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Polenta with Mushrooms and Parmesan Cheese + Artichokes Braised in Cream

Polenta with Mushrooms and Parmesan + Artichokes Braised in Cream


There is something about polenta that just begs to be topped with sumptuous, melt-in-your mouth delights. I infused the cooking water with dried mushrooms and bay leaf for the polenta while it bubbled away and thickened. Then, tendrils of fresh Parmesan cheese were twirled in. At this point, I would’ve been quite satisfied eating just a bowl of this but did I stop there? Oh no, no, no. A quick braise of artichokes in butter and cream finished this off, creating a melodious combination of rich meatiness and ethereal suppleness. This dish is best enjoyed with a full heart and an even fuller glass of white wine.


Polenta with Mushrooms and Parmesan Cheese + Artichokes Braised in Cream

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

35 minutes

Category: Entree

Yield: 1 large serving or 2 small servings

Polenta with Mushrooms and Parmesan Cheese + Artichokes Braised in Cream

An easy and luxurious dinner to end the evening, this polenta with mushrooms and Parmesan served with artichokes braised in cream has a heavenly mouthfeel and deep, rich flavor. Wonderful with a glass of white wine.


    For the polenta:
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 small pieces dried mushroom
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup polenta
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
    For the artichokes:
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • S+P
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Fresh parsley
  • Red pepper flakes


    For the polenta:
  1. In a small saucepot set over medium heat, add the water, butter, mushrooms, bay leaf, and salt. Once it comes to a slight boil, slowly pour in the polenta and stir. When it returns to a bubble, lower the heat to simmer and cover; stir often. Let cook for about 20 minutes. When it's finished, discard the mushrooms and bay leaf. Mix in the Parmesan cheese.
    For the artichokes:
  1. In a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Toss in the artichokes to cover with butter and season with salt and pepper. Let the artichokes brown slightly with the butter. Pour in the cream, lower the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. To serve, spoon polenta onto plate and spread out. Top with artichokes and cream; garnish with parsley and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.


// Other lavish meals: 




Tortilla Bake with Chorizo, Corn, and White Bean Hummus

Tortilla Bake with Chorizo, Corn, and White Bean Hummus


I made this spur-of-the-moment, in a fierce mood to use up as many odds and ends I had laying about in the fridge one rainy afternoon. Lucky for me, I had a few links of chorizo to crumble up with leftover corn kernels and cannellini beans. While these three things mingled together in a pan, they created an alchemy so wonderful, I literally had to stop and stare; there’s something so incredibly sultry about the way food glistens when it’s tossed with chorizo fat.

A few minutes later, I was pouring this glorious mix into a glass pie dish and layering, layering, layering. With liberal spoonfuls of Garden Fresh Gourmet white bean hummus, Jack’s special salsa, and handfuls of crushed blue corn tortilla chips. There was cheese, lots of it. Into the oven it went and emerged ten minutes later, crispy and melty. Before I ate this, I drizzled it generously with Mexican crema and dotted with fresh cilantro. This tortilla bake was perfect as an afternoon snack (my definition of snack is a bit unconventional) with a dark beer.


Tortilla Bake with Chorizo, Corn, and White Bean Hummus

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

20 minutes

Yield: 3-4

Tortilla Bake with Chorizo, Corn, and White Bean Hummus

A quick recipe for tortilla bake with chorizo, corn, and white bean hummus. This meal comes together in 20 minutes making it perfect for busy nights.


