roasted cauliflower and chicken sausage casserole

April 6, 2015 § 35 Comments


I just can’t stop buying cauliflower.  It’s as though I am making up for lost time because for years I wouldn’t touch the stuff.  There are so many delightful ways to prepare cauliflower and here’s an interesting casserole with plenty of room for modification. This particular recipe is the “full on” gluten and dairy free version. If you prefer you could replace the almond meal and nutritional yeast with parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs for a toasted crunchy top.  The combination of textures and flavors in this dish are outstanding and it is suitable as a one dish meal.  We used both spicy and mild Italian chicken sausage.   It’s a hearty meal that doesn’t leave you feeling stuffed. Clean eating and a simple recipe.


Serve with a leafy green salad.

The recipe is from the Clean Eats cookbook written by Alejandro Junger.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower (roughly 2 pounds) cut into bite size florets
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for the baking dish
  • 1/2 pound raw organic Italian chicken sausages, nitrate and sugar free, removed from casings
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • leaves of 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1- 28 ounce can whole organic peeled tomatoes, drained and the liquid reserved (the reserved liquid can be omitted to achieve less tomato flavor)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast or you can use parmesan cheese

M e t h o d

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Lightly coast a 9 x 12 baking dish with olive oil.  In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with half of the minced garlic and one tablespoon olive oil.  Spread the cauliflower on a baking sheet and roast for approximately 20 minutes, turning them frequently. When the cauliflower is evenly browned remove from the oven and set aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the sausage and break it up.  Cook for 10 – 12 minutes until it is cooked through and beginning to get crispy.  Lower the heat to medium low and add the onions, the remaining garlic and thyme.  Sauté the mixture for about 5 minutes.  Crush the tomatoes and add them to the pan.  Stir thoroughly, add the remaining tomato sauce, if desired, and sauté for 5 more minutes.  Turn off the heat and taste.  Add salt and pepper if necessary.  Stir in the cauliflower.

In the prepared baking dish, distribute the cauliflower and sausage mixture evenly.  In a small bowl combine the almond meal and nutritional yeast (or parmesan) and sprinkle over the casserole.  Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.  Let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4



quinoa spaghetti and turkey meatballs

March 30, 2015 § 63 Comments


We’ve shifted our diet around a bit.  I am strictly buying organic foods now and we have cut out a few things.  One being gluten.  Although we don’t consider ourselves gluten intolerant (thank goodness) we decided to eliminate it for two weeks just to see what would happen.  And boy were we were surprised.  Our energy level came up significantly, that feeling of fullness disappeared, we are sleeping better and have dropped a few inches from our waistline.


At this point we are not completely gluten free, but we are making different choices when buying foods that contain gluten.  You can imagine while deciding to minimize the amount of gluten in our food the first thing that crossed my mind was pasta.  I can remove all kinds of things from my diet but pasta was going to be a huge challenge.   Semolina pasta is my comfort food.  Then lo and behold while shopping at the co-op the other day I stumbled upon a little box of quinoa pasta.  The spaghetti we usually purchase is available in 16 ounce (one pound) boxes.  This little box was only 8 ounces.  I paid for it and couldn’t wait to get home to start the meatballs.


We were pleasantly surprised with the chewy “al dente” texture of the quinoa pasta and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a gluten free spaghetti option.  And I must say it felt right cooking that little 8 ounce box rather than a whole pound of spaghetti.   We were completely satiated.


Served with a sprinkling of parmesan.

I n g r e d i e n t s

Turkey Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground organic free range ground turkey
  • 1/2 purple onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 – 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • handful parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

M e t h o d

Sauce.  Using a large pot heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the crushed garlic cloves and cook until fragrant.  Do not brown.  Add the can of crushed tomatoes and lower the heat to low.  Add salt and allow to simmer.

Meatballs.  Place all ingredients in a bowl, remove your rings and mix well with your hands.  Create golf ball sized meatballs and dropped them evenly into your tomato sauce as you go.  Do not stir.  You may break up the meatballs.  Instead, take the pot by the handles and swirl the meatballs around a bit to evenly coat with sauce.  Cover and continue to simmer giving it a swirl every now and then.

