Tag Archives: Spring

Creamy Spring Polenta

While it isn’t spring yet, I’ve been dreaming about it since mid-January. I’ve been buying everything I can get my hands on from Oiselle’s new Spring 14 line, staring at cute floral dresses, and giving my snow boots the side-eye. I must admit that I prefer summer and fall to winter and spring, but at this point, I’ll take anything over winter! I’m just thankful it didn’t snow this past Monday morning like they had originally predicted.

So, with spring only being 16 days away (but who’s counting?) I’ve been thinking about all the veggie packed meals I’ll be making as the days get longer and warmer. Since it was still bitterly cold on Monday, though, I opted for a dish that is still hearty, but included some vegetables that I typically associate with warmer weather. I had this as a main dish, but you can easily have it as a side with some protein. As a mashed potato lover, creamy polenta has quickly become a favorite of mine.

Polenta is a relatively new food for me. I think I had it for the first time in 2010, when I bought the pre-made and packaged kind that comes in a log. I’ve used it in that form quite a few times-usually for some type of bake-but never in it’s original, creamy state. There is a little confusion when it comes to what exactly polenta is, since some recipes refer to it as Italian polenta, while others refer to it as grits, or even just cornmeal. Well I’m here to make it simple for you – it’s all the same! You can use any of the three aforementioned ingredients to make your polenta, I promise!

Before you get to the recipe, though, I want to point you to the note at the bottom of the recipe, since it’s helpful to time everything so the ingredients are all ready at the same time. I oftentimes look at the ingredient list when planning on making something, but never the directions. There have been plenty of times I’ve gone out of my way for ingredients, gotten everything together, and then realized the dinner I was planning to make would actually take 4+ hours. I’d like to say that I’ve learned my lesson, but I still make that fateful mistake every so often. So in the interest of time and making it as easy as possible for you, I added this recipe note to make sure this is a quick and easy meal for you to prepare. 

Creamy Spring Polenta | FoodosaurusRex

Creamy Spring Polenta
– Serves 3 –

Ingredients:
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup corn grits/polenta
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1 medium red onion
3 cloves roasted garlic [directions below]
1/2 cup smoked mozzarella
Salt + pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
2. To roast the garlic: Cut 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch off of the top of the head of garlic, making sure to keep the head intact. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil. Bake for 30 minutes and let cool before handling
3. While the garlic is cooking, dice the zucchini, squash, and red onion and combine in a medium bowl. Toss with olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper to taste. 
4. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, and evenly spread the veggie mixture onto the sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. 
5. Meanwhile, prepare the polenta by bringing the 3 cups of vegetable broth to a boil over medium-high heat in a large sauce pan. 
6. Once the broth is boiling, slowly whisk in the polenta, and turn the heat down to low. Let it simmer, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. 
7. Add the veggies, roasted garlic, and shredded mozzarella to the polenta, stirring to combine. Serve immediately.

NOTE: To make this time friendly, start with the roasted garlic. After 15 minutes of the 30 minute roasting time has passed, add the vegetables to be roasted. Once the vegetables are in the oven, begin cooking the polenta. That way, everything will be ready at the same time!

2 Comments

Filed under Food Blogging, Home Cooking, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

Moles and Molé

On Tuesday, I was thrilled that the projected high temperature was 80 degrees with sun. I couldn’t wait to get in a run after work, and heat up the grill for dinner.

There have been some seriously warm days the past few weeks, sandwiched between days of serious rainfall. I was able to take advantage of the warm weather for my run on Sunday, which actually resulted in a sunburn. I’m now on mole watch, which is something I’m sure any of my fair skinned readers know all too well – when we inspect and make note of all freckles and moles to make sure they don’t change and look “abnormal.” This usually means I find something, freak out, and then am told I’m insane. But you can never be too safe! I’m definitely going to be slathering on the sunscreen before my runs now.

