Butternut Squash Baked Risotto

A Feteful Life: Butternut Squash Baked RisottoHappy World Vegetarian Day! While I may not be a vegetarian, every year I get closer and closer to taking the plunge. I’ve cut out pork, almost all red-meat and I still eat chicken and fish once or twice a week but I almost always prefer vegetarian meals.

I find it easier in the summer when there’s an abundance of fresh produce and I crave lighter meals. As the cooler weather rolls in during the start of fall, I start craving heartier dishes that often involve meat. But, recently I stumbled upon this baked risotto from Martha Stewart and it perfectly encapsulated my craving for a hearty meal with my desire to eat a more plant based diet.

It is delicious, elegant and so very simple. Make it for a weeknight meal or for a dinner party. It is excellent either way!

A Feteful Life: Butternut Squash Baked Risotto

A Feteful Life: Butternut Squash Baked Risotto

A Feteful Life: Butternut Squash Baked Risotto

Butternut Squash Baked Risotto (from Martha Stewart Meatless Cookbook)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, leaves
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 medium butternut squash (2 pounds), peeled and diced medium (4 cups)
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 bunch black (Tuscan) or curly kale, tough stems removed, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick strips
Grated Parmesan, for serving

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium Dutch oven or heavy ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until opaque, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add wine and cook, stirring, until completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add squash and broth; bring mixture to aboil. Stir in kale.

Cover, transfer to oven, and bake until rice is tender and most of liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. To serve, sprinkle with Parmesan.

Dining Al Fresco… Greek Style

If I could pick one place in the whole world to visit, it would be Greece. I’ve never been and I’m absolutely dying to go. Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, Athens… I don’t care, I want to go and soak up the culture and food. Since that dream isn’t happening anytime soon, I think it’s time for me to bring a little bit of Greece to me. Here are some of my favorite ideas to throw a Greek inspired al fresco dinner. Fete on!

A Feteful Life: Greek Inspired Al Fresco Dinner1. Nothing screams Greece to me more than the combination of blue & white and these beautiful dishes from West Elm are no exception. I love their modern yet organic feel.

2. Candles are essential when it come to al fresco dining. There are a lot more ornate or detailed lanterns on the market these days but these simple wood ones from Crate & Barrel would be perfect!

3. Start out with a simple mezze platter of dolmas, olives, feta & hummus like this one from PopSugar. Add some chicken souvlaki and some greek yogurt with berries and you’ve got yourself a meal!

4. While dining under an olive grove would be best, I’ll have to settle with creating my own grove of olives by using olive branches as the centerpiece.

5. Keep things casual but elegant by decanting some greek white wine in a decanter and serving the wine in tumblers rather than wine glasses. I love this rustic blown glass set from VivaTerra.

 

It’s Party Time… Dip-Dyed Style

A Feteful Life: Dip-dyed Birthday Party

My lovely big sis had a birthday a few weeks ago and in honor or her big day, my mother and I put together a little dinner party to celebrate. Way back when, in our first post, I mentioned my desire to try out some dip-dying party decor inspired by some dip-dyed streamer. Here was my chance and I absolutely love how it turned out. I also think this would be an absolutely beautiful way to decorate for an Easter brunch or dinner.

A Feteful Life: Dip Dyed Birthday Invitation

A Feteful Life: Dip-Dyed Birthday Dinner

I dip-dyed a table runner, place cards, drink stirrers, cupcake liners, streamers and white pillar candles. For everything except the pillar candles, I used gel food coloring to make the dye. Just a few drops of the gel, a little water and you’re ready to get dying. If you wanted to dye fabric you would need to get a stronger dye specially designed for fabric to ensure that it will stay dyed after being laundered.

The table runner is simply white wrapping paper dipped in the food coloring dye. It’s best to roll the paper loosely so the dye will be able to reach each level (no worries if it doesn’t though because you can always do some touchup by dipping some paper towels into the dye and then dabbing the dye on the blank spots). Also, be sure to do one side and then let it dry before dipping the other side to avoid having the dye run.

For the place cards, I printed them out of a thicker stock of paper so they wouldn’t buckle too much from the dye. They still did a little bit but I like the effect. I also made to sure to dip them several times (drying in-between) to give the dye more dimension.

A Feteful Life: Dip-Dyed Birthday Party

The wax on the candles won’t take the dye from the food coloring (not sure if it would work with fabric dye but let me know if you try and it does). Instead I simply took a teal stamp pad and dabbed it on the candle and then rubbed off the excess with a paper towel to give it the dip-dyed look.

A Feteful Life: Dip-Dyed Birthday Party

Of course we had to celebrate with some bubble and of course there were decorative drink stirrers. I made these out of strips of tissue paper (about 1″ x 5″). I lightly rolled the strips and dipped them in the dye. Then, I gently unrolled the paper and let them dry on a drying rack. Once dry I cut fringes into the paper about half way through and then glued the paper onto wooden skewers with a glue stick (skip the Elmers or glue gun because the tissue paper is too fragile). Once you get the paper glued on, ruffle the fringes a little.

A Feteful Life: Dip-Dyed Birthday Party

I love how these cupcake liners turned out! It did take a little trial and error though to get it right. When placing the liners in the cupcake pan before filling, be sure to have two dyed liners in each up. If you just use one, the white of the liner takes on the color of the cake and doesn’t give you the same effect. Having both liners keeps the white white and lets the dye pop.

The final decoration that I dip-dyed was a roll of streamers. Unfortunately, they didn’t turn out as well as I hoped, leaving a few areas void of the dye. It turned out looking more like I just dyed the edges on the inner part of the streamers rather than doing a full dip-dye. Oh well, I still think it looked cool.

A Feteful Life: Dip-Dyed Birthday Party

It was a great evening celebrating with my family and I can’t wait for us to get together for our next celebration!