Bella’s Table — February/March 2016

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Kelly, Christy, and Estella having fun in the kitchen plating polenta triangles.
Kelly, Christy, and Estella having fun in the kitchen plating polenta triangles.

By Estella Tullgren

As with any anniversary, reminiscing is part of it, so I started thinking about a lunch for the Marvelous! group and wanted to share some of my favorite recipes from the past five years. Of course, I have added a few new ones. Thank you for letting me come into your homes and share some of my recipes. Nothing makes me any happier than someone passing by and saying, “I tried your Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup,” or “Our whole family loved the Tamale Bake.” Thanks, readers, for making these years fun for me, and I wish each of you all the best in 2016.



Sarah Knight, Deb Peterson and Estella Tullgren sample the Celebration Champagne Punch.
Sarah Knight, Deb Peterson and Estella Tullgren sample the Celebration Champagne Punch.

Celebration Champagne Punch
Serves 6-8

This champagne punch is good for any celebration occasion. If your taste leans toward a less sweet punch, try adding some club soda a little at a time.

_DSC9208Rev2 bottles of Champagne (or another sparkling wine)
1 750 ml bottle of Ruby Port
2 cups fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
½ cup simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
Make this ahead of time and chill:
1 cup sugar to 1 cup water
Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes making sure all sugar is dissolved. Store in a jar in refrigerator.
Grapefruit slices

Pour all ingredients in a large punch bowl filled with a large ice mold. Garnish with fresh grapefruit slices.



Estella plating cranberry butter.
Estella plating cranberry butter.

Cranberry Butter
Makes approximately 2 cups

This was the hit of our last holiday season…we used this on biscuits, toast, pancakes and waffles. Our favorite item was a baked Sister Shubert Yeast Roll…oh my! I think you’ll agree with me.

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter,
room temperature and softened
½ cup honey
½ cup chopped fresh cranberries

Place all ingredients in a bowl and using a handheld mixer, beat until completely mixed. Place mixture in two airtight containers and place in refrigerator.



Bella's Brie Crisps
Bella’s Brie Crisps

Bella’s Brie Crisps
Makes 1.5-2 dozen wafers

4 ounces brie, rind removed and room temp
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
2/3 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
pinch of cayenne pepper

Kelly, Cristy and Lucinda sample the Brie Crisps.
Kelly, Cristy and Lucinda sample the Brie Crisps.

In food processor, cream brie and butter until creamy. Then add flour, salt and cayenne pepper. Pulse until a ball forms…if it doesn’t, add another tablespoon of flour. Form into a 2-inch log and wrap in plastic. Chill overnight.

Slice into ¼-inch slices and bake at 400 degrees 10-12 minutes. Then leave on cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes before removing. Best when served warm right out of the oven.



Bella’s Rosemary Polenta Triangles
Makes 12 servings of 2 triangles

These are absolutely one of my favorite side dishes. Serve with braised short ribs or a favorite marinara…or just plain—they’re very flavorful. I watched Ina Garten prepare these and knew that I had to try them that very day—and I did!!!

1 stick unsalted butter
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (approx. 3 cloves)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups milk
2 cups cornmeal
½ cup good grated parmesan
For frying: flour, olive oil and butter

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary, salt and pepper and saute’ for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, half-and-half, and milk and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly sprinkle the cornmeal into the hot milk while stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for a few minutes, until thickened and bubbly. Off the heat, stir in the parmesan. Pour into a 9x13x2 inch pan. Smooth the top and refrigerate until firm and cold.

Cut the chilled polenta into 12 squares, as you would with brownies. Lift each one out with a spatula and cut diagonally into triangles. Dust each triangle lightly with flour. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large saute’ pan and cook the triangles in batches over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, turning once, until browned on the outside and heated inside. Add more butter and oil as needed. Serve immediately.



Bella’s Tomato Sauce
Serves 6-8

This is by far the freshest tasting tomato sauce you will find, and it is so easy to prepare. I double this recipe every time I make it so I can put some in the freezer. Because it uses canned tomatoes, that freshness will be there even during the long winter months. Add grilled shrimp or chicken to the top of your pasta dish for a heartier dish.

1/3 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup freshly chopped basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes

1. In large saucepan heat oil and butter.
2. Add garlic and cook until garlic just turns color.
3. Add tomatoes and basil; stir well.
4. Simmer 10 minutes.
5. Serve with your favorite pasta.

Note: If you like a smoother sauce, use an immersion blender once the sauce has cooled and blend to your desired consistency.



Orange Brownies
Makes 24 squares

Since my hubby Chris stays away from caffeine, I’m always looking for non-chocolate desserts. Well…I’m here to tell you that this one is one of his favorites. These brownies are fabulous!!!

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 eggs, room temp
2 teaspoons pure orange extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9x2-inch pan and set aside. In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter, eggs, extract and zest and beat with a handheld mixer until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until light golden brown and set. Remove from oven and pierce top of entire cake with a fork.

Glaze: Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stirring until smooth. Pour glaze over cake. Cool cake and cut into squares. I have sometimes doubled the glaze recipe—makes for a very moist brownie. For parties, cut the squares into a bite size — you may get 60-70 little bites and this is perfect for a party tray.



Raspberry Treats... delicious!
Raspberry Treats… delicious!

Raspberry Treats

What a sweet treat! The little bits of chocolate make the raspberries taste extra special.

1 container fresh raspberries
Combination of milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate chips

Place a chocolate chip in the end of each raspberry. Could this be any easier? These are fun to make and use as a cake decoration or on top of a yogurt parfait. I think I saw this on Pinterest—I did not save it so I can’t give credit where it is due. M! February/March 2016






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