Sheet Pan Cauliflower Gratin

Ina Garten has some great recipes, including one for cauliflower toasts. However, in an attempt to eat more veggies and less bread, I made this into a lightened cauliflower gratin. And, the second time I made it–because it was quite popular in my house–I modified even further to use just one pan and double the output. (The photos are from the first go around–same concept, but sheet pan was way better.)

Here’s what you need:

2 heads cauliflower

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

3 ounces mascarpone cheese

6 ounces sour cream

bunch of chives, chopped

freshly ground nutmeg (or 1/2 tsp ground)

4 ounces havarti cheese, or gruyere, or provolone, shredded or chopped up

optional: 2 slices turkey bacon, thinly sliced

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Place the cauliflower upside down on the cutting board and cut out the thick stem. Wash thoroughly. Cut into 1-2 inch florets. Repeat with the second head of cauliflower.

3. Place the cauliflower on a sheet pan, and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.

4. Roast the cauliflower for 20-40 minutes, flipping at 15 minute intervals, until browned (at least on one side) and softened.

5. Remove the sheet pan from the oven, and switch the oven to broil.

6. Directly on the sheet pan, toss the cauliflower with the chives, mascarpone, sour cream, nutmeg, and 1/3 of the cheese.

7. Top with the rest of the cheese (and the bacon, if using).

8. Place the sheet pan back in the oven, very close to the broiler, turning and checking ever minute or two until the cheese is bubbly and hot.


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Savory Leek, Dill and Cheese Kugel

I recently discovered this awesome cooking blog called The Splendid Table. It’s an American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio production, and has lots of delicious recipes. This one is modified from a recipe I found there. Hope you enjoy!

Here’s what you need:

1 bag egg noodles (12-16 oz, with or without yolks)

3-4 leeks, trimmed, washed, halved, and thinly sliced

4 tablespoons butter, divided in half

3 cloves garlic, chopped

4 eggs, or 2 eggs and 2 egg whites

16 oz. cottage cheese

10 oz. sour cream

1 bunch fresh dill, finely chopped

4 oz. goat cheese, or herbed goat cheese, or feta, divided in half

Here’s what you do:

1. Cook the noodles in salted water according to the package directions until just al dente. (My package said 7-9 minutes; they were ready in 5.) When the noodles are done, drain, toss with a scoop or two of the sour cream (to keep from sticking), a teaspoon of salt, and put back in the pot with the lid.

2. While the noodles are cooking, cook the leeks. Add two tablespoons butter to a pan over medium heat. Once melted, add all the leeks, and cook until they begin to soften, about 7 minutes.

3. Then, add the remaining butter to the leek pan, add the garlic, and cook until the leeks are fully softened, about another 7 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.

5. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the cottage cheese, sour cream (whatever you didn’t already use in the noodles), the dill, salt and pepper to taste, and half of the goat cheese. Mix well to combine.

6. In the noodle pot, add the leeks/garlic. Then, stir in the cheese mixture.

7. Spread the noodles into the baking pan. Top with the remaining goat cheese.

8. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. If your kugel starts to get brown about halfway through (mine did), cover with foil for the remainder of the cooking time.


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New Favorite Turkey Meatloaf

Here’s what may be my new go-to turkey meatloaf recipe. It’s moist, simple, and uses mostly ingredients in your fridge or pantry. It’s been adapted from Ina Garten.

Here’s what you need:

1-2 large yellow onions, finely diced or chopped in a food processor

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons dijon mustard

1/2 cup water

1 boullion cube

2 teaspoons tomato paste

2 pounds ground turkey

1 cup breadcrumbs

2 eggs, beaten

ketchup to cover the top

Here’s what you do:

1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, salt, and thyme to the pan, and decrease heat to medium-low. Cook the onion for about 15 minutes.

2. Add the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, mustard, water, bouillon cube and tomato paste to the onion mixture. Mix well and turn off the heat.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

4. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, breadcrumbs, and eggs.

5. Mix the onion mixture into the turkey mixture. Combine well.

6. Grease a large piece of foil on top of a large baking sheet. Form the turkey mixture into a large meatloaf. Cover the top with ketchup.

7. Bake for about an hour and a half, until the turkey is cooked through.


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Lebanese Cabbage Salad

One of my favorite sides when ordering from a delicious restaurant in LA and Glendale called Carousel is a lemony, garlicky cabbage salad. I stumbled across a recipe that says it came from someone’s Lebanese mom, so it seemed like it could work. It was simple and delicious and tasted just right!

