Roasted Beef Stuffed Cauliflower

You know the saying, ‘what’s old is new again‘ is one that seems to fit cauliflower. What used to be considered a boring vegetable, less colorful and less delicious than its cousin broccoli, is now an ‘it’ vegetable. I mean, its everywhere — cauliflower rice, pizza crust, roasted, in sandwiches, main entrees, etc. etc. The versatility of this humble veggie has boosted its popularity to become big business for growers and grocers.

Whole roasted cauliflower is an unusual presentation. Cauliflower’s inherent earthy sweetness becomes more pronounced as the moisture inside is drawn out.

January is always a good month to get creative with oven meals. I love the idea of a whole roasted cauliflower with cheese sauce drizzled over it. Although, stuffing it with meat is not a new concept, I, myself have not made it this way. So today’s meal is a nicely seasoned ground beef filling baked inside of a whole cauliflower and topped with a Parmesan cheese sauce. The result is real good! 

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Roasted Stuffed Cauliflower with Beef
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, European
Servings
Ingredients
Beef Stuffing
Parmigiano-Reggiano Sauce
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, European
Servings
Ingredients
Beef Stuffing
Parmigiano-Reggiano Sauce
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Instructions
Stuffed Cauliflower
  1. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, onion, garlic, tomato paste, tomato, egg, pepper flakes, oregano, basil, sage, pepper & salt until well incorporated. Set aside.
  2. Remove the whole stem from the cauliflower making sure to leave the head fully intact. In a large pot, boil cauliflower for 8-10 minutes until fork tender. Remove from the boiling water & place on paper towels to drain for a few minutes then carefully remove any remaining stem to make space for the filling.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F. Fill the head of cauliflower with ground beef mixture making sure to press the filling into the head. Place inverted head of cauliflower on a buttered, foil lined baking sheet; cover with another sheet of foil & bake about 30 minutes or until beef is cooked through.
Cheese Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter add flour, stirring until light brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in milk & allow to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add grated cheese, salt & pepper & mix until fully incorporated & thickened.
  2. Adjust heat to broil. Remove foil from stuffed cauliflower & cover with cheese sauce. Broil about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Pork & Pepper Quiche Cups w/ Onion Mushroom Twists

When I think of stuffed peppers, quiche never ever came to mind. I have always enjoyed quiche anytime of day, with or without crust. The idea of using a pepper as your ‘crust’ certainly puts a new twist on the traditional quiche.

I wanted to make these pepper cups for a supper meal and since there was no pastry involved here, bread sticks seemed like a good accompaniment.

Quiche is like making pizza– there are no limits to what the filling can consist of. For our meal today, I just put together a variety of items I had on hand for both the quiche and bread stick twists. It turned out to be real enjoyable and so easy.

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Pork & Pepper Quiche Cups w/ Onion Mushroom Twists
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, German
Servings
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Rating: 5
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Instructions
Onion-Mushroom Twists
  1. In a skillet, saute mushrooms & onion in butter until tender. Add thyme & salt; cook 1 minute longer or until blended. Remove from heat & cool slightly. Roll pizza dough into a 16 X 8-inch rectangle. Sprinkle cheese on half of the dough, then top cheese with HALF of the mushroom/onion mixture. Fold un-topped half of dough over topped side; slice into 8 strips to form twists.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Carefully lift & twist each strip before placing on baking sheet. Sprinkle with garlic powder & salt to taste. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Pepper Quiche Cups
  1. In a skillet, place ground pork, water, salt, rubbed sage, black pepper, red pepper flakes & ground ginger. Stir-fry until no longer pink. Remove from heat & drain on paper towel. Chop sun-dried tomato pieces & shred cheese.
  2. In a large measuring cup with a spout, place 1/2 & 1/2 milk, salt & pepper. Add eggs & beat well. Remove stems, seeds & membrane from peppers & stand in a roasting dish that will hold them upright & level. Divide cooked pork, remaining mushroom/onion mixture & sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. Top each pepper with some grated cheddar, then carefully pour in the milk/egg mixture. Bake until eggs are set. If you prefer, 'float' a piece of foil over peppers for the first part of the baking time. It will help the cheese not to over bake.