Pesto.  Before you prepare the pesto, place a large pot of water on high heat.  For a quick and efficient method you may place all the pesto ingredients in a food processor and whizz.  Otherwise, chopped and mince your ingredients and place them all in a bowl and stir.  When the water is boiling cook your pasta according to the package instructions.

When pasta is done, drain and return to the pot.  Toss the pasta with the pesto. Add a few large spoonfuls of tomato sauce and toss.  Serve with a little more sauce, meatballs and parmesan.

Serves 3 with leftover meatballs.

roast chicken and potatoes with thyme, lemon and garlic

March 23, 2015 § 56 Comments


If you are interested in roasting a whole chicken this is the one for you.  This recipe is from Tessa Kiros’ Apples for Jam.  Not only is the chicken wonderfully moist and fork tender but the potatoes are similar to what you will find in a small taverna on a Greek island.  Lemon, butter, thyme, and garlic roasted along with the juices of the chicken create honest to goodness, melt in your mouth potatoes. This recipe calls for whipping cream to make a luscious sauce at the end to pour over the chicken.  We have skipped the sauce and the chicken is fabulous without. Tessa’s recipe only calls for 4 cloves of garlic but in my opinion if you don’t use at least 8 or so you’ll be competing for them at the dinner table.


As Tessa mentions, you will have to use a roasting pan that can also be put on the stovetop to heat up the sauce.  If you don’t have anything suitable, you can transfer all the chicken juices to a small saucepan.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 organic, pasture raised chicken (about 3-1/2 pounds)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
  • 10 thyme sprigs
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 or 7 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 4 – 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup water, plus 4 to 5 tablespoons
  • 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Wipe the chicken with paper towels and put breast side down in a large roasting pan.  Put a little salt, a garlic clove, 3 thyme sprigs and 1 bay leave in the cavity of the chicken.  Place the potatoes and remaining garlic around and pour the lemon juice over the top.  Rub the skin of the chicken with some of the butter and dot the rest over the potatoes.  Bury the rest of the thyme sprigs  and bay leaves under the potatoes, then sprinkle salt on the potatoes and the chicken.  Pour 1 cup of water around the edge of the pan.

Roast for about one hour or until the chicken is nicely golden, then turn it over and shuffle the potatoes around.  Spoon the pan juices over the top of the chicken and potatoes and sprinkle salt over the new top of the chicken.  Roast for about 30 more minutes, shuffling the potatoes around again halfway through without breaking them up too much, or until the chicken is deep golden and crispy and its juices run clear.  Transfer the chicken to a generous serving platter with a bit of a raised edge and arrange the potatoes around the chicken.  Keep warm.

Put the roasting pan of cooking juices over medium heat on the stovetop.  Using a wooden spoon, scrape up all the golden bits from the sides and bottom of the pan.  If there isn’t much liquid, add 4 to 5 tablespoons of water.  Bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened.  Stir the cream through and let it all bubble up, whisking so it all comes together as one.  Pour over the chicken on the platter and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

chickpea, tomato and bread soup

October 31, 2014 § 77 Comments


How about this for a hearty soup!  Actually it is more like a stew.  A thick Tuscan stew also known as ribollita.  Ribollita is a traditional hearty Tuscan soup typically using day old bread to add body and thicken the broth.  We used rustic sour dough which added a delightful tart flavor .  The spoonful of basil pesto was a brilliant move only Ottolenghi could dream up.  Yes, this sensational soup is from Yotam Ottolenghi.


There are many ways to prepare ribollita.  It is simple, earthy and made from whatever vegetables and day old bread is on hand, and is eaten in the fall and winter months.  The word ribollita means “reboiled” and is used to refer to this soup because it requires a bit of cooking to get the right flavor and texture.  Ottolenghi uses fennel and onions for a nice balance of flavor and texture.


