The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star. -- Anthelme Brillat-Savarin --

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yummy Soft Polenta!!

HOWDY friends…I’m back again, much sooner than usual I know, but I just had to pass this along before I forget.  We had 1/2 pound of polenta leftover from the other night, and wanted to use it up, so my husband decided to experiment.  What he came up with was delicious, so I decided to share it with you as well.

Sorry, but I didn’t think to get a picture before I gobbled it all up!  LOL!!  Oh well, I really think we’ll be doing a lot more experimenting with polenta in the days to come, so I’ll probably get another chance.

Scooter’s Soft Polenta
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
1 Tbsp. chopped red bell pepper
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound polenta, coarsely chopped (as I mentioned before, I used Food Merchant Organic Polenta - Traditional Italian flavor)
1/2 to 3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth (use as much or as little as you want, to make it the consistency you like)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (or whatever seasonings you like)
1/8 tsp. sea salt (remember, the polenta already has some salt in it so you don’t want to use too much!  If you try my hubby’s diced sausage idea - see below - I’d probably leave it out altogether)
2 Campari tomatoes, diced
1 Tbsp. fresh chives

Microwave the polenta in a small bowl for about 30 seconds (just to warm it up a little so it will be easier to mash) then mash well.  Meanwhile, sauté your onions and bell pepper in olive oil.  Add the mashed polenta to the hot pan and mix well.  Add the chicken broth and stir over medium heat until fully incorporated.  Add garlic powder & salt.  Once the liquid has absorbed a bit, stir in the diced tomatoes and cook just until they are fully warmed.  Stir in the chives (at the last minute) and serve immediately.

This made just enough for the two of us to have a nice dinner.  If you want more, feel free to use a whole pound of polenta, and just adjust amount of broth to get the consistency you want.  Adjust the other ingredients to suit your taste.

My husband served this with some sliced smoked sausage that he had sliced and browned in a skillet, then drained on paper towel to remove most of the grease.  He had planned to serve steamed broccoli with it as well, but forgot.  J  (I think he’s been around his wife too long!)  He said that next time he’ll probably dice the sausage and just stir it in with the onions and bell pepper in the beginning, and he’ll be sure to remember the broccoli.  Sounds good to me!

Really, if you haven’t tried polenta, YOU NEED TO!!  When you do, let me know what other interesting variations you come up with.  I’m in the mood to experiment!!

Happy Wednesday!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Polenta With Zucchini & Tomatoes

I found this recipe while thumbing through my October/November 2012 issue of Healthy Cooking Magazine.  It was listed as “Veggie-Topped Polenta Slices” on page 26.  I was looking for something simple after busy day of working in the yard, and this recipe fit the bill.

I actually had some polenta that I had been wanting to use, so I adapted the original recipe a bit (as always) to fit the other ingredients I had on hand.  My husband & I both gave it a thumbs up!  I hope you’ll give it a try as well, and let me know what you think.

Polenta With Zucchini & Tomatoes
1/2 tube polenta (1 pound tube), cut into 6 slices (I used Food Merchant’s Organic Polenta - Traditional Italian flavor - the original recipe called for 1 pound - a whole tube, cut into 12 slices - but I was cooking for 2 and figured this would be plenty)
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided (a little less than 1 Tbsp. would be fine for cooking the polenta - I think next time I’ll just spray the slices with some EVOO rather than putting the oil directly in the pan - I may even try baking the polenta rather than pan-frying it)
1 medium tatuma squash, chopped (the original recipe called for zucchini, but I just used what I had - I think yellow squash - or a mix of squash - or even some white beans - would be good too)
1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped (the original recipe called for 2 shallots, but I didn’t have any)
4 garlic cloves, minced (the original recipe called for 2 cloves, but I LOVE garlic!)
4 Tbsp. reduced-sodium chicken broth (the original recipe called for 3 Tbsp, but I used a little extra - why not?)
1/2 tsp. pepper (I really don’t know how much I used…I didn’t measure it, but this is how much the recipe called for)
1/8 tsp. salt (the polenta already has some salt in it, so don’t use too much!)
5 Campari tomatoes, chopped (the original recipe called for 4 plum tomatoes, seeded & chopped - again, I used what I had, and I NEVER seed them, too much trouble!)
4 slices Canadian bacon, diced (this was NOT in the original recipe…I just threw it in for time I think I might toss in a few mushrooms here too, just for good measure!  J)
2 Tbsp. minced fresh basil (or 2 tsp. dried basil)
1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley (or 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes)
shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese - to taste (The original recipe called for ½ cup, but I didn’t think we needed that much for the two of us!  I think grated Parmesan would be a good alternative too!)

