Fall Cleaning and Cooking


December 1, 2012 by caitlinvaclark

I’ve spent a lot of this week deep cleaning and organizing our house in preparation for Christmas decorating. The good news is that England seems to have one up-ed the US in Christmas obsession when it comes to movies. We have a channel that is literally called “Xmas24” and plays Lifetime Christmas movies all day, everyday. Amazing. Perfect background for cleaning and gift wrapping.

We are planning on getting our Christmas tree tomorrow, and I’m just starting to pull out my surplus of red and green tchotchkes, but I did manage to get my Advent calendar project finished in time for the 1st of December. And I give to you… my masterpiece:

Yup, a wine countdown to Christmas. A perfect reward after a long day, with a home cooked meal, and to have extra wine on hand for impromptu holiday entertaining.


While I realize this project is far from saving lives, conducting million dollar deals, or writing a Pulitzer worthy novel, hot gluing and tying tiny bows took it out of me. With everything else going on this week, all I want to do at the end of the day was relax and for me the best way to do that is to retreat to the kitchen and make a risotto. I had an extra can of Libby’s pumpkin puree (make sure you don’t use the one labeled “pie filling” or I think you’d end up with rice pudding and risotto’s love child: savory, sweet, and plain gross), so I decided on a fall flavor inspired dish.


I started with a hot pan and some British Cumberland sausages, removed from their casings. These sausages are perfect paired with pumpkin because they are heavy in sage and black pepper. If you can’t find them, I might substitute a mild italian and just increase the amount of sage or add a pinch of poultry seasoning, or breakfast sausage would work well.


Crumble as it cooks. Once brown and just cooked through, remove from the pan. Add the shallots and a bit more oil depending on how much your sausage left behind (you’ll want about a tablespoon now). Sauté, but be sure to turn the temperature down, as there will be lots of delicious brown bits left from the sausage that you don’t want to burn.


After toasting the rice lightly deglazing with enough wine to get all the bits up will make a deep intense base of flavor for the risotto.


You’ll want to add about 1/3 cup of warm broth at a time, stirring until almost dissolved and very starchy. You’ll notice thick bubbles forming and that’s when it’s ready for more liquid.


When you are down to your last 1/3 cup, stir in the pumpkin, then the sausage, sage, and parmesan. Use the last of the broth to thin slightly and help mix in the meat.


Serve garnished with more sage and parmesan.


Pumpkin and Sausage Risotto

1 Tbs. olive oil

½ lb. sausage (I used British Cumberland Sausage which has a strong sage flavor)

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 cup Arborio rice

½ cup white wine

4 cups chicken broth

8 oz. pumpkin puree (half a can of Libby’s)

1 Tbs. fresh sage, chopped

Fresh cracked pepper

¼ cup fresh grated parmesan

Bring broth to a low simmer in a saucepot. Keep simmering while you make the risotto.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove sausage from casings and cook, crumbling as you go. Once the sausage has crumbled and cooked through, remove from pan and reserve.

In the same skillet, over medium heat, sauté the shallots until soft, then add the Arborio rice and cook for 2 minutes until just toasted. Add the wine, deglazing the pan and removing all of the brown bits from the sausage. Stir into the rice until absorbed.

Begin adding the broth in the same manner, about 1/3 cup at a time. Stir rice continually as the liquid is absorbed. When the rice soaks up most of the liquid and only a bubbly starch remains, add more broth. Continue 1/3 cup at a time until all but ½ cup of the broth has been added. Season with fresh cracked pepper.

Stir in the pumpkin and heat through. Then add the reserved sausage, sage, and grated parmesan. Stir in the remaining broth, cook for1 minute, and serve.

*Garnish with sage and more grated parmesan.


7 thoughts on “Fall Cleaning and Cooking

  1. jess99rpi says:

    This looks delish! And I currently have a can of pumpkin puree in the pantry, so this is definitely going on the list!

  2. Becca says:

    Love the advent calendar idea!!

  3. This whole post just made my day! The wine advent countdown is an amazing idea. 🙂 I am also a huge lover of risotto. My husband makes the best fennel risotto, but I think we will now have to try the pumpkin and sausage risotto this weekend. Yum!

  4. Sue says:

    I like the Advent idea, but what do you put inside the numbered cards?

    • Thanks! Glad you like it. You could put fun little notes in the cards. Or if you wanted to keep them, I would recommend writing which wine it was, when you enjoyed it, and what the occasion was. You could reuse them each year and have little memories of the holidays.

  5. Wendy says:

    How did you make the tags? Love this idea 🙂

    • You can really use any Christmas-y tags you wanted. I found those shiny red cards with the ribbon already attached at a Paper/Card store and then glued the holly leafs and painted the numbers. But you could even just print out number tags and add festive Christmas ribbon. Enjoy!!

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