Saturday, August 28, 2010

Garlic and Parmesan Polenta....DELISH!!!!

I never realized just how easy polenta was to make. It's always on sophisticated menus at really nice restaurants. Ya don't ever see Polenta on the menu at Chili's. But it is actually super easy to make, and so scrumptious, I had to share!!!

Garlic and Parmesan Polenta

2 to 4 tbsp butter
2 to 4 cloves of garlic minced (just depends on how much you love garlic)
2 1/4 cups of water
15 oz's of chicken broth (I like to make it from granules but you can used canned too)
1 cup yellow corn meal
3 ounces of cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat)
about 1/4 cup of parmesan
salt and pepper to taste.

This you will cook all in one pan, so make sure it's big enough to hold all your ingredients. Saute the minced garlic in the butter. Don't brown it, just saute for about a minute or two. Then add your water and chicken broth. When it starts to boil, gradually add the cornmeal and whisk. I would add just about 1/4 or an 1/8 cup and whisk, then add a little more. You don't want it to get lumpy. Keep whisking about every five minutes or so until it gets to be really creamy potatoes. Once you like the consistency (you don't want it to be runny on your plate, you want it to hold it's shape off of a spoon a little and it will do that better once it's removed from the heat). Then add your cream cheese, parmesan, whisking until blended well. Add salt and pepper if desired although mine didn't need it at all. You could also experiment adding parsley or whatever other seasonings you like. This dish would be fantastic with sauteed, chopped shrimp as well.

I hope you like it!!! I don't see how you couldn't!!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I never would have thought in a gazillion years that I could've put together ratatouille as good as I did. It seemed like such an exquisite dish, and I just didn't think I had it in me. BUT I decided to try it anyway. And it turned out so fabulous! I was happy that I tried it, and if you have the time, I think you should too!


Tomatoes - this is the main ingredient...the base. How many you need depends on what kind you use and how much sauce you like. Personally, I think it's made best with the vine ripened kind, you know the kind that you buy still attached to the vine? I am not a fan of those big pumpkin looking tomatoes for Ratatouille. If you use a tomato the size of the vine ripened ones, you'll need about six.

Eggplant (about 1 or even half of 1)
Zucchini (about two)
Squash (2 or 3)
Olive oil
garlic (about 3 cloves minced)
and whatever herbs you like - parsley, oregano, basil, thyme

First, use your knife to make a shallow "X" on the bottom of each tomato. Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil and once it's boiling, drop the tomato in there for about one minute. You don't want to boil them, you just need some help getting the skins off of them. Pull them out after about a minute (you should see your X start to sort of peel back) and either put them in an ice bath or just lay them aside. Once they are cool, peal the skin off and set them in an empty pot. You'll want to slice them or pull them apart. You can then put in a little olive oil and put them on medium heat. Many people say to pull out the seeds before you cook them - because it makes the texture more smooth - you do what you like.

Then, cut your egg plant in slices, and salt them, lay them out flat or leave them in a colander for about 30 minutes to draw out the moisture. You want them to be more leathery when cooked, not mushy.

Next, get out your biggest saute pan and add olive oil, minced garlic, however much onion you want to use and saute until the onions are soft and translucent. Dump that mixture in with your tomatoes. Let that all sort of stew together.

Use the same saute pan and a little more olive oil to lightly saute your squash and zucchini and egg plant. And whatever vegetable you wanna throw in there to saute...don't saute it fully though, just make it a little tender.

Some people throw all of those veggies in with the tomato sauce and make a stew. I added a little bit of sugar and canned tomato sauce to my fresh cooked tomato - and sometimes I add diced tomatoes from a can if it's not soupy enough. After it's cooked a good bit and looks like real sauce, I put it in a casserole dish (I grease it first) and then I layer the veggies on top and then I bake it all for about 30 minutes or until the veggies on top all look tender. Then I put a little shredded parmesan on top and dig in. It's really good and actually easy to make, just a little time consuming. ;-)

Shrimp and Grits

Wow! With a 7 and 3 year old home all day long this summer, I had almost no time to even log on to my blog or anyone else's! We have been swimming and playing, doing crafts and having play dates. I'm sad for school to start but it IS nice to have just a little bit of time to do something besides laundry!

My husband and I went with some friends to Destin this past weekend. It was a 30th birthday celebration and for dinner Saturday night, we went to a place called "Vintage Wine Boutique" I believe. It's a wine store that also has the most exquisite food ever! I decided to get a pecan crusted chicken that was served over polenta - but essentially it tasted like shrimp and grits. Because polenta is basically boiled cornmeal, and cornmeal is ground corn - well, that's what grits are. Sooo, I thought I'd attempt shrimp and grits in a desperate attempt to replicate that delicious meal I had at dinner Saturday night. I won't say that it was just as good - and there are things I'll do different with this when I make it again, I'll tell YOU what they are now though, so you won't have to learn from experience. ;-) It was still pretty darned good even though I'd do some things different. And my husband tore it up, and brought it out this morning for breakfast.
So, without further ado -

Shrimp and Grits

2 cups 2% milk
3/4 cup chicken broth (I made my own from granules b/c it tastes better)
1 cup uncooked grits (I used quick cooking - next time I will use stone ground)
1/4 tsp salt
1 (3 oz pckg) of cream cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 tbspns butter
3 tbs chopped, fresh, flat leaf parsley (I subbed with dry parsley)
1 tbsp chives
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 large egg whites (I used the whole eggs - and I'd do it again)
1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp, coarsely chopped
Cooking Spray
Tabasco (optional)


1. preheat oven to 375

2. Combine milk and broth in saucepan (use a big one). Once it's at a boil, gradually add your grits and salt. IF you use quick cooking, obviously this step will last about 5 minutes - I'm not sure about it if you use stone ground, I imagine it will take quite a bit longer but will be worth it for sure. And milk/chicken broth could be added if needed if cooked with stone ground

3. Remove the grits from the heat once they are nice and thick. The texture should be similar to mashed potatoes but thinner. Not as thin as gravy. Stir in parmesan, butter and cream cheese. Stir in parsley and next 4 ingredients.

4. Saute shrimp until cooked. Chop them up in a food processor by pulsing. Don't puree them because, well, ewww.

5. Mix them in with the grits, grease your 11x7 pan, and pop them in the oven for about 25 minutes or until they look "set" you'll know because the edges will start to stand a bit on their own rather then look soupy. Serve with hot sauce if desired.

****I did put cheddar cheese on top of mine, because I figured it couldn't hurt. And I also added garlic powder - because I think just about everything tastes better with garlic! If you want, you can saute minced garlic with the shrimp. You can use frozen shrimp - but you really want to make sure it won't be soggy when it's cooked. You want it to be firm, not mushy.

There ya go!! I hope you enjoy!