Category Archives: Decadent

Sausage, Fennel, and Broccoli Risotto


As I’ve previously mentioned, Ben has a rather…interesting palate for a guy who doesn’t turn 2 until August. Tonight was a leftovers night, so he had a combination of leftover palak paneer and pizza. Totally normal diet. One thing that this kid likes is rice. Whenever he sees it he says, “Rye-sh? Rye-sh?” like the seagulls in Finding Nemo. Last night, I made risotto (“Rye-sh?! Rye-sh?!”) and Ben was pleased. He tapped his plate and said, “Morch?” We’re working on his Parseltongue accent.

Fair warning, it’s hard to make risotto healthy. I did my best. 🙂

Sausage, Fennel and Broccoli Risotto

 (Baby approved! 4-6 servings)

1 ½ cup of Arborio rice

5-6 cups of chicken stock

1 cup of white wine (I used Pinot Grigio), divided

4 Tb butter, divided

2 Tb olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped and divided

4 cloves garlic, divided

2 spicy Italian sausages (I used turkey), casings removed

1 bulb fennel, sliced

4 cups of broccoli florets

Juice of one lemon

1 tsp crushed red pepper

½ cup Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Over medium-high heat, brown the sausage in a large pan. Set aside, add enough olive oil with the left over grease to get 2 tablespoons.
  2. Add half of the onion to the pan with 2 cloves of garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in the fennel and broccoli and coat with the olive oil, garlic, and onions. Add in about a ¼ cup of the wine and stir. All of the wine should be absorbed by the vegetables.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and cook the vegetables until the stalks of the broccoli have become a bright green.
  5. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, heat the chicken stock over a medium heat. Reduce the temperature to keep it warm.
  6. In a large pan, heat two tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the ½ of the onion and 1 clove of garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes.
  7. Pour in the rice and coat with the butter, garlic, and onion mixture. Stir in remaining ¾ of a cup of wine. Keep stirring the rice until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
  8. Ladle the chicken stock into the rice a little at a time. Stir until all of the liquid has been incorporated before adding in the next ladle. The amount of stock can vary depending on your tastes. If you like a more “al dente” risotto, use less stock. If you like a softer risotto, use more.
  9. Throughout the cooking process, gradually season the rice with the crushed red pepper, salt and pepper until you get to your taste.
  10. When the risotto is done to your liking, add in the remaining 2 Tb of butter and stir until incorporated.
  11. Before combining the vegetables and sausage with the risotto, add the lemon juice to the vegetables and stir.
  12. Combine the rice, vegetables, and sausage in a large bowl and mix in the Parmesan cheese. Enjoy immediately!
Enjoy with a delightful glass of wine

Enjoy with a delightful glass of wine


Reduced Fat Tiger Butter Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Reduced Fat Tiger Butter Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Those who know me know that ice cream is my biggest weakness. As such, my dad gave me an ice cream machine for Christmas. Over the past few days, I have been experimenting with ice cream recipes. This is quite possibly the best recipe I have ever made. No joke. I used left-over Tiger Butter (a delightful treat my friend Amy introduced me to) and a peanut butter ice cream recipe from Cuisinart. However, I reduced the fat and calories and it is still amazing. Love.


Tiger Butter Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Makes about 16 ½ cup servings
1 1/8 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural because it will separate)
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cup skim milk
2 cups fat free half and half
1 ½ tsp vanilla
6 oz chopped tiger butter (recipe below) or chopped peanut butter cups

An army of ingredients. Safeway should pay me for using their brand.

An army of ingredients. Safeway should pay me for using their brand.

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, blend together the peanut butter and sugar until combined.
  2. Add in the milk and blend on low until the sugar dissolves (about 1-2 minutes).
  3. Stir in half and half and vanilla.
  4. Turn on ice cream maker, pour mixture into maker and mix according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. When there are five minutes left in the cycle, add in the tiger butter or peanut butter cups. Let the machine finish its course and then serve. If you would like a more solid ice cream, put the cream in an airtight container and put in the freezer for up to 2 hours. Enjoy!
In the machine! This was Ben's favorite part. He kept wanting to touch it.

In the machine! This was Ben’s favorite part. He kept wanting to touch it.

Final product. This was Husband's portion. He thought I was crazy for giving him so much. Then we cheers-ed spoons. Success!

Final product. This was Husband’s portion. He thought I was crazy for giving him so much. Then we cheers-ed spoons. Success!

Tiger Butter

1 lb white chocolate, chopped
¾ cup peanut butter (crunchy adds a nice texture)
1 cup chocolate chips

  1. Butter a 10×15 pan or cookie sheet.
  2. Melt white chocolate in microwave on high, stirring frequently. Stir in peanut butter.
  3. Spread onto pan. Drizzle with melted chocolate chips.
  4. Drag knife through mixture to create marble effect. Let stand in refrigerator until set. Break into bite-sized pieces.
Tiger Butter. Thank you, Amy, for this glorious recipe.

Tiger Butter. Thank you, Amy, for this glorious recipe.

