It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green….

…..so let’s talk food instead. Seriously, I’m not trying to pre-empt our previous conversation but I have something urgent I need to tell you girls.

We have a dear friend in Georgia named Merrie Lynn Youngblood. She was contacted today and informed she is one of the five finalists in Emeril’s Slow Cooker Challenge on Good Morning America. The public can vote on their favorite recipe until tomorrow only and the winner gets a trip to New York to appear on the show.

Y’all, I’ve had the Chicken Stuffing Merrie Lynn entered and it is FABULOUS. And easy. And their ain’t no better kind of recipe as far as I’m concerned.

So will y’all be dolls and vote for her HERE? There’s not a woman anywhere who deserves it more!

Good luck, Merrie Lynn!

It Is Through Much Tribulation That One Acquires Polenta

Today I went grocery shopping with a new Rachel Ray recipe in hand. It is one that Luke pointed out that he thought sounded good. Anytime he mentions something that he finds remotely appetizing I try to make a point to cook it.

I’m certain that’s in the Love Dare.

It is also in the Love Dare to brave the societal microcosm that is Walmart to find ingregients to said recipe. This particular one called for polenta and seeing as how there is a sizable Hispanic food section in our store, I assumed I’d have no problem finding it.

Typically when I see polenta it is in a bag resembling that of flour or cornmeal. You cook it in water much like you would grits. Also typical is how I see it when I don’t need it and today it was nowhere in sight.

I found a stock guy in the freezer section. “Do you know if you carry polenta?”

“Do we have Puh-what?” I took that as a no and moved on.

I ventured back to the deli and asked the ladies there if they had polenta. “Yeah, we sure do. It’s over there next to the chicken salad.”

“What’s that?”, her friend asked.

“You know, it’s that yeller cheese with them little red thangs in it.” {I’m not mocking. That’s exactly how she said it.}

No, no, no. Not pimiento. Po-len-ta.

Another dead end. I moved on.

I walked back toward the front of the store and an elderly what-I-thought-was-a-gentle man approached me. I thought he was going to offer to help me with my polenta woes but instead he said, “Excuse me. You have a big hole in your pants.”

I completely freaked out and instinctively threw both of my hands behind me to cover my backside. I said, “Oh no!” He said, “Hee hee hee. Of course you have a big hole in your pants. How else would you get them on? Hee hee hee.”

Pappaw had no idea how close he came to a hole in the esophagus. Pervert geezer.

After I got over that shock and trauma, I found another stock man and said, “Do you have polenta?” He said, “Isn’t that the cheese with the red peppers? You can find that in the deli.”

No. NO no. NOT pimiento. PO-STINKIN’-LEN-TA.

To give this sweet fellow credit, he offered to find the food manager and ask him about it. I saw both of them scratching their heads and then giggled as the manager started asking passers-by if they knew what polenta was. If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’, a lady walking by said, “I think it is cheese.”

“It’s not cheese!” I said. Manager said, “Oh, well what is it? We have a customer who needs it.”

“Yes sir, I’m the customer.” And for the fourth time I tried to describe exactly what constituted polenta.

And as I’m explaining and even showing the photo of the recipe, a darlin’ life saver of a woman walked by and said, “You can sometimes find it ready made in a plastic casing.” And then suddenly it hit me. She was completely right. That wasn’t my preferred way of buying it but if you add cream it reconstitutes quite nicely. She suggested I look in the Mexican cheese section.

For the record, polenta is not cheese. It is also not tofu which happens to be where I finally located the stuff. In the organic section no less. Something tells me adding heavy cream negated those health benefits.

So anyway, I finally, finally, had all the ingredients, came home, and cooked the recipe. Luke came in and said, “what are you making?”

“That recipe you pointed out in the Rachel Ray magazine.”

“That isn’t the one I was pointing at, Lisa. It was the quesadilla one on the opposite page.”

Oh, the heck.

Let’s just say by the time I finished whining he was more than happy to eat the polenta with a big ‘ole smile on his face.

And by the way? If I do say so myself, the dish (Beef Polenta Bake) was fabulous. You can find the recipe here.

The Cooking is Seriously Cutting in to my Blog Time

Wow. Are y’all just boycotting me or is the blogging seriously light the last couple of days? If you’ve been being thankful and visiting and cooking and shopping like I have been – chances are the computer has slid on down the list of priorities.

As well it should.

However, I had to take a couple of minutes to show you a most excellent dessert I just made. It’s a standard favorite around here and I got the hankering for it today.

Now I realize this picture does nothing for the fabulosity that is Strawberry Pretzel. However, you can pretty much bet that if my food is ugly then it tastes good. I don’t have the pretty and good gene – you get one or the other as proven by the X-File Cookies.

What I can promise you is that people go bonkers over this stuff and if you take it to an event/potluck someone will ask you for the recipe. You can also count on your dish being licked clean. Because I love you and am feeling generous, allow me to share …

STRAWBERRY PRETZEL

2 cups crushed pretzels
3/4 cup melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar, plus 3/4 cup sugar
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 8 oz container whipped topping
2 3 oz packages strawberry Jell-O
2 cups boiling water
2 10 oz packages frozen strawberries (unsweetened)
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple
Whipped topping to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Crust: Mix the pretzels, butter, and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Press this mixture into a 9×13 inch pan or dish and bake for 7-8 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool.

{Hint: You want to be sure there are plenty of fine crumbs in your crushed pretzels. These bind your crust. If your pretzel mixture isn’t a tiny bit play-doh-y (now there’s a cooking term you’ll never hear on Food Network) when you press into the pan, your crust will crumble to pieces and you’ll have to start all over. Don’t ask me how I know this.}

In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and 3/4 cup of sugar. Fold in whipped topping and spread over the cooled crust. Refrigerate until well chilled.

In a small bowl, dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, and allow to cool slightly. Add the strawberries and pineapple, and pour over the cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate until serving time.

To serve, cut slices and serve with a dollop of whipped topping.

Or if you prefer, just eat it straight from the pan with a fork every time you pass the refrigerator.

{Recipe Credit: FoodNetwork.com}

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