t wait to make this again.  It is a pretty healthy meal as well since barley is fiber rich and the spinach and squash are vitamin and nutrient rich.

Oh by the way, I’m crossing this off my 30×30 list for risotto.  It is really not a true risotto, but that list has barely been touched so I’ll take what I can get.  I have a feeling that list is going to be extended to a 30 while I’m 30 list.  Oops.

Baked Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash

Source:  Dec 2011 issue of Real Simple magazine

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1″ pieces (about 3 cups) – next time I may use a large sweet potato

1 onion, finely chopped

salt and pepper

1 cup pearl barley

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

5 oz baby spinach – I know I used less that this, I didn’t measure, just used all I had in an open package

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the squash, onion, and s&p.  Cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften, 4-6 minutes.

Add the barley to the vegetables and cook for another minute.  Add the wine and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Cover the pot and transfer to the oven.  Bake until barley is tender, 35-40 minutes.

Remove from oven, stir in spinach and Parmesan.

Enjoy!

Mickey Mouse Pops!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of helping a friend make these pops for her son’s second birthday. We had so much fun hanging out, but the actual pop making experience was challenging.  It was definitely a learning experience for both of us, but I’m glad we jumped in with both feet.  I think the finished pops were really cute!

One major change we made from the source of this recipe is that we used Oreo truffles as the base instead of cake balls.  We much prefer the taste of Oreo truffles over the cake ones, even though they are very rich and decadent.  I do think the cake balls generate a smoother ball, but again, the taste is more important in my opinion.  Also the Oreo balls are a little heavier than the cake ones, so that made dipping them difficult, but we managed.  I think the keys are to have really runny chocolate (but not too hot.  See step 11 about adding shortening to thin it out.) and to dip as fast as possible.

Please excuse my fuzzy photos, they were taken with my phone rather than a camera.  If you’re friends with me on facebook, you can see a couple more pictures there.  Also, I’m super excited that this counts as the first thing to check off from my 30×30 list.  Score!

Mickey Pops

Source:  Bakerella

You’ll need:

  • 1 box cake mix (bake as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)*
  • 1 16 oz can of ready-made frosting*
  • Wax paper
  • Baking sheet
  • White bark coating {we omitted}
  • Black candy color {we omitted}
  • Chocolate candy melts
  • Round cookie cutter
  • Paper lollipop sticks
  • Styrofoam block

*One cake makes about 48 cake pops. If you don’t need that many, then cut the cake in quarters and freeze any cake sections for another day. You’ll need at least one ounce of candy coating for each generic Mickey Mouse cake pop you plan on dipping and more for any extra decorating.

*If you substitute Oreo balls for the cake balls, you obviously won’t need any cake or frosting.  You will need one package of Oreo cookies and one package of cream cheese.   Crush the Oreos in a food processor, then add the cream cheese and pulse until combined.  Pick up at step 3 below.

Instructions:

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into a large bowl.

2. With a large spoon, mix thoroughly with about 3/4 of the can of frosting. You won’t need the rest.

3. Roll mixture into quarter size cake balls and place on a wax paper covered baking sheet. Step 3

4. Place balls in the freezer for about 15 minutes to firm up. Then transfer to the refrigerator to keep chilled and avoid freezing.

5. Prepare the ears. Use round chocolate candy melts and with a round cutter, cut off a small portion of each candy melt. Set the ears aside. Step 5
6. Melt white candy coating (we just used chocolate) in a heat-proof plastic bowl so that the coating is at least four inches deep for easier dipping. Melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals on low, stirring in between. Repeat until melted and smooth. Step 6

7. Add several drops of black candy color (that does not contain water) into the white candy coating and stir until combined. Add color until you achieve the desired shade. {We skipped this}

8. Remove a couple of cake balls from the refrigerator at a time to work with.

9. Dip the tip of a lollipop stick into the melted coating and insert into the cake ball. Then, grab two candy melt ears and dip the cut side into the melted candy coating. Attach the ears to the top/side of the cake pop and the coating will set like glue. Step 9

10. Place in a styrofoam block to dry.

11. When dry, carefully dip the entire cake pop with ears attached into the bowl of melted candy coating. Dip and remove in one motion without stirring. Make sure the entire cake ball is covered. Using a deep bowl is helpful here. If your coating is too thick, you can add a few drops of vegetable oil or shortening to help thin it and make it easier to work with.

12. Remove and allow any excess coating to fall off the pop and back into the bowl.

13. Place in a styrofoam block to dry.

14. When dry, wrap in small treat bags and tie with a decorative ribbon.

Note: You can use dark chocolate candy coating instead of tinting white coating black. Then, you can use the same glueing technique to attach the ears right on the surface.

You can also attach other items like Junior Mints or separated miniature Oreo Cookies to the surface of the cake pop right after dipping and before the coating sets.

30 Before 30

I’m usually not very good at challenges, in fact I can’t remember the last time I participated in one.  But I decided that my 29th year would be as good a time as any to change that.  I’ve had a few things that I’ve always wanted to make and never got around to or things I have been avoiding in the kitchen due to fear {of failure and wasted ingredients, I guess}.  I thought this would be a great way to finally make myself do them.

With no further ado, here’s my list of thirty things I want to cook/bake/make before I’m thirty years old:

  1. Homemade soft pretzels
  2. Homemade bagels
  3. Homemade English muffins
  4. Cheese danish
  5. Focaccia bread
  6. Pita bread
  7. Flour tortillas
  8. Homemade potato gnocchi
  9. Homemade pasta dough – contingent on getting a pasta machine
    1. Homemade ravioli
  10. Risotto
  11. Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon
  12. Pimento cheese
  13. Cheese straws
  14. Crackers {probably Ina’s recipe for Parmesan and Thyme Crackers}
  15. Shortbread cookies
  16. Meringues
  17. Homemade Oreo cookies
  18. Cake pops {I’m all about the cake truffles, but I haven’t tried putting them on a stick yet}
  19. Julia Child’s chocolate almond cake {Reine De Saba, page 677}
  20. Homemade hostess cupcakes
  21. Gelato
  22. Tiramisu
  23. Creme Brulee
  24. Homemade strawberry jam
  25. Turnovers
  26. Oven pancakes/dutch babies
  27. Molten chocolate cake
  28. Palmiers {probably Ina’s recipe; not sure if I’ll do the sweet or savory version}
  29. Hollandaise sauce served with artichokes {probably by Julie Child}
  30. Use fennel in a recipe

Inspired by:  Apple A Day and Elly Says Opa!

*This wasn’t exactly what I wanted to post this week since my birthday is actually next week, but I don’t have any other content at the moment due to my broken computer!*

*I also added this 30×30 list as a “page” in the top header for quick and easy reference.