This blog post has been compensated by Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. All opinions are mine alone. #LaVaquitaCheese #CollectiveBias #Ad
All hail the mighty casserole. She comes in many forms - often smothered in cheese and packed with flavorful layers. They are made to please a crowd, feed a small army, and reheat with ease. My personal favorites usually involve vegetables while my husband prefers casseroles that focus on pasta.
Vegetable lasagna puts together the best of both worlds, and like casseroles in general, the concept of vegetable lasagna has been reinvented over and over again. For this recipe, I decided to combine savory roasted eggplant and red bell peppers with crumbled queso fresco in a roasted tomato sauce. Replacing traditional ricotta cheese with queso fresco gives this casserole a firm, hearty texture.
I used La VaquitaⓇ Queso Fresco, a local Texas brand in this recipe. La Vaquita® was founded by Maria Castro in 1971. Castro began making the cheese from her Houston home shortly after immigrating from Mexico.
Using a traditional recipe she learned from her grandmother, Castro began making batches of cheese to share with friends and neighbors in Houston. Over 40 years later, La Vaquita® authentic Mexican cheeses and cremas are an important part of Texas' food identity!
Like ricotta or feta cheeses, queso fresco does not melt when heated, but remains firm and crumbly. The mild flavor and delicate crumbly texture of queso fresco is perfect for stuffing casseroles. La Vaquita® Queso Fresco has the classic mellow flavor I expect in a great queso fresco. For a sharper flavor, try using La Vaquita® Queso Fresco Salvadoreno instead.
Included are steps and ingredients for making a fresh tomato sauce using roasted garlic and tomato. To simplify this lasagna recipe, just omit the tomato, onion, and garlic, and skip steps 2 to 4. You are welcome to use a 16-ounce jar of marinara sauce instead.
Roasted Vegetable Lasagna with Queso Fresco
A delicious layered casserole stuffed with crumbled queso fresco, savory roasted vegetables and fresh tomato sauce.
- 1 16-ounce package lasagna noodles,
- 5 pounds roma tomatoes
- 1 medium sized onion
- 1 bulb garlic
- 1 large eggplant
- 4 small red bell peppers
- ½ cup frozen spinach
- 4 tablespoons minced fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup olive oil, divided
- 16 ounces La Vaquita® Queso Fresco crumbling cheese
- 16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- salt and pepper, as needed
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a generous pinch of salt to the water, then cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions. Do not overcook. Al dente noodles work best in lasagna. When the noodles have finished cooking, drain them quickly and rinse with cold water to cease cooking.
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Slice the top ⅓ of the garlic bulb off, exposing bulbs. Brush the exposed bulbs with oil and place in small oven-proof bowl or crock. Set aside.
- Cut tomatoes into quarters and remove seeds. Peel and chop onion. Combine tomato and onion in a large bowl, season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss together. Spread mixture onto baking sheet. Roast tomatoes, onions, and garlic bulb for 15 minutes. Remove garlic from oven, then set oven to broiler and broil for 10 minutes. Pop garlic cloves from peel when cool enough to handle.
- When tomato mixture has cooled enough to be handled safely transfer them to a blender. Add peeled garlic cloves, tomato paste, 1/2 teaspoon salt. 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and puree until smooth. Stir in 2 tablespoons minced basil.
- Set oven back to 450°F. Peel eggplant and cut into ¼ inch slices. Spread slices out on baking sheet lined with parchment. Brush slices with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Line a second baking sheet with parchment. Toss whole peppers with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place on baking sheet. Roast peppers and eggplant for 20 - 30 minutes or until eggplant is tender and peppers have developed brown or black spots.
- Fill a large bowl or pot with water and ice. Drop roasted peppers into ice bath and allow them to cool for several minutes. Use your finger to peel the skin, stems, and seeds from the peppers. Reserve the peeled flesh in a small bowl and discard the rest. Chop the roasted flesh into strips.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush the bottom of a 3-quart casserole dish with olive oil, then place 3 lasagna noodles into the dish. Top with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Place the eggplant slices down to create the next layer, followed by about ½ of the La Vaquita® Queso Fresco.
- Place 3 more noodles down, and another layer of sauce followed by about ½ the shredded mozzarella, and ¾ roasted peppers.
- Place 3 more noodles down, and another layer of sauce followed by the second ½ of the La Vaquita® Queso Fresco and the frozen spinach.
- Place 3 more noodles down, and add one last layer of sauce followed by the remaining mozzarella cheese and red peppers. Sprinkle remaining basil over the top.
- Bake finished casserole for 45 minutes. Switch oven to broiler and broil for 5 minutes to brown cheese. Let lasagna stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.
I shopped for this recipe at my local Fiesta. Fiesta carries a great selection of La Vaquita® products including quesos and cremas. You can check them out on Facebook as well. Make sure to look for Ibotta offers for a good deal.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #thetalkofthetable #CollectiveBias The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or older.
There is a time and a place for excess. Having someone special over for dinner or celebrating holidays with family and friends. These are not the times for quinoa or superfoods. These are the times for cream, parmesan and pasta. These are the evenings when you set aside the spring water and crack open a bottle of wine instead.
The recipes I reach for on special occasions are meant to delight and indulge the people I love. I don't just want to feed the crowd around my table. I want to hear them say "mmmmm". I want them to clean their plates and dream about that amazing meal for weeks to come. There is nothing more rewarding to someone who loves to cook and to feed people than being asked for a repeat on the next holiday.
This recipe is one of those meals that brings my loved ones back again and again. At home, we simply refer to this dish as Lemon Spaghetti. It's something I tend to whip up when I want to dote on people. You can top it with almost any kind of meat or seafood, but my favorite thing to use, by far, is a big fat pile of gulf shrimp.
I've never tried using lobster or scallops, but I have a strong suspicion that either of those things would be out of this world. Grilled chicken is also delicious on this pasta, and is a great option for more casual dinners or for a crowd that isn't as fond of seafood. If you are feeding vegetarians, just top the dish with any kind of hearty roasted vegetable. Peppers, eggplants, or zucchini would all be perfect.
