Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cauliflower "Mac n Cheese"

Before any of you make the same mistake my husband did, this is not a macaroni and cheese recipe. It is for a faux mac n cheese recipe, using cauliflower and cheese. There are no noodles involved!

I saw this article a few months ago in my People magazine from MasterChef (reality show) winner Whitney Miller. I love cheese, and I love cauliflower, so I knew I had to try it.

I made this yesterday and my husband and I absolutely loved it! This is a fantastic side dish, and it is really easy to prepare.

I made 2 substitutions/changes. The first was not using heavy cream - I used light cream instead. I really wanted to use whole milk instead of heavy cream but the store I was at did not have a small container of whole milk, so I opted for the light cream instead. The second thing I changed was adding in 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder into the cheese sauce when you put in the salt and pepper. It just seemed fitting and was a spur of the moment decision.

There are so many possibilities with this too - you could add almost any taste into the cheese sauce to zing it up!

The only thing that took time was cutting the head of cauliflower, but if you prepare that the night before, or use pre-cut or frozen florets, you should be golden. Everything else was easy.

Try it out - you won't regret it!


-8 cups cauliflower florets (1 head)
-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 tsp Kosher salt
-1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
-2 Tbsp butter
-2 Tbsp flour
-1.5 cups fat-free milk
-1/2 cup heavy cream (I used light cream)
-1/4 tsp table salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-(I added in 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
-1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (reduced fat optional)


1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Toss florets in oil on a baking sheet (I prefer to mix in a bowl first). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until fork-tender and lightly browned, 25 minutes. Remove pan from oven and reduce to 350.

2. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Whisk in cream and cook 5 minutes.

3. Remove pan from heat and stir in 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp pepper (1/4 tsp of garlic powder if using) and all but 2 Tbsp cheese. Stir over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.

4. Place cauliflower in an 8X8-in glass baking dish. Pour cheese sauce on top and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. cheese.

Bake until sauce is bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Time for Tapas at Salumi Wine and Tapas Bar!

My husband and I are a huge tapas fan. HUGE. And for those of you like my dad and father-in-law, who have no idea what tapas are, here is your answer: Tapas are snacks, canapés or finger food that originated in Spain.

From About.com, here is some more information: Tapas can be practically anything from a chunk of tuna, cocktail onion and an olive skewered on a long toothpick, to piping hot meat with sauce served in a miniature clay dish - or anything in between. Tapas are served day in and day out in every bar and café in Spain. So much a part of the culture and social scene that the Spanish people invented the verb tapear which means to go and eat tapas!

The idea is to order a bunch of small plates and either share or eat them yourself.

My first taste of tapas was in 2001 when I was spending the summer abroad in London for school and my friend Michelle and I took a weekend jaunt to Barcelona. We went to a tapas bar to eat and I remember having chicken croquettes and they were delicious!! Then when I lived in Washington DC after graduating from college, my friends and I would occasionally eat at Jaleo. SOOOOO good!!

My husband fell in love with tapas when we were on our honeymoon and spent a few days in Barcelona before heading out on a European cruise. So, we have been searching for a place that does tapas with little luck in our area. But then when food shopping one day, we happened to see Salumi across the street! We were very excited to try it.

We went last Friday, and the place is very quaint - small. Only about 10 tables and a bar with some seating. The menu is not very big at all...in fact, there wasn't much I would eat on the menu, so I do wish they expand it at some point. I miss the chicken croquettes! The menu isn't really all Spanish either, there is a great deal of Italian influence, as well as French and Californian influence. But it will do!

Despite being small and having a limited menu, the food was excellent. We loved everything we tasted. Well, we got the braised short ribs and my husband really liked them, to me, they were okay. I think I just don't like braised short ribs. But they were cooked extremely well and were very tender!

We didn't try any of the wine, so I can't comment on that. But we started off with a simple bread basket, which was delicious. The bread was so soft and flavorful.

