Food & Drink

New Year's Resolutions: Preparing for a new year and discovering new recipes

Risotto with Champagne and Radicchio for Everybody Eats food column. Photographed in North Liberty, Iowa on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Risotto with Champagne and Radicchio for Everybody Eats food column. Photographed in North Liberty, Iowa on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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I  started writing this column in January of 2012. I’ll never forget that because 2012 was My Year of Adventure.

Let me explain.

I stopped making New Year’s resolutions that year. It wasn’t because I achieved all of my life goals and desires. It was because I was tired of failing. I never lost as much weight as I planned, saved as much money as I wanted, or magically became a better wife and mother — so I changed tactics.

During 2012’s Year of Adventure, I became a food columnist; something I always wanted. I also crossed sky diving off my bucket list, rode a horse through the mountains of Wyoming, and went white-water rafting for the first time — and broke my hand sledding the last week of December.

Injury aside, I rang in 2013 lighter of heart because rather than lament the things I didn’t do, I celebrated the things I did. Rather than begin each year with a list of declarations I may or may not keep, I choose a theme to serve as my guide. For example, 2013 was the Year of Random Acts of Kindness, also known as the year I learned people were leery of random acts of kindness.

I called 2014 The Year of the Purge. I engaged in a massive decluttering exercise that left every room of the house tidier than it was before.

My Year of Running was 2015. I racked up hundreds of miles pounding the pavement and treadmill, crossing the finish line of numerous 5Ks and my third half-marathon.

I embarked on My Year of No in 2016 and stopped saying yes to things I didn’t want to do out of obligation.

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I intended to make 2017 My Year of Gratitude, but circumstances instituted a quick change, making it My Year of Activism instead. I suppose it makes sense that my focus in 2018 was self-care.

What I like about my “Year of Something” tradition is that it doesn’t end on Jan. 1. After you spend a year seeking adventure or running at 5 in the morning, it isn’t a goal, resolution or even a habit. It’s simply life and slowly but surely, mine is improving.

Am I perfect? Far from it, but at least I no longer start a new year berating myself for all I didn’t accomplish.

What does any of this have to do with cooking you ask? Six years of telling stories isn’t easy. Sometimes I think I’m out of things to say, which I’m sure surprises the people who know me. It doesn’t help that my youngest will graduate from high school in May and will go to college in the fall. My kids are responsible for 87 percent of my food-related stories. How dare they grow up and move on with their lives!

My oldest sister gave up cooking after her youngest sons left for college. I enjoy cooking too much to go to that extreme, but I do see more “Fend for Yourself” nights — otherwise known as eating leftovers or cold cereal — when it’s just my husband and I at home. I could probably get away with one or two columns about leftovers, but what about the remaining months? Then I remembered the Year of the Purge.

My cookbook collection decreased significantly in 2014. I forced myself to page through recipe after recipe. If there were only a few I liked in a cookbook, I wrote them down and placed the book in my giveaway pile. What I didn’t tackle were kitchen gadgets, appliances and tools.

From the food processor still in the box more than two years after I purchased it at a Black Friday sale to the stack of plastic storage that leaps from the cupboard at least once a week, my kitchen could stand to be decluttered. However, I don’t want to give away my rice cooker only to have a reason to need it down the road.

That’s why my 2019 Everybody Eats columns will focus on one kitchen item each month, with recipes that use it. I may decide to ditch the item after I use it for this column, I might not. I may just pare a few things down instead. You’ll have to read along to find out.

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I’m calling 2019 My Year of Discovery — not only for the new uses for old kitchen items, but also myself.

I’ve been a mom since I was 23. Our son was born the same weekend my husband and I moved in together, the two of us having lived several hundred miles apart after our wedding for job reasons.

It’s never been just us. I can’t remember the last time it’s been just me. This is going to be interesting.

For now, though, let’s kick back and enjoy the last few weeks of the year. I’ll soon have all members of my family under one roof again. If that’s not a reason to break out the champagne, I don’t know what is.

Cheers!

CHICKEN AU CHAMPAGNE

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 chicken breasts or thighs (skin-on, bone-in)

Sea salt and black pepper (to taste)

1 large shallot (minced)

1 cup champagne

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup sliced mushrooms

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon (chopped)

Fresh lemon juice (to garnish)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add chicken to skillet and sear for 3 minutes on each side. Remove chicken, and place on a plate.

Remove pan from heat, and add shallots. Heat and stir for 1 minute. Add the champagne and scrape bottom of pan to remove all of the cooked bits. Place the chicken back in the pan, baste with the champagne sauce and place in the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until thoroughly cooked.

Heat butter in a large non-stick pan. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove chicken from oven, and add the sauteed mushrooms. Stir in the tarragon and drizzle with lemon juice.

Source: cookingwithcurls.com

PEPPERMINT BARK MIMOSAS

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted

3 candy canes, crushed

6 ounces peppermint schnapps, divided

1 bottle champagne or prosecco

6 candy canes, whole

Pour melted chocolate onto a small plate. Pour crushed candy canes onto a separate plate. Dip rims of champagne flutes first in chocolate, then in crushed candy canes to coat.

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Add an ounce of peppermint schnapps to each glass, then top with champagne or prosecco. Garnish with full candy canes before serving.

Source: delish.com

RISOTTO WITH CHAMPAGNE AND RADICCHIO

3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1 cup water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion

2 cups uncooked Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice

2 cups champagne, divided

2 cups thinly sliced radicchio (or less if you’re concerned about the bitter taste)

1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Bring broth and 1 cup water to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan, and cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add rice; cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Stir in 1 1/2 cups Champagne; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total).

Remove from heat.

Stir in remaining 1/2 cup Champagne, radicchio, 1/2 cup cheese, butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Source: myrecipes.com

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