Jalapeno Risotto

I can remember the first few foods I fell in love with.  The first was pop-tarts.  I know, they aren’t glamorous.  And I guess really (by pastry standards) they aren’t even delicious.  But oh how I loved them.  Any of the chocolate ones were my favorite.  And they had to be iced.  I never understood the people who eat icing-less pop-tarts.  I could eat 3 boxes a week.  I had no limit and never felt guilty about it.  LOL – Oh how things change…   I don’t eat pop-tarts anymore.  I really think it’s just that I can’t trust myself with moderation and my metabolism isn’t what it used to be!

The second food I remember loving was mashed potatoes.   My dad made the best mashed potatoes.  He was always in charge of them at holiday gatherings.  I would skip everything else and just eat the potatoes.  I didn’t limit myself to “real” mashed potatoes, though.  I used to make bowls of instant mashed potatoes for meals.  If I was feeling really creative I would add shredded cheese.  Gross.  I know.

My real weakness, though, was Kraft macaroni and cheese.  Oh my.  Even from a young age I could eat a whole box by myself.  I would add extra milk to make it runny.  I didn’t like the velveeta shells and cheese, because it was too thick.  It had to be Kraft with the bright orange, powdered cheese.  Too make it worse, I would add canned tuna (another favorite) to my mac and cheese to make it a complete meal.  Haha – what was I thinking?  It sounds so awful now!  No wonder my parents were shocked that I was opening a restaurant…

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but all of these favorite foods are pretty well processed and have little nutritional merit.  They land high on the fat scale and are loaded with simple carbohydrates.  Well, I recently saw a chance to lighten my mac and cheese.  It happened sort of on accident.  I had a friend over for dinner the other night who is gluten intolerant.  This isn’t a hard thing to accommodate until you want to serve your stand-by mac and cheese as a side.  And no, I am not referring to Kraft!  I do make a real mac and cheese now that I love!  (regular pastas are a no-no)  So I thought about making a risotto.  Then I thought about making a risotto to resemble a macaroni and cheese… My jalapeno popper mac ‘n cheese!  It turned out great!!  It had the same rich, creaminess of mac n cheese without the fat of a cream sauce.  In fact, I added only 8 oz of light sour cream and 3 Cups of shredded cheese.  OK – so I’m not saying it was a low fat side, just saying it was lower fat than my original pasta version.

If you have gluten free friends and family, this is a good option for a side dish or a main course.  You can omit the jalapenos and change up the cheese.  Make it how you like it!  Don’t get me wrong, my Kraft macaroni and cheese will always have a place in my heart.  But this grown-up version makes more sense in my restaurant owning world!  Enjoy!

Jalapeno Risotto

1 Cup Arborio rice

2-3 fresh jalapenos  (to taste)

1T olive oil

1 chicken bouillon cube

4 Cups water

1 Cup sour cream

2 Cups shredded jalapeno jack cheese

1 Cup shredded cheddar or Monterrey jack

Salt and Pepper

  1.  In a medium saucepan, heat the oil until shimmery.  Meanwhile, finely dice the jalapeno peppers.  Add them to the oil and sauté them until the edges start turning golden.
  2. Add the rice.  Let it cook with the pepper until it is golden brown and fragrant
  3. While all of that is cooking, in a small saucepan, heat the water, whisking in the bouillon and sour cream.  As it starts to simmer, add the cheeses and continue to stir until it is all melted.  (It will stay thin)  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired.  Leave it on low heat to keep it warm.
  4. Turn the rice pot down to medium low.  Add half of the hot water mixture to the hot rice and stir continuously until all of the liquid is absorbed.
  5. Continue adding the hot liquid to the rice a cup at a time each time stirring continuously until ALL of the liquid is absorbed.  This process may take up to 45 minutes.  (It is totally worth it)
  6.  Once it is creamy, fluffy and all of the liquid is absorbed, your risotto is done!  Enjoy
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