No-Yolk Noodles with Chia Chicken Meatballs

Although rice takes top priority at our house, noodles (pasta) are always a staple nevertheless. Some years ago, we started using the ‘no yolks’ version of egg noodles. 

Like many old world pasta products, there is a history. In 1976, Robert Strom created  NO YOLKS. They would become the world’s first                          no-cholesterol egg noodle. They are made with Durum wheat semolina, corn flour, egg whites and have no problem cooking up firm and fluffy.

In Canada, they are the top selling noodle and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. In this recipe, I have paired them with my favorite Chia Chicken Meatballs. Does it get more healthy than that?!

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No-Yolk Noodles with Chia Chicken Meatballs
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Meatballs
Sauce
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Meatballs
Sauce
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Instructions
Meatballs
  1. In a small bowl, mix together chia seeds & water; let stand for about 20 minutes. In a large bowl, combine remaining meatball ingredients. When chia gel is ready, add to meat mixture. Using your hands, combine ingredients well. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with foil & lightly coat with baking spray. Scoop into 50 meatballs; place on baking sheet & bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely if you are choosing to freeze half for a later meal. Set aside the amount you are using for this meal.
Sauce / Noodles
  1. In a saucepan, melt margarine; saute zucchini & green onion until tender. Sprinkle with flour & seasonings. Add milk/broth & cook, stirring until slightly thickened. Meanwhile, cook no-yolk noodles as directed on package in salted boiling water to which 1 Tbsp of olive oil has been added. Drain.
Assembly
  1. In the pot you cooked the noodles, combine noodles with sauce & meatballs. Fold together & serve topped with some parmigano-reggiano if you wish.

Beef Short Ribs & Shrimp

Today, March 21st, our family honors the memory of my father. He passed away at the age of 92, thirteen years ago. As a teenager, I never realized what a special privilege  growing up as a farmer’s daughter really was. Coming home on the school bus and having to do ‘chores’ seemed so boring as opposed to being able to spend after school hours with your friends. As I look back on those times now, it all comes clear as to how treasured and valuable those life lessons were.

To be a successful farmer takes a tremendous amount of strength and courage. I think back to those days with great admiration and appreciation of the special man he was.

Since my Dad enjoyed to eat both beef and seafood, I thought today’s blog recipe should be a nice combo of just that in honor of his memory.

                                    SPECIAL MEMORIES OF OUR WONDERFUL DAD

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Beef Short Ribs & Shrimp
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, puree peeled & cored Asian pear. Add next 8 ingredients & pulse a few seconds to combine. Into a large Ziploc bag pour 2/3 of the marinade; add ribs laying single file so they will marinate evenly. Refrigerate while marinating for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Peel & devein shrimp. Place in another Ziploc bag with remaining marinade. Marinate shrimp about 30 minutes in refrigerator prior to cooking.
  3. At cooking time, thread shrimp on skewers. Barbecue ribs & shrimp on a grill over medium heat or you can broil in the oven if you prefer. Cook to your preferred liking making sure to not overcook shrimp. Place on serving platter & sprinkle with green onions & sesame seeds.
Recipe Notes
  • Using an Asian pear in marinade is a great tenderizer for beef.
  • If you prefer, keep a bit of the marinade for serving over a rice side dish.

Chia Chicken Meatballs with Linguine

Chia — the little seed with the huge nutritional profile. Known as a great source of healthy omega-3 fats and fiber as well as positive health effects such as boosting energy, stabilizing blood sugar, aiding digestion and lowering cholesterol.

In the early eighties, when the terracotta ‘Chia Pet’ figurines were first marketed, I really didn’t pay much attention to them. I just thought they were a cute way to grow a ‘houseplant’ never checking out their true potential.

Chia seeds have a fascinating and long history of use in several cultures. The word chia means ‘strength’ in the Mayan language. The Aztecs, Mayans and Incas, supposedly all used chia as a staple of their diets as well as an energy food.