Creamy pasta and seafood go very well with a chilled glass of chardonnay. Clos du Bois Chardonnay is a favorite at our house, so I was delighted to pair it with this dish. This bright and refreshing white wine has a low-medium oak flavor with a mildly sweet and fruit-forward flavor. It's oak flavor is well balanced and not at all overwhelming. The flavor and value of Clos du Bois Chardonnay makes it a super approachable wine that you can enjoy at special occasions or as an everyday house wine.
When it comes to making pasta-focused dishes it stands to figure that your choice in brands of pasta is an important one. Barilla, who I have partnered with for this post, happens to be the #1 choice for packaged pasta in Italy! If it's good enough for Italy, it's good enough for us. Barilla is a brand I reach for often. Simple ingredients, consistent quality, and a reasonable price point are all big wins when it comes to pasta. Barilla is a good fit for all three.
Lemon Scampi with Gulf Shrimp and Roasted BroccoliA quick and easy breakfast bowl made with sweet potato, spinach, avocado, and egg.
- 3 cups fresh broccoli florets,
- 1 pound fresh gulf shrimp
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- salt, as needed
- black pepper, as needed
- 1 pound Barilla Angel Hair Pasta
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ white onion, minced
- 1 cup heavy cream, divided
- 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cream cheese
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
- 4 lemon wedges
- Preheat oven to 450F. Toss broccoli with 2 tablespoons oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon black or crushed red pepper. Roast on baking sheet for 20 minutes.
- Add a hefty pinch of salt to a large pot of water. Heat on stovetop over high heat, covered, until it comes to a rolling boil. Add pasta. Stir. Boil for 5 minutes before draining and rinsing with cold water. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, peel and devein shrimp. (Instructions here.) Toss with ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon black pepper.
- Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil. When the pan is sizzling hot, place shrimp in pan. Cook shrimp 2 minutes, flip over, cook 2 more minutes. Remove shrimp to dish and set aside.
- Add 2 more tablespoons butter to pan along with garlic and onion. Cover, and cook over low heat for about 3 minutes, or until onions clear.
- Remove cover. Add heavy cream and bring to simmer over medium heat. Whisk in cream cheese, then add remaining ½ cup heavy cream. Bring back to simmer and slowly whisk in grated parmesan. Whisk until cheese melts completely (about 2 minutes).
- Turn off heat. Whisk in lemon juice. Toss pasta into sauce.
- Divide pasta between 4 dishes. Top with broccoli, shrimp, and wedge of lemon. Lemon should be squeezed over pasta right before eating.
What are your favorite recipes to feed friends and family? Do you have a special dish that keeps them coming back for more? I'd love to hear what you are cooking up.
Need some inspiration for your next big meal? Visit The Talk of the Table to discover even more delicious ways to pair Barilla Pasta and Clos du Bois wines. For even more ideas, check out Barilla and Clos du Bois on Pinterest!
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SamsClubMag #CollectiveBias
People, it's really happening. Fall is here!
I am so ready. I've long been a summer person, but this year I spent most of the dog days here in Texas hunkered down inside my house with the air conditioning on. Maybe I was depressed - or just burnt out on sunshine or 100+ degree temperatures. Either way, I feel the fog lifting with every dropping degree and I couldn't be happier. There is nothing like that first cool, crispy breath of autumn. Every year in Texas it seems to look the same - painted with a bright blue sky and enjoyed by rolling down the car windows for the first time in forever.
Speaking of cool crispy things, how about apples? They are pretty much the quintessential autumn food as far as I'm concerned. I've been going a little crazy with them lately and I'm not even close to letting it go. This afternoon I put together a little something savory by pairing sweet apples with earthy mushrooms and savory miso. I don't want to make any promises, but these pork chops might just blow your mind.
They are moist and juicy, dripping with pan sauce, and stuffed with a blend of tasty autumn ingredients that couldn't be more seasonally appropriate.
This is one of those recipes that may sound a little more complicated than it actually is. The marinade, which is made simply by whisking together some key ingredients, doubles as a pan sauce when cooked along with the pork chops. Finishing the pork chops in the oven helps to keep the meat tender and juicy. Try serving this delicious main dish with hearty brown rice and a roasted vegetable like acorn squash or sweet potato.
Apple Miso Pork Chops with Mushroom Stuffing A sweet and savory stuffed pork chop recipe made with fresh apples and mushrooms. Serves 2 Ingredients:
- 2 4-ounce thick cut boneless pork loin chops,
- 2 tablespoons white miso
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon mirin (or white wine)
- 1 tablespoon roasted almond oil (or toasted sesame oil)
- 1/4 cup apple cider
- 1/3 cup sliced shallots
- 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1/2 cup sliced apples
- 1/3 cup sliced scallions
- salt & pepper to taste
- cooking oil, as needed
- Whisk together miso paste, onion powder, soy sauce, vinegar, and mirin until smooth. Add the almond oil and whisk until well-blended. Add the apple cider last, and mix once more. This is the marinade.
- Place the pork chops flat on a cutting board and slice them parralel to the board to butterfly the meat. Cut into the meat all the way to the far edge, stopping just before cutting through. This will make a sort of pocket in the pork chop. Repeat with the second chop, then pound both pork chops with a mallet to tenderize them.
- Coat each pork chop in marinade, then pack them into a close-fitting container or plastic bag along with the remaining marinade. Let the chops sit, refrigerated, for at least one hour.
- Prep the stuffing by slicing your ingredients as thinly as possible, and setting each aside in its own separate bowl. When you pork chop has finished marinating, preheat the oven to 350F, and set a large skillet over the stove. Turn the burner on to medium-high heat. When the pan is sizzling hot, add a few teaspoons of cooking oil to coat the pan.
- Fry the shallots first, cooking them for 3-5 minutes, or until the soften and clear just a little. Remove them from the pan, add a little more oil, if needed, and begin frying the mushrooms. It's important not to crowd the mushrooms during this step, so if you are working with a smaller pan, try frying just half of the mushrooms at a time. Cook the mushrooms for about 2-3 minutes, just long enough to brown them a little.
- When all of the mushrooms are cooked, add them back to the pan along with the shallots and the apples. Cook everything for about 1 minute, just long enough to warm the apples. Turn the heat off, then add the scallions and season with a dash of salt and pepper. Toss everything together, then transfer to a bowl and wipe out the skillet.
