Loaded Twice Baked Cauliflower

After 7 (!) Thanksgivings spent on the couch with a pile of kitties, a pile of movies, a warm, fluffy blanket, and a pile of turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches, Thanksgiving 2014 took a bit of a U-turn.  Yep.  It’s true.  There was more than one human in the house on Turkey Day this year.  Wild.  Wildman to be precise.

Like me, Wildman has no family anywhere close by except for his outrageously funny mother who is in her nineties and lives in a delightful retirement community just down the road.  Given that she has the capacity for not much more than an hour of exciting activity at a time, that left Wildman with about 12 hours to kill while most people were cooking up a storm with family and friends.  Being the good friend that I strive to be, I invited him to hang out – with the couch, the kitties, the movies, the warm, fluffy blanket, but without the pile of turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches.  Wildman is embarking on his own adventure towards a *SANE lifestyle, so I didn’t want to encourage him to derail just because it was a holiday.

Given that he would be having a turkey-fest with his mother mid-afternoon, I really only needed to provide one hearty dish of comfort food that could be consumed while movie-watching.  I remembered Wildman mentioning – while we were on a label-reading training session at Trader Joe’s the previous week – that he had never bought a cauliflower.  In his life.  I am sure you can imagine the reaction that he got from the girl that “favors strange vegetables”.

www.carriebrown.com

Thus it was an obvious choice when determining what to make to fuel the movie-fest.  It had to be cauliflower.  However, I had to ensure that his first foray into the world of white cruciferousness was a winner if he was to be encouraged to dabble in those waters a second time.

I’d seen several recipes for variations of twice-baked cauliflower floating around the interwebs, and it seemed like that might be a good entry point into the world of cauliflower.  So here’s my version.  I made it ‘loaded’ because in my experience anything with sour cream, cheese, bacon, and scallions added cannot possibly be bad.

It’s heavy on the fat – because we’re not afraid of fat over here – but if that bothers you feel free to use low-fat cream cheese and non-fat sour cream instead of the full-fat varieties.

Top tips:

  • Leave the cream cheese (still in its packet) out of the ‘fridge overnight.  This will make it much easier to use the next day.
  • Cook the cauliflower and bacon ahead of time and keep in the ‘fridge.  This makes assembling the dish really fast the day that you need it.

 

The verdict?  Wildman ate 1 lb. of cauliflower on Thanksgiving.

 

Loaded Twice Baked Cauliflower
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 - 8
 
Ingredients
  • 2 lb. / 900g cauliflower
  • 6 oz. 170g cream cheese, softened (full or low fat)
  • 6 oz. / 170g sour cream (full, low or non-fat)
  • 6 oz. / 170g mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 6 oz. / 170g smoked Gouda cheese, grated
  • 3 oz. / 85 g scallions (green onions), thinly sliced
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked and cut into small pieces
  • Sea salt & black pepper to taste
  • Coconut oil spray
  • 2 oz. / 55g sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Break the cauliflower into very small florets and cut the big florets into smaller pieces.
  2. Steam the cauliflower until barely tender and drain really well. Leave to get cold.
  3. Cream together the cream cheese and sour cream until completely combined.
  4. Add the mozzarella, gouda, scallions, and bacon and mix well.
  5. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper.
  6. Gently stir in the cold cauliflower florets until mixed through the cheese mixture.
  7. Spray a casserole dish with coconut oil and spoon the cauliflower mixture evenly into it.
  8. Scatter the Cheddar evenly over the top.
  9. Place in the center of the oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes - until the top is golden brown and bubbling.

www.carriebrown.com

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Kati, hold the eggs - Carrie, my knees just got weak reading this. I have half a cow in my freezer, and I might serve this with every single steak I cook. The peanut gallery won’t make a peek either – he’ll be too busy stuffing his face. You’re amazing!

And fyi, Lasagna soup might just be my new comfort food. Oh. Em. Gee.

Kati, again - Oh balls of fire – peep, not peek. Coffee hasn’t reached my fingers yet.

Terri Kent - Oh my gosh, this looks delicious! I’ll be trying this next week when I have a bit more time to be in the kitchen!

Thank you, Carrie!

Big Breakfast Adventure | Bastille

As I pried my peepers open one Sunday a few weeks back, and blinked slowly at the sunlight streaming in through the periwinkle sheers gently waving in the breeze from the air vents, I concluded that a miracle was occurring. For the second late-Fall weekend day in a row the sky was a brilliant shade of deep blue and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  At least not the bits of sky I could see from my supine position with a sea of blankets drawn up to my chin.  I reached one arm out from under the covers and felt around the nightstand for my phone to verify that I wasn’t dreaming. And there it was, bold as brass on Weather.com: confirmation that I needed to haul my a** out of bed and go play.

