Pesto, Mozzarella Polenta Appetizers: Guest Post by Strands of my Life

Pesto, Mozzarella Polenta Appetizers by Strands of my Life

Today’s special guest is Suzanne from Strands of my Life. Suzanne is a wonderful cook and I always find myself in awe of the things she makes. She lives in New Zealand so obviously I am green with envy. I mean what a gorgeous place to live and be inspired in. Her home overlooks the sea, seriously, so jealous right now. I see my neighbours in the burbs when I look out my windows. I love Suzanne’s style, she is very comfortable in the kitchen and knows her way around. She makes lots of wonderful dishes, many with an Italian feel to them. I love her Banana Coconut and Blueberry Loaf, her Meatball Sandwich with Pickled Cabbage, her Chicken Panzanella Salad, her Sliced Meat, Feta, Tomato and Pesto Wraps, and her Vegetable Couscous with Pesto. She makes everything look so fresh and bright, you just want to sink your teeth into every single thing she makes. I’m thrilled to have her guest for me today. Please welcome Suzanne to the asylum.


I was introduced to polenta many eons ago when I lived in Italy but there’s a certain memory of cooking it that is indelibly etched on my mind.

Anyway, this particular day, I was cooking polenta in the kitchen and my son was intrigued by the plop, plop of the boiling mixture, which sounds just like the boiling mud in our Rotorua thermal area. We had a stove which came with the house and was designed by some dwarf of a man who thought we should lean over to stir our dinner. In short, it needed to be raised up on wooden blocks to reach the level of the kitchen bench. It didn’t look too bad despite how it sounds but, as we were to find, it wasn’t the most intelligent of solutions.

So, curious wee Dario needed to see what was making the plop plop sound and while I wasn’t looking, and yes I know mothers must never stop looking, he pulled out the bottom drawer of the stove and climbed up. I was to come to know that my son would climb anything just because it was there – ladders onto the roof, trees with thin spindly branches which wouldn’t support a cat, vertical jagged rocks to nowhere in particular and stoves emitting plopping sounds.

The first this negligent mother knew of his mountaineering endeavours was the sound of a crash to chill the devil himself’s heart. The stove was lying on the ground, polenta splattered to kingdom come and no sign of my son. Stabs of panic pierced my soul and then came a small whimper from beneath the stove. I grabbed the monstrosity which had swallowed my son with one hand and lifted, discovered a wide-eyed boy beneath, hauled him out with the other hand and let the stove drop. I stared at him in horror while his little face crumbled from its determined stance of stoicism into that of a weeping baby. I frantically examined him from head to foot, but he was intact, not a drop of blood anywhere, not even a bruise. I glanced at the stove and realised that he had been trapped in the cavity created by the open drawer hitting the ground and remaining open while the rest of the stove toppled over. Being so small, he had fitted tidily in that space and had not been touched at all.

As soon as my heart stopped drumming against my ribcage, I calmed Dario down and soon he was on to new adventures. Feeling still decidedly wobbly, I went over to the evil stove and tried to lift it back in place. Couldn’t move it – not even an inch. The great old monster defeated my every attempt to shift it back onto its axis. I stared at it perplexed. Hadn’t I just lifted it with one hand to release my son from its death grip? He was sitting behind me, playing with his toes so evidently I had. Either I had just had a twilight-zone experience or I had developed a temporary super strength which had now fled my body.

To cut what is becoming a long story short, it took two men to get it back in place and my husband still wonders whether I imagined the whole episode.
All I can tell you is this – never underestimate a mother’s strength and don’t get in her way if her child is in danger. You will get trampled.

I didn’t cook polenta again for many years but one day I realised I was over the trauma of the incident and it rejoined my repertoire of dishes. These little tapa-type nibbles are super easy to make. Boil up some water, slowly pour in the polenta and stir like a crazy person until it is thick and smooth. Cut out lovely little rounds and top with whatever you want.

Here’s the recipe for mine.

