Well, I've done my shopping (thanks to coupons and bargains, I managed to get all this food for about $60) and now I will share with you what we're having for dinner this week (or 2 weeks, if I can stretch it) in the Yerrick household.
In the month of August we spent nearly $450 on eating out. FOUR HUNDRED & FIFTY DOLLARS! There are only TWO of us. That's a LOT of money.
I know what you're thinking...Aren't you in culinary school? Aren't you supposed to cook?
I do! I do cook! I cook all day at school...then I cook all night at work. The last thing I want to do when I get home is cook some more. But I'm going to do it. I will, and Paul has agreed to help me. The Yerrick's are eating in. No more dining out...Okay, not no more, but less. Far less. About $400 dollars less.
I love polenta. Have you had it? Have you heard of it? It's delicious. What is it? It's basically just boiled cornmeal. Gross, right? Nope. It really is scrumptious. It's scrumptious when you add loads of parmesan cheese and butter, and salt (3 of my favorite foods!). It has a wonderful smooth and creamy texture, and it's super rich and satisfying. It's kind of like mashed potatoes, but, dare I say...better. And a lot simpler.
Well, I've been craving it lately...and I had all the ingredients, so I made it last night. And then I ate it. Sooo, I decided to make it again tonight, and tonight I made it with sausage ragout (rag-goo). Don't be afraid, ragout sounds fancy but it's basically just a hearty stew (or sauce, in this case) with vegetables and seasonings. Kind of like Ragu spaghetti sauce....Hmm, I wonder where they came up with their name.
Anyways, I ate polenta again. But this time, I took some pictures to share with you. Without further adieu, I present:
Polenta Cakes with Sausage Ragout
For the polenta you will need:
4 cups water
1 teapoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 grated parmesan cheese
(you're going to have it grate it yourself, the stuff in a jar just wont work.)
Firstly, bring the water, along with the salt and pepper, to a boil in a medium saucepan.
Once the water is boiling, slowly add the cornmeal, whisking constantly. Don't add more cornmeal until the stuff already in the pan is mixed in, this will prevent lumps. You don't want lumps. It's not like lumpy potatoes that are good. In polenta, lumps = gross.
When all the cornmeal is added, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer until thickened. Make sure you keep an eye on it and stir it about every minute or so. It should look about like this:
Once it looks like that, stir in the parmesan cheese and butter until both are melted.
Now, you could eat it just like this. Straight from the pot to the table. It's scrumptious this way, this is the way I ate it last night. But tonight, I did something a little bit different.
Pour the polenta into a 9x9 pan, and put it in the refrigerator. Ideally, you should let it cool a bit before refrigerating, but if you're hungry like I was, you're going to put it in right away.
While the polenta is cooling, you can make the ragout. For the ragout you will need:
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
6 mushrooms, halved then sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb italian sausage
2 cups prepared spaghetti sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon italian seasoning
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
In a large skillet, brown the sausage. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and italian seasoning.
Add the onions, wait one minute, then add the red pepper. Wait another minute, then add the zucchini, mushrooms, and garlic. Once the vegetables are tender, add the spaghetti sauce. Reduce heat to low, and set aside so the flavors mingle.
The polenta should be cold and firm now, so pull it and slice it into 9 or 16 slices, depending on your preference.
Heat a small skillet until hot hot hot. Add a drop of olive oil (or butter), then add your polenta squares. Saute them until both sides are golden brown and crispy.
Remove them onto a plate with paper towel (to absorb the oil, of course.)
Serve the polenta squares on a plate with the sausage ragout spooned over them. Garnish them with fresh grated parmesan cheese.
I promise you, you cannot go wrong with this dinner. Paul has had 3 1/2 servings today, he just can't get enough.
Now, we're off to try to make our own ice cream--I'll let you know how that goes!