Thursday, October 24, 2013

a nashville recap + easy spinach risotto

You guyyyyys.

I've been so busy lately.
October has by far been the busiest month of my year.
Between birthdays, company events, college football, and a brief trip out of town, I feel like I haven't had time to breath.
Or blog.
Hence the silence post-birthday.

But somehow I have found the time to squeeze in a few homemade meals {and baked goods, of course} between everything going on this month.

Before I get to that, though, let me take a quick second to tell you about a quick love affair I had.
Seriously, love is kind of an understatement.
I had been wanting to go there for as long as I could remember, and it just so happened my closest girlfriend, Kayla, and I were coming up on our "10 years of friendship" anniversary.
"Friendaversary" as we so lovingly called it.
So what better reason to pack up the car and get the heck out of town than that?
Off to Nashville we went.

{Now would be a good time to prepare for a photo dump.}

While we were there, we ate a lot of amazing food.

Captain Crunch french toast at Mad Donna's, with 2-for-1 mimosas!
funnel cake at Oktoberfest in Germantown
We spent our nights checking out as many famous bars as possible downtown.

view from Honky Tonk Central
This was my favorite part.
Tootie's will forever be on my top 5 favorite bar list, despite the huge crowd.
I don't even really like country music, but I may now be a convert.
The atmosphere was just so friendly and happy!

Of course, we had to take a break from sight-seeing and bar-hopping to watch the Dawgs at a local pub.

They ended up losing {let's just pretend it's not football season anymore, thanks}, but it was a great time!

So great, in fact, that on the way home we decided we weren't ready for the trip to be over and made the most touristy stop of the whole weekend....

I can't believe I live two hours from Rock City and had never seen it before.
It was quite a sight.

Sometimes a girls' trip is just what you need to get you back on track.
Nashville, I will be back.
I can guarantee you that.

So, now to the food.

Today, instead of shoving sugar in your face per usual, I have a super easy spinach risotto I found via Williams-Sonoma that was incredibly simple to put together and tasted delicious.
For anyone that's a risotto first-timer, this is the recipe for you.
{I had never made risotto before, and this was a solid first effort.  I definitely recommend it!}

recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma
Things you'll need:

6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
3 tbs olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 lb. fresh spinach, roughly chopped
2 cups Arborio rice {I couldn't find that, so I used a store brand medium-grain rice}
2 tbs butter
2-4 tbs grated Parmesan
sea salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan, bring chicken stock to a simmer and maintain on low heat.
In a deep skillet, sauté onion in olive oil for 3-4 minutes, until slightly tender.
Add chopped spinach, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 4-5 minutes, until tender.
Transfer onion/spinach mixture to a bowl and set aside.

Add a bit more olive oil if necessary.
Add rice to the pan and stir until coated with oil and slightly translucent, 3-4 minutes.
{This would be where you'd want to add some wine, if you were going to.  I was out {!!!} so I couldn't. Shame.}

Begin adding stock one ladle at a time.
Stir constantly, and wait until stock is almost completely absorbed before adding more.
Continue this process until all stock has been added except 1/4 cup.

After about 18 minutes, once all the stock except 1/4 cup has been added, stir in the onion/spinach mixture.
Cook for 2-3 minutes until onion/spinach mixture is heated through.
Remove from heat.
Add butter, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and leftover stock.
Serve immediately!

This was so easy, I'm a little surprised I haven't attempted it before now.
I think the word "risotto" just sounds intimidating.
But I promise, it's not.
So keep calm and risotto on, or something like that.

This would be delicious with some shrimp stirred in to make it more substantial.
I served it with tilapia, so I had no need for the extra protein.
It's totally an option, though, if you're into one-pan meals!
Which, let's be honest, who isn't?

Up next on the blog, we'll be talking about my new hobby this fall.
Kneading any and all bread dough.

It's almost Friday!

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