Tag Archives: recipes

Cauliflower Soup… Simple and Delicious

29 Jul

Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that is frequently over looked. Not only can it be a bit intimidating to cook, it can also stir up memories of bitter, soggy, over cooked nightmares from your childhood. Well my friends, cauliflower is no longer the white villain of yesterday. It’s actually very delicate, sweet and tasty!

One of my favorite ways to prepare cauliflower is to roast it. This is simpler than you might think:

Roasted Cauliflower
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt 
Toss the cauliflower with the oil and salt and roast in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Turn the pieces and then cook for another 5 minutes. Serve as desired.

What can you do with this cauliflower once you have have it roasted? Well, eat it for 1 but I like to make soup. The cauliflower creates a delicate flavor that needs minimal enhancements. You can garnish the soup with toasted walnuts, pesto, sour cream, or even plumped raisins, but I like to keep it simple with olive oil, cracked pepper and a few snipped chives. The recipe is below.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup
1 head of cauliflower prepared as directed above
2 cloves of garlic
3-4 cups prepared chicken stock
1/2-1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

Puree all the ingredients in a Vitamix blender or in a food processor until smooth. Pour the pureed mixture into a saucepan and reheat to desired temperature. Garnish as desired and enjoy.

Try this recipe with grilled or smoked cauliflower as well. It will stay on the top of your go to list for awhile. It also freezes well and reheats like a dream. And, if you are feeling hot… try it chilled with a fresh herb garnish and drizzle of really good olive oil. Oh, and a perfectly chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc 🙂

Always thinking about the next meal

-Katie

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Pickled Beets and Strawberries

3 Apr

Pickled Beets and StrawberriesPickled beets are not just for the salad bar. Come on, you know the ones. Their neon glow reflects so queasily on the sneeze guard. You know, it’s not that pickled beets taste bad, really I think they taste good… it’s just… they are so intimidating.

I know beets are good for you and they are a natural source of sugar, and even though I make beets quite often, I am always intimidated by the pickled version. I guess I’m always thinking that they are going to taste like an odd combination of dill pickles and roasted beets. So the other day I was at Whole Foods and I saw a jar of pickled beets and strawberries. Sounds good…definitely no weird dill garlic beets combo in there. Problem… 8 bucks. I passed…on the jar, not the idea.

I came home and started playing. What I discovered was a crazy amazing combination of flavors!

Pickled Beets and Strawberries

Step one: Roast 2 large beets

2 large beets
1 tablespoon olive oil
sprinkle of salt

roast at 400, wrapped in foil for 1 hour.

Step two: prep the strawberries and peel beets

Slice 1 pint of strawberries
Let the beets cool to room temperature and then peel the skin off the beets and then slice the beets

Step three: prepare to pickle

in a small bowl combine the sliced strawberries and beets with the juice and zest of 1 blood orange and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar.
Put the whole mixture in a air-tight container and let sit for 3 days.

Serve with crackers and goat cheese or just eat out of the jar… they are that good!

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

You don’t have to hug a tree to love granola

31 Mar


I love granola. I mean what’s not to like about sweet crunchy whole grains mixed with fruit and nuts. I make granola a lot at work. I serve it to the kids to mix with yogurt and fruit. It holds up well without going stale and it can be flavored in so many ways. Since today is a very rainy day I figured it was a good day to play with the food in the house.

If your pantry is anything like mine, you have a few items in there that are partially used. I always seem to have a 1/4 cup of chocolate chips or a handful of nuts. I also seem to have an assortment of dried fruits left over from different recipes. Granola is great what to use up all those odds and ends. As with most things, granola is a technique. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can tweak the ingredients to customize your mix.

Here’s the basic formula for granola:

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss until the mixture is crumbly and the syrup has been evenly incorporated. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Be sure to stir the mixture every 5 minutes to prevent burning.

Below is a table of combinations to give you an idea of how you can mix and match flavors to make a personalized granola…

Basic Base Dry Goods Syrup Flavor 2nd Flavor Additives
oats no additional maple cinnamon brown sugar dried fruit
oats wheat germ agave pumpkin

pie spice

vanilla powder pecans
oats coconut honey cinnamon brown sugar dried fruit
oats shredded wheat honey nutmeg clove white chocolate chips
oats puffed rice agave espresso powder vanilla powder chocolate chips

Today I made a tropical granola… here’s the recipe:

2 cups oats
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
3/4 cup shredded coconut

Added after the base was toasted and cooled:
1/2 cup dried mango, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup banana chips
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts

I followed the above technique and viola, a yummy granola! I would also recommend using macadamia nuts instead of the peanuts or omitting the chocolate chips for a slightly healthier granola, but ce la vie… This is what you get what you’re cleaning out the pantry

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

The thing about buttered noodles…

1 Feb

noodlesHere’s the thing. What is so bad about trying something new? I know that the new is scary. When you walk into a dark room you never know what awaits you. It’s the momentary terror your minds spins into reality. You’ve seen way too many episodes of CSI and NCIS to believe that nothing is lurking in the shadows. But wait… what if instead of a horrifying beast or the suspicious murderous foe, waited a surprise party? All your friends joyously welcoming you to a festivity of laughter and merriment. This my friends, is why the new cannot be missed.

