Spreading Joy

Spontaneous gatherings with friends have to be some of my favorite moments.  Especially when they are willing to be my “guinea pigs” for some new recipes. vWe are in the thick of soccer season, so my time at home today was limited.  Therefore, a simpler meal was the goal.  Enter Joy the Baker.

Let me take one step backwards.  One of my favorite food blogs is Brown Eyed Baker.

Everything she bakes sounds incredible, and every recipe I have tried from her blog has been fabulous!  She also has great recommendations for other blogs to check out.  This week, she mentioned a recipe for scones from Joy the Baker.  When I went to check it out, I spotted a picture of a tomato basil polenta dish.

I have made polenta before, with mixed results.  This recipe called for baking the polenta, instead of cooking it on the stovetop.  I was intrigued.  When trying to decide on a protein, I was reminded of some chicken jalapeno sausage I had in the freezer.  Those quickly went into the fridge to defrost.  Now all I needed was a veggie side.  I decided on a salad from the same blog.

This dinner turned out AMAZING!  Comfort cuisine at its finest.

The Salad:photo copy 2

Slightly altered from the recipe to use up ingredients I already had on hand – a combo of fresh spinach and arugula, roasted cauliflower (sub for the broccoli), sliced Fuji apple and pumpkin seeds (sub for sunflower seeds).  The honey mustard dressing was extremely flavorful.

Honey Mustard Salad

The entrée – Baked Polenta with Tomato-Basil Sauce and Sausage:

photo copy

Marc started the polenta while I was at the soccer game.  The tomato sauce was easy to make ahead of time.  The chicken sausage came from Sprouts.  It is delicious, but packs some heat.  The creamy polenta was a perfect partner.  Don’t skimp on the cheese and fresh basil.  The entire dish felt so clean and fresh – a definite winner!

Baked Polenta

 

I am really excited about the success of the baked polenta.  I can see it as an accompaniment for several other entrees, including stew, sautéed shrimp, and chili.

Now to find time to try out some of Joy the Baker’s sweets – these cupcakes are at the top of the list:

Dulce de leche Cupcakes

Speaking of dessert, I have to mention the cheesecake our guests brought for dessert.  photo copy 3The chocolate cheesecake from Upper Crust Bakery

( http://www.theuppercrustbakery.com/index.cfm  ) provided a perfect ending to our fabulous dinner.  Unbelievable texture and rich chocolate flavor.  Of course, our friend had to mention the cinnamon rolls… now I won’t be able to drive by the Upper Crust without stopping the next time I am in the neighborhood J.

 

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