This is the second time I’ve made this stew in the past few weeks.   It’s heavenly and we love it.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, peeled & cut lengthways in half and sliced
  • 3 celery sticks, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 28 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups stale sourdough bread, crust removed
  • 15 ounce can chickpeas

P e s t o    I n g r e d i e n t s

  • handful basil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 heaping tablespoons parmesan
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pecans
  • a little salt

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Place the onion and fennel in a large soup pot, add 3 tablespoons of the oil and sauté on a medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and continue cooking for 4 minutes, just to soften the vegetables, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato paste and stir as you cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and let it bubble away for a minute or two.

Next, add the canned tomatoes with their juices, the herbs, sugar, vegetable stock and some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then cover and leave to simmer gently for a good 30 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, tear the bread into rough chunks and toss with 2 tablespoons oil, some salt and scatter in a roasting pan. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until thoroughly dry. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Prepare the basil pesto.  Place a small handful of basil leaves, 1/4 cup olive oil, two heaping tablespoons parmesan, two tablespoons pecans, one peeled garlic clove, and salt in a food processor and whizz until blended.

About 10 minutes before you want to serve the soup, place the chickpeas in a bowl and crush them a little with a potato masher or the end of a rolling pin; you want some to be left whole. Add them to the soup and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the toasted bread, stir well and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper liberally.
Ladle the hot soup into bowls. Spoon pesto in the centre, drizzle with plenty of olive oil and finish with a generous amount of freshly shredded basil, if you like.


Lacinato Kale and Mint Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

October 24, 2014 § 81 Comments


Admittedly, we don’t eat much kale in our house, and really for no other reason than I just don’t notice it when I’m at the market (as if it doesn’t exist).  Humph!  It’s the season for kale right now and I have been noticing towering stalks growing in gardens while walking around the neighborhood, and needless to say, sparking my eagerness to pick some up next trip to the market.


I found this recipe on Food 52 and only made one minor change by switching out the walnuts for pecans.  It’s out of this world delicious.  Now I have a reason to plant lacinato kale in my garden next season.  Perfect hearty salad for this time of year.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • bunch of lacinato kale, chopped very small, almost minced
  • cup fresh mint, minced
  • cup pecans, chopped

spicy peanut dressing

  • tablespoons smooth natural peanut butter
  • 3-6 tablespoons warm water (to achieve desired consistency)
  • tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • tablespoon soy sauce
  • teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
  • teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • teaspoon sesame oil
  • teaspoon dried red chili flakes
Toss the chopped kale, chopped mint and pecans together.Add all dressing ingredients into a blender, starting with only 3 tablespoons of warm water and whirl until smooth.  Add more warm water until you achieve a drizzly dressing consistency.Toss half of the dressing with the salad.  Add more as desired.  I only used 1/2 of the dressing for one large bunch of kale.DSCN2976

luscious cauliflower soup

October 17, 2014 § 73 Comments

DSCN2940 Someone asked me the other day if I usually know in advance what I am making for dinner.  I had to pause and think about the answer for a moment because I am always aware of what’s in my refrigerator and have a general idea of what I will be cooking for dinner.  However, a majority of the time I don’t actually make what I originally had in mind when I bought the ingredients.  This cauliflower soup is a perfect example.   We have been enjoying  this wonderful warm cauliflower cous cous with chili and lime and this was part of my plan for dinner last Wednesday, and the reason I purchased cauliflower. IMG_2755 Fall weather is definitely here and it happened to be a cool wet day.  I spent some time outside and admittedly a bit unprepared for the cool misty day in my canvas Converse sneakers, which left me chilled and damp footed for the rest of the day.  As I was driving home from work, with the heater blasting my feet, I thought about the warm cauliflower salad and I couldn’t wait for dinner.   Nevertheless with the chill in the air (and cold feet) I couldn’t get my mind off of a pot of soup simmering on the stove.  By the time I reached home I decided to make cauliflower soup instead.  This soup is very creamy and irresistible.  And to think I actually had creme fraiche in the refrigerator, unheard of!