Here’s what you need:

1 head green cabbage, finely shredded

1 tablespoon salt

4-6 cloves garlic, crushed or smashed

1 tablespoon dried mint

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

Here’s what you do:

1. Massage the cabbage with the salt and allow to rest for 20 minutes. Drain off liquid, rinse the cabbage, and drain again.

2. Mix the cabbage together with the garlic, mint, lemon and olive oil.

3. Allow to sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes.


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Farro & Arugula Salad (the title doesn’t do it justice…)

Going down the rabbit hole of reading a Food & Wine email, to reading the entire article, to reading comments in the post, an Ina Garten fan brought me to a recipe for farro salad that looked delish. This is the adaptation, and it’s so yummy!

Here’s what you need:

1 cup apple cider

6-8 ounces uncooked farro

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 clove of garlic, minced

salt and pepper

1 can cannellini beans or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup to 1 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup to 1 cup chopped mint

1/2 cup chopped chives

1/2 cup roasted, salted pistachios

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup shaved parmesan (or leave it out to go vegan)

1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes

3 cups arugula

Here’s what you do:

1. Bring the apple cider and 2 cups of water to a boil with the bay leaves. Add the farro and cook according to the directions on the package. If all the liquid evaporates before it’s done cooking, add some more water. When done, drain.

2. While the farro is cooking, making the vinaigrette: whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.

3. Stir the beans into the drained farro. Then stir in the vinaigrette and allow to mix/cool for 15 minutes.

4. While the farro is cooling, prepare the remaining salad ingredients. Stir together the parlsey, mint, chives, pistachios, raisins, parmesan, tomatoes and arugula in a large bowl.

5. After the farro has cooled for fifteen minutes, gently stir into the salad mixture.


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Asian Lettuce Cups

For Thanksgiving this year, I was trying to come up with out-of-the-box ideas since our family isn’t big on the traditional turkey/stuffing/potatoes menu. I decided to make stuffed cabbage (using this Smitten Kitchen recipe but adding some fennel seeds and caraway seeds), and Asian lettuce cups. Unfortunately, COVID always changes plans, so I didn’t end up making this for Thanksgiving, but I did make it last night, and my entire family willingly ate it! Yay!

Here’s what you need:

For the filling:

2 tablespoons peanut oil

1 red onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves minced, or 1 tablespoon fresh garlic paste

2 pounds ground turkey, chicken, or pork, or a combination (I did half turkey, half pork)

1 can water chestnuts, drained and chopped

1/2 cup peanuts, crushed

2 green onions, sliced

1 large handful of cilantro, chopped

For the sauce:

4 tablespoons soy sauce

5 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon sweet chili sauce

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

For the wraps:

1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated

shredded cheddar (optional)

hot sauce (optional) (Note that I made this mild since my kids were eating it too. However, before I ate it, I stirred in some Gojuchang–spicy Korean hot paste, and my husband added hot sauce)

Here’s what you do:

1. Heat the peanut oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Add the onion and saute for a minute or two. Stir in the garlic. Then add the ground meat, and cook until the meat is browned/lightly crisped, about 7-10 minutes.

2. While the meat is cooking, prepare the sauce. Add all the sauce ingredients to a bowl and whisk together.

3. Once the meat is browned, stir in the water chestnuts. Then, add the sauce and combine well. Allow to cook for a minute or two. Then stir in the crushed peanuts, green onion and cilantro, and cook another minute or two.

4. To assemble the lettuce cups, take one leaf of butter lettuce, add a scoop of the filling, and, if desired, top with hot sauce or cheddar cheese.


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Roasted Tofu and Eggplant

Recently, I tried a recipe for “Black Pepper Tofu and Eggplant.” While I’m not sure I’d make it again–since it kind of tasted like my teriyaki recipe but not as good–I loved the method for cooking the tofu and eggplant, which was much easier than my teriyaki recipe.

So, I encourage you to cook the tofu and eggplant this way, and then to combine it with my teriyaki sauce, or any other favorite sauce (coconut curry? peanut sauce? tomato-based?).

Here’s what you need:

15 ounces extra firm tofu

2 eggplants

2 tablespoons cornstarch

salt and pepper

4 tablespoons safflower oil, or other neutral, high-heat oil

Here’s what you do:

1. Place the tofu on paper towels, cover with more paper towels, and place a heavy item on top. After 15 minutes, remove the wet towels, replace with dry, and repeat.

2. While you are waiting for the second round of tofu-draining to finish, add two tablespoons oil to a large baking sheet, place in the oven, and preheat to 425 degrees.