First stop was a Big Breakfast Adventure in Ballard. I’d brunched at Bastille in times past – before my journey to *SANEity began, so I knew the food was good, I just needed to discover how *SANE it could be.

www.carriebrown.com

EGGS EN COCOTTE: Eggs baked in cast iron with Skagit River ham, kale, bechamel & aged Comte.  With a side of bacon.  And a cup of peppermint tea thrown in for good measure.  Got to keep your liquids up.

So there you have it  – *SANE right out of the gate, no substitutions needed.  Admittedly there were not a lot of  options that could be classified as wholly SANE, but I am confident that Bastille would have been more than happy to oblige some starch sub-outs.  I made that word up.  You know what I mean.

www.carriebrown.com

The ambiance at Bastille is as delicious as the food, and in the colder months the fire is so delightful.  One of the best things about Bastille, though, is it’s location, with heavy wood and glass doors opening right onto the Ballard Farmers Market.  It was a most perfect day to stroll amongst the stalls piled high with all manner of edibles from around Seattle – veggies to oysters, fruits to caramels, salmon to cranberry juice, wine to pickles. Wreaths, handmade leather journals, artisan jewelry, soaps, felted wool slippers.  It’s all that as far as Farmers Markets go.

Imagine the sparkling sunshine,  being wrapped up in scarves and mittens against the crisp Fall air, and a hat crammed on your head.  Come stroll with me.

www.carriebrown.com

www.carriebrown.com

www.carriebrown.com

www.carriebrown.com

www.carriebrown.com

www.carriebrown.com

www.carriebrown.com

www.carriebrown.com

www.carriebrown.com

There were samples galore.  The smoked salmon and the cranberry juice – sugar-free! oh! my! taste buds! – were the highlights of the samplings.  Oh, and the cheese.  The cheese samples were goooooood.

I reveled in the cheery chatter, the smiling faces, and the easy-like-Sunday-morning feeling.  Farmers Markets, I believe, are good for the mind, body, and soul.

Whatever makes you feel good, do more of that.

 

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Tarragon Green Beans

The first Friday Night Dinner, which was a few weeks ago now, involved a whole bunch of herbs.  There was sage and thyme in the Sage and Onion Pork, more thyme in the Celery Leek Stir-fry, and then tarragon added liberally to the green beans.  I do love me some herbage – they can transform ordinary to awesome with a swift shake of the spice jar or chop, chop, chop of the knife.  I like fresh best, but dried have their place in the kitchen, especially in winter when the Marmalade HQ herb garden has gone into hibernation.  I’m already missing being able to toddle out onto the terrace to pluck fresh leaves, and my purse is groaning at the cost of buying fresh from the store.  Roll on, Spring!

You can get the Celery Leek Stir-fry recipe in my Eat Smarter! Smoothies and Sides Cookbook.  Actually, it is the recipe that graces the cover of the book.  I discovered when I concocted the recipe last December that celery makes leeks better.  I know, right?!  Did you have any notion that was even possible?  Me either.  I love good surprises.

Let’s get back to the green beans.  This recipe is – as many of the best are – very simple.  A few ingredients, a few minutes of cooking.

Wildman, who was that particular Friday Night Dinners guinea pig has a penchant for green beans that runs very deep.  I don’t know the back story – I just know that he loves them.  I wanted to see if I could make him love them even more, and apparently I succeeded as he is still talking about these green beans several weeks later.  I do love it when my food makes people happy, but really I can take no credit for slinging a few tasty things in a pan and heating them up.

www.carriebrown.com

I’ll be the first to admit that green beans are not my favorite, but since tarragon makes my heart beat a little faster and my nostrils perk right up, I was banking on me ending the night liking green beans a little bit more.  I was not disappointed.

 

Tarragon Green Beans
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 - 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 oz. / 55 g butter
  • 2 lb. / 890 g green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • ¼ cup / 2 fl.oz. white wine
  • ¼ cup / 2 fl.oz. chicken stock
  • 3 TBSP finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add green beans, and gently toss in the butter.
  3. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes.
  4. Add the wine and chicken stock, bring just to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer.
  5. Cook, stirring often, for 10 - 12 minutes until beans are tender.
  6. Stir in tarragon, and season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Ellen - This looks yummy, Carrie. Can you remind me how to substitute dried tarragon for fresh? I think for dried it is 1/2 as much, added earlier in the process? I’m just not going to spend $$ on fresh herbs this winter.
Thanks!!

carrie - Ellen – 1/3rd as much if using dried. I totally understand on the fresh herbs in winter thing.

Gift Ideas for a SANE lifestyle

Woohoo!  Merry December!

If you are in gift-buying mode this month, here’s some ideas to help make 2015 *SANEr for someone that you care about.  If you know people who are ready to make some healthy changes, you can get them started on the right path.

You could also pass this list along to someone who cares about you, hint hint.  If you’ve been eyeing up some of the more expensive kitchen gadgets to make a SANE lifestyle easier and faster, this might be your big chance to have a new toy show up on your doorstep.

 

Here’s the kitchen equipment staples that will make *SANE cooking faster, and easier.

Clicking on the images below will take you straight to the item on Amazon.  It doesn’t get any easier that that.

