Category Archives: mozarella cheese

Food Matters Project #31: Polenta with Mushroooms

It’s another Food Matters Project post!  This weeks recipe was chosen by Sandra, of Meadows Cooks.  From Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook, she had chosen the recipe for Polenta Cakes with Garlicky Mushrooms.  Check out what other Food Matters Project participants made here.  For the original recipe, check out Sandra’s post.

Sam and I have been trying to clean out (and by that I mean eat everything) from our pantry, freezer and fridge.  It’s a good way to start 2013- with some organization!  So when I read the recipe and didn’t have all of the ingredients, I decided to use what I did have.  Fortunately, Mark Bittman’s recipes are flexible and forgiving!  The only problem is, the recipe might just not turn out like you had thought.

As you check out everyone else’s posts, you’ll see that everyone has polenta cakes.  Unfortunately, ours did not settle and harden.  So we were left with just polenta- but that did not stop us from eating it.  So this version is slightly different than the original recipe, but I think it’s equally delicious and worth a try!

Polenta with Mushrooms

Polenta with Mushrooms
Inspired from: The Food Matters Cookbook & Honest Fare

1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup mushrooms, finely diced
2 shallots, minced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup corn meal
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Mushroom Topping:
1/2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 bacon strips
1/4 red onion, chopped
10-15 mushrooms, sliced
1 jalapeño, chopped (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, then add the mushrooms and shallots.  Sauté for about 5 minutes, next add in the garlic and cook for another minute.  Then remove from heat, and set aside.

In a medium pot, heat 4 cups of water until it is boiling.  Lower the heat and add the corn meal, while stirring so no clumps form.  Continue to stir the corn meal until it creamy and begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.  Then add in the salt, pepper and mozzarella cheese.  Continue to cook and stir for another 10 minutes, then remove from heat.  Add in the mushroom mixture, stir well to combine all of the ingredients.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil, then add in the bacon strips.  Allow them to cook until they are crisp.  Remove them from heat, and set aside.  Once cooled, chop the bacon into smaller pieces

In the olive oil and bacon grease, heat the onions, mushrooms and jalapeño for about 5 minutes.  Once cooked, remove from heat and toss in the chopped bacon.

Pour the cooked polenta (corn meal) into a bowl, top with the mushroom topping, and serve.

Kale Lasagna

Sometimes during the weekends we like to make a dish that will last us several days.  When I saw a recipe for kale lasagna (without ricotta) I added it to our list.

As I’ve mentioned before, ricotta and I do not have a wonderful relationship.  Therefore, I try to find ways to substitute it.  Last time we made lasagna, we used tofu as the substitute- check it out here!  This time the substitute was cottage cheese.  I feel like I should have thought of that long ago, yet I didn’t.

Now, if you’re not a fan of kale- feel free to use spinach or any other greens.  Personally, I do not like meat in my lasagna.  I feel like it’s an already heavy dish- and by adding meat, it’ll give me a stronger food-coma.  Since all recipes can have some tweaking- this one is the same.  If you’re a meat lasagna fan, definitely add a layer of it somewhere in there.

This is the pre-bake picture.  I loved the contrast between the green kale, red tomatoes and white cottage cheese.  Yum!

Kale Lasagna
Adapted from: Kalyn’s Kitchen

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
10 oz crimini mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
28oz chopped tomatoes
6 cups of kale, roughly chopped
2 cups of cottage cheese
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, shredded
box of lasagna noodles
2 cups of mozzarella cheese, grated

In a large pan, heat up olive oil.  Add onions and saute for about 3 minutes, or until they are soft.  Then add garlic, mushrooms, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes.  Saute all of the ingredients for about 5 minutes.  Finally, add the tomatoes.  Simmer the sauce for about 5 minutes.  Once the sauce has cooled, pour into a food processor.  Puree the sauce, depending on how smooth or chunky you would like your sauce to be.

The next step is to blanch kale.  Take a large pot and boil water.  Add the chopped kale into the boiling water for about 3 minutes.  Have a bowl of cold water ready, and once the kale is cooked add it to the cold water.  Keep the kale in the cold water for about 3 minutes, and then drain the kale.

In a separate bowl, mix together cottage cheese, beaten eggs and grated Parmesan.  Finally, add the drained kale.  Mix all of the ingredients.

Spray a 9×12 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.  Lay lasagna noodles at the bottom of the pan.  Pour a layer of the sauce onto the lasagna noodles.  Then put down a layer of the cottage cheese-kale mixture.  Finally, sprinkle 1/2 of a cup of mozzarella cheese.  Continue putting the layers until you have used up all of the ingredients.  The top layer will be lasagna noodles covered with a layer of mozzarella cheese.

