Tag Archives: risotto

Why Food Works: A Dinner Party

This past Sunday I was very excited to participate in a fun dinner party, which focused on nutrition!  A Back on My Feet runner, friend, and blogger, Ericka of The Sweet Life, invited me to join other fellow bloggers for a delicious evening.  I was excited to learn a little bit more about the food that was chosen for this meal, as well as to meet new friends.

Why Food Works- group pic

From the left: Anne, me, Ericka, Sarah, Sarah, Amy

A DC Registered Dietician, Sarah, recently started up a small business- Why Food Works.  She hosts dinner parties at customer’s homes, prepares them a delicious dinner, and teaches them about nutrition.  To promote her new business, Sarah reached out to us and provided us with a free dinner, in exchange for writing about it on our blogs.

Why Food Works- Sarah

How it works:
 Where: Dinner parties are available around the DC area 
        (within a 15 mile radius from city center)
 Who: minimum of 4 guests, maximum of 8
 Price: $60 per person (the host receives 50% off); 
        $8 per person for wine pairing
 How: all food, kitchen gadgets, utensils, plates and 
        glasses included- you won't have to clean up!

Shortly after we all arrived, Sarah was ready with the appetizer and our first glass of wine.

Why Food Works 1

First, she showed us how to prepare a healthier version of a ranch or sour cream dip.  A more nutritious alternative is a Greek yogurt dip, with onion powder, garlic powder and chives.  Check out Sarah’s recipe for the Guilt Free Ranch Dip, and be sure to include this when you serve veggies next time!

Why Food Works 2

We snacked and enjoyed white wine while Sarah cooked- a perfect way to meet new friends!  Sarah and Anne are both RD’s, so we picked their brains about nutrition (what’s a healthy breakfast, steaming vs. roasting, nutritious snacks, etc), and it was great to have Sarah there to answer any questions about how to prepare the meal.  Yes, even food bloggers can learn new tricks!

Next up was the entree, which consisted of three parts: salmon cakes, risotto and roasted broccoli.

Why Food Works 3

The Savory Salmon Cakes were made using canned salmon- an affordable meal, and with greens it had an excellent flavor.

Why Food Works 4

It was topped with a goat cheese sauce that was phenomenal (goat cheese, milk, pepper mixed together)!  Sidenote: Sarah also makes her own beautiful pottery!

Why Food Works 5

I did learn something new- you can make risotto using steel cut oats!  A great way to add more fiber to your dinner.  This version included mushrooms, kale, garlic, onion and almonds.

Why Food Works 6

Lastly, the Roasted Lemon-Garlic Broccoli was delicious, and I can’t wait to add that hint of lemon next time we make ours.

Why Food Works 7

The evening ended with a No-Bake Coconut “Cheesecake”.  With a raw approach, the crust was made out of almonds and dates.  Meanwhile, the filling included Greek yogurt, coconut water, gelatin and coconut.  Sarah prepped it before she started cooking the main meal, so it set and was ready to eat after dinner.

Why Food Works 8

I still can’t decide what was my favorite part of the meal- I might have to recreate it and double-check!  This would be a perfect meal to make when we have friends over for supper club!

For anyone in the DC area, I highly recommend Sarah’s Why Food Works dinner parties.  The meal was delicious, easy to recreate what you’ve learned, and healthy.  I enjoyed learning more about why certain foods were better than others!

I thought this would be a great way to spend an evening with friends, a perfect alternative to cooking or ordering food!  Sarah has seasonal menus, or can alter various dishes to particular diets- and she’ll help you maximize nutrition by pairing foods.  If anyone is interested, I’d love to do this again!

Follow Sarah on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter!

Thank you to Ericka for organizing this fun evening, and Amy for hosting it!  It was great to meet new friends!

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Mushroom Israeli Couscous Risotto

I think there are two kinds of food shoppers.  Sam falls into the group which goes into the store, for exactly what he needs, and escapes as soon as he can.  I, on the other hand, love to browse the aisles.  What if I miss some new and exciting product?

Last year I was searching for Israeli couscous, but I could never find it.  Who decides which aisle holds certain products?  I have a feeling that me and that individual are not on the same wavelength.  There are times where I’ll circle around searching for something in particular, and never end up finding it.

One day, when I was alone in the store, I stumbled upon Israeli couscous.  Finally!  Of course once I find the product, I couldn’t find a recipe which I wanted to try.  I recently organized my food magazine basket (growing every month), and finally came across a recipe which sounded delicious.

What is Israeli couscous?  Other names it is known as are: ptitim, Jerusalem couscous or pearl couscous.  In the 1950’s food rationing in Israel was enforced, and during this time rice was scarce.  The prime minister asked Osem (the largest food manufacturer and distributor in Israel) to make a wheat-based substitute.  The company then made ptitim, made of hard wheat flour roasted in the oven.

These days, Israeli couscous is marketed towards children in Israel.  Just like pastas in the US- they are made in various shapes to cater to a younger crowd.  Many eat ptitim plain, fried with onions, or topped with tomato sauce.  Meanwhile, in the US you can find it in trendy, upscale restaurants.


Mushroom Israeli Couscous Risotto
Adapted from: Cooking Light (March 2009)

We basically made a risotto, but rather than using arborio rice- I tried out Israeli couscous.  Both of us really enjoyed it, it was a bit lighter and more filling.  If you’re not a fan of mushrooms, feel free to swap it out for asparagus and green peas, or use whatever mushrooms you have in your fridge.
 

2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth (or chicken)
1 cup of water
2 cups of shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 shallots, chopped finely
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups uncooked Israeli couscous
1/2 cup dry white wine (ex: Bogle Chardonnay)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 oz goat cheese
4 tbsp chives, chopped

Combine the broth and water in a saucepan over medium heat, bring it to a simmer.  Continue to simmer this broth until you use it all up.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan, then toss in the mushrooms.  Allow them to cook for about 5 minutes, or until the moisture evaporates.  Add in the shallots and garlic, cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Then add the Israeli couscous, stir constantly for about 1 minute.  Finally pour in the wine, cook for another minute or until most of the liquid is absorbed, stir constantly.

Add a ladle (about 1/4 cup) of broth into the couscous mixture.  Stir constantly until the broth is absorbed.  Then add another ladle of the broth, continue until all of the broth has been used.

Stir in salt and pepper.  Finally, add in the goat cheese and keep stirring until it has dissolved into the couscous mixture.

Divide the couscous onto 4 plates, and sprinkle with the chives.