Ice Cream Nutrition Information

Calories=171; Total Fat=8.7g; Saturated Fat=1.9g; Cholesterol=2mg; Sodium=122mg; Total Carbohydrates=18.7g; Dietary Fiber=1.2g; Sugars=15.7g; Protein=5.8g

Oreo Nutella Freezer Cake

Oreo Nutella Freezer Cake

There are few things that Husband loves more than Oreos. When I discovered Breyer’s Blasts Oreos Cookies ‘n’ Cream ice cream he was in heaven. I also love ice cream unnatural amount and one lesson I learned growing up is that when the good stuff is on sale, you buy it. Breyer’s half-gallons were 2 for $5 at our grocery store recently, so I stocked up. What did Husband call me when I told him the good news? An evil temptress. Today I went back to the grocery store (going grocery shopping has become one of my hobbies over the summer) and Oreos were BOGO. Good news/bad news was that I had to get two bags. What’s a girl to do with a half-gallon of Cookies ‘n’ Cream ice cream and two bags of Oreos? Make her poor husband a belated birthday cake, of course!

The beauty of this “cake” is that it involves no baking, which is delightful on a 100+ degree day. I think I should have been born in the summer with the amount of which I love summer dishes and desserts. But, I digress. Enjoy this easy summer dessert!

Oreo and Nutella Freezer Cake
Serves 6
20-25 Oreos (or similar chocolate cookie sandwich), divided
4 Tb (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter, melted
4 cups (1 quart) of Cookies ‘n’ Cream (or other flavor if you’re feeling saucy) ice cream
3 Tb Nutella, melted

  1. Take the ice cream carton out of the freezer and let it hang out on the counter while you are completing the rest of the steps. This will allow it to soften enough to spread into the baking dish.
  2. Spray an 8″x8″ glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Smash up 20 Oreos until they are crumbs. Pour crumbs into a small bowl and mix in the melted butter. Stir until combined.
  4. Pour mixture into the glass baking dish and press into the bottom of the dish.
  5. In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave the Nutella for about 20 seconds until it’s a little runny.
  6. Scoop the ice cream into the cookie-crumb bowl. Fold in the Nutella to incorporate.
  7. Spread the ice cream-Nutella mixture into the baking dish. If you’re feeling especially decadent, break-up the remaining 5 Oreos for a little topping.
  8. Cover with aluminum foil and pop it back into the freezer for 3-4 hours before serving.

Bon appetit!

Cookies ‘n’ Cream Cookies?

Cookies ‘n’ Cream Cookies?

So what do you do if you’re weird like Husband and I and not eat all of the Oreos or Girl Scout cookies? You put them into MORE cookies! I got the idea while perusing Pinterest when I came across a recipe from one of my favorite recipe blogs, Lauren’s Latest. Her recipe called for only Oreos, but we didn’t have enough. Enter in: Thin Mint cookies. The addition of the Thin Mints make these cookies a taste roulette–you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get! Also, I wanted to make my double recipe slightly less decadent, so I toned down the sugar and butter and used natural applesauce. Natural applesauce is my new baking love because it does a great job of mimicking the texture of butter without the crazy fat and calories. So, voila! These are delicious. They are chewy and gooey and wonderful. Husband and I think these are like a cookie-brownie hybrid. Be forewarned, the batter is really addicting!

Cookies ‘n’ Cream Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on how much dough you eat
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup natural (nothing added) applesauce
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2/3 cup unsweetened baker’s chocolate powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 coarsely chopped Oreos
6 coarsely chopped Thin Mint cookies
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and keep beating.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, chocolate, baking soda and salt. Scrape the sides of the wet mixture and stir in the dry mixture by hand.
  4. Add in the good stuff (cookies and chips) and gently stir.
  5. Let the dough chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. Plop by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheets.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until the dough is no longer shiny. This will make for chewy cookies. If you want a crisper confection, let it bake for a couple more minutes.
  8. Let the cookies rest on their sheets for about 3 minutes then transfer them to wire racks to cool the rest of the way.
  9. Enjoy with milk OR, if you’re feel especially decadent, warmed up à la mode. Magic!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

My fellow work-runners and I started a “tradition” of bringing in baked goods to counteract our runs. This is a recipe I used a couple of years ago for a Super Bowl party and subsequently forgot about it. Very sad that I forgot about it, because they’re pretty AMAZING, if I do say so myself. I re-found it in my recipe box and resurrected it. I had to guess on the amount of sugar (I foolishly had forgotten to write it down), but I guessed correctly. Voila!