Then we had "patatas bravas," sliced roasted potatoes with spicy red sauce and cumin aioli. Yum! Along with the potatoes, we had the mini panini, which had sweet sopressata, Italian cheeses and sun-dried tomatoes. Also delicious!!

After that we sampled the short ribs (well-marbled beef stewed in smoked paprika and saffron with chorizo and white beans) and polenta with truffled mushrooms in creamy Madeira sauce. (My phone ate the picture of these things, grrr). These two dishes were good, and well prepared, but the least favorites between my husband and myself. I liked the polenta more than he did and vice versa on the short ribs. The first two dishes we both loved immensely.

We left well-fed and stuffed with plans to return at some point. I wouldn't say it is really expensive, but it is not super cheap. Definitely in the middle, and of course, the more you order, the more your bill goes up. The portions were sizable, and definitely able to share with someone else. We probably ordered one too many things, but it was good.

My neighbor told me about another tapas place about 20 minutes from us so that will be the next to be checked out!

If you have a tapas place where you live, definitely check it out!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sweets and Beets - giving it another try!

So I still had 1 rather large beet left from when we purchased beets to try and I decided to make the beet pierogies. My husband and I are trying this new thing now where we don't throw out unused food, so I knew I had to use it. And I wanted to give beets one more shot since I wasn't sure if I even liked them. I don't know what I was expecting, but after many positive responses on my facebook inquiry as to if people like beets, and only one no, I thought I would like them. Unfortunately, I think I am in the no category.

Since I also had 1 rather large sweet potato left too, I used this recipe that I found on Allrecipes.com by "drumnwrite." I didn't alter the recipe at all, except to halve it since I didn't need to make so much.

I LOVED the sweet potato part - the beet part I could take or leave. I honestly don't think beets are disgusting...I just don't think I would buy them and use them because the taste is just so-so to me. But if you like beets, you will like this recipe. My husband said the beet part grew on him and he really enjoyed it. (I just shoveled the beets in my mouth as fast as I could first and then enjoyed the remaining sweet potatoes!)

This recipe is also very, very easy to make. Enjoy!

Ingredients: (full recipe from original poster)

6 medium beets, peeled and cut into chunks
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
3 medium sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
1 large sweet onion, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

In a bowl, toss the beets with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to coat. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and sugar in a large resealable plastic bag.

Place the sweet potatoes and onion in the bag. Seal bag, and shake to coat vegetables with the oil mixture.

Bake beets 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Mix sweet potato mixture with the beets on the baking sheet. Continue baking 45 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes, until all vegetables are tender.

This full recipe serves 6.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

SOPP Stir Fry! (Sausage, Onions, Potatoes and Peppers!)

Last night I made a stir fry that my husband and I truly enjoyed. I don't remember how I came across this recipe on Allrecipes.com, by "cowboysjenn," but it looked interesting enough to try.

I did make it my own, however, by adding some spice and marinade to jazz it up a bit. It looked delicious on its own but I just felt it needed something to tie it together. Plus my husband and I really like flavor!! So the recipe below is my version - if you don't like spice or marinade, or can't eat it that way, refer to the original recipe in the link above.

Besides being incredibly tasty, this recipe is very easy to make. I also used 6 of those smaller red potatoes instead of 6 baking potatoes and we had plenty for the 2 of us - enough for 2 nights. Also, I only used 1 pepper, a half an onion and 2 and a half links of sausage - no where near the amount of what the original chef used. I could see using the bigger amounts of ingredients if you need to feed 8 people.

We used Trader Joe's chicken and sweet apple sausage. We love their chicken sausages - though my favorite is the mango chicken one.

From chopping to cooking, I think this whole thing took maybe a half hour to make. We ate it over some whole wheat cous cous, but for leftovers, we are going to make heroes!

The recipe is versatile in the type of sausage you like and what kind of seasonings you'd want to use, so experiment and try it out! I know my combination was very enjoyable in my house!


