Cauliflower Gratin

I’ve posted this recipe twice on Facebook and I had another friend ask me for it again, so I’m posting it here on my blog. It’s a popular recipe.

It’s a wonderful side dish on cold, snowy nights or chilly, windy Spring evenings when you’re chilled to the bone. It’s way better than Mac N’ Cheese and lower in carbs.

If you have an aversion to goat cheese (I love it myself), I’ve read that you can use Ricotta as a substitute. You can also cut back some on the butter, if you prefer.

Cauliflower Gratin

Ingredients:

1 Head of cauliflower

1/2 of a small yellow onion, finely diced

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

5 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into TBSP pads)

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Fresh ground nutmeg (ground over sauce for 10 seconds)

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups grated parmesan

1/2 lb. grated Monterey jack cheese

6 ounces goat cheese (cut into small pieces)

salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Preheat over to 400 degrees

In a large saucepan, melt the pads of butter over medium heat.

Add the onion and minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the flour to the pan and stir, using a wooden spoon to form a blond roux.

Do not allow the mixture to brown. Cook roux for at least 1 minute to remove the raw flavor.

Add the heavy cream to the pan, very slowly at first, and whisk until smooth.

Increase the eat to medium high and bring to a slow bubble.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, or until thickened, smooth and creamy. 

Remove the pan from heat and add the nutmeg and grated parmesan cheese, stirring until melted.

Pour evenly over the cauliflower in a shallow casserole baking dish.

Sprinkle the grated jack cheese and the goat cheese evenly over the top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

Adapted from a recipe by George Stella.

Cauliflower Gratin

Enjoy!

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… and Regrow Veggies?

Have you ever read an article entitled “10 ways to save money and the planet” (or something similar)? Then, as you read the same old suggestions such as “Change all your bulbs to CFL’s” or “Don’t buy bottled water”, you think “I already do ALL of this stuff! (and who doesn’t??)”. I do that all the time. I’m always looking for something new… and then I heard about this.

Did you know that you can regrow certain veggies? I didn’t, until recently. As soon as I read about it, we started experimenting and it works.

We started with green onions and romaine lettuce. The onions grow like crazy. Just cut off the root end of your onion. We don’t use the white part of the onion, so we cut it off right where the green turns white.  Some people cut them almost all the way to the roots, so whatever works for you. Soak the onion root ends in a bowl, glass or jar of water. You can do this for a few hours or a few days, whatever works for you. The onions will grow in just water, but do way better after being planted in some good potting soil. We had some in just water for a week, some for a little longer and some for just a few days before being potted.

If you hover your mouse over the photos below, you’ll see how long these had been growing.

After 1 day

After 2 days

After 3 days

After 5 days

As you can see below, we also experimented with Napa Cabbage (in the Tropicana bottle) and Romaine Lettuce (in the Greek Yogurt container).  You can see where they were cut and the re-growth so far.  In this photo the lettuce and cabbage were about 9 days along. The onions on the left have been growing for 8 days in that glass, the onions on the right for one day in the bowl.

After 8 days

After 22 days (inner) & 15 days (outer)

As you can see the inner onions aren’t as long or big around as the outer onions, which grew for 7 days less. I’m not sure if it’s because the onions soaked in a bowl of water, as opposed to a glass, or because the first bunch wasn’t as fresh when I cut them. The roots were pretty intertwined from being in a small glass, so I planted them close together. I have noticed that the third bunch I’m starting seems to be doing very well in a bowl of water.

The romaine has been doing okay. It grew pretty fast (as you can see), but it was tall and there were only a hand full of leaves. I just cut off the re-growth last night and planted the base in soil. I had been waiting for it to have more root growth, but I read yesterday that most people just soak for a short time and then plant in soil.

After 22 days

Trimmed and planted

The Napa cabbage has also grown into a tall shoot and flowered. I read more about it and when Napa Cabbage gets cold, it “bolts”, which means it goes to seed. I was waiting for roots to grow and they did, but it shot up at the same time. I don’t think it would do any good to plant it now. I’m going to try to save and use the seeds. Wish me luck!

Napa Cabbage Bolted

Napa Cabbage Flowers/Seeds

Napa Cabbage roots

These celery roots soaked in water for 14 and 20 days, respectively. They weren’t growing any roots, so I read more about it and decided to pot them in soil. We’ll see how they do.

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We’ve also just started experimenting with good old Green Cabbage. Nothing to report so far.

We gave the green onions a trim last night and used them in our dinner. We had Chinese Chicken Salad and it was extra delicious. I think that may be because we used something that we actually grew ourselves… sort of!

I’ll post the recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad soon.

Happy Growing,

 

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The Homestead Barn Hop

Cheesy Chili Chicken

This is a favorite recipe in our house. Even our son, Z Man loves it (and those of you who know him, know what I mean). It’s one of my go-to recipes and I like to make it on days when Mike is working late in his shop. It’s also great on cold days when you want to warm up the house. We usually have cornbread and a veggie with it.