Chewy Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes about 60 smallish cookies
1 cup butter and 1/2 cup peanut butter melted together
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flower
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the butter, peanut butter and sugar.
  3. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  4. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
  5. Gradually add to wet ingredients making sure to thoroughly combine.
  6. Mix in all of the “chips”.
  7. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  8. Bake 8-10 minutes in preheated oven.
  9. Cool for 1 minute on the pan and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi Florentine

Sweet Potato Gnocchi Florentine
Winter is almost over here in the D.C. area so it’s one of the last times we have something super heavy and decadent. Therefore, I decided to make some sweet potato gnocchi, which I supplemented with some Yukon gold potatoes. I was initially very nervous about the reviews on this recipe. I don’t know if Husband has ever had gnocchi and he generally doesn’t like cream sauces. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Here are some comment gems: “I love the texture. It’s like a mashed potato packet, but better” and “I like it because it’s like eating Play-Doh.”
Gnocchi (I borrowed this recipe)
1 pound sweet potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes
6 ounces fresh ricotta cheese (I used non-fat)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (about) all-purpose flour
Sauce Ingredients (makes 2 cups):
2 cups milk (I used skim)
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp nutmeg
3 Tbs unsalted butter
3 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded
3 spicy Italian turkey sausages, casings removed
1 cup frozen spinach, defrosted
1 tsp garlic powder
For the gnocchi:
  1. Rinse and scrub potatoes and pat dry.  Pierce holes into potatoes with fork in a few places.  Place on plate and microwave on high until tender, about 5-6 minutes per side. Cut in half and cool.
  2. Scrape out potato into medium size bowl and mash.
  3. Transfer to large bowl. Add ricotta cheese and stir until combined. Add Parmesan cheese and 1 teaspoon salt and stir until combined.
  4. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms.
  5. After the dough comes together, turn it out onto floured surface and divide into 4 equal pieces.
  6. Roll between palms and floured work surface.  Form each piece into 18-inch-long rope that are about 1 inch in diameter (think making snakes with Play-Doh), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky.
  7. Cut each rope into pieces (about 1 inch long). Roll each piece over tines of fork to indent.
  8. In a large pot, boil the gnocchi in batches until they start to float (5-6 minutes). I basically did one “rope” at a time.
  9. Once the gnocchi are done, use a slotted spoon to remove. Run them under cold water to stop the cooking process.

For the sauce:

  1. In a large skillet, brown up the Italian sausage. When the sausage is almost done, throw in the spinach and season with garlic powder. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, melt the butter and add in the minced garlic. Sautee for a few seconds and whisk in the flour to make a roux.
  3. Gradually add in the milk, whisking constantly until sauce begins to thicken. Add in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg and continue stirring.
  4. Once sauce gets to the desired thickness, remove from the heat and stir in the cheese until melted.
  5. Mix in the spinach and sausage mixture and pour over pasta.

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Pumpkin Risotto, aka Bringing Down the Zebra

Pumpkin Risotto, aka Bringing Down the Zebra

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Growing up, I was lucky enough to have a stay-at-home-mom. Every night she had a delicious dinner on the table by 5:00 when my step-dad got home from work.  She was awesome at it. On the other hand, my best friend’s used to say that her mother cooked once a week/month and “brought down the zebra.” By bringing down the zebra, she was referring to the fact that the family would be able feed off of the one meal for a week. Now, I would love to be like my mom and have something unique and different every night. However, reality dictates that I have to “bring down the zebra.”

Last weekend, I had a bunch of leftover pumpkin from the pumpkin cheesecake brownies and stumbled across a recipe for pumpkin risotto. Risotto is actually surprisingly easy to make and will feed you for a few days. To jazz it up a little, I added in some garam masala and some Italian sausage (Husband likes meals with meat even though I could very happily be a selective vegetarian). Many Indian and Italian grandmothers would freak out because of this meal, but I think it’s delightful. Here’s the dish:

Garama Masala Risotto

3 Spicy Italian turkey sausages
1.5 c Arborio rice
5 c-ish of chicken stock
1 c pumpkin puree
2 Tb butter
1.5 c diced onion
3 medium cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp garam masala (you can get it at some grocery stores or Indian spice markets)
2 tsp garlic powder (you can use less if you’re not a garlic fiend like me)
1/4 tsp each of thyme, ginger, dried parsley, and celery seed
3 Tb heavy cream
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
salt and black pepper to taste

  1. In a separate pan over medium-high heat, brown the sausages just enough to crisp the casings. Take them off of the heat and slice them width wise to make disks. Brown the disks then set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a preheated skillet over medium heat. Sautee the onions and garlic for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a sauce pan.
  3. Once the onions and garlic have become fragrant, add the rice and coat with the butter, garlic and onion mixture.
  4. Dump in the pumpkin and the spices, stirring all the while.
  5. Start adding in the chicken stock one ladle-full at a time. Add a new ladle or two once the rice has absorbed all of the liquid. Make sure that you’re stirring it a lot. The stirring helps release the starches in the rice. It’s a gradual process and you may use more or less stock, depending on the level of doneness you like. Husband and I enjoy our risotto to be a bit more “done” than others. If you like yours a little more al dente, use less stock and less stirring.
  6. Once your rice is at the doneness level you prefer, pull it off the heat and stir in the cream and Parmesan cheese.  You can either top the risotto with the sausages, or mix them in like I did. Either way is great!