Polenta with Swiss Chard

During our trip to NC, we were having a discussion with my brother-in-law about foods that a) we like to cook, and b) we like our significant others to cook. He mentioned how his fiance cooks this great dish of salmon with polenta.

For those of you who don’t know, polenta is “coarsely or finely ground yellow or white cornmeal boiled with water or stock into a porridge and eaten directly or baked, fried or grilled” (thank you, Wikipedia). It’s a lot more delicious than it actually sounds. I’ve had it before at a local restaurant or two, but up until now had never tried cooking it before.

Tammy over at Agrigirl commented on my Week 1 post of this summer’s CSA about how well polenta went with swiss chard; I was looking for recommendations for how to use chard in my kitchen as I was a bit stumped. With both of these people giving their input on polenta, I simply had to try it out.

Polenta with Swiss Chard – adapted from Agrigirl

  • 1 tube polenta, sliced into 1/2″ rounds
  • 1 large bunch swiss chard, washed & trimmed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 1/2  tbsp olive oil
  1. In a separate pan, heat the remaining olive oil. Add the onion and garlic. Then, add the swiss chard. (You do this step first, as the chard will take longer to cook than the polenta.
  2. In a frying pan, heat 1 tbsp of  the olive oil.  Add the polenta and sauté. Remove polenta from pan when each side has a nice golden brown to it.
  3. On a plate, top the polenta with the chard. Serve.
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Served with chicken on the side!

I think what I liked best about this dish is that the polenta & chard pair really, really well together. Swiss chard, being the leafy green that it is, is a tad bitter. The polenta cuts the bitterness and makes the chard so much more palatable. As I said before, the dish is also very filling and can be used as either main or side dish. It was also a very quick and easy dish to make; I had community band in the evening and was able to make this with plenty of time to walk out the door, rather than rush.

Thank you, Clay & Tammy, for the recommendation of polenta and how to eat it! I’m looking forward to using it more in my cooking.

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Foodie Penpal – June ’13

This month went by so quickly! June’s Foodie Penpal experience was a very unique one – I mailed a package over to Giselle at My Healthy Happy Home – she had actually sent me a FPP package a few months ago, so it was neat to turn the tables. If you click on her blog link, you’ll fly over to her review of the goodies I sent her 🙂

I received a package from Tori in Mississippi:

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  • Sweet & Salty Mixed Nuts (Dark Chocolate & Peanut Butter flavor) – yum!
  • Captain Rodney’s Private Reserve Temptation of Jezebel sauce – This looks like it would be perfect for grilling out. I’m hoping to try this in the next week or so. I’m thinking chicken kabobs on the grill.
  • LaraBar – My favorite flavor, peanut butter chocolate chip
  • Kind Bar – Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate. I have never tried this flavor before…I bet it’s awesome, and I need to make sure to eat this before my husband discovers it in the pantry.
  • Sweet Potato PopChips – They’re a little crushed from the shipping, but I love PopChips, so they’ll still be enjoyed.
  • Zico Coconut Water – This is one of those beverages out there that I’ve been very curious to try. It’s currently sitting in my fridge, getting nice and cold.
  • Cheddar Cheese Straws – made in Mississippi. This will be devoured – I’ve never had them before but I know they’ll be good!

Thank you, Tori, for the great package! I was able to open it right when I got back from vacation this week.

foodiepenpal

Foodie Penpals – May ’13

This month’s edition of Foodie Penpals is a tad late – I was traveling all weekend to Ohio for my younger brother’s high school graduation so I had little time to write. School is winding down & I am finding myself with a bit more  free time to get things up here (it’s about time!So you will hopefully be hearing a bit more from me in the next few weeks blogging about food, cooking, our CSA (20 days!), and homebrewing. Yes, you read that one right… 😉

My packaged, mailed with love, came from Reba of Not So Perfect Life:

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Thank you, Reba!

  • Ginger Candy
  • Nut Mix – this was delicious and ended up getting devoured the rest of the way by my husband (he put it in his lunch one day and I never saw it again)
  • Cocoa Roast almonds & a Raw*Rev 100 cashew bar – The almonds were great in a pinch after work when I got stuck in traffic & found myself super hungry in the car. The cashew bar reminded me a lot of LaraBars and I was pleased with the energy it gave me when I ate it mid-day, before round two of classes.
  • African Bird Pepper – Holy moly. This stuff is hot! And awesome! Reba & I talked about some good ways to use it – I ended up using it in a soup that I had made and the pepper really gave it a nice kick. A little goes a long way, so it’s going to last me quite a while 🙂
  • Italian pretzels (chili pepper flavored) – Great pretzel flavor, but not too much chili pepper flavor at all (but that’s okay, because I love pretzels anyway, in any shape, form, or flavor)

I mailed a box over to Stephanie of Mr. & Meatless. Stephanie is a vegetarian & is dabbling with becoming vegan, so it was my job to mail her a few things that went along with her lifestyle preference. I’m looking forward to reading her blog more for recipe ideas, too 😉

Want more information on Foodie Penpals? Here’s a few details for ya…

  • On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
  • Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian & European residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. This is because things might get too slow and backed up when trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

Buffalo Chili

This post is long overdue – I made this recipe over a month ago and just never got around to blogging about it. But trust me, it will be worth the wait.

One of the guys my husband works with owns a bison farm – Jordan Valley Bison. Random, right? Well, a lot of people up here do farming, canning, or hunting of some sort – so I suppose in retrospect it’s not too strange. My husband & I are not hunters by any means, but I did start canning last summer; we also have a vegetable garden once again this year which I hope will be much more plentiful than last year’s.

We purchased some bison at our local farmer’s market and my husband made sure to say hello to his friend’s wife, as his friend was working at the foundry that morning. She had lots of great suggestions for how to use the bison that we were purchasing – and gave us probably 3 or 4 different recipes. We chose this one! 🙂

Buffalo Chili – adapted from Jordan Valley Bison

  • 1 lb bison burger
  • 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 peppers (red, yellow, orange or green)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dark chili powder (I used powdered smoked adobo chiles)
  • 2 tbsp mild chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 46 oz. tomato juice (low sodium)
  • 28 oz stewed tomatoes (chopped fine)
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 can light red kidney beans (drained & washed)
  • 1 can dark red kidney beants (drained & washed)
  • 1 can black beans (drained & washed)
  1. In a large stockpot, carmelize the onion & celery with a good splash of olive oil.
  2. Add the bison burger on top, flipping/mixing once, and breaking into smaller 1-inch chunks.
  3. Add garlic & peppers. Stir to combine.
  4. Add remaining ingredients & simmer for two hours on medium heat. Enjoy!
The photo is unappealing, but the flavor is delicious!

The photo is unappealing, but the flavor is delicious!

If you are not adverse to trying bison/buffalo, I highly recommend it. It has a bit of a gamier taste than beef, but is actually very lean. As you know, locally raised is definitely the way to go on this one 🙂

We made this dish on a cold, chilly Sunday – and it really hit the spot! I liked how many vegetables were incorporated into this chili. It also made a lot of leftovers, which were great the next day or two for Mike’s lunches.

It’s really neat to be able to really KNOW where your food is coming from and to know the people who are taking care of food for you. The amount of local products (and the quality!) available up here in northern Michigan still astounds me – and I love it.

Foodie Penpals: April ’13

This month’s round of Foodie Penpals was an absolute blast. I received a package all the way from Puerto Rico! Dimarie sent a great package that catered to many of my ‘tastes’…not to mention that she included a really neat recipe & added to my hot sauce collection. She asked some great questions in her email to me and she really put in some fantastic items – including a recipe!

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Thank you, Dimarie!

  • ‘Spicy Quesadilla’-flavored tortilla chips – You can tell I’ve been busy because these are still in my house.
  • Cornmeal, to use in her Corn Fritters recipe – which I have yet to make :-/ I’m hoping to do this on Sunday!
  • Guava paste – often enjoyed with sharp cheddar cheese. I haven’t been able to try it yet, but I’m really excited to do so. I already know I’m going to buy some locally made cheddar to try it at the end of this week, to celebrate the end of concert season 🙂
  • Mayo-Ketchup, with Garlic – She included this to go with the corn fritters. I am hoping to try it with french fries tonight.
  • Mi Madre Pique hot sauce – 🙂 This was wonderfully hot (habanero). Yum!
  • Tamarind sauce – I’ve never tried tamarind anything before – but I’m really excited to try 🙂

I’ve been pretty swamped with work and such, so thus my blog has been a bit quiet lately. I am hoping to remedy that in the coming week – I do have things lined up; I just have to post them. (Sorry, my lovely readers)

Meanwhile, my recipient, Gigi, lives in San Antonio. It’s such a cool place; I visited there with a friend & fell in love with the Riverwalk. Gigi does not have a blog, but wanted me to post for her so that she could share her box with you:

Anticipation, I love checking my mail box to see what my FPP has sent me! Jenny’s boys sent Bella some cute mice catnip toys. Bella was in Heaven when I opened my box.

