Giving Risotto a Go

Whenever I see some form of risotto on the menu at a restaurant my eyes light up.

I’m not quite sure why I’ve never attempted to make my own, but tonight seemed like a good night to give it a go.

*Fantastic Recipe Alert!*

I followed a Health.com recipe for shrimp and zucchini barley risotto that I printed off a while ago but never got around to making.

That seems to happen to me a lot. I always flag recipes and forget about ’em a day later!

Tonight I was committed to making the risotto and purchased all the necessary ingredients at the grocery store with Ryan after work.

I was immediately intrigued by this particular risotto recipe because it called for barley rather than rice. I have never been much of a rice girl but I adore the nuttiness of barley.

The risotto came together pretty quickly and smelled heavenly.

Once it was ready, I served the risotto in a bowl on a bed of steamed broccoli.

Risotto!

My Bowl

My Bowl

Yummy1

Yummy

Both Ryan and I gave this recipe two enthusiastic thumbs up.

I actually omitted the butter from the recipe and it still turned out savory, creamy and rich.

I will definitely be making this one again!

Dessert

Dessert was oh-so-simple.

Coconut + Dark Chocolate Square

I enjoyed a coconut square, dipped in dark chocolate that Ryan brought back for me from his hiking trip.

It was sweet, sticky and the perfect conclusion to a yummy dinner.

Now we’re off to go pick up our save the dates from the printer! I can’t wait to see ’em! ūüėÄ

Shrimp and Zucchini Barley Risotto

Ingredients (Makes four 1-cup servings)

  • 3 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped zucchini
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup lightly pearled barley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

1. Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan; keep warm.

2. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and onion; sauté 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add barley; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

3. Stir in 1 cup broth; cook 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring frequently. Stir in 1/2 cup broth and salt. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes). Add shrimp; cook 4 minutes. Stir in cheese, butter, and pepper.

Nutritional Information: Calories 387, Fat 9g, Protein 26g, Carbs 52g, Fiber 10g, Cholesterol 97mg, Iron 3mg, Sodium 653mg, Calcium 200mg

Click here for seven healthy risotto recipes from Health.com, including the recipe detailed above.

Identifying the Animal Cracker

To me, peel-and-eat shrimp epitomize beach food. You know you’re near the beach when peel-and-eat shrimp, clams and oysters pop up on the menu!

Last night, my mom was feeling a little sleepy and needed to rest, so my dad, sister and¬†I headed out to Billy’s Boat House Grill, a nearby seafood restaurant.

Billy's Boat House Grill

We knew we found a winner when fresh seafood options basically took over the menu.

My dad, sister and I ordered a  pound of peel-and-eat shrimp, a grilled fish sandwich, conch chowder and a salad and basically shared everything.

Peel-and-Eat Shrimp

Fish Sandwich

I definitely ate more than my fair share of the shrimp. They were so easy to peel and perfectly seasoned.

Check out all the peels in front of me…

Me, My Dad & Shrimp Peels

Smiling Sister

After placing a to-go order for a quesadilla to bring back to my sleeping mom, we headed back to the hotel.

My mom was waking up as we entered the room. Perfect timing!

We spent the rest of the evening cuddled up in one bed watching Bringing Down the House¬†before hittin’ the hay around 11 p.m.

I feel pretty well-rested today and am excited to head to breakfast and spend Mother’s Day with one heck of a fantastic mother. ūüėÄ

Identifying the Animal Cracker

I practically ate my body weight in Animal Crackers yesterday (Seriously, they’re so addicting) and found myself puzzled by this lil’ guy:

What Am I?

My whole family¬†is perplexed by this particular cracker, so I ask you…

What kind of animal is it!?

Shrimp in Sarasota

Right after work yesterday Ryan, Sadie and I headed south to Sarasota to spend the night with Ryan’s family.

When we arrived, the house smelled fantastic and we sat down to a home cooked dinner within 30 minutes.

Shrimpies

 We enjoyed a delicious dinner of shrimp, baked potatoes, salad, corn on the cob and garlic bread.

Yummy Shrimp

Salad

Ryan's Mom: Salad Chef!

Potato + Corn

We all commented on how deliciously sweet the corn on the cob tasted. It was wonderful!

Despite such a filling dinner, Ryan and I still had room for a Sarasota classic: SweetBerries!

Sweetberries

SweetBerries has the most amazing frozen custard.

Ryan and I ordered a large butterscotch custard to share.

Ryan + Custard

(Side note: I love Ryan with a lil’ scruff!)

I also snacked on one too many pieces of peppermint bark when we got home. Sugar overload!

Today

This morning Ryan and I woke up about and hour before his family and took Sadie on a long walk to a nearby park.

The park had really cool playground equipment and Ryan and I spent a good 20 minutes playing around. Lemme just say they’ve made upgrades to playground equipment since I was a kid!

When we got back, his family was awake and ready for breakfast. We changed and headed out for a hot meal at the Broken Egg.

Hungry People

Broken Egg Interior

We waited about 10 minutes to be seated and drooled¬†over the baked goods, danishes and monkey bread they had on display. (Thank you to Ryan’s mom for buying monkey bread for us to take home for breakfast tomorrow!)