Tuesday’s run was after work, so the sun wasn’t too much of an issue. The heat, though, was a killer. Both my fiancé and I just couldn’t power through our 4 mile run – it was brutal. Neither of us had any energy and our legs felt like lead balloons. I didn’t feel like I was struggling aerobically, but I just couldn’t hang energy wise; I don’t know if it was the heat, going to bed late the night before (boo end of the semester), or a combination. I just have to remind myself that for every not so great run, there will be a great one to follow.

Once I was done whining about our run, I marinated some chicken in Dona Maria molé sauce. I was lucky enough to have this sent to me to sample in preparation for Cinco de Mayo, and I thought it’d be great with grilled chicken. The chicken only sat in the molé sauce for about 30 minutes before going onto the grill, and it was plenty of time for it to really absorb the flavor. Since it’s a thicker sauce, it didn’t require an overnight/few hour soak. Having a sauce already made that will really jazz up an otherwise boring meal (sorry, but just plain grilled chicken is boring) was great – perfect for a weeknight dinner. I also received a can of diced pickled jalapenos, so I threw those on top of the chicken for a little kick.

I decided to keep it simple and just have brown rice with sauteed onion, pepper, black eyed peas, and corn. The rice we used was from our Half Marathon (or 9.55mile race) goody bag. I think it’s so random to get a mini bag of Carolina brown rice, no? But I’m certainly not complaining!

The meal was super simple, and really flavorful. Plus, I really only did half the work. I forgot how much I like cooking in the summer, because it means getting my fiancé in the kitchen (or in this case, manning the grill)!

Grilled Chicken Mole
– Serves 4 –

Ingredients:
4 thin chicken cutlets
1 cup Dona Maria Molé sauce

Directions:
1. Heat grill to medium-high heat
2. Fill tupperware container with 1/2 cup of molé sauce. Add chicken, then cover with remaining sauce. Make sure to coat chicken completely (don’t be afraid to get in there!).
3. Once grill is heated, cook chicken breasts, about 5 minutes on each side (depending on thickness), until done [no pink!] 

2 Comments

Filed under Recipe, Running, Spanish Food

Springtime Snow Comforts

Having off on Thursday and Friday to take care of some personal things allowed me to get reacquainted with my tiny, but efficient kitchen. Our current kitchen is easily a third of the size of our previous, but the counter space is about the same. Plus, we now have an electric stove, which adds extra counter-space when it isn’t being used. But I digress, as no one is interested in my cooking space (it’s boring).

After I got home, I headed out for a 4-mile run. I had debated the gym all of Wednesday, and when I woke up to an inch of slushy cold snow plastered to my car, was convinced I’d be spending my afternoon with the treadmill. Despite the early morning snow, it really wasn’t that cold out, and by 9am there weren’t any signs of precipitation. So I threw on some tights, a long-sleeve shirt, and sweatshirt, and got to work. I find that when I run in the cold, I feel painfully slow, but am almost always pleasantly surprised with my pace. In the summer, I also feel painfully slow, and that’s usually because I am. At any rate, the 4 miles weren’t all that bad.

After my run, and some quality homework time while cuddling with the cat, I got to  work in the kitchen. I found a recipe for a potato, leek, and feta tart on Real Simple. I’ve actually never purchased leeks before, and I probably won’t again for awhile – they were $4 each, and I had to buy two! My fiancé balked at the price and said, “this thing better be good.” So, the pressure was on. It’s definitely a perfect meal for a snowy Spring day. Oh, that pains me to write.

