POLENTA MOZZARELLA STACK

Goodness gracious, this is gooood!  Granted, I had to add a bit of meat in honor of my guys–proscuitto–but it would be just as good (maybe better) minus the meat. Truly, I could eat this once a week. Though my guys would probably balk at enjoying it that often, they agree that it’s a “keeper.”

1 tbsp olive oil

18 oz pre-made polenta (I bought the tubular kind), sliced into 12 rounds

sea salt

ground black pepper

1-1/2 cups marinara sauce (store bought)

12 oz fresh mozzarella (again, the tubular kind), sliced into 8 rounds

1 large tomato, sliced into 4 rounds

8 slices prosciutto

4 cups baby spinach

1 tbsp parsley

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2) Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat; add polenta slices and cook 3-4 minutes each side until a light crust forms; lightly sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, remove from heat, and set aside

3) Pour marinara sauce in 8 x 8 baking dish; place 4 polenta slices in center of baking dish (close together so that when they are fully stacked they will remain upright throughout the baking process)

4)  Stack each of the 4 servings on top of the first polenta slice as follows: 1st round of mozzarella cheese, tomato, 2nd polenta slice, prosciutto, 2nd round of mozzarella cheese, 3rd polenta slice; bake in oven 15-20 minutes until mozzarella melts

5) Meanwhile, place 1 cup baby spinach in center of each of four plates

6) Remove polenta stacks from oven and carefully transfer one stack to the center of each mound of spinach; spoon marinara sauce over each stack; sprinkle with parsley; serve and enjoy!

Makes: 4 servings

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TURKEY TAMALE PIE

Love this Turkey Tamale Pie, but then I’m a pretty big fan of polenta. Fortunately, so were my guys and our friends who sat down to this delicious meal. I didn’t take a count, but I do believe it earned every thumbs up possible. Yum!
Tamale Pie2 tbsp olive oil

1 large white onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 lb ground turkey (chicken is good, too)

1 tbsp tomato paste

1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

3 cups water

1 cup cornmeal

1-1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, divided

2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 green onion, sliced thin

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2) Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high; add onion, red bell pepper, salt, oregano, cumin, and black pepper and cook 5 minutes; stir in ground turkey and cook 5 minutes until just cooked through; stir in tomato paste and diced tomatoes and cook 5 minutes; remove from stove top and spread in bottom of large casserole dish; set aside

3) In large saucepan, bring water to a boil; stir in cornmeal and cook, stirring continuously, until thickened, about 2 minutes; remove from heat and stir in 1 cup cheese (reserving 1/4 cup) and corn; spread evenly over chicken mixture

4) Bake tamale pie in oven 30 minutes until top is golden brown; sprinkle cheese and green onions over top and cook additional 2-3 minutes until cheese melts; remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving; enjoy!

Servings: 6

TURKEY-POLENTA LASAGNA

Just days before Junior headed back to university, I gave him a choice of four entrees and he picked this one, lasagna lover that he is. Though the polenta replaces the usual noodles, he definitely got his lasagna fix. As did the rest of our foursome–now threesome again…

Turkey-Polenta Lasagna

1 tbsp olive oil

1 lb ground turkey

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

3 cups fresh chopped baby spinach

1-15 oz container part-skim ricotta cheese

pinch ground nutmeg

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

1-16 oz package prepared polenta (I used sun-dried tomato polenta in log form), divided

2-1/2 cups marinara sauce, divided

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2) To large skillet add olive oil and heat over medium-high; add ground turkey, break up with wooden spoon, and cook 5-6 minutes until brown; stir in thyme, salt, and black pepper; remove from heat and set aside

3) In medium-sized bowl, mix spinach, ricotta cheese, nutmeg, and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (reserving 1/2 cup for topping); set aside

4) Thinly slice polenta into rounds; set aside

5) In 9×13″ baking pan, assemble lasagna in layers as follows: 1/2 cup marinara sauce, half the polenta slices, ground turkey, half the ricotta-spinach mixture, 1 cup marinara sauce, remaining polenta slices, remaining 1 cup marinara sauce, remaining ricotta-spinach mixture

6) Bake in oven 30 minutes; sprinkle reserved 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese over top and bake an additional 5 minutes; remove from oven, sprinkle with parsley, and serve; yum!

Servings: 4-6

BLACK BEAN POBLANO RELLENOS

It’s been ages since I’ve made these Black Bean Poblano Rellenos, and what a mistake it was to wait so long to revisit them. Granted, a couple of my guys (I won’t name names) just like the black bean-chorizo-egg stuffing and the corn-onion-cheese polenta, but I like the whole enchilada–er, Relleno. Though it might not look filling, it is, so much that, regardless of which flavor of Ben & Jerry’s lurks in the freezer, I am not doing dessert 🙂

Black Bean Poblano Rellenos

4 large whole poblano peppers (dark green)

1 tbsp butter

1/4 cup chopped onions

1/4 cup frozen corn

1-1/2 cups milk

1/4 cup quick-cooking polenta

1/4 tsp sea salt

pinch ground black pepper

2 tbsp shaved Parmesan cheese (or grated)

8 oz chorizo sausage (I used Ole Mexican Foods brand)

1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

8 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup grated Colby-Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 cup salsa (store-bought)

1) Preheat broiler; place poblano peppers on broiler-safe pan and broil 3-4 minutes each side until skin browns and blisters (keep an eye on them!); remove peppers from oven and place on plate to cool (leave broiler on)

