I love mashed potatoes. Love love love love them. Heck, I’m so in love with mashed potatoes that I would marry them if it were legal in this state.
Hi, I’m Mrs. Mashed Potatoes. How are you doing today?
Unfortunately, like many foods that I love, mashed potatoes are not very health conscious. Especially after I add loads of butter, heavy cream, cheese and sometimes bacon to them (yum). These Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes have the same smooth texture as mashed potatoes and the taste is so spot on that it’s close enough to make low carb dieters or Paleo dieters happy.
Plus you can eat seconds without feeling guilty. I like that.
I prepared these “potatoes” in a food processor. If you prefer chunkier “potatoes” simply mash the cauliflower with a potato masher and fold in the ingredients instead. Top with chives (or whatever you like putting on your taters) and you’ve got an all-star side dish.
I live in a small city near the foothills of Colorado. To give you an idea of how life is here, I’ll say that life is pretty simple. I mean, we do have a Walmart and Target and many chain stores, but life seems to stop after the sun sets. The stores downtown close by 6pm, the grocery stores aren’t open 24/7 and people get really (really) excited when the Broncos (or Rockies or the Avalanche or the Mammoth) win a game. It’s a nice little place. Just enough off of the grid to have that small town feel with your neighbors but just enough going on for a community to survive on.
Recently, I noticed a Sprouts grocery store had moved into an old bookstore. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Sprouts is a more family friendly version of Whole Foods. I used to drive 30 minutes just to shop at one. Why? Because their produce and meat specials are amazing! How amazing you ask? How about $1 blueberries amazing? Or an 8lb. bag of russet potatoes for $1 amazing? Or a pack of pork chops for $2 amazing? Don’t say I didn’t tell you so. Everything they have is quality too because everything they had is either natural and/or organic, which made that 30 minute trip (back in the day) well worth it for me. Now I luckily don’t have to worry about the drive – I have a location 5 minutes away from me!
I used the potatoes I bought at Sprouts in this recipe. Quiche can be both a breakfast or lunch type of dish, depending on what you serve it with. For us, we were having brunch and I was craving Home Fries (“American Fries,” if you’re in Wisconsin). This was my compromise. I love, love, love potatoes and this cheesy-potato top was the icing on my quiche cake!! It turned out very much like a gratin with a savory, veggie egg scramble underneath it. Really yummy! Plus the presentation isn’t bad either.
3/4 cup chopped vegetables (we used sliced mushrooms and halved cherry tomatoes)
1 cup cheese (we used a mixture of gruyere, feta, and mozzarella)
Small slices of parmesan
1 whole baked or boiled potato, thinly sliced
For the Crust:
Move your oven rack to the top third part of your oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place all ingredients in 9-inch pie pan. Stir together with fork. Pat mixture into bottom and up the sides of the pan slightly. Poke holes in bottom and side of crust.
Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until light brown.
For the Quiche:
Lower oven heat to 375 degrees F.
In a large skillet, saute the onion and vegetables (omit the tomatoes) with butter over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes.
In a medium-size mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the water, garlic powder, dill, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Add cheeses and the cooked vegetable mixture, and tomatoes. Combine. Pour the egg-mixture into the half-baked crust.
Top the mixture with a thin layer of potatoes, gratin-style. Add the slices of parmesan on top of the potatoes. Drop four or five small dabs of butter on top of the potatoes and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the quiche has set in the middle and the potatoes and cheese are crisp and bubbly. Serve hot or cold.
Recently my camera decided that it was done with close-ups of frying fish and low-lit photo sessions with pico de gallo and quit on me. I was using it and for some reason the lens will not retract back into the camera. In all fairness, my camera was never anything special, but now I don’t have anything to take photos of my food with.
In a sense it’s a blessing because now I can solely focus on cooking in the kitchen and enjoying what I eat instead of spending so much time trying to capture a decent photo while my food gets cold. Usually, Mister is already done eating by the time I get to the dinner table. Plus, Black Friday is right around the corner. Fingers crossed that I can find a good deal!