Hopefully I can start making some Spring appropriate dishes soon. I fear we might be skipping Spring and heading right into Summer. We’ll see though…

Potato, Leek, and Feta Tart
– Serves 4 –

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks (white and light green parts), cut into half-moons
2 small zucchini, cut into half-moons
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup crumbled Feta (about 2 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 Red Bliss potatoes (8 ounces), thinly sliced
1 store-bought 9-inch piecrust

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 375º F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks, zucchini, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the Feta and dill. Add the potatoes and toss to combine.
2. On a piece of parchment paper, roll the piecrust to a 12-inch diameter. Slide the paper onto a baking sheet. Spoon the potato mixture onto the piecrust, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the edge of the piecrust over the edge of the potato mixture. Bake (covering with foil if the crust gets too dark) until the piecrust is golden brown and the potatoes are tender, 50 to 60 minutes.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Recipe, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan

Rita’s Tour – The 2010 Edition

This past Saturday was the first day of Spring. So, as they do every year, Rita’s gave out free 10oz servings of their famed ice all day. Being a bunch of gluttonous children, my fiancé (you can read his tour round-up here) and a group of friends and I decided upon the ultimate task – 10 Rita’s in one day, a new flavor at each location.

Last year, the group made it to about five locations in only a few hours (it was a Friday so needed to be done after work). Knowing that this year it fell on a Saturday with a gorgeous forecast, we got cocky. About a week prior to the event, a few different e-mails were exchanged with maps of potential stops. It included a trip to Stuff Yer Face in New Brunswick for ‘bolis, and a detour to look at a potential wedding venue. We also stumbled upon a Cupcake joint, Sugar Mommy’s Cupcakes, that I’ll detail in a separate blog entry.

After starting our trip at about 12:30pm and devouring our ices at about 1, we then spent the next 8 hours driving to various Rita’s Ice locations in New Jersey. We made stops in Bridgewater, Somerville, Flanders, Denville, Berkeley Heights, Westfield, Plainfield, and finally Edison. We searched for a Rita’s in Morristown that no longer exists, and ran out of time before heading to Milltown. But at any rate, I sampled eight different ice flavors, preparing me for the season ahead. They included Alex’s Lemonade, Green Apple, Florida Orange, Sugar Free Cherry, Wild Black Cherry, Coconut, Pistachio, and their newest edition – Peeps. Oh yes, you read correctly – Peeps flavored ice! As in the little bird shaped marshmallows that are covered in sugar, usually found in Easter baskets. It tasted nothing like Peeps, but more like birthday cake, which I was more than okay with. It’s neon yellow color was another selling point.

I really liked all of the flavors. But, I think Alex’s Lemonade and the Coconut were my favorites. I think the only ice I wouldn’t order again would have been the Wild Black Cherry. That was definitely sub-par, and had more of a grape flavor than anything else. The Peeps was also super-sweet, so that would have to be consumed sparingly.

By about stop 5, we were all looking for food. The mere thought of devouring ‘bolis at Stuff Yer Face is what I think kept us going. So, we decided to head there after our 7th stop. When we finally got to the restaurant, we made no qualms about our purpose. We didn’t get drink wristbands, and ordered water and an appetizer almost as soon as we sat. After surviving on water ice for almost 7 hours, we needed solid food, quickly. We all dug in to our hot wings and onion rings as soon as they were brought out, and anxiously awaited the arrival of our stromboli. The restaurant has a lot to offer; there are pre-suggested combinations, and also a “create your own.” My fiancé always orders the same create your own, and after trying it, follow suit. It has mozzarella cheese, chicken, buffalo sauce, onions, and broccoli. It is absolutely amazing.

After realizing the time, we knew we’d only have time for one more Rita’s, since they close at 9pm. We headed to the one nearest to where we live, and waited in one last line. By the time we got our ice it was 9:15, and the line showed no chance of stopping.

I woke up today feeling great. Sure, I might have been a little sugar hungover, but I managed to run 7.5 miles (longest single run logged yet!) and I could absolutely eat another Rita’s Ice right now, preferably a Gelati. I’m so excited that ice and ice cream season is finally here. I’m looking forward to more outdoors frozen treat devouring, and saying goodbye to eating it while hiding under a blanket indoors.

All in all, our group (4 people) went to 8 locations, and sampled 20 flavors. Pretty impressive, if I do say so myself! I hope Rita’s is ready for next year, because we’ll be back – bigger and badder than ever!

1 Comment

Filed under Cupcakes, Food Review