- Remove the pork chops from the refrigerator. Pull them from the marinade, letting the excess drip off, and reserve the remainder of marinade for later. Stuff each pork chop with prepared stuffing as full as possible. You may have more stuffing than you need. the remainder can be served as a side. Just be careful not to cross-contaminate the stuffing while filling the raw chops. That means don't use any utensil to touch the stuffing that you also use to fill the pork chops. In other words, no double dipping!
- Turn the skillet back on to medium heat. When hot, add a few more teaspoons of oil to coat the skillet, then carefully place the stuffed chops into the pan. Cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes, then pour the remaining marinade over the top of the chops, flooding the pan with sauce.
- Turn off the stove burner and cover the skillet with a lid or with aluminum foil. Place the covered skillet into the oven and roast for 8 - 10 minutes, or until a thermometer shows the internal temperature of the stuffed chops as 165F.
- Transfer the pork chops to plates and spoon the cooked marinade from the bottom of the pan over the top of each pork chop. Serve immediately.
I shopped for the main ingredients for my recipe at Sam's Club. The shelves were bursting with fresh ingredients like crispy salad fixings and seasonal fruits and veggies. I was especially impressed with their prices on apples and pumpkins. I may have to make another trip soon to work on more autumn goodies.
Sam's Club can be a wonderful resource for whole ingredients and natural cooking. The food selection includes a great range of produce, meats, and even seafood. Buying main ingredients like these in bulk is actually a really practical way to make cooking at home easier.
I like to stock my freezer with bulk ingredients so that I always have the basics I need to throw together an easy dinner. Not having to run to the store for ingredients before every meal can help save you time, money, and precious mental energy.
Sam's Club has its own online lifestyle magazine called Healthy Living Made Simple. The magazine offers insight on everyday health questions, fitness tips, and recipes for healthy seasonal eating. This month's featured seasonal ingredient is the mushroom! You can find out what makes these delicious earthy little nuggets a health hero in Healthy Living Made Simple's latest Superfood Spotlight.
Sam's Club also offers in-club health screenings for members on the second Saturday of EVERY month. The next screening will take place on October 8. (Check with your local Sam's Club for more details on this program.) Sam's Club offers hearing and vision services, a pharmacy, over the counter medications, and a great selection of basic ingredients for healthy cooking - all great resources for your healthy lifestyle.
Do you shop in bulk for fresh foods or natural pantry ingredients? Do you have any tricks to share for using up fresh produce quickly or keeping large purchases fresh longer? Shower us with your wisdom in the comments below.
Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FarFromOrdinaryMilk #CollectiveBias
At least that's what my 2-year old tells me. At first I thought my little one invented his own holiday, but after a little investigation I found out that Apples Day is a real thing! Or, to be more exact, Johnny Appleseed Day is a real thing. September 26 is celebrated as Johnny Appleseed's birthday and his preschool class has been learning about apples all month.
CC has demanded an Apples Day party to honor the occasion. Being the overly-indulgent parent that I am, I quickly agreed and have had apples on my mind ever since. We're planning to host a family potluck for Apples Day later this month. I can't wait to see what apple-themed recipes our friends and family bring to the table.
To tell you the truth, I haven't thought about Johnny Appleseed much since I was a kid. He was a famous pioneer during the early 1800's and was known for his generosity, dedication to conservation, and of course, his love of apples.
I love apples too, so old Mr. Appleseed and I have that in common. Apple-flavored dairy products were something I fell in love with while living in Beijing. Apple yogurt, smoothies, and ice creams had an unexpected, but extraordinary taste that I quickly fell in love with. I've been meaning to work on an apple ice cream ever since. Our Apples Day celebration inspired me to finally make it happen!
Apple Cinnamon Ice Cream is sort of like taking the best flavors from pie ala mode and concentrating them into one rich and creamy dessert. This ice cream has a dense texture that works wonderfully with crispy cones, crunchy granola, and salty caramel sauce. Don't forget to include a nice dollop of whipped cream too. That's an Apples Day sundae you won't forget.
I used homemade apple butter in this recipe but you can save some time by using store-bought apple butter instead. Look for something with a little cinnamon to give your ice cream plenty of warm spicy flavor.
The other key ingredient in this ice cream is, of course, the milk! I used Promised Land Dairy's Homogenized Milk to make my Apple Cinnamon Ice Cream. This unique brand of milk gets it's extra rich and creamy flavor from Jersey cows, a breed that hails from the British Isle of Jersey. (Not the state of New Jersey!) According to Promised Land, extraordinary flavor comes from extraordinary cows. I couldn't agree more!
These special brown cows only make up about 10% of the milk produced in the United States. The majority of our milk comes from the classic black and white Holstein breed. I was surprised to discover a noticeable difference in the texture and flavor of Promised Land's milk. Not only does it have an exceptional flavor, it is actually higher in protein and calcium than other varieties of milk.
When it comes to making ice cream, the flavor of the milk used can make a huge difference in the final product. Promised Land has turned out to be an excellent choice. I noticed a thicker and creamier ice cream custard as soon as I started experimenting with it.
Try using Promised Land milk in creamy cheese sauces, chowders, bisques, and custards to showcase it's extraordinary flavor. I've also found it to be an ideal drinking milk - if you should find yourself with some cookies to nibble. My hubby, Scott Bobleo, who is pretty much a chocolate milk expert is a huge fan of Promised Land's Midnight Chocolate flavored milk.
Apple Cinnamon Ice Cream
Makes about 2 pints
This dense and creamy ice cream tastes delicious over granola, graham crackers, or coffee cake. Serve with fresh whipped cream and caramel sauce to make a delicious apple cinnamon sundae!
- 1 3/4 cups whole milk
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2/3 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3/4 cup apple butter, divided (recipe here)
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) cream cheese
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of milk with cornstarch and set aside.
- Combine the remaining milk, heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup, and cinnamon stick in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
- Remove the pan from heat, then whisk in the cornstarch and milk slurry. Return the pan to burner. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 3 minutes.
