I recently cut my hours at work. My husband's starting a full time Physician Assistant training program which means he'll be away from home lots and lots and lots. And lots. So I went from being a full time working mother of four with lots of help from my husband, to being an almost full time working mother of four with almost no help from my husband. Somehow I thought that working six hours less a week, cramming the same amount of work into less hours, would feel relaxed. Slow paced.

I envisioned walks in the park with my sweet babies. Hours of play-doh and nursery rhymes. I was wrong (and not only because my kids would throw eggs at me if I tried singing nursery rhymes. Do you even sing them?).

So where does an almost full time working mother of four find time to make polenta cakes? Well, I'm somewhat schizophrenic in the kitchen. Most days I prepare basic, simple recipes that feature less than five ingredients and take two pots or less. But every once in a while I tell myself that I have to prove something to someone. That making complex dishes that require shaping and stewing and dirtying 16 pots proves that I'm a good mother. So I do. And then I collapse in bed - sink full of dishes and table barely cleared - and promise that I won't do it again. I will not make buttery tarts for dessert on weeknights. I will not roast beets for salad and stain both my hands and all my counters.

Interestingly, this dish, fancy as it sounds, was not all that difficult. Yes, it takes a bit of advance prep. But it doesn't use all that many pots, and the ingredient list isn't all that long. And it's good. Really, really good. Prove that you're a good mother / father / husband / wife. Make some today.

Garbanzos with Polenta Cakes
Serves 4-6

Polenta Cakes: 
3 cups water
1 cup polenta / corn grits (here are the ones I like)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil for frying

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced in rings
4 cloves garlic
a generous handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1-2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 can of garbanzo beans, drained
salt and pepper

First, start the polenta cakes. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the polenta and salt and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Stir often to prevent scorching, and cook for about 1/2 hour until the mixture is very thick and doesn't pour. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and cheese. Spoon the polenta into a large flat baking dish and smooth it out. Set aside to cool for at least an hour. (Longer is fine.)

Next, start the garbanzos. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and then saute the onion till translucent. Add the garlic, tomatoes, and oregano. Cook for about 5 minutes longer. Add the beans and cook till heated through, about 15 minutes. Season and set aside.

Now, shape and fry the polenta cakes. Use a round glass to cut the polenta - which should be hardened by now - into even circles. (I use a 3-or-so-inch round.)  Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the polenta cakes for about 5 minutes per side. They should take on a nice golden color.

Serve the garbanzo beans next to the polenta cakes, garnished with yogurt or guacamole if desired.

Linking this up to Weekend Bloggy Reading.