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Winter Squash Risotto with Leeks and Greens + Lagostina Risotto Pot Giveaway

Risotto Set-up - Food in Jars

I have a weakness for beautiful cookware (some woman collect jewelry, I surround myself pots and pans). The first time I saw the Lagostina Risotto Pot at my local Williams-Sonoma, I nearly swooned. Gleaming tri-ply stainless steel! A wooden topped lid (that fits tightly and doubles as a trivet)! And a thick, heat diffusing base to prevent hot spots and burning!

squash for roasting - Food in Jars

To my very great delight, not long after spotting this gorgeous pot for the first time, I got an email asking if I might like one to use for the development of a risotto recipe. I sent a positive response off as quickly as my fingers could type.

pouring rice - Food in Jars

Since this lovely piece of cookware arrived, I’ve been making a lot of risotto. It’s one of my favorite things to make and eat on chilly days. I love the ceremony of near-constant cooking (though to be truthful, I often put the spoon down for a moment or two so that I can do a little clean-up while I cook) and the comfort that comes when you cozy up to a bowlful.

finished risotto - Food in Jars

Whenever I make risotto, my primary goal is to cram as much vegetable content into the pot. Risotto can be a heavy dish, and so making sure that it’s packed with fresh produce (in this case, aromatics, greens, and roasted squash) helps lighten it and make it a more regular dinnertime occurrence.

plated risotto - Food in Jars

When I make this for me (if I’m making if for Scott, I use roasted carrots in place of squash), I peel and chop all the squash and stir it into the rice. However, if I have friends coming by, I like to reserve some of the roasted squash to serve on top. It brings a little visual and textural interest to the plate and makes it feel like something you might be served as the neighborhood Italian place.

risotto pot - Food in Jars

What’s nice about this piece of cookware is that truly, it’s good for so much more than risotto. The wide base and low profile mean that it’s a great shape for any dish you want to simmer and reduce. It does good work with small batches of jam and I love using to make Marcella’s tomato sauce.

The Lagostina Risotto pot can be found at Williams-Sonoma, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and other specialty shops, and retails for $199.95. For more information about Lagostina, check out their social accounts and visit their website.

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Thanks to the kind folks at Lagostina, I have one of their glorious Risotto Pots to give away to you guys. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me what kind of risotto you’d make in this pot.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, December 19, 2015. A winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, December 20, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Lagostina sent me this risotto pot to use and write about. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

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Maple Bourbon Apple Butter + OXO On Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender

Looking for an easy, five-ingredient apple butter for holiday giving? Look no further than this small batch Maple Bourbon Apple Butter!

Finished Maple Bourbon Apple Butter - Food in Jars

My family got our first immersion blender when I was in middle school. I can’t remember where it came from, though if I was forced to guess, I’d bet that it was a gift from my grandmother. While she didn’t cook much herself, she garnered a great deal of pleasure from buying culinary appliances and giving them to others (probably in the hopes that they’d prepare something for her with it).

OXO Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender - Food in Jars

My sister and I claimed that immersion blender as our own, using to make jam and yogurt smoothies for breakfast and after school snacks of skim milk and chocolate SlimFast (it was the nineties, after all). Since then, there’s rarely been a time when I didn’t have an immersion blender in my kitchen.

Apples for Butter - Food in Jars

These days, I pull out my immersion blender on a near-daily basis and use it for soups, purees, fruit butters, jams, gravies, salad dressings, and mason jar mayonnaise. When I heard that OXO was bring an new immersion blender to market, I was excited to check it out because I knew that my current immersion blender was nearing the end of its lifespan and OXO products are always so thoughtfully designed.

OXO Core Clip - Food in Jars

Guys, the OXO On Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender is even better than I had hoped. The blender head is made of sturdy nylon, which means you don’t have to worry about scratching your bowls or cookware with metal. The shaft is coated in silicone, so that you can knock the drips of the blender without dinging the edges of your pan (I have a few pots that are pockmarked from repeated immersion blender banging). The blending end removes from the motor with the press of a button. The motor end has heft and the DC motor produces a lot of power.

Chopped Apples for Butter - Food in Jars

No matter what speed you’re on, the blender starts slowly to prevent splashes and then ramps up to whichever of the six speeds you’ve set it at. The speeds are controlled digitally and you can set them using the dial on the top of the blender. The cord comes with a useful clip on the end, so that you can wrap it around the handle and secure it in place. The wide power button is easy to press and hold. Oh, and lets not forget about the headlight, which illuminates whatever you’re blending. On my dark stovetop, this is so useful.

Cooked Apples for Butter - Food in Jars

For its maiden voyage in my kitchen, I used this lovely OXO immersion blender to make a batch of Maple Bourbon Apple Butter. Wanting to really test it, I cored and chopped five pounds of apples, but left the peels on (unlike this recent butter, where I peeled). In my experience, not all immersion blenders can break down even long-cooked apple peels, but this one handled it like it was nothing.

OXO Blending Apples - Food in Jars

No matter how large or small the batch size, I use a two-blend process when I make apple butter. I cook the fruit down into a soft sauce, puree the heck out of it, cook it down until it thickens and darkens, and then work it with the immersion blender again.

