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A little bit Spanish and a little bit Italian, this Chorizo and Manchego Risotto is the perfect dreamy combination of risotto and paella. It’s got the luscious creaminess and ease of a perfect pot of Italian risotto with the bold Spanish flavors of chorizo, saffron, and aged Manchego cheese.

This crowd-pleasing recipe takes a little bit of time to make, but they’re easy relaxing minutes that require little more than some simple stirring. I love playing music and getting lost in the gentle rhythms as the rice steadily thickens into the perfect creamy pot of goodness. 

This is the second recipe in my sponsored collaboration with Carolina® rice. (If you haven’t seen it yet, click on over to the cinnamon-scented Mexican horchata ice cream I whipped up last month!) I teamed up with Carolina® to share monthly recipes using their many varieties of rice.


For this month’s easy rice recipe, I’m using Carolina® Arborio rice, which is a starchy medium grain rice that’s most commonly used to make risotto, as well as other dishes like rice pudding, paella, and rice stews.

Unlike other rice dishes that call for loose, fluffy grains of rice cooked in water, risotto is cooked slowly in simmering broth added a cup at a time, in a process that allows for the natural starches to release and create a naturally creamy dish that’s enhanced with the addition of ingredients like butter and cheese.

For this Chorizo and Manchego Risotto recipe, I used the classic Italian technique, but swapped in Spanish ingredients. Traditional risotto is typically finished with a process called adding the “mantecatura,” which consists of quickly stirring in butter and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese into the hot rice just before serving. Instead of butter, I stir in the rendered chorizo fat along with grated sharp aged Manchego cheese, allowing the two to melt and coat the tender grains of rice.

The result is decadent and packed with smoky flavor. The smoked paprika, saffron, and chorizo fat add gorgeous color, making it a perfect sunny entrée to serve at parties or weekend meals. If you and your family love chorizo, you will adore this Spanish-inspired risotto!


Chorizo and  Manchego Risotto
Serves 6

Ingredients
Olive oil
1 pound Spanish chorizo, sliced
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2  cups Carolina® Arborio Rice
1/2 cup dry sherry or dry white wine
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads (optional)
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon smoked spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup grated manchego cheese

Directions
Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sliced chorizo and cook 3-5  minutes, or until slightly crisped and rendered. Remove from heat.

Place a heavy bottom pot (such as a Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add two tablespoons olive oil and the diced onions. Sauce 5-10 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant (2 minutes). Add the rice and stir to coat in the oil and onions. Cook 2 minutes. Add the sherry or wine and let simmer until completely absorbed.

In a separate pot, combine the broth, saffron, paprika, red pepper, and 3 teaspoons of kosher salt, and bring to a gentle simmer.

Add the seasoned hot broth to the rice, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously and allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding more. Adjust heat so the rice stays at a low simmer.

Once all the broth has been added and the rice is creamy and just barely tender, remove from heat. Add the chorizo with any fat in the pan and stir into the rice. Add the cheese and stir in until melted. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt as needed.
Serve immediately with additional grated manchego on top.
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This Italian Chicken Sausage & Mushroom Pasta features two of my favorite ingredients to use when making quick dinner recipes. I recently told you about how much I love keeping a few packages of chicken sausages in my refrigerator because they make it possible for me to get dinner on the table in minutes. I partnered with Al Fresco this season to share a few easy dinner (or really anytime!) recipes like these Andouille Chicken Sausage Tacos with Mango Pineapple Salsa. 

Today it's all about an easy pasta dinner!

You already know that pasta is a crowd-pleasing lifesaver, but sometimes it can get a little overwhelming figuring out how to keep it interesting. Sure you can open up a jar of your favorite sauce and call it a day (and I do that a lot!), but this time of year, I love to take advantage of all the gorgeous fresh produce and whip up a fresh sauce that is loaded up with veggies and healthy proteins. It might seem complicated, but I promise that it's not.

One of the ways to keep things moving quickly is to start off with Al Fresco Italian Chicken Sausage. It's already fully cooked, which means you just have to slice it and heat it up in the pan along with a few other ingredients. Because the chicken sausage is also fully seasoned with incredible herbs and spices, it adds way more flavor to your dish than you would need by starting with raw chicken breasts or thighs.

My best tip is to start your sauce while waiting for your pasta water to boil. By the time the pasta is ready, the sauce will be too, so you just combine and serve!!