This image is courtesy of Skinny Taste. Here’s hoping that I will take photos like this some day with a brand new camera!
Okay, about the soup. It’s savory and delicious and completely filling. I took Skinny Taste’s original recipe and made it my own. Although I absolutely love her and her work, (and in my very humble opinion) I thought the original broth was lacking in flavor. It was probably the brand of chicken stock I used but I definitely had to add more seasoning to make this work for us. In the end it turned out really good! Mister even went back for seconds. Success!
We had quite a few bowls to eat as leftovers for the next few nights too. The first time I re-heated the soup I put it in a pot over high heat and sort of forgot about it. By the time I got back to the kitchen, some of my poor tortellinis began to unravel. After that first mishap, I brought the soup up to just before a boil (keeping a careful eye on it) and it re-heated just fine. Lesson learned.
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. When melted, add the celery, onion, carrot and garlic. Cover and reduce heat to low and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes until vegetables begin to soften.
Add the broth, water, and mushrooms and increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. When broth boils, add salt (to taste), black pepper, dried basil and Worcestershire; stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, simmer until mushrooms are soft, about 15 minutes. Add tortellini and cook according to package directions for al dente (usually around 3 minutes).
Once the tortellini is cooked, stir to combine and garnish with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano if desired.
Ever wonder what to do with all of those leftover noodles from pasta night? I can never get the sauce to noodle ratio right. I either have a slew of sauce or a mound of noodles leftover. In this case, homemade noodles were the culprit.
This might be one of the oddest things I have ever created but I really wanted to use pasta in a new and exciting way. Originally, I thought I would make mini baked pastas but I couldn’t figure out a way to get the baked pasta to hold its shape. Instead, I made these wacky frittatas.
The noodles practical hide among the eggs and cheese. The flavors have transformed from spaghetti and marinara sauce to cheese, eggs and a hint of spinach – from dinner to brunch!
1 3/4 cups grated Parmigiano Cheese, reserving a few teaspoons on the side
1 1/4 cups lite sour cream
1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cups half & half
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white or black pepper
1 package frozen chopped spinach, drained or fresh spinach
2-3 cups cooked noodles (angel hair, spaghetti or fettuccine work best)
Fresh basil leaves, chopped
Leftover pesto or marinara sauce, optional
Place your oven rack in the lowest part of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Generously spray your muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.
In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and butter and sauté the onions and garlic until softened. Add spinach and cook for another minute. Add your noodles, toss and remove from heat.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and add the Parmigiano, sour cream, ricotta cheese, half & half, salt and pepper.
Sprinkle a bit of Parmigiano in the bottom of each muffin tin. Add about 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture into each cup. Mount the pasta mixture in the cups. When you run out of pasta, pour the remaining cheese mixture into the cups, dividing evenly. Sprinkle a bit more Parmigiano over each.
Bake uncovered until bottoms are brown (tops should not be too dry), about 30 to 35 minutes. Loosen with a knife and remove. Top with a bit of pasta sauce (if you have it) and fresh basil leaves before serving.
The frittata can be served hot, but tastes better at room temperature. Freeze the unbaked frittatas for up to a month to prepare these ahead of time.
What a day! Mister and I were exhausted after a long night, a long day at work, and an intense few hours at the rec center. These flatbread pizzas were the perfect solution to satisfy our hunger, attend to our healthier eating styles and were easy enough to make without breaking the bank or using too many brain cells.
Like any pizza, this recipe is super versatile. Use whichever toppings you’d like. We used pre-made pizza sauce, cheese, fresh tomato, spinach, garlic and feta on ours. With vegetables, this tasty pizza adds up to less than 300 calories per serving (more if you use meat).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the wrap, spread it around and place the wrap directly on the oven rack to cook for 4 minutes. Carefully remove the wrap, add your sauce and your toppings. Bake for another 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the wrap is crunchy. Cut your pizza and enjoy.
