Mom de Cuisine

Make Ahead Monday: Baked Pumpkin Risotto
December 19, 2011, 9:15 am
Filed under: Pasta & Rice, Sides, Vegetable | Tags: ,

A few weeks ago I was at the grocery store to pick up some milk but of course, in true Alyssa fashion, there is no quick trip to the store.  I still had to walk up and down every isle, looking at everything.  I must look like a nut to the people who work at the store.  I can spend hours there, looking at everything, reading labels, putting things in my cart and putting them back.  Anyway, this particular day, I was so glad I took my time to look, because on the bottom shelf pushed to the back in the baking isle were a few cans of pureed pumpkin.  Just pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling.  I may, or may not have snatched it off the shelf.  I may, or may not have raced to the check out to buy it.  I may, or may not have hid it in the back of the pantry like someone was going to break in and steal it. 

No, I’m not some kind of crazy pumpkin nut.  To be honest, I never really cared for the stuff that much before.  It’s just that there are not the same kind of pumpkins you carve for Halloween, and the canned stuff couldn’t be found anywhere on the island.  You know the saying, something like, “you never appreciate what you’ve got until it’s gone.”  Well that has been my feeling about pumpkin.  To my other foodie friends who have been making pumpkin recipes and posting them for months, you may have noticed me tell you how great it was and how I was jealous excited to see the post. 

Well, now I had my very own can of pumpkin and it has literally taken me weeks to decide what to make with it.  Indecisive me decided to finally use it to make a super easy (and pretty good) risotto.  And of course, I wanted to figure out a way to make this a make-ahead dish as it’s the week before Christmas and I’ve got tons of stuff on my nap time to-do list (ok that’s a lie, I wanted to spend nap time catching up on Real Housewives of Atlanta.) There were many slow cooker risotto recipes I came across while doing a quick web search, but all required stirring at various points during the cooking process, which I thought kind of defeated the point (and I didn’t want to have to pause the RHWoA or miss a minute of any cat fight!)  So when I saw this recipe for a baked risotto that was so simple, I knew I had to try it.   My verdict:  it was a bit gummier than a traditionally made risotto, but it was so easy that I’d do it again.


Baked Pumpkin Risotto:

*Adapted from Ezra Pound Cake’s Easy Baked Risotto


3 1/2 cupsTurkeyStock ( used up what I had made after Thanksgiving)

1 cup pureed pumpkin

4 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 cup Arborio rice

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

1 tablespoon butter

Fresh thyme to garnish

Salt and Black pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350.  Combine stock, pumpkin, cumin and rice in a casserole.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and stir in cheese and butter.  Garnish with fresh cracked black pepper and thyme leaves.  Serve immediately.

Gnocchi “Tater Tots” with Crispy Fish Sticks
September 8, 2011, 11:33 am
Filed under: Fish, Main Course, Sides, Vegetable | Tags: , ,


When my husband has to go away for work, I usually take the opportunity to try out a new recipe that I know he probably wouldn’t like and watch a movie that he wouldn’t want to see.  On his last trip, I decided that I wanted to make gnocchi.  Every time I’ve even hinted that I was going to make it, his immediate response would be, “I don’t like potatoes.”  Totally untrue, but has been enough to thwart any attempt in the past.  While I was looking through recipes for gnocchi, I saw on Food and Wine gnocchi tater tots.  Perfect, I’ll divide the recipe, using half for a gnocchi carbonara for me for a late dinner, and half I’ll make into tots for the kids.  I was already planning on baking some fish sticks for them for dinner, and what goes better with fish sticks than tater tots?!?

Well I fried up half of the gnocchi, and I thought they came out pretty tasty.  They were like a hybrid of gnocchi, tater tots, and fried breakfast potatoes.  I would recommend sticking to russet potatoes, though.  I haven’t seen russet potatoes here, and the potatoes I do find (don’t know the variety) are starchy but also kind of waxy.  I think the waxy aspect was present in the gnocchi, and while it didn’t ruin it, I know these would have been even better with russet potatoes. 

After the kids had their dinner, I put them to bed and started to get to work on my carbonara (the intended subject of this post.)  However, I guess my guilty pleasure got the best of me.  I was so into the latest episode of Real House Wives of New Jersey I just downloaded on itunes, I way overcooked the gnocchi.  They were a big globby potato mess, so I had to toss them and finish the kids’ fish sticks for dinner instead.

I guess it was a good thing I snapped a few pictures of my tots 🙂



Gnocchi “Tater Tots” with Crispy Fish Sticks

*Gnocchi recipe from


1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed

1 cup (or more) all purpose flour

1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Vegetable oil, for frying

1 lb Hamour Filet

1 cup honey Dijon mustard

2 cups Panko bead crumbs

salt/pepper to taste


To make the gnocchi: Preheat oven to 400°F. Pierce potatoes in several places and bake until soft, about 1 hour. Cool slightly. Cut potatoes in half. Working in batches, scoop hot flesh into potato ricer or food mill. Rice potatoes onto rimmed baking sheet; spread out and cool to room temperature.

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer potatoes to large bowl. Add 1 cup flour; toss to coat. Form well in center of potato mixture. Add egg yolk, coarse salt, and nutmeg; stir with fork until mixture is evenly moistened (mixture will look shaggy). Turn mixture out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until dough comes together, sprinkling dough with flour very lightly only if dough is very sticky. Form dough into ball; divide into 4 pieces. Roll each piece between hands and work surface into 3/4-inch-thick rope. Cut each rope into 3/4-inch pieces. Place gnocchi on prepared baking sheet.

Working in batches, cook gnocchi in large pot of boiling salted water until gnocchi rise to surface of water. Continue to simmer gnocchi until cooked through and tender, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, carefully transfer gnocchi to bowl of ice water, then to paper towels to drain.   Meanwhile, heat oil to 350 degrees.  Fry gnocchi3-4 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove from oil to paper towel lined plate and salt immediately.

To make the fish sticks:  Cut the hamour filet into strips.  Coat strips with mustard, then with bread crumbs.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until crisp and cooked through.

Cornmeal Fried Okra
August 11, 2011, 9:32 am
Filed under: Sides, Vegetable | Tags: ,

My husband is one of those crazy people who loves Okra.  When I saw some fresh Okra in the store, I thought, what better way to use it then try to fry those suckers up! 

Cornmeal Fried Okra


  • 1 lb fresh Okra
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus an extra pinch
  • vegetable oil for frying


  • Combine flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper in a plastic bag
  • Rinse Okra, and without drying, add to flour mixture.  Shake bag to evenly coat all the Okra.
  • Heat oil to 350 and fry okra on each side until golden brown.  Remove from oil with slotted spoon to paper towels.  Immediately sprinkle remaining salt on Okra. 
  • Serve as an accompaniment to Shrimp and Grits.