Cauliflower, Chicken & Bacon Gratin

Gratin is sort of like a crustless quiche, but a little more substantial. What’s not to like about anything cooked with chicken, bacon, custard and cheese? The cauliflower is meltingly tender. The bacon is smoky. The chicken is seasoned just right. The custard that holds it all together is creamy, and I love cheese.

Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable. It’s inexpensive and good for you, and you can turn it into rice or pizza crusts. It even gives a pretty good impression of a ‘steak’. You can add cauliflower to virtually any casserole, and it will blend right in with the meat and cheese. This gratin is loaded with cauliflower, but with all the bacon, chicken and cheese in there you’ll barely notice.

There are few things as convenient or as comforting as a ‘casserole.’ While the easy-to-assemble dish might appear to be a more modern invention, casseroles have existed in one form or another across different food cultures throughout history.

Print Recipe
Cauliflower, Chicken & Bacon Gratin
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Cuisine American
Servings
SERVINGS
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. Arrange chicken in a 9 x 13-inch, foil lined baking dish. Drizzle chicken with olive oil & season with salt & pepper. Roast for 45 minutes. Remove from oven & shred.
  3. Reduce oven to 350 F.
  4. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add cauliflower & cook for 6 minutes. Strain cauliflower well.
  5. In the 9 x 13-inch baking pan, gently stir together cauliflower, chicken, 1 cup shredded cheese, bacon pieces, green onions, ranch seasoning mix & garlic powder. Top with halved cherry tomatoes & remaining cheese.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes. I put a pan with a small amount of water in it under the baking pan to prevent the gratin from drying out during the baking time.

Bagel Breakfast Bake

Today, February 19, is Family Day in Canada … a uniquely Canadian holiday occurring each year on the third Monday of February. It gives Canadians the chance to spend more time with their families and to celebrate the importance of the home and family life.

Alberta was the first province to adopt Family Day as a statutory holiday in 1990.

Although going out for brunch is always great, sometimes it’s nice to invite some of your family and friends over for a homemade brunch. Family day seems like the perfect opportunity for a bagel breakfast bake.

Did you know that ‘brunch’ is one of Canada’s favorite pastimes? It’s one of those meals that’s a little hard to describe. Timing-wise, it fits just after normal breakfast hours and could run as late as 3 pm. Generally, it’s considered a replacement for both breakfast and lunch. Plus, you get the best of both meals on offer; you might choose decadent French toast loaded with fresh berries, Canadian maple syrup, and whipped cream… or you might just as easily have steak and eggs. At brunch, anything goes… and often does!

The origins of brunch can be found in England in the 1890s. It was described as a wonderful post-church meal that would eliminate the need to get up early to eat on Sundays. Brunch has stayed true to its origins, especially in Canada, as a primarily Sunday meal to be consumed after church—or after a sleep-in. ‘Once upon a time’, most restaurants were closed on Sundays, so the concept of brunch became synonymous with hotels and motels in the early 20th century. At that time, folks looking for a bite to eat after church could drop into a local hotel restaurant on the way home and enjoy a delicious meal. Of course, this resulted in more restaurants remaining open on Sunday mornings, as they were leaving a huge pile of cash on the table by being closed.

Brunch’s continued popularity with restaurant-goers throughout the 20th century eventually has made it into a plausible everyday meal, although still mostly eaten during the weekend, to be enjoyed at any point between breakfast and lunch hours.

Print Recipe
Bagel Breakfast Bake
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Brunch
Cuisine American
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Arrange bagels in a 9 x 9-inch square baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cheese, bacon, green onions, 1/2 tsp salt & 1/4 tsp pepper. Pour over bagels, pressing down slightly to submerge. Cover & refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Uncover dish & bake 45-55 minutes or until set.
  4. Allow to cool 15 minutes before serving; garnish with additional green onion if you wish.

Scallop Crepes w/ Cauliflower Sauce

Can you believe the New Year is almost here and as the clock approaches midnight, it is a time to reflect and assess the year that has gone by…to hopefully, realize how precious time is. The word ‘new’ brings about thoughts of hope, and an opportunity to focus on a list of fresh goals, challenges, and opportunities.

Many cultures around the world believe the key to a happy, healthy, financially secure, and even productive year begins with eating certain lucky foods. The theory is ‘do good, eat good’, to begin the New Year right.

