All Recipes

Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

loaded-cauliflower-casserole

Do you ever feel like you’re living for the weekends? I mean, I actually really enjoy my weekdays. I do. Smoothies from Nektar juice bar, yoga classes at We Yogis, lots of park and activity time with my boys.  But still in the back of my head I’m counting down to Friday. And then Friday gets here, and poof it’s Monday. It’s a sad reality for most people I think. And I have no words of wisdom or advice to offer you, I’m just acknowledging/complaining. I feel like I’m going to be looking forward to Fridays so much that all of the sudden I will be 97 (if I’m so lucky), and all days will be exactly the same. Except I hope by the time I’m 97 they have invented an age-reversing serum so I look and feel like I’m 34. Just kidding, 26.

In the meantime, I like to eat through my weekdays. Generally healthy but indulgent. That’s exactly what this cauliflower casserole is. All the ingredients of a loaded baked potato, but healthier with cauliflower instead. Perfect side dish with steak. That’s how we ate it!

Recipe

  • 2 heads cauliflower, chopped into bite size pieces
  • Olive oil, Salt & Pepper
  • 1.5 cups smoked gouda, shredded
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1 cup plain or italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup cheddar, shredded
  • Chopped green onion or chives, optional

Start by roasting the cauliflower. You can steam it instead, but roasting it adds a really delicious flavor. After the cauliflower is chopped up, drizzle it with oil, S&P and roast at 400 for 20 min.  Meanwhile, mix together the gouda, sour cream, milk, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4  tsp pepper. Stir in the chopped bacon (I just microwave mine for about 5-7 min). When cauliflower is tender, remove from baking sheet and mix with the sauce. Reduce oven temp to 350. Pour into a casserole dish and top with cheddar. Mix melted butter with breadcrumbs and pour over casserole.  Bake at 350 for 10 min, or until cheese is melted. Top with green onions or chives.

Mexican Lasagna

mexican-lasagna

If I could figure out how to make Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza at home, I would eat it every day.  It’s probably not that hard, but I haven’t figured out what I could use for the crunchy tortilla layer that would be just perfect. Also I would need to go there and steal like 95 packets of their taco sauce because it’s really a key ingredient.  And I wouldn’t want some homemade bull%$## taco sauce. That one is special.  So this Mexican lasagna is definitely inspired by Taco Bell’s pizza variation, but there are enough differences that I don’t feel like I’m trying to make their Mexican pizza but end up with something sub par.

And I decided to make this Mexican lasagna for three reasons: 1) my friend Annie was coming over for a Friday night happy hour/dinner/play date and she loves Taco Bell as much as, or more, than I do; 2) I also sort of had lasagna on my mind; and 3) But I was going to Terilli’s Italian restaurant for dinner on Saturday so I didn’t want back to back lasagna. So if you can follow all that I landed on Mexican lasagna.

So I made it. It was easy. It was super delicious. It was pretty. It was sitting on my stove all bubbly and waiting to be eaten. And then I had to cancel. And let me tell you – when you stay at home with your kids all day, this Friday night plan made me feel like I was going clubbing. Social interaction, good dinner, someone to drink with, kids playing with someone else, etc.  Very sad.

But I had to cancel because one of my kids had Hand Foot Mouth disease for literally the second time in a month. What I thought was a fussy baby due to having some major vaccinations a couple days earlier turned out to be a fussy baby due to 20 blisters covering the inside of his throat/mouth. Fair enough, Price, fair enough.  This second round of HFM was a BEATING. And it’s super contagious so I didn’t want to expose anyone else to it. So it was a very sad day, but I did cut it up into little pieces and froze it. It freezes beautifully and we’ve had a couple easy/awesome dinners this week.

Recipe

  • Ground beef recipe minus water and taco sauce (you’ll add more liquid later)
  • 1.5 cans (2.5-3 cups) tomato sauce
  • 3 large flour tortillas or 9 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup refried beans
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 bottle taco sauce (I like Ortega)
  • 3.5 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray cast iron pan or other round baking dish with nonstick spray.  Prepare beef according to recipe above (2 lb), or just using a taco seasoning packet if you prefer.  Stir in tomato sauce with ground beef. In a separate bowl, warm up the refried beans in the microwave. Stir in the sour cream and set aside. Then, layer about 1 cup of meat sauce on bottom of pan. Drizzle generously with taco sauce. Coat one flour tortilla lightly in taco sauce (if using corn you will use 3 tortillas per layer). Place on top of meat. Spread about 3 spoonfuls of bean mixture on top. Add 1 cup of shredded cheese. Add 1.5 cups meat sauce on top of cheese. Sprinkle with a bit of taco sauce. Coat tortilla with taco sauce. Top with 3 spoonfuls bean mixture, then another cup of cheese. Add another 1.5 cups meat sauce, taco sauce, tortilla dipped in taco sauce, bean mixture. Add rest of meat (less than a cup), then remaining 1.5 cups cheese. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes more.