The reason for the second puree is two-fold. First, the peels aren’t always quite soften enough to disappear during that first round of blending. Second, most fruit butters clump a bit while you’re cooking them down, and I prefer a super smooth butter. Pureeing just before the butter goes into the jar ensures that silky texture.

OXO Blender in Action - Food in Jars

As the fruit was cooking down, I spent a little time pondering flavorings. I have plenty of spiced apple butters on my shelves, and wanted to opt for something different here. I know that the combination maple, bourbon, and orange zest isn’t a particularly novel one, but combined the richness of the long-cooked apples, was just the thing I was craving. My plan is to keep two of the jars for myself, and tuck the remaining two into gift baskets for people I know will appreciate it.

Maple Bourbon Apple Butter Overhead - Food in Jars

The OXO On Digital Illuminating Immersion Blender isn’t the only small kitchen appliance that OXO has brought to market lately. There’s also an illuminating hand mixer, a pair of motorized toasters, and a line of coffee makers and water kettles (several times lately, I’ve found myself at Williams-Sonoma, petting the 9-cup coffee maker). I look forward to seeing what OXO creates next!

Disclosure: OXO sent me this OXO On Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender to try and write about. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

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Can-It-Forward Demo Videos Now Available on FreshPreserving.com + Home Depot Gift Card Giveaway

Marisa at Ball Canning HQ

Back in July, I traveled to Indiana to participate in Ball Canning’s International Can-It-Forward Day. We were supposed to be streaming live from their brand new test kitchen (kitted out in Martha Stewart Living cabinets, counters and hardware), but there were some technical difficulties and the videos were never made available.

Happily, the Can-It-Forward team has been hard at work behind the scenes, and today, the videos of the recipes that we all demonstrated that day are finally ready for viewing! You’ll see the following demos…

Click here to see all the Can-It-Forward Videos!

demo at Ball Canning HQ

For those of you who missed the interactivity of International Can-It-Forward Day, fear not. Your friends at Jarden Home Brands have you covered. This Thursday, September 24 they’ll be live streaming an fall canning program starting at 3 pm ET. You’ll have a chance to ask questions and see a behind the scenes peek at that gorgeous test kitchen I mentioned earlier.

If you’re interested in tuning in, you can pre-register here. And if you can’t make the livestream, they’ll be posting the full video later in the day, so you can catch up at your leisure.

Now, for the last bit of good news. I have a $100 Home Depot gift card to give away to one lucky Food in Jars reader (I know. Two giveaways in one week!).

Jarden Home Brands worked with The Home Depot and the Martha Stewart Living Kitchens line during their kitchen renovation and the results are so gorgeous. If you like the looks of the kitchen they created, this giveaway is your change to bring a little bit of the same durable style into your own home.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share how you’d spend $100 at The Home Depot.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Friday, September 25, 2015. The winner will be chosen at random and this post will be updated with their name.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents only (and is void where prohibited).
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog.

Disclosure: I am a paid Ball Canning Ambassador and was compensated for my participation in this year’s Can-It-Forward Day, but my thoughts and opinions remain entirely my own. 

Lightly Pickled Cucumber Salad + OXO Hand-held Spiralizer

OXO hand held spiralizer

I am not immune to kitchen trends. Over the years, I’ve succumbed in turn to the allure of no-knead bread, chia seed pudding, avocado toast (though I swear, I ate that one before it was cool), and even zucchini noodles (made with a julienne peeler).

spiralizer info

One fad that I’ve somehow managed to resist up until now has been spiralizing. Though spiral slicers have been around for a while, they’ve recently become incredibly popular, owing to the fact that they allow you turn all manner of vegetable into contiguous strips that mimic the look and feel of noodles.

clean spiralizer

My primary reason for staying away from spiralizing has been the fact that it typically requires a specialized appliance to make it happen (and with just an 80 square foot kitchen to work with, I have to be careful about how much gear I bring in).

spiralized cucumber

However, thanks to the new Hand-Held Spiralizer from OXO, even the smallest kitchen can be a spiralizing one. This tool is small in size but mighty when it comes to twisting soft vegetables into springy lengths.

spiralized in the bowl

For my first spiralizing session, I made a quick pickled cucumber salad to eat with a summery meal of corn on the cob and chicken sausages. I added some finely sliced red onion and let it mellow in the fridge for an hour before we ate.

finished spiralized salad

My thinking is that this will be a useful tool for small batches of pickles, when I want something finely and neatly shredded and don’t want to pull the food processor out in order to make it happen. For those of you who have jumped aboard the spiralizing train, what’s your favorite thing to spiralize?

Disclosure: OXO sent me this spiralizer to try and write about. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

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July 4 Picnic: The Wrap-Up

picnic table side view

Last week, the lovely Madame Fromage and I shared the various components of summery 4th of July cheese and preserve picnic we made. Our hope was to create something that would help inspire all of you to open up your pantries, buy a few wedges, and invite friends over to celebrate.

open spiced blueberries

I started the week with a batch of spiced blueberries. Preserved in a syrup spiked with just a bit of apple cider vinegar to cut the sweetness, these blueberries were lovely with cheese. They would also be nice spooned over vanilla ice cream or angel food cake, should you prefer a dessert-y pairing.

