Eating with the Armstrongs

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First of all, Happy Father’s Day to my amazing dad, father-in-law, my Grandpa & my Papau! We are so thankful for these men who love us, generously support us, and have consistently cared for us for so many years.

When I was little my dad’s specialty was splatter: a combination of fried spam, onions and potatoes. And I have to tell you, it was delicious. He has since learned how to make gourmet omelets and is a grill master, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he brought out his splatter recipe again.  There are so many things I love about my dad. He is the funniest man I know, extremely creative, hard working, and generous. He definitely set the bar high in my mind of the kind of man I wanted to marry. I’m thankful that my husband fits the bill in every way. I love you, Daddy, and am happy to celebrate you today! I wish I could give you a head rub while you watch golf. Love from Baton Rouge!

Here’s what we’ve enjoyed lately!

Creamy Polenta w/ Chicken Sausage & Peppers

Definitely a recent favorite! Polenta is so easy to whip up and makes a delicious base for the sausage and peppers. I actually used a Cajun Sausage that I got from our Farmer’s Market, which added the perfect spice. This meal came together quickly and easily and was thoroughly enjoyed by both of us!

Spring Vegetable Potstickers

Well, I really only made the vegetable filling as I could not find wonton or dumpling wrappers at our local Whole Foods. But the filling was absolutely delicious served atop noodles. I did not use tofu but I did add ground turkey for some protein. The flavors in this recipe are fresh and bright.

Pepper Chicken Nachos

We love nachos, so the substitution of bell peppers for chips was excited to try. The recipe calls for mini peppers, but I just used regular bell peppers. This is another simple and flavor packed meal.

Tropical Chewy Granola Bars

These gluten free granola bars are packed with power-food ingredients and wholesome sweetness. I made quite a few recipe swaps: dried cherries for the dried mango, chocolate chips for the dried banana, pecans for the macadamia nuts, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract for the vanilla bean seeds. Tasty and good-for-you!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

In the attempt to succeed at a gluten free summer diet, I have made this “pizza crust” twice! The flavor is delicious but I’m still working on getting a crunchier consistency throughout. A major adjustment I made to the recipe was to cook the crust at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes (periodically checking), instead of the 450 degrees the recipe called for. This created a much better crust, but I am going to try an even longer cooking time at a lower temperature. We topped ours with a simple tomato sauce, sausage, basil, spinach (from my garden!) and just a tiny bit of Parmesan. Try it!

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Parmesan Polenta with Shrimp & Mushrooms

Today I accidentally cut a lady off in traffic. Note: accidentally. Anyways, I could see that this lady was MAD.  Major road rage, throwing hands up, disgusted expression-the whole shebang. So, as I drove past her, I got a glimpse of her face and realized I knew this girl! I wont’ say in what context so that her identity won’t be revealed. But this girl and I totally know each other. I really don’t think she saw me, but it made me laugh. A lot. And I think this girl would be totally embarrassed if she knew I saw her.

Anyways, polenta is delicious. And really cheap! I used to by the pre-packaged polenta (what was I thinking?!) that costs about $4.00, but I discovered that really the best option is to buy from the bulk section where the polenta costs less that fifty cents for a cup!

It looks so simple. And tastes so delicious! The consistency of polenta is similar to grits. If that doesn’t appeal to you, then I’d say it’s like mashed potatoes or even risotto. But my favorite things about polenta are its creaminess and the fact that you can flavor it however you like! Parmesan cheese and butter is my simple yet scrumptious flavor combo for this recipe. Can’t really go wrong with those two ingredients.

To accompany my polenta I sauteed some shrimp that were tossed around with a few seasonings.

And some mushrooms with just olive oil, salt, and pepper. In my opinion, they just don’t need much more than that!

All together this was a simple, filling meal with lots of yummy flavors. I hope you like it!

Recipe: 

Adapted from Gourmande in the Kitchen

Ingredients: 

1 cup ground polenta

2 cups plus 1 cup of water

2 cups of chicken broth (using water here is fine too)

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup parmesan cheese

1 lb shrimp, deveined and peeled

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon parsley

1 package of mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

To make: 

After peeling and deveining the shrimp, put it on a plate and sprinkle with chili powder, parsley, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix together and let it just hang out for a bit.

In a 2 quart pot, put cold water and chicken broth, add polenta. Turn on to a medium-high heat and stir until it comes to a simmer, continue stirring and bring to a boil. The polenta will begin to thicken, add a little more water if needed to achieve desired thickness. Lower heat to low and cover the pot, stirring every ten minutes for about 30 minutes until polenta is creamy. Add butter and parmesan cheese, mix to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

While the polenta is cooking, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a sauté pan and bring to medium heat. Add shrimp and cook, turning once for two minutes. Remove shrimp, place on a plate and cover with foil. Add one tablespoon olive oil to the same pan, add sliced mushrooms, sauté until soft and color darkens, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the shrimp back to the pan with the mushrooms. Serve on top of warm polenta.