Friday, November 20, 2015

Polenta Casserole with Winter Squash and Greens

I first prepared this recipe about 10 years ago, it’s a recipe from the Moosehead Restaurant Cookbook. I completely forgot about it until I tried something very similar to it at Trader Joe’s during their sampling this week. There are three distinct layers. The bottom layer is polenta that is flavored with sundried tomatoes, fresh thyme and cheddar cheese. The second layer is roughly 10 cups of fresh greens cooked down, drained, then spooned on top of the polenta. Then for the last and final layer roasted squash is mashed, combined with a beaten egg and then cheddar cheese is added. (Insert some type of magical bells ringing here). Spoon this mixture on top and slide in the oven. Your kitchen will start smelling like Thanksgiving in no time at all.

** Just a note about this dish: It is time consuming I won’t deny that, but to me well worth it. I will be making this again and again**

Have a wonderful Holiday!!!

Recipe has been slightly adapted from the Moosehead Restaurant Cookbook.


First layer, polenta:

2 ½ cups water
2/3 cup cornmeal (organic)
2 whole sun-dried tomatoes (chopped)
¼ teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese (grated)

Second layer, the greens:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves (minced)
8 to 10 cups of pressed or kale, spinach or hearty greens
½  cup water
¼ teaspoon salt

Third layer:

2 cups mashed squash (I roasted one small squash, pic below can’t remember the name of it)
1 large egg (beaten)
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese (grated)

To prepare:

For the polenta layer:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease a 8 x 8 inch pan or cast iron skillet, set aside also prepare a small roasting pan by covering with aluminum foil to place pan or skillet on during baking so there will be no drippings in your oven.

Bring the water to a boil in a heavy saucepan and whisk in the cornmeal. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, salt and thyme and cook on low heat, stirring often until the polenta is thick and creamy, about 10 minutes. Add in the cheese. Pour into prepared pan, level with a spatula or knife.

For the greens layer:

In a heavy soup pot on medium heat add oil and garlic, stir about 1 minute add chopped greens, water and salt. Cover and stir occasionally until greens are tender about 10 minutes. Drain in colander, let sit about 10 minutes, then scoop onto the polenta, tap lightly down.

For the squash layer:

In a medium sized bowl combine the squash, egg, salt and cheese. Scoop on top of the greens. Cover and bake 30 to 35 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 to 15. I baked 10 more minutes and then turned on the broiler for another minute or so to lightly brown.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Three Bean Salad

Time slips by so fast this time of year. Is it because of all of our obligations and extra tasks that come with celebrating the holidays? Or do we try to do more and feel there is so much more to accomplish; or both. Perhaps the end of the year is for reflection and clearing your mind for what lies ahead. Whatever it is my plan is to keep the holidays simple and fun, let’s hope I can stick to it.

This might seem like a very ordinary salad to you but sometimes ordinary is good. It’s simple, dependable and satisfying. It’s an example of how a dish can become special combining pantry and fresh ingredients. I used red kidney and garbanzo beans with fresh green beans to create a more traditional three bean salad but any combination of beans would work here as well. Crisp celery gives this a crunch while the fresh herbs and lemon in the dressing help brighten up this dish.


1 14-ounce can red kidney beans
1 14-ounce can garbanzo beans
1 pound fresh green beans (ends trimmed, cut in half)
2 stalks celery (thinly sliced)
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley (chopped)
1 tablespoon green onions (thinly sliced)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

To prepare:

Rinse the red beans and garbanzos in a colander, set aside.

Blanch the green beans in salted boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes. You want them to be tender but still have some snap to them. Rinse under cold water, drain, set aside.

