roasted cauliflower and chicken sausage casserole

April 6, 2015 § 34 Comments

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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.

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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

 

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quinoa spaghetti and turkey meatballs

March 30, 2015 § 63 Comments

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Sauce

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

Pesto

  • 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

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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.

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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.

cauliflower with lemon and chili’s

November 21, 2014 § 82 Comments

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I have this funny thing about recipes.  When I find one I like I get stuck on it and make it over and over again for weeks.    Well, repetition is the mother of skill, right?  Reruns of last week’s dinner gives me time to learn the recipe so I can make it without following directions, and there is usually some sort of modification made to suit our own taste. This is definitely one of those recipes.  After making it for the fourth time I decided I had to make it again but only this time take photo’s and post it, because it is delicious and you should try it.

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Speaking of repetition, I baked four apple pies in two weeks!  Pie number one was inspired by some gorgeous winesap apples I happened upon at the market.  I baked a lovely pie and after dinner that evening it was a little late to eat a slice and I imagined how nice it will be the next day.  Well, the next morning I got up to an empty pie plate.  Yes, my son ate the whole pie in one evening.  How?!  So I baked pie number two, this time using granny smith apples and I made sure to have a slice.  I was very unhappy with the mushy apple texture, so a few days later I baked pie number three, this time using honey crisp apples.  Third time’s a charm!  The apples held their texture and they were naturally sweet enough that I only added a tablespoon of sugar to the apples.  Indeed another lovely pie.  And then pie number four was the result of another visit to the market where I had originally picked up the gorgeous winesap apples.  Once again I couldn’t pass them up and fact of the matter, I was still trying to get over missing out on a slice of pie number one.  See what I mean about getting stuck on a recipe?

Back to the cauliflower with lemon and chili’s…

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Chopping the cauliflower into tiny bits creates a nutty non-cruciferous flavor.  If you or someone you cook for doesn’t like cauliflower you could try serving this.  They will be surprised they are eating cauliflower.  The little cauliflower bits will make you think you are eating cous cous.   This nutty cauliflower dish has a perfectly balanced touch of heat from the red jalapeños and a bit of tang from the lemon.

Recipe slightly adapted from Taste Food Blog posted by Lynda Balslev.   A lovely blog, I hope you will visit.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into tiny bits
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 red or green jalapeño pepper,  remove seeds, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • juice from 1/2 lemon (or lime)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

If you have a food processor, pulse the florets until they are finely chopped.  Otherwise chop the cauliflower until it closely resembles cous cous.  I left out the thicker stem part and will add them to a soup later. Heat the oil and melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the cauliflower and salt and cook for 5 – 7 minutes.  Add the garlic, red chili flakes, paprika and cumin.   Combine well and continue to cook for 5 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender.  Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients.  Serves 4.

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chickpea, tomato and bread soup

October 31, 2014 § 77 Comments

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Lacinato Kale and Mint Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

October 24, 2014 § 81 Comments

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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.

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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