For this easy pasta recipe, I used mushroom, onions, a few handfuls of fresh cherry tomatoes, and some fresh herbs mixed in at the end. Mushrooms add tons of flavor as they cook down, and there are few things better than ripe summer tomatoes!

Like with all my recipes, I'd love for you to make this one your own. Swap in or add your own favorite vegetables (maybe zucchini or a handful of spinach?) or choose a different chicken sausage flavor (Roasted Pepper Asiago is another one of my favorites!).

There's really no way to go wrong with a simple staple recipe like this one!

****This post was sponsored by Al Fresco. As always, all recipes and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands like Al Fresco who make it possible for me to keep creating more great content for you!



Italian Chicken Sausage, Mushroom & Tomato Pasta
Serves 6

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
1 pound small to medium dry pasta (such as bowties, penne, rotini, etc.)
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons Olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 pound button or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, grated or crurshed
1 package Al Fresco Sweet Italian Style Chicken Sausage, sliced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions 
Bring 1 gallon of water to a rolling ball. Season boiling water with 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt. Once water is boiling, add the pasta and cook 1 minute less than package directions.

While the water boils and pasta cooks, start the sauce. Heat olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and mushrooms, season with a pinch of kosher salt, and let cook 3-5 minutes until they start to soften and reduce.

Add the garlic and sliced chicken sausage and continue to cook, about 10 minutes until the mushrooms are fully cooked and the sausage as browned slightly on the sides. Add halved tomatoes, broth, oregano, and red pepper flakes.

Drain the pasta, reserving one cup of pasta water. Add the cooked drained pasta to the sauce and continue to cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 2-3 more minutes. (If sauce is too dry, add a 1/4 cup or so of reserved pasta water to loosen it.)

Remove from heat and stir in parsley and cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper as need.
Serve immediately.

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This month marks the start of summer, which is my favorite time to get inspired in the kitchen. The gorgeous weather, lush summer produce, and lazier days make it the ideal season for casual entertaining and sharing with friends.

This month is also the start of my sponsored partnership with Carolina® Rice!

Carolina® is a brand I grew up with and have eaten my entire life (I can’t remember ever not seeing at least a bag or two of it in our pantry growing up!), so I’m really excited for this opportunity to work with them. Each month for the next six months, I'll be sharing a new easy party recipe made with a different variety of rice.

From sweet desserts (like today's Homemade Horchata Ice Cream recipe!) to savory entrees and sides, I hope these recipes will inspire you to use a classic ingredient like rice in new and creative ways your friends and family will love.

But for now — back to dessert!

What is Horchata?
This Horchata Ice Cream Recipe is inspired by the cinnamon-spiced rice horchata beverage that's popular in Mexico. Horchata (pronounced or-CHAH-tah) is a refreshing sweetened non-dairy milk made from a mix of water and rice, nuts or seeds, that is sometimes sweetened and flavored with sugar and spices. It’s served chilled, and is a favorite drink during hot-weather days. The starchy creaminess of the beverage makes it a perfect pairing for spicy dishes.

Horchata originated in West Africa, where it was made with tiger nuts (or chufa, in Spanish), then was brought to Spain by the Moors. Tiger Nut Horchata is still very popular in Spain! Eventually, the beverage made its way across the ocean to what is now Central and South America, where it is most often made with toasted rice, and the Caribbean, where it's made with a mix of rice and sesame seeds. Then, after some time, variations of the beverage migrated up and around the United States, where it can be found everywhere, from taco trucks to trendy coffee shops.

It's not something many realize, but every time you order an almond milk latte, splash oat milk into your morning smoothie, or pour rice milk over your morning cereal, you're essentially taking a sip of a beverage that people have been drinking around this earth in one form or another for centuries!

How to Make Horchata Ice Cream without Eggs
While traditional horchata is made strictly with water, for this ice cream recipe I’m using the same technique of toasting and infusing the rice and cinnamon into dairy milk instead. This will give us the nutty flavor of toasted rice, with the lush creaminess of whole milk and heavy cream.

Basically the best of both worlds!

A lot of ice cream recipes use eggs to create a custard, but the natural starches in this rice ice cream recipe already thicken the milk mixture into a lovely silky pudding, without having to add eggs or other thickeners. It’s easier, and I think also helps the toasted rice flavor really shine through.

