This week, we are so lucky to have a guest post from my lovely cousin Susie. Susie and I love food — she makes the best cheese plate on the West Coast (perhaps the whole country), and throws a mean brunch. Susie is also a hungry and tired professional, and is sharing a recipe for a Pinterist-inspired polenta tomato tart, that even the most exhausted among us can create. The recipe looks amazing, easy, and the only thing stopping me from rushing out to the grocery store to get the ingredients now is this sleeping, 7-pound terrier on my lap. There’s always tomorrow! The internet is such a great resource to find inspiration for recipes, and I am so happy that Susie has so graciously shared her cooking adventures with us. Please enjoy!
Being an adult is pretty lame sometimes: despite the grandeur and fanfare of “real world” that you imagined as an angsty teen waiting for your mom to pick you up outside the mall, once you finally arrive at adulthood, it’s a completely different scene. Hello, excel spreadsheet budget. Nice to see you, cable bill.
The point is, with power (to make your own decisions) comes great responsibility, and not all of it is awesome. In order to avoid the daily caffeinated pendulum swing from bed to desk to couch, you’ve got to carve out time for replenishing, rewarding activity. That’s right, you need a HOBBY. And no, drinking a bottle of chardonnay and falling asleep at 9PM to a Bob’s Burger’s marathon is not a hobby.
Recently, on one of my daily crawls from home to work, NPR aired an interesting story involving stress-relieving foods. As in life, the moral of the story was that you’re only going to get out of it what you put into it. Basically, eat fresher, better-rounded meals, and see a commensurate uptick in abilities to cope with those last minute deadlines, angry people on the phone, and freeways moonlighting as parking lots.
While I’m not a mathematician, you don’t need a calculator for this: carve out time for a rewarding activity + increase stress relieving capabilities = treat yourself to a relaxing dinner routine and start to feel better. Emotionally. Physically. Metaphorically.
By carving just an hour out of your day, you can give yourself the opportunity to unwind and disengage from the constant buzzing of your professional life, and immerse yourself in bettering, er—yourself.
Here’s a Simple Formula to get started
1) Pull yourself out of your desk and head over to your nearest grocery store.
2) Plant your feet in the middle of the produce section, and look for the brightest, most fragrant, and (usually) sign-centric items. Chances are, those are in season, and that means they taste better.
3) Start with a vegetable foundation and build your world around it. It’s so easy to get into a chicken-rut. Really, you start to feel all cooped up (ha!) with meal after meal of the stuff. And while you can put lipstick on a boneless, skinless chicken breast, it’s still, well, a chicken…
4) Add a grain/carb. Carbs make you not crabby. I promise. And, when paired with a vegetable, they make you feel full and happy, without the need to take a burrito nap. Complex carbs like quinoa and couscous are the best.
5) “Whole” ingredients are your friend. Garlic. Onions. Butter. Milk. Cheese. Salt. Pepper. Fresh Basil. Lemon zest.
6) Wine. Self explanatory—no further commentary required.
The great thing about centering your meals around vegetables and grains is that you can get out of the grocery store for way less. Case in point, I think I spent $10 total on the following Pinterist-inspired meal:
Roasted Tomatoes + Sauteed Leeks + Goat Cheese Boops + Garlic Polenta Pie.
(Serves 1 really hungry person to the point of feeling ill, or 4 normal people)
Things to Put in Your Basket (Ingredients):
1) Polenta Log
2) Little guy of milk
3) 2 Leeks
4) A big box of little tomatoes
5) Goat Cheese Log
6) Fresh Basil
Things you should put in your pantry:
2) Black Peppercorns in a Grinder
3) Red Pepper Flakes
4) Olive Oil
Since this is my first post and I ate this entire pie, you’re going to have to look at This Pinterest Post (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/32088216070164583/) (from which I loosely adapted my pie), or just web-inquiry “piepiepie” (JK don’t, it won’t work):
What you do:
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) Find yourself a circle pan, a sautee pan, pot, baking sheet, as long as it’s oven safe.
3) In a pan on the stove turned up to medium, smoosh the polenta out of the log into a pot & add some milk until the mixture is…milky. Add salt, and pepper, then stir it around until it’s warm. Right when it’s looking like the consistency of hummus, turn off the heat, add a little butter, a dollop of goat cheese, and a chopped up handful of basil.
4) Coat your circle pan in olive oil and pour in the mixture (like a pie!). Stick that pie in the oven for 20 minutes.
5) In the meantime, LEEKS! Take them. Slice them thin like onions, up to where the stalks start splitting. Put them in a pan with butter and chopped garlic. Turn the heat down low, low, low, and stir them every once in a while until translucent (about 20 mins).
6) Somewhere in between/before/after/at the same time as the polenta and the leeks: TOMATOES! Take your tomatoes, roll them out on a baking sheet. Shower with olive oil, salt, black and red pepper. Stick those guys in the oven for 20 minutes as well.
7) Relax. (I know it’s hard).
8) Everything will wrap up right about the same time—then it’s time to build your pie! Crust, then leeks, then tomatoes (without the juice), then cheese dollops! Turn on the broiler, and broil for ten minutes.
9) After you reach 10 minutes, plop your pie on a heat resistant surface, sprinkle with additional basil, and then let rest while you get out plates and prepare your face for the epic meal you’re about to consume.
10) If you used a cheesecake pan, just pop off the outside. If you used another type of circle pan, just slice in the pan (into fours, threes, one slice… whatever)
11) If you’re feeling extra crazy, I think this would be delicious with a little extra salt and pepper on top, as well as maybe a balsamic glaze, truffle oil, or grated parmesan.
But, those things are not necessary for this to be delicious and also something that you will then eat for lunch the next day and is sure to spread joy throughout your whole office. Taking the time to make a healthy meal, even if it’s only every once in a while, will give you the ability to conquer those impending deadlines. Enjoy!