Everyday at work I make the obligatory pan of buttered noodles. Not really a big deal but it did get me thinking. Everyday I have kids that choose buttered noodles over anything else. Some of them I truly believe only like buttered noodles, but others take them simply because they don’t know if they will like the other offerings. It makes me wonder what is so wrong with trying something new. I know that when I was a kid we ate what was put in front of us and we were happy. (Well, unless it was my brother and beef barley soup, that combination was more drama then Jersey Shore) Anyway, the point is this: why don’t kids like to try new foods. They try new games, and TV shows. They make new friends and read new books, but when it comes to lunch it seems to be the old standby, buttered noodles.

Do you ever remember looking a food that you had never seen before and then looking at your mom or your dad and asking if you liked it. Usually they would lean down and say yes. In my family when this happened and we did not actually like what we had just tasted, we would say that our taste-buds had changed. And, rightly so as your taste-buds do change over time. What I can’t seem to wrap my head around though, is the complete lack of curiosity. How do you know you don’t like something if you’ve never tried it before. My philosophy is try something twice. Just like when tasting wine, the first taste clears your palette. The second taste is when you really get to know the food. It’s the second date if you will. If the first bite left you unsure, the second will most definitely help you decide.

I can’t knock buttered noodles completely. There was a time during my college career that buttered noodles made up at least 70% of my diet. And, now and then, I love a little butter and parmesan on my pasta. But, if I was presented with the choice of buttered noodles or something much more glamorous, the noodles would fall to second place in a heartbeat. I know what you’re thinking as you read this. If it bothers me this much, why not stop making them. The real answer is that there are kids that will not eat anything else. Literally these kids would rather starve without lunch then eat what else is for lunch. So, I must continue with the buttered noodles. Just in case you’ve never had them and are wondering what’s the big deal…

Buttered Noodles alla Katie

1 pound pasta, cooked
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

in the microwave melt the butter with the salt and garlic. Pour the butter over the cooked noodles and stir to combine serve hot, garnish with grated parmesan cheese if desired. (the last step classes it up a bit)

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

Mussel-rama

23 Jan

In the past I’ve written about my serious love of mussels. I know I have at least one post on it, but I’m sure it’s been mentioned several times. Last night, we had a party that was the ultimate indulgence of mussels. A lot of our friends share in my love of this creature and we had been comparing recipes for sometime. I figured, enough talk, let’s throwdown.

It took a little finessing, but the final plan sounded like this. We would provide the mussels and everyone had to come with a sauce or ingredients to make their version of mussels with. There were no limits and no qualifications. It just had to taste good with mussels. I know there are thousands of ways to prepare these little buggers so I was pumped to see what everyone was bringing.

I made my version of moule frite. I did a quick steam in bacon fat, shallots, and prosecco and then garnished with crispy bacon, bleu cheese, and watercress. I did make french fries, complete with truffle oil but they were gone before the mussels were cooked (and that’s saying something.) Our friend Desiree went with a white wine butter sauce with red onion and parsley…

Our friends Lindsay and David went a non-traditional route and made grilled mussels with a sriracha and wine sauce. It was crazy amazing. I wanted to stop eating them, but I couldn’t.

I will apologize to our other friends who’s mussels are not pictured, but I was so busy eating my first round, I forgot to take pictures of the second round. Our friends, Vicki and Steve made the mussels from Bonefish. Not only were they fantastically full of garlic, the sauce was perfect for dipping. Greg and Margot made a Tuscan tomato based sauce that was also out of this world. I know that I’m gushing, and raving about everything, but it’s the truth. There was not a bad mussel to be had!

The best part about this party was that everyone got involved. There was some friendly competition and everyone wanted to impress. We had simple appetizers and free flowing wine and beer. There were lots of laughs and lots of eating. It’s been decided that it was so fun, that we are now going to do a monthly dinner where everyone prepares something. It never ceases to amaze me that food brings people together, and when it’s made with care and passion.

Always thinking about the next meal

Katie

Guacamole, Tatziki and Salsa… oh my!

16 Jan

guacamole, tatziki, and salsaLiving in Florida has definitely made me love happy hour. I love a good discount and happy hour usually has them to spare. The problem, I also love good food. Most of the places that have the dynamite specials, usually fall flat on the food. My resolution? Happy hour at home.

I know it might not be as social, but the alcohol is cheaper than any bar special and I can have whatever appetizer I want to whip up. A few nights ago that was a trio of dips. I poured a glass of wine and checked out the fridge for what I could make.