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 small - medium red potatoes - peeled (if desired) and cubed
2 1/2 links Trader Joe's Chicken & Sweet Apple Sausage, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced or chopped (I chopped it)
1 bell pepper mix, chopped (I used the Trader Joe's frozen pack of red, orange, green and yellow peppers, equivalent of 1 bell pepper)
black pepper
garlic powder
Worcestershire sauce
Teriyaki Sauce


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Place the potatoes in the skillet. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.

Cover and simmer, turning occasionally, until potatoes are almost tender and a little browned, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the sausage, onion and peppers.

Cover and cook for about 5 more minutes, or until onion and peppers are to desired tenderness.

Mix at least a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, a teaspoon of Teriyaki sauce and dash of sugar together for a very tiny amount of marinade - just enough to flavor the stir fry barely. Use more if you want it more saucy.

Stir the sauce in last and serve warm.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Mini Limeade Sandwich Sugar Cookies

I am very proud of the cookies I made this afternoon. I am proud of the surprising taste they have (much better than I anticipated), and the fact that I made a sugar cookie dough and it worked.

The cookies have a lime twist for the sheer fact that my husband and I bought a bottle of Simply Limeade a few weeks back because we had a coupon. The drink is ok...we just don't LOVE it. Determined not to waste the whole bottle, I have been searching for recipes using lime juice and then I figured I would just substitute using the lime juice with limeade. And it worked for this recipe!!

The lime icing is not as tart as it would be using actual lime juice, and I think that is why I like this cookie. I found this recipe here on AllRecipes.com. The only change I really made was using the Simply Limeade instead of lime juice, and making mini cookies instead of big ones. I also halved the recipe.

The process actually turned out easier than I thought when making the dough, and the cookies baked up quickly. 10 minutes of cooling and they were reading for icing, 5 minutes after that - ready to eat!

These are delicious cookies for the summer - nice and refreshing. These are great for BBQ's and picnics. Try them out!!

I am posting the recipe with my substitution, but posting the entire recipe - not the measurements for the halved recipe I did.



1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

For Icing:
2 teaspoons Simply Limeade
1 tablespoon milk**
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 drops green food color

** You can use water instead of milk)


In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until well blended.

Cover or wrap dough, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. If you are in a big hurry, freeze for a half hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch in thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. (It looks like the original poster on AllRecipes.com used stars - I did mini circles!)

Place cookies 1 1/2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting: In a medium bowl, whisk the Limeade, milk, confectioners' sugar and green food color until smooth and creamy.

Add more milk or sugar if necessary to achieve a good spreading consistency.

When cookies are completely cool, spread icing between cookies to make sandwiches.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Irish Cream Pound Cake

Today, I made a pound cake. And it was delicious. I have the husband stamp of approval. Plus, I am extremely proud of myself for not over-baking it for once and drying it out. Woo-hoo!

The pound cake I made is flavored with Irish cream extract (non-alcoholic). This is one if the extracts I bought a while ago from Spicebarn.com. (Let me tell you, their stuff really comes in handy when you want to change the flavors of things!! I love having some of their "different" extracts in the house!)

My recipe was actually inspired by this Almond Pound Cake recipe that came in a free issue of Family Circle magazine, the July issue. Don't get me wrong - the almond pound cake looked delicious, but I decided to just use different flavoring. Plus, I wasn't sure if I HAD almond extract in the house!!

Setting up the batter was pretty easy, took about 20 minutes, as stated. Well, maybe a little longer for me because I didn't take any butter out to soften first, and I had to wait to do that after I decided to bake. But if you plan ahead, well, 20 minutes and you are good.

I only made half the recipe (but I am going to post the full version), so I baked it for 40 minutes instead of an hour and it was just fine.