  • I’m looking forward to making risotto for dinner next Sunday. I promised Jenny I would share my recipe with her.
  • Love the Jane’s Krazy Mix Up Salt. I added the mixed up salt to my steamed veggies last week. What great flavors!
    • Love my Plaid Cat Brownie Mix. I can’t wait to bake this weekend! I’m known for going to store openings and bringing brownies for the associates.
    • Ponzu Citrus sauce- Perfect sauce to add to my chicken tacos for Cinco de Mayo! Ole!!!!
    • I’m hooked on these Kellogg’s Fruit Crips. Great to munch on while sitting in traffic. Only 100 calories for this strawberry treat.

    Jenny, you are welcome to visit me anytime you want in San Antonio! Thanks again for all of the great treats. I’ll put the risotto recipe in the mail for you tomorrow.

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Thank you, Gigi, for the wonderful email and I’m glad that you’ve enjoyed everything – and I’m glad that Bella enjoyed her gifts from my ‘boys’ 🙂

Bella attacking her new toys, Three Blind Mice

Bella attacking her new toys, Three Blind Mice

Want more information on Foodie Penpals? Here’s a few details for ya…

  • On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
  • Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian & European residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. This is because things might get too slow and backed up when trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

Foodie Penpals: March ’13

For March’s edition of Foodie Penpals, I sent a package over to Melissa in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. I received a package from Giselle over at My Healthy Happy Home. It’s a really cute blog, especially for all of you moms out there (both working and SAH) that I know & adore 🙂

The package I received was simple & contained some great items that are/were right up my alley…

Foodie Penpals March '13. Thank you, Giselle!

Foodie Penpals March ’13. Thank you, Giselle!

  • Somersaults sunflower seed snacks – These were amazing! I don’t think that these were something that I’d normally grab off of the shelf – but I now know that if I find these in my local store, I’m going to buy some. They are chock full of great protein & fiber & take away that hangry feeling you get when it’s time to cook dinner. (Hangry = hungry + angry)
  • Boom-Chicka-Pop popcorn – ‘Twas delicious.
  • Raw Pecan Butter – Something I had never tried before, and was pretty good on my sandwich for a meatless (Lenten) Friday
  • Chimes ginger candies – I had never seen these before. Everyone has always said that ginger is spicy & I never believed them, until I tried these! What a sweet & spicy surprise.
  • The Good Bean dried chickpea snacks – These were neat…I really enjoyed them! She sent me the cracked pepper flavor.
  • Luna Bar – I haven’t had one of these in ages…and I like them 🙂 She sent me the Toasted Nut & Cranberry flavor.

I had told Giselle that I am a savory snacker through and through, and I felt that she did very well. So, thank you very much for the great package! (And PS…check out her blog!)

Want more information on Foodie Penpals? Here’s a few details for ya…

  • On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
  • Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian & European residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. This is because things might get too slow and backed up when trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

I Won A Giveaway!

I won a giveaway last week! I never win contests of any sort…until now 🙂

Bebe over at Life’s Little Epiphanies decided to hold a giveaway on her blog, giving away some of her favorite healthy snacks, as well as the book Working Out Sucks!. I’ve followed her blog for at least a year now and it’s packed with great musings about learning how to live a more healthy lifestyle – something that I’m slowly learning how to do. I follow her on Twitter also and she is a fun person to chat with during the day. When she writes, sometimes it feels like she’s writing out the thoughts/feelings in my head.

Needless to say, I was honored to win her giveaway!

Thank you, Bebe!

Thank you, Bebe!

I was pretty impressed that some of Bebe’s favorite snacks were some that I’ve either had before, or are right up my alley:

  • dried cranberries
  • organic peanut butter cups 😀
  • Two types of KIND bars (which I had to immediately hide from my husband)
  • Mario olives – packed without the juice!
  • The book Working Out Sucks!…I completely forgot that this book is supported by the gym I attend…I can’t wait to start reading it

So again, thank you, Bebe, for your wonderful giveaway! Thank you for motivating me 🙂