chunky-butterscotch-chocolate-chip-banana-bread

Have you guys ever tried Rent the Runway? I have lots of friends that use it and love it. I put off using it for years because I just don’t see how you can tell if a dress will look good on you just by looking at it online. And then have no time to rectify the problem if you don’t like it.  I mean, I do all my shopping online, but I order 75 dresses for an event months in advance and I still usually send them all back. But, we have a wedding this weekend and I couldn’t find anything I loved (and didn’t want to spend a fortune), so I tried it! I ordered a beautiful-looking dress from RTR to be delivered today for a wedding we have Saturday (I am writing this post Friday at 3:24pm)! And guess what! It looks terrible! Just as I always suspected, this is very risky business. Particularly if you had twins in the last year (it’s actually more than a year but I’m milking it a while longer), and your body got all different. So now here I am, about 18 hours before we are leaving for this wedding and I have 0 dresses to wear. And I’m blogging instead of shopping. I actually just tried on a few dresses from weddings past and while they generally fit, I got them shortened so short that I don’t think I could even sit down. My pre-baby self was a braver self. Or at least a sluttier-dressed self.

Onto more important things like Banana Bread.

This recipe isn’t all that different from my traditional, yet it definitely tastes different. That’s doesn’t make sense, I know! But the addition of the fresh sliced yellow (not brown) banana, makes a big difference, and so does the butterscotch chips. Butterscotch and banana, it turns out, go perfectly together. And why haven’t we been putting chunks of fresh banana in our bread all along?? IT’S SO GOOD.

Happy Saturday! Look for me on IG later wearing a very beautiful plush robe at the wedding.

Recipe

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 1 large semi-UNRIPE (yellow, not brown) banana
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Dash salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Beat the butter and sugars with a mixer. Add in the egg and vanilla.  Mash up the 2 ripe bananas, and add them to the mixture along with the milk. Mix in the baking soda and powder, flour, and salt.  Turn off mixer, then stir in chips and fresh banana slices.  Bake in a greased bread pan for about 50-60 minutes.

pumpkin-pie-with-cream-cheese-swirl-and

Some days just can’t be as successful as others. I’m sick, I feel very tired and lazy, and all I want to do is watch Ellen re-runs all day. I finally left the house to go get a healthy smoothie to boost my immunity, but literally couldn’t get a parking spot so went to Chick-Fil-A instead. You win some, you lose some.

But as I was driving home I realized Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away! And I’ve had this pumpkin pie recipe in my draft section for a whole year, since I made it last year. And I’m blogging it now, because I think you should make it for your Thanksgiving this year. You won’t regret!

I loooove pumpkin pie. Love it. Only complaint is that sometimes I crave a sweeter crust than the same old pie crust.  And I like to put little spins on things to make them my own.  The solution? Gingersnaps and Biscoff cookies for the crust, of course. Wow. Add a cream cheese swirl and you’ve successfully elevated that same ol’ pumpkin pie.

I use this pumpkin pie recipe, there is no reason to look further. Sally’s is perfect, and I’ve done the research. I make her sugared cranberries too for a little festive flair.

For the cream cheese swirl:

  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • vanilla

For the Gingersnap/Biscoff crust

  • 2 cups gingersnap/biscoff cookie crumbs (I did half and half, or you could just do gingersnap)
  • 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 5-6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Make the crust first by mixing all ingredients. Press into a pie pan, then bake at 300 for 10 minutes. Create the pie filling, then fill about 3/4 of the way up. Not too full or it won’t bake evenly. You will have some leftover – I ate mine with the spatula.  Make the cream cheese filling, then drop in spoonfuls all over the pie (I think I used about 3/4 of it, and again ate the rest with a spatula). Use a toothpick or similar tool, and swirl the cream cheese with the pie filling.  Bake according to Sally’s instructions, about 55 minutes at 375.

