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The family has been doing Meatless Monday for 3 weeks now, in efforts to reduce our carbon footprint. Plus a little less meat in our diet is a good thing!

I’m going to try to post up successful recipes that I’ve used for those of you who want to try joining in on this Meatless Monday movement!  One mistake I realized that I made is that this recipe uses parmesan cheese.  The best way to help the environment is by omitting all meats as well as milk and cheese.

This recipe is in 2 parts… making the pumpkin puree and then making the risotto.

I used pumpkins that looked like this. They were a little bit larger than the size of my fist.

Pumpkin Puree


  • 2 small pumpkins


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cut each pumpkin in half
  3. Using a spoon, remove the seeds (you can roast these separately if you like)
  4. Place each pumpkin half on a large piece of foil. Wrap with an additional piece of foil to keep all the moisture inside so that it will steam in the oven.
  5. When the pumpkin meat is soft (1-1.5 hours), remove from the oven and let it cool until you can handle the pumpkins without burning your hands
  6. Remove the pumpkin meat with a spoon and place in a bowl
  7. Smash the pumpkin meat with a fork until it has a smooth consistency
  8. Add sugar to taste – it should be sweet and just about mask the pumpkin’s bitterness (I added about 2-3 tablespoons)
  9. Add cinnamon to taste – I used around around 1/3 teaspoon
  10. Mix thoroughly so the flavors incorporate
  11. Set aside or cover and refrigerate – this can be made 2-3 days in advance

Pumpkin Risotto

4 servings

I searched Google for fresh pumpkin risotto recipes and I had the worst time… have you seen how many varieties of pumpkins there are?  Small ones, flat ones, round ones, plump ones, green ones… nobody says “buy this type of pumpkin” and most recipes use canned pumpkin or butternut squash (is that even considered a pumpkin?)  Because I didn’t know what kind of pumpkin I bought I just drew inspiration from one of Giada Delaurentis’ recipes – they never steer me wrong.  This is a modified version though, as her recipe uses fennel, goat cheese, bacon, etc.

This recipe requires patience and a good 45 minutes standing in front of the stove stirring.  Take special care to not let the risotto burn or else there is no going back and you’ll have to start all over again.


  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup pumpkin from above
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallot
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus additional for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine – (I used viognier)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (use a wedge of real parmesan… not that pre-shredded or powdery stuff – it’s too dry, salty and stinky)


  1. In a medium sized pot, add broth and whisk in the pumpkin.  Bring the pot to a boil and reduce heat to low.
  2. On another burner, melt butter and olive oil in a large heavy sauce pan on medium heat
  3. Add shallots and cook until translucent (about 2 minutes)
  4. Add Arborio rice and cook for 1 minute
  5. Add thyme and wine and stir until the wine has been absorbed
  6. Add 1/2 cup of the pumpkin broth
  7. Reduce the heat so that the broth simmers
  8. Stir constantly until most of the broth is absorbed by the rice
  9. Add 1/4 cup of pumpkin broth (I measured this to be about half a scoop from my large ladle) and stir constantly until absorbed by the rice.  Repeat this step until the rice has cooked thoroughly and has a firm bite without being crunchy or chalky in the middle – about 30 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat, add parmesan cheese and mix
  11. Put in a serving bowl or in individual bowls and top with additional parmesan cheese and thyme for garnish

For a special occasion, I went to Alexander’s, my favorite butcher, because they have beef from Harris Ranch.  I actually tried to buy some filet mignon from Pavilions, figuring if anybody, they would have some decent meat, but no way.  Even at around $15/lb. I didn’t want to deal with that stuff.  At Alexander’s, they were about $26/lb., and each steak was about half a pound.  Yeah $13 a steak from the butcher – but it was worth it.  The meat’s quality is obvious just by looking at it.

6 pieces from the butcher. Look at all the marbling from the fatty goodness.  That is $90 worth of meat right there!


All tied up so that they would cook evenly.  Well, and it makes them look nice.


On the plate with some green beans and roasted potatoes.  The steak was topped with a red wine sauce and caramelized onions.


I cooked it past medium rare just in case people got squeamish, but in hindsight, maybe I should have cooked it to a perfect medium-rare and let them deal with it.

How awesome sounding is homemade pasta? Well, I made some. It wasn’t hard at all and I didn’t need one of those pasta machines. I used an old school rolling pin. First time making a ragu too.

The store bought pasta had more of a crisp bite to it, exactly how you expect al dente to be. The homemade pasta still had an al dente texture to it but it was softer, thicker (maybe due to my poor rolling pin skills) and had a spongy quality to it. The biggest difference was that the homemade pasta soaked up all the flavors of the sauce and it felt more cohesive.

Conclusion: The homemade pasta was so much better than the store bought pasta… but I don’t know if it’s because of all the time I put into it.

store bought

Homemade Pappardelle

I was amazed at how different pressed apple juice is from the juice from concentrate. I don’t want any other apple juice now.



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