Sausage and Mushroom Ragù with Creamy Polenta

 

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It has been a pretty rainy and gloomy couple of days, but I haven’t let that stop me.  I have been thoroughly relaxing this weekend. Rain hasn’t stopped me, I’ve been enjoying friends’ company, signed up for a kickball league, and explored the underground art scene here in Atlanta (an interesting experience is all I have to say for now).  Then, I realized I haven’t updated in about a week.  I can’t neglect my blog. I couldn’t leave my readers hanging without a weekly recipe.  Like I was saying, it has been a pretty rainy weekend so I wanted to prepare a hearty meal this Monday.  I made a run to the farmers’ market and saw some delicious cremini mushrooms and some grape tomatoes, among other things which will be in a later post. My mind started tinkering, and pasta was not on the brain.  What do you know,  I had polenta at home so I immediately knew it was on and popping on this rainy evening.

This dish is rustic yet smooth. It is hearty and luscious. Plus, I had to open a bottle of red, because this is definitely a meal to enjoy with wine.

Alright, let’s get into this dish.

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The ingredients ready to play.

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Look at how vibrant these tomatoes are. I can not wait until summer.

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Sauteing the mushrooms and onions.

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Creamy polenta ready for ragù.

Sausage and Mushroom Ragù with Creamy Polenta

Ingredients

Ragù

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • A half pound of Italian sausage, casing removed (I used spicy chicken Italian sausage)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 16 ounces of sliced baby bella and cremini mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup grape tomatoes, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, (drain half of the liquid)
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Creamy Polenta

  • 2.5 cups of chicken broth
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 1 cup uncooked polenta
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup Italian blend cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once pan is hot add the olive oil.  Add sausage to the pan and brown for about 4 minutes. Remove sausage from the pan.
  2. Add in the onions and saute for 3 minutes. Add in the mushrooms and saute mixture for another 3 minutes. Add in the garlic and fresh grape tomatoes and stir constantly for an additional 1 minute.
  3. Add the sausage back to the pan along with the parsley, canned tomatoes, and wine. Season with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low, and let the ragù simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. While the ragù is simmering, bring the broth, water, and a dash of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  5. Once the broth and water are rapidly boiling, slowly add in the polenta while simultaneously stirring..
  6. Reduce heat to medium, and whisk polenta constantly for 3 to 5 minutes, so there are no lumps.
  7. Let the polenta simmer for 20 minutes, until thick (if not using instant; if you are using instant polenta follow package directions).
  8. Once polenta is thick, stir in heavy cream, butter, cheese, salt, and pepper.
  9. Serve the ragù over the polenta.
  10. Eat and enjoy with a nice bottle of wine and a spinach salad!

As always, leave a comment if you tried the recipe, want to try the recipe, or suggestions!

With peace and love,

The Shy Girl.

 

Quinoa and Lentil Burgers (Vegan)

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These last couple of days, I have taken it upon myself to treat myself a bit too much.  All I can say is today I feel it in my system.  Tonight, I was craving something delicious and healthy. My go to make a salad for dinner was just not what I wanted. I thought about it, and I knew I wanted some type of sandwich.  I really do love sandwiches (I mean it is a complete meal between two pieces of bread or lettuce). Also, I had a ton of produce and dried bulk goods, so I figured let me try and improve my tried and true veggie burger recipe.  Fun fact about me, I was vegetarian for about 7 years, and there are some days that I crave a completely veg/vegan meal, and readers, today was that day.

I took a look in the pantry, I had red quinoa and french lentils. Now this is not a phenomenal or completely new duo to add to a veggie burger, but as someone who has a difficult time parting ways from her black bean burger, I knew it was time to change it up.

Let’s take a closer look at the results of my veggie burger recipe.

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Bulk is the way to go!

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So fresh and so clean, clean. Just give them a rinse.

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Out of the oven and ready to assemble.

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Bon appetit, clean eating never looked so good!