Tis the season for comfort food. During these chilly days and nights, it is easy to indulge in heavier dishes — with all the soups and chilis and bacon out there (oooh bacon, how I love thee). This dish warms the soul with its creamy, rich orzo yet the fruit and fresh herbs keep it light and fresh. It’s a dish fit for holiday meals or chilled and enjoyed on a picnic blanket with your loved one. <3
2 cups of orzo (or couscous), regular or whole wheat
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
1 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 medium green apple, diced
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
In a medium saucepan, add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Follow the directions to cook your orzo (you may need to add some water to your pot to meet their requirements).
While the orzo is cooking, toast your almonds until golden brown by stirring them in a sauté pan over medium heat. Remove from heat and set aside. You can also toast your almonds in the oven at 350 degrees F. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in a single layer and cool.
Once your orzo is cooked, strain the liquid out (as much as possible) and add the parsley, rosemary, thyme, apple, cranberries, and almonds. Combine and serve.
Add some fresh arugula, either cooked or uncooked, for some added greens.
I was at a friend’s house of mine a few nights ago enjoying an evening of fine conversation (and strong wine) when we started to get hungry. Us ladies searched the pantry for scrumptious treats when she kindly suggested preparing a box of mac and cheese. I looked at her, wide-eyed in disbelief, as if she had just told a child that Santa doesn’t really exist.
“Blasphemy!” I yelped and rambunctiously explained to her how powdered cheese doesn’t do a noodle justice. It should be banned from the United States for posing as a cheese, heck, all American cheeses should be banned from the cheese section … but I digress. I continued my snobbish manifesto until the crooked look on her face made me realize how absurd I was being (I get a little passionate when it comes to mac and cheese, sue me).
Instead of telling her, I decided to show her. It is so easy to make real deal mac and cheese, you may never make boxed mac and cheese again. Once you get the hang of things, you can add other ingredients and play with the concept a bit.
1/2 pound pasta (elbow macaroni, spirals, ziti... your choice)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large egg
6-ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3-ounces gruyere cheese, shredded
3-ounces colby-jack cheese, shredded
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup crushed Goldfish Cheddar Crackers or Cheez-It Crackers (or both!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pot of boiled, salted water, cook the pasta to al dente. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a separate pot. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, paprika and cayenne. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the crackers to coat. Top the macaroni with the cracker mixture and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Portobello mushroom burgers are all about the marinade. Drench it in your favorite marinade and slap it on the grill. I made these for the first time last night and my neighbors couldn’t stop asking me what I was making. The aromas were driving them buggy. I’m sure my audience expected me to say that I was cooking a big ol’ slab of beefy, steaky goodness because when I told them I was cooking mushrooms, their eyes practically dropped out of their skulls.
It’s that marinade baby!!
Use your favorite or use my recipe below. Either way, they’ll end up tasty and completely satisfying. I couldn’t even finish mine, I was so full!
If you’re looking for a substitute for a beef burger, you came to the wrong place. Yes, these are called, “Portobello mushroom BURGERS,” but if you’re expecting meat, you will be disappointed. These aren’t a substitute in my eyes (I am 100% carnivore), but don’t let that deter you from trying one or three. They are so juicy and flavorful, you’ll be happy you did. Plus your body won’t feel like a complete blob after finishing one. Instead it will thank you kindly in the morning.
Place the mushroom caps, smooth side up, in a shallow dish. In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients and pour over the mushrooms. Let stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes, turning the mushrooms a few times.
Preheat grill for medium heat. Brush grate with oil. Place mushroom on the grill and reserve the marinade for basting. Grill for 5 to 8 minutes on each side, or until tender. Brush with marinade often, until your marinade is gone. Top with cheese during the last minute of grilling and serve.
I’ve noticed this semi-recent culinary trend that involves putting just about anything and everything into a muffin tin. I have seen recipes from lasagna cupcakes to mac and cheese cups to french toast muffins. Practically any dish you can think of can be made into individual-sized muffin cups that’ll have you licking your fingers of every morsel with delight. Sign me up!
So I figured, why not put one of my favorite foods into a muffin shape? Pizza! If you like pizza rolls, you should try these puppies.
I ended up making homemade wonton wrappers myself, (because I’m a crazy person who finds an odd comfort in making everything from scratch). If you do or if you don’t, I recommend sprinkling a little garlic on your wonton wrappers before placing them in the muffin cups for an extra special treat for your taste buds.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and spray your muffin tin(s) with olive oil spray.
Line each cupcake mold with a round wonton wrapper. Put a spoonful of sauce, a little cheese and a little bit of your toppings into each mold. Repeat another layer of wonton wrapper, sauce, cheese, and toppings until each muffin cup is full. Sprinkle each cupcake with a little more cheese and bake until nicely browned, about 20 minutes.
Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and remove from pan. Serve with a bit of extra sauce for dipping on the side.
It’s best to use fresh bean sprouts, not canned, if possible. This makes a world of a difference. Use julienned snow peas or zucchini or water chestnuts to mix things up (I even added broccoli and carrots in mine).
What’s in this Chinese 5 spice powder you ask? Prepare to be enlightened!
You make this yourself or buy this at most grocery stores. Asian markets will carry a more authentic spice mixture that’s typically cheaper. You can add some of this to stir-fries, soups, and it even makes a great marinade for Asian chicken recipes. A fair warning, a little goes a long way.
Once you make egg foo yung, you’ll create your own favorite combinations based on whatever vegetables are available at your market or what you have sitting around in your refrigerator. The important thing is to keep your ingredients thinly sliced. This will help keep everything together.
Whatever you add, the egg and sauce combination will send your taste buds into a happy little food coma.
Place the vegetables in a medium bowl and sprinkle on the flour and salt. Mix well to evenly coat the vegetables. Break the eggs into a small bowl and add the sesame oil. Beat the eggs with a fork to combine the eggs and oil, then pour the mixture into the vegetable bowl.
Heat a tablespoon of cooking oil in a nonstick skillet. Use a large spoon and scoop portions of the egg-vegetable mixture into the pan, flattening them as you place them. Fry on one side until golden brown, then flip and fry on the second side.
Meanwhile, heat the stock and soy sauce to boiling in a saucepan. Mix the cornstarch and five spice powder in a small bowl. Add the cold water and stir until the cornstarch is incorporated. Add this to the boiling stock and stir well. Let it boil for a few moments to thicken. If it's thicker than you'd prefer, add more stock or water. Taste for seasoning and add more soy sauce if desired. Serve with sauce on side or sauce spooned on top of the egg foo yung.
These can be made in advance and kept warm in a low heated oven, or rewarmed gently in the sauce.
I’m always a little sketched out when I eat seafood in a land-locked state. However, Tortugas in Longmont has put my fears to rest. Their fish is fresh and cooked perfectly and their side dishes come out piping hot. The atmosphere is cozy and there is plenty of eye candy to look at while you wait for your meal, plus the owners are very one on one with their customers. A great place to stop if you’re in the area.
The last time we were there, we started with this eggplant dish. This dish was so good that I was craving it hardcore days after we left. It’s completely vegetarian yet heavy enough to be an entrée if you had enough of it. Maybe serve it with a side salad.
The menu describes this as, “fried eggplant layered with goat cheese, roasted tomato sauce, basil pesto, toasted pine nuts and balsamic vinegar reduction.” I had to make it at home. Need I say more?
Okay, one thing. Our version of this recipe is pretty intense. There are a lot of steps and even more pots and pans to clean. We have pesto, and home-made sauce, and roasted tomatoes in our version. You can save some time by replacing the pesto with a few leaves of baby spinach leaves or buying pre-made pesto at the store and buying a jar of natural pasta sauce at your grocer.
Prep and cook times are approximate. This recipe takes a lot of patience but the result is well worth the effort.
