Birthday Zone Dinner

And when your legs give out just lie right down
And I will kiss you till your breath is found

– Sufjan Stevens

My family is a BIG believer in the birthday zone. When your birthday rolls around not only do you get to celebrate the day of, but maybe the weekend before, of course the weekend after, and quite possibly for the rest of the month. Esq. is quickly getting indoctrinated into this tradition. We started celebrating last weekend in Greenville with his family, the two of us celebrated on Monday (his actual birthday), and finally wrapped up tonight with a home cooked meal with my parents.




Nothing says Happy Birthday like steak, risotto and fresh brussel sprouts. Actually, Esq.’s precise dinner request was steak, risotto and something green, I got to pick the brussels!

Fresh is best!



I feel like I have been missing out for most of my life. I only just recently discovered the joys of fresh brussel sprouts, who knew they were so stinkin’ good (kinda literally). Not only are they good, but they are easy. Before I started on the way labor intensive risotto, I cut the stems off and halved two bags of the sprouts. When I had two cups of liquid left to add in the risotto, the lovely Esq. threw the halved and washed sprouts in a large pan with olive oil, salt and pepper and put them in a 400 degree oven until the risotto was done. Perfection! The sprouts were soft with a cabbage like crunch. The best part, I think, are the leaves that fall off and bake until they are nearly black. My love for the charred leaves is half texture and half flavor, pungent and unique.

Green and Black Have Never Looked so Appetizing!

I put Esq. to work on the steak marinade and veggie dicing (just because you are in the birthday bubble doesn’t mean you can escape kitchen duties, plus he has killer knife skills). While he was busy I got to brush, slice, and cook the mushrooms for the risotto. Cooking the mushrooms in the risotto cast iron pan imparts a richer and earthier flavor to the rice, of course tons of garlic, onion, mushrooms, chicken broth, white wine, and cheese doesn’t hurt!

Never Stop Stiring, Not Even for a Picture!



A risotto word to the wise is to always add another cup of liquid to the recipe. You pretty much can’t go wrong with adding more, especially if your last cup is a bright, crisp white wine. Cooking wine should always be something you would drink willingly, but there is no need to spend your hard earned money on a bottle that cost more than $10.00. I listened to a great Freakonomics podcast about how knowing the price of wine determines its enjoyment level. Now I have a really hard time justifying the extra expenditure. With the wine I added the mushrooms back into the risotto and stirred until all liquid was absorbed, once it reached the desired consistency I removed from heat and added cheese, my personal favorite part. In this scenario I added Romano and Parmesan.

Plate Full of Yummy!

Once the risotto was pulled, we quickly threw the steaks into a pan and cooked briefly on each side. Esq. really did a wonderful job on the marinade. The steaks were oh so flavorful and juicy.

Birthday Meat

I truly hope he had a wonderful birthday zone, I am sorry to see it come to a close, as I love a good celebration and an excuse to cook yummy food, but I am sure I can come up with another excuse!

Tomorrow I will share my adventure in breakfast cupcakes. On a related note, I will not be serving peanut butter banana cupcakes next week. 🙂


Mushroom Risotto

1 cup arborio rice

1 yellow onion chopped

3 garlic cloves diced

1 package baby bella mushrooms

1 package button mushrooms

4 tbs butter

2 tbs olive oil



3 cups chicken broth

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup grated romano cheese

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

In large cast iron skillet cook 2 tbs of butter, salt, pepper and mushrooms until just tender. Take mushrooms out of the pan and place on the side. Drain any excess liquid, but do not wipe down the pan.

Add remaining butter, olive oil, garlic, and onion to pan over med/high heat for a few minutes or until just translucent.

Add arborio rice, continuously stir until pan becomes very dry and rice just starts to stick. Add one cup of broth, continuously stir until all liquid is absorbed, repeat twice.

It will begin taking longer and longer for the liquid to absorb each time. The final cup should be of wine, at the same add in cooked mushrooms.

Once all liquid is absorbed, remove from heat and add cheese. Stir till incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

5 thoughts on “Birthday Zone Dinner

  1. I really enjoy following your blog! The food you make looks amazing! That man of yours sure is lucky having such an incredible chef!

    -Tito Jackson

  2. See, I technically did Esquire a favor by not coming over because now he gets the leftovers for lunch! The food really does look great though. Maybe I will get lucky and you can still throw me one of those beast muffins which I know I will like.


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