3. Cut the eggplant into about 1 inch cubes. When the tofu is done draining, do the same for the tofu.

4. In one bowl, toss the eggplant with the remaining oil, and season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, toss the tofu with the cornstarch, and some salt and pepper.

5. Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven. Spread the eggplant over two-thirds of it, the tofu over one-third.

6. Bake for 20 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the tofu and eggplant. Bake another 15 minutes. Flip again. Bake another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.

From here, toss with your favorite sauce. Enjoy!

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Tomato, Kale, Gruyere and Bread Casserole

If you want something hot, easy and loaded with veggies, give this French-style casserole a try!

Here’s what you need:

2 bunches kale, stems removed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 cup white wine

1.5 cups broth (chicken or veggie)

1.5 pounds large tomatoes (beefsteak, or “on-the-vine”), sliced into 1/2-inch thick pieces

1 loaf French/white/country bread, at least a day-old, sliced into 1/2-inch thick pieces

1 block gruyere cheese, shredded (about 5-8 oz.)

Here’s what you do:

1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the kale for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and once it has cooled enough, squeeze out the excess moisture and roughly chop.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and butter a baking dish.

3. In the same pot where you cooked the kale, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and thyme, and cook for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the wine to the onion, and then the kale, and simmer until the wine is reduced. Remove the kale mixture from the pot. Using the same pot, heat the broth.

5. In the pan, make a single layer of slightly less than half of the bread. Top with half of the tomato slices. Season with salt and pepper. Add half of the kale mixture, and then half of the cheese mixture.

6. Layer the second slightly-less-than-half of the bread again, topped with the remaining tomato slices. Season again with salt and pepper. Add the remaining kale mixture and the remaining cheese. Top with the remaining few slices of bread.

7. Push the casserole down with a spatula. Pour the hot broth over the top and press down once more.

8. Cover and cook for about an hour. Then, remove the cover and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes, and up to an hour. Serve warm.


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L.A. Kalbi, but with Chicken

Another recent find in the L.A. Times Food Section. This recipe was originally for Korean style short ribs, marinated in a sweet sauce and grilled. I was intrigued by the marinade–Asian pear and maple syrup–but wanted to make a healthier version. We made this with chicken, baked in the oven and then finished on the grill, and it was delicious! (And we served it with steamed rice and homemade potato salad, as suggested.)

Here’s what you need:

2 pounds boneless and skinless chicken thighs

1 Asian pear, cored

6 garlic cloves, peeled

1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice wine

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons sesame oil

4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch thick disks (optional)

Here’s what you do:

1. Make the marinade: In a blender or food processor, combine the pear, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice wine and maple syrup. Puree until smoothish. Then add salt, pepper and the sesame oil.

2. Place the chicken thighs in a dish or bag, add the carrot pieces, and pour the marinade over the chicken/carrots. Allow to marinate at least an hour, up to 4 hours.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the chicken and carrots, covered, for about 45 minutes, then uncovered for another 15 minutes. Check to be sure the chicken is cooked through.

4. If you’d like, finish the chicken on the BBQ or stovetop grill to give it a bit of char, and allow the sauce to carmelize.


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Bistro-Style Meatloaf

My grandma–Simon and Jacob’s gigi, has been saving the LA Times Food Sections for me. I pulled this recipe from one of the more recent ones, simplified the ingredients and preparation a bit, and it was great.

Here’s what you need:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 white or yellow onion, peeled and quartered

1 cup parsley leaves (if you don’t have them, you can always add a teaspoon of dried parsley to your meatloaf; you could also replace with green onions, or cilantro)

juice from 1 lemon

1.5 pounds ground beef (the second time I made this I did half beef and half turkey, and while I usually love turkey meatloaf, this recipe was a little dry for turkey)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1.5 teaspoons freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1 egg

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

approx. 1/2 cup ketchup (you can also add a couple of tablespoons hoisin sauce if you’d like)

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. In a food processor, combine the butter, garlic, onion, parsley and lemon juice, and process until you have a smooth paste.

3. In a bowl, mix the beef with the butter mixture, salt and pepper, cumin, oregano, breadcrumbs and egg.

4. On a piece of foil, shape the beef mixture into an 8.5 x 4.5 rectangle, about 1.5 inches thick.

5. In an oven proof pan, heat the oil over high heat for two minutes. Using the foil as a “utensil,” flip the shaped meatloaf directly into the pan. (You will hear it sizzle.) Spread the ketchup on top, trying not to let it drip down.

6. Place into the oven and bake about 28-30 minutes.


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