There seem to be endless ways to use these naturally gluten free little seeds. Just to name a few would be, as an egg substitute, in puddings, as a thickener in soups and gravy, in meatballs, sprouted in salads or for breading fish or chicken.

One of the recipes I have featured in my ebook is Chia Chicken Meatballs  served with a fresh zucchini sauce over linguine pasta.

My husband, Brion is all about anything that promotes good health so this meal works for him. The chia seeds definitely give these little chicken meatballs some extra ‘pizzazz’. Hope you enjoy.

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Chia Chicken Meatballs with Linguine
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Course Main Dish
Servings
Ingredients
Fresh Zucchini Sauce
Course Main Dish
Servings
Ingredients
Fresh Zucchini Sauce
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Rating: 5
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Instructions
Chia-Chicken Meatballs
  1. In a small bowl, combine chia seeds with water; let stand for about 20 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, use your hands to evenly combine the chia gel with the remaining meatball ingredients. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with foil; coat lightly with baking spray. Scoop meatball mixture into 50 servings onto baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes; remove from oven. Cool half of the meatballs & freeze for another meal.
Fresh Zucchini Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt margarine; saute zucchini & green onion until tender. Sprinkle with flour & seasonings. Add milk/broth & cook, stirring until slightly thickened. Fold in baked chicken balls.
Linguine
  1. Cook linguine about 14 minutes in salted boiling water to which 1 Tbsp of olive oil has been added. Drain & combine with meatball/sauce mixture.

Taco Salad in Edible Tortilla Bowls

Summer time is salad time! Taco Salad  is the full meal deal, infinitely customizable, inviting experimentation and creativity. Being so versatile, it can be enjoyed in almost any setting.

This Texas-Mexican inspired salad was very popular in the late 1960’s. It’s name comes from the Texas-Mexican Railway. Pioneers brought Anglo influences to Texas, where the Texas-born Mexicans lived. As a result, the ingredients from their different cultures blended together.           Tex-Mex combines elements of Anglo, Spanish and Mexican.

The taco salad is unique in that it can be served in an edible tortilla bowl. I recall in the food industry, this meal had huge visual appeal for the customer. How could you resist ordering one after seeing it’s impressive presentation? The ingredients in a taco salad can vary according to preference and can be made to fit into any type of cuisine with different seasonings and modifications.

Typically the taco salad includes lettuce, beans, tomatoes, green onion, meat, cheese and sour cream. Other condiments might include guacamole, salsa, garlic and cumin.

The salad featured in today’s blog picture is the beef version but I have included similar recipes for chicken and vegetarian ideas as well. Tortilla bowls are easily made by baking them in the oven. No need to add those calories by deep frying them. I love the full meal salad idea — be it a Chef’s salad, Cobb, Taco you name it! I hope you will enjoy one to this summer.

 

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Taco Salad
Taco Salad doesn't have to be 'old school' and boring --- customizing it to your personal tastes makes a huge difference.
Instructions
Tortilla Bowls
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Warm tortillas slightly until pliable. Spray or butter both sides of tortilla lightly, then drape over oven proof bowls, pinching sides to form bowl shape. Bake 5-7 minutes, watching carefully as not to burn. Remove from oven & cool on wire rack.
Beef Taco Meat
  1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion & cook until softened, about 5 minutes.Stir in chili powder & garlic & cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ground beef & cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until almost cooked through but still slightly pink, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, broth, vinegar & sugar; simmer until slightly thickened but still saucy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat & season with salt & pepper.
Chicken Taco Meat
  1. Place chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap & pound to flatten to uniform thickness, about 1/2-inch. In a small dish, combine spices. Sprinkle over chicken breasts. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts to pan & cook until juices run clear & the center is no longer pink. Remove from pan & allow to rest 5 minutes. Slice into bite size strips.
Salad Dressing
  1. In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients.
  2. To assemble salads: In a large bowl, combine romaine, beans, green onions, cilantro, olives, jalapeno peppers. Toss with salad dressing. Place tortilla bowls on serving plates. Divide salad among bowls. Top with taco meat choice; sprinkle with tomatoes & cheese. Top with avocado slices if desired.
Recipe Notes
  • Sour cream & salsa are also nice as extra condiments or in place of the salad dressing.
  • If you prefer a Vegetarian Taco Salad, just eliminate the meat part, equally as good.
  • Be adventurous, customize to your preference so you get the most enjoyment out of 'your' salad.