New Year’s Eve calls for a celebration. Whether you’re spending the night in, or you’re hosting an intimate party with friends, a scallop dinner is the perfect treat to finish off the year because scallops symbolize new opportunities or the opening of new horizons.

Brion & I enjoy seafood a lot so its not hard to fit some elegant scallop crepes into the menu.

Print Recipe
Scallop Crepes w/ Cauliflower Sauce
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Crepes
  1. Place all crepe ingredients in a small blender & whirl for 1 minute at high speed. Scrape down sides, whirl for another 15 seconds. Pour into a small bowl & cover. Refrigerate 1 hour or more.
  2. Brush an 8-inch non-stick skillet lightly with melted butter; heat. Stir crepe batter; pour 2 Tbsp into center of skillet. Lift & tilt pan to coat bottom evenly. Cook until top appears dry; turn & cook 15-20 seconds longer. Remove to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with melted butter as needed.
Sauce
  1. Pour chicken broth into a medium saucepan, add cauliflower florets & bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cauliflower is tender. Drain in a colander, reserving the liquid, then place the cauliflower in a food processor & allow it to cool for 5 minutes before blending. Process, slowly adding 1 cup of reserved chicken broth. Add seasonings & process until 'creamy'. Set aside.
Filling
  1. In a large skillet, bring scallops, wine & pepper to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until scallops are firm & opaque, 3-4 minutes. Drain & set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, fry chopped bacon until slightly browned. Add 2 Tbsp butter, mushrooms & green onions & sauté until moisture has evaporated from mushrooms. Return scallops back to skillet & add cheese & enough of the cauliflower sauce to bring mixture together into a filling consistency.
Assembly & Cooking
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Divide filling among the 12 crepes, spreading filling down the center of each one. Place remaining cauliflower sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Roll up crepes & place in a single layer on top of sauce. Cover & bake until heated through about 30 minutes.
  3. Garnish with sliced green onions if you prefer.
Recipe Notes
  • These crepes look & taste indulgent, but I've made the sauce with pureed cauliflower rather than lots of cream. It sounds a bit odd, but it works beautifully & compliments the flavor of the sweet scallops & salty bacon.

Sausage, Bacon & Perogy Casserole

Casseroles are my go-to dish when I have a busy day ahead of me! They’re simple to make and Brion & I just love them. You can prep them ahead of time and then just pop them in the oven for a nice hot meal that is ready when you are or cook them and reheat in the microwave.

This perogy casserole makes life simpler by relying on frozen perogies. This recipe starts with ingredients you may already have in your kitchen, such as frozen perogies (either store bought or homemade), onions, bacon, Alfredo sauce and cheese. The onions, bacon and perogies are browned in a skillet along with some garlic, then layered into a casserole dish with the Alfredo sauce. The final step is a generous amount of cheddar cheese. Bake your casserole until golden brown, then dinner is served.

There are a lot of flavors of frozen perogies in grocery stores these days that you can try this casserole with such as cheese, onion, potato, garlic, bacon, etc. All of which will help switch up the flavor to keep it a little new and different each time you make it. 

Perogies are truly one of the world’s best comfort foods and as an added bonus, casseroles are an inexpensive way to stretch those food dollars and still taste delicious. 

Print Recipe
Sausage, Bacon & Perogy Casserole
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a saucepan over medium high heat, cook bacon for 4-5 minutes or until slightly crisp. Remove from pan & drain on paper towel.
  3. In a pot of boiling, salted water cook perogies for about 3 minutes. Drain. With a spatula gently stir perogies with a TINY bit of butter just to keep them from sticking to each other.
  4. In the saucepan with bacon drippings, place onion & sauté until translucent. Add garlic & sausage; sauté for a couple of minutes. Remove from pan to a dish. Add half of the perogies to the pan & cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until browned. Repeat the process with remaining perogies. Place bacon, onions & garlic in the pan & stir to combine.
  5. Spread 1/3 cup of the alfredo sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 9-inch baking dish. Place 1/2 of the perogy mixture on top of the sauce.
  6. Add another 1/3 cup of the sauce, then use the remaining perogy mixture to create another layer. Spread the remaining alfredo sauce over the top of the perogy mixture, then top the casserole with shredded cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese has melted & started to brown.
  7. Top with green onions & serve.

Seafood Bread

French bread doesn’t get enough recognition for its worth. Fresh, soft crusty bread can be so much more than a simple side to a big family meal. You can base an entire meal around a loaf of French Bread!