We placed our orders and our food was brought out in no time at all.

I ordered Pete’s breakfast, which was scrambled egg whites with Swiss cheese and vegetables, fruit salad and a buttered English muffin.

Cheesy!

My Plate

Ryan’s mom ordered three cheese blintzes that looked and tasted wonderful.

Ryan's Mom's Blintzes

Our breakfasts were good, but Ryan’s stole the show.

He ordered French toast stuffed with bananas and walnuts. I enjoyed many bites and it was unbelievable. A winner fo’ sho’!

Banana Walnut Stuffed French Toast

Breakfast at the Broken Egg was tasty!

Ask Me Anything

Thank you for continuing to submit questions! Apparently¬†the¬†submission form I was using met its quota last night, so if you tried to¬†submit a question and it was rejected, I apologize. Fortunately I got it back up and working and¬†you may¬†click here¬†to submit an anonymous Ask Me Anything question. I’ll be sure to answer some more soon! ūüôā

Happy Saturday!!!

Sunday at Sea

We woke up today and hooooly hotness! The Florida heat is back in full swing.

Though I wish there was some sort of chill in the air so it felt more Christmasy, it was perfect weather for a boat ride! My dad suggested taking the boat out and docking in Tampa for lunch at a restaurant on the water called The Hula Bay Club.

Sadie is a huge fan of boat rides and was by my dad’s side the entire time he was prepping the boat for our adventure.

Sadie at Sea

Dad, Ryan and Sadie on the Boat

It was hot in the sun, but when the boat got movin’ it was chilly!¬†My sister and I bundled up in lots of towels to keep warm¬†on our way to and from the restaurant on the boat.

Lunch was delicious! I ordered clams but we all shared and were impressed with the food.

As we were waiting for our check my mom spotted two dolphins in the water! We jumped up and watched them splash around and hunt fish. Since the water was pretty clear we were even able to see one catch a fish which was pretty neat!

Dolphin

I love days on the boat and it was definitely a treat to be on the water in the middle of December!

Breakfast and Jazzercise

I was anxious to tell ya about our day on the water, so let’s back up to breakfast!

Cheerios and Kashi Go Lean

Sometimes ya just want cereal! In this mix was Honey Nut Cheerios and Kashi Go Lean. It was crunchy and oh-so-sweet. I had another bowl, too. ūüôā

After breakfast my mom and¬†I went to Jazzercise, a 60-minute aerobic workout class. My mom goes regularly and I love the energy and upbeat atmosphere of the classes so I like to go along when I’m home visiting¬†and get the chance.

Once we arrived back home, Ryan and I snacked on an apple with peanut butter (yum!) before our boating adventure.

Apple and PB

Dinner

Before heading back for Orlando tonight Ryan and I enjoyed one last homecooked meal! We had spaghetti with marinara and chicken sausage and it was g-o-o-d! Unfortunately my pictures were icky and since I didn’t post pics from last night’s feast, I’ll share those instead.¬† Sound good?

Last night my mom made a seafood-based dinner with peel-and-eat shrimp and crab cakes.

Crab Cakes

Her homemade crab cakes are the best.

The Spread

I helped by making a veggie stir fry and fruit salad.

Fruit Salad

Ryan got in on the action and peeled several clementines for the fruit salad.

So Helpful

Dinner was filling and fueled us up for a meeting with a potential wedding photographer.

Wedding Photographer Meeting

Our meeting with a potential wedding photographer went really well last night. I fell in love with her and think her style of photography is gorgeous and natural and really seems to capture emotions.

Unfortunately the money is a bit of an issue because her prices are over our budget. I’m trying to figure out where I can cut corners in other areas to make this one work. Any suggestions???

I really appreciate all of your wedding feedback. It seems like many of you agree¬†that the photographer is one of the most important elements of the big day, so I want to feel confident and comfortable with the person we select. We’ll see!

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I’m tired and hope to be in bed a little early tonight.

Using Old Bay the Right Way

…and that would be with seafood (shrimp in particular). ūüôā

Old Bay All the Way!

Old Bay All the Way!

I used this tasty seasoning to enhance my lunchtime shrimp salad.

I began preparing this lunch last night and boiled approximately three ounces of lil’ shrimpies until they were nice and orange. I let them chill in the fridge overnight.

Shrimp

Shrimp

To make the shrimp salad, I combined chopped shrimp, light mayo, celery, President feta cheese (the best!) and lots and lots (and lots!) of Old Bay.

President Feta Cheese

President Feta Cheese

Shrimp Salad

Shrimp Salad

I stuffed the shrimp salad into a whole wheat Joseph’s pita, along with lots of fresh, leafy spinach.

Nice and Cozy in a Pita Pocket

Nice and Cozy in a Pita Pocket

Mmm, mmm good! I am a full and happy camper. ūüôā

After one meal, no matter how stuffed I am, I always start to think about what I’ll be eating next. What to do for dinner??? Pasta, chicken, zucchini fries, acorn squash… decisions, decisions.

Question: What are you having for dinner?