- In a large heat-proof mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and salt. Remove the cinnamon stick from the hot milk and cream mixture, then pour over the cream cheese. Whisk gently to combine the melted cheese with the hot custard. Add 1/2 cup apple butter and whisk to combine thoroughly.
- Pour the custard into a large ziplock bag, then submerge the sealed bag in a bowl filled with ice and water. Cool the custard completely.
- Churn the custard in your ice cream machine for 30-40 minutes, or until the ice cream thickens enough to pull away from the sides of the barrel.
- Scoop the soft ice cream into pint-sized containers, adding a spoonful of the reserved apple butter between every few scoops of soft ice cream.
- Freeze the ice cream for at least 2 hours before serving.
I purchased my Promised Land milk at my local Target. Right now you can save an extra $0.75 on your purchase of Promised Land products using Ibotta. Click here to learn how you can earn rebates on Promised Land products and many other everyday purchased using Ibotta.
Great idea, right? I mean, it's hard to be a sushi lover in a world where everyone seems to be avoiding carbs and grains. Sashimi is lovely and all but it just doesn't feel like a MEAL to me.
I need crunch. I need volume. I need a big pile of food to inhale when I'm feeling like a starving Ladyzilla. I need Salmon Poke Salad.
So let's give this a shot.
I loaded up my sushi-inspired salad with crispy veggies, creamy avocado, and aromatic scallions. You can absolutely make this recipe your own by playing with the main ingredients. Swap something out, or just add more more more.
Other things that would be delicious in this salad include: cashews, almonds, wasabi peas, sprouts of any kind, micro-greens, baby kale, snow peas, bell peppers, sweet pickles... you get the idea.
Oh, and don't be afraid to squirt a little sriracha on this either. Hot sauce on a salad is a thing. Or, if it's not. It should be.
A note on the fish: Be sure to use sushi-grade fish with this salad. It's the right thing to do. It is more pricey than regular salmon but the splurge is well worth it as buying sushi-grade fish protects you from some pretty terrifying stuff.
I used salmon in this recipe because it happened to be less expensive than the other types of sushi fish my grocery store offered. However, this salad would be 100% amazing with tuna, yellowtail, or even grilled unagi.
If you aren't into raw fish, try this with steamed shrimp or fish instead. Or, if you are vegetarian, go ahead and pile this up with tasty tofu.
Salmon Poke Salad
Makes one enormous serving
A sweet and salty salad inspired by my ever-present sushi craving.
For the Dressing
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) ginger syrup* (recipe here)
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) furikake or toasted sesame seeds (recipe here)
*If making or buying ginger syrup is too much of a pain, try using 2 tablespoons of maple syrup with 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger instead.
For the Salad
- 4 ounces sushi-grade salmon
- 1 cup chopped lettuce
- 1/4 cup shredded cabbage
- 1/4 cup shredded carrots
- 1/4 cup sliced cucumber
- 1/4 cup diced avocado (about 1/2 medium-large avocado)
- 1 tablespoons (30 ml) sliced scallion
- Combine the dressing ingredients in small mason jar fitted with tight lid. Shake vigorously.
- Combine salad ingredients in large bowl. Add dressing to taste.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Randall's. Thank you Randall's for sponsoring this post. Check out the new Signature family of brands from Randall's, with more than 4,000 Signature products available and a 100% money-back guarantee.
Last week my younger sister made a joke about how she never bothers to clean her bedroom until she has more important things to do. I don't know about you, but that statement really sums up my signature style of procrastination - not to mention dieting!
It seems like every time I make a vow to live off of salads and water I come up with a brilliant recipe that either involves copious amounts of carbs, cheese, or bacon. This time I really went for it and made something with all three!
When I decide to make comfort food I really like to go all out. While the craving for salty, fatty, crunchy goodness could certainly be satisfied with a more traditional recipe - you know me. I like to put my own spin on things. I suppose that's my signature move in the kitchen, taking something classic and giving it an unexpected twist.
The inspiration for this recipe started with a few key ingredients that I received from Randall's. They asked me to work on a recipe using foods from their new NEW Signature line of products. We have a Randall's in our neighborhood in South Austin so this was a natural fit. CC and I have cruised those aisles many times and as a person who loves to cook, but also lives on a tight budget, I was delighted to learn more about this new line of products.
The NEW Signature line, available exclusively at Randall's, includes more than 4,000 items – from coffee to juice, soup to cereal, fresh produce to fried chicken, and delicious prepared foods to trusted home staples – all with a 100% money back guarantee. The Signature brand includes products across six product sectors – Signature SELECT™, Signature Kitchens™, Signature Farms™, Signature Cafe®, Signature Home™, and Signature Care™, including a wide assortment of pantry staples, delicious prepared foods, fresh produce and ingredients that bring delight to any dish.
With a whole store-full of Signature products to choose from I had to listen to my heart in order to choose a recipe to work on. Lucky for you, my heart was yearning for a big fat baked potato. I thought it would be fun to satisfy the potato craving by making gnocchi, a simple pasta dumpling made with mashed potato, flour, egg, and a pinch of salt.
Making your own gnocchi might sound a little advanced but if you have an extra ten minutes to spend on dinner I dare you to try it out. Gnocchi are simple to make compared to noodle pastas. The simple roll and slice technique I use to make my gnocchi is surprisingly quick and extremely forgiving, making it a great choice for your first adventure into homemade pasta.
What's your signature style? Randall's invites shoppers to join in the conversation by sharing Signature stories, photos and videos online using #MySignatureMoments.
Don't forget to enter the giveaway included at the bottom of this post. 40 lucky winners will receive gift cards so that they can check out Randall's new Signature products themselves!
Loaded Cheddar Potato Gnocchi
Makes six 1-cup servings
This rich and flavorful pasta dish will really stick to your ribs - even when served in small portions. Try pairing it with something a little lighter, like a crispy salad of iceburg or romaine lettuce or a plate of steamed broccoli.