Stuffed with salmon, scallops, shrimp, and mushrooms, this seafood bread can be served as an appetizer or sliced into larger pieces as an entree with a salad. The recipe itself is quite versatile. This stuffed French bread reminds me of the edible bread bowls of the past, but all stuffed inside a wonderful loaf of French bread. 

Edible bread bowls were a huge hit in the 80’s and 90’s, but the idea fizzled at the start of the 21st century. Bread has always been a main stay of any meal, from toast at breakfast to sandwiches at lunch and rolls for supper. Many restaurants used the bread bowl idea as a way to justify charging more for soup. They are an extremely versatile way to hold thick, creamy soups, spicy chili or stews as well as dips and warm melted cheese.

Bread bowls will always hold a special memory for Brion and I. Over the years we have made many trips to the California coast. We always stayed in the Carmel/Monterey area and walked the coastline with our destination being Fisherman’s Wharf. It was a special treat having clam chowder in a sourdough bowl at a wharf restaurant.

This seafood bread combines many ingredients that enhance its delicious and creamy flavor, perfect for a late summer meal.

It has a soft and velvety textured inside with the French bread giving texture to the combination with its crustiness. Lots of seafood, cheesy, and super savory, this stuffed French bread is your fast track to home-cooked comfort. So good!!

Print Recipe
Seafood Bread
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword seafood bread
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. In a skillet, sauté mushrooms & 2 green onions in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add shrimp, scallops & salmon with a bit of the seasonings & sauté for another 5 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid & set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk mushroom soup, eggs, mustard & remaining seasoning together. Don’t overmix, keep the mixture a little lumpy.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  4. Slice into the bread, but not all the way through. You need to cut deep enough into the bread to open out the loaf and fill between the “slices, while leaving the loaf connected at the base. You can either cut bread into thick slices or slice from both directions. Place the bread on a sheet of parchment paper.
  5. Into each slot in the bread, place a slice of potato, followed by some of the seafood/mushroom mixture.
  6. Spoon some of the soup/egg mixture into each slot, so that the bread absorbs as much as possible.
  7. Finally insert the slices of cheese. Enclose the loaf fully in the baking paper and then wrap it in foil to make a tight parcel.
  8. Put the wrapped bread into the preheated oven and bake for 60 minutes, then remove the tray and open the foil and parchment paper. Return to the oven for about 30 minutes, until the top of the bread and its filling is golden brown. Remove, garnish with green onion, & serve!
Recipe Notes
  • Any combination of seafood you prefer will work.

Portobello & Potato Gratin

The classic, humble gratin with its thick, crispy bubbling crust, has been defined and redefined over the years. Whether its base is potatoes or eggplant, fish or shellfish, pasta or meat, whether it is a main course or a dessert, the gratin seems to find its way to our dinner tables.

The difference between au gratin and gratin is that potatoes au gratin are a side dish made with thinly-sliced layers of cheesy potatoes. ‘Gratin’ is the culinary technique of baking or broiling an ingredient topped with grated cheese and breadcrumbs to create a crispy crust.

The word gratin derives from the French word grater, meaning ‘to grate‘. You would think that gratin refers to grated cheese, but this is not what the word originally referred to. Instead, it meant something more like ‘scrapings’. This referred to the browned, crusty material that forms on the bottoms and perhaps to the act of scraping loose these crusty bits and stirring them back into the dish during cooking. It now tends to refer to the browned crust that forms on the top of a baked dish, whether this crust forms by itself or is speeded up by placing the dish under a broiler.

Since Brion & I are both mushroom lovers, portobello & potato gratin certainly works for us.

Print Recipe
Portobello & Potato Gratin
Votes: 2
Rating: 4
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Votes: 2
Rating: 4
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Cook potatoes & mash, adding enough milk just to make creamy. In an oblong casserole dish, spread some potatoes on the bottom & up the sides.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  3. Clean & slice Portobello mushrooms into about 3 slices each. Toss cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, salt & pepper. In the center of the casserole dish, layer the Portobello rounds & cheese mixture making 3 layers.
  4. Drizzle the mushrooms with 3 Tbsp water, cover with foil & bake 35 minutes. Uncover & bake 8 minutes more. Remove from oven & sprinkle with sliced green onions. Serve.

Chicken & Mushroom Barley Crepes

Crepes come in many flavors and styles and can be eaten as appetizers, side dishes, main courses or desserts. Barley flour is nutty and nutritious and perfect to use in crepes. 

