Shish Kebob with Risotto

One of my favorite, quick dinners is grilled shish kebobs. Meat plus bell peppers, onions and mushrooms is a great combination and it only takes about 10 minutes cooking time. I also make the dinner easy on myself by using a Good Seasonings Italian Dressing packet for my marinade.

This is one of the few dishes that I grill over direct heat and also one where I not only don’t pull the meat out ahead of time to come to room temperature, I also freeze the metal skewers in advance. All goes to help the meat stay medium rare and not get tough as shoe leather.

While I used venison in my kebobs tonight, you can use 1 1/2 to 2 lbs of your favorite meat cut into chunks (or even drop the meat out altogether, as the marinaded and grilled veggies and mushrooms are super tasty).

I serve the kebobs with rice. This time I prepared a risotto with sherry and chicken stock and some of the extra mushrooms, sliced thin.

venison kabobs

Venison Shish Kebob

1 1/2 – 2 lbs meat, cubed into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 onion, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 1/2 lbs small mushrooms
2 packets of Good Seasonings Italian Dressing

Make dressing according to the package directions. Pour 1 portion over the meat, bell pepper and onions and seal into a zip close plastic bag. Pour the next portion over the mushrooms and seal them in another bag. Marinate for at least three hours, turning occasionally.

Place metal skewers in the freezer.

When ready, prepare grill for direct cooking, with a cooler area along one side to move the kebabs to when there are flareups.

Skewer the meat and veggies, alternating meat and onion and pepper. Be sure to leave some room between the items so that all sides can get heat. I usually put all the mushrooms on their own skewers. Grill for about 2-4 minutes per side (four sides means about 10 minutes total cook time for medium rare). Do not cover the grill and do not step away – move skewers to the cooler area if there are flareups but this is a quick cook so stay vigilant.

Let the kebobs rest for about five minutes before removing from the skewers. Serve with rice.

Mushroom Risotto

1 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine or sherry
4 -5 cups chicken stock (heated)
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese

In a large pot heat oil and add mushrooms. Cook through, until almost all the liquid has been cooked away. Remove from pot and set aside.

Using the same pot, add butter and sauté onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in minced garlic for just a couple minutes more. Add the rice and toast it about two to 5 minutes.

Add the wine or sherry and stir frequently until all the liquid has been absorbed into the rice.

Add 1/2 cup of the heated chicken stock and stir frequently until absorbed. Cook at a slow simmer, continuing to add chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time and allowing the rice to absorb it before adding the next 1/2 cup. You may need only 4 cups of stock but I tend to keep extra on hand in case the risotto needs it.

Taste the rice – after about 25-30 minutes it should be soft and tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Just before the last batch of stock has been absorbed into the rice, add the mushrooms back into the pot. Stir well. Add the parmesan cheese and stir until creamy.

Serve immediately as risotto tends to get gummy the longer it sits.

For those of you who don’t want to spend so much time stirring, Martha Stewart invented an oven-baked method. You can adapt any Risotto recipe to this method.


A Slice of Cheesecake Heaven

I’m sitting here, fork in hand and singing from Donna Fargo’s Happiest Girl in the Whole USA because my girlfriend made me a cookie butter cheesecake. And to top it off, she made it with homemade cookie butter. Yummerific!

Shine on me sunshine
Walk with me world
It’s a skippedee-dooda day!
I’m the happiest girl in the whole USA.


Here is her recipe:

Cookie Butter Cheesecake

Start with making Cookie Butter

2 cups cookie crumbs (28 Biscoff cookies – 1 package minus 3 cookies to crumble over top the cheesecake)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Place the cookie crumbs in a large heat-safe bowl.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, condensed milk, evaporated milk and salt. Cook until melted. Remove from heat and pour about 1/2 cup into the cookie crumbs. Stir with a rubber spatula. Continue adding the liquid mixture very gradually to the cookie crumbs until it is wet enough to hold its shape.

At this point you can place the cookie butter in a mason jar and store in the fridge for up to 14 days. Let sit at room temperature until softened before using in the cheesecake.

For the Cheesecake

1 graham cracker crust

4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
2 cups cookie butter, divided

Bring a medium saucepan or tea kettle full of water to a boil.

Beat cream cheese in mixer on medium speed, scraping down bowl as necessary, until completely smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Add sugar and salt and beat, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat until mixed. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition and scraping down bowl as necessary. Add heavy cream and sour cream and beat on low until fully incorporated and completely smooth. Gently fold in 1 cup of cookie butter.

Pour cheesecake batter into crust and smooth top. Place cheesecake in deep roasting pan and set on middle rack of oven. Carefully pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come about halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake until top is just starting to brown and crack, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Turn off oven, prop door open and let cheesecake slowly cool in water bath for 1 hour.

Remove roasting pan from oven, then carefully lift springform pan out of water and remove foil. Set cheesecake on rack and let come to room temperature. Once completely cool, loosely cover cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. When ready to serve, place remaining cookie butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 20 seconds until loose. Carefully remove sides of springform pan and spread the top with cookie butter. Sprinkle top with remaining crushed cookies.



Provolone Fonduta

Cheese sauce. Oh, cheese sauce. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

This recipe is creamy indulgence to its core. I like to serve it with garlic knots but any crusty French or Italian bread will do. Also, try it poured over poached eggs at brunch or over fresh baby spinach leaves for a salad even I will eat.


Provolone Fonduta

1 pound provolone cheese
1 cup milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup cream
salt and pepper

Finely dice the provolone cheese. Place the cheese and the milk together in a bowl and let sit for at least one hour.

Lightly roast the garlic in the butter and set aside.

In a double boiler, heat the cheese and milk on low heat heat until the cheese turns creamy. Whisk in egg yolks and cream and continue whisking until the mixture thickens. Stir in the garlic butter mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook and stir until it reaches the desired consistency.

For the garlic knots, use your favorite pizza dough recipe. After the second rise, divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll out into ropes. Dunk in melted butter and tie into a knot. Let rest on cookie sheet until doubled in size. Cook for 20-30 minutes in a 375 degrees F oven, until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before tearing apart and dipping into fonduta.

Peanutty Magic Bars

One of the first desserts I learned to make was the magic bars from the back of the can of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (recipe here). I’ve tried over the years to add different things like peanuts or peanut butter chips but it was never nutty enough. Whilst browsing through the Skippy Peanut Butter website, however, I came across this recipe.

What a great idea to mix peanut butter with the sweetened condensed milk! As I prefer crunchy peanut butter, I’ve now added lots of peanut flavor as well as bits of peanut. Very yum and perfect to take to my volunteer shift today!

magic cookie bars

Below is my recipe.

Peanutty Magic Bars

1  1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup peanut butter – I like Skippy Super Chunk but brand and whether to use smooth or chunky is up to you
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
7 ounces sweetened, flaked coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place in the oven a 9×13 pan with the stick of butter in it to melt. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk until well combined.

Once the butter has melted, remove pan from oven and add the graham cracker crumbs in an even layer. Pour over the graham crackers the peanut butter/sweetened condensed milk mixture. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the entire surface. Layer the top with the flaked coconut and press down with your fingers.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the coconut is lightly browned. Allow to cool completely before cutting.