Quinoa and Lentil Burgers

Recipe 

  • 1 cup of quinoa (uncooked and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup of dried french lentils
  • 3 tablespoons of rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup red onion finely diced
  • 3 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose seasoning (I used Badia Complete Seasoning)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1.5 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 clove mined garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with silicone mat or parchment paper.
  2. Place the quinoa, lentils, and oats in a small saucepan with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and add the red onion, curry, all-purpose seasoning, cumin, paprika, cayenne, minced garlic, and season water with salt.  Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and cook for about 15 minutes or until the quinoa and lentils are cooked and the water is absorbed. Remove from heat.
  3. While the quinoa and lentils are cooking, add the flax seed and 2 tablespoon of water in a bowl to thicken.
  4. Once the cooked mixture is off of the hear, stir in the flax seed mixture, red pepper flakes, cilantro, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
  5. Form 6 to 8 equal sized patties and place them onto the baking sheet
  6. Bake burgers for 10 to 15 minutes on one side. Then carefully flip the burgers over and bake the other side for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the burgers are firm on both sides.
  7. Prepare with your choice of bun and toppings. (I used pita and served with baby spinach, avocado, tomato, cilantro, and mayo)
  8. Eat and enjoy!

As always, let me know if you tried this recipe.  Also, comment if you’d like more vegetarian/vegan recipes posted.

With peace and love,

The Shy Girl.

Valentine’s Day Dessert: Chocolate Ganache Tart

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Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and it is time to show your sweetie, your family, or your friends (Galentine’s Day is everything by the way) a sweet treat.  If you love chocolate, then you will love this dessert.

Sidenote, this recipe looks and sounds fancy as fudge, but you can be fancy as fudge on a not so fancy budget.  This dark chocolate crust, well just check out the recipe and see what I used to make it.

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What? You can’t be serious! You used Oreo cookies (or for all of you Trader Joe fanatics like me, Joe-Joe’s) in this recipe. You are absolutely right, I used cookies for the crust.

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I placed those cookies into a food processor and pulsed the living daylights out of them.

 

imageThey became cookie dust, finely ground.

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Added the ground cookies with melted butter and patted them together in a tart pan.

Chocolate chunks, sea salt, heavy cream, butter, and a splash of Grand Marnier for good measure.

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Yes to this velvety smooth goodness!

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Time to enjoy!

Alright, as one of my lovely Canadian friends always says,  “allons-y”.  So let’s go to this recipe.

Chocolate Ganache Tart

Ingredients

Crust

  • 25 chocolate sandwich cookies (i.e. Oreo cookies, Joe-Joe’s, etc.)
  • 4 tablespoons of melted butter

Ganache Filling

  • 10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon of softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sea salt to taste

Garnish

  • Berries (optional)
  • Sea Salt (optional)

Method

  1. For crust: in a food processor, add the cookies and blend until the texture is course and mealy, add the butter and make sure that it is well incorporated (it should look like rich soil).
  2. Press crust down into a 9-inch tart pan. Using a glass with a flat bottom, press down the crust so it is smooth on the bottom and even on the sides.
  3. Place crust into the fridge for at least an hour before filling.
  4. For the ganache filling: In a large bowl place the chocolate chunks with a dash of sea salt and set aside.
  5. Heat the cream, butter, and Grand Marnier in a small saucepan.When the cream mixture begins to simmer around the edge of the pan remove immediately from the heat.
  6. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and let it sit for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Stir mixture until smooth and velvety. Mix in vanilla.
  8. Pour mixture into your chilled tart crust and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or best overnight to set.
  9. When ready to serve, garnish with either berries or finish with sea salt. (I did both)
  10. Eat and enjoy!

Like always, leave a comment if you tried this recipe or like this recipe. I want you all to have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

With peace and love,

The Shy Girl.

 

 

Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls

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Happy Monday!

I have been SUPER busy this week with work and cooking for the Super Bowl, but it has been great learning some new skills.  This week, I learned all about raw vegan desserts.  I am going to practice those for a bit, tweak a few things, and post the recipes soon. Don’t fret.  Also, this weekend I experienced my personal food nirvana.  I visited the Dekalb Farmers’ Market, and let me tell you all, it was an experience.  I spent my whole paycheck, not really, but I am glad I have to plan trips there or I will definitely go broke. Other food updates, I’ve been eating some great healthy leafy green breakfasts and getting creative with my lunch and dinner salads which I am thinking about posting to add some balance. I don’t want you all to think I eat rich decadence all day everyday.  I do love my vegetables something serious. But enough rambling on to the recipe.