Preheat the over to 375°F.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and bake for 60 minutes.  Then, take off the aluminum foil and bake for another 20 minutes.  Let the lasagna cool for about 5-10 minutes before cutting it and serving.

Heat wave & tomatoes

Temperatures are soaring all over the US.  Tomorrow will be extremely hot in DC (100°F or more).  The humidity does not help.  And if you’ve been to DC in the summer before, you know how sticky it gets here.  So with the temperatures soaring, all of us are melting into puddles.  Non-cooking dishes do not only sound fantastic- they are essential for our survival.

What I do like about summer are tomatoes.  Especially tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market.  Have you ever really looked a tomato?  Up close?  Aren’t they beautiful?

And what do you do when you have delicious looking tomatoes and it’s hot outside?

Tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and basil.


I hope all of you go out and get some beautiful tomatoes, and enjoy them.  All you will need is:

tomatoes (depending on size about 1-3)
fresh mozzarella (2-3 small balls)
basil (5-10 leaves)
Salt & pepper

Cut the tomatoes into slices.  Arrange them nicely on a plate.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Chiffonade the basil, and sprinkle over the plate.  Lastly, slice the mozzarella, and place a piece on each tomato slice.  You can drizzle the dish with olive oil, but I preferred the earthy flavor of the tomatoes.  Serve and enjoy.  A fresh baguette and butter are a fantastic addition.

And to leave you with something more to read, rather than just looking at the delicious pictures, here’s an interesting article.  It discusses how the tomato flavor and production in the US has changed over the last 50 years.

How Industrial Farming ‘Destroyed’ the Tasty Tomato

Stay cool!

Mushroom & Broccoli Pizza

Pizza is a favorite around here, and so is broccoli.  Why not put them together?  I was flipping through a Vegetarian Times from last spring, and came across this recipe.  We’re always on the lookout for finding new pizza topping combinations, just to try something different (it’s easy to get stuck in a rut).  The two-cheese white sauce was creamy and added a depth to the flavor combination on the pizza.  We did use a pre-made pizza dough, which can be found in grocery stores (or Trader Joe’s).  We sometimes make our own, which is equally easy and delicious (but that’s for another post).

Mushroom & Broccoli Pizza
Adapted from:Vegetarian Times Magazine

pizza dough for 1 pizza
2 tbsp butter
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
3 cups broccoli, sliced
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup milk
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Shape the pizza dough in your favorite shape and place it on a pizza stone.  We place our pizza into the over for about 4-5 minutes before adding the ingredients on top- giving the whole pizza a crunch.  Once the time has passed, we take the pizza dough out.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add flour, cook for 2 minutes until it is pale golden, stirring constantly.  Slowly, stir in milk, garlic, salt and crushed red pepper.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, continue stirring until the mixture thickens and begins to boil.  Remove from heat, and stir in 1/4 cup mozzarella and 2 tbsp of Parmesan.  Stir until the sauce is smooth and the cheese has melted.

When the pizza is out of the oven, spread the white sauce over the dough.  Then, top with the broccoli and mushrooms.  Next, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top.  Return to oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the edges of the pizza are golden and the cheese is bubbly.  Take it out of the oven, and let it cool slightly before slicing.

Chile Reyenos with Rice

Sometimes everyone needs a little more green in their lives- and this recipe is defeinitely green!  Different cheeses can be substituded in the chiles, depending on your liking.  This can be a side dish- or a main dish.  Although, the amount of rice and cheese was perfectly filling.  You can also change up the heat level of this recipe- jalapenos can be excluded, or more heat can be added. 

Chile Reyenos with Rice
Adapted from: So Good and Tasty Blog

4 poblano chiles
1/8 lb smoked cheddar, shredded
1/8 lb smoked mozzarella, shredded
1 cup parsley, chopped
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 jalapenos, chopped
2 cups rice
3 cups 1% milk
2 tsp salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Lay the whole peppers on a pan, and place it in the upper third of the oven.  Roast them for 10 minutes, and then turn them over.  Roast for another 15 minutes, make sure all the sides are evenly roasted.  Once they are roasted, take them out of the oven and let the cool.  Remove the stem and seeds from the chiles; cut in half.  Divide both of the cheeses between the 4 poblano peppers.  Set aside.

In a food processor combine parsley, onion, garlic, jalapenos and 1/3 cup of water.  Blend thoroughly.   

In a saucepan, heat the milk with the salt.  Once the water has began boiling, add the rice.  Turn down the heat to low and cook.  After 5 minutes, add the parsley mixture from the food processor.  Stir, and then cover; cook for 25 minutes.  Meanwhile, place the chiles into the oven for about 5 minutes- or until the cheese has melted.  When the rice is done, transfer to the serving dish.  Then place a poblano chile on top.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.