Cheesy Chili Chicken (adapted from a recipe by George Stella)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (plus a little extra for the garnish)

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup red bell pepper, julienned

2 tablespoons diced red onion

1 medium plum tomato, diced

8 ounces sliced mushrooms

6 ounces shredded colby-jack cheese

Preheat oven to 400°

Whisk together the oil, chopped cilantro, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, and cayenne in a bowl, add chicken and toss to coat.

Transfer chicken to a baking dish and arrange the bell pepper, onion and tomato over each piece. Roast until the largest piece is just cooked through and thickest part reads 165°. (about 30-40 mins).

While chicken is cooking, saute sliced mushrooms in a pan with a little olive oil and butter. After they’re mostly cooked through, add a little cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.

Remove chicken from oven and top with mushrooms and cheese. Serve as cheese melts. Garnish with cilantro.

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Have a great weekend,

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Free Heirloom Seeds

My free heirloom seeds arrived today from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds! I was so delighted to see the envelope in the mailbox.They sent me free seeds because I signed up for the Grow it Forward Seed Contest.

As you can see below, we received Asparagus Beans, German Lunchbox Tomatoes, Giant Yellow Bell Peppers,  White Belgian Carrots, and Phlox Beauty Flower seeds. They will be such a wonderful accompaniment to the seeds we’ve already started for our first garden this year.

Free Heirloom Seeds

About four years ago, I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and got really interested in the local food and heirloom seed movements. The more I learned about Monsanto and GMO’s, the more I wanted to use only heirloom seeds and join a seed saver club.

Did you know an estimated 75 to 80% of processed food in the U.S. contains GMOs? For the past 15 years, Americans have been denied the basic right to know what’s in our food, despite the fact that more than 50 countries around the world already require labeling of genetically engineered food.

Now that we own our own acre of land, I’m excited at the prospect of growing and raising our own food. This is going to be a great year!

For more information on the seed contest, you can click on the link below:

Happy planting!

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$1 Kitchen Update and a $10 Window!

At a yard sale a few weekends ago, Mike (my awesome hubby) spotted a pile of brushed nickel cabinet pulls. About two-thirds of them had been used, but looked brand new, and the other third were still sealed in the package. I pointed to them and asked the seller “How much?” and he replied “A buck”. While trying to gauge how many pulls were in the pile (31), I said “How much for all of them?” and he replied “A buck for ALL of them”.” SOLD!!!!! I love sellers who really want to get things out of their house.

A few days before, we’d been discussing installing drawer knobs and pulls on our cabinets. In the not to distant future, we plan on rearranging the cabinets, re-facing them and replacing all the doors and drawer fronts. But, that project isn’t going to be done right away and we really hate not having pulls. Mike had saved a stash of 30+ brushed nickel knobs from a cabinet job he did about 14 years ago (yes, he’s a saver). We’d been considering buying either more of the knobs or a coordinating pull, but we waited because we knew that we would be choosing a totally different style when we update the cabinets. So, when we saw the pulls at this sale, we couldn’t believe it. They were a perfect match.

So, last weekend we (mostly Mike, but I helped) installed the knobs and pulls. Mike also had the brilliant idea to move two of the glass cabinet doors to a different cabinet, which we use as a liquor cabinet. We love the way it turned out. We think it makes the cabinets look so much nicer. It definitely helps us live with the cabinets in their current form. I smile every time I walk into the kitchen and it only cost us one dollar! Plus, we have 13 pulls leftover.

Before:

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After:

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We also bought this brand new, unused Andersen window with trim and everything for $10! The seller bought four of them and then decided to use only three. We’re planning to eventually finish our attic and make it into more living space. This window is perfect for what we’re planning to do.

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Did I mention how much I LOVE yard sales? Open-mouthed smile

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Shop small businesses!

I posted this before the holidays, but I think it should be followed throughout the entire year, so I’m posting it again! 

Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of

cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor.

This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans.

There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It’s time to think outside the box, people.

Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love

to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamines on a Chinese made flat-screen?

Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or

driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates.

And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint.

Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town

Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal.

Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves.

They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Buying a piece of furniture for the holidays?

Don’t buy “imported” cheap crap from IKEA,

Ashley, LaZBoy or some other mega chain store.

Buy a piece of furniture that was lovingly handmade by a local furniture maker and will last forever.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip.

And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house?

When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community.

If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city.

Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow

their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities,

and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine.

THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

Share this! Forward this to everyone on your mailing list — post it to discussion

groups — throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in

your city — send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations,

and TV news departments.

This is a revolution of caring about each other,

and isn’t that what Christmas is about?

   

Five Things for Friday

Five things I’m loving today!

1.     My new pendulum clock!

2.     These wood door screens that my hubby created. I can’t wait to have them in our living room. 

3.      “The Help”. 

4.     This Pantry!

5.     Hiking to the top of this mountain and the view!

Happy Friday!

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