2) In medium-sized saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; add onions and corn and, stirring occasionally, cook 3 minutes; add milk and, stirring often, bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, add polenta, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese and, stirring often, cook 3-4 minutes until mixture thickens; reduce heat to lowest setting to keep warm

3) When poblanos are cool enough to be handled, peel away the tough, blistered skin, cut a slit in peppers, and scrape out seeds; place on broiler-safe pan

4) To large skillet over medium-high heat, add chorizo sausage and cook, stirring often, 4-5 minutes until cooked through and crumbly; add black beans and cook, stirring often, 2 minutes; pour beaten eggs in skillet and stir until lightly scrambled; remove from heat

5) Stuff peppers with chorizo-black bean-egg mixture and sprinkle Colby-Monterey Jack cheese over tops; broil 3-4 minutes until cheese melts (keep an eye on them!); remove from oven

6) Divide polenta mixture between 4 plates; place a stuffed poblano pepper atop each serving of polenta and spoon salsa alongside; serve it up!

Servings: 4

BEEF, TOMATO, AND ZUCCHINI IN POLENTA CRUST

Polenta–not just a lovely word but a great addition to meat and meatless dishes. Though the beef, tomato, and zucchini is wonderfully tasty, the texture and taste added by the polenta crust take it to the next level–delicious!

Beef, Tomato, and Zucchini in Polenta Crust

Spray olive oil

3 cups water

2 tsp sea salt, divided

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

1-1/4 lb ground beef

1 small red onion, diced

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1-14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained

1-6 oz can tomato paste

1 zucchini, quartered and sliced thin

1/4 cup sweet red wine

2 cups halved grape tomatoes

2 tbsp chopped parsley

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees; lightly spray an 11 x 9 baking dish with spray olive oil

2) Over medium-high heat, bring 3 cups water and 1 tsp salt (reserving 1 tsp) to a boil; whisk in cornmeal and, stirring constantly, cook 3 minutes until cornmeal thickens; remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese (reserving 1/2 cup); spread cornmeal mixture in bottom of baking dish and set aside

3) To large skillet over medium heat, add ground beef and cook 5 minutes; add onion and cook 5 minutes; drain oil from beef-onion mixture and add tomatoes, tomato paste, reserved 1 tsp salt, and pepper; cook 5 minutes until warmed through; stir in zucchini and remove from heat

4) Spoon beef-vegetable mixture over polenta, drizzle wine over top, and bake in oven 25 minutes; scatter grape tomatoes over top, followed by reserved 1/2 cup cheese and parsley; bake additional 5 minutes until cheese melts; remove from oven and serve

Servings: 8

FLOURLESS LEMON-BLUEBERRY POLENTA CAKE

This delicious cake is flourless because almond meal is used in place of flour, is taken up a notch with blueberries because I adore the combination of lemon and blueberries, and is accented with cornmeal (polenta) because it just tastes good–in the words of Senior, “It’s like…like…the best cornbread ever.” Yeah.

CAKE:

1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened (save the wrappers for buttering your pan)

1 cup extra fine white sugar

3 eggs

1-1/2 tsp baking powder

2 cups almond meal

3/4 cup cornmeal

zest of 2 lemons (juice will be used in syrup)

1 cup blueberries (I used frozen)

SYRUP:

juice of 2 lemons

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup blueberries (frozen again)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees; using butter wrappers, butter the bottom and sides of a 10″ tart pan (or you can use a pie pan)

2) Using a blender or stand mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy

3) Reduce blender/mixer speed to low and beat in eggs, baking powder, almond meal, and cornmeal; stir in lemon zest

4) Spoon cake mixture into pan, smooth top flat, and press blueberries (1 cup)  halfway into batter; bake in oven 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean

5) During the cake’s final 5-10 minutes of baking, prepare the syrup: To small saucepan, add lemon juice, confectioner’s sugar, and blueberries; over medium heat, stirring often, cook until sugar dissolves, about 7-8 minutes

6) Remove cake from oven and let sit 5 minutes; using a toothpick, poke several dozen holes in cake top; drizzle syrup over cake; serve warm or cold–it’s delish either way

Servings: 8 biggies or 16 skinnies

Note: adaptation of Nigella Lawson’s Lemon Polenta Cake recipe

TAMALE PIE

This tamale pie hit the spot on a cold, windy night. Though eyebrows did go up when I served it, all it took was one taste for my guys to dig in. As for the beautiful corn, though the recipe is definitely worth posting, it isn’t included in this post. But give me time…

olive oil cooking spray

1 lb ground beef

1/2 onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1-15 oz can diced tomatoes

1-1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed

2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

4-1/2 cups water

1-1/2 cup cornmeal

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees; spray an 8×8 oven-safe baking dish with olive oil spray

2) In large skillet, heat oil on medium heat; add ground beef and cook until just browned; stir in onion and red bell pepper and cook additional 5 minutes; stir in tomatoes, corn, chili powder, salt, and pepper; reduce heat to low and cook 5 minutes

3) Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in large saucepan; slowly stir in cornmeal and continue stirring 5 minutes until mixture is very thick; remove from heat and stir in eggs; season with salt and pepper

4) Spread 1-1/2 cups cornmeal mixture on bottom of baking dish; spoon ground beef mixture over top; spoon remaining cornmeal mixture over ground beef mixture; bake 25-30 minutes; serve it up!

Servings: 6