  • 1/2 pound chorizo
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1/3 cup cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • S + P
  • 3-4 slices pepper jack cheese
  • 5 tablespoons Garden Fresh Gourmet White Bean Hummus
  • Couple handfuls Garden Fresh Gourmet blue corn tortilla chips, crushed
  • 1/4 cup shredded quesadilla cheese
  • 3 tablespoons Garden Fresh Gourmet Jack's Special Salsa
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • Mexican crema
  • Fresh cilantro


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Set a medium-sized saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and break into small pieces with wooden spoon. Allow to cook and render off the fat, a few minutes. Toss in the corn and cannellini beans; season with salt and pepper and stir. Cook for another minute until the whole mixture is coated and glistening with delicious chorizo fat. Pour this mixture into a round glass pie dish and spread evenly.
  3. Cover with pepper jack cheese slices and then dollop white bean hummus all around, using spoon to spread. Crush tortilla chips all over. Top with shredded quesadilla cheese. Dollop with salsa and sprinkle feta cheese all over. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. To serve, drizzle Mexican crema all over the top and garnish with fresh cilantro.


// More quick meals: 




Garden Fresh Gourmet Nachos with Smoked Gouda Bechamel + Avocado Verde Salsa

Garden Fresh Gourmet Nachos with Smoked Gouda Bechamel + Avocado Verde Salsa


May is National Salsa Month, so when I got hooked up with awesome stuff from Garden Fresh Gourmet, I knew I had to make nachos. And nachos I made. Lots. Over the course of several days lots. One day, I think I ate them for every meal…

I have somewhat of an obsessive personality.

But guys, this was beyond good. I basically hunkered over my plate (well, “personal-sized” cookie sheet, really. minor details.) and inhaled this in no time at all. The avocado verde salsa is super flavorful and has just the right amount of kick to it when dolloped all over the chips. And I always favor blue corn tortilla chips over regular– I think they have a more interesting flavor, not to mention that gorgeous pop of color.



Garden Fresh Gourmet Nachos with Smoked Gouda Bechamel + Avocado Verde Salsa


The idea for the smoked gouda bechamel was really more of a delightful convenience since I happened to have a leftover chunk of it in the fridge. And boy, it really came together wonderfully. The smokiness of the cheese really gave the nachos a nice depth, which was a great canvas for the zing of the avocado verde salsa to burst through.

Topped with fresh radish slices, queso fresco, avocado, and cilantro, these nachos were very much enjoyed with a cold beer. No regrets, man.



Garden Fresh Gourmet Nachos with Smoked Gouda Bechamel + Avocado Verde Salsa


Garden Fresh Gourmet Nachos with Smoked Gouda Bechamel + Avocado Verde Salsa

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

20 minutes

Yield: 1 large cookie sheet


    For the smoked gouda bechamel:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 2 ounces smoked gouda, grated
    For the nachos:
  • Garden Fresh Gourmet blue corn tortilla chips
  • Garden Fresh Gourmet avocado verde salsa
  • Sliced radishes
  • Crumbled queso fresco
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Sliced avocado


    For the smoked gouda bechamel:
  1. Place a small saucepot over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the flour, and whisk to make a light roux, 30-45 seconds. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking at the same time, and letting the milk thicken the roux a bit before adding more. Sprinkle in the salt and nutmeg. Let this come to a simmer and allow to thicken a couple minutes. Since this bechamel has skim milk, it will not be quite as thick as it would with whole milk but this works just fine since you want it to be on the thinner side to drizzle over the chips. Once it's thickened slightly, turn off the heat and add in the cheese; mix until totally melted.
    For the nachos:
  1. Arrange tortilla chips onto a baking sheet and crisp up in a 375 degree oven for a few minutes. Take out and pour smoked gouda bechamel all over the chips. Dollop with avocado verde salsa and scatter sliced radishes, queso fresco, and cilantro on top. Serve with a side of freshly sliced avocado. Don't forget the beer.


// more delicious appetizer things:



How to Make Homemade Mayonnaise with an Immersion Blender

Homemade Mayonnaise


Mayonnaise. Mayo. That creamy lusciousness we slather our sandwiches with and the stuff great aiolis are made from. For me, it is something that I cannot live without.

