Healthy · Main Dish · Pasta · Recipes · Vegetarian

Cauliflower Chiocciole and Cheese


I love this stuff.  It’s a mac and cheese with cauliflower, but with chiocciole pasta instead of elbow macaroni.  Chiocciole takes its shape from its name, which means snail in Italian.  It’s a great vessel for holding the cheesy sauce.  And the best part…it’s delicious and lower in fat than most mac and cheese recipes.  The original recipe is from the Real Simple website.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.  Sorry about that.  I do have some fun stuff up my sleeve, so get ready.  I promise they will be worth the wait.

Cauliflower Chiocciole and Cheese

  • 12 ounces chiocciole or elbow macaroni
  • 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup 1 percent milk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • dash of freshly grated nutmeg
  • bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Heat oven to 400º F.

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Sauté onion for 3-5 minutes, season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and add cheese, sour cream, milk, Dijon mustard and nutmeg.

Cook pasta according to the package directions (or just a few minutes under); adding the cauliflower during the last 5 minutes of cooking time.  Transfer the cauliflower and pasta with a slotted spoon to the onion and cheese mixture.  Transfer to a baking dish and bake 12-15 minutes.

In a small sauce pan, heat 1/2 cup bread crumbs with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, stirring frequently until slightly toasted and fragrant.  Sprinkle over baked pasta.

Drizzle with a finishing olive oil.  Good stuff.

We’ve been hard at work on the pizza oven.  And when I say we, I really mean Dad and Sunshine.  Check out these latest photos of the men at work.

Sunshine applying the mud over the insulation blanket and chicken wire.

Now we just have to wait for it to dry, and then apply the decorative exterior tiles and bricks.  And that makes Sunshine one happy boy.

Healthy · Main Dish · Recipes · Vegetarian

Fish-a-licious

I don’t know why I love to do that to words.  Fish-a-licious just works for me.  It’s fish, it’s delicious, and there you have it.  Fish-a-licious.  This is Guy Fieri’s version of Halibut Veracruz.  I bought fancy wild caught halibut from Santa Monica Seafood.  It cost an arm and a leg, but it was worth it.  You can use the sauce on almost any fish.  We’ve used it on swai from Ralph’s, which cost less than five bucks.  Just try it, you’ll like it.  Here is my ever-so-slightly tweaked version.

Halibut Veracruz

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2-cans of diced and fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles and their juice (from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded, fine dice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4-8 ounce halibut fillets
  • 1/2 cup Spanish olives, cut into thin rounds, plus 2 tablespoons of olive juice from the bottle
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 medium avocados, peeled and sliced

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Heat oil in a medium pan over medium heat.  Add onions and cook for 3 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute.  Add tomatoes and their juice, jalapeño and white wine.  Cook until reduced by 2/3, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Add olives and olive juice.  Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.

In a separate oven proof pan, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat.  Season fish with kosher salt on both sides.  Add fish to the pan once the butter has melted.  Cook until bottom side is browned and you can flip the fish without tearing the bottom side (trust me, I shredded my fish because I was impatient last time I made this).  Once flipped, dot with remaining 1 tablespoon butter and insert into the oven.  Bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes depending on size of your fish.

To serve, divide fish among 4 plates, top with avocado slices and sauce.

Here’s Sunshine!  He’s sizzling hot in his Elmo pajamas.  Peace.

Healthy · Recipes · Side Dish · Vegetarian

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

I’ve been having a hard time saying good bye to summer.  I love the long days, Vacation Sundays at Veronica’s and making ice cream.  I especially love the tomato bounty in the garden.  There’s nothing better than picking a perfectly ripe tomato off the vine and popping it in my mouth.

Sunshine picked up a handful of tomatoes from the grocery store.  They looked okay, just not as glorious as the ones from our garden.  So I decided to give them a little slow roasting love.  We enjoyed them on our pizza at Chik’s house a few nights ago with a little Mt. Tam triple cream cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, burrata and some pine nuts.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

  • Medium size tomatoes
  • Fennel seeds
  • Dried oregano, hand crushed
  • Grey salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive Oil

Place in a 250° oven on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with fennel seeds, crushed oregano, salt and pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 3-5 hours, just until they start to dry out but still maintain a soft texture.

Molly’s got new wheels!  She is so happy.

Look at her go!  She’s leading the pack!

She loves her new ride.  It’s hard to keep up with her!

Healthy · Recipes · Soup

Donna’s delicious Italian soup

Donna’s been making this delicious Italian soup a lot lately.  It’s inspired by a Weight Watcher recipe.  She added the cannelini beans to make it a whopping 2 points per serving (that’s not much for you non-Weight Watchers).  It’s got a ton of flavor with the addition of the pepper flakes, garlic, and herbs.  I adjusted the recipe to use the greens I received in my CSA box.  You can also change up the herbs according to what you’ve got as well.