Pesto, Mozzarella Polenta Appetizers: Guest Post by Strands of my Life
A wonderful recipe for Pesto, Mozzarella Polenta Appetizers by the talented Suzanne of Strands of my Life!
  • A small pot of great quality pesto or home-made
  • 1 big slice of ham
  • Several small mozzarella balls
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 500ml water
  • Polenta
  1. Boil the water and very slowly, mixing all the time, pour in polenta until it thickens and stirring becomes tough. Then stop pouring in polenta, let it cook until it is smooth to the taste, stirring all the while. Instant polenta will be quicker than the classic polenta.
  2. Remove and immediately pour onto a big chopping board.
  3. Smooth it out as much as possible to an even thickness – about ¾ inch/2cm.
  4. Using a small glass, cut out rounds and oil them lightly.
  5. Put them onto a hot grill and leave until grill marks appear. Do both sides.
  6. Slather on a little pesto and top with a small piece of ham, a ¼ of a slice of tomato and ½ a tiny bocconcini mozzarella.
  7. Place under the grill for about 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.
  8. Serve with a lovely cold glass of wine.
Recipe is a guest post by Strands of my Life


Thanks so much to Suzanne for whipping us up some delicious appetizers. I don’t do many of them on the blog so this was a nice change of pace. They look positively delish and I wish I had a plate full of them right now. I may have to fly to New Zealand and have Suzanne whip up some of these plus tons of her other delicious food for me while I’m there. Problem is if I visit some place so pretty I’ll probably never come home.

I encourage you all to check out Suzanne’s blog, Strands of my Life. Make sure you sign up to get her lovely goodies delivered to your email while you are there. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Stalk away people, stalk away. You will love Suzanne’s writing and cooking style as much as I do.

Today we’re touring another school mini-me wanted to look at while we’re in Alberta. She’s considering getting 2 degrees, or possibly switching gears depending on her legs. Hopefully we’ll also get more stuff ready for B-Dude’s apartment. Lots of things to buy when you move out. Everything from towels, to groceries, to small appliances and bedding. Since it was such a long move we just brought what would fit in the SUV and since B-Dude is an english major most of that was books. So we’re visiting schools and shopping our little hearts out today. Wish us luck!

Toodles and smoochies! xx

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  1. says

    What a wonderful introduction to another food blogger down under. I really enjoyed this post, although it hurts my brain to try to understand why she could pick up that stove. Mother’s love, I suppose!

    These appetisers look amazing!

    • Kim Bee says

      Thanks for visiting Maureen. I really need to come visit you folks who are lucky enough to live in exotic locations. Where I live is so flat and ugly.

  2. says

    I “met” Suzanne on the bloggers network one night when “Juanita” and your evil twin and I were going way off topic and generally lowering the level of discourse. I believe donkey’s were mentioned. Ahem. Anyway, Suzanne read through the whole thing and decided that we were fit to be spoken to (which clearly shows that she belongs in this asylum) and so our relationship began. The story about her son gives me chills but I’m not surprised that a mother can lift a stove off her child. I’ve heard stories of women lifting cars to free their trapped children. Hooray for mothers and hooray for yummy polenta dishes!

    • says

      Anita, I remember the conversation well. You naughty girls were up well past your bedtime while I was still at work, not working. Great way to pass the time until 5pm and heading for home, where I want to be so I can blog.

    • Kim Bee says

      Oh my gosh that story of meeting is priceless. I love it.

      I know right. I know I’ve done some wild things when it comes to my kids. It’s like a mama’s instinct kicks in and nothing else matters, including reason. She’s a hero.

  3. says

    Great looking appetizers! And an amazing story – it must have been so scary at the moment, or maybe the minutes after Suzanne discovered Dario was OK. Great choice for a guest poster – one of my favs, too.

  4. says

    That was quite an experience! Just reading it made me very nervous! Adrenaline and mother’s love made you move that stove. I’m still shocked with your story. The appetizer is a keeper especially to polenta lovers like me. Thanks for sharing the story and the recipe!

  5. says

    I discovered your blog through Strands of my life. I love this tomato recipe. I enjoy Suzanne’s Blog a lot because your are always in for a treat (I mean the great stories) and now I found Cravings of a Lunatic, what a fantastic and creative blog!


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