I just finished making my weekly batch of homemade mayonnaise and realized I didn’t have a standalone post on how ridiculously easy it is to whip up. If you’ve never tasted homemade mayo, oh man…I don’t think anything I say here can prepare you for the awesomeness that you will experience when you finally try it. It’s incredibly creamy, smooth, lavish. Nothing at all like the kind you buy at the store. Nothing. And with this technique using the immersion blender, it’s totally simple and kinda fool-proof. But, freak accidents happen. I know. I seem to be a magnet for those– don’t fret. I have harnessed the special juju necessary to save your mayo if it does happen to fall to hard times. Come with me, young grasshopper…


First, you will need provisions:

1 immersion blender

1 large, wide-mouth mason jar


Next, ingredients:

2 large eggs, local fresh ones are the best

1/4 teaspoon Coleman’s ground mustard

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar or rice vinegar (Today, I used rice vinegar and it blew my socks off)

Pinch black pepper

2 cups canola oil


Your mission, if you choose to accept it:

Crack the eggs into the mason jar, followed by everything else. Pour the canola oil in last, gently. Grab your immersion blender. Stick it at the bottom of the mason jar, turn it on, and watch as it slowly starts to create the mayo right before your eyes, emulsifying the oil with the eggs. Slowly, make your way up along the sides and up to the top, incorporating the oil. You may not be able to get all of the oil at the top. That’s okay. At this point, turn off the immersion blender and finish mixing it with a spoon. I have discovered that the mayonnaise does not break this way. I know this may sound foreign, weird, unclear to those that have never made mayonnaise. And a bit scary, too. So, I made a video on how to make it:



I hope the video clarifies some things and shows you how dead simple it is to make mayonnaise! Years ago, I posted a method on making homemade using a food processor. That works splendidly too, but requires just a teeny bit more work. Find it here! If you come across any trouble or problems making mayonnaise, please leave me a note at the bottom and I’ll help you out. Peace and love, mayonnaise lovers.


Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s Cha Cha Sriracha Flatbread, Boosted Smoothies + a Giveaway!

Tropical Smoothie Cafe


Hi folks! I hope you’re all doing well. I’ve been a busy bee lately but the sun is finally shining today and it’s forecasted to be 70 degrees this weekend so that makes me feel happy.

My tastebuds and I just had the pleasure of trying out Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s newest menu item– the Cha Cha Sriracha Flatbread, a super delicious, super flavorful snack available for limited time only (until April 23rd!!!) that comes packed with juicy grilled chicken, mozzarella cheese, romaine lettuce, shredded carrots, pineapple salsa, cilantro, scallions, and an unworldly caramelized pineapple sriracha sauce. Every nibble was an incredible balance of savory and sweet.

It. Was. To. Die. For.

Alongside that, I sipped up one of their new Boosted Smoothies– the Chia Banana Boost. This, you guys, was heaven in a cup. They asked if I wanted strawberries or peanut butter in it. Um, I said peanut butter. Thing is dangerously good. And it’s good for you because chia seeds and stuff.

So because I want you guys to fall head over heels in love with all of the yum offered at Tropical Smoothie Cafe, I’m hosting another giveaway!

Two lucky winners will each get a $50 Tropical Smoothie Cafe gift card, a whirly cup, and a Sriracha bottle keychain! To enter this giveaway, leave a comment below sharing your favorite thing to drizzle sriracha on– eggs? Noodles?? Smoothies??? This giveaway is open from April 7, 2017 – April 10, 2017. U.S. residents only, please. 

Good luck, everyone!


Amie Martin - I love to drizzle it on my farm fresh eggs! Yum!

Anna - I like to put just a little on sweet potato fries.

Kathy - I like to drizzle Sriracha on my chicken schwarma sandwiches! With a cooling side of fattoush, it’s delicious.

Youri - Thank you for your awesome blog! and for being awesome!

David - I like to put it on oven baked macaroni and cheese. You have that golden brown layer of cheese with that kick of sriracha.

Robin Hilliker - Sriracha is my favorite addition to a bloody mary!