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut up
  • 3 medium size potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 7 cups stock, chicken or vegetable
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 7 ounces creme fraiche
  • 1/2 cup good cheddar cheese
  • several chives for snipping on top

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the onions and cook until soft, 5 minutes.  Add potatoes and coat well.  Continue to cook for 5 minutes and add the cauliflower.  After cauliflower is well coated add the stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low continue to slow boil until potatoes are tender.  Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until desired consistency.  We like our soup to have a small amount of texture, so leaving some cauliflower and potato whole is preferred.  Add cheese, half & half and creme fraiche.  Stir in chive snippets and serve. DSCN2940

chili lime cucumber noodles

October 10, 2014 § 88 Comments

DSCN2913 Hello. It’s hard to imagine it’s October and I haven’t posted a single recipe since August 27th. Well, it isn’t because I haven’t been in the kitchen because I have been making dinner everyday and breakfast on the weekends.  Actually, the kitchen is my favorite place to be during these very busy times.  While some folks can not imagine entering the kitchen and cooking a meal after working all day; I happen to thrive on it.  I guess it can be considered my happy place!   Well, I’m back.  And I am  here to share some of my recent favorites.   I simply cannot get enough of these sensational pots of goodness.  First, if you share my sentiment for chana dal, try this recipe.  Wonderfully spicy, comforting and It happens to be my teenage son’s favorite dinner now and the leftovers are great for breakfast.  Another dish on high rotation in our kitchen is this french green lentil recipe I posted back in March; a truly delicious early spring dinner and even better in autumn.  Lastly, today’s recipe, chili lime cucumber noodles. Thank goodness my family enjoys cucumbers, and spicy chipotle, and arugula because this salad has been in the middle of  our dinner table on a number of  occasions for the past two months.  And it all started with this. DSCN2922 This is my new julienne peeler made by OXO.  A dear friend gave this to me a few months ago and I have been using it like I have never used a kitchen tool before.  Not only is it fun to use but it produces a satisfying texture to cucumbers, carrots, zucchini and even potatoes for hash browns.  It is a game changer.  Spring for it, you will be glad you did.  :) DSCN2909 This salad is very attractive and texturally crunchy.  It’s a little sweet from the honey, spicy from chipotle powder and plenty of salt, pepper and lime juice. There’s just a bit of olive oil and a big handful of arugula, mint and basil.  It’s delicious.  And you could use zucchini instead of cucumber, it is equally delightful.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • juice of one lime
  • chipotle chili powder, to taste
  • generous pinch of sea salt
  • 1 english cucumber, peeled into noodles with a julienne peeler
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • little squeeze of raw honey
  • 2-3 handfuls of arugula
  • 2 sprigs of mint, leaves chopped
  • 3 sprigs of basil, leaves chopped
  • ground black pepper

Combine the lime juice, salt, chipotle powder, olive oil, and honey in a small bowl.  Taste and add more chipotle heat or honey to your liking.  Toss with the cucumber noodles and arugula until evenly mixed. Add mint and basil and pepper to taste and give a few tosses to combine. Eat right away. DSCN2914

bacon “leafy green” tomato pasta

August 27, 2014 § 64 Comments

bacon lettuce tomato pasta

There is something exceptionally comforting about a bowl of pasta tossed with your favorite ingredients.   Even in the summertime a lovely herbaceous parsley pesto with a sprinkling of dry chili flakes is a perfect way to wind down and and enjoy the end of a hot summer day.  BLT sandwiches happen to be a favorite around here, so why not toss the ingredients together with a nice pasta such as mezze penne?  Rather than lettuce we used spinach.  Bacon “leafy green” tomato pasta.

garden fresh cherry tomatoes

The steps are quite simple.  You put eight slices of center cut bacon in a large skillet over medium heat and a pot of water on the stove to boil.  After the bacon is cooked to a crisp remove from the skillet and set aside.  Prepare the pesto and set aside.  Leave the kitchen for five minutes with both a pile of cooked bacon sitting on the counter and your hungry sixteen year old son sitting at the kitchen table with his computer.  Return to the kitchen and find there are only 4 slices left!  What?  Yes, that is exactly what happened.  Our BLT pasta only had a total of four slices of bacon.  Although wonderfully delicious, next time I make this (and I will) I’ll keep a better eye on that bacon!

parsley pesto

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 pound mezze penne pasta
  • 8 center cut bacon slices
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese


  • handful fresh parsley (about 1 cup once it is finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)

Put a large pot of water on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon; cook 6 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, slice and set aside.  Keep the skillet on the stove (no heat) with the bacon fat in it.

