Cooking Class – Jessi and friends

Last September Jessi and Jamil invited us to teach a cooking class. It was the second class we taught and the first one that wasn’t family. Jessi and I went to middle school together, and thanks to Facebook, reconnected a couple of years ago.

It must have gone well…they invited us back! Two other couples joined us (one arrived just as we were finishing cooking, but they had a good excuse!). This group can already cook but they’re looking for new ideas and things to implement in their routine meals.

This time, they had a brand new kitchen. Isn’t it beautiful?

Andy came along and doesn’t do much of the cooking but he takes pictures which I love. This time though, he was also the grill guy. What a sport.

On the menu was Caprese with Balsamic Glaze, Polenta Bites with Garlic Aioli, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Risotto, and Roasted Cherry Brownies.

Click on the pictures below for a slideshow.

After we finished cooking, we sat around the table, ate, and chatted for long time. We all had fun. What a great crew!

Thanks again Jessi, Jamil, Katie, Mark, Grace and Nathan. Can’t wait for the next time!


Mushroom and Polenta Napoleon

I’ve been eyeing a recipe that has LOTS of mushrooms on top of creamy polenta. I didn’t have any uncooked, plain polenta but I did have a package of pre-cooked  Trader Joe’s Organic Polenta that we usually use for polenta fries. Soooo, I did a little thinking and came up with this….

Stacked golden polenta rounds with mushrooms and shallots sauteed in a wine reduction. Topped with shaved Parmesan. Glass (or bottle) of wine. Friday night deliciousness. Did I mention, it’s actually healthy?


Please ignore Andy’s hand in the picture. We have absolutely NO natural light coming into our place so he’s holding it over the balcony. My Photoshop skills are lacking, so the hand stays.



1 Tbls. olive oil

1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

2 C. sliced, assorted mushrooms (I used button and cremini)

1/2 C. red wine

1 C. grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise

olive oil spray

1 package pre-cooked polenta, sliced into 1/4″ rounds

2 Tbls. shaved Parmesan


Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and balsamic vinegar. Cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato paste and mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add wine and Italian seasoning to pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add grape tomatoes and cook for 5 more minutes. Transfer mushroom and shallot mixture to small pan.

Spray large pan with olive oil spray. Add polenta rounds. Cook for 4-5 minutes each side, until golden and crispy.

Place one round on a plate then top with a spoonful of mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Repeat layers two more times for each Napoleon.


4 servings

*I served this with lemon and herb marinated chicken breast and broiled asparagus.

Inspired by Wild Mushroom and Tomato Ragout with Polenta from Shape Magazine.