vegetable polenta bowl with honey chipotle BBQ sauce

Hello hello everyone! I feel like I have so much to tell you that has happened in the past month!

First of all, and most importantly, I started a new job with a real estate team that I have had my eye on for almost a year now, The Justin Landis Group. I am working as the assistant to an agent who is my age and absolutely killin' boo-tay in the real estate game. 

It's kind of a funny story actually. Last February my parents were getting ready to get their house on the market. During the process I met his listing agent and after some conversation and lunches I was hired as the assistant for his team. Come April, I was able to attend the closing for my parent's new house in Grant Park. There, I met the listing agent for that house, Ashton. I was immediately drawn to the idea of a large, young team who cared so much about their client's needs above all else and made sincere relationships with each of them. (Don't get me wrong, I loved the team I was on. But sometimes you just know when there is a better fit out there). Since April, I continued to keep up with The Justin Landis group through their website and Zillow and read all of their many great reviews.

After a year of a LOT of learning with my team and receiving my license, I decided it was time to take that next step and reach out to the team that I really saw myself being a part of. Long story short, here I am! An official part of The Justin Landis Group and assistant to Ashton Ernst, who is nominated for the top 30 under 30 for Realtor magazine (I told y'all she was kickin boo-tay did I not?) You can vote for her here, voting stays open until this Friday 3/24. Make sure to click on the box underneath that says "cast your vote" and not on the picture.

So far the job has been fantastic. Every day is different and exciting and I can't wait to learn as much as I can on such a great team. So now, I get to share with you guys our listings and things I'm learning and YOU send me your friends and family who are looking to sell their home. It's a fair trade. 

It's interesting how things seem to line up at the same time. The same month that I started my new job, 3 of my best friends started a new job as well. One of them being my roommate, who moved out last week because of said new job. And no, I don't want to talk about it. The ONLY good part about this is that she took some of her furniture with her...which I will miss but now I have an excuse to find and refinish some more pieces for the house, and that makes happy (so stay tuned for those). 

To fill you in on some other things in life & random thoughts in my head: the wedding planning for my sister has officially started.  After 7 months of nothing, she picked a date AND a dress. So proud. I rearranged my whole bedroom. I have been working a couple nights here and there bartending at a new restaurant in Grant Park called Mediterranea and it's delicious, please go try it out. Finnigan has somehow gotten fatter. I think I MIGHT actually be getting a new car soon which is beyond exciting. I joined a gym a month ago and have gone maybe 4 times. There's a terrifying possum who has been creeping around my house.

That's about it. Now let's get to some polenta.

As you know, I am a grit snob. A grit connoisseur. Let's say, grit enthusiast. But lately after working at Mediterranea, I have become kind of obsessed with polenta. I feel like I'm cheating on grits....but it's just sooooo good and does things that my grits won't do. They are smoother, easier to season, and great with any liquid you cook them in. 

You might be wondering why this bag of polenta says P. Pop's Polenta. Totally normal answer for step mom started calling me Puddin' Pop and the name stuck. My dad has now started to call me Katherine P. Puddin' Pop (Katherine is my first name). They even introduce me to people as that soooo that's great. You may also be wondering why there is a spaghetti squash on my porch. That, I cannot answer. The Christmas tree stand is still on our porch I coming off white trash here? Whatev. 

I decided I wanted to make a polenta bowl packed with yummy veggies & such and honestly just went with things I had already laying around and it turned out great. This would also be really good with some kielbasa sausage or maybe some shrimp. But I'm going to be totes honest with you here and I'm not exaggerating when I say...this is probably the best meat-free meal I have ever made. The secret's in the sauce and we'll get there. This could also be a great vegan meal as well if you omit the cheese.

Let's start with the veggies.

I am ashamed to say I hated cauliflower as a child. I clearly never had it roasted BC it is THE JAM.

Same goes for brussels. Now when I roast brussel sprouts I literally eat them like chips.

I still struggle with sweet taters TBH. I can't eat just a plain, baked one. Must be roasted!

I put the veggies on a pan with some olive oil and seasoned with salt n' peppa. Roasted in the oven at 400 F for 40 minutes, turning half way through. 

While those veggies were going, I started on the kale and onions. I start with the onions in a saute pan with some olive oil and let those get a little soft, then add the kale and chicken broth (vegetable broth if you're going for full vegetarian), and let them cook down.

Sometimes instead of adding multiple different seasonings, I just season with one that has a mix of a bunch. This is my favorite. Great on everything. Spaghetti squash makes it's second appearance.

Next I sliced up some of these sweet cute lil peps for about 5-7 minutes until they're soft and charred. Season with salt and pepper.

Two things constantly lurking around me. Finnigan and spaghetti squash. 

Mmmmm mmmm gooooood. I would have really loved if mushrooms could have made it to the mix but the ones I had said peace out early and went bad. If you have them, I suggest using them.

For the polenta itself, the ratio is 4 cups liquid to 1 cup polenta. I used chicken broth but again veg broth, water, cream, whatever you like. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered and stir frequently, about 40 ish minutes, until all liquid is absorbed. Season and taste as you go and at the last minute add in parmesan chzzzz.

Now, as I promised, the sauce. I personally have never made a bbq sauce before so I looked up a few. I knew that I wanted it to be a little spicy, a little sweet and a lotta smoky. The recipe I found is perfect and you can find it here. Be aware, this recipe is for chicken so there's a lot of additional ingredients you won't need there. You'll pretty much just need shallots (I used onions), olive oil. water, ketchup, honey, apple cider vinegar, chipotle chili powder, and dry mustard. I ended up popping it into a food processor when finished to smooth it out.

Y'ALL. I AM NOT KIDDING YOU. THIS SAUCE IS MADE FROM THE HEAVENS. I would literally just eat it plain. Out of a bowl. BBQ soup. And I would lick the bowl with no shame. 

Scoop the polenta into a bowl, top with veggies, drown in the sauce, and thank me later.

After I ran out of the vegetable leftovers, for the next 2 days I just ate parmesan cheese polenta with the BBQ sauce.


-1 cup polenta
-5 cups chicken broth, divided
-1/2 cup parmesan cheese
-7-8 large brussel sprouts, cut into 4ths
-1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
-1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
-1 bunch of kale
-1/2 yellow onion
-7-8 mini sweet peppers
-1tsp Adobo seasoning
-1/4 cup minced shallots or onions
-1/2 cup ketchup
-2 tblsp water
-1 1/2 tblsp honey
-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
-1/2 tsp dry mustard
-1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
-olive oil
-salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Chop up the brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and sweet potato. Coat in 1-2 tblsp olive oil, 1tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Place in oven and roast for 40 minutes, flipping half way through.
3. Wash and chop the kale and dice the onion. Start the onion in a pan over medium high heat with some olive oil and cook until soft, 5-6 minutes. Add the kale and 1/2 cup chicken broth. Let this cook down, then add another 1/2 cup broth as the liquid absorbs. Season with 1tsp Adobo seasoning. Taste and add more if needed.
4. Slice sweet peppers. Cook in olive oil and season with a couple dashes of salt and pepper, don't need too much here. These peppers are delicious as they are. 
5. For the polenta: add 4 cups broth and 1 cup polenta in pot and bring to boil. Simmer, uncovered for 40 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper and taste as you go. At the last minute, stir in parmesan cheese.
6. For the sauce: heat olive oil in pan, add onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in ketchup, water, honey, vinegar, dry mustard, and chipotle powder. Reduce heat to low and let cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
7. Scoop polenta into bowl, top with veggies, top with sauce, and enjoy :)

And that's it y'all. Don't forget to vote for Ashton!!