For the Toppings
- 8 oz. sliced bacon
- 1 15.25-oz. (432 g) can Signature Whole Kernel Golden Sweet Corn
- 1 4-oz. (113g) can Signature Mild Diced Green Chiles
- 2 teaspoons Signature Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup shredded extra-sharp chedder cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh chives, minced
For the Sauce
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- 1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the Gnocchi
- 2 pounds Signature Red Potato, peeled and cut in halves
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover them with cold water. Place the pot on the stove top and heat over high until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let the potatoes simmer for about 30 minutes, or until they are tender enough to be broken up with a fork. Drain the potatoes and then mash or rice them until they are well smashed. Set aside to cool as you work on the rest of the recipe.
- Pre-heat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Place the strips of bacon on the lined sheet and then bake for 20-25 minutes, or until crisp and slightly brown. Remove the bacon from the oven and transfer the strips to a dish lined with several layers of paper towel.
- Next you'll make the cheese sauce. Start by warming the milk. You can heat the milk on the stovetop in a pan or in a heat-safe container in the microwave. It does not need to be brought to a boil but you'll want to get it nice and hot.
- Melt the butter in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat. Lower the heat if necessary. Be careful not to let the butter brown or burn. As soon as the butter has melted, add the flour and begin whisking. Whisk continuously for 1-2 minutes - until the mixture takes on a very subtle toasted smell. Whisk about 1/3 of the milk into the sauce pan and mix until it is totally dissolved. Add the rest of the milk, then increase the heat on the burner to medium-high or high. Again, you don't want the sauce to burn so be sure and whisk it continuously. When it begins to bubble reduce the heat back to medium-low.
- Add the cream cheese and stir until it has melted. Add the shredded cheddar and monterey jack 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well in between each addition. When all of the cheese has melted, add the salt and cayenne pepper. Give it one last good whisk before tasting it. If it's at all bland, try adding another pinch of salt. Turn the burner off and let the sauce sit as you work on the other parts of the recipe.
- Increase the oven temperature to 400F. Drain the canned corn and canned green chiles before tossing them together in a mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and black pepper. Crumble or chop the bacon into small bits and add it to the bowl. Stir the ingredients and then spread them out on a baking sheet. Roast for about 15 minutes - just long enough to slightly brown the ingredients.
- While the toppings are being roasted you can start the gnocchi. Set a large pot of water (with 1/4 teaspoon of salt) on the stove to boil. Whisk the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. In a second bowl, combine the egg and potatoes, then add the flour. Stir the mixture until it comes together. Knead for about 30 seconds. Cut the dough into four sections, then cover with a towel.
- Turn one chunk of dough out onto a floured surface and roll it into a long cylinder - about 1/2-inch thick. Slice the tube into 1/2-inch pieces, dust them with a little flour, and place them on a dish. Continue with the rest of the dough until it has all been cut. You'll only need half of the gnocchi for this recipe so you can freeze the rest.*
- When the pot of water has come to a rolling boil, add the gnocchi and let them boil for about five minutes - or until the pasta floats. Drain and rinse with cold water for about 20 seconds - just long enough to make sure they stop cooking.
- Stir the cheese sauce and reheat over low heat, if necessary. Portion the gnocchi into bowls, top with cheese sauce, shredded cheddar, the corn, chile, and bacon mixture, and fresh chives. Serve immediately.
*To freeze the extra gnocchi, spread it on a dish lined with wax or parchment paper. Place the dish in the freezer and let them freeze until they've hardened completely (about 1 hour). The frozen gnocchi can be stored in freezer bags for up to three months.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
Recently I've become sort of borderline addicted to those chopped salad kits at the grocery store. The thin-cut strips of hearty kale and crisp cabbage mixed with crunchy toppings make the whole salad for dinner thing surprisingly satisfying. As much as I enjoy the two whole flavors my local produce section offers I'm beginning to feel a little like Bill Murray in Groundhog's Day. Plus, the environmentalist in me suffers a small twinge of guilt every time I ripped open one of those plastic bags.
Salad, really? I can't make my own salad? How did we get here?
Sad to say after twenty months of motherhood I still have not gotten my groove back in the kitchen. My sweet little dumpling of a toddler continues to make putting together even the most simple of meals an act of culinary wizardry.
So, yeah, salad in bags is a pretty regular thing in our house - but ever since I tried (and loved) my first chopped salad I knew I had to try making some of my own. This week I finally got my chance. This colorful slaw of a salad starts off with a base of shredded cabbage and latacino (dinosaur) kale. I added shredded carrots, sliced scallion, and red bell pepper, then dressed the whole thing in a simple soy and sesame vinaigrette.
I must admit to being a little surprised at how much better this was than the bagged chopped salad I've been eating. I forgot how dry and bland the veggies in those bags are compared to something freshly chopped. It turns out making my own was totally worth the effort.
Mandarin Sesame Chopped Salad
Makes about two 2-cup servings
The real star of this salad is the fresh mandarin. This time of year we're spoiled for choice when it comes to citrus so I would encourage you to experiment with different types of oranges, mandarins, and grapefruits to use in your salads. I chose my family's favorite, the sumo mandarin for this salad. The segments were so huge that I actually had to chop them up before diving in!
I sprinkled a scoop of raw sprouted pumpkin seeds on top for crunch and salt. These can easily be replaced by any seed or nut you like. Try sesame, sunflower, or cashews for a little change of pace. This salad will begin to break down shortly after the dressing is added so if you'd like to pack it as a lunch or prepare it ahead of time just store the dressing separately.
For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey (or maple syrup)
- 2 teaspoons hot mustard (or horseradish sauce)
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch pepper
For the salad:
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 1 cup shredded latacino (dinosaur) kale
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into matchsticks
- 1 large mandarin orange, peeled and segmented
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, and mustard in a small bowl and whisk together. While whisking rigorously, drizzle in the avocado and sesame oils followed by the salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Place the cabbage, kale, carrot, and red bell pepper in a large bowl.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
- Top salad with mandarin orange segments and pumpkin seeds.
- Enjoy immediately!
A simple Japanese rice seasoning using healthy ingredients like flax seed meal, sesame seeds, and kelp powder.
I know some of you might be thinking "Furi-what now?". I'll admit, furikake is not the most mainstream condiment out there. It is, however, one of my personal favorites, and something that I've loved the heck out of since my Japanese restaurant days.