In a medium sized bowl whisk parsley, green onions, thyme, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, Dijon and olive oil. Toss red kidney beans and garbanzo beans with dressing, let sit for 30 minutes. Add green beans. Toss, salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Lucky Peach 101 Easy Asian Recipes

Lucky Peach 101 Easy Asian Recipes is the perfect cookbook for someone who loves non-traditional Asian food. The recipes are simple and the ingredients are obtainable; both with the home cook in mind. The book starts off like most with an introduction into necessary equipment and pantry items. The pantry items were divided into 3 levels, basic, intermediate and champion. All levels thoughtfully explain ingredients with photos showing the brands that they recommend and use themselves.

My favorite chapter is the one titled Super Sauces. The premise of this chapter is that these “Super Sauces can be dumped over nearly any food lingering in your fridge to make delicious dinners".

Some of the text is slightly sarcastic, a type of writing that I very much enjoy. A great read, reminding one not to take themselves too seriously in the kitchen.

I prepared the Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce which was delicious. The bok choy was blanched until crisp-tender, the garlic chopped and cooked in oil until golden brown. I served these greens topped with the garlic and a drizzle of oyster sauce over a bed of brown rice. Any type of greens could be substituted here. Next on my list to make is the Carrot-Ginger Dressing which looks good enough to eat by the bowlful.

I received this book from Blogging For Books for this review.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Winter Squash Agrodolce

Growing up we always had a vegetable or salad with our evening meal. Which was a wonderful and healthy way to eat back then but…..most of the time they were prepared the same way. Vegetables were steamed and boiled. Salads were always served with bottled dressings, tomato and cucumber. Well times have changed, that was then….. and this is now. Nowadays there are so many cooking resources available that you can always find a way to spice up the food that comes out of your kitchen.

I notice that sometimes I do the same thing with certain vegetables too. Winter squash happens to be one  of them. So when I saw this recipe for Winter Squash Agrodolce in the November Bon Appetit magazine I decided to give it a try. Agrodolce is traditionally a sauce that is made by reducing vinegar and sugar for a sweet and sour flavor. In this case the recipe called for vinegar, honey and raisins with crushed red pepper flakes. When ready to serve the sauce is drizzled over squash that has been roasted until golden brown and tender.

Serve this dish as one of your sides for Thanksgiving, you won’t be sorry.


1 2-pound kabocha squash, (peeled, seeds removed and cut into wedges)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper ¾ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Kabocha squash (above)

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place kabocha on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix together. Roast until squash is tender and golden brown about 20 to 25 minutes.

In the meantime, in a small sauce pan bring vinegar, honey, raisins and red pepper flakes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. About 8 to 10 minutes. Drizzle half the sauce over squash and the rest when ready to serve.

This recipe has been adapted from November 2015 Bon Appetit magazine.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Turkey Sliders with Mango and Ginger Chutney and Arugula Raita #madewithchobani

Here we are in the mist of fall, baseball season has just ended and football is now going full swing. My husband loves baseball, football, basketball and soccer, really anything that is sports related. Every once in a while, when it’s a special game, we plan a party. I try and keep the food simple and healthy. This post features Chobani Greek yogurt as part of their #MadeWithChobani tailgating series. A series that is promoting everyone to create their favorite tailgating recipe using Chobani’s signature Greek yogurt.

One of the most important qualifications of game food is that you have to be able to pick it up with your hands. Also around our house the main dish must be grilled. Everyone socializes and some wear their team’s colors. Sometimes there’s a bit of cheering going on but all in all it’s just a group of people having some good clean fun.

In this recipe canned chickpeas, fresh herbs and garlic are mixed together and then combined with ground turkey to form mini patties. After being grilled they are topped with a mango and ginger chutney and then topped once again with creamy raita made with Chobani Greek yogurt mixed with arugula, scallion and cucumber with a big squeeze of lime juice. The flavors were sweet and sour, spicy and sweet.