Portobello Mushroom Burgers

For as long as I can remember, I personally have had a love affair with the ‘Big Sur’ coastline in California, USA. The spectacular beauty of this rugged 145 km (90 mile) coastline, with the natural drama playing out between land and sea is breathtaking.

Over the years many of our vacations have either been in this area or it has made a fabulous ending to a long flight coming back from Europe, before returning home to Canada.

One of the special memories I have from this vicinity was the quaint little European-style village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, located about 190 km (120 miles) from San Francisco.

Some 30 years ago, actor Clint Eastwood, was elected mayor of Carmel for a two-year term. During that time he opened a restaurant/bar there called the ‘Hogs Breath Inn’. You had to enter it through a long , cobblestone alley corridor. The outdoor patio was nestled between the restaurant and the bar. A massive wall mural and numerous stone fireplaces all added tremendously to the wonderful ambiance. It was here that I first tasted a Portobello Mushroom Burger. 

Every time Brion and I have returned to Carmel, we have made a point of eating lunch at the Hogs Breath Inn, just so I could taste that burger again. The Portobello mushroom seemed to have been marinated and then grilled on a barbecue. On top of it were some battered onion rings, lettuce and tomato. All of this came in a grilled Ciabatta bun with pickles and a side dish of your choice.

Of course, never having been someone who could just leave it at that, I had to see if I could push this idea just a bit further. Along came some more recipes for the ‘Stuffed Burger Series’. If you like these ingredients, I think you will really enjoy them.

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Portobello Mushroom Burgers
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Instructions
Seafood-Avocado Filling
  1. Remove brown gills from the undersides of mushrooms using a spoon; discard gills. Remove stems, reserve for another use if desired. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add leek & garlic, & saute until tender. Remove from heat; cool.
  2. Gently combine mashed avocado with next 7 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir into cooled leek mixture.
  3. Dip round side of mushroom caps into Italian dressing; drain slightly. Arrange rounded sides down in a foil baking dish. Sprinkle parmesan cheese evenly into mushroom caps; then top evenly with seafood/avocado mixture, pressing filling to compact slightly. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover & refrigerate if making in advance.)
  4. Preheat oven or barbecue to 350 F. Combine Asiago & mozzarella cheese; sprinkle mushrooms with cheese mixture. Place foil baking dish with mushrooms in oven or on barbecue. Bake until tender & filling begins to brown, about 35 minutes. If necessary, cover loosely with aluminum foil so tops don't burn. Serve on slightly grilled Ciabatta buns. Serves 6
Spinach-Cheese Filling
  1. Remove brown gills & stems from mushrooms. Dip round side of mushroom caps in Italian dressing; arrange, rounded side down, in a foil baking pan. Preheat oven or barbecue grill to 400 F.
  2. Place spinach in a microwave safe bowl, sprinkle with a few drops of water & microwave on high for one minute. Chop cooked spinach; mix with cheddar & cottage cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper. Spread spinach mixture onto prepared mushroom caps.
  3. Bake in oven or on barbecue until mushrooms are tender, about 12 minutes. Nice served on slightly grilled wholewheat buns. Serves 4

Picnic ‘Oven’ Fried Chicken

In my opinion, no one could ever surpass my mother’s cooking. I think the only thing she ever made that I didn’t like was Cream of Wheat cereal, which really doesn’t count. Although we raised chickens, pigs and cattle, the meal we ate the most was always chicken. The reason being, whatever brought the most money when sold was raised for the family income. No matter how many times my mother served chicken it was always amazingly good.