Furikake is basically a topping for rice (and also sometimes noodles or other dishes). It's often made from sesame seeds and seaweed but there are lots of different varieties and flavors using everything from garlic to dried egg to spice things up.
Depending on the selection of Japanese foods at your grocery store you may be able to find a jar during a normal grocery trip. Or, if your city has an Asian market (we have some GREAT ones in Austin) than you could even find several types of furikake to try out.
I've been meaning to make my own furikake for some time now, and was finally inspired to take the plunge while brainstorming ways to sneak more omega into my diet. Ground flaxseed blends into furikake quite well - giving the seasoning a mild nutty flavor that works really well with sesame and seaweed.
You can shake this lovely stuff all over rice, quinoa, noodles, or roasted vegetables to add a dash of salty, umami flavor.
My personal favorite way to enjoy furikake is simple. I start with a small bowl of freshly steamed rice, squirt a little soy sauce or liquid amino on top, then sprinkle the bowl liberally with furikake. This makes an amazing side or a wholesome snack - the perfect comfort food for anyone who loves rice as much as I do.
Flax Seed Furikake
Makes about 1/2 cup
- 1/4 cup white sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon kelp granules
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
- Combine the sesame seeds and flax seeds in a small skillet and toast over medium heat. Make sure to continuously move the ingredients in the skillet by gently shaking the pan as they toast. When you start to smell the sesame they are finished. Immediately remove the seeds from the pan into a small mixing bowl.
- Add the kelp granules and mix well.
- Allow the mixture to cool completely before transferring it to a small jar or shaker with an airtight lid.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Whole Foods Market
Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day but if you ask me, it is equally the most challenging. That is, it becomes challenging when you try to make sure it meets all of your very particular requirements for nutrition, speed, and taste. I actually have a very easy time eating breakfast - as long as it involves cream cheese and excessive carbohydrates. I know! I KNOW!
So I need to do better at breakfast. Another area that could use improvement is my overall nutrition. In my pre-baby life I ate well - like REALLY well. So well that I knew without a doubt that my nutritional needs were being met regularly and in the best possible way - through real food. These days I don't eat so well. I'm still adjusting to my new life as a mother and well, to be frank, still struggling to get my recently widened rear-end back in the kitchen!
Enter supplements, modern life's little shortcut to making sure that I DO get everything I need on a daily basis. I was invited to my local Whole Foods earlier this week to discuss what supplements might help get me back on track. With their resident Whole Body expert, Terri, I found a brand new probiotic and a solid multi-vitamin before delving into the world of fatty acid and antioxidant supplements, which are available in both pill and liquid form, and are present in food ingredients like flax oil and chia seeds.
If you'd like to create or revamp a supplement regimen I highly recommend visiting your local Whole Foods and speaking with someone in their Whole Body section to help get you started. It just so happens that this weekend is a great time to do so as Whole Foods is having a huge 3-Day sale on supplements. Between Friday, January 8 and Sunday, January 10 Whole Foods will be offering their entire selection of supplements at 25% off. I even have a $25 gift card to get one lucky reader started. (Giveaway widget below.)
So, back to breakfast. I know enough about health to realize that popping a few pills every morning is not enough. I need breakfast! I took advantage of this supplement education to work on a breakfast recipe that would be filling, nutritious, and most importantly really quick and easy to make. What better vehicle for protein, antioxidants, and soluble fiber is there than the great and powerful smoothie? And just to mix things up a little, this particular smoothie is meant to be enjoyed hot.
Hot smoothies. It's a thing.
Being new to protein powders I took Terri's recommendation to try out Whole Food's new Plant-Based Fit Protein in the Vanilla Cinnamon flavor. It's unsweetened and contains a few extra goodies, like green coffee extract, in addition to the totally vegan protein. I also used my own homemade Almond Milk in this recipe. When heated, it thickens the smoothie nicely and, of course, tastes way better than almond milk from the store. You can, however, use plain or sweetened store-bought Almond Milk and whatever variety of protein powder you like to make your smoothie.
Vanilla Almond Hot Breakfast Smoothie
Makes one 10-oz serving (or two 5-oz servings)
This hot smoothie recipe is packed with protein, antioxidants, and deliciousness. It can be enjoyed cold but in my opinion is much much better served hot. Try making a double or triple batch to keep in the fridge and heat on demand for instant breakfasts all week.
A note on sweetness: This was very sweet (like a dessert) when I added five dates along with my homemade Almond Milk which is also mildly sweet. You can add more or less dates and sweet or unsweetened Almond Milk to suit your own personal taste.
- 10 ounces (1 1/4 cup) Vanilla Almond Milk (recipe here)
- 1 scoop Whole Foods Plant-Based Fit Protein in Vanilla Cinnamon
- 2 to 5 pitted dates
- 1 tablespoon filtered virgin flax seed oil
- Combine ingredients in a blender and puree until very smooth. (About three minutes)
- Transfer mixture to a saucepan and heat to taste. This drink can also be microwaved in a heat-safe mug in quick 30-second bursts until heated through.
I have a $25 gift card to share! Use the widget below to enter.
I'm not one of those people who obsessively makes every ingredient in their pantry from scratch.
Don't get me wrong. I'd LIKE to be one of those people. I've even tried to be. Unfortunately, that kind of 100% total from-scratch lifestyle just isn't in the cards during this particular stage of my life. At this point, if I can cook a meal at home instead of driving through some god-forsaken window somewhere I call that a win.
So you might be surprised to know that I prefer making my almond milk at home, from scratch. There are a few reasons I do this. The most noble would be to avoid drinking all kinds of wacky stabilizers and preservatives added to commercial almond milk. The less virtuous motivation (and possibly the more pressing of the two) is that homemade almond milk tastes AMAZING. It's seriously so much better than anything you can buy at the store.
Is it an extra step? Yes. Is it a little slow and sometimes even a bit annoying? Sure. Is it worth the trouble? You bet your sweet bippy it is.
To make a very basic, non-sweetened, non-flavored almond milk simply omit the vanilla beans and dates from this recipe - then go home to your pristine lair of virtue and judge me. I need some sweetness in my life. I figure dates are not the worst variety. This recipe yields a very mildly sweet milk. If you want it to be extra sweet just add a few extra dates.
