I really wasn’t sure if I should call this “Tex-Mex” or “southwestern” or just “mac and cheese with black beans, corn, chilies, and a bit of a spicy twist with optional chicken if you want.” The first felt too generic, the last clearly too long and too, well, dumb … and so the middle-of-the-road it was: southwest mac and cheese.
Which is not to say this recipe is middle of the road. I think it’s … well, there’s really no place in the road to describe something as being better than middle of the road, is there? It’s better than middle of the road.
I first made this amazing corn chowder last summer, and it was an instant hit in our house. I started with Ina Garten’s popular Cheddar Corn Chowder, creating a vegetarian version that, I think, more than rivals her recipe. Hers starts with lots of bacon and uses chicken broth. Mine subs vegetable stock, and I provide big crispy pieces of peppered bacon at the end to make the meat-eaters happy. They just sprinkle it over the top of their individual bowls of otherwise vegetarian corn chowder.
Us vegetarians hardly get the short end of the stick, though, especially when this hearty soup is made at the peak of corn season. Sweet, juicy corn, cut right off the cob. Tangy, melty cheddar cheese. Buttery Yukon Gold potatoes. Yeah, I’m saying it: yum.
My guy watched a Seahawks game this past Saturday night.
He was pumped. “Football!”
I was bummed. “Football?!” (Already?! Seriously, summer just started. What’s up with that?)
One way to come to grips with the fact that autumn is imminent (grr) is to start thinking about game-day foods. It’s the serious issues that plague me, folks.
So I made a serious dip. Actually, it’s not so serious. It starts with the word “cheesy,” after all.
Here’s a versatile little dish works equally well as a delicious main or a sumptuous side. Polenta is simmered in equal amounts milk and water, and melded with melty Parmesan cheese, tangy sour cream, and rich butter. All of these ingredients team up to create a lush, creamy consistency.
This creamy polenta recipe makes for a super-satisfying meal simply when sprinkled with a few chopped scallions or topped more heartily with grilled squash, steamed broccoli, or sauteed mushrooms. We also love it as an easy substitute for mashed potatoes: it’s the perfect base for pot roast or stew. When we make this in our house, it’s often a side for my carnivorous guy and a main for me, and we both feel like we got the better part of the deal.