Barley has always been a grain I have enjoyed. Not only a good choice in soups and entrees, but perfect when ground into flour for baked goods. Barley has a weaker gluten than wheat flour, however, so it may not rise as well as recipes made with wheat flour. As a result, barley flour is usually mixed with wheat flour when baking yeast breads.

An underrated and underused grain, barley is actually Canada’s 3rd largest crop after wheat and canola. More barley is grown in Alberta than any other province.  

That lovely nutty flavor that works well with fruits like apples and pears, is amazing in a savory meal of chicken and mushrooms.

Most of us don’t think nutrition when we think of crepes. Generally, crepes use all-purpose flour, milk and butter with more butter added to the pan. These crepes use whole barley flour in both the crepes and the filling .. how good is that!

Print Recipe
Chicken & Mushroom Barley Crepes
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
CREPES
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Crepes
  1. In a bowl, combine flour & salt. Whisk in milk until mixture is smooth.
  2. Heat a small non-stick skillet or crepe pan (6-8-inches) over medium-high heat. Brush bottom of pan with oil. Using a 1/4 cup measure of batter, add to pan & quickly tilt pan to cover bottom with batter.
  3. Shake pan to loosen crepe & cook until edges of crepe begin to curl & it no longer sticks to the pan, about 30 seconds.
  4. Gently flip crepe over & cook for a few seconds. Remove from pan & set aside. Repeat with remaining batter.
Sauce
  1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter, sauté mushrooms & garlic until lightly browned. Add flour, stirring until completely mixed in. Gradually stir in milk, salt, pepper & dried herbs; cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
  2. If you are using broccoli florets, cook in microwave for 1 or 2 minutes to precook slightly.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Set out a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
  4. Set aside 1 cup of the sauce. Into remaining sauce add the chicken, broccoli & 1/2 of the grated cheese; gently combine.
  5. Spread a small amount of reserved sauce in bottom of baking pan. Divide filling between crepes. Gently fold each side of the crepe to the middle. Place crepes seam side down in baking dish & top with 1/2 of sliced green onion, remaining sauce & cheese.
  6. Since the sauce is fairly thick, I set the pan of crepes into another pan that had about 1/2-inch of water in it to create a 'water bath'. This helped them to cook without getting to crisp on the bottom.
  7. Cover the pan with a sheet of foil & bake for 30-45 minutes. Remove from oven & sprinkle with remaining green onion. Serve.
Recipe Notes
  • If you would prefer to make smaller crepes, use a 1/8 measuring cup or 2 Tbsp instead of the 1/4 cup measure. It should give you roughly 10 crepes.

Asian Pork Chops

Plum sauce is one of several commonly used Chinese condiments. The sauce is both sweet and tangy, allowing the product to work well in a number of different applications.

The basic plum sauce is made using plums that have been allowed to ripen to the point where the flesh of the fruit is at its sweetest. As part of the preparation, the skin of the plum is usually removed by immersing the whole plums in hot water for a short period of time, allowing the skin to be peeled away from the fruit with relative ease.

Often you will find plum sauce made from other fruits, most commonly apricots. Or made from a combination of apricots & plums. It is also common to add other seasonings to plum sauce like garlic, star anise or Chinese 5-spice powder. The additional seasonings add different nuances to the flavor of the sauce and vary depending on the tastes of whoever is preparing it.

In this particular recipe, I’m using plum sauce as an ingredient in my sauce mixture rather than on its own. The combination creates a unique Asian flavor for the pork.

Print Recipe
Asian Pork Chops
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Asia
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Asia
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, brown chops in oil. Combine the plum sauce, orange juice, soy sauce, garlic, mustard, ginger & pepper; pour over chops.
  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover & simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender.
  3. Remove pork chops to serving platter & drizzle with sauce. Sprinkle with sliced green onions & sesame seeds. Serve with steamed rice.

Black Bean Pulled Pork Quesadillas

A quesadilla is a Mexican dish that dates back to the 16th century. Traditional quesadillas were made with a corn tortilla that was warmed on a griddle, filled with cheese and various other fillings (meat, vegetables), and then folded over to be eaten by hand. The addition of toppings like guacamole, salsa and sour cream seems to have come along later.

Quesadillas are simple and quick to make. Place the quesadilla in a dry griddle (or skillet) over low to medium low heat. That way, you don’t have to handle greasy tortillas with your hands. But more importantly, oil is a heat conductor which browns the tortillas faster than the filling heats through and the cheese melts. Tortillas are thin – and they cook fast!

