Tag Archives: guest-worthy

Pacific Cod with Chorizo and Tomatoes

11 Jun
Pacific Cod with Chorizo and Tomatoes

Pacific Cod with Chorizo and Tomatoes

With my parents visiting from Texas to celebrate various milestones in my family (including an 18th birthday and high school graduation), we’d been eating out a lot or ordering some pretty heavy take-out food. I decided it was time to cook a bit lighter fare last night before we send them back to the Lone Star State tomorrow (but not after a big feast of Texas Brisket tonight!).

Here are my parents enjoying their meal

This is an elegant and definitely guest-worthy meal that comes together quickly. The small amount of spicy chorizo and the bright taste of lemon thyme pairs perfectly with the sweet red peppers and fresh tomatoes. Do serve this with copious amounts of crusty bread for sopping up the tasty sauce. I chose to serve the fish and tomato sauce over pan-seared polenta slices with a side of steamed asparagus.

Pacific Cod with Chorizo and Tomatoes
Adapted from Roasted Cod with Linguica,
by Steven Lee Meyers on Food52

1 tablespoon olive oil
5 ounces Mexican chorizo
3 cloves garlic, sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded and blended with 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
Leaves from 3 sprigs lemon thyme, plus more for garnish
1.5 to 2 pounds Pacific cod, or other firm white fish
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium and brown the chorizo, about 10 minutes. Add the sliced garlic and saute until fragrant. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes, then deglaze the pan with the white wine.

Add the pureed red pepper, chopped tomatoes, and lemon thyme. (If you don’t have lemon thyme, you can use regular thyme and squeeze in a small amount of fresh lemon juice.) Simmer the sauce until the tomatoes break down, about 15 minutes. You want it a bit soupy to hold the fish.

While the sauce is simmering, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly sprinkle the cod with salt, then nestle the pieces into the tomato sauce. Carefully place the hot skillet into the oven and roast until fish is done, about 7 to 10 minutes. The fish should flake easily with a fork.

Remove from oven and serve fish over polenta cakes, spooning the sauce over and around it.  Garnish with lemon thyme sprigs.


p.s. I’m starting to get the hang of running my food cart and the day-to-day tasks needed. We won’t talk about the day I forgot to bring the cheese or the other day I forgot the salsas, OK? But really, I’m having a blast with it and have also been contacted to be a vendor at a dog rescue fundraising event in August. I’ve also started applying to have the cart at various summer festivals and other events. Some are already booked for this year, but I’m getting a good list for next year in the process!




Creamy Squash, Spinach, and Chicken Polenta Casserole

17 Apr
Creamy Squash Spinach and Chicken Polenta Casserole

Creamy Squash Spinach and Chicken Polenta Casserole

Strange ingredients? Please hear me out. This is NOT weird at all and received multiple thumbs up from the family. Gosh, even the leftovers were awesome. There is something about the down-home creamy corn base from the polenta and slightly sweet taste from the squashes and then the spinach and chicken that just made this an incredibly surprising meal! My eyes gone wide, you know what I mean? WOW! (This actually doesn’t even need the chicken and could be vegetarian, but the meat was already defrosted.)

I had the defrosted chicken breast and a fresh bag of spinach, and set my sights on something new for the combination. I have made my Balsamic Chicken and Spinach more times than I can count the past few years. Somehow I came across some vegetarian polenta and spinach casserole recipes, and tasked myself with coming up with a recipe my family would actually eat.

I found a great recipe with fresh spinach and mushrooms but it used pre-made polenta cakes. Another recipe I found had a creamy homemade polenta base with zucchini, squash and tomatoes. Well, the daughter doesn’t “do” mushrooms, I only had fresh spinach and dried polenta grain on hand, so decided to mix up the two recipes and came up with my own original. You will NOT be disappointed. (Aside note: I was following the vegetarian version recipes and totally spaced on browning the chicken until assembly. Yikes! So please, follow my instructions below instead of doing what I did. Or, omit chicken altogether. It all worked out, we only ate 10 minutes later than the original plan.)

Creamy Squash, Spinach, and Chicken Polenta Casserole

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs)
Ground black pepper, and salt or Mrs. Dash, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup dried polenta (course cornmeal)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped onion
1 small zucchini, sliced and quartered (about 1 cup)
1 small yellow squash, sliced and quartered (about 1 cup)
1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes with oregano, garlic and basil (if yours are plain diced, add dried or fresh herbs to taste)
1 8 to 10-ounce bag fresh spinach
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup shredded fresh Mozarrella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and season to taste with ground black pepper and salt or Mrs. Dash. Heat a skillet with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and brown the chicken about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often. Set aside.

Cooking the Creamy Polenta

Cooking the Creamy Polenta

Heat 1 1/2 cups of water in a medium sauce pot to boil. Stir together the milk and polenta to make a slurry, then add to the boiling water. Bring up to a simmer then reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. (If you want you could brown the chicken now in this step. I just didn’t want you to forget!)

