Sunday, April 15, 2012

Gluten-free Polenta Vegetable Loaf

I love my loaf pan. Basically because it gets me though many a quick bread, which have been quite abundant around here lately. But today, it upped it's standard.

Enter: the polenta loaf.

Polenta has consumed my thoughts before, so this is nothing new. I love it when foods can swing different directions - feeling pasta sauce? Throw it on. Have leftover pesto? Mix it in. Have two leftover cans of beans in the fridge who have nowhere to go? Yes - they go in, too. SO GOOD. So right.

By the way, polenta is a schmancy name for corn meal. It's WAY easier to find it under it's given name, like in the bulk food section of your nearest WinCo. Which is a store that just appeared 2 miles away from me, and has already made a bulk foods lover out of me for life. Bulk food is cheaper than the pre-packaged stuff, and you can control how much you buy. It's a beautiful thing.

For the vegetables, I used leftover stir fried veggies from the night before, but feel free to use whatever floats your fancy. These just had mushrooms, carrots, beans, peppers and tomatoes with a balsamic-gravy thing going on. Use something you love.

This has the casserole feel to it and isn't structured to stay together once you dish it up. As you can see by the sliding slice on my plate in the background, it will be juicy. However, if you prefer saucy over dry, this will work out just fine. If you don't, you'll be so happy with the flavor it won't matter anyway.

Polenta Vegetable Loaf
Makes one 8x5 loaf

3.5 cups water
1 cup polenta
1/4 cup prepared pesto
one 2.25 ounce can sliced olives
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup spaghetti sauce (your choice)
1 cup cooked vegetables
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup canned garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

To do:
1. Preheat your oven on to 300 degrees and grease your loaf pan.

2. Boil the water in a medium pot; slowly add in the polenta, continually stirring so it doesn't clump. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and stir every few minutes to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of your pot. Once the polenta has significantly thickened, add in the pesto, olives and parmesan cheese; stir to incorporate and take off the stove.

3. Spoon and smooth 1/3 of the polenta in the loaf pan and layer with half the spaghetti sauce, then half the veggies, and lastly 1/2 of the beans. Repeat this, ending with the last 1/3 of the polenta on top.

3. Pop in the oven for about 15 minutes, until slightly hardened and "crusted" on top.

4. Let cool for a few minutes; slice and serve!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Breakfast Quinoa Cups

Have you jumped on the quinoa train yet? I feel like everywhere I turn, there's someone else discussing the bounty and glory that all this complete-protein crop has to offer. I hear about it as often as I do kale, as if they are cahoots. Married. Quinoa and kale, forever and always.

It's great for vegetarians! It contains essential amino-acids! It will teleport you to Bermuda at first bite! Yeah, all it's benefits can get a little exhausting. Especially if you're type A and need more than a moments notice to travel to a foreign destination.

However, we can't kid ourselves. Quinoa is GOOD. As in, tasty good. And it plays well with others, like cinnamon, berries, and coconut. Making it a completely fantastic breakfast idea.

I've played around with quinoa cups before, but it's always been the savory kind for dinner. These buggers are super quick and easy to make, which makes them ideal for rushed mornings or frantic evenings. And really, you can add whatever you have on hand. For these, I used cottage cheese since I couldn't jive with cheddar. I'm sure goat cheese would be phenomenal, or ricotta.

 Breakfast Quinoa Cups
Makes 12 cups

3/4 cup dry quinoa
1 t cinnamon
4 beaten eggs
1/2 cup shredded pear
3 ounces of your favorite cheese
1/4 cup silvered almonds
1/4 cup dried coconut
2 T brown sugar
1/2 cup frozen berries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a muffin tin.

2.  Measure out 3/4 cup quinoa and the cinnamon in a medium pot; fill with 2 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil on the stove. Once it boils, lower the heat to medium and let simmer until all the water has been absorbed by the quinoa.

3. While your quinoa cooks, combine the beaten eggs, pear, cheese, almonds, coconut and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add in the quinoa when it's done. The mixture wild be slightly soupy.

4. Ladle equal portions into the greased muffin tin, filling all 12 holders. Place a few berries on top of each cup and bake for about 20 minutes, or until they are slightly browned and firm to the touch.

5. Cool for 5 minutes before eating. If you can.