To make the pesto, put the parsley, parmesan, garlic, and salt in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds to combine.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then pulse again.  Drizzle in the olive oil while the machine is running just long enough to incorporate the oil.  Set aside while waiting for the pasta to cook.

Reheat skillet and add tomatoes to the bacon drippings;  cook 3 minutes or until tomatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

Drain the penne and return to the pot.  Toss with the pesto sauce until well coated.  Add the tomatoes and spinach to pasta and gently toss.

Serve with crumbled bacon and a sprinkling of parmesan.



plum kuchen

August 21, 2014 § 77 Comments


Plum season is upon us and it is time to bake a delicious plum cake!   I don’t typically do a whole lot of baking. I’m more of a savory kind of person as opposed to sweet (unless it’s a fruity pie or cake).  This is the kind of dessert that gets me baking, especially with stone fruit in season.  The wonderful thing about this cake is as the fruit bakes on top, the plums soften into a jammy consistency, which contrasts nicely with the light bready cake underneath.


I was bit surprised when I released the edge of the 9-inch spring form pan and the cake was only an inch and a half tall.  Not what I expected, but still humbly impressive with it’s beautfiully baked plums.  As it turns out I liked the thin cake, it was much lighter, a little less decadent.   Although there are several ways to make plum kuchen this recipe is wonderfully rustic and light. You could use a mix of black, red and yellow plums for contrasting flavor and color, or forego the plums and use your favorite stone fruit, such as apricots or peaches.

Recipe from Cooking Light Magazine.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 – 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cups plue 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt (a pinch)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 7 tablespoon butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use full fat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-1/2 pounds plums, quartered and pitted
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Combine flour, 2 tablespoon sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, 1/8 teaspoon salt and cardamom in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Cut in 4 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Combine milk, vanilla and egg in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined.

Spoon batter onto a 9-inch (prepared) springform pan.  Arrange plums in a circular patter over batter.   Combine remaining 2/3 cup sugar, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and lemon rind in a small bowl, stirring well.  Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter either on stovetop or microwave and stir into sugar mixture.  Sprinkle plums evenly with sugar mixture.  Bake at 425°F for 35 minutes or until browned and bubble.  Cool in pan 1 hour on a wire rack before removing springform.

radish leaf pesto

August 15, 2014 § 86 Comments


Did you know you can make a delicious pesto sauce with radish leaves?  Up until now I always tossed the leaves into the compost bin without much thought.  I brought home two fresh bunches of radishes from the market the other day and the greens were wonderfully alive, crisp and vibrantly green; I just had to use them instead of throwing them away.


Radish leaves don’t stay fresh for very long, and it’s best to separate them from the roots soon after harvesting or bringing them home from the market. Wash, dry and store the leaves like other salad greens and eat them within a day or two.


Garlic, fresh oregano, lemon juice, almonds, red pepper flakes and parmesan are all you need to add to your radish leaves for this wonderful pesto.  So, instead of throwing out the greens when you buy a bunch of radishes, turn them into a delicious pesto.


To blanch almonds simply drop raw almonds into boiling water for one minute.  Drain and rinse with cold water and the skins slip off effortlessly when pinched.


I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 2 cups lightly packed radish leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3-1/2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup blanched whole almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound linguine

Put the radish leaves, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, blanched almonds, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a food processor and pulse to form a coarse purée.  With the motor running, pour in the olive oil and process until smooth.  Add half the cheese and pulse a few more times.  Taste and add more salt or pepper if you like.  Set aside until ready to dress the pasta.

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente.  Scoop out 3 cups of the cooking liquid and reserve, drain the pasta.

After draining the pasta return to the cooking pot, add the pesto, and gently fold together.  Add reserved pasta water as needed to keep the consistency creamy rather than sticky.  Serve in shallow pasta bowls right away, with the remaining cheese on the side.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the kitchen category at COTTAGE GROVE HOUSE.