Recipe for Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella, Grape Tomatoes and Basil… You’re going to thank me!

Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella, Grape Tomatoes and Basil

Recipe/Image from Cooking Light Magazine and

Ok, I’m going to be a real friend to you right now… I’m going to pass on a recipe that is so good, I’m telling you that your eyes WILL roll into the back of your head when you taste it. You won’t be able to help it. You are going to thank me. Seriously, this recipe is out of this world, and for all the whining that you may do because you have to stir for 20 minutes or so… just know… IT. IS. WORTH. IT! You will be rewarded with the most scrumptious dinner ever. This is nice paired with a simple salad and maybe a baggette. The ONLY thing that I change is that I use about twice as much balsamic vinegar, mine seems to disappear after it’s reduced. And truly try to give it the time to cook until it’s a little thicker. You will not believe how sweet this is, and how much it adds to the dish! I find that when I boil the balsamic viniagrette  in the beginning (as the recipe calls for) it seems to almost evaporate, so I cook it closer to the time I serve… OK folks, this recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine (see, it’s not even bad for you), I hope you enjoy as much as we do! Check out the website when you get a chance, always great recipes from some of your favorite magazines (Cooking Light, Southern Living, Coastal Living, Food & Wine, Health etc.).

Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella, Grape Tomatoes, and Basil


  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups chopped leek
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 5 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, finely diced


  1. Place vinegar in a small, heavy saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until slightly syrupy and reduced to 1 tablespoon (about 4 minutes). Set aside. (Barbara note: this is the step that I do closer to when the risotto is ready to serve).
  2. Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, and cook 1 minute or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup broth; cook 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Stir in half-and-half, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in tomatoes, basil, and cheese. Place about 1 cup risotto into each of 6 shallow serving bowls; drizzle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon balsamic syrup and 1/2 teaspoon oil.

Mary Alayne Long, Vestavia Hills, Alabama, Cooking Light

Bon Appetit! Catch you back here tomorrow!


Every Celebration Deserves a Great Cake! Italian Cream Cake from Cooking Light magazine!

Don’t you agree? Every celebration deserves a great cake! Well let me tell you from experience, this one is a doozy! I originally made this many many years ago when we had a surprise birthday party for our next door neighbor. She was surprised and delighted with the cake. And owie, that cream cheese frosting is too good! This recipe received rave reviews. We have also had this cake on a cruise that we took out of Charleston on the Norwegian Cruise Line… it’s nice that they offered Cooking Light options that were heavenly! I have subscribed to Cooking Light magazine shortly after they first came on the market… Great recipes! If you need a new magazine to check out, I love this one! (Cooking Light recipes may be found on the website). Now… for the recipe… then a special Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary message at the end…!

From the website:

Italian Cream Cake

This layered Italian Cream Cake is the perfect dessert for a birthday or dinner party because it is moist and full of flavor from the chopped pecans and cream cheese frosting. The stunning 5-star dessert continues to get rave reviews every time!

Cake Ingredients

  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup light butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon butter extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 egg whites (at room temperature)
  • Sugared kumquats (optional)
  • Orange rind strips (optional)
  • Kumquat leaves (optional)


  1. Prepare Cream Cheese Icing; cover and chill.
  2. Coat bottoms of 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray (do not coat sides of pans); line bottoms of pans with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray, and dust with flour; set aside.
  3. Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine 2 cups flour and baking soda; stir well. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in pecans and extracts.
  4. Beat egg whites at high speed of a mixer until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat). Fold egg whites into batter; pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 23 minutes. Let cool in pans 5 minutes on a wire rack. Loosen cake layers from sides of pans using a narrow metal spatula, and turn out onto wire racks. Peel off wax paper, and let cool completely.
  5. Place 1 cake layer on a plate, and spread with 2/3 cup Cream Cheese Icing; top with another cake layer. Repeat with 2/3 cup icing and remaining layer, ending with cake. Spread remaining icing over cake. Garnish with kumquats, orange rind, and kumquat leaves, if desired.
  6. Note: To make sugared kumquats, dip kumquats into lightly beaten egg whites, and drain; roll in sugar.

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon light butter
  • 1 (8-ounce) package Neufchâtel cheese
  • 1 (1-pound) package powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Cream butter and cheese at high speed of a mixer until fluffy. Add sugar; beat at low speed until well-blended. Add vanilla; beat well.

Cooking Light

Recipe and photo from website; Photo by: HOWARD L. PUCKETT


There are several celebrations happening today … My parents 54th wedding anniversary, my sister Bridget and brother-in-law, Bill both had birthdays (a day apart) over the past few days… ! The place has GOT to be festive!

Mom and dad, you are the best and I wish you another 54 happy years together!

Bridget and Bill… H A P P Y   B I R T H D  A Y ! Hope it’s the best ever!  I have no doubt that you will all celebrate well! Love you! xoxo me

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Morning Glory Muffins… Just what the doctor ordered!

Morning Glory Muffins

Sometimes you need a quick and satisfying breakfast, not something that takes too long… it’s nice to be able to grab something and head out the door! These muffins are good alone, or paired with a fruit smoothie or a greek yogurt, mmmmm. They are filled with good things BUT they don’t taste “healthy”. The good thing about this recipe is that you can put whatever fruit you like in it… I made it pretty much as the recipe indicated. I used greek yogurt because it’s what I had (which boosts the protein a weee bit), I didn’t have wheat germ so I just added more flax. Next time I’ll probably use dried apricots or cherries instead of pineapple since the pineapple is so sweet… fresh blueberries would also be good! We eat some and freeze some, they’re great heated in the microwave for a few seconds!

This is a recipe from Cooking Light Magazine… and it’s a winner, I’ve made it several times. If you want to get to the website click HERE where you can print it quick and easy, otherwise… here’s the recipe…

Morning Glory Muffins

 YIELD: 18 servings (serving size: 1 muffin)


Cooking spray

1 cup whole wheat flour (about 4 3/4 ounces)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces)

1 cup regular oats

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon wheat bran

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup plain fat-free yogurt

1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2)

1 large egg

1 cup chopped pitted dates

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup chopped dried pineapple

3 tablespoons ground flaxseed (about 2 tablespoons whole)


Preheat oven to 350°.

Place 18 muffin cups liners in muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray.

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flours and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine yogurt, banana, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in dates, walnuts, and pineapple. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle evenly with flaxseed. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pans immediately; cool on a wire rack.

Charlotte Moore, Toronto, Cooking Light
JULY 2007

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