I don’t have a family yet, but when I do, there are two food traditions from growing up that I will absolutely continue with my children. The first is learning to cook from my mom, and the second is regular sit-down dinners as a family.
Ever since I was little, I can remember helping my mom in the kitchen. I think there are even pictures of me somewhere making cookies naked. Not exactly the best combo but, hey, I was just a kid! I’ve learned so many kitchen tricks from my mom over the years and now that I am older and cook very regularly for my blog, I love collaborating with her in the kitchen. I do the menu planning and she does the cooking and execution with my help. We make a great team, if I may say so myself.
Growing up, we tried to eat dinner as a family as much as we could, but especially for holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. This is a time for us to put our cell phones away, chat about current events, and dig into a delicious meal (followed by the whole food coma thing).
Today I’m sharing an Italian-inspired meal that you can cook and enjoy with your family too. This Sausage & Veggie Polenta Bake is a cinch to make once you get everything assembled. Like many of my recipes, this polenta bake can be customized based on what you like. Are you a vegetarian? Then skip the sausage or use tempeh instead. Don’t like broccoli? Then use whatever veggies you like best! The cheese is kind of non-negotiable unless you really can’t or don’t want to eat it.
If you caught my 5 Tips to Stay Healthy & Balanced During the Holidays yesterday, then you saw that my #5 tip is to “Eat Dessert”! I give myself lots of wiggle room this time of year to enjoy not-so-healthy foods… in moderation, of course. These Whole Wheat Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti are studded with Perugina Baci chocolates, which are very similar to Ferrer Rocher chocolates if you have had those before. The chocolate melts and caramelizes in these biscotti so they are crunchy and flavorful throughout. They go great with an after-dinner coffee! I tested the recipe twice to make sure that it was ready for primetime and I think you are going to love it. The biscotti dough is a little sticky when you’re molding it onto a cookie sheet, but if you smooth it down with a rubber spatula then it comes out great. Makes sure to check the recipe notes for more tips on how to get the perfect biscotti.
I hope you are enjoying the holiday season with family and friends!
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup Colavita Polenta Cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 sweet onion, peeled and chopped (2 cups)
- 2 large garlic cloves, chopped (about 1 and 1/2 heaping Tablespoons)
- 1 large head of broccoli (4 cups florets)
- 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
- 2/3 lb sweet Italian turkey sausage, casing removed
- 2 cups Colavita Tomato Basil Sauce
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese
- Bring water to a boil and slowly pour polenta into the boiling water, whisking continuously to prevent clumping. Lower the heat to low and continue whisking for about three minutes or until polenta is thick and stands up on its own. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Once hot, add onion, garlic, and broccoli. Add two tablespoons of water and cook, covered, for 7 minutes. Then cook uncovered for an additional 5 minutes or until there is no liquid left.
- Finally, add sausage to the same pan and cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes or until cooked throughout and lightly browned.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spray a 13”x9” casserole dish with olive oil cooking spray, spread all of the polenta evenly on the bottom of the dish. Layer the tomato sauce evenly on top of the polenta, then top with vegetable mixture and sprinkle crumbled sausage, cherry tomatoes, and cheese on top.
- Bake in the oven uncovered for 30 minutes. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Measure out flour and combine flour, flaxseed, baking soda, and salt in a bowl by stirring with a whisk. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, egg white, and egg and beat with a mixer on high for 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract and stir well.
- Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir lighting. Add chopped Baci chocolates and stir until mixture is completely combined.
- Divide dough into 2 equal portions. The dough will be pretty sticky but this is okay. Roll each portion into a 6-inch long roll. Arrange both rolls at least 3 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. Spray a silicone spatula with cooking spray and pat each roll to 1-inch thickness. The dough will not spread much so make sure it is in the shape that you want it to look like.
- Bake for 21-23 minutes or until firm.
- Remove rolls from the baking sheet, cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, and then cut rolls into 16 ½ inch thick slices.
- Place slices on a baking sheet and reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake for 7 minutes, then turn cookies over and bake for another 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on the wire rack until completely cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days or freeze.
I was selected for this opportunity through Honest Cooking and was provided with free product as well as compensated for my time. As always, the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.