Tomato sausage polenta

Tomato sausage polenta

My mom found this recipe in one of her Taste of Home cooking magazines several years ago, and it’s been one of my favorites ever since. It combines a cornbread-like polenta with a simple tomato-sausage sauce, which is topped with cheese and baked to perfection.

As my mom could tell you, I often request this dish when I’m visiting my parents’ house. Last week, I decided to try my own hand at making this delicious polenta. And, believe me, it was DELICIOUS. Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list — it does take around an hour to make, but it’s still an easy weeknight recipe.

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Bona – Vietnamese cuisine

Bona - Vietnamese cuisine
Bona – Vietnamese cuisine

Last Thursday, Jane and I went to one of our favorite restaurants in the Stadium Village neighborhood of Minneapolis near the U of M — Bona. Bona is a Vietnamese restaurant that serves phở (pronounced similar to “fun” without the ‘n’) and other delicious Vietnamese dishes as well as several Chinese-inspired dishes that you’d typically find at a Chinese restaurant in the United States or Canada. Pho is a hot soup consisting of rice noodles, green onion, and meat in a savory beef broth, and makes for an excellent meal on a cold Minnesota winter day (i.e. anytime between November and April), which is one reason we love Bona so much.

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Vodka sauce and meatballs on rice

Vodka sauce and meatballs on rice

Oh, boy. This is one FANTASTIC meal. It is, and we’re not even kidding. When I first moved to the Twin Cities, I began shopping at my local Cub and Rainbow for groceries. Every time I passed through the aisle with spaghetti sauces, I somehow managed to notice a jar from Classico labeled “Vodka Sauce”. I began to wonder what such a sauce would taste like, so I went home and threw a shot of vodka into some marinara sauce. It was horrifying. After that point, I began to wonder who in their right mind would even like such a crazy sauce.

Then, one day, I was brave and thought, “Well, you know, I must have just screwed that one up, and I bet Classico could do a better job.” At this point, I searched online for what vodka sauce really was to discover that it was a tomato sauce mixed with cream and vodka. I forgot to add the cream (and probably other things too) when I foolishly tried to create such an amazing sauce. So I ran to the store and picked up a jar of the wonderful bliss called vodka sauce.

The recipe described here is amazing, yet also very simple. It was discovered as a result of thinking “what if we were to mix…” etc. We created a recipe for a sauce that can be served with meatballs and rice. In fact, it’s not a necessity to use meatballs, as this recipe goes quite well with stir-fried pork meat on rice or even pierogies.

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Pumpkin and sausage lasagna (recipe review)

Pumpkin and sausage lasagna
Pumpkin and sausage lasagna

This is an item from last November, when it was much warmer and more pleasant in the Twin Cities than it is now. Jane and I came across a fall-inspired lasagna over at Pithy and Cleaver, which we laughed at and ridiculed to nearly no end due to the strange sounding recipe and “odd” ingredients. Well, we eventually stopped laughing and decided to try our hand at the recipe, and we were shocked at the result.

This pumpkin lasagna was amazing. It was very delicious with salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese sprinkled on top, accompanied by a sprig of thyme and a sage leaf on the side. A nice glass of wine increased the intensity of the flavors, leading to something akin of a perfect meal.

As is the case with any lasagna, the flavors of this one became more intense and improved as it aged a day or two. It made for several great meals of leftovers without any sort of regret or angst. Overall, it was an excellent dish, which we highly recommend and will probably make sometime again in the future.