(If you want more details on the what and why of using these items, check out this post.)

Vitamix

Perfect smoothies, soups, ice creams, and other SANE staples.

KitchenAid Blender

For those times when you don't need perfectly smooth.

Cuisinart Food Processor

Make light work of processing doughs, vegetables, and more.

Cuisinart Hand Mixer

Super useful for whipping egg whites, cream, and a host of other things.

Electric kettle

Heat water to the perfect temperature super fast. Pre-sets for green tea, boiling, and other temps.

Steamer

Best way to cook most veggies.

Kitchen Scale

Get perfect, consistent results every time - especially with baked goods.

Madoline

Make light and fast work of perfectly sliced and diced veggies.

Julienne Peeler

Turn vegetables into "spaghetti" in a jiffy!

Microplanes

Fabulous for zesting and grating all sorts of things. You'll never look back!

Measuring sppons

Take the guesswork out and get perfect results every time.

Very fine mesh sieve

A must for texture perfection in ice creams, sauces, jams and loads more.

Sieves

General purpose sieves for all sorts of things.

Huge mixing bowl

Make large batches in one go.

Pouring bowls

Bowls that pour make things super easy and mean less washing up!

Metal cutters

Make food fun! Metal is much better than plastic.

Pyrex Storage Containers

Glass storage is so much better than plastic.

 

Here’s some fun apparel and other household items that are great *SANE reminders – check these out.

Clicking on the images below will take you straight to the item on Zazzle.

Plus (hee hee) the most perfect gifts for a *SANE lifestyle – cookbooks!  It doesn’t mater if your friends aren’t *SANE, these cookbooks are filled with delicious, easy recipes that everyone will love.  If you want to introduce friends to how delicious healthy can be, this a great way to do it!

Clicking on the images below will take you straight to the item on Amazon.  It doesn’t get any easier that that.

 

 

 

HAPPY GIFTING, FRIENDS!

 

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Sage and Onion Pork

Pork, it seems to me, is entirely underrated, more often than not waiting idly in the wings while chicken and beef take center stage.  Unless we’re talking bacon, of course.  Everyone knows that everything tastes better with bacon, and given free rein a lot of us would gleefully eat bacon at every meal.  When it comes to underrated I was thinking more of pork chops and pork dishes using other cuts.

So for the first Friday Night Dinner I decided it had to be pork, especially since Wildman was coming over and that man eats, in my opinion, far too much chicken.  It t is true, though, that he is a masterful chicken griller, so I can see the appeal.  He has a grill the size of a small kitchen island right there on his front deck and it seems like every time I catch him cooking dinner, he’s grilling up a chicken breast.  At least he now has some SANE BBQ Sauce to spread all over it.

The idea of sage came to me while I was out exploring the Yakima River. It was a beautiful, clear late Fall day as I strolled over the suspension bridge, complete with hat, ski gloves, and a jacket built to withstand temperatures of minus 30.  Yes, it was a tad nippy.  I started into the canyon where everything was covered with a thick, sparkling frost, and hiked in the wintry sunshine.  The air was heavily scented with sage, the cold air filling my nostrils with its sweet, woody aroma.  I gathered up a bunch of sage and put it on the dashboard over the heater vent.  I still get the most glorious wafts of gentle sage drifting up my nose as I drive.  Thanks, Wildman – sage on the dashboard is a mighty fine idea.

www.carriebrown.com
www.carriebrown.com
www.carriebrown.com
www.carriebrown.com
www.carriebrown.com
www.carriebrown.com
www.carriebrown.com
www.carriebrown.com

 

And really, that was all it took.  Sage it would be.

I served this simple Sage and Onion Pork with Tarragon Green Beans, and Celery Leek Stir-fry (coming soon!)  Wildman was Happyman afterwards, especially over the green beans.  He said they were the best green beans he’s ever eaten, and boy! he’s had a lot of green beans in his time.

 

Sage and Onion Pork
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 TBSP avocado or coconut oil
  • 1 oz. / 30 g butter
  • 4 oz. / 110g onion, very finely chopped
  • Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 4 tsp. dried sage
  • ¼ tsp. dried thyme
  • 1½ lb. / 670g pork loin, cut into cubes
  • ½ tsp. konjac flour (glucomannan powder)
  • 8 fl. oz / 1 cup chicken stock
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat until butter is melted.
  2. Add the onion and sauté until soft.
  3. Season with sea salt and pepper, add the sage and thyme and stir well.
  4. Add the pork cubes and sauté together until pork and onions are golden brown - about 10 minutes.
  5. Put the konjac flour in a small bowl and very slowly whisk the chicken stock into the flour.
  6. Pour the stock into the skillet and stir well.
  7. Bring the pork and sauce to the boil, lower the heat and simmer - stirring frequently - until sauce has thickened - about 5 minutes.

www.carriebrown.com

 

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Wren - Yum! I made this tonite and LOVED it! So quick and easy too. Ate it with your tarragon green beans and some sautéed mushrooms.