Mexican polenta casserole – recipe

This proved to be a very tasty dinner for us on Thurdsay. Ava gobbled it right up. Hope you enjoy it as well. :)

Mexican Polenta Casserole

Ingredients:
1 package of polenta w/ green chiles and cilantro (it comes seasoned that way)
1 can of refried beans w/ green chiles
1 C Quorn grounds (warmed and seasoned with taco seasoning)
1/2 C salsa
1/2 can black olives (sliced)
3/4 C cheese (I used sharp cheddar and monterrey jack)

And 1 or 2 avocados (and whatever you put into your guacamole) to make into guacamole. I used lime juice, Spike seasoning, pepper and cilantro.

Instructions:
Spray the bottom of your casserole dish w/ some non-stick cooking spray.
Soften and mash the polenta by adding some water and microwaving it until it softens.
Spread 1/2 the polenta into the casserole dish.
Spread a layer of refried beans (use the whole can).
Spread a layer of the Quorn grounds (that have been warmed and seasoned w/ taco seasoning).
Put down a layer of salsa, then black olives.
Spread on the other 1/2 of the polenta.
Top with shredded cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 min., then follow up with the casserole under the broiler for a minute or two.
Top with guacamole and serve.


By the way, the Indian food (palak paneer) we had for dinner last night was sooooo good. :) Ava loved it too and had leftovers for dinner tonight as well. Yum!

Oh, I was mixing up some guacamole tonight to go along with my dinner leftovers (of the Mexican polenta casserole no less). I asked Ava what I was making and, clear as day, she said “guacamole.” Then she repeated it about 6 times. Can’t tell that we like our avocados in this house, can ya? ;)

Recent Ava pics and lil updates

I took these last night and today. There’s nothing technically great about them (other than they are of my sweetie, of course), just some cute snapshots. :)

Ava, playing with her “babies” (and hamming it up) last night. (The Mandy and Jenny dolls were mine and my sister’s when we were kids.) These pics were taken right before she decided all of her dolls needed to be naked (“nake-nee”).:



Today’s weather was so awesome, we spent a good part of our day outside. First playing in the backyard, then we went for a walk around the park, then I decided to clean out my front flower beds and rake up dead grass. What a busy day! Ava, of course, was a great helper. :)

Here she is, helping mommy with yardwork. – (I had been sweeping off the walkway, but she decided the grass needed sweeping as well.):

My future’s so bright…:

I’ve got a delicious recipe and pics to share this weekend – Mexican polenta casserole. :)

Hope everyone has a nice weekend.
I’ve decided I’m taking a break from cooking tonight ;) and we’re ordering Indian takeout (palak paneer and naan – mmmmmmm). And, since we happen to have “The Guru” from Netflix, we’ll watch that which will make it an Indian-themed night. hehe.
The weather looks to be wonderful Saturday and Sunday so we’re going to a park (to scout it out for future photoshoots) tomorrow and I’ve got a newborn photoshoot on Sunday. Plus I’m excited that I’ve booked one other photoshoot for March so far, three for April, and another possibly for May. To quote Almost Famous, “it’s all happening.” :)

Oh, and good news about my mother-in-law. She only had 20% blockage so there’s no need for any surgeries. They will have to do further testing though to find out why she’s having the pains. Hopefully, like someone (I think here) suggested, with some lifestyle changes she will be able to do much better. Thanks for your good thoughts for both her and my dad.

Peace.

P.S. I have no idea if he reads my blog or not (we don’t really talk anymore and haven’t for years), but happy birthday to my younger brother today! He turns 29.

Organics on the rise

I just caught part of a show called “American Consumer” on PBS. On today’s show they discussed something that’s been particularly important to me lately – organic foods.

In the U.S., organic foods are regulated by the government, which is reassuring because you know that if you buy something labeled organic, it truly will be organic. Here’s a little bit about the labeling process per USDA Organic Standards Fact Sheet.
Products labeled:

1. 100% Organic must be just that—100% organic ingredients.
2. Organic with the USDA Seal must contain 95% organic ingredients by weight.
3. Made with Organic Ingredients must contain 70% organic ingredients by weight.
4. Products with less than 70% organic ingredients may list specific organically produced ingredients on the side panel of the package, but may not make any organic claims on the front of the package.

The show mentioned that the demand for organic foods is majorly on the rise which is encouraging to me because organic farming is so much better for the environment and organic animals are treated much better. Plus it shows that consumers are interested in improving their health by buying foods without heavy pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics or other chemicals.

They mentioned on the show that arsenic is fed to conventional chickens. It seemed so preposterous to me that I thought I misheard it. So I looked it up and found an article called “Chicken: arsenic and antiobiotics” on the Consumer Reports site. It may not be as scary as it initially sounds, but still – I wouldn’t want my child to eat chicken that had consumed arsenic in any form, though I know she must have when we were still eating meat (and not buying organic at the time). And how many years did I eat chicken (after I stopped being a vegetarian but swore off beef) that was tainted in this way? Eep.

The expert from Consumer Reports that they interviewed said the most important things to buy organic (to get the most bang for your buck so to speak) are produce first; dairy, eggs, and meat second; and then processed foods third.

When I first started buying organic, fruits and veggies were my main priority (though I don’t buy all of them organic – just can’t afford it). Now that I’ve been doing it for a little bit, we’re trying to budget for organic dairy (cheese) and eggs as well. And our soy milk/tofu/tempeh are all organic as well.

I really think that the investment in organic foods (which, according to the program generally cost 50% more than conventional foods) at this point will only be beneficial to our health down the road. It sucks that there is such a big difference in cost for something that is better for you, but perhaps as the demand for organics grows and more farmers pick up this method, the price will go down. That’s my wishful thinking anyway. ;) Maybe if the demand is high enough and people stop buying conventional foods, all farmers/producers will convert to organics. How awesome would that be? :)

For more consumer information about The National Organic Program, click here.