When I am not busy taking care of my two energetic little boys, or working on an interior design project~ I play in the kitchen! For the last 15 years, I have been juxtaposing new flavors and ideas; it’s finally time to document my recipes...

I believe in fresh & affordable meals.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Polenta Cupcakes

With all the gluten intolerance in the air, I have been experimenting with polenta. Its fun cause it takes on whatever flavor you cook it with, it is easy to mold in different shapes, and its versatile (tastes great in Italian, Mexican, & Indian food).
I love the idea of doing a fun app before the meal & my kids love the idea of cupcakes. 
I tried an Italian cupcake (Polenta Lasagna) and  a Mexican cupcake (Green Chili Casserole). My kids and my man preferred the Italian. I like em both. So, I will give you both recipes. They both use the same major ingredients- so save $ and make them both in the same week. The recipes can be prepared in a casserole dish, ramekins ~fancy fun~, or cupcake tins.
The cottage cheese and eggs make this dish creamy and full of protein. They are a good sub for a full fat cheese or meat.  

If you are a meat eater~ be efficient & broil the chicken for both meals at once. Make the Italian Cupcakes on Monday and the Mexi as a casserole on Friday!

Broiled Chicken

Add Raw or Frozen Chicken Breasts Chicken and a 2-3 cups of chicken stock or water, salt, garlic salt, pepper, & 1/2 chopped onion on the stove top, covered, on MEDIUM-LOW heat till it is cooked thru. Try and cook it as slow as possible- this is what makes the chicken moist and "shreddy. Busy? Throw ingredients in a crock pot in the am and come home to warm shredded chicken in the pm. 

Mexican Ingredients
1 small can of Green Chilis
1/2 tube of Trader Joes Polenta
1/2 cup cottage cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup cooked spinach
1/8 tsp cumin
1/2 diced onion
1/2 cup mexican cheese
Broiled Chicken or black beans

Combine Cottage Cheese and eggs. Whip. Add Cumin (If you don't like the way cumin smells, don't use it! It tastes how it smells). Spray muffin cups, ramekins or casserole dish. I am not going to give exact measurements for the layers. Experiment. You can play around cause your not "baking" (baking is non-forgiving cause ratios are really important).  I personally like lots of green chili's and jalapenos! Top with fresh salsa/pico. :)

Layer 1- Sliced polenta.
Layer 2- Cottage cheese mix. Add a green chilis (to your liking).
Layer 3- Cooked spinach
Layer 4- Chicken and/or beans. Add onions to your liking.
Layer 5- Sprinkle with Mexi-cheese and add jalapenos to your liking. Cook for =/- 20 mins.

In a rush? Microwave. Then brown cheese in oven under broiler for 2 minutes. Top with fresh salsa/pico

Italian Ingredients
1/2 tube TJ's polenta
1/2 cup cottage cheese
2 eggs
Garlic Salt
1/4 cup Cooked Spinach
1/4 diced onion 
1 cup marinara sauce
Broiled Chicken
Parmesan Cheese (or parm reggi)

Combine cottage cheese and eggs. Add garlic salt and pepper to your liking. Spray muffin cups, ramekin or casserole dish.

Layer 1- Sliced polenta
Layer 2- cottage cheese mix
Layer 3- 50% of your marinara sauce
Layer 4- Spinach
Layer 5- Broiled chicken and onion to your liking
Layer 6- Rest of marinara (other 50%) and sprinkle with parm cheese.

Having a party? Serve these savory cupcakes on a cupcake stand for your app hour, then change out your stand for the sweeter stuff after dinner.

Adios & Mangia!

Health Benefits of Spinach- BTW, I am gonna eat more of this stuff after reading what is below!!!!

Spinach has many important roles to play in maintaining a healthy body and various health benefits of spinach include:
  • Good Eyesight: Spinach is a rich source of beta carotene, lutein and xanthene, all of which are beneficial for eyesight. Beta carotene is supplied to the eyes by cooked spinach. It can prevent one from vitamin A deficiency disease, itching eyes, eye ulcers and dry eyes.
  • Age-related Macula Degeneration (AMD): AMD or Retinitis pigmentosa is responsible for causing blindness. It is due to the degeneration of lutein and xanthene which form central part of the retina. According to research conducted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, consumption of spinach can result in regaining of the two pigments and preventing AMD effectively.
  • Blood Pressure: Spinach has high content of potassium and low content of sodium. This composition of minerals is very beneficial for high blood pressure patients as potassium lowers and sodium raises the blood pressure. Folate present in spinach contributes in reducing hypertension and relaxes blood vessels, maintaining proper blood flow.
  • Strengthens Muscles: A component of spinach, factor C0-Q10 which is an anti-oxidant, plays important role in strengthening muscles especially heart muscle which continuously pumps blood to all parts of the body. As per the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, C0-Q10 can be used to prevent and treat many cardiovascular diseases like hyperlipidemia, heart failure, hypertension and coronary heart diseases.
  • Cataract: Lutein and zeaxanthin present in spinach act as strong antioxidants thus preventing the eyes from harsh effects of UV rays that lead to cataract.
  • Atherosclerosis and Heart Attack: Atherosclerosis is caused due to hardening of arteries. A pigment named lutein found in spinach has been shown to reduce the occurrence atherosclerosis, heart attack as well as stroke. This is due to the fact that spinach proteins tend to reduce the cholesterol and other fat deposits in the blood vessels.
  • Neurological Benefits: Several components of spinach like potassium, folate, and various antioxidants are known to provide neurological benefits. According to Neurology, folate which reduces due to occurrence of Alzheimer's disease can be revived by spinach.
  • Bone Mineralization: Spinach is a good source of Viatmin K, which functions in retaining calcium in the bone matrix thereby leading to bone mineralization. Apart from this, other minerals like manganese, copper, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus also help in building up of strong bones. This in turn can prevent an individual from osteoporosis of bones.
  • Anti-Ulcerative: It has been found that spinach and some other vegetables have the ability to protect the mucous membrane of stomach thereby decreasing the occurrence of gastric ulcers.
  • Anti-Cancerous Property: Spinach made up of various important constituents has been found to be promising in various kinds of cancer. These include bladder, prostate, liver and lung cancer. Different constituents in spinach like folate, tocopherol, chlorophyllin act via different mechanisms to treat and protect patients suffering from cancer.
  • Skin Protection: Different phytonutrients and pigments have been shown to protect the skin from harmful rays of sun including the UV rays. These not only protect but also repair the damaged genes to some extent thereby preventing skin cancer in long run.
  • Foetus Development: Folate found in spinach is needed by the growing foetus for proper development of new nervous system. Defects like cleft palate or spina bifida may occur due to deficiency of folate. Vitamin A offered by spinach is advised to be consumed in more quantities by the mother. Vitamin A is required in lung development of foetus as well as during breast feeding.
  • Protein Rich for Infant’s Proper Growth: ‘Popeye’, the sailor man is known for his obsession for spinach. The cartoon was deliberately shown to eat spinach and get strong. Infants are advised to be fed with spinach which is a rich in protein, vitamins minerals and phytonutrients. These will result in proportionate development in there growing stages.
Thank you ---> http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-spinach.html