We’ve made some version of this many times before, but last weekend Ryan threw together a delicious version of this – adding his own variations of course – with a variety of tomatoes that came fresh from our garden & our friends’ Amanda & Andy’s garden as well. He added some fresh herbs from our garden, spices, & capers as well & we had one hell of a tasty sauce on our hands! I brought this to my fabulous friend Abigail’s baby shower last Sunday & enjoyed all the yummy eats that others brought to share as well.
I always forget how easy it is to make polenta and how tasty it can be. It is also fairly versatile; it makes a nice appetizer, a good first course for a meal, or it could be a meal all by itself. If you’re really inventive you could probably find a way to turn it into dessert, though I haven’t tried that yet. This dish could be used for an appetizer or a meal and is easy to make.
- 1 cup instant polenta
- 5-6 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 tsp buttery spread
- 3 cups veggie stock
- 1 tbsp rosemary rapture
- 3-4 tbsp fresh grated parmesan
- salt to taste
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil (or more to sufficiently cover the bottom of a skillet for frying)
- 5 tomatoes on the vine
- 1 small can of tomato paste
- 3/4 cup sauvignon blanc
- 1/2 red onion chopped
- 4-6 cloves of garlic
- 3 oz of capers, drained and rinsed
- 1 heaping tbps (or 1 1/2 tbsp) of butcher’s pepper
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
to make the sauce
Core and deseed the fresh tomatoes. In a blender or food processor, puree the tomatoes, tomato paste, and wine. Set aside. Heat a sauce pan or large skillet to medium heat. Heat the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook until onions begin to be translucent. Add the capers and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato puree, the course ground pepper, and dried oregano. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add salt to taste.
to make the polenta
Heat a sauce pan to medium heat. Melt the butter and add the garlic. Saute the garlic for a few minutes. You want it to slightly brown but not burn. Add the veggie stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling add the rosemary spice blend, let boil for 1 more minute. Reduce the heat and add the instant polenta by stirring constantly and pouring the polenta in small batches. Add the parmesan, incorporate it completely into the polenta. Pour the polenta into a 9 x 9 square baking dish and spread even. Set in the fridge to set and cool.
Once firm remove from pan. Cut the polenta in half and then 1″ pieces. Heat the olive oil in a skillet, it only needs to be slightly shallow, the idea is not to fully immerse the polenta in oil. Add the polenta sticks and fry for about 3-4 minutes, flip over and fry the opposite side for an additional 3-4 minutes. You want the polenta to start to lightly brown and get a bit crispy on the sides.
Top the polenta with the sauce on a plate and enjoy.
I’ve been wanting to make falafel for some time now and I guess somehow watching Top Chef All Stars inspired me to try something different with it. And though this doesn’t deviate too far from traditional Mediterranean cuisine it does have a tidbit of Asian inspiration. So here it goes:
- 2 cans of chick peas (again you can soak yours overnight)
- 1 large white onion chopped
- 4-5 cloves of garlic chopped
- fresh parsley finely chopped (about a cup of the leaves before chopping)
- fresh cilantro finely chopped (about a cup of the leaves before chopping)
- 1+ teaspoon of cumin
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of tumeric
- 4-5 tablespoons of flour + some extra for dredging, about 1/2 a cup or so (I used gluten-free all biscuit and baking flour, since a friend of mine cannot have gluten)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of cayenne (and some extra to add for dredging)
- 1 tablespoon of salt for the mixture (I used kosher salt for this)
- 1+ tablespoon of pepper for the mixture (I actually use 4 peppercorn blend and some butcher’s pepper)
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- additional salt and pepper for taste/finishing (the 4 peppercorn blend for pepper and a flower infused sea salt blend)
- lemon peel or zest for dredging
- canola or vegetable oil for frying (you’ll want your pan about 1″ deep)
In a food processor mince/chop the chick peas into tiny bits, you don’t want them pureed just well mashed. Transfer the chick peas to a bowl add all of the ingredients with the exception of those that will be used for dredging and the flour. Mix those ingredients well with hands or a fork. Add in some of the flour about a tablespoon at a time and mash the mixture around, it should start to get to a doughy consistency to where you can make the falafel balls with your hands. On the side set some flour on a plate or bowl, mix in the additional cayenne and lemon peel/zest. Form into balls, by squishing the mixture in the palm of your hand, about 1 and 1/2 inch in diameter, dredge in the flour mixture, set aside. It should make about 12 balls.