cinnamon-toast-crunch-french-toast-casserole

I feel like I missed out on years and years of eating french toast. My mom always loved it, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why someone would ever order french toast over a pancake. But as I got older and wiser, I started to understand why. The reason is – it’s good. And really just another vehicle for maple syrup. After I decided I liked it, then I had a whole new problem. Instead of struggling to understand why someone would order french toast, I struggled to decide whether I should order french toast or a pancake at brunch.  Actually, that’s why we had twins. There’s no deciding anymore; we can order the french toast AND the pancakes. The grilled cheese AND the chicken fingers. The hot dog AND the hamburger.  God must have known about this lifelong struggle of mine and decided enough was enough – we’re blessing her with two eaters.

So onto this casserole. I really don’t like making brunch at home. It’s messy, usually requires lots of different ingredients and pans, and it makes the house smell like bacon until the end of time. But this french toast casserole – is different. It’s easy, quick, requires one dish, can (should) be prepared the night before, smells AMAZING when baking, and is so worth eating you won’t even think about the cream and butter in there.

Recipe

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large loaf Challah bread (about 1 lb)
  • 7 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Topping

  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 cups Cinnamon Toast Crunch or similar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

In a large bowl, whisk together the beaten eggs, half & half, milk, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla. Set aside.  Slice a large loaf of challah bread into 2-inch cubes.  Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter, and pour into a 9×13 inch dish to coat.  Place the cubed bread into the dish, then pour the cream mixture all over the bread, making sure to soak every little square inch. Cover and refrigerate overnight (you can do just a few hours if that’s all the time you have, but overnight is best).  The topping will be prepared the next day.

When ready to bake, remove from fridge. Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly crush the 2 cups Cinnamon toast crunch. Mix with the stick of melted butter and 2 tablespoons sugar.  Pour the cinnamon toast crunch mixture over the casserole, making sure the melted butter gets in every nook and cranny.  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Serve with maple syrup (although you really don’t need it).

Slow Cooked Green Beans

slow-cooked-green-beans

I can’t be alone here. There has got to be others out there that were sadly disappointed when the ‘fresh’ green bean trend hit the waves. The crunch, the bitter flavor, the waxy skin – none of it even closely resembles the delicious canned version. Anyone with me? And by the way, ‘fresh’ green beans could have always been a thing, but they weren’t in Wausau, WI.  We ate a lot of canned green beans and we loved them. But maybe it was the small town, maybe it was the long cold winter, or maybe it was because my mom had 4 kids all 2 years apart.  We didn’t get fresh green beans until much later in life (my mom was an AWESOME cook, PS).

But one day she came home with fresh green beans, and after faking it for nearly 20 years, I am coming out now. I don’t like them. I like the salty, soft, forest green canned version. I don’t care if ‘some of the nutrients’ are lost in the canning process or if I’m going to die from the amount of sodium they put in there – I LOVE THEM.

But, because I’ve been faking liking the canned version for a very long time – some habits are hard to shake. I was at Trader Joe’s last week, and I bought them. They were pre-washed, pre-cut, pre-everything. Ready to cook. Seemed easy and healthy. And by the way – my husband has told me for years that he doesn’t really like green beans. So basically I was forcing all of society’s green bean ideals on us for dinner that night.

But, (third paragraph starting with but)…but, something happened by accident that day and I can’t believe it took me so long to figure out. If you SLOW COOK the green beans, in something salty like chicken broth….for like 1.5 hours….they taste JUST LIKE the canned version, but BETTER. They are salty, soft, melt-in-your-mouth, and that dark green color that we all know and love. And yet you can taste an element of freshness that elevates the flavor. My husband loved. I loved. The twins loved. They’re the easiest side dish of all time. You guys, I’m making these weekly.  And definitely using them in the green bean casserole for Thanksgiving.

Recipe

  • 1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 cups chicken broth (I used a mid-sodium broth, like 550mg/cup)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1.5 tablespoons light butter spread
  • Fresh lemon and parmesan to top (optional)

In a large pot combine beans, broth, water, S&P (you will need more salt if you use a very low sodium broth).  Cover and cook over medium/low on a low simmer for about 1.5 hours.  Drain. Toss with butter, fresh lemon, and parmesan if using. But definitely don’t skip the butter.

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