I have gotten numerous requests for these treats so I figured why not post the recipe. One day, about a month ago, I wanted a chai tea. I adore the spice, it is fragrant, warm, and bold in flavor. Just so tempting.  However, having a mind that always turns to food in any situation, I thought, I just took a bread and pastry class, let’s blend some classics together here. Then voila, chai spice cinnamon rolls. These cinnamon rolls have the nice fragrant flavoring of a chai tea finished with an orange cardamom glaze, they are perfection.

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Rolled and ready to be cut.

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Second time proofing.

Chai Spiced Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 1/2 cups All purpose flours
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Filling

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tablespoons chai spice blend (I made my own, check it out at the bottom)

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom

Chai Spice Blend

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger

Method

  1. For dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix (either by hand, mixer, or the dough setting in a bread machine). Knead your dough for about 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure that your dough is soft, not too sticky, and smooth.
  2. Take the dough ball and place it into a lightly greased large bowl. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap or a cleaned dish towel, and let the dough rise for about an hour to 90 minutes so the dough doubles in size.  
  3. For filling: mix together the chai spice blend in a separate bowl and set aside
  4. Once dough has proofed, carefully deflate the dough (I gently punch it down), and place it on a lightly greased and floured work surface. Roll out the dough to about a 15 by 9-inch rectangle. Make sure to roll it lengthwise.
  5. Spread softened butter all over dough and sprinkle sugar mixture over buttered dough.
  6. Beginning at the long end (lengthwise), role up the dough and pinch the edge together to seal. Cut the dough into 12 slices.
  7. Place the rolls in a lightly greased baking pan (or cast-iron skillet). Cover the pan and let the rolls rise until doubled, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 400°F while the dough is rising.
  9. Once rolls have proofed a second time, uncover them and bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. 
  10. Make the glaze while the rolls are baking.
  11. To make the glaze: combine all glaze ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.
  12. Take the rolls out of the oven and drizzle glaze on the rolls while they’re warm.
  13. Eat warm and enjoy!

 

As usual, let me know in the comments if you tried the recipe and your take on this classic.

With peace and love,

The Shy Girl.

Pupusas, Curtido, y Tinga

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I recently moved to Atlanta from Washington, D.C. Since the move, I have been craving pupusas.  You can find pupusas at many restaurants in DC, but I haven’t had much luck finding a great pupuseria that’s close to my house or at least or in the city.

If you don’t know a pupusa is a Salvadoran corn tortilla.  But get this, that tortilla is stuffed with cheese, meat, or beans. You cook it on a flat surface and the cheese gets all ooey gooey and melt-y.  Typically, pupusas are served with curtido, which is a pickled cabbage slaw relish or sorts.  Its a nice, cool and spicy topping, and just completes the dish.

As I was in the process of pickling my curtido, I wanted to make a meal out of everything.  Plus, I have been testing out new client recipes, so I broke out the tried and true crock pot.  I mean who doesn’t like the crock pot.  I will give you a secret, the crock pot it a easy and simple way to have great meals without all of the added work and dishes.  And who doesn’t love coming home to a meal ready to go! So I decided to do slow roasted pulled chicken, tinga.  Tinga is a dish made with chicken with a red sauce of chipotle peppers, tomatillos, tomatoes, and onions.  Also, tinga typically has chorizo, but since I don’t eat red meat, I didn’t add it.  I put a creme sauce on-top and we were ready to go. Tinga and pupusas don’t necessarily go together (one I was blending cultures), but I wanted to use some of the same spices and again who is patrolling my kitchen, anybody…anybody…NO! So do what you want in your kitchen.

Now on to the ingredients in these dishes. I’m starting with the curtido since this should be made a day in advance to get that nice pickle going.

 

Curtido ingredients

That cabbage, carrot, and onion are all going to get shredded, grated, and thinly sliced and pickled with the vinegar, salt, and brown sugar.

The next morning, I got started on the tinga.

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Spice cabinet on a whole other level here, kidding, but I needed to add some flavor to my tinga. Not pictured are my tomatoes, tomatillos, onions, chipotle peppers, and the chicken.