For the Slow Oven Roasted Italian Tomatoes:
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
1 tablespoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 roma tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the Fried Eggplant:
Canola oil (enough to have 1-inch of oil in a large skillet)
1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch slices (about 12 slices)
2 cups flour
4 tablespoons kosher salt
For the Pesto:
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup pine or walnuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Marinara:
1 (28-ounce) can of crushed good Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 basil leaves, chiffonade
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
For the Sweet Balsamic Reduction:
1 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
For the Napoleon:
1 log of goat cheese
Toasted pine nuts (optional)
For the Slow Oven Roasted Italian Tomatoes:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Combine all herbs in a small bowl and mix together. Slice Roma tomatoes in half lengthwise. Squeeze the juices out of each half of the tomato. Lay tomato halves on a small sheet pan skin side down. Lightly drizzle each tomato with oil. Lightly sprinkle each tomato half with herbs. Place sheet pan in the oven. Roast for 2 hours.
For the Fried Eggplant:
Peel and slice eggplant into 1/4-inch slices. Lay the eggplant on a tray and salt with 3 tablespoons of salt. Let it sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This will extract the moisture from the eggplant. Rinse the salt off the eggplant and dry well with paper towels. Beat the eggs in a bowl.
Heat the canola oil to 350 degrees (medium to medium high heat). Cover the eggplant in flour, then dip the eggplant in the egg, then cover the eggplant with flour again. Place dredged eggplant in heated oil and fry 1 minute on each side or until light golden brown. Place fried eggplant on a paper towel to drain.
Heat olive oil on medium heat. Saute chopped garlic in the oil for 1 or 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt and basil. Stir for 3 or so minutes until the sauce starts to simmer. Turn heat off and set aside.
For the Sweet Balsamic Reduction:
In a saute pan, slowly simmer the balsamic on a low heat until it reduces by 60%. It will slightly coat a spoon when it's reduced. Be patient! If this is done too rapidly, it will give the vinegar a burnt flavor.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER ...all together now!
To make your Eggplant Napoleon, slightly warm the goat cheese to make it easy to spread. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a casserole dish, take one slice of the fried eggplant and lightly spread with a thin layer of goat cheese. Place a tablespoon of pesto on top of the goat cheese. Add a roasted tomato. Lightly drizzle a small amount of balsamic reduction on your roasted tomato. Ladle a bit of fresh marinara on top of the roasted tomato. Repeat two more times. Make 3 or so more Napoleons just like this in the casserole dish.
Bake for 15 minutes or until warmed through and the cheese is nicely melted.
Place warm marinara on a plate and place one Napoleon on top of the marinara. Add toasted pine nuts if you desire. Serve with a crusty loaf of Italian bread or side salad. Enjoy!
Try grilling your eggplant pieces instead of frying them to save on some of the fat content.
This is the ultimate veggie burger! These things are so packed with flavor — you’ll never have a bland black bean burger again. You can mix and match ingredients depending on what you have available in your fridge or garden, but try to keep the size of each ingredient to a minimum. Larger pieces will cause the patties to fall apart even more than they already do.
For those of you who haven’t had a black bean burger before, don’t expect this to taste anything like a beef burger. These veggie burgers are in a category of their own.
I broiled these on a lightly greased pan in my oven instead of grilling them. I had problems keeping the patties together, but they were easy enough to reform afterwards. Next time I will make smaller patties and make sliders instead.
2 (16-ounce) cans black beans, drained, rinsed and dried
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup diced mushrooms
6 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup dry bread cumbs
Bring the brown rice and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, and the liquid has been absorbed, 45 to 50 minutes.
Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat. Lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. Mash black beans in a large bowl with a fork until thick and pasty; set aside.
Place the bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor, and chop finely. Stir the bell pepper mixture into the mashed black beans. Place the brown rice and mozzarella cheese in the food processor, and process until combined. Stir the mixture into the black beans. Add the Worcestershire sauce.
Whisk together the eggs, chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, and hot sauce. Stir the egg mixture into the black bean mixture. Stir in the bread crumbs, adding additional bread crumbs as needed until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide into 6 large patties.
Place patties onto the prepared foil, and grill until browned and heated through, about 8 minutes per side.
Make smaller patties to create Black Bean Sliders and serve them at your next event for a healthy snack alternative.