In a large nonstick skillet, cook polenta in 1 Tbsp. oil over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes per side, or until golden brown.  Remove from skillet and drain on paper towel to remove excess oil.

Meanwhile, in another large skillet, sauté onion in remaining oil until almost translucent, then add garlic and continue to sauté for another minute or two.  Stir in squash and cook until tender.  Add chicken broth, pepper & salt.  Bring to a boil, and cook until liquid is almost evaporated.

Stir in the Canadian bacon (this is where I’d add the mushrooms next time), and cook until just warm.  Add tomatoes, basil & parsley; heat through.

Serve over the polenta (3 slices per person) and sprinkle with as much cheese as you like.

With the 1/2 pound of polenta, this made just enough for the two of us, but you could use the full amount of polenta and stretch it to serve 4.  I would probably use 2 squash and another tomato or two to make 4 servings.

Praying that each person reading this will have a wonderful week!  Don’t forget to spend time with the ones you love.


Click HERE for a great way to use up any leftover polenta as well!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Blackberry-Fig Baked Oatmeal - It’s What’s For Breakfast

Good morning friends!  Had to pop in and wish you all a wonderful Labor Day holiday.  I’m enjoying my day off at home, and wanted to share my latest recipe treasure with you.

If you haven’t “met” Ann Fulton over at The Fountain Avenue Kitchen, you really need to.  She’s got a great blog filled with all kinds of yummy recipes.  I came across her Peach Swirl Baked Oatmeal one day, and decided to give it a try.  Of course I was out of peaches, so I decided to improvise.  Both my husband and I loved it, so it’s become a “regular” menu item at our house.

I vary the fruit according to what I have on hand, and we’ve had nothing but success so far!  I made it once with blueberries, and another time with blueberries and peaches combined.  I normally use a total of 2 cups of fruit, but in this case, I used the full amount of blackberries, and just threw in some figs for good measure.  J  I think I’m going to try apples (my husband’s favorite) next time.

The neufchâtel cheese lends a decadent creaminess, and the broiled topping adds a wonderful crunchy sweetness, so don’t forget to add that part at the end!

Be sure to check out Ann’s original recipe posting at The Fountain Avenue Kitchen for lots of other variations on this yummy recipe, and be sure to tell her that Faithy sent you!  Check out her Facebook page when you get a chance too.

Blackberry-Fig Baked Oatmeal
2 cups skim milk (some places call it fat free now)
1 cup HEB Real Egg (or 4 eggs, lightly beaten)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh (or frozen) blackberries (I’m sure raspberries would be delicious too)
3/4 cup chopped fresh (or frozen) figs (I had some in the freezer from this year’s bumper crop!  If you don’t have any, just leave them out.)
3 cups old-fashioned oats
about 3 oz. (3 or 4 Tbsp.) softened neufchâtel  cheese (reduced fat cream cheese) - optional

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans (or almonds) - optional

Grease a 12-inch cast iron skillet and preheat your oven to 375°F.  First, combine the brown sugar & pecans in a small bowl, and set aside for later.  Then combine everything else except the oats, & neufchâtel cheese in a large bowl.  Once everything is mixed well, stir in the oats.

Pour the mixture to your prepared skillet and distribute evenly (make sure the fruit doesn’t all end up lumped in one spot!).  Using your fingers or a small spoon, dot with the neufchâtel cheese (use as much or as little as looks good to you), then poke the cheese down into the batter so that it isn’t dry on top.
(At this point you can cover the whole thing with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight if your mornings are too hectic to put it together then.  Just be sure to take it out of the fridge and let it return to room temperature before you bake it.)

Bake for about 35 minutes or until just firm and set in the middle.  Then remove from the oven and switch your oven setting to broil.  Sprinkle the brown sugar & nut mixture over the top, and broil oatmeal until the sugar is melted and top is golden.

Watch it carefully…it will brown quickly and you don’t want to burn it!

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes, then serve warm.  It’s delicious!!  The hardest part is waiting for it to cool before taking that first bite!

Happy Labor Day friends!  I hope you’ll get a chance to rest a bit from your normal daily labors, and spend some quality time with your family today.  That’s what I plan to do!

Prayer for the Day:  Lord, let me be a woman who counts her blessings, and let me serve you faithfully as I give You praise as the Giver of all good things.  You have richly blessed my life, and I am eternally grateful.  Let me, in turn be a blessing to all those who cross my path, and may I always remember to give all the glory to You!