I especially remember those Sundays when our family, along with some family friends, would drive up into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains where we would just enjoy the peacefulness and great scenery. Mom would make her glorious fried chicken & potato salad. Without even realizing it, we were enjoying an experience that was truly a ‘piece of heaven’.

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Picnic Fried Chicken
Marinating the chicken overnight gives it a fantastic taste as well as making it extra tender.
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45-55 minutes
Passive Time 3 hrs or overnight
Servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45-55 minutes
Passive Time 3 hrs or overnight
Servings
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Instructions
  1. In a small container, whisk together marinade ingredients. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag, turn to coat & refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Remove chicken from marinade; shake off any excess & discard. Transfer chicken to prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake, uncovered for 45-55 minutes or until no longer pink inside when tested.

Spiced Chicken Stuffed Potato Loaf

In the early 1950’s, my father was able to purchase another piece of land about 4 miles from our home place. Between the two farms it became the equivalent of a ‘section’. Before this time, the cattle had to be moved to a community pasture in the foothills where they would have enough grass to graze on over the summer. At that time to transport them, you had no choice but to herd them down the road allowance for approximately 20-30 miles on foot. To say the least it was a long grueling event for both the cattle and family members.

The ‘other farm’, as we referred to it, had originally been a slaughter house for the town meat market. It consisted of one large building, corals and a few other buildings. There was a slough on the land which dad had converted to a ‘dug out’ where the cattle could go and drink freely. The land was used for grain crops where in turn the cattle could be pastured on.

One of my fondest memories about the other farm was our picnic lunches. In the summer when dad would be working on the land, instead of my mother just packing a lunch for him that he could take in the morning, she would fix a wonderful ‘picnic lunch’. At about 11:30 in the morning, mom would pack up the lunch she had prepared, complete with plates, silverware, a tablecloth, etc., and we would drive to the ‘other farm’. There was just the right amount of space between two grain buildings to set up a make-shift table and stools. We would put the table cloth down and spread out our little picnic ‘feast’. Dad would be so surprised and we would all enjoy our lunch immensely. Mom always knew how to make the most simple things fun for us.

Lunch was always different from the your usual lunch box meal and my mother never seemed to be short on tasty ideas. I think you will enjoy trying this Spiced Chicken Stuffed Potato Loaf  the next time you you have a crowd to feed.

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Spiced Chicken Stuffed Potato Loaf
A hearty chicken 'sandwich' rolled up and baked in a potato bread.
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Rating: 5
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Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1hr 35 mins
Passive Time 5 1/4 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Filling
Potato Bread Dough
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1hr 35 mins
Passive Time 5 1/4 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Filling
Potato Bread Dough
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Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. Butterfly chicken breasts & carefully pound to flatten. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine marinade ingredients; add chicken breast. Seal bag & turn to coat; refrigerate for 4 hours, turning occasionally. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 9" baking dish with foil. Place chicken on foil & bake about 45 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Remove from oven, cool & chop.
  2. Cut broccoli into small florets & microwave for 1 minute. Boil potato, mash & cool. Fry bacon, drain & crumble. Chop chives.
  3. In a small bowl, combine yeast with lukewarm water; whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes until foamy. Add butter, salt, sour cream & potato; mix well. Add bacon & chives; mix until just combined. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured surface (using some of the remaining 1/4 cup flour). Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Remove risen dough from bowl, turn onto lightly floured surface; roll dough to about a 12" X 15" rectangle. Place a large piece of parchment on a sheet pan. Roll dough onto a rolling pin then unroll onto parchment paper. Place 1/2 of the cheese down the center of dough, top with chicken, broccoli & remaining cheese. Fold short ends in about 1". Using parchment, fold one side over filling, overlapping with opposite side. Cover with plastic; allow to rise for 15 minutes while preheating oven to 375 F. Brush with egg wash. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer less dough to filling ratio; make half of the dough into 'potato pan rolls' for another time.
  • If you would like to serve with a quick 'sauce', combine a can of cream of mushroom soup with 1/2 can of milk.
  • To simplify the process, use purchased frozen bread dough or pizza crust.
  • Potato dough recipe adapted from girlversusdough.com