Granted I have more ingredients in my fridge than most people, but you can be creative with just about anything. (I once made a dip from cream cheese, old bay and celery) I had just opened a jar of salsa so that was an easy decision. Don’t judge me, some jarred salsas are pretty good. I also had the makings of a pretty wicked avocado salsa or guacamole. Let me just say that salsa is Spanish for sauce. Guacamole doesn’t really fit into this category since its thickness is much denser than a sauce. Traditional guacamole (at least for me) is simple. Avocado, salt, and lime juice. But, seeing as thought I was feeling creative… I channeled my inner Mexican (also my friend Shaddai Barron’s recipe) and started cooking:

Avocado Salsa

1 large Florida avocado, small dice
1 large jalepeño, minced
a solid hand-full of fresh cilantro, rough chopped
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup sour cream
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Serve with chips or veggies.

While I was feeling good about my dip/sauce, I wanted more. Ever excited by variety and never limited by cuisine I found the makings of tatziki sauce. Again this sauce is very simple to make. I wouldn’t have thought to have the 3 sauces together, but çe la vie. For the tatziki I mixed 1 5.5 once container of greek yogurt with 1/2 cup cucumbers cut into a small dice. I like the skins on for texture, but feel free to peel if you prefer. Add 2 tablespoons freshly minced dill, season with salt and pepper and viola! You can also add lemon juice to bring some acidity to the party, but you don’t have to.

So my happy hour turned out wonderful and the best part was that I didn’t have to drive home… I was already there

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

Long over-due update

8 Jan

I know this update is long over due. It’s been over 2 months since I’ve delighted you all with the trails and tribulations of cooking for the kiddies. Mostly the excuses are poor, but know that I’m back on track and the stories will be new and tasty.

The past few months have been a roller coaster. I’ve seen days that were nothing more than sheer delight. Most recently, the menu was burger sliders, tater tots, veggie dippers and popsicles. You would have thought I was serving gold. I know it’s not much of a stretch to think that kids would like burgers, but these are surprising kids. They are used to frozen bubba burgers. Not only are frozen burgers shoemaker style, but they are expensive and tasteless. Let’s face it, if you are going to eat a burger, it might as well be an indulgence. There is absolutely no room in this world for burgers made from 97/3 ground beef.

I really had no idea how I was going to make the sliders. As with most of my menu planning, I start by coming up with items I know the kids will buy and then figure out the execution from there. Yes, this method has shot me in the food a few times, but it seems like the more logical approach of defining recipes and execution and then putting in on the menu, yields much lower lunch count. When the day came I had 320 orders. That means I needed to have (at minimum) 640 sliders prepped for lunch. I usually get some last minute additions and so I like to have some extras. The goal was to make 660 sliders. I wound up with 700. How did I manage? Well, instead of making 700 individual patties, I pressed my raw meat into a foil lined sheet pan and baked the whole thing at 350 for 15 minutes. Because the meat was so thin, it cook remarkably fast. I pulled the sheet pans from the oven and let the cool. Once I could handle the meat, I used a pizza wheel to cut the sheet of seasoned meat into small squares. I was able to get 70 slider squares out of each sheet pan. It was awesome. The kids loved them, there were plenty to go around, and each one went out hot and steamy. It was a red letter day!

But not every day can be a gold star kind of day. In fact most days are about a 6 or 7 out of 10. Even with the best intentions, sometimes you just can’t quite get to the goal. On Thursday of last week, I make pancakes, bacon and fruit salad. Sounds like a decent, balanced meal to me. I decided to make whole wheat pancakes to up the healthy factor and they tasted great. I was cracking these babies out. Every kid was to get 3 pancakes, 2 slices of bacon and a 1/2 cup of fruit salad. They could help themselves to the butter and syrup.

This was destined to be one of those days that wasn’t going to be good. I started making the pancakes at 8am and was still flipping well past 1pm. I had made 930+ pancakes and ran out half way through the 3rd lunch. It wasn’t that I didn’t have enough batter, or that my math was off, it was just that I couldn’t cook the pancakes fast enough. I have a 20″ x 20″ griddle that could fit 12-15 pancakes on it at one time. I added 2 sauté pans that each held 3 pancakes each. This helped, but not much. In the end I had to boil up ravioli for the last lunch. The kids were fine with it, but it was embarrassing. I know now that I have to cook some of them ahead of time and be prepared with back-up. Granted we had high numbers and the cost was really low, but my stress levels were really high.

This roller coaster job is crazy. It’s crazy fun, and crazy overwhelming. It’s extremely rewarding and extremely defeating. There are days I want to throw my apron up in the air in disgust, and days I want to hug every last kid that walks through the line. It is pretty amazing to me that I get to have this opportunity and I can’t wait to see what Monday brings.

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie