Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sauteed Mushrooms on a Bed of Grilled Polenta

I was trying to create something a little different for my recent book club meeting, and decided I wanted to use polenta. I have never made it before, but always enjoy dishes that contain in, so I thought why not? I searched a little online, and ended up using this recipe as inspiration, although I sort of did my own thing.

I began by cooking the polenta according to the instructions on the package, but subbed chicken broth for water and added parmesan cheese. Once cooked, I let cool and then cut into small squares.

I chopped up 2 packages of mushrooms, one package of cremini and one package of baby bellas. I added them to a warm pan with a small amount of SmartBalance Light spread and a few sprays of olive oil. I let cook for about 5-6 minutes, and then added 2 shallots, finely diced, as well as 3 cloves of garlic. I gave those an additional 2-3 minutes to cook before adding a few turns of balsamic vinegar to the pan. I let the vinegar cook in pan and begin to caramelize, and then added a few squirts from a slice of lemon, and some white wine. I finished it off with salt and pepper, as well as some fresh rosemary and flat leaf parsley.

I then took the polenta squares and browned on both sides in a pan using olive oil spray. Once browned, I arranged on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. I placed a small mound of the mushroom mixture on top of each polenta square and topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of parsley. Everyone agreed that these little bites were unique and delicious! We also agreed that our book of the month, Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, was amazing and we can’t wait for the movie (starting Julia Roberts) to hit theaters!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Spaghetti & Meatball "Stoup" (courtesy of RR)

Rachael Ray. I have a love-hate relationship with the woman. EVOO. Yum-O. Sammies. Stoup. I could go on and on with reasons why I can’t stand her! But, then I think about the fact that she is pretty much a marketing and multi-media genius, and I have to give her credit. My husband watches her show from time to time and will sometimes request meals. Recently, he requested her Spaghetti and Meatball Stoup, and I gave in. I am always a little uneasy about making one of her recipes, simply because I don’t really care for her that much. But, for the most part, we do enjoy her meals when I decide to make them, and tonight was no exception. My camera was missing when I made the first batch, so these pix are from the leftovers and therefore, do not look that appetizing. But, this meal was quick, SIMPLE, and a definite pleaser!

The only change I made was to make turkey meatballs and use slightly less spaghetti. I also broke the spaghetti in thirds, which I found more manageable. So, in true Rachael Ray fashion, I must say that it was YUM-O!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Spinach Ravioli with Lemon White Wine Sauce

This is really more of a “semi-homemade” meal, although I hate to use that term because I do despise Sandra Lee! My husband hates ricotta cheese. It is one of my favorites! That makes for a tough life for me, let me tell you! But, he was away on business the other night, so I was able to indulge in some spinach and ricotta ravioli from Trader Joe’s. I boiled according to the directions on the package. I knew I wanted some sort of sauce, and based on a quick inventory of items in my cabinets and fridge, I came up wit the following…

I started by heating a handful of frozen spinach as well as a handful of artichoke hearts in a sauté pan with a little water. Once heated through, and once most of the water had been absorbed, I poured some (sorry, not good with measurements on this one) white wine (chardonnay to be exact) into the pan, followed by a quick turn of extra virgin olive oil. I let the wine cook out a bit, then added the juice from half of a small lemon. I let simmer for about 5 minutes. While simmering, I added some minced garlic (1 clove) to a pan, and added to the sauce after the 5 minutes, along with a dab of SmartBalance Light buttery spread. I finished it off with some fresh flat leaf parsley and grated parmesean cheese and viola, dinner for one was served!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Lots of Minty-Chocolately Goodness!

Chocolate Chip and Peppermint Crunch Cookies

I made this recipe way back in December as I was eager to try out some new cookie recipes. I found this recipe on and thought is sounded intersting and different, unlike the typical cookies I make during the holidays. I followerd the recipe nearly exactly. I made the batter and refrigerated overnight. The batter was incredibly tough and sticky, so it was a bit hard to work with and quite messy, but really it was the perfect consistency to create the right shape and texture. I made this and arranged on plates along with my bark and some peppermint brownies that I threw together and gave as Christmas presents to a bunch of people at work and some neighbors. These cookies got 2 thumbs up all the way around, so I guess they are a keeper!

Peppermint Brownies

The brownies were really an afterthough, but made a nice addition to my holiday treats platter. I used Ina's "outrageous" brownie recipe and just made a few small additions. I added a few drops of peppermint extract to the batter, as well as mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and some of the crushed peppermint from the recipe above. Yum!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Very Sad...

I left my camera in Boston on New Year's Eve. It is safe, it is at a friend's apartment...but it contains many pictures I have been anxious to upload so I could blog. Also, I have been DYING this week not being able to take pictures of some of the dinners I have made. I think I am going to get it back this weekend! Let's hope!