Sunday, July 6, 2014

Basil Polenta with Roasted Spinach and Tomatoes - SRC

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I received Elizabeth's blog, Food Ramblings.  Elizabeth loves to make recipes that are healthy, which means that her blog is right up my alley.  I love to cook with vegetables and whole grains and her blog is full of recipes like that.  And, if you think that healthy equals boring or tasteless, she will prove you wrong.  I actually couldn't decide between several of her recipes, so I made three, though I didn't get the chance to photograph the other two.  First, I tried her Quinoa Spinach Mac n' Cheese.  Instead of using noodles, it uses quinoa.  Fantastic!  It was such a great change.  Then, I saw her Basil Polenta with Roasted Spinach and Tomatoes.  The pictures alone were enough to convince me that I had to make it too.

The whole dish comes together in less than an hour.  And it is just beautiful with all those vibrant and contrasting colors.  Even better is that it tastes every bit as good as it looks.  I love that I found a new vegetarian recipe to share with my family.  Thanks Elizabeth for your yummy recipes!   

Basil Polenta with Roasted Spinach and Tomatoes (adapted from Food Ramblings)

2 c. grape tomatoes
2 c. fresh spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil

instant polenta
2 tsp. dried basil (I used dried basil instead of fresh)
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese (I added this)
salt, black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Cut the tomatoes in half and lay them out with the spinach and garlic on a baking sheet.  Lightly drizzle everything with the olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.  Bake for 20 min.

Prepare the polenta, as directed, making enough for 2-4 servings.  (I used half water and half skim milk).  Remove from the heat and add the parmesan cheese.  Season to taste.  Top the polenta with your roasted veggies.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Spicy Gingerbread - Secret Recipe Club

 For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned to Nicole's blog, Daily Dish Recipes.  Do you know that Nicole has a houseful of FIVE teenagers?  That's a lot of hungry people to cook for.  Luckily, from the looks of the recipes on her blog, she is a fantastic cook and baker.  I still want to make her Skinny Baked Beignets, and her Spiced Gingerbread Gooey Butter Cake.  But, for now, I settled for the Spicy Gingerbread Loaves.  I absolutely love gingerbread with that lovely dark, spicy flavor.  I think I may love it even more than chocolate (egads!).  So, I absolutely had to choose this for my assignment.

This gingerbread may look simple, but sometimes simple things are the best.  The complexity comes in the taste, where you get a harmony of spicy flavors all mingling on your tongue.  I could eat piece after piece of this and be perfectly happy.  Since I did not alter anything from the recipe, I'll link you over to her blog so you can check it out HERE.   

Thank you Nicole for one yummy recipe!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Nielsen Massey Chocolate Chip Cookies



And, what better way to celebrate than with . . . chocolate chip cookies.  But, these aren't just any chocolate chip cookies, oh no, these are special.  Wanna know why?  Well, about a month ago, Nielsen Massey contacted me to ask if I would like a sample bottle of their pure vanilla extract.  Considering that I've only ever bought cheap generic imitation vanilla, I was thrilled.  In exchange, all they asked was that I use the vanilla to make some of their awesome chocolate chip cookies and post about it today.  Seriously, quality vanilla and a batch of chocolate chip cookies to boot?  How could I say no?

The only changes I made was to use mini chocolate chips (since I didn't have any regular ones), added some grated milk chocolate, and chilled the dough.  Let me tell you, these chocolate chip cookies impressed me from the moment I saw them baking in my oven.  Unlike a lot of other recipes I've tried, these stayed thick and puffy till the very end.  Then, once I took them out, they turned into these crispy shelled, soft gooey middle-y, crinkled topped circles of buttery, vanilla-y perfection.

I took a bite and I was impressed.  What a cookie!  They had the ideal texture and were so full of flavor that I can only attribute to having used real vanilla to make them.  Thank goodness the recipe made three dozen cookies because one will not be enough for me.  Thank you Nielsen Massey for the opportunity to try your vanilla and your yummy cookie recipe!

Nielsen Massey Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 c. butter (I used salted butter)
1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 egg
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt  
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 c. mini semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 c. grated milk chocolate 

Cream the butter with the sugars.  Beat in the vanilla and eggs.  Mix in the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and cream of tartar.  Stir in the chocolate chips and grated milk chocolate.  Chill the dough for 1 hour in the fridge or 30 minutes in the freezer.  Roll into small walnut-sized balls and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Bake 14 minutes.  Let sit a few minutes on baking sheet before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.