Saturday, December 4, 2010

Polenta Casserole with Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Ricotta - Posted by Jessica

Joy - here is that polenta casserole I told you about. You could use regular pasta sauce (maybe 1 1/2 cups?) in place of the diced tomatoes or a jar of chopped roasted red peppers would probably be good. One thing I would change about the instructions is to just do less layers and omit the butter on top as I couldn't tell that it added any flavor. The mushroom wine mixture has plenty of good flavor. I belive I used a mixture of baby bellas and white mushrooms. And used Merlot for the wine. Let me know if you try it. It was softer for the first serving. The leftovers firm up a lot. It does freeze well. It is a lot of chopping, but I like the different flavors/textures.

Polenta Casserole

2 tsp olive oil, divided
2 c chopped onion
3 c coarsley chopped cremini mushrooms (about 12 oz)
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
2 chopped garlic gloves
1/3 cup dry red wine
1 tsp dried rosemary (I used 1 tsp Italian seasoning)
1 Tb tomato paste
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
4 cups water
1 cup instant polenta (I just used 1 cup regular cornmeal and cooked covered over medium for 15 min stir often)
1/2 c (2 oz) grated fresh Parmesan
1/4 tsp black pepper, divided
1/2 part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 tsp butter, in small pieces

Oven 400.
Heat 1 tsp oil in skillet over med-high. Add onion, 8 min. Add shrooms, 1/2 tsp salt and garlic; cook 4 min stirring frequently. Stir in wine, rosemary and tom. paste. Reduce heat to medium and cook 3 min. Stir in tomatoes and cook till thick (about 10 min). Remove from heat.

Bring water to a boil; stir in polenta and 1 tsp salt. Reduce heat to low, cook until thick (about 5 min), stirring frequently.

Spread 1/3 polenta mixture into 13 x 9 dish coated with 1 tsp oil (cooking spray is easier!). Spread half of tomato sauce over and top with 2 Tb parmesan and 1/8 tsp pepper (I would combine the ricotta and pepper beforehand, sprinkling the pepper on top made for super peppery areas and not so peppery areas!). Drop half of the ricotta onto the Parmesan. Repeat layers ending with polenta. Top with 1/4 cup parmesan and butter. Bake 25 min or till bubbly.
Yield 6 servings
Nutrition: Cal 235 Fat 7.5g (sat 3.5g) Fiber: 2.2g

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread with Baked Apples - - Posted by Jessica

A yummy treat for a fall or holiday breakfast! I have found that the bread dough is very thick and it can be difficult to swirl the cream cheese mixture into the bread when poured on top as the recipe indicates. It just stays on top and gets way too brown while the bread is baking. I baked a loaf last night and put a little more than half the batter in the pan, topped it with the cream cheese mixture and dropped the last of the batter on top; this produced a much better swirl effect and prevented the top from getting too brown. The bread doesn't have a stong pumpkin flavor, but I love the subtle pumpkin spice flavor mingled with the creamy sweet cream cheese! I used half white whole wheat flour and half all purp flour.

The baked apples are also good served on oatmeal and would probably be good on pancakes or waffles. I use less sugar than what the recipe calls for as apples and dried cranberries are already quite sweet. I love that this recipe utilizes the microwave to 'bake' the apples; much faster that way, though the oven could be used if you want to be more traditional.

I have been making these recipes every fall for a few years now, usually when I have pumpkin left over from another recipe. Happy baking!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread

1/2 c (4 oz) 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
2 Tb sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg white
2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin-pie spice
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 c packed dark brown sugar
3/4 c canned pumpkin
3 Tb vegetable oil

350 oven. Combine first 4 ingredients till well blended.

Combine flour and next 4 ingredients. Combine egg, egg yolk and brown sugar. Add pumpkin and oil. Add to four mixture, stirring just till moist. Spoon into greased 9 x 5 loaf pan, top with cream cheese mixture and swirl with knife tip (or put the cream cheese mixure in the middle for better swirling)

Bake 1 hour or till done. Cool 10 minutes in pan then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
Serve topped with baked apples if desired.
Yield: 12 to 16 slices

Nutrition: (for 16 slices) Cal 208; Fat 5.1 g (sat 1.7 g) Fiber 1.6 g
Baked Apples

2 cups dried cranberries
1 1/4 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
1 c packed brown sugar
1 cup water
2 tsp cinnamon
6 gala apples, chopped

Combine all in large microwave safe bowl. Microwave 20 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occassionally.
Yield 6 cups (1/4 cup serving size)
Nutrition: Cal 126; Fat 4.1g (sat .4g) Fiber 2.3g