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!

Main Dish · Recipes · Salad · Vegetarian

Meatless Monday

This chopped vegetable salad is delicious.  It’s from Wolfgang Puck’s book: Live, Love, Eat!, with a few adjustments.  I love the combination of the vegetables, the crunch of the carrots, celery and green beans, and the creaminess of the avocado makes me happy.

The Environmental Working Group has challenged us to go meatless one day everyweek.  We don’t have to be vegetarian to eat healthier, but we can make a lasting impact on our health and our planet by making even small changes in our diet.

Chino Chopped-Vegetable Salad

Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Salad

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup cut diced frozen artichoke hearts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced green beans
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup diced radicchio
  • Fresh corn kernels, from 2 cobs
  • 1 diced celery
  • 1 cup small cherry or grape or pear tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 Hass avocado
  • grated parmesan cheese, to taste
  • 4 cups mixed baby greens
To prepare the vinagrette: In a small bowl , combine the mustard and vinegar.  Whisking continuously, slowly pour in the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
To prepare the salad:  In a small saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add the diced artichoke hearts, season with salt and pepper.  Saute for 3 minutes.  Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Blanch the carrots and green beans for 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process, drain and set aside.
Combine artichokes, green beans, celery, carrots, radicchio and red onion.
Add the tomatoes and avocado.
Add the parmesan cheese.
Toss with some of the vinaigrette to coat.  Season to taste.  Toss the greens with the vinaigrette.
Divide the greens among 4 plates.  Mound the chopped vegetables on top and serve.
Who’s driving Sunshine’s car?
Pearl can’t watch.  Okay, maybe she can, but only out of one eye.
Recipes · Side Dish · Vegetarian

yummy asparagus

I love asparagus.  Throw in some French feta, some of your favorite olive oil and a nice crank of freshly ground pepper, and you’ve got something special.  I can not take credit for this concoction.  I found the recipe in Bobby Flay’s Grill It! cookbook.  I modified it ever so slightly.

Grilled Asparagus with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Feta Cheese and Black Pepper

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and coarsely ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 ounces feta cheese (I like French feta), cut into small cubes
Heat grill to high.
Snap the woody ends off of the asparagus.  Place asparagus on a baking sheet, toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill asparagus perpendicular to the grates for 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until crisp tender.
Transfer the grilled asparagus to a large platter.  Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper and feta, and toss to combine.  Serve!
Pre-Photoshop days.  My crafty brother, Chris, taped a couple of pictures of Sunshine and me together.  I’m cracking myself up.  Must be the haircut, and maybe the sweater.
Check out the recipe index page on my blog.  I finally put it together.  Now I can even find some of my recipes.  I know, it’s about time.
Appetizers and Snacks · Recipes · Side Dish · Vegetarian

magical mushrooms

I made these mushrooms for a birthday celebration for Stephanie.  The recipe comes courtesy of Mario Batali’s The Babbo Cookbook.  Sunshine is usually not a big fan of shitakes, but he really likes these.

Cool Roasted Shitakes with Barbecued Onions and Basil Oil

Serves 4
 
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound shitake mushrooms, stems removed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 large red onions, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch slices

Basil Oil

Makes 2 cups

  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, chilled 2 hours
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
To prepare the mushrooms:
Preheat oven to 350º F.
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the olive oil, sage, rosemary and chopped garlic, whisk to blend.  Place the mushrooms in a small roasting pan or casserole dish and pour the oil mixture over.  Season with salt and pepper and roast, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside in a medium mixing bowl.
Add the anchovy paste, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to the pan.  Gently whisk in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and pour over the mushrooms.
Preheat the grill.
Brush the onion slices with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill on the hottest part of the grill until tender and grill-marked, about 4 minutes each side.  Remove onions from grill and place them on a serving platter.  Remove mushrooms from the marinade and place on top of the onions.  Drizzle plate with basil oil and serve.
To make the basil oil:
Place all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until nearly smooth and uniformly green.  Strain through a fine sieve.

The spread…

A little wine, and Stephanie’s shoes.

Appetizers and Snacks · Recipes · Soup · Vegetarian

twisted gazpacho

This is easy, refreshing, and delicious.  It’s another Michael Chiarello recipe, modified a bit.  It got twisted with a splash of tequila.  Just a splash.  I swear.

Twisted Gazpacho

  • 2 cans (11.5 ounces each) tomato juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup fennel, fine dice
  • 1 cup cucumber(1 medium), seeded and peeled, fine dice
  • 1/2 cup red onion(1 small), fine dice
  • 1/2 cup celery(2 stalks), fine dice
  • 1 pint sweet 100 or other small cherry tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons italian parsley, fine chop
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, fine chop
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tablespoons jalapeño pepper, seeded, fine mince
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • splash of tequila (that’s the twisted part)
In a bowl, combine tomato juice, lemon juice, fennel, cucumber, red onion, celery, tomatoes, parsley, basil and sherry vinegar.
Add olive oil to a small sauté pan along with minced garlic over medium heat, stirring until lightly browned.  Add minced jalapeño and cook, stirring for 15 seconds.  Add wine and cook until reduced by half.  Stir mixture into the gazpacho and chill for 1-2 hours.
Spoon mixture into small martini glasses and serve at once.  Add a splash of tequila, if you dare.

Nice fireworks.

Another one.

Another good one.