In a pot or frying pan heat the oil up. I don’t have an oil thermometer so I cannot tell you how hot it should be; I think these things are supposed to be at about 345-375. I usually heat the oil up over medium heat and make a small, tiny ball of the mixture and add it to the oil. When it starts sizzling and floating at the top, it is my indication the oil is hot enough to fry in. Also if your ball falls apart it is a good indication to add more flour to the balls. Add in small batches 4 balls at a time and cook for a few minutes each side, about 3-5 minutes total or until light brown, flip only once. Remove from the oil, salt and pepper for additional taste. The Flower Power Sea Salt blend I use adds nice sweet floral finishes to it. Put it all in a pita with some parsley and some of the hummus below and enjoy.
Curry-Peanut Butter Hummus
- 1 can of chickpeas (you can always use dried ones, I just didn’t have time to soak overnight)
- 4-5 tablespoons of peanut butter (I use my favorite: Cream-Nut)
- juice of 1 to 1 1/2 lemons
- zest of 1 of those lemons
- 3-4 small garlic cloves (or 2-3 large ones)
- 1 teaspoon or a tidbit more of cayenne (I like things spicy)
- 1+ teaspoon of hot curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon of molasses
This recipe is pretty simple, put all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. I only initially put the juice of 1 lemon and then to make it a bit smoother in texture added in the juice of the additional half of a lemon. You can also add in some water or oil of your choice to get it to the texture you want. One thing I recommend is to add the salt in at the end, depending on the peanut butter you choose to use it will likely add some salt content to the dish, you don’t want to over salt but it will need salt so add it in after you blend the other ingredients. Also feel free to cut back on the spices; I like things to have a nice heat, the heat in this dish is subtle yet builds on your tongue after a while.
We had a small get together with friends at our place this week &, after watching an episode of Martha Stewart, I was inspired to create a beautiful antipasto platter to share with our guests for the party. I was pleased when I put it all together & it looked fantastic; everyone, including me, seemed to enjoy it so it must have tasted fantastic too! You can find Martha’s directions for an antipasto platter here, but I deviated a little. My antipasto platter had mixed olives (kalamata & green with herbs & spices), prosciutto, sopressata salami, red grapes, peppercorn goat cheese, a delicious aged cheddar & aged gouda, peppadew peppers, & baby sour gherkins; I started with radicchio leaves as a base (thanks for the inspiration, Martha!) & used them as little bowls to separate & hold each of my antipasto platter ingredients.
We hosted a birthday party for our dear friend, Steff, and as she has a gluten allergy and eats vegetarian we wanted to make something that was tasty, easy to eat, and vegan and gluten-free…also, we’re Texans and never miss an opportunity to “kick things up a notch”, as Emeril would say – thus, the roasted poblano and veggie stuffed endive leave appetizer was born.
1 cup uncooked, long grain, white rice (per the measuring cup for our Zojirushi rice cooker)
2 limes (you’ll need both the zest and the juice)
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium yellow squash, diced
1 medium purple onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
2 roasted poblano peppers
1-2 tbsp chipotle olive oil
4-5 pinches chardonnay oak smoked sea salt (or to taste)
To roast the poblanos: Heat oven to 425. Lightly coat the poblanos with some kind on olive oil (doesn’t have to be chipotle infused) or canola oil. Place on a baking sheet. Put them in the oven, until the skin gets puffy and starts to brown a bit on both sides. About 15-20 minutes. Once done place in paper bag and close paper bag. Let cool for a bit. Take out the poblanos and deseed (its okay if a few are left behind, which will make it spicier) and peel the outer skin. Then dice.
For the rest of the veggies: Heat the chipotle infused olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the onions and the bell peppers. Sweat the onions and bell peppers until they start to become translucent or even caramelize a bit. Add the zucchini and squash. Continue cooking until the squash is cooked. Add the roasted poblanos and the chardonay smoked sea salt. Cook for a few (1-2) more minutes. Set aside to cool.
For the rice: Make the rice according to your rice cooker (or according to the instructions). Add to the rice the lime juice and lime zest.
Put it all together: mix the rice with the veggies, stir it up nice and good. Fill the endive leaves with the rice veggie mix. For extra flavor, we drizzled on some mustard hot sauce.
Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks, spend time with your family, friends, & loved ones, & to fill your bellies with lots of delicious eats of course! Every family has their own special Thanksgiving traditions & foods that they always include on the Thanksgiving table; here are some that Ryan & I include on our Thanksgiving table each year…
Grilled Turkey Tenderloins with Spice Rub
When it’s dinner for two, you just don’t need a whole turkey, & we eat little to no meat anyway so this has been a great option for us at Thanksgiving as several turkey tenderloins do the trick & save us from eating turkey for the next year; this is pretty simple & also takes WAY less time than cooking a whole turkey, so it definitely has it’s advantages!
Boneless Turkey Tenderloins, Extra Lean
Rudy’s BBQ Turkey Spice Rub
Blackening Spice Rub (see recipe below)
Coat turkey tenderloins lightly with olive oil. Rub turkey tenderloins with your spice rub of choice – homemade or store bought will both do the trick (we like Rudy’s BBQ turkey spice rub – their BBQ sauce is excellent as well, I might add, & is also delicious on turkey!) & we usually also make a blackening spice rub; we make half the turkey with the Rudy’s spice rub & use the blackening spice rub on the other half of the turkey. Grill these outside on your charcoal or gas grill or grill them inside in a griddle pan on your stove top.
Coarse Ground Black Pepper
Cayenne (use lots of Cayenne to make it really spicy!)
Mama Talbott’s Mashed Potatoes
I LOVE my Mom’s mashed potatoes (the basil & coarse ground black pepper really give these a nice twist) & my Thanksgiving plate usually consists of a HUGE pile of these with a teeny, tiny, miniscule sliver of turkey on the side – I’m really all about the potatoes, people!
Coarse Ground Black Pepper
Clean, peel, & chop LOTS of Russet Potatoes (we REALLY like our potatoes, so we always fill a large spaghetti pot with these!). Boil the potatoes in a large pot of water until they are tender & easy to pick apart with a fork. Drain the water out of the pot. Add a couple sticks of butter (more butter makes it better!), a splash or two of milk (as needed – this helps to make them nice & creamy too), & blend with a hand mixer until smooth. Add in a generous amount of kosher salt, coarse ground black pepper & dried basil flakes (add to taste, I like LOTS of salt, pepper, & basil in mine, but this isn’t for everyone) & then mix again to incorporate.
Sauteed Green Beans with Tomatoes & Basil
This is a recipe I got off foodnetwork.com, by Giada de Laurentiis, & that we’ve enjoyed making for holidays; they’re really fresh & delicious!
Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Orange Liquor
If you aren’t a fan of cranberry sauce & you’ve never made it fresh, I urge you to give this a try; this will kick the stuff in the can’s butt any day – enjoy!
1 Bag Fresh Cranberries
1/4 Cup Water
3/4 Cup Fresh Orange Juice
1 Cup Sugar
Zest of 1 Orange
Dash of Cinnamon
Splash of Orange Liquor (i.e. Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or Triple Sec)
Rinse 1 bag of fresh cranberries well. Add water, fresh orange juice, & sugar to a sauce pan & bring to a boil. Add cranberries to the pot & bring back to a boil. Add orange zest & cinnamon. Stir & then simmer until most of the cranberries have popped. Add a splash of orange liquor, stir, & let simmer for about a minute more. Transfer to a serving dish & let cool in the fridge before serving. Garnish with a twist of orange peel on top.
Deviled Eggs – We Don’t Need No Stinking Mayo!
I HATE mayo & sour cream & I do my best to steer clear of these at all costs; so I’ve adapted & have a special place for these delicious, mustardy Deviled Eggs in my heart – I hope you like them as much as I do!
Dill Pickle Relish
Stone Ground or Spicy Brown Mustard
Boil as many eggs as you’d like to serve in a pan of water; I add them to a pan of cold water, then bring to a boil & let boil for about 10 minutes – keep in mind that 1 egg = 2 Deviled Egg halves. Drain the boiling water & cover them with cold water to help speed up the cooling process. As soon as you’re able to, while they’re still hot/warm is best (doing this while they’re still warm will make it easier to remove the shells, believe me!), crack the eggs & remove the shells. Slice the eggs in half, length wise, & scoop out the cooked yolks, setting them aside in a separate bowl, & place the halved egg whites facing up on a plate or serving platter. Using a fork, mash all the cooked yolks up. Quantities of mustard & relish to add will vary, based on how much cooked egg yolk you have to work with of course, but you’ll then add a combination of yellow mustard, spicy mustard, & dill pickle relish to the cooked yolks & mix all together well. Scoop the yolk, mustard, & relish mixture into the cooked egg white halves & top with a sprinkle of paprika. Salt & pepper to taste.
Our Thanksgiving feast will also include lots of rolls. Happy eating!