Creamy Polenta Poured into Pan

Creamy Polenta Poured into Pan

When the polenta is done, pour it into an oil-sprayed 13 x 9 or so sized casserole dish and set aside.

Chopped Onion, Zucchini, and Squash

Chopped Onion, Zucchini, and Squash

Meanwhile, add the 2 tablespoons olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, zucchini, and squash and sauté until the onions are softened.

Vegetable Mixture Simmering

Vegetable Mixture Simmering

Add the tomatoes (and spices if tomatoes aren’t pre-seasoned). Bring up to a simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the browned chicken and mix to combine. Now, by handfuls, tear up the spinach and add to the mixture and stir in until all is added and wilted.

Spinach Wilting into Vegetables

Spinach Wilting into Vegetables ~ WAIT ~ You don’t see that forgotten chicken in the background you had to cook first, right??

Meanwhile (again), preheat the oven to 350 degrees. After the vegetable mixture is done, spread it evenly on top of the polenta in the casserole dish. Top with a combination of shredded Mozarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Creamy Squash Spinach and Chicken Polenta Casserole Ready to Bake

Creamy Squash, Spinach, and Chicken Polenta Casserole Ready to Bake

Bake for about 25 minutes until it is heated through and bubbly and the cheese has melted. Turn the heat up to broil and broil for 5 minutes. Take out of oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve on plates or in bowls. Nothing else is needed, as this is an entire meal! If this weren’t so fugly coming out of the casserole dish, I’d call it guest-worthy (taste-wise)!

p.s. (My sister arrived today from Texas for 10 days, so I might not get a post out for awhile. Enjoy browsing my archives if you want if you are a newcomer!)

Casserole Half-Eaten

Casserole Half-Eaten~ YEP! Three of us pretty much wiped out half of a lasagna pan of this in one sitting!


Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

Potato and Spinach Soup with Bacon and Jalapeño

3 Jan
Potato and Spinach Soup with Bacon and Jalapeño

Potato and Spinach Soup with Bacon and Jalapeño

When I served this soup to my husband for dinner last week, he exclaimed “What is this? You are serving me Klingon Grog!” in some strange accent that certainly wasn’t Klingon. I was pretty sure it was Klingon blood that is green, not their grog, but I just laughed him off and told him to eat his soup. (After further research, it turns out they do have a green grog, but their main drink is blood red. I digress…)

We were in the midst of a pretty crazy snowstorm that dumped almost 8 inches on us (we were supposed to only get one inch, but it just kept coming!) so I had to make do with what we had on hand for dinner. I had some potatoes, a half-pound bag of frozen spinach, and a half of a fresh jalepeño left from making Carne Guisada the day before.

After a little Googling, I found this amazing recipe for soup with those ingredients. It also called for bacon, and much to my surprise I found three frozen uncooked strips in the freezer. Wow, that made my day.

I halved the recipe, since there are only three of us, but this can easily be doubled. Yes, this is a vibrant green soup, but it is delicious, filling, and even guest-worthy. And you only get a very mild taste of jalapeño, with no spiciness at all that I could tell. The jalapeño gave it an added depth of taste. It would also be a great first course when entertaining dinner guests, plus it is very easy to make with few ingredients.

Potato and Spinach Soup with Bacon and Jalapeño
Adapted from The Nourished Kitchen cookbook

3 strips bacon, diced
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon reserved bacon grease
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 large jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 pound potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 to 6 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
8 ounces fresh or frozen spinach, thawed
Sour cream, for serving

Prepping the Veggies

Prepping the Veggies

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven or stockpot until browned and crispy. Remove, drain on paper towels and set aside. Drain all but about one teaspoon of the grease from the pot. Add 1 teaspoon of butter, then stir in the onion and jalapeño and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the potato chunks, then give it a good mix.

Veggies Ready for Chicken Broth

Veggies Ready for Chicken Broth

Pour in the chicken broth, cover, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through all the way. Stir in the spinach and bacon (reserving some bacon for garnish), and simmer another 5 minutes. (If using fresh spinach, simmer until it wilts.)

Simmering Soup

Simmering Soup

Puree the soup with an immersion blender (I don’t have one) or in batches in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. Serve the soup with a dollop of sour cream and bacon pieces as additional garnish. You may salt to taste at this point, but the bacon and sour cream made it plenty salty for our tastes.

Now I just have to show you lame attempt at making pretty swirlies with the sour cream. Luckily I reserved extra bacon in case this didn’t work out. Obviously it didn’t. It looks like some kind of morph between a snail and a beetle! I’m afraid food styling is not my biggest strength as a food blogger. 😀

Sour Cream Garnish FAIL

Sour Cream Garnish FAIL

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

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