 

Now on to the pupusa ingredients.

imageFairly few ingredients for the dough. Not pictured is the Cotija cheese. A word of advise, make sure you have Masa corn flour.  I tried to be creative on my first try of making pupusas, I didn’t have Masa, and added cornmeal with regular flour and wow those were definitely NOT pupusas #fail.

The dough making process!

Pupusas, Curtido, y Tinga

Curtido

Ingredients

Method

  1. Combine the cabbage, onion, and carrot in a large bowl
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients in another bowl. This is your brine
  3. Pour your brine onto the cabbage mixture, making sure everything is well combined.
  4. Cover in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight before eating

 

Tinga

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 cup chopped tomatillos (washed and husked)
  • 1 can (14.5oz) diced tomatoes (drained)
  • 2 tablespoons pureed chipotle peppers in adobe
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika
  • dash of dried cilantro
  • lime juice (optional)
  • Crema (optional)

Method

  1. Rub the chicken with the olive oil and set in the bottom of the pan with onion and garlic.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the lime juice.
  3. Cook on high for 4 hours until you can shred the chicken.
  4. Take chicken out of the liquid let it rest on a cutting board for about 5 minutes. Then begin shredding.
  5. Put the shredded chicken back into the cooking liquid and cook on low for another 15-20 minutes
  6. Finish with a squeeze of lime juice and crema.
  7. Enjoy!

Pupusas

Recipe

  • 2 cups Masa Harina Flour
  • 1.5 to 2 cups warm water
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 cup grated Mexican cheese (I used Cojita)
  • 1 cup cooked refried beans (seasoned to your liking)
  • Vegetable oil, as needed

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine the Masa, salt, and the salt well into the masa harina. With your hands, knead the water into the masa harina in a few additions; work in all the water evenly. The dough will feel like stiff mashed potatoes. Lay a 12-inch square of plastic wrap or a zip-lock on a smooth work surface.

 

Caramel and Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I have been craving sugary baked things these last few days.  Plus, I’ve felt like this was a treat-yourself-because-you-deserve-it type of week. I have started apprenticing and learning the ropes in a professional kitchen. Trying to get all of this culinary experience under my belt.  This is a leap, I won’t lie, I miss teaching full-time, but I also know that running my own culinary/catering business is what’s in the cards for me.

Back to the deliciousness that are these cookies!  When I tell you all, I had an intense craving for a Snicker’s bar, it hit me to make these sinful decadent cookies.  Fair warning, THESE ARE NOT A HEALTH FOOD, so if you are looking for a healthy cookie, this is not the recipe.  But let me tell you, the few calories for your cheat day are oh so worth it!

Now let’s stop playing and find out more about the cast of characters in these.

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As you can see, I had a MASSIVE 4-lb bag of chocolate chips (BJ’s, Restaurant Depot, and I have all become friends since I’ve started this catering journey), some caramels, and vanilla.  Forgot to picture, about 3-lbs of roasted and salted peanuts.

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Fast forward, I creamed butter, sugar, and eggs together, added the flour, baking soda, vanilla, chocolate chips, and crushed peanuts.

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I cut the caramels in half and scooped some dough and placed the caramel in the middle.

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Rolled those little angels into a ball and placed them into the oven to bake.  Let me tell you butter, sugar, and chocolate baking, you can never go wrong.

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Out of the oven to rest on a wire rack.  These cookies were just waiting for a glass of milk.

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Caramel Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1.5 teaspoons warm water
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cups chopped roasted and salted peanuts
  • 18 unwrapped and halved caramel candies

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Dissolve the baking soda in the water and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour and the salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugars until smooth in texture.  Beat in eggs one at a time until they are well incorporated. Then, stir the vanilla into the mixture.
  5. Add the flour and baking soda mixture to the butter mixture.  Stir until the dough is combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and the peanuts.
  6. Scoop out 2 tablespoon-size balls of dough and press in a caramel candy half into the center of each dough ball and place on baking sheet. 
  7. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 11-14 minutes (I baked mine for about 12).
  8. Take the cookies out of the oven, let them rest on baking sheet for about 5 more minutes (this is so the caramel won’t ooze everywhere).
  9. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Eat and Enjoy!

Let me know in the comments below if you tried them!

With peace and love,

The Shy Girl.