I love polenta. Long ago I bought pre-made polenta in the store. The older Italian lady behind me scolded me for buying pre-made over store bought. That caused me to want to make great polenta at home, from there, the possibilities of dinner ideas is endless. Here’s the basic polenta recipe I use.
- 6 cups water
- 1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons cracked salt salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp of parmesan cheese
- Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot or deep pan. Add salt.
- Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes. T
- Turn off the heat. Add the butter and parmesan cheese.
Sausage and Swiss Chard
- 2-3 Bratwurst Sausages
- 3 cups of chopped Swiss Chard
- 1 tsp of Olive Oil
- Parmesan Cheese to top
While the polenta is cooking, I prep the toppings. You can really use anything you want, any type of meat, poultry or vegetable.
- Heat oil in a large pan and cook the sausages. Removing from heat when almost complete.
- Cut the sausage and return to the heated pan for grilling. This will soak up all the flavor and cook them more complete.
- Remove sausage, add swiss chard to pan and sauté until completely wilted.
With company on the way, I thought of a great idea. I had some kale in my garden and decided to make a fried appetizer. I used the same Won Ton wrappers as I used before.
- 1 tsp olive oil (for kale)
- 1/2 tsp minced garlic or garlic powder
- 1/2 cup sautéed kale
- dash of cracked salt and pepper
- 2 large tbsp of cream cheese (I use greek yogurt cream cheese or low fat)
- 10-12 Won Ton Wraps
- 1 egg white
- In a small pan, I heated the olive oil and added the garlic and after a couple minutes, added the kale and sautéed until softened.
- Remove from pan and put in a food processor or finely cut by hand.
- Heat Cream Cheese in microwave for 15 seconds or put into the hot kale mixture and melt together. Add a dash of cracked salt and pepper and mix throughly.
- Brush the won ton with the egg white on the entire inside surface.
- Add a very small amount of the kale and cheese mixture and fold in half. Pinch all sides firmly, letting the middle bubble out a little.
- Add 2-3 tbsp of oil to the pan and on medium heat, fry the wontons until crispy on both sides. I do one side for 4 minutes and then the other for about the same. Trying not to flip too much, but keep an eye on them.
Do you love lots of steps? I hope so, because this recipe is all about prepping your ingredients. The whole soup process is very fast, so you want to get your ingredients ready. Also you can modify the ingredients to use pork, chicken, beef, seafood and prawns. Your veggies can also be modified to include whatever you like. This is what I used for 4 portions of soup.
- Won Tons! See this recipe http://thisgirlreallycooks.com/2013/08/21/ginger-shrimp-won-tons/
- 12 or more medium cooked shrimp
- 1 chicken breast cooked and cut into pieces
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
- 4 cups chicken, beef or veggie broth
- Thinly sliced beef
- 2 cups of water
- 1/2 onion sliced into strips
- 2 cups of chopped bok choy
- 1 cup of bean sprouts
- 1 cup of snow peas
- First step is to cook the chicken. I start with the chicken using a large sauce pot that I love to cook soups in. I usually cook the chicken breast whole and then cut down so the pieces stay moist. Remove the chicken and place on a plate. You can also use pork the same way.
- With the pot and oil still going I add in the onions and try to soak up the chicken flavor. Then I add the chicken broth, the water, soy sauce, Chinese 5 spice. Bring to boil.
- Add in the bok choy and snow peas, then put the shrimp into the boiling pot and cook throughly.
- Then slowly lower the won tons into the boiling pot. Once that has happened, you have approximately 3-5 minutes until they are done. GO time.
- This is where you throw in your bean sprouts, cooked chicken and finally the thin sliced beef. The beef will cook in the soup broth and the longer left in, the more well done and rubbery it gets. I put the beef in right at the end and let the flavors mix.
I love Won Tons. Both fried and in soup, so when I found these wraps at Safeway, it inspired me to try a couple new recipes. They were located in the vegetarian/tofu area of the produce department and only $2.00. I am using these wrappers to try out with new recipes, so you’ll see me use them often in my next few posts. So for my first experiment with these wraps, I decided to make Ginger Shrimp Won Tons, made about 10-12 Won Tons.
- 4 Large Tiger Prawns, Uncooked
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp grated ginger or ginger powder
- 1 tsp diced green onion
- 1 tsp chopped cilantro
- 1 egg white
- In a small pan, I fry all of the ingredients on medium until cooked thoroughly.
- Then took the mixture and put it in a small food processor and diced small. You can also do this by hand with a knife if preferred.
- I arrange my working station, as shown below. I use an brush to put the egg white on the surface of the wrap.
- Then put a small amount of the cooked mixture in the middle. Fold in half, bringing the two ends together and pulling the front up tight and closed. It’s supposed to resemble a nurse’s hat. It’s important not to “stuff” too much in there, as they will explode later. Practice makes perfect.