By the way, squeezing the milk through a questionably named device - the nut bag (ahem), is the best way to get a really smooth, pulp-free milk. The second best method is to strain through cheese cloth. That's very effective, but it does take a while with all the dripping and waiting involved. I don't know about you, but I haven't got all day to spend milking nuts.
The fastest method is to strain through a fine mesh strainer, but there is a drawback. This method allows much more pulp to get into the milk. Whether or not that bugs you is really up to personal taste. As long as you are using unpasteurized almonds to make your milk (see *note below) it shouldn't result in a big difference in flavor. I've tried it both ways, and you can see the difference in the following photo. The milk made with cheesecloth is on the left and the milk made with a mesh strainer is on the right.
Vanilla Almond Milk
Makes about 3 1/2 cups
- Soak the almonds and vanilla beans in water for 24-48 hours.
- Transfer mixture to a blender and blend on highest setting for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture is fairly smooth and frothy.
- Strain the mixture through a nut bag, cheesecloth, or a fine mesh strainer.
- Refrigerate for up to one week.
*I've seen these available at Whole Foods, Amazon, and occasionally at other hippie-dippie type grocery stores. Thrive Market also carries them. There is actually a huge difference (to my taste anyway) between pasteurized and unpasteurized almonds. The latter being far more bitter than the untouched variety.
Perfect for the holiday by-week, this quick and simple smoothie provides a boost of vitamins A, B5, C, and E, along with a little Zinc. I always find that my body needs a bit of extra love during this awkward stretch of days between Christmas and New Year's.
This time of year has its perks, but the cookies, presents, and general revelry are often accompanied by health busters. Stuff like emotional overload, physical exhaustion, cranky tummies, germs germs germs abound. Between travel and indulgence there is a pretty good chance of getting dehydrated to boot.
Bottom line? Too much fun can be tough on your body so it's good idea to boost your defenses in between feast days. Smoothies to the rescue!
Bells & Berries Smoothie
Makes about 16 ounces
This vitamin-packed smoothie is on the mellow side, sweetness-wise. It has a thick and creamy texture which can be thinned out by adding a little extra coconut water (up to 1/4 cup extra). When measuring the diced peppers and frozen raspberries make sure to include a little extra to make up for the empty space in your measuring cup. Heaping measurements of each usually work out just right.
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup coconut water
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (can be squeezed from about 1 lime)
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper (about 1/2 a pepper)
- 1/2 cup ripe avocado (about 1/2 an avocado, medium soft)
- 1 cup frozen raspberries
Add the orange juice, coconut water, and lime juice to the blender. Next add the bell pepper and avocado. Finally, top it off with the frozen berries. Blend until smooth (about1-2 minutes). Enjoy immediately!
One year ago: Jack Gilmore's Shrimp & Cheesy Grits
Two years ago: Twelve Root Veggie Recipes that Rock
Three years ago: Meyer Lemon & Pomegranate Ceviche
Four years ago: Creamy Chipotle & Quinoa Sweet Potato Casserole
I'm probably not the only one whose most ingrained memories of the holiday season revolve around food. There are certain recipes that bring me right back to a lifetime of crowded Thanksgiving tables and bustling Christmas Kitchens. My Grandfather's lobster bisque, my Mother's eggnog sugar cookies, and my Dad's Belgian waffles are just a few that come to mind.
It's not just the memories, or even the flavors that designate certain recipes as holiday foods. It's also the time and care involved in the preparation of these treats. It's not everyday that we spend hours working on a meal for our loved ones. (At least it isn't for me.) In a world where almost anything can be delivered to your door the act of cooking something from scratch is truly an act of love. That's what the holidays are all about, right?
Over the years I've noticed a few new recipes making it into the holiday rotation. I guess that's a sort of rite of passage in our family - making your own mark on the family table. I wonder which recipes my son will remember when he grows up? Maybe his mama's Almond Cake?
Nut cakes, like this one, have become coveted holiday treats in our household over the past few years. My husband is especially fond of them so I make sure to bake one for him every Christmas. They take a little extra effort and the cost of ingredients is on the dear side, so this isn't the kind of cake I throw together for just anything. It is a decidedly celebratory confection, and with over a full pound of almonds in every batch it is more than gift-worthy!
One step in this recipe that may be new to you is blanching almonds. It is a little bit time consuming, but like I said, this is holiday baking, so pour yourself a nice little glass of something, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to embrace the extra effort. The result will be well worth the extra ten minutes this step will take you.
How to Blanch Almonds
- Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil.
- Drop the almonds into the water and boil for three minutes.
- Drain the almonds into a colander and rinse with cold water until they are cool enough to handle.
- Pick up a small handful of almonds and rub them between your palms. The peels should slide off easily.
- Separate the peels from the naked almonds and repeat until you've disrobed them all.
I used Organic Whole Wheat Flour to bind this cake. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat Flour is stone ground from organic hard red wheat and has all of the nutritious bran and germ still intact. Nothing is lost in the process of grinding the flour! I often replace all or part of the flour in my baking recipes with Whole Wheat Flour. It's robust flavor does a great job of toning down baked goods that are overly sweet and adds a boost of vitamins, minerals and protein to my recipes.
If you are new to using Organic Whole Wheat Flour in sweets and desserts, fear not. The rule of substitution is fairly simple. In most cases you can swap Organic Whole Wheat Flour for the entire portion of All-Purpose Flour in a recipe. Using the Organic Whole Wheat Flour will result in a slightly nuttier, and somewhat heartier final product.
In my opinion, this added nuttiness often improves things like fruit cakes, quick breads, muffins, and chocolate chip cookies. For more delicate recipes, like cupcakes or sugar cookies, try substituting only half of the All-Purpose Flour with Organic Whole Wheat Flour. Bob's Red Mill is offering a printable coupon so you can give this a try with your next batch of baked goodies.
After you are finshed making these cakes you will have plenty of Organic Whole Wheat Flour leftover to experiment with. It is perfect for bread-baking. I highly recommend blending it into your pretzels, pizza crusts, and stromboli.