Me and Donna are both into Weight Watcher’s, but to say that we were traumitized by the new points system would be an understatement.  Basically Weight Watchers screwed us on our wine points.  Yeah, we get to eat a lot more vegetables and fruit, so what.  After miles of walks on the boardwalk at the beach on our lunch break, we finally realized that there was a whole lot of food we were avoiding just to have points for wine.  So we decided to cut back on the wine.  I just want to emphasize the cut back part of that last sentence, not eliminate all together.  It’s a win-win situation…drink the wine but less of it, and eat more.

Donna’s Italian Soup

  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • small piece of parmgianno-reggiano rind
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, small dice
  • 2 zucchini, small dice
  • 1 red, yellow or orange bell peppers, small dice
  • 1 fennel bulb, small dice
  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 15 ounce can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 bunches of spinach, escarole, colard greens, or chard (I used the colard greens and chard)
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • fennel leaves, choppped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmigiano-reggiano shavings for garnish

The ingredients…

Add the broth, parmigiano-reggiano rind, garlic, onion, zucchini, bell peppers, fennel and pepper flakes to a large soup pot set over medium heat.

Skim zee skum…

Add the greens.  Cover and cook until vegetables and greens are tender.

Add the fresh herbs.

And you’ve got Donna’s declicious Italian soup.

The cleaning continues… This time it was the closet in the green room.  You might be asking yourself  “where is the green room”?  It’s the room with all of the tiki furniture.  It’s red now, but it used to be green.  It will always be green to us.  Okay, just go with it.

Sunshine found an abundance of cameras in the green room closet.  There’s a nice Power Shot S3-IS up for grabs.  Free, works fine.  Who wants it?

Appetizers and Snacks · Healthy · Recipes · Vegetarian

delicate little kale chips

These delicate little kale chips are crunchy, a little salty, and I feel oh so righteous eating them.  The whole bunch is worth 3 points in Weight Watchers world.  Not only is it low in calories, it’s a great source of vitamins A, B6 and C, along with fiber, iron and calcium.

So easy to make…  just remove the center rib from the kale. I used Dinosaur Kale, but any kale will work.   Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a mixing bowl, and toss the kale to coat.  Season with salt or try spicing it up with a mixture of ancho chile powder, cumin and salt.

Spread kale on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake at 300° for 20 minutes, or until crisp.

Our feet are ready for our vacation next week, thanks to Teresa at R Spa.  She is a miracle worker.  She gave us the most amazing pedicure ever!  We love Teresa, she is such a doll!  And yes, those are Sunshine’s toes:)

Healthy · Recipes · Salad · Vegetarian

asparagus and zucchini crudi

Sibley made this for us a while ago.  It was so delicious…I HAD to have the recipe!  After she sent it to me I realized I already had it in my  Giada’s Kitchen: New Italian Favorites cookbook.  I’ve flipped through that book at least a million times…it just took Sibley for me to see it.  It takes just minutes to prepare because there is nothing to cook!

Asparagus and Zucchini Crudi

  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 ounce shaved parmigiano-reggiano

Using a vegetable peeler, shave zucchini into long strips.  Trim hard stem ends of asparagus, slice in half lengthwise, and then into 2″ long pieces.

Mix olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to combine, and then drizzle over vegetables.  Garnish with shaved parmigiano-reggiano.

Healthy · Recipes · Salad · Vegetarian

fantastic broccoli salad

Check it out.  I had a similar salad at Haute Cakes Cafe a few days ago.  It was so delicious…I couldn’t wait to try my own version with the broccoli bounty from our garden.   I used raspberry vinegar to dress this fantastic broccoli salad, but you could use cider vinegar just as easily.  I also used the blood orange olive oil Melissa sent us from B.R. Cohn, thanks Melissa!  I’ll make it for you the next time you come over….The Bachelor on Monday perhaps?

Fantastic Broccoli Salad

  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Handful of grapes, halved
  • Handful of slivered almonds
  • Handful of walnut pieces
  • Small amount of goat cheese, crumbled
  • Good splash of raspberry or cider vinegar
  • Drizzle of good olive oil, the blood orange olive is really tasty, but not absolutely necessary
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Cut the broccoli into small florets, chop the tender stem ends.  Reserve the rest of the stems for soup.  Add to a large stock pot with a small amount of water and pinch of salt.  Steam for a few minutes until crisp tender and bright green.

Add the blueberries, grape halves, slivered almonds and walnut pieces.  Toss with vinegar and olive oil.  Gently fold in the goat cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I made a little soup with the stems.

I’ve never grown broccoli before.  I’ve got to come up with a recipe for the leaves…hmmm.

So pretty!  It was a little frosty outside when I took this picture.