Once you got your won tons ready, you can either fry them or make a soup with them. When I fry them, I use just a small amount of oil, on medium heat and flip often. I will follow this post with my Wor Won Ton Soup recipe.
After our trip to Oaxaca, I fell in love with the delicate flavor of fried squash blossoms. I bought some lovely cotija cheese from the market. I wanted to make a creamy zucchini soup without adding too much “cream” or fat, you can omit the milk, just add a little water or let it thicken up with the squash puree alone. This is a two part recipe or you can just serve one alone.
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 1/2 diced onion
- 2 tsp of garlic minced
- 6 cups of chopped zucchini and squash
- 1 tsp of italian herb mix or herbs de provence
- 4 cups of water
- 1 cup of lowfat milk (optional)
- Salt, Pepper, Cayenne (to taste)
- Heat a large stock pot or pan with the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the onion and the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the zucchini and squash to the pot, stir the flavors of the onion and garlic into the squash. Add your herbs and flavor and let cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the water, cover your pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat if the boil is too high. I like to cook the zucchini and vegetables until really soft. It makes it easy to “cream” them later. This means I typically cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes.
- Add your milk (optional) about 5 minutes before you are done. Stir into soup and when done, turn off heat.
- Let soup cool for 10 minutes or so before transferring to a blender. I prefer this method, because it makes it a smooth creamy texture. Blend to a puree and return the soup mixture to the pot.
- While keeping my soup warm or trying to thicken it up, I taste the soup and add in my final spice ingredients. I think it’s important to try the soup before adding salt or pepper to see if it actually needs any at all. Sometimes I like it a little spicy and will add a little cayenne. If it’s too thin, you can add a little cornstarch to thicken it or cook it about 10 minutes longer.
Cheese Stuffed Fried Squash Blossoms
- 6 Squash Blossoms, cleaned inside and out
- 6 small pieces of cotija, queso fresco or monterey jack
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- Salt/Pepper if
- Take the squash blossoms and run under water to clean out the inside of the blossom. I like to remove any pollen or stem inside or outside the blossom.
- Stuff the small piece of cheese inside the blossom and pinch the ends of the blossom to hold it closed. You can also fold the end over.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan on medium heat and add your blossoms. Let cook for about 7 minutes on both sides. The cheese will close the blossom making a nice little pocket of cheese.
- Remove and place on to a paper towel to dry and drain any oil.
- Place squash blossoms on top of soup or just enjoy with a little cracked salt and pepper.
The whole idea started with the boom of my first batch of monster zucchini in my garden. I was inspired to make a lasagna, but instead of pasta – use ribbons of zucchini and squash. The options of ingredients are endless, so use this as a base and create your own.
I chose to put a latin spin on it by using a homemade guajillo sauce made from the cooked peppers, tomato sauce and spices. I also used Monterey Jack and Cotija, but you can use whatever you prefer or none at all.
- 3-4 Medium sized zucchinis and/or squash, boiled whole for 5 minutes, then peeled into ribbons
- 1 pound ground beef or sausage, cooked (optional)
- 1-1/2 cups of pasta sauce, tomato sauce or guajillo pepper sauce (latin style)
- 1/2 onion sauteed and added to the ground beef and sauce
- 1 cup of mushrooms, pan fried but not completely cooked
- 1+ cups of monterey jack, mozzerella or cotija (latin style)
- First step that I took was to prepare the ingredients before layering them. I wanted to cook the ingredients so that everything was moist and had a separate flavor inside the squasagna.
- Zucchini: I boiled these whole for about 5 minutes. They are still firm, but the boiling cooks them slightly and adds water. I was worried if I used them uncooked that they would be drier inside the lasagna. After boiling, I let cool for 5 minutes before peeled into ribbons. I used a regular vegetable peeler, but a mandolin or large wire peeler would work too.
- The Meat Sauce: Although optional to the dish, I cooked 1 pound of ground beef in a skillet, adding in my chopped onion and let it cook with the meat. Then I add my sauce, cooking them together until the meat is cooked. If no meat is added, you can make your own tomato or pepper sauce to add or use a premade pasta sauce.
- Mushrooms: Love them, so I sauteed them in a little oil – not all the way cooked. Remove and set aside.
- Cheese: Grate different cheeses, as much and whatever type you love the most.
Start with a nice rectangular baking pan. Grease the bottom of the pan with spray or olive oil. Layer the squash on the bottom to create the base. Add a layer of cheese across the entire surface and then add your mushrooms. Then my layer of meat, onions and sauce is added to the middle of the squasagna. After the meat, I add one more layer of peeled ribbon squash and top with cheese. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the whole lasagna is cooked throughout. This doesn’t take too long since the ingredients are pre-made. We loved this dish, it was so savory good and a healthy twist on the lasagna. I promise you won’t miss the pasta very much at all.