For turkey sliders:

1 pound ground turkey
1 cup canned chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
¼ cup sliced scallions
¼ cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper


1 cup plain Chobani Greek yogurt
½ cup arugula cut into ribbons
½ medium-sized cucumber, cut lengthwise, seeds removed and then chopped small
1 scallion minced
Juice of ½ lime

8 mini-hamburger buns (bought mine at Trader Joe's)
1 9-ounce jar mango and ginger chutney

To prepare the patties:

Combine chickpeas, scallions, mint leaves and garlic in a food processor, pulse until mostly smooth.

Remove from canister and scoop into a medium sized bowl; add ground turkey. Combine mixture then divide into 8 equal pieces. Make into patties. Set on a large plate, cover and place in refrigerator at least 30 minutes, to firm up.

To prepare the raita:

In a medium bowl combine yogurt, arugula, cucumber and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. Keep chilled.

To assemble:

Place patty on bottom bun, top with chutney, then raita. Enjoy!

Serves 8

For more recipes from Chobani please click here

Monday, November 2, 2015

Apple Napoleons

I can’t believe it is November already. Here in Arizona the seasons can change from one day to another. One day it’s in the nineties and the air conditioner is on; the next it’s cold and the heater is on. This pretty much happens every year. During our morning walk I wore a jacket for the first time and my walking buddy wore gloves. Oh yes, change is finally happening in the Southwest.

Yesterday I made apple napoleons, which was supposed to be a quick and easy recipe. I started out by burning the first batch of puff pastry to smithereens. Bellows of smoke was rolling out of the oven and the little delicate squares were charred beyond recognition. The recipe I was following was from Martha Stewart’s Living 2003 magazine. The directions specifically stated to bake the puff pastry in between two baking sheets at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Well we all know how that turned out. So I started over again, this time baking the puff pastry approx. 15 minutes, which resulted in beautifully baked pastry. I’m not sure why the cooking times differed so greatly maybe it was the puff pastry I used.

Next the apples were cooked down with the remaining cinnamon and sugar until a little caramelizing occurred. I served the Napoleons with two layers of pastry with each layer stuffed with ice cream and apples. If you love cooked apples and all the flavors associated with them I hope you have a chance to make these flaky apple napoleons. Fall is here! Carpe diem!

This recipe has been slightly adapted from Martha Stewart's Living Magazine.


½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons sugar
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
All-purposed flour for work surface
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/3 inch slices
Whip cream, gelato or ice cream

To prepare:

In a small bowl combine cinnamon and sugar, (will be divided) set aside.

Set puff pastry out to defrost, when defrosted unroll and on a lightly floured surface roll out to 1/8 inch. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of cinnamon mixture then cut into 3 x 4 inch squares, 8 total. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with more parchment paper and another baking sheet. Chill in freezer until firm about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bake pastry in oven with both baking sheets right out of the freezer approx. 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to wire rack and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat; when foam resides add apples and cook; stirring occasionally until golden brown about 7 to 10 minutes. Add remaining cinnamon mixture. Cook until apples are tender. I cooked mine a little longer because I wanted them to be caramelized, watch carefully if you decide to do this as it happens very quickly. Set aside, let cool completely.

To assemble; top the pastry with ice cream then add a layer of apples, add another layer of puff pastry, ice cream and then apples. Enjoy with a hot cup of spiced tea or coffee.

Serves 4.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix Cookbook

I’ve been a fan of Mark Bittman’s for years now. His new cookbook Kitchen Matrix is a fantastic cookbook and my favorite of his collection to date. There are over 700 recipes and most have beautifully styled photos. The basic concept is that if you know a few techniques and can cook a handful of day to day dishes you can improvise and make many variations that morph from one meal to another. An example of this would be spinach where he has listed four different techniques but twelve different flavor profiles. By following this method of cooking you can create a lifetime of recipes. There is even a chapter on Desserts and Baking in which he has a basic cookie dough with twelve different options.

This recipe I’m about to share is inspired by one of Mark’s chicken recipes, which was easy to prepare and turned out pretty amazing.

I received this book from Blogging For Books for this review.