When my husband tasted my first batch of this, he commented that it almost tasted like frozen rice pudding!

Note that this recipe does take a bit of inactive time because you have to let the rice steep and then chill. It’s all very straightforward though, and doesn’t require you to hang around in the kitchen very much.

Serve this Horchata Ice Cream recipe on its own, sprinkled with cinnamon, or even drizzled with dulce de leche! Horchata Ice Cream is also the perfect dessert to serve with tacos!

Homemade Horchata Ice Cream Recipe (No Eggs)
Yields: about 1 quart
Active time: 1 hour
Inactive time: 8 hours

Ingredients:
1/3 cup Carolina® Extra Long Grain White Rice
2 tablespoons butter
4 cinnamon sticks (*if you are able to find Mexican canela sticks, use those instead, as they have incredible flavor)
3 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions
Melt butter over medium in the base of a heavy-bottom pot (such as a Dutch oven) and add the rice. Use a spoon to stir regularly for 3-5 minutes, just until the rice is toasted and smells slightly nutty.

Add the milk, heavy cream, sugar and cinnamon sticks, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly until the rice is tender. Remove from heat; stir in the vanilla extract, almond extract, ground cinnamon and salt, and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Remove the cinnamon sticks and transfer the mixture in batches into a blender, pureeing until very smooth.

Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl, line with cheesecloth, and pour the pureed milk and rice mixture through, using a spatula to push it through and press out as much liquid as possible.

At this point, the mixture should be creamy and slightly thick, enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it is not, return it to the stove and simmer gently while stirring for 5 minutes.

Chill the strained mixture for at least 1 hour and up to overnight. Process the chilled mixture in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Ice cream will have a loose soft-serve texture at this point. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze at least 4 hours before serving.
Serve sprinkled with cinnamon, if desired.
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These incredible Andouille Chicken Sausage Tacos with Mango Pineapple Salsa can be on your dinner table less than 15 minutes from now. True story.

That is, assuming you already have the ingredients in your fridge. If not, pull out this week's grocery list, because I've got a few things you're going to want to add to it!

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Always Order Dessert by Alejandra Ramos - 2M ago
The bold flavors of this spicy green soup make it a lot more satisfying to me than the typical veggie soup. Jalapenos, cilantro, and fresh limes combine with the mild zucchinis for a soup that is a bit Mexican-inspired.

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Salmon, simply roasted and served slightly chilled, is one of my absolute favorite things to eat. It's a perfect easy lunch, but it's even better as a dish to serve when entertaining. It's made in advance (the number one rule of easy dinner parties) and tastes even better a few hours after cooking (the number one rule of make ahead recipes).

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This Coconut Lime Cabbage Slaw recipe was a collaborative effort between one of my friends and I.

I created the coconut lime dressing to use on a carrot salad I often served as part of my menus at Good Commons, the retreat center my friend owns where I cook during the summer. She fell in love with the dressing and started using it with shredded cabbage as a vegan coleslaw to serve during a annual bbq she caters every year.

I helped out with the event one summer, and fell in love with the way she used the dressing on cabbage. I then took THAT idea, added a few touches of my own (cilantro! coconut flakes!) and a new favorite coleslaw recipe was born!

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This easy low-carb flourless microwave lemon pudding cake is one of my favorite weeknight treats! Lemon desserts have long been my favorite, and this tart, spongy, pudding cake is the perfect cozy end to the day.

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This easy spicy Roasted Jalapeño Lime Remoulade is the perfect topping sauce for crab cakes or fish tacos. It's also wonderful as a dip served with fried shrimp, dolloped over oysters, or to use in sandwiches or burgers.

Roasting the jalapeños softens the heat a bit and adds a touch of smoky charred flavor to the sauce. You can roast the peppers under a flame broiler or on a traditional grill. If you don't have either option, you can also roast them in a 425 degree F oven for about 20 minutes, though you likely won't get the same charred exterior.


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This smoky rustic tomato sauce is one of my FAVORITE easy fish dinner recipes. The Mediterranean ingredients of tomato, capers, garlic, onion, sherry, herbs, and chorizo come together quickly on the stovetop, then can be served over a variety of firm white fishes. I usually serve this with perch, red snapper, or halibut, but choose your favorite! (If you prefer, it's also wonderful with shrimp or salmon.)

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