Whole Grain Mini Almond Pound Cakes
Makes five mini loaves
This rich, buttery pound cake is made with whole wheat flour and blanched almonds. Try replacing all or a portion of the almonds with another nut such as pistachio, hazelnut, or pecan. This cake is delicious the day it is baked but reaches its prime about three days after baking. The nut oils condense the cake, making the texture extra dense. Serve alone, or with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
For the cake:
- 16 ounces blanched almonds
- 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- the grated zest of 1 lemon
- 3 sticks (3/4 pound) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- the grated zest of 1 lemon
- the juice of 2 lemons
- 1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
- Preheat the oven to 325 F.
- Grease and flour five mini loaf pans then set them on top of a baking sheet. Set aside.
- Finely chop the almonds using a food processor. They should be chopped until they reach a uniform, sand-like texture.
- Combine the whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt in a small mixing bowl. Whisk together.
- Mix the sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Once blended, add the butter and cream on medium-high until light and fluffy (about three minutes).
- Reduce the speed of the mixer then add the eggs one at a time. Follow with the extracts.
- Add the chopped almonds followed by the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
- Scoop the batter evenly into the five loaf pans.
- Bake for sixty minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of one cake. The toothpick will come out dry when the cake has finished baking.
- Allow the cakes to cool on the pan for about fifteen minutes. After that, turn them out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.
- To make the topping, combine the sugar, lemon zest, and juice in a small saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and allow the syrup to simmer for ten minutes. Turn off the heat, add the almonds, and stir to coat them well.
- Spread the coated almonds over the tops of the cooled cakes.
Sometimes I like to roast up a huge baking sheet of broccoli and eat it piece by piece until I don't even want to think the word vegetable. This usually involves some pretty simple preparation - a dash of oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Maybe when it comes out I might squirt some lemon over the whole thing. That's all I really need to enjoy myself: peace, quiet, and a savory snack. An added bonus to this particular pig-out is that I have noone to compete with. Under my nagging eye Scott Bobleo will grudgingly fill the requisite third of his dinner plate with green vegetables, but you would never EVER catch him snacking on a piece of broccoli for fun - no matter how much lemon was involved.
So I knew when I pulled a head of cauliflower from my Farmhouse Delivery box I would be eating the whole thing myself. While oil, salt, and pepper would have done the job handsomely I decided to spice it up by adding some Curry Powder. I'd recently tried the same ingredient on my popcorn. It wasn't bad, but butter, salt, and garlic powder remains my favorite way to address a popcorn craving. Anyway, I still had curry powder fresh in my mind, so onto the veggies it went.
The verdict? Curry powder is WAY more delicious on cauliflower than it is on popcorn. I could totally sit down with a bowl of this stuff and eat my way through a movie. Speaking of movies - have you seen any good ones lately? I find myself so far out of that particular loop that I don't even recognize the names on the theater signs as we drive by. Because I haven't seen any commercials or previews to accompany those names they all sound like jokes to me. I drive by and imagine each title as an SNL sketch. You can imagine my tittering when I saw the sign reading 22 Jump Street.
This makes me the worst person in the whole world to be stuck behind at a Redbox. Recommendations from the outside world would be most welcome. Once a week or so I get a chance to sit down with Scott and watch 1 or 2 hours of TV. It would be great if we could spend at least half of it actually WATCHING a movie instead of trying to think of something to watch.
So back to the cauliflower. Baking sheet, oil, salt, pepper, curry powder. Yes yes yes.
Curry Roasted Cauliflower
Makes 1 serving 4 servings
- 1 Head Cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- a sprinkling of salt and pepper (to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Cut the stem off of the cauliflower. Trim the dry end from the stem, then use the tip of your knife to separate the little blooms of cauliflower from the stem. Slice them in half when necessary to make them all bite-sized. Dice the leftover stem. (That is - if you are into eating the stem - if not, chuck it. I won't tell anyone.)
- Toss the chopped cauliflower with the oil, then add the curry powder, salt, and pepper, then toss again until the curry powder coats the cauliflower pretty evenly.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat mat. Spread the cauliflower over the sheet evenly.
- Roast for 20 to 40 minutes (depending on how you like it cooked). Roast 20 minutes for chewy cauliflower and 40 minutes for crispy cauliflower. 30 minutes will get you somewhere in between.
- Taste, and add a little more salt if it seems at all bland. A little crushed red pepper wouldn't hurt either.
I love the way this little guy explores his world without fear. He doesn't seem to be afraid of anything, and even through the tough spots (like his first cold and popping two teeth out in the same day) he works hard at staying happy. He's just a really great person and it's been magical getting to know him as his personality really starts to blossom.
Hitting the six month mark meant getting started on solid foods. He's been grabbing for my own food (and even making chewing motions and puppy whimpers at it) for a while now so I figured he would have no problem getting down with whatever I put in front of him. He's so easy-going, right?
Wrong! Once again I have been reminded that you can never predict how a child will approach something new. He tolerated his first spoon feeding pretty well (sweet potato purée) though he did seem a little wary of the whole thing (and there was a lot more coughing and hacking then I expected) but then he refused to eat it the next day. Then we tried green peas (nope), apples (gross), banana (are you kidding?), avocado (disgusting). Even rice cereal, the most basic and classic of all baby foods, was rejected.
I was shocked. After a week or so of letting him try purées I took to the internet. The general advice was to just give the whole thing a rest and try it again once a week or so until he seemed more interested. That seemed reasonable, but another idea that I heard again and again was that maybe CC didn't hate food at all - maybe he just hated the spoon.
I had heard about baby led weaning, but I didn't initially go with that approach because I felt like I really wanted yo see him swallowing effectively before giving him something actually literally solid. Now I decided to give it a try - starting out with some tiny chunks of banana.
He really enjoyed it - that is until some banana actually found its way into his mouth. Then he was all HACK, SPIT, BLECHHH.
He had so much fun squishing the food and making a mess that we continued, and over the last week he has smashed avocados, bananas, and sweet potato with glee. Yesterday he even ate some banana! At least, we thought he ate it. Twenty minutes later he started squirting mashed banana from his cheeks into his fingers and then into the rug. He'd squirreled it away in his cheeks, that little rascal!
So, to sum up - feeding babies is surprisingly challenging, but expectedly messy.
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