To Mushroom Risotto

Last night was The Bachelor – guilty pleasure and my friend Brittany and I are continuing that at home tradition of getting together and watching so that we can “discuss” the drama. Back home a group of my friends and I started doing this over the summer complete with a different menu every week and even though we can go without watching the show we soon realized that going a week without our Monday Meals together was not something we could go without.

So last night for dinner we had a simple spinach salad and mushroom risotto. Brittany had heard good things about my risotto but had never tried it so I thought it was the easy choice for dinner.


2 tbsp. Olive Oil

3 cups vegetable broth

1 clove garlic

Quarter of an onion

1 container of mushrooms (sliced)

1 cup of Arborio Rice

1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes


Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a pan (wide surface area is the best – remember that the rice will grown in size) and saute onion until golden brown, add the garlic and let it saute for a little. Add the second tbsp of olive and the arborio rice. Stir (always make sure to stir in the same direction), leave for about 30 seconds to a minute and then add enough vegetable brother so that the rice is slightly submerged. Continue to cook on low-medium, adding broth when needed.

After about 20 minutes, or by doing a taste test when the rice is almost cooked, add in the Parmesan cheese and continue to stir, when you can bite into the rice and it is without a crunch it is all set.

Turn off the heat and cover the pot with a clean towel for a few minutes (a trick I learned from my cooking instructor in Italy)

It will then be ready to serve – I top mine with crushed red pepper flakes or paprika but some need more salt/pepper



To a 4,000 Mile Journey

I just returned from possibly the longest road trip I will ever partake on – 4,024 miles roundtrip from Champaign, Illinois to Los Angeles California. The purpose of the trip was to volunteer with Aids Project Los Angeles (APLA), a support organization for people who are HIV+ or who have been diagnosed with AIDS. With 12 other college students, we set out at midnight from Champaign to make sure that we would have plenty of time to get to LA at our expected arrival. We were quickly through Illinois and Missouri, but Oklahoma just seemed to never end. By the time we reached Texas some of us were set on not stopping at our halfway housing in Amarillo because we had thought up a better plan, not to mention it was 3 in the afternoon and many of us didn’t think we would ever be able to get sleep. So we convinced everyone that we should just clean up and hit the road again so that we could make a small detour to the Grand Canyon. The plan was to sleep in the vans at  in Grand Canyon National Park and wake for sunrise, and you better believe that is exactly what happened. The biggest surprise was a little snow storm that we had to drive through and freezing cold temperatures at the canyon that had us all huddling in sleeping bags while taking in the sunrise, but numb fingers were definitely worth it.

Once we got to Los Angeles it was a fun filled week of volunteering, sight-seeing and getting to know the other students on my trip. Some of the highlights from the trip since it would take an excruciating amount of time to explain everything would be:

  • Hearing inspirational stories from AIDS survivors
  • Seeing the success of an organization that started in a closet and has now evolved into an ever expansive helping machine
  • Helping out at the food bank – this was my favorite part about volunteering and makes me want to get involved in the food bank in my local community
  • Santa Monica Beach and seeing the Pacific for the first time!
  • Getting to know everyone on my trip (surrounded by the same people 24hrs a day for 7 days speeds up the “getting to know you” phase)
  • Having a few more days of warm weather before returning to the dreary winter days of the Mid-West

On the return from LA we decided to take the route through the Rockies, landing us in Las Vegas for lunch and the noon Bellagio Fountain Show and Denver for sleeping where we crammed 13 people into a motel room – one more thing I never thought I would do and probably never will again.

Until my next travels – Memphis in March