I’m giving you a big arancini kiss right now.

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In the form of melted cheese surrounded by rice, roasted garlic, most m cheese (because always) and a crispy crunchy coating of breadcrumbs. So we can now declare this the best holiday season ever?

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The first time we ever had arancini was at Sal’s in Wildwood, on the way home from a long day at the beach and we were all STARVING. This was yearssss ago and my uncle ended up ordering a lot more than just pizza, so we snacked our way through the restaurant. It was late. I think it was rainy? We were probably all in a wonderful mood after spending 14 straight hours in the hot sun. Not cranky at ALL.

My cousin Lacy became obsessed with the rice balls and ever since, is always on a search for the best. Everywhere we go! Must order rice balls.

And then.

Vallozzi’s has TO DIE FOR! arancini and we order it as an appetizer every time we are there. It’s a recent discovery but I’d say we’ve been ordering them for about a year. And wanting to order another plate because they are that good. And we are gluttonous.

It’s what actually what inspired me to make them for the holiday season. And it’s contributing to getting me more into tomato sauce. howwhatwherewhy?!

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I added roasted garlic because sometimes I can’t stop adding roasted garlic to things. Occasionally on a Sunday I will roast four or five bulbs of garlic and then everyone better watch out! You’re getting roasted garlic bombed all week.

I want to get roasted garlic wasted.

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And we couldn’t JUST have fontina in here, which you may realize now is my go-to cheese for practically, well… everything. I threw in some goat cheese to lighten up the ball, and if you think I sound crazy, you gotta try it. It brings a creamy yet tangy yet fresh and sort of light taste to the whole mess of gooey rice.

Not that I ever make sense.

You can totally add other things in there too, like broccoli or kale or carrots or leeks, and it might come as a shock that I’m going to make a version of these with kale over the holidays

Probably to go with my kale salad, kale smoothie, kale omelet and kale brownies.

No no. Not that last one. I think.

Why does it take me 37 years to get into trends? Like wasn’t kale so super 2012?

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I know you’re probably dying to ask if these can be baked (no, no? just me?) and not fried. The answer is yes, but they won’t be exactly the same. The exterior won’t be as crisp, which is one of the best parts. You take a bite and it crunches just a teeny but, right down into a love filled hug of warm risotto and a center of melty cheese.

Why yes, it is basically where I want to live for the next two months.

I really like it for a holiday appetizer or snack, but honestly frying something like this for a party kind of stresses me out and I don’t want to have my entire house smelling of fried oil and pine scented candles mixed together. So! I deem it an excellent meal/snack to eat over the holidays with your friends and family, when there is no worry of being all fancy and frilly and you’re not hosting an event that calls for washing down your baseboards. You know?

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There you have it.

If you’ve never tried arancini, please come over immedaitely so we can make a batch and drink a bottle of red. You must be introduced into this lovely crunch ball o’ fun.

And if you are familiar with the cheesy snack, throw some filling ideas my way. Oh and you can also come over. For more red. I have about ten pounds of Christmas cookies for dessert and I kind of love you and will share. Wink wink.

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Fontina, Roasted Garlic and Goat Cheese Arancini

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  • 2 cups cooled risotto
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 8 ounces fontina cheese, cut into cubes
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
  • a pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • marinara sauce for serving


  • Note: to cool the risotto quickly, you can make a batch then spread it out on a baking sheet to cool and slightly dry. I’ve done it both ways (the other being to store it overnight in the fridge) and they both work great.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To roast the garlic, slice the top of the head off to expose the cloves. Rub your fingers back and forth on the outside of the bulb to remove the excess paper. Drizzle the top with olive oil and wrap the garlic in foil. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes, until the cloves are caramely and golden. You can do this ahead of time if you wish. Squeeze out the cloves and mash them well with a fork.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the cooled rice, roasted garlic, egg, goat cheese, parmesan, salt, pepper and about 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs. Using your hands, form the mixture into 1-inch round balls. Gently push a cube or two of fontina cheese in the center of each ball, make sure to seal it all around. Roll each ball in the remaining bread crumbs and place it on a baking sheet. Once finished, place the baking sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  • While the rice balls are freezing, heat about 1-2 inches of oil in a large pot. You want it to be between 325 and 350 degrees F. Add about 2 to 3 rice balls to the oil at one time, frying until golden on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to remove excess grease. Repeat.
  • Serve immediately with grated parmesan and marinara.


[slightly adapted from food network]

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Oh the cheese.