Oh, and in case you’re curious, you can replace the vinegar with a little lemon juice, if you don’t love the assertiveness of the vinegar.

sparklers

While I was writing about blueberries, Tenaya was sharing tips for making light, refreshing, cheese-friendly cocktails. The recipe she included was one that was made with gin and a bit of raspberry shrub, but could be made with any light spirit and tangy fruity syrup.

finished cherry chutney

The next day, my suggestion was to make a batch of sweet cherry chutney. This is a preserve I first shared last summer and is a very good one. When I’m not eating it with a slice of cheese, I like stir it into a bowl of warm couscous, chopped arugula, and a soft boiled egg.

graham crackers

One of the components that Madame Fromage made for our picnic was a batch of whole grain graham crackers. The recipe is one that Heidi Swanson first posted on her site more than a decade ago, but is well worth a revisit. These crackers are sturdy, slightly sweet, and once you eat one with a bit of crumbled blue cheese, you’ll never again be satisfied with a basic Ritz.

whole brittle

My final offering for this celebratory meal was a batch of spicy pecan brittle. Broken into shards, it was delicious with bites of cheese. In slightly larger pieces, it was eaten as a sweet treat at the end of the meal.

three cheeses

For her second to last post, Madame Fromage turned her attention to the cheeses. We made the choice to buy the cheeses for this series from Trader Joe’s, in the hopes of making our selections more widely available while also showing that there are some really great budget options available out there.

friends shooting the board

I hope you enjoyed our picnic as much as we did! Make sure to check out Madame Fromage’s wrap-up here. And once again, many thanks to Peg & Awl for lending us the gorgeous boards (I’m just sad we didn’t find a way to work this jar caddy into the shoot).

And now, a question for all of you. How are you planning on working your homemade preserves into your summer celebrations?

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Roasted Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote + OXO GreenSaver

shipped rhubarb

A couple months ago, I started hearing some positive buzz about the new OXO GreenSaver containers. I like to keep a variety of greens on hand for smoothies and salads but it’s always something of a race against time to eat them before they get turn slimy. More often than I care to admit, I’ve pitched the last quarter of a bag because it’s gotten too funky to be good.

rhubarb in the greensaver

In an attempt to waste less, I bought myself the medium GreenSaver and started packing it full of greens as soon as I got them home from the grocery store. After the first week, I was a believer (hallelujah!). Those greens stayed good days longer than they would have if stored in bags in the crisper drawer. Week after week, I used up every last spinach leaf and arugula tendril.

The way the GreenSaver works is that the filter pack absorbs the ethylene gas that ripening produce releases, while improving airflow around the produce, and helping control the humidity in the container (the door the holds the filter pack in place slides back and forth to help either retain or release the moisture).

rhubard after 1 week

So, when I got an email from OXO, saying they were looking for bloggers to participate in a campaign they were running with Melissa’s Produce featuring the GreenSaver containers and an assortment of seasonal produce, I submitted my name for consideration (since I was among the converted).

I danced a small jig when I heard I was picked and waited anxiously for a large GreenSaver and a bundle of rhubarb to arrive.

rhubarb strawberries sugar

Now, this is not the first time in my life that I’ve received produce in the mail as part of some blog campaign. Typically I clear my schedule when I know fruit is arriving, because I know it’s going to need to be used within a fairly short window of time.

In this case, the point was to store the rhubarb for a bit in order to prove the efficacy of the GreenSaver so when it arrived on May 15, I simply trimmed the stalks down enough so that they’d fit in the container and popped them in the fridge.

roasted rhubarb and strawberries

There they sat until the following Thursday. I could have let them go longer, but we were headed out for the long weekend and I wanted to couple those rhubarb stalks with some strawberries and they weren’t going to last until we got back.

After a week in the GreenSaver, the rhubarb was in amazingly good shape. It had aged some, but had it been stored in a plastic bag it would have been unusable (just a few weeks back, I’d neglected some rhubarb in the crisper and it molded and liquified after a five days. It was tragic).

roasted rhubarb and strawberries side of jar

I trimmed the rhubarb into lengths of about 2 inches long and quartered the strawberries. I tossed the fruit with a scant half-cup of cane sugar and rubbed the seeds from a split vanilla bean into the mess.

The pan went into a 350 degree oven and the fruit roasted for 20 to 25 minutes. I like the rhubarb to have retain some structural integrity and so pull it out when it has softened but before it fully disintegrates.

roasted rhubarb in a jar

I like to eat this rustic compote with plain yogurt and a sprinkle of simple granola (Cheryl’s nutmeg crunch would be good too). It’s also good as a topper for oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, and french toast. Hey, I wouldn’t judge if you ate it straight out of the pan (I may have done a bit of that myself).

For more information about OXO GreenSavers, visit their website. If you long for rhubarb and live in a place where it’s hard to come by, Melissa’s Produce has got you covered.

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