Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Fried Polenta Rounds with Parmesan

polenta sliced with parmesan.jpg The holidays are coming and I am getting excited to start planning my appetizers. Polenta is a delicious and gluten free dish that I always seem to forget about but then rediscover when I am served it at restaurants. It is so easy to prepare and so satisfying with cheese or anything else you’d like to pile on. You may be stressed to host your holiday events so cut some time and effort corners with this simple app. Enjoy!

Fried Polenta Rounds with Parmesan
One tube prepared Polenta, sliced into 1/4″ round slices (should make about 20 slices)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp olive oil, divided
Heat up a medium to large size non-stick skillet over medium heat and add a tsp of the olive oil until hot.
When the oil is smoking a bit, add as many slices as you can to the pan, leaving a little room around them so that you will easily be able to flip them with a spatula.
Wait a few minutes and check with a spatula to see if the underside is getting golden brown. When it turns golden, flip it over and cook until that side is golden brown.
While you’re waiting for the second side to get brown, place a little of the cheese on top.
When the cheese is melted and the second side is golden brown, remove from the pan and loosely cover with aluminum.
Start making the second batch and when they are all done, serve immediately. Enjoy!
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Tater Tot Egg Strata

In a previous recipe post I wrote about homemade tater tots. I made so many that I had a need for the leftover ones! I added them to a kale inspired egg strata and the results were great. Feel free to use store bought tater tots or none at all. Enjoy!
Kale and Tater Tot Egg Strata

9 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup chopped kale
3 oz. crumbled goat cheese
15 baked frozen tater tots (or cooked, homemade from previous Take Back the Kitchen recipe)
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1) In a big bowl, whisk together the eggs and heavy cream.
2) Add in 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and whisk. Set aside
3) In a small saucepan heat up the olive oil and saute the chopped kale over a low flame for a few minutes until wilted.
4) Stir cheese and sauteed kale into the egg mixture, and pour the mixture into a 9″ X 13″ casserole dish.
5) Drop in the tater tots and bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees until a knife comes out clean in the center.
*If the top is browning but the middle is still raw, cover with aluminum foil and bake a few more minutes until cooked through.
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Tater Tots

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE tater tots. I never eat them, however, because they usually have a lot of unwanted ingredients. I decided to make my own one day and, to my surprise, they rivaled the frozen ones. Best of all, my kids loved them. I hope you do, too!
Homemade Tater Tots:
2 large White Potatoes, peeled and steamed until tender
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and steamed until tender
salt to taste
Mash separately in two bowls
1 cup crushed organic cornflakes
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp any other seasoning you like-black pepper, cayenne pepper, cajun seasoning, cumin, etc.
Olive oil spray or Pam for spraying before oven time
Combine all above coating ingredients.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Form one-inch balls of mashed sweet and white potatoes.
Roll in the cornflake mixture. Makes about 2 dozen white potato and about a 2 dozen sweet potato balls.
Place the coated balls on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and spray with oil spray.
In preheated oven in the middle rack, place the baking sheet.
After about 15-20 minutes, when the balls start looking crispy, flip them all over so they brown on the other side and bake another 15-20 minutes or until the start getting crispy.
Serve with ketchup or a homemade aioli of two TBS Mayo with one medium sized clove of crushed garlic and a dash of salt.
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Roasted Lemon and Artichoke Dip

Looking for a new recipe for your upcoming BBQs and potlucks? Try this new sophisticated twist on everyone’s favorite artichoke dip. The lemons give it a surprising tangy zing.
Roasted lemon Artichoke Dip:
*1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts in water, drained (can also use in oil but wash them with water ,drain them, and dry them).
*1-2 lemons cut up into 1/2 inch pieces with the rind (the more lemon, the more lemony it is-I use 2 lemons b/c I like it really tart)
*1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp mayonnaise
*2 oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese or other block kind
*About 1/2 cup of bread crumbs mixed with 2 tsp melted butter or olive oil
*Salt and pepper to taste
Roast lemons and artichoke hearts on a parchment paper lined baking sheet until they turn fragrant and brown, about 20 minutes but only you know the power of your oven so watch them! Let cool.
Put lemons, artichokes, mayo and cream cheese in a food processor and pulse until it all combined. Bake in a small baking dish at 350 degrees with the breadcrumbs until bubbling, about 20 minutes or so. Add salt and pepper to taste.
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Chili for 40

Are you looking for a HUGE recipe to feed a crowd that is not the typical pizza go-to? I created this with two friends for a middle school chili fest. We contributed to a chili party for 280 people and everyone enjoyed it. I hope you do, too!
Three Lady Chili:
6tbsp olive oil
6 Large onions, chopped
2 HUGE cans peeled tomatoes (105 oz. cans from Costco)
1 HUGE can corn (105 oz. cans from Costco)
6 15 oz cans black beans
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
3 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp black pepper
4 cups chopped cilantro
Heat up a large skillet over low-medium flame and add oil.
Add in the chopped onions and saute until translucent, about 15 minutes.
In a huge pot, add in the cooked onions, all the rinsed off beans and corn from the cans, add in all the spices except the cilantro and simmer until the liquid is reduced to your liking, about 1 hour.
At the end, either top with cilantro or stir in at the last moment so it is fragrant.
Serve with rice, quiona or cous cous.
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon

chicken with lemon and rosemary.jpg
What says “family dinner” more than a roast chicken? I’ll tell you what; A REALLY easy roast chicken! As long as you are not squeamish placing lemons into the cavity, this chicken will be the most simple and flavorful that you have made. Adding some potatoes in the casserole dish will allow you to have your side dish already prepared without doing any extra work. Heck, throw in some carrots and you are a true chef! Enjoy!
Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
1 3 1/2 lb chicken (preferably organic)
1 1/2 lemons, halved
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried rosemary
drizzle of olive oil
5 medium sized potatoes quartered
optional: 3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
In a deep casserole dish, place the chicken.
Take the 3 halves of lemon and insert into the chicken’s cavity.
Drizzle the outside of the bird with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper.
Surround the bird with the potatoes and carrots if you are using them and drizzle them with olive oil
Bake covered for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Remove cover and bake for another 15-20 minutes until the skin is golden brown.
Remove and serve immediately.
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Thai Green Curry with Beef

Thai Beef Curry.jpg
While watching a football game or entertaining a lot of people, there is no need to make chili…again! How about a flavorful and simple Thai curry? This one pot meal just needs to be accompanied by rice and you are good to go. Feel free to make it vegetarian or with seafood or chicken as well.Enjoy!
Thai Green Curry with Beef for a Crowd:

4 cans of coconut milk
4 oz. can of red Thai curry paste
juice of 2 limes
1 stalk lemon grass, chopped with outside parts removed
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup fish sauce (can get at any Asian food store or the Asian section of most supermarkets)
2 cups water
1 cup mushrooms-optional
2 cups bamboo shoots
8 oz. sirloin, sliced thinly into bite sized strips
1 large sweet potato or 2 cups dense squash like Japanese pumpkin, cubed and steamed beforehand
In a large pot over low to medium heat, add in the chili paste and stir for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
Add in the coconut milk and stir until paste is fully combined.
Add in the rest of the ingredients except the cooked potatoes, cooked squash or any other vegetable you are using that may get too mushy if cooked for too long.
Cook until all the vegetables and meat are cooked/heated through and serve hot over rice.
Serves about 15
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Ricotta and Apple Jelly Hors d’oeuvres

I was hosting a dinner party last weekend and had just a bit of ricotta and half of a loaf of french bread that I feared would go stale if I didn’t move on it quickly. A few minutes later, with a bit of thought and a quick glance in the fridge, these tasty hors d’oeuvres were created to the delight of my guests. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did. They are a keeper!
Ricotta and Apple Jelly Hors d’oeuvres:

1/2 loaf French bread
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1/3 cup apple jelly or reduced apple cider
1 tsp dried, chopped rosemary, preferably fresh rosemary that has been recently dried
Preheat oven to 250 degrees
Slice the French bread lengthwise and then slice vertically so that each piece is cut in half.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay each piece of bread on it.
Place in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until toasted.
Let cool.
Spread a thin layer of the apple jelly on each piece.
Spoon a little dollop on top of the jelly, about a tsp worth.
Sprinkle only a couple of pieces of rosemary on top of the ricotta and serve.
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Passover Matzoh Crunch

Passover is coming! Whether you celebrate this holiday or just attend a Seder, make sure to include this dessert recipe in your repertoire from here on out. It is simple and can be made in advance to avoid last minute stress.
Chocolate Matzoh Crunch

2 sticks unsalted butter (or margarine if you keep Kosher)
one cup packed light or dark brown sugar
Enough matzoh (maybe 5) to cover a baking sheet with 1/2″-1″ sides so there’s no leakage over the sides
1 /2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup of small marshmallow
1/4 cup of rainbow sprinkles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Stir until mixture is boiling and thick, about 5 minutes. You MUST watch it so it does not burn.
Spread matzoh on baking sheet to cover completely-do not overlap. Break matzohs into pieces if necessary. Cover matzohs with butter mixture and spread evenly with a spatula.
Place sheet in the oven for about 10 minutes or until butter mixture is bubbling and turning brown. Keep watching to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Remove from oven, evenly scatter chips and place in oven for one minute to melt the chips. Remove from oven, spread melted chocolate completely over matzohs.
Drop marshmallows and sprinkles evenly over entire sheet of the still warm chocolate and place in fridge or freezer to set.
When set, break into many bite size pieces.
Can be stored in the fridge for up to a week so make in advance for Passover to make your life easier!
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Zucchini Souffle

Zucchini Souffle.jpg
Are you overwhelmed when zucchini comes into your home because there is either too much of it and/or you are at a loss for what to do with it? Well, I hope this recipe will make a dent in your supply. Enjoy!
Zucchini Souffle
4 cups zucchini,grated
2 1/2 cups stale bread cubes
8 eggs
2 cups whole or skim milk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 tsp grape seed oil or olive oil
Heat up the oven to 375 degrees
Take the grated zucchini and squeeze out as much water as possible with a paper towel
Heat up a medium sized frying pan over medium heat and add the oil
After a minute or so, add the zucchini and stir for a few minutes until it wilts and a lot of the moisture is released
Add in the garlic powder, the salt and pepper and stir
In a souffle dish, add the cooked zucchini and set aside
In a medium sized bowl, beat the milk and eggs and add to the souffle dish on top of the zucchini
Add in the stale bread cubes and top with the crumbled goat cheese
Place the souffle dish in the oven on the middle rack and cook for an hour or until a knife comes out clean in the center
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