If you cover with a lid, the filling heats through and melts the cheese faster, before the tortilla gets too brown. Cook until underside is golden and crispy, then remove the lid.

Pulled pork and savory black beans are a great match by themselves but adding creamy avocado takes it up a few more notches. 

Print Recipe
Black Bean Pulled Pork Quesadillas
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. On a griddle, heat butter & sauté mushrooms until moisture has evaporated; add corn & green onions. Sauté for another few minutes. Remove from heat; transfer to a dish.
  2. Wipe griddle with paper towel; place 2 tortillas on dry griddle & top each with 60 gm of the cheese. Next, divide black beans, green onions, corn & mushrooms between the 2 tortillas. Top with another 60 gm each of the remaining cheese. Cover the tortillas with the 2 remaining tortillas.
  3. If your griddle does not have a cover, use a sheet pan to cover the 'quesadillas' until cheese melts & quesadillas are heated through. Remove from griddle onto cutting board. Cut into wedges & place on serving plates. Top with avocado slices & diced Roma tomatoes. If you prefer, sprinkle with additional cheese & green onion. Serve with your choice ... salsa or sour cream or maybe both!

Wild Mushroom Quiche w/ Parmesan Crust

I realize mushrooms aren’t for everyone but if you do enjoy them, it seems there are no end to recipes you can use them in. As well as making a great filling for your quiche, its nice to add even more color and flavor with crust variations. Keep in mind that the best time to add extra ingredients to your pastry is after you’ve blended your flour and butter together in the food processor and before pulsing in the cold water.

Here’s a few ideas to elevate savory quiche crusts:

Herbs: Try adding 2 tablespoons each of any of these fresh herbs – chives, thyme, parsley, rosemary & sage. If you only have dried herbs, cut back to about 1/2-1 teaspoon each.

Cheese: As we all know, cheese makes everything better! Adding it to pastry is amazing. Try mixing it up with different combinations of cheese: Gruyere in the filling and parmesan in the crust for example.

Spices: Such as turmeric, fennel seed or even a grind of peppercorn (black, white or pink) can significantly alter any savory crust.

Bacon: Even just a little bacon will add some smokiness to the quiche. Be sure to chop it small enough after frying so it can be well incorporated into the crust.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes: Although they add tanginess and a nice smoky red color, they are often best as a background flavor. Since they can easily overpower when used in the filling, add them to the crust.

Print Recipe
Wild Mushroom Quiche w/ Parmesan Crust
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Ingredients
Parmesan Crust
Filling
Servings
Ingredients
Parmesan Crust
Filling
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Pastry Crust
  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, grated Parmesan & salt. Cut in shortening & butter, using pastry blender or fork, until mixture forms coarse crumbs the size of small peas.
  2. Combine ice water and lemon juice (or vinegar); drizzle 1/2 of the lemon water over cold flour mixture and stir until the dough just starts to come together or turns “shaggy”. Begin adding a few more tablespoons of water at a time, stirring between each addition. Once most of the water has been used (but you have a tablespoon or two remaining) use your hands to gather the shaggy strands into a ball and knead the dough two or three times. If you have dry bits remaining in the bowl, add a little additional water.
  3. Gather the dough in a ball, dust your counter with a tiny amount of flour, and quickly pat dough into a small flat disk. Cut dough in half and then stack one piece on top of the other, flour side down. Use the heel of your hand and press the dough down and divide once more. Cover each piece with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator, but overnight is best.
Filling
  1. Slice green onion & mushrooms. Sauté in butter, add minced garlic, stirring often. Allow to cook for five minutes uncovered so the moisture evaporates.
  2. Cut broccoli into florets & add to pan along with chopped red pepper. Cook another 6 minutes then remove from heat.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. Grate Havarti cheese. In a container, whisk together eggs, milk & seasonings.
  5. Remove pastry from refrigerator & place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll dough out to fit a 9-10-inch pie pan. Trim away any excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang to form the crust.
  6. Sprinkle a small amount of the Havarti over bottom; top with vegetable mixture then remaining Havarti.
  7. Bake until quiche tests done. Since the quiche is made with milk instead cream it will take longer to bake. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing. This quiche tastes great just out of the oven, but even better the next day.
Recipe Notes
  • Don't hesitate to use cream instead of milk if you would like a richer filling.