Friday, March 30, 2012

Carrot Risotto

The other week, my husband and I went out to dinner and I had the most wonderful carrot risotto. I decided to try making my own at home and made this recipe the other night for dinner. It was my first time making risotto and my husband and I LOVED it!

You will need the following ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups of carrots, peeled and chopped in food processor
1/2 tsp. salt
1 teaspoon sugar
5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth if going vegetarian)
1/2 small onion, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Salt & Pepper to taste

To start, melt 1 tbsp. oil and 1 tbsp. butter over medium heat in large pan.

Chop carrots to be very small and uniform in size. I used a food processor. Don't puree them.

Add carrots to pan with oil and stir with a wooden spoon until well coated.

Add 1/2 cup water, 1/2 tsp. salt, and the sugar. Cover and cook until tender, about 5-8 minutes.

Once tender, uncover and cook until all water evaporates. Separate carrots, put half in a bowl

and the other half in a blender with 3/4 cup of hot water. Purée in blender till smooth.

Heat remaining oil and butter in same pan used for carrots.

Add chopped onion.

Cook onion until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.

While the onion is cooking, in a separate pan, bring your broth to a boil.

Once onion is cooked, add the rice and coat with the oil. Cook for 1 minute. (When making risotto, cooking the rice in oil before adding liquid helps the rice to absorb the liquids slowly with becoming soggy. This is called "Toasting the Rice.")

After rice is browned, add in 1/2 cup white wine to deglaze the pan. 

And if you can drink alcohol. Pour yourself a glass of wine and sip while cooking the rest of the meal. (I am pregnant, so my photographer husband enjoyed the wine while I cooked.)

Once the wine evaporates, add the carrot purée.

Stir rice and  purée together and cook until mixture is thick.

Now it's time for the broth, ladle up 1/2 cup hot broth.

Pour broth in your rice/carrot mixture. 

Stir until rice absorbs most of the liquid. 

Repeat process, adding 1/2 cup broth each time and stirring often till until the rice absorbs the liquid. You WILL NOT use all the broth. Keep adding the broth only until the rice tastes cooked. (Adding too much broth at the end can result in overcooked risotto. Keep the broth simmering slowly while you add it to the rice. This helps maintain a constant cooking temperature.)

Once the rice is cooked, add in carrots, parsley, thyme, & pepper. Do not over stir. 

Fold in mascarpone and parmesan cheese. Add salt to taste. 

Serve the carrot rissotto garnished with parmesan, parsley, and thyme. Serve with a nice glass of dry white wine and some crusty bread on the side.


The Skinny: Serves 6 @ 375 calories each

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

DIY Painting A Dresser

If you have been following our blog, you probably read the post about me creating my son a Fire Truck Room.

I have slowly been redoing furniture to be a part of his room, such as the Toy Box
and the book shelf.

 The next furniture project was to repaint this old dresser of mine. Here is what the dresser looked like before:
Though the dresser may not look like it is in that bad of shape, it is made out of laminated wood and has scratches all over it. It still has stayed quite sturdy through the years and has managed to survive ten moves in the almost 8 years that I have owned it. My husband hates it and I was quite convinced that I could paint it and put it to good use in our son's room. After all, kids like to destroy things and I feel a whole lot better if he ended up destroying this dresser over a new one.

Now, I have always had somewhat of a fear about painting over laminated wood. Some paint just won't stick to it. After reading several websites, I found people overwhelmingly endorse Zinsser Cover Stain to paint over laminate. I decided to give it a try.

First, when you decide to paint a dresser, you want to start out with removing all knobs and drawers. I tried to remove the top one, but it was stuck. Hubby couldn't even get it to come out without breaking it, so we gave up on it.

Using a foam roller, I applied the cover stain to the dresser. I was very impressed with the way it blocked out the previous laminate color.

Also, the cover stain stuck to the laminate and was easy to apply. It created a great working surface to apply my color to. This product might be a new fav of mine! (I think I smell a sequel to  Handygirl's Top 10 Essentials.)

I originally had this grand idea to paint the entire dresser Fire Engine Red. I set out to purchase a gallon of red paint and walked up to the counter at Lowes to have them mix it up. I always like to browse the "Ooops" paint containers for any colors worth buying when lo and behold, they had a Valspar Signature Paint gallon in Fire Engine Red for only $10!!  That never happens to me! I quickly yelled to the paint lady to stop with my paint, seconds before she opened the new can, and snatched the "Ooops" gallon up! What a steal, I saved $22 on this paint!

So as I said, the idea was originally to paint the entire dresser red. After painting on the side of the dresser, I decided all red was going to be WAY too much for this room!

I decided instead to paint the main part of the dresser white. I used some leftover white paint I had from the Adirondack Chairs I painted last summer.