The icing added a delicious extra touch of an Irish cream taste and was also very easy to make. The original recipe had toasted almonds topping the icing but I didn't do that - I used sugar pearls. So check out the original recipe if you want to see the garnish.

This cake is perfect for summer BBQ's or picnics!!

Ingredients: (this is using Irish Cream extract, either click the link above or just substitute almond or anything else you want instead).

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon Irish cream extract

For Icing:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon Irish Cream extract
sugar pearls to scatter on top


Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.


In medium-size bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add sugar and beat until light-colored, about 2 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, beat in half the flour mixture.

Scrape down side of bowl and beat in milk. Add remaining flour mixture and the almond extract and beat until smooth. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake cake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour, 5 minutes or until crowned and set. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert to remove and cool upright on rack.


In medium-size bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, 4 teaspoons water and the Irish cream. Whisk until smooth.

Spread over cooled cake and top with sugar pearls.

Let icing dry at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Spaghetti Pie

Over the July 4th weekend, my husband and I were going to go to our neighbors house for a small cook-out with just the 4 of us, relaxing in the backyard, BBQ'ing a little and playing in their new pool. I told my neighbor I would bring some side dishes.

Well, that didn't work out - something came up and they had to cancel. We were bummed. I had already started making this dish to bring over, but it wasn't a huge loss since my husband and I would be able to eat it for dinner that week.

The recipe seemed interesting enough, and didn't seem like it would take too long or be that difficult to make. The latter two points are still true and the recipe is okay...but to me, it needed a sauce or something. Maybe I baked it a little too long, but it seemed dry. I could definitely see adding a sauce into the mix because when we ate it, we dipped the pieces into sauce and it tasted 100x better.

I could see using different spices or ingredients. I left out the ham from the original recipe here, and I added in some peas.

I also left out the chives since I didn't have any and added in some regular onion instead, and used thyme instead of dill weed.

I definitely want to try and improve on this recipe and make it better, so I am not giving up on it yet!!


2 eggs
1 (7 ounce) package spaghetti, cooked and drained
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (10 ounce) package frozen asparagus spears, thawed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (4.5 ounce) jar sliced mushrooms, drained
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon minced onions
1/4 cup frozen peas


In a large bowl, beat eggs; add the spaghetti, Parmesan cheese and butter; mix well.

Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a greased 10-in. pie plate.

Combine peas, onion, asparagus and mushrooms; spoon into crust. Sprinkle with Swiss cheese.

Beat eggs, sour cream and thyme; pour over cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until crust is set and center is lightly browned.

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Parsnip Pancakes

So this week's new adventure was the parsnip. I am not sure what made me pick it, but I said to my husband, "let's try parsnips." He agreed and we bought a pound at the supermarket.

We knew form all the cooking shows we watch that people make a puree with them...but I searched my favorite recipe website anyway, and came across this recipe. It was definitely something my husband and I would eat, since we are huge fans of potato pancakes, plus it seemed really easy.

I followed the recipe for the most part, I just substituted the chives with cilantro because I am currently growing cilantro, but had no chives in the house. I also added some salt and pepper to the "batter" because I just knew it was going to need something.

My husband really enjoyed this recipe, and I thought it was pretty good as well. I was hesitant because the parsnip smelled like a carrot, and I am not the biggest carrot fan, especially cooked carrots. But the pancake made it pretty good, and I am curious to see if I would eat a parsnip any other way.

Peeling the parsnips were really easy and it was a snap to get all the ingredients together and cooking. We'll do this again!

Here is the recipe with my additions, see the link above for the original recipe.


1 pound parsnips, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tablespoon minced cilantro


Place parsnips in a large saucepan and cover with water; add salt.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender.

Drain and place parsnips in a large bowl; mash. Stir in the onion, flour, egg, salt, pepper and cilantro.

Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a well-greased hot griddle.

Flatten with a spatula. Fry until golden brown; turn and cook until second side is lightly browned.

Drain on paper towels.