And painted the drawers with the Fire Engine Red paint.

While at Lowes I also picked up some white porcelain knobs for the dresser and replace the existing ones.

In the end, I ended up with the dresser looking like this and I honestly couldn't be happier about how it turned out. I love the contrast between the drawers and the dresser.  In addition, the white knobs just tie the colors together.

Here is the snazzy before and after pic:

I think this might be final piece of furniture for Aiden's firetruck room as the room is pretty small and I don't think I could fit much more in there. I shouldn't say I am completely done with furniture. I have grand ideas for a cool nightstand, but I am still on the hunt for the right object to make it work.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Easy Easter Nest Cookies

Want an easy cookie to make for Easter? Well, look no further then these Easy Easter Nest Cookies. I found this recipe originally on the Fiber One website and decided to give it a try. This recipe is fast and very easy to make. Nest cookies are usually made with crispy chow mein noodles, but this recipe uses the original bran cereal. The cookies end up crunchy and a little healthier packing in 11% of your daily fiber needs in just one cookie! If that doesn't give you a reason why you can eat more than one, I don't know what will!

2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 3/4 cups Fiber One original bran cereal
Egg shaped candy (I used whoppers)

1. Line cookie sheets with waxed paper.
2. In double boiler, melt chocolate. Stir until smooth.
3. Add in peanut butter and stir until smooth.
4. Mix in cereal.
5. Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper.
6. Top with egg shaped candy for the look of a nest.
7. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm.
8. Enjoy!

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Fire Truck Room #1

I have said this a few times before on this blog, but I have decided to reveal my grand plans to make my little toddler a fire truck theme room and I thought I would share a few of my ideas with you!

First I should explain why a fire truck room-- It probably all started almost nine years ago when I met my husband. Not that I was planning out our child's room, but I saw a picture on his desk of him and his Dad in front of a fire truck. His Dad, my son's Farfar, was a volunteer firefighter for a number of years. The picture has traveled with us through many moves and has always been on display. I think because his Dad chose such an important job of saving people, it sent a good message to his family and greatly impacted my husband's life-- as he too chose to go into a profession of saving people. The room is somewhat a tribute to my father-in-law's former work and my husband's memory of it. We have several items from Farfar's days as a fire fighter that will be displayed in the room including his hat, coat, and captains sign that use to hang in the back of their vehicle.

Second, it's just too dang cute! What's not to love about a little boy in his fire truck room! Plus the resources for ideas for this room are endless. I am obviously not the first person to choose this theme!

Third, at some point my son will probably outgrow fire trucks. He will probably beg and say 'that he is not a baby anymore' and wants a more 'manly' room. At this point I hope to suggest to him a room entirely dedicated to my husband's alma mater University of Nebraska. The red and white furniture can then be reused without an investment in new items.
The grand idea to start the room was to build this awesome fire truck loft I saw on Though, I decided this won't work for us quite yet. My son is barely 17 months, and a loft bed with a small kid seems like a bad idea to me. Also, we plan on building a new house in a few years and I have a feeling this thing won't disassemble and move very easily. So this awesome little project will have to wait until my son is older and we have our new house.

Next, I looked online at these cute little fire truck toddler beds. At a price of $150 and up, I decided just to use the current toddler bed I own until my son outgrows it.

This is our current toddler bed below as it was set up in the nursery in our old house. However, I have painted it white to match the red and white them.

And to go with the toddler bed I bought this nursery set. It turns out they don't have really any cute toddler bed bedding sets for fire trucks. There are a few out there, but I wasn't a real big fan of any of these. I like the red, white, and brown coloring of this one so I decided to purchase it. The quilt and the bottom sheet fit the toddler bed and I am going to take the crib bumper and refashion it into a nice pillow sham.

Ideally, as bedding goes, I would have LOVED to purchase this set from Pottery Barn. However, Pottery Barn discontinued it and the ones on ebay are used and $300. No thank you!

I also LOVED the painting in the picture above. I decided to create my own copy of it. With about 2 weeks of painting in my down time, I finished my own version of a painting that to him will be a mommy original.

I also like the idea of turning one wall into a fire station mural. The one below is wallpaper you can purchase, but I hate wallpaper so I plan to paint my own.

I have sketched-up my outline for the fire station that will be on the wall. I probably will have to adjust the width of my art, but for now this is the plan:

And of course I have blogged about all the items I have already finished for this room already, such as the the bookshelf (Garage Sale Redo: The Bookshelf) and

Next on the list is to finish the dresser in his room. This is the dresser before and my grand plans for the after are going to be so cute! (I know the dresser doesn't look so bad, but up close it's pretty beat up.)

Anyways, I hope to get the room entirely finished by May 11th-- the day we find out if we are having a girl or a boy with this next one. Once we find that out, I will be planning the grand decor for the nursery!

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